Part 11 - The story of the greengrocer and the parrot and the parrot's spilling the oil in the shop

    247   There was a greengrocer who had a parrot, a sweet-voiced green talking parrot 248   (Perched) on the bench, it would watch over the shop (in the owner's absence) and talk finely to...


Part 11 - The story of the greengrocer and the parrot and the parrot's spilling the oil in the shop

 

 

247

 

There was a greengrocer who had a parrot, a sweet-voiced green talking parrot

248

 

(Perched) on the bench, it would watch over the shop (in the owner's absence) and talk finely to all the traders.

249

 

In addressing human beings it would speak (like them); it was (also) skilled in the song of parrots.

250

 

(Once) it sprang from the bench and flew away; it spilled the bottles of rose-oil

251

 

Its master came from the direction of his house and seated himself on the bench at his ease as a merchant does

252

 

(Then) he saw the bench was full of oil and his clothes greasy; he smote the parrot on the head: it was made bald by the blow

253

 

For some few days it refrained from speech; the greengrocer, in repentance, heaved deep sighs

254

 

Tearing his beard and saying, “Alas! the sun of my prosperity has gone under the clouds

255

 

Would that my hand had been broken (powerless) at the moment when I struck (such a blow) on the head of that sweet-tongued one?”

256

 

He was giving presents to every dervish, that he might get back the speech of his bird.

257

 

After three days and three nights, he was seated on the bench, distraught and sorrowful, like a man in despair,

258

 

Showing the bird every sort of hidden (unfamiliar) thing (in the hope) that maybe it would begin to speak.

259

 

Meanwhile a bare-headed dervish, clad in a jawlaq (coarse woollen frock), passed by, with a head hairless as the outside of bowl and basin.

260

 

Thereupon the parrot cried to the dervish, as rational persons (might have done).

261

 

How were you mixed up with the bald, O baldpate? Did you, then, spill oil from the bottle?”

262

 

The bystanders laughed at the parrot's inference, because it deemed the wearer of the frock to be like itself.

263

 

Do not measure the actions of holy men by (the analogy of) yourself, though shér (lion) and shír (milk) are similar in writing.

264

 

On this account the whole world is gone astray: scarcely any one is cognisant of God's Abdál (Substitutes).

265

 

They set up (a claim of) equality with the prophets; they supposed the saints to be like themselves.

266

 

“Behold,” they said, “we are men, they are men; both we and they are in bondage to sleep and food.”

267

 

In (their) blindness they did not perceive that there is an infinite difference between (them).

268

 

Both species of zanbúr ate and drank from the (same) place, but from that one (the hornet) came a sting, and from this other (the bee) honey.

269

 

Both species of deer ate grass and drank water: from this one came dung, and from that one pure musk.

270

 

Both reeds drank from the same water-source, (but) this one is empty and that one full of sugar.

271

 

Consider hundreds of thousands of such likenesses and observe that the distance between the two is (as great as) a seventy years' journey.

272

 

This one eats, and filth is discharged from him; that one eats, and becomes entirely the light of God.

273

 

This one eats, (and of him) is born nothing but avarice and envy; that one eats, (and of him) is born nothing but the Light of the One (God).

274

 

This one is good (fertile) soil and that one brackish and bad; this one is a fair angel and that one a devil and wild beast.

275

 

If both resemble each other in aspect, it may well be (so): bitter water and sweet water have (the same) clearness.

276

 

Who knows (the difference) except a man possessed of (spiritual) taste? Find (him): he knows the sweet water from the brine.

277

 

Comparing magic with (prophetic) miracle, he (the ignorant one) fancies that both are founded on deceit.

278

 

The magicians (in the time) of Moses, for contention's sake, lifted up (in their hands) a rod like his,

279

 

(But) between this rod and that rod there is a vast difference; from this action (magic) to that action (miracle) is a great way.

280

 

This action is followed by the curse of God, (while) that action receives in payment the mercy (blessing) of God.

281

 

The infidels in contending (for equality with the prophets and saints) have the nature of an ape: the (evil) nature is a canker within the breast.

282

 

Whatever a man does, the ape at every moment does the same thing that he sees done by the man.

283

 

He thinks, “I have acted like him”: how should that quarrelsome-looking one know the difference?

284

 

This one (the holy man) acts by the command (of God), and he (the apish imitator) for the sake of quarrelling (rivalry). Pour dust on the heads of those who have quarrelsome faces!

285

 

That (religious) hypocrite joins in ritual prayer with the (sincere) conformist (only) for quarrelling's sake, not for supplication.

286

 

In prayer and fasting and pilgrimage and alms-giving the true believers are (engaged) with the hypocrite in (what brings) victory and defeat.

287

 

Victory in the end is to the true believers; upon the hypocrite (falls) defeat in the state hereafter.

288

 

Although both are intent on one game, (though) both (in the present life) are (travelling) together (like) the man of Merv and the man of Rayy,

289

 

Each one goes to his (proper) abiding-place; each one fares according to his name.

290

 

If he be called a true believer, his soul rejoices; and if (he be called) “hypocrite,” he becomes fierce and filled with fire (rage).

291

 

His (the true believer's) name is loved on account of its essence (which is true faith); this one's (the hypocrite's) name is loathed on account of its pestilent qualities

292

 

(The four letters) mím and wáw and mím and nún do not confer honour: the word múmin (true believer) is only for the sake of denotation

293

 

If you call him (the hypocrite) hypocrite, this vile name is stinging (him) within like a scorpion

294

 

If this name is not derived from Hell, then why is there the taste of Hell in it?

295

 

The foulness of that ill name is not from the letters; the bitterness of that sea-water is not from the vessel (containing it)

296

 

The letters are the vessel: therein the meaning is (contained) like water; (but) the sea of the meaning is (with God)—with Him is the Ummu ’l-Kitáb

297

 

In this world the bitter sea and the sweet sea (are divided)— between them is a barrier which they do not seek to cross

298

 

Know that both these flow from one origin. Pass on from them both, go (all the way) to their origin!

299

 

Without the touchstone you will never know in the assay adulterated gold and fine gold by (using your own) judgement

300

 

Any one in whose soul God shall put the touchstone, he will distinguish every certainty from doubt

301

 

A piece of rubbish jumps into the mouth of a living man, and only when he ejects it is he at ease.

302

 

When, amongst thousands of morsels (of food), one little piece of rubbish entered (his mouth), the living man's sense (of touch or taste) tracked it down

303

 

The worldly sense is the ladder to this world; the religious sense is the ladder to Heaven.

304

 

Seek ye the well-being of the former sense from the physician; beg ye the well-being of the latter sense from the Beloved

305

 

The health of the former arises from the flourishing state of the body; the health of the latter arises from the ruin of the body

306

 

The spiritual way ruins the body and, after having ruined it, restores it to prosperity:

307

 

Ruined the house for the sake of the golden treasure, and with that same treasure builds it better (than before)

308

 

Cut off the water and cleansed the river-bed, then caused drinking-water to flow in the river-bed

309

 

Cleft the skin and drew out the iron point (of the arrow or spear)—then fresh skin grew over it (the wound)

310

 

Rased the fortress and took it from the infidel, then reared thereon a hundred towers and ramparts

311

 

Who shall describe the action of Him who hath no like? This that I have said (is what) the present necessity is affording

312

 

Sometimes it (the action of God) appears like this and sometimes the contrary of this: the work of religion is naught but bewilderment

313

 

(I mean) not one bewildered in such wise that his back is (turned) towards Him; nay, but one bewildered (with ecstasy) like this and drowned (in God) and intoxicated with the Beloved

314

 

The face of the one is set towards the Beloved, (while) the face of the other is just his own face (he is facing himself)

315

 

Look long on the face of every one, keep watch attentively: it may be that by doing service (to Súfís) you will come to know the face (of the true saint)

316

 

Since there is many a devil who hath the face of Adam, it is not well to give your hand to every hand

317

 

Because the fowler produces a whistling sound in order to decoy the bird

318

 

(So that) the bird may hear the note of its congener and come down from the air and find trap and knife-point

319

 

The vile man will steal the language of dervishes, that he may thereby chant a spell over (fascinate and deceive) one who is simple

320

 

The work of (holy) men is (as) light and heat; the work of vile men is trickery and shamelessness

321

 

They make a woollen lion for the purpose of begging; they give the title of Ahmad (Mohammed) to Bú Musaylim

322

 

(But) to Bú Musaylim remained the title of Kadhdháb (Liar), to Mohammed remained (the title of) Ulu ’l-albáb (Endowed with understanding)

323

 

The wine of God, its seal (last result) is pure musk, (but) as for (the other) wine, its seal is stench and torment

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