After the Amir arrived, Rumi said: I’ve been longing to call on you. But, knowing you were busy with the interests of the people, I spared you the trouble.
The Amir answered: “This duty has been pressing upon me. Now that the emergency has ended, from now on I will wait upon you.”
Rumi said: There is no difference. It is all the same thing. You are so gracious that all things are the same to you. Since today it is you who are occupied with good deeds and charities, naturally I am able to call on you.
Just now some of us were discussing this question: If a saint, who carries God’s secret jewel [God’s grace], strikes someone, breaking their nose and jaw, who is the wronged party? Everyone says the one hurt has been wronged, but in reality the wronged person is the saint who is striking the blow. The one who was punched and had their head broken is the wrongdoer, and the saint is surely the wronged party since they carry God’s jewel. The saint is consumed in God, and therefore their actions are God’s actions. We wouldn’t call God a wrongdoer.
The Prophet raided, killed and spilled blood, but the unbelievers were the wrongdoers, and Mohammed was wronged. For example, a westerner lives in the West. An oriental comes to visit. The westerner is a stranger to the oriental, but who is the real stranger? Is not the oriental a stranger to the entire western world?
Still, this whole world is but a house, no more. Whether we go from this room to that room or from this corner to that corner, are we still not in the same house? But the saints who possess God’s jewel have left this house. They have gone beyond. Mohammed said, “Islam began a stranger and will return a stranger as it began.” Yet is not this world the real stranger? Therefore, when the Prophet was defeated he was the wronged party, and when he defeated his enemies, he was still the wronged party. For in both cases he was in the right, and the wronged party is the one who is in the right.
Mohammed’s heart ached for his prisoners. To comfort the Prophet, God sent down a revelation saying: O Prophet, say to the prisoners in your hands, “If you turn to truth and the righteous way, God will deliver you out of bondage. He will restore everything you have lost, and much more, including treasures in the world to come.”
The Amir asked: “When a servant of God performs a service, does the grace and good arise from that action, or is it the gift of God?”
Rumi answered: It is the gift of God and the grace of God. Yet God, out of Its exceeding love gives credit for both the action and the grace to the servant, declaring, “Both are yours.”
The Amir said: “Since God has such love, then everyone who seeks in truth shall find.”
Rumi said: But without a guide this does not come to pass. So, when the Israelites were obedient to Moses, ways were opened up to them even through the sea. But when they were disobedient, they remained in the wilderness for many years. The leaders of a given time are charged to secure the welfare of those who are bound to them and are strictly obedient. For instance, if a group of soldiers follow the orders of their commander, he too cares for their welfare and is duty bound to work at securing it. But if they are not obedient, how can he be expected to look after their interests?
The mind is the commander of the human body. So long as the parts of the body surrender to it, all the body’s affairs proceed perfectly, but when they disobey, the whole natural order breaks down. Haven’t you seen when a man is drunk, his hands and feet and tongue refuse to obey him? Then on the following day, when he is sober again, he cries, “What have I done? Why did I do and say such horrible things?”
In the same way, a village works together in perfect order only when there is a leader that the villagers follow.
Just as the mind is commander in the midst of the body, so all the different beings who make up humankind, together with their many minds, knowledge, speculation and learning, are the body of humanity, and the saint is the mind in the midst of them. Now when these people, who are the body, do not follow that mind, their affairs all fall into confusion and conflict.
They must surrender in such a fashion that no matter what the saint does, they accept it without the argument of their own mind. For often, with their own mind, they cannot understand the saint’s actions. Therefore, they must submit to whatever the saint says. Similarly, when a child is apprenticed to a tailor they must obey whatever they are told to do. If they are given a patch to sew, they must sew it. If they are given a hem, they must sew that hem. If they wish to learn their trade, they must surrender their own desires completely and become submissive to the tailor’s orders.
“The Night of Power is better
Than a thousand months.”
God offers us divine guidance and care, which are superior to a hundred thousand strivings and struggles. One tug from God is better than the efforts of all our powers. That is to say, when divine care intervenes it does the work of a hundred thousand struggles and more. Struggling is fine, and useful, but what is it compared to God’s guidance and care?
The Amir asked: “Does God’s care create struggles?”
Rumi answered: Why shouldn’t it? When divine care arrives, struggling begins. Jesus – what a struggle he made! Yet John the Baptist recognized that gift while still in Mary’s womb. Grace comes first. Then if, by accident, awareness enters in, this is the fruit of God’s grace – the pure gift of the Lord. If this were not true, then how could Jesus’ disciples have received such blessings?
Grace and submission are like a spark of fire that leaps. First we receive the gift. But if you add cotton and nurse that spark until it grows, then that is submission. In the beginning your spark is small and weak. But once you have nursed that weakling fire it spreads across the world and sets the universe aflame. The little spark becomes a great and powerful blaze.
Someone said to the Amir: “Our Master loves you very much.”
Rumi replied: Neither my coming nor my speaking is an indication of my love. I say whatever comes into me. If God wills, It makes these few words profitable so they will grow within your heart, bringing great rewards. If God wills not, if even a hundred thousand words are spoken, they will not lodge in the heart but will pass by and be forgotten. If a spark of fire lands upon a burnt rag and God wills, that one spark will take and engulf the rag. If God wills not, a hundred sparks will fall on that tinder and leave no mark.
These words are God’s army. By God’s authority they open and seize fortresses. If God commands thousands of horsemen to go and show their faces at such and such a fortress but not to capture it, so it will be. If It commands a single horseman to seize that fortress, that same single horseman will open the fortress gates and capture it.
God sent a gnat against Nimrod and it destroyed him. “Equal in the eyes of the Gnostic are a penny and a dollar, a lion and a cat.” If God bestows Its blessing, one penny does the work of a thousand dollars and more. If God withholds Its blessing from a thousand dollars, they cannot do the work of one penny. So too, if God commissions the cat it destroys the lion, as the gnat destroyed Nimrod. In short, when we realize that all things are of God, all things become one and the same in our eyes.
I hope, too, that you will hear these words within your hearts, for that would be profitable. But if a thousand thieves come from outside, they cannot open the door without some fellow-thief inside who can unlock that door. Speak a thousand words from the outside, still, so long as there is none to answer from within, the door never opens. So too with a tree – as long as there is no moist thirst in its roots, even if you poured a thousand torrents of water over it, it would accomplish nothing. First there must be a thirst in its roots for the water to nourish it. Although the whole world is ablaze with the sun’s light, unless there is that spark of light within the eye, no one can behold that light. The root of the matter is the receptiveness within Soul.
Soul is one thing and spirit is another. Don’t you see during sleep how Soul travels abroad? Spirit remains in the body, keeping it alive, but Soul wanders and is transformed. When Mohammed said, “He who knows his own self knows his Lord,” he was speaking of knowing Soul.
If we say that he was speaking of this soul or that soul, that is something very different. On the other hand, if we explain it as meaning Soul, Itself, the listener may still think we mean one soul, since they do not yet know Soul, Itself. Mere words cannot convey this spiritual understanding. Words only reveal what the heart has an ear to hear.
Beyond this world is another world for us. This world and its delights cater to the animal within us. These pleasures all fill our animal nature, while our real self slowly dies. They say, “The human being is a rational animal,” yet we consist of two things. Lusts and desires feed our animality in this material world. But as for our true essence, its food is knowledge, wisdom, and the sight of God. The animality within us flees away from God, while our spiritual self flees away from this world.
“One of you is an unbeliever,
And one of you a believer.”
Two people are warring within you.
Who shall succeed?
The one that Fortune makes her friend.
This world is a world of winter. Isn’t the name “solid” given to inanimate things? These stones and mountains, and the garments worn by this world, are all solidified. The inner essence of this world can be known by its effects: it is wind and bitter cold. It is like the winter season when all things are frozen. What manner of winter is it? A winter of the mind. When that divine zephyr comes along, these mountains will begin to melt, and the solidity of this world will dissolve – just like when the warmth of summer comes along, all the snow and ice turn to water. On the resurrection day, when that zephyr blows, all things will melt away.
God makes these words an army to surround you and protect you against the enemy, and to be the means of overwhelming the enemy. For there are enemies – enemies within and enemies without. Yet they are really nothing – what could they be?
Don’t you see how a thousand godless people submit themselves to one leader who becomes their ruler, and that ruler is captive to his own thoughts? From this it is easy to see the effect of thoughts, since through one feeble and muddled thought thousands of people and worlds are taken prisoner. Consider then, those whose thoughts are without limitations – what grandeur and splendor they possess, how easily they overwhelm the enemy, and what worlds they subdue!
When I see the limitless wisdom that exists, while armies unending stretch through waste upon waste, all prisoners of one person, and that person the prisoner of a contemptible little thought – where do they all stand compared to thoughts of powerful depths, infinite light, holy, and sublime?
Therefore thoughts have real effects. In this physical world all living things merely follow and act as instruments of thought. Without thought they are inanimate and solid. In the same way, those who understand only the outer form are also solid. They cannot penetrate the meaning. They are children, spiritually, and immature even if they are Sufi sheikhs, a hundred years old.
“We have returned from the lesser holy war
To fight the Greater Holy War.”
We all see the battle with outward things and people, and we draw up our forces against these formal adversaries. We must also draw up our forces against the armies of thoughts, so that desirable thoughts will defeat destructive thoughts and drive them out of the kingdom of our bodies. This then is indeed the greater struggle and the greater war.
Thoughts have their effect. They work beyond the influence of the body like the Laws of Nature without any instrument keep the heavens turning. Therefore philosophers say that thoughts don’t require a body. After all, the body is but an accident. Why should anyone dwell on an accident?
Reality is like a musk-pod, and this material world and its delights are merely the scent of that musk. This scent is but transient, a mere accident. The individual who seeks the musk itself, not content with only the scent, that person is wise. But whoever is satisfied to possess the scent is a fool. They have chased after a thing their hand cannot grasp, for the scent is merely an attribute of the musk. So long as the musk is present in this world, its scent comes to the nostrils. However, when it leaves this world and crosses that invisible veil, all those who lived by its scent die. The scent follows the musk, and goes wherever the musk goes.
Fortunate is the person who finds the musk from following its scent and then becomes one with the musk. They never die, but become an eternal part of the musk’s essence, imbued with the qualities of the musk. They will carry its scent to the world, and the world is revived by them. Only the name of what that person used to be survives, as with a horse or any other animal that has turned to salt in the desert, only the name of horse remains to it. In effect and in truth it has now become a part of that great ocean of salt. What good or harm can a name do? It will not bring it out of its saltiness. And if you give some other name to this salt-mine, it will not change its taste.
So it behooves us to turn away from the pleasures and delights of this world, that are the rays and reflections of God. We must not become content with this much, even though this much exists through God’s grace and the radiance of God’s beauty. Still, it is not eternal. From God’s viewpoint it is eternal, but from our viewpoint it is not. It is like the rays of the sun that shine into our house, for though they are rays of the sun and are light, yet they belong to the sun. When the sun sinks, the light disappears too. Therefore it behooves us to become the Sun, so the fear of separation cannot cloud our life.
There is giving, and there is knowingness. Some have generosity and compassion but no true knowledge. Some have knowledge but no self-sacrifice. When both are present, that person is blessed and prosperous. Such a being is truly incomparable.
A stranger is going along a road, but does not know where the road begins or ends, or whether they have wandered the wrong way. They go on blindly, hoping that perhaps a cock will crow, or some other sign of habitation will appear. How can such a stranger be compared with those who know the road and travel at ease, not needing sign or waymark? They have their assigned task clearly before them. Therefore, knowing exceeds all else.