Someone entered, and Rumi said: He is beloved and humble, like a branch loaded with fruit – the fruit weighs it down. A branch with no fruit raises its head up high, like the white poplar, but when that fruit exceeds all bounds, they put props under the branch so it will not come down altogether.
Mohammed was extremely humble. All the fruits of this world and the next were gathered upon his branch, so of course he was humbler than others. He said, “No one ever preceded the Messenger of God in making a greeting.” No one was able to precede the Prophet in offering greetings because he outstripped all others in extreme humility, and always made his greetings first. Even if others had said their greeting first, still his humility came before they could speak, for everyone has learned the humble greeting from him and hear his greeting within themselves before they say a word.
Everything that ancient people or modern people possess is a shadow of the Messenger of God. Though a person’s shadow might cross the threshold before them, still they are first. True, their shadow may appear to lead, but this shadow comes from them, and therefore always follows.
Our grace and humility are not made from this present moment; these atoms existed in that primeval time, from those particles and parts of the first Messenger of God. In this hour they become visible again, but this splendor and brightness is ancient. Its original light was altogether purer and brighter and more humble.
Some people see the beginnings of things, and some look to the end. Those who look to the goal are great and mighty, for although their eyes are fixed on this moment; still they look into the world beyond. But those who see the beginning are greater. They say, “Why look to the end? If wheat is sown in the beginning, barley will not grow. If oats are planted, you cannot reap corn.” So their gaze is fixed upon the beginning.
Still there are others even greater yet, who look at neither the beginnings nor the endings – the start and finish do not enter their minds…they are absorbed in God. However, those who are absorbed in worldly things do not see the beginning or end either, but in their case this is out of extreme carelessness – they are the fodder of fools.
So the Man and Woman of God are the foundation.
“But for you,
I would not have created the heavens.”
All that exists – honor and humility, authority and high degree – all are our inheritance from Them. All attributes are Their shadow, for everything has manifested from Them.
Whatever this hand does it does as the shadow of Spirit, for Spirit’s shadow directs it. In truth, Spirit has no shadow, yet it has a shadow without a shadow, just as ‘meaning’ has form without form. If the shadow of Spirit were not over us, all of our body would wither away – our hands would no longer grasp, our feet would not know how to walk, our eyes and ears would be lost in confusion. Therefore, in reality all those actions proceed from Spirit – the body is the instrument of Spirit’s tongue.
In the same way, there is a great person, the caliph of their time. They are like the Universal Spirit, and the spirits of humankind are their body. Whatever the people of this world do is in their shadow. If the actions of some are in error, it is because the Universal Spirit has lifted its shadow from their heads. When someone goes mad and acts crazy, everyone knows that reason has left them, and no longer casts its shadow over them. They are far away from the shadow and shelter of Spirit.
Spirit is kin to the angel. Although angels have definite form, while Spirit does not, both possess the same nature and act exactly the same. We should not be fooled by the form when they are identical in every way. If you dissolved an angel’s form, nothing would remain but Spirit. Therefore angels are the embodiment of Spirit.
A bird can be molded of wax, complete with feathers and wings, but still it is wax. If you melt it, don’t you see that its head and feet, feathers and wings all return to wax? Nothing else remains. From this we know that it is wax embodied into a certain shape, but wax none the less.
Similarly, ice is nothing but water. When you melt it, only its form dissolves.
The human being was created like this: They took the feathers of an angel, and tied them to the tail of an ass, in hopes that the ass – from the radiance and companionship of the angel – might become an angel, too. So what is so wonderful if this ass became a human? God is able to do all things.
When a child is first born, it is worse than an ass, sticking its hands in filth and then into its mouth to lick. The mother must spank the baby to stop it. The ass at least has some sort of discrimination; when it urinates, it opens its legs so the urine will not trickle on them. Yet the child, who is worse than an ass, God raises into a man or woman. If God should turn the ass into a human, what is so astounding in that? With God, nothing is a cause for astonishment.
At the resurrection, all parts of a person will speak. The philosophers interpret this allegorically. They say: When the hand speaks, perhaps some sign, like a scratch or abscess, will show on its skin. Then you can say, in a sense that the hand speaks since it gives information, “I ate something causing inflammation, and so I became like this.” Or the hand is wounded and becomes black. These signs tell a story, saying “A knife struck me,” or “I rubbed myself against a black pot.” So much for the philosophers!
The Sunni theologians say: God forbid! No indeed! The hands and feet will speak just as the tongue speaks. On the day of resurrection a person will deny their past saying, “I did not steal.” But their hand will answer, “Yes you stole, since I took it.” They will then turn to their hand, saying, “You have never spoken before, how can you speak now?” The hand will answer, “God gave us speech, just as It gives all things speech. It gives speech to the door and wall, the stone and clod. What is so astonishing about that?”
You speak with your tongue, yet it is merely a piece of flesh. Your hand is also a piece of flesh. Is your tongue endowed with reason? Yet when God commanded it to speak, it spoke.
Words come according to the attainment of the listener. Speech is like water that flows from a reservoir. How can the water know where they will send it – into the cucumber-patch, the onion-bed, or the rose-garden? But I know this: when water comes in torrents, there the lands are thirsty and extensive. But if only a little trickle flows, that land is small – a little orchard, or a tiny courtyard. The Prophet said, “God inspires wisdom in the tongue of the teacher according to the aspirations of the student.” I am a cobbler: the leather is plentiful, but I cut and stitch according to the size of the foot.
I am your mirror,
I am your measure;
As much as your stature is,
So much my treasure.
A worm lives under the earth in darkness. It has no eyes or ears because where it lives it does not need them. Since there is no need, why give eyes and ears to worms? God has no scarcity of eyes and ears and It is not miserly, but It gives according to the need. Anything else becomes a burden. God’s wisdom and grace remove burdens; how could It do otherwise? For instance, if you gave tailors the tools of a carpenter – axe, saw, and a file – you would burden them, since they cannot use such instruments to make clothes. So God gives according to need and no more.
Just as those worms thrive in darkness under the earth, so there are people who are content and satisfied to live in the darkness of this world, having no need for the heavenly world, and no yearning for the Vision. Of what use to them is the eye of clairvoyance or the ear of understanding? Their work in this world needs only the eyes they have. Since they have no desire for the other side, why give them clairvoyance, which would be useless to them?
Do not think that saints
No longer travel upon this road.
Perfect in all life’s ways.
Traceless lovers of God.
It is because you cannot see
Their secrets through your eyes,
You fancy in your vain conceit,
No others can gain that prize.
This world continues through heedlessness. If it were not for heedlessness this world would not remain. Yearning for God, contemplation of the next world, intoxication, and ecstasy – these are the builders of that inner realm. If these true desires revealed themselves to all people, there would be a worldwide exodus. None would remain. Yet God wants both worlds to exist, so It has appointed two sheriffs one heedlessness, the other heedfulness – so that both houses can thrive.