Rumi said: I saw our friend in a dream in the form of a wild animal with the skin of a fox upon him. He was on a small balcony, looking down the stairs. I moved as if to grab him and he raised his hands, leaping about like this and that. Then I saw Jalal al-Tibrizi with him in the form of a weasel.
Our friend shied away, but I caught him when he tried to bite me. I put his head under my foot and squeezed it hard until all its contents came out. I looked at the fineness of his skin and said, “This deserves to be filled with gold and precious stones, pearls and rubies, and things even more excellent than that.” Then I said, “I have taken what I wanted. Shy away, shy one. Go where you will, and leap whatever direction you like!”
He leapt about because he feared being mastered, yet in being mastered his true happiness resides. No doubt he was formed of meteor fragments, his heart was drenched, and he wanted to know all things. He started out upon this road with great desires and he struggled hard to keep to the path and take refuge in it, but that is not enough. For the Sheikh of Divine Grace is not snared with such nets, nor can such game be captured this way. If the Sheikh of God is honest and true, he is completely free to determine who will have him. He cannot be trapped without his free consent.
Our friend sat covertly watching for his prey, but that prey was watching him in his hidyhole, and his cunning. That prey is a free agent whose ways have no limit. He does not pass by everyone’s hole. He only passes the ways he, himself, has charted.
“God’s earth is wide,
But none comprehend Its knowledge,
Except as It wills.”
Even when such subtleties as these fell upon our friend’s tongue and understanding they were ruined and lost their fine essence. Just as everything, whether corrupt or true, when it falls into a Lover of God’s mouth and comprehension is also changed, becoming swathed and wrapped up in graces and miracles. Do you not see how the rod held in Moses’ hand did not remain as it was? So, too, with the Moaning Pillar and the Stick in the hand of the Prophet, and prayer in the mouth of Moses, and iron in David’s hand – they did not remain in their original form, but were changed. So, too, with subtleties and sacred words, when they fall into the hand of darkness and brute intellect, they are changed as well.
The Kaaba is a tavern for your prayers.
So long as it comes from you, your essence shares.
The unbeliever eats in seven stomachs, and Jalal al-Tibrizi eats in seventy stomachs. Even if he has only one stomach, still he eats in seventy stomachs, because everything that is hateful is hateful just as everything from the beloved is beloved. If our friend had returned, I would have sat with him and counseled him, and not left until he drove Jalal far away. For Jalal is a corrupter of our friend’s faith, heart, spirit and reason. If only Jalal had induced our friend to corrupt practices other than religion, such as drinking wine and singing girls – for those can be put right when treated by a Sheikh of Divine Grace. But Jalal filled our friend’s house with prayer rugs – would that Jalal were rolled up in them and burned, so that our friend might escape from such misleading! But Jalal has poisoned our friend’s trust in the Sheikh of God, ridiculing the Sheikh to his face, while our friend says nothing and destroys himself. Jalal has snared our friend with rosaries, litanies and prayer carpets.
Perhaps one day God will open the eyes of our friend, and he will see what ruined him and drove him far away from the compassion of the Sheikh of God. Then he will strike himself with his own hand, saying, “You destroyed me. Now I have committed these heavy crimes and evil acts. It is exactly the way they saw it in their revelations – the foulness of my deeds, and my vile and sinful beliefs, were hidden behind my own back in the corner of my house. I, myself, was concealing them from the Sheikh of God and burying them, while He saw everything and said, “What are you hiding? By God’s will, if I had summoned those foul forms, they would have marched out before me one by one, visibly, uncovering themselves, telling their true nature, and what they concealed within them.” May God save all those who are wronged by these highwaymen, who block the path of God by way of “devotion!”
Kings play polo to show the people of their city an example of the warrior’s skill – the lopping off of the enemies’ heads, rolling them around just as the balls roll in the field, the warrior’s frontal charge, attack and retreat. This play in the park is only a symbol for that serious business of war. In the same way, the people of God perform spiritual prayers and dances to show something of their inmost heart – how they follow their discipline and their path. The singer who leads them is like the Imam at a ritual Moslem prayer. The people follow his lead. If he sings slowly, they dance slowly. If he sings fast, they dance fast. It is only a reflection of how within their hearts they follow the summoning of God.