Rumi said: When I first began composing poetry, a great urge compelled me. At that time the urge was strong. Now the desire has grown weaker and is declining, but still it has its effect. Such is the way of God. He gives life to things in the time of their rising, producing great results and wisdom, yet in declining His influence still has its force. “The Lord of the East and the West,” means, “He fosters both the rising and declining.”
The Mutazilites believe that people create their own acts; that every deed springs out of our own creation. But this cannot be true, for everything that we do is produced through our mind, spirit, senses or body. Yet, we haven’t created any of these instruments. Since we are not the creator and are not capable of creating such things, then these functions cannot be fully subject to our control. And it is impossible for us to create an act without these instruments.
Therefore, we realize that the true creator of our actions is not our own selves, but God. We perform every effort of ours, whether good or evil, according to our own plans and purpose, but the wisdom of that deed is not limited to our intentions. We are only able to see that portion of the wisdom and benefits that derive from our actions. God, however, knows the total advantage of that deed, and what fruits it will bear.
For instance, you pray to gain rewards in the next world and to acquire a good name and safety in the present. But the help derived from prayer is not limited to that – it also bestows a hundred thousand advantages you will never understand. Only God, who gives rise to your prayer, knows those advantages.
We are like a bow in the grip of God’s hand. God sends us out upon various tasks. In reality God is the agent, not the bow. The bow is merely an instrument, unaware and unconscious of God, so that the world’s apparent order can be maintained. Mighty indeed is the bow that becomes aware of the Bowman’s hand!
What can you say about a world whose perpetuation and order rests on heedlessness? Don’t you see how the people who are awakened become indifferent to this world? Through childhood, people grow and gain strength from negligence and play. How else can they ever have grown up to become men and women? Therefore, God puts us through pains and labors to wash away those acts of negligence and make us clean. Only then are we able to become aware of the other world.
The human being is like a dunghill, a heap of manure. If this manure-heap is precious, it is because hidden in it is the seal ring of the King. You are like a sack of corn. The King cries out, “Where are you carrying that corn? My cup is in it.” People are unaware of the cup, being absorbed in the corn. If they knew of the cup, how could the corn distract them? Now, every thought that draws you toward the other world, making you cold and indifferent to this lower world, is a reflection of that cup flashing out. When men and women yearn after this lower world, however, this is a sign that the cup has become hidden in the heap.