Someone said: “We have studied all aspects of the human condition one by one, and not so much as a single hair-tip of human temperament, or people’s hot and cold nature, has escaped our notice. Yet, we still have not discovered what aspect of the human being survives death.”
Rumi said: If such knowledge were attainable merely by asking others, there would be no need for the effort and the work, and no one would put themselves through such pain and sacrifice to know. For example, people come to the sea, and see nothing but salt water, sharks and fishes. They say, “Where is this pearl others speak about? Perhaps there is no pearl.” How can the pearl be gained merely by looking at the sea? Even if they measured out the sea, cup by cup, a hundred thousand times, they would never find the pearl. A diver is needed to discover that pearl, and not just any diver, but a diver who is both fortunate and nimble.
Humanity’s sciences and arts are like measuring the ocean with a cup. To find the pearl calls for something else. There are people gifted with every skill, with wealth and good looks to boot, yet this vital quality is not in them. There are others who are outwardly a wreck, who have neither good looks nor elegant speech, yet in them is this element that is immortal. By this element we are ennobled and honored, and become superior to all other creatures. Leopards, crocodiles, and lions each have their own peculiar skills and abilities, but these qualities will not survive. When a person discovers the essential element, they attain the secret of their own eternal reality.
The accomplishments of the human race are like jewels on the back of a mirror. The mirror’s face has no jewels, it must be crystal clear. Whoever has an ugly face eagerly looks for the jewels, since the mirror’s face shows every dark secret.
A friend of Joseph returned from a far journey. Joseph asked, “What present have you brought me?” The friend replied, “What is there you do not possess? What could you need? Since no one exists more handsome than you, I have brought a mirror so that every moment you may gaze in it upon your own face.”
What is there that God does not possess? What does He need? Therefore, bring before God a heart, crystal clear, so that He may see His own perfection. “God looks not at your form, nor at your deeds, but at your heart.”
You find a city with everything you desire, beautiful people, pleasures, all that people crave, and ornaments of every kind, but you find not one generous person. The opposite would be better than this!
That city is the human being. If in us are a hundred thousand talents, but not that essential element, better if that city were in ruins. But when that vital quality is there, the outward display matters not – our secret heart will be well furnished. In every state our heart is with God, and our outward work does not hinder our inward occupation. In the same way, whether a pregnant woman finds herself at peace or war, sleeping or eating, the child in her womb is still nourished and continues to grow. The human being is also carrying that secret.
“We offered the Trust to the heavens,
The earth and the mountains,
But they refused to carry it, and were afraid;
Yet humanity carried it. Surely they are sinful,
And very foolish.”
But God does not leave us in sin and foolishness. Out of our physical life comes companionship, families, and a thousand familiar friendships. If this Trust that humanity carries also produces friendships and knowledge, what is so strange in that? What rises from a person after death? Look in their secret heart. Their secret heart is like the root of a tree – although hidden, its influence appears in the leaves and branches. If a branch or two is broken when the root is whole, they will grow again, but if the root is damaged, neither bough nor leaf remains.
A farmer from the country came to visit and stay in the house of a friend in town. The town’s person offered their friend halvah, which the guest ate with gusto. The farmer said, “O friend, night and day I eat carrots. Now that I have tasted halvah, the pleasure of eating carrots has disappeared. But where I live I can not find halvah every day. What am I to do?” Once a farmer has tasted halvah, they yearn for the place where it is made. The town’s person has carried their heart away. What can they do? They come looking for their heart.
Some people, when they greet you, the smell of smoke comes from their greeting. Some, when they speak, the smell of musk lingers on. Only those with a sensitive nose know the difference.
We must test our friends, so that in the end we have no cause for regret. Here is another of God’s rules: “Begin with yourself.” If you claim to be humble and serve God, do not accept this claim without testing it. When people wash, first they lift some water to their nose and then they taste it. Simply looking at the water is not enough, for water may have the appearance of purity, but its taste and smell will prove if it is infected. Once the test is done, then they wash their faces.
Whatever you keep hidden in your heart, God manifests in you outwardly. Whatever the root of the tree feeds on in secret, affects the bough and the leaf.
“Their mark is on their faces.”
The Koran also says:
“We shall brand them upon the muzzle!”
If you want no one to see into your thoughts, then how will you hide the flush of color on your face?