Rumi: Love and Lust

It is the true Beloved who causes all
outward earthly beauty to exist.

Whatsoever is perceived by sense He annuls,
But He establishes that which is hidden from the senses.
The lover's love is visible, his Beloved hidden.

The Friend is absent, the distraction he causes present.
Renounce these affections for outward forms,
Love depends not on outward form or face.

Whatever is beloved is not a mere empty form,
Whether your beloved be of the earth or of heaven.

Whatever be the form you have fallen in love with,
Why do you forsake it the moment life leaves it?
The form is still there; whence, then, this disgust at it?

Ah! lover, consider well what is really your beloved.
If a thing perceived by outward senses is the beloved,
Then all who retain their senses must still love it;
And since love increases constancy,
How can constancy fail while form abides?

But the truth is, the sun's beams strike the wall,
And the wall only reflects that borrowed light.
Why give your heart to mere stones, O simpleton?

Go! seek the source of light which shineth always!

Distinguish well true dawn from false dawn,
Distinguish the color of the wine from that of the cup;
So that, instead of many eyes of caprice,
One eye may be opened through patience and constancy.

Then you will behold true colors instead of false,
And precious jewels in lieu of stones.

But what is a jewel? Nay, you will be an ocean of pearls;
Yea, a sun that measures the heavens!

The real Workman is hidden in His workshop,
Go you into that workshop and see Him face to face.

Inasmuch as over that Workman His work spreads a curtain,
You cannot see Him outside His work.

Since His workshop is the abode of the Wise One,
Whoso seeks Him without is ignorant of Him.

Come, then, into His workshop, which is Not-being,
That you may see the Creator and creation at once.

Whoso has seen how bright is the workshop
Sees how obscure is the outside of that shop.

Rebellious Pharaoh set his face towards Being (egoism),
And was perforce blind to that workshop.

Perforce he looked for the Divine decree to change,
And hoped to turn his destiny from his door.

While destiny at the impotence of that crafty one
All the while was secretly mocking.

He slew a hundred thousand guiltless babes
That the ordinance and decree of Allah might be thwarted.
That the prophet Moses might not be born alive,
He committed a thousand murders in the land.

He did all this, yet Moses was born,
And was protected against his wrath.

Had he but seen the Eternal workshop,
He had refrained hand and foot from these vain devices.
Within his house was Moses safe and sound,
While he was killing the babes outside to no purpose.

Just so the slave of lusts who pampers his body
Fancies that some other man bears him ill-will;
Saying this one is my enemy, and this one my foe,
While it is his own body which is his enemy and foe,
He is like Pharaoh, and his body is like Moses,
He runs abroad crying, "where is my foe?"
While lust is in his house, which is his body,
He bites his finger in spite against strangers.

Then follows an anecdote of a man who slew his mother because she was always misconducting herself with strangers, and who excused himself by pleading that if he had not done so he would have been obliged to slay strangers every day, and thus incur blood-guiltiness. Lust is likened to this abandoned mother; when it is once slain, you are at peace with all men. In answer to an objection that if this were so the prophets and saints, who have subdued lust, would not have been hated and oppressed as they were, it is pointed out that they who hated the prophets in reality hated themselves, just as sick men quarrel with the physician or boys with the teacher. Prophets and saints are created to test the dispositions of men, that the good may be severed from the bad. The numerous grades of prophets, of saints, and of holy men are ordained, as so many curtains of the light of God, to tone down its brilliance, and make it visible to all grades of human sight.

Masnavi Book 2
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