Monday, 26 January 2015

The Masnavi Book I: Story IV - Jalal al-Din Rumi

Second causes only operate in subordination to,
and form the impulsion of, the First Cause.
Air, earth, water, and fire are God's servants.
To us they seem lifeless, but to God living.
In God's presence fire ever waits to do its service,
Like a submissive lover with no will of its own.
When you strike steel on flint fire leaps forth;
But 'tis by God's command it thus steps forth.
Strike not together the flint and steel of wrong,
For the pair will generate more, like man and woman.
The flint and steel are themselves causes, yet
Look higher for the First Cause, O righteous man!
For that Cause precedes this second cause.
How can a cause exist of itself without precedent cause?
That Cause makes this cause operative,
And again helpless and inoperative.
That Cause, which is a guiding light to the prophets,
That, I say, is higher than these second causes.
Men's minds recognise these second causes,
But only prophets perceive the action of the First Cause.
Praise compared to vapour drawn upwards,
and then descending in rain.
Though water be enclosed in a reservoir,
Yet air will absorb it, for 'tis its supporter;
It sets it free and bears it to its source,
Little by little, so that you see not the process.
In like manner this breath of ours by degrees
Steals away our souls from the prison-house of earth.
" The good word riseth up to Him,"1
Rising from us whither He knoweth.
Our breathings are lifted up in fear of God,
Offerings from us to the throne of Eternity.
Then come down to us rewards for our praises,
The double thereof, yea, mercies from the King of Glory.
Therefore are we constrained to utter these praises
That slaves may attain the height of God's gifts.
And so this rising and descent go on evermore,
And cease not forever and aye.
To speak in plain Persian, this attraction
Comes from the same quarter whence comes this sweet savour.


Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207 - 1273) Persia
Translated by E.H. Whinfield
Koran, xxxv. II

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