Reynold A Nicholson
Look at a chickpea in the pot, how it leaps up
when it is subjected to the fire. At the time of its being boiled, the
chickpea comes up continually to the top of the pot and raises a hundred
cries, Saying, "Why are you setting the fire on me? Since you bought (and
approved) me, how are you turning me upside down?"
The housewife goes on hitting it with the ladle. "No!" says she: "boil
nicely and don't jump away from one who makes the fire. I do not boil you
because you are hateful to me: nay, 'tis that you may get taste and savour,
So that you may become nutriment and mingle with the (vital) spirit: this
affliction of yours is not on account of (your) being despised. You, when
green and fresh, were drinking water in the garden: that water-drinking was
for the sake of this fire."
His (God's) mercy is prior to His wrath, to the end that by (God's) mercy he
(the afflicted person) may suffer affliction. His (God's) mercy (eternally)
preceded His wrath in order that the stock-in-trade, (which is) existence,
should come to hand (be acquired);
For, without pleasure, flesh and skin do not grow; and unless they grow,
what shall the love of the Friend consume? If, because of that requirement,
acts of wrath come to pass, to the end that you may give up that
stock-in-trade, (Yet) again (afterwards) the Grace (of God) will come in
order to excuse it (the act of wrath), saying, "(Now) thou hast washed
thyself (clean) and hast leaped forth from the river (of tribulation)."
She (the housewife) says, "o' chickpea, thou didst feed in the springtime:
(now) Pain has become thy guest: entertain him well, That the guest may
return (home), giving thanks (for his entertainment), and may relate thy
generosity in the presence of the King, So that the Bestower of favour may
come to thee instead of the favour, and that all favours may envy thee.
I am Khalil (Abraham), and thou art my son: lay thy head before the knife:
lo, I see (in a dream) that I shall sacrifice thee. Lay thy head before (my)
wrath, with heart unmoved, that I may cut thy throat, like (that of) Isma'il
I will cut off thy head, but this head is the head that is immune from being
cut off and (from) dying; Yet thy giving thyself up is the object of (God's)
eternal purpose: o' Moslem, thou must seek to give thyself up.
Continue, o' chickpea, to boil in tribulation, that neither existence nor
self may remain to thee. If thou hast (formerly) laughed in that (earthly)
garden, (yet) thou art the rose of the garden of the spirit and the
If thou hast been parted from the garden of water and earth, (yet) thou hast
become food in the mouth and hast entered into the living. Become nutriment
and strength and thoughts! (Formerly) thou wert milk (sap): (now) be a lion
in the jungles!
By God, thou grewest from His (God's) attributes in the beginning: go back
nimbly and fleetly into His attributes. Thou camest from the cloud and the
sun and the sky; then didst thou become (diverse) attributes and ascend to
Thou camest in the form of rain and heat: thou wilt go into the goodly
(Divine) attributes. Thou wert a part of the sun and the cloud and the
stars: thou becamest soul and action and speech and thoughts."
The existence of the animal arose from the death of the plant: (hence the
command) "slay me, o' trusty friends" is right. Since there is such a
victory for us after the checkmate (of death), (the words) "verily, in my
being slain there is a life " are true.
Action and speech and sincerity became the food of the angel, so that by
means of this ladder he mounted to heaven, Just as (when) that morsel became
the food of Man, it mounted from (the state of) inanimateness and became
possessed of soul...
"The caravan (of spirits) is incessantly arriving from heaven, that they may
traffic (on the earth) and go back again. Go, then, sweetly and gladly with
free-will, not with bitterness and loathing, like a thief.
I am speaking bitter words to thee, in order that I may wash thee (clean) of
bitternesses. The frozen grape is thawed by cold water and lays aside its
coldness and congealment.
When, from (having endured) bitterness (self-mortification), thy heart is
filled with blood (like the grape), then thou wilt escape from all
bitternesses. (If) a dog is not (kept) for hunting, he has no collar:
the raw and unboiled is naught but the insipid."
The chickpea said, "Since it is so, o' lady, I will gladly boil: give me
help in verity! In this boiling thou art, as it were, my architect: smite me
with the skimming-spoon, for thou smitest very delightfully.
I am as the elephant: beat and brand my head, that I may not dream of
Hindustan and (its) gardens;
So that I may yield myself (submit) to the boiling, to the end that I may
find a way to that embrace (of the Beloved);
Because Man, in (the state of) independence, grows insolent and becomes
hostile, like the dreaming elephant. When the elephant dreams of Hindustan,
he does not hearken to the driver and displays viciousness."
The dame says to it, " Formerly I, like thee, was a part of the earth. After
I had drunk a (cup of) fiery self-mortification, then I became an acceptable
and worthy one. For a long while, I boiled in (the world of) Time; for
another long while, in the pot of the body.
By reason of these two boilings I became (a source of) strength to the
senses: I became (animal) spirit: then I became thy teacher. (Whilst I was)
in the inanimate state I used to say (to myself),
'Thou art running (to and fro in agitation) to the end that thou mayst
become (endued with) knowledge and spiritual qualities.'
Since I have become (animal) spirit, now (let me) boil once more and pass
Beseech God continually that you may not stumble over these deep sayings and
that you may arrive at the (journey's) end, For many have been led astray by
the Qur'an: by (clinging to) that rope a multitude have fallen into the
There is no fault in the rope, O perverse man, inasmuch as you had no
desire for (reaching) the top.
masnavi, jelaluddin rumi