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Chapter 3: Crying for the Light

He doesn’t know his own self:
how should he know the self of another?
He knows only his hands and feet,
how should he know about God?
This is beyond the sage’s grasp:
you must be a fool
if you think that you know it.
When you can expound on this,
you will know the pure essence of faith;
till then,
what have faith and you in common?
It is better to be silent
than to talk nonsense
like one of the learned;
faith is not woven
into every garment.

You were made for work:
a robe of honor awaits you.
How is it that you are satisfied
with mere rags?
How will you ever have riches
if you are idle sixty days a month?

Knowing what you know,
be serene also, like a mountain;
and do not be distressed by misfortune.
Knowledge without serenity
is an unlit candle;
together they are honey-comb;
honey without wax is a noble thing;
wax without honey is only fit for burning.

Leave this abode
of birth and decay;
leave this pit,
and make for your destined home.
This heap of dust is a mirage,
where fire seems like water.

A Sufi story:

The philosophers, logicians and doctors of law were drawn up at court to examine Mulla Nasruddin. This was a serious case because he had admitted going from village to village saying, “The so-called wise men are ignorant, irresolute and confused.” He was charged with undermining the security of the state.

“You may speak first,” said the king.

“Have paper and pens brought,” said the Mulla. Paper and pens were brought. “Give some to each of the first seven savants.” They were distributed. “Have them write separately an answer to this question, ‘What is bread?’” This was done. The papers were handed to the king, who read them out.

The first said, “Bread is a food.”

The second, “It is flour and water.”

The third, “A gift of God.”

The fourth, “Baked dough.”

The fifth, “Changeable, according to how you mean bread.”

The sixth, “A nutritious substance.”

The seventh, “Nobody really knows.”

“When they decide what bread is,” said Nasruddin, “it will be possible for them to decide other things. For example, whether I am right or wrong. Can you entrust matters of assessment and judgment to people like this? Is it or is it not strange that they cannot agree about something which they eat each day, and yet are unanimous that I am a heretic?”

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