The Saint is a Mirror


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Story of Báyazíd's — may God sanctify his spirit — saying, “Glory to me! How grand is my rank!” and the objection raised by his disciples, and how he gave them an answer to this, not by the way of speech but by the way of vision (immediate experience).

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The Saint is a Mirror

  1. 1. The Saint is a Mirror (Rumi, Mathnawi IV: Verses 2102 – 2153)Story of Báyazíds — may God sanctify his spirit — saying, “Glory to me! How grandis my rank!” and the objection raised by his disciples, and how he gave them ananswer to this, not by the way of speech but by the way of vision (immediateexperience).My rank: A famous and very controversial, ecstatic saying attributed to the famous Sufimaster, Abu Yazid al-Bistami, who died in 875. It was considered blasphemous, butdefended by the Sufis as something said in an uncontrollable state of spiritual ecstasy,spoken by God through him -- not said by him, since God had annihilated his selfhoodduring that moment.2102 Bayazid, the great dervish, came to (his) disciples (and) said, "Look! I am God!" [Bayazid: Another form of the name of Abu Yazid—Bayazid al-Bistami.] [Dervish: literally, "faqeer," which is a Sufi technical term meaning someone on the path of "spiritual poverty" (faqir). Quran 35: 15, "O man, you are poor (fuqarâ) in relation to God, and God is the Rich, the Praiseworthy". These terms were later translated into Persian as "a poor one" (darwesh) and "poverty" (darwêshî).]2103 That master of the (mystical) branches of knowledge spoke like a drunkard, (saying), "There is no divinity except me, so worship me!" [So worship me: Quran 21: 25, "There is no God save Me, so worship Me!" When Bayazid said, ‘Glory be to me’ he was only quoting and reciting Gods description of Himself."]2104 When that ecstatic state was over with, they said to him at dawn, "You spoke such (words) as these, and it isnt right!"2105 (Bayazid) said, "This time, if I am involved (in such talk), strike at me (with your) knives at that (very) moment.2106 "(For) God (is) pure and free from (having) a body, but I have a body. (So) if I speak like this (again), (then) killing me is necessary."2107 When that (spiritually) freed man made the command, each disciple equipped (himself with) a knife.2108 (Bayazid) became (spiritually) drunk (once) again from that full (wine) jug, (and) those commands of his went (far) from (his) mind.
  2. 2. [(Wine) jug: refers to "spiritual wine," which produces spiritual "drunkenness" or spiritual/mystical states of consciousness, including ecstasy.]2109 A dessert arrived (and) his intellect became a wandering outcast. The dawn arrived (and) his candle became (overwhelmed) and helpless.2110 The intellect is like a governmental official: when the (mighty) king arrives, the helpless official crawls into a corner.2111 The intellect is (like) the shadow of God, (and) God (like) the sun. What power does the shadow have to bear (the Light of) the Sun of Him?2112 If a genie becomes predominant over a man, human qualities become missing from the man. [Genie: literally, "fairy" (parî), a class of invisible creatures, which are parallel in some way to humanity, but are usually invisible. In Arabic, someone "possessed by a jinn" is called "majnûn"-- meaning "crazy" or speaking strange words which the possessing jinn is saying. The "analogy drawn here between an ecstatic saint and a man or woman possessed by a Jinni...."]2113 Whatever he says, the genie is speaking (the words). Someone from this side is speaking by means of someone from that (other) side. [That (other) side: means the invisible side of existence, where genies and supernatural beings live.]2114 If a genie has this (much) influence and control, how (much greater) is the Creator of that genie!2115 His "he-ness" has left (and) he has himself become the genie. The Turk became an Arabic-speaker without (being taught by) Divine inspiration. [An Arabic-speaker: "This is in context to the story of a miraculous transformation of an illiterate Kurd, who said a prayer which was granted, so that the next morning he was able to discourse eloquently on the Quran in Arabic, saying, "In the evening I was a Kurd, and in the morning I was an Arab"-- quoted in Mathnawi, Preface to Book I.]2116 (Then), when he returns to himself, he doesnt know a single word (of Arabic). If a genie has this (kind of) nature and quality,
  3. 3. 2117 Then the Lord of a genie and a man can never have any less (power) than a genie!2118 If a drunkard drinks the blood of a male lion, youd say, "He didnt act, (but) the wine did (it)."2119 And if he perfects (his) speech by (using) the finest gold, youd say, "The wine has said those (eloquent) words."2120 (Since) a (quantity of) wine has this disturbance and agitation, does the Light of God not have that excellence and power?—2121 (So) that it may make you completely empty of "you," (so that) you may become lowly and He may exalt the words (spoken by your mouth)!2122 Even though the Quran is (spoken) from the lips of the Prophet, whoever says that God did not speak it, he is a denier. [A denier (kâfir): “means someone who rejects, denies, and disbelieves that God is able to send Revelation to mankind in human language through His chosen prophets (such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad).”]2123 When the phoenix bird of no-selfness flew (aloft), Bayazid began (to speak) those (kind of) words (again). [The phoenix-bird (homây): a miraculous bird, which flies constantly, never needing to touch the ground.]2124 The flash flood of (mystical) bewilderment seized (his) intellect, (so that) he spoke more forcefully than he had in the beginning.2125 (He said), "There is nothing in my robe except God, (so) how much (longer) will you search on the earth and upon the heavens?"2126 The disciples became completely crazed (and) were thrusting (their) knives into his holy body.2127 Each one was tirelessly stabbing his spiritual master, like the heretics of Gerdakuh. [The heretics of Gerdakuh: refers to the "extreme Shiite" Ismaili sect, who were at one time called the "Assassins." According to legends about them, they were so brainwashed by drugs and extremist religious doctrine that they were convinced of going immediately to Paradise if they carried out terrorist acts
  4. 4. ordered by their spiritual chief. They were said to prefer to die after assassinating their assigned object (usually a high ranking government official), and that they viewed it as a disgrace to return alive.]2128 Anyone who (tried to) puncture the Master with a knife was, in the opposite manner, tearing open his own body.2129 (There) was not a single mark on the body of that master of (mystical) sciences, yet those disciples (were) wounded and drowned in a whirlpool of blood.2130 Any who brought a blow toward the (Masters) throat saw his own throat cut and died groaning.2131 And the one who struck a blow into the (Masters) chest, his own chest was split open and he became forever dead.2132 But the one who was aware of that master of intimacy, (and his) heart did not give him (permission) to strike a heavy blow,2133 (His) half-knowledge bound his hand (and) he won (back his) life, except that he wounded himself.2134 It became daylight and (the number of) those disciples were decreased. (Many) wails (of grief) arose from their homes.2135 Thousands of men and women came before him, saying, "O you, within whose robe this world and the next are wrapped! [This world and the next: literally, "the two worlds," means this life and the Hereafter.]2136 "If this body of yours were the body of a human, it would have been lost (to you) because of the daggers, like an (ordinary) human body." [The body of a human: the body is as a garment to the spirit, and that this (bodily) hand is the sleeve of the spirits hand, and that this (bodily) foot is the shoe of the spirits foot."]2137 Someone with a self fought against someone without a self, (but) the one with a self thrust a thorn into his own eye.2138 O you (who) strike against the selfless ones with (your) sword, be aware! (For) you will strike that (blow) against your own body.
  5. 5. 2139 Because the selfless one is annihilated (and) he is safe; he is in (a state of) permanent safety. [Annihilated: Means passed away from self and thus continually preoccupied in God. This is a technical Sufi term related to the better known word "fanâ."] [Safety: means safe from returning again to the state of forgetfulness of God and egoistic "self-worship."]2140 (For) his form (has) vanished and he has became a mirror. In that place, (there is) nothing besides the image of another face. [A mirror: "The Perfect Man is the mirror of Truth, in which the real forms of all things are reflected, good as good and evil as evil."]2141 If you spit (at it), you do (that) toward your own face, and if you beat against the mirror, you beat against yourself. [Spit (at it): "i.e. if you hate the saints, it is only because they bring before you the image of your hateful self."]2142 And if you see an ugly face (there), you are also that. And if you see (the image of) Jesus or Mary, you are (that). [“States of rapture and ecstasy are precarious and must be jealously guarded from the vulgar." Jesus or Mary: means, "If you are a man of purity, you will see the image of a face similar to that of Jesus; if you are a woman of purity, a face similar to that of Mary, the mother of Jesus."]2143 (The spiritual master) is not this or that; he is simple. He has put your own image in front of you.2144 When (this) speech reached this place, it shut (its) lips. (And) when the pen reached this place, it shattered against itself. [It shattered against itself: Mathnawi I: 110-14, “The lovers ailment is separate from all other ailments: love is the astrolabe of the mysteries of God. Whether love be from this (earthly) side or from that (heavenly) side, in the end it leads us yonder. Whatsoever I say in exposition and explanation of Love, when I come to Love (itself) I am ashamed of that (explanation). Although the commentary of the
  6. 6. tongue makes (all) clear, yet tongue-less love is clearer. Whilst the pen was making haste in writing, it split upon itself as soon as it came to Love.”]2145 Close (your) lips. Even though eloquence has given (you) help, dont breathe (a word). And God is the best knower of the right path.2146 You are on the edge of the roof, O you (who are) continually drunk! Either sit down or come below. And (may) the peace (of God be upon you)! [The edge of the roof: "In this passage Rumi, speaking as a murshid (a spiritual guide), warns all concerned that states of rapture and ecstasy are precarious and must be jealously guarded from the vulgar." O you (who are) continually drunk: "O you who are drunken with the wine (of spiritual love)..."] Or come below: "The intoxicated mystic who has not yet reached perfection stands in great peril: either let him subside into absolute quiet and passivity or else return to self-consciousness and sober reason, lest he offend and alienate his beloved by disclosing the mystery of union."]2147 Any time that you become joyful, know (that) that moment of (spiritual) happiness (is like being on) the edge of the roof. [You become joyful: "Every moment when you enjoy (union with the Beloved)..."]2148 Be on guard at the moment of joy; hide it like a treasure (and) dont reveal (it), So that misfortune may not reach (your state) of loving intimacy.2149 (So) go very timidly into that hidden place of (possible) ambush.2150 The souls dread of the disappearance (of happiness) during the time of joy is the (sign of) moving away from the invisible edge of the roof.2151 If you dont see the secret edge of the roof, (your) spirit sees (it) since it is shaking (with fear).2152 Every sudden punishment which has occurred has been on the edge of the turret of joy. [The turret of joy: an idiom meaning the height of happiness. A turret is a niched defensive tower upon a wall. The meaning here is that an unexpected fall into misfortune often happens after a peak experience of happiness, because of
  7. 7. having a wrong attitude. "Possession of spiritual joy depends on the dread of losing it through any act of irreverence or disobedience. Fear of God ensures felicity both in this world and hereafter. The peoples of Noah and Lot were destroyed at the moment when they spurned the Divine gift that was in their grasp."]2153 There is no falling (down) except (from) the edge of the roof. (Be) warned by (what happened to) the people of Noah and the people of Lot.