The Merchant and his Clever Parrot
There was a certain merchant who kept a parrot in a cage. Being about to travel to Hindustan on business, he asked the parrot if he had any message to send to his kinsmen in that country, and the parrot desired him to tell them that he was kept confined in a cage. The merchant promised to deliver this message, and on reaching Hindustan, duly delivered it to the first flock of parrots he saw. On hearing it one of them at once fell down dead. The merchant was annoyed with his own parrot for having sent such a fatal message, and on his return home sharply rebuked his parrot for doing so. But the parrot no sooner heard the merchant's tale than he too fell down dead in his cage. The merchant, after lamenting his death, took his corpse out of the cage and threw it away; but, to his surprise, the corpse immediately recovered life, and flew away, explaining that the Hindustani parrot had only feigned death to suggest this way of escaping from confinement in a cage.
Saints are preserved from all harm.
 As to a "man of heart," he takes no hurt, even though he should eat deadly poison. He who gains health from practising abstinence is safe. The poor disciple is safe in the midst of fever. The prophet said, "O disciple, though you be bold, yet enter not into conflict with every foe."
Within you is a Nimrod; enter not his fire. But if you must do so, first become an Abraham.  If you are neither swimmer nor seaman, cast not yourself into the sea out of self conceit. A swimmer brings pearls from the deep sea. Yes, he plucks gain from the midst of perils.
If the saint handles earth, it becomes gold. If a sinner handles gold, it turns to dust. Whereas the saint is well pleasing to God, in his actions his hand is the hand of God. But the sinner's hand is the hand of Satan and demons, because he is ensnared in falsity and fraud. If folly meets him, he takes it for wisdom. Yes, the learning gained by the wicked is folly. Whatever a sick man eats is a source of sickness, but if a saint imbibe infidelity it becomes faith.
Ah! footman who contendest with horsemen, thou wilt not succeed in carrying the day!
The jealousy of God 
The whole world is jealous for this cause, that God surpasseth the world in jealousy. God is as a soul and the world as a body, and bodies derive their good and evil from souls. He to whom the sanctuary of true prayer is revealed deems it shameful to turn back to mere formal religion. He who is master of the robes of a king brings shame on his lord by petty huckstering. He who is admitted to the king's presence chamber would show disrespect by tarrying at the doorway. If the king grants him license to kiss his hand, he would err were he to kiss merely the king's foot. Though to lay head at the king's feet is due obeisance, in the case supposed it would be wrong to kiss the feet. The king's jealousy would be kindled against him who, after he had seen his face, preferred his mere perfume. God's jealousy may be likened to a grain of wheat, but man's jealousy is but empty chaff.
For know ye that the source of jealousy is in God, and man's jealousy is only an offshoot from God's. But, let me now quit this subject, and make complaint of the severity of that fickle fair one.
Complaints of God's harsh dealings with His adoring slaves
"Wherefore dost thou abandon thy creed and faith? What matters it if it be heathen or true? Why hast thou forsaken thy Beloved? What matters it if she be fair or ugly?"  Let me then, I say, make complaint of the severity of that fickle fair one. I cry, and my cries sound sweet in His ear. He requires from the two worlds cries and groans. How shall I not wail under His chastening hand? How shall I not be in the number of those bewitched by Him? How shall I be other than night without His day? Without the vision of His face that illumines the day?
His bitters are very sweets to my soul, my sad heart is a lively sacrifice to my beloved. I am enamoured of my own grief and pain, for it makes me well-pleasing to my peerless king. I use the dust of my grief as salve for my eyes, that my eyes, like seas, may teem with pearls.
The tears which are shed because of His chastening are very pearls, though men deem them mere tears. 'Tis "the soul of souls" of whom I am making complaint. Yet I do not complain; I merely state my case. My heart says, "He has injured me," But I laugh at these pretended injuries.
Do me justice, O Thou who art the glory of the just who art the throne, and I the lintel of Thy door! But, in sober truth, where are throne and doorway?
Where are "we" and "I?" There where our beloved is!
O Thou, who art exempt from "us" and "me," who pervadest the spirits of all men and women. When man and woman become one, Thou art that one! When their union is dissolved, lo! Thou abidest! Thou hast made these "us" and "me" for this purpose, to wit, to play chess with them by Thyself. 
When Thou shalt become one entity with "us" and "you." Then wilt Thou show true affection for these lovers. When these "we" and "ye" shall all become one soul, then they will be lost and absorbed in the "beloved."
These are plain truths. Come then, O Lord! who art exalted above description and explanation! Is it possible for the bodily eye to behold Thee? Can mind of man conceive Thy frowns and Thy smiles? Are hearts, when bewitched by Thy smiles and frowns,  in a fit state to see the vision of Thyself? When our hearts are bewitched by Thy smiles and frowns, can we gain life from these two alternating states? The fertile garden of love, as it is boundless, contains other fruits besides joy and sorrow.
The true lover is exalted above these two states, he is fresh and green independently of autumn or spring! Pay tithe on Thy beauty, O Beauteous One! Tell forth the tale of the Beloved, every whit! For through coquetry His glances are still inflicting fresh wounds on my heart. I gave Him leave to shed my blood, if He willed it. I only said, "Is it right? " and He forsook me.
Why dost Thou flee from the cries of us on earth? Why pourest Thou sorrow on the heart of the sorrowful? O Thou who, as each new morn dawns from the east, art seen uprising anew, like a bright fountain! What excuse makest Thou for Thy witcheries? O Thou whose lips are sweeter than sugar, thou that ever renewest the life of this old world, fear the cry of this lifeless body and heart!
But, for God's sake, leave off telling of the rose. Tell of the bulbul [a Persian nightingale] who is severed from his rose. My ardour arises not from joy or grief, my sense mates not with illusion and fancy. My condition is different, for it is strange. Deny it not ! God is all-powerful.
Argue not from the condition of common men, Stumble not at severity and at mercy. For mercy and severity, joy and sorrow, are transient, and transient things die; "God is heir of all."  "'Tis dawn! O protector and asylum of the dawn! Make excuse for me to my lord Husamu-'d-Din!
Thou makest excuses for universal teason and soul.  Soul of souls and gem of life art Thou!
The light of my dawn is a beam from Thy light, shining in the morning draught of Thy protection! Since Thy gift keeps me, as it were, intoxicated, what is this spiritual wine that causes me this joy? Natural wine lacks the ferment in my breast, the spheres lag behind me in revolutions! Wine is intoxicated with me, not I with it! The world takes its being from me, not I from it! I am like bees, and earthly bodies like wax,  I build up these bodies as with my own wax!
In the time of the Khalifa 'Omar there lived a harper, whose voice was as sweet as that of the angel Israfil, and who was in great request at all feasts. But he grew old, and his voice broke, and no one would employ him any longer. In despair he went to the burial ground of Yathrib, and there played his harp to God, looking to Him for recompense. Having finished his melody he fell asleep, and dreamed he was in Paradise. The same night a divine voice came to 'Omar, directing him to go to the burial ground, and relieve an old man whom he should find there. 'Omar proceeded to the place, found the harper, and gave him money, promising him more when he should need it. The harper cast away his harp, saying that it had diverted him from God, and expressed great contrition for his past sins. 'Omar then instructed him that his worldly journey was now over, and that he must not give way to contrition for the past, as he was now entered into the state of ecstasy and intoxication of union with God, and in this exalted state regard to past and future should be swept away. The harper acted on his instructions, and sang no more.
Apology for applying the term "Bride" to God
Mustafa became beside himself at that sweet call, his prayer failed on "the night of the early morning halt." He lifted not head from that blissful sleep,"  so that his morning prayer was put off till noon. On that, his wedding night, in presence of his bride, his pure soul attained to kiss her hands. Love and mistress are both veiled and hidden, impute it not as a fault if I call Him "bride."
I would have kept silence from fear of my beloved, if He had granted me but a moment's respite. But He said, "Speak on, 'tis no fault, 'tis naught but the necessary result of the hidden decree, 'tis a fault only to him who only sees faults. How can the pure hidden spirit notice faults?" Faults seem so to ignorant creatures, not in the sight of the lord of benignity.
Blasphemy even may be wisdom in the Creator's sight, whereas from our point of view it is grievous sin. If one fault occur among a hundred beauties 'tis as one dry stick in a garden of green herbs. Both weigh equally in the scales for the two resemble body and soul. Wherefore the sages have said not idly, "the bodies of the righteous are as pure souls." Their words, their actions, their praises, are all as a pure soul without spot or blemish.
'Omar rebukes the harper for brooding over and bewailing the past. Then 'Omar said to him, "this wailing of thine shows thou art still in a state of sobriety." Afterwards he thus urged him to quit that state and called him out of his beggary to absorption in God: "sobriety savours of memory of the past; past and future are what veil God from our sight. Burn up both of them with fire! How long wilt thou be partitioned by these segments as a reed? So long as a reed has partitions 'tis not privy to secrets, nor is it vocal in response to lip and breathing.
While circumambulating the house thou art a stranger; when thou enterest in thou art at home. Thou whose knowledge is ignorance of the Giver of knowledge, thy wailing contrition is worse than thy sin. The road of the 'annihilated' is another road; sobriety is wrong, and a straying from that other road.
O thou who seekest to be contrite for the past, how wilt thou be contrite for this contrition? At one time thou adorest the music of the lute, at another embracest wailing and weeping." While the "discerner" reflected these mysteries, the heart of the harper was emancipated. Like a soul he was freed from weeping and rejoicing, his old life died, and he was regenerated. Amazement fell upon him at that moment, for he was exalted above earth and heaven, an uplifting of the heart surpassing all uplifting. I cannot describe it; if you can, say on! Ecstasy and words beyond all ecstatic words. Immersion in the glory of the Lord of glory! Immersion wherefrom was no extrication, as it were identification with the very Ocean! Partial reason is as naught to universal reason, if one impulse dependent on another impulse be naught. But when that impulse moves this impulse, the waves of that sea rise to this point. 
The Arab and his Wife
An Arab lived with his wife in the desert in extreme poverty, so that they became a reproach to their neighbours. The wife at last lost patience, and began to abuse her husband, and to urge him to improve their condition. The Arab rebuked her for her covetousness, reminding her that the Prophet had said, "Poverty is my glory," and showing her how poverty was a better preparation for death than riches, and finally threatening to divorce her if she persisted in her querulous ways. The wife, however, by blandishments reduced her husband to obedience, as wives always do, and made him promise to carry out her wishes. She directed him to go and represent their case to the Khalifa at Baghdad, and to make him an offering of a pot of water, that being the only present they could afford to make. Accordingly the Arab travelled to Baghdad, and laid his offering at the feet of the Khalifa, who received it graciously, and in return filled the pot with pieces of gold, and then sent him back to his home in a boat up the river Tigris. The Arab was lost in wonder at the benignity of the Khalifa, who had recompensed him so bountifully for his petty offering of a drop of water. The story contains several digressions, on Pharaoh, on the prophet Salih, and on Adam and the angels, and the poet, apropos of its disconnectedness, compares it to eternity, as it has no beginning and no end.
Men subdued by women's wiles.
In this manner she pleaded with gentle coaxing, the while her tears fell upon her cheeks. How could his firmness and endurance abide when even without tears she could charm his heart?
That rain brought forth a flash of lightning which kindled a spark in the heart of that poor man. Since the man was the slave of her fair face, how was it when she stooped to slavish entreaties?
When she whose airs set thy heart a-quaking, when she weeps, how feelest thou then? When she whose coquetry makes thy heart bleed condescends to entreaties, how is it then? She who subdues us with her pride and severity, what plea is left us when she begins to plead? When she who traded in naught but bloodshed submits at last. Ah! what a profit she makes!
God has adorned them "fair in the sight of men."  From her whom God has adorned how can man escape? Since He created him "to dwell together with her,"  how can Adam sever himself from his Eve? Though he be Rustum, son of Zal, and braver than Hamza, yet he is submissive to the behests of his dame. He by whose preaching the world was entranced was he who spake the two words, "O Humaira!" 
Though water prevails over fire in might, yet it boils by fire when in a cauldron. When the cauldron intervenes between these two, air (desire) makes as naught the action of the water. Apparently thou art the ruler of thy wife, like water. In reality thou art ruled by and suppliant to her. Such is the peculiarity of man, he cannot withstand animal desire. That is his failing.
The Prophet said that women hold dominion over sages and over men of heart, but that fools, again, hold the upper hand over women, because fools are violent and exceedingly froward. They have no tenderness or gentleness or amity, because the animal nature sways their temperament. Love and tenderness are qualities of humanity, passion and lust are qualities of animality. Woman is a ray of God, not a mere mistress, the Creator's self, as it were, not a mere creature!
Moses and Pharaoh, alike doers of God's will, as Light and Darkness -- Poison and Antidote
Verily, both Moses and Pharaoh walked in the right way, though seemingly the one did so, and the other not. By day Moses wept before God, at midnight Pharaoh lifted up his cry, saying, "What a yoke is this upon my neck, O God! Were it not for this yoke who would boast, 'I am?'
Because Thou hast made Moses' face bright as the moon, and hast made the moon of my face black in the face. Can my star ever shine brighter than the moon? If it be eclipsed, what remedy have I?
Though princes and kings beat drums, and men beat cymbals because of my eclipse,  they beat their brass dishes and raise a clamour, and make my moon ashamed thereby. I, who am Pharaoh, woe is me! The people's clamour confounds my boast, 'I am Lord Supreme!'  Moses and I are Thy nurslings both alike, yet Thy axe cuts down the branches in Thy woods.
Some of these branches Thou plantest in the ground, others Thou castest away as useless. Can branch strive against axe? Not so. Can branch elude the power of the axe? Nay, O Lord of the power that dwells in Thy axe, in mercy make these crooked things straight!" Man and wife types of the spirit and the flesh.
The dissension of this husband and wife is a parable. They are types of thy animal and rational souls. This husband and wife are the reason and the flesh, a couple joined together for good and for evil. And in this earthly house this linked pair day and night are ever at variance and strife.
The wife is ever seeking dainties for domestic needs, namely, bread and meat and her own dignity and position. Like the wife, the animal soul seeks comfort, sometimes carnal, sometimes ambitious. Reason has no care for these matters, in its mind is naught but regard to Allah. Though the secret moral hereof is a bait and snare, hear its outward form to the end. If spiritual manifestations had been sufficient, the creation of the world had been needless and vain. If spiritual thought were equivalent to love of God, outward forms of temples and prayers would not exist.
Presents which friends make one to another are naught but signs and indications, to give outward testimony and witness of the love concealed within the heart. Because outward attentions are evidence of secret love, O beloved! The witness may be true or false, now drunk with real wine, now with sour whey. He who drinks fermented whey displays drunkenness and makes a noise and reels to and fro.
That hypocrite in prayers and fasts displays exceeding diligence, that men may think him drunk with love of God. But if you look into the truth, he is drowned in hypocrisy. In fine, outward actions are guides to show the way to what is concealed within. Sometimes the guide is true, sometimes false, sometimes a help, and at other times a hindrance. O Lord, grant, in answer to my prayers, discernment, that I may know such false signs from the true! Know you how discernment accrues to the sense?
'Tis when sense "sees by the light of Allah." If effects are obscure, still causes testify. Kindred, for instance, shows that there is love. But he to whom God's light is the guide is no longer a slave to effects and causes. When the light of Allah illumines his senses, a man is no longer a slave to effects. When love of God kindles a flame in the inward man, he burns, and is freed from effects. He has no need of signs to assure him of love, for love casts its own light up to heaven.
Other details are wanting to complete this subject, but take this much, and all hail to you! Though reality is exposed to view in this form, form is at once nigh to and far from reality.
For instance, these two resemble water and a tree. When you look to their essence they are far apart. Yet see how quickly a seed becomes a high tree out of water, along with earth and sunshine! If you turn your eyes to their real essence, these two are far, far apart from each other!
But let us quit this talk of essences and properties, and return to the story of those two wealth seekers. How God made Adam superior to the Angels in wisdom and honour. He said, "By Allah, who knoweth hidden secrets, who created pure Adam out of dust. In the form, three cubits high, which He gave him, He displayed the contents of all spirits, all decrees!
Communicated to him the indelible tablet of existence,  that he might know all that is written on those tablets, All that should be first and last to endless eternity He taught him, with the knowledge of his own 'names,'  so that the angels were beside themselves at his instruction, and gained more sanctity from his sanctification.
The expansion of their minds, which Adam brought about, was a thing unequalled by the expansion of the heavens. For the wide expanse of that pure mind the wide space of the seven heavens was not enough."
The Prophet said that God has declared, "I am not contained in aught above or below, I am not contained in earth or sky, or even in highest heaven. Know this for a surety, O beloved! Yet am I contained in the believer's heart! If ye seek Me, search in such hearts!" He said also, "Enter the hearts of My servants  to gain the paradise of beholding Me, O fearer of God."
Highest heaven, with all its light and wide expanse, when it beheld Adam, was shaken from its place! Highest heaven is greatness itself revealed. But what is form when reality draws nigh? Every angel declared, "In times of yore we bore friendship to the plains of earth. We were wont to sow the seed of service on the earth, wherefore we bore a wondrous attachment to it.
What was this attachment to that house of earth when our own natures are heavenly? What was the friendship of lights like us to darkness? How can light dwell together with darkness?
O Adam! that friendship arose from the scent of thee, because the earth is the warp and weft of thy body. Thy earthly body was taken from there, thy pure spirit of light was shed down from here! But our souls were enlightened by thy spirit  long, long before earth had diverted it to itself. We used to be on earth, ignorant of the earth, ignorant of the treasure buried within it.
When we were commanded to depart from that place, we felt sorrow at turning our steps away from it so that we raised many questions, saying, 'O Lord! who will come to take our place? Wilt Thou barter the glory of our praises and homage for the vain babble (of men)?' The commands of God then diffused joy upon us. He said, 'What are ye saying at such length? What ye give tongue to so foolishly is as the words of spoiled children to their father. I knew of Myself what ye thought, but I desired that ye should speak it. As this boasting of yours is very improper, so shall My mercy be shown to prevail over My wrath O angels. In order to show forth that prevailing, I inspired that pretension to cavil and doubt. If you say your say, and I forbear to punish you, the gainsayers of My mercy must hold their peace.
My mercy equals that of a hundred fathers and mothers. Every soul that is born is amazed thereat. Their mercy is as the foam of the sea of my mercy. It is mere foam of waves, but the sea abides ever!
What more shall I say? In that earthly shell there is naught but foam of foam of foam of foam! God is that foam. God is also that pure sea, for His words are neither a temptation nor a vain boast. Plurality and partial evil, though seemingly opposed to Unity, subserve Good.
The story is now concluded with its ups and downs, like lovers' musings, without beginning or ending. It has no beginning, even as eternity, nor ending, for 'tis akin to world without end. Or like water, each drop whereof is at once beginning and end, and also has no beginning or end. But God forbid! This story is not a vain fable, 'tis the ready money of your state and mine, be sure! Before every Sufi who is enlightened whatever is past is never mentioned.
When his whole thoughts are absorbed in present ecstasy, no thought of consequences enters his mind. [l0] Arab, water pot, and angels are all ourselves! "Whatsoever turneth from God is turned from Him."  Know the husband is reason, the wife lust and greed. She is vested with darkness and a gainsayer of reason.
Learn now whence springs the root of this circumstance, from this, that the Whole has parts of divers kinds. These parts of the Whole are not parts in relation to it, not in the way that rose's scent is a part of the rose. The beauty of the green shoot is part of the rose's beauty, but the turtle-dove's cooing is a part of that Bulbuls music. But if I engage in doubts and answers, how can I give water to thirsty souls? Yet, if you are perplexed by Whole and finite parts, have patience, for "patience is the key of joy."
Be abstinent, abstinent from vague thoughts, since there are lions in that desert (of thoughts). Abstinence is the prince of medicines, as scratching only aggravates a scab. Abstinence is certainly the root of medicine. Practise abstinence, see how it invigorates thy soul!
Accept this counsel and give ear thereto, that it may be to thee as an earring of gold! Nay, not a mere earring, but that thou mayest be a mine of gold, or that thou mayest surpass moon and Pleiades.
First, know creation is in various forms. Souls are as various as the letters from Alif to Ya. In this variety of letters there seems disorder, though in fact they agree in an integral unity. In one aspect they are opposed, in another united. In one aspect capricious, in another serious.
The Day of Judgement is the day of the great review. Whoso is fair and enlightened longs for that review. Whoso, like a Hindu, is black (with sin), the day of review will sound the knell of his disgrace. Since he has not a face like a sun, he desires only night like to a veil! If his thorn puts not forth a single rosebud, the spring in disclosing him is his foe. But he who is from head to foot a perfect rose or lily, to him spring brings rejoicing. The useless thorn desires the autumn, that autumn may associate itself with the garden. And hide the rose's beauty and the thorn's shame, that men may not see the bloom of the one and the other's shame, that common stone and pure ruby may appear all as one.
True, the gardener knows the difference even in autumn, but the sight of one is better than the world's sight. That one person is himself the world, as He is the sun, and every star in heaven is a part of the sun. That one person is himself the world, and the rest are all His dependants and parasites, O man!
He is the perfect world, yet He is single. He holds in hand the writing of the whole of existence. Wherefore all forms and colours of beauty cry out, "Good news! good news! Lo! the spring is at hand!" If the blossoms did not shine as bright helmets, how could the fruits display their globes? When the blossoms are shed the fruits come to a head, when the body is destroyed, the soul lifts up its head. The fruit is the substance, the blossom only its form, blossom the good news, and fruit the promised boon.
When the blossoms fall, the fruit appears. When the former vanish the fruit is tasted. Till bread is broken, how can it serve as food? Till the grapes are crushed, how can they yield wine? Till citrons be pounded up with drugs, how can they afford healing to the sick?