HEARKEN to the reed flute, how it complains, lamenting its banishment from its home: "Ever since they tore me from my osier bed, my plaintive notes have moved men and women to tears. I burst my breast, striving to give vent to sighs, and to express the pangs of my yearning for my home. He who abides far away from his home is ever longing for the day he shall return. My wailing is heard in every throng, in concert with them that rejoice and them that weep. Each interprets my notes in harmony with his own feelings, but not one fathoms the secrets of my heart. My secrets are not alien from my plaintive notes, yet they are not manifest to the sensual eye and ear. Body is not veiled from soul, neither soul from body, yet no man hath ever seen a soul." This plaint of the flute is fire, not mere air. Let him who lacks this fire be accounted dead!
'Tis the fire of love that inspires the flute,  'tis the ferment of love that possesses the wine. The flute is the confidant of all unhappy lovers; yes, its strains lay bare my inmost secrets. Who hath seen a poison and an antidote like the flute? Who hath seen a sympathetic consoler like the flute? The flute tells the tale of love's bloodstained path, it recounts the story of Majnun's love toils. None is privy to these feelings save one distracted, as ear inclines to the whispers of the tongue. Through grief my days are as labour and sorrow, my days move on, hand in hand with anguish. Yet, though my days vanish thus, 'tis no matter, do thou abide, O incomparable pure one! 
But all who are not fishes are soon tired of water; and they who lack daily bread find the day very long; so the "Raw" comprehend not the state of the "Ripe;"  Therefore it behoves me to shorten my discourse. Arise, O son! burst thy bonds and be free! How long wilt thou be captive to silver and gold? Though thou pour the ocean into thy pitcher, it can hold no more than one day's store. The pitcher of the desire of the covetous never fills, the oyster shell fills not with pearls till it is content; only he whose garment is rent by the violence of love Is wholly pure from covetousness and sin.
Hail to thee, then, O love, sweet madness! Thou who healest all our infirmities! Who art the physician of our pride and self conceit! Who art our Plato and our Galen! Love exalts our earthly bodies to heaven, and makes the very hills to dance with joy! O Lover, 'twas love that gave life to Mount Sinai,  [see Editor's Note] when "it quaked, and Moses fell down in a swoon." Did my Beloved only touch me with his lips, I too, like the flute, would burst out in melody. But he who is parted from them that speak his tongue, though he possess a hundred voices, is perforce dumb. When the rose has faded and the garden is withered, The song of the nightingale is no longer to be heard.
The beloved is all in all, the lover only veils Him;  the beloved is all that lives, the lover a dead thing. When the lover feels no longer love's quickening, he becomes like a bird who has lost its wings. Alas! How can I retain my senses about me, when the beloved shows not the light of His countenance? Love desires that this secret should be revealed, for if a mirror reflects not, of what use is it?
Knowest thou why thy mirror reflects not? Because the rust has not been scoured from its face. If it were purified from all rust and defilement, it would reflect the shining of the sun of God.  O friends, ye have now heard this tale, which sets forth the very essence of my case.
The Prince and the Handmaid
A prince, while engaged on a hunting excursion, espied a fair maiden, and by promises of gold induced her to accompany him. After a time she fell sick, and the prince had her tended by divers physicians. As, however, they all omitted to say, "God willing,  [see Editor's Note] we will cure her," their treatment was of no avail. So the prince offered prayer, and in answer thereto a physician was sent from heaven. He at once condemned his predecessors' view of the case, and by a very skilful diagnosis, discovered that the real cause of the maiden's illness was her love for a certain goldsmith of Samarkand. In accordance with the physician's advice, the prince sent to Samarkand and fetched the goldsmith, and married him to the lovesick maiden, and for six months the pair lived together in the utmost harmony and happiness. At the end of that period the physician, by divine command, gave the goldsmith a poisonous draught, which caused his strength and beauty to decay, and he then lost favour with the maiden, and she was reunited to the king. This Divine command was precisely similar to God's command to Abraham to slay his son Ismail, and to the act of the angel in slaying the servant of Moses,  and is therefore beyond human criticism.
Description of Love
A true lover is proved such by his pain of heart; no sickness is there like sickness of heart. The lover's ailment is different from all ailments; love is the astrolabe of God's mysteries. A lover may hanker after this love or that love, but at the last he is drawn to the king of love. However much we describe and explain love, when we fall in love we are ashamed of our words. Explanation by the tongue makes most things clear, but love unexplained is clearer.
When pen hastened to write, on reaching the subject of love it split in twain. When the discourse touched on the matter of love, pen was broken and paper torn. In explaining it Reason sticks fast, as an ass in mire; naught but love itself can explain love and lovers! None but the sun can display the sun, if you would see it displayed, turn not away from it. Shadows, indeed, may indicate the sun's presence, but only the sun displays the light of life. Shadows induce slumber, like evening talks, but when the sun arises the "moon is split asunder."  In the world there is naught so wondrous as the sun, but the Sun of the soul sets not and has no yesterday. Though the material sun is unique and single, we can conceive similar suns like to it.
But the sun of the soul, beyond this firmament, no like thereof is seen in concrete or abstract.  Where is there room in conception for His essence, So that similitudes of Him should be conceivable?
Shamsu-'d-Din of Tabriz importunes Jalalu-'d-Din to compose the Masnavi.
The sun (Shams) of Tabriz is a perfect light, a sun, yes, one of the beams of God! When the praise was heard of the "sun of Tabriz," The sun of the fourth heaven bowed its head. Now that I have mentioned his name, it is but right to set forth some indications of his beneficence.
That precious soul caught my skirt, smelling the perfume of the garment of Yusuf; and said, "For the sake of our ancient friendship, tell forth a hint of those sweet states of ecstasy, that earth and heaven may be rejoiced, and also reason and spirit, a hundredfold."
I said, "O thou who art far from 'the friend,' like a sick man who has strayed from his physician, importune me not, for I am beside myself; my understanding is gone, I cannot sing praises. Whatsoever one says, whose reason is thus astray, let him not boast; his efforts are useless. Whatever he says is not to the point, and is clearly inept and wide of the mark. What can I say when not a nerve of mine is sensible? Can I explain 'the friend' to one to whom He is no friend? Verily my singing His praise were dispraise, for it would prove me existent, and existence is error.  Can I describe my separation and my bleeding heart?
Nay, put off this matter till another season." He said, " Feed me, for I am an hungered, and at once, for 'the time is a sharp sword.' O comrade, the Sufi is 'the son of time present.'  It is not the rule of his canon to say, 'To-morrow.' Can it be that thou art not a true Sufi? Ready money is lost by giving credit." I said, "'Tis best to veil the secrets of 'The Friend.' So give good heed to the morals of these stories. That is better than that the secrets of 'The Friend' Should be noised abroad in the talk of strangers." He said, "Without veil or covering or deception, speak out, and vex me not, O man of many words! Strip off the veil and speak out, for do not I enter under the same coverlet as the Beloved?" I said, "If the Beloved were exposed to outward view, neither wouldst thou endure, nor embrace, nor form. Press thy suit, yet with moderation; a blade of grass cannot, pierce a mountain. If the sun that illumines the world were to draw near, the world would be consumed.  Close thy mouth and shut the eyes of this matter, that, the world's life be not made a bleeding heart. No longer seek this peril, this bloodshed; hereafter impose silence on the 'sun of Tabriz.'" He said, "Thy words are endless. Now tell forth all thy story from its beginning."
The Oilman and his Parrot
An oilman possessed a parrot which used to amuse him with its agreeable prattle, and to watch his shop when he went out. One day, when the parrot was alone in the shop, a cat upset one of the oil-jars. When the oilman returned home he thought that the parrot had done this mischief, and in his anger he smote the parrot such a blow on the head as made all its feathers drop off, and so stunned it that it lost the power of speech for several days. But one day the parrot saw a bald-headed man passing the shop, and recovering its speech, it cried out, "Pray, whose oil-jar did you upset?" The passers-by smiled at the parrot's mistake in confounding baldness caused by age with the loss of its own feathers due to a blow.
Confusion of saints with hypocrites
Worldly senses are the ladder of earth, spiritual senses are the ladder of heaven. The health of the former is sought of the leech, the health of the latter from "The Friend." The health of the former arises from tending the body, that of the latter from mortifying the flesh. The kingly soul lays waste the body, and after its destruction he builds it anew. Happy the soul who for love of God has lavished family, wealth, and goods! Has destroyed its house to find the hidden treasure, and with that treasure has rebuilt it in fairer sort, has dammed up the stream and cleansed the channel, and then turned a fresh stream into the channel; has cut its flesh to extract a spear-head,  causing a fresh skin to grow again over the wound. Has razed the fort to oust, the infidel in possession, and then rebuilt it with a hundred towers and bulwarks.
Who can describe the unique work of grace? I have been forced to illustrate it by these similes. Sometimes it presents one appearance, sometimes another. Yes, the affair of religion is only bewilderment. Not, such as occurs when one turns one's back on God, but such as when one is drowned and absorbed in Him. The latter has his face ever turned to God, the former's face shows his undisciplined self-will. Watch the face of each one, regard it well. It may be by serving thou wilt recognize Truth's face. As there are many demons with men's faces, it is wrong to join hand with every one.
When the fowler sounds his decoy whistle, that the birds may be beguiled by that snare, the birds hear that call simulating a bird's call and, descending from the air, find net and knife. So vile hypocrites steal the language of dervishes, in order to beguile the simple with their trickery. The works of the righteous are light and heat, the works of the evil treachery and shamelessness.
They make stuffed lions to scare the simple, they give the title of Muhammad to false Musailima. But Musailma retained the name of "Liar," and Muhammad that of "sublimest of beings." That wine of God (the righteous) yields a perfume of musk; Other wine (the evil) is reserved for penalties and pains.
The Jewish King, his Vizier, and the Christians
A certain Jewish king used to persecute the Christians, desiring to exterminate their faith. His Vizier persuaded him to try a stratagem, namely, to mutilate the Vizier himself, and expel him from his court, with the intent that he might take refuge with the Christians, and stir up mutual dissension amongst them. The Vizier's suggestion was adopted.  He fled to the Christians, and found no difficulty in persuading them that he had been treated in that barbarous way on account of his attachment to the Christian faith.
He soon gained complete influence over them, and was accepted as a saintly martyr and a divine teacher. Only a few discerning men divined his treachery ; the majority were all deluded by him. The Christians were divided into twelve legions, and at the head of each was a captain. To each of these captains the Vazir gave secretly a volume of religious directions, taking care to make the directions in each volume different from and contradictory to those in the others. One volume enjoined fasting, another charity, another faith, another works, and so on. Afterwards the Vazir withdrew into a cave, and refused to come out to instruct his disciples, in spite of all their entreaties. Calling the captains to him, he gave secret instructions to each to set himself up as his successor, and to be guided by the instructions in the volume secretly confided to him, and to slay all other claimants of the apostolic office.
Having given these directions, he slew himself. In the event each captain set himself up as the Vizier's successor, and the Christians were split up into many sects at enmity with one another, even as the Vazir had intended. But the malicious scheme did not, altogether succeed, as one faithful band cleaved to the name of "Ahmad," mentioned in the Gospel,  and were thus saved from sharing the ruin of the rest.
The Vizier's Teaching
Myriads of Christians flocked round him, one after another they assembled in his street. Then he would preach to them of mysteries, mysteries of the Gospel, of stoles, of prayers. He would preach to them with eloquent words concerning the words and acts of the Messiah. Outwardly he was a preacher of religious duties, but within a decoy call and a fowler's snare.
Therefore the followers of the Prophet ('Isa) were beguiled by the fraud of that demon soul. He mingled in his discourses many secret doctrines concerning devotion and sincerity of soul. He taught them to make a fair show of devotion, but to say of secret sins, "What do they matter?" Hair by hair and jot by jot they learned of him fraud of soul, as roses might learn of garlic.
Hair-splitters and all their disciples are darkened by similar preaching and discourse. The Christians gave their hearts to him entirely, for the blind faith of the vulgar has no discernment. In their inmost breasts they planted love of him, and fancied him to be the Vicar of Christ. O that one-eyed and cursed Dajjal! [Satan]  Save us. O God ! Who art our only defender!
O God, there are hundreds of snares and baits, and we are even as greedy and foolish birds. Every moment our feet are caught in a fresh snare. Yes, each one of us, though he be a falcon or Simurgh!
Thou dost release us every moment, and straightway we again fly into the snare, O Almighty One! Sleep of the body the soul's awakening. Every night Thou freest our spirits from the body and its snare, making them pure as erased tablets. Every night spirits are released from this cage, and set free, neither lording it nor lorded over. At night prisoners are unaware of their prison, at night kings are unaware of their majesty.
Then there is no thought or care for loss or gain, no regard to such an one or such an one. The state of the "Knower" is such as this, even when awake. God says,  "Thou wouldst deem him awake though asleep, sleeping to the affairs of the world, day and night, like a pen in the directing hand of the writer.
He who sees not the hand which effects the writing fancies the effect proceeds from the motion of the pen. If the "knower" revealed the particulars of this state, 'it would rob the vulgar of their sensual sleep. His soul wanders in the desert that has no similitude; like his body, his spirit is enjoying perfect rest freed from desire of eating and drinking, like a bird escaped from cage and snare. But when he is again beguiled into the snare, he cries for help to the Almighty.
Laila and the Khalifa
The Khalifa said to Laila, "Art thou really she for whom Majnun lost his head and went distracted? Thou art not fairer than many other fair ones."
She replied, "be silent; thou art not Majnun!" If thou hadst Majnun's eyes, the two worlds would be within thy view. Thou art in thy senses, but Majnun is beside himself. In love to be wide awake is treason. The more a man is awake, the more he sleeps (to love). His (critical) wakefulness is worse than slumbering.
Our wakefulness fetters our spirits, then our souls are a prey to diverse whims, thoughts of loss and gain and fears of misery. They retain not purity, nor dignity, nor lustre, nor aspiration to soar heavenwards.
That one is really sleeping who hankers after each whim and holds parley with each fancy.
The twelve volumes of theology
He drew up a separate scroll to the address of each, the contents of each scroll of a different tenor. The rules of each of a different purport, this contradictory of that, from beginning to end. In one the road of fasting and asceticism was made the pillar and condition of right devotion.
In one 'twas said, "abstinence profits not; sincerity in this path is naught but charity."
In one 'twas said, "Thy fasting and thy charity are both a making thyself equal with God; save faith and utter resignation to God's will in weal and woe, all virtues are fraud and snares."
In one 'twas said, "works are the one thing needful; the doctrine of faith without works is a delusion." In one 'twas said, "commands and prohibitions are not for observance, but to demonstrate our weakness, that we may see our own weakness (to carry them out), and thereby recognize and confess God's power." 
In one 'twas said, "reference to thine own weakness is ingratitude for God's mercies towards us. Rather regard thy power, for thou hast power from God. Know thy power to be God's grace, for 'tis of Him." In one 'twas said, "Leave power and weakness alone; whatever withdraws thine eyes from God is an idol."
In one 'twas said, "Quench not thy earthy torch,  that it may be a light to lighten mankind. If thou neglectest regard and care for it, thou wilt quench at midnight the lamp of union."
In one 'twas said, "Quench that torch without fear, that in lieu of one thou may'st see a thousand joys, for by quenching the light the soul is rejoiced, and thy Laila is then as bold as her Majnun. Whoso to display his devotion renounces the world, the world is ever with him, before and behind."
In one 'twas said, "Whatsoever God has given thee in His creation, that He has made sweet to thee; yes, pleasant to thee and allowable. Take it, then, and cast not thyself into the pangs of abstinence."
In one 'twas said, "Give up all thou possessest, for to be ruled by covetousness is grievous sin." (Ah! how many diverse roads are pointed out, and each followed by some sect for dear life! If the right road were easily attainable, every Jew and Gueber would have hit on it!)
In one 'twas said, "The right road is attainable, for the heart's life is the food of the soul. Whatever is enjoyed by the carnal man yields no fruit, even as salt and waste land. Its result is naught but remorse, its traffic yields only loss. It is not profitable in the long run. Its name is called 'bankrupt' in the upshot. Discern, then, the bankrupt from the profitable, consider the eventual value of this and that."
In one 'twas said, "choose ye a wise Director, but foresight of results is not found in dignities." (Each sect looked to results in a different way, and so, perforce, became captive to errors. Real foresight of results is not simple jugglery, otherwise all these differences would not have arisen.
In one 'twas said, "thyself art thy master, inasmuch as thou art acquainted with the Master of all, be a man, and not another man's beast of burden! Follow thine own way and lose not thy head!"
In one 'twas said, "All we see is One. Whoever says 'tis two is suffering from double vision."
In one 'twas said, "A hundred are even as one."  But whoso thinks this is a. madman. Each scroll had its contrary piece of rhetoric, in form and substance utterly opposed to it. This contrary to that, from first to last, as if each was compounded of poison and antidotes.