Discourses of Rumi (Fihi ma Fihi) by A. J. Arberry, Jalal al-Din Rumi

By A. J. Arberry, Jalal al-Din Rumi

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Sample text

If you did not bring the lamp, the sun would still shine. What need is there for a lamp? This is the danger in associating with kings. It is not that you may lose your life—we must lose our life in the end anyway, whether today or tomorrow does not matter. The danger arises from the fact that when kings enter upon the scene, and the spell of their influence gains strength, becoming like a great lamp, the person who keeps company with them, claims their friendship, and accepts money from them will inevitably speak in accordance with their desires.

Therefore, it was not ten or a hundred things, but one thing that drew us. ” The many things of this world are a trial appointed by God, for they hide the single reality. There is a saying that the saint is one, humankind is a hundred, meaning the saint’s whole attention remains upon the one truth, while people are scattered over a hundred appearances. But which hundred? Which fifty? Which sixty? Lost in this world of mirrored reflections, they are a faceless people without hands and feet, without mind and Soul, quivering like a magic talisman, like quicksilver or mercury.

I cannot speak otherwise. However, those who learn the song of birds are not birds themselves—on the contrary, they are the enemies of birds and their captors. They sing and whistle so others will take them for birds. Ask them to produce a different sound and they can do so, because that sound is merely assumed by them. It is not truly their own. Like the scholars, they are able to sing other songs because they have learned to rob those songs, and to show off a different tune stolen from every breast.

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