The story of the sufi who was meditating in the midst of a
garden, (with his) head upon a knee. His friends said,1 "Raise
(your) head up and delight in looking at the garden! (Smell) the
sweet herbs, (hear) the birds, and (enjoy) 'the signs of the
Mercy of God' Most High!"
1358 A sufi (was sitting) in a garden for the sake of (receiving
spiritual) joy;2 he had placed (his) face upon a knee in the sufi
Then he went down deeply into himself. (However), an intrusive
meddler became disgusted by his appearance of being asleep.
1360 (So he said), "For what (reason) are you sleeping? Just look
at the vines! Notice these trees, the green plants, and the signs [of
"Hear the command of God, who said, 'Look!'4 Turn (your) face
toward the signs of Mercy."
(The sufi) replied, "His signs are in the heart, O man of
changeable desires. That (which is) external is nothing more (than)
the sign of the signs."
The (real) gardens and meadows (are) within the soul's original
nature. (And) its reflection on the outside, is like (the reflection) in
a flowing stream:
It is (only) the apparition of the garden in the water, which
undulates due to the subtle (movements) of the water.
1365 The (real) gardens and fruits are within the heart, (and only)
the reflection of their graceful beauty is upon the material world.5
If it were not for the reflection of that joyous Cypress,6 then God
would not have called it a place of deception.7
This deception is that-- in other words, this apparition (which)
exists by means of the reflection of the hearts and spirits of (holy)
(And) all the deceived ones have come to (view) this reflection in
the belief that this is the place of Paradise.
They are (actually) running away from the origins of the gardens,
(and) are acting with foolish amusement over an illusion.
1370 (But) when their dream of forgetfulness comes to an end,9
they see correctly, yet what advantage is that seeing (to them
Then lamentation and sighs occur in the graveyard. (And) because
of this mistake (of theirs), (they groan) "Oh, what regret!"10 until
1372 Oh (how) happy (is) the one who died before death11--
meaning, that he got scent of the origin of this "vineyard!"12
--From "The Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî" [Rhymed Couplets of
Deep Spiritual Meaning] of Jalaluddin Rumi.
Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard (with
gratitude for R. A. Nicholson's 1930 British translation)
© Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration)
First published on "Sunlight" (yahoogroups.com), 6/29/00
Notes on the text, with line number:
1. (Heading) His friends said: "This apologue resembles a story of
Rábi`ah: 'One day in spring she entered the house and bowed her
head (in meditation). The serving-woman said, 'O mistress, come
out and behold what God hath made.' Rábi`ah answered, 'Do thou
come in and behold the Maker: shaghalaní mushádatu 'l-Sáni` `an
mutála`ati 'l-mawtihá" [= "The contemplation of the Maker
preoccupies me, so that I do not care to look upon what He has
made."-- trans. by Arberry] (Nicholson, Commentary) Râbi`ah was
a famous woman sufi, who lived during the eighth century, C.E. [=
2. (1358) joy [goshâda]: literally, "opening." Nicholson translated,
"for the sake of (mystical) revelation."
3. (1358) face upon a knee in the sufi manner: refers to the standard
sufi practice of sitting with forehead on a raised knee during
spiritual meditation [murâqiba]. This posture allows both alertness
and relaxation of the body for the purpose of single-minded
concentration. It can include meditating on a verse of the Qur'an,
contemplating the face of one's spiritual master, and guarding the
heart from unworthy thoughts or from thoughts about anything
other than God.
4. (1361) Look!: the first word in a verse of the Qur'an-- "Then look
at the signs of God's Mercy, how He revives the earth after its
death. Truly, that same One will revive the dead (on the Day of
Resurrection), for He has power over all things." (30:50)
5. (1365 the material world: literally, "(body of) water and clay."
Means the beauty of the physical world, as well as the human body
(which God made out of water and clay-- Qur'an 25:54; 38:71).
6. (1366) that joyous Cypress: "The heart of the saint." (Nicholson,
footnote) Nicholson also explained, "The straightness and
symmetry of the cypress correspond to the perfect rectitude
(istiqámat) and equipoise (i`tidál) of the heart in which all realities
are revealed." "Everything good and beautiful derives from these
qualities from the Divine goodness and beauty reflected in the
heart of the Perfect Man." (Commentary)
7. (1366) a place of deception: "And what is the life of this world, but
a pleasant deception [ghurûr]?" (Qur'an 57:20)
8. (1367) of (holy) men: see note above about the heart of the
"Perfect Man"-- the saint who has attained "spiritual completion"
and who reflects the qualities of God.
9. (1370) comes to an end: means at the time of physical death.
10. (1371) Oh, what regret!: from Qur'an 339:56
11. (1372) died before death: refers to the saying of the Prophet
Muhammad, "Die before you die." This means to die to
attachments to the world and to act as if one is in the presence of
God. The sufis interpret this as "mystical death" resulting from
"annihilation" or "passing away" [fanâ] of the transient and
"remaining" [baqâ] in the presence of God, the Eternal.
12. (1372) the origin of this "vineyard": refers to what was said earlier
about how "the origins of the gardens" are "the reflection of the
hearts and spirits of (holy) men."
qissa-yé Sûfî ke dar meyân-é golestân sar ba-zânû murâqib
bûd. yâr-ân-ash goft-and sar bar âwar tafarruj kon bar golestân
wa riyâhîn wa morgh-ân wa âSâr-é raHmati 'llâhi ta`âlà
1358 Sûfiyé dar bâgh az bahr-é goshâd
Sûfiyâna rôy bar zânû nehâd
pas forô raft ô ba-khwad andar noghôl
shod malûl az Sûrat-é khwâb-ash faZûl
1360 ke che khosp-î, âkhir andar raz negar
în derakht-ân bîn-o âSâr-o khuZar
amr-é Haq be-sh'naw ke goft-ast unZurû
sôy-é în âSâr-é raHmat âr rû
goft âSâr-ash del-ast ay bû 'l-hawas
ân borûn âSâr-é âSâr-ast-o bas
bâgh-hâ-wo sabza-hâ dar `ayn-é jân
bar borûn `aks-ash chô dar âb-é rawân
ân kheyâl-é bâgh bâsh-ad andar âb
ke kon-ad az luTf-é âb ân iZTirâb
1365 bâgh-hâ-wo mêwa-hâ andar del-ast
`aks-é luTf-é ân bar-în âb-o gel-ast
gar na-bûdy `aks-é ân sarw-é surûr
pas na-khwândy îzad-ash dâru 'l-ghurûr
în ghurûr ân-ast ya`nî în kheyâl
hast az `aks-é del-o jân-é rijâl
jumla maghrûr-ân bar-în `aks âmada
bar gomânê k-în bow-ad jannat-kada
mê-gorêz-and az uSûl-é bâgh-hâ
bar kheyâlê mê-kon-and ân lâgh-hâ
1370 chûn-ke khwâb-é ghaflat ây-ad-shân ba-sar
râst bîn-and-o che sûd-ast ân naZar?
pas ba-gôrestân gherêw oftâd-o âh
tâ qiyâmat z-în ghalaT wâ Hasratâh
1372 ay khunuk ân-râ ke pêsh az marg mord
ya`nî ô az aSl-é în raz bôy bord
(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)