Monday, April 11, 2011

Spend! Spend! Spend!

from Rumi's Tales from the Silk Road - Kamla Kapur, translator, from the Mathnawi:

Farad was a happy, joyous man who roamed from town to town. He owned nothing but the clothes on his back and tattered shoes that were adequate for his travels. He knew that when they fell apart, Allah would provide him with a pair of old shoes that would do. They may be a bit too big, or a tiny bit too small, but good enough to protect his feet. Once a stranger had even taken Farad to a shop and bought him a pair of shining new shoes that fit very well! Sometimes he had to go without food, or make do with only a crust, but never for too long because there were always kind people who fed him enough to keep him healthy and happy. Didn't the mullah of his mosque always tell him to trust in Allah? Farad's trust was never betrayed. When you throw yourself on Allah's mercy, He provides.

Because Farad's faith had relieved him of struggle and worry, he spent all of his time adoring Allah, being happy and singing his joy at the top of his lungs.

One day, skipping down the street of a town far from his own village, merrily singing a song, Farad heard the sound of crying and lamenting. He turned the corner and there, kneeling over his dog, was the mullah from his village, weeping loudly. The dog looked very thin and emaciated, his ribs showing through the thin upholstery of his skin. He was breathing his last breath.

"What happened?" Farad asked the mullah to whom he owed so much of his faith and joy.

"My dog," sobbed the mullah. "He's dying! I loved him so much! He was such a faithful companion - he loved me when I was alone, hunted for me, caught prey for my food, watched over me at night."

"Is he sick? Did someone harm him?"

"Hunger," replied the mullah. "He's dying of hunger! No, look, he's dead. He has breathed his last!"

" can that be?" Farad asked, confused about how the mullah's dog could die of starvation. The mullah, thanks to contributions by his congregation, was well off. Seeing a fat bag lying by the mullah, he asked, "What's in this?"

"My food bag," replied the mullah, tears streaming down his face.

"But why didn't you give some morsels to your dog?" the dumbfounded man asked.

"I'm going for Hajj, and Mecca is a long way from here. I will need all this food for the journey."

"Oh, mullah, you are nothing but a water-skin full of wind! You do not live your sermons!"

"Sermons are all very well, but one has to be practical. What will I eat when there isn't any left? If I don't provide for myself, who will?"

"God, O fool, God! It is your ego that keeps you from trusting! It is your ego that keeps you from love! It is your ego that worries about the future! Let go your ego that makes you constantly struggle and fear, and God will provide. You taught me to tame my ego but couldn't tame your own. Despite knowing the truth, you have chosen your ego over trust, a crust of bread over the feast of love! Do not hoard up the purse of your service, but give everything for love! God tells us: Spend! Spend! Spend! Hold nothing back! Rush into the fire of love like a moth, O ignorant mullah!"

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