All people are children
to the guide!
For a newborn child, the father babbles,
though his own intelligence encompasses the world.
One must adopt the child's language
to convey knowledge.
All the people, then, are children to the guide:
this the teacher remembers
when he attempts to teach.
Bahr-e tefl-e naw pedar ti-ti konad
garcheh `aqlesh handaseh-ye giti konad
Kam na-gardad fazl-e ostâd az `olu
gar alf chizi na-dârad guyad u
Az pay-e ta`lim ân basteh dahan
az zabân-e khvod berun bâyad
Dar zabân-e u be-bâyad âmadan
tâ biyâmuzad ze to u `elm o fann
-- Mathnawi II:3315-3318
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra
The ant trembles for a grain (of wheat) because it is
blind to the goodly threshing-floors.
It drags a grain along greedily and fearfully, for it
not see such a noble stack of winnowed wheat (as is
The Owner of the threshing-floor is saying (to the ant),
"Hey, thou who in thy blindness demist nothing
Hast thou regarded that (alone) as belonging to My
threshing-floors, so that thou art devoted* with
(all) thy soul to that (single) grain?"
O thou who in semblance art (insignificant as) a mote,
look at Saturn; thou art a lame ant: go, look at
Thou art not this body: thou art that (spiritual) Eye.
hast beheld the spirit, thou art delivered from the
Man (essentially) is eye: the rest (of him) is (mere)
and skin: whatsoever his eye has beheld, he is that
A jar will submerge a mountain with (its) water when
the eye of the jar is open to the Sea.
When from the soul (interior) of the jar a channel is
the Sea, the jar will overwhelm the Jayhun (Oxus)*.
For that reason whatsoever the speech (voice) of Ahmad
I (Mohammed) may utter, the words are (really)
uttered by the Sea.
All his words were pearls of the Sea, for his heart
had a passage into the Sea.
Since the bounty of the Sea is (poured) through our jar,
what wonder (that) the Sea (itself) should be
(contained) in a Fish?*
The sensual eye is fixed on the form of the
thou art regarding it as a
thoroughfare, but he
(the Perfect Man)as a permanent abode.
This dualism is characteristic of the eye that sees
but (in reality) the first is the last and the last
is the first.
Hark, by what means is this made known (to thee)? By
of the (spiritual) resurrection. Seek to experience
resurrection: do not dispute concerning (that)
The (necessary) condition of (experiencing) the Day of
is to die first, for (the word) ba'th (resurrection) is
(signifies) "to raise to life from the dead."
Hence all the world have taken the wrong way, for they
are afraid of non-existence, though it is (really)
the refuge (in which they find salvation).
Whence shall we seek (true) knowledge? From renouncing
(our false) knowledge. Whence shall we seek (true)
peace? From renouncing peace (with our carnal selves).
Whence shall we seek (real) existence? From renouncing
existence. Whence shall we seek the apple (of Truth)?
From renouncing the hand (of self-assertion
O best Helper, only Thou canst make the eye that regards
the non-existent to regard that which is (really)
The eye that was produced from non-existence regarded
Essence of (real) Being as wholly non-existent;
(But), if (thy) two eyes are transformed and illumined,
this well-ordered world becomes the scene of the
-- "The Mathnawi of Jalalu'ddin Rumi"( Volume VI:
Mathnawi selection, with footnotes and a Persian
from Dr. Ibrahim Gamard.
--Translation and Commentary by Reynold A. Nicholson
Published and Distributed by The Trustees of
The "E.J.W. Gibb Memorial"
*devoted: "Perhaps it would be better to translate:
. . because thou art devoted. . . '" (Nicholson,
*Solomon: refers to the story of Solomon and the ants,
*Jayhún (Oxus): a river in Central Asia. An idiom
meaning a great
*Fish: "i.e. in a Perfect man (prophet or saint)"
"Cf. the Hadíth-i qudsí. . . 'Neither My earth nor My
Me, but I am contained in the heart of My faithful
*thoroughfare: "i.e. on the phenomenal aspect of things"
*permanent abode: "The translation of the second
hemistich should run:
'thou regardest him as (only) a thoroughfare, while (in
reality) he is
the permanent resting-place.'" (Nicholson)
*the first: "Cf. . . Qur'an 57:3: 'He is the First and
the Last. . .'"
mûr bar dâna ba-d-ân larzân shaw-ad
ke ze kermân-hâ-yé khwash a`mà bûd
mê kash-ad ân dâna-râ bâ HirS-o bîm
ke na-mê-bîn-ad chonân châsh-é karîm
SâHib-é kherman hamê gôy-ad ke hay
ay ze kûrî pêsh-é tô ma`dûm shay
tô ze kherman-hâ-yé mâ ân dîda-î
ke dar ân dâna ba-jân pêchîda-î
ay ba-Sûrat Zarra, kaywân-râ be-bîn
mûr-é lang-î, raw sulaymân-râ be-bîn
tô na-î în jism, tô ân dîda-î
wâ rah-î az jism, gar jân dîda-î
âdamê dîd-ast, bâqî gôsht-o pôst
har-che chasm-ash dîda-ast ân chêz ô-st
kûh-râ gharqa kon-ad yak khom ze nam
manfaZ-ash chûn bâz bâsh-ad sôy-é yam
chûn ba-daryâ râh shod az jân-é khom
khomm bâ jayHûn bar âr-ad oshtolom
z-an sabab qul gofta-î daryâ bow-ad
har-che naTq-é aHmadê gôyâ bow-ad
gofta-yé ô jomla durr-é baHr bûZ
ke del-ash-râ bûd dar daryâ nafûZ
dâd-é daryâ chûn ze khumm-é mâ bow-ad
che `ajab dar mâhiyê daryâ bow-ad?
chashm-é hiss afsord bar naqsh-é mamar
to-sh mamar mê-bîn-î wo ô mustaqar
în dowî awSâf-é dîd-e aHwal-ast
w-ar-na awwal âkhir, âkhir awwal-ast
hay ze che ma`lûm kard-ad în? ze ba`S
ba`S-râ jô, kam kon andar ba`s baHS
sharT-é rôz-é ba`S awwal mordan-ast
z-ânka ba`S az morda zenda kardan-ast
jomla `âlam z-în ghalaT kard-and râh
k-az `adam tars-and-o ân âm-ad panâh
az kojâ jôy-êm `ilm? az tark-é `ilm
az kojâ jôy-êm silm? az tark-é silm
az kojâ jôy-êm hast? az tark-é hast
az kojâ jôy-êm sêb? az tark-é dast
ham tô tân-î kard yâ ni`ma 'l-mu`în
dîda'ê ma`dûm-bîn-râ hast-bîn
dîda'yê k-ô az `adam âm-ad padîd
Zât-é hastî-râ hama ma`dûm dîd
în jahân-é muntaZim maHshar shaw-ad
gar dô dîda mubdal-o anwar shaw-ad
-- Rumi's Mathnawi VI:806-827
Transliteration courtesy of Ibrahim Gamard