Monday, February 19, 2007

Rumi on Free Will

“Yes,” said the lion, “but the God of whom we are servants set a ladder before our feet.

Step by step we must climb towards the roof, to be a fatalist here is to indulge in foolish hopes.

You have feet: why do you make yourself out to be lame? You have hands: why do you pretend not to have fingers?

When the master put a spade in the slave’s hand, his intention was made known without words.

Hand and spade alike are God’s implicit signs: to think about the end is God’s explicit instruction.

When you take God’s signs to heart, and you devote your life to fulfilling that indication,

You will be given may hints of mysteries, the burden will be removed from you, and you will be given authority.

Do you bear it? Then you will be lifted up. Do you receive commands? Then you will be received.

If you accept God’s command, you will become the spokesman. If you seek union, then you will become united.

Free will is the endeavor to thank God for God’s beneficence: your failure to accept responsibility is the denial of that beneficence.

Thanksgiving for the power of acting freely increases your power. Denying responsibility takes the gift of free will out of your hand.

Your irresponsibility is like sleeping in the road: do not sleep. Do not sleep until you see the gate and the threshold.

Beware. Do not sleep, inconsiderate one, except underneath that divinely given fruit-laden tree,

So that every moment the wind may shake the branches and shower upon the sleeper spiritual desserts, and provisions for the journey.

Abjuration of responsibility is to sleep among highwaymen and the devil: should the rooster that crows too early be fed or butchered?

And if by turning up your nose at God’s signs you deem yourself a brave and wise man, then consider more deeply and see you are less than a man, something weak and foolish.

The measure of understanding which you possessed is thus lost: and a head from which understanding has been severed becomes an eager ass,

Because ingratitude is wickedness and disgrace: it brings the ingrate to the bottom of Hell-fire.

If you are putting trust in God, put trust in God as regards your work: Sow the seed, then rely upon the Almighty.

~Masnavi i masnavi, book I, verses 929-947

Jalalu’ddin Rumi, Konya, Anatolia, ca. 1255