(1207 – 1273)
In the time of Shu’ayb a certain man said,
“God has seen everything I’ve done wrong,
and yet in his kindness, He hasn’t punished me.”
God spoke in a mysterious way to Shu’ayb,
“Answer him, ‘You say, “God has not
punished me,” but the opposite is true.
God has punished you, but you are not aware of it.
You are wandering in a wilderness without
direction. You are bound hand and foot.
You’re a pot accumulating layers of rust.
You’re getting blinder and blinder
to spiritual things. When smoke hits
a new copper pot, one sees the effect
immediately, but with a surface
so blackened as yours, who can tell
when it gets more blackened?
When you quit meditating, the layers of rust
eat into your soul-mirror. There’s no sheen.
If you write once on a sheet of paper,
it can be read, but when you scribble
over and over, the script
Dip yourself in the acid that cleans copper.
Lay out your blackenedness clearly.”’
Shu’ayb said this, and with one inbreath,
roses began to bloom in the man’s chest.
But he said, “Still, I want a sign
that God has punished me.”
God, through Shu’ayb, said,
“I will not reveal your secrets,
but I will give you
an indication that you will understand:
You have many devotions to your credit,
much fasting and ritual prayer,
but you haven’t relished those acts.
There are lots of walnut shells,
but none with a sweet nut inside.
There must be a tastiness,
a seed of delight, or the berry
will not make a sapling that later
becomes a fruit-producing tree.
Joyless practising without savour
is just fantasy.”