Education for PeaceSpirituality for Peace

Shaikh Saadi’s ‘Bostan’: ‘Let humility be your direction if you wish to attain dignity’

Humility is a simple ritual for a devotee. If you want success, be humble; there's no other ladder to climb on.

Shaikh Saadi’s ‘Bostan’: ‘Let humility be your direction if you wish to attain dignity’“You, O creature of God, who was created from dust. So be as modest as the powder you were made from. Don’t be covetous, jealous or intimidating. You ‘re dust-like, mind, and not flames. When the awful fire raises its head, dust bows down in humility.  So because fire was proud, so dust meek, from the former, and from the latter, humanity, were created demons.

“A sagacious young man of a noble family landed at Turkey’s seaport, and his baggage was deposited in a mosque as he showed piety and wisdom. One day the priest said to him: ‘Sweep away the dust and garbage from the mosque.’ As the young man went away immediately, the elderly and his disciples concluded that he did not want to work. ‘And he did respond. ‘I didn’t see any garbage or rubbish at the holy place except my own dishonest self. And I left, it’s easier for a mosque to get rid of like me.’ Humility is the only practice for a devotee. If you want success, be humble; there’s no other ladder to climb on.

“When Bayazid came out of his bath one morning during the Eid festival, someone unwittingly emptied a tray of ashes from the window above his head. He rubbed his hands in appreciation with his face and turban all bespattered and said: ‘I am truly worthy of the flames of hell. Why should I be angry with a few ashes:’ The great ones do not look at themselves; do not look for godliness in self-consciousness. Eminence does not consist of terms of outward appearance and pretense, nor of modesty of height and pretension. On Judgment Day you’ll see those in Paradise who were finding the truth and denying false pretensions. He who is stiff-headed and obdurate falls on his face; if you desire greatness, abandon pride.”

Neither require someone who holds earthly vanities to pursue the path of faith, nor seek godliness in someone who wallows in imagination. Seek no more noble place in the universe than to be recognized as a man of praiseworthy character. You do not admire one of the same rank who is disrespectful against you, so do not do the same to others. Do not laugh at those who are lowly; they may have dropped from far higher positions, and you may have endured the same.One holds the chain of the Kaaba in his hands; another lies drunken in the tavern.  When the latter is named by God who will drive him away. When the former is rejected from God who will get him back? We can’t implore the divine nor is the door closed to repentance.

“One day, in the court of Ghazi, a badly dressed law and divinity doctor sat in the front row. The Ghazi gave him a stern look, whereupon the usher took the man by his arm and said: ‘Do you not know that you do not have the best place? Just take a seat below, get up, or leave the court entirely. Do not be brave enough to claim the seat of the powerful. If you are modest, don’t just pose as a lion. Not all is deserving of the chief seat; honor is commensurate with rank, and rank with merit. He who sits in a position in which he is deserving of honor, does not fall from eminence.

“Fuming with frustration, the doctor moved to a lower seat. Two advocates in the court then entered into a heated debate, entangled in a complicated knot that neither could undo. From the last row of seats, the tattered doctor loudly exclaimed: ‘It is not the veins of the neck that should stand out in argument,’ he said, ‘but the proofs that should be important.’ He has received praise from everyone with his eloquence. The Ghazi was embarrassed and he sent them to the doctor, taking off his cloak and turban as a sign of his gratitude. But the doctor dismissed them, saying: ‘Do not put the fetters of dignity on my head, for tomorrow this fifty-yard turban will turn my hands off those in jaded garb. A man’s head needs intelligence and brains, not an intimidating turban like yours.'”

“A certain man knew astronomy, and was filled with pride. He traveled far away and met their sage Kushyar, who could not teach him anything. Disappointed, Kushyar was about to leave when he said the following words: ‘You think you’re full of expertise. How can you get more from a vessel which is full? Remove your pretensions, so you can handle them more. You go naked, full of ego.’

“Someone heard a dog barking in the ruined hut of a holy man. He went in search but found no sign of a dog; only the devotee was in the hut. As he was about to leave, the hut owner said: Come in; why are you standing by the door? Don’t you know, friend, that it was I who barked? When I understood that modesty was acceptable to God,I banished pride and vanity from my heart and barked at the door of God, for I saw none more lowly than a dog. If you wish to attain dignity, let humility be your path.’’

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