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It was in China, late one moonless night, The Simorgh first appeared to mortal sight – He let a feather float

down through the air, And rumours of its fame spread everywhere;

” . How is it we alone have no such thing? Only a kingdom can be justly run. All nations in the world require a king. We need a king and must inquire for one.The world’s birds gathered for their conference And said: “Our constitution makes no sense.

When unity is achieved. In the valley of unity the Hoopoe announces that although you may see many beings. understanding. which is complete in its unity. As you realize that the individual self does not really exist. the drop becomes part of the great ocean forever in peace. and self-love. So long as you do not realize your nothingness and do not renounce your self-pride. unity. The valley of understanding teaches that knowledge is temporary. love. independence and detachment. but when you lose yourself in the divine essence. Out of thousands of birds only thirty reach the end of the journey. In the valley of independence and detachment one has no desire to possess nor any wish to discover. they will be transcended by love. astonishment. The Hoopoe declares that the last valley of deprivation and death is almost impossible to describe.The Conference of the Birds Farīd ud-Dīn Attār 1177 AD The journey of the birds takes them through the seven valleys of the quest. After one has been tested and becomes free. By annihilating themselves gloriously in the Simurgh they find themselves in joy. They begin a new life in the Simurgh and contemplate the inner world. vanity. When the light of lights is manifested and they are in peace. As long as you are separate. good and evil will arise. you will not reach the heights of immortality. in reality there is only one. one forgets all and forgets oneself in the valley of astonishment and bewilderment. To cross this difficult valley one must be roused from apathy to renounce inner and outer attachments so that one can become self-sufficient. but understanding endures. . In the valley of the quest one undergoes a hundred difficulties and trials. Overcoming faults and weaknesses brings the seeker closer to the goal. one learns in the valley of love that love has nothing to do with reason. In the immensity of the divine ocean the pattern of the present world and the future world dissolves. and receive immortality. and finally poverty and nothingness. learn the secrets. they become aware that the Simurgh is them.

belief and unbelief--all cease to exist. you still will have to detach yourself from all that exists. which seek to devour him. Then he will no longer fear the dragons.The Valley of the Quest “When you enter the first valley. a hundred difficulties will assail you. the guardians of the door. When you are sure that you possess nothing. You will have to spend several years there. He will ask of his cup-bearer a draught of wine. When the door is opened and he enters. you will have to make great efforts. then dogma. You will have to give up all that has seemed precious to you and regard as nothing all that you possess.” . and to change your state. One who enters here will be filled with such longing that he will give himself up completely to the quest symbolized by this valley. the Parrot of heaven is no more than a fly. the Valley of the Quest. There. Your heart will then be saved from perdition and you will see the pure light of Divine Majesty and your real wishes will be multiplied to infinity. and he has drunk it nothing will matter except the pursuit of his true aim. you will undergo a hundred trials.

Another bird said: “Is audacity Allowable before such majesty? One needs audacity to conquer fear -But is it right in His exalted sphere?” .

True love knows no after-thoughts. Reason cannot live with the folly of love. to be united to his friend.” “But as for you. When love comes reason disappears.” “In this valley. stakes his head even.” . If a fish is thrown onto the beach by the waves it struggles to get back into the water. But if you look at things with the eye of ordinary reason you will never understand how necessary it is to love. good and evil cease to exist. Until the falcon reaches his aim he is agitated and distressed. The face of the lover must be enflamed. If you possessed inner sight. If he who sets out on this way will not engage himself wholly and completely he will never be free from the sadness and melancholy which weigh him down. Others content themselves with what they will do for you tomorrow. the atoms of the visible world would be manifested to you. the heedless and careless. your teeth will not even nibble at it. To enter it one must be a flaming fire--what shall I say? A man must himself be fire. burning and impetuous as fire. He who undertakes this journey should have a thousand hearts so that he can sacrifice one at every moment.The Valley of Love “The next valley is the Valley of Love. love is represented by fire. Only a man who has been tested and is free can feel this. and reason by smoke. this discourse will not touch you. A loyal person stakes ready money. with love. love gas nothing to do with human reason.

he will ponder over thousands of bright secrets. who have not seen the beauty of your friend. there comes another--the Valley of Understanding. and the distance to be traveled to cross it is beyond reckoning. and each will approach nearer to his aim according to his effort. but knowledge is temporary. No way is equal to this way. like a donkey without a halter! . When the mystery of the essence of beings reveals itself clearly to him the furnace of this world becomes a garden of flowers. Understanding can be arrived at variously--some have found the Mihrab. Even if a gnat were to fly with all its might could it equal the speed of the wind? There are different ways of crossing this Valley. As for you who are asleep (and I cannot commend you for this). but will look up at the face of his friend. is in a state of progress or decline. In each atom he will see the whole. He will no longer be pre-occupied with himself. The soul. and the Spiritual Way reveals itself only in the degree to which the traveler has overcome his faults and weaknesses. his sleep and his inertia. others the idol. get up and search! How long will you stay as you are. which has neither beginning nor end. like the body. how many have lost their way in this search for one who has found the mysteries! It is necessary to have a deep and lasting wish to become as we ought to be in order to cross this difficult valley. When the sun of understanding brightens this road each receives light according to his merit and he finds the degree assigned to him in the understanding of truth. But. He who is striving will be able to see the almond in its hard shell.The Valley of Understanding After the valley of which I have spoken. Once you have tasted the secrets you will have a real wish to understand them. for each traveler. and all birds do not fly alike. is enduring. Understanding. why not put on mourning? You.

the seven oceans are no more than a pool. . the seven hells broken ice. Myriads of gnats fell on the army of Abrahah so that that king would be overthrown. would there be found in the depths of a pit the leg of a lame ant? If there remain no trace of either of men or jinn. an astonishing thing. In this Valley nothing old or new has value. you can act or not act. So that Noah might become a carpenter of God and build the ark. and if everything were to be annihilated. from the fish to the moon. If you saw a whole world burning until hearts were only shish kabab. In order that Adam might receive the celestial light. the seven heavens a corpse. and a hundred caravans perish while a rook is filling his crop. In this state of the soul a cold wind blows. hosts of green-clad angels were consumed by sorrow.The Valley of Independence and Detachment The there comes the valley where there is neither the desire to possess nor the wish to discover. the secret of a drop of water from which all has been formed is still to be pondered over. Thousands of hearts and souls were pillaged so that Muhammad might ascend for one night to heaven. it would be only a dream compared to reality. Thousands of the first-born died so that Moses might see God. If heaven and earth were to burst into minute particles it would be no more than a leaf falling from a tree. If myriads of souls were to fall into this boundless ocean it would be as a drop of dew. Then. thousands of creatures perished in the waters. so violent that in a moment it devastates an immense space. the seven planets a mere sparkle. Thousands of people took to the Christian girdles so that Christ could possess the secret of God. beyond reason! An ant has the strength of a hundred elephants.

All who raise their heads here raise them from the same collar.The Valley of Unity “You will next have to cross the Valley of unity. When all that is visible is reduced to nothing. Again. cease to speak of them. Although you seem to see many beings. In this valley everything is broken in pieces and then unified. that which you see as a unity is not different from that which appears in numbers. in reality there is only one--all make one which is complete in its unity. and since these two eternities have vanished. what is there left to contemplate?” . And as the Being of whom I speak is beyond unity and numbering. cease to think of eternity as before and after.

and a burning eagerness. or are you not? Have you or have you not the feeling of existence? Are you in the middle or on the border? Are you mortal or immortal?” he will reply with certainty: “I know nothing.The Valley of Astonishment and Bewilderment After the Valley of Unity comes the Valley of Astonishment and Bewilderment. If he is asked: “Are you. yet a man is depressed and despondent. shall he continue his way? But he who has achieved unity forgets all and forgets himself. I am unaware of myself. in his bewilderment.” . There sighs are like swords. I understand nothing. and each breath a bitter sight. where one is a prey to sadness and dejection. It is at once day and night. there. I am in love. How. My heart is at the same time both full and empty of love. There. is fire. but with whom I do not know. is sorrow and lamentation.

” . or are you not? Have you or have you not the feeling of existence? Are you in the middle or on the border? Are you mortal or immortal?” he will reply with certainty: “I know nothing. is sorrow and lamentation. where one is a prey to sadness and dejection. There sighs are like swords. in his bewilderment. I understand nothing. there. yet a man is depressed and despondent. is fire. There. My heart is at the same time both full and empty of love. shall he continue his way? But he who has achieved unity forgets all and forgets himself. It is at once day and night. and each breath a bitter sight.The Valley of Deprivation and Death After the Valley of Unity comes the Valley of Astonishment and Bewilderment. If he is asked: “Are you. How. and a burning eagerness. I am in love. I am unaware of myself. but with whom I do not know.

The hoopoe answered him: “Dear nightingale. Renounce delusion and prepare your wings For our great quest. This superficial love which makes you quail Is only for the outward show of things. sharp thorns defend the rose And beauty such as hers too quickly goes. True love will see such empty transience .

They guard the secrets of our glorious king And therefore are not kept from anything -But how could one who knows such secrets be Convicted of the least audacity? Since he is filled with reverence to the brim. And madmen are beyond reproach or blame -When madness chooses you to be its prey We’ll hear what crazy things you have to say.) But think of some new’s audacity Will have him walking on the restless sea. (The ignorant. A breath of boldness is permitted him. it’s true. some young boy Whose boldness comes from mere excess of joy. What does he do but blindly imitate? He’s like some soldier who kicks up a din And spoils the ranks with his indiscipline. we should admire This love that turns him to a blazing fire. If one should dare To ape the ways of the initiate. Such ways are laudable. can never share The secrets of our king. One can’t expect discretion from a flame. He has no certain knowledge of the Way And what seems rudeness is but loving play -He’s like a madman -.Another bird said: “Is audacity Allowable before such majesty? One needs audacity to conquer fear -But is it right in His exalted sphere?” The hoopoe said: “Those who are worthy reach A subtle understanding none can teach. .