O thou, who hast got into thy palm but the ocean's foam, and of thy possessions hast made the semblance of an array; thou hast not laid hold of the pearl's true substance, for that thou art occupied only concerning the shell; withhold thy hand from these lack-lustre shells, and bring up the bright pearl from the ocean depths. The pearl without its shell is cherished in the heart, the shell without its pearl is clay
to be thrown aside; the pearl's value comes not from the shell,--the arrow's value comes from its hitting the mark.
He who knows of his own sight the pebbles of the sea-bottom will not mistake sheep's dung for pearls of the sea; while he who stands aside on this stream's shore can lay no claim to its shining pearls.
The, lines of the Qur'ân are like unto faith's shore, for it gives ewe to heart and soul; its bounty and its might are as the encircling sea around the soul's world; its depths are full of pearls and jewels, its shores abound in aloes-wood and ambergris; knowledge of first and last is scattered from it for benefit of soul and body both.
Be pure, that the hidden meanings may appear to thee from out the cage of the letters, for till a man come forth from his impurity how can the Qur'ân come forth from its letters? As long as thou art veiled inside thy Self, what difference, to thee or to thy understanding,
is there between evil and good? In the letter of the Qur'ân is no healing for thy soul,--the goat grows not fat on the goatherd's call; nor soon nor late the water of his dream satisfies the thirsty one in his helplessness. Thou, who art in thraldom to pen and ink, canst not distinguish between face and veil; in the world of the Word at least, the word's outward characters are not esteemed to be its life.
When thou settest foot in that country. He will teach thee the alphabet of sincerity, and when thou shalt recite the alphabet of the faith thou shalt know sun and Pleiades for thy father and ancestors; such is the way of the loyal followers, and such too is the alphabet of the lovers.
Dark is the veil on the face of day; the verse of its conceits is very subtle. If thou wouldst have a treasure for thy soul and heart, recite with heart and soul a verse from it; that in it thou mayest find the jewel of the truth, the essential basis of thy faith; that thou mayest find the casket of the incomparable pearl, and know the pure gold from the silver; that glorious as the sun and moon there may appear to thee from behind the dark screen its own beautiful face, like a bride who comes forth lovely and joyous from out her gauzy veil.