Brian Wilcox. 'Androscoggin River Series~no. 24'
In painting, the line should never look as if made with a ruler, which is dead because it is perfectly straight.
*Yutang Lin. The Chinese Theory of Art.
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I enjoy coffee. I want the best-tasting affordable coffee, seeing I drink coffee daily. Researchers did a study on the taste of various coffee brands. They matched upscale, more expensive brands with more affordable store brands. The study was a blind study, so the tasters did not know what brand they were tasting. The result - the tastiest brands were among the less costly. Appearance, how something is presented or appears to us, this can easily mislead us.
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The Sage's followers had been complaining among themselves about the lack of discipline of other followers among them. In a sharing session, one of them lamented to the Sage about this. Others expressed concern that persons might be discouraged from staying in the group, others from joining it, if the Sage did not remedy this laxness. The Sage told a story.
There was a town with a few Muslims wherein a muezzin - the caller to prayer in Isalm - lived. He gave his whole heart to serving Allah and his fellow Muslims in this way. With enthusiasm, at the set hours of prayer, he ascended the tower of the mosque and from the balcony called out the summons to prayer.
The town elders were continually pleading with the man to quit, believing that, instead of calling people to prayer, he might be scaring them away. The muezzin had a voice that made persons cringe. The man paid no heed to these urgings.
One early dawn, a well-dressed man, holding a tray full of sweets and lit candles, came into town and asked directions to the muezzin. The people asked why. He said it was because the muezzin had brought much comfort and calm to his household. "How could his awful voice bring comfort?" one townsperson asked. "I have a daughter who's been wanting to convert to Islam," the man replied. "We've been trying to dissuade her, but to no avail. It's as if love for Islam had penetrated her soul and sunk its roots firm and deep."
The father took a long breath, as he noticed everyone was eager to hear his story. "I was crushed, knowing that if my daughter changed her faith, we'd lose her. I couldn't figure out what to do!" "So, what made you look for the muezzin caller?" inquired an onlooker. "When she heard the muezzin, everything changed!" he said, grinning. "She'd never heard such an awful sound before. She couldn't believe this noise was the call to prayer; her sister confirmed her worst doubts. She still wasn't convinced and asked others, who all said the same thing. When she finally accepted this was the call to prayer, all attraction she had for Islam vanished! She couldn't reconcile that the beautiful religion she had fallen in love with could include such a crude detail. For the first time in ages, I've been able to sleep soundly at night. I owe it to the muezzin caller!"
The father spotted the muezzin walking to the mosque for the call to prayer. The muezzin, as always when preparing to give the call, had a big smile. The father approached him, gratefully offering the gifts he had brought, saying, "At last, you've put my mind to rest! You've given me back my daughter. I'm forever indebted to you." Then, he hurried home before the muezzin could begin his abrasive call.
Someone asked, "What's the point of the story?"
The Sage answered, "Possibly, many points. Yet, one for sure. Only God knows the heart. And the one who appears to you less devoted to the Way may be more devoted, not for he or she is most efficient or disciplined, but for that one lives most in-Love. Enthusiasm for the Beloved is most important. Never assume you know what is in the heart of another. This wisdom the daughter had not learned. She judged by outward appearance - the sound of a voice -, not the passion in the voice. If she had loved the Allah of Islam as much as she was attracted to Islam, would not her heart have rejoiced to hear the call of the muezzin?"
Another follower inquired, "Can't some persons read the heart of another?"
"When," replied the Sage, "one draws close to the One and lives there, he or she will likely be able easily to see into the heart of others. This is not an insight given to others. No one should assume to have it. And such persons of insight do not judge by appearance, nor does he or she wish to be judgmental at all. These beings are compassionate and humble, not critical. There is a time to voice criticism, however, and such beings do so only lovingly, even when sternly, and not to harm, even if what they say hurts. Yet, most often, these beings will remain silent - such is wisdom.
conceal what's in your hearts
, or disclose it,
*Quran, Ali 'Imran 3.29
*Hebrew Bible, Jeremiah 17.10
searches the heart,
knows the mind of the Spirit
*Christian Bible, Romans 8.27
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©️ Brian Wilcox, 2020
Brian can be contacted at email@example.com; his book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, is available from major booksellers online.
*Quote of Lin derived from Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching. Trans. John Minford.
*The story of the muezzin is adapted from Rumi. Stories of Rumi. Ed. Maryam Mafi.
*Quote from Quran in Quran in English. Trans. Talal Itani.