The Bird’s Wise Counsels

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by Patzia

Story of the captive bird which gave the following injunctions: do not
feel sorrow for what is past, think about taking precaution for the
present need, and do not spend time in repenting.

A man caught a bird by guile and trap: the bird said to him, “O
noble sir,
You have eaten many oxen and sheep; you’ve sacrificed many
And it hasn’t satisfied your hunger; eating me won’t satisfy it
Let me go that I may give you three counsels so you may
perceive whether I am wise or foolish.
I’ll give you the first one of those counsels while on your hand,
the second of them from your plastered roof,
And the third counsel I will give you from a tree. Let me go for
you will become fortunate from these three counsels.
The first one, from your hand is this: “do not believe an
absurdity when you hear it from anyone.”
When the bird had uttered the first grave counsel on the man’s
palm, it became free and perched on the wall of the house.
The bird said, “The second is this, ‘do not grieve for what is
past; and when it has passed from you, don’t feel regret for it.'”
Still from the wall, he continued, “Inside my body is hidden a
single large and precious pearl, weighing ten dirhams.
As sure as you live, by the soul’s truth, that jewel was your
fortune and the luck of your children.
You’ve missed the pearl; it wasn’t up to you to gain it—a pearl
the like of which is not in existence!”
Hearing this, the man began to cry loudly.
The bird said to him, “Didn’t I warn you saying, ‘Let there be no
grief for what’s passed?’
Since it is past and gone, why are you grieving? Either you
didn’t understand my advice, or you are deaf.
And what about the first piece of advice I gave you, ‘Don’t
believe absurd statements?’
I myself don’t weigh ten dirhams: how should the weight of ten
dirhams be in me?”
The man recovered his wits and said to the bird, “Please give
me the third piece of excellent counsel.”
“Yes,” said the bird, “after seeing the use you made of the first
two, telling you the third one would be in vain!”
To give counsel to a sleepy ignoramus is to scatter seed in
nitrous soil. O counselor, don’t give the seed of wisdom to a fool.

from the Mathnawi, Book IV 2245 – 2265