There was a king, handsome above all other men. His subjects’ great desire was to behold his face. Those who merely thought of his beauty lost their senses, while those who succeeded in getting a glimpse of the Royal Presence forthwith gave up their lives. Thus, neither could they endure the sight, nor could they do without it. Out of compassion for them, the king arranged to show his face to them through a mirror, so as to protect them from exposure to the overpowering rays of his beauty. A special palace was, therefore, erected for the purpose, and a mirror was placed in front of it in such a position that if the king turned his face in a particular direction, people were able to see its reflection in the mirror.*

“If you, my friends,” continued the Hoopoe, “desire to see the face of our beloved king Simurg, I will tell you where to look for it. In the mirror of your own heart you will be able to see Him.”

This again fired the hearts of the birds with the desire to greet the Simurg. They unanimously resolved to set out in quest of the Great Unknown. At the same time they could not help doubting their capacity to withstand the perils of the journey. Seeing the perturbed state of their mind, the Hoopoe said: “He who has become a lover should never think of his life. Your soul is an obstacle in your way. Sacrifice it. If you are required to sacrifice your faith also, together with your soul, do so by all means, and if anyone brands you as an infidel, tell him that love occupies a position more exalted than religion, and has nothing to do with faith or heresy. Whoever sets his feet firmly in the abiding-place of love transcends the bounds of infidelity and faith as well.”

As an illustration of this rather astounding statement, the Hoopoe related to the birds the following