What is that sea whose shore is speech?
What is that pearl which is found in its depths?


Being is the sea, speech is the shore,
The shells are letters, the pearls knowledge of the heart.*
In every wave it casts up a thousand royal pearls
Of traditions and holy sayings and texts.
565 Every moment a thousand waves rise out of it,*
Yet it never becomes less by one drop.
Knowledge has its being from that sea,
The coverings of its pearls are voice and letters.*
Since mysteries are here shown in an allegory,
It is necessary to have recourse to illustrations.


I have heard that in the month Nysan
The pearl oysters rise to the surface of the sea of 'Umán.
From the lowest depths of the sea they come up,
And rest on the surface with opened mouths.
570 The mist is lifted up from the sea,
And descends in rain at the command of “The Truth.”
There fall some drops into each shell's mouth,
And each mouth is shut as by a hundred bonds.
Then each shell descends into the depths with full heart,
And each drop of rain becomes a pearl.
The diver goes down to the depths of the sea,
And thence brings up the glittering pearls.
The shore is your body, the sea is Being,*
The mist Grace,* the rain knowledge of the Names.*
575 The diver of this mighty sea is human reason,
Who holds a hundred pearls wrapped in his cloth.
The heart is to knowledge as a vessel,
The shells of knowledge of the heart are voice and letters.
The soul is darting as a lightning flash,*
It bears these letters to the hearing ear.
Then break open the shell, take out the royal pearl,
Cast away the husk, carry off the sweet kernel.
Dictionary, etymology, syntax and accidence
Are all only the wrappings of letters.
580 Whoso devotes his life to these,
Has squandered his precious life on trifling.
From his nut he gets only the dry husk,
He finds no kernel unless he breaks the husk.
Nevertheless without a husk the kernel ripens not,
From external knowledge grows the sweet knowledge of faith.
O soul of my brother, hearken to my counsel!
With heart and soul strive for the knowledge of the faith.
For the ‘knower’ gains high place in both worlds,
Though he be humble, yet by this is he exalted.
585 An action which proceeds from good ‘states’ of heart
Is much better than this mere knowledge of the ‘word.’*
But an action which proceeds from water and clay*
Equals not this knowledge, for this is the action of the heart.
See what a difference there is between body and soul;
You may take one as the east, the other as the west.
Hence learn at full how bodily actions*
Are related to knowledge of the word as this knowledge to ‘states.’
Knowledge is not that which loves the world,
Which has the form, but is void of the reality.
590 Knowledge is never coupled with lust of the world,
If you desire the angel, cast out the dog.
Knowledge of faith springs from angelic virtues,
It enters not a heart with a dog's nature.
Thus runs the saying of “the Chosen,”*
Mark it well, for verily it is so.
When form is contained in the house,
The angels enter it not perforce.
Go, cleanse the face of the tablets of your heart,
That an angel may make his abode with you.
595 Gain from him the knowledge that is your heritage,
Begin to till your field for the next world's harvest.
Read the books of “The Truth”—your soul and the heavens,*
Be adorned with the principle* of all the virtues.


The principles of a good character are equity,
And thereafter wisdom, temperance, courage.
He who is endued with all these four
Is a sage perfect in thought and deed.*
His soul and heart are well informed with wisdom,
He is neither over cunning nor a fool.*
600 By temperance his appetites are subdued,
Intemperance and insensibility* alike are banished.
The courageous man is pure from abjectness and from boasting,
His nature is exempt from cowardice and rashness.
Equity is as the garment of his nature,
He is void of injustice, thus his character is good.
All the virtues lie in the mean,
Which is alike removed from excess and defect.
The mean is as the ‘narrow way,’*
On either side yawns hell's bottomless pit.
605 In fineness and sharpness as a sword,
One may not turn round nor stand on it long.
Since equity has only one opposite vice,
The total number of opposite vices is seven.
Beneath each number is hidden a mystery,
For this cause has hell seven gates.*
Like as hell is prepared for iniquity,
Heaven is the place always appointed for equity.
Light and mercy are the recompense of equity,
Darkness and cursing the requital of iniquity.
610 Goodness is made manifest in equity,
Equipoise in a body is its summit of perfection.
Since a compound is as one entity,
It is remote from its parts in its nature and differentia.*
It becomes like to a simple essence,
And between it and simple essence there is a bond;*
Not that bond which subsists between the compound and its parts,
(For spirit is free from the attributes of corporeity,)
But when water and clay are purified altogether,*
Spirit is added to them by “The Truth.”*
615 When the parts, to wit, the elements attain equilibrium,
The beams of the spirit world fall upon them.
The Spirit's rays shining on the body at the time of equilibrium,
Are like the rays of the sun shining upon the earth.


Though the sun abides in the fourth heaven,
Yet his rays are the light which rule the earth.
The elementary temperaments exist not in the sun,
The stars are not hot or cold, dry or moist.
Yet by him the elements are made warm or cold,
White, red, green, pink or yellow.
620 His command goes forth as that of a just prince,
One cannot say whether it is without or within the elements.
When the elements are adjusted in equipoise,
The Soul is, as it were, enamoured of their beauty,
A mystical marriage comes to pass according to the right faith*
The world is the dowry given to man by the Universal Soul.*
Of this marriage the issue is eloquence,
Knowledge, language, virtue, earthly beauty.
Heavenly beauty* descends from the unseen world,
Descends like some licentious reveller,
625 Sets up its flag in the strong city of earthly beauty,
Throws into confusion all the world's array.
Now riding royally on the steed of comeliness,
Now brandishing the keen sword-blade of language.
When beheld in a person it is called beauty,
And when heard in speech eloquence.*
Saints, kings, durveshes, apostles,
All alike bow down and own its sway.
What is this charm in the beauty of a fair face?*
It is not merely earthly beauty, say what is it?*
630 That heart ravishment can come only from “The Truth,”
For there is no partner in Divine agency.*
How can it be lust which ravishes men's hearts?
For “The Truth” now and again appears as evil.*
Confess the ‘working’ of “The Truth” in every place,*
Set not foot beyond your own limits.
Know “The Truth” in the garb of good is the true faith,
“The Truth” in the garb of evil is the work of Satan.*