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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Humility
By Sa’dī (c. 1213–1291)
 
From the ‘Garden of Perfume’: Text of K. H. Graf; Translation of Samuel Robinson

A YOUTH, intelligent and of good disposition, arrived by sea at a Grecian port.  1
  They perceived that he was endowed with excellence, and judgment, and an inclination to asceticism, and placed him accordingly in a sacred building.  2
  The Head of the devotees said to him one day:—  3
  “Go and cast out the dirt and the rubbish from the mosque.”  4
  As soon as the young traveler heard the words he went forth, but no one discovered any sign of his return.  5
  The Superior and the brethren laid a charge against him, saying:—  6
  “This young devotee hath no aptness for his vocation.”  7
  The following day one of the society met him in the road, and said to him:—  8
  “Thou hast showed an unseemly and perverse disposition. Didst thou not know, O self-opinionated boy, that it is through obedience men attain to honor?”  9
  He began to weep, and replied: “O friend of my soul and enlightener of my heart, it is in earnestness and in sincerity that I have acted thus.  10
  “I found in that sacred building neither dust nor defilement; only myself was polluted in that holy place.  11
  “Therefore, immediately I drew back my foot, feeling that to withdraw myself was to cleanse the mosque from dirt and rubbish.”  12
  For the devotee there is only one path,—to submit his body to humiliation.  13
  Thine exaltation must come from choosing self-abasement; to reach the lofty roof there is no ladder save this.  14
 
 
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