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The Bustan of Sadi, tr. by A. Hart Edwards, [1911], at

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Concerning Contentment

He knows not God nor performs His worship who is not contented with his lot.

Contentment maketh a man rich—tell this to the avaricious.

O irresolute one! be tranquil, for grass grows not upon revolving stones.

Pamper not thy body if thou be a man of sense, for in so doing dost thou seek thine own destruction.

The wise acquire virtue, and they that pamper their bodies are devoid of merit.

Eating and sleeping is the creed of animals; to adopt it is the manner of fools.

Happy is that fortunate man who, in meditation, prepares for the last journey by means of the knowledge of God.

To him who knows not the darkness from the light the face of a demon is as that of a Houri.26

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How can the falcon fly to the sky when the stone of avarice is tied to its wing?

If thou pay less attention to thy food than to worship thou mayest become an angel. First cultivate the qualities of a man, then reflect upon the character of angels.

Eat in proportion to thy hunger; how can he give praises who scarce can breathe by reason of his gluttony?

He whose stomach is full is void of wisdom. The prey is entrapped in the snare because of its greed.


A covetous man paid an early morning visit to the king of Khwarazm, and twice prostrated himself to the ground before him.

"Tell me, O father," his son inquired, "didst thou not say that Mecca was thy place of worship? Why didst thou to-day repeat thy prayers before the king?"

Contentment exalteth the head; that which is full of avarice comes no higher than the shoulder.

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He who has wrapped up the volume of his avarice needs not to write to any one, I am thy slave and servant."

By begging wilt thou be driven from every assembly; drive it from thyself, so that no one may drive thee away.


Some said to a pious man who was stricken with fever: "Ask for some conserve of roses from such a one."

"Oh, friend!" he replied, "it were better to die in bitterness than to endure the affliction of his sour face."

A wise man does not eat conserve of roses from the hand of one whose face has been soured by pride.

Pursue not that which thy heart desires, for the pampering of the body destroys the fires of life.

The gluttonous man bears the weight of his corpulence; if he obtain not food, he bears the weight of grief. It is better that the stomach should be empty than the mind.

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In company with some religious mendicants I entered a date-grove in Busra. One of the party was a glutton. He, having girt his loins, climbed up a tree, and, falling headlong, died.

The headsman of the village asked, "Who killed this man?"

"Go softly, friend," I answered; "he fell from a branch—’twas the weight of his stomach."


The Amir of Tartary presented a silken robe to an elderly recluse, who, putting it on, kissed the hand of the messenger, and said: "A thousand praises to the king! Excellent is this splendid robe, but I prefer my own patched habit."

If thou hast relinquished the world, sleep upon the bare ground—kiss it not before any one for the sake of a costly carpet.


To a poor man who had naught to eat but bread and onions, a foolish man remarked:

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[paragraph continues] "Go, wretched man, and bring some cooked meat from the public feast. Ask boldly and be not afraid of any one, for he who is modest must go without his share."

Acting on this advice, the beggar put on his cloak and started off. The servants of the feast tore off his clothes and broke his arm.

Weeping, he cried: "Oh my soul! What remedy is there for one's own actions? One seized by avarice becomes the seeker of his own misfortunes. After this, the bread and onions are good enough for me."

A barley loaf procured by the exertions of one's own arm is better than a loaf of flour from the table of the liberal."


A cat who lived in the house of an old woman of humble circumstances wandered to the palace of a noble, whose slaves repulsed the animal with arrows.

Bleeding from many wounds, the cat ran off in terror, thus reflecting: "Since I have escaped from the hands of those slaves, the

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mice in the ruined hut of the old woman are good enough for me."

Honey is not worth the price of a sting; better it is to be content with the syrup of dates than expose oneself to that.

God is not pleased with him who is not contented with his lot.


A certain child having cut its teeth, the father bent his head in anxious thought and said: How can I obtain the bread and food of which the child will now have need?"

"Be not alarmed," his wife replied, "for, until our child shall die, He who gave him teeth will send him bread. A rich man provides for his slave; why should not He who created the slave do likewise? Thou hast not the trust in God that the purchased slave reposes in his. master."

I have heard that in olden times stones became silver in the hands of saints. Think not that this is contrary to reason—when thou hast

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become contented, silver and stones will be as one to thee.

Say to the devotee who worships kings that a king is poorer than a darwesh.

A dinar satisfies a beggar; Faridun was but half content with the whole of the kingdom of Persia.

A beggar free from care is better off than a troubled king.

The villager and his wife sleep more happily than the king ever did in his palace.

Though one be a king and the other a cotton-carder, when they sleep in death the night of both becomes day.

When thou seest a rich man filled with pride, go and give thanks, O thou who art poor, that thou, praise be to God! hast not the power to inflict injury upon any one.


A holy man built a house as high as his own stature. Some one said to him: "I know thee able to erect a better house than this."

"Enough," he cried, "what need have I of a lofty roof? This that I have built is high

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enough for a dwelling which I must leave at death."

Set not thy house in the path of a flood,28 O slave, for never will it be perfected.


A certain king died, and, having no heir, bequeathed the throne to a venerable sheikh. When the recluse heard the roar of the drums -of empire, he desired no longer the corner of seclusion. He led the army to left and right, and became so strong and valiant that he filled the hearts of the brave with fear.

After he had slain a number of his enemies some others combined together against him and reduced him to such straits in his fortified town that he sent a message to a pious man, saying: Aid me with thy prayers, for the sword and arrow do not avail."

The devotee laughed and said: Why did he not content himself with half a loaf and his vigils? Did not the wealth-worshipping Korah 29 know that the treasure of safety lies in the corner of retirement?"

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The generous man may attain to perfection although he possess not gold.

Dost think that if a mean man became a Korah his sordid nature would be changed?

If he who trades in liberality obtain not bread, his nature remains yet rich.

Generosity is the soil, and riches the seed that is sown; give, that the root may not be destitute of a branch.

Exert not thyself in the amassing of wealth,. for evil is the smell of stagnant water; strive,. rather, to be generous, for running water becomes a flood.

The miser who falls from position and wealth but seldom stands a second time upon. his feet.

If thou be a precious jewel, 30 grieve not, for Time will not pass thee by; it is the brickbat by the wayside that goes unheeded. Shavings of gold that fall from the scissors are searched, fog with a candle.

Next: Chapter VII. Concerning Education