A sufi Parable: The Hunter and the Bird

The Hunter and the Bird

 hunter once caught a small bird.  ‘Master,’ said the bird, ‘you have eaten many animals bigger than I without assuaging your appetite.     How can the flesh of my tiny body satisfy you?  If you let me go, I will give you three counsels: one while I am still in your hand, the second when I am on your roof, and the third from the top of a tree.  When you have heard all three, you will consider yourself the most fortunate of men.  The first counsel is this: “Do not believe the foolish pronouncements of others.” ’ 

The bird flew on to the roof, from where it gave the second counsel, ‘ “Have no regrets for what is past.”  Concealed in my body is a precious pearl weighing five ounces.  It was yours by right, and now it is gone.’  Hearing this the man began to bewail his misfortune.    ‘Why are you so upset?’ asked the bird.  ‘Did I not say, “Have no regrets for what is past”?  Are you deaf, or did you not understand what I told you?  I also said, “Do not believe the foolish pronouncements of others.”  I weigh less than two ounces, so how could I possibly conceal a pearl weighing five?’ 

Coming to his senses, the hunter asked for the third counsel.  ‘Seeing how much you heeded the first two, why should I waste the third?’ replied the bird.  

Adapted from The Mathnawi of Jalalu’ddin Rumi, IV  


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