The Ego Animal

Excerpt from “The Rumi Collection” – An Anthology of Translations of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi

There are three kinds of beings. The first are the angels, who are pure intelligence. It is their nature and means of sustenance to be obedient, worshipful, and constantly mindful. That is what they feed on and live by, like a fish in water, whose life is of the water and whose bed and pillow are the water. Angels are not obliged to do what they do. Since they are abstract and free from lust, what favor do they incur for not being lustful or not having carnal desires? Being pure, they do not have to struggle against conceiving passions. If they perform acts of obedience, they are not counted as such because such is their nature and they cannot be otherwise.

The second kind are the animals, who are pure instinct and have no conscious will. They are also under no moral obligation like poor man, who is a mixture of intelligence and lust. Half of him is angelic and half animal. Half serpent and half fish, his fish pulls him toward the water and his serpent towards the dust. They are in a constant tug-of-war. “He whose intellect overcomes his lust is higher than the angels; he whose lust overcomes his intelligence is less than an animal.”

The angel is free because of his knowledge, the beast because of his ignorance. Between the two remains the son of man to struggle. – Fihi Ma Fihi #17



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