The anxiety of cow: Sufi story from Rumi’s Masnavi

The anxiety of cow who feeds all day but worries at night: Sufi story from Mevlana Rumi’s Masnavi

In the world there is a green meadow, where a sweet-mouthed cow lives alone.

She feeds on the whole field till nightfall, so that she grows stout, big and choice.

However during the night she becomes thin as a hair from anxiety, because she thinks, “What shall I eat tomorrow?”

At daybreak the field becomes green: the green blades and grain have grown long

The cow falls to ravenously: until night she feeds on that vegetation and devours it entirely.

Again she becomes stout, fat and bulky: her body is filled with fat and strength.

Then again at night she is stricken by panic and falls into a fever of anxiety, so that from fear of seeking vainly for fodder she becomes lean,

Thinking, “What shall I eat tomorrow at meal time?” This is what that cow does for many years.

She never thinks, “All these years I have been eating from this meadow and this pasture;

My fodder has never failed to arrive at time: what is then this fear and anguish and heart-burning of mine?”

No; when night falls that fat cow becomes lean again, thinking, “Alas, the fodder is gone.”

This cow is the lustful ego (nafs), and the field is this world, where she (nafs) is made lean by fear for her daily bread,

Thinking, “I wonder what I shall eat in future: where shall I seek food for tomorrow?”

You have eaten for years, and food has never failed! Leave the future and look at the past.

Bring to mind the food and delicacies you have eaten already: do not think of what is to come, and do not be miserable.


Masnavi Volume 3, Verses

Transliteration based on English translation by our dear brother Wazir Dayers, with permission and compliments.


mevlana rumi portrait

mevlana rumi portrait

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