This is the 10th chapter in the revised online version of The Republic of Rumi: a Novel of Reality
The next chapter is:
A tale of which the moral is that negation of the self is a doctrine invented by nations who have been defeated, in order that by this means they may sap and weaken the character of the conquerors
Here you see a certain habitat where sheep prosper because there are no predators. A clan of lions appears and starts preying upon them. To get rid of this menace, an elderly sheep proclaims itself to be a prophet sent by God to the lions, and teaches them the virtues of self-negation.
“O you insolent liars, unmindful of day of ill luck that shall continue for ever!” The sheep addresses the lions. “I am possessed of spiritual power and am an apostle sent by God for the tigers. I come as a light for the eye that is dark. I come to establish laws and give commandments. The solidarity of life depends on the denial of the self. The sharpness of your teeth brings disgrace upon you and makes the eye of your perception blind. It is wicked to seek greatness and glory, and if you are sensible, you will be a mote of sand rather than be a vast desert. Then you shall enjoy sunbeams. You, who delight in the slaughter of sheep, slay your self and you will have honor. Though trodden underfoot, the grass grows up time after time and washes the sleep of death from its eye again and again. Forget your self, if you are wise. Close your eyes, close your ears, close your lips that your thought may reach the lofty sky!”
The lions lose their vigor. Bodily strength diminishes, spiritual fear increases, low mindedness and other diseases appear and they call this the Moral Culture.
A contrast with Bu Ali Qalandar of the previous chapter can be seen here. The Qalandar represented the self that was strengthened by love and gained “dominion over the outward and inward forces of the universe.” The other form of mysticism, parodied here, is a negation of the self. It also rejects non-contradiction, and hence loses power not only over the “outward” forces of the universe, but also the “inward” ones. The next chapter takes you deeper into the secret of moral weakness.
To the effect that Plato, whose thought has deeply influenced the mysticism and literature of Islam, followed the sheep's doctrine, and that we must be on our guard against his theories
“Plato, the prime ascetic and sage was one of such ancient sheep,” the Poet begins his criticism of one of the greatest philosophers, equating his thought with the Doctrine of the Sheep. “He was so fascinated by the invisible that he made hand, eye and ear of no account.”
Ancient Plato appears before you like a flashback. His horse goes astray in the darkness of Ideas and becomes lame before the rocks of actuality. “To die is the secret of Life,” says Plato. “The candle is glorified by being put out.” You see famous thinkers and writers from several nations and many centuries sitting at the feet of the philosopher.
Dark and bleak visions appear before you. You see gazelles that do not move, partridges that are devoid of the pleasure of walking daintily, dewdrops unable to quiver, birds with no breath in their breasts, seeds without desire to grow and moths that do not know how to flutter. This is the world of Plato.
“Civilizations have been poisoned by his intoxication,” says the Poet. Apparently, the Sheep’s Doctrine loosens the grip of its followers on reality because it makes them give up all means of reality check (“he made hand, eye, and ear of no account,” the Poet has said about Plato). Still, the philosopher is one of the greatest and it may be a tall order to refute him so outright. The Poet reminds you that Plato’s own pupil Aristotle did that. “This is a reference to the famous theory of Ideas, or Forms, on which Aristotle has offered a splendid criticism,” the Poet explains in a footnote. “Regrettably, a complete explanation of this issue is not possible here.” Avoiding further debate about the philosophy of Plato, the Poet has come to the point about the true nature of poetry in the very next chapter. This is what the Garden is all about, and the principles that may shed light on Joseph.