The following tale – or discourse – is taken from Fiha-Ma-Fiha, the only prose work we have from Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi.
It is said that Jesus was given very much to laughing, whereas John (the Baptist) was given very much to weeping. Once John said to Jesus that to be constantly smiling must mean that he was not fearful, and was ignorant of his faults. Jesus replied that as John was always weeping, he must be unmindful of the hidden mercy.
It happened that a saint, one who had been granted intimacy, was present at this conversation, and he prayed to God to be shown the relative superiority of the prophets’ understanding. The reply came : “I am present where My servant believes me to be. To every servant of Mine, I am revealed in a different form, as he has a specific idea of Me. I am as He thinks me to be. I am slave to the idea where dwells the Truth, while I am distressed with the place where Truth is absent. My servants cleanse their thoughts, for therein I dwell and it is my Abode.
“Now, examine whereby you get greater consolation, whether by shedding tears or in smiles, in fasting or in prayers, in solitude or in which of these methods is your condition better and you progress further. Adopt then the course that is beneficial. Make thy heart the guide; care not for other instructors who try to guide you. Your heart is your preceptor. Place the suggestions of other preceptors before your heart and adopt those that are acceptable to thee.”