~ Abai Kunanbaev ~

Word Seventeen

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Will, Reason and Heart once asked Knowledge to settle their argument about who was the most important among them.

Said Will:
"Hey, Knowledge, you ought to know that nothing can attain perfection without me: to know one's self, one has to persevere in learning, and this is impossible without me; only with my aid can a person serve the Most High and worship Him tirelessly, achieve wealth and skill, respect and a successful career. Do I not preserve people from unworthy passions and curb them? Do I not caution them against sin, envy and temptations? Do I not help them to hold back, at the last moment, from the edge of an abyss? How can these two argue with me?"

Said Reason:
"I am the only one capable of discerning which of your words are useful and which harmful, whether in this life or the next. I alone can comprehend your language. Without me, no one can avoid evil, acquire knowledge or benefit himself. Why do these two argue with me? What use would they be without me?"

Said Heart:
"I am the master of the human body. I am the source of its blood and the soul resides in me; life is inconceivable without me. Those who lie in soft beds I deprive of their slumber; I make them toss and turn, thinking about the destitute with no roof over their heads, famished and freezing. I bid the young to honor their elders and be tolerant to little ones. But people do not seek to keep me pure and therefore suffer. Were I pure, I would make no distinction among people. I admire virtue and rebel against malice and violence. Self-respect, conscience, mercy, kindness — all these proceed from me. What are these two worth without me? How dare they argue with me?"

Having heard all the three out, Knowledge replied:
"What you say is right, Will, and you have many other virtues you haven't mentioned. Nothing can be achieved without your participation. Yet you also conceal cruelty equal to your strength. You are resolute in the service of good, but you can be just as resolute in serving evil. This is what is wrong in you.

"You, too, are right, Reason! One cannot do without you in this life either. Thanks to you people learn about the Creator, and are initiated into the mysteries of the two worlds. But this is not the limit of your possibilities. Cunning and wickedness also come from you. Both good and bad people rely on you, and you serve both faithfully. Therein lies your fault.

"My mission is to reconcile you. It would be good if Heart were the arbiter in this dispute of yours. "You have many paths before you, Reason, but Heart cannot take all of them. It rejoices at your righteous undertakings and will gladly assist you in them, but it will not follow you if you plot mischief and evil; it will even turn from you in disgust.

"Now, Will! You have plenty of energy and courage, but you, too, can be restrained by Heart. It will not hinder you in a well-meaning deed, but it will bind your hand and foot if your goal is futile and wicked.

"You should join hands with Heart and obey it in everything! If all three of you live in peace within a man, the dust of his feet will open the eyes of the blind. If you two cannot reach accord, I shall give preference to Heart. Prize humanity above all! The Most High will judge us by this. So it is set down in the Holy Scriptures," said Knowledge.

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