This parable comes from The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, one of the more mystical books revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. In the section entitled The Valley of Search, Bahá'u'lláh makes reference to a parable of two lovers [Majnun and Layli] from Persian and Arabic traditions. The translator, Marzieh Gail (1991), noted that Majnun literally means "insane." This is the name of the celebrated lover of ancient Persian and Arabian lore, whose beloved was Layli, the daughter of an Arabian prince. Symbolizing true human love bordering on the divine, the story has been made the theme of many a Persian romantic poem.
This particular parable could be used to teach the idea of independent investigation of truth. Interestingly, a person may appear to be slightly insane - or majnun - to her or his peers if that person happens to be pursuing a slightly different path in life than the path which the prevailing society deems normal. This is the station of the seeker. I chose to share this particular example of story specifically because it illustrates Bahá'u'lláh's use of parable within a Bahá’í sacred text.
The Search of the Lover - Majnun and layli
There once was a lover who had sighed for long years in separation from his beloved, and wasted in the fires of remoteness. From the rule of love, his heart was empty of patience, and his body weary of his spirit; he reckoned life without her as a mockery, and time consumed him away. How many a day he found no rest in longing for her; how many a night the pain of her kept him from sleep; his body was worn to a sigh, his heart's wound had turned him to a cry of sorrow. He had given a thousand lives for one taste of the cup of her presence, but it availed him not. The doctors knew no cure for him, and companions avoided his company; yea, physicians have no medicine for one sick of love, unless the favor of the beloved one deliver him.
At last, the tree of his longing yielded the fruit of despair, and the fire of his hope fell to ashes. Then one night he could live no more, and he went out of his house and made for the marketplace. On a sudden, a watchman followed after him. He broke into a run, with the watchman following; then other watchmen came together, and barred every passage to the weary one. And the wretched one cried from his heart, and ran here and there, and moaned to himself: “Surely this watchman is ‘Izrá’íl, my angel of death, following so fast upon me; or he is a tyrant of men, seeking to harm me.” His feet carried him on, the one bleeding with the arrow of love, and his heart lamented. Then he came to a garden wall, and with untold pain he scaled it, for it proved very high; and forgetting his life, he threw himself down to the garden.
And there he beheld his beloved with a lamp in her hand, searching for a ring she had lost. When the heart-surrendered lover looked on his ravishing love, he drew a great breath and raised up his hands in prayer, crying: “O God! Give Thou glory to the watchman, and riches and long life. For the watchman was Gabriel, guiding this poor one; or he was Isráfíl, bringing life to this wretched one!”
How many times have people missed or almost missed finding something of great value, just because they were so fixated on what was ahead of them [or behind them] that they forgot to look in another direction, such as up, down, or to the side? This parable is rich with content and meaning about search or the Bah&'i principle of independent investigation of truth