The strong men of Qazwin were accustomed to have themselves tattooed. One customer calls for a lion to be emblazoned on his shoulder. The tattooist starts work on the lion’s tale; but the pain is too much for the customer who insists that the tale be left out. The same happens when the tattooist begins to draw an ear and again with the lion’s belly. Enraged, the artist flings down the needle: ‘Whoever saw a lion without a tale, ear and belly? Allah Himself never created such a lion.’
Rumi adds encouraging us to leave our comforts:
“O Brother, endure the pain of the needle,
that you may escape the pain of your miscreant self. . .
What does learning Alah’s unity really mean?
To burn yourself up in the presence of the One.
If you wish to shine as bright as daylight
then burn yourself up, which is as dark as night.
Cultivate your existence in the Truly Existent.
Melt away like copper in the Elixir.
You have both hands clasped on ‘I’ and ‘We’
All spiritual ruin stem from these two.
(Rumi’s Mathnawi vol.1: 2981-3000)