Where is wisdom?

Life in the world can be confusing. We are constantly forced to choose between conflicting options; what appeared to be reliable proves to be illusory; the unexpected tests us in various ways; we have doubts about our abilities; we are uncertain what we really want – and so on. It is understandable that we look for sage advice.

Nowadays, this might mean consuming a steady diet of spiritual snack-food through the social media, but for some, it means consulting one holy scripture or another. These are the wise words of great souls, given to help humanity on its way toward the goal, although sometimes we seem to be reading a faded photocopy – a translation, or perhaps a translation of a translation, of a copy of a version of a report, given in good faith by someone who we believe to have known someone who knew the Teacher. It could make us think of the story of Nasruddin and the soup.

A recent post observed that although we may journey all our life to reach the One, the One is not far off. We are embraced by the One right now, and are only absent from that Presence in our delusion. In the same way, neither are the illuminated souls unreachable; their light, their wisdom is ever-present, if we have the ability to recognise it.

That is the lesson behind the story of the king who did not know Arabic. The story was told by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi to illustrate the point that explanations – spoken or written attempts to unfold the Truth – can be useful when we don’t grasp the essence. But if, like the king in the story, we have the insight to be able to hear the sense of the poet, then the words become less important.

This is the lesson we might find in the third of the Ten Sufi Thoughts : ‘There is One Holy Book, the sacred manuscript of nature, the only scripture which can enlighten the reader.’ The Sufi respects all holy scriptures, but recognises that they have been inspired by none other than the wordless guidance of Nature. The more we ourselves attune to Nature, and learn that it is not only found in pleasant green spaces but is all pervading, the less we will need to search for wisdom, for wisdom will then be our constant companion.

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