By Sharon Marcus, from the book Sufi
Faith and wisdom are profoundly intertwined; faith provides the solid root for wisdomâ€™s growth and wisdom nourishes the soil in which faith can grow. They are inseparable and necessary to each other, conjoined twins. For any number of problems an aspirant or seeker on the path will encounter along the way, the doubts and confusion which spring up spontaneously in a lack of clarity, the remedy is often to be discovered in deeper faith, the trust that God who knows the beginning and the middle also knows the end of the story, the remedy is deeper faith and the absolute gratitude for what has already been given and for the perfection of the outcome, no matter how it turns out. If wisdom falters faith can shore it up, and if faith is inadequate the tools of wisdom can refurbish it. Faith and wisdom together build the house of light for our soul, a house for this world and the next. What can we do to make our faith stronger, are there techniques or practices which will increase our faith? What are the instruments of wisdom, what is it that makes us wise?
We should remember first that God can do anything, if He wants us in a certain place at a certain time, make no mistake about it, we will, against every expectation, be there. We might be living in one country, but a great sage has arrived where we once lived, where we never expected to return, and yet we find ourself back there in the place where wisdom will be offered. If He wants us to find the person who will be our husband or wife, continents and oceans will not keep us apart, we will meet in some country or city neither of us thought we would ever visit or see. Since there is no doubt He can easily do these things outwardly, we should be persuaded He can just as easily do the inner things.
The two things we have to offer Him, the two broad avenues which open the door, invite His access to us, are love and wisdom. The wisdom might not manifest as what we know, what we expect to know, it might be what we long to know, an amorphous, prayerless state which knows only that it does not know, that it needs to know, that it must know. Without even a conceptual predication of the divine we can still be led to the truth, although this long, difficult route is clearly one to avoid because it entails an endless pursuit of routes marked no exit, empty streets and ruined houses. We have to investigate until we can say itâ€™s not philosophy, itâ€™s not music and the arts, itâ€™s not anodynes like alcohol which do nothing to end the pain, itâ€™s not stimulants like drugs which promise what they cannot deliver, and we have to reject it all, come to the end of pleasure and pain, then, only then, if our body is still intact and we still hunger to know, He will look at our folly with His compassion, His mercy, His magnanimity, and open the door.
He will open the door if we have also discovered something about love, not the self or ego centered love of my child, my family, my husband, my wife, a universal love encompassing all human beings, even all living things. A teacher might learn this love by caring for all the children, not any one child, but all of them, absolutely and abstractly; a doctor might learn this love by caring for patients, healing their suffering; any one of us might learn this love by caring for the dispossessed, the homeless, loving not a specific individual but suffering humanity. This ability to love without focusing on something we think belongs to us is important since that is a different kind of love, a love which ushers in the possibility of absolutes, a necessary basic for understanding the divine nature of God, the omnipresent, omniscient, absolute One. If we are open to a single absolute, any one of the ninety-nine, the door swings open wide, but even though the door is now open we do not always know what to do next, we do not know how to cross the threshhold, walk in. Without signposts, a map or a guide we cannot find our way in, not to the center, not back to the beginning.
We might have been floundering endlessly until our state allows the door to open, now our approach to the truth must change, must become more directed, now we need to develop the aspect of faith we can identify as determination, as the point of strength to carry us beyond intention to performance, action, the belief that we believe which will take us to the supreme conviction we need. There are unique, historical moments for each individual, an intersection of the human and the divine that we call revelation which might propel us into the open, waiting space; there are quieter intimations, like studying the presence of God in His creation, or studying the divinely inscribed text of the human heart or sacred writings which extend confirmation.
This is the point at which the wisdom and experience of a true master, an enlightened master, become indispensable. God is always enough, but there are things He has conveyed to a higher state of consciousness than ours, secrets told and mysteries unbound that such a guide can make available to us at a level accessible to our own wisdom. We must search for such a teacher with dedication and fervor, then God will see our need and send the right person at the right time; never give up, that master will find us.
Toronto based poet and novelist Sharon Marcus has written nine books of poetry, four novels, a collection of short stories, three works of non-fiction and a scattering of miscellaneous pieces, book reviews and the like. For the most part, the poetry is lyrical, ecstatic, searching for revelation, always with a passionate obligation to guard the gates of language, to protect rhythm and preserve substance; each of the four novels investigates a different form, all very lyrical, all incorporating extensive use of verse one way or another, the fourth novel in alternating sections of verse and prose; the non-fictional works, whether political or personal, describe events too odd for fiction.