When the new Sufi master came to Baghdad from his native Nishapur, in Khorasan, his fame had long preceded him. He had a great reputation for his high spirituality and his own approach to ‘Ishan’ (“perfection”), but also a reputation for his unorthodox methods of teaching. A small group of aspiring disciples, all well dressed and well behaved, and with pious demeanour, had gathered at the inn to welcome him, but also even teachers and students from the nearby university gathered at the inn. As time passed, the crowd was growing impatient. The sheik certainly took his time.
As always on such occasions, among the expectant crowd there were also beggars and bums and other bystanders. One of them turned out to be particularly annoying. All in rags, unkempt beyond description, and smelling badly of wine. The bum inching his way closer to the pious-looking, anxiety-ridden disciples. Taking his time, between hiccups, he examined them intently, one by one, which made the boys even more nervous: the last thing they wanted was to be found out by the great master in such unholy proximity.
Thank goodness, it now appeared that the bum was drifting away. As he was doing so, however, he addressed himself to the embarrassed youth, in such sober, educated Persian that their prayer beads suddenly froze in the palms of their hands: I’ve come for nothing, methinks. What am I to teach you? By the looks of you, you’ve all reached a state of purity compared to which I am nothing. My ways are messy, my teachings tentative, and my quest, far from pure, always gets entangled with my flesh, with my earthiness and my complicated commerce with the world. I am a failure, whereas you — just look at you! — you seem to dwell with the angels already! Now, if you will excuse me … And, with that, he slipped out of the inn. It was then, the story adds, that people at the inn realized that the sheik they had been waiting for had just left them.
A beautiful story to celebrate Christmas. When Christ was born he had no place even in the inn and his place on earth was in a stable within the proximity of animals and as the Bible says he was wrapped in whatever ragged clothe that was available. While Christ lived on this earth, he was not seen with the Pharisees, who were considered wise, but he was seen with the poor, tax collector, the sick, the out castes of society like the Samaritans and people who needed his touch and Wisdom.
Today, we live in a world that celebrates surface values, the clothes we wear, the makeup we apply, the degrees that we acquire, the position and power we hold etc. But the most important thing always slips our attention. Namely acquiring wisdom. This wisdom is not the wisdom of the books or intellectual mastery but wisdom of a meaningful life rooted in humanity and in Divine image
There are two types of intellectual Knowledge one can acquire. The first, which predominates in the world today through science and technology, is knowledge which exploits the ecosystem and human beings. This type of knowledge has resulted in creating extreme inequality and destruction of the ecosystem.
The second type of knowledge can be acquired through a deeper understanding of the biodiversity, the interrelationship between all existence and the responsibility that we have through our evolved level of consciousness to safeguard, protect and enrich the life of all creation.
In his path breaking encyclical Pope Francis has brought out this very well:
“In this universe, shaped by open and intercommunicating systems, we can discern countless forms of relationship and participation. This leads us to think of the whole as open to God’s transcendence, within which it develops. Faith allows us to interpret the meaning and the mysterious beauty of what is unfolding. We are free to apply our intelligence towards things evolving positively, or towards adding new ills, new causes of suffering and real setbacks. This is what makes for the excitement and drama of human history, in which freedom, growth, salvation and love can blossom, or lead towards decadence and mutual destruction.” …………Laudato Si - Chapter 2 section 79
Jane Goodall studied the Chimpanzees in Congo most of her life and she says:
“Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans have been living for hundreds of thousands of years in their Forest, living fantastic lives, never overpopulating, never destroying the forest. I would say that they have been in a way more successful than us as far as being in harmony with the environment.”
Dr. E. O. Wilson, Professor Emeritus and Honorary Curator in Entomology at Harvard University and called "the father of sociobiology" and "the father of biodiversity" Is an American biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist and author who spent nearly 40 years in the Amazon forest researching on the leaf cutting ants writes:
"I think we ought to have another go at the Enlightenment and use that as a common goal to explain and understand ourselves, to take that self-understanding which we so sorely lack as a foundation for what we do in the moral and political realm. This is a wonderful exercise.“
Let our celebration of Christmas take on a new meaning - as a celebration of a new birth of this holistic awareness and our responsibility as the empowering consciousness and truly as a creation which is in Divine image.
Love to you all