Our Sufi mentor scoffs at any such attempt being made by the uninitiated. In his opinion human reason is good for nothing. With him the only basis of certainty is consciousness, what Coleridge has paraphrased as intuitive reason. It is only by spiritual clairvoyance or illumination from above and not by exercise of reason that the Truth can be perceived. Our earthly reason is merely a burden, and it is lost in bewilderment when the light of the Truth is revealed. So says Shabistari, summing up Jami’s advice in the following couplet:

“Cease to boast of your reason and learning;

Here reason is shackle, and learning a folly.”

So also Jami:

“O heart, thy high prized learning of the schools,

Geometry and Metaphysic rules —

Yea, all but lore of God is devil’s lore;

Fear God and leave this evil lore to fools.”*

Maulana Rumi goes a step further and advises us to sell cleverness and buy bewilderment.

“Traditional knowledge, when inspiration is available,

Is like making ablutions with sand when water is near.

Make yourself ignorant, be submissive, and then

You will obtain release from your ignorance.

For this reason, O son, the Prince of men declared,

‘The majority of those in Paradise are the foolish.’

Cleverness is as wind raising storms of pride;

Be foolish, so that your heart may be at peace;

Not with the folly that doubles itself by vain babble,

But with that arising from bewilderment at the Truth.

Make sacrifice of reason to love of ‘The Friend,’

True reason is to be found where He is,

Men of wisdom direct their reason heavenwards,

Vain babblers halt on earth where no “Friend” is.

If through bewilderment your reason quits your head,

Every hair of your head becomes true reason and a head.”

This recalls Cardinal Newman’s celebrated argu­ment of an “illative sense” induced by a complete assent of all the faculties, and therefore more con­vincing and more incontrovertible than any conclu­sions of science based on what the mystics regard as mere carnal reason.

However, there must be some good in reason, clay-girt though it is. Let us put it to the test, and see whether it helps us to comprehend the mysteries of Sufi philosophy. In the first place, it must be borne in mind that the love of the Sufi for his spiritual Beloved was not mere dilettanteism. A living, soul-kindling spark it was, not a mere formula. In those days there was no room for spiritual amateurs. No one would then rest content with the mere sipping of the nectar of existence. Everyone had an instinctive, ardent desire to drink deep of the royal wine, deep with burning lips till the senses swam and the wits were out.

“Know’st thou who the Host may be who pours the spirit’s wine,

Know’st thou what this liquor is whose taste is so divine?

The Host is thy Beloved One — the wine annihilation,

And in the fiery draught thy soul drinks in illumination.”