The teaching and warning of Jesus the Nazarene from being rich, in a way or another, indicates that whatever the human being understands adds on him/[her] splendor, beauty or discernment and then, he/[she] rejoices and prides him/[her]self upon it as if it is his/[her] possession. We do not possess anything, since we either have inherited everything which gives us glamour by our embryonic formation, or God has poured it in the soul. Endowments are either from nature or from beyond nature, and you have received them and you have no merit in [their concern]. You preserve what you have and you either improve it, inactivate it or you harm yourself with it. Nevertheless, you are nothing.

I understand the effort it takes to develop a gift and its importance. However, if the folds of your brain were thick, you would never become clever, and the one born ugly might find some help in cosmetology, though limited help. Accept yourself as you are, since it is not a calamity whenever you were of less shrewdness and it is not a disaster when a girl has an ugly face whenever her soul was kind and she had a pure conduct.

We do not acknowledge the place of beauty in the hierarchy of values since it does not belong to the world of values. It is a mere fact and we do not know a purpose for it, unless we presume that it helps in the relationship when two, of different genders, meet. Maybe God has had a purpose in this. This might be true in the human world and not in the world of different kinds. I do not think that you can delve deeper [in these issues]. This might help in the world of poetry, however, the Qur᾿an has warned us saying: “And as to the poets, the perverse follow them.” (Sura Al-Shu῾ara᾿ [The Poets], 224)

It does not harm the person to carry a physical beauty, which is not of him/[her]. However, one is called to understand that he/[she] is not the maker of this beauty, and thus priding oneself upon it is not admissible, since it is a denial of the gifts of the Creator. Also considering beauty as personal contiguous possession [is not admissible] for the one who wears it, since it is not more than a garment. Of course the beautiful person does not have the capability to become ugly, and for me, he/[she] does not need to thank God for the garment which he/[she] wears, since it is inherited by nature and has not descended from heaven.

Beauty is a danger similar to any richness, and the danger is that the creature might take the place of the Creator and deprive God of God’s grace. The pretty one might be aware of his/[her] prettiness or might not. Awareness or the lack of it, in this case, both are worthless. All this is from the world of dust.

Once I was attending the installation of a cardinal, between whom and me there was a work-relationship in the domain of the convergence of churches, and the deacon was given a great role in that ceremony. When the deacon completed his work shouted with this Biblical saying: “And the world and its desire are passing away” [1John.2: 17], in order that he may warn the cardinal from arrogance.

Whenever the splendor of God descends upon you and you consider it yours, you would be like the one who deemed him/[her]self to be a god, and then you would be falling into polytheism (shirk). That is why in the monastic order we say that “the chaste monk whenever loses love loses chastity.” You are poor and only in your poverty you look at the face of God in order that you might have a face. Whenever this occurs you would not be able to see your face, and in case you boast and take a mirror to see yourself, you become nothing, according to a proverb: “whoever covets abolishes”. Only through poverty you come into being. Every show is a demise of the show-person, since God abolishes the haughty ones. “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1: 52-53)

Whenever splendor descends upon you from God you acknowledge it as grace and not as a possession. The Lord has willed to crown you by it, for a purpose that He knows, and He does not reveal it to you unless He wants you to know your responsibility at its receipt. Whoever receives grace is poor and has to be aware of his/[her] poverty in order to be enriched. But whoever ascribes a gift to him/[her]self God would abolish him/[her]. That is why the best prayer is the prayer of praise, since it surpasses the prayer of supplication or plea. Through the latter you receive and then thank, while in the praise you do not look at yourself, but you look at the face of God, you love God, and you become completely compassionate.

Probably the most tempting for the intelligent one is to enjoy his/[her] intelligence, thinking that the substrate of his/[her] mind was not this inherited brain, rather he/[she] has cultivated it. From the divine Book we know that Satan has been clever and most probably the reason of its fall has been pride. While the highest in sanctified humanity have no time to look at themselves, since they perceive only the face of the Lord. For the Lord, those with embellished minds are not closer to the sight of the Creator than those with limited minds, since the Creator does not distinguish among people other than for their faith.

Nothing indicates that whoever fathoms the secrets of universe comes closer from the secret of God. This is a question of heart: “O servant, everything is [revealed to the] heart.” The heart has its logic which might or might not be related to the mind. And for our Fathers, the mind does not become aware of its freedom unless it descends to the heart, where it might be purified and then ascends to its place. For us, this meeting does not occur without grace from the Lord and then, the mind begins the journey of humility. In that state, purity would have been reached its climax and nothing would follow it except vision.

There is premiership in intelligence and that is a danger similar to all premiership and domination. This is not a call to annihilate it, since there is kind of self-destruction in that. This is rather a call that intelligence might start from the divine word, which you are called to speak with human ingenuity, with no conceit or arrogance. The “extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.” [2Cor. 4: 7] And your role with people is what the Qur᾿an has spoken about: “So, exhort, you are a mere exhorter; you are not supposed to dominate them” (Sura Al-Ghashiyah [The Overwhelming Day], 21-22). This means that you have to remind [people] by the words that have descended from above, and that you are [merely] an exhorter. Choose the best method, that is your responsibility and your Lord does not oppose human creativeness, whenever we are truly creative.

Someone might answer me that intelligence has been developed through sciences, philosophy, literature and so on, and this is beautiful. God, [however], cares neither about beauty nor about science. God cares about the truth that is within you, which you are able to give. Scientists might come closer to divine presence or might not. The intelligent ones are not guaranteed by the Lord. He [rather] blesses those who are poor to Him, who know that they come from His approval and that the one forming them surpasses all mind and description.

The one heedless of knowledge impresses me whenever his/[her] Lord imparts him/[her]  knowledge of Godself [cf. Sura Al-Kahf [The Cave], 65], which reveals to him/[her] all love capable of raising him/[her] up. Yes, the human being needs the tools of knowledge in order to manage the worldly things. However, he/[she] would not experience any human depth whenever he/[she] misses the experience of love, before and after which nothing comes, which alone saves the intelligent and the dumb by the same power. Both are to be judged by the same divine keenness for their thoughts and works.

I do not know one spiritual person, in the history of monotheism, who has despised the mind. However, I am always astonished by those who are not aware of its limitations and have not heard of its shortcomings, or of the danger of its boast. I have not spoken about the heart which dissolves in itself. This is also boasting. However, as I am worried from the stiffness of passion and the irritability of the hearts, I am also anxious about the closure of the mind on itself. This is polytheism. However, if you become humiliated in the presence of the Lord, then the doors of both the heart and the mind will open, and you would assume to yourself a high state, which is the state of love [in the sense of Eros].

What a beautiful stand is when those wise ones equate themselves with others, who are less wise than them, since then they would be witnessing that salvation is love. And love has handled the mind at the start of knowledge in the civilization that we have inherited.

All our Fathers said that the first and the major sin, to our day, is pride, which whenever you analyze you would see that it is the elimination of divinity from God, since it is the worship of the self. But whenever you accept the divine mind within you, you become deified, as the spiritual ones say in all the spheres of monotheism. They alone actualize in themselves [this verse: “Say: “He is Allah, the only One” (Sura Al-Ikhlas [Sincerity], 1). While whoever isolates him/[her]self from divine wisdom traces understanding only to his/[her] humanity.

The beauties that are only from the world, including the body, its pleasures, its domination and its glamour, these in reality are ornaments for the people of the world and they take them, and take their world, to the soil, since they are of the earth. But whoever is enlightened by the divine light, they become statures of light, and their Lord knows that they belong to Him now and forever. Those rise only before God and from God they come to us, and we live by their blessings.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “بركات النور” –An Nahar- 27.02.2010