800-year-old wisdom of Sa’adi

These days, I am reading Sa’adi again. I read his Gulistan when I was 15. I remember marveling at his wisdom and thinking if one followed this man’s pieces of advice, one could overcome anything. Now, I once again marvel at his wisdom, but this time I marvel equally at his language. How could this be? This man writing 800 years ago, so fluently, in a language that I can easily read and understand today. He is amazing where language is concerned. You are not convinced? Well, try reading Shakespear without using a dictionary and a reading-aid. Don’t get me wrong; I love Shakespear who is also amazing where language is concerned. But his language is not comprehensible to us, well, most of us. And he is from about 400 years ago. Yet, I can comfortably read Sa’adi who was from about 800 years ago.

Anyway, you know that Gulistan is written in chapters. The chapter I just finished is on contentment or Ghina’at which is the opposite of greed. I highly recommend this chapter. It got me thinking how much we want nowadays. Not just financially, but in every aspect of life. We want to have everything and often we want them all at once: education, career, family, love, money, recognition, … And with each one of these, we still want far more. We used to want a husband or a wife as the case may be to provide and parent our children and accompany us to old age. Now we want all of that plus a soul mate and a lover and … all in one. Or a career used to be a way to earn a living; now it has to be fulfilling and nourishing and challenging and … Not that anything is wrong with any of these. It is just that how feasible is it? How feasible is it to want so much? Or to have it? And to be happy if we happen to have it? Having things has a price; the more we have, the more we pay. What is the currency? Time. We get less and less time to enjoy whatever we have, the more we have. Also, stress of maintenance. To hold on to what we have gets us to worry, to stress, to accumulate anxiety. And at the end, we have a lot of many things but perhaps very little satisfaction and happiness.

What is the next chapter about? I am not telling you!!

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