If your knowledge of fire has been turned to certainty by words alone, then seek to be cooked by the fire itself. Don’t abide in borrowed certainty. There is no real certainty until you burn; if you wish for this, sit down in the fire. ~ Rumi
In the metaphysical classic, The Science of Mind, writer Ernest Holmes shares, “An idea has no real value until it becomes an experience.” This, as well as the instruction from the Sufi poet Rumi, ask us to look at something called borrowed certainty.
Borrowed certainty is equivalent to borrowed opinion. We may catch hold of some public discourse, read an article on the internet, or remain steadfast to some inherited dogma and never venture away from those borrowed beliefs to do our own experimentation.
Do we live from these borrowed systems of collective opinion or do we go out and explore what feels true and relevant for ourselves?
The poet Rumi’s words are a challenge to move beyond public theory into embracing active participation in one’s spiritual reawakening. In that world, yes, we will stumble, fall and feel defeated at times, but we will also experience satisfaction from transcending what was once thought to be a limitation. We may discover that we can do far more than we ever thought possible. We will feel. We will shake hands with real certainty because we will have actually walked the walk of ceaseless advise from parents, teachers and leaders who can only relay things to us conceptually.
It will never be enough to borrow the certainty of another’s exhilarating experience of a faithful giving and sharing practice until we actually give as a way of life.
It will never be enough to simply listen to another’s success story birthed from their committed practice of goal setting – writing and reading them every day, until we actually pick up a pen and write our own desires on paper. Or, as I once overheard someone suggest, “I can tell you all about the wonders of chocolate but you will never really understand until you taste it.”
Rumi reminds us that experience is our best teacher. How will we ever know our capabilities until we sit in the fire of involvement.