Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. What Rumi’s wisdom means to us.

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.”

                – Jalaluddin Rumi, 13th Century Sufi mystic

Bewilderment – 1. (meaning) the condition of being confused and disoriented. 2. (meaning) situation of perplexity or confusion, a tangle.

Cleverness – (meaning) the ability to understand and learn quickly & easily.

The seller and the buyer in our commercial world do not sell their cleverness and are scared to buy bewilderment.

To sell, in Rumi’s spirit, the sense he meant it, is to let go. To buy is to let in.

Let go of cleverness.

Let in bewilderment.

Look at the meanings again. That would be a crazy thing to do, isn’t it! 

Consider this, a corporate head gets into the ‘let’s talk business’ mode which the trainer-consultant was anyways waiting for. Do they do what Thomas Huxley so beautifully expressed centuries ago?

Here is what Huxley said.

“Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.”

Far from sitting down before fact as a child, both the corporate head and the trainer-consultant parade before it the way Indian and Pakistani soldiers do in the beating retreat ceremony at the Wagah Border. A drill where neither side shows it is beating a retreat anytime soon.

What is the drill out here ? Pretend you know just one crucial thing that keeps you one step ahead of the other! If in doing that, you never acknowledge the tangle you are in or the confusion of your own reality, so be it! The corporate head, the so-called buyer, has no clue what’s happening within his organization. But will he express that in the most awareness-expanding terms? Of course, not. To do so, he will have to sell cleverness and buy bewilderment. ‘How can I let go of cleverness’, the corporate head thinks. ‘Cleverness is what I have to show the seller who is in-charge. Cleverness is what I am supposed to have in making the choice about this seller too’, he affirms. 

The trainer-consultant, the so-called seller, has no clue what the ‘real’ problem is either. He knows the clever problem, not the real problem. And the trainer-consultant takes a stab at it with – guess what – a clever solution. To make the sale, not solve the problem. After all, no-one can solve a problem without knowing what it is. ‘How can I let go of cleverness’, the trainer consultant thinks. ‘Cleverness is the only thing I have to show the buyer I can solve his problem. Cleverness is what earns me the respect and standing even if the buyer is in-charge’, he affirms.

Both sides hold onto cleverness. They don’t sell it.

If they both sit before fact as a little child, they will start with confusion and disorientation. They will first need to accept that the very reason they are getting together is because there is a situation that requires some serious thought, application and action. If the situation did not require that, they wouldn’t be talking at all. 

Both sides do not let in bewilderment. They don’t buy it! 

Why just the buyer and seller? Look at all the conversations, all the talk around you. Consider all that you read here and everywhere. Reflect on all that you hear at work or on the telly. If we go by the thrust, everybody seems to know what to do. How to succeed. How to learn. How to change. How to make an impact. Who is bewildered? Nobody seems to be. If so, who exactly are we engaging with. If nobody is confused, what is the fuss all about. If somebody is confused, why is it not out in the open. Just as the success habits are. Just as the best practices are. After reading this, search for something that reveals how bewildered a life we live. And search for a writer who is one with the bewilderment and not saying that I am the enlightened one! 

Even as I write this, I am struggling to buy bewilderment for this one specific action of writing this article. I feel I am clever in writing this. In becoming aware of this, and accepting this, I help myself in letting go of cleverness, and letting in bewilderment. I also realize what I am up against when I buy that bewilderment as the trainer- consultant seller in a world that wants cleverness from the role I am cast in! And yet deep down, I know the most enlightened of buyers and sellers in all walks of life are living by Rumi’s wisdom. Pray tell me, where are they? Where do they live? I am bewildered..Or am I being clever, yet again..

Amid the talk about knowledge age, knowledge management and what-not, I leave you with Osho. He uses the word knowledge, and we can easily read it as cleverness too. Your choice.

“Knowledge destroys wonder, destroys the capacity to feel awe. It makes you capable of explaining away everything. It takes away all poetry from life. It takes away all meaning from life. The knowledgeable person is never surprised by anything because he can explain everything. But no explanation is true for they don’t explain anything at all. The mystery remains. The mystery is infinite.

The knowledgeable person becomes so burdened by his knowledge that he loses the mirror-like quality of reflecting the beauty, the benediction, the dance, the ecstasy of existence. Knowledge is not going to help as far as life is concerned. The knowledgeable person is almost a dead person; he lives in his grave. ” 

Are you buying bewilderment? 


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