Searching for the Perfect Woman

A Sufi sage was asked by one of his students why he never married. The sage told the student: “When I was young, I searched for the perfect woman to be my wife, but she could not be found. I went from village to village looking. In one village, I met a woman who I thought was perfect for me. She had piercing eyes, a friendly smile, and a beautiful figure. She was everything I imagined a wife would look like.

“What was the problem?”, asked the student.

“Alas, this woman had great beauty outwardly but she was unintelligent. I could not bear to spend my whole life with someone whom I could not talk to about the greater things in life. So I went to the next village and met a woman who, again, seemed perfect. She was everybit as beautiful as the first woman and she was well educated. She knew all the poets and astronomers, and could speak 3 languages.”

“What was the problem?”, asked the student.

“Alas, this woman was beautiful and intelligent, but she was also mean. She beat her animals mercilessly and insulted everyone she felt was inferior to her. I could not bear the thought of spending my days with such a wretched woman, so I went in search again. I searched far and wide until, finally, in a village far from home, I found a woman who was more beautiful than the first two combined. She was far more learned, and she radiated warmth and kindness like the sun radiates light.”

The student was astounded. “Surely this was the perfect woman! Why then did you not make her your wife?”

The sage replied, “It seems that in love I am cursed, for I asked her to marry me and she refused. She said she was searching for the perfect man.”

This humorous Sufi parable is a wonderful reminder that in love and in life, we often hold others to much higher standards than we are willing to hold ourselves. As disciples, we are called to be gracious with one another and forgiving of faults. For God is gracious and forgiving of us. It is a tried saying that, “no one is perfect.” Yet as human beings we tend to expect perfection from others. If we continue hold each other to the standards of perfection, we will not find friendships or relationships that make us truly happy. However, if we are generous with others in our forgiveness of their flaws and shortcomings, we may just find that same generosity returned.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…

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