From time to time a Revelation “flows” like a great tidal wave from the Ocean of Infinitude to the shores of our finite world; and Sufism is the vocation and the discipline and the science of plunging into the ebb of one of these waves and being drawn back with it to its Eternal and Infinite Source.
There is only one water, but no two Revelations are outwardly the same. Each wave has its own characteristics according to its destination, that is, the particular needs of time and place towards which and in response to which it had providentially been made to flow.
The vast majority of believers are concerned with the water which the wave deposits in the cavities and hollows in the path of the wave, which the wave deposits in these receptacles and which constitutes the formal aspect of the religion.
Mystics on the other hand are by definition concerned above all with the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven and therefore the mystic is the one who is consequently more preoccupied by the ebbing wave than by the water which it has left behind.
The full-grown Sufi is conscious of being, like other men, a prisoner of the world of forms, but unlike them he is also conscious of being free, with a freedom which immeasurably outweighs his imprisonment. He may therefore be said to have two centers of consciousness, one human and one Divine, and he may speak now from one and now from the other, which accounts for certain apparent contradictions.