Monday, September 14, 2015

Oblivious to Lesser Goals

“Isa one day saw some people sitting miserably on a wall, by the roadside. He asked: 'What is your affliction?' The said: 'We have become like this through our fear of Hell.'
He went on his way, and saw a number of people grouped disconsolately in various postures by the wayside.
He said: 'What is your affliction?' They said: 'Desire for Paradise has made us like this.'
He went on his way, until he came to a third group of people. They looked like people who had endured much, but their faces shone with joy.
Isa asked them: 'What has made you like this?' and they answered: 'The Spirit of Truth.
We have seen Reality, and this has made us oblivious of lesser goals.'
Isa said: 'These are the people who attain. On the Day of Accounting these are they who will be in the Presence of God.'…..” …………………..Imam El-Ghazali

Imam El-Ghazali relates to tradition form the life of Isa, ibn Maryam: Jesus, Son of Mary. Imam El-Ghazali was a Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic of Persian descent in the twelfth century. The above parable is an admirable example of how he combined Sufi thought through other spiritual leaders such as Christ.

The direct perception of God as an individual mystical experience runs very deeply in Sufi tradition.
Our aim in life or life purpose is the realization of our true potential to self-identify our Divine nature.
As long as we are attached to mental concepts and perceptions and live our life in a series of relationships with objective reality, we raise barriers in our progress in the true path that can lead us to the destination of self-realization.

Ghazali says in his writings:
“A human being is not a human being while his tendencies include self-indulgence, covetousness, temper and attacking other people”

This can be expanded with our current knowledge to include the interconnectedness of whole ecosystem to our very being. By isolating objects we fall into the trap of assigning a relative status in establishing a relationship with the objects thus isolated. This diminishes our perception of the Divine as the essence that pervades all manifestations.

Ghazali goes one step further in this parable, through the words of Isa, in including concepts such as hell and heaven. Hell and heaven are our internal states of consciousness as perceived through a subjective experience but assigned an external futuristic reality. When our consciousness is alienated for the true path and attached to lesser realities, it is like a soiled mirror and does not reflect the Divine light and the corrupted image induces a constant fear. This is the state of hell. But when we constantly desire to see the unsoiled image of our true self we long for paradise and until we succeed we are in constant anxiety.

Hence hell and paradise are again not true reality. Hell and paradise are no different from the pain we suffer and the pleasure we long for in our physical and emotional realm.

But when the Spirit of Truth resides within us, we shine like the unsoiled mirror and Divine light is fully mirrored in our being. The imbuing of the spirit of truth is not a trivial task and requires constant striving and this is told in the parable as those ‘who endured much’ were those who had the spirit of truth.

The physical world and all its associated objective realities such as beauty, harmony, pleasurable sensations, sweetness and heady scents are provided as efficient tools to sculpture the Divine image out of the physical medium in which we live.

Day of Accounting is not some distant future date but the moment when we come to the end of this manifestation.
When we say that the mystics, sages and saints lived in the presence of the Divine, this is reflected in Ghazali’s saying “We have seen Reality, and this has made us oblivious of lesser goals”.

Love to you all

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