Sufi Diaries – An Hour’s Contemplation Is Better Than The Worship Of 70 Years
We all try to be the best version of ourselves. To be loving towards our family and friends, to be a good believer maybe, a good fellow global citizen or perhaps a disciplined seeker. However, how often do you assess your actions and behaviour?
What makes a good human being (or a good believer?) You might say, to be kind towards all, to take care of Mother Earth and to help others. Moreover, how many of us praise the Divine, Our Beloved Prophets, Saints and Mystics and vow to follow their ways in a perfect manner? Yet Their footsteps are never met?
Ramzaan is a beautiful blessing bestowed upon us, which gives us the opportunity to look within ourselves. To purify not only our body, but also our mind, heart and soul. However, in order to do that, one has to pause for a few moments and reflect upon one self, one’s character and the results of our daily actions.
“An hour’s contemplation is better than the worship of 70 years”. (Hz. Muhammad Sallahu Alaihi Wasalam)
In the spirit of becoming more aware of my actions and their effects upon humanity, the animal kingdom and mother earth (as explained in my previous posts) – I have been trying to educate myself as much as possible and analysed the results of my choices. What I realised is the following:
- Most of our habits (if not all), needs and wants are extremely destructive and harming the planet in many, many ways! Yet, hardly anyone wants to know.
- This is mainly because, we (most of us, if not all of us, apart from the Divine Friends of God), are not conscious of our actions and thus fail to be aware of the harm that we are causing to our surroundings, the planet and the animal kingdom on a daily basis.
- Due to the age of “convenience” (industrialisation, mass production and the rise of technology), we have all become more and more ‘lazy’ on a mental & spiritual level. Our levels of self-discipline regarding the ego (or lower nafs) has diminished tremendously (if not completely).
The question is when will we become aware of the consequences of the increasing luxuries around us? Don’t get me wrong – a lot of inventions have actually made our lives a lot easier and allowed us to plan our time more efficiently. However, where do we draw the line? And why should we have limits?
According to Al-Ghazali, a man of Good Character can be summed up by the following signs:
“It is to be abundantly modest, to avoid harming others, to be righteous, truthful in speech, and of little discourse; it is to do many things and slip up infrequently, to avoid excess, to be loyal, friendly, dignified, patient, grateful, satisfied, forbearing, charitable, chaste and pitying; and not to curse or to insult people, or to backbite or to slander them, and to avoid hastiness, hatred, meanness, and jealousy; to be cheerful and kind, and to love… for the sake of God.
Such is the man of good character.”
This once again highlights the necessity of self-reflection; we should all be able to reflect upon the effects of our daily actions. Not just on a physical level or worldly level (i.e. how does our modern lifestyle affects the planet, animals or our body). But also, how it affects our spiritual life: our levels of discipline towards the ego/nafs, and our spiritual growth? It is only through the art of self-development and reflection that we can polish our heart and adorn our being with beautiful divine qualities (such as: kindness, compassion, humility etc.).
Moreover, one must question, whether one is consciously aware of his or her daily actions. Meaning: when you eat, are you consciously present? Or are you eating like a mechanical cat, wondering where the food has gone, once your plate has finished? Are you aware of each and every bite, and the way your digestive juices mix with the food, so it can nourish, heal and sustain your body? Or are you eating it quickly to satisfy your cravings and the tongue’s urge?
We must ask ourselves, whether we act out of our own will (the soul) or whether we respond to (the ego’s) desires, needs, wants, emotions and/or mental chatter? When you buy clothes, is it because you need it? Or because some advertisement or window shopping triggered an emotion within you? When you eat, is food your ‘medicine’ and thus you are taking ownership – or are you controlled by your desires to indulge in an explosion of flavours that last for but a few moments? Or perhaps your emotions needed to be pacified with sweet treats?
“If the first inward thought is not warded off, it will generate a desire,
then the desire will generate a wish, and the wish will generate an intention,
and the intention will generate the action, and the action will result in ruin and divine wrath.
So evil must be cut off at its root, which is when it is simply a thought that crosses the mind,
from which all the other things follow on.”
When you find yourself responding to life based on your ego’s desires, rather than acting with awareness and out will, you know it is really time to make a change. It is not for no reason that our mystics and saints throughout time used to tell us to lower our gaze. Not because the world is a bad place – but out of protection against the lower self. With the arrival of technology and social media – we are increasingly exposed to vibrant and colourful images – that do not serve any purpose – but trigger emotions and desires within. EVEN when you follow so called healthy recipes or spiritual posts about crystals and essential oils. Everything we see, triggers something within – and then we find ourselves wanting things more. Feeling the need to have things – we didn’t think of before – just because it looks nice or someone wrote a nice post about it.
Which as result, only leads to modern day slavery of the soul – being captured and oppressed by the lower nafs/the ego’s desires and never ending demands. Is that truly the way we want to live?
“Verily the soul becomes accustomed to what you accustom it to.
That is to say: what you at first burden the soul with becomes nature to it in the end.”
When I think about the stories about Our Beloved Prophet or Saints and Mystics throughout time – I cannot help feeling inspired and humbled by their lifestyle. Their strength to stay strong and not follow the whims of the lower self. Instead they had firm control over their mind and senses – their life was beautifully graced with the divine qualities of discipline and constant self-reflection. Naturally, when you are in control of your senses and mind – one will waste less time and energy fighting and following desires, thoughts and emotions. And thus, their lives were beautifully spent in the name of the Divine Light and in service of His people, the Animal Kingdom and Mother Earth. They were very aware of the divine within all of His creations and went out of their way to serve, help and heal others. Which is simply beautiful!
Giving charity when requested (during specific religious times), praying or even fasting, isn’t praiseworthy – when the rest of your life is spent in ignorance. Because when we live in ignorance, our every step will be a possible sin – then how will prayers even help your soul?
And yes indeed, He is the All Merciful and the Most Kind. However, that doesn’t mean that we continue to close our eyes and remain blind. Continuous education, self-reflection, self-development and mindfulness of one’s actions is extremely important. Without that, our beings will continue to dwell in the dirty waters of our lower selves.
With His grace, we are all able to rise above and move towards our Higher Self at any time! The decision, however, remains ours.
“Each of your breaths is a priceless jewel, since each of them is irreplaceable and, once gone, can never be retrieved.
Do not be like the deceived fools who are joyous, because each day their wealth increases while their life shortens.
What good is an increase in wealth when life grows ever shorter? Therefore be joyous only for an increase in knowledge or in good works, for they are your two companions who will accompany you in your grave when your family, wealth, children and friends stay behind.”
What would you do?
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a blessed and divine Ramadan 2016❤ God Bless
With my love and light,