Cycles of Life and Reality¶
We experience numerous spheres of cycles and zones of consciousness with natural beginnings and ends. Our breathing, heartbeats, sleeping and waking, and the numerous mental functions, are all cyclical events drifting within space and time.
A natural extension of all these experiences is the desire to know the nature of the ultimate end, and what lies beyond it. The soul carries the memory of cosmic patterns that we experience and we quest after that knowledge. We are driven to discover the original state — the sacred Oneness that is ever there.
Sleep puts an end to our wakeful state and transcendence of mind takes us to the doorway of the infinite, eternal Light. One state ends for the other to begin.
We live in constant struggle. We think, plan and hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Yet life itself flows according to its perfect path. The future is only a continuation of Now, and if, right now, we have presence of mind and heart, then there is no doubt that the future will be the best of all possibles ones. We are habituated to change for the better and renew our habits and patterns for what is considered optimal.
Our world of dualities has originated from unity and is returning to that state. If any renewal is along the path of connectedness, continuation and Oneness, then it leads towards greater well-being. Whoever wants the best in their future needs to experience the best Now. We all know that the zone of joy and goodness exists right now, but we may not have tapped into it because we are concerned by shadows and illusions.
The path, therefore, has to do with stopping those concerns and starting from a clean and neutral position. Then you may flow along the beam of light of your soul, witnessing perfections irrespective of outer appearances or feelings. Divine perfections, ever-present.
Pleasure and Happiness¶
A pleasure is something one can share, one can buy. It is related to attachment and is a worldly thing while surur, joy, is for its own sake. The bird sings because its nature is to sing, irrespective of whether the hunter is hunting it or the neighborhood is giving it extra food. A pleasure is a result of something that has occurred. A person is lonely, then he meets a companion who echoes much of what he believes in – that is a pleasure. Someone was hungry, there was emptiness in his stomach and it was filled with food – that is a pleasure. Pleasure is like neutralization: the negative and the positive meet and are neutralized.
Joy is something else; it is the negation of the negative. Joy occurs when what was considered to be desirable has been recognized as being wahm, illusion. Negation of the negative is positive and that is the normal state of man. It is for this reason that man inherently seeks joy. He knows pleasure, he knows it is purchasable, but he does not readily know the way to joy. Man seeks happiness because it is his real nature. He is unhappy because he has been telling himself that he needs a certain something to be happy. He constantly runs after it, but as soon as he gets it, he desires something else.
The door to the abode of joy is the recognition of how to unknot what one has knotted. That is why it is said that the source is a secret within a secret. A desirable thing is in itself a wahm. The recognition of the wahm is the negation of it. And if the negation is genuine, then the root of joy is being nourished from within. That is the soil in which the tree of contentment will grow. Contentment is a tree that nobody can transplant into anybody else. One has to, through one’s own labor, nurture it and make it grow.
‘You’ Are The Outer And The Inner¶
From the book “Calling Allah By His Most Beautiful Names”
We can talk of three realms of unity, which relate to the zones of action, attribute and essence. Action and manifestation are based on causality, reasoning and intellect. The reflective believer will soon discover that all experiences are balanced by their opposites. There is no pleasure without displeasure, no health without illness, and the root of these realities lies in their opposite. Higher attributes reflect the divine qualities and are most desirable for us as they are doors to inner happiness. Essence is the indiscernible and hidden root – the Light of lights. When one is illumined, the state of excellence (ihsān) is experienced and tasted. Then the All-Merciful appears and you will see His light in every situation.
As life in our discernible world is based on action, it means we live with constant change; hence we are always seeking a reliable zone of reference so that we can understand change and deal with it with a sense of priority. We may desire a beautiful object, for example, but it can deteriorate and become ugly in time or under certain circumstances. Thus, what we really desire is the attribute of beauty, and not the object itself.
The realm of attributes is subtler than that of the realm of action and manifestation. Even subtler is the essence of Allah which is hidden in His attributes, which themselves are behind the actions and manifestations of physical existence. Therefore, witnessing and understanding the unity of action and manifestation comes before realising the unity of attributes, all of which meet in the one essence. The Prophet (pbuh) said:
“I take refuge in Your forgiveness from Your punishment
[unity of actions]
and I take refuge in Your mercy from Your anger
[unity of attributes]
and I take refuge in You from You
[unity of essence]
Oh Lord, do not let me rely upon myself,
not even for a blink of an eye.”
Its meaning is that there is only ‘You’ behind all that appears, and within all that there is. ‘You’ are the outer and the inner.