Contemplation and Meditation
By: Sayyid Jan Ali Kazmi
To strengthen the willpower and resolve the best act to practice is thanksgiving to God. So without meditation and contemplation there is no thanksgiving. Now the question is as to what should be the form and manner of this contemplation and meditation?
First of all a man should inquire about his own existence and his own self, and try to answer questions, as to what was the purpose of his coming into this world? Was his creation useless and without reason? Was the sole purpose of my creation centered round eating, drinking, getting married, bearing children and eventually die? Is this the only purpose of his life or does his life have some other important purpose and claim?
It is obvious that no man considers his creation so absurd that first he is born, he eats and drinks then he gives birth to more children and finally dies. This is because it is not only man who inhabits (lives in) this world, but on the other hand this universe (space) is so vast, consisting of so many solar systems and planets, and its systems are so tremendous and magnificent, that man can neither think of his own creation to be useless and absurd (strange) or the creation of this entire universe as accidental and absurd. Without doubt there is a design in the creation of this universe. And the design behind the creation of this universe is as great and magnificent (wonderful) as the universe itself.
Life is a Mixture
Now this life is a combination (mixture) of successes and failures, some people spent a successful life though they are oppressors, tyrants and wrong- doers, while some people despite hard work, honesty and goodwill are deprived of their rights in this world. They spend their life in poverty and oppression and die a death of poverty and destitution (misery).
All this proves that man’s life is not limited to this world only. There is no doubt another world, where every man will be given his legitimate (lawful) rights. Where the oppressor will be punished and the oppressed and the injured will be given their rights. Death is not the end of life, but after death there is no doubt another life. All these questions can be answered and proved logically through contemplation and reflection and some incidents of life can be helpful in this respect.
For instance, true dreams and their stories and tales are popular in almost all the countries of the world.
Reality of Dream
For instance there was a man who died without relating in his last will and testament about a huge deposit of another person. When the person to whom the deposit belonged asked the children of the dead man for it. The children said that they were unaware of any such trust. As a result there was great confusion on both sides, then one night the dead man came in the dream of the children and informed them as to where they would find the deposit of the man. And when the children searched the place indicated by the dead man in the dream they found the deposit at that place.
The number of people who were informed about certain things by the dead is in hundreds and thousands and no man, neither a scientist nor a scholar can deny (reject) these true dreams. From this we learn that death is not the end of life and human existence but there is also a life after death. And once a man enters this life he has the power to give us certain information through dreams and visions. Thus a man should contemplate and meditate over the issue of life and death, as to what is the philosophy of life and death life. What is death?
No sensible man can be satisfied with the answer that the creation of this great universe and its magnificent systems was absurd and useless.
There is no doubt that if God had created this universe and also man in it then it was with a design (plan) and a purpose. Now through reflection and contemplation man can understand the design and the purpose of the creation of the universe. Through meditation and with the help of Holy books we reach the conclusion (finale) that God has not created man without any purpose; on the other hand man was created so that he attains the heights of perfection and excellence (quality).
Another important thing which a man should understand is that it is not God who benefits from the creation of man, on the other hand God wants man to benefit from this opportunity (chance) and the purpose of life is that man attains the greatest excellence. This is because man is different and unique in his creation from the other creatures of the world. Animals and beasts are denied logic and sense, while man has both logic and wisdom and by using his wisdom and logic man is able to succeed and progress in the world.
Reason for our Creation
It has been mentioned that we have been created to attain excellence and perfection in this world. To attain perfection and excellence in any field of interest even if it is some material (worldly) field it is important to follow a certain pattern and sequence (order) of things.
For instance, if we wish to achieve excellence in the field of studies, we should have some information of the course of studies and the examination.
If we wish to attain excellence in the field of research then it is important that we have full knowledge of that research area. Moreover without this knowledge information we would not be able to attain the excellence and perfection and would ultimately be among the unsuccessful people and the failures. Thus through contemplation we get hold of a certain method and pattern of doing a certain thing, like if any person contemplates over the issue of the creation of the universe and its design, he will find out that this universe was not created without purpose and, this is a natural response to his inquiry.
However this is not a complex (difficult) notion and can be easily comprehended, as if you are wearing a watch then you know that this watch was not created without any purpose. This means that a human being like our self does not create anything randomly and without purpose. Then this great universe and the innumerable (countless) people in it are themselves a proof that this great universe was not created without a design and a purpose.
Is Death the Ultimate?
Then certain experiences of life like the dead people communicating (contacting) through dreams and informing the living people about certain things as if they were still alive. After such true dreams no sensible man can consider death as the ultimate end and extinction of life. Another question is that if a person has attained knowledge for sixty or seventy years, and he has achieved a certain perfection in his field of study then is it possible and acceptable to the mind that all the hard work and all the knowledge would end in nothingness, and was this the outcome of all his hard works and efforts?
It is evident that the reality of man is far above and greater than the body. There is a reality of human beings apart from the body and this reality is embodied (within) in the existence of the soul. In man there is always the desire to do good deeds but at the same time there is also the desire to do evil acts and bad deeds. The angles, which are also the creations of God have no desire to do evil and sin in them, the animals on the other hand cannot perform good deeds as the animals do not have the feelings of sacrifice and the urge to rectify (correct) in them.
The Difference of Man compared to the other Creation of God
This shows that human beings are different both from the angles and the animals, because in human beings is found both the capacities to do good and evil. The capacity to do good have been named by some as the soul and the conscience and the power to do evil have been named by some as the ego or the ardent (eager) desires and the inner devil. The devil was also once a great devotee and worshipper of God, then what distracted him and left him astray. It was no doubt the bad soul, which distracted Satan (devil) and made him a rebel against the will of God.
Powers within Man – Good and Bad
Let us take an example, at the sight of a blind and a handicapped man on the road who wants to cross the road you at once sympathize with him and feel like helping the man. In the urge to do good you think that you have two eyes while he is denied those, but at once you are caught by another thought that you have no time because you are getting late for the office, and you think that there are hundreds of blind people in this city how many will you be able to help to cross the road.
Now you see that there are two powers in you one is the power to do well and the other power is the power to stop from doing good. In the same manner if you see some money, which has been dropped from someone’s pocket the inner self demands that you should pick up the money. Nevertheless, at once the voice of the conscience and the soul holds you back, that this money does not belong to you, it is someone else’s hard earned money and if I pick up this money it will be a great injustice to the that person, and I will be called a thief and a robber and I can be faced with a similar situation too.
Now you see that one side of man wants to do well and this is the human soul and the ego or the ardent desire in man stops from doing so; on the sight of money the ego wishes to steal and the soul’s stops from it. This means that a war is always waging between these two forces the soul wants to do good while the bad soul wants to commit evil. The soul wants the legitimate while the bad soul wants the forbidden; the good soul wishes the worship of God while the ego wishes the Satanic will.
Now in trying to understand the conflict between the two forces a man can strengthen the will power. He can understand that there is a force in him, which wishes to good while there is another force, which desires evil and oppression. Now if he is able to strengthen his soul by making his will power strong then his entire life will be spent in peace, in honest acts and good reputation. But if he get relaxed and does not defeat the bad soul then his entire life will be spent in evil, sin and distress.
This is the greatest of all wars and if a man succeeds in it and is able to defeat the ego then he proves himself to be very strong and resolute (determined).
Force that leads to Evil
Now it has been proved that there are two forces in human beings. There is the power of the bad soul, which attracts us towards sin, ease loving, wastefulness, temporary pleasure, eating and drinking greedily, intoxication, robbery and stealing, and doing all those things which have no advantage either in the world nor in the here after, and these are acts which the bad soul approves of. If we leave the bad soul without check then our willpower will get weak. It will ultimately control our soul and as a result we will become a slave to the soul bad and a slave to the Satanic desires and the ardent wishes in ourselves. However our life will not be called a successful life because the design and the purpose for which this universe was created and man was created would not be achieved.
But if we perform those acts and deeds through which we are able to defeat the bad soul and control our good soul then our will power will get strong. The soul which is the sacred side of man approves of acts and deeds which are eternal and permanent, which have an advantage in the present world, which is connected with our true being and which are everlasting. For instance the soul loves to acquire knowledge because knowledge grants excellence to man, knowledge whether it is materialistic in nature, is of the world or the hereafter always helps in the human progress. And the soul loves to do research and inquiry because through this man is able to mature and grow, and the soul likes to help the needy and the poor, to show steadfastness (faithfulness) and gratitude, it loves to contemplate because through contemplation the human reason is strengthened. The compensation of reason is knowledge and those acts, which strengthen the human resolve.
There are three factors, which help to strengthen the human will power. No man likes to be called a fool and an idiot but many people perform acts through which the willpower is weakened like drinking alcohol, jumping and laughing, kicking and swearing or such acts, which have no advantage either in the present world or in the hereafter. The human intellect and reasoning is strengthened through knowledge, contemplation and through those acts which help to make the will power strong.
Relationship with God
Now a man should make efforts to strengthen his reason, and decide on what should be his relationship with his Lord who has created him? He should imagine that if someone gives him a glass of water in the desert then he feels obliged (grateful) to him and thank him in return. But God who has graced him with all the benefits of the world, like eyes to see a tongue to speak, two feet’s to walk on, and ears to hear, a nose to smell. Then is it not essential and obligatory that he should thank his God, and this thanksgiving is in it self a form of Worship, in which he admits that the health and security and every thing that a man possesses is in reality a grace of God. If we have acquired knowledge then it was through the mind, the eyes, through these parts of the body.
The question to be answered is that who has given us these body parts? And if there would have been no sound mind and the person is mentally weak, then would it have been possible for us to acquire knowledge? Then if we have made good money in the world it was through these body parts which God has granted man. Thus a man should be obliged (thankful) to God and show his gratitude towards him, take out some time or at least twenty-four minutes in twenty-four hours, just like he performs other acts like eating and drinking. He should fix five times out of the twenty-four hours to contemplate (consider), so that when he reflects he would automatically pay thank and show gratitude.
Just like when a person rises from sleep he should remember that there are thousand of people who did not wake up from their sleep that morning and have been destined (fated) to eternal sleep. God spared him another day while many people have died. Thus as soon as he gets up from his sleep he should bow his head before his Lord, and thank God for the time and chance God has granted him to stay in this world a little more and attain excellence, to fulfill the purpose of his creation, to worship God, with his body parts which have been granted to him to attain the will and assent of God.
Do not Forget God
Even if a man is busy in providing for himself and his family and keeps working all day long even then he should not waste away these moments of meditation. When the sun is on his head, at this moment a man should think how faithful the sun is to the commands and the orders of God, and man just like the sun is also a creation of God. While thinking over this he should once again turn towards his Lord, admitting that it is because of the health and security granted by his God that he is able to provide for his family, is able to acquire knowledge and is able to earn.
Then as the sun reaches West a man should once again bow his head before his Lord and converse (talk) with God. To converse with God is not a common act, it is not a common pleasure, and if a man is able to develop this communication (contact) between himself and his Lord then all the other pleasures of the world would appear low and mean to him. It is a great feeling that a creature as low as man is communicating with his Lord.
If we think over the reality of man in this whole wide universe we would find that this universe is so great that it encapsulates (closed in a capsule) thousands of solar systems in it. Our solar system is no bigger that a dot and the earth is only a tiny planet in this solar system, and maximum part of the earth consists of water. The country we live in is less than a dot as compared to the whole universe then the city we live in is even smaller and in the city in which I stand is equal to a tiny dot. This means that a man can figure his being if he divides a dot thousand times. And it is this man so low and so small who is communicating with his Lord who is the creator of the entire universe and the provider of the whole universe who is the most Gracious and the most Merciful.
Achievement in Communication With God
A man himself attains grandeur (greatness) while communicating with his Lord, it is God who has the authority over life and death and who has the authority over all loss and gains. Thus when a man is in need he should pray to his Lord and ask from his lord by bowing his head in adoration before Him.
In the same manner a man remain caught in his daily chores (duties), but as the sunsets he should once again remember his Lord and bow his head before his God and remember Him in prayers. The worships and vigils, which we have learnt from the Holy books and the Prophets, should be undertaken and performed. There is no doubt that this act of worship is not the least approved by the bad soul or the ardent desires of man this is because the bad soul is ease loving, sin loving and an escapist (run away). But a man should continue with these worships and practices with a strong resolve and when a man will continuously perform those acts, which are against the will of the Ego then the human determination will grow strong and resolute.
Prayers Strengthens Willpower
In order to make the willpower strong a very important act to be performed is the act of prayers. A man can pray at any time of the day, but the best time for it is before sleeping, this is because during the day a man is faced with many unpleasant(disagree able) situations, and many things happen against his will. There are many people who have deceived him in this world or caused him financial (economical) loss; some times people insult him and sometimes his kindness is repaid with ingratitude. Now if a man sleeps while fretting and fuming over these happenings of the day then he can be caught in many mental perplexities (complications) and disorders. Moreover if he tries to share his confusions and his troubles with another person, it is quiet possible that the other person might mock (tease) him and make fun of his feelings or it is possible that he is black mailed by the other person over his secrets or is simply ignored.
Thus it is important that this act of prayers is carried for five or ten minutes before sleep. A man should share the incidents of the whole day with his Lord with his heart attending his lord and repeating humbly, ‘O God you are my Creator and my Provider, a certain person has insulted me, though my heart was pure … I treated him with kindness but you know that he has mistreated (harmed) me … may You guide him to the right path and bestow peace upon me. Furthermore in the same manner O my Lord I was honest to a certain person, through he has treated me dishonestly …may you guide him and grant me the power to do good deeds.’
To share all the distresses and confusions with God is the best of all worships, and the best ointment to all the mental distresses. This is because if you would relate it to another person other than God, then it is most likely that he will not pay much heed to it. Secondly a man is helpless and cannot assist another person as God can. While God is all-powerful and has complete control and command over all things
Loss and Gain Depends On God
It should be our faith, and through the teachings of God, a man should hold the belief that all loss and gains in this world are a result of the will of God. Even though the source (cause) might be some one else but it is ultimately God has the authority over human loss and gain. In this world hard work and genuine efforts are the best acts for success, but in reality it is God helps man. In the similar manner it is God who has the authority and power to save man from all detriments (injuries) and miss happenings. He is the one who has control over all things, thus to share ones feelings with God are a wise act and also in accordance with reason and logic.
God states in the Holy books: “O MY men, I love you even more than your father and mother.”
And the greatest scholar, intellectual, philosopher and abstemious person Great Scholar Musa Kazim (pbuh) states:
“Human beings if you see around the earth you would find two types of creations, among the beasts there are some animals who are able to feed themselves as soon as they are born, like the calf or a lamb. Now God has put comparatively (relatively) less love in the hearts of these animals like the cow and we see that as soon as the calf is able to look after itself the cow kicks the calf away. But on the other hand some creatures cannot feed themselves and survive on their own as soon as they are born. Thus God has put immense love in the hearts of their parents that they feed their children without caring for their own lives.”
Like the little chicks of a bird, cannot feed themselves and in the countries with hot climate we see that a bird carries food for its little ones from afar and sometimes they fall down due to the stress of the heat. Thus the Great scholar said;
“O people this immense love which is in the hearts of your mother or your father for you has been put in from your Lord. And God loves us even more than our parents.”
Thus it should be our faith, and it is true and proved by experience that the love of God for us is even greater than our love for ourselves. Moreover He is our Creator and our Lord thus He is the most Merciful of all.
It often happens that some times we ask for a certain thing from God, but our prayer is not granted because we are unaware of its bad consequences (outcome), the bad effects it holds for us, and then after three four years we find out that it was a blessing in disguise that our prayer was not granted then.
Thus prayer should be an integral (vital) and important practice of our life. Prayer means beseeching (pleading) and requesting God. Prayer means to share the confusions and distresses with God. Every man passes through bad phases (periods) in his life. If these confusions and distresses are not shared at the right place then a man might become so greatly depressed that he might even commit suicide.
Guidance and Life – A Blessing
The first greatest blessing in this world is guidance and the second greatest blessing in this world is life. Man might destroy his life in ignorance, and if we study the lives of those people who commit suicide we would find that the element of prayers is missing in their lives. On the other hand people who are used to saying prayers regularly would never commit suicide irrespective (without regard) of the magnitude (size) of his distresses and hardships.
This means that prayer is an act which saves man from suicide, from distresses, and which makes the man strong. Man is just like a little drop of water, he is weak and ignorant of his death and life, but once man develops a connection and a bond between himself and his creator through the act of prayers then he gains not only great pleasure and ecstasy but he becomes so strong and resolute that he can face the opposition of the whole world without fear. This is because now he has developed an interaction (relation) with the Creator and the King of the whole universe and the provider of the whole universe and the one who has authority over the human losses and gains.
Thus a prayer is in reality a great force and strength, but there are certain conditions for saying prayers and certain rites, which should be observed for prayers, and once these rites (ceremonies) are observed a man may enjoy the true and everlasting pleasure of this act. Prayer is not only a solution to the problems and difficulties of the present world but also of the hereafter.
In the coming chapter further detail will be given. The manners and the rituals should be observed so that one is able to pray in the proper way.