Sunday, February 14, 2010

necessity of unity

1.
In a previous post titled, 'God Maker and Prophet's Ascension' our beloved visitor Aliya made a comment questioning whether UNITY was necessary (or a precondition) for the enlightened beings. In the post, citing the words of Omid Safi, where its mentioned, "... before we can have that intimate encounter with the Source of our creation, we have to come together. Unity is necessary for us, as it was necessary for the Prophets."

In response to that, Aliya wrote:
"Well, for me it sounds like putting the bullock cart before the bullocks. If we impose on our Lord our condition to not ever encounter him before we gather all the humanity in unity, then I am afraid God will show me his back. Who are we to impose conditions on our God as to when and how to encounter us? God encountering does not happen at one’s will and it is not something we can grasp at will. It is God always who comes to us. All we can do is to remain open, receptive and vulnerable for Him.

Moreover, I have never heard about any enlightened beings unity which has ever acted here on this Earth. Each and every enlightened being remained authentic and utterly himself and has never been part of any “enlightened activism” or of whatever organized “isms”- communism, fascism, Marxism. Buddha, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Muhammad, all of them spoke their own individual experiencing of God to others, driven out of their love and compassion. The thing is that every rare precious being after his enlightenment is so full and overflowing of divine grace, bliss, joy, compassion, that he is bound to share his being with the others. Enlightened beings are like rainy clouds so full of rains, that they shower their grace and bliss all around, does not matter is it on flourishing gardens and splendid greenery or on dry rocky deserts.

Encountering your Lord or enlightenment is the most intimate experience one can have. Only after this individual experiencing can you know what real unity means, not before."

Following are my two cents on the necessity of unity, both before and after intimate encounter with the Presence.

2.
Huwal Haqq..

He is the (Absolute) Truth..
- The Quran: Hajj:6

ma khalaqa Allahu als-samawati wa al-arda 
wa ma bayna huma illa bi al-haqq. 

Allah created not the heavens and the earth, and (all) that which is between them, except with truth..
- The Quran: Room:8, Ah’qaf:3; Hijr:85; Ankabut:44

First of all, just as unity (tawhid) is at the center of Divine Essence, so it is true for every manifestation; whether its unity of humanity or unity of our own humanness, unity among our inner conviction, inner qualities and our outer actions. There is truth in the fact that 'unity is necessary', no its more than that, unity is essential..

We can try to realize this truth both from micro-cosmic and that of macro-cosmic aspect.

Inside human being is found the whole cosmos. In that cosmos, both the inner and outer world (symbolically heaven and earth) we must have unity or harmony among our senses, among our inner conviction and our outer actions, we must have the coming together of what is our true nature and what we embody, enlive. This unity of the multi-dimensionality of our complex being can not be denied. When we bring together all aspect of ours in a harmonious way, we save ourselves from living a fragmented life, by compartmentalizing this, compartmentalizing that. 

Its said that one can not know the Lord unless one knows himself. And extension to that ancient truth is follows that one can not know himself unless one harmonizes his whole being and become a harmonious, wholesome being (insan kamil). And one can not become a wholesome being unless one unites all that is his inner and all that is his outer. To illustrate a simple example, one can not expect inner peace (no matter how many hours one sit at meditation or pray), if one spend his days querreling and harboring malice toward others in the outer world. Once we know what is right and what is wrong (and human conscience knows such universal human values by default), and if our embodiment is not in line with that, we are not united with our inner and outer, hence we suffer.

The forgetfulness and lack of awareness about this inner unity results among many other things, is what in modern day we are going through. We have somehow made it a norm to fragment our spiritual life from our daily life, we have found a way to unplug our inner life from the outer, we have started to believe that all aspect of our being dont need to be harmonized. And in doing so our soul is tormented and the consequences are reflected in the outer world as well. We feel hopelessly depressed even though we have plenty, we literally feel fragmented in many aspects of our life, we can't possibly have a sound sleep even though there is no physiological reason - many of such modern day problems come from the disharmony of what is within and what is without.

And when it comes to unity, its not our condition, its a reality of the Kingdom. Unity simply Is for a necessity for harmony. So the point raised by Aliya that it sounds as if a condition of unity is imposed upon God - is not necessarily a condition but part of how things are.

To give another example about this unity, lets turn to the illuminated mystic of piescean age, Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus, the Son of Mary) where he says, "Simply let your yes be yes, your no be no." (Matthew 5:37) Utterly simple as it might seem, but there is the quintessential unity of our embodiment. In Islam the most disharmonized type of people are termed as "munfaiqoon" or the 'hypocrites' who say something which is not in harmony or not united with their inner conviction. This kind of people ever commit injustice to their soul because the nourishment of the soul comes from our inner harmony, from the embodied of truth and beauty both within and without, purification both with and without. What Christ said about our yes being yes and no being no, the same ideal is emphasized in the Quran when the believers are admonished: "O you who faithfully believe! why do you say that which you do not do?" (Quran 61:2)

Christ also condemned by saying "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence." (Matthew 23:25,26). That is the characteristics of disharmony, disunity of a hypocrites. On another level, in Gnostic Gospel Christ gives this esoteric formula of inner harmony, "Until your masculine and feminine nature become one, you can not enter the Kingdom." (Gospel of Thomas)

Now if we turn to the macro-cosmos, in the world of apperances, we also find the place of unity and harmony. Lets give an example from the history of the Children of Israel during their enslaved and captive years in Egypt. There was an enlightened activism on part of Moses and his brother Aaron to meet the Pharaoh and demand that the Children of Israel be released from the bond of perpetual slavery from generation after generation. There was enlightened activism in the whole process of gathering all these family together and uniting them on common purpose and leading them out of Egypt to Eastern land of Palestine.

Now for the Mighty Messenger of G-d, Moses - the most intimate encouter is to happen later only when a community is united and established by him. Then he goes up to Mount Sinai and have forty days and forty nights of deep contemplation and silence which was followed by an intimate conversation with G-d. And during this intimate conversation, an exoteric guideline was given to help keep his community, the Children of Israel united. United in their recognition of One God, united in their moral principals, united in their way of life (deen). So lest we forget, that the intimate conversation with G-d and what was transmitted was less about Moses, but all about the united community. Yes unity was at the crux of it.

Again, unity can happen in the post-enlightenment phase, after intimate encounter with the Reality. Lets look at the example of Gautama Buddha. Yes he attained the enlightenment, but what did he do with that illuminated consciousness? He brought himself into enlightened activism by transmitting it to others. And slowly fellow seekers gathered around him, became his disciple and a whole sangha or community of monks were formed around him. The sangha and its united purpose of leading a life towards the nirvana of all sentient being is so central that the invocation of refuge has 3 three components - and the united community is one of them, the remembrance of Buddha (Buddham Sharanam), the remembrance of the way (Dhammam Sharanam) and the remembrance of the united community (Shangham Sharanam). The creation of a sense of unity of the sangha was pivotal in Buddha's intial enlightened activism.

Yes coming together can take different shape. When small, vulnerable and poor early muslim community faced starvation, torture and relentless persecution, permission was given to migrate from Mecca to Medina, a not so distant city further north of the Meccan valley. When Prophet finally joined this city (which later to be called Medina-tun Nabi, or City of the Prophet) he demonstrated unprecedented practice of unity by literally tagging two person as brothers, one from those who came from Mecca (Muhajirs, the emigrants) with one from the native of the city, the Ansars (he himself was tagged with Ali ibn Abu Talib). This bond was not just namesake, but it also meant taking responsibility of the well beings, providing food and shelter and taking care in every possible sense. Thus the sense of bortherhood and unity was not just an idea, but was implemented in the most humanely possible realism. The unity which was formed among the different religious groups (such as the influential Jewish tribes of Medina) and other clans and tribes was very much necessary for the later flowering of this earliy muslim community.

The reverence for unity is so essential in Islamic spirituality that almost everything revolves around that. From the unity of the oneness of God to the unity of the ummat (community) to the unity of human race (Beni Adam or Children of Adam).

For the mystics, union comes through unity. In the words of Rumi, "The limit of the travelers is union. Know that the World of Unity lies in the other direction from the senses. If you want Oneness, go in that direction!"

Its agreed on the point that after knowing and experiencing that Which is the Real, Who is the Seat of Unity - one can know truly what real unity means. But regardless of this direct gnostic experience, unity remains as an essential necessity in every aspect of human experience, from individual to society to whole of mankind. May divine grace be with us to realize that truth and for our striving towards that ideal.

3.
Peace, unity, and equality... when we are in one place, when we live in one place, eat in one place, sleep in one place, disappear in one place, die in one place, when our final judgment is given in one place, and when we finally join together in heaven in one place, that is unity. Even when we go to that (final) place, we all live together in freedom as one family, one group. In this world and in the next world we live together in freedom, as one family of peace. This is Islam. If we find this way of peace, this is Islam (divine submission).
- M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, God’s Psychology: A Sufi Explanation

We must give peace to our brothers and sisters in each circumstance, no matter what path they go on. We must give them peace, so that difficulty does not come to them. Whether they go there, here, here or anywhere, we must only give them peace. Love must be our only form. Love is our path towards our brothers and sisters. Compassion must be our point of unity. This is our union. This is union with God. Our union is compassionate union on the path to God. We have come through the ages together; that is union.
- M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (credit) Pin It Now!

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