Tuesday, September 13, 2011

modern age's tendency of inventing false disease and spiritual cure for insomnia


When I am with You, We stay up all night.
When You’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

~ Rumi (Secret, quatrain #36)


Humanity's superficial pursuit for external knowledge (knowledge of the outside, as opposed to the knowledge of the inside, of the self and the soul), the desire to understand how apparent material things work are often childish. Childish because the apparent is only apparent and very limited, yet he always try to make his limited comprehension work through that apparent material reality only. Even material science will acknowledge that in the cosmos what is invisible, in comparison to the apparent or visible are astronomically large in proportion (dark matter and dark energy in cosmology are two such examples). The foolishness of humanity to be obsessive with the limited material, apparent world is like a child who, in order to satisfy his curiosity takes apart a toy, while having no idea about the factory from where it comes from or the engineer or maker who made and how. He is also, like a child, fail to realize that his infatuation with toys, like the toy itself, are transient. He is also like a unborn child in the womb of the mother who has no idea how big the world is outside his familiar environment of dark fluid, muffled sound and limited sensations.

Taj Inayat, spiritual guide and the current Vice President of the Sufi Order International says, "The incessant demands of life, the overload of information and the bombardment of our senses call us continually outward to the surface of existence, toward the visible and away from the interiority of life." Our priorities between the transient and the permanent, between external and internal, between of mater and of spirit has grown hugely out of proportion. Guide of the souls have warned us, "Don’t get too attached to the things you have in this life because it will end. And don’t be sad when you don’t get the things you need or want in this life because it will end." (hadith)

Imam Ali reminds us, "What a bad trade it is that one exchange his own soul for this world instead of trading it with what's available with Allah in the Hereafter."

A side-effect of this tendency to be infatuated with the transient world and its consumptions, whether this be materialism, money, hoarding, consumptionism or vain sports - is that we are losing simplicity, happiness and innocence of our existence. Through layer after layer of superficiality we are making our life more and more complex, inviting more and more stress, anxieties and more things to worry about. The more we move away from that which is real to the unreal, the more we fall in the trap of making our life complicated. One of this complicasy takes the shape of inventing new diseases.

In contemporary time our entire system has the tendency to divorce 'spirit' of human being and considers it merely as a machine; every single external science, including medicine is affected by this attitude. Thus we find every day we are informed of newly invented diseases like personality disorder, eating disorder, sleeping disorder - this disorder, that disorder, many of which are motivated by big pharmaceuticals' greed to drive profit. Come two or three generations ago, people were more happy, lived healthier, spent more time together, cared for family and relatives. All of today's wealthy life-style, technological advances - instead of giving us freedom, robbing us of our quality time, with our own selves and others, making us slaves to various systems including prescriptions and drugs. Good health which once was abundant and a free-gift, like everything else we are forced to put a price tag on it.

Deepak Chopra says, "Each of us is here to discover our true Self... that essentially we are spiritual beings
who have taken manifestation in physical form... that we're not human beings that have occasional spiritual experiences that we're spiritual beings that have occasional human experiences." Thus our spirit is what our essence is; the body is temporal, the spirit is eternal.

From spiritual point of view, almost all diseases have their source in the disturbance of the human spirit. This becomes specially apparent when very sophisticated western medical science fails to cure certain diseases such as chronic pain in certain parts of the body, that has more to do with unresolved emotional issues, a lack of nourishment by real love in life. In such circumstances the medicine that western medical science prescribe work as artificial and temporary inhibitor and suppressor, not a cure in real sense.

Osho said in one of his discourse, "Humanity has invented many new diseases which were not prevalent before. In the old scriptures, ayurvedic scriptures, many diseases are not mentioned. People think they are not mentioned because ayurveda was not yet enough of a science, so they could not diagnose those diseases. That is not true; ayurveda became a perfect science. But those diseases were not in existence, so how can you diagnose a disease which doesn’t exist? They were non -existential.

There were a few diseases which existed only for rich people, very rich people. They were called royal diseases... Now the whole world has become royal; now the whole world suffers from richness, affluence. Leisure has made many things available, many new diseases available.

.. Cancer is a very new disease. It can exist only when the mind is very worried, when worry becomes like a wound. And around that subtle wound in the psyche arises a disease in the body corresponding to it. That’s what cancer is: That’s why cancer seems to be incurable. There is no way to cure it from the body side. It can be cured only from the mind side because basically it arises there. Each age has its own diseases, each age has its own vices, and each age invents its own sins."

An important example of our modern age's tendency to invent new disease can be demonstrated by what we have termed as insomnia. A big part of this which in modern medicine we are indoctrinated to believe that not sleeping too much is a problem, is partly blame. Due to this propaganda by pharma companies to boost the sales of sleeping pill, there is even a new sub-category of insomnia which is caused by unrealistic sleep expectations, misconception about the need of sleep that varies from one person to another, anxiety over sleep.

But from spiritual perspective, to sleep less is a virtue. But since we are living in the age of materialism, what once was a virtue has been inverted to be labeled and perceived as a disease and like this we are inventing diseases one after another. Like many other spiritual tradition, in Sufism there are three important requirement for the seeker: "Eat Less, Talk Less and Sleep Less."

if you can't go to sleep
my dear soul
for tonight
what do you think will happen

if you pass your night
and merge it with dawn
for the sake of heart
what do you think will happen

if the entire world
is covered with the blossoms
you have labored to plant
what do you think will happen

if the elixir of life
that has been hidden in the dark
fills the desert and towns
what do you think will happen

- Rumi, Nader Khalili

Just like in the world when someone fall in love violently and are deeply in love but cannot have union with the beloved, in that state of separation three conditions appear in the lover. The lover stop eating too much, simply his appetite become less, the lover grows quiet, even the ordinary talking of the common folks sound meaningless, so he keeps quit mostly and another sign that appear is sleeplessness. The lover cannot go to sleep thinking of the beloved. It is the same signs that also manifest in the sincere lovers of God. They eat less, they talk less and they sleep less.This describe the classical condition of the sincere lovers of God. 

In every single spiritual tradition thus we find that prayer and meditation at night, in other words keeping night vigil is one of the best virtue to draw near God. For this reason in Islamic traditions the Prophet declares that in the deep watches of the night, after the two third of the night is gone, the Divine Nearness draws ever near and calls to His lovers declaring, "who supplicates Me so that I may answer him? Who asks Me so that I may give him? Who asks Me forgiveness so that I may forgive him?"

In the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed, Jesus urged his disciples to stay awake at night and to be vigilant (muraqaba). But they failed and slept while he rebuked for failing to be awake.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray. He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him. He began to be sad and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is very sad. I feel close to death. Stay here. Stay awake with me."

He went a little farther. Then he fell with his face to the ground (prostrated). Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Couldn't you men meditate (keep watch) with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Be awake and pray. Then you won't fall into sin when you are tempted. The spirit is willing. But the body is weak."

Jesus went away a second time. He prayed, "My Father, is it possible for this cup to be taken away? But if I must drink it, may what you want be done."

Then he came back. Again he found them sleeping. They couldn't keep their eyes open. So he left them and went away once more. For the third time he prayed the same thing.

Many in the present world are deceived by the propaganda machine of the dog eats dog world which says, the more heedless you are, the more you spend your life in sleep the better and if you cannot sleep, then you are sick. Spiritual traditions ask us to be awake, literally to be awake even in the watches of the night so that we may contemplate the mysteries, so that we may commune with our soul, with the Great Soul who is always whispering but that voice is best heard when everything is still, and that stillness is best found at the night. In contrast to that, our modern consume frenzy world will tell us to waste our time in heedless action, to consume more of the television so that we may consume the commercials as well and buy more stuff that we don't really need. Our consumer crazy world will tell us that if we can not go to sleep its the fault that we haven't bought the sleeping pill and haven't got the best designed luxury mattress.

But spiritual wisdom will tell us that as we mature bodily, gradually our body require less and less sleep and thus our sleep at night is reduced so that out of mercy we are given opportunity to spent the remainder time in contemplation, prayer, devotion and meditation. As we grow older Allah gradually reduce our sleep so that we may spend more time in worship of Him and thus purify ourselves. The secular and atheist science have no understanding of this, thats why western medicine identify it as a disease. There is no such thing as Insomnia and if there is, it is to be praised instead of giving seductive medicine that makes us numb.

This is how Rumi praised such insomnias:
When I am with You, We stay up all night.
When You’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

Our body is much more intelligent than we can think or know. Allah has created it with its own intelligence system and it knows exactly what it needs. If you anybody find that he or she has difficulty sleeping, he or she shouldn't make it an excuse of anxiety. Sleep is one of those subjects, when you are deprived of it, the more you think of it, the more difficult it will become to go into sleep. Like most of our invented diseases, almost all of them have their source in the spirit. That is to say, when our spirit is imbalanced, undernourished or there is sustained hurt or suppressed condition of the spirit, it manifest in the body as disease, and in truth, body is the container of spirit. Now a days many of us do suffer from this.

Insomnia is one of those problem, the root cause of which is spiritual, not physical. Modern medicine may suppress and it always have a side effect because it never treat the root cause of it. From spiritual perspective, insomnia is not a disease at all. Only recently we have named and framed it as a disease. Only recently we are told that if we can not sleep at night, its because we are sick. The truth is, Sleep is a blessing of Allah as confirmed in the Quran.

Have We not made the earth a resting place?
and We have made your sleep [a symbol of] death. (WajaAAalna nawmakum subata).
And made the night to be a covering (WajaAAalna al layla libasa).
- The Qur'an 78:6,9

And He it is who makes the night a garment for you, and [your] sleep a rest, and causes every [new] day to be a resurrection. - The Qur'an 25:47

And among His Signs is your sleep, at night or in daytime..  - 30:23

Here are few tips for those who are affected by the modern world's indoctrination that not able to sleep at night is a disease:

1) Change perspective of thinking. Many disease are only made into a disease because we create that reality within our mind. Insomnia is a false label. As long as there are no other physical abnormality or medical condition associated, simply not able to sleep is to be seen as an opportunity of grace, rather than a disease. An opportunity to draw near.

2) Our body is given its own intelligence and it knows exactly how much sleep it needs. When we grow older, the body goes thru changes. Our food appetite is reduce and its recommended to eat less. At the same time the need for sleep reduces, that means body doesn't need as much sleep as it did before. An infant sleep the most, then as it grow older, its sleep is reduce. The same continues till we mature and mature. Its a natural things.

If someone can't sleep at night, it is advised that he or she should get up, do ablution (Islamic baptism with water, basically washing face, hands, feet and neck area), read something beautiful, anything beautiful including Scriptures and Holy teachings. It is also recommended that the person reads it in tone just loud enough that he or she can hear it. In this the truth conveyed in those scripture or holy teachings reaches from one's tongue to one's ear to one's heart and finally to one's every cell of his being through the action of the heart.

3) One must use the opportunity of being awake at night, as a call from God to be close to Him. To repent and to do muhasaban nafs (taking account of one's actions), repent from action which the soul regrets for and to be grateful for all the blessings. Even modern day psychologists and cognitive behavioral therapists recommend highly the value to be grateful within. Gratefulness for what we have is the best cure against fake depression (another false disease we have managed to invent recently).

4) Many awliya Allah (friends of God, saints) and even our Beloved Rasul (the Messenger of God) prescribed that we wake up at night from our sleep and pray and supplicate to Allah because this is blessed time. In fact rising a part of night for prayer is a commandment to the Messenger as a mean to achieve higher spiritual station. Refer to Quranic verse: “Establish worship at the going down of the sun until the dark of the night, and (the recital of) the Qur’an at dawn. Lo! (the recital of) the Qur’an at dawn is ever witnessed. And some part of the night awake for its recital, as voluntary worship for you. It may be that your Lord will raise you to a praised station (maqam al-mahmuda).” (Qur’an, 17: 78-79)

Thus inability to sleep is not be viewed as a problem. It is not. Only we are told it is by those who do not understand spiritual reality. For sincere faithfuls, to be awake at night is a gift, those who are unable to do so, it is asked to do it, to practice this if one has to improve one's spiritual station. Those who are awakened at night, must consider it as a gift to be alone with the Alone (God).

5) Generally those who are unable to sleep, psychologically and physiologically feel tired during the day. Changing the perspective of night will solve this mostly, in addition, prayer and meditative supplication (du'a) nourish the body more than the earthly food. Those who can practice deep prayer in which one can enter a meditative state, they derive energy that can sustain more than 24 hours. But for those who find this difficult are advised to schedule one's self in such a fashion so that he or she can take nap at day time, even if for 20 minutes.

6) Spiritual healers asks those who speak of inability to sleep to immediately stop taking any medicine for sleeplessness. This is unnecessary. In fact the sleep medication are one of the worst medicine ever discovered as it is designed to keep people in heedlessness (ghaflat) and it has many worse side effects. Most of the people who take sleep pill, goes on increasing its dose and their natural ability to sleep is destroyed.

7) If the insomnia is coupled with general depression and a lack of vitality of the mind - one has to probe deep within for the root cause of this. Generally speaking, when the soul lacks nourishment the most common manifestation of it is depression. The heart feels low and nothing feels enjoyable.

Someone said, "When I look around, I see that every person is just as lonely as the next. Our hearts are all yearning for God, but we are too scared to leave our miserable little distractions to go and seek Him." When we do not provide the best of nourishment to our heart and soul, which is the remembrance of God, which is the hunger of the soul that years for God - we suffer from spiritual illness that manifest in many forms, including depression, lack of joy in the heart and even cancer.

The one and best cure for this is Zikr, remembrance of the Divine. And this remembrance can be brought about through reading the scripture, reading and listening to the discourses of great souls, reading the life of the saints, simply chanting and remembering the names, supplicating with heart prayer, doing salaat, praying in prostration. If one has the opportunity to join zikr in circle, please do. Sufi masters recommend for ordinary people to join a zikr at least a week. This keep the heart charged for the entire week, Inshallah and diseases that come from spiritual (ruhani) condition are kept far and wide. Ameen.

Here are some prayers that can also work as a medicine of remembrance. May Allah grant us the inner reality of these words and remove all spiriutal ailments from us. Allahu Shaafi, Allahu Kaafi, Allahu Maafi. Allah is the Healer, Allah is Enough, Allah is the Forgiver.

    - Ya muqallib al-qulub, thabbit ‘ala’l-haqq
    O Turner of hearts, make me firm upon the truth.

    - Ya muqallib al-qulub wa ‘l-ahwal hawwil halina ila ahsan ‘l-hal
    O Transformer of hearts and spiritual states, make our states the most beautiful of states.

    - Ya muqallib al-qulub, thabbit qalbi ‘ala ta’atik
    O Turner of hearts, make my heart firm upon Your obedience.

    - Allahumma, ya muqallib al-qulub wa’l-absar, thabbit qalbi ‘ala dinik
    O Allah, O Controller of the hearts and eyes, let my heart hold fast onto Your Path.

    - Allahuma Ya Musabbib al-Asbab, Ya Mufattih  al-Abwab, Ya Muqallib al-qulubi wal-absar, Ya Dalil al-mutahayyirin, Ya Ghiyath al-mustaghathin, Ya Hayyu, Ya Qayyum, Ya Dhul-Jalali wa-l-Ikram!
    O Allah, O Causer of causes, O Opener of doors, O Transformer of hearts and eyes, O Guide of the stupefied ones, O Redresser of complainants, O Ever-Living, O Eternal, O the Possessor of Majesty and Bounty!


# Resource:
* University of Spiritual Healing and Sufism
conducted by the students of Sufi Master Sidi Muhammad al Jamal
* Energy Work and Sufi Healing
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