Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Deceptions of the World and Present Life | continued

1.
Deception \De*cep"tion\, n. [F. d['e]ception, L. deceptio, fr. decipere, deceptum.]

     1. The act of deceiving or misleading.
     2. The state of being deceived or misled.
     3. That which deceives or is intended to deceive; false representation; artifice; cheat; fraud.
     4. A misleading falsehood
     5. An illusory feat; considered magical by naive observers.

Thesaurus words for "deception": befooling, bluff, cheating, chicanery, disguise, dissimulation, duping, fakery, false front, false show, fraud, hallucination, hanky-panky, hiddenness, illusion, manipulation, masquerade, pretension, self-deceit, sham, spoof, treachery, trickery, wile.

Temptation \Temp*ta"tion\, n. [OF. temptation, tentation, F. tentation, L. tentatio.]

     1. The act of tempting, or enticing to evil; seduction.
     2. The state of being tempted, or enticed to evil.
     3. That which tempts; an inducement; an allurement, especially to something evil.

Thesaurus words for "temptation": allure, allurement, bait, beguilement, bewitchment, blandishment, captivating, decoy, enticement, entrapment, forbidden fruit, inducement, lure, seducement, snare, tempting, witchery,


2.
O Man! Live as long as you will, for you will surely die;
love whomsoever you wish, for you will leave them;
and do whatever you wish, for you will be recompensed accordingly.
- Sacred Tradition of Islam


Continuing from previous post [ Deceptions in the world and its variations ] on the various deception of the world.

In Sacred Spiritual Tradition of India, the world is called the playground of maya or illusion. The word origin of maya is derived from the Sanskrit roots ma, "not" and ya, an indicative article meaning "that". The mystic teachings in Vedanta are centered on a fundamental truth of the universe that cannot be reduced to a concept or word for the ordinary mind to manipulate due to the impossibility to create a complete, perfect and accurate semantic web (the totality of reality matrix). Rather, the human experience and mind are themselves a tiny fragment of this truth. In this tradition, no mind-object can be identified as absolute truth, such that one may say, "That's it." So, to keep the mind from attaching to incomplete fragments of reality, one may use this term to indicate that truth is "Not that."

In Advaita Vedanta philosophy, Maya is the limited, purely physical and mental reality in which our everyday consciousness has become entangled. Maya is held to be an illusion, a veiling of the true, unitary Self - the Cosmic Spirit also known as Brahman. In Islam this is expressed by the two verses, La ilaha, "No true reality..." and Wa lam ya kun la Hu kufuwan ahad, "And there is none comparable to Hu" - the Absolute.

In attachment to Maya,
they have forgotten the Eternal Father - the Cherisher of the World.
- Sikh Hymn, Sri Guru Granth Sahib

Maya in other traditions are called "veils" that veil the higher truths and ultimately the Eternally Absolute (as Samaad), the Supreme Being. From Islamic perspective of the world, even though the world is understood as ephemeral, temporal and that which veil God (ghairullah), yet it is precisely for the same reason, the world is the most important place to go beyond the veils. Through rising above the challenges, deceptions and temptations of the world one advance in their spiritual stations and receive amazing, indescribable grace of the Presence. So the world is not a place to run away from, but to conquer both outwardly and inwardly.

But in order to face such challenges and to go further to conquer it, one must recognize its deceptions camouflaged many ways. Or to see it in another perspective, one must harmonize both with the yin and yang of the world - the interconnected polar opposites of this world and to harmonizing with something, one must be able to discern them as they are.

World is a poor translation of Dunya / Samsara

The word "world" doesnt quite capture the spiritual meaning of what is meant by "Dunya" in Islam and "Samsara" in Eastern Religions such as Hinduism, Jainism or Buddhism. English is not a rich enough language for spiritual transmission as semitic and eastern languages has become over many thousand of years thanks to long history of spiritual teachers and culture in which they evolved.

In spiritual context, the world which we mean in secular sense is not wholly negative. The glorious sunrise, the beautiful flow of a tranquil river, the melodious tune of birds in the forest, the natural beauty and wonders, the grand cosmos - all of these which are part of our visible world are creation of the Creator and hence they all glorifies the Creator and Fashioner of these all. In fact such awe inspiring beauty stamped in nature can be wonderful source of inspiration for the spirit.

But the word Dunya or Samsara doesnt imply this visible creation of the Creator. Dunya means anything that makes one forgetful of the Creator, keep one in heedless state and in slumber from true reality of his being. Samara literally means that which perpetually flowing out, passing away and this also resembles what is meant by Dunya in Islam. Precisely speaking Dunya is not the same as World. In fact natural beauties, the sunshine, full moon night over the desert, the grand landscapes, the glorious night full of stars - all of these and many unlimited things in the world, even the love of the loved ones, when they makes us appreciative, grateful, make our heart wants to sing praise and adoration to God - are necessarily act of worship. Contemplating on the world of creation so that we may pass to the contemplation of the Creator from creation is something praiseworthy. But anything that makes one forget God is called Dunya - in Islamic tradition. Such things are called ghairullah. Thats why Sufis sing,

Hasbi Rabbi Jallallah,
mafi qalbi ghairullah.


Enough is the Lord, the Supreme Glorious,
Let there be nothing in the heart other than God.

It is the ghairullah which is the Dunya which from spiritual vantage point is the object to shun, is the object not to let our heart be preoccupied with. It is the Dunya which is the playground of the Shaitan, it is the dunya which is the amusement park of maya, deceptions.

The wise advice that if you want dunya, dunya will make you a slave of her. The illuminated masters have commanded, "the objects which keep you away from God, keep yourselves away from those."

There is nothing, simply not a single thing that lasts in this present life but human soul is eternal since it comes from the One Who is Eternal. Thus it is of foolish purchase to buy those which perish in return of the things which perish not and the life of the hereafter and its bounties are for those who have recognized the Dunya and have rose above it. It is said that the lovers of God are not the lovers of the samsara (passing amusements of the world) and lovers of the samsara can not be lovers of God. He is a Sufi who has left the Dunya behind while in the present life. His ambition is truly a high ambition who has no ambition for the Dunya but aims for the eternal Kingdom.

The samsara is an ocean,
its distant shore is the Kingdom of God,
to shun from materialism is the boat, and man is its passenger.
- Sufi saying

If you want God be yours in the hereafter, in God's Kingdom,
then become God's in the present life, in this very life.
- Saying of Sufi Master


In this series of post my intention is to shed the light on the areas in which we are deceived and hence suffer because of the lack of wisdom which is necessary to cut through the veils of the world. These subject matters are of primal importance for any seekers of truth to internalize lest we regret, both in this reality or the reality to come that we didn't heed to them.



3.
In the last post [ Deceptions in the world and its variations ] we touched briefly on deception around excessive concern for sustenance and deception around time. Here are few notable ones, but this does not exhaust the many innumerable veils that cover up the truth.

It has been narrated that a man from Israelite collected eighty chests full of scriptures and books of knowledge but did not benefit from his knowledge. Allah the Exalted revealed to their prophet to say to this collector, “Even if you had collected a lot of knowledge it will not benefit you except if you do three things – do not love the dunya (world of appearances) for it is not a home for the believers, do not befriend Satan for he is not a companion for the believers; and do not hurt anyone for that is not the way of the believers.”


Deception around who is our family and who are alien to us

When it comes to relationship with one another, we partially cover ourselves from the whole truth thinking that only those who are related to us by the bond of blood relationship, those who are our cousins, own sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers, our uncles or aunts are the ones only who deserve our care, compassion and love – and the rest are alien to us, so we don’t really care about them. This kind of selfish attitude has led to great division and suffering to humanity by making its members alien to each other.

This outlook is a very narrow one and all great spiritual teachers urged us to let go off such myopic outlook and embrace broader vision in which all of humanity, every one of our neighbors, all people near and far are seen as God’s one family and hence we are part of one great extended family. In Islam this concept is called Ummah, community and not only Muslims are one ummah, but all of humanity are a single ummah – all being the children of Adam. When we are born into the family that we're born, it does not really happen out of our conscious choice, but happens as a bestowal. We could well be born in another family, another race, as part of another nation.

The vision that we must love and embrace all around us without differentiating among them, is also embodied in the central teaching of Christ when he urges us to “Love thy neighbor”; this same principal is embodied when Muhammad taught that “none of you can claim to be believer unless you love for your brother what you love for yourselves.” What these teachings really means that whether we perceive or not, every member of human family are to be embraced as our own, and we are of part of them.

Quran teaches us to be universally good to people, starting from our parents to neighbor near, and neighbor far away because in reality all of them are related to us.

And do good to parents, relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companions at your side, the traveler, and those who are under your authority. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful, who are stingy and enjoin upon [other] people stinginess and conceal what Allah has given them of His bounty. (The Qur'an 4:36, 37)

The amount of bond in animal kingdom in caring for their fellow beings is superior to that of humans. We can not claim to be worthy to be called as human being, let alone enlightened human beings unless we cleanse ourselves from this narrow outlook of division from our fellow beings. When this realization dawn on us that the senior homeless person at the corner is not different than my father or uncle, or the child begging at the street for food is not different than my own child – only then we can say our aspiration towards becoming spiritually awakened is just about to start.

This world through social conditioning, through selfish motives, racial, ethnic discrimination, through forgetting the real values which makes us human – we are deceived by the world to reduce our circle of compassion, care and love to be a very tiny bubble, so much small that sometime we even forget to have compassion and care on ourselves, on our parents. The world would be a much better place if we could see the other not different than us.

Any true faith tradition upholds the unity of God, recognizes the unity of His Prophets, and inculcates the principle of the oneness and wholeness of the entire human race. Envisioning the unity of mankind is a natural evolution of an enlightened mind.

C. S. Lewis once said: "it is easier to be enthusiastic about humanity with a capital "H" than it is to love individual men and women, especially those who are uninteresting, … exasperating, depraved, or otherwise unattractive". Its naturally is a challenge for our spiritual heart to rise to a station where we could dissolve those inhibitions and love those individuals, without discriminating with false biases.

O mankind, Reverence your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them a multitude of people. And reverence Allah, through whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer. (The Qur'an 4:1)

The nature of deception of this idea that if someone is not of our family, we consider them stranger, alien - it stops our heart to expand with greater love and this is a tremendous loss. This is a serious inhibitor in maturing spiritually. To give and receive love that is selfless is the greatest act on part of human heart. When we become a victim of the deception that only certain social bonds and blood relations define us, it prevent us from widening our net of love, it prevent us from becoming like Christ or any other luminous beings who were luminous only because they knew no differences in their love. And how can they when love knows no divide?



Hankering after the approval of the world

Honour in this world is in wealth, and honour in the Hereafter is in righteous actions. - Hazrat Umar

Concern about the dunya is a darkness in the heart, while concern about the Hereafter is a light in the heart. - Hazrat Usman

The world has many strange phantoms which constantly keep us dazed and one of such deceptive phantom is the approval, fame and glorification by the world and its people. The world exists for a tiny slice of existence for individuals, yet it very carefully make its inhabitants forgetful that how quickly it forgot its past comers and goers. How many generations have passed upon this earth, even two or three generations back in our own family, we hardly remember them, their name or remember their actions. This is the common fate of us all, yet so blindly we look for approval of the people of the world.

True approval is with God. No matter how much one hankers after the approval of the world, its habits, its latest fashion, its customs – if one’s inner and outer state is not approved by God then all these hankering amounts to nothing. Yes there are temporal power, yes there are temporal respect – but all these are of such short duration and of such small significance that people from the family of Allah don’t even give them any importance.

We have made our society and the world so much materialistic that all our standards are not upside down. We are judged by the world by how much pomp we live in, how much material success (!) and wealth we have accumulated, even though they buy us no lasting happiness and peace.

A practical example of our deceptive conditioning to hanker after the world and its approval is a woman in the West (can be said for East as well) who out of approval seeking of the society that she must adopt a career, she must earn as much as she can as everyone in the society of rat race does, who also being a mother, utterly fail to give the necessary love, compassion and bond to her child. As a result she may delude herself in thinking I am making my career so that my children will be better off, but from the very early on she make their children malnourished of motherly love, motherly bond and affection. Yes career is good, but when it comes with a cost of such precious thing as love of a mother for her children - we are really a victim of the worldly deception for approval of the world. If only we took a closer look what we are replacing with what, then we would know that we are losing something so precious as love of a mother for a little bit of money that just comes and goes. In the process the more we entangle ourselves in such trap, the more we raise our standard, our expectation level and costs of life and hence can never retreat and focus for something which is far more important in life.

For those who are God-conscious, it is only the approval of God and attainment of godliness is what they aspire to. Their himma or aspiration is only how to please the Beloved in every state of affairs because that is what the station of a lover of God demands of them. Just as a lover is well pleased with the beloved and what the world think or say does not matter, a true ashek of Allah (lover of God) minds not what world approves and approves not but their goal is to please the Beloved by respecting the commands, the limits and the prohibitions sets by God the Most High and following the model and exemplar in these matters.

We often delude ourselves in trying to achieve approval of people, of family, of society in doing what is fashionable, what is trendy, what brings more appreciation of peers – forgetting that such approval are very temporal and quick to shift. The very person who praise us today because we have served their ego, the very boss who give us many stars because we have serve his greedy corporation in making more money last year – would not hesitate to lay us down next week. Many false lover in the world will not blink twice before hurting and robbing their so called 'lover' of everything and walk upon them without looking back twice.

We who hanker after the world for its approval, for approval of peers, of colleagues, of false admiration of others truly delude ourselves cause such approvals last less how much a foam bubble lasts on top of an ocean wave.

If we take lesson from history, we will know that the names of those super luminal beings whom people still remember, still find peace in remembering their teachings, are those who didn’t have their own fan page, who didn’t have press coverage, they were not telecast live, didn’t give lecture at mega churches or didn’t do cross country rally, didn’t do paid interviews, didn’t feature on covers of glossy magazines, but it was them who have shun the world and cheap approval of people and have given preference to God above all things so much so that God have preferred them above rest of humanity. And it is by the amazing grace of God’s approval that these people have become prince of the heart of people.

A man came to the Holy Prophet and said: "O Messenger of Allah, direct me to an act which, if I do it, [will cause] Allah to love me and people to love me." He said: "Renounce the world and Allah will love you, and renounce what people possess and people will love you."

In the above saying is the great secret of God's approval and good pleasure which is achieved by shunning the world and shunning what people have, including the approval and admiration of people. It is the expectations, desire of admiration and approval of people which gives rise more and more vain pride, showiness and insincere actions which are performed only to glorify the ego.

To illustrated this point, in the sacred tradition of Islam it is transmitted that on the Day of Resurrection, those who were religious scholars in the world will be called to face questions by God and be asked what did they do? They will reply, we were religious scholar and we conveyed the truth, your message O God. But they will be rejected by God and the Voice of God will say, "You liars! You became scholars so that you could have title and honor from people. You didn't do it for My sake, you did it for your ego's sake. You've already received your share in the world from people, so you will have nothing in the hereafter and their abode will be the fire." Similarly many other people who perform deeds in the world in hypocritical manner, hankering after other motives other than for the sake of God will face its consequences and their deeds will not benefit them. May God save us from such state of affairs and may our intentions be purified.

If we really knew how personalities like Jesus and his disciples lived their personal life we would be truly ashamed of our ten thousand vanities and self-boasting delusions. If we really knew how personalities like Prophet Muhammad and his companions lived their personal life in utter simplicity and without any pretensions by always shunning ways of extravagance – then we would really repent from our life full of hypocrisies.

An honorable person would never be disobedient to Allah, and a wise person would never prefer the present world over the Hereafter. - Yahya ibn Mu`adh

People of the Family of God, their life is utterly dedicated because their actions are intended and dedicated for the sake of God. As a result, paradoxical as it may seem, those who make it a goal to please God, it is them who receive true approval and honor in the eye of God and even though they reject the way of the world and its people, they are the ones who's legacy endures among people generations after generations. Those who hanker after the world and its power, politics, approval - they are quickly forgotten, but those who shun the world's approval but aspire to God's approval are the ones who's remembrance is glorified for many generations to come and God is their preserver.

An ascetic said, “The one who only considers his own opinion as correct will be misguided; the one who thinks he is rich due to his wealth will be impoverished; and the one who seeks prominence through a creature (people of the world) will be humiliated.

On the grandly deceptive and paradoxical nature of the world, Yahya ibn Mu`adh said, “Leaving all of the dunya is taking all of the dunya (world); the one who leaves all of it has taken all of it and the one who takes all of it has left all of it; so, taking it is leaving it; and leaving it is taking it.”

Indeed all that is in the world and in the heaven belongs to Allah, the King, the Creator and Fashioner of the multiverse and He bestows the Kingdom upon His servants through His grace whosoever He please.


[+] To be continued.

There will only be one more episode Inshallah, in this series and the final one will possibly contain the most dangerous deception for humanity in the world. May Allah increase our capacity to receive and internalize truth and to discard falsehood, indeed falsehood must eclipse. Auzubi Llahi minash-Shaytanir Razim.



Rabbana la tuzigh quloobana 
baAAdaiz hadaytana;
wa hablana milladunka rahmata. 
Innaka Antal Wahhab

Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate 
after You have guided us;
and grant us, from Yourself, mercy. 
Indeed, You are the Sole Bestower.

- a Prayer from the Quran 3:8


# Resources:
* Questions on Day of Judgement
* Buddha's wisdom and Islamic teaching of 'renounce evil with good'
* The Escape from Darkness
* Shadows of the ego-self (nafs)
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