|Photograph by Karin Kirsch|
Listen: this world is the lunatic's sphere,
Don't always agree it's real,
Even with my feet upon it
And the postman knowing my door
My address is somewhere else.
~ Hafiz, The Gift ~
Dunya or everything of the phantom world which causes one to forget the Real - is a dense veil which prevent one from seeing God, literally and metaphorically.
Literally because the Maker of this world has imbued it with infinite Signs and He is az-Zahir, He is Manifest, and when we are caught up only with the veil we miss the One Who is behind every face. He is the Mover, the Power, the Transformer, and yet when we choose to remain ignorant, that ignorance become our blindness, preventing us to see the Real.
Some one asked the great sage of Bengal Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa: 'Sir, have you seen God?' Without a moment's hesitation the reply was given: 'Yes, I have seen God. I see Him as I see you here, only more clearly. God can be seen. One can talk to him. But who cares for God? People shed torrents of tears for their wives, children, wealth, and property, but who weeps for the vision of God? If one cries sincerely for God, one can surely see Him.'
Metaphorically in this sense that through intelligence, through intuition, through kashf we see through the eyes of our inner heart. But the denseness of the dense world, when it occupy our attention, the faculties of inner perception are too dull to perceive the One Who is Batin, the Hidden, Who is al-Latif, the Most Subtle.
Thus rising above or say it another way, turning back at the world is a fruit of enlightenment or inner illumination. If we look at the example of the world's most enlightened human beings of the past, the great ones (and the fact that their influence and name spans across millennia is a powerful enough testimony that they were human being of tremendous influence even in the domain of time and space), we will come to appreciate this truth.
Prince Gautama was living in great opulence, he was the prince and yet the path of enlightenment was the path of rising above and turning back at the worldliness, primarily wealth accumulation, fame etc. Such beings became what they became when they rose above the world. Christ himself is another great example and many of the ordinary human beings who came into his touch, became his companions, his apostles and hence became extra-ordinary ones - the first act they were commanded to do by Christ was to exercise detachment with wealth, to give away all to the poor and needy.
You will find no attachment with the worldliness in the life of the great ones for they turned back at the world. Turning back upon the world refers to detachment from the world for the sake of attachment to the King of the World. Here lesser is sacrificed for the greater, nay the greatest treasure.
Thus a spiritual law can be discovered here. The degree of one's attachment to the Divine is proportional to one's detachment from the world and its manifestations.
The validity of this spiritual law can be traced back to the saying of the Blessed Christ, “No-one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)
“As fire and water cannot coexist within the same container; in the same way love of the Eternal Kingdom to come and love of this ever wasting world cannot coexist in the heart of a believer.” ~ Saying of Mother Mary
Or it can be said in a different language, the more the heart is empty of the world, the more it is suited to welcome the King of the World.
“He who loves his dunya (present world) hurts his Akhirah (eternal life), and he who loves his akhirah hurts his dunya. Therefore you should give preference to the one that lasts over the one that is to perish.” ~ Saying of Prophet Muhammad
“Nay (behold), you prefer the life of this world; but the Hereafter is superior and lasting.” [Quran, Sûrah al-A`lâ: 16-17]
“But little is the enjoyment of this life, as compared with the Hereafter.” [Quran, Sûrah al-Taubah: 38]
"Know that the life of this world is merely a game and a diversion and decoration and a cause of boasting among yourselves and trying to outdo one another in wealth and children: like the plant-growth after rain which delights the cultivators, but then it withers and you see it turning yellow, and then it becomes broken stubble. In the Next World there is terrible punishment but also forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure. The life of this world is nothing but the enjoyment of delusion."
"Describe for them the likeness of the life of this world. It is like water which We send down from the sky and the plants of the earth combine with it but then become dry chaff scattered by the winds. Allah has complete power over everything. Wealth and children are the embellishment of the life of this world. But, in your Lord's sight, right actions which are lasting are better in reward and a better basis for hope." ~ Message of the Qur'an
"Fazhad fid-dunya - warghab fil akhira.”
"Leave the dunya behind you, and seek the next life.”
~ Sacred tradition of Islam
Whether we want or not, we have to leave this world behind. Whether we want or not, we shall come to meet the next life, the Kingdom, the akhirah. So intelligent is one, illuminated in knowledge is one who has understood this reality fully and thus strives to rise above the world, to live in the world yet being above it.
May God illuminated our heart with beneficial knowledge and gnosis and dispel the darkness of ignorance and help us overcome the world and to rise above it. Amen.