What do we understand by blessing?
A blessing is the infusion of something with holiness, spiritual redemption, divine will, or one's hope or approval.
The Divine Beloved is the Ultimate source of blessings, thus all the meaning of blessings truly goes back and ever connected to that Source. TabarakaLLahu Rabbul aAlamin - Blessed is Allah, Lord of the Multi-verse (Quran 7:54, 40:64). About this Source of Blessing it is said that the Divine Beloved is the Owner of Magnificent Grace (wa Allahu zu fadlin aAjim, Quran 3:174) from Whom all grace flows.
Blessing mean a number of phenomena separately or together such as favor of God, flow of Divine Grace, approval of God, bestowing with Divine generosity and abundance as gifts etc. If we look at various traditions we find that:
In Abrahamic religion, "To be blessed" means 'to be favored by God'. Blessings are directly associated with God and come from God. Thus to express a blessing is like bestowing a wish on someone that they will experience the favor of God.
In the Bible, blessings and curses are related; the book of Deuteronomy prescribes that obedience to the Law of Moses brings God's blessing. One of the first incidences of blessing in the Bible is in Genesis 12:1-2 where Abram is ordered by the LORD to leave his country and is told: "I will bless you, I will make your name great."
In the Scripture, there are several words that are usually translated as “blessing” or “bless.” The Hebrew word most often translated “bless” is barak, which can mean to praise, congratulate, or salute.
Another Hebrew word for blessing is esher, which is also translated as happiness. Job 5:17 declares “Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” This blessing is connected to the knowledge that God is at work to direct us in the right path.
In the New Testament, there are two primary Greek words translated as “blessing.” Makarios carries the meaning of happiness. Another word is Eulogeo which also means good words or the good report.
In the Final Testament, that is in Quran, there are three words which are translated as blessings: Baraka (root being Ba, Ra, Ka), Salli or Salawat (root is Swad, Lam, Waw) and Ni'mat (root Noon, Ayn, Meem). The first word Baraka is exactly same word in Hebrew, most direct to mean blessings. Salawat is an interesting word for it also means to pray towards. When it is used in human context, it often refer as prayer, connection but when used in Divine context it is used as Divine blessings. The third word Ni'ma is more used as bestowing favor or granting favor, generous gifts etc. When we receive such generous gifts from the Divine Source, this itself is seen as a blessing.
In this world of appearance, most of the blessings manifest through different mediums. Parents are a blessing for child, our sustenance and roof over head are blessings, our health is a great blessing, job through which sustenance are made available are blessing, friends and good companionship are blessings - in fact for lovers of God, everything is blessing. For common folks many blessings are disguised, but for faithful lovers, reality is more transparent and thus to their heart, blessings inherent in all and everything are much more readily seen. This is achieved through the heart's eye of certainty.
Wa Allahu yarzuqu mayyashaau bi ghari hisab.
Allah gives blessings without stint to whom He will (24:38).
Everything has its high and low. Among blessings some are temporal, some are freely given to all, where as there are blessings which are supreme, those reserved for friends of God, there are blessings which are eternal and permanent and signifies as the ultimate approval from the Source of Blessings.
Beatitudes which are transmitted by the Messenger Jesus Christ contains some Signs of Supreme Blessedness, so does a number of passages of the Last Testament. In the beatitudes, the beloved messenger, Christ conveyed a number of criteria that attract blessings from the Most High. Almost all of them, either directly or indirectly gives us indication that the ultimate blessing is reserved in the Kingdom of Heaven and these Supreme Blessedness find its fulfillment through the Most Generous One in the Kingdom where the deserving ones are comforted, satisfied, shown mercy, given the Direct Vision of the Beloved God, are accepted as Children of God and welcomed in the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 5:3-12)
Similarly in the Final Testament we find the same confirmation such as: Turning to God completely, Surrendering to God's Will and Purpose is a mark of Completion of Divine blessing (2:150), In the Kingdom all is blessings wherever one looks (76:20), the supreme achievement of Divine blessing is the attainment of Paradise, the abode of true and eternal life.
A Year is Gone, So Shall Our Life
2013 is over, and if we look back at the entire year, chances are that it will feel like passed away so quickly. In truth it did pass very quickly, so does every year, every decade and our entire life. Just like 2013 is gone and we may never get it back, so is the nature of this impermanent world. If there is only one inevitable reality, that reality is that this life shall pass over us very soon and we shall plunge into a new reality, a new life made of a totally new reality, reality of the unseen (unseen so far).
A Buddhist sage once said, "Human being spend all their lives preparing, preparing, preparing, only to meet the next life unprepared." Similarly as we finish the last year of 2013 and enter into a new year of 2014, lets contemplate how much we have prepared for the inevitable journey which shall soon arrive, no matter what our age be. Just like weeks, months and years pass by so quickly, so shall we arrive at the last breath quickly. Let us not forget it.
Conditions for Blessedness to Arrive
Often we say "have a blessed new year" to our friends, yet we rarely contemplate about that phrase as what can really make our new year blessed. Blessing can not be achieved until we are turning ourselves to the source of blessings, unless we acknowledge and give thanks with gratitude to the Source of all blessings in our life, unless we are humble and not arrogant, unless we are ready to let go our own agenda for God's agenda, His unfolding as it must unfold in our life and in this world and next.
Blessedness require certain conditions, require some preparation of the soul (in this case our heart, soul and life) before the seed can germinate, before the grace may permeate our heart, soul and life. For those conditions we may turn our heart again to those blessed sayings of beloved Christ where he give us plainly the conditions of receiving blessings from the Most High:
To repent (mourn) by knowing that we are less than perfect even though we are made with potential to be perfect in the Image of the Perfect One. Through repenting of missing the mark from perfect we aspire and more and ascend the spiral journey of sirat al-mustaqim, the upright, vertical journey.
To be humble, gentle, surrendered (meek) so that we may be content for what we are given. To inherit in this world means to be able to receive blessings, otherwise one can not inherit but become a loser even though he, she might be given much.
To long for righteousness through thirst and hunger (by sacrifice and transcending the lower impulses)
To be merciful, which is the greatest Sunnah, Way of God and also Way of the Messengers
To be pure in heart, to become a Sufi (having the quality of safa, pure)
To be peacemaker, to emanate peace, to give and receive greetings of peace, to embody and transmit tranquility and deep peace
To struggle against all kind of oppression (who are persecuted for righteousness), to stand against injustice, against what is false, what is wrong, to speak the truth always
The above 8 phrase of the Beatitude are solid foundation which attract the Light of Divine blessings. They are a treasure to all of humanity to guard and hold dear to their heart.
To Live We Must Deal with Death Consciously, With Mindfulness
Paradoxical as it might sound, but thats a truth. Please forgive me for mentioning death too many times in this post about New Year, but it is necessary. Necessary because in order to live fully and to embrace the real life fully, consciously, we must be fully mindful and conscious that our death is approaching us and when the ticket is granted, we will have no choice but to board the plane.
When a year passes us by and we enter into a new year, its a good moment to contemplate this: what if we died in 2013? Now that we are alive, what would we love to change ourselves externally and internally so that we have no regrets behind? What personal matters left undone, what work we though are important to us but we didn't pay much attention? Are you hoarding more than we need that others may need in the world? Have we forgiven all those that needs our forgiveness for our own sake?
Have you read the TOP 5 REGRETS OF THE DYING?
A palliative nurse recorded the most common regrets of the dying and put her findings into a book called "The Top Five Regrets of The Dying." Following are the top 5 regrets and may we Work upon ourselves to be clean from traces of such regrets while we can, as much as we can.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Now that you know them, can we please give more attention to these things in 2014, now that we are blessed to be HERE?
Can we be more courageous to live a life more true to ourself? This courage require understanding what matters to you and conquer your fear with love, trust and faith. Faith in your self, faith in your dream, faith in the gifts God have given (including the interests buried within your heart, things that you naturally love) and of-course faith in God.
Can we stop being slave to this temporal world by being mindlessly busy in corporate styled enslavement? There is a spiritual law which says: the more we forget who our true Lord is, the more we become enslaved to the lower world and it goes on increasing. True servants of God are most free people, they are actually spiritual kings where as king of the world are actually slaves of their self, ego, flesh, desire, fear, lack of security of mind and all that you can name in the world. There is a culture of materialism that make people work so hard that makes them forget their purpose, how to live a happy life, instead it bombard them with petty worry, insecurities and drain them of spiritual joy.
We can easily notice if we wanted to that the most beautiful, generous things in life comes with no cost. Yet we make our life so complicated by forgetting this that everything then become a exchange commodity against money and in order to get that money we become slave to the world, to our jobs.
Our health is a blessing, to be healthy is free - yet with stress and lack of nourishment of the soul we will starve our soul and then go into million dollar treatment for cancer and what not.
Our relationships are blessings and given to us naturally, yet we destroy it in the first place and then suffer with million dollar divorce, all the stress, destroying not only our lives but that of our children.
So, How to Make New Year Really Blessed?
Enough said. Here are few tips to make our New Year really blessed.
(1) To practice more gratitude. If you are a Muslim and you pray regularly or know Surah Fatiha, then lets be true to our Salat and when we say, Alhamdulillah - Thank you God - lets mean it by acknowledging all the blessings that some of which we can count, most we can not count in our lives.
Gratitude is the number of spiritual medicine against hundreds of diseases including depression, anxiety, insomnia, cancer and you name them. If practiced well and embodied, a grateful person attracts exponentially more and more blessings, not only for himself, herself but those around him, her as well. Allahu as-Shakur.
"Gratitude is recognising that you have vastly more than you deserve."
~ Sidi Etsko Schuitema
(2) To stay humble. This probably could come before point one, but its fine to remind it after being grateful. We will need to be humble in the first place to acknowledge all the blessings and we will again need this quality because by nature we forget and the attribute of the Satan, the archenemy of Adam and his children runs through our veins. From saint to ordinary man, arrogance often come in disguise in many forms within us, with our ego. "I am better than him" is the most ancient sin as well as the most contemporary one. We can not expect to have a blessed New Year and throughout if we are not constantly renewing our humbleness.
Recommended supplication: Last passage of the Surah Baqara, 2:286
Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget, or miss the mark! Our Lord! Lay not on us such a burden as thou didst lay on those before us! Our Lord! Impose not on us that which we have not the strength to bear! Pardon us, absolve us and have mercy on us, Thou, our Protector, and aid us against those who cover up truth.
Fabiayyi alaayi Rabbikuma tukazziban?
Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you deny?
If we tried we couldn't count our blessings, yet trying to count our blessings brings infinitely more blessings than counting and complaining about our troubles.
May we all have a blessed New Year of 2014 and much more. Stay blessed.
Allahumma salli ala Sayyidina Muhammad.
O Allah please bless our Noble Master of Humanity, the Most Praised One, Our Guide, Our Holy Example and Our Intercessor on the Day of Judgment. O Allah please bless him with a blessing worthy of Your Generosity and worthy of his blessed station with You, the station of habibiyya (belovedness).
Sadiq M. Alam / 1st Jan 2014 / Dhaka, Bangladesh