Through earth’s valleys,
This lowest life,
Through cacti and prickly pears
Adorned with spikes—
While pointing wanderers to what’s inside:
For the thirst-blistered wanderer,
The lover of God,
How sweet is its nectar!
When you wander
Through the world’s parchment
Only when you realize
You were never, ever alone.
With the Creator
Through his beautiful expanse.
Anger is just a boiling,
of us latching
onto the thing we’re losing—
wealth, dignity, health—
that we think makes us “whole.”
Anger is like anchors,
chains pulling us to the earth.
Instead of loss pointing us
to the One we will never lose:
our anchors strain,
try might and main,
to keep us stuck to this earth,
plowing scars through it’s crust.
And all the while,
Life pushes us
ahead and up.
keep us back and pull us down.
Help me let loose the anchors of anger,
that chain me to my lower nature.
Help me be a healer.
To heal myself and everyone around.
We can achieve our highest stage of development by letting go of our lower nature—offering it to the Creator—and living through our higher nature instead. How do we reach the summit:
“But he did not rush towards the steep mountain path. And what would explain to you what the steep mountain path is? Freeing a slave, or feeding (others) on the day of famine; an orphan of kin, or a person in abject poverty” (90:11-12).
The higher nature is boundless hope, confidence, humility, honesty, goodness and tranquility. And it really does take the losses & challenges of this world to point us in that direction. “We will certainly try you by fear and hunger; and loss of property, lives, and fruits. But let the patient rejoice.” (2:155).
The lower self is possessive. It never wants to let go. Whether it’s holding on to some worldly benefit or holding on to some worldly pain, it just keeps holding on. The higher nature doesn’t depend on the material, so it’s always letting go. It depends on God directly. And through this, God gives us material benefit. This is what brings us balance in this life. It’s how we seek “the good in this world and the good in the next […]” (2:201). We can only fully experience the good in this world through our higher nature. Living by the lower nature means we interact with the world through a diseased heart and ultimately turn our surroundings to waste.
The losses we face, no matter how great, bring us closer to consciousness and purifying our hearts from diseases of our lower nature. Here in this “lowest life”— the hayatu dunya, we can ascend the path to the highest heights: we can keep surrendering to the Creator. Losses remind us to lose the lower nature 🙂
Climb that steep mountain to the summit, and let’s live consciously!1
See you next post, God willing 🙂
1. In this life, we never actually reach the summit of the mountain because we will never stop climbing until God recalls our souls. We never really lose our lower nature in this world. We keep trying though, fall down, get back up, and get ever closer day to day. Remember: our Lord is Ever-Forgiving 🙂
What is happiness but satisfaction?
What is satisfaction but true peace, inward and outward?
We read in the Quran that,
“Only in the remembrance of God do the hearts find peace” (13:28).
True satisfaction, harmony, and peace only come from a heart at one with its Creator.
We may find satisfaction in other things, but it will ultimately be superficial and short-lived. This includes satisfaction with your toy collection, your home, and even people (like relationships with people that are devoid of higher divine truths like honesty and love). Everything other than God is dependent and no amount of those things will ever satisfy the lower, worldly nature.
The material world is not all bad of course. In fact we pray for “the good in this world and the good in the hereafter” (2:201). But only through a heart that’s conscious of its Creator can we enjoy the material world on genuine, deeper levels.
There are three different stages of the soul mentioned in the Quran, and they seem to speak on the different stages of happiness:
the soul commanding towards evil (12:53),
the soul reproaching itself (75:2), and
the soul at peace (89:27).
The “soul that commands towards evil” is the soul intoxicated by the material. It does anything for its “fix” and ignores its higher nature for the lure of the worldly. No matter the momentary satisfaction it gets, with the new day, it’s more hungover from the escapades of the last than satisfied. The lower nature will never find true happiness. It is unsettled, fearful, lustful, discontent, and in disharmony with reality.
The next stage of the soul represents higher awareness. The “soul reproaching itself” is a soul that acknowledges its own wrong actions. We all do wrong, and we all need to improve because no one is perfect. Only God is. To accept that you are doing a wrong is the first, pivotal step in purifying yourself. Unlike the soul that commands towards evil, this stage of the soul is aware of its higher nature and strives to be guided by it. It’s trying to right its wrongs and lift itself up from the numbing dishonesty and appetite of the lower nature. This soul is seeing happiness at the end of the tunnel!1
The epitome of the soul’s development is “the soul at peace.” In Arabic it’s called nafs muthma’inna.
“Oh soul at peace, return to your Lord satisfying and satisfied” (89:27-28).
Although this verse mentions the “soul at peace returning to your Lord” in the context of the next life, we can attain this beautiful sate of harmony with God right here in this life.
How do we return to our Lord, The Truth, The Compassionate, The Merciful, here in this life? How do we harmonize with The Light of the universe that cradles the heartbeat of every creature on this beautiful planet?
The answer is to harmonize with the truth that God inspired in you. It’s there. Be silent. Open your ears.
“And He inspired in [the soul] its wrong and its right” (91:8).
Harmony with God grows from within, from a state of being inside of you, and then affects everything external. Remember that “Only in the remembrance of God do the hearts find peace” (13:28). We can all reach the nafs muthma’inna, the state of true peace and harmony with The Reality.1 To be at harmony with God, you must certainly stand with truth and forsake what’s false. This is not easy. But it’s worth it. Trust in God, be patient, and progress.
Islam means submission and comes from the root of the word for peace. To be Muslim is to submit to the reality of God’s Light. And herein is peace. It is the truest happiness and satisfaction our souls will ever experience. Be at harmony with the Creator, with yourself, and all of creation. Be whom God made you to be.
See you next post, God willing 🙂
1.The two higher states of the soul, the soul that acknowledges its wrongs and the soul at peace, are not completely distinct stages. They cycle back and forth between each other and even merge. This is because as human beings we’re constantly in need of self-improvement. So acknowledging our wrongs—no matter how small or big—and striving for better is an unchanging need in our lives. This process of honesty and submitting to reality is part of remembering God and leads our souls to peace.