Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Man or The Spirit- Who's Nobler?

   I have my shortcomings, I have my weaknesses, I have my vices, my own share of embarrassing moments and failures and disgrace, my evil side in spite of the conscience I was given. But I have my desires, my instincts, greed, ego and self to defeat. My conscience can make me nobler than The Holy Spirits and my instincts can make me more wicked Than the Beast. Praise God for creating such beings as humans.

   We all have embarrassed ourselves at one point in our lives or the other. We all have committed errors. We have all been wicked and selfish, sarcastic and have plotted against our rivals, even against friends. We all lie to, betray and hurt people who care for us. Yet, when we find humanity in the deepest of its troubles, when an earthquake renders thousands homeless or a flood washes away hundreds of homes and thousands of dreams associated with them the same imperfect mortal beings called humans rush to their aid, risk their own lives for the sake of complete strangers. Strangers who are suffering not because of the pain caused by a human but by Nature. And yet, when it is someone who is very close and who we have consciously hurt and inflicted pain upon, we don’t feel the need to aid them. We struggle hard against our gigantic egos and manage to utter the word "sorry". We feel that we have relieved our souls of a great burden by completing the ritual, by saying the most misused of all words- “sorry”. It used to hurt my ego once. My soul felt honored when I helped out complete strangers or people who were only remotely known to me. I would feel that I have done a great service to humanity by helping out someone I don't even know properly. But I would easily manage to hurt people who cared about me the most. I never felt the need to say that I was sorry, even if I saw the need I thought that my soul will be humbled by doing so.

   But really, could the mere use of the word "sorry" heal the wounds of my loved ones? I think not. Sometimes, it would only infuriate them beyond my imagination. Merely apologizing to someone was not going to help. True repentance is far from just apologies. True repentance comes through realisation. Realisation of what the other person might have gone through, how insulted or betrayed they might have felt. It meant more than just crying, it meant suffering the same insults, setbacks and turmoil as the person on whom they were inflicted. Suffering brings with it realisation, realisation in turn means repentance, repentance is salvation. You will never know how much it hurts (on all the three levels- physical, mental and spiritual) to be (say) slapped unless you go through the same experience yourself- that is suffering. You will cause more hurt, in the same way and in different ways to other people, unless you really believe that it is wrong- that is realisation. Once you stop hurting, you are drifting; away from sins and closer to God- that is your Salvation. This is why people came to associate suffering with salvation. Salvation- easier desired than achieved- is not an easy path to tread. It takes lots and lots of will power, strength of character and of the soul to achieve that point in faith where you don't want to sin anymore, where it feels like a burden rather than a freedom to do evil. But men have achieved this too in spite of their addiction to sin, ego, lust, greed, pride, selfishness. We all know people who rein in their desires.

   Nature, the shadow of God on the face of this planet sometimes sweeps away entire tribes or races with a blow. When such a thing happens, we feel how helpless and insignificant we humans are. It is the same feeling that you get when you're standing in the front of a vast field or a huge lake or a great mountain. But in spite of this feeling of insignificance, of being no one who matters, men have built marvels on the face of this Earth whose grandeur and magnificence sometimes bewilders those who designed it, built it, watered it. God has given us a marvelous mind that harbours thoughts which scare, amaze, torment and liberate, achieves such feats which leave the achiever himself dazzled, comprehends, invents, innovates, reasons and finds for us a place in this world that never seems enough, for the simple reason that He wants us to. He wants us to make use of these mental abilities which is why they exist in the first place. And with it, He has given us greed, curiosity to look and search beyond and a little physical strength. Whenever we reach a peak, we are intrigued to discover more, learn more and achieve more.

   I would often wonder why we were put here, on this Earth, what God wanted to prove, why give us so much power when it had to be taken back cruelly in the shape of old age, death, disease and disaster, why give us the ability to sin when we were to be judged for them. This was until I asked my best friend about the same. He helped me broaden my vision by quoting from the moment of creation. "When God finished creating the Universe, He asked all of his creation who would like to inhabit this Earth with all its bounties, gifts and landscape. All the spirits- those made of light and those made of fire- and everyone else including Adam (PBUH) wanted to. But they were to enjoy this magnificent land of His on the condition that they were supposed to control their temptations, exercise self-restraint and act righteously. None of God’s creation dared to go through the test but Adam (PBUH). He dared to accept this challenge, dared to take the test- the test which was life itself. "

   He did not realise that he was sharing the most valuable knowledge with me, the answer to the question that had puzzled me for so long, the purpose of man’s existence on this planet- which, from this point of view was, living every day, enjoying Nature’s gifts (the biggest gift being the human brain) that bore God’s signature, had the imprints of His fingertips, propagating the species, maintaining a balance between becoming an angel or a beast- which he is both capable of becoming- and being a human instead, and praying to God every day to give him the strength to live as a human which is more difficult than being an angel or a beast.

   After looking at life this way, at the small place that we occupy on this Earth and the large impact that we leave on it, life seems to be more like a rented apartment. The things that belong here, we will never take them along. We will use the facilities, be thankful for the shelter, perhaps defile the apartment a little, celebrate our joys and regret our blunders with our roommates who, for the time being, are our companions but will leave one day- all of them on their own way at their predetermined time- leaving us with nothing but an experience, memories of something which seemed so real but turned out to be a short-lived, beautiful dream with princesses, castles, shimmering shoes, golden chariots, lots of chocolates and enormous glitz- of which we would never want to let go but will have to forget because it never actually existed. The dream always seemed real, so does this life, except that the dream always ended with what I thought to be an awakening and life will come to an end with something that seems a deep slumber!

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