Victory of the Spirit
Human life is a composite of two distinct powers: the spirit and the flesh. Although they sometimes act in harmony, conflict is more usual, conflict in which one defeats the other. If bodily lusts are vigorously indulged, the spirit grows more powerless as it becomes more obedient to those lusts. If one can control the desires of the flesh, place the heart (the seat of spiritual intellect) over reason, and oppose bodily lusts vigorously opposed, he or she attain to eternity.
Every part of a spiritually bankrupt country can be likened to a graveyard, no matter how many triumphal arches and statues adorn its thoroughfares. Most people living in such a country are in reality blind and unfortunate. A world not built on the spirit's breath is a plaything of human violence. A culture that has no ethos that encourages virtue is like an evil sorceress who has ambushed humanity. However, it might be impossible to persuade coarse, insensitive people of these facts, for they ignore everything but their own pleasure, and do not consider their lives connected with the well-being and happiness of others. If only they could perceive the mystery of their own deaths, they might have attained to the eternal life of the spirit.
Only those who fill their hearts with the most sublime ideals and love of humanity lead a spiritual life and attain to eternity in their very selves. These fortunate ones transcend their carnal desires, who grow spiritually alert, and leda those who heed them to victory over the commands of self.
Only those who overcome the self can be called powerful and victorious. Those who cannot release themselves from captivity to the self are liable to defeat, even if they conquer the entire world. We would not call their successful conquest of the world a victory, for their permanent presence in the conquered lands is impossible.
Napoleon, madly esteeming himself the world's sole ruler, slapped knowledge and virtue in the person of the philosopher, Molmey. I wonder whether he grasped that this failure in spirit was more bitter and humiliating than his defeat at Waterloo. Mustafa Pasha of Merzifon was defeated inwardly before his army was routed at Vienna. This first Ottoman defeat showed itself in the spirit of its commander-in-chief, and then spread far and wide among his forces. He lost his head, and the greatest army of conquest yet known experienced flight. Yildirim Khan, Bayezid I, was not defeated in Jubuk, but on the day when he belittled his opponent and hailed himself sole ruler of the world. There have been many others like these...
But we also have positive examples. Tariq was victorious, not when he defeated the Spaniards' 90,000-man army with a handful of self-sacrificing valiant soldiers, but when he stood before the king's wealth and treasures and said: "Be careful, Tariq. You were a slave yesterday. Today you are a victorious commander. And tomorrow you will he underground." Selim I regarded the world as too small for two rulers. He was truly victorious not when he crowned some kings and dethroned others, but when he entered the capital in silence while its people were asleep to avoid their enthusiastic welcome and applause. He also was victorious when he ordered that the robe soiled by mud from his teacher's horse be draped over his coffin because of its holiness. Cato, the Roman commander, was victorious and caused his people to remember him not when he defeated the Carthaginians, but when he handed his horse and command over to the Roman emperor. While his army was entering Carthage, the capital city of Rome's enemy and rival, in triumph, he told the emperor: "I fought to serve my nation. Now my duty is fulfilled, I am going back to my village."
To sacrifice one's enjoyment of worldly pleasure has the same significance for human progress as roots have for a tree's growth. Just as a tree grows sound and strong in direct relation to its roots' soundness and strength, people grow to perfection while striving to free themselves from selfishness so that they can live for others.
A sacred hymn signifies the spirit's victory: "I have known nothing of worldly pleasure in my life of over 80 years. All my life has passed on battlefields, in prisons, and in various places of suffering. There is no torment that I have not experienced, no oppression I have not suffered. I neither care for Paradise, nor fear Hell. If I see that my people's faith has been secured, I will not object to burning in the flames of Hell, for my heart will change into a rose and a rose garden even as my body is being burnt."
The crowned heads of the future will be those fortunate ones who have attained to felicity through victories of the spirit. Buhranlar Anaforunda Insan, Izmir 1997, pp. 43-46
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