None of us are willing to remain in the period to which we belong; we use our imagination, journeying back to the vastness of the past where we experience scenes of courage, or we spread our wings towards the future, carrying hopeful expectations.
We live the scenarios we fictionalize. We live them with our faith, our trust in God, and our dependence on Him. We expand out into a world that can be seen only in movies. We interpret what we see in our imaginations, are absorbed in dreams bearing no relationship with the truth, and pursue various psychic visions.
The people of a peaceful and prosperous past, or to be more precise, who believe they had such a past, may occasionally plan journeys into their history within their inner worlds and constantly roam the meadows and fields of the past. But they are never truly successful in exceeding the boundaries of history.
Today, due to the expectations of life, the young, dynamic, and globalized generations, who are unaware of the past and after fanciful thoughts, submit themselves to their dreams of perfection and excellence, and pursue the climates of tranquility that they are unable to find today, in the coves of the future.
Indisputably, there is a degree of truth in each of these observations; however, conveying the past, with its own values and dynamics, into the present – as well as the ability to enter the future – depends on efficiently analyzing the present without overlooking a split second of it. Indeed, we can better begin the plans, projects, strategies, and implementations for the future if our emotions are purer, our hearts are more joyful, our souls are more enthusiastic, our bodies are healthier, our time is more abundant, our economy is more dynamic, and where our relationships among nations are more consistent and desirable. If we are successful in implementing what is required in every stage of life, then the past-future-present will become the three angles of a single unit, and we will be able to experience each period of time with its own depth.
The golden ages of human history have always been experienced when the concept of time has been perceived as such. At the present, if we can reclaim our own historical perspectives by keeping quiet and motivating our memories, then once again we will be able to recompile and listen to our own words, which once spread throughout the whole world; we will be able to sense the intensity of eternity from the air we breathe; and according to the scale we experience, we will absorb the spheres of security and tranquility of our good fortune, transforming these things into joy in our inner worlds in the same way that we breathe oxygen into our lungs. This abundance cannot be attained otherwise even if all contingencies overlapped for a colossal total and all complementing sources of blessings merged to pour to the same direction.
At one time, we became so alienated from these spiritual values that our emotions and thoughts turned uncivilized, to the degree that we were unable to foresee this separation and were incapable of displaying our sense of loyalty. We weren’t even able to say farewell to our superior ideals! Farewell to the consciousness of being a great society! Farewell to being a balancing power! Farewell to the souls who blow the perception of independence, truth, and justice into the spirit of history! Farewell to a legendary people bearing gowns of compassion, kindness, and integrity! Farewell to our philosophy of life and our social conceptions! Farewell to our values and superior principles.
Despite this, we remained silent about the abandoning, the pillaging, of a great history. Furthermore, while this world was weakened by the most uncouth transgressions, we were totally unaware of the numerous precious aspects of our own essence being rejected every day, as well as the cries of fear.
If only we realized from the very beginning that one by one our principle dynamics were gradually being weakened, that our dream of being a great society was gradually fading, and our standards, values, and glory of thousands of years were being destroyed and cast away like logs being carried away by flood waters! If only we could have foreseen that our many heritages of spirituality, each a component of excellence – as well our concept of civilization which emerged from the joint, collective perception of our people – would collapse, change, and eventually self-destruct!
If only we were capable of expressing our loyalty during the period when our collective and spiritual characteristics were taken and concealed within the depths of history! Alas, the mental faculty of the people was transformed into a storage of unrealistic dreams and our collective spirit was entrusted to Satan.
During that inauspicious period, our society – which was once bonded with spiritual love, affection, and sincere loyalty – was constantly weakened by a sense of decline and transience. The people pleaded with immense desperation before the painful manifest of fate as Jacob, who said, “I only disclose my anguish and sorrow to God…”
If the past is a blend of knowledge, thought, morality, and culture, then it is still fresh. Its spirited and relevant aspects should be restored in today’s society and made “present.” If this is not done, then speaking only about the unpleasant aspects of the past and seeking retaliation are neither possible nor beneficial.
After years of oppressiveness, deprivation, and misery, today, many high-spirited souls are enthusiastic to move forward. We must face the challenges of our time with determination and consciousness, and, by maintaining our own spiritual essence, hope for a transformation of the world. This is the perspective that will determine the future. This aging, inconsistent, and exhausted world is in need of a revival. And who knows? Our revival may revive the entire world.
Today, time blows like a breeze, inspiring and conveying the past into the present. Events are calls which arouse our hope and determination, and strike our hearts as if reflecting the sounds of the gates to Paradise. It is as if we are journeying into the depths of the blue skies on a rocket, and existence finds sustenance on the path leading to the One. On this path, great prosperity flows into our souls. Our tongues cry out in ecstatic love, a sweet sense of freshness transforming our grievances into a reunion with the Beloved. The pangs of separation are transformed into companionship and solidarity. Then, within our own existence, we experience a spiritual realm opening the gates to a creation beyond time and space.
In fact, the world of today has the blush of springtime being nourished from the past; we look to the future and see towns of the most enchanting colors and sounds appearing on the horizons of our faith and hopes; places where the divine benevolence can be heard showering upon each and every pasture and valley, like the raindrops on the wings of the angels. It is a time when we feel we are being embraced with compassion protected from thunderstorms and lightning streaks.
Many of our world’s most precious historical geographies and their most precious people have always been underappreciated. It is necessary to have due awareness and analyze the world accordingly. If we are capable of perceiving ourselves and our world to this degree, then I believe that there will not be a reoccurrence of the disloyalties and disrespect displayed in the past. I believe that the extremely aggrieved, victimized, and deprived generations of the past, as well as the future laborers of thought, will have a greater awareness of the beauties of their own environments; that their relationship with the One of Eternal Power will deepen and they will be able to pass all the ridges of “historical deceptions”; and that they will eventually become successful in overcoming all of the past negativities.
On those colorful days in the future when we will be nourishing ourselves with undefiled resources, the pleasure, fragrance, color, and language of existence – and the significance it conveys – will surge from the great walls and towers, and flow into every village, town, and city, and according to the degree of our worthiness, will convey the joy of its celebrations even into our homes.
The emotions, thoughts, interpretations of life, and ideas of eternity, which were unable to develop due to various suppressions, will flourish once again with their own specific depth of spirituality. They will bloom like buds of prosperity and will present everyone with their fruits of charm and excellence. Indeed, when the season arrives, everyone will be able to savor the pleasure of existence, of being alive. They will attain divine knowledge and proximity with the One, recognizing and loving Him with great devotion and sincerity. Amidst the melodies of spiritual elation, they will overcome all of the pain, afflictions, despair, and disappointments, and will continuously contemplate their vibrant fate with total submission to God. They will perceive the world in which they live, a narrow passageway towards the Hereafter, as a journey across the slopes of Paradise.
Indeed, the hearts of belief and the souls that perceive their own spiritual depth will submit to everyone they meet and every scene they observe with the compassion of a sincere companion and utter melodies of this solidarity. Experiencing the spirituality flowing into their souls everywhere they roam, they will say: “I did not know myself as I see me now. I wonder whether He is me or I am Him? This is the point where lovers lose themselves…” (Gadai)
Their emotions will turn into a poetical array and their reflections will transform into spiritual pleasures. They will embrace their entire essence.
And those emotional, loving, and gentle days will each be like the eve of a great celebration. Those prosperous and radiant nights, in an atmosphere which transforms everything into joyfulness and pleasure, will enable everyone to come and go between the sense of astonishment and admiration with the following observation: “There is nothing more appealing and more delightful than what we are experiencing.” It will adorn the scenes of their own fate.
Even during the prosperous periods, the environment can appear to be somewhat dark and cloudy. What really is happening behind these dark clouds is in fact the diversification of the blessings constantly showered upon us. Going through such ordeals is how we can overcome the weariness caused by monotonousness. This is how we can always sense the pleasures and enjoyment to the same extent in the positive sense. This is in fact the transformation of difficulties and afflictions into spiritual prosperity. After all, these kinds of difficulties and sufferings have occupied a marginal position in comparison with the long days of prosperity. As one of the great poets said, “Grief cannot be eliminated by judgment; it passes with the smile of joy.” All misfortunes come not as a whole but one by one and are in fact not beyond the limits we can endure; and they only disappear after they leave so much for us to benefit from.
In fact, humans expand in the pleasures, delights, and joys of spiritual elation in life to the degree that they perceive the relationship of existence and events with God. If everything they see, hear, and analyze opens the many gates to wisdom; if they constantly divert their thoughts to the realities beyond existence – to such an extent that every day, every week, these individuals awaken to life once again; if they constantly walk upon the paths of light; if they come and go continuously through the tunnels between the shores of this world and the hereafter, and share everything they relish with a pledge of bliss… then their emotions will be exposed to the blessings of the Creator, and He will constantly convey confidence and peace into their souls. Occasionally, events caress their strings with the language of the heart in order to convey the melody of life, like the strings of a plectrum; and this inspires them with such pleasures and such delight, like the joy of a child, the elation of a besotted heart! In their eyes, every season arrives with the magnificence of the break of dawn; every moment is bright and mild, and the relief conveyed by what they pledge is immense.
These individuals are happy with their lives, are content with their fate, and they open their hearts to God in supplication and attain a soundness of spirituality unattainable with any psychotherapy. On occasions when the atmosphere becomes dark and the skies appear gloomy, they change suddenly in their speech and manner; they hold their hands up in supplication, pleading to God. They bow their heads in fear and respect; they seek refuge in His compassion and convey ballads from the language of their hearts to Him. In the clarity of their hearts, amidst the depths of their desires and fantasies, they always live their lives in aspiration of the eternal life and in a state radiance and excellence, like the stars in the sky.
Occasionally, there are such exceptional periods where the full pleasures penetrate into the societal environment, to the extent that individuals feel as if they have been granted a great blessing. Undoubtedly, if we are heedful, we can continuously experience the cascade of this exuberant life. And the souls can pass over to the realm of spirits at any time, where the light always defeats the darkness and shines within the pavilions of our souls; where the souls yearning with passion can always taste the sherbets from the realm of the eternal union. As long as the direction of spirituality is defined and the balance of the heart is adjusted accordingly, we can live in such a time.
Fethullah Gulen's lead article has been published on Fountain Magazine, #115, Jan-Feb 2017