The Souls Besieged by a Life of Transience
Those who perceive the world solely in terms of its transitory face and physical constraints can be seen, in spite of the breadth of the human conscience, to have darkened their lives by having chosen to spend it in a dungeon. Whenever they sense this constriction that they have imposed on themselves, most of them then either dwell in a dream of the past, which they consider to have been more brilliant or magnificent, or they seek consolation with a future utopia. Instead of ruling over the present blessed days and hours or imbuing these times with the color of their hearts and ascending to the expansive realms of the soul, they seek refuge in the past with the hope of consoling themselves and ignore the present and the future. Alternatively, they just try to comfort themselves in their fictitious vision of the future which has no factual base or relation with reality. It is clear that none of these bring true consolation. They do not, however, seem to understand this fact.
Certainly, the future must never be forgotten; we should always accept it as the basis for projects of construction and revival in accordance with the pattern of our shared spirit, and we should respect it. Our great past too must be remembered in a positive way; it should be considered as a reference for the sake of spiritual roots. Alongside all of this, however, we must value most highly the time in which we find ourselves and use it scrupulously. To my mind, this is the right way for some to escape the feeling of constriction which is compressing and suffocating them. For, seeking refuge in tales of the past in a pessimistic mood and cherishing inconsistent dreams about the future while ignoring facts will lead us nowhere at all. Until now, such dreams have served no purpose other than worsening our longings, our grief, and disappointment.
How bitter it is that some just waste away their lives in a tide of vain fancies, instead of overcoming the constriction and tedium of their situation by strengthening their faith and relationship with God. This life is so short and limited for people like that; it has neither width nor depth enough to satisfy their aspirations, nor does it promise any hope in terms of the immensity of human feelings. Life is extremely unreliable; it can neither be quenched, nor does it consent to feed others till they are satisfied. It is not clear whether you can really possess it. You carry it on your shoulders for a lifetime, and then it just departs at an unknown turn without bidding farewell. Yes, no one holds a promissory note showing how long they will spend in this world. It is uncertain whether we can really rely on that term we all know, “average life expectancy.” Any morning or evening, or any other time of the day, while minding our own business, or preoccupied with something, unaware of the surprise to come, while walking down the street, without being given a chance to organize ourselves, we can suddenly just be dismissed from this world. As Yunus Emre, the Sufi poet, says,
They will put you in a coffin,
And lower it into darkness,
Without anybody going along with you,
You will be committed to the ground.
Everything finishes for us as we go into the grave; we make a break with what we have left behind, everything, including all our belongings and our children. Those who are still alive, crying out in their grief or running to the funeral, are faced with nothingness.
Oddly enough, we never take this end into account. In this respect, a particular life, a combination of a thousand factors, which has continued up to a certain day and which was expected to come to a result, is never possible again. Now, the book of personal accounts is closed, and a new stage in the accounting procedures, over and above all others, begins. We can call it the farewell to everything: to life, to beauty, to what we enjoy so much, to all the hopes and expectations which are now setting.
In this state, where all desires fade away, where all dreams vanish, where all hopes subside, where all sadness grows darker, and where all ideals turn into a broken dream, any person—no matter who—will feel thoroughly shaken. Maybe they fall to their knees, but there is not much that can be done anymore. As they see themselves topple over and be buried under the ground, they become gloomily pensive, moaning in desperation and sweating with the thought that they too will perish like everything else; they moan as their crystal palaces shatter, as their dreams are overturned and as joyful laughter, loving and being loved, and enjoyment of life all come to an end. Now the winds of autumn moan within their soul, and to them, every gusting wind sounds out the emptying of life everywhere. With such a feeling of emptiness, all the philosophies, civilizations, and cultures which we can describe as the order that is woven from common feelings, thoughts and the experiences of millions—maybe billions—of people, merely flow into the same vague and indefinite void. Newcomers are no more than shadows and those departing disappear into disordered dreams. Hollow frames, blurry lines, and cold absence replace all vital activities and all that which once seemed rose-colored.
The beauties which were always enwrapped in colors no longer shine, neither is there a sign of the brilliant faces, nor a trace of the tempting attractions he or she once knew; now the end of this fleeting world is apparent, and the most lovely faces are like autumn leaves on the path that has been stamped out by non-existence.
To some, the cavities opened in a person’s soul by death are so deep that, just as all souls who set off to such a void quake at their own non-existence, they too are startled by other people, nations, and even all existences and universes that pour into nothingness; they go through horrors. These people always play tunes of longing and grief; woeful sighs are heard around them all the time. Their dark atmosphere echoes with complaints about having come to this wilderness.
Be they young or old, such grief and disappointment are inevitable for those who lead a life confined to the limits of the body and the material world. Alcohol, gambling, entertainment, and leading a heedless life may provide some with temporary comfort in a state of oblivion, but they hold absolutely nothing to offer in the name of happiness. On the contrary, the usual condition of those who are addicted to such activities is nothing but stress, madness, misery, and frenzy. They writhe in successive afflictions every moment; they constantly suffer the darkest moods and enter delirious states.
Faith, hope, and breadth of conscience are what free people from their own constraints and carry them round the comforting and spacious realms of the soul; they enable everybody to take a relieving breath by dispersing the haze and clouds of heresy, unbelief, doubt, and hesitation; they turn dungeons into palaces and make one aware of the heavenly breezes; they elevate petty humankind to an expanse equal to and even transcending universes.
Whether it will be possible to explain this to those who are entangled in bodily existence and unable to see the vastness within their souls, I do not know.
The Fountain, March - April 2008, Issue 62
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