By Dr Irshad Rabbani, New Age Islam
July 1, 2013
Meditation is the essence of belief in the existence of the omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God. All the saints, Sufis and Rishis have attained divine realisation through meditation. The ways of worship, the rituals and dogma are secondary and only a manifestation of the meditator’s religious affiliation. It is only through meditation that man unites with the Supreme being while those who do not meditate and only observe rituals and dogma, do not attain any spiritual gifts from the Supreme Being, the omnipresent God.
Meditation is the training of mind and soul in such a way that takes the consciousness to a level higher than that of an ordinary human being. This state creates a feeling of selflessness and detachment from the physical existence and a union with the natural world.
The person inclined towards meditation always believes in a supreme God and seeks to come closer to that Supreme Being by meditating on his own being and on nature and all the creations of the universe. Actually the meditator believes that God is immanent in nature and in the universe and by concentrating on his search for this truth, he seeks to make himself one with the all-pervasive Being.
All the Rishis, saints, Sufis and the prophets practiced meditation. Isaac is believed to practice meditation. Abraham meditated to seek the truth about the true God and pondered over the nature and existence of the sun, the moon, the stars and other natural phenomenon and objects. Moses is said to have gone over the Mount Sinai to seek the countenance of God for forty days.
Before attaining prophethood, The holy prophet Muhammad (pbuh),also is said to have meditated in the cave of Hira in Makkah. Before attaining prophethood, he (pbuh) did not follow any religion, neither of the Quraysh of Makkah nor of the Jews. But he was naturally inclined towards an invisible God who was the master of the universe. He would remain absorbed in meditation, pondering over the Supreme Being for days. This meditation elevated his being and consciousness to a higher level and prepared his soul for the gift of prophethood as he became spiritually rich and intellectually mature.
Meditation in different religions has different names and diverse methods involving physical postures but on the mental side, it is the same with all the religions. In almost all the religions meditation means remembering and praising and nurture the love of the one formless God who is all pervasive, who is not sitting in the heavens but is enveloping all the beings in the universe. This belief leads the meditator to the Supreme Being, the master of the universe who is present around him and is very close to him. This generates in the meditator an ecstatic feeling, a feeling of unknown joy of having his beloved God so close.
In Islam, two kinds of meditation are in practice, rather prescribed. One is Dhikr and the other is Fikr. Dhikr means chanting of God’s name and Fikr means pondering over the creations of God as a manifestation of God’s existence and power. By pondering, thinking over and praising the greatness of God, one attains the divine realisation of God.
In Sikhism, which also preaches the worship of one formless and omnipresent God, Dhikr or Simran is the mode of meditation. Dhyan and Samadhi are the Buddhist and Hindu terms for meditation.
Many leaders of the Bhakti movement observed meditation to attain spiritual elevation of soul and being. In Sufism, the Muslim saints had the concept of Dhikr and Fikr through the Quran but in the Bhakti sect, the idea of meditation reached to them through the ancient religious traditions and scriptures that preached monotheism. This concept of monotheism was revived among non-Muslims by the spread of Sufism in India. Thus the practice of meditation found a confluence in both Islam and Hinduism.
Thus, we find that spiritually, both Muslim Sufis and Hindu Bhaktivadis express the same views, feelings and philosophical outpourings as a result of spiritual consciousness through a high level of meditation and ponderance. The core message of Muslim and Hindu sufis is common:
!) Belief in and love of God
2) Love of human beings irrespective of caste, creed and religion
3) Feeling of oneness with God
4) Expression of attainment of God’s blessings
5) Remembrance of death and the mortality of earthly life
6) Belief in peace and non-violence
Baba Farid said,
I wish ever to live in Thy love, O God
If I become the dust under Thy feet, I shall live
I thy slave desire none but Thee in both worlds;
For Thee I will live and for Thee I will die.
He further said,
I am not afraid of the passing of my youth,
If the love of my Lord does not pass with it.
So many youths have withered away without love.
Similarly, Kabir says,
I am immersed in the One and that One manifests Itself in all.
In that divine oneness the feeling of duality vanished.
Thus Kabir spoke in the language of Muslim Sufis who attained union with the divine being through meditation, or Dhikr and Fikr. There are other spiritual leaders also who attained the same spiritual height and talked of the inner light and sound.
Thus, meditation leads human beings to the divine realisation that the Supreme Being, Allah, Brahma or Sat Guru resides in the heart of man and whoever ponders and remembers him with every breath and in every state of his being, finds self-realisation, salvation and divine knowledge leading to the truth.