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Spiritual Meditations ( 22 Jun 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Narcissistic Netizens, Burnout Societies, Existential Angsts and the Bane of Social Media: A Psychological and Spiritual Assessment from the Perspective of Sufism

By Prof. Henry Francis B. Espiritu

23 June 2022

Happiness Is Never A Creation Of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok Or What Have You In Today's Social Media; No Matter How These Social Media Platforms Are Helpful In Our Interconnectedness And Modern Communication In This Day And Age

Main Points:

1.    In this age of social media, people think that to be happy means to be affirmed, to be liked, appreciated, applauded and approved always by others and by society.

2.    Happiness is in facing our life with hope despite the daily endeavours, struggles, conflicts and all the problems that we face in our daily grind for existence.

3.    Toxic religion has also programmed our minds into believing that we have to earn our happiness by our hard efforts of pleasing God.

4.    Happiness is a choice: a free decision that we have to make and a will that we have to face moment-by-moment in our lives.

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Recently, I had finished reading a very insightful book entitled, "The Burnout Society” by a South Korean philosopher, Prof. Dr. Byung-Chul Han. This book argues that our present society is characterized by burnout, boredom, anxieties, hyperactivity, attention deficiency, depression, suicidal tendencies, existential ennui and narcissism caused by the constant feeding of our ego with social media expectations and unnecessary competitions caused by our incessant need to be affirmed, to be appreciated, to be applauded and to succumb to the tendency of comparing ourselves with social media personalities and influencers. The book says that if we want to escape burnout and depression, we just have to accept who we really are, simply do what we can do naturally, and appreciate ourselves without comparing ourselves and our achievements with that of others...

In this age of social media, people think that to be happy means to be affirmed, to be liked, appreciated, applauded and approved always by others and by society. These social media markers by which many people use to measure happiness are both hazy and crazy! Happiness is never a creation of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or what have you in today's social media; no matter how these social media platforms are helpful in our interconnectedness and modern communication in this day and age. Happiness is not even an absence of conflict and pain. Happiness is in facing our life with hope despite the daily endeavours, struggles, conflicts and all the problems that we face in our daily grind for existence.

We have been conditioned to think that happiness is something earned by our hard efforts and by our trying our utmost to prove our mettle and to show to others our successes and achievements. This utilitarian-cum-capitalistic and instrumentalist view of happiness has made us extreme workaholics and having a tattered self-image that we are not enough and we do not have intrinsic value until we have delivered something huge like those great achievers who are projected by the social media. However, the hard truth is this: we cannot chase happiness. Happiness is in facing life despite the cramped and crappy circumstances that we are living. In the words of the physically blind yet great thinker Helen Keller: “From now on, let us cease chasing the merry-go-round ride of happiness and just be happy.”...

It is really a great tragedy in our so-called contemporary civilized society that extractive capitalism and exploitative consumerism have programmed us to think that to be happy, one has to work like an abused donkey, accumulating loads and loads of banknotes and hoard them to no end. Toxic religion has also programmed our minds into believing that we have to earn our happiness by our hard efforts of pleasing God and wait for our happiness in the Hereafter as the reward of our good works that are somehow used as our means to bribe God so that God can let us enter into the Golden Portal of the Sweet-By-and-By.

 The great Turkish Sufi saint of Sunni Islam Hazrat Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi has a better view than these abusive perspectives of happiness and escapist salvationism peddled by toxic religions to us. Hazrat Maulana Rumi says that we cannot bribe our way to God since God has already loved each one of us from Eternity to Eternity and this Divine Love is bestowed by God through Grace alone without religious bribery and transactional business of being good so God can reward us. Hazrat Maulana Rumi says that we can never escape from God's Love and Grace; and it is this Grace from God that will see us through and not our own merits which we thought that we can use to buy God's approval, forgiveness and Love. God loves and forgives us unconditionally and solely by God's Mercy and Grace.

 In contrast to our capitalistic-consumeristic-utilitarian-instrumentalist society's skewed view that happiness is in being always applauded by others and in the obsessive seeking for the approval and affirmation of others, the great Turkish Sufi saint Hazrat Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi says that happiness is in letting ourselves be, in being content of who we are, of what we have, and of what we can realistically achieve without comparing ourselves with others and their accomplishments. In short, happiness is a choice: a free decision that we have to make and a will that we have to face moment-by-moment in our lives. Happiness is in simply choosing to be happy despite circumstances that life offers to us. Happiness is in the “Here-and-Now”... So how about it? Something to ponder in our onward journey through Life’s meaning and significance.

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Prof. Henry Francis B. Espiritu is Associate Professor-7 of Philosophy and Asian Studies at the University of the Philippines (UP), Cebu City, Philippines. He was former Academic Coordinator of the Political Science Program at UP Cebu from 2011-2014. He was former Coordinator of Gender and Development (GAD) Office at UP Cebu from 2015-2019. His research interests include Theoretical and Applied Ethics, Islamic Studies particularly Sunni jurisprudence (Fiqh), Islamic feminist discourses, Islam in interfaith dialogue initiatives, Islamic environmentalism, Classical Sunni Islamic pedagogy, the writings of Imam Al-Ghazali on pluralism and tolerance, Islam in the Indian Subcontinent, Turkish Sufism, Central Asian Affairs, Ataturk Studies, Ottoman Studies, Muslim-Christian Dialogue, Middle Eastern Affairs, Peace Studies and Public Theology.

 

URL:    https://newageislam.com/spiritual-meditations/narcissistic-existential-angsts-spiritual-sufism/d/127305  

 

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