By Sumit Paul
September 6, 2019
In these times of extreme religious intolerance, misunderstandings and parochialism, when i delve into the bowels of the metaphysical aspects of all religions despite being a non-believer, I wonder if today’s self-appointed ‘interpreters’ can ever fathom the profundity of spirituality, the essence of a religion, that talks of Self-enlightenment – and not of any god or creator?
I’ve analysed how mystics of not just Sufi Islam, but of all faiths reached the highest level of Self-enlightenment without the help of esoteric belief systems or faith in a supreme being. Barring Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi and Jami, all other Persian mystics like Fariduddin Attar, Hakim Sanai, Khaqani, Anwari, Bedil and Urfi were insouciant to the very idea of god (Beniyaaz-e-khuda). They never condemned, nor eulogised a supreme being. They were Upanishadic Self-searchers, to quote Nobel laureate and Mexican ambassador to India Octavio Paz.
Hafiz Shirazi believed that one lifetime isn’t enough to comprehend oneself. When one cannot even get to the roots of his own self, how can he talk something that belongs to an external world and alien to his senses? Catherine of Siena says Self-exploration leads to god-exploration but the latter is not the objective but a natural outcome; a by-product. It’s like “stumbling upon diamonds while removing rocks”.
The Upanishadic Self-search appealed to all Persian, Arab and Christian mystics and they incorporated this idea – as a kind of spiritual leitmotif or mystical beacon – into their thought processes. In fact, whenever they used the word ‘god’, they used it for want of a better word. To quote Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, ‘Kuch nahin mila toh khuda naam de diya’ – When they found nothing, the name god was given.
Turkish poet Seyid Imadeddin Nesimi said, ‘Aitlaaf miz khut meezawar ust’ – I’ve gone beyond god. It’s worthwhile to note that in early Turkish till the 9th century, the word ‘Khut’ meant self-esteem. Philologists and etymologists believe that this word engendered ‘khudi’ (of Fariduddin Attar) and ultimately became ‘khuda’. So, khuda is one’s own Self in a completely unadulterated sense and essence.
Amir Khusro advises in a rare Pahalavi couplet: ‘Shez gard urdam, mee khud khudam’ – Just dust yourself off and see yourself become god. In sublime mysticism, god is but a reference point. It’s a tangible (yes, tangible, not ‘intangible’) destination, ‘Ift-maqsood en-manzil’ – To be achieved by those who’re constantly in search of their own selves. The ecstatic proclamations like ‘An-Al-Haq’, and ‘Aham-Brahmasmi’ – I am Brahmn – in Upanishads don’t mean god-realisation. They mean Self-actualisation. In the words of Allama Iqbal: ‘I have finally found myself/ I don’t want anything else/beyond’.
Self-actualisation closes all doors to further exploration because that’s the ultimate and the eventual fate of an individual. Look at the rather blasphemous, but beautiful thought from Nizami’s ‘Mizwatul’ (self-evident truth): Find your own Self, which’s the biggest riddle because it’s uncreated: ‘Taakheed Miztab Meen Ya Muamma Ast.’ Another contemporary Merkavah Mystic of Judaism says in Hebrew: Since you created god, you’ll find it sooner or later but the Self is uncreated; so extremely difficult to find.
In ancient Judaism, god had no gender. It was only a century before Christianity, that god got a (masculine) gender. It’s high time, we all went beyond the narrow precincts of theism, beliefs and cloying spirituality that’s uncomfortably god-centric and find our own selves back in a pristine form.
DISCLAIMER: Views expressed above are the author's own.
Original Headline: Beyond the cloying kind of spirituality
Source: The Times of India