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Eternity Book Series
Part 8 – Mysticism

 

Eternity Book Series 4 Books – 8 Parts
Part 8 – Mysticism

(Book 4: The Way)
Anwar Shaikh
1st Edition: September 20, 2014
2nd Edition: August 28, 2016


Anwar Shaikh, the Great Indian Author, Philosopher, Free Thinker and Historian

Book 4: The Way
_______________
Part 6 – Free Will and Ethics
Introduction
Chapter 14: Harmony
Chapter 15: Free Will
Chapter 16: Ethics
Chapter 17: Psychology
Chapter 18: Sociology
Chapter 19: Law
Part 7 – Politics
Chapter 20: Politics
Chapter 21: Taxation
Chapter 22: Economics
Part 8 – Mysticism
Chapter 23: Mysticism
Postscript
Glossary
Bibliography

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Part 8 – Mysticism

Chapter 23: Mysticism

Mysticism is not only the culmination of the mysterious human desire to live forever but also the search for the ETERNAL, which happens to be the greatest mystery. If man looks into his self, he is sure to unlock this secret because he will find that the spring of eternity lies within his self, and nowhere else, and he has been vainly looking for God in deserts, plains, forests, mountains, churches, temples, mosques and shrines. Why? Because God, the Eternal, is nothing but the apex of man's glory. No man, no God is the basic thesis of true mysticism.

It is usually believed that the ultimate goal of life is the union of soul with God. Such a union is possible only if God and soul are of the same essence. But this is not what is believed. God is thought of as the creator or procreator. If soul is a creation, it cannot rank equal with the creator. If it is not a creation, then it is eternal in its own right and being totally different from God, must have a different essence. Therefore, union is not possible between the two: it takes place between the equal and similar only.

The ultimate goal

The ultimate goal of life is not the union of soul with God but the union of soul with other souls because Godhead, the only eternity, is the union of souls. As cells combine to form a human, souls unite to form Godhead. However, there is a difference; cells have many alternatives of formation - a plant, a monkey or a man, but souls can assemble into Godhead only because God is the final form; it represents the ultimate unity into which diversity must dissolve.

Souls and Godhead

There is no external force to arrange souls into Godhead; they have the inherent ability to compose themselves into divinity. As nothing is immune to the law of change, the eternity of Godhead is coextensive with the availability of souls whose birth depends upon the righteous conduct of mankind: it is only the good deeds which lead to the formation of souls; wickedness causes an individual's extinction at the point of his physical death. God does not have a creative or procreative role. His function is that of a guardian, and is limited to minimal interference necessary to produce righteous conditions for the formation of souls. Considering the vastness of the universe, chances of intelligent life on other planets are Considerably greater than we may think. This is what leads to the abundant production of souls, making Godhead, the circular reality and an everlasting truth.

Significance of mysticism

Production of souls is strictly a practical affair; grace and intercession play no part in it. As explained in the previous chapters, it is a sociological concern which determines whether most people will be good or evil. However, what I am about to say under the heading of mysticism is "extra-individual". It is the icing on the cake, and not the cake itself. One can be righteous without being a mystic' and qualify for Godhead. However, mysticism imparts similar zest to righteousness as sugar does to lemonade, salt to food and arrangement to flowers. In a nutshell mysticism is the active quest for God based on complete personal devotion which makes it a strictly individual affair.

Origin of mysticism

As, once upon a time, I was a sincere practitioner of mysticism, I feel that I am more competent to discuss this subject than any other. However, before advancing my personal views (not experiences) about this holiest of sciences, I should say a few words about its origin.

Mysticism is an offshoot of Hinduism which arose out of nature-worship as is clear from the Hindu mythology: every natural phenomenon such as wind, rain, lightning, fire, seasons, dawn, dusk etc. had a god or goddess behind it to complete the cycle of nature, and deserved worshipping by the human beings.
From nature-worship arose the Hindu attitude of philosophical contemplation about the origin of the universe. All major principles of mysticism owe their origin to the Hindu cogitation. The oases of rational wisdom are so numerous in the vast desert of Hindu myths and superstitions that one cannot ignore their beneficence to mankind. Particularly, to mysticism, they made the following contributions:

1. God and matter are both eternal.
2. The universe consists of illusory phenomena and God is the reality behind them. (This principle was adopted by the Greek philosophers such as Plato).
3. Since God is behind every phenomenon, everything is the same in origin, and proves the doctrine of "Unity in All".
4. Everything has Atman, an inner self or soul, and the ultimate object of every soul is to seek union with Brahman (God).
5. The way to seek union is through yoga, which is a combination of asceticism and personal devotion.
6. Words have inner meanings which are beyond the understanding of ordinary people who must have a guru (mentor) to lead the way to achieve this goal.
7. God is transcendent and the only reality; He is more easily sought through symbolism than abstract precepts.

Influence of the Hindu mysticism has been immense on all major religions Even Buddhism, which came into being as a protest against Hinduism, seeks Nirvana (the State of Bliss) despite the fact that neither it believes in God nor in soul. Moslem mystics advocate the doctrine of Fana or self-annihilation and merging with God; Christians seek mystical union i.e. the faithful uniting with the Christ.

Mysticism and Semitic religions

In fact, mysticism is contrary to the fundamental principle of Christianity and Islam which believe in a creator God; all matter is created and the relationship between God and man is the same as between a master and slave who will be resurrected in his original body on the Day of Judgement to account for his deeds. Therefore, mystical principles: "Unity in All" and "Union of soul with God" are alien to these religions, yet, to a large extent, they have become the pillars of these faiths. Why?

Concept of unity

"Revealed" religions are based on bigotry, and hatred of non-believers. People are made to believe in them through brainwashing, bribe of paradise and threat of hell. It is against human nature, which despite many infirmities, seeks love, fairness and trust. Mysticism is the condition of being in love which is the fountain of growth and stability. The object of love is not money rank or prestige, but the fellow-man. This is what makes mysticism the practical annotation of "Unity in All". Love is unity and unity is love; without being the ambassador of love, mysticism cannot visualise and feel "one-in-all" and "all-in-one". It is this principle which makes a mystic a cosmopolitan who sincerely believes in the family of man. The fact that all religions despite being staunch holders of their dogmas, have stealthily adopted the mystical principles, clearly shows the relevance of mysticism to humanity and thus makes it the true faith of mankind.

Core of mysticism

One must realise that mystical love is not a heap of verbiage, magic of rhetoric or the golden art of tongue-lashing; it is an ever-burning lamp of concern yearning to illumine the dark labyrinth of human sorrow with rays of hope, happiness and hilarity. Sincerity is the cornerstone of mysticism; the urge to seek salvation through serving mankind and helping the less fortunate, is its driving force. A mystic is tolerant of the intolerant, a friend of the friendless and a helper of the helpless. He is harmonious in feeling and acting, and is the agent of harmony which purifies the social environment, conducive to the birth of souls. Without sincerity, mysticism is as unimaginable as growth of crops without sun and rain, wedding without a bride or bridegroom, or rainbow without colours.

Internal fountain of eternity

Mysticism is an intuitive affair. The primitive man believed in a Super Being but not through any rational analysis of his surroundings; his inadequacy and helplessness gave him the unconscious impetus to seek adequacy and independence, thus convincing him that there is a higher state of living reserved for the higher beings This is what suffused his mind with the idea of gods and goddesses who are greater entities and immune from the dread of disease and death. Man's search for eternity, thus springs from within himself, and external factors only serve to intensify this desire.

Man, the microcosm

Whatever is outside, principally exists inside man. In fact, man's interior is far more complex and superior to the exterior world. It is because man is the most highly evolved being and, therefore, the best representation of the reality. Thus true exploration of the reality starts within man and not outside. This is the essence of mysticism, and this is the reason that man has been called the "microcosm,' and sages have repeatedly instructed the seekers of truth: "Look into thyself'' Therefore, the way of God is through the knowledge of one's self and not through science though it may help to understand the reality.

Harmony of souls and Godhead

What do you look for into yourself? You look for into yourself what you hold in common with the rest of your fellow-beings. One can claim that every person is different from others. I respect this view but the individual difference is not the difference of essence but difference of stress and intensity because in the last analysis we all (broadly speaking) want similar things to satisfy needs and desires which are fairly similar. This self-examination in relation to other people provides the clue to eternity, that is, if you respect the rights of your bretheren and help them in achieving their legitimate needs and desires as you do your own, you have identified yourself with the dignity of mankind and developed a sparkling love which is bound to assist a healthy growth of your personality - the guarantee of spiritual elevation. It is only this attitude which can lead to social harmony and cohesion. At this juncture, I must remind the reader what I have stated previously, that Godhead is a collective entity which arises from the harmony and cohesion of individual souls. This harmony which is the source of cohesion, is the personal trait of every soul. Thus the entity of Godhead depends upon the uniting ability of souls. In other words, the constitution of Godhead is not a forced one but spontaneous, emanating from the harmonious strength of the souls. It expresses the apex of morality or free will and shows that self-examination is a personal choice, and people cannot be coaxed or frightened into it by the attraction of heaven or repulsion of hell. Therefore, the lessons learnt from self-examination must be applied without any considerations of reward and punishment. Thus a mystic is above the positive law but bound by the higher rules of morality.

Self -purification

An equally important aspect of self-examination is purification of one's self. When you peep into the depth of yourself, you are bound to find that all is not well. What is healthy ought to remain untouched but what is ill must be remedied. After all, purpose of any examination is the assessment of one's soundness. If a person is not prepared to rectify the imbalance, it is futile to indulge in self-examination.

The act of self-purification is directly connected with others. I may think that I am righteous and wise, but do other people have the same opinion of me? If they hold me in contempt, I have no right to think of myself otherwise. Why do people have a low opinion of me? What is the depth of their hatred? How do they come to the conclusions, as they do? Thus, what in psychology is called ``introspection", in mystical terms is an examination of one's self in relation to Others. However, it is not an exercise in changing other people's opinions through appearance and deceit but a process of self-reformation to be really good. Hypocrisy is the exact antithesis of mysticism This brings us back to the basic issue that mysticism is about one's relationship with one's fellow-beings, and the test of fellowship lies in one's practical affection for others and the actual good that one has done to them. Thus mysticism is not for a recluse or an ascete; it is an honour reserved for the dedicated, devout and divine and not for the devious, devilish and disconcerting.

Brotherhood of man

Again, this relationship is not restricted to individuals or even the society; its repercussions extend to the social and natural environment. Do one's actions add to the social values or debase them? How do one's attitudes affect the natural environment: do they inspire love of nature and its beauty or do they lead to its material exploitation? This point is very important because a mystic believes: "all is one and one is all", and the love for man falls short of its magnitude without an expression of regard for all; after all, everything is interconnected for having the same origin. This is the philosophy that lies behind the brotherhood of man, nullifying the distinctions of race, colour and creed.

Unity of origin

Unity of origin is the underlying principle of the universe; the fact that this principle has been confirmed by the modern science, vouches for the veracity of mysticism. It means that particles, atoms, molecules, cells, trees, mountains, animals and people are not only inter-related but potentially one. At human level, this potential becomes intense. Throughout the range of evolution, chance and environmental factors play a considerable role, but at human stage, not only do these influences become less intense but, to a certain extent, give in to man's manipulative powers. Man's ability to invent, improve and modify seems to be unlimited. Take, for example, the ability to see. Normally, a person may see only a few yards or kilometres, but when he invents a telescope he can see millions of miles away and his microscope can make the invisible visible.

Human potential

This is an example of part realisation of man's physical potential but when we look into it more carefully, its spiritual aspect also emerges unmistakably. Take television, for instance. All of a sudden, you may see a dead singer performing on the screen. He sings and dances exactly the same way as he did, say, fifty years ago at a certain time. You cannot say that the artist is completely dead because a part of him in relation to his original performance still lives on. You may advance one hundred and one arguments to the contrary, but the fact remains that when that particular film is shown, he starts singing and dancing as he did fifty years ago; the beauty of it is that I can see and hear him. If he was completely dead, this would be impossible.

When talking about movies, one ought to remember that years ago we did not possess the knowledge of sound-recording. The older pictures show motions only but the modern films reveal sounds and even colours. This advance in technology proves the greater possibilities of living. One can dismiss this discussion by calling it a recording but it will be wrong because recording is a development of the technique which keeps a part of the person alive, at least in relation to a point in time; recording is the technique for keeping the (recorded) sound alive. The body is dead but its sound is still alive. Can you deny this?

A part of the artist, no matter how small, still lives on! Why? Because we have discovered the technique to do so. There is no magic or illusion in it. Had we developed a better technique, the more of the artist could have survived after his death. There is no way that one can reject this truth. In fact, it further proves that life-after-death is not a fairy tale but reality. All we have to do is to find out how we can live forever. Thus eternity is a part of developing the human potential.

The right development of the human potential is the main concern of mysticism because the wrong development of this potential can turn man into the wildest beast. The carnages that have been carried out throughout history in the name of religion and national prestige, allude to this fact; modern stockpiles of lethal weapons, claims of tactical superiority, neglect of the helpless by the capable, pollution of the environment for economic gains, are some further examples of this truth. In a nutshell, man has the potential to be God or Devil: it all depends upon how he develops his potential.

Unity of end

Even if one does not believe in life-after-death, belief in eternity is the more appropriate way of developing one's potential for two reasons: firstly, it has a hope value which supplies a psychological cause for carving a life compatible with higher standards of humanity. Secondly, as argued earlier, there is no scientific proof that evolution ends with man. If evolution is to continue, then life-after-death is a must. However, life-after-death is not possible without the formation of soul, the germ of new and the best life, which solely depends upon higher morality. This new eternal life emanates from the rightly developed human potential. One very important point to remember is, that Godhead is not constituted by one soul; it is a union of countless souls each having the ability to live and act in perfect harmony. Therefore, Godhead is as much a collective affair as it is an individual one. This is why mysticism is based on philanthropy, the love and care of mankind because this is the only way that one can improve the chances of righteousness by minimising man's worries which are likely to lead him astray and thus reduce his chances of attaining eternity. And it is for this reason that in the previous chapters, I have attempted the outline of a social order seeking the realisation of a mystic's goal. This collective aspect of Godhead demonstrates that man's unity of origin determines his unity of end. Mysticism is the only, and true religion of mankind.

Abuse of mysticism

Unfortunately, nothing has been subjected to greater abuse than mysticism. The abuse lies in:
a. the extreme austerity and the cynical philosophy attributed to it, and
b. the unmystical methods of achieving the mystical goals.
a. To start with, all that is projected as mysticism may not be so but exactly the Opposite.

Take Shamanism, for example. It is supposed to be a branch of mysticism because a shaman ("he who knows") is believed to be an ecstatic figure who has the power to heal the sick and communicate with the transcendent, he also has the authority to act as psychopomp, that is, escort of souls to the other world. A shaman is more an object of fear than respect; his power to communicate with spirits makes people believe that he is in a position to harm those who annoy him. This type of belief equips him with social and political prestige and ordinary folks pray to him for guidance during sickness and bad times.

This type of analogy holds good with fake mysticism which is a lucrative spiritual business based on presence, deceit and trickery. The Indian subcontinent is the most flourishing ground for such hypocrisy. In Pakistan, a mystic is called "Sufi". Though sufism is the exact antithesis of Islam, a sun is considered a holyman with the powers to heal, tell future, communicate with the departed souls and arrange paradise for the sinners - of course, like the shaman, for a financial consideration. The suns are also courted by the politicians who want these religious mentors (Pirs) to guide their hordes of followers (Mureeds) to vote for them.

Yoga

With this spiritual fraud goes the cynical philosophy, originally propounded by some Hindu sages. They hold that soul is sacred and body is profane, and thus advocate the complete emaciation of the latter to free soul from its captivity. This was the belief held by Plato and his followers. This is the reason that Plotinus was "ashamed of being in the body". To secure release of soul from body, the so-called mystics prescribed mortification of the latter, against all biological principles. Take yoga, for instance. It is a philosophy in its own right based on Samkhya which holds that the world has come into being stage by stage through an evolutionary process. The person desiring release of soul must reverse his temporal process to dephenomenalise himself to the extent of discarding his body so that his soul can re-enter its original state of purity and consciousness.

Yoga is a theistic philosophy but the achievement of its goal depends upon a very severe discipline. Altogether, it has eight stages. I should mention here a few to state its case: the first two, called Yama and Niyama, concern self-restraint to prepare the novice for purification by prescribing total sexual abstention and a strict dietry control. The third stage, Asana, deals with sitting and its various postures lasting a long time without physical distractions, and the fourth stage, Pranayama, teaches the technique of stabilising the rhythm of breathing to encourage complete respiratory relaxation. The last stage, Samadhi or "selfcollectedness,', means that the yogi (practitioner of yoga) is no longer aware of anything but his self, and is thus supposed to have achieved complete release from all the secular bonds.

The yoga postures and breathing techniques used in the west are very mild and physically beneficial forms of its Indian model which leads to the destruction of its practitioner through paralysis of the body and destabilization of the mind Having lost his rational faculties, he finds a distinct departure in his manner of speaking and acting. Since he ceases to possess any appetite - sexual, social political or financial, people treat him as a saint, believing that he can grant them temporal wishes and pave the way for their spiritual betterment.

Body and mind

The purpose of the body seems to be the creation of a fairly autonomous psychological system called "mind" without which man is no better than an inferior animal. It hardly needs stating that only a healthy body contains a healthy mind. The diseased, debilitated and decimated body warps and distorts the mind for not being able to provide it with proper nourishment. People become delirious for having a temperature; even a minor injury or hunger may upset one's thinking and behavioural manners.

Body, the greatest shrine

Not only the condition of the body affects its psychological performance but even physical appearance influences it through the prospects of acceptance or rejection. This is the reason that a deformed person feels spurned; an ugly woman feels less desirable and seeks the assistance of make-up to enhance her sex appeal. The things spiritual are closely connected with bodily attraction; the verve of a poet, painter and sculptor, and the cultural role of physical beauty - all explain this point. Therefore, body is not to be emaciated but appreciated and elevated. This is the greatest shrine in relation to an individual and deserves more reverence than any other object. One's potential-to-be lies in it. By disturbing and destroying it, you disturb and destroy its essence, the soul. Does sour milk yield butter? Does a crippled horse win the race? Can a broken arm feed the mouth? Thus mortification and asceticism are entirely unmystical:

a. Mysticism means probing of one's self, love of mankind and the search for eternity through serving fellow beings. If one is determined to destroy one's self there is left nothing to probe into, and renunciation of society deprives an ascete or hermit of the chance to serve his fellow-men.
b. With profound apology and respect to the practitioners of yoga and similar disciplines, I dare say that most of such "mystics" use mysticism to gratify their physical and sexual appetites. This brings me to discuss part ``b" of this problem, namely, the unmystical methods of achieving the mystical goals. Of course, yoga is a philosophy as well as practice, which though partly erroneous, deserves our respect for its sincerity. By the said "methods", I mean the shameful contrivances of the self-professed mystics.

Tanterism
(Sexual union and salvation)

A deviation of yoga is its esoteric form called Tanterism. There are two types Of Tanterism - Hindu and Buddhist. I am explaining my point of view with reference to the Hindu Tanterism. It is a system of esoteric practices aiming to secure spiritual goal through purification of the body. The stress is laid on rites, rituals and black magic to woo gods and goddesses. The theoretical structure of the Tanterism is based on the Hindu philosophy. It holds that the Supreme Reality is non-dual but consists of two aspects, namely, Siva (masculine) and Sakti (feminine): the former represents pure consciousnes and transcendent passivity and the latter concerns mental activity. However, realization of the truth in terms of Siva-Sakti and the Supreme Being lies within the human body which is an epitome of the universe. In fact, it is a "search for God" through free sex. The adroitness of satisfying carnal desires is simply stunning. A theory has been devised to gratify sexual appetites in the name of divinity. It holds that the spinal cord is the representation of the fabulous Mt. Meru, and its three main nerve connections (Ida, Pingala and Susumna) represent the three sacred Indian rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Sarasvati. Breathing plays the role of time in the human microcosm. Sakti, the female force, is also called Kundalini i.e. "the earringed one" which happens to be a name of the Goddess Kali. It lies serpentwise, coiled and dormant in the lowest psychic centre of the body. A tube known as Susumna runs through the spine, past the six centres i.e. Cakra (wheel) of increasing psychic power. Sahasrara, the most potent of these centres is located just under the skull and is pictured as a lotus of a thousand petals. The entire problem of salvation is solved when the Kundalini is awakened and united with the Sahasrara.

The five pillars of sexual salvation

How is union of the Kundalini and Sahasrara affected? It is done through some unconventional practices called Pancamakaras, the five things beginning with the letter "M", namely, Madya, Mamsa, Matsya, Mudru and Maithuna; in simple English it means, respectively, wine, meat, fish, female partner and sexual union. To qualify as a yogic process, thought to be the only true method culminating in the union of soul and God, the sexual union must not seek pleasurable completion of the sex act. It is claimed that it creates a condition of lofty suspense which totally arrests all mental processes, leading to the mystical sense of oneness with the Supreme Being! For encouraging women to attend sacred orgies, they are revered as the manifestations of Sakti, and men are thought of as the representations of the god, Siva. With a view to enhancing the excitment of the sexual act and giving it the authenticity of mystical sanctity, use is made of Yantras (ritual mystic diagrams) and Mantras (mystic syllables or formulas).

Christian mystical love

However' fulfillment of erotic dreams is not confined to the Hindu and Buddhist mystics. The mystics belonging to other religions equally think of divine love in erotic terms and express it through symbolism based on the analogy of human love and marriage. In Christianity, St Bernard is worthy of mention. He has shown that the mystery of grace and union is moved forward by the carnal, filial and nuptial love of man. The Christian mystics have looked upon both Church and the faithful to be Christ's brides! St. Teresa speaks of the love bond between herself and God "as two human beings are joined in wedlock and will never separate Himself from her".

Islamic mystical love

The major mystics or suns Islam have expressed similar ideal of love. The first of them was Rabia Al Adawiah, a woman from Basra. Ibn al Arabi believed in symbolism; when in Mecca, he became acquainted with a girl of great beauty He used her as a symbol to express his love for God; his love poetry is highly erotic.

Jalal ud Din Rumi whose didactic epic "Masnavi" is said to be the "Quaran in Persian", sought divine love through symbolism. He had several male loves his first love was Shams ud Din. Rumi loved him so much that the members of his household became jealous of Shams. His sons are said to have had Shams murdered and buried; his second love was another man called Salah ud Din, an illiterate goldsmith, and after his death, yet another man, Hasam ud Din Chelebi became his spiritual love and deputy.

Summary of mystical vision

Because of the significance of this chapter, I may recapitulate what I have stated so far:
1. Mysticism is not only the culmination of the mysterious human desire to live forever, but also the search for the ETERNAL.
a. God, the ETERNAL, is the apex of man's glory. No man, no God, is the basic thesis of true mysticism.
b. God is the greatest mystery; its solution lies within one's self and not outside.
2. The ultimate goal of life is not the union of soul with God but with other souls because Godhead itself is the union of souls.
3. Formation of soul depends upon the righteousness of deeds, and not on faith intercession or grace. It is both an individual and collective affair, and its collective side demonstrates the spiritual value of one's social conscience in relation to eternity.
a. Owing to the fundamental importance of the social conscience, mysticism ceases to be the only channel to Godhead because an honest atheist walking on the road of social conscience reaches its natural destination, which is eternity. However, the path of mysticism is like the metalled highway embellished by evergreen fruit-bearing trees frequently punctuated with fountains of sweet water whereas the road that an atheist follows runs through a hot desert having a few oases only. This difference arises from the fact that a mystic is conscious of a definite goal which inspires him, whereas an honest atheist walks towards God without acknowledging Him. The former's find is purposeful and carries the reward of joy associated with a serious quest whereas the latter's discovery is accidental and lacks the delight of conscious effort.
4. Sincerity and love constitute the foundation of mysticism. Without these elements, mysticism is a word without meaning, a body without blood, a singer without voice, a dancer without feet, a bridegroom without desire.
5. Mysticism is the natural religion of mankind, and is free from the pollutions of race, colour and creed.
6. Mysticism is about looking into one's self in relation to others.
7. A mystic's love is not confined to the fellow-beings but extends beyond - to the natural environment. This is the principle that lies behind the "unity of origin".
8. Mysticism is as much concerned with man's unity of end as it is with his unity of origin.
9. Cynical philosophy and extreme austerity form no part of mysticism. On the contrary mysticism requires the fulfillment of all legitimate desires in a morally acceptable manner.
10. One's body is the greatest shrine, mystically; one must keep it in sound condition through reverence and care.

Rules of mysticism

The above points sum up the essence and form of mysticism. A mystic is not addicted to any particular appearance such as filthy looks, long hair, full beard, rosary, bangles, shepherd's crook, loose clothes, and so on. If this is how he wants to look, it is not due to any ostentation but humility. Equally, he may be cleanshaven, fragrant and smartly dressed. He is not a cynic, and possesses good hedonistic and aesthetic tastes but satisfies them with probity and restrained passion. Moral precepts such as not to kill, not to lie, not to seduce etc., are well known to him, and he practices them faithfully. However, what makes a man a mystic is his belief in the following rules which he practices with all the sincerity at his disposal. The rules have been known to mankind since its inception:
1. Love thy fellow-men without any regard to race, colour or creed. Do what you can to reduce their misery by way of financial or personal help, as your circumstances may permit. There is no virtue greater than philanthropy.
2. Do not do to others what you do not want to be done to yourself.
3. Compare your today with your yesterday. Check yourself objectively why your today is not as good, or better than yesterday, and try to remedy the situation.
4. Stand up for your legitimate rights because neglect of rights leads to servitude. But make sure what you think legitimate is really legitimate.
5. Liberty is the greatest virtue because without it, free will, the cornerstone of humanity' cannot be exercised. Liberty is more than one's personal liberty; it means genuine respect for other people's liberty as well.
6. Give everybody his due, that is, give benefit of doubt; a person may be doing wrong because he is a religious fanatic, because he is depressed by circumstances, because he is ignorant of facts, because he has been instigated falsely, and so on.
7. Earn your loaf honestly and diligently, instead of robbing others.
8. Learn to relax. Too much hurry, too much greed, too much ostentation - in fact, too much of anything coupled with the burning desire to grab it instantaneously, is the source of mental and spiritual instability. If excessiveness of ambitions makes you unhappy, learn to be contented with what you have or set your goals in a way which does not disturb the relaxed posture of your mind. This is the secret of real happiness; do not barter it for the realisation of false dreams.

Take up a hobby which pleases you. Once it starts making a demand on your time, you will reduce your worrying activities to relax frequently.

Hospitality is yet another virtue to conquer problems of hurry, worry and haste However, I shall describe it later.

Search for a friend

9. Find a friend, especially outside your family circle. Better still, find someone outside your racial and social group. A friend is not the person whose wife you want to seduce or want to borrow money from or who can help you with your business or career. You befriend a person for his or her qualities. A good friend is the person who will stand by you in hour of need without being asked and without any expectation; he is someone whose chest is the graveyard of your secrets; he will neither molest you nor will he befriend your molesters. If you are lucky to find someone outside your own racial and social group, try to be like him instead of converting him. If he is below your rank, show him respect and kindness so that he can overcome his inferiority complex. Friends are always equal irrespective of what they look like, and disparity of wealth and social position.

Friendship is the most beautiful but delicate thing and may not last without a great deal of mutual trust, care, understanding and tolerance. Sincerity is the keyword and love is its true embellishment. A boozing pal or a workmate is not a friend but an associate.

True friendship means that you have conquered the barrier created by mistrust, intolerance and hatred, and laid a path founded on mutual good will. This is the way of the mystic.

Friendship is not formal but intimate, relaxed and homely. You can never befriend a person who makes you feel uneasy. Friendship is a cure for loneliness and all its evils. Your friend is your spiritual part; he doubles your personality by reinforcing your sense of security with his loyal support and unfaltering goodwill. Friendship is a revolt against selfishness because it is a bond of mutual care.

Friendship is forgiveness; if you are not capable of forgiving, then friendship is not for you. Learn to be content with yourself.

Like all precious things, a true friend is hard to come by. Search for a friend is full of frustration; you will come across showboys, arrogants, misfits, cheats and hypocrites. However, the traveller who gives up the journey to his dreamland for fear of highwaymen or inclemencies of weather will never attain his goal, but the one who keeps marching towards his destination despite all the mishaps is likely to reach there.
The search for a genuine friend is sweet, sacred and supreme. It is a symbol of love and sincerity which forms part of harmony leading to the formation of soul. If you are lucky enough to have a good friend, don't lose him through ignorance' misunderstanding or intolerance. Forgiveness is the cure for these infirmities. Do not let your false pride stand in the way. Giving is better than receiving in friendship, but a true friend does not expect anything in return nor is he ashamed of accepting a sincere gift, no matter how small, from a friend of tiny social stature.

Hospitality

Most of our psychosomatic worries and illnesses emanate from modern civilization which measures everything in terms of material benefits and does not appreciate spiritual values like friendship. Be hospitable and learn to relax in the company of your friends. When you invite them, do not be ostentatious. Offer them what you can by way of drink and food. Do not have large gatherings: your company must be confined to those who qualify as companions. It is wrong to offer hospitality to a friend, expecting him to invite you in return. A true friend remembers his obligations; he will invite you of his own free will, and not because he owes you a meal. Remember, every friend may not have the means to invite you back.

Hospitality seeks no return, and if it does, then it is not hospitality.

10. Seek accord with nature. After all, man is a part of it. More accurately, the entire universe is a part of man's family; he has evolved from the same particles as rivers, lakes, streams, springs, forests, mountains, birds and animals. Being the most highly evolved, and thus, the most exalted, he has a duty of care towards the natural environment. The nature is a mirror of his excellence; he must look at it more frequently through a genuine association. It cannot fail to inspire awe and self-reverence in man. A mystic tries to translate this awe and reverence through his character. Once he has done so, he is on his way to embrace Godhead.

Meditation

Finally, I must state that meditation is an integral part of mysticism; dietry discipline and rituals also play a part in the psychological satisfaction of a mystic as the white gown of a doctor and red robe of a judge influence patients and litigants. Description of such details has worried me all the time that I have been writing this book. I am in a big dilemma. If I specify the meditative details and rituals, then I am indirectly projecting myself as a god or guru. I am nothing of the sort; I am just an ordinary human who is not free of blame but trying to discharge his duty towards his fellow-beings. On the other hand, if I neglect this point completely, then I have left the conscientious reader in the lurch. This is especially true because, once upon a time, I did practice mysticism, and I know it works. Therefore, I shall say just a few words about this subject without pretending to be a messenger or messiah.

Meditation is an ancient Indian practice and is common to both Hindus and Buddhists. Now it has been taken up by mystics of other religions such as suns of Islam. Instead of describing the aims and methods of other mystics, I shall give my own views:

Meditation is the practice of the basic mystical principle: "look into thyself". Its purpose is to enable the seeker to seek himself through his self. Though this search is conducted by concentration on many media such as colour and light or other exercises, namely, the consciousness of infinity of space or unconsciousness of reality, the easier and more effective method is to concentrate on one's self and recite "Lord, Lord" or "God, God" to intensify one's concentration.

Essence of meditation

However, the most important point of recitation is, that "Lord, Lord" or "God, God" does not refer to the traditional God but to yourself as the future component of Godhead. It ought to make you conscious of your divine dignity which you must express through deeds in ordinary life. If you practice convenience or cookery in your routine affairs and make a show of piety during recitation, you are not meditating but indulging in hypocrisy which is the exact antithesis of mysticism. You will do well to discard it but if you think that you are improving gradually, keep doing it until virtuous aspect of your personality starts dominating your weaker side.

I never found any solace in "breath control" or "discipline of postures". These exercises, in fact, benumb consciousness of yourself and impair your intellectual capacities whereas the purpose of meditation is to enhance your intuitive as well as rational powers so that you can knowingly attune yourself with the divine aspect of yourself. Therefore, ease of posture is essential because painful posture leads to distraction. The right posture for you is the one that makes you comfortable and helps you concentrate. It is for you to decide whether you want to meditate by sitting, standing or lying.

Concentration and aids

Though not always, concentration usually requires aids. Even when you concentrate on yourself, you may need an object. This is a paradox but there is no contradiction in it:
Place a large mirror in front of you, assuming that you are sitting cross-legged or even on a chair. Put a burning candle behind you in an elevated position in such a way that it reflects itself into the mirror somewhere parallel to your nose. Concentrate on it reciting the "Lord, Lord" or "God, God" without forgetting that you are referring to your own divine dignity. Your concentration should be intense enough so that after some practice, the reflection of the candle disappears and you see your own reflection only. However, if you can't eliminate the flame, do this exercise without the candle, by concentrating just on your own reflection. Once you have mastered this art, you will find that your image disappears. This suits a practitioner of yoga who aims at unconsciousness of reality but not to someone like yourself who is trying to see himself through his self. Your image must always be there. To make sure that it is there, give your exercise a temporary break, and resume it after a short while. However, the most important point is, that your image replaces the mirror itself, that is, though initially you look at yourself through your reflected image, eventually you must be able to call your image without the aid of a mirror. Thus you must become your own companionat-will to reinforce yourself. Under no circumstances must you forget your divinity during the recitation, and, expressing it through righteous deeds in everyday life. Otherwise, you are engaged in an exercise of self-deception.

No drugs

Again, your diet has a bearing on your physical and mental discipline. Eat and drink what you like, but do it with moderation, and occasionally, sparingly. Do not resort to drugs or get addicted to alcoholic drinks for securing ecstacy. These remarks equally apply to dancing or head-shaking. Devices such as these are meant to impair your intelligence to convert you into a "believer".

Cleanliness and good dressing

I certainly have no wish to prolong this discussion but must add that it gives a feeling of exhuberance to be thoroughly clean and well dressed when meditating. Use of flowers and fragrant surroundings enhances the zest of the experience. And it brings success much earlier if you put aside some money to give it to the less fortunate. It should accompany each meditation though you don't have to give it away immediately. Let it accumulate and then distribute it, say, once a month. Remember, the money you have set aside is no longer yours; it belongs to the sick and the needy. Give to the best of your ability. If you can't give money, set aside so much time to help the sick and the old.

Frequency of meditation

It is nice to meditate twice a day - once in the morning and once in the evening. If it is not possible, then do it once a day or every other day, and if it is still too much, do it at least once a week. If this is not possible, then meditation is not for you. The duration of meditation depends upon your power of concentration; it may last from one minute to an hour. If you can prolong it for ten minutes each session, you have done well. Remember, concentration means emptying your mind of everything except your object of meditation, that is, yourself. Also bear in mind that it takes several years before the meditative efforts bear fruit.

A warning

However, I must warn you about the supernatural tales that the so-called yogis and suns have invented. While in human body, all your abilities stay commensurate with your physical existence. You will not be able to perform miracles or forecast future events. These are the hobbies of impostors and tricksters. What you will get is an extraordinary understanding of life suffused with peace, calm and conciliation. No matter what your circumstances, you will find ripples of delightful serenity rising in you most of the time. You will feel lifted above the ordinary level of life where differences of race, colour and creed disappear. you will feel proud and fortunate that you are a human, free of scepticism and certain of the Final Truth. One thing you must not forget; this condition of the mind lasts only as long as you are really righteous. The moment you bid goodbye to sincerity you lose it. Believe me that this loss is a dreadful experience, it is like falling from a tall tree onto a bed of stiff, pointed thorns.

Apology and repentance

However, minor follies can be rectified through sincere apologies or voluntary compensation to the offended. Repentance, if genuine, should go a long way to retrieve your divine dignity but repentance is the medicine which usually works once only. If you commit sins habitually, hoping that repentance will eradicate their aftermath, you are simply fooling yourself. However, charity and hospitality being divine virtues, have an immense value. They may not restore the spiritual stature gained through meditation but a charitable and hospitable person is blessed in his own right. If you are a philanthropist, you will undoubtedly attain Godhead. And philanthropy is not restricted to financial deeds, it also means physical help. Meditation is the path for those who want to attune themselves with the Divine while still wearing the mantle of bones and flesh. For the man in the street, a fair conduct based on goodwill towards the fellow beings is enough provided the goodwill is active and not a show of words. It means, it matters not what a person's religion or opinions, he is likely to achieve Godhead if he has actively and consciously contributed to the advancement of social order with a view to enhancing liberties and reducing pain, poverty and persecution. If he has suffered to promote this aim, his spiritual reward is sure to multiply beyond reckoning.

Curse of fundamentalism

However, bigotry, orthodoxy and fundamentalism being anti-humanitarian in practice, constitute a heavy burden on conscience and act as a barrier to the formation of soul. These haters of mankind cannot attain Godhead which is the manifestation of love and harmony.

To be human is the greatest honour that there is, but it is as vulnerable to fundamentalism as beauty is to age, flowers to frost and chastity to seduction.

Postscript

The reader is entitled to ask me:
1. Who am I?
and
2. Why have I written this book?

1. I am simply nobody. In fact, I am worse than many and better than none. Yet I have written this book which is didactic in essence and form.
2. Why? It is a long story. If I tell in detail, the reader may think that I am trying to join the league of gods and gurus through the backdoor. Of course, this thought gripped me for many years but I knew at heart that there is no truth in revelation, and it is wrong to proclaim one's superiority over one's fellow-beings by threatening them with hell and coaxing them with the fiction of heaven. It was a great temptation which lasted for several years. Despite many drawbacks I am glad to say that I had the good fortune of resisting this evil desire and it took a long struggle to conquer this passion. Even then, I thought I had no qualification to write such a complex book of universal concern. Treating myself the victim of my own fantasies, I decided not to think about the subject anymore. But I was wrong. I started having terrible nightmares, all related to this topic. It appeared to me that unless I wrote this book, I would eternally suffer from excruciating dreams. Yet at the same time, I questioned myself: "Why me? Why shouldn't someone better qualified undertake this project?".

Then one day it dawned on me that as revelation is a falsehood, writing such a book is not the privilege of a Messiah or Messenger but the concern of an ordinary mortal like myself. It strengthened my belief that gods, gurus, messiahs and messengers are the cause of man's spiritual destruction because their claims to divinity have distracted him from the right path. As a result, human beings have fallen victims to the dominance urge of these self-appointed divines. Thus they are likely to face spiritual extinction, and stand no chance of eternity. This is what gave me the strength to write this book. The day I decided to do so, I stopped having nightmares.

It is not my intention to offend anyone. However, I apologise to the believers of all shades. I shall be prepared to modify the contents of this book if they can show me that I have misquoted or misinterpreted their scriptures.

Finally, I ought to add that I should have included a discussion on the relationship between the opposite sexes because their mutual attitudes exert an immense influence on social harmony. I, therefore, intend to publish my views on the subject, by the Autumn of 1991, under the title: SEXUAL CONFLICT.

Anwar Shaikh,
1st June, 1990

Glossary

During the discussion on metaphysics, I could not find appropriate words to express certain thoughts. Again, I realised that some existing words did not help in conveying the intended purpose. Therefore, I had to extend their meaning in addition to coining a few new ones.

SOUL: Metaphorically, it is the rebirth of a purified and elevated ego. In terms of physics, it represents the evolutionary process which turns particles into atoms, and atoms into cells. Soul is the apex of this sequence. Harmony is its chief trait which enables it to unite with other souls to create Godhead.

SOULOSPHERE: I have defined mind as spiritual environment of the brain. The spiritual environment attains the dignity of soulosphere when, through a process of self-purification, it becomes capable of giving birth to a soul.
It is akin to the physical phenomenon of geosphere changing into anthroposphere; the former refers to the solid part of the earth, e.g. rocks, etc., and the latter concerns the state that leads to the emergence of human life.

SPIRITUON: It refers to the imaginary small particles that constitute the spiritual environment and rank as spiritual cells. In terms of spiritual existence, it is like the tiny bits called "gravitons" which make up gravity or the photons which constitute light.

MAUI: Another name for God representing man's highest magnitude.

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