Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Path Towards Self-Realization: Part III


Stop Outward Searching
Once you have made a commitment to yourself to consciously search for the true meaning of life, and you know at least mentally, that the only way to find yourself is to look within yourself; now it is time to look at all the places you have been searching unsuccessfully for fulfillment, and examine the reasons why. On my journey, I have met many people who travel the world searching for their souls. Some of them will find it, I am certain, but they won’t find it in a pub, or on a train, or in the sunset. The moment they stop looking for happiness, is when they are sure to find it.
Many people think of love as the highest joy and fulfillment. But love as paradise is an illusion! People try time and time again to find completion in another human being. Time and time again, they are hurt because the other showed himself or herself to be imperfect. When you love someone’s good points and ignore their bad points, you are in love with a myth, which you have created. This is wonderful for a while; you are filled with passion and energy, like a divine madness. But you are looking through him, not at him. This is unfair to both of you. One day, you are forced to look at him as an imperfect human being with human weaknesses. The love you felt instantly vanishes. Instead of blaming yourself for having expected too much from him, you reject him and search for another person to give meaning and happiness to your life.
A long-lasting, happy relationship between two people who are trying to find perfect fulfillment in the other person is impossible. It is only when you are secure and happy within yourself that you can find harmony with another person. If you are balanced inside yourself, you have the strength to see others truly – to be able to look at their faults, but also beyond all their imperfections and see their magnificence! You can appreciate their whole being, and such a relationship will be meaningful, because you are not expecting the impossible. Not only does this type of love last, but it grows more beautiful with time.
Wanting to Save the World
Many people have aspirations and desires to save the world from corruption and misery.  This is quite natural, because the world is imperfect, and people do suffer. But I suggest that the struggles between nations and societies are nothing more than a reflection of all the personal struggles of individuals. If people were at peace with themselves, there would be no need to gain wealth and power at the expense of other people’s freedom and well-being.
There are so many people who have tried, and are still trying to unify the world, and all of them have failed. They say, “Forget your ego and join our cause.” But they are only chopping at the branches, not at the root of the problem. For as long as people are at war with themselves, they will never be able to be at peace with others for any length of time. As long as people are feeling unfulfilled, they will keep trying to gain as much power or as many possessions as they possibly can, in order to feel more secure about themselves.
I am suggesting that often, in trying to organize and change others for the good of humanity, you are conveniently avoiding having to look at the problems inside yourself. 
How can you hope to save society if you can’t even save yourself? Society is made up of individuals like yourself, all struggling to find happiness and completeness. As long as you are not at peace with yourself, you are acting out of fear and anger, the root of all evil. You want to save the world, but it is only because you are afraid to die, or because you are angry at what others have taken from you. Obviously, the world is imperfect. But fighting out of anger has never brought about peace, and it never will.
The important thing to do is first to rid yourself of your fears and your anger, by going inside and finding the root of your individual problems. Then you will have the wisdom and courage to truly help others. “It is better to conquer the self than to win a thousand battles, for then, the triumph is yours.”
Go Inside
The way to come to terms with yourself is to look at yourself. This seems fairly obvious, but people really have problems listening to what their inner voices are saying to them. I personally have this problem especially when it comes to knowing when to rest. I wear myself out, always working too hard, and then wanting to go out and have fun – while my whole inner self is screaming at me: “This is too much stress for me to handle! Please just go home and do nothing for a while!” But I am driven by guilt, or anger, or perhaps a desire to prove something, and so I push myself beyond physical and mental capacity until my body reacts against my will with headaches, illness, and complete exhaustion. Then my mind starts feeling like it’s going bananas, and my emotions act up so I get hysterical over silly incidents, or I get totally depressed and I can no longer function: all because I didn’t listen to my inner voices – my own intuition about what’s best for me. That’s one problem I am working to overcome, through meditation and relaxation, and just learning to live sensibly!
When I say “voices,” I am referring to feelings coming from the Psyche deep within. These voices are also known as intuition, or ESP, or commonly as guilt, anxiety, or a vague longing. When responded to properly, these voices will guide you through every step of your personal evolution. By listening to them, you can learn a great deal about yourself and others. Don’t repress these feelings! Lack of attention to these voices will result in dissatisfaction, depression, and mental instability. One has to develop the ability to perceive these voices and decode their messages. The best way is to practice! So start listening!
For example, if you are feeling a vague sense of guilt, the thing to do is figure out why you are feeling guilty, and what you can do to relieve yourself of it. This will vary. You may need to repent and make amends, or you may need to realize that you are being neurotic and simply forgive yourself. In order to respond to your inner voices appropriately, you first have to be able to separate yourself from the situation and be able to look at it objectively. This is the only way to overcome the natural defenses, which keep you from hearing the voices clearly and receiving internal guidance.
[to be continued...]

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Path to Self-Realization: Part II

March 20, 2014 by  

Why Can’t We Find Ourselves?
foto-derzhas-za-zeml-13760616274984If Psyche, or our true, inner self, resides within each one of us, WHY do we still feel unsure, afraid, incomplete? All the secrets of the universe lie in our unconscious, so why don’t we know all the answers? Only by breaking through the false ego can we liberate Psyche and awaken dormant truths.
People think they want to know the Truth, but they are (with good reason) terrified of letting go of their preconceived notions and their ideas of self-worth. Because to show Psyche to our consciousness is to shed light on all our imperfections. It would force us to see how small we really are in comparison to the universe. It would destroy our sense of security based on the world as we perceive it to be. We would profoundly have to realize that all we trust to be fact, and all that we hold to be true is changeable as the weather. We would either have to seek life on a spiritual plane (and that means giving up a lot of things!), or be driven over the brink of insanity.
Most people would rather not be inconvenienced by these realizations. They prefer to live and not be bothered by divine truths and ideas incomprehensible to normal thought and understanding. Some people can live quite happily without discovering “the meaning of life.” That is fine for them. But others struggle in despair, longing and clutching at air, lost in dreams because they need so much to be fulfilled, but they are unable to find what they are in search of. These are the people for whom this essay is written. This essay is a meant as a guide for those who sincerely want to find themselves; to set Psyche free from the darkness which envelopes her.
You must be prepared to delve deep into the unconscious, and to go through a great deal of suffering, due not only to the realizations you make, but other people who do not understand what you are going through. People who you thought of as friends may reject you, but perhaps this is just as well. You will find out who your true friends are, because they will love you in spite of the changes you are going through, and they will give you strength and support.
Maybe you will find that you have no true friends at all. Now is your chance to find the strength to stand on your own; to quote Buddha: “Be ye a lamp unto thyself.” Once you have this light, you will be able to relate to others on a non-superficial basis. You’ll be able to give and receive honest love, and not feel as if you are losing something when you share yourself with others.
Where is Psyche Hiding?
The first thing you have to do is realize that no one is keeping the truth from you but yourself. Psyche is the perfection within all the imperfections. She is the motivating force which guides all our actions. Once in a while we feel her, when we let go of ourselves enough to be moved by a scriptural passage, a beautiful song, or gaze in pure bliss at the rising sun.
Psyche is always there, yet in order to protect ourselves from the terror and chaos a sudden revelation would bring, we cover her up with all sorts of natural defenses – unconscious drives and reactions, emotions which blind us to the true cause of our emotions (example: getting angry at your sister because your fiancĂ© hung up on you), intellect which causes us to rationalize and project the blame for our unhappiness (example: thinking you’d be truly happy if only you didn’t live in a capitalistic society, or if only Amy would fall in love with you, etc.).
Rational thought is a great wall which you must find your way around. The intellect is very useful in this world, but in order to realize universal truths, you must open your heart and mind to feelings and profound knowledge which are beyond intellectual grasp, simply because they deal with that which cannot be seen with the eyes or heard with the ears.
“I Am a Seeker”
After you realize that it’s your own defenses keeping you from the perfect fulfillment you seek, it’s time to take the first step on to the path towards finding your true self. That means admitting to yourself and to God that you are a seeker. Everybody is searching for happiness, but most people aren’t admitting it, and that is why they aren’t finding it!
Instead of saying, “I am searching for my soul,” they say, “If I can live in New York, I will be happy,” or “If I am rich,” or “If I fall in love with the perfect mate, I will be fulfilled.” But it never works out that way! Maybe they will have a decent life. Maybe they’ll get to own a DVD player and have a nice husband and three kids, but there will always be something missing, until they find unity and peace within themselves.
When a person has peace within himself, he is not bothered by the fact that he isn’t rich,  or he hasn’t accomplished anything that people have taken great notice of. Such a person has accomplished more than any of his peers who have big cars and fancy houses because he has the courage to look at himself and accept his faults or change them, instead of trying to hide them by putting down others, or having lots of friends to build up the ego (which usually just makes it more obvious that the person is insecure).
A person who knows and respects his true self has nothing to prove. A person who has found the true worth inside him knows that it has nothing to do with ego. A person who is at peace with himself loves and respects himself, and such a person loves and respects others also, because he knows that they are fundamentally no different than himself.
Such a person can love others without clinging to them. He doesn’t need others’ attention in order to feel good about himself. But at the same time, he doesn’t push away those who need him and cling to him because they sense his honesty and integrity, his love of all life. Such a person tries to help others find themselves, and encourages them to stand on their own two feet.
You want to be such a person, but you hold back. Why? In order to find yourself, to “set Psyche free,” you have to really want to. It is never easy, in fact it is a terrifyingly lonely task to undertake, because the journey must be made alone. There can be people who give you support and encouragement, they can point to the road and tell you where to go, but YOU must do the walking. YOU must make the commitment.
It is a hard journey no matter how long or short it takes, but you will find that, after you overcome your fears, the joy and bliss and the multitudes of treasures you find are infinite and precious. Once you find your true self, you never have to be miserable again, no matter what the circumstances! Enlightenment is not a one-time occurrence, but a constant process of growth and evolution, which goes on within you as long as you live, and beyond.
Inside you will blossom wisdom, compassion, joy – a pure radiance and immense love for the universe and the universal spirit, which guides and protects you along every step of the journey. You will discover and develop an inner strength, which cannot be destroyed; it will help you overcome every hardship and light up the darkness. You will find that nothing is impossible, that every dream can be realized.
[to be continued...]

The Path Towards Self-Realization

March 13, 2014 by  

Note: The following essay will be published in several parts. It was written in 1987 when I was 16 years old. After praying that I would find it, I recently discovered it in an old chest. I was moved to tears upon reading it, as I needed very much to be reminded of what originally inspired me to seek Truth, and eventually to embrace Islam. It explains how many people can recognize the wisdom of the Quran immediately, the first time it is read to them, like they would recognize the back of their hand. Please enjoy…
The Psyche
When asked, “Who are you?” most people respond similarly to this: “I am a man named Bob Smith, I am short and a little overweight. I am a computer technician. I am a nice guy.” These words describe Bob’s title, his physical and mental characteristics, and his occupation in society. But is that really WHO Bob Smith is?
Who are you? Are you merely the activities performed by your body, or are you something deeper than that? If you change your occupation or lose ten pounds, are you no longer the same person? Of course not! That’s ridiculous! There must be a being inside you who remains constant, no matter what mental or physical changes your body happens to go through. The identification with the body and ego instead of the soul is what leads to the fear of aging and death. It keeps us in a prison, which prevents us from knowing truths having nothing to do with our material body.
When you sleep, you are said to be your true self, for you are freed from intellectual and physical bondage. Your true self roams around in your subconscious, and you perceive this as “dreaming.” But where does this being go when you are awake? This being is you, yet is not confined to the physical realm. It perceives and experiences all that you do, yet is simultaneously a witness and judge of all your thoughts and activities. This being has the ability to wander around freely no matter what your body is doing. This being is your unconscious self. It reveals itself to your conscious mind through your conscience, your memory, your daydreams, etc.
This unconscious being is known as your soul, or “psyche.” In Greek mythology, Psyche is the daughter of sea and sky. Her form is a drop of dew upon the earth. This represents your spirit, which though residing in a physical form, is no different than the universal spirit. Each individual person has a psyche, and that is why humanity is said to be One, regardless of outer differences.
Deep inside each person is the psyche, who is a drop in the sea of what Carl Jung called the “Universal Consciousness.” This is the treasure-house of knowledge which is not confined to individual experience. Anais Nin wrote in her Diary: “The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.” This explains the similarity between religions of different cultures; the phenomena of knowing things which no one ever taught you – truths such as “I exist,” that you base your life on.
To tap into this unconscious knowledge, to bring the psyche into your consciousness is to become “enlightened.” When you bring your psyche out of the darkness of the unconscious, you awaken knowledge which has been lying dormant inside you. You become aware of ultimate realities and higher truths. Your true self is realized, and your purpose in life is revealed.
Psyche is also represented in another myth by the Holy Grail for which Parsifal searches. To find and hold onto the Holy Grail is to find perfect fulfillment of your heart’s true desires.
In order to cope with the wisdom attained by getting closer to Psyche, who resides in the center of our being, we must have strength and balance; a give and take between our conscious control and unconscious domination. The reason we are imbalanced is because we repress certain aspects of our personality. They are called “Shadow Elements” by Jung – the repressed or unlived sides of your total potentiality. A balanced personality is well-rounded; strong enough to delve deeper into the unconscious and bring out more profound realizations.
Each person has both masculine and feminine sides to their personality. The masculine side deals with the release of psychic energy by means of action, extroversion, and strength; building and leading groups. It reacts to problems with intellect and reason. Defenses are masculine traits, including the inner defenses, as well as the desire to protect others from harm.The masculine side depends on the feminine side for energy, inspiration and the meaning for all this action.
The feminine side of the personality takes in and transforms energy so that the masculine can release it or make something out of it. Feminine traits are perception, intuition, nurturing, organizing, life-giving, and endurance. It responds to problems emotionally. It is sensitive and delicate, and depends on protection from the masculine side.
In a balanced personality, action is guided by intuition. Both aspects are needed in life and for creation. For example: to draw a picture, you need to take in and transform an image in your mind, and then use action to draw what you see; combining feeling with doing.
The soul is beyond both masculine and feminine. It has no sex to speak of. However, because of its sensitive, life-giving qualities, the psyche is thought of as feminine, just as God is referred to as masculine because of His powerful, creating and ruling qualities.
Everyone is unbalanced to some extent, due to the fact that we are human and therefore imperfect. The realization of this imbalance is the first step towards balance. Although some extreme imbalances are more obvious than others, we all must work to bring our unconscious Shadow Elements into our consciousness.
One example of an extreme imbalance is the stereotypical “macho man.” Such a person concentrates totally on developing his masculine traits and ignores his gentler, feminine, emotional traits. Because he pushes his emotions into his unconscious, there they grow and transform into anger, which at times overwhelms him and leads to violent outbursts of rage. The other thing that happens when he represses his feminine, life-giving side is that he feels empty and his life devoid of meaning. He uses lots of women to try and replace his feminine side and so get a sense of well-being. Unfortunately, none of his relationships last because he isn’t accepting the woman as a human being with a personality. The inner feminine cannot be replaced by an outer feminine.
When you are balanced inside, you don’t need so much to rely on outer, unreliable means of support. You are able to break free from the life-long search for happiness, and the rebellion against one’s own true self. When you can bring your Shadow Side out of the unconscious and achieve the balance necessary for a well-rounded personality, you can then delve even deeper into the unconscious to find the psyche and the boundless wisdom she offers.
[to be continued...]

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

British Government Arrests Activist Moazzam Begg


Moazzam Begg, who was imprisoned at Guantánamo. Photograph: Murdo Macleod

Former Bagram and Guantanamo prisoner Moazzam Begg was re-arrested on February 26, 2014. On March 1 he was charged with training and aiding terrorists in Syria, to which he pleaded “Not Guilty.” Three other persons were similarly charged.
“All four arrests are connected,” said Detective Superintendent Shaun Edwards, “They were pre-planned and intelligence-led.”
Supporters in the London courtroom tweeted: “It was great to see  #MoazzamBegg again. Even under such circumstances he was smiling and looked well.”
Protesters gathered afterwards outside the West Midlands Police Headquarters, where Begg is imprisoned.
Begg was arrested the very next day after he published an article, “The real reason behind the confiscation of my passport” on the website of the human rights organization that he founded, CagePrisoners, which states:
“In the summer of 2012 I wrote about the first of my two visits to Syria to investigate leads into cases of British and American complicity in the rendition of terrorism suspects to the regime of Bashar al-Asad. This followed on from something I learned first-hand from CIA and US military intelligence agents who threatened to send me to Egypt or Syria if I failed to co-operate with them during my time in the Bagram prison.”
After his release, Begg began campaigning for prisoners detained at Guantanamo and others held in secret detention sites or who had disappeared after being rendered to countries like Libya, Egypt, and Syria, as part of his work for CagePrisoners.
“We conducted numerous investigations into recurrent reports of extreme torture carried out by the Syrian regime and discovered the complicity of the governments of the US, Canada, France, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Britain. I was also constantly being invited to speak all over the world about issues pertaining to Guantanamo, torture, the rule of law and the war on terror… In July last year, I visited Syria where I met numerous former prisoners who had been held by the Asad regime as well as a few victims of US and UK rendition…
“A few months later, in October 2012, I was called by an MI5 officer who said they wanted to talk to me about my views on the situation in Syria after having read my article… At the end of the meeting I was assured by MI5 that my proposed return to Syria to continue my work would not be hindered, and it wasn’t. Subsequently, I travelled to Syria without incident… I am certain that the only reason I am being continually harassed – something that began long before any visit to Syria – is because CagePrisoners and I are at the forefront of investigations and assertions based on hard evidence that British governments, past and present, have been willfully complicit in torture.”
Last month, British police confiscated his iPad, which contained his report. Three weeks later the British government confiscated his passport stating that his previous visits to Syria had constituted involvement in terrorism. Cageprisoners’s media officer, Cerie Bulliyant states that “the timing [of his arrest] coincides with the planned release of a CAGE report on Syria and a major news piece that was due to be televised soon.”
Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain write: “Crucially, it appears that Begg was given explicit permission to take this trip to Syria by Britain’s MI5… That’s all independent of the bizarre spectacle of charging someone with “terrorism” offenses for allegedly helping rebels which the US government itself is aiding and for whom intervention was advocated by the US president as recently as last year.”
Ghaliyaa Haqq, editor of Free Detainees stated that she is dismayed by Begg’s arrest:
“What would bring even more dismay would be the silence of the human rights community and the Ummah itself. We can’t let that happen! Remember, this is a man who spent nightmarish years in Bagram, and Guantanamo.  He was terribly abused, yet when he was finally released – did he go off with his family and live the rest of his life in peace? NO!  He is not the sort of man who could do that – he could never ignore his brothers and sisters undergoing terrible struggle and injustice. So he didn’t.  We can’t either – we cannot let this happen to him again.”
Asim Qureshi, Research Director of CagePrisoners said: “We are disgusted that Moazzam Begg is being retraumatised with the same guilt by association accusations that resulted in his unlawful incarceration in Guantanamo Bay.  We fully support our colleague and see his arrest as politically motivated and as part of a campaign to criminalize legitimate activism.”
UK-based human rights investigator Nawaz Hanif told The Intercept: “The arrest of Moazzam Begg under British anti-terror laws is… utilizing vague terror allegations to stifle investigations into abuses of power….It is pertinent to ask British authorities why Moazzam is being arrested a day before his report on torture and rendition is to be released, and over a year since he last stepped foot in Syria.”
In a statement CAGE said, “This arrest forms a part of the general approach by the UK security agencies which considers any travel to Syria as suspicious. There has been a concerted campaign of harassment against Muslim individuals and charities who get involved in supporting the victims of the Syrian crisis. We do not accept involvement by Moazzam Begg in any form of terrorism. He is simply one of many individuals and charities involved in Syria being viewed with suspicion in an effort to send a message to the wider Muslim community that working in Syria is a no go area for them.
“Moazzam is a leading figure internationally on issues relating to due process and human rights. His advocacy on behalf of the Guantanamo Bay detainees has been recognized across the world, resulting in government’s accepting detainees who could not be returned to their countries of origin. We are also concerned that the Police and the security services are using the wide scope of terrorism laws, and applying them in Syria to set precedents that will make legitimate activity unlawful in future.”
“Everything is terrorism and for those who fear losing their jobs and government funding, terrorism is everything. It is time to change the narrative,” wrote Begg in January of 2014.
In his last Facebook update, posted just hours before his arrest, Begg wrote: “Sometimes knowing too much can be a curse.”