By Anuradha Azeemi
I was reading the issue of Qalandar Shaoor Monthly, March 2015. Published there in was a question for contemplation put forth by our beloved Murshid and renowned Spiritual Scholar, Khwaja Shamsuddin Azeemi.
“What remains and what will happen if the manifested does not disappear and the hidden does not manifest itself through this world?”
It took me by awe that everything other than God is subject to Tagayyur (change) in this universe. Change is the base for physical existence, and change is movement. Everything in this universe is in constant movement both in time and in space. That is, the manifested disappears in to the unseen world and the unseen comes forth as the manifested. That which does not move is considered to be dead or ceasing to exist. Which means from that point in time, that particular creation will stop manifesting itself in time and space in the future and has gone back into the hidden world.
As the mysterious truth of disappearance (Batin/hidden) and appearance (Zahir/manifest) came forth before me, I began to wonder that this process of hidden and manifest is not just linear. I decided to elaborate this point with examples for my own better understanding.
- A creature appears and disappears in its own life.
- A creature appears and disappears in the life of others.
- A creature disappears to appear in another form.
A creature appears and disappears in its own life.
Let us say I have a kitten that is 90 days old. On the 91st day, the 90 days old kitten disappears and the kitten, which is 91days old appears. This is the every day phenomenon of any creation disappearing and appearing for its own self. This occurrence is associated with time and is referred to by the world at large, as a process of ageing or growth of the being. Hence we notice that when a person dies a physical death it is referred to as “His time was up.”
A creature appears and disappears in the life of others.
Now let us consider that I let my friend adopt the kitten on the 91st day. The kitten that was appearing every day in my life for 91 days will disappear from my space and begin to appear in my friend’s space or life. In other words, from the moment I give up the kitten to my friend, I will cease to see the kitten. But my friend will be able to see it from that very same moment onward. So the creation is also appearing and disappearing in the life of others too. This perhaps can be referred to as our travel in time to fulfill our roles and purposes through our interaction with various people en route.
A creature disappears to appear in another form.
The third form of disappearing and appearing touched me the most as it upheld the attributes of sacrifice. Here the creature disappears from its original form and appears back completely in another form. For example, a seed disappears to give rise to a tree. A grain of sand disappears to form a pearl. Carbon disappears to form a sparkling diamond. Bamboo disappears to form paper. Sand disappears to form a mirror, and many more. This process is called transformation. The original being is still present but completely Jasb (absorbed) in the new form.
While the first two forms of change are inevitable for all life form, the third is a special blessing bestowed upon us by God Almighty. Every spiritual student on this path towards God hopes for transformation to be his destiny. A spiritual student seems to come to his Murshid as stench, a pile of filth filled with limited experiences and emotions. Yet, the Spiritual Master patiently transforms him into God’s favorite fragrance by relentlessly cleansing his inner existence. The Master completely absorbs our rotten existence inside His fragrant being and bestows upon us slowly and steadily His own Tarz-e-Fikr (thinking pattern). From the point of bayt (submission of a soul for spiritual training) a student dies a little every day and comes back to live transformed. This phenomenon will fortunately continue till a student is completely transformed and realizes his soul and Lord God.
Now that the system of hidden and manifest held my attention, I began to further explore the question asked by our beloved Murshid. If the hidden had not manifested its self and the manifested had not disappeared into the unseen in this universe, Prophet Adam and Mother Eve would be the only human existence on this planet. There would be no families born out of them.
The physical body of Prophet Adam and Mother Eve without change and movement would perish in the moment it was created. This because, the heart is in constant need of pumping in pure blood for it’s functioning and has to keep constantly changing blood, lest it becomes impure and kills. If blood would not flow and be in constant movement in the physical body, the organs would fail without receiving its share of oxygen and nutrients. Moreover, stagnant blood would instantly clot and kill the physical body. Similarly, the oxygen that one breathes also needs movement and change in every breath. If the inhaled oxygen is not converted into energy and carbon-di-oxide, the oxygen that is so vital for our existence becomes toxic and poisons the physical body. This clearly testifies that which is not changing becomes toxic and only leads to death.
I lingered on this thought till I arrived at, ‘Life is in change; death is in stagnancy.’
My mind was now in a whirlpool of thoughts. Without the seamless dynamics of movement between the seen and the unseen worlds, there would be no inventions. There would be no growth of awareness, as the mind would be stagnant too. A stagnant mind would just be stuck in one constant state of thoughtlessness with no scope for contemplation. Unless one has thoughts, one remains unaware of everything around and within him. Such a person is considered to be in a state of comatose. Man would be rendered useless and in a vegetative state, if his thought would not change into idea and idea would not change into concept and concept would not change into action.
It is only when a silkworm decides to disappear, the thread of silk appears. And it is only when a thread decides to disappear into the weave, a silken cloth appears and gets sewed into a garment. Until the worm has disappeared and manifested itself into a garment, it is of no use to man. Therefore everything has to constantly move in and out of various stages of metamorphosis else it remains unproductive and without use. Similarly only when a girl disappears, a woman appears, and through her a whole next generation appears. Therefore, if there was no biological change in a woman, the history of mankind and with it the lineage of Prophets would not be born through a womb and the universe would remain unaware of the importance of the species of woman and also remain unaware of the glories of the Lord God.
Knowing how vital movement and change is, it is baffling and worthy of contemplation as to why then is every moving particle in man racing to settle down? Man seems to want to arrive at some unknown destination and stay in peace. Why is movement constantly craving for stillness? Is man on the path of self-destruction? Are evil forces at play? Or is there a spiritual gateway through this too?
I did try to see a positive side of this phenomenon. The only entity that does not change is God. In other words, the only constant is God. So is it possible that the constancy of God allures man to find the constancy deep within him? The soul within man, which is a part of God Himself, is also unchanging. Is man then trying to find his soul? Is it possible that the constancy that man seeks is to be able to find death within him? For it is when he dies within before his physical death, is when he finds his true self – The soul. So is this life all about finding the stillness behind the movement? Movement seems to be part of illusion and stillness the part of truth. So therefore that which is in constant movement is unreal, and that which is still is real.
It then seemed to come in, the daily practices of Muraqaba (Meditation) and Zikr (Remembrance) that our beloved Murshid had taught us, where they all not pointing towards seeking the stillness behind tagayyur (change)? The goal set by the Master for every soul had always been clear. “Find yourself and God within you through Muraqaba and at other times, remain in constant remembrance of God through Zikr.”
Muraqaba – The practice of moving into stillness by going past the constant movement of mind and body.
Zikr – The exercise of moving into stillness and one pointed focus on God, through HIS constant remembrance.
And how beautifully these methods had demonstrated the phenomenon of hidden and manifest (disappearing and appearing).
Only when the ego disappears shall the soul appear.
Only when all beloveds disappear, the one true beloved appears.
Only when the heart breaks its limiting walls, will it be flooded by Divine light.
Only when the physical eye turns a blind eye, will one see through the Sultan (Divine eye).
If we could consider the example of a screen on which cinema is being played, one would realize that there is no movie if there is no constant movement ‘ON’ the screen. But in reality, there is no movement ‘IN’ the screen. The screen is always still, however, the stillness is of no consequence or use until it allows movement to be projected / manifested through it but without loosing its own stillness. If the movie screen moves along with the constant movement of pictures on it, no one would be able to watch the movie. So movement can exist only when stillness allows its projection / manifestation through it.
So even though this world seems to exist on constant movement, it is constantly moving on a very still screen. Until there is stillness, there is change, movement and manifestation in time and space. In this case, would it be okay to say this unchanging screen on which we are in constant movement, is God HIMSELF?