Thursday, 17 March 2016

Invitation to Visit Heaven

Yes, converting life into a work of art is the secret.
There is a heaven here and a heaven there, and there is some difference between the two. If we fail to cultivate the former, we fail to win the later. How seriously do we take God’s invitation to visit heaven or to create/cultivate a space called heaven? This can be known by the quality of lives we live. Very few people live life as if heaven is its constant horizon and depth dimension and thus “reserve” their seats in otherworldly heaven. All education and religion consist in learning how to experience this world as heaven. Our A grades may mean F grades in life’s examination. Our examination centres are pits of hell thanks to vices of competition and memorization of trivialities or information we hardly need in life. Heaven requires cultivating Imagination and Art that we have exiled. Our fragmented pleasure seeking, greedy, haughty, mean, depressed, complaining, lobbying, cursing – in short alienated lives in hell of our own making show how successful has been our education.
      However God provides, despite our failures,  countless means to visit heaven. Mini beatific vision (deedar) it is to see our children every evening we come back from work and relax with our spouses and get blessings from parents every time we leave in the morning. Wonderful to taste meals (remember that Heaven is full of wonder and this explains why both science and philosophy cultivating wonder have some otherworldly connection) when one is really hungry  – however sumptuous wazwaan is more evidently from the other world available only in this earthly paradise called Kashmir, and we may note that nothing, not even deaths make us renounce wazwaan – and to sip tea with kith and kin every morning, to spend time with friends,  and to watch the starry heaven and listen to the singing cosmos, to sleep well and crack jokes and laugh at folly in most of serials and those obsessed by them. Nearest things or experiences one can imagine, for instance, that evoke Heavenly joys these days would be like Afridi hitting six sixes in world cup final in final over and clinching victory against India for his Kashmiri fans.
      How do we cultivate Heaven as we are required to according to the tradition "Ad dunyau mazraitul aakhira"? One tested way is available to all – and it requires of course understanding Keat’s point that artist has no identity, no self – is what Nietzsche explains thus: experience everything with the eye of an artist. This last point is what Nietzsche suggests in The Gay Science here: “One thing is needful – To “give style” to one’s character – a great and rare art! It is practiced by those who survey all the strengths and weaknesses of their nature and then fit them into an artistic plan until every one of them appears as art and reason and even weaknesses delight the eye.”
|      Yes converting life into a work of art is the secret.
      In our tradition all noble things that delight the soul are said to be from heaven. Praying with all one’s heart – praying not for this or that boon but just praying for the sheer joy of it – is entry to heaven to which five times believers are routinely invited – I have seen a few devoted people in all schools (including Salafis and Tableegi-Deobandis) that keep debating theologies, praying in this way. But this mi'raj – which is essentially a glimpse into the other world of glory and beauty – is missed by most of us, even those who pray regularly. For those who know how to pray 24x7 through farzi dayim or maintaining steadfastly witnessing consciousness (one interpretation of salat-al-wusta that is especially recommended by the Quran), all things exude the perfume of the Beloved, the Other World. From ordinary experiences like sipping tea in silence to making love with spouse  to such intense experiences that take us out of body, make us dance in ecstasy (like Mewelvis), or swoon in serenity and weep tears of love and gratitude we are,  remembering nay tasting God. All life has to be lived  as if  we are seeing God  or we are seen by Him and all good things to be cherished as blessings from Him.  Doing a ritual is participating in heaven in a way. Religion is performance. It is not loan account only that God maintains; to live in virtue is to be in heaven and that is why it is said that virtue is its own reward. All virtuous people know this. One can meet a person here in almost every village who knows from experience semblance of what Surah Al-Rehman talks about as it describes feasts of heaven. Although it indeed needs the sleep of death to taste the Heaven “of which no eye has seen...” we do suffer little deaths every time we really see the world or become the experience or are consumed by beauty and love and art and sports leaving ego behind (and thus little images of heaven are vouchsafed to us).
      One way of finding Heaven in life that will be then transported to after life (we plant – or take, so to speak – both fire of hell and flowers of heaven from here to there as is implied in Ad- Dunyau mazraitul aakhira and many sayings and stories of saints) is to follow the passion or dream that is dearest to us – wherever your heart is gripped, follow that dream, says one of the greatest sages of Kashmir. “Sufism is leaving what troubles you” runs one definition. It doesn’t mean that the best way to face the temptation is to yield to it as Oscar Wilde would advise but identifying what moves us – either the path of love or what Heidegger calls thinking and other traditions call path of knowledge, or path of works – finding God in work is what makes traditional craftsman a blessed soul. In the afterlife our vision is sharper, as the Quran says, and we see what has already been, implicitly or secretly, the case.
      Heaven is available for all not only as a future state but “the desire itself is already a kind of fulfilment. The very longing for Heaven is Heaven.” Dmitri Karamazov, in Dostoyevski's novel, tells God that if he should put him in Hell, he would sing to God the hymn of joy even from Hell, "the hymn from the underground."  As Peter Kreeft comments: “That would transform Hell (or the Siberian salt mines) into Heaven. The song of love makes Heaven. Heaven does not make God's love lovely; God's love makes Heaven heavenly.”
      In loving life we are really seeking heaven. The oldest and poorest have tasted life’s joys – and continue to taste them – and that is why they aren’t ready to part with life. Aquinas in his Summa argued how the best joys life has to offer are/have to be all free. Nothing can deprive us from winning heaven or exile us from heaven if we don’t choose to be exiled ourselves.
      This world is a shadow of heaven for those who have no greed and who can love unconditionally. Lovers we know are not too anxious about the otherworld who like Heathcliff find heaven in their beloved. There are those who have experienced Heaven in the founts of their being and thus they can afford, like Bedil and Iqbal, to postpone their scheduled visit there and ask God to wait. There are poets who won’t be interested in any heaven that is not of their making. The test of one’s religion and spirituality is ability to see samsara as nirvana, this world as the Garden of Eden, heaven in a grain of sand or seeing God (Heaven) everywhere.

No comments:

Post a Comment