بخش 34

کتاب: ملت عشق / فصل 34

بخش 34

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 5 دقیقه
  • سطح سخت

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Ella

NORTHAMPTON, JUNE 5, 2008

Beloved Aziz,

In one of your earlier e-mails, you said the idea that we could control the course of our lives through rational choices was as absurd as a fish trying to control the ocean in which it swam. I thought about your next sentence a lot: “The idea of a Knowing Self has generated not only false expectations but also disappointments in places where life does not match our expectations.” And now it’s time for me to confess: I’m a bit of a control freak myself. At least that’s what people who know me best will tell you. Until recently I was a very strict mom. I had a lot of rules (and believe me, they’re not as nice as your Sufi rules!), and there was no bargaining with me. Once my eldest daughter accused me of adopting the strategy of a guerrilla. She said I dug into their lives and from my trench I tried to capture every errant thought or desire that they might have!

Remember the song “Que Será, Será”? Well, I guess it has never been my song. “What will be, will be” has never sat right with me; I just can’t go with the flow. I know you’re a religious person, but I’m not. Though as a family we celebrate the Sabbath every so often, personally I don’t even remember the last time I prayed. (Oops, I do now. In my kitchen just two days ago, but that doesn’t count, because it was more like complaining to a higher Self.) There was a time back in college when I got hooked on Eastern spirituality and did some reading on Buddhism and Taoism. I had even made plans with an eccentric girlfriend to spend a month at an ashram in India, but that phase of my life didn’t last long. As inviting as the mystic teachings were, I thought they were too compliant and inapplicable to modern life. Since then I haven’t changed my mind.

I hope my aversion to religion won’t offend you. Please see it as a confession long overdue from someone who cares about you.

Warmly,

Ella

Dear guerrilla Ella,

Your e-mail found me as I was getting ready to leave Amsterdam for Malawi. I have been assigned to take pictures of the people in a village where AIDS is rampant and most children are orphans.

Now, if everything goes well, I’ll be back in four days. Can I hope so? Yes. Can I control it? No! All I can do is take my laptop with me, try to find a good Internet connection, and hope that I will live another day. The rest is not in my hands. And this is what the Sufis call the fifth element—the void. The inexplicable and uncontrollable divine element that we as human beings cannot comprehend and yet should always be aware of. I don’t believe in “inaction” if by that you mean doing nothing at all and showing no deep interest in life. But I do believe in respecting the fifth element.

I believe we each make a covenant with God. I know that I did. When I became a Sufi, I promised God to do my part to the best of my ability and leave the rest to Him and Him only. I accepted the fact that there are things beyond my limits. I can see only some parts, like floating fragments from a movie, but the bigger scheme is beyond my comprehension.

Now, you think I am a religious man. But I am not.

I am spiritual, which is different. Religiosity and spirituality are not the same thing, and I believe that the gap between the two has never been greater than it is today. When I look at the world, I see a deepening quandary. On the one hand, we believe in the freedom and power of the individual regardless of God, government, or society. In many ways human beings are becoming more self-centered and the world is becoming more materialistic. On the other hand, humanity as a whole is becoming more spiritual. After relying on reason for so long, we seem to have reached a point where we acknowledge the limits of the mind.

Today, just as in medieval times, there is an explosion of interest in spirituality. More and more people in the West are trying to carve out a space for spirituality in the midst of their busy lives. But though they intend well, their methods are often inadequate. Spirituality is not yet another dressing for the same old dish. It is not something we can add to our life without making major changes there.

I know you like to cook. Did you know that Shams says the world is a huge cauldron and something big is cooking in it? We don’t know what yet. Everything we do, feel, or think is an ingredient in that mixture. We need to ask ourselves what we are adding to the cauldron. Are we adding resentments, animosities, anger, and violence? Or are we adding love and harmony?

How about you, dear Ella? What ingredients do you think you are putting in the collective stew of humanity? Whenever I think about you, the ingredient I add is a big smile.

With love,

Aziz

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