CLOSE examination of human life reveals that it has multiple aspects. These include physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. They jointly constitute human existence and make up the human personality.
Some of these aspects are visible while others are invisible. For example, the hearts’ condition or the thought process inside the human brain are invisible. Only Allah knows the inner and outer aspects of every individual being as He proclaims: “And conceal your speech or publicise it; indeed, He is Knowing of that within the breasts” (67:13).
The majority of people just see the physical side of human existence — which is open to public view. This consists of the body along with outward actions which one does habitually. The onlookers form an opinion about a person by viewing his outward actions and declare him good or bad in society. They neither know the heart’s condition, nor do they realise the inner intention behind any of his deeds performed. We get impressed just by seeing his outward actions. For example, if a person offers generous help to others, we form an opinion that the person is good, but in fact what lies inside his breast, remains unknown until he leaks it out.
The second important aspect of human existence is mental — the mind’s condition. The human mind is a great mystery, yet to be understood fully. It would be a gigantic task for science to map out the human mind, which consists of billions of cells. Each cell performs its function according to the mandate, as allocated by nature. The mind makes us unique from others of God’s creatures that possess just the physical side of their existence along with their instinct.
Signs of divinity are spread all across the universe.
The nature of the human mind is to remain busy in an endless flow of positive and negative thoughts. There is not a single minute of the day when we are not engaged in doing something and thinking about something and this goes on all through waking life. It is an endless and incessant activity. The problem of whether what we are doing or what we are thinking is right or wrong is a problem of ethics. However, it is clear that mental stability makes human life peaceful and enlightened, while negative thoughts cause a person stress.
Positive thoughts, if concentrated, can also pave the way towards discovering inner secrets of the self and all its surroundings. In our history, there were many philosophers, mystics, scholars and men of letters who have discovered secrets by concentrating their thoughts.
The Holy Quran suggests multiple ways of developing the mind’s capacity to access the divine secrets. This includes educating the mind, thinking positively, reflecting, contemplating and concentrating on divine signs spread all around the universe. This will allow us to gather knowledge and wisdom from our life experience and the world around us.
The third important aspect of human existence relates to emotions — a state that exerts a powerful influence over one’s life and brings behavioural changes. The heart is considered to be the centre of emotions, which generates feelings. We encounter soft-hearted as well as stone-hearted people in society. It is also invisible, but at times the physical body indicates the level of emotions one is experiencing.
There are different kinds of emotions — both positive and negative. However, one has to be mindful when the display of emotions is desirable and when they have to be controlled. There are people whose day-to-day conduct is governed by emotions. Therefore, all emotions, desires, passions, energies, longings, sympathies and antipathies are to be regulated. The long-term decisions affecting many must not be taken under emotional urge. We have to understand them better. If we understood them better, we can understand ourselves and the world around us.
The fourth aspect of human existence is spiritual. It is our inner essence, our soul, the part of us that exists beyond time and space. It is a link with our Creator. All major faiths of the world urge, encourage, guide and help their followers to realise that all humans are connected spiritually with the one Creator and His ever-expanding universe.
We are all part of His divine vision and scheme that unfolds every day. Developing spiritual awareness is one of the most primitive instincts of human beings that leads us towards self-discovery. The spiritual aspect of our being allows us to experience a feeling of “belonging” in the universe, a deeper meaning and purpose in our lives, and a broader perspective than we have from our personality alone. The spiritual aspect provides a foundation for the development of the other aspects.
All aspects of human existence are important and need simultaneous development. This must be made a part of our national curriculum so that the future generations can fulfil their responsibilities towards their existence befittingly.
The writer is an educationist with an interest in religion.
Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2020