This is our Walden Period

Sweeping across the countries and trampling the man made borders Corona virus is now gaining access into the fear centers of human mind as well. Calamity can come from anywhere; it can pop up from the bowels of earth, descend from heavens as divine wrath or can be synthesized in a demonic lab. God knows from where this biological puzzle has sprouted among humans and like a cursed mist it has spread around the globe and blurred the boundary between life and death.

Much has been said about this deadly virus and I shall refrain from weaving any negative opinion against it for I am perceiving this calamity from a different facet. A philosophy it is to me besides a virus, for it has rendered all the nuclear assets and arrogance of mankind to dust, and forced humanity to rethink the norms of civilization. Whatever people found dear and indispensable to life is now banished into the lands of forbidden, and still life goes on. A lot of all that was excess is finding its way towards the exit and life is beckoned towards less and less. Had civilization lost herself in the lands of superfluous and meaningless objects that actually weaned us from humanity? Had mankind dumped itself into the lowest of the low and laa (negation) is all that is needed from us to save ourselves? Is corona questioning our cultures and norms? Is this a divine jolt to wake up the humanity from the slumber of ignorance and arrogance? All of it and much more need a patient thought and contemplation. Since this invisible RNA particle has forced the crown of creation to retire into seclusion and think what wrong has happened to us and the world. Let us make full use of this solitude and not indulge ourselves in futile activities.

History is full of such incidents where solitude has reaped great ideas and heroic acts. One such case is of the celebrated writer Henry David Thoreau. Between 1845 and 1847 Thoreau lived in a cabin he had built himself near walden pond. He moved in on July 4, 1845 – his own personal independence day. Often men asked him about his lonesomeness in the cabin to which he replied “what sort of space is that which separates a man from his fellows and makes him solitary? I have found that no exertion of the legs can bring two minds much nearer to one another. What do we want most to dwell near to?” Why he did keep himself aloof in woods? Why he stripped his life down to the barest of essentials and veiled himself from civilization? He did so to realize that divinity was present in nature and human soul. He abandoned all that was superfluous and dud and lived simple and blissful moments in that cabin. He deprived joy to his body to strengthen his soul. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the cave of Hira, Prophet Younis (AS) inside the body of a whale and the men of cave, all found mercy of Almighty in Solitude. Sometimes it is necessary to shun all that keeps you away from realizing your true self and solitude is the key to do it. We have assimilated so much of cacophony and clutter into our beings that we are in dire need of realizing what we actually need and what not.  Solitude can be dangerous as well for if one can’t control his thought process, mind can wreak havoc on the body. Therefore, to gain benefit from solitude, a controlled thought process is a pre-requisite. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “man is what he thinks all day long.” Whatever thoughts, beliefs, opinions and theories we carve into our subconscious mind; it becomes a part of our personality and manifests through our being. Humans absorb too much into their beings like a sponge that wells up into our minds without realizing that it is becoming a part of us. Our sub conscious mind is a fertile land and ideas are seeds, whatever we sow shall become a tree. And the best part is that our conscious mind is the gardener and whatever we consciously think shall manifest in our body through the subconscious. So we must be very careful with our thoughts for they are the surest form of our identity and yes, more valid than our material bodies, as bodies return to dust but ideas find place in hearts and souls.

What is more valuable to us, the walls of a vessel or its emptiness? Man too is essentially a hollow being and he must empty himself from all that is dead and that plague his soul. The vices of lower self that sting the soul and plague the humanity in a broader sense are but a veil between man and his vice-regent station.  As Maulana Attar said that lower self (nafs) can be bridled through silence, fast and solitude. Realize what the essence is and what is superfluous. Realizing the laa of laa ilaa haa ilal laa (no god but God) is the beginning of spiritual journey and spiritual awakening is nothing but arriving at this nothingness of being through negation (laa) and then realizing ilalal laa, say sufis. Our silences and solitude must be meaningful.

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