Mercy, O Soul!
By Mohamedarif Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
There is so much that goes on in a person’s life span, excruciating downfalls and ecstatic rises, and everything in between, and as the series of events take place, they systematically mould the personality and value system that we endear. One value replacing the other, a new persona effacing the old one. Certain events are so powerful in their impact that they actually shake the atomic core of a human being, sending him or her into a seismic pattern of behavioural changes, that at times remain inexplicable for life, but for the mere comprehension resembling an after shock.
Any society by virtue of the fact that it does not exist exclusively on an island, has examples in plenty of extreme experiences that have not just redefined who they are but has perhaps and in actual fact, robbed them off their real selves. Such examples could be as a result of political disturbance, natural disasters or even socially microscopic issues such as broken marriages or the death of a beloved person.
The Irish novelist, adding charismatic allure to this predicament says ‘Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor’
Unmistakably however, the species has suffered most at the hands of its kind rather than through cruel divine intervention and much less from the takeover bid by some Martian extraterrestrials. Humankind, has been inhumanely unkind to its own people while vehemently pursuing self fulfilling goals of power, fame, wealth, or just greed and lust. With every step taken in the direction of meeting one’s own desires and wants, there is an inadvertent effect on the lives of several others. Whether this comes from a national leader or a famiky head, the consequences are there for all to bear.
But as we tread on these paths of worldly gain, in abject incognizance of our responsibility to others or of their rights unto us, we methodically trample upon the brazen but subdued souls, which are in fact the real us. Whether it is with a clouded judgement or through a confusion of our real identities that forever suspends us in a gross misunderstanding about our true identities, about our origins and our destinations, all the actions performed minus an accent on the effect of our souls, eventually enslaves us to the very soul that we moulded to be cruel and unceremonious.
In the theosophical masterpiece “The Voice of the Silence”, translated and annotated by H.P. Blavatsky, we are advised “The Self of Matter and the SELF of Spirit can never meet. One of the twain must disappear; there is no place for both.”
Kahlil Gibran, a celebrated Lebanese poet and philosopher, in his own portrait of the battle between the soul and the body, triumphantly but somewhat with utter resignation, implores as follows:
Why are you weeping, my Soul?
Knowest thou my weakness?
Thy tears strike sharp and injure,
For I know not my wrong.
Until when shalt thou cry?
I have naught but human words,
To interpret your dreams,
Your desires, and your instructions.
Look upon me, my Soul; I have
Consumed my full life heeding
Your teachings. Think of how
I suffer! I have exhausted my
Life following you.
My heart was glorying upon the
Throne, but it is now yoked in slavery;
My patience was a companion, but
Now contends against me;
My youth was my hope, but
Now reprimands my neglect.
Why, my Soul, are you all-demanding?
I have denied myself pleasure
And deserted the joy of life
Following the course which you
Impelled me to pursue.
Be just to me, or call Death
To unshackle me,
For justice is your glory.
Have mercy on me, my Soul.
You have laden me with Love until
I cannot carry my burden. You and
Love are inseparable might; Substance
And I are inseparable weakness.
Will ever the struggle cease
Between the strong and the weak?
Have mercy on me, my Soul.
You have shown me Fortune beyond
My grasp. You and Fortune abide on
The mountain top; Misery and I are
Abandoned together in the pit of
The valley. Will ever the mountain
And the valley unite?
Have mercy on me, my Soul.
You have shown me Beauty, but then
Concealed her. You and Beauty live
In the light; Ignorance and I are
Bound together in the dark. Will
Ever the light invade darkness?
Your delight comes with the Ending,
And you revel now in anticipation;
But this body suffers with life
While in life.
This, my Soul, is perplexing.
You are hastening toward Eternity,
But this body goes slowly toward
Perishment. You do not wait for him,
And he cannot go quickly.
This, my Soul, is sadness.
You ascend high, through heaven’s
Attraction, but this body falls by
Earth’s gravity. You do not console
Him, and he does not appreciate you.
This, my Soul, is misery.
You are rich in wisdom, but this
Body is poor in understanding
You do not compromise
And he does not obey.
This, my Soul, is extreme suffering.
In the silence of the night you visit
The Beloved and enjoy the sweetness of
His presence. This body ever remains
The bitter victim of hope and separation.
This, my Soul, is agonizing torture.
Have mercy on me, my Soul!
As we continue to pray and fast in this Holy month, imaginably, our indulgence in matters related to the soul may give us the keys to understanding our lives through a periscope otherwise if we squander the good fortune, then we may just remain embattled for the rest of our days, but with an improbable chance for the soul to have its rightful life and preparation for the after life.