God-Consciousness and The Power of Mindfulness | Part I25 Jan 2022
Preserving our sense of peace is the gateway to having a heart which can welcome the stability of God. After all, Islam means peace. To strive for a state of internal peace, is to strive to be at peace irrespective of circumstances. As Peace is God’s name (al-Salam), we attain inner peace by seeking alignment to Him. One of the most crucial ways we can strive to preserve our peace, is to be mindful of our own thoughts. Peace comes by ridding oneself of influences devoid of God, by actively choosing to prioritise God, and by living a life devoted to Him. After all, “He is God, other than whom there is no God, the King, the Holy, the Peace, the Defender, the Guardian, the Mighty, the Omnipotent, the Supreme.” (Quran 59:23). To make Him reside as the King, Defender and Guardian of the sanctuary of our thoughts, is one way to align to His Peace.
Yet it’s a process –
To be mindful of our own thoughts, is as if they are guests that come and go, but are not meant to stay. It is to observe your own thinking patterns. To know the rabbit holes that lead you to feelings of despair. The aim is to sever the life expectancy of negative thinking patterns before they have the opportunity to breed new lives of their own. What we think, and persistently enable within, becomes the very realities that we manifest. And though God is merciful – in that we are not judged by our thoughts – but such is the power of thoughts, that they themselves are the fuel behind all actions. Positive thoughts breed positive actions. Negative thinking breeds negative actions.
For example, If we take the case of backbiting. It begins with the soul who grants itself permission to engage in the internal trait of fault-finding. The more a mind runs loose with the trait of fault-finding, the easier it becomes for the mouth of that person to verbalise this trait. Because the fault-finding has become a norm inside the thoughts of this person, the backbiting also becomes a norm. Therefore so long as the negative thought pattern of fault-finding persists, the harder it becomes to break away from the sin of backbiting. This is why self-accountability is encouraged, whilst fault-finding is highly discouraged in Islam. An attitude of self-accountability in your mind, takes you towards the reality of self-rectification and a better mind – which is in essence, the purpose of life. But an attitude fixated on external projection, takes you towards illusions whereby the soul easily fixates on all except itself and its own destination, and as a result vices easily accumulate.
Whilst sin creates the smoke of delusion over one’s ultimate destination and reality, the peace that comes in the mind that attempts to stay clear of them, is what provides a soul with clarity to decipher between good and bad actions, and firstly by deeply acknowledging the good and bad that lies within. Who you are inside, is after all, the lens through which you see all else. When the lens is smeared due to sins, one’s vision of right and wrong is not clear. Therefore, the aim is to cleanse the lens of our own perceptions, by aligning our internal Truths to God’s Word, His frameworks, and His wisdom, in order to commit to journeying towards a rightful destination.
It is not always easy to empty the mind, especially when we have lived in minds that we have long left unaccountable, and are often surrounded by forms of materialism that encourage remaining busy with distractions to avoid focusing inwards: but the first step is to acknowledge you are not your thoughts. They are but visitors. Some are pleasant, some are indiscriminate, and some are foul. And that’s okay. With an attitude desiring growth, we commit to understanding it’s possible to overcome them, to rule them through the higher intellect, as opposed to them ruling you. Because this is a step towards housing the remembrance of God within; with this commitment comes its own sense of peace. The power of choice is made apparent; it highlights to you that you do not need to be a prisoner of your mind, that attaining freedom from the chains that shackle us through habit is very possible.
The voice of God, or our God-given conscience within us is calm; stable, peaceful, consistent. It is the mark of love. The conscience that drives you to be in harmony with the Origin of all life. It is alike the feeling of Ramadan, or the feeling of pilgrimage to a holy sanctuary. Yet a person in a noisy room, who is also consistently talking and adding their own noise, is not able to hear another voice. The noisy room is the cluttered mind, where all the thoughts of chaos reside within. When the mind is noisy with all else, it prevents the human being from connecting to God in their own divine conscience. It is difficult then for His guidance to speak to us in our lives, making it difficult to then actualise actions which harmonise and provide tranquility for the soul. When you become a spectator over your own thoughts, is when you can begin to declutter and challenge those thoughts which are useful, those which are healthy, those which are rooted in kindness and compassion, those which are rooted in the ego’s many masks and deceptions.
The ego grows and multiplies in influence, the more it is left unguarded. It provides one with a grandiose sense of self, it dislikes the idea of accounting for itself and thus makes excuses not to, it seeks only praise not honesty or truth, its pride blinds itself from realising its own reality and its associated weaknesses. The ego loves to be fixated on everywhere and everything, except itself. But the soul that seeks to be at one with God benefits from being rooted in sincere humility, the one that sees honour in lowering its sense of importance before God, the one that finds the Salam of God when recognising its own weaknesses and mistakes, and finds joy in the fact that it finds God ever-loving in spite of them. It loves the God within, and this love within shows compassion to itself in spite of its weaknesses and flaws, knowing it is not defined by its own flaws, but rather defined by the mercy that is God. It knows that all praise towards it, is a favour of God who knows our weaknesses and still shows mercy. Every time the soul defeats the ego, God supersedes within, and the light of God continues to expand one’s capacity in order to multiply good deeds with the multiplication of reward. Yet, every time the soul resides victorious, the efforts of Satan to weaken it with a blow to the ego heighten, new veils masquerade the soul, such as pride over good deeds, pride over one’s religiosity or knowledge, which in themselves can become veils to God.
The devil deceives the mind, against that which the heart, the divine throne of God, already knows. For example, Satan did not deceive Adam to simply eat the fruit, he first convinced him that it was okay to reach for the fruit because of such and such reason. Yet because Adam was the first of creation and was not yet aware of the process of questioning, his mind readily accepted this prompt.
In essence, the heart tells you truths, whilst the obtrusive elements of the unbridled mind manifest as obstacles towards clarity. The truths which the soul is deeply connected to on an existential level can easily be drowned out by the noise created and sustained in the mind by choice. The mind busy with Satan’s fixation on other people, other situations, other circumstances – busy with anything besides accounting over itself. This mind is easy to influence, and the more it goes into the abyss which is the avoidance of self-rectification, the more it loses the light of God within. On the contrary, the more thoughts are not given the independent power to rule, are judged with just measure, are given the space to flourish when aligned to God, and disciplined the moment they begin to sway – this soul becomes stronger, as it resides deeper in the internal custodianship of God.
Disclaimer: this article does not pertain to various mental health challenges that may impact one’s relationships with thought patterns, whereby it is always advised to seek appropriate guidance.