Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Philosophical Terms about Self and Soul

Assalaamu'alaikum wa rahmatullah

I always spend my time around this musalla sometimes reciting Quran alone behind the musalla. My family house is just few blocks from here and I can just walk to reach here. Beloved brothers and sisters may visit me kalau sudi boleh saya belanja minum teh : )

While growing up into a 26 years old guy, I had came to experience many conflicts and bitter experiences. I counted every event that happened in my life and most of those being counted are bitter ones while only few are pleasant ones and that does not last longer since it is taken away in a blink of eyes. I heard many debates about being grateful and thankful and the notion of redha (pleased) with divine pre-destiny in the Tablet of the Holy Lord. I also found connections of the human traits and quality with the desire or self-passion with the events that happened in life such as the psychological problems attacking a person when he or she could not achieve something or simply facing loophole in their life. The true meaning of happiness in life, they could not decipher.

I sometimes use to talk about this issue with my family member when we encounter conflicts within our sphere. I don't know whether this a high issue that could not be grabbed by others though they are highly educated and excel well in academics as compared to me or maybe because people have different ways to view the world around them. I admit that I was influenced by Buddhist or maybe Hindu's worldview and metaphysics but when I return to ancestor's path, it does not differ much especially after I opened up Muslim elders' discussions in tasawwuf kitabs. This is not about 'aqidah or the fixed Islamic creed about the nature of Allah nor about the wahdat al-wujud or taniyat al-wujud stuffs. This is about creature's self-awareness.

This is a little bit philosophical not of Islamic scriptural studies. I am not playing smart here. I would also use daily occasions in explanations and if this is Hindu or Buddhist teachings, then I will mention it as it is as not to mix them up or confusing anybody who stepped in the humble site. It's not about berhala or idolatry as I didn't learn Buddhism to worship stones, lord Buddha, devas nor to worship any creature as Divinity. This is about the desire of human-being who is never satisfied with whatever that it has. In Arabic, we call the self as nafs and the same thing is also absorbed into Malay language when our ancestors bringing the path to South East Asia realm. When I was exposed to Buddhism teaching, the nafs is known as attama. Attama means the ego or the soul in Bali-Sanskrit.

Hindu-Buddhism Technical Concepts

First of all I think maybe I need to put up the comparison between technical terms between Sanskrit and Arabic. When our ancestors who were involved in philosophical studies as they entered the regions, they just translated everything into Arabic or Persian what they had understood from the lessons that they studied from non-Muslim philosophies since before the formation of the fixed creed of "Sunnah" teachings to counter some movements who dwell with confusing philosophies regarding spirituality, self-concept, perception and identity closely related to psychology. The terms such as wahdat al-wujud and stuffs came from the philosophies of non-Muslims from the Indus civilization. Some of the terms are also absorbed into Malay language right away from Sanskrit since Malay countries were previously of Hindu traditions. This is an effort from a plain Arab descent guy in South East Asia in the part of clearing the lapses faced between civilizations. Sanskrit culture, philosophies and traditions in Asia and South East Asia is like of Greek and Latin's in Europe.

The terms that I would like to share for comparison between Sanskrit and Arabic are jiwa and attama. Jiwa could be an equivalent for nyawa in Malay. In Arabic, it is a concept almost close to ruh and in English we translate it generally as soul though soul is only a part of jiwa. Attama on the other hand could be classified from lower to higher. It means the self or ego. In Arabic, we also have the term which is known as nafs and it is also subbed into few kinds of self. For those of Hindu traditions and Buddhists, attama is eternal as well as jiwa. They never die and could not be killed though being tortured, stabbed, slain, burned, shot or crucifixed

Then there is another thing about human and other creatures who breath in the earth and universe as to understand these words that we use and listen everyday. Human and creatures posses body and not only soul. Body in Arabic is known as jasad. Urm, I can't think any word used by Hindus for this. But when a person dies, the Sanskrit word for dead body used by Buddhists is kalevarah and in Malay it is known as bakai or bangkai. In Arabic, the body without soul is known as janazat or mayyit. For Buddhists and Hindus, body is the cage of the soul. It contains the soul. When the body has no nadi (blood flow in the vein) because the heart stops beating, the lungs stop functioning and stop producing breath that could be sensed flowing from the nose, or when the brain stops functioning, then the body is officially dead. The jiwa or the ruh is separate with the body and it becomes a mayyit.

The Buddhists and Hindus believe in the reincarnation of jiwa as it is not a subject to death like what I had mentioned above. The subject to sufferings and death is only the body. However, jiwa is not free from attachment to worldly desires. It needs to be liberated from desires. So, here comes the attama. Attama is more related to thoughts and desire. It leads human from the lowest to the realization of highest self. 

What actually makes human happy? Is it a disastrous life, simple and plain life or a luxurious life? When we wanted to achieve something say, the degree for an example... How long would we take to achieve it? Is it a comfortable or an enduring difficult process? For what is the degree? It is for career improvement or simply for a topic of discussion when we meet people as not to lose our face. Why we need a career? We need to survive in this modern world with it. It is to get a suitable job. What if we can't get suitable job after that? Won't we feel that it is a pointless thing? What if we get a suitable and desirable job? We can further continue to other stage of life. But how long would we feel happy with it? It's not long isn't it? We would face other things which will follow. The jiwa is learning through the pain and pleasure of temporary worlds. Both hell and paradise is temporal in their belief. This is related to the creation of universe (brahma) and cosmology in Buddhism as well as Hinduism about the cosmic system exploding stuff giving way for new cosmic system which consists of time and space. A very long-winding story and I had once learned about the planets cyclical calculations for predictions though I wasn't good at maths in school. I think it is almost close to astrologers' science and illegal in Islam. But I still remember some of the the lessons just never practice it anymore, hehehe. 

I'm just sharing about philosophical view of life and spirituality in this post which makes up some part of me today. Not about Islamic matters yet and not about tasawwuf angle related to Islam since we don't want to mix them up. In Hindu-Buddhism, there is also a term known as brahmalikhittam. It is almost close to the meaning of taqdir ilahi or qada' and qadar for Muslim and I am aware about these concepts too. It is mentioned in hadith qudsi of imam Nawawi compilation narrated by Umar r.a and summarized again in the Islamic pillars of faith. 

So, as per Hindus, the mind of a person who's not attached to external sense objects enjoys happiness of the inner-self. They will realize the ultimate truth. It is through the knowledge of uniting the consciousness of oneself with the ultimate consciousness that he enjoys the unlimited bliss. This is the word of Krishna to Arjuna during the Kurukshettram war in a part of Mahabharata which was separated into Bhagavadgita (chapter 5 verse 21). Buddhists always discuss about developing one self to achieve nibbhana (free from psychological and physical suffering). From where the atman comes is not important. 

Whoa, such a long post I need to stopppp!!!!

I thought that it is just a mere writing about terms but it also includes worldview and few topics which could be developed more. Today I just feel quite sad and I text Amir which is my undergrad friend who's still in contact with me. I just talk about appearing "dead" to all of my contacts. I also think to shut-down my recently opened facebook account but nevermind... Let it be there... I won't log in nor checking the news of the brothers that I came to know in Tekun hostel anymore. I also received the text from Azren which was also my undergrad classmate and a senior of European studies postgraduate class. He talked about his loathe with accountants who love to yell at people and know no respect to people also saying that he hates corporate culture. Then when he asked me about my job interview. I just answer him that I won't go far from my father. It is ok if people treat me like a person with no feeling because they hardly see me crying in front of people or losing my temper. I am a very patient person. I'm not bragging but this is a fact. I know who is my self.

I made a hard decision which is to take care of my bed-ridden father rather than going out to find job because my sisters are busy with their life and my mother could not handle it alone. She also has other ceremonial responsibility. I went out for a moment taking opportunity from the visits of my two aunties tonight. I just went out to musalla chanting dzikr and Asmaa' al-Husna after I can't hold my tears during maghrib service to calm down myself and shave bald my head, hehe. It symbolically shows that I am willing and ready to be a sacrifice and I will sacrifice everything in myself whether external or internal for my father well-being after I talked with Allah. May Allah helps my father and cure him, inshaAllah. I believe Allah is my Protector and Friend. He never leaves me and He knows what is the best for my soul so He educates me with His Mercy and Love.       

Sealed with prayers for mercy, peace and love, amin!    

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