Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Concept of Mind

Assalaamu'alaikum wa rahmatullah


This concept is actually familiar to me since I was a little child. I was exposed to both Islamic and Hindu-Buddhist way of thinking. It is not only about the thinking but also cultural traits and practices. Basically, I am not the kind of young people who only live a life for the sake of living. Both of the religions are of my experience as a confused boy who has nobody to be his companions, lack of love either of family or friends and most of the times secluding his self from crowds pondering about what happens around. I am so sorry if I do not do a writing like a so-called "salaf" Muslim but I could assure everyone that my religious practices are strictly orthodox and I never talk like this in front of people because I only talk according to people's level of thought. I respect the salaf al-saleh teachers and I also respect the tabi'in generations. I keep all of their books and remarks besides trying to practice them too.   

Most Muslim who discussed about philosophies always talk about Greco-Roman philosophies as what I heard in the discussion broadcasted in Malaysian Islamic Understanding Institute (IKIM) radio with someone who was involved with the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC). I would like brothers and sisters to know, there were Buddhist Greeks as well as Eastern Asian Buddhists due to the existence of Indo-Greek kingdom of Bactria since before the Christ era. They propagated Buddhism teachings and philosophies as far as Alexandria or Iskandariyya in Egypt. I am not talking about Islam or Muslim yet till now.

Buddhism always talk about human personal experience which is framed in the pancha skandhas or five aggregates term. Then there are three marks of existence known as dukkho (unsatisfactoriness), anittiya (impermanence) and anattman (non-self). The chattwari ariya sattiyani or the four noble truth which discussed about what is meant by dukkho? Where does dukkho come from? There is a way that dukkho could be banished through the knowledge about the theory of pratitschasamudpad or dependent arising. They could be found in the atthangiko ariya margg or the eight noble path proposed by Siddhartha Gautama which are subbed into three categories which are the panna (wisdom), sila (ethics and morality) and smathi (concentration). In order to banish negative effects around the environment, Buddhism basically emphasizes mind training to perform our life where it is like we change polluted water with the clean and clear one through flushing it or flowing it with the clean one. The concept of self is connected to the mind and acts.

The positive or negative effects toward the environment which is known as the space partly comes from the mind activities of beings or creatures. Many people says that Buddhist do not believe in the metaphysical matters. It is a wrong assumption. Buddhists have three pitakas or baskets of teaching. The first one deals with the actions, meditation, breath handling and mindfulness of body. The second one, talks about disciplines. While the third and the last one deals with metaphysics and philosophies. The third basket was also taught to "angels" by Siddartha Gautama when he reached the enlightenment. The enlightened Gautama never talks about the Supreme Power as it was important for him at his time to correct the moral and attitude of the people around him. People already know about the Highest Self yet they behave like people who knows Him not. Those are just the basis.

There are many things to be learned before commenting and only if we are Buddhists ourselves. But I always encounter some fellow Muslims who talk like they know everything about other religions and views, but in reality they just check the facts at the surface. They never experience anything as per being an "infidel" or being rejected by their own community thus having to find their own way to return through His Mercy, hehe.

Islamic Concept of Mind

Now when we talk about the mind in Islam, human is deemed to be higher and special as compared to other creatures. What makes human special? They have choices in their life and it comes from their mind and thoughts. With mind, man could find knowledge and it leads human toward the better. It helps man to distinguish between evil and goodness. Deviation and annihilation is due to that man-kind did not using their faculties of mind for good purposes. So, a positive mind which is used for positive concerns would escalate a human to a noble position. But when the mind is wrongfully used for vices and evil, man-kind would fall into disdain and destructed. 

Our noble Quran mentions so many times about mind. It mentions that with mind, human could think about the creations of the God, learn about them, finding knowledge and strengthen the faith to Him. Through the guidance of the noble scripture, human who thinks could sort out the sciences in the creations of the God throughout the space. 

The God the Highest mentions through the tongue of our noble prophet Muhammad s.a.w which means: "And from the dates and grapes, you made them sweetened drinks and legal sustenance. Indeed, in those are the signs for the people who possess mind". - Surat al-Nahl 16: 67

When man-kind using his mind toward evil and vices, he would fall into the destruction and tormented with bitterness from the God. The God mentions through our noble prophet Muhammad s.a.w which means: "And when you call them toward the prayers, but they mock it and teasing it. It is due to that, they are the people with no mind". - Surat al-Maa'ida 5:58

Through faculties of mind, man-kind could search for the guidance and "truth". Thus, choosing the better one while leaving behind evil matters. Although man-kind posses mind and intelligence besides using them for daily affairs yet the result of their thoughts do not always in accordance to the real objective or achieving the aimed goal. 

Only prophets and His messengers are protected in their speeches and thoughts. They are protected from errors and deviation of the truth whether in the earthly life or in the matter of hereafter. For example, prophet Muhammad s.a.w was actually threatened by the God that His angel would strangle him if he distort the message that the God ordered him to articulate and not even to think about it. So he talks only according to the revelation of the God. Normal man-kind would commit errors in their thinking, speeches, in their decision or in the execution of their acts. That is due to the weakness of their mind and the lack of knowledge.     

The God says which means: "... and you are not given the knowledge except a little of it". - Surat al-Israa' 17:85  

For example, if a man looks at the thick black cloud up the sky, he would be thinking or expecting that the rain would soon be pouring down. But that is just an assumption of his mind based on his analysis to the factor of the black cloud. It is just a hypothesis. Sometimes the result would be true and sometimes it would be wrong. It is due to that sometimes, there are black clouds in the sky but rain are not falling down to the earth.

Islam prohibits man-kind to think with the mind which is not followed by the the Creed and the Guidance. It also prohibits the thought according to one's desire. Example for the people who think in the manner that is prohibited by the "Divine Way" are the Sophists. They evaluate good and evil based only on the senses and mind. They only used rhetoric and philosophy to explain or framing the affairs and matters around them. "Ordinary" human senses and mind are limited and bound to weaknesses. Their senses and mind could not reach metaphysics and supernatural realm.         

The difference and the higher position of man-kind as compared to other creatures in the Earth for example, the genies or the animals is their faculties of mind granted by the God to them. They could think and ponder deeper than other beings. In Buddhism, the highest incarnation of beings to achieve "final blast" into the "new world" is also in the form of a human. Not in the form of angel nor any other form. 

Humans were trusted by the God to be the administrators in the earthly realm, to prosper the Earth and holding the responsibility to keep His commandments but to avoid His prohibitions. Says the God which means: "And when your Lord said to the angels, indeed I made in the Earth the successors. The angels said: 'Are You creating in the Earth those who would commit destruction in it and those who would spill the blood while we are glorifying You with the praises for You and sanctifying You. The God says, I know the things that you do not know!" - Surat al-Baqarat 2:30 

My Further Comments

Well, if it is related to philosophies or other regional cultural traits. I am not really good in Greeks' sciences. I live in South East Asia though my ancestors were the Arabs and they were also stationed in Indian sub-continent. When I was schooled in the madrasa, it was at the border states of Malaysia and Thailand. And I was and still is an adventurous soul. I love to travel around and listening to religious teachings. 

Because I had no close friends nor companions as I am a very choosy person in making friends... I went to Buddhist monasteries and making friends there. I also make friends with the environment around which also include other creatures that some people would call them as the ghosts, hehe. I learned Sanskrit and Pali from around besides Arabic at our school because the school is a religious school. 

Language is actually the most basic tool for sciences and technology. This is what those who always talk about branches of sciences do not understand. They just understood that mathematics and those sciences such as the basic biology, astrology, chemistry or physics as at the core matters which makes me laughing my a*ss when I began to realize about the facts of life, LOL...  Anyway those sciences are categorized by Imam al-Ghazali rahimahullah as pseudo-sciences. He also learned philosophies and the rhetoric where he encountered Ismaili Shia Muslims in Central Asia who were also of Mu'tazila schools of theology.

The words such as caliph and others could be founded in cognitive with other ancient languages such as Sanskrit. For example, I would translate caliph as chakravarttin in Sanskrit where it means the ideal universal ruler. Other than that, I found that most Malay writers or translators of the logic text books for Usooluddin students always placing the Arabic terms on the place where it is not necessary. People in South East Asia also talk about Roman or Greek but Sanskrit or Pali also houses a large corpus of sciences like those of Greek.

The Eastern philosophies and sciences also deal with human mental states, environment and psychology which the Western were lacking. While South East Asian languages for example Malay or Cambodian also absorbed large amounts of Sanskrit terminologies. Is this about class because Sanskrit is not the language of the European Union or because the so-called brainy Jew, Einstein lives in Germany? Or because most of "Muslim scholars" in  the Middle East or Central Asia during the Middle Ages era reading Greek of Latin books so we have to just copy-paste their ideas to be like them?

Why can't we be ourselves? Are we lack of confidence in our selves that determines us to copy-paste other and thinking that we are intelligent with good head? Just a food of thought anyway, hahaha....

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

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