Materialism and Spirituality
admin | February 17, 2016
Spirituality, or rabbaniyat is the elevation of man to a plane where the mind is focused on the higher, non-material realities of a godly existence.
By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Spirituality, or rabbaniyat is the elevation of man to a plane where the mind is focused on the higher, non-material realities of a godly existence. Its opposite is materialism, a course followed all too often in this world.
To put it another way, he who focuses on mere appearances is material-minded. And the one who rises above it is spiritual. He obeys the injunction of the Quran: Be devoted servants of God. (Quran: 3: 79).
To understand what constitutes materialism, imagine yourself looking at a palatial house or an attractive car and being overcome by the desire to possess it. A person who is unmoved by these objects and the notions of luxury they convey, lives in a more rarefied sphere. For him there is little attraction in the world of superficiality, being engrossed as he is in the higher realities of a supremely spiritual life. A truly non-material person’s soul exists at a profound level of spirituality. This is the unadulterated truth.
Those who live for worldly pleasures believe that gratification cannot be had except through the enjoyment of material goods. But this kind of thinking is the result of sheer ignorance. Having only experienced worldly pleasures, these people come to believe that every kind of enjoyment depends on it alone. If they were to experience spiritual pleasure they would quickly forget about material pleasures which are transient, whereas the spiritual kind may be savoured eternally.
The taste of good food is enjoyable, but it is only when the experience of eating results in an outpouring of thanksgiving to God that we attain complete pleasure.
A car ride can be exhilarating, but the pleasure that comes from a deep perception of reality—on sensing the indescribably unique power of God as manifested in cars, aero planes and all the other modern amenities created for man’s comfort—is far superior to that which one experiences while travelling in a luxurious automobile.
A materially-minded person finds pleasure only in something which he or she actually experiences. The spiritual person will thank God even at the sight of another person’s object. Rather, he transforms his friend’s material pleasure into spiritual pleasure for himself. A materially-minded person only sees the creation, while a spiritually-inclined person sees the splendor of the Creator through the creation. It is obvious that the spiritual riches accruing from the discovery of the Creator cannot be gained through objects he created.
Furthermore, in the spiritual world, there is no great difference between comfort and deprivation. What one gains from material experiences is of lesser value than what one learns from deprivation. Tears of pain hold greater lessons than laughter.
The greatest source of pleasure is in the remembrance of God. It is this reality which finds expression in the following verse of the Quran:
Only in the remembrance of God are hearts comforted. (Quran: 13: 28)
Comfort here implies peace of mind that stems only from God, and not merely temporary solace. Man is an idealist by nature. Anything short of ideals only attracts fitful attention. Existing only at the materialistic level is like descending into animalism. Materialism is, in other words, a form of shallowness. A real man is one who discovers the secret of spirituality.
If in materialism there is pleasure of laughter, in spirituality there is greater and lasting pleasure. If materialism is to live a life of limitations, spirituality is to live in boundless freedom.
Category: Living Islam
by Jayaram V
Two Paths of Life - Materialism vs. Spirituality - Audio
There are two basic approaches to life. Both are well known and historically important. Since the earliest times, people have tested both and left behind a great repository of knowledge about their value and importance in securing our lives and minimizing our suffering.
Both approaches are meant to shield us from the worries and anxieties of life created by the impermanence and uncertainty, and ensure our happiness, peace and Wellbeing. However, they adapt different methods and techniques to achieve this supreme goal. Empires have come and gone. The world has changed tremendously, since the earliest cattle rearing nomads looked to the heavens and prayed to their ancestors. We do still have the two basic approaches I have just mentioned. There are developments and advances within each stream of thought, but the approaches are two only.
There are those who want to control and those who want to surrender, those who resist the unpleasant and those who embrace the unpleasant, those who are motivated by attraction and aversion and those who are motivated by nothing and accept the duality with sameness. These are the fundamental differences between the materialists who believe in the attainment of happiness here and now through the gratification of the senses and the fulfillment of desires, and the spiritual seekers who believe in attaining peace through renunciation of senses, choice, control, attachment, and desires and choose to live unconditionally. These are fundamental differences, and you can choose only one.
There are many people who want to dabble with both because they believe that they can get the best of both. However, common sense suggests that it is simply not possible. If you think otherwise, please think again. Consider this. Do you truly believe that you can walk on two paths at a time or ride horses at a time.
To decide which one is good for you , you should know where your mind is and what you want to achieve in life. You find a meeting ground between the two, a sort of reconciliation, in many religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, and even in Islam and Christianity, where you have an option to remain a lay practitioner, until you are ready for the final journey.
However, in the end you have to choose one of the two. Hinduism suggests that if you go by the path of the materialists, you will return to the earth repeatedly, because you have not yet overcome your attachment to worldly life. To seek a permanent escape from rebirth, you have to travel by the path suggested by the ancient seers to reach the eternal heaven from where you will never return.
To know which path is good for you, you need to know how they are different and what implications they have for your life and destiny. A materialist wants to change the present for a better future. A spiritual person makes peace with the present and learns to live in the present. A materialist wants to deal with the unpleasantness of his life with an intelligent and self-willed effort. He strives hard to secure happiness in this world, by creating conditions within himself and in his environment which has proven to be effective in the past. He goes by his experience and relies upon his strengths and abilities to make himself immune to the uncertainties of life. A Spiritual person knows the consequences of choosing and controlling his life and destiny. He accepts the unpleasantness of his life as an opportunity to learn about himself and expand his awareness. He embraces the dualities of life without choice, desire and attachment. He opens himself to life and its innumerable opportunities and threats, secure in the knowledge that the world does not necessarily comfort those who seek comfort and offer security to those who want to be secure. Therefore, for him true control is having control upon himself, his actions and reactions.