I Think I See Your Problem

I susbcribe to a daily newsletter that sends along little quotations and aphorisms from various religious traditions – each day I get a Hindu one, a Muslim one, and a Buddhist one (the Christian and Jewish ones leaned too much on Old Testament begetting and begatting; they were boring, frankly). This was the Muslim offering from yesterday:

When we allow God’s power to pervade all our actions, and submit to his decrees, we shed all anxiety about the effects of our actions on others; we cease even to consider the effects of our actions. When we cease to consider the effects of our actions, we are adopting the attributes of God himself.

-Qushayri, “Risalah”
From “366 Readings From Islam,” translated by Robert Van der Weyer. Copyright 2000. All rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  1. MikeZ says

    One word: Yikes!

    – M

    Posted May 24, 2006 at 11:52 pm | Permalink
  2. Kevin Kim says

    I suppose that quote can be read negatively: “Do what you will and damn the consequences. This is what God does, after all.”

    It could also be read charitably in the same spirit as the Bhagavad Gita, which speaks of acting without thought for the fruit of one’s actions. This is meant as a call to egolessness. Specifically, in the context of the Gita, it’s Krsna’s call for Arjuna to remember and follow his ksatriya-dharma, a watercourse already chiseled out for him by the cosmos.

    To the extent that Islam contains a similar call to egolessness, I see merit in the above-quoted verse. But scriptures are open to all sorts of interpretations; ultimately words are a tool, and they can be used well or poorly, for good or evil ends. “Yikes!” may indeed be called for, but whether it is or isn’t is a matter to be decided case by case.

    Kevin

    Posted May 25, 2006 at 8:03 am | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Hi Kevin,

    That’s a pertinent and thoughtful comment, and a fair response to my flippant tone.

    The idea of the dissolution of the Self in God is certainly a common thread in many religious traditions; when it’s Rumi or Milarepa doing it, no worries.

    Typically this sort of transformation is accomplished under the guidance of an enlightened teacher. Unfortunately, though, the hunger of the spiritually young for union with God can easily be exploited to perverse ends – it’s sort of an operating-system vulnerability – with the results we see in the news every day.

    Posted May 25, 2006 at 11:07 am | Permalink