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  Opinion   Oped  23 May 2017  Mystic Mantra: Moderation — The mark of ideal life

Mystic Mantra: Moderation — The mark of ideal life

Moin Qazi is a well-known banker, author and Islamic researcher. He can be reached at moinqazi123@gmail.com
Published : May 23, 2017, 12:23 am IST
Updated : May 23, 2017, 12:23 am IST

The middle path of moderation negotiates the extremes of harsh asceticism and sensual pleasure-seeking.

The mind is engaged in the talk, but it never loses control of the pitcher on the head. (Representational image)
 The mind is engaged in the talk, but it never loses control of the pitcher on the head. (Representational image)

A man should be in the marketplace while still working with true reality — Sahi, Sufi mystic

All spiritual teachers have emphasised the need for retaining the balance between material and spiritual scales of life. The great mystic Rumi gives an interesting analogy of village women. In dawn, groups of women trudge along carrying water in bronze pitchers on their heads. On the way, they gaily engage in an endless tattle. But, even while all this talking goes on, the pitchers are balanced with perfect poise. The mind is engaged in the talk, but it never loses control of the pitcher on the head.

Rumi tells us that we should continue to perform all our worldly chores and never remain unmindful of the spiritual reality above us. Prophet Muhammad had spelt out a life which was a harmonious blend of the otherworldly and mundane and attempted a synthesis in a way that the one can nourish the other. The Quran recognises the two basic obligations of an individual: one to God and the other to society, thereby ruling out any possibilities for a life of self-denial. The Prophet emphasised: “For a prudent person it is necessary that he should have some moments; moments when he should commune with God, moments when he should be reflecting over the mysteries of creation, and also moments spared for the acquisition of the wherewithal.”

The middle path of moderation negotiates the extremes of harsh asceticism and sensual pleasure-seeking. While we strive towards fulfilling the physical needs of the body we often let the soul starve. There are others who satisfy the soul but keep the body starved. Charles Darwin was a passionate lover of arts. It was in the autumn of his life that Darwin realised the great deprivation he had suffered on account of his weakening links with arts and literature. He confessed that if he were granted another life he would surely avoid this grave injustice to himself.

The Greek ideal of “the golden mean” and “nothing in excess” is founded on this wisdom. Overindulgence in worldly pleasures leads to a state of ennui. Similarly, asceticism to the point of harshness deprives us of experiencing the subliminal beauty of life. Finally, it isn’t about endurance, nor is it about apathy, it’s about finding the right balance.

Tags: prophet muhammad, quran, charles darwin