I am at the summer retreat in the Adirondack Mountains, at a simple Y lodge. The sessions are held at a log cabin chapel on the lake. The teacher/ Sheikh is Mokhtar Magraoui. We are studying “ The search for happiness” through purifying our Hearts.
The subject is complex and requires some reading but more thought and reflection on ones own self.
As I walk down the dirt road flanked by the wild flowers and young trees, in the free time given for reflection, I pause at the concept presented. A sense of self-revelation is dawning within me despite the resistance of my Nafs and all the rationalization logic that goes with it.
It is a shocking self-discovery almost at the level of Archimedes discovery. My heart is silently shouting “Eureka!” (Greek: “εὕρηκα!,” meaning, “I have found it!” This is an amazing answer to behavior seen commonly in myself and other people.
I look around I am alone; nothing has changed with my self-discovery. The summer afternoon sun is still strong with the promise of coolness in the coming hours. Nothing has changed outside, but inside there is a revolution.
How many of us are unable to be alone or by ourselves without electronics, phone, Internet, truly alone? The bottom line is that when you are alone, you are with your Nafs!
The concept of Self or Nafs is based on what type of Nafs have you nurtured within you. Does the Nafs rule you or does your heart rule you? Does Your Nafs have its tentacles inserted into your heart such that your heart is constricted and cannot breathe? Does your heart command the path to lightness and happiness? Who is the rider to your destiny, your Nafs or your heart?
Is your heart a servant or a slave and if so to whom?
Can the light shine through and through your heart? Or do cracks, and dust and veils of cobwebs dull it?
How certain is it that if you clear your heart of these cobwebs and make it empowered over your base Nafs that the path to happiness will light up? Will you walk on it to certain happiness? Will the love of the Divine fold you into the arms of the fragrance of Jannah in this world as well as in the Hereafter?
To all these questions the answer is YES! YES! YES! It comes not from my logical mind but from every cell of my body and heart.
Years and years of dust, cobwebs, secular ideologies, intellectual rationalizations, and the visual intake of repeated disobediences of Allah has not only dulled the spiritual gyri of my brain but have encased my heart in a rigid vice which does not have any give.
My entire intake of logistics in life prior to this moment came from secular ideations; rationalized apologetic formats of Islam rejecting what the limitation of a limited human mind could not understand. Despite the “gut” feeling or “heart feeling” otherwise, these forces have ruled my life unflinchingly.
On this morning my mind and heart fell open and all kinds of realities and perceptions spilled out revealing my inner self. I gasped at the truth but unlike previous times did not try to cover them up…….
Walking in the forest surrounding the lake I meet no one who could distract me from my soliloquy and for once I am in front of my Lord not in anger, not in grief but in question. I wallow in my incompetence and all those things that have covered my heart……………my innocent clear, light filled heart.
They are all apparent to me now with a clarity that is blinding, all of them. My attention now is not on what I lack but on how to clear my heart of the veils and cobwebs and the rust and tentacles of my Nafs.
I am filled energy to discover the tools to undertake and evaluate in how much and how intensely my Nafs controls my life, what type of a Nafs dominates me. The fear of confronting my inner self has faded. I find myself uttering the spiritual words of my heart cells rather than the repetitions of a regimented programmed brain.
“If you feel “Wahshaah” when you are alone then you are alone with a “Wahshee” Nafs. If you feels peace when alone then you are with your Lord,” said the Sheikh shaking the foundation of the realities I had built on.
“IF you feel the need to drown your aloneness with something, anything, noise, food, chatter anything then you don’t like being with your Nafs, and it brings the feeling of “Wahshah” to you………. Then examine what type of Nafs rides you,” He said.
In a second all the times and people I knew who had to turn the TV on or music on the minute they entered the house to drown out the loneliness came into focus…and in them was me.
“My Nafs is Wahshah” this litany went round and round in my head and heart, and no amount of rationalization, self talk, distraction, and reassurance could take away that fact, the trees around me nodded agreement with their young green heads, the small stream gurgled and chuckled at my self discovery, the dandelions blew their heads away into the breeze at the thought of a Wahshee Nafs. I kept walking with a litany of discovery…………..” I can’t be alone with myself because I have a Wahsshee Nafs”
My lips never moved in prayer as they were frozen with this self-discovery.
From every cell in my body an intense longing went up accompanied by the prayers of the tall waving grass, the swaying pines, the gurgling stream and the quiet Rock holding the wild flowers in its arms. Every fiber of my being prayed, asked, ………..No, actually begged to be freed of my Wahshah Nafs……………
That was the beginning of my journey where I wanted something very much with “every fiber of my being”.
I went back to class and now I wanted the tools to reach my destination. I wanted it all, The Path of Light, the Love of the Divine, The happiness of the heart and the subjugation of the Wahshee Nafs!
A long time has passed between this event of “EUREKA” and I continue to go back……………..sometimes people ask me why?
Why? Because the tools have accorded me a great degree of peace in aloneness, the clarity to my heart, and the seeping out of grief into the stream of life……………… I no longer have to keep any of the poison in my heart; I no longer want to keep anything in my heart other than the Love and LIGHT of the Divine. I am not there yet.
I go back to catch the reassurance and the camaraderie of others to stay on the Path of Light working my way towards Happiness and the Love of the Divine.
Please pray for my success in doing so!