Awakening from Oblivion through Introspection – The First Step to Self-Realization
– W. H. Auden
Some might consider the above quotation to be harsh while others might take it to be rude and offensive but let us pause for a second and ask ourselves whether indeed it is true or not. The writer had the audacity to speak the truth. Let’s be frank, how many among us have the moral courage to point fingers towards themselves? How many among us have the strength to bear the burden of their own mistakes?
The bitter truth is that the majority among us is cowardly. As Disraeli said, ‘It is much easier to be critical than to be correct.’ By bringing to attention such wise words uttered by great personalities throughout time and across cultures, this article will reflect upon our vision of self development.
Our society has been disintegrated into so many smaller fragments that it would require a herculean effort to reunite them. The evil of faction group politics has penetrated so deeply in our roots that we aren’t even aware of the fact that we’re victims of sick social norms. Let’s put our religious, social and political identity aside for a moment and ponder upon the idea that perhaps we are too blinded by our own petty goals to see the bigger picture.
Nevertheless, I do acquiesce that humanity may never achieve a state of utopia, but keeping in view the Japanese philosophy of “Kaizen”, we can at least try to play our role, trivial as it may be, to rectify our world. We may never know how far our little deeds of virtue can go in comforting a troubled soul and in this way; we can play our role in uplifting society.
It is easy to become self-righteous and to set about on a mission of finding fault with others. The real imperative is to look inwards and to question if we ourselves are free of error; to identify our own insecurities and to fight them. We must look to rise above our own mistakes and also the mistakes of thoe around us. As the saying goes, ‘To err is human, to forgive is divine.’
If we consider figures such as Mother Teresa, we learn that these people not only exemplified charitable spirit but also resilience. The message of our Sufi saints e.g., Shah Hussain aka Madhu Laal Hussain, Abdullah Shah aka Baba Bullay Shah is loud and clear in Punjabi poetry to explore the hidden dimensions of oneself. This was the message of self- actualization. A line from Iqbal’s Jawab-e-Shikwah translates to ‘You will find secrets of life by immersing thyself in thyself.’
The solution to our problems is always in front of us. All we need to do is to wipe out the dust in our eyes that has rusted our common sense. The renowned Stephen R. Covey rightly made the following claim: ‘The way we look at the problem is the real problem.
We have to envision a new world, a better world than has ever been known. We have to strive to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, and relinquish the illusion of control. We needs must break out of the vicious cycle of vengeance and synergize our efforts as the constructive interference of our positive actions can confront anything no matter how huge it may seem. Stephen R. Covey rightly valued interdependence higher than independence higher in his book ‘The seven habits of highly effective people’.
Conversely if we remain engaged in our juvenile habits of leg-pulling and back biting, I believe that will lead us nowhere. We’ll find ourselves in an abyss with no way out. In the profound words of Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi, ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.’
I would like to conclude by asking that we all keep on daring to dream, because our upcoming generations will witness actualization of our efforts.
‘Listen to the beauty of a new dawn from the one who travels in dark desert of tyranny.’
– English translation of a couplet by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
About the Author: Muhammad Ummer completed his MBBS from Hamdard University in 2011. He can be reached at [email protected]
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