You need great patience to focus single-mindedly on God, given the fact that the human mind is a jungle of thoughts and that you are surrounded by so many things on all sides—family, friends, wealth, work, society and institutions.
By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Living with God is the highest state of living. God is the Lord of the Universe, the Creator and Sustainer of everything. He is the Source of all kinds of goodness. So, living with God means living with every kind of goodness—with peace, with beauty, with eternity, with joy, with solace, and so on. Given this, it is important for us to learn the art of living with God.
This might seem to be a difficult task, but actually it isn’t t all. In fact, I can say that living with God is actually the easiest thing possible!
Why, or how, you may ask?
This is because we are already living with God.
Let me explain.
All of us are live with something or the other. This means that living with something is natural for us human beings. It is a natural urge. For example, some people ‘live with’ their job, with their wealth, with their children, with their egos. These are things that they have made the centre of their lives, or their primary concern. All these things in or with or for which people live, are created things. Now, in order to live with God all you need to do is to shift your focus, from creatures or created things to the Creator, and then you will be able to live with God! It is really as simple as that!
You are already living with something. So, drop that something, and shift your focus to living with God instead. It is not difficult at all. After all, it just entails a shift in focus.
That is why I say that living with God is the easiest possible task.
We are already living with, and aware of, created things, things created by God—water, sunlight, air, the earth, and, in fact everything that we see around us. To live with God, the Creator of all these things, cultivate the awareness that He is the creator of all the things that you see every day around you. When you see or eat a fruit, for instance, remember that God is the one who made it. When you enjoy the sunshine, remember that it is God who made the sun. When you see a lovely tree, remind yourself of the One who made it, with all its beauty. And so on.
Remember God in this way and you will find yourself with Him. Previously, you were living with creatures, but now you can live with the Creator. All it requires is concentration, contemplation and a shift in the focus of your mind.
Consider, in this regard, the example of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). He started his mission in Makkah, in the year 610 CE. Then, after 13 years, he was compelled to leave Makkah because of the opposition he faced there. And so, he migrated to Madinah, along with a companion, Abu Bakr.
The journey from Makkah to Madinah was a long and difficult one. The Prophet’s enemies were searching for him in order to kill him. On the way, he and Abu Bakr took shelter in a cave in a mountain.
When Abu Bakr noticed that the enemies had reached near the cave, he mentioned this to the Prophet. The Prophet replied, “God is with us.” That is, since God was with them, they had no need to fear. This same event is narrated in a hadith report, according to which the Prophet said to Abu Bakr, “Abu Bakr, What do you think of two people with whom God is the third?”
This was the experience of the Prophet.
What was the secret of this confidence?
It is said that in an interview he gave after coming back to earth, an astronaut who had stepped on the moon said that when he found himself all alone on the moon, he experienced something really unique—he felt the presence of God.
How did this happen?
The secret of this was that at that moment, everything else was absent to the astronaut. When he was on the moon, all the barriers, which existed on earth, between him and God were compulsively removed. Thus, he experienced the presence of God.
God is omnipresent. He is present everywhere. He is always with us. But why do we fail to understand or realise His presence? It is because there are some barriers or walls between us and God. And what are these barriers? They are our wealth, our family, our children, our friends, our egos. When the astronaut was standing all by himself on the surface of the moon, these walls or barriers were all absent. And so, he was able to feel the presence of God.
From this example you can understand that the only thing that is required in order to live with God is to remove all the barriers that stand between you and Him. This is the simple secret of how to live with God. The fact of the matter is that we are actually already living with God, because God is everywhere. He is omnipresent.
This happened with the Prophet, too. There were no barriers between him and God, and this was how he was able to assure Abu Bakr that God was with them.
So, living in God’s presence or with God is really very simple. When you remove the barriers that stand between you and Him and realize that you are already living with Him, because He is everywhere, you will find that there is no distance between you and God.
Consider the example of man walking in a forest and suddenly spotting a tiger behind a bush nearby. The experience is like a tornado for him! At that moment, his entire attention is centralized, focused only on the tiger. This experience removes from his mind every barrier, every other concern or preoccupation. At that moment, he knows nothing but the tiger.
The same single-minded focus is required if you want to live in the presence of God. Turn your attention away from all created things, and focus it on God alone. This can be cultivated through contemplation. If you worship God with full attention, you will find yourself in God’s presence. This concentration on God will lift all the barriers that stand between you and Him.
Great patience is necessary for this. The Quran (2:153) says that God is with the patient. Patience helps lift the barriers that stand between you and God. You need great patience to focus single-mindedly on God, given the fact that the human mind is a jungle of thoughts and that you are surrounded by so many things on all sides—family, friends, wealth, work, society, institutions and so on.
If you want to live with God, you need to save yourself from distractions—all sorts of distractions, such as the desire for this or that, obsession with money, friends, family, luxuries and, of course, your own ego.
Saving yourself from all sorts of distractions is very crucial in this spiritual journey. You have to be constantly alert, focused always on your goal—which is living with God. Then you will be able to live with God, in this world in the psychological sense, and in the Hereafter, in the physical sense.
Then, there are scriptures. Study the Quran. The Quran is a book of ideology. It gives you guidelines and principles for a God-oriented life. Study also the life of the Prophet. The Prophet attained the experience of living with God. He is a role model for us to emulate. His life is a practical example of living with God.
So, there are three sources that can give us experiences of living with God: Reflection on created things that are all signs of God, signs of His existence and His attributes; studying and reflecting on scriptures and the life of the Prophet, and introspection and inner examination of your own self.
Living with God is the greatest blessing anyone can enjoy. It requires making sacrifices in this world—temporarily—in order to gain eternity. This world is temporary, and the other world, the world after death, is eternal. If you want to live with God, you will have to sacrifice the allure of the temporary world so that you can attain felicity in the eternal world.