What Life Taught Me
Life is really short, and it is only when you are at peace with yourself and the world that you can find the tranquility needed to remember God.
By Moin Qazi
And fear the Day when ye shall be brought back to Allah. Then shall every soul be paid what it earned, and none shall be dealt with unjustly. (Q 2:281)
In every individual’s life there comes a point when he has to undertake a self-audit or self-evaluation to check his accounts in Heavenly currency terms. Life is really short, and it is only when you are at peace with yourself and the world that you can find the tranquility needed to remember God and contemplate the realm of the cosmic powers. Every religion has the same common denominator: do your work sincerely, gracefully and gratefully. Our time-tested values of hard work, honesty, courage and fair play, humility, modesty, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism, sobriety and dignity are as relevant today as they were when civilization was before.
There is nothing I have valued more than intellectual integrity, the right to call my soul my own, to dream my own dreams and sing my own songs. There is no sin worse than sinning against the light – whatever your light might be. Whatever you call it—your light, or your conscience—it is the only beacon by which you can steer your ship through the rough and stormy sea of life. We must keep speaking against oppression and injustice irrespective of the consequences:
I have explored Western lands, Western manners, and the depths of Western thought and Western learning, to a considerable extent. But I have never lost touch with my Eastern heritage. Through all my successes and failures, I have learned to rely more and more upon the one true thing in life – the voice that speaks in a tongue above that of mortal man. In one of the poems of the poet to whom I keep going back for guidance, Sir Muhammad Iqbal, there is an exhortation to a praying person that even though his prayers might not change his destiny, it can change his spiritual attitude by bringing him into touch with the Absolute Reality:
Your prayer is that your destiny be changed
My prayer is that you yourself be changed
As Plato said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” We need to set aside some time from our daily lives to reflect on and understand the harmony of nature, to count our blessings and to radiate positive vibrations. These are all acts of faith.
Socrates said “Know thyself”. We must look into ourselves and examine ourselves before we examine or judge anybody else. We have to have a sense of our rights and our responsibilities. We must keep examining what we are, what we offer but also where we went wrong. We must have the courage to acknowledge our mistakes and redeem ourselves through corrective action—or else we may be too late in life and we will have to suffer a deep wrench in our heart .
With age comes wisdom. In the autumn of one’s life, one increasingly realizes that reason must prevail over emotions. People may give advice to the effect that positive thinking and nurturing big dreams can help us accomplish great tasks. But finally, one has to bow down before the altar of destiny and realize that one has to navigate one’s ambition within the realm of Divine will. Each of us has a moral compass that shows us the limits of our talents and abilities. That is a more authentic guide than the barometer of public advice. The words of the brave and courageous, Steve Jobs keep resonating in my daily world and provides me sustenance and courage in the face of the daily strife that we have to encounter in a world slowly growing insane:
I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. (The writer can be reached at [email protected])