Sunday, July 10, 2005

Why Depression? (Or how to live in the "now" with Allah.")

Bismi'llah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim...for the sake of Prophet Muhammad saws and Sheikh Nazim may Allah protect his secret.

Bismi'llah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim...for the sake of Prophet Muhammad saws and Sheikh Nazim may Allah protect his secret.Where we are working now, although still a surprisingly unspoilt little coastal village, there is, never the less, a flood of materialism and sensuality which one has to struggle with in order to keep any kind of spiritual connection.Sometimes the struggle seems almost too much and only petition and strong faith has the power to keep one anywhere near the siraat al mustaqueem under these conditions.This year I brought a small collection of Sheikh Efendi's books with me to help as reminders, comforters and stimulators.A couple of days ago after doing the fajr prayer I looked at the spines of the two small piles of his books on the shelf under the television, which were at eye level from where I was kneeling. As so often happens,one of them "spoke to me" and I reached out for it,knowing that there would be probably be an appropriate message for me in there.
The small tome from 1987 edited by Ibrahim Shukrullah was entitiled "Mercy Oceans. Lovestreams." I opened it to read a paragraph from the chapter "Why Depression?" which I found to be a perfect antidote for my state at the time.
I reproduce it in it's entirety here:

Why Depression?

" Why are people afflicted with depression?No,sexual relations are not the primary cause of depression -- there are other factors, and when these factors are present everything in life feels like a punishment and ceases to function normally,even sex which is normally the most enjoyable of activities.When normal relationships are disrupted by the presence of the root causes of depression,sex partners can only be means for mutual punishment : each one "takes", then escapes from the other -- into depression.
The main cause of depression is the effect of memory on people.Most people harbour in themselves some very deep regrets about their own past actions or about what they feel to be wrong decisions or mistakes made through the course of their lives.When we recall such painful events,a fire roars out of control through our hearts.Then we arrive at a gaping hole in our hearts which cannot be filled,no matter what we try to fill it with -- so deep are our regrets.Our present life becomes a bridge between the past and the future, between two terrible visions: haunting memories and anxiety filled anticipation of the future.Worrying about our future makes us crazy,and all that modern medical science can do about it is to offer people some dangerous drugs specially designed to cloud both memory and anticipation.These are terrible and dangerous methods,for when people regain their wits,their despair will become even more acute.Allah in His Wisdom created brain cells non-renewable.Those dangerous drugs kill brain cells and, once they are killed they are never replaced.

Since it is impossible to change the past,we must be patient in the face of painful memories,and no one can attain such patience without being a believer --- and not just a believer in name,but a person of deep faith.Those memories will persist as memories,but faith may effectively neutralise their painful effects.He who has been absorbed in the love of God may feel himself to have made a new beginning and to have left painful memories far behind.

There is a tradition of the Holy Prophet saws :"Of actions,only the last one counts." We must know that the only step of real importance in our lives is the last step -- was it on the right way or on the path of iniquity? So many saints have once been big sinners,and every mistake we make is an opportunity to realise something valuable about ourselves,and to awaken to the need for improvement.The past had best be left behind us.It is a completed chapter,and there is no need to harp upon it.What is important is to consider where you are headed.Even though you may be nearing the end of your life,don't be discouraged if it seems to have been spent frivolously -- just make your last step count.

Another cause of depression is hopelesssness.We as servants of God,have no right to be hopless -- no.The Lord may change everything in a second -- everything.He whose faith is strong will never doubt that his Lord ultimately intends good for him in this life and the next,and he will be patient through adversity, looking for the Lord's promised respite.As for unbelievers,abysmal despair follows on the heels of worldly ambition,as all their hopes are dashed on the rocks of time.But the heart of the believer is a vessel that sails safely through such danger,with the Lord as his guide, and his faith in that Guide keeps his heart afloat through stormy seas,until,at last the goal is attained -- endless Mercy Oceans.

I know that my bad actions are a hindrance between my Lord and myself,but I believe that His Mercy Oceans will engulf my heart and that I will be freed of my bad attributes,and be granted a new personality,suitable for Mercy oceans."

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