Thursday, December 7, 2017

My understanding of Islamic scholar Nursi's ontological and theodicean views in laymen terms: a quick summary

We can perceive the material aspect of the flower as in we see its petals, colors and designs, we can smell it, measure its size, and gaze at its cells under a microscope, etc. On the other hand, we can also feel the flower's beauty and humanity as a whole agrees that we humans feel the flowers are beautiful. Other animals may be indifferent or they may beg to differ. While a bee or a hummingbird might find a flower attractive, a dung beetle may rather feel the dung is beautiful. Both the material and the angelic aspects of the flower can be consciously perceived and felt by humans and at such depth and variety, by humans alone. As I walk in a botanic garden in Seattle, I see people from all around the world, gazing, holding, pointing at flowers, smiling and telling each other how pretty and gorgeous they are in their own respective languages. 

Existence is comprised of two aspects like the two sides of a coin, the matter that can be likened to the hardware of a computer and the spiritual/angelic aspect which can be likened to the software of a computer. The matter is the aspect that we perceive with our five senses or our material tools like a microscope, etc. The spiritual/angelic aspect is the aspect that we feel, and this feeling is generally speaking universal among humans regardless of time, space and culture and in its widest range felt only by humans and not other creatures (at least as far as we can know or we can materially perceive). 

We feel the flower's beauty, however can find no source within the flower or ourselves, or for that matter anywhere else in the universe that we and the flower are connected to, that could possibly be the cause of the flower appearing beautiful to us. Yet we feel it, therefore it exists. It exists, therefore its existence has to have been chosen over its nonexistence and choice infers a conscious will. We are the only creatures in the universe that we know of that have conscious will, yet we never have the ability to choose the existence over the nonexistence or the nonexistence over the existence of any material thing at all. Certainly, we humans have not created as much as a single flower. There must be a Conscious Will (one but not many because of the holistic interconnected wholeness of this magnificent, amazingly complex and flawless universe) that is not a part of this universe--a collection of existence whose existences are probable and contingent--and whose existence must be essential unlike the universe, that has chosen the existences of the flower, its colors, its beauty and me, my perception, my feeling and my conscious awareness of all this, over their nonexistence. One whose existence is essential and who is beyond the universe must be Absolute. Thus the beauty belongs not to the flower but to the Creator of the flower, not to the sunset, but the Creator of the sunset, not to the artist but the Creator of the artist and her art. "The Beautiful One" "al-Jameel" is a Divine Attribute denoting that the Creator is the Absolute Source and Owner of Beauty. 

The attribute of "the Beautiful One" manifests at various degrees at various instances of the universe (uniquely in every point along the time and space dimensions): poetry is more beautiful than gibberish, love is more beautiful than hate, flowers are more beautiful than dung, some people are more beautiful than others, etc... The attribute of "the Healer" manifests at various degrees at various instances too: my nose may be sick enough not to be able to smell but healthy enough to breath and have intact skin, etc. Each thing in the universe can be described as a vector in an infinite dimensional system where each dimension represents a unique Divine Attribute. 

The material aspect can be likened to drops of water where the sun shines or mirrors where the images reflect at various degrees of clarity, in that the material is the embodiment of the manifestation of the Beautiful Divine Attributes of Perfection at different degrees of each attribute, while the spiritual/angelic aspect is the vessel of the Divine Attributes that we can feel. Our souls are our conscious awareness aspects and becomes aware that our hearts feel the beauty, the angelic aspect of the flower. Our souls are also capable of using our free will, given sufficient intention and struggle against our egos who automatically take over our free will when we're in a state of reduced conscious awareness, a state of heedlessness or when we intend and struggle against our conscience. 

lahul asmaa ul husna to the Divine does all the beautiful attributes belong

In fact, it is this capacity of appreciation of both aspects of the universe as well as the innate desire to gaze at and seek infinitely higher degrees of the manifestation of all the Beautiful Divine Attributes, that has driven humans to observe and study the universe in their own ways both scientifically and according to other principles or none, to understand and discover its intricacies, to build, invent, create arts, artifacts, edifices, buildings, technologies, as well as work hard in a dedicated manner to polish and demonstrate each of their unique talents.

"Existence is pure good and nonexistence is pure evil." 

Since existence is the manifestation of all the Beautiful Attributes at various degrees, the more the attributes manifest the more we love and desire them. The more justice, life, health, beauty, wisdom, knowledge, etc there is the more our soul desires it. And we yearn for these manifestations at their utmost degrees to last eternally, to be nonephemeral. Yet everything in our lifetime, including our various selves (as a baby, child, teenager, adult, etc), is transient. The flowing drops of water where we like to see the sunshine keep flowing leaving their place to yet another drop of water, another reflection of the sun urging us to look up to the Sun. Similarly to the metaphor, the transience of all that we love in this lifetime urges us to look at the One True Source of all the qualities we love, the Divine Conscious Will, the Creator. On the other hand, we can only be aware of our perception and feeling of the Divine Attributes because they reflect at various degrees. It's because different shades of light and darkness exist that we realize that we can perceive and feel the existence of light. It's because sickness exist that we realize there is health. We can appreciate orderliness and cleanliness because disorder and dirtiness exists. 

What is perceived as evil in this world is due to its transience, such as the death of a loved one, or the destruction of a loved object, or the loss of health and youth, etc and due to the variety of degrees in the reflection of the Beautiful Divine Attributes we yearn for in their eternal and absolute form, such as our outfit not being as pretty as someone else's (lesser reflection of the Beautiful) or injustice (lesser reflection of justice and mercy), etc. In both cases it is the lack of the existence of the clear manifestation of the Divine Attributes, not their presence that we perceive as evil. In both cases we are urged to recognize the attributes and find their Divine and Absolute Eternal Source which is what our souls truly desires and is in love with. We will hear the whispering of our soul if we do not avoid it, if we consciously shut off the voices of our egos and begin listening beyond. 

"The Creator wouldn't give the wanting if It didn't want to give." 

Our common desires as humans point to our innate programming, we are given those desires, we do not create our own desires towards the Eternal Absolute Beautiful Qualities. When we observe the beauty, compassion and generosity of the Creator in the universe, we can be certain that since It has given us this desire for eternal absolute beauty, It wants to fulfill our desire. We just have to listen to our soul instead of our egos who wants to whip us towards the nonexistence of the attributes, the ugly, the dirty, the ignorant, the evil, the unjust, the selfish, the merciless, etc and we have to prepare ourselves for the perception of the Divine qualities in their absolute form by practicing to "read" the attributes manifested all around us in the universe, including our very selves from every one of our aspects, body, mind, emotions, conscious awareness, talents, free will, etc, and also including all the events that we experience, observe or learn about. 

Just as a person who has no musical knowledge or talent may not be able to differentiate between a famous violinist and an average one or between the sound of a 100 dollars violin vs that of a million dollars violin but a person who has struggled hard with intent, dedication and tenacity will be able to differentiate the most minute differences, we too in order to appreciate and be the collocutor of the high manifestation of the Eternal Beautiful Qualities have to make use of our lifetime with the intent of this preparation. 
 
See
Qur'an, Chapter al-Baqara, the Cow, verse search 2:30-2:37

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