Were we mere blank slates?

In a tale of human progress and a defence of progress, people learn from their parents and their parents’ parents, and who, after trials and tribulations, wind up committed to each other. Unrecognizing that our life is a story of fellowship. Because when you look deeper into the unconscious, the separations between individuals begin to get a little fuzzy. It becomes ever more obvious that the swirls that make up our own minds are shared swirls. We become who we are in conjunction with other people becoming who they are.

We have inherited an image of ourselves as Homo sapiens, as thinking individuals separated from the other animals because of our superior power of reason. This is mankind as Rodin’s thinker – chin on fist, cogitating alone and deeply. In fact we are separated from the other animals because we have phenomenal social skills that enable us to teach, learn, sympathize, emote, and build cultures, institutions, and the complex mental scaffolding of civilizations. Who are we? We are like millions of sensations, emotions, and signals interpenetrate every second. We are communications centres, and through some process we are not close to understanding, we have the ability to partially govern this traffic – to shift attention from one thing to another, to choose and commit. We become fully ourselves only through the ever-enriching interplay of our networks. We seek, more than anything else, to establish deeper and more complete connections.

In psychotherapy, it is believed that the original trauma of disconnect often stems from parenting. This produces the wound, and our reaction to the wound. From how we encode the information, to how it creates chaos. What defence mechanism we use to cope and how our outdated defence mechanism leads to breakdown or occasionally breakthrough. Whether we choose to shift our life to a new healthier paradigm that allows healing and expresses unity, this system above is intended to help psychotherapists connect the dots and understand the blueprint. When we do this, we can adopt a more logical and linear approach to it all. A logical and linear approach helps us move from the amygdala (the emotional center) to our frontal lobe (where we can problem solve, make peace or accept and let go of past events).

Thomas Kuhn states that “awareness is prerequisite to all acceptable changes of theory.” Kuhn believes that it all begins in the mind of the person. The mind is central to your health. Disturbed mind gives rise to a disturbed body, and when the body is disturbed, it disturbs the mind further. However, a man’s innermost reality and center of consciousness, the mind, is governed by the heart. The Prophet ﷺ said “Indeed there is in the body a piece of flash which if it is sound then the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt then the whole body is corrupt. Indeed it is the heart.” Imam An-Nawawi used this hadith as a proof that the seat of the mind is the heart (al-aql fi al-qalb) and not the head.

The sound and truthful heart is that which is secure from every carnal desires, it is secure from any doubt and uncertainty. It is secure in preferring what pleases Him in every circumstances and distancing itself from everything that would displease Him in every possible way. It is secure from seeking the ruling of other than His Messenger ﷺ . This is the reality of ubudiyyah (servitude), which can be directed to Allah, alone. And this is the deen al-fitrah that creates a love for deen al-Islam. Allah swt has given every child Qalb-e-saleem (a sound heart) and that “None of you will come to Allah in a state of happiness unless if it is in a state of salim (whole and healthy).” Now this enlightens both the mentally ill and the spiritually diseased that the search for a healthy heart is able to help them.

Kuhn further states that what we perceive, whether normal or metanormal, conscious or unconscious, are subject to the limitations and distortions produced by our inherited and socially conditional nature. However, we are not restricted by this for we can change. For example in some cases, our dreams, being misinterpreted as a spiritual message, may actually come from our subconscious desires (nafs). Or bad dreams which alludes to our subconscious fears. What we nurture in our minds determines the results. Therefore our minds, if filled with the zeal for the Prophet ﷺ or our Lord, are able to manifest expansion and revelations in our dreams or even in our awaken states.

Pulling it from an Islamic spiritual perspective, how this identifies with our relationship with Allah ﷻ , the Ultimate One who created us. Our disconnection with our Creator and our religious ancestor salallahu alaihi wasallam leads to all sorts of trauma.

“The great tribulations that we see in our age is because we have distanced ourselves from the life of the Prophet Muhammad

-Habib Kazim al-Saqqaf

We are, being the descendants of Prophet Adam alaihi salam and the ummah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ , enjoys this benefit, His intercession. And this definitely doesn’t only limit to Arabs.

In 1981, Andrew Meltzoff ushered in a new era of infant psychology when he stuck his tongue out at a forty-two minute old infant. The baby stuck her tongue out back at him. It was as if the baby, who had never seen a tongue out back in her life, intuited that the strange collection of shapes in front of her was a face, that the little thing in the middle of it was a tongue, that there was a creature behind the face, that the tongue was something other than herself, and that she herself had a corresponding little flap that she too could move around.

The experiment has been replicated with babies at different ages, and since then researchers have gone off in search of other infant abilities. They’ve found them. People once believed that babies were blank slates. But the more investigators look, the more impressed they have become with how much babies know at birth, and how much they learn in the first few months after.

The truth is, starting even before we are born, we inherit a great river of knowledge, a great flow of patterns coming from many ages and many sources. The information that comes from deep in the evolutionary past, we call genetics. The information revealed thousands of years ago, we call religion. The information passed along from hundreds of years ago, we call culture. The information passed along from decades ago, we call family, and the information offered years, months, days, or hours ago, we call education and advice.

Relevant to how all of our souls, in its purest forms are connected to the message of Islam from our Creator through His messenger Prophet Muhammad ﷺ , his beliefs (hadiths) and actions (sunnahs). Also, as his ummah, our inheritance of his salallahu alaihi wasallam’s characteristics, and finally our tarbiyah on our path towards Him.

But it is all information, and it all flows from the dead through us and to the unborn. The brain is adapted to the river of knowledge and its many currents and tributaries, and it exists as a creature of that river the way a trout exists in a stream. Our thoughts are profoundly moulded by this long historic flow, and none of us exists, self made, in isolation from it. So even a newborn possesses this rich legacy, and is built to absorb more, and to contribute back to this long current.

How an infant is born in a state of fitrah (purity), with the knowledge of God, and the purpose of worshipping Him. But as we grow and we start communicating with the world, it instils in us memories, habits, which later becomes our nafs. Similarly, to an innocent child that helplessly attaches him or herself to the nurturing ways provided by his or her own parents, a seeker seeks to form a rabita (connection, attachment) with his own shaykh or murrabi, diminishing its own personality (nafs) and unifying it with what God or the Prophet ﷺ wants through surrendering. While the world, in its corruption, contributes to the nafs, the seeker seeks purification.

The heart, when has been renewed, now has turn alike a child, pure and innocent. The soul in its awareness of the need for social interactions, seeks the knowledge of adab (etiquette) in preventing harm to its character. However, through the struggles, it presents the lack of surrender of the salik (seeker). The mind still clings onto logic and reasoning and it doesn’t understand what the spirit is capable of understanding. This entails the emptying. The unlearning of what you have learned, in order to reach a state of equanimity and eventually, humanity.

“Allahumma Muqallibal quloob thabbit qalbee ‘alaa deenik” (Oh turner of hearts, keep my heart firm upon your religion)

Sayyidatina ‘Aisha (radiallahu anha) narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to recite this dua a lot. So she asked, “Oh Messenger of Allah, you make this dua a lot, are you afraid?” He said: “Yes. Who would keep me safe, Oh ‘Aisha, while the hearts of the servants are between two fingers from the fingers of The Most Merciful?”

Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘Aas said that he heard Allah’s Messenger ﷺ saying,

“All the hearts of the offspring of Adam are between two fingers of Ar-Rahman’s Fingers, as one heart. He turns it (in any direction) as He wills. Then Allah’s Messenger said, “O Allah! The Turner of hearts, turn our hearts towards Your obedience.”

Now let’s look at the bigger picture, what is our purpose in life?

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Now act accordingly.

via Daily Prompt: Descend

This topic was explored with the help of some authors. Most of the psychological aspects of this writing came from David Brooks’ book called ‘The Social Animal’. I do not claim it to be mine.

Dear zindagi life lessons on freedom

Therapist: please tell your friend that sometimes we choose the tough path only because we feel that to achieve important things we have to take the tough path

We feel we need to punish ourselves

But why?

Why not choose the easy way out? What is so bad about it?

Especially when we are unprepared for the tough path

Why climb mountains when you are not ready to?

Would you tell this story to your friend? It’s.. it’s important.


Therapist: I’m going to ask you a question.

Have you bought a chair? Have you bought one?

And did you just go into a shop and buy the first chair you saw?

Kaira: No

Therapist: Exactly my point.

We look at so many different chairs until we find the right one

Some chairs may be comfortable but look like shit

Others look nice but are hard on the butt

So the process starts, chair after chair..

How many chairs we check out before we find that one chair?

So the point is,

If we look for so many options just to buy a chair

Then shouldn’t we look at options when choosing a life partner?

So.. dirty.. cheap.. fast.. no

Smart, clear, fine.. actually super fine.

Kaira: so the women in my dream who believe that marriage is the only acceptable relationship, I felt dirty because of them

Therapist: See you’ve figured it out yourself. You don’t need anybody’s help

Kaira: But the dangling camera, what does that mean? … just like my future, it’s hanging in the air..!

Therapist: Actually you know what, maybe you should sit on my chair and I should sit from here today

Kaira: it’s so cool. I wish the whole world could hear about your chair theory

Therapist: why is it important for the whole world to hear this?

Kaira: if they understand this chair theory they will stop judging others and what a beautiful world it will be

Therapist: no kaira. When you understand yourself well, then what others think of you doesn’t matter. Not at all.


Kaira: why cycle today?

Therapist: just breaking the pattern

Kaira: yes, should break it

you must be going insane listening to crazy people like me all day inside one room

Therapist: mm. Quite possible

Albert Einstein once said “An insane person is one who does the same thing over and over again and expects different results each time”

Kaira: by the way, Rumi, its over. Broken up

Therapist: why?

Kaira: can’t do it. It’s too much. He doesn’t fit in my I don’t know I can’t handle it it’s too much

Therapist: what’s too much? Did rumi did something wrong?

Kaira: no we were just wrong for each other. *shivers* not this chair

Therapist: shiver! Only happens when we feel cold or have a fever, or due to weather or sometimes people shiver when they are scared

Kaira: *cycles off* I just want to be free. Free from all of this

Therapist: ya ya. I also want you to be free, free from your fears


Therapist: you know.. as children, when we are sad, our elders tells us not to cry. When we are angry, they tell us ‘give us a smile’. You know why? Just to keep the peace at home. When we wanted to hate they didn’t allow us. So now when we want to love we suddenly find our whole emotional system is topsy-turvy. It cannot function. Sadness, anger, hate, we were not allowed to express anything. So now, how do we express love?

It’s okay to be angry sometimes, even with parents. It’s good, it’s healthy, it’s okay kaira.


Above are a few dialogues from the movie ‘dear zindagi’. The plot centers on a budding cinematographer named Kaira, who is discontented with her life and meets Dr. Jehangir, a free-spirited psychologist who helps her to gain a new perspective on her life.

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There were a lot more quotes and conversations in the movie that were great given advice and scenes that were very touching and true, but if I were to type it all out it will be so much longer than this. This movie also shows a lot about the stereotype of those who seek therapy. “When people have a physical illness, they go to the hospital, its fine. But if someone has a mental illness, they don’t talk about it. They see themselves as crazy.” But after the end of her therapy and the beginning of her newfound state, only made possible by her therapist who were like her confidant and life teacher, Kaira grew confident and later became successful in her career. Having killed two birds with one stone, she finally attracted the right man into her life. It left me with so much emotions, making me realize why being a counsellor resonates in me, because in a therapeutic relationship you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you feel all kinds of emotions and you allow intimacy in order to heal. And when true healing takes place, joy towards life can then fill you. As what the character, Dr Jehangir says in the movie “if you can’t cry wholeheartedly, then how will you laugh wholeheartedly” It’s amazing how these movie industries uses their talents to convey important messages such as this. I must say it’s very different from those over the top Bollywood movies where there’s singing and dancing and also filled with dramatic love storyline, this movie is definitely a more down to earth with realistic views. Worth the watch!

Lightworkers and Narcissists

In my previous post,  I wrote about the concept of twin flame, and although the concept of twin flames or twin souls is highly seen as a divine connection of oneself losing their egos and loving unconditionally, there would be in some cases, contradicting views as the ‘runner’ and ‘chaser’ concept in twin flames might perpetually go on as an abusive relationship. These abusive relationships might come from the pattern of an empath attracting a narcissistic or an anxious attachment with a dismissive avoidant. This might be true, if we are not fully conscious of ourselves, we then allow ourselves to attract others base on the level of our self esteem. It is important to know too, that we are worthy of love, and that we shouldn’t allow the narcissistic or avoidant to take control of the precarious state that we are in.

I would also like to clear out the misconceptions that these posts in my blog have done. Especially in relation to Islam. I shouldn’t have named it Twin Flame, I should have just named it as Soulmates but I guess ‘Twin Flames’ would have reached out to more people who are reading about this in order to help my Muslim brothers and sisters.

As I’ve said in the previous post too that due to the increasing no of people going through spiritual awakening and spiritual consciousness, there are too an increasing no of compassionate healers and helpers in this world taking on careers such as; counsellors, social workers, spiritual guides etc. And especially more known to the concept of twin flames, these people are called lightworkers.

There is also an expectation that spiritually evolved people needs to be fully healed in order to heal others. Truth is, we can never be fully healed. We just transcend from one state to another state and we learn to bypass the traumas and fears that is in our unconscious being. Acquiring a state of equanimity; reliance in Allah even through pain is to perform your duty without attachment, remaining equal to success or failure. And most of the time, we need people to bring out the parts of us that is hidden in order to balance these energies and transform us.

We don’t have to be perfectly healed to help heal others. We don’t. But what we do need to be doing is leading the way authentically by making it our first and foremost mission to be committed to really healing and working with ourselves. Because if we’re not doing that, we are going to be doing the co-dependent thing of trying to get other people different so we can feel better. And we need to understand that to be an effective healer to ourselves and others, our most important mission is to be committed in releasing our own inner traumas, freeing ourselves from those, and then only helping people who asks for our help. The people that are going to come to us, that are ready to heal. So not trying to drag people into the light, who got no inclination to seek it, or stay on that path for real, which is of course what narcissists do. No one is going to be led to the light unless they personally seek it for themselves. So trying to force somebody to the light because we want them to do it for our own agenda, it never works. If we really unconditionally love everybody, we allow them to choose their own lives and we set them free rather than try to bend them to our will. And we stop purporting like we know what is right for them, and we stop playing out all of those conditional agendas of changing that person because we need them to provide us with our own happiness. We let them go and take responsibility for our own happiness.

I would like you to know, that it is important to be in a conscious state, that if one’s psychological or mental health is deteriorating due to the obsession of one in a relationship with a dismissive avoidant or a narcissistic, then time outs for healing is crucial. In actual sense, this time out is the time for healing that one’s fear and ego usually decides to sever the relationship. But it is usually one’s higher selves that relies one’s happiness and healing from God instead and thus able to express unconditional love to humankind.

“This path, is only for the strong hearted” – H

And the strong hearted submits to God. Do not believe in Twin Flames. Look into yourself, does God resides, or does shaitan (devil) resides? Perform istikharah for every of your decisions and be in harmony with what Allah SWT wants. Do not be too attached to this concept which doesn’t do good for you. You shouldn’t go around letting feelings fester for married man/woman either. It is appalling that many, even Muslims, are looking into Twin Flames to let oneself be unhealthily obsessed with another. If connections are severed, return yourself to Allah. Connect yourself back to Allah. The solution lies in Allah.

Transformation – counterbalancing the negativities in our soul

via Daily Prompt: Transformation

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To turn into a good person with a good conduct. Healing is essential. One must turn his back towards negative companies. That is the outward pulling out. Then one must learn peaceful ways of dealing with his own nafs and ego. To learn this, one must seek and be around positive role models. After which one has to face the trials of not being a hypocrite by facing to deal with difficult people with kindness. If anger still persist, keep pulling back. To only allow positive energies to enter into your environment, is a power someone need in order to ask for. In order for one to become…………… tolerant.

Yes, tolerant.

Cause here’s the question;

Now how good, is ‘good’ really? Are the people whose values do not work for us anymore, necessarily be bad?

Are we ‘good’ just because we hold our individual spiritual journey?

Every each of us has our own spiritual journey, and in the pursuit of our spiritual calling, are we there to be intolerant of others? Maybe life has shown them different ways. Maybe if I were to look into the eyes of their being in the distance, they own the other end of the universe. A universe so different from mine, I live to not change what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has appointed for them. Their souls, our souls, are still alike, we came from Him and we return to Him, who ever says we are greater than them. Their belligerence, is the lack of inner peace, maybe they are struggling, how about we make dua for them instead.

Transformation is not an overnight process. Transformation is a slow, arduous sometimes ugly process. We see what we do not like in ourselves in others. Like for example, I see similar personalities of my father in myself. Without me realizing it. My father’s stable and hardworking attitude gave us three daughters luxury. I live in luxury. But do I realize that in every minute of my life? No. Until I start nagging at how much unnecessary food is being stocked up in our kitchen and start preaching about the people in Africa not even having enough food. How unconscious I am when I scrap off leftover food after food at my part time jobs then once suddenly thought of a CSR business idea with my colleague while working with him. Or moments of constantly throwing away good products at work just because the standards must be kept. Or maybe the opposite; Keeping old things, just so we don’t have to waste money buying something new. Believe me not, I once washed a kettle full of maggots just because the company does not want to make any loss. Of course my eye roll and sneering made me realize how cheapskate they were. Only to forget that at home, my sister frustratingly calls me “Hajjah Bakhiliah” at times, a 90s malay movie character of a miserly person.

Of course, this is just the material examples of the many that I struggle with.

What I am trying to say here is, the problems of the outside world, is the existence of your inner being. Like how they say, we only see beauty, if it is the eyes that see beauty is the one that is beautiful.  So how do we counter the flaws that made our eyes not see the beauty of this world?

 

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Our soul darkens when its negative attributes are out of balance and as a result the heart becomes incapable of loving God. Until we learn to feed our souls with the opposite of our flaws, we are able to counterbalance the balancing scale that is in us. We could then reach our healthy state. For example, stinginess is cured when it is more pleasurable for one to give money than to keep it. Moderation is the path to good character. Such was Imam Al Ghazali’s advice on disciplining the soul.

Alhamdulillah for Shaykh Mahy Cisse.

There’s nothing more I can say. His spiritual wealth not only made him a great humanitarian but also a generous being showing solidarity in his charity. In God he trust.

And in God I trust, to be vulnerable. So that I am generous in my capability to love unconditionally.

TRANSFORM.

(may Allah forgive me for my state, or if I have said anything wrong)