Change the Direction of Your Emotions

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“The most fortunate person in this worldly life is he who sees the world as a military guest-house, and submits himself and acts accordingly. Seeing it in this way, he may rise swiftly to the rank of winning Allah’s pleasure, the highest rank. Such a person will not give the price of a lasting diamond for something as valueless as glass, doomed to be broken. He will pass his life uprightly and with pleasure. Yes, matters to do with this world are like pieces of glass that will be broken, while the lasting matters of the hereafter are as precious as flawless diamonds. The intense curiosity, fervent love, terrible greed, stubborn desires, and other intense innate human emotions were given to gain the matters of the hereafter. To direct them fervently towards the transitory things of this world is to give the price of eternal diamonds for doomed fragments of glass.”[1]

For example, passionate love is an ardent sort of love. When it is directed towards transitory objects, it either causes its owner perpetual torment and pain, or, since the ephemeral beloved (transient lover) is not worth the price of such fervent love, it causes the lover to search for an eternal one. Then passing love is transformed into true love. In reality, love is nothing what it seems…Love is more than what an individual feels towards a transient second party. Love is love only when it is directly or indirectly Divine, if it is not then is a complete lie full of imperfections.

Likewise, our body is a gift, a blessing from Allah (swt) that is so unique and priceless and each one of our organs and emotions is sent down with a purpose as unique as we are. Man possesses thousands of emotions and each one of them has two degrees, two sides as we mentioned in the “ego – ana” essay. For further explanation I wish to give a few examples:

Firstly, we sometimes intensely get anxious about our future but then we see that we have no guarantee that we will reach the future that we get anxious about and sometimes we get anxious about our livelihood but then again when consider thoroughly our livelihood isn’t in our hands, we don’t get what we earn but we get what is reserved for us in our Lord’s presence. Sometimes we earn but we cannot have all those money by ourselves since it is not in our destiny. So, we look beyond the grave which is long-lasting and which hasn’t been promised for the heedless. Our point of view changes towards the right direction.

Secondly, we also display very intense ambition for possessions and rank, then we see that this worldly, transient property that has been temporarily put under our supervision isn’t worth such a intense ambition for the worldly properties leave us in the door of grave, we cannot take them with us there, and the calamitous fame and high ranks are also not worth it since they are dangerous and lead to hypocrisy, the elderly celebrities know this best when asked them how it is to be end up in loneliness after all these fame. Then, we turn away from the worldly properties and fame and ranks towards the spiritual ranks and degrees in closeness to Allah (swt) and the provisions of hereafter and our good deeds which are our true property in the hereafter. We will see the worldly ambition which is a bad quality is transformed into true ambition and a lofty quality.

Thirdly, we sometimes expend our emotions on trivial, fleeting, transient things with wilful obstinacy. Then, we see that we pursue for a very long time something that is not worth even a minute obstinacy and being obstinate we insist on something that is damaging and harming us that is eroding us, rotting and burning us inside out. Then, we see that this powerful emotion isn’t given to us for such things, we see that expending this emotion on them is contrary to wisdom and truth. So, we start to utilize this intense obstinacy not on those unnecessary transient matters but on the elevated and eternal truths of belief and essentials of Islam and service and duties pertaining to the hereafter. Thus, worldly obstinacy, a base quality, is transformed into true obstinacy; that is, ardent steadfastness and constancy in what is right, a fine and good quality.

As these few examples show, if we use these faculties that we are given to us as blessings (emotions) on account of worldly pleasures and our nafs and if we behave heedlessly as if we were going to stay in this world forever, those emotions will be the cause of bad morals and will be misspent and futile. But if we expend the lesser of them on the matters of this world and the more intense of them on spiritual duties and tasks pertaining to the hereafter, they become the source of laudable morals and the means to happiness in this world and the next in conformity with wisdom and reality and this is what is seeing the world what it truly is because it is the opportunity to gain peace the hereafter.

I would like to finish with a quotation from a prominent scholar of our time, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi:

“My guess is that one reason the advice and admonitions given at the present time have been ineffective is that those offering them say: “Don’t be ambitious! Don’t be greedy! Don’t hate! Don’t be obstinate! Don’t love the world!” That is, they propose something that is apparently impossible for those they address like changing their inborn natures. If only they would say: “Turn these emotions towards beneficial things, change their direction, their channel,” both their advice would be effective, and they would be proposing something within those persons’ will power.”[2]

[1] 9th Letter / from the Letters book / from the Risale-i Nur Collection by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

[2] 9th Letter (“Thirdly” part) / from the Letters book / from the Risale-i Nur Collection by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi