Life, in its plain sense, is the span which extends from the moment of birth to the hour of death. Life has many aspects, and we should become acquainted with some of them in order to have a comprehensive understanding of it. I start with whatever is at the surface of existence, namely the body. This is the clearest proof of our existence. Our body-parts are in it or from it. We feel it healthy or sick. Our mood fluctuates with its changes. Through it we express a lot of our feelings. In it every thought of our reflections, whether we think of good or of evil, is preserved. It is our kin, and sometimes our friend. It astonishes us greatly whenever we realize its functions and the amazing bond between them.

Flesh and bones, blood and air, how do all this correlate and straighten up? This sensible entity contributes to lead the people to God, though material is unable to produce life in its finest sense. How could your deficiency accompany you and you remain in the mystery of your unity and in great or little integrity, until your unity perishes as God recaptures you to God’s mercy.

Maybe the enchantment grows whenever you contemplate on the way two bodies meet and another body is produced, namely a new life. This brings to them both growth, revival, pleasantness and freedom, rather than a detraction. You see and do not understand that the whole of the person is in the embryo, in its biology and complexions, and in its aptness for education.

However, the macrocosm is not one body. It has now about seven billion persons, of all colors and statures. Every one of them is different from the other, in every part of his/[her] visible or invisible parts. On the lowest level of existence you may know people through their eyes, hands and so forth. This is the first level of knowledge in which no contempt is incorporated to any one, where the strong and the weak, the upright and the disabled are equal. All people, whether they realize or no, are in a state of praise to God. One of our Fathers said that the body with the soul is according to the image of God. The Lord in the New Testament has never talked about beauty that some have, and the reason for this is that all His children, however they appear, are equal for Him and for His love of them. God places within every one of us God’s splendor and this has nothing to do with whatever one considers as distinction in him/[her].

Greater than the body is the mind, by which we delve into the mysteries [of our humanity] and the mysteries of the universe. The ancient ones said that the human being is a talking animal, and by this they referred to the mind, since by it the human being is distinguished from all creatures. This is based on the brain, but [in fact] it is not the brain. The mind in Arabic refers to the correlation, and it is known as logic, and in language it is the space which unifies the thought, namely discovers the vision and makes the human being the master of creation, after God, since he/[she] comprehends it as everything is brought together in his/[her] mind.

Knowledge is composed through us and we seek to bring [its details] together in order that it attains unification. Hence, the work emerges through which we might change the world and mold its parts and this is what God desired when God called us to have dominion over the world. In the language of God our share is not pride but service and through service the universe rises as we bring it to our human reality. In this we become humble. The dominion that we have is about humility, through which the universe becomes greater in us and we become greater in it.

We enter the universe; we do not break through it. And whenever we come with softness we are trained to be tender. The mind might be a path to the heart. Without the heart the mind becomes tyrannic, while through it the mind escapes its own probable arrogance which would make it an instrument for destruction and death for us and others. Thus, we do not agree with the saying of Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri that there is no imam other than the mind. The intelligence of our great poet should have held him back from this assurance, through which he wanted to fight superstitions. However, a sound mind is free from superstition. It is [only] in need of blessings from above in order to be liberated from its partiality against the torsion which comes from every aberration in thought.

At the minimum, the mind is adornment, as the public say [in Arabic]. However, it is more important than that. It is our construction in its amplitude and inclusiveness, though the knowledgeable and the ignorant are equal in front of God. Yes, the ignorant might disturb you whenever you were perceptive, nevertheless, you should embrace him/[her] since he/[she] is the beloved of God and he/[she] helps you not to boast about thought. Divine grace descends upon whomever it wills. It is not your achievement, but God’s, that God pours upon you the radiation of your existence. Arrogance is a great sin which distorts the image of God within you. However, you might like the gathering of the intelligent ones. These all might bring growth to you and to them and it might be the start of fraternity, through which God is glorified.

This would bring about talents and their diffusion. Thus, let truth come from wherever it can and to whoever accepts it. The mind which revolves around truth is what the Lord wants for you. You are not the purpose of your intelligence; it is rather God and your companions. Do not look at your mind as in a mirror. Look at only to those whom you serve.

The Orthodox say that the mind has to descend to the heart in order to get purified and then ascend in order to become a good mind. One of the Sufis (Al-Hallaj) said to God: “Your place in my heart is the whole of my heart”. The heart is then, for our elders, not the center of emotional affection, it is the center for understanding whenever God descends to it. As if our elders say that God is the source of understanding.

This takes me to the Gospel of John, the story of the Last Supper. The Evangelist says: “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?”” (John 13: 23-25, [NKJ]) In Hebrew perceptions the bosom was the place of emotion where the beloved disciple was received. However, as he leaned back on the breast of the Master he reached the heart, namely the place of understanding.

You understand when God speaks to you. And when God embraces you to Godself, you own your heart and God indwells in it. God’s understanding becomes yours. Then, you embrace the universe to yourself and you understand it as the heart and the mind meet.

One transcends the most whenever one loves and accepts the mind in him/[her]self. God within you is the one who understands.

Human formation starts with the body, which is of the earth, and the soul, which God has breathed in it. Thus, we have dust and mind, and the earthly reality transcends to the mind. And whenever the mind rests in the heart and receives love from it, it becomes purified. Then, you take the cover of love, since “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant … it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.” (1Cor. 4-6)

The human being is a body which transcends toward the mind, and a mind which rises by the heart. These together form the ascending existence which aspires to perfection, so that whenever God sees it, God knows that you have completed your strive on earth, and nothing befits you, after this, other than heaven.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الحياة” –An Nahar- 04.12.2010