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Are We a Bunch of Grapes or the Wine? Humility and Oneness

September 7, 2009

grapesThe great Persian poet Rumi said “This multiplicity exists in the cluster of grapes; It is not in the juice made from the grapes.”  I’m sure it was a lot more eloquent in his native Farsi.

The juice or wine is the oneness and the cluster of grapes are our individual egos, which need to be refined in order for us to shed our boundaries.  Many things give us a sense of oneness – religion, nationalism, culture, and community to name a few – not all of which result in true growth.  True oneness is achieved through rigorous spiritual work, for which there is no replacement, magic pill or shortcut. I witness too many people who embrace religion out of fear and laziness, as if God will save them no matter what as long as they pray and mechanically observe the outer rituals.  This is akin to being a “good student” who develops no common sense, intuition or street smarts, and therefore lacks the problem solving skills that are essential for success in life.  I believe that true religion is a call to humility and respect for the underlying connectedness of everything.  Authentic religious practices are geared towards reminding us that we are but a small piece of the vast fabric of life and energy in this universe.  Whatever we achieve and accomplish in life has been made possible by circumstances and a higher force that is beyond our comprehension, yet at the same time accessible to us.  This is why it behooves us to always remain humble and never try to seize too much credit for anything we do.  Of course, each of us has the power within to influence the world in some way; a major responsibility that we have to one another is to wield this power wisely.  Therein lies the other aspect of spirituality that I am highlighting today – the oneness or connectedness of everything.  At its essential level, all universal matter is the same.  We are all but drops of water out of the same ocean.  We are aspiring to recognize what is already true – that we are the wine.

Each religion has its unique way of saying essentially the same things.  I don’t look at different religions in a competitive manner, as if they are competing to be more correct than the others.  The fact that different religions exist should simply verify that spirituality is innate to human beings, which is why wherever people evolved across the world, some form of God was conceived and developed.  The word Islam means “to surrender oneself to the Higher Power”.  To be Muslim is to “surrender to God”.  Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions all have similar core concepts of surrender (of the ego).  Every day, when we pray, we humble our human (ego) selves and yield to the divine presence that encompasses the Universe, and that exists as a light within each of us.  That light (our Essence) shines a bit brighter in those moments when we are really able to quiet the mind, relegate the ego and allow the spirit to breathe.  In that state of serenity, one truly feels the sense of oneness that I refer to.  It’s something that our logic can grasp only when we have felt it enough times.  This explains why so many intellectuals and atheist scientists cannot comprehend God.  It is because they are stuck in their heads and their egos will not yield to something higher than itself.  This (arrogance) is the ultimate hubris at work, and one of the hardest human conditions to overcome.

As for so-called “the believers”, we also have to be careful, as equal arrogance exists amongst them.  Anyone can claim that they believe in God or that they practice some form of spirituality.  That does not mean that much, and in fact, can hamper one’s true spiritual growth.  You see this in a lot of highly religious countries, where religion is a root part of the culture.  It becomes a mechanical process, and people stop questioning things, instead choosing to believe whatever they are told and accept it as 100% truth.  This can lead to the same type of fanaticism that we see from the intellectual-scientific types that apply their intelligence to questionable purposes (ie – atomic bombs, military technology).  Being religious does not give anyone a free pass to Heaven, which in my view is a reflection of an ecstatic and tranquil inner space.  Ultimately, in order to evolve, we have to be willing to do some form of real spiritual work, regardless of our religious orientation.  Using these two principles – humility and unity – as guide posts can help us assess our current state of awareness.  Doing so will help us recognize what we need in order to continue maturing emotionally.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2009 11:51 pm

    Nice thoughts. I have to disagree on two fronts though..

    1.” I witness too many people who embrace religion out of fear and laziness”

    Embracing religion is fear is quite ok as long as it relates to the realization of the existence of God and the purpose of Human sent on Earth. But i don’t see people embracing religion out of laziness. In fact people deviate away from religion out of laziness. Lot of Muslims simply don’t pray obligatory 5 times a day out of laziness which actually drives them away from religious practices.

    2. “Ultimately, in order to evolve, we have to be willing to do some form of real spiritual work, regardless of our religious orientation. Using these two principles – humility and unity – as guide posts can help us assess our current state of awareness”

    Well humility is a relative term and it varies religion to religion and culture to culture. So it’s hard for us to find out a universally accepted meaning of humility by using individual knowledge. And “real form of spiritual work” is a vast relative terms as well in general. Who will decide if this someone is thinking “real form of spiritual work” is actually a real at all ? This would require some instructions by God Almighty Himself which can be found in authentic religious scriptures. There may be a great gap between assumptions and the real thing.

    • September 13, 2009 3:17 pm

      Mahbub, thank you for your feedback and insights. What you witness and I witness may very well be two different things, due to our respective living situations. I see, around me and around the world, fear and laziness driving a lot of actions, including over-dependence or wrong-dependence on religion, as if to defer responsibility for their own actions. I agree that laziness can and in many cases also drives people away from spiritual-religious practices. Further, while I agree that fear is “quite ok” in the way you noted, far too often supposedly ‘religious’, political and other types of social leaders play on people’s vulnerabilities and fears in order to manipulate them, very often in the name of religion. This is a moral crime that is going on worldwide every day, and unfortunately many people, out of fear and laziness, fail to challenge these sources of authority or themselves to seek what the right spiritual path might be for them.

      On the second point, yes I agree that terms like “humility” and “real spiritual work” are general. In a separate time and place, I can elaborate on what those terms mean to me, which I believe is closer to absolute truth than relative abstract concepts. In one’s own heart, and obvious to those witnesses of elevated spiritual stations, “real form of spiritual work” is recognized. I agree 100% that “authentic religious scriptures” from God provide perfect guidance; and God, in every scripture that I have learned of calls upon us to do exactly what most wise men over the past thousands of years have passed on, which includes doing “real” spiritual work (which can take many forms that again, are described, advised and acknowledged by prophets and recent spiritual leaders alike) and to do so with an attitude of humility. Allahu Akbar or God is Greater is the essence of humility – never to take credit and always to recognize that all is from one Source.

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