October 20, 2016

Private thoughts

Life's success is in making connections and through it the flowering of happiness and joy. But for many of us connecting is difficult because of the strength of our opinions that don't budge in our dealings with the other person. Our private thought hold us back many a time to our social alienation and even to destruction. 

What comprises private thoughts? Some thoughts we have are assailable and others are iron cast. For the latter, it would take mountains to move them. Where did all these come from?  Yes, our personalities have a lot to do with these. In fact the most private of our thoughts are what makes for our personality. Our values, mores, and beliefs are all a part of the narration that we uphold of what we are. These are most often ironclad. These come from the heart and so are the deepest held. And  we put them there for good evolutionary reason -  for our self protection. These are narrations that have been suggested to us over and over again in our past from childhood to youth and adulthood, for these to be seen as true in our mind and then neatly conveyed to the heart for safe keeping.

When we are adults those thoughts that have fared most prominently in our lives - through the way our parents nurtured us, the type of friends we've had, or from the things we read or the things that were taught to us by our teachers, all come to form this formless mass of personality that grips us through life. These private thoughts are what we defend with our thoughts and words and action; what we fight for with guns and grenades and tanks and mortars, bombs, aircrafts, and yes, even with our life.

There is also a subset of these private thoughts that get linked to our ego which is the source of our stubbornness and certainly not of our rationality or sensibility. These defensive thoughts and beliefs we form are because of their link to the glitter of life or the selfishness that we harbour within us. These are also private thoughts but which are only linked to context - the context of benefit to us as long as we hold on to these. When the context changes we let these go as if they didn't matter at all and we may even fight on the other side of it where the context seems now more lucrative or beneficial to our ego drive.

But then there are also those thoughts that are not private. These that float in and out of our mind as intellectual curiosities or propositions that will receive rational discussion and dialogue. These are erased when our understanding matures or get transmuted into other subtle variations of positions that are still assailable.
For a society to have harmony we need to elevate our deep held private beliefs to the level of dialogue. The way to do this to relinquish our attachment to our private thoughts and be the non-judgmental observer to the emotions that emanate from our protectionist ego.

When we can do this we will have moved towards dialogue, compromise and the path to common terms. This is the essence of rapprochement. The way to peace and harmony in our society. Islam exhorts us to discuss and find such common ground through ‘shoora’.

The mettle of our belief and our true success in our lives is in the following of Allah’s (SWA) Commandments in sincerity!

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