Ego And The Pull Of Gravity
Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani
Every category of animal lives together. There is no mixing of different ones – all must be the same within each species. They say that human beings are perfect speaking animals. God has created us in perfection and honored us as he said in His Holy Book: “We have honored human beings” (Al-Isra’ 70). Unfortunately, I am afraid to say that we are less than animals yet. Every category of animals can live with each other. We, either men or women, are also a category of creation – and yet no humans can live with each other without fighting. Do you see lions, elephants, and all kinds of animals perpetually fighting with each other? They don’t fight but are raised all together. Here, two of us will be fighting in the space of only one month.
There must be some secret there to make you fight with each other. Go to any center in the human community – churches, synagogues, mosques, Sūfī centers, and you will see them fighting. Because there is something hidden in themselves, which is pride. Everyone wants to be “he-himself,” the one whose ideas, whose opinions, whose leadership must work, either in his house, his job, his group, or anywhere. Wives want to fight husbands, husbands want to fight wives for the slightest mistake. At work, no one accepts someone else’s opinion. In a group, one’s opinion must be the first. This is never-ending. Why? because God imposed over human beings their ego. When God puts that ego there, it will not accept anything. That is the meaning of the ayat:
“We have offered the heavens, the earth, and the mountains Our Trust to carry, but they were unable to carry it and were afraid; and when We asked human beings, quickly they ran to do it” (al-Ahzāb 72),
because they want to possess everything. If you gave someone all of Montreal, he will not be happy and will look over to Ontario to see if he can have it. You can never make a human being satisfied of anything. If you give him gold, he wants diamonds. If you give him diamonds, he wants your neck.
Because man is so greedy, God made him so that nothing can satisfy his eyes except sand. Why? Because when he is passing away, even if you bring him all the treasures of this world, he does not want them. Finished – he just wants to go to the grave and be surrounded by sand. It does not mean that he does not feel anything. He feels everything. But when he sees how merciful God is with him, and how he was running away from his Lord, if you give him at that time the most beautiful lady or the pleasures of this life, he will be running after his Lord, because he is seeing the reality at the time that he is given birth. That is why the Prophet (s) said,الناس نيام فإذا ماتوا أنبتهوا - "Human beings are sleeping; nothing awakes them except death”1
If this is the case, why are we fighting? We are of the same family. Everyone loves his sons and his daughters. Aren’t we all the children of Adam ¡ and Eve? All of you in your hearts are now saying, yes, the Shaykh is right. I can hear this. But as soon as you go out of this door, everything is forgotten. It might be that some men and women who came here will begin to fight even as they come down the stairs – not even waiting to reach home.
These elements which God created for men are trying to pull us back to their origin. What is their origin? Earth. Gravity is pulling you because the rule of everything is earthly gravity. As a circle has a center, with an infinite number of radii that all come from one point, the center, so human beings also all refer back to one point through gravity, the earth. In the opposite direction, your spirit, which is coming from God’s ocean of power, through his attribute Al-Qādir, the Powerful, is pulling you up to that second origin.
In some games, they bring a big rope and tell this party to pull this side, and that party to pull that side, to see which side will win. Any side that pulls more, the other side must go with it and no one remains on that side. One must be catching the other, not just winning but bringing the other over. This is the conflict between spirituality and egoism, or the physical part of man. Whichever one wins pulls the other to it. That is why you see all people losing. They are all falling towards gravity, towards this earth. Only saints raise themselves up and they can raise their group.
Now they are sending Columbia into outer space. There is no gravity there anymore. You can see them floating in the spaceship, without gravity. When Sayyidinā Jalaluddun Rūmī whirled with his group of dervishes, he used to rise from earth and levitate. There is nothing pulling him down. His good side is more than his bad side. His bad side cannot pull him down anymore. If we can make our good side more powerful than our bad side now, we are going to be good people in the community. People are going to look at you and say, this man’s good side is far better than his bad side, so we are going to try to follow him. But if your bad manners outnumber your good manners, at that time you are going to fall and all those who are following you are going to fall with you.
We have to try our best to eliminate that pride from our hearts because it is the chief disease of all bad manners. If you are going to keep your pride high, then, of course, you are not going to accept any advice, you are not going to listen to anyone, you are going to fight, and you are going to fall into bad manners. Our master’s advice for tonight is to reject pride from our hearts and to come to each other with love, not with anything else. God created us with His love. If He did not love us He would not have created us. Come back with love to each other, and bring this love to all around you.
And from God is all success.
Wa mina-llāhit-tawfīq bi hurmatì‘l-Fātihah.