Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sheik Ziaudin: On 'Self-Justification'

"Self-justification is worse than the original offence."
-- Sheik Ziaudin --
[Idries Shah, "The Way of the Sufi," p. 139]

Sheikh Ziaudin Jahib Suhrawardi (1097-1168) was a Sufi saint and philosopher who lived during the 12th-century C.E. He was a 'murid' or disciple of the classical Sufi philosopher, Mohamed El-Ghazali (1058-1111) and a follower of the ancient Sufi teacher and poet, Junaid. Sheik Ziaudin was a founder of the Suhrawardi Order (one of Sufic Islam's four great schools), the methods and teachings of which have greatly influenced countries like India, Persia (now Iran) and those in North Africa, as well as  the mystical activity of the people of these countries.

As a follower of El-Ghazali, Sheik Ziaudin was well aware that the path of the spiritual seeker is an inner path, and that, "(a) student must reduce to the minimum the fixing of his attention upon customary things like his people and his environment, for his attention-capacity is limited." (Idries Shah, "The Way of the Sufi," p. 53).

Just to the extent that an individual feels compelled to justify his actions, he or she focuses attention upon what other people might be thinking of them. And then, of course, he or she has lost the capacity to pay attention to the small 'self' or 'ego' that separates the seeker from the Absolute. In fact, in being compelled to justify one's action, internally or externally, one has already lost his or her independent capacity and is wholly attached to and identified with the ego.

"Ghazali," Idries Shah observed, "insists upon the connection and also the difference between the social or diversionary contact of people, and the higher contact (of the Divine)." In self-justification one focuses solely upon one's social contact with other people, and while some harm may have come to them by one's wrong actions or words, greater harm comes to the individual who attempts to justify his or her actions.

First, others are unlikely to wholly believe and accept the justification. But second, and more importantly, one remains identified with one's self-conscious ego, and the actions or words directed by the ego, just so long as one is compelled to justify such actions and words because of what others may think. Self-consciously justifying one's actions, words and very existence can take an entire lifetime, while dropping the imperative egoic need to justify oneself takes no time whatsoever and brings one back to an eternal higher consciousness and awareness.

"A human being," according to Ghazali (and as reported by Shah, ibid.), "is not a human being while his tendencies include self-indulgence, covetousness, temper and attacking other people." And, he or he is even a lesser being while trying to justify such tendencies.

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