Nowadays, almost everyone working in corporate America agrees that there is dog-eat-dog competition going on among rival companies as well as among candidates for jobs in these companies. The price companies pay for even a short period of “relaxation” in this non-stop race is very high: it is paramount to going out of business. The same holds true for individuals; a brief disengagement from the field or the market is likely to have serious negative consequences for one’s career. There is endless hassle without a break. Such stiff competition has devastating results at all levels: At the individual level, a wide range of psychological disorders and psychosomatic illnesses, such as stress and stress-related disturbances, and frequently sacrificing one’s values, such as altruism and humility, to survive in a job; at the family level, neglecting family members, especially children, who beg for genuine care and quality time from their parents; at the societal level, the loss of respect and care for one another, and indifference to problems in the society.
This article is neither a detailed description of the complete list of problems caused by the current system in many industrialized countries nor a practical remedy guaranteed to work the next day. It is obvious that the problems mentioned above cannot be fixed overnight or through band-aid solutions to only one aspect of life. With that in mind, it is also important to realize that any solution to any problem is influenced to a great extent by the underlying philosophy. Therefore, this article offers some fruits of reflection by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, collectively suggesting a thought-provoking perspective to the disturbing picture given above. To this end, a unique description of the gracious environment offered by nature-in its unspoiled, pure form-is presented, as opposed to the suffocating climate-as briefly described above-in the superficial world that mankind has built for itself.
While being continuously busy with, or even overwhelmed by, the necessities of modern life have you ever reflected upon what Almighty offers us through Nature? Here are a few points to think about and thank for; please read with your heart as well as with your mind:
• All animate beings-from the most powerless to the most powerful-are given some suitable form of sustenance. A hand of infinite generosity gives feasts to all living things, none being forgotten. A little thought given to the variety of living things on the earth and the corresponding diversity of the types of sustenance they continuously beg for will suffice to realize the overall grace as a principle that is always at work.1
• By merely glancing at the material causes we can find clues that we have been provided with all our needs. Has it ever occurred to you that we are being dressed in the finest of fabrics-silk-by an insect that has no limbs and that we are eating wholesome and sweet honey from a bug that has a poisonous sting? Have you ever reflected on grapes? Bediuzzaman once saw a grapevine in a garden. He counted the bunches hanging from that grapevine, all of a thickness of two fingers. They numbered one hundred and fifty five. He counted the grapes in one bunch. There were around one hundred and twenty. He thought that if that vine had been a tap from which flowed honey-flavored water and if it had given a constant flow of water, it would have been just enough for to water the grapes, which in the face of extreme heat, contained hundreds of little pumps of the sherbet of mercy.2-3
• There is an inverse relationship between sustenance on the one hand and strength and willpower on the other. The more one relies on strength and willpower, the more difficult it will be to sustain one’s life. For example, it is the most helpless and delicate creatures that have the choicest food; for example, infants and the young of all species. The most impotent and least intelligent animals are the best nourished; like worms with fruit. On the other hand, the most powerful and intelligent animals experience difficulty in their livelihood. It is the wild beasts, such as lions, that have to relentlessly pursue their prey. The cunning fox remains thin in its search for food.4
• Compassion is apparent in relationships between living things. In the world of plants, look at the fruit-bearing trees. For example, the coconut tree, which carrying fruit that are like so many cans of ready-to-drink nourishment, gives sweet milk to its fruits while contenting itself with muddy water. Trees like the pomegranate and grapevines distribute a delicious beverage to their fruit and, in extreme heat, content themselves with mud. In the world of animals, look at the self-sacrifice mothers display. The hen has the courage to sacrifice its life for her chicks, throwing herself at a dog. She remains hungry and gives them food to eat. And she receives such pleasure in her duty that she prefers the pains of hunger and pangs of death.5-6
Regardless of how much we, human beings, have destroyed such a nourishing cradle in pursuit of our endless desires this is the description of our environment-in its pristine form-that has been prepared for humankind. One can easily realize what an important mistake it is for a guest, long awaited and shown such respect, to be in conflict with such a wonderful environment. Personally, I would be much happier to be in harmony with this environment than to be an inhabitant of a merciless, hostile one.
Just imagine for a second that aliens in space are watching the world. They will quickly realize that human beings, the most intelligent of living things, are those in the greatest agony; in contrast to all other members of the same world who are living content with their lives. I think we need to stop and take a careful look at our lives from above this hasty flow and decide what we are looking for.
Nature is out there, always ready to provide lessons that offer solutions to the problems in the world of humanity and I hope that the people tackling these problems will consult with this objective, age-old instructor and, where applicable, make use of the wisdom it offers.
Nursi, Said, The Words, Sozler Publications, Translated by Ãžukran Vahide, Istanbul: 2002, The Tenth Word, Second Truth, p. 75.
Ibid., The twenty-second word; second station; sixth flash. p. 309.
Ibid., p. 75.
Ibid., p. 75.
Nursi, Said, The Flashes Collection, Sozler Publications, Translated by Ãžukran Vahide, Istanbul: 2000, The Seventeenth Flash, Eighth Note, p. 171.