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Guide Posts TRANQUILLITY (Bashir Ahmad Orchard) “O you who believe be patient and enjoin patience . . . ” (Quran 3:199). Peace of mind is an inner condition for which many yearn but few attain. Most people who are subjected to provocation manifest unrest and frustration to a lesser or greater extent. True peace of mind ingrains itself upon the character of an individual and is constantly reflected in his voice, carriage and movements of the body. It is a blissful and heavenly blessing which dwells within and colours the personality twenty four hours of the day. The tranquil spirit is an attribute which can be developed and acquired by anyone who earnestly desires to possess it. The essential ingredients for success are prayer, mental attention, self-discipline, resolve and perseverance. They will propel the individual upwards on his flight towards his blessed goal; and soon he will experience a remarkable change within himself; but still he will not rest satisfied with these first fruits of progress. He will desire and strive for further advancement and will be on guard against the slightest deviations liable to unbalance his spiritual poise; and as he continues to progress, peace and serenity will take firmer control of his thoughts and actions until conscious attention is no longer required being replaced by second nature. The person possessing peace of mind is not indifferent to sorrows and distresses of life. He is acutely aware of them but he accepts them in a calm and philosophical manner and often an observer may fail to detect any sign of physical emotion. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad — the Promised Messiah — was very devoted to his first born daughter—Ismat. She fell ill and he watched over her with great care and love-; but when she died he seemed to forget her ‘ completely. He had resigned himself to the decree of Allah. On another occasion a false and malicious charge of murder was brought against him by some Christian missionaries. Their malevolence knew no bounds. Normally most men finding themselves under such circumstances would show clear GUIDE POSTS 3 symptoms of strain, fatigue and worry, yet all the while the Promised Messiah remained so cheerful, friendly and composed that no one could imagine that such a heavy charge hung over his head. The person who possesses peace of mind never frets and fumes. Loss of life, loss of wealth, loss of health, persecution, hardships, annoyances, disturbances and difficulties do not unduly upset him. Although he is fully conscious of their impact, his demeanour remains calm and under personal control. God tells us in the Holy Quran that He will cause man to undergo various afflictions in order that he may develop in patience and steadfastness: “And We will try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives, and fruits. But give glad tidings to the patient, who when in misfortune overtakes them, say ‘Surely to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.'” (2:156, 157). It is in times of affliction and inconvenience that a person is tested and given the opportunity of exercising and demonstrating the crown of virtues — patience. The conquest of undesirable emotions is not an easy task. Blessed are they who succeed. There are people who are deemed by others to rank among the spiritual elite yet when provoked are quick to display impatience and anger much to the bewilderment of their admirers. My purpose is to focus attention on the immense charm and value of the tranquil mind and to arouse the enthusiasm and aspiration of the reader to develop such a state of mind within himself; then to present some practical guide lines to help him on this enthralling journey to unclimbed heights of mental and spiritual development. In order to avoid harm and succumbing to temptation it is a great asset to be able to recognise early danger signals and then take the required precautions and safeguards. The gathering of dark clouds in the sky signals the approach of a storm. The traveller will look for shelter, the housewife will gather in her washing from the line and the shepherd will round up his flock. They all recognise the signs of an impending storm and prepare for the coming deluge. It is extremely important that the person who is striving to develop the tranquil spirit be alert to every condition and occasion which is liable to cause him to act in a manner contrary and destructive to that spirit. He should be thoroughly acquainted with those daily events of life which may cause him to stumble; and taking heed of their warning signal prepare himself from falling. If this procedure is given earnest attention and adopted with enthusiasm it will prove of immense value in meeting the multifarious circumstances of life in a calm and serene manner which is the essence of the tranquil spirit. 4 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Absence of self-control opens the flood gates for the onrush of impatience, irritability, unrest, abuse, resentment, sarcasm, bitterness and a host of other negative traits all of which are the destroyers of tranquillity. They must be conquered. A list of some everyday occurrences which are liable to cause a person to express irritation now follows. Each one is a warning signal. They should be impresed upon the mind so that they may be recognised immediately they appear whereupon immediate mental defensive action should be taken. Each one should be welcomed as a challenge and as an opportunity for developing self-control. Gradually all kinds of disturbing influences will be mastered and composure will reign supreme. Noise Noise is only too often the cause of frayed nerves, bad temper and harsh words. Even in the home and family circle screeching children and howling babies arouse temper among members of the household. It was amidst such scenes of tumult that the Promised Messiah wrote some of his masterpieces of religious literature without as much as uttering a word of complaint about the noise going on around him. The Promised Messiah was once suffering from severe headache and he was asked by one of his disciples — Maulvi Abdul Karim —• whether he was not disturbed by the noise of the children and servants in the house. He replied that he himself did not like asking them to keep quiet but Maulvi Abdul Karim may do so in a polite manner. On another occasion he was asked how he was able to work so coolly and calmly amidst the household noise whereupon he replied that he did not give heed to it and therefore he was not disturbed. Interruption Annoyance is generally felt and expressed by the person who is interrupted while absorbed in some important and interesting work. Even the chirping bird, the hovering fly or the buzzing mosquito will disturb some people to such an extent that they fly into a fit of anger; and they will exhibit a similar reaction if awakened from sleep. It has been related that the Promised Messiah used to be frequently interrupted by young children when deeply engrossed in writing his literary gems. Time and time again they would knock on the door of his room demanding that he open the door to let them in. The Promised Messiah would quietly rise from his seat and without a word or expression of annoyance open the door. On one occasion while he was engaged in writing a book his young GUIDE POSTS 5 son Mahmud (Khalifatul Masih II) set fire to the completed manuscripts which the Promised Messiah had placed to one side. On turning to them for reference he found them burnt to ashes. A smile spread across his face as he mused that perhaps God desired that he should write something better in its place. The Tiresome Talker Some people are wearying conversationalists. They will talk on and on without a break and often their conversation is dull, self-centred and unconstructive. Giving time and attention to such people is often difficult and calls for patience and tact on behalf of the listener who may otherwise fidget or explode with impatience thereby giving offence. The Promised Messiah was sometimes confronted by tiresome talkers but he would never show any sign of annoyance or impatience. He would listen to all they had to say with the attention of one listening to the sweet song of a nightingale. Food Food is often the cause of irritability. Hungry children show it one and all. Many husbands chide their wives if their meal is not prepared on time or in the manner according to their liking. Hunger irritates the nerves which almost inevitably gives rise to vexation especially in those unaccustomed to fasting. All should be on guard when the hunger signal buzzes. Financial Difficulties Money problems often cause great mental strain which in turn is inclined to engender irritability, general loss of vitality and ‘sense of well-being. Tranquillity of mind is our goal so it is essential not to allow financial problems to undermine our spiritual equilibrium. We should place our faith and trust in Allah and be thankful that through Ahmadiyyat we possess immortal wealth which is more valuable than all the gold in the world. There were but a few dates in the home of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) at the time of his death and the Promised Messiah possessed only one rupee shortly before his demise. The tranquil spirit will enable a person to maintain a cheerful and bright countenance despite his financial difficulties. 6 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Tiredness A tired person is not usually in the best of humour and his nerves are inclined to become on edge and he may easily give way to petty annoyances. Tiredness is a signal for the spiritual wayfarer to be on the alert and to give special attention to his words and actions. Abuse — Slander — Sarcasm These are verbal weapons used by malevolent persons who want to derogate, traduce and deride other people. The person anxious to cultivate the tranquil spirit must learn to remain calm and poised in the presence of his detractors. It demands a high degree of self control but he who is determined to master himself will ultimately succeed in the attainment of his aspiration. Whenever any of the preceding circumstances confront a person he should immediately guard himself against being adversely influenced and thereby lose to some extent his spiritual poise. These are the times when he must remain calm and relaxed; and each time he succeeds he will add a brick to his spiritual fortress until eventually his general demeanour will become extraordinarily magnetic. There are hundreds of little things in life over which people are liable to become upset. Disapproval of something is quite in order; but its uncontrolled expression is out of order. What upsets A may not upset B; and. what upsets B may not upset A. A list of some common daily occurrences likely to test the patience of a person now follows. They should not be glanced over lightheartedly. Those who treat them lightly will be the first to fall when the challenge comes; but those who are in earnest will appreciate their significance and learn to maintain patience when they come face to face with them and other similar events. When people have no respect for punctuality. When you lose something of value. When called upon to do something you do not agree with or do not want to do. When people pick a quarrel with you. When you just miss a train or bus. When somebody fails to keep his promise. When you knock over a tin of paint, bottle of milk or ink. When you are feeling unwell or suffering from pain. When you feel you are being treated unjustly. When people fail to give you the respect you feel you deserve. When people do not act in accordance with your wishes. GUIDE POSTS 7 A host of other illustrations could be listed. As muscular exercises develop the muscles of the body so do mental and spiritual exercises develop the mind and soul. The achievement of an objective whether it be material or spiritual calls for constant attention backed by a strong desire to succeed: “Desire plus continued thoughts on the thing desired equals the result desired.” There is no depth to the ocean of the tranquil spirit. It is a gem of priceless value which may be discovered and possessed by the earnest person who focuses his mind upon its realisation, constantly watches over his conduct with careful attention and prays to Allah to help him succeed in this his blessed aspiration, for real tranquillity of mind stems from union with God Almighty. Serenity Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control. The calm man, having learned howto govern himself, knows howto adapt himself to others; and they, in turn, reverence his spiritual strength, and feel they can learn of him and rely upon him. The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. The strong, calm man is always loved and revered. He is like a shade giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock in a storm. Who does not love a tranquil heart, a sweet-tempered, balanced life? It does not matter whether it rains or shines, or what changes come to those possessing these blessings, for they are always sweet, serene and calm. That exquisite poise of character which we call serenity is the last lesson of culture; it is the flowering of life, the fruitage of the soul. (James Allen)