Saturday, March 27, 2010

Memory , SubConscious and Unconscious‏

A scholar explained the memory of God with an analogy of birth. The following is as I understand and reason it:
God has sent us here, in this life, as an examination. Part of the examination is the belief in the unseen God. He explained that it is in our unconscious, even if we our not consciously aware of it in our memory. He explained that just like we have no memory of being born, of our mother delivering us, yet its a part of our Unconscious (beyond subconscious),we accept it as a fact, and give due respect to our parents for being our parents; similarly, though we do not remember God, yet it is part of our very nature and we realize and accept the existence and presence of Him.
As and when the baby grows up, though there is no conscious memory of being born, yet he/she accepts and acknowledges this fact and respects and honours his/her parents, and is dutiful. Those who do not, the general consensus of society is that they are ungrateful people.Similarly, though we have no memory of God, as we live our lives, we feel His existence and presence, and then use all faculties to search Him and His message, and then try to live accordingly. That is the trial_ to discover the purpose of this life, to be grateful for the gift of life, and to prepare for eternity, or so I understand. And perhaps that's why, actions are judged by intentions.
If we were to see God or His angels, the trial would be over.
I think we are all focussing on different parts of the truth, each have some pieces of the puzzle, and together we can come close to an understanding of the truth. May we all find the truth we seek.

A friend asked: Regardless of the trial's objective, my question is why try the human race for anything? I mean there is absolutely no comparison between God and human. Then whats the point in trying the humans for anything? Would you try an ant for something? and then punish him as well if he fails? Doesnt it feel unwarranted (if not unjustified)?

My response: Instead of the ant, let us consider a robot or a software that we've wired / programmed to do certain things. What if it rebels and refuses to do what its created to do? Also, what if its own good / life depends on doing what it was supposed to be do, and behaving in the rebellious manner is actually a self-destructive behaviour? And what if the human inventor stays in a control room and controls the robot/software remotely, such that they never see each other, then what if the robot / software turns around and says "sorry but I honestly do not think you human could or did make me, in fact I'm here as a part of nature, an evolutionary process, and that's just about it; in fact the question is 'do you human actually exist, or are you just a figment of my imagination?' "...

The friend responded: Is the relation between God and humans similar to that between a 'programmed' robot and its owner? If thats the case then worshipping becomes a mere mechanical task. Instead of that, I would like to be informed that worship, the way humans worship God must be significantly different from a similar act by a robot to his owner.

My response: A robot/creation with a free-will, with permission to choose his/her thoughts, intentions, course of action. (think Matrix, for example)The problem is we are just focussing on how dreadful the thought of punishment is. Judgement Day is not primarily about punishing... it is about rewarding and recompensating, about establishing justice, about vindicating those who have suffered and persevered, otherwise how can we reconcile the sufferings we see in this world and the attribute of God that He is Most Compassionate, Most Merciful, Most Loving? That those who deserve/have earned/justified/proven that they deserve punishment will be punished is but an inevitable consequence of it. Think of it as quality-control, that only those who meet Heaven's standards will be allowed in there. In God's complete knowledge and wisdom, He knows who will or will not qualify, and could have just sorted us without trial, yet He has given us a chance, an opportunity to prove ourselves, and the best part is, its an open-book exam (trial)! Instead of raising a hue and cry about how the Examiner can declare someone Fail, the examinees should focus on how wonderful it would be if they study, strive and pray that they pass the exam. Isn't that our attitude towards worldly exams??

The friend responded: In my opinion, a robot can never have a free will. Everything that it does has actually been imagined by his creator (yes, that includes any 'random' paths in the program execution thread)...

My response: Isn't this what we're repeatedly reminded of: that all things good or bad are from God. And no, it doesn't create a 'major issue' if we remember that its not the outcomes of our choices and actions, rather our intentions that we are being judged on. We tend to place a lot of emphasis on the outcome, as to us mortals, this life appears to be the et all... if we remember that this is but a mere passing phase, in our journey towards the final, eternal reality, then do the outcomes in this world really matter? To my mind, what matters is whether we qualify for Heaven or not, as our Eternity depends upon it!

Our life-paths are pre-programmed... ie all that happens happens according to the divine plan.But we all have been blessed with thoughts and intentions, which is basically what we call 'free-will'. It is this 'free-will', this ability to think and have intentions to do such and such actions, based on certain motives, that we will be judged on. Action alone will not be the determinant... it is what's in the heart that will matter. We can choose for ourselves, but from the given set of possible choices only... and all those choices have already been programmed by God.

A Christian friend eloquently responded to the above discussion:
I think I understand the point you are making. If God has set the absolute boundaries in which our behaviour can operate, then we are the ones responsible for our intentions and actions within those pre set boundaries.
Speaking as a person who has seen and experienced unspeakable acts of human stupidity, cruelty, and sheer bloody evil, I do find myself sometimes wondering why God has set such wide boundaries ???
But I guess that it is by learning from our combined mistakes as a species, that somehow a greater good will eventually emerge either on this planet or in our spiritual afterlife ???
Surely the ways of God defy human reasoning, but I for one am grateful to God for the Blessing of a curious brain and a robust faith, although I must admit that they do not always get on well !! :)


zaman said...

I am really charmed with your ideas, thinking and explanations of taqdir and tadbiir. I was also trying to think in the same way as you thought. But my idea was incomplete. yours one is great. I appreciate it . Badiuzzaman.

Samiya Illias said...

Praised be Allah for guiding us to better understand, comprehend and make sense of it all. Glad you found this post useful, alhamdolillah!

Rishat Bat said...

On the topic of memory.
Where is memory stored?
Is it stored in our physical brain matter throughout various regions/hippocampus or is it stored in our souls?
I bring this question up due to our dream states(negative dreams from the distant ones (shayyatin), dreams of the nafs, and dreams from Allah. The state of sleep where the soul (we) leaves our physical bodies and are permitted to travel to or be taken to different locations by the malaika (angels) throughout the universe or be intercepted by the jinn by the will of Allah and or by our actions/inactions before and during sleep (such as sleeping on our stomachs, sleeping on the left side, sleeping on the right side, reciting or not reciting ayyatul Kursi, seeking or not seeking refuge in Allah, sleeping with/out wudu (spiritual ablution), and state of eeman).
When our souls return we either remember what we experienced or we do not. But in those instances when we do remember the travel/experiences, that experience was registered by the soul while it was detached from the body, or tethered to it, either way entities exist. So the soul obtained that memory. Once back to the physical body we wake up remembering what the soul experienced. How is it that the information is stored in both the soul and the body? Or is it only stored in the soul and the soul is responsible for memory storage and not the physical brain. Likewise we don not remember our creation by Allah, but we know and feel that Allah is real wether we are or not submitters to Allah.
If information is stored in both the physical brain and in the soul then how is it shared (say there exists a tether between both, while apart)? Is quantum mechanics somehow playing a role here in the sense of particle entanglement? One particle belonging and residing within the physical while the other belongs to the spiritual.
One example I can think of is when Umar (2nd Kalif) was giving a Friday sermon and he said something which was out of context with what he was actually talking about. He said "go to the mountain, go to the mountain" while talking to the congregation. Upon completion the followers asked why he said those words? But Umar did not remember saying those words at all. Sometime before the Friday sermon, Umar sent out a general with with troops to a distant area to combat an enemy force. The combat began on that Friday. The general found him self in a vulnerable position and sought a way out. All of sudden he heard the words "go to the mountain, go to the mountain", when he looked behind him/or around him he was the mountain and lead his men there and they obtained a dominant position or escaped (can't recall which). Upon return to Madina, the general gave a situation report to Umar. The followers were astounded when he mentioned being saved by a voice telling him to head to the mountain. They asked what did the voice sound like, he replied it was the voice of Umar. But Umar does not remember any of it.
An imam who spoke of this story was speaking on the matter of the traveling souls. How they travel and where they go. He said that at that very moment Umar's soul was taken by the angels to the location of the general and the soul spoke those words to assist him. Then the soul returned to the physical body. But the body did not remember the souls journey or actions.
I know that these are difficult topics and greater knowledge in Quran, hadith, and sciences is needed, but the question is of great importance to answer many questions, such as mental illnesses, proof of souls to others, the existence of multiple dimensions/realms.
If anyone can shed a light on this topic or point the way to someone who can answer this, I would greatly appreciate it.
Jazzak Allah Khair. As salamu a'leikum wa rahmatuAllah wa barakatu.

Samiya Illias said...

Why do you consider the soul (nafs) as non-physical? Just because we cannot perceive and measure it does not mean it is non-physical. I think everything is physical, but perhaps in another dimension.
Its quite possible that there is something going on at the quantum level. The Quran informs us that all living things have been created from water. I think the answer lies in water. Fourth state of water - quantum tunnelling - has recently been discovered:
Water is an amazing substance and we are just starting to discover its wondrous properties. The following blogposts do not directly address your question, but may give you some new angles to think about your questions:
This should also be of interest:

Samiya Illias said...

Salam, Rishat Bat,
This post may be of some help: Human: Body or Soul?