Monday, April 20, 2009

The journey through the 7 valleys - Javaidnama

A story was written about birds who wanted to find their king. To find this king they collected together and started a journey that would require them to cross past 7 valleys. Thousands of birds started on this journey together but, in the journey to the next valley, many of them would be left behind. At the end of the journey only 30 birds had made it through and they did find their king. The king was the collective: the 30 birds themselves.

The journey is symbolic of the journey of the individual to the Ultimate Reality [also referred to earlier as ‘enlightenment’ and also as a journey to ‘God’] I read of the valleys from Muhammad Iqbal’s Javaidnama [the abridged version] and what I understood from it I have written below.

The fourth valley struck me as a valley where people [in those valleys] occupy themselves with switching from “narrative thinking” to “propositional thinking” [My post How we think talks about this] As a result of this switch you are able to process things in your environment a lot faster than other people. You can also make a lot of money because you can think better and thus make better decisions.

In any case you start to perceive reality in a way that is different from others who can not think like this. I feel that studying logic and logical fallacies [informal logic] can be instrumental to come to this valley.

Another characteristic of this valley is that you “detach” from others around you [because you have only started to see things differently and have not achieved a level of articulation where you can explain this to others]

The fifth valley is a valley where you search for direction to focus the ability you learnt in the fourth valley. This direction requires a guide [this can be a living person or maybe even a person such as Rumi whose written works can be of great help]. Together with the guide it requires that a person “has faith in HIMSELF” and therefore is [determined] able to struggle to turn his life [his world] into a beautiful happy world. [My post Steps to enlightenment talks about this]

In the sixth valley one is exposed to all the “evil, pain, misery, despair” in the world such as “rape, murder, awareness of what happened in wars and war camps, awareness of the pain that is ongoing in the world, awareness of the evil in his environment”. I understand that to move on from this valley it is necessary for the person to assimilate the exposure he gets in this valley. By assimilation I mean that the misery and pain should stop to “bother” him [this does not mean he doesn’t want to improve it, he will want to improve it in any way he can].

In the final valley “what you imagine very quickly becomes real”. This is because your imagination itself is based on reality and secondly because you have enough control over yourself to [do acts that] bridge the gap between “what you want/imagined” and “what is there at the moment”.

You come closest to understanding the Ultimate Reality in this valley.

As Iqbal said you “dive into the reality of your heart to understand the reality of the universe”. By this what is meant is that you use the direction of your heart [things such as love, happiness, beauty] as a guide to connecting “to people around you” and through them understand the Ultimate Reality. I have elaborated on this below.

An ayat says “Your creation and resurrection should be like the creation and resurrection of a single soul”. By this I understand that the single soul [in the case of the 30 birds, the collective of the birds] is the whole of humanity and that we as individuals should be “connected” to the whole of humanity [in a way I write below].

The whole of humanity however is too large [to come to an agreement]. However the single soul manifested at the level of a “corporation” and even that of a “nation” is still [a] reasonable [scope to achieve].

People in Pakistan like Ibn-e-Safi connected with this “collective [the whole nation]” and wrote books that were popular in all segments of the society. He could do this because he could relate to all segments of society.

The way to connect to the collective requires one to [“dive into one’s own heart” so that one can] relate to people from all segments of society. If you are able to do that I think the Ultimate Reality will dawn on you.

This is what I have understood from reading the Javaidnama of Muhammad Iqbal.


Added on 6th October 2009
My understanding of the 5th valley has improved. The 5th valley represents an awareness of one's heart. [I think falling in love can be instrumental in developing this awareness.]

This is my understanding of the heart:
It is that within you that cries when you see a distressed and orphaned child or that shows you the brutality in the humiliation [without purpose] of another human being. Or that knows [without argument or thought] that peace is superior to war.

One example of what can happen if the fifth valley is not reached and thus the heart not identified is shown below:

Somebody once said to another: When you go to a party do you prepare something to say? How else are you so comfortable at speaking to everybody at the party?

For the first person the socializing process was missing the element of the heart's guidance and thus suffered a lack of spontaneity.

The first person was trying to intellectualize the process and this was her mistake. Thus because she did not identify her heart she was vulnerable.

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