Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Day Sixteen

Rule 16
“Real faith is the one inside. The rest simply washes off. There is only one type of dirt that cannot be cleansed with pure water, and that is the stain of hatred and bigotry contaminating the soul. You can purify your body through abstinence and fasting, but only love will purify your heart.”

For me, religion and faith are polar opposites. Perhaps this is because religion has come to mean "organized religion" to me, what man makes of it. Faith comes from within, it's what you feel, it can't be explained or listed as rules. Faith, at its best, makes us accepting, removes judgment from our minds and hearts. You can wear your piety on the outside as much as you like, but it counts for nothing. 

"Deen mein daari hai, daari mein deen nahin", "L'habit ne fait pas le moine"... In any language, in any faith, you will find this recurring theme. The simple truth is that if you can't find it in your heart to love wholeheartedly, be it your Maker or anyone else, nothing you do on the outside makes a damned bit of difference. In a religious sense, it's fairly self explanatory. What if we look at it outside a religious context, though? 

"Oh, but I'm not a bigot, I don't hate anyone", you might well think to yourself. There are many ways you can stain your soul, and they don't exist in absolutes. You might be inconsiderate, impatient, and quick to speak harshly. You might not even realize you hurt another person's feelings horribly. 

Or you're incredibly vain about your appearance, how you look and smell. You might pride yourself on your perfect body or your expensive clothes, but if you can't spread joy in the lives of others, what is any of that really worth? All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten your soul. 

It's important to be the best version of yourself that you can be in all aspects. What if we decided to do a workout of the soul? There's this 42-day fitness challenge that's all the rage these days. I'm not interested in having the perfect "summer body", instead I'm here for the 40-day soul cleanse. And you know what, it's a lot harder than I ever imagined. Letting go of hurt, of the nafs, of fear... of all the pain that makes you mistrust those around you, of all the obligations you just can't be bothered with, and replacing it with the collective human responsibility of being considerate to others and making that your default setting. And not just by giving charity or throwing money at the problem, but by actually giving a s**t about someone else, about all of us at large. 

Tonight, this brain of mine is muddied. So now I'm going to leave you with the words of Florence + The Machine's "Shake It Out" - a song that's with me continuously through this journey.

"Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play

And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn

It's always darkest before the dawn

And I've been a fool and I've been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I'm always dragging that horse around

All of his questions, such a mournful sound
Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues drawn
But it's always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh whoa

And I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart

'Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It's always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh whoa

And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It's a fine romance but it's left me so undone
It's always darkest before the dawn

Oh whoa, oh whoa...

And I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't
So here's to drinks in the dark at the end of my road
And I'm ready to suffer and I'm ready to hope
It's a shot in the dark aimed right at my throat

'Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Looking for heaven, found the devil in me

Well what the hell I'm gonna let it happen to me, yeah

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh whoa"