Journey of Self-Discovery | Sadia Khan | TOI | February 9, 2011
Even as children, we dream. We try to realise our dreams all throughout our lives. However, when our dreams remain unfulfilled, we tend to sink into dejection and get disillusioned.
Of the several attributes that define humankind, there is, I dare say, just one which meets with more general approbation. That is, we're born with an innate feeling which tells us that we are a shade better than that intolerant neighbour and that incompetent colleague. This uncanny awareness constitutes one of the first characteristics of our being. Indeed, the most ordinary thing about each individual is the fact that he thinks himself a little bit out of the ordinary. In thinking so, we acknowledge only a portion of the truth, the other half of which we unwittingly choose to dismiss -- the fact that every individual, without exception, is born different, and, is, therefore, unique.
It is true that the first step in the direction of unravelling our potential is to understand, in view of our circumstances, the role that we can best play. Discovering our uniqueness must be the starting point. Explaining the situation of one who is bereft of this knowledge, Prophet Muhammad said: "The condition of an unwise man is that of an animal who is not aware of why his master has tied it or untied it.
" To me, the urgent, unaddressed question is: Why do most people, if they are born unique and consequently talented in some sense of the word, not achieve the success to which they are entitled?
The answer to the question as to why many fail to actualise God-given gifts might, if looked at from different perspectives, have varying answers. To me, it is simply this: We have to pay a price to acquire anything at all in life. Nothing comes for free. Similarly, the unique individual can be brought out into the light only after paying the due price.
"Ek kaam ko karne ke liye dusre kaam chodne padte hain" -- "To do one task, you might have to abandon some others." said a wise Sufi. Therefore, to bring to the surface that extraordinariness, to reveal the measure of your mind, you must work towards achieving it with complete dedication and undivided attention, consigning all else to the backburner. It must be conceded, moreover, that this is not an easy path to tread. Embarking on such a journey calls for practicing an iron restraint over our whims and fancies, and recognising the need to control unruly emotions, and, avoid every distraction.
Problems that multiply our fears and shake our resolve, will show up at every corner. It is in such situations that we must hold on. To overcome such unpleasant occurrences one ought to rise above life's frivolities. The seeker will falter, commit mistakes, and sometimes even get derailed; it will require colossal courage to get up again and march ahead with renewed zeal and determination.
Life is an opportunity. It gives us the freedom to act as we should want to. If we fail to avail of this because of our own neglect, we shall have no justification for complaining later. The journey of Self-discovery can be rewarding and exciting if only we focus more on positive as well as extraordinary aspects.
(The writer is a student of Islamic Studies and a member of the Center for Peace and Spirituality International.)