Remembrance and Forgetfulness

Spiritual Awareness
At our highest and lowest levels of spiritual awareness, we can discern the difference between being near to God and being far from God. We can appreciate the joy that comes from feeling that we have pleased God and that God has accepted our humble efforts.

It is crucial for you to understand what meditation is. It is not some special posture, and it’s not just a set of mental exercises. Meditation is a cultivation of mindfulness and the application of that mindfulness once cultivated. You do not have to sit to meditate. You can meditate while washing the dishes. You can meditate in the shower, or roller skating, or typing letters. Meditation is awareness, and it must be applied to each and every activity of one’s life. This isn’t easy. [Bhante Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English, Ch. 15].

Likewise, we know the remorse and pain that come from knowing that we have disobeyed God and have fallen short in our conduct. The two conditions are so far apart that they cannot be reconciled. So too, are the states of being in remembrance and forgetfulness of God.

God-consciousness
The ultimate fast is that which accomplishes a constant state of God-consciousness. Such a state implies that one has vanquished the reality of being apart from God. In other words, one has attained a level of spiritual awareness wherein false realities of material pursuits are eliminated. One has achieved a perpetual state of remembering God during all aspects of existence.

Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the succession of night and day, there are indeed messages for all who are endowed with insight, [and] who remember God when they stand, and when they sit, and when they lie down to sleep, and [thus] reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: “O our Sustainer! Thou hast not created [aught of] this without meaning and purpose. Limitless art Thou in Thy glory! Keep us safe, then, from suffering through fire! [Quran 3:190-1].

To remain in constant awareness and remembrance of God is to have Him always before you. This state eliminates from your thought process the opposite condition, that of forgetting God. One abstains from forgetfulness, from being absent or apart from God.

Spiritual Immersion
This fasting from forgetfulness of God is not based on self-denial. It is not a product of abstinence or restraint. On the contrary, it is a result of longing, desiring, and immersion. Ultimately, it is a product of God’s grace, bestowed by the Creator on whom He pleases.

The person of the gnostic (‘arif) is with the people, while his heart is with Allah. If his heart were to forget Allah for the time it takes to blink an eye, he would die of yearning for Him. [Imam Ja’far Al Sadiq, The Lantern of the Path, Section 91].

Thus, to achieve true God-consciousness is to undertake a spiritual exodus from a condition that forgets God and that follows authorities other than God to a world of transcendent awareness and Divine tranquility.

The constantly meditative, the ever steadfast ones, realize the bond-free, supreme Nibbana. [Dhammapada 23].

Cultivating Piety with Abstinence and Faith