Open space process: How do we find out what the One God wants?
At a LINE monthly forum late last year we went through an Open Space Process within the context of the world we want to live in. Below are written notes from one of the subgroups. They divided their process into three parts, and following a request additional references were included afterwards…
1. How does God perceive how the world should be?
We are His creation, and as limited individuals we cannot know the Beginning or End.
God revealed (part of) His Truth over time to different people.
People – build up their own picture – spread their own view.
Abrahamic faiths have a belief in the Day of Judgement – where they’ll come to understand God’s full purpose.
Organised religious and secular groups impose on individuals their Way.
Communities should allow individuals to express their own Ways as long as these don’t harm others.
2. If we follow God, restraint comes from inside the individual
From the following weblink http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/11/spotting_a_sociopath.html
Academics calculate that sociopaths account for about 3-4% of the male population and less than 1% of the female population. Professor Robert Hare from the University of British Columbia is one of the world’s experts on sociopaths and psychopaths. He writes of people “completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others”.
In the same weblink Professor Hare describes how “they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret”.
There is an assumption (in our society) that everyone in the community lacks an internal moral compass and that society has to impose this externally (through laws, inspections and checks, etc). But from the link above we see that about 4 % of the population doesn’t care about others, but the vast majority, 96%, generally do have a conscience or internal moral framework to guide them. Although some people may have difficulty keeping to their framework due to circumstances.
Religion could be a possible external framework for the remaining 4%, where divine justice and/or retribution might give those who have no conscience a personal benefit for treating others better.
However, we should not forget that this research could be unreliable as it is a model of humankind described by humans themselves.
3. If we understood The Truth of what God wants from us in this life, we would understand everything (including everyone else), but this is not possible for humans on Earth.
As we become more faithful and more pious – we risk becoming more arrogant. We risk thinking we each have The (Only) Answer. We need to be self-critical of our own opinions – no one (human) has The Answer … each life is a separate journey.
In Islam, this arrogance that the pious risk getting is known as ujb
Ujb is a feeling of exaggeration of one’s virtues and good deeds, their overestimation and satisfaction with them, accompanied with a sense of superiority on their account. A person with ujb considers himself free from all shortcomings and faults. In contrast, a feeling of pleasure and delight on performing virtuous deeds, accompanied with a sense of humility and modesty before God and gratitude for His favours is not ujb, but is a praiseworthy trait.
… In addition, a person afflicted with ujb never cares to rectify himself. Rather, he considers himself as a pious and virtuous person. He belittles his sins and never thinks of purging himself from them, and ultimately leads himself to eternal damnation. The dark curtain of ujb covers and corrupts his intellect, making him blind to his own shortcomings, and prevents him from achieving any kind of perfection.
A similar concept is known in Christianity too. It is easier to see the problems or faults of others than our own hypocrisy.
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye”.
Once we think we have found The Answer we risk closing-up to further ideas. We should aim instead to get the best out of our circumstances and the best out of each other.
God only puts burdens on each soul up to its own capacity; we don’t have to attempt to work beyond our capacities. God wants for us ease, rather than strain and stress. His Will is to guide and teach us.
“… ALLAH burdens not any soul beyond its capacity…” Sher Ali translation, Holy Quran, 2:286
“… ALLAH desires not that HE should place you in a difficulty but HE desires to purify you and to complete HIS favour upon you, so that you may be grateful…” Sher Ali translation, Holy Quran, 5:6
Wisdom is the realisation that we can only aim to journey closer to the Truth.
On our journeys through life we should keep seeking, keep recognising our own limitations, and keep trying to support each other along the way.