As human beings, we are naturally inclined towards and driven to seek pleasure. Yet the type of pleasure we seek and what one finds as pleasurable is largely determined by his or her state of consciousness.
For one whose consciousness is localized in the lower self and based in ego (the mind and body), pleasure is the satiation of physical appetites and psychological experiences. Thus, when dominated by the self, the individual is constantly seeking the fulfillment of lower level desires.
Yet for one whose consciousness is evolved, awakened and shifted to the heart and soul, he or she is increasingly attracted to subtle beauty and to light. Such spiritually inclined and sensitive souls are less dominated by that which is based in form and are more attracted to that which is based in spirit, light, beauty, energy and divine love.
Pleasure and the Increase of What is Pleasurable
What you consume and indulge in increases, and what you feed grows. Feed the body by indulgence in the physical pleasures of food, drink and sex, and your appetite and dependence upon them will increase.
If you consistently acclimate the mind to the experiences of socialization, entertainment, shopping and other forms of stimulation, likewise your need for these very things will become dominant and you will become increasingly dependent upon them.
Note that feeding and consumption are not limited to just the actual experience, but also include all forms of input, specifically that which targets the auditory and visual senses. In other words, consumption of media and imagery of things which are presented as desirable naturally increases one’s desire for them. Hence the effectiveness of media in increasing the seeking and consumption of lower level desires and pleasures.
The Balanced Path
As in all things, in experiencing or restricting the experience of pleasure, there must be balance. True religion as taught by the noble messengers and prophets of God teaches balance through the lawful and blessed satiation of fundamental human needs, drives and desires.
For example, purposeful intimacy based in love with one’s spouse is commendable and beneficial to the heart and soul, and to one’s spiritual path, whereas intimacy based in lust outside the sanctity of marriage is harmful and detrimental to the individual.
Food that is good, clean and pure which is consumed in moderation and with gratitude is good for the body and the soul, and it nourishes, strengthens and sustains one’s being. Yet indulgence in unclean or excessively rich foods in a state of unconsciousness weakens one’s constitution, increases density and diminishes consciousness.
Subtlety and Spirituality
That which is connected to the spirit and the more subtle realms of light and energy is that which is connected to God, He Who is Transcendent.
They who by nature or by development are more subtle, sensitive and spiritual in constitution will find pleasurable that which is in harmony with the pleasure of the Divine. Such individuals are attracted to more subtle experiences and find pleasurable that which is pleasing to God such as worship and spiritual practice, selflessness and service to others, and conscious appreciation of what the Almighty has created.
The self-based approach to life and seeking pleasure is essentially that, selfish, egoistic and unconscious. Unfortunately, modern culture is based in the arousing and feeding of lower level desire. In the contemporary culture of “me” in which the self is established as god, seeking base pleasure and experience is often the primary driving force and motivation for the masses.
The Seekers of God’s Pleasure
Alternatively, for the believer who has engaged and committed him or herself to the holy struggle of surrendering the self, a greater consciousness and level of awareness is allowed to arise, and rather than being driven by the seeking of pleasure for the lower self, such are they who seek the pleasure of God.
The state and consciousness of such individuals is based in selflessness, the diminishment of ego-based pleasure, and the awakening of spiritual experience.
Such are they whom God refers to in the Holy Qur’an as they with whom He Almighty is pleased, and who are pleased with Him. This sacred verse indicates that the very pleasure of God is what the pious and true find pleasurable, and that they they are attracted and drawn to the light of spirituality and to subtle beauty more so than the dense pleasures and indulgences of the world of form and appearance.
Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him. They are the party of Allah. Verily, the party of Allah are they who are the successful.
— Surah al-Mujaadilah [Holy Qur’an, 58:22]
The Warrior Way of Discipline
Remember, what you feed grows, and hence the great value of fasting, discipline and restraint. Discipline leads to progress and not only results in a positive change in one’s constitution, but also to a fundamental shift in what is experienced as pleasurable.
For example, as you diminish and eliminate the consumption of sugar from your diet, you will naturally find it less appealing, and you will increasingly be able to appreciate more natural and subtle flavors that others whose tastes are still acclimated to density may find bitter and unappealing.
By embracing the good, you progressively reduce the desire for that which is unhealthy and non-conducive to an experience and constitution evolved for transcendence.
Pursuing the path of spiritual awakening results in a fundamental paradigm shift increasingly based in the pleasure of the Divine, and they who are centered thus are known as the Saliheen. It is important to note that being guided upon their path is literally what we pray for numerous times daily in the recitation of Surah al-Fatiha in which we supplicate, “Guide us upon the straight and balanced path, the path of they upon whom is the grace of God.”
Guide us upon the straight and balanced path, the path of they upon whom is Thy grace.
— Surah al-Fatiha [Holy Qur’an, 1:6-7]
There is divine purpose in our creation, and we are here to evolve and to awaken. The purpose of life is continual evolution to greater levels and states of consciousness, ultimately leading to and resulting in Divine Consciousness in which one is awake and aware in the Divine Presence of God.
By diminishing dependence upon dense sources of pleasure, and by increasingly developing capacity and joy in subtle spiritual practice and worship, you increase your connection to the Source of Light, Life, Knowledge, Beauty, Love, Truth and Eternity.
To your divine and eternal success.
We are asking for the highest station, the station of Ridwanullah al-Akbar. With those servants our Lord will be absolutely pleased, and they in turn will be absolutely pleased with their Lord.
The original paradise in the Divine Presence and the highest station, Maqam as-Sidq, is entirely different from the shadow paradise. Their one will find the Lord’s smiling, radiant Countenance.
For those who worked in this life for His pleasure, Allah is taking them to His Divine Presence. That is the real paradise. Our Grandshaykh (qs) was saying that to be in the Divine Presence for only one second, he would give all the eight paradises, it is so valuable an experience.
In general, people now living in this life like it more than they like the worship of their Lord, for which they are only making minimal efforts. In their hearts, this life takes the first place and God takes the second. In the afterlife, they will find everything according to what was their liking here on earth.
Now, you are free to choose. If you prefer physical enjoyments, you will find what you are accustomed to. But if in this life you cultivate love for your Lord in your hearts, then in that life you will find His Presence.
— Shaykh Nazim Adil al-Haqqani (qs) [Mercy Oceans’ Hidden Treasures]