A World out of Balance- “When Extremes Prevail”

Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr gives a very interesting lecture, suggesting a different cause to the world problems on Earth today, caused by a spiritual inbalance coming from within the soul of all human beings, rather than merely being an exterior threat.

We live in a highly polarized society, with great disparities between the rich and poor, left and right, atheist and religious, etc.

Of course the media tries to portray the problems as being from an outside force, of religious extremism in Islam, although there is also religious extremism and wars caused by practically all religions if you really look at the facts. Yes, there are a minority of extremist Islamic forces which are aberrations of the norm, and are not the core body of Islam. But the heart of Islam, is completely unknown, and misunderstood to western society.

The greatest message of Islam to not only Muslims, but to all Humanity, is to try to live in peace and harmony. To live in balance means avoiding excesses: of wealth and pleasure. In Islam, wealth is not forbidden, but excessive wealth should be avoided, and is even considered evil. Islam is not against sexual or physical pleasure, but too much of it is harmful.

There are so many modern people who want to be atheist and peaceful. You cannot be an atheist and blame all the wars on the people of religion, and live at peace. That is impossible. You can’t be at peace if you forget God, because the purpose of our life in this world is not to forget God. You can only find peace in remembrance of God. Metaphsyically how can you be at peace if you deny the source of peace?

Remember, there is no happiness in excess. Any happiness that comes from excess is very transitory. If a person is a gluton, he is happy when he eats eats and eats and enjoys himself for half an hour, and then gets a stomachache for the next 12 hours… not to mention the risk of obesity, or heart disease or even diabetes. There is no possibility of physical pleasure indefinitely. It is the same for pschological or mental pleasures.

Happiness, which we all seek, does not come from excess, but comes from balance and harmony, which can only come about by returning to our center, by remembering God. And without that center, human life cannot have ultimate meaning.

So when the Quran says : “Let us all cling to the cable of God, and do not disperse”, it also refers inwardly, that all the forces of our soul should cling to the unity of our center, which is where God resides within us.

Notes from the lecture by Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr