Yesterday I visited a man that is close to his death. There are signs that you can tell, the way he speaks, how he feels things that are about to happen, how he tries to put his businesses in order. The way he is open to the Reality of the unseen. How his senses begin to disappear, his sight, his sense of smell, the feeling of his members, his hearing, his speech, his taste. As if Allah is little by little taking away all that connects him to this world.
When we come to this world our senses are not developed. We don’t see or hear, we don’t smell or feel. Our senses develop soon after we are born and we begin to experience the reality of the world out there. Through them, we begin to form an image of this world in our conscience, a world that is separated from our selves. We begin to experience the ‘otherness’ of the world in relation to the ‘I’ of ourselves while we begin to form a link to this world through them.
These senses are what we will be using through our life to discern the otherness. All information that comes from the ‘other’ comes to us through our senses, we hear, see, taste, feel or smell the ‘otherness’. Knowledge, beauty or pain, we sense it. But our senses do not process this information, they are only the receiving sensors that pass that information to our discerning ‘I’s’.
Of course, this is not all there is. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, that are dreamt of in your philosophy” Hamlet said, but what does not come to us through our senses we do not consider it the same ‘otherness’ because the barrier is not there.
The senses are a rope that connects us to this world. They also act as a filter, all information that comes from the ‘other’ passes through these filters before it reaches ‘us’. It seems as if their true purpose is to filter the otherness. By the principle of opposites, knowing the ‘otherness’ is necessary to know ourselves.
The otherness can clog our filters. When there is too much information, too much excitement of the senses, too much without meaning, our ‘I’s’ begin to become accustomed to it and we need ‘more’ information to sense the same. The purpose of the ‘I’, then, becomes ‘sensing’, in an ever-increasing manner, because we need this ‘otherness’, that we cannot sense now, for the ‘I’ to know itself. In the process, we forget that the ‘otherness’ is only a tool to know ourselves, and we make knowing this ‘otherness’ the goal. This is the attachment to Dunia.
This can get to a point in which the senses stop filtering, they are so clogged up that information does not reach the ‘I’. The ‘I’, then, becomes dormant.
The way of unclogging these filters is by remembering that the purpose is not to know the ‘otherness’, but to use it as a tool to know yourself, and by protecting them of what clogs them, i.e., that what excites them in a manner that does not lead to the ‘I’ reflecting that knowledge onto himself.
When you visit someone that is close to his death you can see that his senses are being taken away, the rope that moors him to this world is loosening.