Dhikr – Awakening from Illusion

Society is filled with imagery of that which is not real – whether artificial personalities in media, the latest celebrity gossip, fake images in advertisements, or fictional stories in film and on television. Is life just about filling one’s mind with these illusions? Or can we awaken from all this and direct our consciousness towards the ultimate reality?  Every human being is in search of peace and tranquility. But where is one to find it? It seems every day in our lives we are confronted with more problems and more worries. Studies have shown almost half of all people find their job extremely stressful, many hate their boss or can’t stand their coworkers, and others call in sick to avoid work.1National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, 1999. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/. And after working long hours, many people find only more life stressors awaiting them at home with increased rates of dysfunctional marriages, abusive relationships, and overwhelming financial obligations. Many turn to alcohol to ‘drown out their sorrows’. People desperately begin to pursue frequent vacations to escape life’s stresses and find a serene place of comfort, but they find themselves returning to their usual life even more disgruntled and irritable than when they left. The medical literature indicates that as such stress accumulates it may be associated with a wide variety of negative health outcomes including hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, and even cancer.2See for instance Byles J et al. Psychological distress and comorbid physical conditions: disease or disability? Depression and Anxiety (2014) 31:524-532. This begins a vicious cycle, as chronic illnesses themselves are one of the leading causes of stress, pushing an individual into psychological dysfunction, clinical depression, anxiety...