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Quran & Sunnah
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Nausheen
 
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Quote Nausheen Replybullet Topic: Psycology of Islam
    Posted: 08 March 2005 at 9:15pm

 

Topic:

Psychology of Islam (1 of 23), Read 186 times

Conf:

Issues: The Islamic Personality

From:

NAUSHEEN

Date:

Wednesday, February 13, 2002 11:13 PM

Excerpts taken from THE INNER ASPECTS OF FAITH by Shaikh Shaihdullah Faridi


The great scholars of tasawuf have divided a human soul into three coexistent phases of the soul or centers of energy. These are namely nafs which is the selfish lower self, qalb ie the heart or intelligent self and ruh ie the spirit or spiritual and intuitional self.

The nafs, or the selfish lower self is the force that binds us to our physical existence. It is that attraction which keeps our feet on the ground of this earth. It has two fields of activity, one on the physical and the other on the mental plane. Its activity on the physical plane consists of the desires to fulfill our bodily needs, such as food, drink, rest & comfort, sleep and sexual appetite. It consists of our urge of self-preservation & self-perpetuation and manifests itself in the acquisitive spirit with its two faces of predatoriness and jealous guardianship. It gives birth to the qualities of greed and for the things of this world, miserliness, combativeness, cruelty, protectiveness to the immediate kin and the tribe, and the lust for conquest. In sum, it comprises those compulsions which we have in common with the animals, and for this reason has been named by some as the "animals soul". However, owing to the refinement of the mind of man in comparison to the blind instinct of the animals, even the nafs has its higher side, which is the highly developed "self-love" of human species, producing in him such a strong desire for ruling over others, for adulation and flattery, for fame and good report, that this more subtle motive often overwhelms the coarser one, and we see some people abandoning all the comforts of life in a passion for dominance and worldly glory.
Inspite of the evil aspect of these qualities, it would be impossible to live this worldly life unless some element of them were present in the human being. Thus the lower self is the mount upon which we are obliged to ride in order to complete the journey of our earthly life, and the comparison with a horse is a just one. For an untamed animal is a wild and uncontrollable force; if left to itself to roam where it please and do what it wills, it causes upheaval and destruction. If the rider cannot master it, it runs with him far off the path leading to his goal, and eventually throws him off to his final ruin. On the other hand if the animal is tamed and carefully disciplined to follow his masterŐs commands, it becomes the vehicle by which he arrives to his true destination. In the same way if the nafs is left untamed an unbridled, leads man into the jungle of gross lusts, where he finds no resting place and ends in abandonment and destruction; while if it is put through a patient course of discipline and training it turns into a manŐs most trusted companion and helper in fulfilling his noblest destiny, which is to know God and serve His purposes.

The nafs in its nature lies in a midway station between intelligent mind proper and the body, forming a link between them, and participating in some measure in the nature of both. It is the fire of desire where the demands of the body are centered, and where burns the more subtle flame of egotism. Its likeness to fire is not just a pretty turn of speech, but is rooted in truth; even in ordinary parlance we speak of "the fire of passion", "the fire of jealousy", "he fire of anger" etc, because we instinctively feel the fiery quality of these typical manifestations of the lower self. It is here that burns the fire of life, and it is the withdrawal of this fire that signifies lifeŐs ending and leaves the body cold and dead.

The two main motives of the nafs are
A. Primarily the desire to fulfill the demands of physical body and to collect physical passion.
B. And secondarily the desire to self-aggrandizement.

To deal with A, the primary urges of body are
i. hunger and thirst
ii. rest and comfort
iii. sleep and
iv. sexual desire.

One of the basic compulsions of the human being , as well as the animals, is to assuage these primary hungers. However, due to the immensely wider scope of human activity, man extends these primary urges into secondary ones which provide the means of satisfying the former, but then come to be desired for their own sake.

These secondary desires are those for
i. wealth
ii. possessions
iii. luxurious comforts and entertainment
iv. large number of wives and concubines.

It is significant to note that in the satisfaction of the primary urges, an animal usually confines itself to what its body really requires, and stops at that. On the contrary, human being, because of the gift of Allah to him for free-will, and responsibility, has himself to chose what is beneficial to him, and if he fails, his nafs will lead him into excesses, taking the form of gluttony, laziness, somnolence and lechery. This is asfala safilin (the lowest of the low) and kal-anŐami bal hum adall (like cattle but even worse astray) of the Quran.

In order to enable him to fulfil his primary and secondary urges, Allah has placed in the nafs of man certain basic qualities, which can be summarized as follows:

i. Cupidity or greed, the fundamental drive to acquire what will satisfy him.
ii. Aggressiveness - the readiness to attack and even destroy in order to gain his end; and this includes even cruelty and mercilessness, the lack of compunction in causing hurt or even death to others.
iii. Craftiness, the urge of ruses and deceits.
iv. Defensiveness, the determination to preserve at any cost what he considers his own; this may take the form of aggression, resistance or caution.
v. Clannishness, which in its primary form is including in his own desire those of the mate and offspring, the fundamental unit of grouping, and then extends itself out to the clan, tribe or people, but is essentially limiting and exclusive in its nature.

The interactions of the nafs and the body produce the basic physical urges, but when the flame of the nafs plays upon the qalb, the intelligent self, the more mental urge of self-love comes into being. Just as the desires of the nafs have the function of providing for the needs of the body, so also, through the fundamental demand of self-love, with its drive to excel and surpass, the selfish-self furnishes the basic motive for the development of the mind and the whole human personality. The greed of the body is to collect as much as possible of those objects which can satisfy the sense, while the greed of the mind is to achieve superiority, by any means whatsoever.

This quality of the lower self takes different forms, which can be summarized as:

i. Self-conceit and arrogance, accompanied by contempt for others.
ii. The desire for domination, and the imposition of his will upon his fellows.
iii. The desire for adulation and praise.
iv. The desire for fame , to be known for some particularity by as many people as possible, and for as long a time as possible, leading to attempts of self-perpetuation.
v. \Jealousy, the desire to destroy the superiority of others over oneself.
vi. Hatred of those who have crossed his will in anyway.

These primary urges give birth to secondary ones, which provide the means of their fulfillment:

i. Self-adornment, self-praise and exalting and oneŐs tribe into a superior class of beings, debasing others into an inferior class.
ii. The seeking of the offices of poser and dignity.
iii. The gathering round oneself of flatters and servile people.
iv. Ostentation and self advertisement, pomp and ceremony, and erection of monuments to oneself.
v. Backbiting and defamation, harming potential rivals.
vi. Seeking revenge against opponents through pure malice, not for the sake of justice or self-preservation.

If the fire of the nafs is strong, these characteristics will be all the more forceful, but if it burns weakly, the lack of them will be a defect equal to their excess, and instead of showing self conceit he will be ignominiously humble, the place of the desire for tyranny will be taken by slavishness, assertiveness will give way to submissiveness, lust for fame to insensitivity to opinion and the love of praise to shamelessness.

From this examination of the self and selfish soul it can be said that the nafs is not something only evil, worthy of being destroyed, but it is the necessary vehicle of our corporal existence. Without the carnal desires which lean man to fulfill the demands of the body, his survival in this world would be impossible, and self-love and the desire for superiority, the development of the multiple potentialities within him would remain unachieved.

The nafs is the invisible chain that binds him to the earth, or to use another metaphor, the ballast which keeps the balloon fill with gas lighter than air, on the ground. Without the weight of some solid substance, the balloon would soar upto the skies because of the upward force of the gas within it, just as without the earth ward drag of the nafs the soul would fly up to the heavens and leave behind its bodily habitation. Never the less this metaphor is incomplete, for the selfish self is not just a dead weight but a violent energy, which if uncontrolled can storm and ravage the world. If properly directed, it can be the swift and obedient steed that carries us to the Abode of Peace; if unmastered it can be a wild beast attacks and tears to pieces all that is good and noble. It is this about which Allah has said :
"the selves of men have been made prone to greed" HQ 4:128,
"Whoso is saved from the greed of the self (nafs) such are they who are successful" HQ 39:9, and it is to this that refers the famous verse : "Surely the self is ever inciting to evil (ammaratum bis-su)" HQ 12: 53.
This incitement to evil has to be curbed by the intelligent and the intuitional selves, the qalb and the ruh.

 

 

 

 

Topic:

Psychology of Islam (10 of 23), Read 138 times

Conf:

Issues: The Islamic Personality

From:

DavidC

Date:

Friday, February 15, 2002 06:16 AM

CNN (This Morning with Paula Zahn) this AM reported
a note from Pearl's wife.

Part of her letter described him as ...an innocent
man, nafs-al-ruh... I'm sure this statement (wording
was shown on screen) baffled most viewers.

This is an opening for our member who is working on
boosting the media profile of true Islam to provide
them with an explanation, introduce themselves as
a media consultant, etc.

DavidC

 

 

Topic:

Psychology of Islam (11 of 23), Read 139 times

Conf:

Issues: The Islamic Personality

From:

Ibn Hanbal

Date:

Saturday, February 16, 2002 11:51 AM

As Salamu Alaykum,

This topic is quite interesting, and good to read about. A lot of the ideas written in the original post, by Sr.Nausheen, can be found in the works by Imam al-Ghazali. I have read some of his books, and they are available in English translation as well. I would say that anyone interested in the Islamic perspective of psychology and the study of the Nafs (soul) should read the "Ihya Uloom al-Din" (Revival of the Religious Sciences, partly translated) of Imam al-Ghazali. He is the leading Muslim scholar, of our great past, on this field, and many of his ideas even preceded and advanced modern day western psychologists, atleast I believe so. Anyone who wants to know more about this great scholar of Islam should go to this webpage:
http://users.erols.com/zenithco/ghazali.html

Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali was actually given the title of, and is known as, "Hujjat ul-Islam" ("The Proof of Islam). I find that most modern day Muslim works on the Nafs contain reference to Imam Ghazali and are based on his ideas. Ofcourse there are other scholars as well who have contributed much to this field. There is one website that contains quite a bit of information on al-Ghazali and his works:
http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/gz/default.htm

But, anyone interested in this topic should just buy the English translation of his books, and the translations are excellent. Especially for one studying or interested in the Human soul. The books I would reccomend are "Al-Ghazali on Disciplining the Soul", "The Purification of the Soul", and any others that are of interest to the reader. Another excellent book is Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah's "The Invocation of God".(www.islamicbookstore.com has these works).

Just thought that these recommendations would be helpful to anyone interested in this topic. And, although there is some material available on the net, the best thing to do is to actually obtain these books and take the time to read them.

 

 

Topic:

Psychology of Islam (12 of 23), Read 129 times

Conf:

Issues: The Islamic Personality

From:

NAUSHEEN

Date:

Sunday, February 17, 2002 04:34 PM

Assalamoalaikum brother Ibn Hambal,

>>>This topic is quite interesting, and good to read about. A lot of the ideas written in the original post, by Sr.Nausheen, can be found in the works by Imam al-Ghazali.<<<

I have always read Imam Ghazali with much enthusiasm and interest, whenever I come across anything from him.

However its been hard to get hold of a book by him in English. It would be much appreciated if you can recommend a publisher's address.
I shall try to look into the links you have provided. Thank you very much for the same - and this is not a formal thank you but I mean it deeply, as the topics are much of my interest :)
Jazak allah khair.

Shah,
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
Insah allah I will post the rest of the chapter real soon. But if I am late, please be patient, as the matter is not online - I have to type it myself :(

Check my input on this very thread, sometime later in this week.

Ma salama,
Nausheen

 

 

Topic:

Psychology of Islam (13 of 23), Read 124 times

Conf:

Issues: The Islamic Personality

From:

Ibn Hanbal

Date:

Sunday, February 17, 2002 05:43 PM

Wa alaykum as Salam,

Sister Nausheen, your welcome,
If you go to www.islamicbookstore.com, and just type in Ghazali in the search field, you will get quite a few results. The most well done and accurate translations are published by "Islamic Texts Society" and most of their books are excellent. They also have a website:
http://www.its.org.uk/catalog.htm

I would probably recommend any of the translations done by Islamic Texts Society, but of course it also depends on the readers interest. I have read the translation of "Al-Ghazali on Disciplining the Soul", it is excellent and I would recommend it. Also, "Al-Ghazali on The Remembrance of Death & The Afterlife", is excellent as well. Both of these books are from Imam al-Ghazali's "Ihya Ulum ul-Din". I would say that most large online islamic bookstores have some of Ghazali's works translated.

 

 

Topic:

Psychology of Islam (16 of 23), Read 109 times

Conf:

Issues: The Islamic Personality

From:

NAUSHEEN

Date:

Monday, February 18, 2002 08:40 PM

Brother Ibn Hambal,

Assalamoalaikum wa rahmatullah,

The websites you have provided are a mine of knowledge!

May Allah grant you immense rewards for doing this favor on me.

jazak allah khair,
Nausheen

 

 

Topic:

Psychology of Islam (18 of 23), Read 106 times

Conf:

Issues: The Islamic Personality

From:

Ibn Hanbal

Date:

Tuesday, February 19, 2002 07:06 PM

Wa Alaykum as Salam wa Rahmatullah,

Alhamdulillah, All Praise is for Allah!, I am glad that I was able to help you, Sr.Nausheen.

Sincerely,
Ibn Hanbal.

 

Topic:

Psychology of Islam (19 of 23), Read 104 times

Conf:

Issues: The Islamic Personality

From:

NAUSHEEN

Date:

Wednesday, February 20, 2002 12:05 AM

Out of the other two centers of the human being, let us take the ruh first, as it is in all respects exactly the opposite of nafs. If the selfish self of man is always pulling him earthwards, the spiritual self continually strives to lift him to the heavens. It is the characteristic of the ruh, that, being near to God, it is always reaching out for even more closeness and even more intimacy with Him. The basis of this aspiration is the intense love of him, which is not acquired by the ruh but is of its very essence; it derives from that affinity with the divine which is alluded to in the quran in these words,
"I have made him and breathed into him of My spirit" HQ 15;29

This love of the spiritual self for allah has three aspects:
1. the sense of his own utter dependence on him, giving rise to extreme humility towards Him and resignation to His will, and inclining to sing His praise and worship Him, and ask Him of His favor and bounty.
2. Re to please Him, to spend oneself for His purposes, and to sacrifice all for Him in the performance of His will.
3. This is the highest aspiration of the spirit, and it is to achieve union with Him, to become the mirror of His light, and abandon his own imperfection by becoming the reflection of His Perfection.

For the inherent love of the spiritual self for Allah, he also loves all the Godly attributes. The ruh therefore guides man towards
* purity
* refinement
* beauty
* light and
* harmony,

and is totally averse towards that which is opposed to these qualities like,
* defilement
* grossness
* foulness
* ugliness
* darkness and
* discord
He has a strong loathing and anger for these attributes which are contrary to hi own nature, and a desire either to transform them, or to remove them from his path and destroy them. This spiritual self is not, however, entirely turned towards allah, but also to his fellow spirits, those od other men. Since the ruh by his nature is a reflector of divine Qualities, and the seat of takhalluq bi akhlaq allah (assimilation of the manners of God), his basic attitude to other soulds is that of sympathy and kindness, in consonance with the Divine pronouncement: "My mercy prevails over My anger."

From this spring the qualities of selflessness sincerity and generosity, which in its spiritual sense is an outpouring of love, and when the ruh is himself enlightened, of spiritual light.

The ruh not only gives to other souls, but absorbs strength and light from them as well, so that they contribute to each otherŐs development and flowering. At the same time, the human spirit has an aversion to those of his fellow who have covered themselves with a pall of darkness and evil and have set themselves up as enemies of Allah, and this aversion may turn into a violent anger. But even in anger and disgust, there is a hidden mercy which desires the transformation of their evil qualities into good, and hopes for their eventual salvation, for the nature of the spirit is of the pattern of that greatest spirit of all, who is "a mercy for all the worlds"(1).

The knowledge of the ruh is purely intuitive and therefore certain. It is of the nature of the vision, presenting itself immediately as a direct experience. The reaction or motion of the ruh has the same intuitive quality, and are as it were spiritual affections which permeate him one after the other. An example of this spiritual affection is that sometimes when we meet a person for the first time, we experience the feeling of great awe, even though his appearance may not be at all awe-inspiring, and we may know nothing of him to form a preconception in our minds. What happens is that the intuitive self perceives a certain spiritual quality in the man; we cannot explain this perception rationally or ascribe some prescribe some physical cause to it, nor, on the other hand, can we escape its compelling force. The perception of the ruh is thus qualitative and synthetical, in contrast with the analytical and ratiocinative processes of the mind. It is the ruh or the spiritual self which continually sheds its light upon the qalb, the intelligent self, trying to exercise his upward attraction upon it.

(1) referring to rasul allah sallalah ho alaihe wassallam as stated in the Quran.
----------------------------------------------

Hving delineated the two opposite poles of human psyche, the lower self in which dwells the urge towards his self preservation in this earthly existence, and the spiritual self which houses the aspiration towards the divine attributes, let us come to the center, the intelligent and discriminating self, which is placed between them. The qalb or heart does not of course refer to the physical organ of that name, but to that nucleus of the soul whose centrality corresponds to that of the heart in the human body. The main instruments of the qalb are the faculties of the mind, which are normally analyzed by psychologists, such as the reason, memory, imagination and all that comes within the realm of thought. Although the qalb is not these but their master and director, In fact, it is the master of the whole being with all its facets, qualities and energies and their leader which they have to follow, whether it guides them to the path to heaven or takes them over the precipice to the pit of hell.

The two opposite forces of the nafs and the ruh attract him now upwards and now downwards, and he it is who has to weigh and assess their prompting to discriminate between them, to decide and then enforce his decision through the will. The qalb is therefore the seat of human responsibility, for it is to this intelligent self that the freedom of choice has been given, and who will have to answer for himself in the presence of the Supreme Judge on the Final day of Decision.

In the light of what we have described of the nafs and the ruh, the qalb can be compared to the ruler of a country, who has two advisors:
1. The one on his right is a saintly and ascetic man of God, who is ever exhorting him to remember God and love him and try to achieve proximity to Him, to uphold religion and mortality and to be merciful and just to his creatures.
2. The one on his left is his minister, who has been charged with keeping the country supplied with necessary goods increasing its territory and honor, and defending them against its neighbors. He is by nature greedy proud and cunning, entirely devoted to the achievements to his ends.

If the ruler abandons him,self totally and permanently to that saint, he will become so absorbed in the contemplation of God that he will have no desire left to set in order the affairs of his kingdom; but if he is to be rightly guided in the conduct of his great office, he must continually be receiving knowledge and light from his mentor, and must be inspired by him when managing the complex business of government. He may even entrust himself entirely to the saint for a period of spiritual training after which he will again engage his purified talents in his hereditary duty. His companionship with the saint will provide him with the universal principles of truth and goodness and the servantship of God which he will have to apply to all the varies situations confronting him during the administration of his affairs.
On the other hand, he cannot ignore that rapacious and artful minister through whom he has orders executed in the kingdom. But, unless his greed and pugnaciousness and the precepts of righteousness and benevolence the king ahs received from saint, this minister will lead him into being a cruel tyrant, filling all his neighboring kingdoms with terror and loathing, and violating the sanctity of their possessions and honor. When properly disciplined and controlled, however, the energy, resourcefulness and worldly wisdom of the minister becomes his valuable instrument in the carrying out of his just and beneficial measures.
The ruler, therefore, who is the qalb, the discriminating self stationed between the spiritual and the selfish selves, is the arbiter and the moderator between their conflicts, and the harmonizer of their discords. One of the most important powers is that of justice and equilibrium, the giving to everything its due, weighing of opposites in the balance, and then delivering the correct decision.
It is the qalb which has to choose, and it is therefore here that lies the responsibility of the choice, where the whole drama of human answerability for his actions is enacted. The qalb is receptive to the influence of both the ruh and the nafs, and he has the freedom to accept whichever influence he wills and in whatever proportion, and upon this to form his purpose, and then have it executed in action. In the course of this continual weighing and choosing of the suggestions and the ruh and the nafs, the qalb acquires a distinct personality with a characteristic nature forms a combination in a certain proportion of the multiple qualities of the ruh and the nafs.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic:

Psychology of Islam (21 of 23), Read 105 times

Conf:

Issues: The Islamic Personality

From:

andreas

Date:

Tuesday, March 19, 2002 11:52 AM


re. THE INNER ASPECTS OF FAITH by Shaikh Shaihdullah Faridi



WOW!

Really. Historically (up to now) it seems, that the conflicts of the human soul are explained with DUALITY (polarity). From the ancient Yin Yang to the
Jungian Typology of modern days, the human soul is almost invariably reduced to being the battleground between two conflicting forces, the conscious and the sub-conscious, the rational and the irrational, GOOD and EVIL even. Like a will-less vehicle almost, like an ownerless raft - in its dual nature, the soul is invariably knocked about by two opposed forces always! Where is FREE WILL! Where is RESPONSIBILITY! Aren't they quickly forgotten, if we take refuge in the souls dual nature?

The "TRINITY" of "nafs", "qalb" and "ruh", where the "qalb" is the command-and-control center, which strives for a balance between the conflicting "nafs" and "ruh", is an ingenious depiction of the human condition. It leaves no room for excuses. It places free will squarely into the hands of the individual and makes no apology for irresponsible behaviour.

This model, I would even want to call it "trinitarian"(!), makes a titanic assertion and raises mind boggling questions!

The devout begging monk (or the
mendicant friar of medieval times) could easily be regarded as a "failure", for giving too much room to "ruh". Equally, the multi-millionaire becomes a failure, for courting only his "nafs". Does the fact, that the multi-millionaire (in order to appease his conscience) gives to the begging monk really matter in this light?

Your goal as an individual must be, to strive for balance between your "ruh" and "nafs". Who sets the standard on what is "good" balance if not your "qalb"? Ie. YOUR command-and-control center.

If we all kept our "nafs" and "ruh" in perfect balance, then does it follow, that there would be no begging monks and no multi-millionaires? This is a rethorical question really. A really tough question to answer is, whether the command to following the example set by the prophet (peace be upon him) is really possible without giving "ruh" too much space. It seems almost unfair to ask this. Unless, you, like the prophet (peace be upon him) sought to keep YOUR relationship with Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) and YOUR running of worldly affairs in balance?



tough. tough questions, verily!

;)

Thousand thanks Nausheen, for posting such a monumental article! It is a prolific resource for food for thought! A very rich meal indeed! (I know that I'll be chewing on these questions for a while! :)

Wassalam,

andreas. (Switzerland)

 

 

Topic:

Psychology of Islam (22 of 23), Read 101 times

Conf:

Issues: The Islamic Personality

From:

NAUSHEEN

Date:

Tuesday, March 19, 2002 06:00 PM

Assalamoalaikum Andreas,

>>>Thousand thanks Nausheen, for posting such a monumental article! It is a prolific resource for food for thought! A very rich meal indeed! (I know that I'll be chewing on these questions for a while! :)<<<

You are most welcome. i am glad, that you could appreciate the efforts, though as we all muslims should say, I 'd rather do the same, - all praise is allah's .. alhamdulillah!!

As i see in other posts your interest in islam, i would like to state one observation, from my humble self:

If you read the Holy Quran, whenever the mention of deeds appears, the question of accountability is rested upon the heart. So much so, that we learn that our limbs and organs, will be witness of our deeds on the judgement day, but allah will reward only those, with most beautiful rewards, who come to Him with a pure heart ie the qalb.

Peace,

Nausheen


 

 

Topic:

Psychology of Islam (23 of 23), Read 88 times

Conf:

Issues: The Islamic Personality

From:

andreas

Date:

Wednesday, March 20, 2002 05:54 AM

Assalamu Alalikum and thank you, Nausheen, for the reminder about humility.

My well intentioned, though quite evidently ill-fated attempt, to draw attention to the base article, risks becoming hype, diverting even, from the significance of the article, if the subject matter is not approached with utmost respect. You do well, with your timely reminder.

As I have tried to formulate before, when touching on the subject, I stand in awe, when contemplating the problem of conveying the prophet's (pbuh) life and work in words. How much easier it must have been for those, who have seen the prophet (pbuh) or for those who have seen those, who have seen the prophet (pbuh). If memory serves, I think I read somewhere, that the prophet (pbuh) said, that the first three generations would be the "holiest" -- ie. the generation who has seen the prophet (pbuh) and the two generations which followed.

The article on "Psychology of Islam" is an inspiration for us all, as the proposed trinity, between "spirit", "mind/heart" and "body", surely applies to all of us (regardless of creed).


Wasslam,

andreas. (Switzerland)

 



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