Ghazalliís Alchemy of Happinesss is a beautiful book that I will probably read a couple of times again. Contrary to the image of heavy hard-bound complicated volume, the Alchemy of Happiness is 30 or 40 pages long, and really quite simple. Yet itís deep. Very deep. I got my copy of the book from Dad after he had it printed bound from this online link.
To explain the purpose of life, Ghazalli uses many parables and similies. The ones that had the most penetrating effect on me, which eloquently also explain Why are we here, are these three:
1. Ghazalli likens manís journey in this world to the pilgrimage of a Muslim on a camel-back to Hajj. To make the description more general say it’s, the journey of an individual on a steed to a Greater Pilgrimage. Whatís the purpose of any Pilgrimage? Itís to gain greater spiritual purification and presence after our lives. But most of the time we live our lives overly-concerned with our bodies, our other passions & desires and choose to be unmindful of our Spiritual Growth. The similitude of a person whoís life revolves around the satisfaction his desires, be it hunger, sleep, climbing the corporate ladder or dominance of his business is like the Pilgrim whoís got his full attention to his camel and is oblivious of why heís out on this journey in the first place. The Pilgrim feeds the camel, gives it all the rest it needs, beautifies it, gets it married, brings up the Camelís kids and eventually when his Camel is not strong enough to complete the journey it lays down and dies. Leaving the Pilgrim lost in the desert in despair, anguish, tearing his face with what heís done.
2. What are manís basic physical needs. Itís Food, clothing & shelter, isnít it? Well to satisfy these essentials, gives rise to three obvious trades. The Farmer, The Tailor and (ahem!) the Builder. Well it doesnít just end there, the Farmer to plough his field needs a tractor, so there enter General Motors to provide the Tractor. The Tailor needs a Sewing machines and then there comes in the Singer Sewing Machine Company to provide the Tailors with Sewing Machines. Ofcourse, these all need huge finances, so banks are setup to finance the growth of these new entrepreneurs. Each of these individuals cannot survive on their own and are constantly trading with each other which sometime lead to disputes, thereby Laws are set up, a Judiciary and Police to enforce these Laws and eventually a Government to run the whole show. Man once again gets so engrossed in the day to day maintenance of this complete system that once again forgets the purpose of having this setup in the first place, it is simply to provide Food, Clothing and Shelter, thatís all.
3. But if Manís purpose is simply Spiritual Growth, then what is this Spiritual Growth? Ghazalli defines Spiritual Growth, the quest for the answer to the question, ďWho are you?Ē And if you feel that all you are is the physical body ends at your finger tips then that makes you not much different from animals. Afterall animals too breathe, eat, sleep and make babies. Thereís obviously more to you than that. Who are you? Finding out Who are you, is primarily answering the below four Questions:
– To Know with your inner being, Where Have you come from?
– To know with utter confidence, Where are you going?
– What is it that makes you truly, everlasting happy?
– What is it that makes you truly everlasting sad?
In conclusion, if Spiritual Growth is all that matters then why we been given passions/desires and faculties like anger in the first place. The answer is this, the first is your steed, the second your weapon. Afterall, itís not possible for you to go on pilgrimage on foot, you need a camel.
Ps. If you found any of the stories/analogies speaking to you personally, read the Alchemy of Happiness, you can get it for free here.