Dr. A. R. Javed

The Philosophy of Life in New York City – Dr. A. R. Javed

New York City has everything. Every New Yorker, whether they are poor, middle class, rich, or ultra rich, loves this city and is proud of it; but, at the same time they complain about it all. This is just a part of being New Yorkers; we are an opinionated people. We have opinions about everything, even about nothing. NYC is considered the center of the world because of its financial districts, showbiz attractions, politics, ethnic diversity and much more. Here you find Broadway theaters, drama, art, technology, The New York Times, history, architecture, innovation, pizza, bagels, and everything in between. New York has some of the most brilliant minds in the world. Columbia University and New York University are two of many other excellent schools in the city who invite and train the international community right here. Here the United Nations and its global leadership come together to find ways to fight hunger, promote peace,  and ensure the safety of life in the world. The focus remains on life.

What makes New York City exceptional is the people of New York, diverse in every possible way, yet, as New Yorkers, so different from the rest of the world. The intellectual contribution of New Yorkers is not a secret; we all think alike yet, differently. If you want me to agree with you on a point, do not tell me, but wait patiently. I will come to my own conclusion, or to none. It goes like this; if you give me the conclusion and want me to believe it, more often than not, it will never happen. The free spirit of skepticism among New Yorkers demands a high level of intellectual respect. What makes New Yorkers unique in their thought process is their ability to think through, analyze and not take anyone’s word for anything, not their friends, family members, the government, politicians, or any authority on any subject. Nothing is taken at face value, but it is received with a great deal of skepticism. What is in it for me? This is a question that even children will ask in New York. When it comes to the philosophy of life, we define life in many ways and discuss its forms in great length, but we respectfully disagree with each other. Do you think like a New Yorker? Philosophically speaking, life exists in the mind, heart, and soul; yet once a body is gone, their life is sustained in their values and respect and lives on in the thoughts of others Their soul is set free to continue its life in another age and time that we call eternity. The question about life is the most ancient, complicated, and investigated in all fields. Life is spread over the unknown span of time.

One way to look at the brutal reality of time is: It has been said before that time heals all wounds. We use the phrase to express that when you are hurting physically or emotionally it takes time to heal. So, when you have been hurt, in time the pain will go away. Will it? I raise this question to seek truth, not to conceal it. Truth shall set us all free. Open this up to your assessment. Here is one response, “I lost my husband over 20 year ago, and my son 19 months later. I know that it is true, but there is still a feeling of loss. The pain is less and the hole in your heart is a little smaller.” let us consider the example of a soldier who was severely injured in the line of duty 13 years ago, who still feels the presence of an amputated limb. Can he say that the time has healed his wounds? How about your own painful experiences that can never be subdued? The time does not heal our wounds; it is the people around us who help us to get through it. Our perspective on our struggles changes over the time as we realize that we are neither the first nor the last one to such struggles. This is precisely why sharing is important.

What I have learned in the hours of my troubles and trials is only valuable to me alone if I keep it to myself, but, if I expose it to others, it will benefit everyone because we all share the same struggles. Time does not heal, it simply subdues. Perhaps the intensity one understood and felt at first may reduce to moderation, but it will be an unbreakable part of the very soul as long as one lives. I would say it again; it is the sharing and acknowledging of our pain that helps. When it comes to suffering and pain or hurtful memories of the past, some matters are simply out of our reach, as for the others, we need simply to look back and see from where we have come. Along the way, we have learned incomparable lessons that one lifetime cannot provide.

Our Environment and An Experiment: If you are performing an experiment under the same circumstances without any variation, in the environment, location or temperature, you will likely retrieve the same results each time you run that experiment. The outcomes of one’s actions in life can be predetermined if one’s life functions as an experiment and if, from day one, the surroundings act as a lab in which all variations that have been tested on other subjects first. It may only be circumvented entirely if the subject willfully accepts the conditions he/she is placed in, considering this is how it is and how it was and how it will be, leaving no room for questioning or pondering the possibility of alternatives. As much as it sounds like a surreptitious affair, or a conspiracy against human life, the answers have always been there. As the sand is scattered on the seashores, and the stars are spread all over the sky, in the same way we find scattered evidence all over that is inviting us in to tame our ontological thirst and to find truth. The earth is old, but the world is new; every passing moment, the creeping noises from the rotten joints of this earth give us one challenge and one challenge alone: make the time to rethink God, values and life.

Continuity of Life: Life is. It never has been a matter of was. Among all that is seen and unseen, thought and unthinkable, life is the most ancient entity that one can witness over and over again. It has seen many forms and shapes, but life itself has no beginning and no end. A continual length of life is impossible to determine, comprehend or measure. The beauty of life resides only in itself; the outlook and body it wears is merely a distorted reflection of the true beauty it possesses. It sustains itself, what is precious to it, and that which is more precious than anything else, survival. So an unbroken relation between sustaining and surviving life is forced to guard itself in order to preserve the next cycle of life. To itself alone it owes everything, including the emergence of one life from another. Thus, it jumps from one form or shape to another in a tireless loop that has always been there and will always be. This is precisely why people throughout the generations have studied life, but no one has been able to contain it in a bottle. Rather, life has always been an independent entity-self existing, self sustaining, and self emerging.

If you examine closely, you will find that everything visible and invisible is the result of self sustainable and unimaginable vastness of some living source. It would not be wrong to call such source the parent life because it is the source of all life. It has its dominion on the earth and on many unknown places that are much greater and older far superior and matchless. Beyond our reach and imaginations the parent life has stretched its sovereignty. The source of the parent life is life itself; thus it bestows only what it graciously considers to be given little by little, only to take it back. Subsequently, one life comes and another moves away, never to be distinguished and extinguished. Death is a word of the mortals, but in the realms of immortals, no dictionary holds such a word or its description because it is useless and meaningless as is  lifetime. The eternity of life is easy to understand from a religious viewpoint, where the God figure, with no beginning and no end, is life and is the life-giver subsequently leaving no option for mortals to live in the same body once the divine decree calls their life back to its origin. Intellectual beings have always challenged the religious notion of life in God, yet they have never ruled out the possibility. Therefore, more questions and a fair understanding of all possibilities (including the possibility of whether the divine hand is behind life and in life), has never ever dismissed.

Life is not subject to time, yet time most certainly abounds as a servant of life. The reality of life is such as the ocean. A multitude of drops, that together have the power to eliminate anything, aside from life itself. Life has the power to create and destroy, build and tear down; it can neither be detained nor executed. It lies out in a memory or in an image; it wears us down from time to time. No environment can be hostile to it because it is eternal, unlike the environment itself. No life is more or less valuable than another, since it is the part of the same parent life. Therefore even if a life is considered to be more precious than another simply because of skin color or body type at the end of the day, it is one and the same. We may foolishly divide life, but life doesn’t divide itself.

The article is taken from Existence: Addressing Urban Skepticism & the Purpose of Life by Dr. Alfonse Javed – send us an email to receive a free copy of the book.

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Dr. A. R. Javed

Dr. A. R. Javed is on faculty of New York School of the Bible, offering and heading the department of Missions and Understanding Islam. He is a lecturer at Davis College's NYC site and regularly gives lectures on Islam, Missions, Christian Theology nationally and internationally.

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