Life is a struggle. It is a statement we often hear. It is drilled into children by parents and guardians. It is driven hard into pupils by teachers. In higher classes, enlightened teachers say to their students: You must stretch yourselves.
In circles of friends, in the congregation of workers, the saying is encored, especially when not much is there to show for their exertions. Multi-tasked executives, corporate organisation chiefs are wont to say Life is not easy.
The rate at which rewards and endowments swell from resourcefulness and hard work is the speed with which responsibilities multiply and erode the gains. And then comes the admonition to take things easy. The clergy drums it into the ears of the congregation: Life is 80 per cent perspiration, 10 per cent inspiration. I want to believe that the remaining 10 per cent is allotted to rest and relaxation.
Drawing from a scriptural authority, the clergy and enlightened guardians say: “From the sweat of thy brow shall thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken.” (Genesis 4:19). It was the commandment that was issued to Adam as he was being driven out of Paradise.
There is a hint from time immemorial that work is a necessity. Activity is imperative. Parents do not simply give precepts to their children on the imperative of hard work, they demonstrate it by example. They serve as role models. A farmer parent gets up early in the morning and heads for the farm and may not return until late in the evening. A factory hand speaks about the dignity of labour to his son. A company chief executive leaves for his office and on his return throws his bag on the sofa to catch his breath. He is wont to later regale his wife with meetings he had attended or calls to suppliers overseas he had made about when the ordered manufactured machine parts would hit the shores. The woman gets the daughter to assist in the shop, what psychologists call work motivation. It is to inculcate in the younger ones the spirit and letter of work and activity. It is a commitment to a movement that can be triggered by the need for physical or spiritual activity.
We are told work does not kill; it is poverty that does kill. We are admonished sweet is the reward of hard work and activity in the right direction. The potentials inherent in children who are shown the right attitude to work are brought to light. Some of the gains in one earth-life follow the man to the beyond and back with him on earth if the grace of a repeated earthly sojourn becomes a necessity and is granted. As an example, the video of a seven-year-old prodigy, by the name Suborno Isaac Bari, and said to be a Bengali-American, has just gone viral. He became a professor at Harvard University in the United States at the age of seven, the youngest ever in the history of mankind. It is said of him that he could solve naughty chemistry problems at the age of two. Surprise diligence, acumen and extra-ordinary knowledge in science, or the Arts exhibited by some people have their roots reaching beyond the present earth-life.
What I am getting at, therefore, is the purpose of life which is spiritual maturity and self-consciousness, and with it the unfolding of talents and abilities which are everlasting. It is generally known in Christendom that there is music and singing in Paradise. It bears re-emphasizing that man is spirit and his home is in the Spiritual Realm. There it existed as an unconscious spirit germ. The realm is at the lower plane of the inconceivably vast Spiritual Kingdom. Higher up from the paradise of the developed human spirit is the Primordial Spiritual Realm which is at the uppermost part of Creation and inhabited by the beings created after the Image of God, the Almighty Father. In the said lower part of the Spiritual Realm, the spirit germs longed for conscious existence so that they could experience the inconceivable bliss and splendour and joyful activities which only self-consciousness affords. The longing was a petition to the Most High that they too are permitted the conscious existence in which the Created Ones were basking and swinging in everlasting gratefulness. The Most High hearkened to the supplication and they had to be ejected and made to journey down to the material world otherwise known as the World of Matter. This was the ejection of Adam generally thought to be punishment. On the contrary, it was progressing. When a fruit is ripe, it falls from the mother tree where it begins its own plant life of germination, growing, maturing into a tree, flowering, and bearing fruits and fruits ripening and giving birth to another cycle of plant life.
The material world consists of several planes collectively referred to as Subsequent Creation and known to the Yoruba in their recognition as “Asehinda Aiye.” The Spiritual Realm being the Creation proper is referred to as “Akokoda Aiye.” That is the first to be created. The fact that the spirit germs were unconscious back home in Paradise does not mean they were not alive. Whatever is alive, we learn from a higher knowledge, seeks consciousness. Their state can be likened to the case of babies. A newly born baby is alive but is as yet conscious of its environment and cannot recognise its mother, brothers and sisters until after certain influences have assailed it and after some time it opens its eyes. Through awakened ethereal ties with the mother it recognises her, and by the mother merely carrying it when it cries, it stops. Unfolding into self-consciousness in Paradise, the Spiritual Realm is impossible because of the consuming luminosity there in consequence of the vicinity of the Light, that is God if we can talk of vicinity at all, given the inconceivable distance between there and the Throne of grace, the Abode of the Most High God. It is like an earthman being close to the sun and not expect to be burnt completely.
As the spirit germ is being carried downwards from plane to plane by benevolent beings it is wrapped around the spiritual core substances of the intervening planes and it becomes a soul. The last covering is picked from the mother’s womb which is what we know as the earthly body; the physical body to be more precise. In the course of descent to lower regions of the material realm, it is assailed by influences from the lower planes. The influences engender some degree of the awakening of the traveller. It learns and struggles to protect and defend itself against these onrushing influences. Through influences of the material earth such as rain, wind and even the sun it learns to protect and defend itself. He struggles to creatively put shelter over his head and fashion instrument to ward off attacks. Through the hustle and bustle of life, through work, the struggle is accentuated. Added to these, indeed as the foundational element, is the obedience to the Laws of Creation, the Divine Laws, to fortify himself and refine his spirit. Through the striving he gets mature and his talents and abilities unfold.
Over millennia, teachers and prophets were sent to draw attention to these unchanging happenings in the cosmos and life, to the Laws of the Creator and their outworking, and a lead man from one level of development to the other, from one class to the higher ones in the school and the school system that the world is. Lao-Tse was sent to China by the Creator in 600 B.C.; Zoroaster to Persia now known as Iran, 600 B.C. about the same time as Lao-Tse; Buddha to India in 550 B.C.; Jeremiah to Palestine in 630 B.C. After the premature departure of the Lord Jesus Christ as a result of hostilities by mankind who dared to lay their puny hands on Him and brought Him to Golgotha, Prophet Mohammed was sent by God to Saudi Arabia in 573 A.D. to stem the rapid decline of mankind to perdition. This was because after the departure of the Lord mankind went back to their old ways. The forms in the Teachings of the Sent Ones may have varied according to necessity; they all fervently, unremittingly proclaimed the same truth that there is but only One unsubstantiated Almighty God, the Creator of all! The One and only Life who has no beginning and no end because He is Life Itself. The coming of the Teachers of mankind and prophets was to steer mankind away from wrong-doing and evil with their teachings of truth so that during the Final Judgment to be brought by the Son of Man in the End Times, the Age of the Holy Spirit, they could be spared of damnation.
In the Grace and Mercy of the Most High, repeated earth lives have been permitted so that mankind could mend their ways through recognizing God and the self-enforcing Laws of His Creation which give expression to His Will. Because of lack of understanding or ignorance, we human beings take a lot for granted and scarcely are the teachings of the Messengers remembered how much more the true Teachings of the Lord Himself. Where there is understanding there is the willful disregard of them, of the Will that governs, our world, nay, the entire Creation.
Our sojourn demands that we must eat from the sweat of our brow, a life-long activity. We must struggle. The disregard is displayed information of nations and in the appropriation of resources of different peoples and sharing them out without consultation, agreement or their consent. These are done without qualms, obviously oblivious of consequences. The Law of Equilibrium is ignored in the sharing. The law stipulates that in giving lies receiving. You must give to receive. Consider the tree. It is only strong through the struggle to withstand wind and storm, rain and sunshine and heat or cold. The leaves and flowers draw rays from the sun and the root wades through the earth crust for the ingredients and nutrients, both parts working collaboratively and in complementarity to sustain the whole.
It is through struggle we generate the impetus to grapple with life’s tasks and challenges. The youths in particular develop incredible enthusiasm for new tasks and a new high such that the seemingly impossible is made possible. It can be seen that Nature does not countenance indolence; we are not to be dependent on our neighbours, but on the works of our hands. Who is not fascinated by the diversity of colours, tones and scents that define Nature to blow minds and convey the beauty of our world? He who prevents his neighbour, out of misplaced love, calculation or cunning,—which invariably develops into a one-sided feeling of entitlement —or even use of force from struggling does himself and the neighbour incalculable harm. It is a brazen violation of the commandment: “From the sweat of the brow shall thou eat bread until thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou was taken.” The Law of equilibrium is breached with brazenness. The consequences are dire, indeed. Little wonder, from what we can all see, the world is in turmoil and upside down!