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Ostad Elahi’s thought in seven points

Ostad Elahi

Ostad Elahi’s thought could be summed up as the elaboration, both systematic and practical, of a natural spirituality. The term “natural” refers to a spirituality that corresponds to the true nature of humans, their disposition and deeper needs. Ostad Elahi’s approach to this natural spirituality is to have it adapted to the mindset and lifestyle of men and women of our times, in contrast to classical methods, that we generally associate with the great saints and mystics of the past, who gave priority to emotion over reason.

In attempting to clarify the meaning of spirituality by examining what it is based on, Ostad Elahi provides an answer to the following question: Why is it that human beings cannot do without the spiritual? It is this point we must first focus on in order to better grasp what place is given by Ostad Elahi to the spiritual within the framework of human existence.

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Introduction: What place for spirituality?

Posed in this manner, the question is not immediately answerable. Not that the idea of spirituality has disappeared from our mental space. The break-up and reassessment of the religious structures upholding human life, the proliferation of spiritualist movements or cults outside the great monotheistic religions, the emergence of customized spiritualities, where each person can find what suits them best, all on a background of bewilderment, the restless quest for “values” or “meaning”, all these phenomena clearly indicate that the dissatisfaction and longing that once drove humans towards traditional forms of religion have never ceased to torment humankind, even if expressing themselves at times in twisted or deviated forms. However, speaking the word spirituality, or bringing up religious dogmas cannot in any way be sufficient for setting about a real spiritual undertaking; what’s more, the word spirituality has come to designate almost anything and everything. It is therefore vital to define what is to be expected from spirituality, and what function it should have in our lives.

Now, an interesting aspect of Ostad Elahi’s thought is that it gives us the possibility of defining the place and function of spirituality, even before its content has been fully elucidated. The very example of his life, as well as the views reflected in his teachings, testify to the fact that, contrary to a common misconception, spiritual life should not be thought of as an alternative to material life. Our spiritual life should not be dissociated from our material life, either by totally renouncing this world, or periodically distancing ourselves from it, in order to recharge our spiritual batteries. The tendency of ancient mystics to give up their social privileges and worldly possessions in exchange for a solitary and secluded life was basically justified, since it was a symptomatic expression of the fact that something was essentially lacking in the mere social intercourse of the human-animals that we are. Such a model might nowadays lead to the false notion that a spiritual undertaking could be made as something separate from normal life.

We have a tendency to take spirituality as a separate, esoteric reality, reserved only to the initiate and requiring the development of specific esoteric faculties. This is what leads to many deviations, such as blind obedience to masters, fondness for paranormal phenomena and for altered states of consciousness, etc. Attraction for the occult, which springs probably from a deep human impulse, also breeds ostentatious and deviated forms of spirituality. As for the idea that spirituality is a luxury, or an added soulfulness of sorts, or a therapeutic aid to lighten the burden of lives too harsh to bear, it is no more than a mundane and materialist view of the spiritual; it is indicative of a desire for serenity and psychological security that may alleviate the distresses of modern life, much like health foods, in a different context.

Even though natural spirituality may, at some level, bring about some form of tranquility or serenity, this is not to be taken as its main goal or principal motivation. According to Ostad Elahi, spirituality is not a technique to achieve well-being, a technique that we may or may not apply to our lives, for which durably effective substitutes could be found. It aims at something completely different, something that could be better elucidated by the word perfection.

By newly defining the purpose of spirituality, Ostad Elahi places it right at the center of our lives. Spirituality is not something to be had on top of what we have, like a relief or a luxury, it is not something to be practiced laterally, separated from daily life; it is at the center, or rather, everywhere, filling every moment of our lives. We have actually no choice. We may neglect our spiritual dimension, but we can never get away from it.

This isn’t just asserting a principle. For Ostad Elahi, the place of spirituality in human life is determined by its function and how it is put into practice. The reason for spirituality to be at the center is that spirituality is the experimental science which makes it possible for us to transform our substance and perfect ourselves, by living a life governed by sound principles and a healthy reason. For this is, in fact, a natural objective for every human individual, coinciding with the idea of the perfect happiness everyone hankers after. The greatest happiness, coming from the outside, would not be true happiness if we were to remain the anxious and imperfect beings that we are in our daily lives. If we are to attain infinite happiness, we must develop within ourselves the faculties that will make it possible for us to really taste it, to fully perceive and sense its effects. In short, to experience perfect happiness, we should first perfect ourselves. Whatever goals we set ourselves in life, short term or distant, we are repeatedly faced with the same question, whenever we think about the condition and the meaning of our existence. The question is not “What will I become?” but, at a deeper level, “What can I do with myself?”, “What potentials am I capable of developing?” But first of all, “who is this self?”

In sum, the life of a person worthy of being called human can hardly be reduced to the mere bustle of daily life, for he or she is bound to be inclined towards the transcendent, no matter what it is called: Supreme Cause, Life Force, Nature, God, and so on. This aspiration, which has been traditionally addressed by religions, is, nowadays, an open question for all. But the important thing, here, is that this aspiration for transcendence should not lead to the exclusion of spirituality from everyday life; for it is spirituality that points us in the right direction, provided we become conscious of the fact that we are perfectible creatures, capable of transforming our substance and freeing ourselves from whatever interferes with our true vocation.

What we should examine first is the concept of perfection, or rather, the perfecting process, for everything proceeds from this. Once we’ve realized that the perfecting process is the generating axis of all existence, we must ask ourselves what it is that gets perfected, and how this happens. We should ask, in fact, what it is that constitutes the true nature of a human being, his/her essence, his/her real “self”. We must also ask what form, in practice, the perfecting process takes, and how it can be related to what we commonly call “ethics”. For Ostad Elahi, the process of perfection is, indeed, a practice, a task to be seriously undertaken. We should earnestly ask ourselves what course the process of perfection takes, and throughout this course, what is the role of earthly life.

These different aspects of Ostad Elahi’s thought can be summarized in seven key points.

  1. The process of self-perfection
  2. Human beings are bi-dimensional
  3. Spirituality as a medicine for the soul
  4. The twin foundations of ethics: education of thought and respect for rights in general
  5. Spiritual understanding and the causal system
  6. Worlds, interworlds and successive lives
  7. The relation to the divine Source

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  1. Erin Nov 13, 2009 1:27 am 1

    Ostad Elahi’s thought in 7 points: a seemingly simple, intricate, interconnected web that gets one to reflect on our purpose, vigilance, ethics and transcendence beyond the superficial.
    Thank you for providing so much food for thought.

  2. Ali Tinat(Zoghi). Dec 08, 2009 3:17 pm 2

    Ostad Elahi’s 7 point guidelines are amongst the most pragmatic and down to the point formats I have come across in any system pertaining to Spirituality as a modern science. As a Yogi who has practiced and taught various aspects of Yoga in terms of meditation, Pranayama Breathing, plus the physical Asanas (Postures), I am fully aware of instant gratifications that such exercises entail. However, I am also the first to confess that in no way did any of such exercises brought about or caused in me or any of my students true Spiritual awareness. The reason for this is clearly lack of true and pragmatic guidelines for those who have an inner thirst and craving for spiritual awareness plus a system of learning through which they can actually pursue their quest on a daily basis. Ostad Elahi’s system is practical for it entails all aspects of one’s spiritual needs in accordance with out present time.

  3. MA Dec 13, 2010 4:17 pm 3

    Ostad Elahi’s simple words are very deep and meaningful. They provoke a great deal of love and courtesy in me, when reading about him.

  4. Minoo Jun 08, 2011 6:27 am 4

    I think Ostad Elahi’s thought is practical & clear.

  5. Noel Sep 20, 2015 1:30 pm 5

    Ostad Elahi’s thought, briefly summarized in 7 points, is like a breath of fresh air. It provides a practical, accessible way to approaching those age-old inner questions about the meaning of life and points the way to self- knowledge through the practice of ethics in daily life. Great!

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