Explanatory Note

This question corresponds to Question 10 of Shabistari which deals with the problem of knowledge.

The ocean, according to Shabistari, is Being, and speech or knowledge is its shore. But knowledge about the material world is like shell while knowledge of faith, i.e. of the states of the heart, is like the pearl which should be the real goal of the seeker. Any attention to the sciences of the world will serve to distract the human soul from its real destiny. For the purification of human life Shabistari enumerates all the moral qualities which Plato and Aristotle recommended in their ethics. When man attains moral purity, he receives grace from the Heavenly Spirit from above.

According to Iqbal, the ocean is life, and its shore, consciousness. When, in the course of evolution, life develops consciousness, it becomes, at the same time, aware of the hindrances that material environment offers in the way of its expansion. Discussing this problem, he says, "Consciousness may be imagined as a deflection from life. Its function is to provide a luminous point in order to enlighten the forward rush of life [lines 9-10]. It is a case of tension, a state of self -concentration, by means of which life manages to shut out all memories and associations which have no bearing on a present action. It has no well-defined fringes; it shrinks and expands as the occasion demands.... Thus consciousness is a variety of the purely spiritual principle of life which is not a substance, but an organizing principle, a specific mode of behaviour essentially different to the behaviour of an externally worked machine. Since, however, we cannot conceive of a purely spiritual energy, except in association with a definite combination of sensible elements through which it reveals itself, we are apt to take this combination as the ultimate ground of spiritual energy."9

As such, consciousness is intimately related to its material environment for its further progress of going beyond the limits of space, time, and causality. To Iqbal, this world of Nature somehow or other looks external, though if we analyse our perceptual process we do not find any satisfactory answer to the question why it should look -outside" us.10 It owes much to our contribution. It is our consciousness that reduces the chaos of sensations into a cosmos of ordered Nature The part that our consciousness plays in determining the character of the universe is emphasised by the theory of relativity. According to it, "the object observed is variable; it is relative to the observer its; mass, shape, and size change as the observer's Position and speed change.11" This idea, as expressed in poetic form in lines 21-42 of the text, has led certain critics to think that Iqbal denies the objectivity of Nature. As a matter Of fact, what it purports to do is not to destroy its objectivity. theory of matter or substance put forth but to refute the physics. by nineteenth-century "Nature is not a static fact situated in a dynamic void, but a structure of events Possessing the character of a continuous creative flow which thou whose mutual relations thought, cut up into isolated immobilities out of which arise concepts of space and time."12 But this act of intellect in cutting this creative flow into static concept of space, and time has its concepts own utility. Without it our spiritual life cannot hope to attain its goal. From the observable aspect of Reality we can reach the Ultimate Ego, from the Many we can go to One (lines 45-46). Without the intellectual background, the spiritual experience will lack proper balance and significance, "The scientific observation of Nature keeps us in close contact with the behaviour of Reality, and thus sharpens our inner perception for a deeper vision of it."13 And when a man succeeds in getting vision, both the worlds, visible and invisible (Makan and la-Makan), are under his heels.

[See Notes]