Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Spirituality in Islam
Another school of spirituality that has gained popularity is that derived from Vedanta or Hindu philosophy, in which spirituality is generally taken as something that is opposed to worldliness. According to this school of spirituality, people usually assume that the farther they move from material and worldly things, the more spiritual they become.
In other words, man is supposed to take himself away from the material world and devote his life to becoming one with the non-material world. For this, he is required to stop his thinking process in order to be able to concentrate on certain object/s. This is followed by meditative practices such as chants or mantras. When this is done, he experiences a very different kind of feeling: what we call ecstasy. When man enters this state of ecstasy, he experiences an unknown pleasure. On the basis of this experience, people wrongly associate ecstasy with spirituality or contact with reality.
With the objective of finding such pleasure or ecstasy people who follow this form of meditative spirituality run away from cities and towns to jungles and mountains, leaving behind their homes and their material lives. It is this viewpoint, which is presented in the well-known book entitled, “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.”
Let us take an objective view of this form of spirituality.
This concept of spiritualism tells us to leave the material world and stop our thinking process to receive spiritual nourishment. When a scientist discovers the scientific world, he does not leave the material world, but rather stays here, studies and makes discoveries in this very world. Spirituality is also a science. Consequently, in spiritual science the same method should be valid, i.e. undergoing spiritual experiences while remaining in the material world and not by leaving the material world.
This concept of spirituality tells man to stop his thinking process. But man is an intellectual being, with his mind being his greatest faculty. In fact it is in the possession of his mind and his independent thinking that man is distinguished from animals and other life forms. Therefore any form of spirituality where ecstasy is attained by stopping the thinking process and repeating certain words, chants or mantras is, therefore, just a reduced form of spirituality.