When you embark on an intense intellectual and spiritual journey as I did after I finished grad school in August 2013, the journey requires a certain level of asceticism, isolation, and withdrawal that is led by a spiritual guide. I met my spiritual guide when I was a college student between 2006 and 2009, but my friendship and relationship with my spiritual guide took off in 2013, when I fell into an array of health and relationship problems. Zuhd is the Arabic term for the asceticism, isolation, and withdrawal that is required for one’s intellectual and spiritual journey. When my spiritual guide fully stepped in during the time I had fallen into a mess in 2013, I was not cognizant of the fact that a moment of peril would actually be the beginning of a rich intellectual and spiritual journey that would be led by this individual to this day.
Asceticism, isolation, and withdrawal (Zuhd) entails ups and downs in terms of bodily and mental energy. But with a spiritual guide, the intellectual and spiritual journey that is fostered by Zuhd becomes easier and manageable. People come and go in your life to the point that you are left with virtually no friends because the intellectual and spiritual journey – as well as the asceticism, isolation, and withdrawal that it requires – shuts out everything and everyone except for the spiritual guide.
The purpose behind asceticism, isolation, and withdrawal (Zuhd) is the attainment of truth. Thus, Zuhd is a reflection of the main theme behind Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” in the sense that certain truths emerge out of an immersion into philosophy which takes place only if you are brought out of the “cave,” with the cave being an allegory for normal life. Thus, my life has been anything but normal. But in a state of asceticism, isolation, and withdrawal, the spiritual guide gives you cues and directions as to where things are headed, despite the confusion and uncertainty that emerges out of a state of asceticism, isolation, and withdrawal. Everyone has a book written for them, and the spiritual guide opens the book to give you clues and subtle directions as to where things are headed.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, during a conversation I had with my spiritual guide in August of 2018 when I had a falling out with a group of friends that no longer served any purpose in my life, he told me that in a matter of time, planes would be grounded and people would be put in a state of lockdown in their homes. One of the main instructions he gave me during that conversation in August 2018 was to let go of all of my friends because they were useless, which I ended up doing. Those instructions freed up some of the time for the background reading that has gone into this blog, even though I had published a book in January of that same year. In sum, knowledge and wisdom have their benefits and rewards. But the acquisition of such knowledge and wisdom also comes with certain dangers and risk, as does any endeavor in life. Embark on the journey, but also assume the perils and risks attached to it.