God Consciousness: Those Who Do Good, Find Good


Excerpted from- WISE Up- Knowledge ends Extremism 2017


And when it is said to those who are conscious of God, “What is it that your Lord has revealed?” They say, “What is good.”

For those who do good there is good in this world, but the reward in the hereafter is better still; for how excellent is the abode of the God-conscious! (Qur’an 16:30).

Religion and its impact on humanity have two sides. Religion is acknowledged as a source of good, wisdom, and morality. The majority of people believe in religion and are convinced that their redemption is found through the beliefs they hold. They find inspiration in the scriptures. On the other hand, the history of the world is replete with oppression, cruelty, and other types of evil carried out in the name of religion. People have interpreted scriptures, the revealed Word, to justify abuse of women and children, discrimination against minorities, slavery, economic exploitation, and genocide. In addition, many people who think they are religious oppose science and hold beliefs that are manifestly false and attribute their attitude to revelations. Many make rules of unhappy living, creating misery in their homes in the belief that they are obeying the Word of God.

With the backdrop of this common human weakness, this ayah points out that those who are conscious of God find the goodness that is in revelation. Those who are conscious know that He is benevolent, and His messages are from His grace and mercy. The purpose of revelation is described at the beginning of the Qur’an in Surah 2, Verse 4. It is to guide mankind to falaah, that is, success, happiness, peace, and prosperity. It is to help us find all that is good.

The second part of the verse says there is a simple formula for finding goodness. Do good and good will come to you here and in the hereafter. It is not very complicated or philosophical. Train yourself to overcome the bad tendencies in yourself. Live conscientiously. Take the initiative of being a source of goodness and you will achieve a happy state. This is worth emphasizing because this central idea escapes most people. They have come to believe that religion is a complex set of rules and arguments that only scholars can understand.

People get confused by revelation because its language is often transcendental. A literal or superficial reading results in meanings that are misleading. It takes contemplation and patience to discern the guidance in revelation. There was a context within which events described in the scripture occurred. We want to be aware of the historical and social context before we extrapolate their meanings to the present.

Our emotional histories color our views. The images and sounds that are reverberating through our minds filter what we understand from a text. We have to learn to be quiet inside in order to open our hearts to revelation.

Some people are misled by revelations because they are invested in the status quo. The current system gives them advantages over others, and they interpret religion to justify the present order.

Some deduce inferior meanings because they derive national or tribal pride from “our religion.” They discuss the scripture to find meanings that help them look down on others, or oppress others, or make war on others.

People who are conscious of God search for the best meanings; those that give insight into wisdom and liberate people from limitations. This ayah tells us that people who manifest goodness are the ones who are conscious of God. Do not be misled by special robes or elaborate rituals or other pretenses. Those who have risen above their egos and have become conscious are those who have goodness in their own lives and create goodness for others.

If you misunderstand revelation, you can infer meanings that make you unhappy. You may think you are following the rules of religious life, but you can be miserable and stuck. Many people justify failure in life by saying to themselves, “I may be unhappy now, but I will find the rewards of my prayers in the next world!” This ayah contradicts this notion. It says if you do good, you will find good in this world. The hereafter is a continuation of the present. So if your life is not working, reexamine your beliefs and change your interpretations.

The second part of this ayah teaches the basic law that what we send out into the world comes back to us. So if you want to change your life for the better, then get busy doing good, and inevitably, your life will also be filled with goodness. The word “good” includes everything that makes you or others better; it includes positive thought, speech, and action. It means thinking well of yourself and others; it means speaking well of yourself and others; it includes creating a positive intention within your mind when you do something. It means dropping negative thoughts and speech; it means not to look down on what God has given you in your person, or your experience; it means letting go of anger, jealousy, hopelessness, and self-pity; it means never wishing to harm anyone. This is what we do when we become God-conscious, because we know that what we are thinking is known to God, and He compensates us for everything we think, say, and do.

For those who do good, there is good in this world, but there can be a delay, and it can work in indirect ways. You may be kind and generous toward someone, and he can respond with hostility. This type of experience is common and throws off a lot of people. They say, “I was being good, but it was not returned to me.” This formula of goodness for goodness does not work. It is better to hold back and see what others do first. If they act good toward me, then I can take a chance. This is a misunderstanding. The good that you did is a reality; it is guaranteed to bear fruit. It will come to you later, perhaps through other people. The Prophet Muhammad said that the greater the delay, the greater is the reward for you.

Many people become confused about revelations because they borrow the meanings from someone else. They say, I am not learned in religion so let me find an expert. If you try to live through someone else’s mind-set, your life becomes complicated and difficult. The other person did not have the experiences you did. If you wish to understand something and use it, you have to figure it out yourself. You can use wisdom only to the extent you personalize it.

There is another difficulty when we look to others to find meanings. There are many people who can give impressive speeches about things they don’t understand. They can talk about it, but don’t know how to do it. There are many who have written books about subjects they don’t understand. There are people who can dress up to look like authority figures. The only thing that a person really knows is what he or she is able to do. It is the walk you walk and not the talk you talk that matters.

The Prophet Muhammad was neither a scholar nor didhe study to have a degree from a religious academy.

He learned to be conscious of God through his own search, and he understood the spiritual truths in simple ways that he could apply to raise awareness in himself and in others. He teaches us to do the same.