Believing in the supernatural

Published: April 25, 2017
The writer works for the public sector. He moonlights as a journalist and is a graduate of the University of Warwick

The writer works for the public sector. He moonlights as a journalist and is a graduate of the University of Warwick

‘Nazar lagna’ or evil eye refers to the curse afflicted by the malevolent stare of someone who, intentionally or unintentionally, summons enough hate or anger while simply looking at someone to induce harm that could be physical or psychological. Scholar Javed Ghamidi while answering a question on the issue of ‘nazar’ gave a heartening reply. He spoke about the existence of two distinct realms, physical and spiritual. The material world and the physical laws it operates under constitutes the physical while the latter is hidden and can only be experienced once you unravel your soul. He spoke of abilities buried deep in the recesses of the human mind that can only possibly be awakened with special exercises. The knowledge of this realm is more anecdotal, borne of personal experience and observation. Ghamidi was explicit in separating both the physical and spiritual realms from religion, and said that any person belonging to any faith could unleash magical abilities with enough practice.

His answer indicates the existence of a world, a supernatural one, with its own rules. The idea that the physical world may be a mathematical construct of extreme elegance is intriguing and that there is more to this world than the quantifiable, verifiable and predictable numbers and physical laws is not just enthralling but supremely sublime. Our whole existence is an odyssey from unknown to known and it is precisely the pleasure of discovery that makes living in a mysterious world worthwhile.

Some physicists believe the universe is a giant clockwork and everything that happens has a reason. This argument kills the idea of free will and introduces predictability. It may all be clockwork but one with an infinite number of cogs and wheels. I believe my life is a function of infinite number of variables. Some I know, most I don’t. Perhaps the example of weather can illustrate the complexity we are dealing with. Despite phenomenal advances in computation power and technology, we can’t predict the weather patterns. And then there is the ‘Butterfly Effect’, which means a butterfly flapping its wings in Lahore contributes, by way of an inscrutable chain of ‘cause and effect’, to a storm in Karachi. The variables are frighteningly many and some are extremely small and interlock in a most mysterious manner. I believe prayer is a variable too and interacts beneficially with the mundane forces on earth in a manner beyond human comprehension.

Qudrat Ullah Shahab in his magnum opus, Shahab Nama, talks about his experiences of the spiritual realm in detail in the last chapter. From the meditative trance to the out-of-body experience while chanting, Shahab delves in detail on the sights and sounds of this remarkable dive into the nether world. His narrative of the quest for a ‘murshid’ (teacher) to enlighten him is instructive on the existence of forces beyond our grasp. Ashfaq Ahmed, Bano Qudsia and Mumtaz Mufti, giants of Urdu literature, were spiritual disciples of Shahab who also declares that science is busy conquering matter and not the soul. It is, therefore, silent on a world that defies human understanding primarily informed by the experiences of a physical world. We can all recall some bits of our lives that remain unexplainable, ascribing them to chance, luck and prayers but without any understanding of how and why it happened.

I had the opportunity to accompany a family friend to the shrine of Pir Syed Meher Ali Shah. We offered the usual prayers for the departed and then the friend sat down to meditate. He was chanting verses from the Holy Quran and looked ecstatic as if conversing with a beloved. I was sitting right next to him when I saw his shirt throbbing right above his heart. His heart was responding to the chant and praying, he later explained. It was a jaw dropping experience. Now many would dismiss this as hocus-pocus but I ask: why be closed to possibilities when the world as we know it was once equally unknown and baffling?

Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2017.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • AA_Southpaw
    Apr 25, 2017 - 9:21AM


  • Ravindra Sharma
    Apr 25, 2017 - 9:32AM

    In the age of science we are talking nonsense like this ?Recommend

  • mohammad khan
    Apr 25, 2017 - 11:09AM

    How much real experience does Javed Gamdi and other professors have in this regard. Have they done a scientific research . I like to tell you my own experience. One day I was watching a lady baking square paratha on the tawa and chullah. I was looking at her and felt like eating it . As I have not eaten Roti for long time let alone village style paratha because my diet is different. The desire to eat it grew intense in me I was feeling very hungry. I kept starring at the beautiful rotis. I felt like asking the lady to give me one but i could not. Just then as she tried to pick one of the tawa it fell in the ash and charcoal she picked it and put it aside on the ground not mixing with the others. I said to her do not throw it keep it. She did not. I realized I had cast an evil eye. Was it evil eye or my telekinetic force came in to play to get me the roti. Some of the supertitious happenings have some scientific explanation. Other living things like trees etc too get affected by other living creatures telekinetic forces. Every mind can affect the other minds . It just that more unbiased researches needed to be done.Recommend

  • sanjeev
    Apr 25, 2017 - 11:28AM

    Quote – why be closed to possibilities when the world as we know it was once equally unknown and baffling? Unquote. Consider one more possibility that this is all nonsense too. Very few people consider this possibility. And depending on the thinking and understanding of the world which was unknown and baffling will take you to stone age because you ignore what happened after wards and how the societies progressed. Only the societies which challenged this mindset and thinking progressed and societies taking stand that once it was baffling so continue with the same kind of thinking lagged behind.Recommend

  • rich
    Apr 25, 2017 - 11:30AM

    what if we say a prayer written in gita or tohrah or bible will the heart flutter too?

    if it does imagine the possibilitities of religion bieng one or not being at religion atallRecommend

  • Feroz
    Apr 25, 2017 - 12:39PM

    The effects of Nazar, Black Magic, witchcraft etc can only work on those souls leading a very materialistic life on the physical plane. In the first paragraph lies the Truth, those in search of it are way above the clutches of any religion they were born into. They really have reached a lot higher level beyond the physical plane where religion resides.Recommend

  • Agha
    Apr 25, 2017 - 8:43PM

    I don’t see most rich and corrupt getting “buri nazar” What nonsense. To believe that a buri nazar would affect someone, even children is denying god who would do nothing to stop it from affecting complete innocents.Recommend

  • Shahid Pirzada
    Apr 26, 2017 - 1:49AM

    One can self-indoctrinate to any level. I think it is all ignorance.Recommend

  • siesmann
    Apr 27, 2017 - 10:09PM

    ‘Supernatural’ is just a variable of states of consciousness.Much of human mind is subconscious.With meditative practices humans can experience states not felt otherwise.Much scientific research is going on in the Western world on these phenomena.Much of the ‘supernatural’ as commonly understood is just superstition.Recommend

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