How Can We Help The Young Find Happiness In This World And Hereafter?
Given to a Number of Unhappy Youths
One day a number of bright youths came to me, seeking an effective deterrent in order to guard themselves against the dangers arising from life, youth, and the lusts of the soul. Like I had told those who had previously sought help from The Meaning of Life, I also said to these youths:
Your youth will definitely leave you, and if you do not remain within the sphere of the licit, it will be lost, and rather than its pleasures, it will bring you calamities and suffering in this world, in the grave, and in the Hereafter. But if, you spend the bounty of your youth as thanks honorably, in uprightness and obedience, it will in effect remain perpetually and will be the cause of gaining eternal youth.
As for life, if it is without belief, or because of rebelliousness belief is ineffective, it will produce pains, sorrows and grief far exceeding the superficial, fleeting enjoyment and pleasure it brings. Because, since, contrary to the animals, man possesses a mind and he thinks, he is connected to both the present time, and to the past and the future. He can obtain both pain and pleasure from them. Whereas, since the animals do not think, the sorrows arising from the past and the fears and anxieties arising from the future do not spoil their pleasure of the present. And especially if the pleasure is illicit; then it is like an altogether poisonous honey.
That is to say, from the point of view of the pleasure of life, man falls to a level a hundred times lower than the animals. In fact, life for the people of misguidance and heedlessness, and indeed their existence, rather their world, is the day in which they find themselves. From the point of view of their misguidance, all the time and universes of the past are non-existent, are dead. So their intellects, which connect them to the past and the future, produce darkness, blackness for them. And, due to their lack of belief, the future is also non-existent. Furthermore, because they think, the eternal separations resulting from this non-existence continuously produce darkness for their lives.
Whereas, if belief gives life to life, then through the light of belief, both the past and the future are illuminated and find existence. Like present time, it produces elevated and spiritual pleasures and lights of existence for the spirit and heart-in respect of belief.
And so, life is thus. If you want the pleasure and enjoyment of life, give life to your life through belief, and adorn it with religious duties. And preserve it by abstaining from sins.
Concerning the fearsome reality of death, which is demonstrated by deaths every day, in every place, at all times, I shall explain it to you with a comparison, in the same way that I told the other youths.
For example, a gallows has been erected here in front of your eyes. Beside it is a lottery office, but one which gives tickets for truly huge prizes. We people here are ten people, whether we like it or not, we shall be summoned there; there is no other alternative. They will call us, and since the time is secret, any minute they may say either: “Come and collect the ticket for your execution! Mount the gallows!” Or: “A ticket to win a prize of millions of dollars’ worth of gold has come up for you. Come and collect it!” While waiting for them to say this, two people suddenly appear at the door. One of them is a scantily dressed woman, beautiful and deceiving. In her hand is some apparently extremely delicious, but in fact poisonous, candy, which she has brought wanting us to eat it. The other is an undeceiving and undeceivable serious person. He enters behind the woman, and says:
“I have brought you a talisman, a lesson. If you study it, and if you do not eat that candy, you will be saved from the gallows. With this talisman, you will receive your ticket for the matchless prize. Look, you see with your own eyes that those who eat the honey mount those gallows, and until that time they suffer dreadful stomach pains from the poison of the candy. And who it is that will receive the ticket for the large prize is not apparent; it seems that they too mount the gallows. But there are millions of witnesses who testify that they can enter the prize arena easily. So, look from the windows! The highest officials and the high-ranking persons concerned with this business proclaim with loud voices: ‘Just as you see with the clear certainty of your own eyes those mounting the gallows, so also be certain as daylight, with no doubt or misgiving, that those with the talisman receive the ticket for the prize.’ “
Thus, like the comparison, since the dissolute pleasures of youth in the sphere of the illicit, which are like poisonous honey, lose belief, which is the ticket for an eternal treasury and the passport for everlasting happiness, a person who indulges in them descends to death, which is like the gallows, and to the tribulations of the grave, which is like the door to eternal darkness. And since the appointed hour is unknown, its executioner, not differentiating between young and old, may come at any time to cut off your head. If you give up illicit desires, which are like the poisonous honey, and acquire belief and perform the religious duties, which are the Holy Book’s talisman, one hundred and twenty-four thousand prophets together with innumerable saints and people of truth have unanimously announced that you shall receive the ticket for the treasury of eternal happiness which comes up from the extraordinary lottery of human destiny. And they have pointed to traces of it.
IN SHORT: Youth will go. And if it goes being squandered, it results in thousands of calamities and pains both in this world and in the Hereafter. And if you want to understand how the majority of such youths end up in hospitals with imagined diseases arising from misspent youth and prodigality, and in prisons or hostels for the destitute through their excesses, and in bars due to the distress arising from their pain and suffering, then go and ask at the hospitals, prisons and graveyards.
For sure, just as you will hear from most of the hospitals the moans and groans of those ill from dissipation and debauchery resulting from the drives of youth, so too will you hear from the prisons the regretful sighs of unhappy youths who are being punished for illicit actions mostly resulting from the excesses of youth. And you will understand that most of the torments of the grave-that Intermediate Realm the doors of which continuously open and shut for those who enter it-are the result of misspent youth, as is testified to by those who have divined the life of the grave, and is affirmed by the people of truth.
Also, ask the elderly and the sick, who form the majority of mankind. Certainly, the great majority of them will say with sorrow and regret: “Alas! We wasted our youth on passion and fancy; indeed, harmfully. Be careful, do not do as we did!” Because, as a consequence of the illicit pleasures of five to ten years’ youth, a person suffers years of grief and sorrow in this world, torment and harm in the Intermediate Realm, and the calamities of Hell in the Hereafter. And although such a person is in a most pitiable situation, he in no way deserves pity. For those who freely consent to indulge in harmful actions may not be pitied. They are not worthy of it.
By Bediuzzaman Said Nursi