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What is the Relation of Life to Existence?


The perfection of a thing’s existence is through life. Moreover, life is the real basis and the light of existence, and consciousness, in turn, is the light of life.  It is also life that constitutes the foundation of everything. Life appropriates everything for each living thing, and only through life can a living creature claim that everything belongs to it. The whole world, it can claim, is its home and the entire universe is its property conferred upon it by the Owner.

Just as light causes (concrete) things to be seen and, according to one theory, is the real cause of color, so life may be said to unveil the creation. It is life again which causes the qualities to be realized, and the archetypes to gain material existence, thus making the particular acquire universality and universals be concentrated in a particular.

Life also causes existence to attain to perfection and achieve the rank of possessing a soul, by making countless factors unite into a whole to become a sentient, percipient being. Furthermore, life is the manifestation of oneness in the realm of multiplicity, and the reflection of unity in plurality. See how lonely a substance is without life, even though it is as big as a mountain. Its interactions are restricted to its own location, and whatever else exists in the universe means nothing to it since it is unconscious of other existents. Now observe a minute living being such as a honeybee, what close interactions it has with the universe, particularly with its environment of plants and flowers--so that it can properly argue that the earth is the garden or the market- place where it does business. The bee has, through the unconscious instinctive senses which enthuse and motivate it, in addition to its external and inner senses, close relations and familiarity with most of the species in the world.

If the effect of life upon the humble honeybee is so great, how much more will it be upon man, as it expands into his consciousness, reason and intellect. Man, by means of reason and consciousness, which are the light of life, travels through the higher worlds of corporeal and spiritual existence as easily as he passes from one room to another in his house. That is, just as that conscious and living being may go in spirit as a guest to those worlds, those worlds too come as guests to his mirror-like spirit by being reflected there.

Life is a most manifest evidence of God’s Unity, a greatest source of His bounty and a most subtle manifestation of His Compassion; it is also a most hidden and delicate embroidery of His art. Life is really so mysterious and subtle that even the life of plants, which is the simplest of the levels of life, and the awakening of the life-force in seeds as the beginning of a plant’s life, is still not fully understood. Although it is something commonly observed by man, it has remained a mystery from the time of Adam, since the human mind has been unable to grasp the nature of life.

Life in both its outer or material and inner or immaterial aspects is pure. The Divine Power creates life directly without the participation of causes, while on the other hand It employs natural causes in the creation of everything else. The reason why God operates behind the veil of natural causes in the creation of things other than life is that man, being unable to discern Divine Wisdom in some occurrences, might ignorantly ascribe to Him some things which he deems unpleasant.

In short: It may be argued that inanimate things cannot be regarded as really existent, not being substantially different from non-existence. Life is the light of the spirit, and consciousness is the light of life. Since life and consciousness are so important, and a perfect harmony evidently prevails over the whole creation, and again since the universe displays a firm cohesion, and as this small ever-rotating sphere of ours is full of countless living and intelligent beings, so it is equally certain that those heavenly castles, those lofty constellations, should have conscious living inhabitants peculiar to themselves. Just as the fish live in water, so those spirit beings may exist in the heat of the sun. Fire does not consume light, on the contrary, light becomes brighter because of fire. We observe that the Eternal Power creates countless living beings from inert, solid substances and transforms the densest matter into subtle living compounds by life. Thus It radiates the light of life everywhere in great abundance and furnishes most things with the light of consciousness.


This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.