Al-Ghazzali - The Alchemy of Happiness - 17 The man made world as temptress
Type of Spiritual Experience
Both stories are 'parables' designed illustrate the need for 'reducing desires' and opportunities.
The word 'world' might be better replaced by 'material desires' or 'man made world'.
A description of the experience
Al-Ghazzali - The Alchemy of Happiness – 17 The world as temptress
The deceitful character of the world comes out in the following story….. . Jesus (upon whom be peace!) saw the world revealed in the form of an ugly old hag. He asked her how many husbands she had possessed; she replied that they were countless. He asked whether they had died or been divorced; she said that she had slain them all. “I marvel,” he said, “at the fools who see what you have done to others, and still desire you.”
This sorceress decks herself out in gorgeous and jewelled apparel and veils her face. Then she goes forth to seduce men, too many of whom follow her to their own destruction.
The Prophet has said that in the Judgment Day the world will appear in the form of a hideous witch with green eyes and projecting teeth. Men, beholding her, will say, “Mercy on us! who is this?” The angels will answer, “This is the world for whose sake you quarrelled and fought and embittered one another’s lives.” Then she will be cast into hell, whence she will cry out, “O Lord! where are those, my former lovers?” God will then command that they be cast after her.
Another dangerous property of worldly things is that they at first appear as mere trifles, but each of these so-called “trifles” branches out into countless ramifications until they swallow up the whole of a man’s time and energy. Jesus (on whom be peace!) said, “The lover of the world is like a man drinking sea-water; the more he drinks, the more thirsty he gets, till at last he perishes with thirst unquenched.” The Prophet said, “You can no more mix with the world without being contaminated by it than you can go into water without getting wet.”