The Greatest Gift

Ferial Berghli about opportunities and risks of free thinking and why it led her to a life without God.

von Ferial Berghli

Foto: Ethna O'Regan
Photo: Ethna O’Regan

Thinking is the most important activity that a human being can ever do. Well, nobody can deny this fact. Nevertheless, I’m not going to speak about the creators who brought us inventions that enable us to travel by plane wherever we want, or about any of the other results of thinking like the Internet. But about my own experiences.

I was stuck in a very bad mood or a great disappointment after leaving my country and I lost my ability to think or to live a normal life in its basic sense. Then an idea came to my mind, to change the sad sequence – through Hope. It was so simple. I thought to myself: things will change as time moves forward.

This may sounds obvious, but the majority of people don’t apply this gift of positive thinking. We have to wonder why? Since this ability to think is the only one which makes us humans special.

Usually, when we have answers they come from inherited habits of thinking. For example, many folks, wake up every morning in a bad mood and spend their day repeating the same old ideas, counting their misfortunes, instead of being grateful for the good things in their life. This blocks healthy thinking.

Another fact is that, many people think they think, but they simply don’t. This happens when we speak about the mistakes of other’s as if we have never made any ourselves, or when we agree for the sake of avoiding conflict, or go about without expressing any opinion. Here we confuse thinking and mere mental activities.

Thinking is accepting new creative ideas after examining them and being ready to change the old, invalid, traditional ways of thinking which keep people running in a closed circle, preventing them from coming up with anything new.

Thinking is asking the hard questions, like why it’s so difficult to change beliefs, and the ways of thinking which we have had inherited, and replace them with new more sustaining ones, which lead to a more successful life.

Thinking is discovering the great universal laws of life, and working in accordance with them. Our thoughts have the power to travel faster than the speed of sound or the light. The power of the mind is phenomenal. One universal law is that you create your life through your thoughts. So knowing what we want is important, for better thinking and defining our needs.

Of course, mental activities are sometimes like daylight dreams. Our minds are always busy storing memories and because of past experiences we can react to certain incidents automatically without thinking. Such spontaneous reactions may cause problems. If we pause for thought we are more likely to find a response which brings peace

But very often, people simply don’t want to think!!!!! Because it’s easier to live the way they know. Sometimes this may be because of trying and failing to change, or maybe being afraid of their own “dangerous” ideas. This may sound strange, but self-doubt is a very real threat to thinking. Most people have bad experiences trying to find their purpose in life. They get lost or lose their power along the way.

As a child I was raised to believe in God. At 12 my brother convinced me that there is no God, as his friend had convinced him. Three years later found myself always thinking of God. Is there one as the parents and society teach us? And if He exists why doesn’t He show Himself to us?
I was so eager to see him, to the extent that I once imagined, and convinced myself I was truly seeing a real great beautiful face entering my room and I called my mother to look at Him. She laughed so much at me.

Maybe this stopped my imagination from creating its own beautiful God. Still I found myself thinking of God, but never in the traditional way that religions suggests, but more as a beautiful supporter, like a great friend, which is better than the idea of Him as one who punishes and gives
death penalties. All my life has been full of thinking about God. I was sure for a long period of time that He wanted me to inform Muslims about their misunderstanding of God. Then I got so sick, disappointed and frustrated because of the situations which I put myself in, trying to explain to others the pitfalls of belief that I hoped they could avoid. But not succeeding doesn’t mean, the end of life. But a new beginning. Now without any religion. But still using my mind. Still thinking.

Many in a similar situation may wish to quit life, or lose the courage to go on.
But failure is not an excuse to abandon the gift of thinking. Maybe many humans prefer mere existing to living the life they could create by using their minds. The ability to think is something that exists as a mere potential for millions. And this unfulfilled potential causes great losses, and more wars.

Ferial Berghli is 61 years old. She was born in Damascus, Syria, where she lived until she was forced to leave due to the violence of the Assad regime. She studied English literature and taught English privately to students in Damascus. Ferial has long been interested in politics and once smuggled a dissident newspapers from Syria to Baghdad in her children’s clothes.