You might know that Ted Turner is an 80-year-old U.S. billionaire who conserves the looks of a playboy fed up with success and money. He is the founder of CNN (Cable News Network) with which in 1980 he helped start the era of 24 hours televised news, now part of AT & T. He lives on a ranch the size of the state of New Jersey, or almost, and about four months ago announced in an interview with Ted Koppel of CBS that he is suffering from the so-called dementia Lewy, adding: “It is a mild case of what is known as Alzheimer’s disease. It’s similar to that, but not so bad. Alzheimer’s is fatal.”
Dementia Lewy affects approximately 1, 4 million North Americans and is caused by the formation of deposits of alpha-synuclein protein in the brain. Its symptoms include memory problems; changes in thinking, reasoning and behavior in general; distortions of reality; restlessness; movement difficulties; delusions and visual hallucinations –according to the Lewy Dementia Association. It is the second most common form of degenerative dementia after Alzheimer’s –a disease from which nearly 6 million North Americans suffered in 2018. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Prevention and Control) throughout the world there are around 47 million cases diagnosed as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia (according to BrainTest, United States & World Stats). Mortality rates due to Alzheimer’s increased between 1999 and 2014 by 55 percent. The 10 countries most affected by Alzheimer’s, from the highest to the lowest rate, are: Finland, the United States, Canada, Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium. Interesting list. However, when talking or reading about them, it sounds like everything is going perfectly well over there. They are the “first world” and their societies are presented as paradisiacal. That has been Ted Turner’s job –to project a false reality by talking profusely about our excellent sense of hearing and eluding all mention of our liver cancer.
Alzheimer’s disease destroys nerve connections in the brain, which makes it increasingly difficult to perform activities as common as moving, swallowing or drinking. However, what leads to death is complications that result from decreased brain function. According to statistics, Alzheimer’s and its lighter version, dementia Lewy, along with another similar ailment called “bipolar disorder” are constantly growing in terms of their prevalence in the so-called western world. Our brains are daily exposed to deadly dangers, more so with every day that passes. Western societies have connected them (our brains, that is) to the vast systems of cyberspace, cell phones and countless social networks. The human brain is now part of an ecosystem of information exchange that is unprecedented in history.
The interconnections and complexities of our gray matter are really gigantic. Scientists estimate that the cerebral cortex contains 100 billion nerve cells, and that each neuron has an average of 7,000 connections. Studies show that habits related to the use of smart phones affect the neural circuits responsible for memory, concentration, addictive behavior and anxiety. The final result is dementia, the main symptom of which is oblivion. But what is it that we have forgotten? Was it putting sugar in our coffee? Calling the supermarket to deliver our groceries? Washing the fruit we’re going to eat? Such cases of forgetfulness could be called lapses or oversights. What we have really forgotten and abandoned is our own nature. We have forgotten that we exist and we have forgotten that we have not originated this existence. We have forgotten the disturbing discovery that we have not created ourselves, that we have not been the designers of our liver or brain, which leads us to the existence of a Designer, of a Creator in the absolute sense of the term. We have forgotten the covenant we made with Him not to associate anything or anyone with Him or maintain that He shares His power with anyone. We even have forgotten His existence and dementia is the price we pay for it, since oblivion means, above all, disconnection. Oblivion has disconnected us from the divine orbit and everything in us begins to deteriorate. Is there anything we can do to save ourselves from this lethal anomaly? Definitely, yes. Our salvation lies in remembrance, in connection, in return to the circuit of life. It is highly significant that in the Old Testament and other revealed books the concept of remembrance is constantly mentioned. Almost on every page in the Qur-an the word dhikr (remembrance) can be found.
According to “The Mental Health Report” (Newsmax Health) or “The Elijah List” millions of people believe that prayer works, and yet the mainstream media tend to avoid this topic completely. Also socially it is a sign of bad manners to talk about prayer, about belief in God or about any kind of healthy spirituality (shamanism, on the other hand, is fashionably in). And yet, there is even scientific evidence. We often come across headlines such as: “Dr. ANDREW NEWBERG says that praying helps your brain to function better”; “Expert in neurosciences ensures that prayer helps develop brain”; “Prayer has the power to regenerate your brain, says a Christian doctor”; “Scientists explore the relationship between brain and spirituality”; “The power of prayer is able to help in the healing process of any disease –Science has confirmed it!”
In the article titled “Dr. ANDREW NEWBERG says that praying helps the brain” we read:
“For thousands of years, religion has raised some unanswered questions: Who are we? What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to be religious? In an effort to address these issues, Dr. Andrew Newberg has scanned the brains of nuns praying or singing and Buddhist monks meditating. In this way he studies the relationship between brain and religious experience. It is a research field called neurotheology. Dr. Newberg has written a book, “Principles of Neurotheology”, which seeks to lay the foundations for a new kind of scientific-theological dialogue. “
“There is a wide network of structures involved,” Dr. Andrew Newberg comments by e-mail from Philadelphia. “There is the frontal lobe, which helps us to focus the mind on prayer; the limbic system, which allows us to experience strong emotions; and the parietal lobes, which have to do with how we feel about ourselves, and with the space-time orientation “.
The term nasiyah ناصىة in verses 15 and 16 is the “frontal lobe” mentioned by Newberg, here expressed by the Arabic idiom “forelock”, which points to the ability to control and also to recognize the difference between good and evil, as inferred from the context.
What Dr. Newberg has discovered in his research is, in a nutshell, that some kind of meditation, for example 12 minutes a day for 8 weeks, has considerably regenerated brains of people suffering from some health problem, especially loss of memory.
In the same place we read another article entitled WHY BRAD PITT STOPPED BELIEVING IN CHRIST? (December 2015), which contains the following information:
“The Hollywood star was raised in a Protestant (Baptist) family in Missouri, but stopped believing in Christ and abandoned the Christian faith for the same reason as many others do. The actor says that the ‘suffocation of the doctrine’ discouraged him from remaining a Christian and led him to atheism. In the interview with the Telegraph he stated that the teachings received at home and in the church always included ‘a feeling of guilt for almost everything he did or did not do’ “.
And in the magazine Parade Brad Pitt affirmed in 2007 that the doctrines imposed by the church left him confused and thus he stopped believing in Christ:
“I went to the meetings of motivation and was moved by the Holy Spirit, and went to the concerts of Rock and I felt the same fervor, and then they told me: ‘That’s the devil’s music. Do not participate in that!’ I wanted to try things that religion told me not to try.”
We have reached the crux of the matter here, or rather Brad Pitt has in this case. Although well intentioned, the family can eliminate any vestige of “religiosity” in their offspring if they do not reflect on their own. Parents can be wrong like any other human being. Being parents does not confer on them infallibility because they took what they know and practise from their parents, and it can just happen that they all became part of a long chain of good intentions that are not supported by research, study and reflection. This fact is such a great obstacle in understanding spirituality that the Qur-an mentions it and moreover informs us that it has always existed in all human communities throughout history.
(170) When it is said to them: “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say: “No such thing shall we do! We shall follow the ways of our fathers.” What! Even if their parents were void of wisdom and guidance?
Qur-an 2 – al Baqarah
However, instead of reflecting and investigating, the vast majority take the path of abandonment, assuming that there is nothing more than what their parents say. It is an easy road, but one that has very serious consequences both in this life and in the Hereafter, which is where we will have to account for all our actions and faults.
It is true that in this day and age the truth is hidden, disguised or distorted, but it will appear resplendent for those who truly seek it. The possibility of finding it has to exist. If it didn’t, we would never feel the desire or the strong drive to know the truth of things and their reality –when we want a machine to fulfill a certain function, we provide it with the parts and mechanisms necessary to fulfill it.
The shaytan uses very sophisticated tricks to prevent this from happening. He goes to all the necessary trouble so that we do not spend a single moment searching for answers to questions that bother us. Among those tricks, of course, are Rock concerts, designed to stimulate fervour of the magnitude necessary to put out all other fervours. However, the equation is very simple: the truth exists for those who are willing to seek and accept it, and Rock concerts and all the show business that Brad Pitt now represents are merely means to drive to hell as many men as possible. It is not so much the concert itself, but the fact that it is connected to a whole culture that not only distances us from spirituality, but also affects our brain in a way that is destructive. In the New Testament it is mentioned that the way the shaytan tries to confuse Isa (Jesus) is offering him exactly what Hollywood and the western culture offers modern societies –money, women, power… paradise on earth. In the same way this issue is dealt with in the Qur-an:
(64) Arouse those whom you can among them with your seductive voice; assault them with your cavalry and infantry; be a partner to their wealth and children, and make promises to them; but the promises of the shaytan are nothing but deception.
Qur-an 17 – al Isra
Youth is gone, and money and fame have turned into run-of-the-mill; there’s no more thrill in them –soon Brad will begin to feel the Lewy symptoms.
It may be asked if the type of prayer is of any importance to the attempt at saving our brains. We have already pointed out that Dr. Newberg avoids mentioning it, rather he mixes up nuns praying or singing with Buddhist monks meditating –the kind of practice that could result in unexpected consequences.
Let’s see –if a “prayer”, about 10-12 minutes a day for 8 weeks, has the power that science has just discovered it has, what can be said of 5 daily prayers over the period of one’s whole life, called salah, which also contain space-time orientation, aspects mentioned by Dr.Newberg? Here we must ask our readers to make an effort to ignore for a moment at least the prejudice that they probably have and that usually prevents reflection.
The term “Islam” derives from the root salima سلم which means “to be safe, to escape, to be free…
The term “Islam” derives from the root salima سلم which means “to be safe, to escape, to be free (of all evils, trials, afflictions and vices)”, and therefore does not mean “religion of the prophet Muhammad “, as is affirmed by those who are terribly absent-minded. It is the noun that describes the circumstance of someone who meets the conditions implied in the meaning of the root. In its fourth form (aslama) it means “to submit” –with all that is implied by submitting to the Creator, and therefore to no-one or nothing else. Thus, the one who submits to Allah Most High is “Muslim” (muslimun, the one who has submitted). By contrast, he who does not submit to Allah Most High will inevitably submit to and become enslaved by his passions, his ignorance, his subjectivism and by anyone who offers him a good job.
(19) The din (religion) before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will). Nor did the people of the Book dissent from it except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. Let anyone who denies Allah’s verses know that He is Swift in calling to account.
Qur-an 3 – ali Imran
Every man harbours strong attachment to his family, his country, his favorite armchair and, above all, his religion. However, he understands that being “religious” is more or less the same as being a caveman, and this is the reason why he ends up calling himself an “atheist Catholic” or an “atheist Jew” –a difficult equation to solve. However, religion, a Latin word, means, first of all, to choose carefully after having re-read, studied, re-searched. In this sense, being religious would be synonymous with being human.
Let’s not confuse aesthetic positions, inspired by fashions and trends, with beliefs. As long as we are here, in this life, the show continues, sometimes funny, sometimes exciting, sometimes hopeful, and sometimes exactly the opposite. However, in the Hereafter, all images will disappear and the screen will return to its original state –white without blemish. Then, little by little our Reality will appear, as it was; no detail will be missing, not even a single intention. There will be no possibility to justify, rescue or propose solutions. There are many sensitive ears which feel assaulted by expressions as the ones we are using in this article –fire, punishment, accountability… Why, they ask, don’t you tell us of fountains and paradises? Why, they ask, don’t you announce elimination of hell from the eschatological scene, as Pope Francis did? More than once we have been tempted to talk in this way, the way of popes, priests and shamans, but we have desisted because the matter is momentous, and it is momentous because there will be no return. No second chances. Our post-mortem fate is taking place here and now.
(1) When the sky is cleft asunder, (2) when the stars are scattered, (3) when the seas burst forth, (4) when the graves are turned upside down, (5) each nafs (human being) will see their deeds. (6) O man –insan! What has deceived you, taking you away from you Lord, the Generous? (7) Who created you, fashioned you in due proportion and gave you a just balance? (8) In the form He wanted to give you.
Qur-an 82 – al Infitar
It is not true that for thousands of years, religion has posed some unanswered questions: Who are we? What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to be religious? –as pointed out in the article quoted at the beginning. These questions have very clear and compelling answers.
We are creatures, as are lions and eagles, but unlike these, we have been endowed with consciousness –we are conscious of being human and, above all, we are aware that we are going to die, even if we live as if we were unaware of this fact. The meaning of life is in its end, and death will take us to the point where we shall face the Judgment that will decide our next stage in the journey. Being religious means being careful with our belief and practice, not just imitating our parents; it means reflecting, studying and choosing –religiously and scrupulously.