The Life of Thought and Contemplation
the life of thought is satisfied with very little of the world's wealth and pleasure. herding cattle and goats never brings much material return, anyway. material return, however, did not concern muhammad, for he regarded the world stoically and avoided, often with ascetic detachment, pursuing anything beyond the barest needs of survival. did he not say, "we are a people who do not eat until we become hungry, a people who when sitting to eat would never eat their fill?" was he not known throughout his life to call men to a life of hardness and himself to lead a life of stoic self-denial? those who long after wealth and strive hard to obtain it satisfy passions which muhammad never knew. muhammad's greatest spiritual pleasure was that of beholding the beauty of the universe and responding to its invitation to ponder and to admire. such pleasure is known only to the very few, but it was muhammad's nourishment ever since he was a young child, and it was his only consolation when life began to try him with the unforgettably cruel misfortunes of the death of his father, of his mother, and of his grandfather. spiritual and intellectual pleasures are free. their pursuit demands no wealth but requires the moral tautness to direct one's gaze inward, to penetrate one's very essence. even if muhammad had never been called to prophet hood, his soul would never have allowed him to waste his energy in the pursuit of wealth. he would have been happy to remain as he was namely, a herdsman-but he would have been a herdsman whose soul encompassed the whole universe and was in turn encompassed by that universe as if he were the very center of it.