“Nafs in Arabic means “ego”, and the most intense attack on the human mind come from “Nafs” temptations. Almost all the troubles in our world or individual experiences has root in egoistic dysfunctions.
A simple illustration is as children we were more open, more friendly, less angry, and more cheerful. We could genuinely say whatever we wanted, and give of ourselves more freely. As we clock age seven the phrase the ego begins to develop, we start becoming more conscious of ourselves. Being susceptible to how we are perceived on the outside. Weird behaviors from nervousness and anxiety begin to sprout and we become easily abashed.
Then comes the stormy phase of teenage years, and if we didn’t have firm parents to put in us sound discipline at the onset of Nafs or ego development, we are usually naughty and lack order during the teenage years. We see the “Nafs” manifesting strongly in teenagers as empty pride, stubbornness, rebellion, talkativeness, restlessness. Those that still resist discipline further exhibit poor performance in mundane activities. They move in reverse and take the strong momentum of imbalance into early adulthood.
In adulthood the “Nafs” usually bring about confusion and create a false identity. Many young adults have estimations of themselves that are far from accurate. One need discipline and high self awareness to truely understand the self. The lack of purpose is the first sign in the adult dominated by the “Nafs”, the affectation for cul-de-sac desires. At this stage destructive habits begin to get formed, the voice of reason disobeyed. The end result is misery at a onset of life which lead the young adult into varied forms of addictions.
The next phase of “Nafs” is when it takes over the personality completely, and find unrivaled control over the mind, the outcome is disastrous pride, anger, revenge, falsehood, vanity, sloth, greed. And that life is a testimony of grotesqueness. Imagine such a person finally getting a job, gets married and finally procreates, “Nafs” dominance will simply be passed on to the next generation.
How can the “Nafs” or ego be transformed? Of a truth “Nafs” are low impulses that pester the human mind for expression and debase the soul afterwards. The “Nafs” can be obvious or subtle, it is the regenerative snake with a thousand heads. The only antidote to destroy this sapent is “Discipline”, discipline in every sphere of human life. The ego cannot dominate where self-discipline is found. The use of the will is of utmost importance here, to enforce intuitive directives.
To be free from the dominance of “Nafs” bespeak of inner battles. Where self awareness must be cultivated and strengthened, the ability to become aware of individual actions, feelings and thoughts, knowing how to transmute the lower urges or impulses to the higher. “Nafs” remain the foe of human evolution into higher beings, the dragon that needs to be slayed before the reign of peace and stability. Every individual must slay this dragon for themselves, find the shield of discipline and the sword of perseverance within you.