Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Questions About Devastation

To Lebanon and her people, who are courageously "facing their dragons"..

On the way to an upcoming blog:
.....Lebanon & Egypt: Who's Facing the Dragons?

Questions About Devastation

A man was breaking up the soil,
When another man came by,
"Why are you ruining this land?"

"Don't be a fool! Nothing can grow
until the ground is turned over and crumbled.

There can be no roses and no orchard
Without first this that looks devastating.

You must lance an ulcer to heal it.
You must tear down parts of an old building
To restore it, and so it is with a sensual life
That has no spirit in it.
To change,
A person must face the dragon of his appetites
With another dragon,
the "life-energy of the soul."

When that's not strong,
The world seems to be full of people
Who have your own fears and wantings.

As one thinks the room is spinning
When he's whirling around.

From Rumi's "Mathnawi" (II, 1180-1183)
Translated by Coleman Barks

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

To Take a Step Without Feet

To ArchMemory

To Take a Step Without Feet

This is Love: to fly toward a secret sky,
To cause a hundred veils to fall each moment.

First, to let go of life.
In the end, to take a step without feet;

to regard this world as invisible,
and to disregard what appears to the self.
Heart, I said, what a gift it has been
to enter this circle of lovers,
to see beyond seeing itself,
to reach and feel within the breast.
My soul, where does this breathing arise?
How does this beating heart exist?
Bird of the soul, speak in your own words,
and I will understand.
The heart replied: I was in the workplace
the day this house of water and clay was fired.

I was already fleeing that created house,
even as it was being created.

When I could no longer resist, I was dragged down,
and my features were molded from a handful of earth.
Jalaluddin RUMI
(translated by Coleman Barks)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Globalization.. and....Humanism

A very interesting recent blog by wa7ed mn masr entitled " ""...مأزق الأديان.. بين " التخلى عن..." و "التوحد urged me to comment the following (you may want to read his blog first):

Wa7ed.....I will start at the end of your statement:
Wa7ed said
:"أظننا بحاجة إلى إجتهادات دينية جديدة للخروج من المأزق الحالى الذى يبدو أنه سيتفاقم فى المستقبل القريب ،إجتهادات قادرة على تلبية ذلك الجزء الروحانى داخل البشر بدون تحويله إلى "تابو" ، إجتهادات تستطيع أن تقف في وجه الظلم و الإستغلال و تشيئ البشر، إجتهادات تبشر بإنسانية الإنسان فى زمن أوشكت ...هذة الإنسانية أن تضيع"

Your closing statement puts everything in the right perspective....It is true, it is all mainly about the HUMANISM of our HUMANITY....actually this statement is much more profound when uttered in Arabic.." Ansannat al Ensan..".... I agree with you whole-heartedly about that point.

I believe the past two centuries in human history have been exactly about that new emerging paradigm (or syntagm to be more precise): how to reconcile the needs, aspirations and evolving undersatnding of huan's place in the universe with the a critical part of our human heritage; i.e. religions. In this regard, it is safe to say that the Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) has had more difficulty with that process than other world religions.

The process of separating the quintessential spiritual needs of humans from the historical accumilations of "religious" understandings, interpretations and dogmatic petrification of the relationship between the human and the divine....the sacred and the secular...Europe had gone through its own painful process of separation between "church and state", which is clearly not over yet, and I blieve will remain a central issues in human affairs for a time to come.

The Arabs (and Muslims in general) have begun that process much later for many historical reasons, some of which are external, and most are internal to the Arab mind and Arab consciousness.It is an oversimplification to reduce the issue to that tired concept of "separation of church and state" or Politics and religion, becuase in the case of Islam and the Arab condition does not apply exactly in the way it does in the European or Western model, although "true" Islam and Christianity may agree on many moral issues, the European and Arab historical experiences vary tremendously.In my opinion, your statement about the "....Change ,as the only fixed condition.." in the current state of human affairs, shouldbe : change has been, throughout history, the essential constant factor in human affairs.

It is only recently that our awareness of CHANGE has become immediate and simultaneous. That, my friend, brings us to the point of Globalization: I beg to differ with you about your portrayal of that phenomenon as"..cruel globalization.." "..لم تقدم الأديان حتى الأن أطر قيمية قادرة أن تقف فى وجه عولمة متوحشة تزيد الأغنياء غني و تزيد الفقراء فقرا ً ، عولمة تكرس قيم الإستغلال و الإستهلاك و تشيئ البشر...."
Your usual level of accuracy and clear and thorough analysis of issues makes it more necessary for me to stop at this point and elaborate in some detail. ......Bashing globalization has become a sport and a popular trend. But it is precisly that this unstoppable phenomenon that makes the process of "ansannat al ensan" (humanizing humanity) more and more readily available to the largest segement of our human race. I think we need to be careful and not "throw the baby with the bath water". Indeed my friend there are SOME negative aspects of globalization, like all other phenomna of CHANGE and human culktural evolution. yes there are some aspects of Globalization when misused and abused by multi-national corporations, can lead to (and have led to) exploitation and economic injustice. But...and here is the big BUT...we cannot practice a wholesale condemnation of this phenomenon.Globalization and the Information Revolution are insepararable phenomena.

That very tool that we are both using now to exchange our views is nothing but a direct result of the globalization of communication tools and the globalization of access to information. Globalization is the natural historical step of Modernism. I use the term of Modernism in its ideological and sociological wider sense (not in its limited techincal sense). The past two centuries have been characterized by the extend with which one culture or another were capable of "enduring" that phenomenon of modernism. Enduring Modernism, as in: a culture's capacity to endure the hardship of.....and modernism that is, inexorably, enduring. That my friend is at the crux of the matter, and is applicable to your intelligent statements about the inevitability of change.The Arabs have been struggling with for quite some time and since the rude awakening of the French / Napoleonic Expedition to Egypt.

In coming face to face with universla Humanist values, albeit being commingled with clear clonialist aspirations and schemes.It is very interesting to observe that the current debate about Fundamentals of Islam nad the spirit of the age was very similar to the sociopolitical debates that engulfed Egypt after the French Expedition. Although, under very different International "order" and very different regional and local ploitical realities, but the essentials of the debates were similar to those we are still witnessing today.

Even this issue of "Sharia'a and Constitution" that you just raised, is not entirely new and I agree with you totally about it being "a constitution inside a constitution".I also agree with the need to fulfill that which is "spiritual" in our humanness, but clearly without having to confuse spiritality and dogma.

I salute you my friend for putting your finger on the essential predicament of our fellow human beings, especially in the Arab world.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

.....and I am nowhere again.

When it's cold and raining,
you are more beautiful.

And the snow brings me
even closer to Your lips.

The Inner Secret, that which was never born,
You are That Freshness, and I am with You now.

I can't explain the goings,
or the comings, You enter suddenly,

and I am nowhere again.
Inside the Majesty.

Rumi's ode to his friend Shams of Tabriz
(from "Like This" by Coleman Barks, Ode #1047)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Rumi's Reed Poem

The Reed Poem
Jalaluddine RUMI

1. Listen to this reed how it complains:
it is telling a tale of separations.

2. Saying, "Ever since I was parted from the reed-bed,
man and woman have moaned in unison with my lament.

3. I want a bosom torn by severance,
that I may unfold (to such a one) the pain of love-desire.

4. Every one who is left far from his source
wishes back the time when he was united with it.

5. In every company I uttered my wailful notes,
I consorted with the unhappy and with them that rejoice.

6. Every one became my friend from his own opinion;
none sought out my secrets from within me.

7. My secret is not far from my plaint,
but ear and eye lack the light, whereby it should be apprehended.

8. Body is not veiled from soul, nor soul from body,
yet none is permitted to see the soul."

9. This noise of the reed is fire, it is not wind:
whoso hath not this fire, may he be naught!
translation by R Nicholson, 1926

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