Posted in freedom, pakistan, pluralism, religion, social evils

Pakistan’s Easter 2016 – Not a beginning to be proud of.


Easter is wonderful occasion celebrating new beginnings with the arrival of spring. With treats like marzipan and hot cross buns, the festivities are such a treat. Like every year, I got a generous share from my Christian friends. I have known many Christians and I have not seen any of them belittling their other sects. Catholics and Protestants live so peacefully. Some segments of Muslims in Pakistan do not. They are so much into sectarian divide and violence that sometimes it is just a shame. And then there are others, who then try to bridge the gaps and portray the best possible character.

Yesterday, many Christians and people from other religions – mostly children and women, lost their lives on a day when new beginnings are celebrated. Such a shameful act. We can blame the government and get angry on the Taliban terrorist but their nexus is so complex that one can’t help much – they are bloody corrupt. However, the mindset of discrimination also exists far and wide in the disguise of being both religious or moderate and it is time to face the mirrors. So, if you have ever professed your religion and your interpretation of your religion as the best or only truth, then you are as much to blame. If you have ever thought or said anything demeaning about another sect or minority in order to feed your false pride, you are equally to blame. Because even you are myopic even to consider only your religion is superior, you are demeaning the other, and one can surely be not the ‘best’ follower. Everyone sins. If you have curbed any human right in the name of religion, you have done bad, if not worse or worst.

I have been harassed by such people in my teenage years. When my chemistry teacher (and not Islamic Studies teacher) at my school started discriminating students based on their sect, I should have understood that Pakistan is brewing to be this messed up and as an adult, I should anticipate this kind of world. I was naive; we are naive. 15 years later, we are truly messed up. Messed up people who are Qadri apologists, blasphemy law supports, India haters, West haters, people who cry on not getting Iqbal Day holiday, people against Holi/Holy holidays, or destroyers of happy celebrations of our brothers and sisters.

Thanks to some of the so-called teachers, not only in Madrassahs but all over, in families, in mosques, in political parties. Let’s face it, many people who are considered honorable in certain societies, are the biggest hate mongers/preachers because they are themselves so corrupt that they can’t see the wrath of their fears. The minute you identify one, just bombard them with questions regarding their intention. This nation needs reality checks every minute. Asking a question requires guts, which we do not encourage or teach in our society, but we need to show some courage now. So after Mullah in the mosque gives a sermon or some uncle, teacher or friend gives advice in a drawing-room, let’s pretend that we have a Q&A session to follow. I am sure many of the people will not utter a word, forget the questions because they are fearful that mobs would just harass them and incite their fears over others. We have become so afraid of God that we have forgotten the softer side of love.

We need street smartness to religion. We have become book-worms. We need intellectuals of religion who can question in order to understand better. Those who teach their kids to question, are confident and greatest teachers who do not run on their ego.

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Posted in beliefs, pluralism, realizations, reflections

Bubble that bursts


Filter bubble is the worst thing that a human mind (and as a result, human civilization) can experience, however it is not alone a google/internet phenomena. It has existed in all eras. We held our preconceived notions and unquestioned optimism so close that it can become a kind of grave for us.

Posted in beliefs, history, islam, lessons, pluralism, reflections, religion

Paris, I love you – Charlie Hebdo attack and the bottom line


I wanted to write whole argument on why people think that religion is dividing and actually how myopic is our understanding of violence and fanaticism. The reason for addressing these two issues were both the cartoon and the horrific massacre by the terrorists. However, I will skip it for another day as in crisis, we need more time to reflect and try to simplify the complex without corrupting the beauty of its complexity. It is the time for analysis, conclusions can wait.

The following is a perfect response by a friend and her wisdom:

How can a cartoon or a video destroy and mess with your faith and how can murder save and avenge it?

I would like to include other beliefs such as sexual diversity or human dignity or equality because apparently both the publication house (in terms of an institution) failed big time in salvaging their own ego and fanaticism through a display of hate speech in disguise of satire, and terrorists I believe they are godly as I highlighted previously in this post – It is NEVER okay. In short, cartoonist and staff members did not deserve it despite of whatever they expressed.

Paris is the worst place for this kind of subtle media fanaticism (with forced freedom) and apparent religious fanaticism. France is revered for love, democracy and human rights in historical and cultural narrative.

In connection to the particular cartoon, Muslim are fighting a tough battle internally and at global level (illustration) and this is the time for everyone to practice empathy and compassion – we do not need more oil in the fire. At the same time, LGBTQ community world over is trying every day to get their voice heard and fighting for identity in vulnerable situations and this is the time for everyone to practice empathy and compassion – they do not need more oil in the fire especially with backlash from religious fanatics.


 

 

Response after some initial responses from other channels: In discussions, I believe everyone should condemn the terrorist attack but then you are forced to advocate freedom of speech in its current defunct status. People all over the world, who are neither terrorists nor fanatics but moderate religious individuals are victimized through insult of such media content and the expectations of accepting it with a pinch of salt or displayed a populist standard of sense of humor. There is no empathy for receivers. Press had its voice but where is the voice of people who felt offended and never resorted to violence. Participation is never taken seriously, it is judged miserably. One ratified forced response is the only thing accepted – you can not lie on a continuum, you cannot question the sanctity of press. Where does free speech goes then?

The initial reflections above were not to equate in terms of moral equivalence of the both acts – their degree of fanaticism and approach of exercising is very different. For me, it is not fair that if I have to condemn one then I have to the take side of another. There are always more than two sides – the coin metaphor does not fit all.

In the start of this blog post, I clearly said it is not the right time but I guess we need to address the multi-dimensionality of the issue. Being an avid art practitioner and advocate, I am all for responsible use of freedom of speech and expression – it is not an alien concept and much possible, as exercising moderation in whatever you do is seen as a natural law. We all have desires but we find the appropriate place and approach to satiate them. We do not curb our expression but find the right spot. I am not pro-forced freedom rather it is important to foster positive interdependence (it is not simple as a clause on free speech in constitutions because blasphemy laws can be equally dangerous to freedom). Why – simply because most people will choose autonomy over freedom and autonomy can not be exercised in isolation – it needs positive interdependence. At the same time, I am completely against banning; I am pro-debate in public. I guess, as an institution, this publication has failed big time – nothing less than subtle fanaticism for me (even we remove the horrific massacre that followed). Moreover, there is no justification and tolerance for attacking or killing someone.

At this moment, my heart goes to the families of victims – May the souls of departed rest in eternal peace.

Posted in pluralism, social evils

Tribute to Malala and Sane Voices


In Tagore words,

From the solemn gloom of the temple, children run out to sit in the dust; God watches them play and forgets the priest.
-Rabindranath Tagore

..and these jihadis of all sorts, whether taliban or not, are just jealous of child’s play, happiness and laughter.

Yes this is an incident of extreme measure but daily many children (and also adults) go through this exploitation in the name of religion, morality and authority. The victimizers does not have to be related to have religious affiliation.

We forget that wisdom and truth is not a property of age.

Posted in care, etiquette, freedom, philosophy, pluralism, reflections, religion, social relationships

Zen midst Chaos


In recent years, in many social interactions, I have come across people who exclude and discriminate people on basis of morals and worldviews. Everyone comes across moralists (one who is unduly concerned with the morals of others) whether they are fundamentalists or pseudo-mystics who always try to run a moral brigade on your head. Ethics while selects the ‘good’ choice in a particular situation based on one’s existential understanding; morality is more about strict rules of ‘right and wrong’. Though their intensity is different, some of them are standing with guns and daggers and some are just being too judgmental (this also have varied forms of expressions). Moralist in any form are equally annoying to those who do not like these chains.

The reasons for such moral stiffness can be many but I believe, the problem lies in our over-indulgence in Platonic thought of dichotomy for all beliefs, decisions and actions, though many times subconsciously. Even the most interpretive and open texts like poetry and literature is translated into worldviews and actions only in this strict way. Right and Wrong. Form and essence. Old and New. Start and End. Mortal and Immortal. Temporary and Eternal. Everything is in pairs, yes I agree, but what about sub-pairs within each.

In this demarcation, we forget to notice the eternal in temporary and temporary in eternal. Sometimes perceiving yourself too right can go to the extreme of hurting other. Other times, something which is apparently perceived as wrong can actually be contributing to other’s good. Then there is also a distance and restraint from material life. Is not spirituality more about balance and unification than our supposed separate worldly and religious domains? Why then are you sent on earth, you should have rested in eternal peace? Embrace the matter in whole, all its beauty and ugliness having beauty.I have also felt that God’s biggest blessing in the world itself is form but we take it for granted. How would you tolerate Art then? If you won’t, you will become staunch to any creative-imaginative ability as advocated by philosophers like Plato and in religion, the extremist groups because of their distasteful moralistic attitude. The act of painting is out of innate desire (both love and lust) and out of love, comes finesse. If you are judging strokes too much, you will never create the painting. I would ask those who say they are intuitive and prefer to go with the flow, how they can be disapproving moralist. Nature is the biggest form which leads to your essence. For me, nature itself defines eternal in a temporary setting. How it can be so soothing when temporal I would ask these fatwa givers. Yes I am concerned about afterlife but it is also important to appreciate God’s different bounties and blessings of this world as well.

One might ignore form on the presumed eternity of essence. Essence was always there, yes but would keep on evolving as it is creation of both mind and heart. Whoever thinks essence remains the same, does not appreciate what interpretation is. Everything is in flux – Science, Laws, Culture and Religion. The only essence that is actualized is God which is beyond our comprehension, that’s about it. The only way to achieve Zen is through prayer where you recognize God and Good, why do we then have to rely so much on outward recognition of our moralistic view-point? That’s why it is advised to pray on regular basis and love on regular basis in all humility. Your love for the divine should not cause vanity. Moreover, prayer which means different to everyone. For some dancing can be immoral but isn’t the beautiful samaa not also dancing and extremely spiritual. Moralist or inflexible people can never appreciate diversity, they can tolerate public constestation of ideas. They enjoy company of only those who can reaffirm their moralist prejudice.

Consequently, for all that incomprehensible and comprehensible, there would be chaos. There would be whirling. Obviously I am against the self-imposed depression and chaos of extremists that has nothing but physical dimensions. When it comes to intellectual, spiritual and emotional chaos has its own beauty, the chaos which the extremism of complacent people will never like to divulge in. Our bodies have not been given survival instinct and will power for no reason. Who guaranteed your life would an easy ride in any possible way, outward or inward?

History has seen the downfall of civilizations caused by mystics of reclusive nature who take no initiative out of fear under the false demeanor of complacency/thankfulness. Many civilizations have survived out of valor. The most philosophy-inclined and vocal Sufis were the ones who inspired generations.Too much Zen can make one idle and one’s inability to handle chaos leads you to a reclusive bubble. But bubbles cannot be forever, one day they will burst. Where then will you go? Back to the judgmental/illlusioned self? The creation is in movement, even in a still object, the atoms are moving.

There is also a different kind of fanaticism in some readers/followers of mystical literature who display lack of conviction in the subtext of the words. All civilizations do suffer from quote syndrome; it is some blabber and passing like Chinese whispers, however meanings are not generated out of it for TODAY. We need to interpret and adorn this symbolic literature with reasoning that is out of love and not out of religion, which means our apparent conceptions of right can no longer sustain. We need to see the goodness/beauty instead. The mystical literature says this as well. Mystical literature is not about your usual moral realms.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

― Rumi

Peace then is full of chaos and not what we understand of peace literally where the act of stillness namely indifference, silence and complacency become illusionary symbols of peace. Reed not only have to be cut to be played but even when it is playing the most beautiful tune, the wind is not free, most of the time it is prisoned. One can either love or waste your time in calculating right and wrong. You can either be kind or judge. When you are judged, you need to love yourself and tell the others not to take their moral vanity too seriously.

There is a thin line between contemplation with perseverance/rigor and being judgmental. Debating of ideas is not about seeing who’s right or wrong, it is not about affirmation, it is about sharing with no strings attached.  Sharing itself should be one’s joy and not appreciation and reaffirmation because conclusions does not have to be mutual, they can be personal, sometimes there would be none. Freedom of expression comes with responsibility and baggage of critique in public domain. Sometimes it would also include refutation. Yes sometimes there will be chaos in sharing as well but it is the responsibility of both parties to be patient. The real patience is where there is contemplation with contest. This patience is developed through trusting goodness of intent on part of the other person from the very beginning. Pluralism in the word itself signifies that it is a mutual value. If you would judge the intent then you will also be judged whether you like or not.

Life does not come on your terms, nor will people, life is not about having zen, it is about recognizing zen in the chaos. It is about understanding that you are always fallible so you cannot expect others to be pitch-perfect on your own terms. You cannot put your moral brigade on any one, no matter how meaningful you think it is. Everyone in your world would not tolerate judgments and then you cannot sigh on their reaction because you were not in control of yours as well.

Rather than being too concerned about right and wrong of others, try to invoke goodness and beauty. Rather than being cold, be warm, even at cost of being angry but be warm, let your clay feel the kiln. The thoughts presented here are also open to debate. Conclusions are not fixed, they will always be personal (even if it represents void of concreteness) even after debate and this fact is already accounted.

Wish you love and strength. Blessed Be.

Posted in pluralism, reflections, social relationships

Being authentic rather than being perfect


Everyone’s way of showing their love, care and empathy is quite different. Some are more expressive and some are little subtle but whatever the case maybe, mostly it is thoughtful and meaningful. Sometimes people expect care and that too in their own preferred ways but then the others might also be suffering through their lows and therefore, it is not always possible. Human limitations is sometimes much stronger than the human courage itself and vice versa. In such situations, it is not easy to go out of the way but it does not mean that the person is not feeling it. Sometimes you fight, many times you fight back and most of the time you should come back. In the end, one cannot help but embrace the fact that life moves on and it is in a constant wheel of creation and wonder.

Posted in beliefs, conversations, etiquette, philosophy, pluralism, reflections, religion

Some reflections on an article which just popped into my inbox


Original Article: To Use Beliefs or Be Used by Them: THAT Is the Question

Reflection: The article is an excellent piece of writing which highlights that we need to embrace the philosophy of ‘we agree to disagree’ without being offensive though. I believe, being too much on one side does not show your loyality to that ideology but shows your inflexibility to appreciate the varied stream of thoughts and ideologies, whether it comes from literature, sacred text or everyday conversations. If you cannot talk comfortably over a tough terrain, you are just complacent with what is presumed to be tried and tested. If you fail to understand it is not a critique but a meta-reflection/meta-analysis of some ideas which are taken for granted and passed on, for example quotations. You do not want to learn and you do not want to ‘create’ your own world-views while assimilating the other in the conversation and also the other in the topic/belief/piece/person of discussion; therefore helping in no contribution to the knowledge realm at least for yourself. You are not being true to yourself. Who understood introspective and meditation as isolatary processes failed to understand the purpose of it in the first place, though debatable.