What Lies Forgotten Behind Language, Ideology and Religion?


“Deliver us, O Allah, from the Sea of Names.”

– Ibn al-Arabi

How to be grateful for being gifted an entrance into 2014?  How to create-live the possibility of being a clearing for kindness, generosity, harmony and aliveness?  Perhaps through some passages that speak to me and get me present to that which lies forgotten behind language, behind ideology, behind my taken for granted way of living.  I share these with you – may one of them will call to you and provide you access to living a ‘richer’ life this year.

Rumi:

“Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make sense any more.”

Wendell Berry:

“Thy life’s a miracle. Speak yet again

This is the line that calls Gloucester back – out of hubris, and the damage and despair that invariably follow – into the properly subordinated life of grief and joy, where change and redemption are possible……

One immediately recognises that suicide is not the only way to give up on life …….we can give up on life also by presuming to “understand” it – that is by reducing it to the terms of our understanding and treating it as predictable or mechanical. The most radical influence of reductive science has been virtually the universal adoption of the idea that the world, its creatures, and all the parts of its creatures are machines…..

This may have begun as a metaphor, but in the language as it is used (and as it affects industrial practice) it has evolved from metaphor through equation to identification. And this usage institutionalises the human wish, or sin of wishing, that life might be, or might be made to be, predictable. 

….. whenever one treats living organisms as machines they must necessarily be perceived to behave as such……. Whenever one perceives living organisms as machines they must necessarily treated as such.

…. to reduce life to the scope of our understanding (whatever “model” we use) is inevitably to enslave it, make property of it, and put it up for sale. This is to give up on life, to carry it beyond change and redemption, and to increase the proximity of despair…..”

Ibn al-Arabi: 

“Do not attach yourself to any particular creed exclusively, so that you may disbelieve all the rest; otherwise you will lose much good, nay, you will fail to recognize the real truth of the matter. God, the omnipresent and omnipotent, is not limited by any one creed, for he says, ‘Wheresoever ye turn, there is the face of Allah’ (Koran 2:109). Everyone praises what he believes; his god is his own creature, and in praising it he praises himself. Consequently, he blames the disbelief of others, which he would not do if he were just, but his dislike is based on ignorance.”

It occurs to me that to walk-live the path pointed out by these speakers is to live a transformed life.

People are more important than things, than religion, than politics, than any ideology


A little while ago I wrote a post People Are More Important Than Things

Since that post I have done some thinking and it strikes me that there is a whole area of stuff that I am attached to, you are attached to, we are attached to and it is not things.  What is that stuff?  Ideology, here is the definition:

ideology refers to habits of mind – beliefs, assumptions, expectations etc – which are placed upon the world in order to give it structure and meaning and which then serve to direct our social and political activities.

This week I read an article on the Guardian:  Repeal Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law and asked myself what is it about us that we place so little value on flesh and blood like us – our fellow human beings – and so much faith in the intangible.  So much that we are willing to kill people if they utter the wrong words. Is our faith so little that as soon as someone questions our beliefs, our practices then seek to silence them, to belittle them, even to kill them.

Or take this post at the Adaptive Path blog: The Pernicious Effects of Advertising and Marketing Agencies Trying to Deliver User Experience Design.  What is particularly noteworthy is the 87 comments or so that this post has generated.  How interesting that so many of them are either attack or defend the point of view that has been put forward.  It is particularly interesting to see the response of the people who feel they have been attacked – they attack back.  Yet, if you read the article, the author is not attacking any specific person.  He is pointing out the system structure that drives specific sets of behaviour.  And it is clear that he disagrees with that behaviour.

What a wonderful world we can create together if we all made the following rule, the primary rule, the golden rule:  Life (people, animals, plants) is more important than things, religions, politics, caste-systems or any other ideologies. Lets cherish each other: lets see, create and bring into being the best in each other.  Please watch this from 4 minute video where  Viktor Frankl (a concentration camp survivor) shares his view of man.  Please listen and really hear what he says!

“If we take man as he really is then we make him worse.
If we overestimate him……overrate man, then we promote him to what he really can be.
So we have to be optimists idealists in way so we wind up as the true realists”

This post is directly aimed at you, my friend, Maz Iqbal!