Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 20th, 2011

Is “Let go and go with” a Zen philosophy or existential need?

The Zen master Swami Prajnanpad is famous for a few quotes or slogans. For example:

“The photographic plaque capture. Mirror just receive, but does not retain…”

“Mankind is a puppet show, a marionette: The alias of existence toy with the threads…”

Does the slogan “Here and now” similar to the “letting go” teaching such as “May your will be and not mine…”?

If we have to learn to let go, this applies equally to the happy and unhappy occurrences of events, emotions, and mental states. In order to learn taming the ego, this reaction of constantly attaching “I like this” or “I don’t like that…” is a long process of vanquishing the forces of inertia related to habits, in reactions to external events and internal emotions…

The Zen main principle is to resist playing the game of our acquired habits.  It is a permanent battle asking ourselves: “How we are situated in relation to physical and emotional reactions…?” Since mental, emotional, and physical aspects are interconnected, and since every action has consequences, and since an action is relative to other chains of causes and effects, and since we have limitations in capabilities, how could we master the behavior of not reacting promptly to events that we feel concern us and that most of the time we have no control over them?

This question is always fresh: “Can we ever know what events or emotions we have control, partial control, or no control over them?”  Don’t we change as we grow in age and experience and reflection? Shouldn’t what we thought we had control over change too?

Ego connote a dual world. We acquired this duality in childhood as we realize that the external world is not a prolongation to our world as babies. Ego divides what is “reassuring” (mother protection and presence) and what is threatening to our perception of continuity in life and the universe. Ego seeks to let “what I like” vanquish “what I don’t like” during this titanic tag of war in our life.  As Devos wrote: “We are all ancient babies”.  We are babies ever ready to react and get excited, to what suit our comfort zone.

May be we should replace Ego with “egocentric” in order to have a clearer term that reflects our needs and wishes and likes, and dislikes… 

Once, Swami coaxed his student Arnaud into recounting his experiences and exposure to various teaching philosophies, and how Arnaud got inflamed, excited, engaged with new perspectives, and how he vigorously refused a few philosophical lines of thinking…At the end, Swami said: It is a status of slave, isn’t it?”

Wrong Swami: Getting engaged early on, and seeking knowledge from various quarters is not an attitude of “Slave Status”.  It beats sitting like an obese Idol, watching the world turn around, and expecting the world to paying him a visit once a year. Like: “Al Salaam alikum. It was a busy year, wasn’t it?” Yes, it was very busy up our asses, how about your’s. This non-interference in the course of sustained indignities is a slave attitude.

Youth are youth, and that is what they do and supposed to be doing. It is in the nature of youth to react vigorously to indignities, humiliations, and injustices. Youth are this section of mankind that constantly play the catalyst for change and reforms.

For sure, those religious fanatics of all affiliations, who have barely read a single book, a “Sacred Book”, most probably who liked selected verses that suit their ignorance and restrictive passions, need to wait until the noxious dust in their dimmed knowledge settle down, before reacting and imposing their emotions on their communities.

No Swami, dividing society into caste categories, in the name of a divine higher order, will not do, regardless of any Zen byproduct philosophy on life and the universe.  Waiting for the dust of liberal capitalist elite classes to settle will never come on its own volition: This dust never settle because it is in a constant movement in search of how to exploit anything, even the air we breath. Youth want to put the massive pressures on political systems that cohabit with the oppressors and exploiters of mankind and nature.

If you are interested in comprehending the existential side of letting go, you may read my post

Note 1: This post was inspired by an interview conducted by Marc de Smedt with Arnaud Desjardins in 2005

“Islamic Feminists” singing out of the Pack?

The term “Islamic Feminism” was coined in 1992 by Shahla Sherkat. Shehla published a weekly magazine in Tehran (Iran) called Zanan (women) and women contributed with articles and papers.

Prior to that date, many Turkish women authors have used similar term. For example, the authors Yasmin Arat, Farida Akar, and Wanilo Fargoul. In 1999, the Arabic American Margo Dadran grabbed the term and ran with it: Margo liked “Islamic Feminism” as opposed to Western feminism.

A world conference was held in Barcelona in 2005. The conference discussed the Islamic women trends and many papers were submitted.  The main outcome was this statement: “The culprit is not Islam for the persistent persecution of Islamic women: It is the malicious and willful misinterpretations engaged my male chauvinist of the verses and hadith of sacred books…” 

In 2006, the UNESCO, a UN organization, organized another world conference in Paris. Many secular and Islamic women participated.  These two conferences contributed in establishing the term “Islamic Feminists” as a movement, which spread in Arabic and Islamic countries and communities.

The “Islamic Feminists” movement was preceded by many women movements since 1920 that started in Egypt and encouraged women to drop the veil and reclaim the civil rights on equal terms with male gender in education, positions, marriage, voting, and inheritance…

In the last two decades, many women authors confronted the rigid interpretations of the fundamental Islamic religious political parties.  For example, Fatima Mernissi published “Political Harem: The Prophet and Islam”.  Fatima tried to figure out the causes and historical circumstances that alienated and pushed women aside from participating in the political scenes and decision-making…Fatima came to the conclusion that it was basically willful and sustained historical misinterpretations of the Prophet message by patriarchal Arab/Islamic societies.

For example, Fatima described in details how powerful women in early Islam defied the Califs and Imams pronouncements and managed to get their ways.  Um Samat (one of the Prophet wives), Aicha (the most beloved wife), Sakinat bint Al Hassan (daughter of Hassan the first grandson of the Prophet)…and many others refused to wear the veil, insisted on their rights to discuss in gatherings and in public, and wrote their own wedding contracts… 

A group of 70 women congregated in the presence of the Prophet Muhammad to complain of husbands beating them and the Prophet was pressured to voice verses on that critical issue…

The Afro-American Amina Wadoud was appointed Imam of the mosque in New York City in 2005 and then Imam at Oxford.  It is not the first time that women were elected Imam: In early Islam, a religious Islamic sect called Al Khawarej, appointed Shabibyah as Imam.

Amina claims that it is not necessary for Islamic women to transit through secular movements in order to impose their equal rights among men.  She suggest a vigorous mental “Jihad” to counter discrimination through the re-interpretation of Islamic religious culture.

Asmaa Perlas, Pakistani women by origin, published “The women believers in Islam” and demonstrated the basis of total equality between the genders.

Rifaat Hassan, originally from Pakistan, teaches religious cultures and humanities at the Univ. of Louisville (Kentucky).  Rifaat opened up the question: “What made Islam males believe that women are inferior?”  The breast bone story is not included in the Koran…

There are currently other women movements in the Arab/Islamic communities. Many of them want none to do with reverting to religious texts in order to reclaim their rightful equality in societies: They think these re-interpretations of sacred books are futile undertakings. These movements are opposed to the entire religious culture and prefer to be labelled “Angry, indignant Islamic women”.

How about “Indignant women”. Period.

I have published countless articles on women and reviewed many books on women and Islamic women.  You may find 9 articles “Women in Islam…”, specifically dealing with the verses and their interpretations related to women rights in the Koran and Hadith… You may start with women movement in Egypt of the 20’s

Note 1:  This article was inspired of a book review “Out of the pack: Study on the opposition of Islamic Feminists and the lure of Liberty” by Fahmi Jadaan. The reviewer, Haitham Mazahen, published his piece in the Lebanese/Arabic daily Al Nahar (Oct. 18, 2011)

Note 2:  You may read




October 2011

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