Nietzsche on morality

“To most people, morality is cowardice.”

–Friedrich Nietzsche (paraphrased by Jordan Peterson)

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) was a German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, poet, philologist, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history. He began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. Wikipedia

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Troubadours, Sufis, Romantic Love, Cathars and more…

Created: Thursday, 15 July 2010 08:07 (hopedance.org)

Troubadour poetry, though not widely read in English, has had a profound impact on modern Western art in general, and particularly love poetry. Modern notions of idealized romantic love can be traced back to a certain extent to the Troubadour love poets in southern France in the 1200s.

The Troubadours lauded love, especially the sweet pain of unattainable love, as embodied by an idealized Lady. They were the poets of the courtly love.

Modern commentators often miss the sacred dimension to Troubadour poetry and the path of courtly love. It’s a pity that modern audiences tend to read Troubadour poetry as if it was a lot of lovesick romantic poetry. Much of Troubadour poetry, though couched in romantic or even sexual imagery, is truly sacred poetry, emerging from a genuine mystical tradition.

The Troubadours emerged in southern France at the height of the Albigensian Cathar movement and immediately following their slaughter in the Albigensian Crusade. Many of the Troubadours may have themselves been Cathars or at least influnced by Cathar notions. The Cathars were a gnostic group of Christians who rivaled the Catholic Church in Southern France and other parts of Europe, until they were declared heretical and ultimately driven underground. The Cathar Elect were celibate vegetarians who upheld notions of non-violence, reverence for the natural world (with special focus on the sun and the moon), and the spiritual equality of women. While some aspects of Cathar spirituality had a world-denying quality that might be unappealing to the New Age notions of today, the Cathars were a vibrant group with a rich mystical and spiritual heritage. There have even been suggestions of links between the Cathars and Sufi groups in Spain and Palestine.

Troubadours were court poets, singers, and composers, often in the employ of Cathar nobles and rulers.

Courtly love is often thought of as a strange societal pattern that occurred because marriage among the wealthy was a practical affair brokered between families, leaving little room for love. That may have added to the appeal of courtly love, but it doesn’t really explain it. Let me say this directly: Courtly love was a conscious spiritual practice. The ideal in courtly love was to embody the archetypal forces of Lover and Beloved.

The Beloved was usually the woman. She was to embody the ideal of the Divine Feminine, Sophia, Divine Wisdom. She was to be ever slightly out of reach, but within sight. Her presence was to draw the Lover with her presence, her goodness, her feminine divinity. She was to be a beacon. In striving to embody this for her Lover, she was to merge with the Divine she embodied.

The Lover was usually the man. His was the more active role. He was to seek his Beloved, his idealized Lady. He had to prove himself worthy of her, face great obstacles with humility and perserverance, in her name. In the Lover’s intense passion for his Beloved, his constant focussing on her, he was to ultimately become a perfect Lover of the Divine and unite with the divinity he saw embodied in his Beloved.

The goal of courtly love was not sexual intimacy. Indeed, sex was avoided because it would satiate the longing that acted as the spiritual force that drew the man and woman as Lover and Beloved to the goal of spiritual marriage. This was the ideal, and certainly not every couple followed this path, nor did every Troubadour always celebrate the inner sacred meaning of the path. Yet this was the core, and it was a pathway taught through societies and particularly passed on through Troubadour poetry and song. Courtly love should be seen as genuine spiritual pathway and not be superficialized. It is not inappropriate to think of courtly love as similar to Tantric sexual spirituality, as developed in India.

Troubadours were also to some degree influenced by the great Arab poetry, and especially the Sufi poetry, flowing in through Moorish Spain, the trade routes of North Africa, and Palestine and the Crusaders interacted with the Muslim world there. The Beloved of the Troubadours is the same Divine Beloved of the Sufis. When reading Troubadour poetry, as with Sufi poetry, the Beloved — though she may also be a real person — should be understood to be the Divine and no other.

Ultimately, the Cathars were declared a heretical sect by the Catholic Church and they were brutally suppressed. The Troubadours scattered, but their influence continued with the many related poetic/mystical traditions that emerged from their diaspora: the Trouveres in norther France, the Minnensingers in Germany (including Wolfram von Ehrenbach, author of the first Grail romance), the Fideli di Amore in Italy (including Dante).

St. Francis of Assissi himself was a great lover of French Troubadour songs and traditions. Though he lived and taught within the Catholic Church, elements of Cathar and Troubadour spirituality can be seen in his own radiant ministry: his love of nature (particularly the sun and the moon), his vision of a divine woman, and his relationship with St. Clare (which was very much in the tradition of the chaste Lover-Beloved relationship.)

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Herman Melville’s Passionate, Beautiful, Heartbreaking Love Letters to Nathaniel Hawthorne

By Maria Popova (brainpickings.org)

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The summer when nineteen-year-old Emily Dickinson met the love of her life — the orphaned mathematician-in-training Susan Gilbert, who would come to be the poet’s greatest muse, her mentor, her primary reader and editor, her fiercest lifelong attachment, her “Only Woman in the World” — another intense, label-defying love was igniting in the heart of another literary titan-to-be some fifty miles westward. That other love unfolds alongside Dickinson’s in Figuring — a book I wrote to explore, among other existential perplexities, the bittersweet beauty of asymmetrical and half-requited loves. (This essay is adapted from the book.)

On August 5, 1850, Herman Melville met Nathaniel Hawthorne at a literary gathering in the Berkshires. Hawthorne was forty-six. The achingly shy, brooding writer, once celebrated as “handsomer than Lord Byron,” had risen to celebrity a decade earlier, much thanks to a glowing endorsement by Margaret Fuller. Melville — whose debut novel had rendered him a literary star in his twenties — had just turned thirty-one.

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Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne

A potent intellectual infatuation ignited between the two men — one that, at least for Melville, seems to have grown from the cerebral to the corporeal. Within days, the young author reviewed Hawthorne’s short story collection Mosses from an Old Manse in Literary World under the impersonal byline “a Virginian Spending July in Vermont.” No claim of this intentional ambiguity was true — Melville was a New Yorker, the month was August, and he was spending it in Massachusetts.

The review, nearing seven thousand words, was nothing less than an editorial serenade. “A man of a deep and noble nature has seized me in this seclusion… His wild, witch voice rings through me,” Melville wrote of reading Hawthorne’s stories in a remote farmhouse nestled in the summer foliage of the New England countryside. “The soft ravishments of the man spun me round in a web of dreams.” Melville couldn’t have known that his allusions to witchcraft, intended as compliment, had disquieting connotations for Hawthorne. Born Nathaniel Hathorne, he had added a w to the family name in order to distance himself from his ancestor John Hathorne — a leading judge involved in the Salem witch trials, who, unlike the other culpable judges, never repented of his role in the murders. Unwitting of the dark family history, Melville found himself under “this Hawthorne’s spell” — a spell cast first by his writing, then by the constellation of personal qualities from which the writing radiated. Who hasn’t fallen in love with an author in the pages of a beautiful book? And if that author, when befriended in the real world, proves to be endowed with the splendor of personhood that the writing intimates, who could resist falling in love with the whole person? Melville presaged as much:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngNo man can read a fine author, and relish him to his very bones, while he reads, without subsequently fancying to himself some ideal image of the man and his mind… There is no man in whom humor and love are developed in that high form called genius; no such man can exist without also possessing, as the indispensable complement of these, a great, deep intellect, which drops down into the universe like a plummet. Or, love and humor are only the eyes, through which such an intellect views this world. The great beauty in such a mind is but the product of its strength.

After comparing Hawthorne to Shakespeare, he writes:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngIn this world of lies, Truth is forced to fly like a scared white doe in the woodlands; and only by cunning glimpses will she reveal herself, as in Shakespeare and other masters of the great Art of Telling the Truth, — even though it be covertly, and by snatches.

“I am Posterity speaking by proxy,” Melville bellows from the page, “when I declare — that the American, who up to the present day, has evinced, in Literature, the largest brain with the largest heart, that man is Nathaniel Hawthorne.” In an aside on the process of composing his review, he notes that twenty-four hours into writing, he found himself “charged more and more with love and admiration of Hawthorne.” Quoting an especially beguiling line of Hawthorne’s, he insists that “such touches… can not proceed from any common heart.” No, they bespeak “such a depth of tenderness, such a boundless sympathy with all forms of being, such an omnipresent love” that they render their author singular in his generation — as singular as the place he would come to occupy in Melville’s heart.

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Hawthorne’s home, Old Manse. Concord, Massachusetts. (Boston Public Library.)

Fervid correspondence and frequent visits followed over the next few months. Only ten of Melville’s letters to Hawthorne survive, but their houses were just six miles apart and they saw each other quite often — “discussing the Universe with a bottle of brandy & cigars,” as Melville put it in one invitation, and talking deep into the night about “time and eternity, things of this world and of the next, and books, and publishers, and all possible and impossible matters,” as Hawthorne recounted in his diary. Punctuating the invisible log of all that was written but destroyed is all that was spoken but unwritten, all that was felt but unspoken.

Melville’s ardor was most acute during the period of writing Moby-Dick, which he dedicated to Hawthorne. Printed immediately after the title page was “In Token of My Admiration for his Genius, This Book is Inscribed to Nathanial [sic] Hawthorne.”

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Art by Matt Kish from Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page

One November evening over dinner, a restlessly excited Herman presented Nathaniel with a lovingly inscribed copy of the novel whose now-legendary protagonist sails from Nantucket into the existential unknown. I can picture the brooding Hawthorne turning the leaf and suppressing a beam of delight upon discovering the printed dedication. In the following century, Virginia Woolf would perform a similar gesture with her groundbreaking, gender-bending novel Orlando, inspired by her lover Vita Sackville-West and later described by Vita’s son as “the longest and most charming love letter in literature.” On the day of Orlando’s publication, Vita would receive a package containing not only the printed book, but also Virginia’s original manuscript, bound specially for her in Niger leather and stamped with her initials on the spine.

But after the elated private presentation, a very different public fate awaited Moby-Dick. Its 1851 publication was met with a damning review in New York’s Literary World, which set the tone for its American reception and precipitated its decades-long plunge into obscurity. The reviewer’s chief complaint was that the novel “violated and defaced” “the most sacred associations of life”—an indictment aimed at the homoeroticism of Melville’s choice to depict Ishmael and Queequeg as sharing a “marriage bed” in which they awaken with their arms around each other.

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Queequeg’s favorite dish, cooked and photographed by artist Dinah Fried for her project Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals.

Ten days later, Hawthorne lamented the obtuseness of the review and praised Moby-Dick as Melville’s best work yet. Touched to the point of delirium by this “exultation-breeding letter,” Melville hastened to reply:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngYour heart beat in my ribs and mine in yours, and both in God’s… It is a strange feeling — no hopefulness is in it, no despair. Content — that is it; and irresponsibility; but without licentious inclination. I speak now of my profoundest sense of being, not of an incidental feeling.

Whence come you, Hawthorne? By what right do you drink from my flagon of life? And when I put it to my lips — lo, they are yours and not mine. I feel that the Godhead is broken up like the bread at the Supper, and that we are the pieces.

Aware of how his intemperate fervor might incinerate his relationship with the cooler-tempered Hawthorne, Melville reasons with himself for a moment, then chooses to abandon reason:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngMy dear Hawthorne, the atmospheric skepticisms steal into me now, and make me doubtful of my sanity in writing you thus. But, believe me, I am not mad, most noble Festus! But truth is ever incoherent, and when the big hearts strike together, the concussion is a little stunning.

After signing, he adds a feverish postscript:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngI can’t stop yet. If the world was entirely made up of [magicians], I’ll tell you what I should do. I should have a paper-mill established at one end of the house, and so have an endless riband of foolscap rolling in upon my desk; and upon that endless riband I should write a thousand — a million — billion thoughts, all under the form of a letter to you. The divine magnet is in you, and my magnet responds. Which is the biggest? A foolish question — they are One.

The intensity proved too concussing for Hawthorne — he pulled away from the divine magnet. Melville seems to have presaged the eclipse of their relationship in the review in which the magnetism had begun:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngIt is that blackness in Hawthorne… that so fixes and fascinates me. It may be, nevertheless, that it is too largely developed in him. Perhaps he does not give us a ray of his light for every shade of his dark.

As Hawthorne retreated into his cool darkness, Melville suffered with the singular anguish of unreturned ardor—anguish that stayed with him for the remaining four decades of his life, for he eulogized it in one of his last poems, “Monody,” penned in his final year:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngTo have known him, to have loved him,
After loneness long;
And then to be estranged in life,
And neither in the wrong;
And now for death to set his seal —
Ease me, a little ease, my song!

By wintry hills his hermit-mound
The sheeted snow-drifts drape,
And houseless there the snow-bird flits
Beneath the fir-tree’s crape:
Glazed now with ice the cloistral vine
That hid the shyest grape.

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Herman Melville in his final years.

Meanwhile, the gaps of the invisible and the unspoken are filled with posterity’s questions about specifics that vibrate with the universal: What happened between Melville and Hawthorne in the unrecorded hours? Why did Nathaniel ultimately repel the divine magnet of Herman’s love? Most probably, we’ll never know. Possibly, they themselves never fully did. It is almost banal to say, yet it needs to be said: No one ever knows, nor therefore has grounds to judge, what goes on between two people, often not even the people themselves, half-opaque as we are to ourselves. One thing is certain: The quotient of intimacy cannot be contained in a label. The human heart is an ancient beast that roars and purrs with the same passions, whatever labels we may give them. We are so anxious to classify and categorize, both nature and human nature. It is a beautiful impulse — to contain the infinite in the finite, to wrest order from the chaos, to construct a foothold so we may climb toward higher truth. It is also a limiting one, for in naming things we often come to mistake the names for the things themselves. The labels we give to the loves of which we are capable — varied and vigorously transfigured from one kind into another and back again — cannot begin to contain the complexity of feeling that can flow between two hearts and the bodies that contain them.

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SUNDAY NIGHT TRANSLATION GROUP – 2/17/19

Translators:  Melissa Goodnight, Richard Branam, Mike Zonta

SENSE TESTIMONY:  Innovation and renovation can bring about stress, disruption and eruption.

5th Step Conclusions:

1)  Truth is liberal, yielding, authority without being authoritarian, always brand new (“straight from the fire’), always off the beaten track of habitual thought and action, in fact, deconstructing, disrupting, erupting traditional ways of doing and being.

2)  All is One, Infinite Consciousness Beingness, perfectly unrestricted and unconstrained, in limitless indivisible continuity, that is ceaselessly streaming forth in emerging expression, of the fathomless capacity for reforming and transforming anew.

3)  Truth is the Only Consciousness Continuum, Being Universally Principled I Am that I Am, this Universal Language Disruptively, Erupting Ecstatic Force of Entry upon the Intimacy of Truths’ Heart, this Logic is the Novum Organum: Truths’ Masterpiece of Constantly Renewing Lifes’ Achievements’.

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HughJohn Malanaphy’s Sunday Meeting Talk on February 17, 2019

HughJohn Malanaphy, H.W.,M. is a very good friend of mine who I met in 1974 when we began doing teaching tours across the USA. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, he is now living in Santa Monica, California. He has always been volunteering and was “on staff” with The Prosperos School of Ontology for many years where he learned not only personal studies and The Prosperos’ techniques, but also business management, advertising, printing, & publishing production.

HughJohn has given many classes, workshops, Sunday Meetings, Assembly talks, and Instruction throughout the years.

He is also a certified graphologist, board member on 3 non-profit organizations & professional in aerospace, IT systems and entrepreneurial enterprises.

HughJohn continues his personal study in technology, lucid dreaming and dream interpretation, space and cultural trends.

Last but not least, HughJohn is a high-quality individual which you will see shining through in this video. Now for his talk:

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1,600 Occult Books Now Digitized & Put Online, Thanks to the Ritman Library and Da Vinci Code Author Dan Brown

Back in December we brought you some exciting news. Thanks to a generous donation from Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, Amsterdam’s Ritman Library—a sizable collection of pre-1900 books on alchemy, astrology, magic, and other occult subjects—has been digitizing thousands of its rare texts under a digital education project cheekily called “Hermetically Open.” We are now pleased to report, less than two months later, that the first 1,617 books from the Ritman project have come available in their online reading room. The site is still in beta, so to speak; in their Facebook announcement, the Ritman admits they are “still improving the whole presentation,” which is a bit clunky at the moment. But for fans and students of this literature, a little inconvenience is a small price to pay for full access to hundreds of rare occult texts.

Visitors should be aware that these books are written in several different European languages. Latin, the scholarly language of Europe throughout the Medieval and Early Modern periods, predominates, and it’s a peculiar Latin at that, laden with jargon and alchemical terminology. Other books appear in German, Dutch, and French. Readers of some or all of these languages will of course have an easier time than monolingual English speakers, but there is still much to offer those visitors as well.

In addition to the pleasure of paging through an old rare book, even virtually, English speakers can quickly find a collection of readable books by clicking on the “Place of Publication” search filter and selecting Cambridge or London, from which come such notable works as The Man-Mouse Takin in a Trap, and tortur’d to death for gnawing the Margins of Eugenius Philalethes, by Thomas Vaughn, published in 1650.

The language is archaic—full of quirky spellings and uses of the “long s”—and the content is bizarre. Those familiar with this type of writing, whether through historical study or the work of more recent interpreters like Aleister Crowley or Madame Blavatsky, will recognize the many formulas: The tracing of magical correspondences between flora, fauna, and astronomical phenomena; the careful parsing of names; astrology and lengthy linguistic etymologies; numerological discourses and philosophical poetry; early psychology and personality typing; cryptic, coded mythology and medical procedures. Although we’ve grown accustomed through popular media to thinking of magical books as cookbooks, full of recipes and incantations, the reality is far different.

Encountering the vast and strange treasures in the online library, one thinks of the type of the magician represented in Goethe’s Faust, holed up in his study,

Where even the welcome daylight strains
But duskily through the painted panes.
Hemmed in by many a toppling heap
Of books worm-eaten, gray with dust, 
Which to the vaulted ceiling creep

The library doesn’t only contain occult books. Like the weary scholar Faust, alchemists of old “studied now Philosophy / And Jurisprudence, Medicine,— / And even, alas! Theology.” Click on Cambridge as the place of publication and you’ll find the work above by Henry More, “one of the celebrated ‘Cambridge Platonists,’” the Linda Hall Library notes, “who flourished in mid-17th-century and did their best to reconcile Plato with Christianity and the mechanical philosophy that was beginning to make inroads into British natural philosophy.” Those who study European intellectual history know well that More’s presence in this collection is no anomaly. For a few hundred years, it was difficult, if not impossible, to separate the pursuits of theology, philosophy, medicine, and science (or “natural philosophy”) from those of alchemy and astrology. (Isaac Newton is a famous example of a mathematician/scientist/alchemist/believer in strange apocalyptic predictions.)

Given the Ritman’s alacrity and eagerness to publish this first batch of texts, even as it works to smooth out its interface, we’ll likely see many hundreds more books become available in the next month or so. For updates, follow the Ritman Library and The Embassy of the Free Mind—Dan Brown’s own Dutch library of rare occult books—on Facebook.

Enter the Ritman’s new digital collection of occult texts here.

Related Content:

3,500 Occult Manuscripts Will Be Digitized & Made Freely Available Online, Thanks to Da Vinci Code Author Dan Brown

Isaac Newton’s Recipe for the Mythical ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ Is Being Digitized & Put Online (Along with His Other Alchemy Manuscripts)

Aleister Crowley Reads Occult Poetry in the Only Known Recordings of His Voice (1920)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

(Submitted by Richard Burns, HW, M.)

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THE TRUTH ABOUT ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY (WITH ANWAR IBRAHIM)

HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF MUSLIMS the world over live in democracies of some shape or form, from Indonesia to Malaysia to Pakistan to Lebanon to Tunisia to Turkey. Tens of millions of Muslims live in — and participate in — Western democratic societies. The country that is on course to have the biggest Muslim population in the world in the next couple of decades is India, which also happens to be the world’s biggest democracy. Yet a narrative persists, particularly in the West, that Islam and democracy are incompatible. Islam is often associated with dictatorship, totalitarianism, and a lack of freedom, and many analysts and pundits claim that Muslims are philosophically opposed to the idea of democracy. On this week’s show, Mehdi Hasan is joined by the man expected to become Malaysia’s next prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, and by Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, to discuss Islam, Muslims, and democracy.

Anwar Ibrahim: We represent Islam the sense that is has to tolerant, liberal, plural, and even accept some of the values of the west.

[Music interlude.]

Mehdi Hasan: I’m Mehdi Hasan. Welcome to Deconstructed.

It’s a never-ending debate. Why do so many Muslims live in undemocratic countries? How do you get more freedom in the Middle East? Does Islam have a problem with democracy? They’re age-old and often quite cliched questions. So, on today’s show, I want to do a bit of debunking and deconstructing, with the help of a very special and a very relevant guest.

AI: You have corrupt, oppressive, tyrannical states and they use the label Islam.

MH: That’s my guest today, the renowned Malaysian leader and former political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim, who is on course to become the country’s next democratically-elected prime minister. I’m also joined by Dalia Mogahed, the American Muslim writer, scholar and former White House adviser.

Dalia Mogahed: When you look at the facts, they simply don’t support the idea that there is a clash of civilizations or a clash of values.

MH: So, on today’s show, what’s the deal with Islam, Muslims and democracy?

Islam and democracy. Is there a clash? Is there a contradiction? I’ve been hearing this question posed by right and left alike my entire life. Since before 9/11 but especially since after 9/11, when we were told by George W Bush, Tony Blair, the neocons and others, that the real problem in the Muslim-majority world is the lack of democracy and freedom and political pluralism. And guess what’s to blame for that? Islam or at least political Islam, whatever that is.

Now, I have a lot of problems with this rather lazy and simplistic narrative, which completely and conveniently overlooks the role played by Western governments in propping up Muslim dictators like the President of Egypt or the King of Saudi Arabia, but here’s my biggest one: it’s factually inaccurate. Right now, in 2019, hundreds of millions of Muslims, possibly the majority of the world’s 1.7 billion Muslims, live in democracies of some shape or form, live in countries where they have the right to vote, the right to choose and to change their own governments — from Indonesia to Malaysia to Pakistan to Lebanon to Tunisia to Turkey, not to mention the tens of millions of Muslims who live in Western countries, in Germany, France, the UK, Canada, the United States. The mayor of London, last time I checked, was a Muslim. And in fact, the country which is on course to have the biggest Muslim population in the world in the next couple of decades is India; which also happens to be the world’s biggest democracy.

So why is it that in the West, in particular, people still associate Islam with dictatorship and totalitarianism and a lack of freedom, why is it so many folks still think Muslims have some sort of inherent objection to, or problem with, the idea of democracy? That we’re not interested in, or grown up enough, or liberal enough, for democracy? What’s the actual reality? It’s a big question but it’s a question I’m asking on Deconstructed today and we’re lucky to have two fascinating and very clever guests who I hope are going to enlighten us all.

[Music interlude.]

More than twenty years ago, Anwar Ibrahim was on the cover of Time magazine, which called him “the star of a rising generation of Asian leaders.” But the then deputy prime minister of Malaysia and devout Muslim leader spent the next two decades in and out of prison on trumped-up charges.

News Anchor: Malaysian reformist leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has been released from prison. The release comes after his opposition alliance won the elections earlier this month.

AI [at press conference]: Now, there is a new dawn for Malaysia. I must thank the people of Malaysia […] regardless of race and religion who stood by the principles of democracy and freedom.

MH: Today, this long-standing advocate for democracy, dialogue and human rights who’s become a bit of a rock star in the Muslim-majority world, is a step away from becoming prime minister of, yes, democratic Malaysia, having come out of prison and helped pull off the unlikeliest of election victories last year. Anwar Ibrahim joins me now to talk Islam and democracy.

[Music interlude.]

MH: Anwar Ibrahim, thanks for joining me on Deconstructed.

AI: Thank you.

MH: To many in the west, Anwar, many here in the U.S., there is a clash, a contradiction even, between Islam and democracy, but you come from a Muslim majority country of more than 30 million people that is a democracy, a flawed democracy. But which democracy isn’t? So what do you make of this constant claim both from right-wing Islamophobes, but also from well-meaning liberals who genuinely seem to think that Islam and democracy, Muslims and democracy don’t go together?

AI: I think, to quote Edward Said, it’s a clash of ignorance. There’s very little understanding what’s happening on the ground, Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world. It is as democratic as the United States, Turkey, of course, there are some criticisms, but there was elections which was seen or perceived by the West even as independent and no militia. As you know in the last year’s elections, and now proceeding towards a vibrant democracy. India, although Muslims are the minority but they support the Democratic process. You have Christian democracy in Europe. Why can’t we have Muslim democrats in the Muslim world? The issue is the fundamentals of the democratic process cannot be compromised — judicial independence, free media, equal rights for citizens — and that is being observed.

MH: It’s more than just having elections. A lot of countries have elections which turn out to be not so democratic.

AI: Exactly, with elections in an undemocratic society will always be flawed.

MH: So what’s your explanation then for the preponderance of dictatorships across the Muslim-majority world, especially across the Middle East and the Arab world?

AI: Well, there are also internal dynamics within Muslim societies that must be addressed, but you can ask the similar questions at the Washington elite, the London elite, who actually has been to a large extent complicit in this arrangement. They support the dictators and authoritarian regimes, but I would not use that as a complete argument because I think the Muslim societies themselves need reform and need a further commitment towards this and it is happening in the Muslim world, in Indonesia, Malaysia. It is not happening, unfortunately in the Arab world. The problem is the Arab nations and not a Muslim problem.

MH: And unfortunately, as you yourself have noted Arab nations are often conflated with all of the Islamic world, even though Arabs are a minority of the world’s Muslims. As you mentioned, Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. You said in 2014, that “All eminent Muslim democrats must condemn not just groups like ISIS and Boko Haram but the dictatorships and autocratic regimes in the Muslim world that have persistently denied democratic rights to their citizens and whose human rights records could even put North Korea to shame.”

And when I read that quote Anwar, I’m kind of torn because on the one hand it’s so refreshing to hear a Muslim leader willing to criticize Muslim-majority countries when a lot of Muslims as you know, in our communities turn a blind eye to our own problems and we’re very happy to criticize Israel or America or the West. We don’t want to say things about Muslim countries. So I’m glad that you’re willing to say that. On the other hand, there is this view that it feeds into a dangerous narrative that says Muslims are all collectively responsible for bad things that happen in Muslim societies that we have to constantly play this condemnation game and some would say, you know, what do I have to do with Saudi Arabia? Why should I condemn them? Nothing to do with me. I’m not Saudi. I’m not to blame for Saudi Arabia. I’m not responsible.

AI: That is a problem. I endured these atrocities and imprisonment for two decades. I don’t expect much either from the West or the Muslim world, but the bare fact, the reality is capitals, Western capitals including the United States were more, at least, committed though oftentimes ambivalent, but at least, they have been seen to be more supportive. So they —

MH: Rhetorically.

AI: — Rhetorically, at least, which is not happening in the Muslim world. So, I think that my position is we must be morally coherent and consistent if you condemn atrocities in, for example, some other countries, Latin America, Africa, you must be prepared to do the same.

MH: You’ve noted that in the West, we often equate the Arab countries, as I said, with Islam. You’d like to talk about Indonesia, Malaysia, Muslim democracies, which are culturally politically distinct yet Malaysia does have an official religion. The constitution states that Islam is the religion of the federation but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the federation. Is it your view that you don’t need to be secular in order to be democratic that you can be an Islamic or Muslim democracy?

AI: The Constitution stipulates Islam [as] the religion of the federation. It’s not an Islamic state. It stipulates judicial independence, free media, which need not necessarily be tied to the religious precepts. That must be clear. Secondly, I think, the issue of secular or Islamic, it depends on how you you conceptualize. If it is laïcité in the extreme sense—

Continue reading THE TRUTH ABOUT ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY (WITH ANWAR IBRAHIM)

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TRANSLATION ADVENTURE – 2/17/19

Translators: Alex Gambeau, Domenica Shelar, Heather Williams

SENSE TESTIMONY: Persons need Ontological Classes

  1. The I AM I is the Omniscent Self, as the science of Being is a group of Oneness and Impersonal Love.
  2. Impersonal Self I AM is formlessly and constantly connecting with 
ALL there is.
  3. The Prosperos classes are Beingness.
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Schiller on play

Friedrich Schiller

“Man is never so authentically himself than when at play.”

― Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (November 10, 1759 – May 9, 1805) was a German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life, Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, friendship with the already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.Wikipedia
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