Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Rule 5: Intellect and Love

Intellect and love are made of two different materials. Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advises, “Beware too much ecstasy,” whereas Love says, “Oh never mind. Take the plunge!” Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden amongst ruins. A broken heart hides treasure.

The difference between intellect and love is often addressed as the difference between heart and mind, and this is a large topic. Sometimes we talk about the difference between feelings and thoughts. The brain researches would say that both, intellect and love, are produced by rather similar neurons which are only interwired differently and use different neuro transmitters.

But it is our experience which marks a clear distinction whether we think about something or we open up to love. Most likely, we do not just have two different systems of processing information or integrating stimuli but also different levels of consciousness, which means different forms of organizing the whole of our perception and experience.

The reactive mind is an important instrument on all levels of consciousness which are connected with feat. It serves for the collection and categorization of experiences which have to do with perils and threats so that they are available in case as warnings: “Beware, this has already put you in danger before.” So the intellect also plays the role of an over caring protector of a fearful soul. The price of this protection is the knotting: The ropes of life get disrupted and equipped with knots. Thus we always have something to easily hold on to when we are in danger of slipping down the rope of life. When we came into a risky situation, the intellect helps us out quickly. We immediately regain control when something inside of us has let go.

This is what can happen in meditation or in a deep breathing experience. We float in something much larger than we are, experience space and freedom which is fascinating and fulfilling, and  then the mind comes in and mesmerizes us by stating that it is dangerous. In an instant, the feeling of endless space is gone and freedom yields to the well known narrowness.
This is the consistency of the mind. It is a loyal watcher of our normality and reliability. This way we stay calculable and well functioning members of a materialistic society based on individual achievement. For this, we sacrifice our aliveness, the power of the heart.

For this aliveness is not a comfortable cushion for relaxation. It wants to abandon the safe haven and sail into the unknown, like those who courageously dare to step into the cold waters of a river against the advice of their minds following their hearts which tells them that there is more, more plunging into the alien, threatening and finally miraculous areas of life.

The power of the heart appears to be bound to break. It is weaker than the power of the intellect which is able to think about distractions and distortions all the time. But the heart is powerless and breaks down or apart when the circumstances become dry and loveless. Yet this breakdown is only seemingly a breakdown as it just shows a surface. In the innermost part of our being, the flame of the heart is always alive and shines for anyone who is willing to feel and to look deeper.

It does not break our hearts when we have very bad and difficult times. It breaks our trust in our hearts and we cut us off its power by starting to whine, by getting angry or depressed. We close ourselves off and hand ourselves over to our intellect to help us out of our misery. It is only when we patiently start to untangle the knots which we had tied up in order to save ourselves, that we feel our way back to the heart. And amidst the turmoil of the catastrophy, our heart sparkles like a hidden treasure waiting to be rediscovered and recovered.

Mystic teachers want to liberate us from the misguidances of our reactive mind. Yet we should be grateful for the gifts of our intellect. In an integral and holistic view of development, our creative intellect plays a crucial role. We need it desperately to find sophisticated solutions for the complex problems in our world, just to name one example: As we have enough food on this planet to feed every human being, an intelligent solution is needed to build up a net of distribution which balances the lack of nutrition in many parts of the world with the excessive waste of food in other parts.

The rules are taken from Elif Shafak's novel “The Forty Rules of Love” (Viking 2010). They are inspired by the Sufi tradition and worded by the autor's imagination.

Rule 4: the True Lover

You can study God through everything and everyone in the universe, because God is not confined in a mosque, synagogue or church. But if you are still in need of knowing exactly where his abode is, there is only one place to look for him: in the heart of a true lover.
Every mystic transcends the differences and possessive claims of the various religions. He also transcends defined concepts of God and traditional ways of devotional prayer and services. His roots are in the shamanic practices of the tribal stage of consciousness and he connects them to the universalistic stage: Everything in nature is holy and divine, and everything is connected with everything. So the presence of the divine cannot be limited to certain places or buildings.
The mystic expands a gigantic arch across all levels of consciousness. So she often was perceived as threat which lead to prosecution. She challenges the fearfulness and narrow mindedness of people so they condemn and fight her.
As long as people primarily look for safety, they are governed by their fears. They need symbols, objects, strict rules and rituals as well as places in which they can be sure to find consolation. So they feel that there is a guarantee for the fulfilment of their hopes and longings.
The mystic challenges the habits of behaviour, of thinking and believing which get entrenched in people’s minds. This makes him unpopular. His difficulty lies in motivating people who are buried in a certain level of consciousness to make a gigantic jump by which they could be liberated from their misery. Often he lacks of knowledge about the intermediate steps which single persons and societies have to pass until they get open and mature for true love. 

The rules are taken from Elif Shafak's novel “The Forty Rules of Love” (Viking 2010). They are inspired by the Sufi tradition and worded by the autor's imagination.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Rule 3: Deepen the Understanding

Each and every reader comprehends the Qur’an on a different level in tandem with the depth of his understanding. There are four levels of insight. The first level is the outer meaning and it is the one that the majority of people are content with. Next is the Batin - the inner level. Third there is the inner of the inner. And the fourth level is so deep it cannot be put into words and is therefore bound to be indescribable. Scholars who focus on the Sharia know the outer meaning. Sufis know the inner meaning. Saints know the inner of the inner. The fourth level is known by prophets and those closest to God. So don’t judge the way other people connect to God. To each his own way and his own prayer. God does not take us at our word but looks deep into our hearts. It is not the ceremonies or rituals that make a difference, but whether our hearts are sufficiently pure or not.

What is noted about the Koran here is of course true for all the other holy books and scriptures in other religions and traditions. Seen from the model of the levels of consciousness, we connect the first level of insight with the hierarchical level. Spiritual and religious knowledge is institutionalized as knowledge of power. Laws are derived from the holy writings to steer and regulate the behavior of people. People should not only be afraid of the punishments of mundane law courts but also from avengements from the beyond, as marked in the comment to the second rule.
 The age of enlightenment had a strong impact on the West as it could build on the fundaments of the materialistic achievements. Since then, the entanglements between the churches and the mundane systems of suppression and regime have been among the main points of criticism on religions and added to the spreading of atheism. As an example, Karl Marx coined the formula of religion as “opium of the people” to point out that religion is misused to abduct people from the injustice which is inflicted upon them and to promise them a paradise in which all injustice and exploitation is brought to balance.
This is why the West observes the Islamic world and especially states which use the Sharia as system of law with specific mistrust. However we see that there is also criticism on superficial interpretations of the holy scriptures from Islamic sources. As soon as the literal interpretation of the texts is abandoned and the political and social regulations derived from them are questioned, these texts do not become obsolete as suggested by philosophers of the age of enlightenment, but show and “inner meaning”.
The inner meaning is not compatible with a God of fear and punishment (cf. Comment on Rule 1), but only to the “logic of the heart” (Blaise Pascal), to the special power of love and human connectedness. By this, the tendency to condemn other forms of belief vanishes just like that, and any kind of belief and worship is accepted and understood as specific way to God. Inquisition is banned to the dark corners of history and the notion of heresy becomes meaningless.
And we develop a form of tolerance which is founded in a deepened sense of religion instead in a formal equality which is only the result of a materialistic concept. Who approaches other people with the vision of the heart – or, to put it into modern scientific language, who meets people in the mode of the smart vagus of the vegetative nervous system, will not be able to fight or reject others because of their way of searching God, on the contrary, he will know that any form of condemning other people means leaving one’s own spiritual path and is a pollution of one’s own heart.
In a book by Reishad Field I found the following story:
In a town on the coast lives a pious and loyal imam. He highly acknowledged by his people. One day, someone tells him about a hermit who lives on an island not far from the coast. He decides to pay this hermit a visit to find out whether he is on the right path to God. So he sets out with his boat and rows to the island. When getting ashore, he hears the prayers of the dervish. The imam comes closer and notices that he has turned around the devotional formula and prays “ilAllah la ilaha“ instead of   „La ilaha ilAllah“ (There is no God except God).
Oi, oi, there we have a problem, God will be angry at hearing that ignorant prayer. So he tips the dervish on the should and explains the correct way of praying. The dervish thanks and promises to pray in the right way from now on.
The Imam is content and walks back to his boat. With the pleasant thought that he has brought some more order to this disturbed world and has helped a person to return to the right path, he rows back. Half way on the sea, he sees someone swiftly approaching from the island. It is the dervish who runs on the waves. As he arrives at the boat he asks: “ I am so sorry, please forgive my forgetfulness. But what was the correct way of praying again?”

The rules are taken from Elif Shafak's novel “The Forty Rules of Love” (Viking 2010). They are inspired by the Sufi tradition and worded by the autor's imagination.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Rule 2: The Way of the Heart

The Path to the Truth is a labour of the heart, not of the head. Make your heart your primary guide. Not your mind. Meet, challenge, and ultimately prevail over your nafs (false ego) with your heart. Knowing your ego (higher self/soul) will lead you to the knowledge of God.

For many searchers it is clear, that the ultimate truth cannot be found in the mind. This is not what the human mind is made for. It can only create useful ideas inside limited contexts. It easily gets caught up in self mirroring and navel gazing. When we are not able to contain our mind, there is no use in going on a spiritual search. Yet we are only able to limit its influence when we acknowledge its merits and use its strengths in a wise way.

It is more difficult to understand the work of the heart. It should not be mixed up with working on emotions although they are important as well. The heart is symbolically seen as the residence of love, and love is no feeling but an attitude, an inner direction.

We can attain this determination only when we are willing to face our shadow sides, the aspects of our personality which we either deny or adore all too much. They are aspects, which have rooted themselves deeply inside as a consequence of unresolved traumatizations, in the course of our lives or even our anchestors. The work is about replacing the fear which is connected with those unresolved experiences by love. Technically spoken, this happens by reuniting the attention and awareness which has been reduced from the immediate experience in the moment of trauma with this original experience. By this, we can take the power from the ego parts, whcih are based on such experiences and to overcome them.

What guides us in this work is the certainty, which we can feel inside, that we find fulfillment on this way. We connect ourselves with the power of evolution which works inside of us as individuals, in different cultures and in mankind as a whole, and which urges us towards universality, towards God.

The rules are taken from Elif Shafak's novel “The Forty Rules of Love” (Viking 2010). They are inspired by the Sufi tradition and worded by the autor's imagination.

40 Rules of Love - Rule 1

The Turkish writer Elif Shafak enfolds the basics of Sufi teaching in her novel “The Forty Rules of Love” (Viking 2010). These rules are inspired by the Sufi tradition and come from the autor's imagination.
These rules will be commented one by one and I appreciate any comment. 
I refer to a model of the evolution of consciousness in my comments which is described in my new German book "Vom Mut zu wachsen. Sieben Stufen der integralen Heilung" - 2011 Kamphausen Verlag ("On the Courage to Grow. Seven Steps of Integral Healing.")  

Rule 1:
How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings to mind mostly fear and blame, it means there is mostly fear and blame welled inside us. If we see God as full of love and compassion, so are we.

Many traditional teachings in religion depict the image of a ruthlessly stern and punishing god. God knows what is good and what is bad, and reigns as judge over everyone measuring how far people come up to these standards. In these traditions, someone who is afraid of god is seen as especially virtuous. He does not dare to act against the regulations of god resp. of what the particular church or sect declares as will of god. And he will meet his fellow people with fear and guilt feeling and he hopes to be rewarded for his discipline one day.

Here we meet the model of education which is part of the hierarchical level of consciousness (cf.„Vom Mut zu wachsen“). The hierarchical image of god serves to subdue the people under the regulations of society. Those who act agaist the rules, does not only have to count on worldly but also with transcendental punishment. Thus people are held in constant fear and tend to influende their fellows by means of guilt and intimidation. 

Many persons who have reflected these connections by freeing themselves of hierachical dependencies have also dismissed such a god. And not all of them went on searching for a god of love and compassion. For this, a courage to grow is required: Towards the inner world by connecting with the divinity in ourselves and by more and more accepting it (all the shadows and incompletions included), and towards the outer world by connecting to the divinity in other people and in the whole of the existence (all their shadows and incompletions included).
When we succeed in addressing the divinity inside of ourselves with love and compassion, we overcome our fearfulness and guilt burdens and start to see our friends and neighbours in the clear light of love and compassion

When we succeed in addressing the devine spirit in love and compassion in ourselves, we grow beyond  fearfulness and guilt feelings and are able to also see our brothers and sisters in the clear light of love and compassion.

killing - execution - assassination - terror assault - murder

For some, the death of  Osama bin Laden marks a historic date, as the master mind of terrorism has been searched and hunted for ten years by the best paid secret service and best equipped army of the world.

The killing - execution - assassination - terror assault - murder: you can see however you name it you create a questionable context for what has happened. It was legitimate only according to the laws of the Wild West, and not for any other norms of jurisdiction. It is presented as part of the "war against terrorism" which is directed by the right of the stronger and ignores all standards of the law of war, law of nations and the rights of souverenity. Under this title, numerous violations of human rights have happened and twi wars have been launched (Afghanistan 2001 and Irak 2003). This war against terror announced against anyone whom it may concern, shows what a world looks like in which one super power and their appendices can do what they want, attack and destroy, and how bitter it is to see that there is no power which can limit this arbitrariness.

Should we not deplore the death of any human being? What is it that people around the US celebrated - the satisfaction of their craving for revenge? What justice does the US president mean - a primitve justice of violence and counter violence? The world has hardly become safer as consequence of this death. It is clear, that by terror and counter terror, the destructive spirale is accelerated and shows no sign of an end.

I hope these lines do not get misunderstood as justification of terror assaults and other suffering which was done to people. I condemn any form or violence and especially all forms which affect civilians. I also condemn all preaches of hatred and all provocations for acts of violence. As far as I can see, a life full of hatred and destruction has been brought to an end. But the question has to be posed, and it has to be posed as long as we want a society based on human justice and human respect: has this death happened according to law - to which law and to which consequence.

The antic of a materialistic democracy

A peace nobel prize winner who boasts of the assassination of an enemy and is praised for that - what a bizarre and abhorrent caricature...

Does this show that it is impossible to be on top of this giantic money and paower agglomeration called USA without being swallowed by it? It is not possible or useful to look inside a person or to diagnoze someone from distance. But many ideas which Obama addressed at the beginning of his presidency showed a view which pleasently contrasted the brutal logic of violence of the predecessing administration. Without a basic understanding of systemic consciousness, Obama would not have been able to formulate such insights.

Now, after two and a half years in service, we see the most powerful man in the world drunken by his power. He has ordered the assassination of the evil guy as such personally, he has watched  personally (although the connection broke up) as his great killer squad carried out his deadly order. Revenge has been done, the hero has proven his courage and ruthlessness, noone ever can call him a wimp. Of course, the war goes on, but all Americans can be proud of their leader who will protect them from all evil with his unlimited power.

The pay for the hero: The masses cheer and like him as never before. The price: credibility, integrity, human dignity - these are qualities which do not represent a calculable value in a democracy which is run by materialism. When one wants to take part in the gambling of a giantic casino named USA (most prominent among many others), one has to stick to the rules, and they are: All and everyone is purchasable. Your personal value is calculated in numbers, money or opinion polls. All action has one goal: To maximize money or poll data. By this, a cold blooded and exactly calculated murder is justified in any sense.

The fatal fact is that the enemy in the game thinks likewise. Also for them, any means is justified to bring the own case to victory. Although they might not be able to shoot the president in his sleeping room, they can destroy the status symbols of his power apparatus, some skyscrapers, ambassies, shopping centres.

And we, the little pawns in the game, can have a look at this scenario, either with pleasure or with disgust, like the fight of two boxers with all dirty tricks allowed, given that the adversary is hit, weakend and finally destroyed. If there were not the slight chance that we ourselves have to pay, when a bomb explodes on our walkway or we get evaporated by a collateral damage of a precision attack.

Revenge - When victims become perpetrators

Revenge is being talked about. This notion used to be a permanent part of the rhetorics  of extremist terror organizations, but the US propaganda action against the main enemy Bin Laden has made it fashionable in the socalled democratic and liberal West. The enemy was killed, so what had been done to the Americans by him 10 years ago was brought to "justice".

What has been brought to balance? None of the dead of 9/11 has risen, none of the traumatized people has recovered from his symptoms, none of the bereaved has been healed from her wounds. What has been brought to balance  was something in the neurotic structure of the ego. The huminilation which the sould of the "West", of the USA or of whomsoever has suffered from the terror assaults was corrected - obviously two wars with millions of victims (against Afghanistan and Irak) and the execution of another main enemy (Saddam - who by the way has been proven of not being involved in the main humiliation)  have not been enough; the evil behind all evil must be extinguished.

In this scenario, we can see our inclination for personalising complex conflicts as they seem to be resolved easier and terminal on that level: I kill my opponent, so the conflict is out of the world. We know from blood revenge how naiv this assumption is. The spirale of revenge and counter revenge is principially endless. In some cases, a deescalation happens over time, in some other the escalation moves on (a terror attack is followed by a war). In any case, the actions of revenge keep the conflict going, especially the highly symbollicaly loaden actions against prominent persons of the opponent side. And it is clear that this institutionalisation of the conflict serves various interests, and some in the back scene could be observed smiling at the growth of their wallets.

What is sick about revenge? Is it not a natural reaction that we want to take revenge when bad things have been inflicted upon us? Do we not have to pay back when our partner had an affair with someone else? Do we not have to talk bad about a person who has been reported talking bad about ourselves? Revenge is swett, why should we refrain from this pleasure which we can enjoy when our enemy suffers?

When we realize that it is "just" our ego which stabilizes itself by revenge, it becomes probably easier for us to reflect our impulse for revenge in more depth. How could this happen?

We retaliate evil with evil and we cannot turn anything to the better by this. We meet with our enemy on his own level, so we make ourselves equal with him, and his mischievousness is exactly our mischievousnes.When we accept this honestly we are already a step further. We have realized that we are no better than the other who has done us wrong. We are as human as he is. This is what Nietzsche meant: "A small revenge is more human than no revenge at all."

The next step can be to refrain from the planned action of revenge. Of what use is it anyway? With the insight that we have a part in ourselves which is revengeful, we have already admitted that we are able to be evil and the other person is no longer ahead of ourselves. On the contrary: Martin Luther King was said: „The principle of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth leaves blind men and toothless men on both sides". And by knocking out a tooth of the other, one of our own teeth gets damaged.

It is not our self esteem we strengthen by actions like that but our self devaluation, as we enforce those parts of ourselves which belong to our shadow. Our self esteem cannot grow with actions which inflict damage on others, and an honest inquiry on our conscience shows that we cannot be proud of such actions. On the contrary, we narrow down inside and becloud our soul. Our ego might take pride in such actions and experience joy but our soul has received another harm which makes us suffer on the longer term: Not that we have made ourselves equal with a person we hate or despise, but simply that we have damaged a brother, a sister, a fellow human being.

Moses and Paul report: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord." (5 Mos 32,35; Röm 12,19). They mean that we should leave all actions of revenge to the Lord, he would take care of bringing balance to the harm that has been done to us. As long as we are goverend by our hurt and fight for the needs of our ego, we are not able to establish justice in this world. And how God would establish that justice and by which means (with rage, with love or with anything else) is up to him. By acknowledging that we have taken a major step our of our personalised ego consciousness.

Let us consider the following quote from a medieval poem to motivate ourselves for a leap like that: "To repay evil with good, is a fairly generous revenge." (Ruodlieb) When could be read as pious devotional advice show a backside meaning which leads us to systemic thinking: By breaking the chain of revenge and counter revenge, (which Paul Watzlawick called "interpunction in the course of events") then a new element comes in: generosity or magnaminity, which means expansion of the soul. For when taking such a step, I need another quality of courage as when I hit someone in the face.

In this understanding, revenge gains a new meaning: It balances something which is bigger than our ego. It breaks the vicious circle and creates space in which new things can evolve. It ends the destructive dependency goverened by our death urge and opens the gates for growth and liberation.