Friday, 26 October 2012

Marxism and Mysticism: A Plea for a Dialogue

It is asserted by some Marxist critics of religion that Marxism and Mysticism should not be compared. Mysticism is ahistorical and it is concerned only with the individual salvation and it ignores injustice and oppression in the world. All these assertions don’t bear close scrutiny. To have a historical sense implies to be concerned with the present reality, to be concerned with transforming it, to be aware of material or temporal factors affecting our present reality. Mysticism has deep historical sense in all these senses. Prophets have originated civilizations and mystics have embellished it, beautified it, developed it. All great thinkers, with few exceptions, in all traditional civilizations have been either mystics or influenced significantly by mysticism. Most of great revolutionaries in history have mystical training or orientation. Great traditional art and architecture has been moulded by mystical impulse. Great literature in traditional civilizations is essentially mystical. Hardly any great epic is not mystical. Great literature, even great tragedy, can’t be written except under the inspiration of mysticism. Nothing in traditional civilizations makes sense except in light of tradition to the making of which religion/mysticism fundamentally contribute. It is religion/mysticism which until the rise of Marxism made people aware of injustice and exploitation at the earthly plane. Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad were all critics of the establishment and spoke for the oppressed. Without resort to violence religious impulse has been able to feed countless people, to arrange their shelter and even work towards the freedom of the slaves. Islam has prohibited begging because its economy ensures that no one needs to beg. Even today most donors give in the name of God. It is another matter how the wealth to be donated has been acquired. 
Sources of Marxism are mystical and its ends ape the end of mysticism. Hegel is an idealist and mystical philosopher. The prophetic revolutionary spirit of Marxism is an appropriation of Judaic inheritance. It is parasitic on mysticism for its appeal to the oppressed and it has won converts in the name of mysticism.
If Marxism wishes to be a humanism it must appropriate mysticism positively. Humanism affirms the value of man, his dignity and freedom. It speaks in the name of the values that Plato identified with God– though impoverishing all of them by severing ties with transcendence. Mysticism gives Marxism warmth and human touch otherwise it has no room, in its materialism and economic determinism, for anything that can accommodate love, compassion, goodness, beauty, justice, truth and nobility. The Darwinian-Hobessian-Nietzschean-Freudian worldview that is compatible with Marxism but not mysticism and that has been so influential in the modern world has little room for anything that makes life truly human as all truly human values are realizable only by love which is transcendence of the individual, the ego on which the former worldview is erected.
Marxism is utopian in thinking that the evil in man can be finally overcome by ameliorating economic discrepancy. It is also wishful thinking on the part of Marxism that classless state will make all people happy and that man does not need anything else than satisfaction of his biological needs (though it recognizes psychological and spiritual needs and thinks that it amply provides for them). Man has psychological needs which can’t be fulfilled in any system that vetoes transcendence as the painful tone of modern literature shows. Nihilism is a huge problem for any worldview that seeks all answers on purely rational and human plane. Absurdism is unavoidable and one is really defenceless against the argument of why not opt for suicide in all purely rational and human centred worldviews as Camus has argued (rather shown how arguments asserting the contrary are so unconvincing). Man has spiritual needs – the most important component of his needs – and for millinia these needs have been fulfilled by religions as channels of transcendence. Now either we have to deny that these needs are real or assert that we can provide substitutes for transcendence. Both the options have been tried and have failed. That man will be a casualty in any worldview that puts ends above the means, that believes its metaphysics to be not only true but exclusively so and bans other views, that asserts that mankind has been mostly, throughout history, cherishing illusions is not difficult to see. Marxism asserts that mankind’s great thinkers have been duped by ruling class, that prophets too have been naïve in important matters. It asserts that almost all the people all the time throughout history have been fools or badly mistaken regarding an important matter of life and that all the institutions that civilizations have maintained have been primarily forms of exploitation. It writes off history of civilization as an effect of brutal struggle for power. It is also disputable to it that art has anything to do with truth, truth of a higher kind. It says that art, religion, philosophy are wholly understandable with reference to material conditions of the time. It denies real creativity and freedom to think. Even self reflection is ultimately not possible as consciousness can’t really detach itself from its determining conditions. Mystics have not found anything worthwhile. Poets are basically dreamers. Scriptures are neither holy nor true nor beneficial. Perhaps they are better burnt to ashes. Countless monuments of art and architecture have been built not by visions but by alienated unhappy men. Now all these positions that follow from a materialist metaphysics and absolute determinism based on material forces of production (granting relative autonomy of superstructures doesn’t mean much as ultimate determining force of the base is not denied) are difficult to accept for anyone who wishes to account for countless facets of history of civilization and culture. Marxism provides invaluable insight into the structures of society. It makes us aware that we are being exploited and it rightly identifies the key culprit. But it unfortunately too is a product of history, conceived by fallible men. It is wedded to a metaphysics and set of ideas that have a stamp of human thinking and therefore questionable or fallible thinking. Marxism besides being a science in political economy is also a speculation which can go wild and an exercise of imagination that may know no bounds. On purely scientific terms it made many erroneous assertions as has been amply demonstrated. It attempted to conceive of science in strictly Marxist terms and made big mistakes. Its attempt at Marxization of whole knowledge is an enterprise that doesn’t fulfill, at many points, strictly scientific criteria. It puts ideology before truth as it declares all ideas as unscientific which don’t corroborate the doctrines of dialectical materialism. Some Marxist thinkers have already shown flexibility in modifying the received dogma, in reconstructing Marxism and opening it up to many contemporary thought currents. I think the time has come that Marxism revaluate its reading of religion and be prepared to have a dialogue with spiritual traditions of the world. Hitherto it has been throwing the baby of mysticism with the bathwater of what is ordinarily identified with religion. Marxism has had phenomenal success, at least at theoretical plane, because it presented itself as religion or alternative to religion. Religions degenerate and exclude necessarily. So does Marxism. (One important authority on religion has written a book on world religions discussing all of them under the same headings or concepts and includes Marxism also in his account.) Russell called Marxism the religion of the twentieth century. Marxism will never die because it has elements of permanent value. So, will not religion?? The rise of religion and proliferation of spiritual cults has proved all those critics wrong who were confidant that religion will die very soon. Marxists have misread religion on almost all important points. They have rightly noted that religion is vulnerable to be appropriated by the exploiter. Religion as understood by the greatest prophets and sages in all traditions is neither consolation, nor a system of ideas, nor an attempt at representation of our relationship to reality nor a talk about this world or the otherworld. It is not a picture of the world. It is not a metanarrative. It is not a perspective or a view that could possibly be refuted. It is too existential an affair to be discredited. Science can, in no way, show it exit. Religion is four noble truths (not ideas or views) that Buddha who had a better sense of empirical reality than even Hume or positivists. It is not an idea, a concept, a view. The four noble truths can be put in the following way:
1      There is suffering in the world. The suffering constituted by alienation, unfulfilled intention, bereavements, death, lack of knowledge, pain, misery etc. There is a malady of alienation, an alienation much deeper than that which separates a labourer from his work. The alienation of a labourer is an aspect of this alienation.
2         Desire is the root of it. Craving to see things from the viewpoint of a self or ego, to construct a world according to our heart’s liking, to wish for inexistent or impossible things, to wish objective reality bend in the one’s service, to dictate terms to reality, to laws of nature, to be spared encounter with the other that humbles oneself or demands sacrifice, to grab other’s wealth, a wish to be consoled or fulfilled or exalted or praised or  in other’s shoe, to possess this or that thing or object of love, to live long and to be spared encounter with death, with the other that seems to be hill, to wish to opt for suicide and so on.
3            There is an end to suffering. If there is no end then all those ideologies which claim to redress the wrong and bring justice are false. Those who believe that philosophy must also change the world believe that the problem has a solution. There is an end to suffering.
4            There is a way to end the suffering. Right view, right effort and right action are needed for that. All salvific schemes, this worldly and otherworldly prescribe paths to end the suffering. All religions prescribe essentially similar path. More precisely they don’t prescribe a path but describe a path which has resulted in ending suffering. One can try one’s own path but one may not reach the other end of the road. One is free to experiment at the cost of possibility of error.

For mysticism and many religions, theology is dispensable. Metaphysics that reason constructs is dispensable. Theories about truth or reality are not necessarily relevant. Existential problems that knock too strongly to be ignored by anyone demand resolution or response and resolution. It is not the question of spiritual needs but pressing problems that we encounter all the time with which religion concerns itself. Religion is a human concern – nay the ultimate concern. Whatever constitutes our ultimate concern constitutes our religion. Sex, power, possessions, better foods are not our ultimate concerns. If they become they destroy us as they are self defeating.
Reductionism no longer works. Demythologization has exhausted itself and must squarely face the phenomenon called religion and the Mystery that eludes all conceptualization and rationalization. Science has learnt to be humbler and acknowledged that it misses much and can’t but miss it because of its methodology and limited concern. The question is: don’t we need peace, contentment, equilibrium, harmony, beauty, knowledge? If Marxism can provide all these to everybody’s satisfaction and establish a State where individuals no longer have any appetite for intangible things, for transcendence all religions will find their fulfillment. If Marxism can’t provide, hasn’t provided and doesn’t promise to provide all these things to the superlative degree to which man demands and religions acknowledge it can’t substitute religion.
Religion is the most misunderstood thing in history. It is neither moralism nor a system of ideas or doctrines. It is neither otherworldly nor ascetic. It is neither ahistorical nor ignorant of social treality. It talks of man and not of the God of exoteric theology. It is no argument against religion that it has been misused and misappropriated. More people have been killed in the name of Marxism than in 50 years than in the history of religion in 1000years but that is no argument against Marx either.  Religion is not what religion does. Neither is Marxism what Marxism does or is done in its name. Religion has, in the deepest sense, nothing to do with doing. Lao Tzu puts it so well. Nonaction accomplishes all actions and is the hardest “action” as Taoism says. Modernity is all action and that is why much sound and fury. Religion in its esoteric view concerns with being rather than doing. Religion is quality and Marxism is all quantity. Marxism is collectivism and religion neither individualistic like Capitalism nor collectivist but supraindividual. History is ample witness that both individualism and collelectivism have been dangerous.
Religion answers a different problem than to which Marxism and collectivism could be extremely dangerous though Marxism thinks that it dissolves the problem which religion seeks to address. Man is a complex creature with a complex set of needs. Man doesn’t live by bread alone and surely not for bread. He earns bread for something else and it is to that something to which religion concerns itself. Marxism concerns with man’s social self while as the individual to the individual self. Marxism limits itself to the temporal and the contingent though it thinks that there is nothing that transcends them but religion has its eye on the eternal and even grants that people know better about the worldly matters and should resolve them by collective effort. The spirit in man transcends history but Marxism refuses to look beyond history and asserts that what is not manifested in history is for all purposes unreal.
We need not defend mysticism against Marxism or pit them against each other. They cater to different domains of life and if we subtract the purely speculative or doctrinal material from Marxism, it nicely complements the mystical side of our life. Marx is a mystic, albeit a secular one and not fortunate enough to have been vouchsafed the vision that makes man love life and bless it and conquer all the hardships besides purely material ones. Without bitterness of heart or resentment. A mystic is pure compassion while as Marx stops at concern for the other only. Marx makes it possible to feed and clothe millions – if it were not for Marx, capitalism would not have accepted such compromises as welfare state and state regulations to certain extent in certain matters. Marx compelled the world to increase wages and take other measures for the welfare of labourers. Most of us need to be thankful to Marx for challenging capitalism so forcefully that proletariat have won some part of the looted booty back. Marxism has made a great difference to the labourer even in noncommunist countries. History has few benefactors greater than Marx. But lest we forgot the contribution of mystics and prophets. Most sciences, arts, crafts and much poetry cultivated in traditional cultures owe their origin and even development to mystical impulse. Coomaraswamy’s account of history of art and Guenon’s account of history of sciences which attributes all that is great and noble and enduring to the discoveries of intellectual intuition can’t be dismissed even if one accepts much of Marxist explanation.
Why is religion perceived as enemy of a socialist or communist state? It is an opium. It lulls workers to sleep. It is thus antirevolutionary. It is complicit with capitalism. It too exploits in the name of God when it extracts wealth from gullible masses. It creates false substitutes like the goods of the otherworld so that people don’t take the problems of this world very seriously. It encourages detachment that conflicts with the spirit of active involvement needed for changing the order of the world. It reconciles people to present ills by attributing them to fate or karma. It says resist not evil and believes that change of heart in the capitalist will do the needful. It is false consciousness or inverted view of the world. It merely provides consolation and not real help. It is not against private property per se. Brief comments on all these points are in order:
First of all let it be made clear that we need to distinguish between religion and mysticism and it is the later which is here defended and it is also assumed (but not argued as that is a separate issue) that it represents the core of religion. We also need to distinguish between sentimental mysticism and intellectual mysticism. Guenon has remarked that there is no mysticism in the traditional East. Sentimentalism is modern phenomenon and associated with exoteric Christianity. Mysticism is based on Intellect as distinguished from reason and its discoveries are absolutely certain as there is no role of individual, his feelings and psychical processes in intellectual intuition. Ideally one shouldn’t talk of mysticism but of metaphysics – not the post-Aristotelian and Cartesian one but the one that concerns itself with the supraphenomenal but not the abstract by means of a supraindividual suprarational faculty called Nous or Intellect, is not speculation but experience and is as precise a science as mathematics with as concrete an applications as physics in all the domains of life from arts and crafts to sciences and cultural expressions. Schuon’s Survey of Esoterism and Metaphysics is a representative work and must be read before one comments on mysticism and metaphysics. The West has no metaphysics or incomplete metaphysics and modern thought has substituted pseudometaphysics for traditional metaphysics. It is rational metaphysics rather than intellectual counterpart that has been a subject of study and critique in western philosophy. In traditionalist perennialist revaluation of Western philosophy Kant hardly deserves the name of a philosopher and Descartes is an ignoramus arrogant man, Bergson a spokesperson of subrational rather than intellectual or suprarational intuition. Theology should be autology otherwise it is wide off the mark. Theism is far from the pure truth of metaphysics. The existence of personal God is hardly an issue. Buddha is the metaphysician. The Supreme Principle is not Being but something that transcends being or existence.
There are other differences between (exoteric) religion and mysticism Where religion posits a beyond or the otherworld mysticism focuses on the present moment. For it heaven and hell also are now or never. Where exoteric religion posits a God removed from life mysticism posits no God other than Life and ever changing and newer manifestations of Reality. Where religion divides, mysticism unites, where religion kills people or kill in the name of it, mysticism spreads smiles. Nietzsche fulminated against the instinct for the beyond even if he himself died a martyr seeking that beyond vainly. The beyond of which the religion talks mysticism brings here and now, in history. It is the whisperings of the Holy Ghost or Spirit that make all of us worshippers of beauty, truth, love and justice.
History refutes the assertion that religion lulls people to sleep. Perhaps all great revolutions in history could be traced to the influence of religion. Prophets have been, generally speaking, social rebels, politically dangerous and that is why mostly mocked if not executed. They have challenge the establishment and existing socio-political-economic set up while standing for the oppressed, the sinners, the masses. The same is the case with mystics. They have been persecuted by both the paid officials of exoteric religion and the State. They have denounced riches and in many cases taken arms against the State. They have preached if not fought against the haves, the ruling class.  Of course religion degenerates soon and as Stalin replaces Marx so a pope replaces Christ and Yazeed replaces Umer. Religion is hardly anywhere in sight today. In a generation only one or two live it in its true spirit as Simone Weil observed. In the degenerated populist form of Marxism Marx would not have counted as a Marxist as Christ is imprisoned rather than welcome when he arrives on earth in Dostoevsky’s novel. It is in the name of religion that people have dethroned many regimes. Jihad is an instrument to forcefully implement revolutionary spirit of religion. By definition it is directed against oppressors regardless of creed or colour or region. Any struggle carried for the sake of justice and freedom from oppression without any selfish motive can qualify as Jihad.
Religions have tolerated limited private property as Marxism has practically done though ideally both are against the possessive, hoarding, grabbing mentality. It is impossible to outlaw all personal possessions. Man has a distinct individuality or tastes and all men are not created with the same capacities and differ. Some must excel in one field and some in others. Psychologically people are not made to live in eternity but need to take serial time seriously. If genetics has a role and environment has a role in development of personality, one can’t expect uniformitarianism. Given equal opportunities people will exert differently and differences will result. All labour is not equally productive or equally important for society. So wages will differ. Religion’s toleration of private property as that of Marxism is to be understood in light of these realities. Competition extracts the best from man. Industrial and scientific advancement of the erstwhile USSR are attributable to a great extent to its taking seriously the challenge from the capitalist world  and wishing to excel or compete against them. The world would be terribly dull and boring where man’s sense of individuality and nature’s love for diversity is loathed. There will be little progress if the instinct to excel is suppressed in the name of collectivism. Healthy progressive society is an organism rather than a collection of individuals mechanically and uniformly made one. The differences are important and without them no social life is possible. If thinkers like Marx and writers like Premchand and artists like Picasso were not provided freedom by society the world including the world of proletariat would be much poorer. Thinking too is a labour and mankind has made great progress because of thinking class. Workers would be condemned to more degrading drudgery and their work will look more suffocating if thinking class, artistic class and mystics were not there. Monks are not parasites but safeguard the health of society by demonstrating the treasures of solitude and other vitalizing powers of spirit. Those who reject the institution of monkery are advised to provide alternatives to it. What the life of contemplation means may be gleaned from reading Merton. Japan would look much poorer without its Zen monasteries. The highest joys are accessible in contemplative life. Marxists would resent closing of theatre and entertainment industry but they don’t recognize the intellectual pleasures which even Epicurus rated higher than merely somatic pleasures are available to humans in contemplative life institutionalized by religion in monasteries and that too without many side effects which other forms of entertainment and pleasure seeking may have. God is Anand and denying man this supreme pleasure is like castrating men and deny them the orgasmic joy. Those who have not tasted the pleasures of contemplation are impotent men according to mystics. But mystical ecstasies are hallucinations according to its critics. For mystics who have often been exceptionally smart intellectually the world of form and colour that ordinarily is taken to be real or the reality is made of the stuff of dreams. I think we shall agree that the blind are no judge of colours. Those who have not had mystical visions can’t condemn those who had them. Of course one can criticize the attitude that overemphasis on life of contemplation that may harm social life but that doesn’t mean one can outlaw mysticism. But Marxist states have been so hostile to all expressions of religion and mysticism. Those who have not seen God have not seen anything as one mystic has said. God is a percept rather than a concept. Those who have cleansed the doors of perception or who have escaped the conditioning of the ordinary modes of perception and opened wide the eye of the heart have seen or experienced God, tasted God. Mystics would pity their Marxist critics for their blindness. Marxists would pity them for their incurable defects of perception and imagination. Let us tolerate both and not outlaw mystical activities in the Marxist State.
Mysticism has actively struggled against the self that seeks private property. Mystics have been reported to sell everything for society even when society in turn made no commitment to share its wealth with him. Jesus rejected private property as did his Russian disciple Tolstoy. Prophet’s companions shared everything with their brothers. Augustine identified charity as the essence of scripture. Buddhism prefers begging to hoarding.
Priestly class has often been complicit with exploiting ruling class. That is why prophets like Jesus denounced them. Both mystics and Marxists have common enemy to fight and Marxist mode of fighting is more effective.
Of course mystics have been pacifists and have not advocated violence in meeting enemies. Marxism is more effective in meeting an enemy which understands no language other than violence. But mysticism can act as a counterforce against indiscriminate use of violence. If Lenin and Stalin were mystics as well they would not have allowed so much violence to be unleashed. Mystics do well to make us remember that it is after all life which should count above everything. If politicians cared about purity of means as well, the world would have been a different place. Violence achieves only short term results. The change of heart achieves great results. Ashoka’s change of heart meant much for many people. Marxism imagines only war but mysticism believes that peace too can be an option sometimes to achieve the result. Psychology tells us that violence breeds reaction and thus more violence. If the world can’t be converted in the name of love it can’t be ever peaceful. Peace can’t endure there. We must war against capitalism with full force but we must work for transformation of the culprit self that ultimately makes capitalist a capitalist. That people could be transformed on large scale and make the world a better place is evidenced in history. This is what the Prophet of Islam achieved though Marxist reading would see only immoral calculative business mentality everywhere even in the self denying martyrs and mystics and prophets.
Marxist critics have straight away dismissed what they call as Oriental indifference or detachment towards social concerns. But how can they explain that Krishna urges Arjuna to fight, Rama is a great warrior, karma yoga and hatha yoga have been Oriental inventions. The life of action is not incompatible with the life of detachment at spiritual plane. Witnessing consciousness or spirit is not involved in action but transcend action. But efficient self is the agent of action and efficient and appreciative selves, to use the terminology used by Iqbal, are one self really. The famous parable of two birds from the Upanisads and other traditions makes the point of two selves admirably well. Detachment in spirit is not incompatible with involvement of body and soul in the world of action. Salvation itself needs great effort or involvement. Nothing is unreal or unimportant for a struggling soul. Buddha is actively involved in making his vision realizable for others. His nirvana doesn’t make him uncritical regarding oppression of Brahmins etc. Some mystics have led active military life. Vivekananda, Aurobindo and many other great names in contemporary Indian mysticism were all action centric. Reform movements have been launched by mystics. Many active resistance movements in history have been spearheaded or masterminded by mystics.
The doctrine of fate has been gloriously misunderstood by Caudwell and other Marxist critics. Far from reconciling people to their present sorry state it presupposes freedom to transform one’s condition for the better. It is scientific statement of the law of action and reaction at moral plane. It is largely verifiable by recourse to insights of psychology. There is no permanent soul or personality named So and so that could reincarnate in Oriental religions. Lord is the only transmigrant as Shankara says according to orthodox belief. Animistic conception of rebirth is foreign to traditional religion. Nondualism clearly implies that there can be no real bondage to karma. It is all illusory when seen from the perspective of a liberated soul. Even if karma is understood in populist sense it can be read to goad one to action as it asserts importance of action, either good or bad.  Higher fatalism is there even in Nietzsche and Marxism in a way. The thing to affirm life despite perception of economic determinism and this is what Marxism preaches. Fate understood in metaphysical terms is the inward reach of a thing, a designation for latent or potential possibilities. It is realization of inner riches. It is unfolding of spirit in history in accordance with a law of its own development. Fatalism cannot be an excuse for sloth or indifference.  Consistent nondualism sees neither sin nor karma nor fate. It is extremely subtle position that mystical traditions maintain which even scholars trained in traditional thought may miss not to speak of Marxist critics who have prior assurance that  all doctrines are at the service of ruling class or capitalist or pious fraud or invented to console one’s felt impotence at the face of hostile reality. How casual one can be in understanding the other is illustrated in Marxist dismissal of religion. Marx was not so casual and so unsympathetic as his later followers.
Religion has no need to be apologetic about its key claims. It asserts them with absolute certitude and conviction. The Quran asserts that God is irresistible. None can resist him, not even an atheist Nietzsche or a Marx. God can’t possibly be doubted. God is manifest truth. The problem is that few people understand what stands for and why to be a skeptic is to be as fool. Either we have to state that the Bible and the Quran are stating a plain lie or attempt to understand what they mean by the term God. In simple terms God is the witnessing consciousness, the elusive thing inside us that asserts “I.” God is also synonymous with Reality/ Truth. The problem is that, as Coomaraswamy states:

Religion has been offered to modern men in nauseatingly sentimental terms (“Be good, sweet child,” etc.), and no longer as an intellectual challenge that so many have been revolted, thinking that that “is all there is to” religion. Such an emphasis on ethics (and, incidentally, forgetfulness that Christian doctrine has as much to do with art, i.e. manufacture, making, what and how, as it has to do with behavior) plays into the skeptic’s hands; for the desirability and convenience of the social virtues is such and so evident that it is felt that if that is all that religion means, why bring in a God to sanction forms of conduct of which no one denies the propriety? Why indeed? At the same time this excessive emphasis upon the moral, and neglect of the intellectual virtues (which last alone, in orthodox Christian teaching, are held to survive our dissolution) invite the retorts of the rationalists who maintain that religion has never been anything but a means of drugging the lower classes and keeping them quiet.

The cost of rejecting religion is too high to invite second thought from all those who care about mankind. Man is a religious animal. Modern anthropology is convinced of this though modernity has attempted various reductive interpretative maneuvers to explain away the undeniable. Man needs God more than he needs food. He can live for days without food but he can’t live a moment without having faith in life, in some meaning of it, in love. The moment one feels life is worse than death one despairs and that despair is hell. Consenting to live life and live it meaningfully, vibrantly, creatively is what faith signifies. Faith is not that you can dream of rejecting. Rejecting faith is rejecting life. There are degrees of this faith and an atheist and mystic differ only in degree. To man is not an option given to hide fully from God; he can imagine sometimes that he has hidden himself from the gaze of Reality but willy nilly he is summoned to face It.

Philosophy Illiterate Society

It is vain or futile to lament all kinds of degenerations afflicting our society. What is needed is suggesting and working for cure. I think we must target education. And in education we need to focus on something that is so little known even to MAs in education or educationists and intellectuals. A philosophy illiterate society that ours is ill equipped against multiple crises currently challenging us including corruption.
We are talking of guarding our heritage without bothering to campaign for creating necessary human resource or infrastructure. Average student here doesn’t know anything of philosophy and thus of the knowledge of general principles of all disciplines, of the knowledge that synthesizes discordant and heterogeneous bits of information in a certain coherent framework. We know much about individual sciences, physical and biological but are mostly ignorant of methodology and philosophy of science. That is why we have been unable to inculcate scientific attitude. Modern science is empiricist and inductivist in its methodology and inculcating it in our newer generation requires philosophical aptitude. How many students could define induction?  Thus despite being science literates we are appallingly ignorant of its defining assumptions.  We know too little about modern scientific weltanshuung or ideology. How could we conceive a critical understanding of its philosophical and methodological assumptions unless we give due attention to philosophy? General awareness regarding most of things of science, literature and arts is miserably low in our state.  One can safely assert – as our great educationists have already noted – by international standards we are uneducated. The subjects like religion and philosophy, art and aesthetics, language and literature, history and psychology, sciences and their underlying philosophical foundation – hardly attract our students. No wonder we are really uneducated because philosophy illiterates. The joy of knowledge, of any science comes from deeper understanding of the subject which demands philosophical orientation in learners.
Philosophy has traditionally helped to pose new problems for sciences. In fact the great scientists have been often philosophers or philosophically inclined. Philosophy, carried in true spirit, will guide new generation to more prosperous future. Different disciplines in themselves and independently operating, can’t give us these insights which the comprehensive cross disciplinary philosophical approach can give.
Development of infrastructure for Philosophy will help to strengthen human resource in other departments in our academic institutions such as Political Science, History, English, Urdu, Education, Economics, Journalism, Islamic Studies, Linguistics, etc. as all these disciplines today in the West have been linked to philosophy in one or the other way. Only students with strong background of philosophy or teaching faculty with proper philosophical grounding can properly teach educational philosophy, poltical philosophy, philosophy of history, philosophy of language for linguistics, philosophy of religion, postmodernist, new historicist and other movements in literary criticism. Relatively poor teaching quality in different humanities department in many Universities including Kashmir University could be attributed to lack of training in philosophy of teachers. No training programme or refresher course for teachers in higher education can claim to be comprehensive that ignores lectures in philosophy. An unexamined life is not worth living, said Socrates. Without good familiarity with philosophy understood in broad sense as love of wisdom and hard consistent thinking good teachers can’t be produced. Failure of teachers in getting respect or setting examples or inculcating moral values in students can be traced to their lack of philosophical training and culture. No culture of higher moral values can be produced without philosophy (hikmah/gyan/darsana).
Our young generation is forced to go to outside the State for pursuing studies in philosophy and other disciplines or specialized problems needing philosophical background. Thus our highly intelligent youth is led ultimately to desert the state for careers in similar disciplines and we lose future human resource.
Institutions for philosophy are required for launching new courses in cultural studies, anthropology, development studies, comparative religion etc. All these departments presuppose familiarity with philosophy.
Philosophy has been always been instrumental in fighting crisis in values in any culture and guiding youth to pursue paths that ultimately take the whole community to new heights. We owe to philosophers all great ideas that have shaped history.
In fact philosophy should ideally be compulsory for all graduates in the State for strengthening moral-spiritual fabric in our society. If education is to be comprehensive philosophy must be in curriculum. Thus the need of philosophy course at the highest institution of learning or comprehensive Institute devoted to philosophy is too obvious if we are to make the whole educational system geared to full development of personality.
Courses in ethics which have traditionally been part of philosophy are urgently required for medical and other professionals as it is this deficit that largely accounts for current corruption of professionals.
The greatest thinkers in history – in political, social, economical, religious, literary fields – have been philosophers – in fact it is philosophy which gives depth perception in any field. Understanding giants of intellectual and cultural history demands we read philosophy.
Philosophy education is an indicator of academic excellence. Today we still name academic degrees as Masters/Doctors in Philosophy. Philosophy has always been the most prized and fundamental of human inquiries and key to greatest revolutions in human thought and history. If Kashmir is to be launched on world intellectual scene and regain its lost status of shardapaeth, it has to have a philosophy department of excellence at par with the best in the world. Philosophy is a quest for knowledge and value and thus the quintessence of higher art, religion and wisdom. It humanizes and perfects us, deepens our perception and beautifies our inner world. It shows the way to peace within and world. It embodies the values of tolerance and pluralism in a world torn by conflicts. It provides us a transsectarian identity. A nation well read in philosophy can’t be mean, materialistic and corrupt. If we are serious against corruption we need to make philosophy compulsory in schools. No man is willfully bad, said Socrates. Yes philosophy teaches us how and why we harm our souls by doing wrong things. Religions preaches these things but gnosis that is the fruit of traditional philosophies, shows it. Religion’s deeper meaning is expressed by philosophers. But very few know this because they have not been taught it. Once upon a time at least was logic was being taught to all students in Muslim schools. From our Sufiana music to our Sufi poets and from our traditional arts and crafts to diverse cultural expressions the underlying philosophical baisis of our culture and religion needs to be understood and developed to appropriate the challenges of the twenty first century.
Kashmir has been the home of world’s greatest sage-philosophers. If for no other reason than merely to be loyal to their great names, to be conscious inheritors of our history, we have long been direly in need of philosophy.

Curriculum Vitae of Muhammad Maroof Shah

                                                                           Abstract of C V

Muhammad Maroof Shah,
Author and Columnist
Born in 1978 in Kashmir, Muhammmad Maroof Shah has Masters in Philosophy and Veterinary Parasitology and doctorate in English on The Problem of Nihilism and Absurdist Impasse in (Post)Modern Literature: AMetaphysical Appraisal of Samuel Beckett anAlbert Camus. He has authored three books The Problem of Evil in Muslim Philosophy: A Case Study of Iqbal, Muslim Modernism and the Problem of Modern Science and Perennial Philosophy in the Postmodern World: Enigma of Osho.  His interests include explorations on the interface of religion, philosophy and mysticism with more focus on Islamic Tradition in dialogue with other traditions. He has widely published in journals of comparative mysticism, Muslim philosophy and literary studies. He has been a regular columnist for English newspapers.

Muhammad Maroof Shah

 Rajbagh Colony, Nagbal Ganderbal, Kashmir, India 19006 

·  Masters in English, Indira Gandhi National Open University, 2006
Masters in Philosophy, Indira Gandhi National Open University, 2014
PhD on The Problem of Nihilism and Absurdist Impasse in (Post)Modern Literature: AMetaphysical Appraisal of Samuel Beckett andAlbert Camus, Mawlana Azad National Urdu University,  Hyderabad, India, 2014.
Masters in Veterinary Parasitology from SKUAST K 2017

1- 04-1978

7780806027, 9796179405
marooof123@yahoo. com

Books  Published
Muslim Modernism and the Problem of Modern Science
Indian Publishers & Distributors, Delhi.
Philosophy of Science
Problem of Evil in Muslim Philosophy: A Case Study of Iqbal
Indian Publishers & Distributors, Delhi
Enigma of Osho: Perennial Philosophy in the Postmodern World
Indian Publishers & Distributors, Delhi


Selected Book Chapters
Year of Publication
Name of the Book
Title of the Chapter
Name of the Editor
Books Plus
Postmodernism, Language and Literature
Is Religion a Metanarrative? A Critique of Lyotard
M. A. Tak
Islam and Science: Historic and Contemporary Issues, Vol. 2
Modern Science and Varieties of Muslim Modernism
Islam and Science: Historic and Contemporary Issues, Vol. 3
Iqbal’s Appropriation of Modern Science vis-à-vis Religion: A Critical Appraisal
Muzaffar Iqbal
DK Printworld
Linguistic Representations: Path Ahead
The Unrepresentable that Shows Forth
R. C. Pradhan
Society, Representations and Textuality: The Critical Interface
Islam and Theodicy: Ruqiyyah Waris  Maqsood’s Theological Approach to Evil
Sukulpa Bhattarcharjee, C Joshua Thomas
PPH, ZAPOL, Szczecin
Trust in a Global Perspective
Invoking Kashmir’s Aesthetics and Metaphysics of Trust Today
Maria Czerepaniak- Walzcak
Elzbieta Perzycka

1.    Maroof Shah   (2003)         Conceptual Confusions in the Thesis of Compatibility Between Modern Science and Islam.  Maas Journal of Islamic Science, Vol. 19, No.1
2.     Maroof Shah   (2003)        Iqbal’s Appropriation of Modern Science vis-à-vis Religion. Maas Journal of Islamic Science, Vol. 19,No:2.
3.    Maroof Shah  (2005)          “Modernist Islam and the Problem of Modern Science”        Islam and the Modern Age, Vol.XXXV, No.1.
4.     Maroof Shah (2005)          Islam and Theodicy: Iqbal’s Approach to the Problem of Evil Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, Vol.XXII, No, 3.
5.     Maroof Shah   (2005-06) Sufi Critique of Iqbal’s Philosophical and Theological Dualism         Danish.Vol.XIV.
6.     Maroof Shah ( 2007)         Iqbal ka Misali Tasawuri Kirdar:Bali Jibriel kay Aayenay mai”  Iqbaliat, Vol.18,
7.      Maroof Shah  (2006)        “Iqbal and Islamization of Knowledge.” Hamdard Islamicus.Vol.XXIX, No 1.

8.     Maroof Shah  (2006)         Beyond Absurdism and Nihilism: An Eastern Response to Albert Camus’ Concepts of Metaphysical Revolt and Absurd. Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research (JICPR), Vol.23, No. 3
9.      Maroof Shah (2006)         Iqbal’s Experientialist Argument for the Existence of God: A Sufistic-Metaphysical Critique. JICPR Vol.23,No. 4 
10.   Maroof Shah (2006)          The Crisis of Western Humanism: A Sufi Response of Ahad Zargar            The Journal of Kashmir Studies, Vol.1 No.1
11.   Maroof Shah (2006)          Modern Science and Varieties of Muslim Modernism.          Maas Journal of Islamic Science, Vol.22, No.1-2
12.   Maroof Shah (2006)          Iqbal and the Problem of Evil. Iqbal Review,Vol.47,No.4
13.  Maroof Shah (2007)           Modernistic Appropriation of Evolution and Iqbal.      Maas Journal of Islamic Science, Vol.23, No.1-2.
14.    Maroof Shah (2007)         Legitimating the Modern Project: Iqbal’s Interpretation of the idea of Finality in Islam            Journal of Objective Studies, Vol.18, No1&2
15.   Maroof Shah (2007)          Ibn Rushd’s Defense of Reason: Modern and Postmodern Appraisal. Aligarh Journal of Muslim Philosophy
16.   Maroof Shah (2007)          Metaphysical, Mystical and Postmodern Critiques of Rationmalist Approach to Religion.       The Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. XXXVII, No.1& 2
17.    Maroof Shah (2008)         Reshism: A Metaphysical Approach. Research Journal on Sheikhul A’lam.
18.     Maroof Shah 2008           Krishnamurti’s Environmentalist Critique of Traditional Religion : A Critical Appraisal From Perennialist Perspective (as co-author) European Journal of Science and Theology,  Vol.4,No.2, 1-18
19.    Maroof Shah (2008) Metaethical Transcendence in Kashmiri Folklore: A Study of Aknandun The Journal of Kashmir Studies, Vol. 2, No.1
20.  Maroof Shah (2008) Towards a Universal Theodicy: Perennialist Dissolution of the Problem of Evil Transcendent Philosophy: An International Journal of Comparative Philosophy and Mysticism, Vol.9
21.    Maroof Shah (2009)  Iqbal’s Interpretation of the Legend of the Fall: A Critique Intellectual Discourse, Vol.17,No.2.
22.    Maroof Shah (2009)         Perennialist Critique of Modern Science and Scientism (as principal author) European Journal of Science and Theology, Vol.5, No. 1.
23.    Maroof Shah (2009) Nietzsche and the Problem of Nihilism: Reflections from Eastern Perspective Transcendent Philosophy: An International Journal of Comparative Philosophy and Mysticism, Vol.10
24.     Maroof Shah (2009) Mysticism and environmentalism: an appraisal of Osho’s ecocentric interpretation of religion. (as principal author) European Journal of Science and Theology, Vol.5 No.4: 35-59.
25.     Maroof Shah  (2009)   Samuel Beckett as an Artist of Failure.  English Studies in India    Vol.XVII.
26.    Maroof Shah (2010) Ibn Arabi:Mysticism and Interfaith. Aligarah Journal of Islamic Philosophy, No.16.
27.  Maroof Shah (2010) Applying Shaikh ul Alam to Contemporary Ecological Scenario of Kashmir, Alamdar, Vol 4. No.4.
28.  Maroof Shah (2010-11) Iqbal’s Personalist Philosophy: An Appraisal from Sufistic Perspective, Danish, Vol.XXVIII, pp.20-64.
29.    Maroof Shah  (2011)          The Question of Veil in Islam: Clarifying the Background Hermeneutics.         Journal of Secularism, Apr-July Issue.
30.     Maroof Shah (2011)        Nazm imamat- jaded illahiyat aur falsafiya sirriyat kae tanazur mein         Bazyaft,  Vol.48-49.
31.    Maroof Shah  (2011)        Nihilism and Transcendence in Samuel Beckett and Simone Weil. Teresian Journal of English Studies.Vol.3:21-27.
32.   Maroof Shah  (2011)         Is Mysticism compatible with Modern Science? Case Studies of Iqbal & Stace (as principal author) European Journal of Science and Theology, Vol.5, No. 1.
33.   Maroof Shah  (2011)         Religious Studies and the Question of Transcendence. Transcendent Philosophy: An International Journal of Comparative Philosophy and Mysticism Vol.11.
34.  Maroof Shah  (2011) Iqbal’s concept of Ego in light of Traditional Metaphysics and Sufism, Iqbal Review 52:2,4 pp.87-123.
35.  Maroof Shah (2012)           Colonialism and Postcolonialism: A Perennialist Point of View International Journal of Religion and Humanities, IJHR, Vol.1,No. 2: 69 -75.
36.   Maroof Shah (2012)          Vetoing Transcendence: Albert Camus as a Philosopher of Immanence          Criterion: An International Journal in English 3:1
37.    Maroof Shah (2012)         Tagore and Life’s Unanswered Questions.    Sheeraza: A Quarterly Journal of Culture and Literature Vol. VIII, No.2-3.
38.  Maroof Shah  (2012)    The Forgotten Treasure of Iqbal’s Reconstruction, Iqbal Revie, Vol. 53:2,4 pp.127-142.
39.   Maroof Shah (2013)          A Mystical Response to Absurdity: Study of Simone Weil’s Notebooks. Third Front, Vol.1:No.1, 113-127.
40.    Maroof Shah (2013)         Samuel Beckett: A Traditionalist Appraisal,Transcendent Philosophy An International Journal of Comparative Philosophy and Mysticism, Vol. 14.
41.   Maroof Shah (2013)          Engaging with the Local Narrative of Hagiography in Kashmir,        Localities,  Vol. 3,  pp. 125-160.
42.   Maroof Shah (2014)          Kashmiri Literary Tradition in Decadence: A Sufistic Appraisal.        English Studies in India, Vol. 22 pp.45-67.
43.   Maroof Shah  (2014)         Wittgenstein and the Antithesis between Philosophy and Philosophy         Miraas Vol.VII, No.1&2.
44.   Maroof Shah (2014)          Modernization of Ladakh Lessons from Ancient Futures by Helena Norberg-Hodge.         Sheeraza Vol.X, No.1 pp.246-60.
45.    Maroof Shah (2015)         Towards Developing a Sacred Centric Curriculum in English: Clues from A. K. Coomaraswamy.     English Studies in India,Vol.23 pp.78-103.
46.   Maroof Shah (2015)' Mysticism, Sufism and Practical Spirituality'Gandhi Marg, Vol.36, No.4.pp.385-405.
47.  Maroof Shah (2017)  Why Read Iqbal’s Reconstruction in the 21st century? Iqbaliat, Vol. 24, pp27-42
48.  Maroof Shah (2017)   A Dostovekeyean Reading of Akhter Muhideen, Miraas 10:3,4 pp. 25-28

Works in Veterinary Science
Editor/Co-Editor of
1)         Kashmir Veterinary Journal
2)         Teur
3)      Teur Chu Son Seur
4)      Sheep Breeders Manual

Papers on veterinary sciences
      1.          M.Maroof Shah, M A Baba, AsifIqbal, AabeenSakina, IramMushtaq (2013). Control of Sheep Pox in Kashmir Division: Review of the Role of Locally Prepared Killed Sheep Pox Vaccine. Kashmir Veterinary Journal. 1(1): 56-60.
        2.          Shamim Wani, M.Maroof Shah,Asif Iqbal. (2013). A Case Study of Ram Mortality in relationship with acute fascioliasis/black disease in block Sumbal of Sonawari Constituency under different controlled conditions in un-organized sector. Kashmir Veterinary Journal. 1(1): 67-69.
        3.          Asif Iqbal, Virinder Singh Wazir, M.Maroof Shah, Rajeev Singh, Iram Musthaq, Najimaana Wani, A.K.Tripathi, M. A. Baba, Aabeen Sakina. (2013).  Economic impact of Eimeria infection on meat production in goat. Kashmir Veterinary Journal.1:1:40-43.    
         4.         Owais Qadir, R.K.Sharma, Asif Iqbal, Maroof Shah, Ankur Rastogi, Iram Mushtaq, Irfan Mir and Najimana  Wani. Seasonal Prevalence of Gastrointestinal Parasites in Goats of Jammu (2013) The Kashmir Veterinary Journal.1:1: 49-52.
         5.       Iram Mushtaq Lone, M. Ashraf Baba, M. Maroof. Shah, Asif Iqbal, Aabeen Sakina.(2013). Seroprevalence of brucellosis in sheep of organized and unorganized sector of Kashmir valley. 6(8): 530-533 doi: 10.5455/vetworld.2013.530-533.
      6.      Iram Mushtaq Lone, M. Maroof. Shah, Asif Iqbal, M.Ashraf. Baba, Abeen Sakina, Nighat Wafai, Shugufta Nasreen. (2013).Seasonal Occurrence of Gastrointestinal Parasites in Kashmir Division. Int. J. Livest. Res. 2013; 3(2): 135-138.
     7.      Asif Iqbal, M.Ashraf Baba, Maroof Shah, Iram Mushtaq, Shamim Wani, Abeen Sakina. (2013). Management of Mange Infestation in a Weaner Flock of Sheep Breeding farm Hardishiva Kashmir. Journal of Parasitic Diseases- International Journal. doi10.1007/s12639-013-0305-6.
     8.      A.K. Tripathi, Asif Iqbal, Iram Mushtaq, M.Maroof Shah, Irfan Mir.Therapeutic management Of Ivermectin toxicity in a Pomerinian Pup (2013). The Kashmir Veterinary Journal.1:1:73-75.
9. M. M. Shah, Z. A. Wani, I. M. Allaie, R. A. Shahardar and I. Maqbool  Impact of global warming on parasitic diseases of livestock, Journal of Veterinary Parasitology, 30(2)2016:55-60.

Popular Articles
From last few years, I have been contributing as a regular columnist/reviewer in English daily Greater Kashmir and previously in Kashmir Reader. Most of them are accessible on