Friday, 20 February 2015

Self versus Other in our politics

We all believe that khaesh (myself) comes first, then dervaish (the other, the stranger). We evaluate in terms of mine against thine. Love for possessions, for power, for status based on this primordial error. And this is the most fundamental basis for the politics that has destroyed the world. AAP(Aam Admi Party) privileged aap over mai or hum. That partly explains ecstatic welcome to its victory. Even ricksahwallas thought that they now participate in Chief Ministership. The question is can we put the other party, the other’s advantage or aap ki “interest” above one’s party or “interest.” To talk about one’s interest (to be differentiated from what Plato calls enlightened self interest or Iqbal calls Khudi) is a sin against God, against Holy Spirit, against all the prophets. Let me explain.
All traditions from Far Eastern to Indian, Judeo-Christian, Islamic, African and Native American unanimously privilege the other in relation to the self. In fact all traditional philosophers–including representative figures such as Lao Tzu, Nagarjuna, Plotinus, Shankara, Ibn Arabi, Meister Eckhart from six traditions–are unanimous in putting non-self at the centre stage and take supra-mental supra-individualist view of the Self. Salvation/enlightenment consists in transcendence of the illusory autonomous self. God/Godhead or equivalent term for the first principle can be understood as the non-self or the Other. All mystical philosophers agree that the thinking self or thought must be transcended to commune with the other, the Reality (Al-Haqq) because conceptual intellect divides and posits dualism of subject and object. The ego, which divides part from the whole, man from Existence or Divine Environment must be annihilated in the process of faana. Hell, as retreat into the cocoon of individuality, which accepts separation from the Real because of inability to love. Thus hell is refusal to open for dialogue – which might include total transformation of the self and taking divine robes. The problems–political, social, economic–over which modern world is in perpetual conflict arises from the wrong view of self and our vacation in the world. Religious, mystical and traditional philosophical traditions, demand loathing of the self and thus rejection of the received definition of man as homo economicus and individualist capitalist mindset. The traditionalist view is countered by the post-Enlightenment modern other negating worldview which may be characterized as individualist or subject/ego centred straightway paves way for the colonialist and ecocidal approach. In contrast for pre-modern traditions it is not soul but the supra-individual principle of Spirit, which is in us but not ours that is immortal and that gives man one identity and basis for loving one’s neighbour as oneself.
In light of this and other clear stipulations that Ghazzali lists in ‘Alchemy of Happiness and Revival of Religious Sciences’ regarding trials of self (nafs) and attachment to world  (that is really love for self projected in things) and the command of dying before death one may ask our politicians, their workers and their partners in alliances this:
Do you really believe that you serve people and not yourself or your party? Don’t you think that often interests of self/party and people may diverge? Don’t you think that putting the other before yourself/party would be in the long-term interests of people whom you seek to represent?  What if most people think Governor’s rule is transparent, less costly, people friendly and efficient? Would you think of letting it continue for some time at least so that encroachments are cleared and many such drives gain momentum? Why is it we need you or your party rule?  Do you believe you don’t covet power? Reading scriptures, philosophers like Plato, Farabi, Pascal, Voegelin and Kierkegaard one comes to understand costs of career in politics that spurns principles, makes and breaks alliances with any party or person for the sake of what you know better, suppresses voice of conscience ten times a day that sees how it is the interests of the powerful that politics is manipulated and party agendas set. Perhaps you are striving to do politics the way best of AAP politicians do it or Gandhi did it – I will not say like Hazrat Umar(r.a) did it as you might say gone is that age?
I wonder if it is possible to have a brain scan or RTI of motivations and intentions to help people know better what is precisely at stake in making certain decisions. But I am sobered by the reflection that we need not to scan minds or hearts but use simple common sense to see logic of games being played.

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