Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Reading Shamim Ahmed Shamim on Azadi - I

Ideal and Reality of Kashmir’s Azadi

Love is more otherworldly than this worldly phenomenon. It is a currency recognized by poets, thinkers, saints and  lovers, especially youth. Worldly wise people, politicians, traders etc. hardly count it. To live under its sacred ambience calls for nothing short of metanoai of which only few individuals are capable and not larger communities. Man lives for it and by it but more as a vision, as a noble dream, as a distant horizon of his imagination and an object of contemplation  that pulls one higher and higher. It owes its terrible beauty to the freedom it evokes. It postulates a Republic that is not necessarily this worldly state. With Eric Voegelin who has been described as modern Plato, we need to note that Plato’s Republic was written as “a dramatic dialogue about human existence in society and  history and not a policy paper for reform or an ideological tract calling for apocalyptic revolution.” Its heart is the vision of the Good. Plato refuses to claim that his ideal Republic of Freedom is certain of realization or that there is any possible plan for concerted human action to achieve it.
      However, for Plato “the paradigm . . . is a standard by which things can be measured; and the reliability of the measure is not diminished if things fall short of it, or if we have no means to bring them closer to it.”  When Kashmir loves Azadi it has its celestial archetype in view. Kashmiris have imagined a Republic or Divine City and its architects are poets and saints and thinkers.  Its earthly images are valuable and sought but they are not the essence of it. Azadi is a symbol, a myth in Platonic sense which is akin to faith which can move mountains. Unfortunately both its lovers and critics often confound its essence with concrete historical project linked to certain history and politics. The latter is not all that is to it or even its essential meaning. It is only a form that may well change while the supraformal essence will continue to inspire even after achieving self determination.  Politics can be fought but not the power of the myth. It is the myth Kashmiris live by.
      Granting that love affair with Azadi, as a species of classic love affair or quest for perfection, has a tragic dimension because it mayn’t probably  be consummated in the way imagined or sought as was argued  in previous column, the idea and symbolism of it has remained pivotal – and seductive – in Kashmiri consciousness. Although it continues to inspire mass consciousness and resistance leadership and in its paler versions is the life blood of such ideas as autonomy and self rule, arguments against concrete historical possibility  or even desirability of it have been echoed by all the mainstream leaders, some well  known political scientists and public intellectuals. In fact most Kashmiris who say we want freedom also have doubts regarding getting it. Some Hurriyat leaders who especially talk of dialogue really talk of something less than the moon as they think, with Sajad Lone, that only a semblance of it is achievable. Today we attempt to engage with one of the more influential formulations of this argument in the writings of Shamim Ahmed Shamim.
      Shamim proceeds towards a step wise deconstruction of what he sees as rhetoric rather than argument for Azadi given by pro-azadi camp:
  • First how can India and Pakistan be forced to leave Kashmiris on both sides of the border alone? I am reminded of Prof. Mujeeb’s remark: armies don’t leave any territory unless they are defeated in war. How can Kashmiris evict these two countries? It implies Kashmiris have to take arms against both the countries to work for Azadi. He asked  a pro-Azadi Mirpori person how come 22 lac Kashmiris overpower 60 crore Indians and Pakistanis? And came the reply: “Nigahi mardi mumin sae badel jati hae taqdeereae/Jo ho zouqi yaqeen paida, to ket jati hae jinjeeraeen” Shamim says he isn’t brave enough to recite Iqbal’s poetry and fight joint might of India and Pakistan and deems it Quixotic project or “Shaikh Chilli’s  palaw.”
  • Another possibility that both Indian and Pakistani leadership renounce their claim on Kashmir and leave us in peace he ridicules as impossible conversion given moral record of leaders.
  • Even granting that Azadi visits Kashmir, how come this heterogeneous State remain as a unit. Ladakh and Jammu people don’t want Azadi but further cementing of ties and in fact total merger with India. So after Azadi, they will seek separation. Thus Azadi will be meaningful for Kashmir valley only.
  • Granting Kashmir valley is granted freedom, how come such a small valley survive on economic and political fronts? The suggestion from some quarters that there are many countries of smaller size that are happy alone as sovereign states and thus Kashmir valley can sustain is dismissed by pointing out that geographic and historical realities have to be considered. Kashmir’s borders touch not only India and Pakistan but Russia and China as well.  And given its beauty – and strategic importance – all the four will have an eye on it. Is it possible that all the four countries defend our borders out of the sense of duty and goodwill?  
  • Granting even this state of affairs of joint defence from all the neighbours, would it not oblige Kashmir to come upto their divergent or conflicting expectations or interests in international treaties and other issues?
  • Some cherish the illusion that China will come to Kashmir’s help. Shamim points out that China will not shed a drop of blood for others as their non-intervention policy in Vietnam war and in Pakistan in 1971 shows. Chinese are the most merciless realists. He concludes that the dream of Azadi is beautiful  but its realization is ghastly. Kashmir could become an international flash point or battle ground. Azadi can’t come and if it comes, it will be a nightmare.
      This devastating logic can’t be ignored by Azadi camp which must reinvent or creatively rethink the notion of Azadi (making distinction between letter and spirit) to keep it relevant. Shamim was a passionate defender of constitutional autonomy of J &K. He thought that this is what is worth fighting and defending now of what remains of the grand ideal of Azadi. The current discourse on autonomy and self rule and achievable nationhood is, in many respects, an echo of his position. Although many Kashmiris today are sceptical of realization of their dream of Azadi, at least in their lifetime, they aren’t ready to relinquish either the dream or the ideal or at least the symbolism of Azadi discourse. Perhaps Shamim had little time (he died 43) to develop a more open ended view of the problem that has been, irrevocably, linked to the spirit and soul of Kashmiris. The sentiment for Azadi can’t be wished away. The question is: How do we integrate this sentiment with hard reality without succumbing to compromises that betray our commitment to the depths of our own selves, individual and collective? During Shamim’s time the question of Azadi didn’t pose itself in such terms as it would a decade later. We can only imagine how he would have responded today to the mess he would have encountered today. Next time we try to attend more carefully to what Shamim invites us and seek clarification of some of his theses for  taking home lessons for Kashmir today and ask some questions to him.
Contesting the thesis that the notion of Azadi is mere abstraction or fantasy or merely private opinion of some political leader/dreamer, one may note, that it is better understood as Platonic Idea about which Voegelin remarks that “when it leaves the polis, does not leave man. It goes on to live, in individuals and small groups, in the mania of the erotic soul.” So the Idea will have its seekers or embodiment and will live as long as Kashmiris live, even after political Azadi if it ever visits us. It will be loved, contemplated in the depths of Kashmiri being or consciousness and partly realized in history as greater autonomy, as self rule or something that transcends both and ceaselessly dialectically negates all ideological formulations of it and moves closer an closer to the earthly reflection of divine Idea.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Freedom, as Beloved

Peep deep into the heart of Kashmiris and see the image of the beloved being worshipped. No guesses.
  Lovers choose to die and don’t listen to pleas for abandoning “infatuation” or juvenile romantic fantasies. Death dance they indulge is a perceived by them – and by many great tragedians – as a ritual of healing. Souls are healed and what happens to the bodies and other this-worldly businesses is not important in their view. And there are at least bouts of such “infatuation”  if not fully involved love affair in almost every Kashmiri. And occasionally this passion asserts and burns everything on its way. And that is precisely what is happening post-Burhan. Peep deep into the heart of Kashmiris and see the image of the beloved being worshipped. No guesses. All these unmistakably point to a diagnosis of affliction of love. And it doesn’t matter what the object of love is or how rational it is or what possibility of consummation of such a relationship is. For them Tolstoy expressed it so well: “Put reason into life and life is gone.” So Kashmir is a case of love in which spirit is involved not just psyche. So psychologists/psychoanalysts can’t help in treating it but only in diagnosing. Not least the politicians. Never military. And love is its own reward; its own salvation. It is idle to ask when will Kashmir get its coveted object. Living with this passion is itself an Azadi – a freedom that is life of spirit – that arm chair Kashmir experts and cool political commentators on talk shows can’t even imagine. So Kashmiris don’t really want anything – we love only inexistent things as Ibn Arabi has argued so convincingly and every great writer and lover testifies and we know none of the traditionally treasured seven love stories are consummated on earth – and cherishing this love is, though painful as long as separation from the beloved. If you have to pray for Kashmir don’t pray for Azadi as ordinarily understood as it might turn into a drab and thus disillusioning matter. Great love ever approximates but never  that Kashmiri story tellers narrate unites with the Beloved. Love ever burns and this is such a sweet burning that all religion and mysticism and art are valued precisely for feeding this flame. So like heaven of the mystic that is not in some future time but in the timeless now he accesses here and now, Kashmiris have won. Whose fault is it that there is bluish – or greenish – blood running in both arteries and veins of Kashmiris? They are perfectly cut for tragedy where only red blood runs properly.
      Kashmiris may have many reasons now to consider or reconsider this or that political choice, to hate Pakistan or see through the “illusion” of Azadi but the fact remains that they feel irresistible pull for something that we can call for want of a better term, to be themselves, authentically themselves and to care for this they need to reject  what Heidegger calls “they-self” (inauthentic conformist death fearing cowardly self). According to Heidegger, man  is a "being toward death."  And to understand this without any blinkers is a requirement for authentic existence. To court martyrdom is the greatest adventure from Heideggerian point of view and what we are seeing in the form of willing protestors inviting bullets is probably tasting this adventure and the freedom this very act brings. Man is supremely himself when he can dare death and there is no argument on earth against such a man. It brackets off all politics, all calculations of instrumental technological rationality that has so far been employed to handle Kashmir. A Kashmiri youth - rightly guided or misguided  it doesn’t matter– in love with death is the last and conclusive argument against all status quoist ideologies.
      Although the frenzy of love of death might pass but once tasted it becomes malignant for the whole society and no therapy can cure it permanently. Thanatos (death instinct) also rules  with iron hand as Freud showed and sometimes it outsmarts eros. Against instincts no force is ultimately victorious. Repression fails to subdue it. It asserts with a vehemence.  From Indian point of view, according to many analysts that insiders in Kashmir find closer to their own felt reality, Kashmir is now like an advanced stage cancer patient whose death very costly (in moral terms) pellet and bullet therapies can only delay to some extent.
      It is not that one fights for certain reasons – good or bad – for one’s position as Hume long back argued and he has been echoed by many modern psychoanalysts and philosophers. One first loves something and then rationalizes or invents reasons in the defense of that passion. Kashmiris loved – at least dreamt of – Pakistan long before UN resolutions or Nehru’s statements in favour of plebiscite came into the picture (pictures of Jinah and Iqbal were craze here those days). These post hoc reasons aren’t to be dismissed thereby however but what is to be emphasized is that love has the first word and the last word as far as man is a man and not an animal in bondage or angel in perpetual prayer.
      Poets and scientists especially psychoanalysts should now be consulted to illuminate Kashmir problem that politicians failed to solve for 69 years (and created in the first place). Vajpayee’s “Insaniyat kae daryae mein” is the poet’s word that unfortunately is only sold rather than meant by politicians when short of ideas for responding to crisis situation.
      India didn’t lose Kashmir in 1953 or on any other date. No lion or tiger could hunt or prey  on  freedom of people that defines their subjectivity and grounds the reign of conscience and give it to some earthly Master. India had never possessed it. In fact you can’t possess humans who are defined by freedom to  make their own choices and who accept only slavery of Love  and that is, in any case, freedom. Kashmir has never been India’s object of love (and vice versa was never the case either). So it was bound to be lost from the very first day it had a lustful eye on it. Man lives for love or worships the object of love.

Kashmir: I Love Freedom

And politicians are not trained to consider the affairs of the heart, the logic of the impossible.
The heart of Kashmir problem is incurable and apparently inconsolable, and thus tragic – but gracefully redemptively tragic –  love affair with Azadi. This is like the love of the impossible in the sense loving God is impossible for John Caputo. And politicians are not trained to consider the affairs of the heart, the logic of the impossible. Many great political battles in history had some association with love affairs or pursuit of great beauty all of which are parasitic on the idea of transcendence which grounds the notion of freedom. Kashmir issue is better understood in this light. Let  me  explain.
      Since Kashmir’s heart yearns for a home/beloved that it feels isn’t in sight in present dispensation though its head might advise it to resign to status quo or opt for this or that particular ideological or pragmatic solution for fulfilling economic, political and other goals, and since it is ultimately heart that informs/constitutes our deepest aspirations or motivations or unconscious drives, we find a tragic division between mind and heart and it can’t be resolved if we adopt Shaykh Abdullah’s logic he used while defending accession by dubbing heart’s yearning as leading to irrational action and thus worth ignoring. He ignored Dil hae ki manta nahi and didn’t take note of great Pascal’s dictum, “Heart has its own reasons which reason doesn’t know.”
We can’t repress our soul that has something other than Indian map shaped hole in it, our great heritage that has always attempted to maintain specifically Kashmiri colouring (this applies to our unique Saivist scriptural and philosophical identity that could never get merged or fully integrated in mainstream Indian scriptural and philosophical tradition, Reshi-Sufis identity that is also not subsumable within well known mainstream Sufi silsilahas, Kashmiri version of both Indian and Islamic prehistory that speaks of certain anxiety to maintain distinct identity or mark on even the almost irretrievable past), our more affirmative understanding of transcendence and more aesthetically and esoterically – and thus somewhat inclined to “transgressive” or antinomian – oriented religious culture,  our collective unconscious  manifested in our dreams that often are tinged with green and blue colours, our sighs and tears  and our wild longings  for greener pastures that are imagined or perceived to lie elsewhere than this side of line of control. All these points imply that the sentiment for Azadi, if not for Pakistan as well that is, however, retreating now into unconscious though too easily retrieved by conscious self at the time of cricket or in prayers, can’t be wished away even if Kashmiris themselves want or learn to “come of age” and learn to be “grounded” in hard facts. Like the cry for mother that is spontaneously uttered when one is in crisis, the cry for Azadi spontaneously resonates and reverberates in the depths of Kashmiri being when any distressful situation arises. India, it seems, may be/is admired or feared or reasonably tolerated by some Kashmiris but never loved; it is a question of arranged marriage with a wife who one never really accepted as a partner, not to speak of loving her. Every argument could be skewed by smarter or cunning politics or diplomacy in India’s favour but all this tumbles down before the verdict of the heart which says “sorry I don’t love you.” No force, no argument or reason or package can drive away the image of Joseph in  the heart of Zuliekha. Solving Kashmir issue is resolving the problem of this image of Joseph that haunts Zuliekha day in and day out, in dreams and in temples and everywhere. It is solving a harder problem of love tangle, not just a border issue. It is not winning minds but hearts. And hearts can’t be won if they are already slaves of the tresses that are intoxicatingly captivating. Kashmiris can’t be disloyal to love and they can be to those with whom they have only lustful relationship.
      Although a few Kashmiris have taken money from India and have played the role of collaborators, they haven’t changed their basic attitude or orientation which is controlled by heart. Other than Indian State is their first love. With India it is a lustful affair as fitting reciprocation to lustful adventure in 1947. And we know the difference between love and lust. They have used India for their benefits but they haven’t given up their faith and loyalty and passion for other than India for which they can sacrifice everything. Even if one curses Kashmiris for thousand years, it doesn’t seem that they are going to renounce love for lust or spirit for soul or heart for mind. Barring probably a small political-bureaucratic elite (though it is difficult to be sure regarding any particular individual amongst this group) who have experienced little of that sacred passion called love, the Kashmiri heart beats and laments for an imagined Beloved. Unfortunately for India and many victims of conflict there is no heart replacement surgery possible. Kashmir today evokes classic Greek tragedy that pits noble but fallible individual against the Fate but there is some problem with the hero’s aspiration – his heart is attuned to other sounds. It results in both death and spiritual ripening or what Keats called soul making. This love affair as far as it is sincere to the idea of love (which is transcendental and not to be identified with this or that object) does save lovers as all love has saving power. Many Kashmiris have won their salvation and others are getting closer to it in the current purgatorial situation. This salvation may get translated or filtered in political level as well but waiting for it is important. Godot mayn’t come. No issues. Kashmiris are learning the art of waiting. And God is waiting, “attention without distraction,” loyalty to the human spirit of enduring suffering with all “the wretched of the earth.”  Their mantra is again Beckettian: “Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better” and “I can't go on, I'll go on.” And their mistakes are their life as Beckett’s another character would say. Truckloads of suffering don’t deter them as hey have learnt to “represent worthily for one the foul brood” to which fate  has consigned them  and now feel that “Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.”
      Since it is not really Joseph (or any physical geographical entity) that is the real object of true love but inexistent thing or hidden transcendent Divinity and we find Zuliekha hardly interested in marrying Joseph when he offers at the time she has discovered that what she really loved is not Joseph but the beloved of Joseph or God, Kashmiris too will discover when offered what they aspire for that what they really loved isn’t that enchanting thing for which they sacrificed so much and they might find India no longer a dreaded other. They might ask them to defend parts of its borders for a hefty sum. Indians should have no doubt about this if they believe in Upanisads which state that all things are dear for the sake of Self and not per se. And this Self is nondifferent from Atman within and thus in a way inexistent outside. In the ultimate analysis Kashmir issue springs from heart’s desire for the Infinite and the idea of Azadi evokes something of this infinitude and since these are materialistic and nihilistic times this is framed in economic or purely political terms and accompanied by violence that nihilism almost necessarily nurtures.
      If India wants to take revenge against infidelity of Kashmiris it should give them Azadi as that would be a poor substitute for Transcendence that is currently pulling them and making them martyrs for that passion. Delaying Azadi can make only Heathcliffs out of Kashmiris and any obstruction in the way of Cathy the beloved will be dealt with not only stones and guns but also derision, jokes that kill, slangs that mankind has not known and indulging in countless other sadistic pleasures to which frustrated lovers are vulnerable. These lovers then know only ragdo ragdo and if you deny them they have more physical means of revenge, they become more creative – in their imagination and art and we are witnessing that as well today.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Thinking Kashmir?

Clues from Heidegger’s What is Called Thinking?
“The most thought-provoking thing about our thought-provoking age is that we are still not thinking,”______Martin

“The wasteland grows and woe to him who hides the wasteland within.” ______Friedrich Nietzsche
While both Nietzsche and Heidegger said the words quoted in the beginning in somewhat different though not quite unrelated context, one recalls them readily when trying to “think” Kashmir in the context of proliferating debate on Kashmir (I don’t presume to apply Heidegger on thinking to Kashmir – this I leave to Heidegger scholars and thinkers – but only to underscore the difficulty of the task of engaging with Kashmir in the manner talk shows, conferences, political parties, gossip parties seek to do). Heidegger’s problem or objective is not to provide a map for resolving political issues but to help us attend to the deeper issues that underlie political issues. The tragedy is that one is only asked to give opinion or better strategy to handle Kashmir – and not think – and its crises that escalate anytime reminding everyone that a deadly cancer is in the body politic that can consume those who pride on calling it integral part as this is malignant. Therapies given haven’t eradicated the virus. Habba Khatoon’s individual tragedy expressed in “Waerwen seeth wari ches no/Charih kertou ma’leuno ho” (I am not well with husband’s home/ Resolve my problem O my maternal home) is our collective tragedy, not only of our women but all Kashmiris. However our tragedy is more acute as there doesn’t seem to be a ma’leun or maternal home to whom to turn to. So the question of turning to God or what Heidegger would call Being isn’t irrelevant. However these are “destitute times” for Kashmiris and many other similarly afflicted people across the world when the Being seems to have withdrawn or hidden and doesn’t seem to heed the call of beings thrown into hell. But the question that we have to ask is: If Being calls us are we ready to listen or how do we decode the meaning of its withdrawl? Is it a state of contraction (qabz) of which Sufis talk about in which travellers on the path are visited by gloom and darkness and there is no illumination or expansion of heart despite one’s attempt to pray, fast and maintain night vigils? To learn listening also calls for thinking. Now a few words about this thinking that is not done in conferences or talk shows or newspapers columns including this one. One can here only invite for thinking and recall that even Heidegger had no claim that he thinks as thinking is a calling so few can indeed take in these God-abandoned times. But this is needed if we want to first understand the situation before we could try to change it or redeem it.
      What is it that Heidegger does call thinking? We need to first note what he does not call thinking. It is not having an opinion or a notion or an idea about something or state of affairs. It is not representing it either. Then what is it for Heidegger? As Glenn Gray paraphrases Heidegger in his introduction to What is Called Thinking?, "thinking is a response on our part to a call which issues from the nature of things, from Being itself. To be able to think does not wholly depend on our will and wish, though much does depend on whether prepare ourselves to hear that call to think it comes and respond to it in the appropriate manner. Thinking is determined by that which is to be thought as well as by him who thinks. It involves not only man’s receptivity to Being but also Being’s receptivity to man. The history and situation of man in a given age often covers up the nature of reality and renders it impossible to receive the message of Being. Only the thinking that is truly involved, patient, and disciplined by long practice can come to know either the hidden or disclosed character of truth. Thinking is questioning and putting ourselves in question as much as the cherished opinions and inherited doctrines have long taken for granted.”
      Almost all of us now see how the received discourses on Kashmir somehow fail to capture the essence and “There is always a struggle to advance a new way of seeing things because customary ways and preconceptions about it stand in the way” how do we move forward in such a quest. In fact the situation “is similar to learning a foreign language : forgetting our mother tongue is the chief difficulty.”
      We can’t outsource thinking to experts, panellists on talk shows or package it into posters and pamphlets and sermons. “We come to know what thinking means when we ourselves try to think.”
      Heidegger calls Socrates the purest thinker of the West. What we all need to learn from Socrates is how to listen to the other, how to talk to each other before we expect to talk to the “other.” It is not to regurgitate someone’s agenda or opinions and package them for mass consumption. I have in vain sought two persons talking the way Socrates and his great admirer Kierkegaard would teach us. We need to learn the art of conversation. Dialogue in the sense demanded comes later.
      Heidegger greatly admired Lao Tzu. His masterpiece Tao Te Ching should be read by everyone, especially those who think they have been charged to lead or speak or think for others. It can be easily downloaded and one can finish reading it in two hours only (but don’t forget that it will take a lifetime to assimilate). Admitting the problem, admitting that our leaders, our sacrifices, our prayers all haven’t yet been accepted we need to pray to be granted something of that holy confusion of which Lao Tzu speaks. We need this because we are too sure about our proposals and absurdity or ideological complicity of others. We don’t appreciate why and how of the obscurity in the other, worship ourselves and our opinions and dread doubt or cross examination and mostly keep indulging in regurgitating accusations of betrayals against our forefathers and all leaders from Shaykh Saheb to Geelani Saheb other living and dead leaders and forget that we can find some moral or intellectual or political failing retrospectively in even the greatest leaders of history.
      For Heidegger it is from the poets that we can learn in our quest for thinking. He identified Tao with poetic thinking. Here in Kashmir we also have poets who can be of help in such an enterprise. Do our leaders read them or heed them or just label them and demand bland political statements from them? I conclude by quoting from Lao Tzu:
  • “How wide and without end is the range of questions asking to be discussed.”
  • “My mind is that of a stupid man and I am in a state of chaos
    Ordinary men look bright and intelligent
    While I alone look benighted
    They look full of discrimination
    While I alone am dull and confused
    Multitude of men have enough and to spare
    I alone seem to have lost everything
    I alone am different from other men
    But I value the nursing mother, the Tao.”
      Kashmir is also passing through nihilism and K issue along with violent reactions can be read as consequences of our nihilistic times.It calls for thinking to overcome it. Focus on community spaces and other marginalized cultural practices would make us better receptive to the call of the Being and this could help in overcoming the political framing of our destiny without letting go of the political space that itself is a site of revelation of Being and needs clearing by overcoming attempts to represent it, manage it, package it, use it, sell it, fight it. Kashmir calls for home, for dwelling poetically in the Heaven it is. If Kashmir is not to be an object, a news, a tool, a career but a matter of thought and brought back to unconcealment out of oblivion due to bad metaphysics called politics around it, we need to underscore the necessity of thinking Kashmir. Who is ready to think Kashmir? “The greatest adversary of thinking is reason,” said Heidegger and we see plenty of reason coming into play that focuses on “mob” control, managing alienation, winning hearts and minds, dividing, confounding, seducing people accused of inauthentic – “dictated” – choices. Reason is also deployed to projects sects, manufacture new narratives, glorify means good or bad for supposedly noble ends, manufacture ghosts of abstractions and teach lessons in event management. We see wasteland growing and while we can hope for April showers as the God that can indeed save us doesn’t wait too long even though He seems to have withdrawn because we aren’t ready for the thunder and lightning that accompanies authentic appropriation, the question for all of us – Indians, Pakistanis, Kashmiris – is when will we begin to take note of our human prerogative to think and abandon “politics” – a politics that no thinker worthy of note knows as it has long been that we have seen God being abandoned for power, happiness for pleasure, virtue for moralism, heart for mind, intellect for reason, Kashmiris for imagined Kashmir in the map of “our“ world’s nation states. To think Kashmir requires understanding what is thinking and that requires giving at least some consideration to thinkers like Heidegger and What is Called Thinking? And we should not forget that even Heidegger can commit great blunders when it comes to taking concrete political decision. (He did when he joined Nazis). Kashmir calls for attention by thinkers not politicians ( to be distinguished from statesmen who can indeed think) - a meditative, poetic thinking that can be done only by no hired think tanks.
 Post Script:
If we have to see what is not called thinking, watch most of the anchors and their guest “thinkers” shouting, reacting instead of listening, name calling , point scoring, threatening and sloganeering on Indian talk shows. 

Where is the Master?

To seek or not to Seek Pir
Do we need to seek a Master? Shah Waliullah, one of the greatest Sufis of the subcontinent, in his last testament, surprisingly and shockingly, advised against seeking Shaykhs and advised to read Awariful Maarif  by Suharwardi as that is a safer guide. He grants the possibility that one may get to meet some Shaykh and says that we shouldn’t worry as God arranges for it. Anyway it is working an implication of the logic of grace. Grace comes – “The Spirit bloweth where it listeh.”  We can’t invite grace by our effort; Grace finds us and drops us in the lap of God. Even against our will which would otherwise resist baptism by fire – the gift of suffering. Who doesn’t suffer in some way? And that could well be, unknown to us, gift from the Master. The best wazeefa could well be the “curse” – “Khoda tchinney doad” (May God send you some problem, some pain, some calamity).  How thankful we should be to those who send us such curses. Perhaps most of our mothers and daughters- in-law  are instruments for perfection through such exchange of curses. God arranges our return, willy nilly, to Him as the Quran  asserts. And if grace doesn’t seem to be coming, it is another form of grace as it means our path requires us to wait. During one’s spiritual journey one may encounter what is called qabz (contraction). One doesn’t enjoy prayers or illuminations or smooth sailing when in qabz. That has to be patiently endured. Great progress occurs in qabz. Nihilon of seeming absence of God and the state of apparent rejection of our prayers is descent into hell that purges us. Bast (expansion) may make us complacent. And that waiting prepares us for the Kingdom of Heaven. The Master would seek us, anyway. God the Great Devourer can’t miss the prey we are. We don’t know of a physical Master of Shaykh Nuruddin and many great saints. Iqbal met Rumi in another realm and was accepted as a worthy disciple. Khizr, the Green Master of Sufi lore, who personifies an aspect of the Spirit of Guidance keeps roaming and keeps our track. All experiences are Khizr because God the Guide expresses in every event for the seeing eyes. Even if we chose not to see, Khizr catches us somehow. God the Educator reaches us through a conversation with a friend or a god piece of writing or visit to a hospital or some calamity that doesn’t befall us but has been really invited by Spirit for facilitating its detachment from the world of impermanence. Who writes taqdeer? Isn’t our consent sought? How come we are not justified in blaming Providence for our misfortunes or being born in conflict area or with some disability? Our consent is indeed sought; the Spirit projects a map to further its odyssey. Before every taqdeer a perfect man’s consent is sought and as Spirits we participate in that divine prerogative. And this map surely has a place for meeting the Master. Ultimately it is God the Hadi, the Rasheed who is the Master. God’s designs can’t be foiled. The school of life is a jabri school; we are summoned and that is it. The trial has already started before we opened eyes at birth. Our coming hither and our leaving are both prefixed. All the details of life we live are prefigured. Love of fate is the key to the path that delivers us. That is what masters of all hues including such “masters” as Nietzsche taught.
      One of the most shocking (for all Utopian minds) insights given to mystics is understanding absolute perfection of everything as it is (and this includes drive to change the world or seek perfection and eternal restlessness in us for greener pastures of Spirit and call for realizing Justice). Karl Barth in concluding pages of his masterpiece The Word of God and the Word of Man also states this and then, with great insight, accommodates all the iconoclast and reformers from socialists to Nietscheans who complain about injustice and rottenness of the state of affairs we find around. To see how everything is perfect demands transcendence of passions and ego and  attachment  to samsara. For a nirvanic consciousness  all  things  are  bathed  in transcendental gory. Buddha saw everything smiling when he attained nirvana. There is nothing  to  be  explained,  no need  to explain  anything  for  the  twice  born. There is everything to be contemplated, loved and enjoyed. This constitutes the crux of traditional view of things and this view is available to all and sundry. Religions, commandments, mystical disciplines all are ultimately meant to achieve this vision. Mystics have no real  interest in pretensions of any occult or secret knowledge. Their chief claim consists in perfecting the  virtue of openness to real or experience or letting things be, of waiting and seeing, waiting for no object or end but for the joy of waiting. For them experience is the Master. What is to be sought? Nothing but what is as Augustine would say. There is no problem of finding a meaning in life. It disappears when we formulate the issue as one of the art of encountering life. The question is not that the universe appears indifferent and cold and silent but whether we can master the art of love, of selflessly seeing phenomena, of transcending thought or  mind  that divides the unitary experience. The onus lies on man. The moment one is capable of amor fati, of unconditional love, of affirming even eternal recurrence one is delivered and the universe loses its indifference or density and appears a perpetual miracle, an object of endless wonder that delights the soul, a gift for which one needs to be eternally thankful, a festival of lights and a celestial musical recital.

      Such traditionally treasured declarations as “Piri chum doun achen gash.”(Pir is the light of two eyes), “Zu jan wandyo ha piri myano.”(May I sacrifice my life for You, the Master)“ And he who has no Pir has Satan as his guide” may be translated into the proposition – or better attitude/direction –  that states that Life as impersonal reality that grounds all expressions of life should be more valuable to us. That will imply one is not mean or egoistic and puts the Other before oneself. Joy flows from any experience in which ego is put aside.
      The Master liberates you from himself and the source of all bondage one’s self. He is like that great beauty which doesn’t attract but liberates us from ourselves and from the object that embodies it. He is only a medium giving voice to the Spirit of Guidance and his function is help you travel within. He has no magic wand or special secrets to sell but guides one to the inner riches. One must travel the path oneself and find the “Answer” oneself. “Be light unto yourself” as the Buddha said.
      The Master is a friend and ultimately dispensable for all who care to travel on the path. In Owaisi path of Sufism one is guided by life itself – this vale of soul making as Keats correctly called it – and doesn’t necessarily need external masters. The question is only of finding some support if needed to maneuver admittedly difficult terrain in the wilderness of spirit. It needs foes to point out what faults we harbor in our personality. Our Master is that foe if one can put it that way. Our critics whom we despise may also perform part of this function admirably. Thank you critics. You are the messengers of our Master.