My Philosophical Moments
by Dr. Parviz Dehghani
What are philosophical moments? This is a title I picked to convey how I have been experiencing life since my childhood. I really don’t recall when my wondering about the world around me began. However, I can say I was pretty young when it mattered to me to think about time and memories of things passed. As much as I was excited to grow fast, I was also sad that I was only leaving the moments of my life behind. I looked at the passed as a cemetery of the life I had lived. I became apprehensive about the future. In spite of planning and predicting, I was deeply disappointed to find out I had no control over the future events. There were times; of course, my anticipations were right on target. But nonetheless, there was the uncertainty concerning the future which would follow every prediction like a shadow. On the one hand, I would look back and remembered the past and think about what I should have done or shouldn’t have done. I would interpret or misinterpret what had happened in my past life. As much as I thought history was the realm of certainty, I forgot the fact that it was as uncertain as future.
As we know, historians don’t always agree with each other over interpreting certain facts. Sometimes they misinterpret what had occurred in the past. And there’re times when they rewrite history based on the kind of government that has taken over after a revolution. Then how do we know what had really taken place, let us say, centuries ago? We probably never know what really happened then. Presidential historians, for instance, still debate over the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The same thing is true of the water gate and the Iran-contra.
We also interpret our past in a different way as time passes. Nevertheless, the mystery of time and our memories of the past events still manage to capture my imagination. There’re times when I miss my past. I missed when my family was around. We were six at one time. My father was the first to go and then my mother followed him. The last one was my older sister, who passed on more than a year ago. Now we’re three. I used to think the theater of my life would go on for a long time. I wished for eternity without realizing that I was in the river of time. I was standing in the shallow part of it watching how the future would come towards me and become present and past. I didn’t want for time to pass but at the same time I wished it would leave. On the one hand, time heals but on the other hand, it crushes you. It is like a double-edged sword.
When your loved ones leave their homes for different reasons, we hope to see them again. And when they come back from their trips, we’re happy that there’re still here with us. But when they die, we might not feel their departure for a while, especially if we have not seen them for a long time. However, we gradually come to our senses and realize that we’ll never see them again. We may look at their pictures or hear their taped voices or even watch video tapes of them, but none of these can replace the whole of the person you have just lost. Years will go by and all you have are memories, which are fading as time goes on. Where ever you look people are falling like autumn leaves. If we’re close to them, we feel their absence. They leave a vacuum behind. They
were something then and now they’re nothing. In the viewing, we see only their bodies, though we still want to believe that they’re our fathers or mothers, uncles or aunts. However, we don’t understand that what we observe and see before us are not the whole but only the parts of those who are no longer with us.
Remember, we’re contingent beings, which means we’re possible realities. We could be and we couldn’t be. We’re mortal. But it is very hard to accept the factuality of death. It is difficult to face the inevitability of death. Is it possible for a person who is dead to come back to life? Scientifically and philosophically the answer is no. Nevertheless, there is a room for miracles in history. For example, Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus. Of course, he eventually died at some point. Elijah is said to have ascended to Heaven without ever having the chance of experiencing death. However, what you and I are subject to is the fact that some day we shall depart from this world. Whether we like it or not we will have to leave everything behind and walk away from this realm of imperfection, change, becoming, and relativity.
Natural or biological death doesn’t guarantee that we’ll know the truth residing and hidden behind the appearances we have been confronting since we were born. Not everybody is like Buddha or great prophets who don’t even have to die in order to see the reality as it really is. Those are the ones who had already died before they biologically passed on.
While time doesn’t slow down and seems accelerating as we get older, some of us feel the need to leave something behind for posterity. Great thinkers, musicians, scientists, and writers have been trying to achieve excellence in whatever they have been involved with before their departures from this world. They have been valuing their precious time and contributed something significant to humanity.
I can’t deny the importance of the history of my life, nor can I ignore the reality of the history of mankind. Unlike the history of the world, my life’s past is subjective. The world history, thus, is objective, namely, it is not necessarily about my life, although I’m also part of it.
In this theater of absurd or meaningful, we’re all players. In the masquerade of life, we’re all wearing our personas or masks. We tend not to show ourselves as we really are, with the exception of some. If I’m among hundred people, I’m as many as they are. Once they’re out of the hall, I still don’t know who I really am. I got rid of their opinions of me, and now I have to struggle with my idea of myself. On the one hand, I’m being interpreted or misinterpreted by the other. On the other hand, I’m doing the same thing to myself. I don’t seem to be a single reality, at least in our everyday conversations. ‘I’ is one and ‘self’ is another one. I punish myself, for example. Who is this ‘I’? And who is this ‘self’? Are they the same? It seems we can reflect ourselves and ourselves can reflect us in turn or perhaps our true Self or Atman is reflecting all of us like a mirror or we’re reflecting it or both. It sounds like we’re saying God reflects us while we’re reflecting It.
All the birds had heard about a bird named ‘Seemorq’, which literally means ‘30 birds’. This bird was said to have lived on top of a mountain. Many curious birds wanted to reach the pick to visit this unique bird. Not every bird made it to the top. Those who survived didn’t see any such a creature. But once there was a head count, they all realized they were 30 birds. Atman or true Self was in each and every one of those birds. Since each Atman is like a ray of the Sun (Brahman), in the final analysis, they are all together one reality though there’re in each individual bird. This is when one and many are one.
There seems to be two I I’s in us, which they look like the Roman number two. Cartesian ‘I think, therefore, I’m’ can be rephrased as ‘I thinks, therefore, I is. But while I’m making this statement, I’m not this I. I can’t identify myself with this I. Saying, ‘I think, therefore, I’m’ it is almost like saying, ‘I is not feeling good’. What is going on? Is Descartes projecting a mask or persona when he says: ‘I think, therefore, I’m’? So, is the awareness, which is prior to the statement, my true Self? If by true Self you mean the objective reality, which observes what the subjective individual does, then I would have a tendency to agree with you. However, is this same Atman the Hindus have been talking about for thousands of years? Is this that very conscience within us that discerns between right and wrong and being aware of the two urges us to do the former? It is an eternal and infinite GPS in our being which guides us to the right direction. It wants us to do the right thing. It wouldn’t bow before any authority. Let us analyze this further. To say, ‘I think, therefore I’m’ I need to be. Even if I doubt my very existence, I have to be. I can’t just deny my being and be able to make my statement. In other words, while I’m doubting my being, I’m. How can I possibly deny that I’m, without first realizing that I’m first? So, this very awareness itself is the reason that before I make my Cartesian syllogism, I’m. In fact I’m saying: I’m or I’m aware that I think, therefore I’m. Does this make sense? Your existence precedes your thoughts. We’re told jelly fishes don’t have brains like other marine anim. If this were the case that having brains can be associated with thinking, and thinking is indicative of being, then a jelly fish must not be. But you and I know that this is not so. Jelly fish is without thinking. I may be wrong in my logic. Nevertheless, I believe the whole universe first is in time. It doesn’t have to think in order to be.
The French philosopher Sartre argued at one point that we’re first and then we become. For him existence precedes essence. According to him, our essences are not already determined. In other words, I’m not a man before I’m. This is a rejection of Plato’s Forms. This perfect man, between me and my friend, just doesn’t exist. If you’re a religious person you might like to add: God is, thus, I’m and since I’m, I can think. However, if you go higher, then you realize that the Ultimate Reality, being beyond being and non-being, doesn’t even exist. But I do exist first, and then I think. I don’t have to think to be. Some say we’re what we think, like Buddha. But this is different from what we’re discussing here. The correct way, however, is when we say: We’re before we think. I’m therefore, I think. Jelly fish would say: I’m, even though I might not have even a brain to think. The whole world doesn’t have to think to be.
Let us remember, however, ever since man stepped into this world he or she began making things. There were other animals that also made things. Man, unlike those animals, was not satisfied in making the same thing over and over again. Human beings started building and making by the power of their mind. Gradually we created our artificial environment. First, of course, we think, and then we create the world we live in. Kant said the world reflect our categories unlike what we used to think. According to him the world is our construct. Did he mean the natural world or the one which is the product of our mind? Yes, a table reflects what is in my mind because I made it. Kant’s subjectivism leads us to the conclusion that by the world, he must have meant the one around us and not the objective world. What I observe is not the objective world but the world that reflects the categories of my thoughts. Kant, therefore, can say: I’m, therefore, I think and the projected world is the result of my thinking. When Buddha says: we’re what we think; he gives great importance to mind. In ‘Dhammapada’, under ‘the twin verses’-Canto I he says: “All the phenomena of existence have mind as their precursor, mind as their supreme leader, and of mind are they made. …” “ The mind is unstable and flighty. It wanders wherever it desires. Therefore, it is good to control the mind. A disciplined mind brings happiness.”, ‘The Mind- Canto III.” (Trans by Harischandra Kaviratna). Mind brings about the world we’re responsible for making. How about the universe? There has to be a supreme Mind or the Ultimate Reality from which everything else has come into existence or still is or will be, given the fact that time is totally immaterial here anyway. However, we ought to control our mind and purify it so that it will be in harmony with the supreme Mind. What is in me that can do this job? That is Atman in Hinduism. Once my mind reached its purity, then happiness follows us, according to Buddha. We’re finally what we think, to this great enlightened person who was reborn about 2600 years ago.
Why do I get this deep feeling of sadness when I listen to classical music of Elgar or other master pieces by great composers, especially Gustav Mahler and think about the death of my older sister? I thought after my parents passed away at least I have my two sisters and my brother around, though I have been far away from them geographically for many decades. For a while everything seemed alright till recent event, namely, the death of my older sister. Then the healing mother, that is, time interferes and we gradually begin to forget things till the next event occurs. Nevertheless, the memories linger on and occasionally surface to remind us of the past events. I’m haunted by these memories.
Music is unlike any other forms of art. It somehow penetrates our souls and exposes us to the hidden truth, whatever that may be. They say you hold you guitar like a baby. But you can’t do that with violin. A work of art by van Gogh, hanging on the wall, might not be able to sink to the deepest points in our souls. However, I don’t know why certain kind of music is capable of piercing through us. There’re other kinds of music, however, which can bring back unpleasant memories, simply because they were being played while certain things were happening at the
same time. We quickly associate that music to the events. This fact, fortunately or unfortunately, prevents us from objectively evaluating these spectacular works of art.
We live at the time when some master pieces of classical music are identified with the events taking place simultaneously. Let us say, you’re watching some pornographic movies or sensual massage therapies on your computers, you’re also hearing some kind of music, which accompanies the actions taking place. While this is happening, some viewers are completely ignorant of the fact that what they’re also listening to could be the works of great composers like Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), the German composer, who was the greatest in classical music in the world. One wonders what those writers would have felt, had they been around, knowing that their great arts have been used for such movies without their consents. They’re books and lectures on how to listen to classical music. Whether you’re pro or con when it comes to pornography, we still have to have respect, for those great minds that are no longer with us. Here is the problem, every time you hear that particular music; you remember the love making action in the movie you had watched in the past. This music can no longer be appreciated independently and objectively, let say, by a great writer such as Tom Pervotta. When he was recently asked in an interview by Terry Gross on WNYC, the public radio, as to whether he had to watch pornographic movies before he wrote his famous book called, Mrs. Fletcher, his answer was ‘Yes’.
Public radios are desperately trying to keep classical music on the air in spite of lack of found. Thus, they depend on listeners’ donations to survive. What would happen, if they went off the air? This is not about fund raising for the classical radio stations. It is rather a warning for the loss of artistic values, which are gradually disappearing.
One might argue that there is nothing wrong with watching a love making scene along with some classical music. Of course, there is no harm done as long as it is an innocent romantic scene, for instance, in a movie like ‘Out of Africa’ in which a very famous piece by Wolf gang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91), the Austrian composer is played. But nevertheless, there is a difference between this and a pornographic scene where the moral and ethical rules are completely ignored. One might argue that this movie was originally based on the life of Karen christenze von Blixen-Finecke, the Danish writer known by the pen names as Isak Denesen (1882-1962) in which she had an affair while she still was married. However, what we’re forgetting is the fact that even Hollywood movie makers can’t ignore history. We ought to discern between the two realities, which are very important, especially in our time. You might dispute the immoral nature of the relationship between couples in the movie. Nonetheless, there is still a tremendous amount of difference between that and a pornographic shows which are not based on true stories. I guess we ought to have enough sense of discernment so we can tell the difference between the two. We should be able to differentiate between different events.
The singer Billy Joe believes there is nothing wrong with using classical musics in his songs. In fact he made use of one of Rachmaninoff’s works in his song. Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff
(1873-1943), the Russian born composer, and Beethoven had a great influence on Billy Joe. However, there is a trade off here, which compromises the value of the classical music. For example, every time I hear one of the compositions of Rachmaninoff used by Billy Joe in his songs, I’m immediately reminded of him rather than the composer of the piece.
Classical works are valuable in and of themselves and we don’t have to make them popular by using them in our songs. And when we use them, we ought to do that responsibly.
I’m alone with my philosophical moments. I feel very lonely when I can’t find someone to share them with. I look around and I’m unable to relate to, even the closest persons to me.
There is a feeling of sadness when I reminisce, which is ironic because we do that when we think of the pleasant memories. But why do I feel sad by remembering the past? No matter what these memories are, they still make me nostalgic. We ask: what happened to our childish innocence? We sometimes have a desire to return to that very happiness we once enjoyed simply because the quality of our happiness is not the same. When I get together with my old friends, we have that very sense of nostalgia. No matter how futuristic we may be, we still enjoy the old songs. Perhaps we think things are getting worse as time passes in our life. Nonetheless, we’re told by the wisdom tradition, to hold on to the hub regardless of the turning world around us. In a word, things are rapidly changing all around us. As a great mind once said, we’re crucified between two thieves: one is future and the other is past. Man doesn’t live in the future, nor does he live in the past. The horizontal part of the cross explains this fact beautifully. To be saved from this empirical reality, we ought to focus on the meeting point between the vertical and the horizontal aspect of the cross. The center of the cross is the pivot we can depend on. There is always a vertical Reality which is eternal and infinite. It is spiritual space in which time is absent and has no meaning. Of course, we’re not talking about the utter space. This is about inner space. This is in theory, not in practice. I would like to be in the moment, present, and now. Think about the Latin word ‘carpediem’ or seize the day or make the most of the present opportunities. (New World Dictionary) In other words, catch the moment, because it is your best friend. Hold on to it with your deer life. You can think about the past and the future, but don’t let them consume you. Don’t allow them burn you because while you’re doing that you’re missing the presence. We can learn from the past and hope for the future. However, the present moment is the only reality which is tangible. It is my best friend, I repeat. A true friend always says, I’m telling you now. A false one says, I’ll tell you later. As I get older, I tend not to believe in later.
When I’m given a promise, I tell, my, so called friend, when I see it, I’ll believe it. Some make you promises, knowing that they can’t keep them. The question here is whether or not this can be considered a promise. Kant, the German philosopher of the 18th century, didn’t believe so. The reason being, we have violated the institution of promise making. Not only is this not a promise, but it is a lie. Let us say, you made a promise with the intention of keeping it, but for some unpredictable reasons you were not able to deliver it. In such a case, you shouldn’t be held morally responsible, as long as your excuses were not lies. What if I made a promise to only win
an election and once I’m elected, I would keep my promise regardless of whether it is a right thing to do? On the one hand, it is ethical to make good on my promise. On the other hand, I know what I have promised to do goes against what is right. Well at the time I made that promise, I was more interested in winning the election. However, I knew my winning was contingent or predicated upon that promise. This is what Kant called ‘hypothetical imperative statements’, which are always conditional. I didn’t do what was right to begin with or perhaps I really believed at the time it was a right thing to do, but I changed my mind though still have to keep my promise. This is what president Donald Trump faced. On the one hand, he made a campaign promise to pull away from Paris climate accord in order to save jobs, which would otherwise be lost. On the other hand, while he was expected to lead the world on global warming and other environmental problems, especially when majority of countries had agreed to cooperate, he decided not to participate in this international gathering. Apparently he didn’t agree with their terms as to how to go about saving our planet from a great disaster. In the middle of this global problems, which are threatening our planet, we should remember that there’re other sources of energy such as wind and solar to consider. Let us also not forget that many coal miners have lost their livelihood as a result of what coal does to the environment. We hear that under the new administration, our coal miners are getting their jobs back as a result of which we’re now exporting coals to other countries. However, we’re forgetting that by so doing, we’re polluting the environments of other places around the world.
The natives of America must have been in complete shock to see the arrival of the trains with the black smoke following them like their shadows. The trains also symbolized the phenomenon of ‘progress.’ But the question is: at what price such a progress should be made? By polluting the beautiful sky and air, which had been kept virgin for thousands of years, we have been destroying our environment.
Many loggers also lost their jobs when Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), the 26th U.S. president, stopped irresponsible logging before he left the office. The difference between the two presidents is that unlike president Trump, he had not made such a promise to the loggers in his campaign, so he was not obligated to give in to their demands after he became the president of the United States of America. However, it is also not fair to put all the blame on our president because we don’t live in the beginning of the 20th century. The whole world has changed and us with it.
Time has changed and new sources of energy have become the reality in the world we live. Some scholars of Religions and philosophers, however, believe we ought to learn how to live with less energy. They think we have reached the last frontier of the so called ‘progress.’ We ought to go back to ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ of John Bunyan. By going from one source of energy to another we’re not going to be able to save the planet, unless we do something with ourselves. We have drifted away from the vertical reality of the cross to the horizontal life of this earth that we’re destroying as fast as we can. We have been focusing on the perspective aspect of the paintings of Christ and his disciples in the Eucharist after the renaissance than the ones before the so called rebirth in Europe in which there is only a wall behind Jesus.
Thanks to the efforts of some concerned individuals and the president Roosevelt; our national parks are among the best in the world. Logging would have practically destroyed the Adirondack Mountains by the end of the 19th century, had it not been stopped by those who had a great respect for Mother Nature and the future generation. It is now one of the best national parks in the world. Those beautiful people were not only looking at the tip of their noses. They care for posterity so we can now camp there and enjoy all those wonderful sights and lakes. These are places where we can have our philosophical moments. They’re away from the city life as long as they have not become commercialized like Lake George and other ones nearby.
The late general Grant and later the president of the United States of America spent the last days of his life up in the Adirondacks while he was dying of the palate cancer. I visited the house he was in before he died towards the end of the 19th century. They brought him many times on a weelchair to where he could see the magnificent panorama of this beautiful place. The white flowers at his funeral are still well kept in a separate room from his bed. There is a picture of him and many family members sitting on the steps to the house.
These sanctuaries and other places of refuge from the noise and air pollution of the modern world attracted many great writers and thinkers such as Henry David Thoreau (1817-62). Thoreau spent couple of years at Walden Pond in east Massachusetts at a cabin. He wanted to get away from the rise of modernism, which he thought eventually would destroy the magnificent beauty of this land. He was once so irritated when he heard the sound of a train approaching.
These were among many who were apprehensive and warned us about the upcoming future environmental problems. In 19th century, landscape painters quickly began creating art works revealing the beauty of America before it would be carved by rail road tracks and later high ways at the expense of the loss of billions and, by now, trillions of trees all over the country.
By deforestation, we heated our land so much so that at one point it was hard to live in the buildings or the artificial environment we had created for ourselves without the air condition. By excessively using this new technology, we accelerated the heating process and made the air hotter than it was before. It cooled us inside while it sent heat to the outside world. Given all these factors, global warming was inevitable. There is a hole in the ozone layer. Although there’re optimists who believe this hole is either getting small or it is disappearing. The eco system just can’t take it anymore.
Water level soon will rise and swallow cities on the coastlines across the earth. Nonetheless, there’re still people who believe the world is flat. A prominent professor once said that there is a philosophical lesson to be learned in these recent environmental disasters. (S.H. Nasr) Our rebellion against nature finally is paying off and boomeranging in an unbelievable catastrophe that has been threatening the life itself on this planet. Some blame this on the early Christian attitude towards nature. They argue that the Christian fear of the Greek naturalism led them to elevate Christ to the level of divinity and super-naturalism. Consequently, nature gradually
became devoid of animating spirit Aristotle and those before him believed in. Nature was treated only as an ‘it’ or dead matter. Whether or not this is a correct assessment or judgment for the origin of the problem at hand, I really don’t know. The reason being, I only relied on the works of a great scholar of the history of science, philosophy, and world Religions.
Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), the Italian Dominican theologian and philosopher wrote that God has revealed Himself in the Bible as well as nature. In an untouched and virgin nature we can have our philosophical moments. It is hard to have these moments in manmade parks. Nevertheless, while driving through a farm and a meadow, you get to have a sense of belonging. We get a feeling we’re related to nature, the lakes, the mountains, the sea, the beautiful sky, the woods. Let us not forget, we’re the ones who have created the artificial environment in which we live. To free ourselves from the cages, the prisons, the pigeon holes, and high rises we have built for ourselves, we take refuge in places like Walden Pond and upstate New York lakes and forests. We ought to escape from the kind of world Emmanuel Kant created for us, which is nothing but the projection of our own mind. We need to be free to experience the objective world not the subjective reality of Kant. We should realize that if pure reason were to be limited, according to Kant, this would mean that even his own reason is also limited. Once we understand this, then we simply ask: ‘How can Kant with his limited reason say that reason is limited?’ Only a person who knows the unlimited reason can make such a statement? I’m sure he never claimed that he was Christ. Just because he couldn’t know God, his true Self, and the reality beyond the phenomenal world doesn’t mean it is true for everyone. Just because ‘ratiocination’ was the only form of reasoning he knew, he didn’t have to universalize it for everybody else. Reasoning through the formal logic of Aristotle can take us only so far. This didn’t mean there was no other way of knowing. We don’t have to use the limited reason of the rationalist to reach the objective world, which for Kant is what comes out of our mind. With Intellect or Atman, which is the alternative source of knowledge, we can penetrate the subjective wall of Kant and reach the objective world. We have contaminated the world with our own impure mind. By purifying our mind, we become one with the objective world. This subjective Berlin wall separating us from the real world will finally collapse.
We have been busy making noises so we don’t have to hear the truth. We’re too occupied to make a living in order to pay our bills. Economy has become a great factor in our lives. Since the end of the 60’s the gap between the rich and the poor has drastically widened in the United States of America. This news would turn over Aristotle’s body in his grave. He warned us regarding the importance of the middle class. A polity, he said, shall not stand on its feet without a strong middle class. “…every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:” (Matthew 12:25). “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25). (King James). During the civil war, Abraham Lincoln reminded us of this particular verse, which is about unity. Bridging the widening gap between the rich and the poor has always been a herculean task, the failure of which led to the Russian revolution in the beginning of the 20th century. Karl Marx warned us about this fact in
the 19th century. Both Aristotle and Marx were for unity in their economic philosophy, except the fact that the former supported the idea of ownership and the latter’s ideas were more like Plato’s.
People, by and large, have lost their connection with nature. The dead bodies of animals on the highways are indications of our interference with the flow of their life style. Deer population has reached the satisfactory level. However, there’re no predators left to help to balance this growth. Ironically we have become their predators, either through hunting or running them over with our cars. As human population grows, we move into their territories such that they would have no choice but show themselves in our yards and farms. Black bears have become more visible than any other times in our towns. Zoos can’t have them due to the increase in their numbers. Hunters, in some areas have been given permit to shoot them. Taking them to the forests is costly. Where are they going to go? We are the ones who have taken over their habitats. They really are not invading our lands. They have been living here for thousands of years. Before this continent was discovered, these animals were living all over it without the fear of one day having their homes destroyed. There was a balance in their population. But once we entered the scene, things rapidly changed due to our inference in their way of life. Our tanks are driving over their lands and crushing them in the name of progress. At what expense, progress? Was Robin Hood right in robbing the rich to feed the poor? Does the goal justify the means? Acid rain has already driven the loons away from Adirondack’s lakes. We used to hear them as in the movie, ‘On golden pond’. I hope the loons have not vanished from this beautiful lake in Massachusetts, who made this unbelievable master piece possible. I still wonder how they shot this magnificent movie. This is about the life of a retired professor, who visited his summer house on the pond with his wife. While picking strawberries, he looked at a tree revealing its reality to him based on who he was. Perhaps the tree would have appareled differently to a person like Buddha. “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.”DR . Wayne W. Dyer. Being frightened, he ran to the house with an empty basket. Just as the loons have disappeared from those lakes and ponds as a result of what we have done to nature, the trees also appear to us based on who we are. May be what he observed and perceived was a warning sign predicting the future in this movie. Because he and his wife while standing by the pond could still hear the loons. He had left the academic world, and yet the reality didn’t manifest itself to him the way it really was. It takes more than teaching and writing many books to reach the noumenon, which is hidden behind the phenomenon, to use Kant’s language. With pure reason, according to this Prussian philosopher of the 18th century, we can’t know the realm of noumenon. Perhaps it is through the Intellect in us that we can see the reality as it really is.
I believed the writer of the story was deeply influenced by one of Jean Paul Sartre’s novels. This 20th century French existentialist and later Marxist thinker was also a writer (1905-80) He wrote several books in which he expressed his philosophical views.
Wayne Dyer once said: “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.” However, the point is not so much about changing the world, Marx did, but what we need is to know it. The world behaves the way I observe it or perceive it. Kant believed the
world reflects our categories like a mirror. When I can’t change the world around me, I change myself before it is able to change me. Because after all the world is my product. In sub-atomic reality things change once they’re seen. When I’m depressed, I blame the world around me for my depression. Perhaps the world induces the pain in me. But finally I’m the one who can change the world around me. I must maneuver and face what is thrown at me. I have to dodge those hanging rocks coming at me during training as a gladiator or else I’ll have my head smashed. I need to do something with myself. I understand this but was Kant right in saying that the world is our construct? I can manipulate the world so much but I can’t deny the fact that the objective reality matters too. This is where I disagree with Kant’s subjectivism, which is a form of idealism, which gave us Hegel at the end. With Kant I’m in the cage of my categories and I can only see the world through this cage. To do her work, the mother puts her baby in an in ground ‘Tanoor’ (Persian) or break oven when it wasn’t used for baking bread. Imagine a huge barrel looking jar berried in the floor of the kitchen for making bread. A flattened piece of dough would stick to the inner side of this clay oven, which is heated with the red charcoal at the bottom. Of course, when it is not used, it could be used to keep little ones from running around. As this mother’s baby grew up, he felt this was his world. After years his mother decided not to leave him there any longer because he was getting older and wouldn’t fit in. Once this kid was no longer in the ‘Tanoor’, he realized he was in a different world. After all, he had been put there for so long that the oven gradually became the only world he knew. This oven reminds us of Kant’s world. We experienced the world through the categories of our mind. Once we penetrate this wall, which is made of our categories, we experience noumenon realm. This is done with the unlimited Reason or the Intellect. In this horizontal mind and the world, what is missing is that vertical Reality, which is symbolized by the cross. Remember unlike the vertical aspect, the horizontal arms of the cross are short.
I ought to have my philosophical moments. I should stay in the center and let the world turn around me. I’m not going to keep looking at it because I get dizzy. I need piece of mind and stability of character. I must be firm regardless of the changing world. I have to purify my mind through meditation and contemplation.
We have interfered with nature. We keep our chickens on the same diet by feeding them soybeans. By nature they’re driven to make their own choices when it comes to feeding. However, they’re forced to eat the same food every day to meet the demand of mass production. As a result, their eggs lack natural color and taste. If we make them fat by creating small cages and cut their beaks so they eat more rather than pick, then we’re going tampering with nature. To bring back these qualities, some poultry industries have decided to go back and give them the freedom, which they have been deprived of for a long time. Organic eggs and chickens are perhaps indicating the resurrection and revival of what they were before.
Native chicken were also of different colors. But now they’re all white. With chopped bills and caged, as we mentioned before, they’re supposed to gulp the food so they get fat faster and be ready for the market place.
We have been cherishing the idea of freedom for us but not for the chickens. To see the good old chickens, you can watch western movies or go to the nearest farms. Fried chickens are tasty as far as their skins and once you remove them, there is no flavor or taste or even smell. What do you expect? When we plant apple seeds, we’re supposed to have apples not oranges. We can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t have our chickens and eat it too. In other words, we ought not to contradict our selves. We can’t tamper with nature and expect a reward. We can’t have in the ocean nuclear testing and expect the Mother Nature to give us a lollipop. We use dynamites to create mines for the discovery of diamonds and when earth quakes and mudslides destroys the life of the people living nearby, we act as if we have no answers for it. We call them ‘natural disasters.’ But are they really so or they’re just man made works of arts?
There is a difference between using the earth with no moral responsibility and living in harmony with this beautiful gift. There is a difference between destroying what we have and respecting our mother nature. This mother has been nursing us for thousands of years; it is not fair to repay her by what we have been doing to this planet for the past couple hundred years. What are we leaving for posterity? We’re youth oriented, but what is going to be left for those who will be around till the end of this 21th century? We have been poking the body of our mother nature by drilling for oil and minerals. We have been blowing up her body with dynamites for coal or precious jams. Cutting down trees has been destroying the beautiful green color of her body. We have poisoned our atmosphere while we need oxygen to breath. We can experience this every time we put off your candle by covering the top of the cup. We have been committing a gradual suicide, to put it mildly, as we keep tampering with Mother Nature. This mother fed us so we could survive and thrive. However, we have been turning around and destroying her. What gratitude? Philosophically we have been derailed. We also have forgotten what Noah was instructed to do by God in the Old Testament.
Religion and philosophy were together once. We ought to return to our philosophical moments about life and being. We should go back to our true Self. We must focus on our center. We have to make time for our philosophical moments. We need to be in the moment though the past and the future are also important. Like a pendulum we’re either to one side or to the other side. We ought to rise above our nature no matter how much it needs to be fed on a regular basis. (Kant). Our ‘ought’ must not be inferred from ‘is.’ Our ‘ought’ should be independent from ‘is.’(David Hume).
But where are my philosophical moments? I ought to be content with what I have to be happy. How would I know this? Unless you lose what you already have, you’re not going to know what it means to be content. When I lose my health, I know what it was to be healthy. That very vacuum or emptiness left behind makes me miss what I had before, but I didn’t see its existence then. I value it now that I no longer have it. As soon as I’m in danger of losing something, I start valuing it. Why? What is this nothingness which triggers such a feeling? Why this absence makes me sad concerning what I took for granted before? Is this some kind of psychological problems we have to deal with? Why do I not know the existence of what I have at the moment?
Their existence is not noticed till I become aware of their non-existence. What is it about non-being that haunts me more than being? I become complacent with being. A painting on the wall was revealing its existence when I bought it while ago. However, now I hardly notice its very existence. As long as my older sister was around, though she was there, I thought she was going to be there for a long time. But as soon as she passed away, I gradually feel her absence knowing that I can never see her again. I will never hear her voice, unless I recorded it at one time, which is not the same. Because I can play it over and over again till I get tired of the same conversation. There is no novelty here.
We hear, why being rather than non-being? I would ask, why non-being rather than being? Why do I get bored with what is? Perhaps being and non-being complement each other. As long as Karen Carpenter was around, we enjoyed her singing and never thought she was not going to around much longer till she passed away in 1983.
As long as a company has valuable assets on its board, the president might not appraise their great performances till another company offers them better salary, and then there is an immediate rude awakening. When a branch of an establishment loses a few of its employees within a short time, it then begins to appreciate those who have been faithfully working for a number of years and they’re still there to fill the gap. The question is, why do we have to wait till another company value our assets and then we try to higher them back with salaries higher than the competitors? Why didn’t we see their values then? May be we were too busy worrying about what we had missed that is now part of history or what we could achieve in the future. In the mean time what we’re losing is the presence. Here time is a big factor. Time doesn’t sleep. It doesn’t take vacation. It drives me to my death though death is not mine.
When I walk from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’, I’m actually going through the process of birth and death. Death is a form of departure. Every step I take, I’m leaving the spot I occupied before. That very empty space is like death from which birth comes into life. Death is non-being from which being is born. Motion is a series of beings and non-beings. Logically only nothing comes out of nothing and something comes out of something. Something can’t come from nothing. Thus, motion is not possible. But our mind is logically constructed. The world out there doesn’t have to obey the logic of our mind. In fact, it is our mind that ought to change its logic according to the outside world as we did in quantum mechanics. We need to purify our mind to see the Reality as it really is. Nonetheless, this simple fact of logic can tell us that motion is but an illusion. Is time an illusion too? It must be so. However, this goes against our common sense. But being in the center of a circle gives us the feeling that in deed this past and present are the manifestation of a linear way of looking at time and history. Ironically, logic was organized by Aristotle, who lived in Greek culture where history was thought to be circular. The problem, however, is that he was Macedonian and not Athenian. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter for our purpose here.
Let us look at it this way that either something is or is not, using Aristotelian logic. If it is, then it is. If it is not, then it must be becoming. If it is becoming, then it is not. The choice here is between ‘being’ and ‘becoming.’ ‘Becoming’ is the child of being and non-being. If it is true that being can’t come from non-being, then motion or becoming is an illusion. There is no water in the river to be moving. Time is not real. The bubble moving inside of the level tube is moving till it comes to the middle, then it stops. This is how we can tell whether the floor is flat and its surface is horizontal. At one point the bubble stops moving. This is where becoming comes to an end. This is where ‘is’ is. It is being and no longer becoming. Pendulum moves to the right and left till it stops in the middle. Grand pa knows this very well. Time comes to a halt at one point. We, the observers, are also no longer in motion. Are we dead? No, because even the dead move too. Their bodies go through changes in time. The binding reality or soul is not there anymore. Everything is subject to change and becoming.
What is the Ultimate Reality? Is it the necessary being which can’t not be, therefore it must be. This Being doesn’t move. There is no change in it. It is pure actuality. It is already an oak tree. It doesn’t have to become one. Potentiality and actuality are about movement. Once planted, an acorn begins growing provided it meets the right condition. It eventually becomes an oak tree. The acorn has gone from potentiality to actuality. The pure Form, according to Aristotle, is pure actuality.
I want to be in my philosophical niche. I wish to be in space in which there’s no time and no motion. Otherwise, I would need a Reality that is immutable, so the world of change and becoming would make sense. The Ultimate Reality, if there’s one, must be beyond Being and becoming. Then what happens to motion when there is no reality which is at rest? If the Ultimate Reality is beyond being and non-being, then it would mean that there is no room for duality in this Brahman. Then how can I explain change? You don’t have to explain anything because there’s no becoming. It is all an illusion.
The space I wish to be in is in me. That is the abode of eternity, infinitude, piece, and beauty. This is the place in which there’s no past or future. This is where I feel safe from the chaos of the outside world. This is the cave the holy Qur’an speaks of. This is where the horizontal aspect of the cross meets its vertical one.
I’m tired of the rat racing of the modern time. Modernism is the train that runs on the linear concept of time and history. We’re constantly in competition with others because they’re slightly ahead of us. This is like a running race. We can never have peace of mind in such a world.
Practically everything has become subject to contests in our media. The sacred aspects of certain matters are completely ignored as long as these contests bring about high rating, which would translate to lots of money. Materialism has become the golden calf of our culture, which is best described in the movie called ‘Gold finger’. To defy the reality of time, Moses’ followers should
have been patient till their prophet came back from his ascension to the top of the mountain. He had climbed up the Jacob ladder to reach the presence of the Lord.
We’re in such a rush to turn our thousands to millions and billions totally ignoring those who have fallen from the middle class to poverty level. The middle class has been vanishing before our own eyes since the end of the 6o’s. What is going to stop this thirst for more money? How much money can satisfy those who wish for more? We can’t even wait till Moses comes dawn from the sacred mountain to teach us about God’s words. Money, which can bring convenience but not happiness necessarily, has become more important than Truth. If you have a lot of money, you can have power to rule others. You become their master and they become your slaves. Master can lie and cheat and get away, while slave can be punished severely for the same crime. Although master lies, he expects his slaves not to. He expects honesty from those who’re lower than him, while he continues to do whatever he wishes. He uses the people around him, where as others cannot do the same thing. He or they think they’re above the law. But money doesn’t build character. Personality is formed by practicing to be virtuous. It is something we do with ourselves. You can’t buy this by accumulating more wealth. Money brings about respect and importance temporarily. However, once you no longer affluent, all those fake privileges evaporate. All the so called friends, who have been around you like mosquitoes or fruit flies hovering over a left over cake and feeding, except some true ones, disappear with different excuses. Wow! Life is, on the one hand, a mystery and on the other hand, it is a theater of absurd. They know wealth and possession of material entities could be here today and be gone tomorrow. Money making jobs are wonderful till your stocks would take a free falling after a Wall Street crash. Depression, which ensues, might be psychologically so devastating that some open the nearest windows available in their offices and throw themselves out of high rises. Average people, who have to struggle for their daily bread, including the construction workers and the homeless people, are still living, while those who were attached to their money, are buried or cremated and they’re long gone.
No one and nothing can take away your knowledge. This is different from information which your internet can provide you with. The presence is a whole but past and future are not.
When Hollywood wants to take us to the 60’s, they abstract from what once was a whole. We don’t have all the parts to create the whole. Sufis or Muslim mystics believe that they’re children of time. They accept the overwhelming reality of time, on the one hand, and still live in eternity in it, on the other hand. That is why they don’t get crushed by the pressure of time. They don’t let distant memories ruin their moment which is a whole. They stay with wholeness. They practice to love one another while they’re a whole and not when they’re part or half, namely, dead. Let us cherish each other now. Let us forgive one another this moment. Let us not hate each other. “Those who hate you don’t win, unless you hate them. Then you destroy yourself.”(Nixon). We can’t wash blood with blood. Hate begets hate, as dogs beget dogs. This was expressed in the movie named, ‘Ben- Hur’.
We ought to detach ourselves from these traps to be free. Unshackle yourselves from these obstacles so you can have your philosophical moments. We all have been fighting every day to go straight but we fall. We need to get up and continue with our struggles. Let us not be half. Wholeness is the goal. I know it is very hard, but it is worth it. Don’t lose your freedom for anything. Freedom within is the freedom without. Being out of jail is not necessarily the real freedom. The real libration is when we’re completely detached.
This morning, Sunday June, 18th, 2017, which is father’s day, there was a program on channel 21, I believe it was called ‘Global spirituality’, a Zen personality said: things are changing. I immediately said to myself: you must be kidding. Don’t we all know that? Yes, we know that seasons come and go. As soon as I see the sign ‘back to school’, I immediately feel the summer is over. But when I was a kid, summers took so long to end. A summer was an eternity. It would never seem to be going to end at some time. However, now summers finish before they started. It is true that things change. Perhaps, Henry David Thoreau (1817-62), the great American writer, was wrong to have said: Things change but we don’t. With all due respect, I beg to differ. But he must have been referring to our true Self or Atman, which is not subject to change. We all change. The reality is the realm of constant birth and death, being and non-being. Whether I feel sad, the summer will soon reach its end, change occurs regardless. What if I become enlightened like Buddha, would reality still be changing? To have change, we logically need a permanent reality. For the river to move, there must be the two banks, which are not in motion. Impermanence requires permanence. Train station doesn’t go with the trains. But why am I nostalgic with a feeling of loss of the time passed? Summer is not over yet, but I gradually feel it is going away fast. Why am I feeling this way? The word of wisdom answers my question by saying that it is so because I’m so attached or demand eternity of time. There seems to be something in us which wants for things to stay permanently. However, time and motion don’t allow for such a thing to take place. Whatever this may be, it is there to give meaning to change and becoming. When the Zen follower says things change, the question is, why? Perhaps he would say, because the world is the realm of imperfection. It is the place of life and death. This chain of becoming is made of beings and non-beings. They follow each other. I’m standing at one spot and I’m not where I was in the former point. This happens in time of course. Let us say, the sea is time and a fish moves from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ in time. Being is coming out of non-being and vice versa. This is the world of opposites and contradictions. Sweet and sour, a Chinese soup, are opposites but they’re not contradictory. However, being and non-being contradict each other and they’re also opposites. Something is either sour or not and it can’t be both at the same time and in the same relationship. The same is true of something that is sweet.
Is life really a struggle to go through? Are we suffering in this world? Is there a way out? At least if I can’t be a Buddha or an enlightened person for that matter, I can have my philosophical moments. I can free myself from the guilt feelings, which have been imposed on me all my life, not only by others but also by myself. Because sometimes we are our own biggest enemies. I feel guilty that I haven’t done enough in my life to fulfill my obligations, to myself and to people and
the society I have been living in. I should have been this and that. A lot of these guilt feelings are about the past. As far as the present time, the culture of the house and the outside of the house expect me to be the best at who I’m and what I can do. Regarding the future, I ought to feel guilty about what I’m planning to be and also to do, which I have done nothing in the present time about them. I try to eliminate these expectations and judgments thrown at me by others, so I can begin to navigate on the path of virtue or excellence. Others want me to be perfect in building myself and what I do. Perfectionism is hidden behind these acts by others. Once I’m clear about them, then I start expecting myself with that idea of perfectionism in mind. You could never be perfect because others or you would expect perfection. To be perfect in an imperfect world is quite a challenge. We can never please or satisfy everyone, including ourselves. I wish these guilt feelings were like our cloths. I wish they were like dresses or shirts or even pants or skirts so we could easily change. Just as I feel judged by others, I’m also guilty of doing the same thing to others, including myself. You’re accused of something in which there is no intent to begin with. We also accuse ourselves the same way. There has been no intentionality in what I have done and yet I’m being crucified on a regular basis. He took our sins to the cross. These were blames and false accusations that he was sacrificed for. If this was done to a primordial man or god more than two thousand years ago, who am I compared to him? This is why I need my philosophical moments. I ought to believe in myself and stay firm in this choppy sea of imperfection. My anchor must be very strong; otherwise I would drift away into where there is no turning back.
While waiting to see our doctor, I read in a magazine: what happens when your perfect life becomes boring? First of all, what is a perfect life? Is there any such a thing in this world? As we know, given the imperfection we live in, there is no perfect life here. It is boring because it is imperfect? Is there a perfect happiness in this world? Where is it? Why don’t we think a bit?
How can we go through all these hurdles and impediments of everyday life? Some great minds suggest we ought to believe in the fact that things happen for reasons, not necessarily by God, but this is the way the universe operates. This is very comforting solution to the problem at hand. Another remedy offered was that things just happen and we shouldn’t put the blame on God. Whether they happen for reasons, we have no idea. But nonetheless, what we do with what happens to us matters a lot. A great mind once said: What happens to us is only 10%. How we react to that 10%, is 90%. In other words, 90% is the way we react to that 10%. Our frustration comes from the fact that we overreact to what happens to us as a result of which we get angry. We always put the blame on the others, while ignore ourselves. In fact, the reason we get mad is not the 10%. It is, however, the way we react to it. Remember what the late former president Nixon once said: Those who hate you don’t win, unless you hate them back. Then you destroy yourself. Let us try again; those who hate you win, unless you forgive them. Then you save
yourself. In the latest movie on Cinderella, she told her step mother: I forgive you. But we don’t forgive to hurt our haters. We forgive because it is a right thing to do. Otherwise, we fall into Kant’s hypothetical imperative which is conditional. One can easily fall into this trap. While I was listening to a Catholic station on F.M radio, I heard a woman’s testimony about the reason why she accepted Jesus Christ as her savior. She said she asked God: If you save me, then I shall be a faithful Christian all my life. This may not be an exact quotation. However, as you can see, she has already fallen into the trap of the hypothetical imperative Immanuel Kant spoke of. We forgive because it is the right thing to do, according to Kant’s categorical imperative. There is definitely a great enjoyment in taking revenge or getting even. Cinderella showed tremendous amount of graciousness in forgiving the aggressor, namely, her stepmother, regardless of what she had done to her. When we contemplate revenge, we think we’re getting even in the name of justice. We wish for justice to be done. I feel the other has unjustly fired me from my job. For the sake of justice, the thought of retaliation enters my mind. However, this 10% is not worth spending a life time in jail or be put on death row for that matter. Then how would you react to this 10% unfairness? Your reaction, which is worth 90%, ought to be right. The goal shouldn’t justify the means. You must not behave like Robin Hood. You don’t have to do what is wrong in order to achieve a good result. According to the natural law theory, which concerns the double-effect doctrine, what Robin Hood did was wrong. Howard Pyle wrote a beautiful novel in which a thief robbed the rich to feed the poor. Technically, he is wrong in what he did, especially when he got a friar involved in this act of theft. There are many movies which are based on this work by H. Pyle. Many children and also parents have been watching these movies, if they never had a chance to read the book. However, they may never catch the immoral lessons taught by the characters called heroes in this story. After all, Robin is the central male figure in this narrative and he is highly praised for what he has done, even by the friar, who belonged to a Christian order, as friars usually do. Some scholars of English departments might disagree with my interpretation of this story. Granted that they’re right in so doing, however, not everybody is a professor of English literature.
There is nothing wrong in fighting against injustice legally. Travesty of justice is not something we can just forget when it occurs in our society. Nevertheless, there’re legal ways to pursue such a goal in order to get justice when one has been treated unjustly, although there’re also those who just decide to let it go for much higher purpose. When two women, who were claiming a baby, were brought to King Solomon, the great judge and Wiseman, he simply offered them justice. To
be fair to both sides, he decided to evenly cut the baby in half with a sword. In other words, if you were to use a scale, each piece of the baby’s body would weigh the same as the other piece. If there was a way to demonstrate this geometrically, it would be like a straight line connecting the point ‘A’ to the point ‘B’. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. (Euclid) Even though he told his teacher Plato that this was only a postulate or an assumption, his idea has been with us for more than two thousand years. Modern mathematicians, however, have proven that there is nothing in the universe that is straight, namely, geometrically everything is curved. Nonetheless, let us say, the distance between the two points is straight. When it comes to justice, the exact point between ‘A’ and ‘B’ should be the ideal spot. This was where Solomon’s sword was about to cut the baby in half. This act would have led to the death of the baby, even though it was technically correct. However, what happened after is very much like the doctor’s scale, which has been gradually changing to digital. These non-digital scales are supposed to be the most accurate ones. Nevertheless, their functions are different from the digital scales. Once the patient is on them, the assistant nurse then moves the stones on the horizontal rode till there is a balance. What Solomon did after the initial act can be referred to this kind of scale. He was and is known for his wisdom. He didn’t go by the book or protocol to judge a case. He did it with his God given sacred knowledge. He delivered what he was impregnated with, namely, his great sense of judgment. He saved the life of that little baby. He didn’t think he had to do something wrong in order to get to his goal. He was no Robin Hood. The goal didn’t justify the means for him. I have also tried to emulate him and his wisdom.
The story has it that once a Zen master confronted an argument which broke out between two groups of his students over the possession of a kitten. They both claimed the little cat. The master stopped them and picked up the cat and told them, if you come up with an answer to this koan or puzzle, I’ll save the kitten. And if you don’t, I shall kill the baby cat so each side could have one half of the dead animal. To answer a koan, we’re not supposed to think. We must solve it suddenly and immediately. The master announced the koan: what is Zen? His students began thinking and tried so hard to come up with an answer. None of them was able to answer the puzzle. He told them you destroyed a kitten that was a whole, but it is divided into two half’s. Being heartbroken, they quickly disappeared. Shortly after, one monk entered the yard from outside and was asked the same question. As soon as he heard the koan, he took his shoes off and ran out without thinking. The master called him back and told him: Had you come a little earlier, you would have saved the life of this kitten. Even though this could only be a story, or a fable, or even a parable, if one side had done what the true mother did in front of Solomon, perhaps the kitten would have lived. The true mother loved her baby so much that by detaching herself she saved the life of that beautiful gift. Perhaps the same thing would have happened, had the right side given up in the spirit of detachment, which so happened to be one of the teachings of Buddha. Is it also possible that God tested Abraham to see how attached he was to his son, Isaac? However, being omniscient, he must have known this ahead of time. Perhaps God was teaching us a lesson concerning the art of detachment. Abraham, can you detach yourself from the one you love the most? Can you detach yourself from your conception of who I’m? We form an idea
as to who God is to which we get attached. Abraham, don’t attach yourself to an idea of who I’m. You ought to know me directly and immediately, namely, without a medium, and not suddenly, that is, in no time.
The real mother didn’t hesitate and immediately gave up what belonged to her. She didn’t think twice. However, since the real mother didn’t have the heart to let her baby be cut in half, she asked the king to spare the life of the baby and let the other woman have it. Solomon immediately told this mother to come and take her baby away because the other woman failed the test of honesty. This true mother, who had carried her baby for 9 months and delivered it, didn’t let the goal justify the means for her. The aim of this teacher, this loving mother, was to give and deliver whatever she had. But what could she do when the other woman was taking the fruit of her life away. At this crucial time she made a decision to let go of the, so called, justice. What would I achieve by such an act even if it is done in the name of justice and fairness? The wise king let the baby return to the real mother. It is only 10% that has happened to you, watch how you react to it with your 90%. At what price Justice? If I know justice can destroy my baby, then I pass. Knowing that by righting the wrong that has been done to me, I would ruin many things on my way, I let it go.
I’m that mother, though I delivered the baby of knowledge, it was taken away from me unfairly. However, I let it go lest I might destroy things I have cherished for many years of my life. I forgive the other woman and I’m not holding any grudges against her. I also don’t wish her to be punished.
My name is Socrates, though I was judged unfairly, I don’t take revenge. I accept my punishment knowing that those who have accused me of what I haven’t committed, are aware of what they have done. You, the judges, have stopped me from delivering the baby of knowledge. How can I teach when I’m dead? Not only am I not rewarded, I’m instead punished for false accusations. I had never expected to be acknowledged for my services. However, now that you don’t give me even that, then why are you hurting me by making me feel guilty of what has never been my intention? If you go by the book, you can accuse many people for different things they have done.
Having been stung by a wasp, Socrates would say: Now that you don’t provide me with any honey, at least don’t hurt me? If the fabric of this universe is woven in the loom of justice, then I don’t have to worry so much. I try to be kind and have courage to forgive like Cinderella.
I ought to make sure that only good thoughts occupy my mind. My speech should be also good. My conduct must be good too. I have to work on myself. If I can change the other and the world, then it is wonderful. If I can’t, then I try to change myself. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”(Unknown to me) “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Christ, on the cross) But just because I forgive them, doesn’t mean God, the moral universe, or the
Ultimate Reality will. One can be forgiven; however, it doesn’t mean the person shall not be punished. These are the laws of the moral universe. Jacob was forgiven by God, but it didn’t mean he was not going to be punished. David was also forgiven, and yet he was punished. Anthropomorphically speaking, God forgives but doesn’t forget to punish the guilty. Let us remember, however, that in any act of forgiveness there is an underlying assumption that the forgiver is innocent. But we can’t deny the obvious fact of the travesty of justice when we see one. The young boy who opened fire at a church in Colombia, South Carolina and killed several people was forgiven by the church members. However, the law didn’t forget his horrific act.
We ought to constantly examine our life, as Socrates once taught. We’re like walking dead, if we don’t think philosophically regarding who we’re, where we have come from, and where we’re going. Is it true that our reason is the slave of our passion, as David Hume said? But are not we the rational animals according to Aristotle? What is the role of rationality, if it is not capable of overcoming our lust and animalistic desires? We’re cut between an animal nature, and human nature. We have a lot in common between us and the animal kingdom. We enjoy sex and procreation as much as they do, namely, animals. We’re cut between a rock and a hard place. In other words, we’re stuck. We have a tight rope to walk on. Hitler’s dog was loyal to him to the last minute, in spite of who his master was. But even if we act like his dog, we still have feelings as human beings, which are deep within us that separate us from them. When those Nazi criminals were asked in the court, why they did what they did, their response was that we just obeyed the higher up orders. Of course, this couldn’t excuse them. They were not able to say they were determined, thus had no choice in the matter. Sartre, the French existentialist philosopher then, didn’t accept this reasoning by the officers. He said regardless of the orders from the top, you still have a moral responsibility to be conscientious objectors. When you knew those orders to commit murders were violating the human rights and had nothing to do with rules of war, you could have disobeyed them. What is the difference you guys and Hitler’s dogs, who could have been trained to kill babies and eat them alive? It is true that we’re rational animals, but we’re also spiritual beings. Biblically speaking, part of us is not from the earth. God’s spirit or breath is running through our souls. Perhaps we can say we’re spiritual animals besides being rational. We’re both rational and spiritual beings. We’re not only mind and body, as we have it in modern psychology. Mind represents rationality here. Those criminals rationally followed the orders of their commanders. So rationality alone doesn’t make me moral. Kant said: moral is rational and rational is moral. If I don’t lie, it is because lying is contradictory in and of itself. This is true, but this is not why I don’t lie. Originally I learned not to lie when I was a kid because of what I believed to be true and that was the word of God. There was a religious mandate which made me stay away from lying. This belief was the foundation of my conviction to be honest and transparent. I was taught not to cloth the truth with falsehood. Don’t make a dress out of falsehood and cover the truth. I wasn’t thinking whether lying was rational or it wasn’t rational. As I grew up, I realized reason could switch positions. You can use reason in any shape or form. You can figure out how to finish your studies so you can graduate in time or you
can learn what to do in order not to pay taxes in full until those in charge come up with a system to stop you. It seems reason is like a pendulum.
It can swing to the right and left. It doesn’t have a solid position, unless grand pa clock stops working. This pure reason of Kant can’t help us in determining what is right or wrong. I reason, therefore, I’m moral. Descartes was criticized when he came up with: I think, therefore, I’m, because he identified himself with the ‘I’. Since he was announcing it, there must be pre- cogito ego sum awareness. So there should be a pre- awareness before we can even come up with: I think, therefore, I’m moral. This, awareness or consciousness, I believe, is not the spirit we talked about while ago, because this is subject to change. If this is consciousness of something, then it is not what we mean by pure awareness. We’re always conscious of something. In this case we’re conscious of ‘I think, therefore, I’m’ or I’m aware of ‘I thinks, therefore, I is moral’. My true Self is pure consciousness. This, to me, is that very spirit I was referring to before. This Reality within us is eternal and infinite. This is the unlimited Reason Kant doesn’t concentrate on when he writes about pure reason being limited. Kant argued that pure reason is limited. But how can you make such a statement, without knowing the unlimited reality of Reason or Intellect? Unless I have an idea of the whole, how can I talk about the limitation of the half? Although he came from a religious family, he seems to have missed this fact and finally ended up with resurrection of God in ethics or practical reason. He believed we can’t know God, our true Self, and things in themselves with pure reason. “God exists” being analytic, couldn’t be, because existence didn’t add anything to God. So he had to resurrect God in the moral realm, which means by being excellent as a moral agent, I can then reach Him. This sounds like a wonderful idea at the beginning. However, it is only a starting point. With ethics we can have clear water, which was muddy before. Moral precepts are the rungs of the ladder. To go to the roof, we need a ladder. But once on the roof, we should try to soar like a hawk. While pigeons are content to congregate on the roof tops, eagles fly way up into the sky. With eye sight so strong to track a fish in the lake from the above, they keep looking and searching for anything that moves dawn below. This is the eye of the Intellect; the third eye the ancient thinkers and wise men and women talked about thousands of years ago. This is the Reality which knows everything about you where as others, except a few, tend not to worry about you and your hidden physical and psychological pains you have been suffering from for many years of your life. This intellect or third eye or moment is the best friend we have. It is the closest company to us. When others can’t see our pains because they’re invisible to them, though we feel them, this Reality understands what I go through. When no one could understand how he had tolerated a severe tension head ache since he was 14 years of age, this inner Reality was there with him. Every time he complained about his head ache, they made fun of him. Nobody believed him, not even his wife and children. When he was bleeding on the cross and was in excruciating pain, no one felt it except a few. Don’t we all go through psychological pains as well as physical ones? Who is there to empathize with me? We’re loneliest at times. Who is my brother’s keeper? Who cares whether you’re suffering from the pain of injustice or the feeling of being ignored when you cry for help? This is when I have my philosophical moments. This is why I believe there must be an
Ultimate Reality. A non-dualistic perfection that is beyond being and non-being, rest and motion is within me. This Reality doesn’t even exist. What is the meaning of the word ‘existence’ anyway? It simply means ‘outstanding’. Now, do I have to have a proof for its existence? No, I don’t have to go through all sorts of logical acrobatics to do so. In fact I believe this would be very anthropomorphic to do so because we’re always in business of proving either someone’s innocence in court or whether there is life on some planet. When it comes to the existence of the Ultimate Reality, we just can’t use the same logical tools to prove it exists. After all this Reality is beyond being and non-being, because it just doesn’t fit into the categories of our mind and thoughts. We can’t even use the verb ‘to be’ for it. So I cannot even say it is. With all due respect for Hamlet, ‘To be or not to be’ don’t work for it, because we can’t introduce duality into this Reality. With our feeble reason we can’t know the essence of this Reality. Kant argued that with our pure reason we can’t know God. Did Kant mean the Ultimate Reality when he was talking about God? I seriously doubt it. We can, however, know that Reality through our Intellect.
I agree with Kant that ‘God exists’ is an analytic statement. In other words, all information about God is already in God, so there is no need for the term’ existence’. Besides, the word ‘God’ is only a title. It is like a marquee or a canopy or an umbrella over and above the real names of the deities of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam or other Religions for that matter. ‘God exists’ basically means this title is standing out there. Well, I don’t think we can have any problem with that. After all, the marquee is out there, way above standing over other deities as their title. Let us keep in mind, that Reality is way beyond our language. And his language and writings have been interpreted and misinterpreted for thousands of years. Even when we read them, we start having our own interpretations. Ultimately, the only way we can avoid all these difficulties is to reach that very Atman, in Hinduism, within us. Once we’re there, all these scriptures reveal themselves to us. As long as we’re in touch with the deepest Reality within us, nothing can hurt us.
“A mighty wind blew night and day. It stole the oak tree’s leaves away,
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark.
But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around.
The weary wind gave up and spoke,
“How can you still be standing, Oak?”
The oak tree said, “ I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two,
Carry every leaf away,
Shake my limbs, and make me sway.
But I have roots stretched in the earth,
Growing stronger since my birth.
You’ll never touch them, for you see,
They are the deepest part of me.
Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure.
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you,
I’m stronger than I ever knew.”
Especially now, try to remember that you’re stronger than any problem you encounter or any disappointment life will bring.” (Toy 117-5, Hallmark Licensing, LLC, Hallmark INC. Kansas City, MO 64141.) I’m like an oak tree in the middle of my yard. Thank you my daughter.
Kant said just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should. A buffet restaurant is about self serving, but what comes to mind when we think about it concerns all you can eat. However, just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should. This reminds us of David Hume’s division between ‘is’ and ‘ought’. Hume argued that we can never infer ‘ought’ from ‘is’. In a word, my morality doesn’t rest on the status quo or things as they are. Kant seems to have followed Hume’s idea by saying that just because we can; it doesn’t mean we ought to. Every time I go to one of these restaurants, and eat as much as I can, being stuffed like a turkey during thanksgivings, I seem to be asking the same question. What is this urge to fill my stomach till I have hard time breathing? Is it greed? Is it about filling a vacuum I have for what I haven’t accomplished? What is it? Welcome to my philosophical moments.
Our president, Donald trump, knowing the fact that he had the power to fire FBI director James Comey, he did so. He also knows he can indirectly fire Robert Mueller. However, he still doesn’t know whether he should while we’re approaching the end of the month of June, 2017. The question remains whether or not we have the right to do what we want just because we can. An employee asks his manager: why are you firing me or for what reason or reasons are you letting me go? His manager answers him by saying that because this is the way things are and this is how things work around here. The employee asks again: I understand that this is the way it works, but do you think it is right for you to fire me for small mistakes just because you can? In
spite of a good turn out on Wall Street, this Company dawn sizes 500 employees. The employee’s representative addresses the president by saying that what you guys are doing is not rational at all. We understand that completely, however, we have to do what works for the Company, the president responded. But is it right what you do just because it works? Well, we must do what brings us more profits. But what about those who have lost their jobs in the process, how they are going to look at their family during this Chrismas, the representative asks. Of course, they can collect. For how long, six months and then what, he asks? Even though we’re doing well in Wall Street, the government has been forcing us to pay fair share of our taxes just because we make more money. But what guarantee do we have that you guys will create jobs, once you get a high tax break? Well you just have to believe in us. However, even though oil Companies were given very high tax cut years ago, instead they raised the price of gas. Other companies, in spite of tax break, didn’t create jobs and the unemployment was on the rise. Was not Adam Smith, the father of modern Capitalism, who once said ‘ought’ should be based on the universal sentiments globally? Being influenced by Hume, he believed that there must be a room for ethics and morality in business? But what is he role of Religion and morality in what you guys are doing? In fact Smith’s first book was on ethics.
Karl Marx later on criticized Smith on the question of competition as a foundation of Capitalism. He argued that competition itself erodes the ethical stand in Capitalism. Now, how can you expect us to keep up with the ethical standard of Mr. Adam Smith? On the one hand, we have to compete; on the other hand, we should respect the moral aspect of what Smith was talking about? We simply cannot have our cake and eat it too.
With the presidency of Donald Trump, the major economic problem of the widening gap between the rich and the poor, since the end of the 60’s, has been under scrutiny by the media and other sources. I have always watched FOX News, as being pro-Republican Party, CNN, as being somewhat in the middle, tilting to the left during the election and the presidency of president Trump, and MSNBC, as being pro-Democratic cause. All three channels have been supported by commercials. How can they survive without millions of dollars pouring into these channels? However, MSNBC has always been critical of the wealthy in terms of not paying their fair share of taxes, and also accumulating so much so that now billions of dollars are not enough to satisfy their appetites. They feel the Republican Party supporters are mostly among affluent folks who wouldn’t want to share their profits with their employees as they should. I watch these channels, some more than others and have enjoyed them tremendously, and yet I wonder which of them is more consistent with what they stand for. It sounds like FOX is less contradictory than MSNBC. The former supports the Republican cause so they’re heavily paid by the commercials coming from big Companies for whom millions don’t count that much. However, when it comes to the latter, all the crew are paid good money, all the way from the anchors to others but at the same time they criticize the wealthy such as president Trump. The question is: Aren’t they themselves contributing to the cause they have been criticizing on a daily basis? Once you accept money from the advertisers and interrupt the programs several times to show what they have to
offer, don’t you think that alone defeats the purposes of what you’re trying to achieve. Is not that a compromise? This, to me, is a contradiction you can’t help but commit yourself to or else you have no job. The commercial industry wouldn’t mind to be criticized as long as you show people what they are selling and how much profits they make in the process. I may be wrong in my assessment of what I have observed. Because the anchors could respond by saying that at least this is one way we can get the news out to people, even at the expense of being trapped in the embedded contradiction from which it is hard to get out. In other words, this is better than nothing, though we can see the inevitable inconsistency in the system. The wealthy subsidize these channels, whether the democrats are dominant in the congress or the senate or not. As long as we, the democrats, probe the republicans and their activities in accumulating more money and evade paying their taxes, these channels are of great use to us. We the democrats must act like Robin Hood. We should take from the rich in order to feed the poor. However, is this right? Does the goal justify the means? This goes against the natural law. This falls into Kant’s hypothetical imperative, which is conditional. This is far removed from his categorical imperative, which is based on non-consequentiality, namely, it doesn’t rely on the results.
Let us not forget that for those Companies who advertise their products through all these channels there is one fact that matters the most and that is profit. So whatever works, is right as far as they’re concerned.
This is an old William Jamsian (1842-1910) idea. Of course, it has been taken out of context. He was a great American psychologist and philosopher. He was heavily criticized by Bertrand Russell (1872-1970). Therefore, at the end of the day, a Capitalist, or a believer in the free market economy wouldn’t care whether you’re MSNBC or FOX NEWS as long as their profit margins are high. They would argue that if it was not for us, you guys wouldn’t be there. So as much as we need you, you people need us. The media is there to entertain you; we’re here to sell you our products. However, if they directed their criticisms towards us, they wouldn’t be able to survive and the network would suffer as a result. You democrats, no matter how much you take issue with the republicans, you can’t function without us. Remember, we’re business men and what works for us is right. You know very well that you can’t criticize us because we’re your supporters. Thus, your comments concerning the Capitalists are conditional and one-sided. If there is a corruption in the Company that has been using you guys to advertize for its products, you can’t have anything to say in the news concerning how unlawfully it has been running its business. Depending on which party is in the office, things, at least for 4 years or 8 years, change for corporations when it comes to taxes. If you happen to an affluent democrat, then you would not mind to have your ads subsidize MSNBC. Perhaps all those corporations and Companies are supporting the democratic cause. But what matters more than anything else is whether or not these businesses share their profits with their employees. If not, then MSNBC has been instrumental is educating them to do so. They’re like teachers who get paid to educate. If these advertisers are believers in the universal sentiments and feelings, then they’ll improve. If the opposite is true, then the network will lose money. Welcome to my philosophical moments.
When I have physical pain, I’m not happy. I wish there was a pill, which could help me with my agony. However, even ‘Aleve’ producers have realized that once you are sleeping, you are not up to feel the pain. This means even if ‘Aleve’ itself didn’t help you, don’t worry because there is ‘Aleve PM’. I know, for example, that ‘Aleve’ doesn’t take my headaches away. Then if I have sleeping problem on top of that, then I use this product to fall sleep and feel no pain, at least, for a few hours. If this is the case, then why should I bother with this whole thing anyway? If I have a lot of pain, all I should do is either go to bed or take a sleeping pill.
Pain is there to let me know there is something wrong with part of my body. If there is, where is it? Why do I suffer so much? What is the cause of this pain? Pain killers only cover the real cause or causes but they don’t cure my illness.
When people are under a lot of stress, their health becomes an issue to consider. Stressful jobs could affect the body. Many employees complain about developing ulcers after a period of time. On the other hand, when you’re physically ill, it could affect your mental state. None of these realities we experience, whether it is mental or physical, are visible. A sergeant can reach where the pain originates but he can’t observe it. The same thing is true when it comes to our mental pain. We can’t locate it no matter how hard our psychologists or psychiatrists try.
French thinker and Mathematician, Rene Descartes (1596-1650) regarded these two realities, not phenomenon, but rather as two different substances. Therefore, he left a legacy behind called ‘Cartesian dualism.’ This mind body dualism became a complicated philosophical issue for later thinkers after him. Several of them made an attempt to bridge the gap between the two, while Jesus said: “What…God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark, 10:9) Descartes perhaps never thought that these two substances could possibly be one reality in the first place just like soul and body, which were one reality for the early Hebrews. Unfortunately some philosophers tried to bring the two together by reducing one to the other. They argued that either everything is made of mind or matter. As we can see, they’re not much of a solution to the problem of the split between these two substances.
Division is the product of mind. Pure reason divides, as Kant believed, and asks questions it can’t answer. Our mind, I think, is the realm of ‘many’. It separate reality into two or more. We remember, the famous saying, divide and rule. There’s no ‘many’ outside of my mind. There’s only oneness. This camera or binocular called my mind must be purified so it can let me see the reality as it really is. (Buddha) There’s one consciousness or awareness. The Hebrews didn’t believe in the split between the soul and the body, perhaps because they looked beyond the dividing reality of the mind, which is nothing but oneness. It is also possible that they didn’t see a separation or better distinction between the mind and the body as Descartes did. I really don’t know why we had to see a difference between the two? Intellect or Atman or a ray from the Ultimate Reality within me is connected to the oneness located beyond my mind. We see only those shadows on the wall and believe they’re real. They’re separated and divided. Once we
found out about the bonfire, which is one, we realize that the reality behind is one. And when we saw the sun, then we understood the real oneness. (Plato)
I have nothing against modern technology. However, in recent years we have been encountering new way of communication which has been unprecedented. With the advent of computer industry and cell phones and other related items put out later on by Steve Job, our life has drastically changed for better or worse. We can hardly see anyone without a cell phone. This is a global issue. I myself don’t possess one. It is extremely useful, however. When you want to reach your students, it does miracle as long as they check their cell phones. And if they don’t, they find themselves waiting for their professor without knowing the class has already been cancelled due to an emergency. When I put an article on the webpage, students have it on their systems. What is the trade off here then? It is perhaps when we use them, while we really don’t need to do so. They’re to help us to communicate better. I recently watched an ad on T.V. for something I don’t remember. Father is driving while his wife is sitting next to him with a head set. Three children are in the back seats and are all hooked up to their head sets. The only person without the head set is the driver. He feels very lonely and ignored because there is no family conversation. What happened to the good old sense of family gathering in front of the fire place, for instance, in the 19th or early 20th century? Only the reddish yellow light was coming through the windows instead of the blue light of the television and other kinds of technological items such as wide screen of computers. This contrast between now and then, I believe, is worth noting. Are we losing something in the process? It is up to you to judge. As I was walking out of Wal-Mart, I saw one of the workers in the parking lot pushing the carts back to the store. I began joking about the weather with him. Little did I know, he had his head set on? In response, he said: What? I immediately answered: Never mind. So much for my communication! This is not the first time I have had such an experience with people, which ended up with no connection with them. It is very disappointing, to put it mildly. When you live in a society, you need to be able to reach one another, even in the public. But instead, I see thousands of folks, young and old, tied up with their electronic gadgets, insolated and isolated from in and out with eyes and ears focused on what is on line. They live as if while they’re here physically, they’re in another world all together. I guess we have to wait till new toys enter the market to bring our people back to our world again. Till then the driver and I feel left out and very lonely, though we’re among people. Is this the “Great American Eclipse” which is a total one? Yesterday, Monday, August 21, 2017, it was experienced by many in the United States of America. I didn’t have a chance to do so. For the ancients such a phenomenon had some significant value. I hope it was a sign of a new era of good luck and prosperity for us, not only economically but spiritually.
Please join me in my philosophical moments, even if you might be contemplating to make fun of me and my observations. So far I have been resisting the temptation of having one of these useful modern ways of life. For how long I can do that. I have no idea? After all, as I speak, I’m typing and making use of a lab top, which was my daughter’s birthday gift to me. So we old timers are trying to catch up with today’s rapid change, hopefully for better.
Some 30 years ago Allan Bloom wrote a best seller called, ‘The closing of the American mind’. This book was published in 1987, almost three decades ago. It was overnight sensation. Was he like Friedrich Nietzsche, who had predicted what was going to happen in the 20th century? Perhaps he was like him. After 30 years, we see signs of what he had to say in his celebrated and magnificent master piece, all around us. Some may disagree with everything he wrote. Nevertheless, he was a prophet for our time. What he had anticipated as a philosopher, I believe, Wayne Dyer, went out to do something about it by giving lectures on public television for fund raising and writing books before he died recently. Bloom and Dyer were was not the only ones who had felt the necessity of waking up the world in general and America in particular concerning the lack of spirituality in our life. They’re still individuals who’re deeply concerned about the moral chaos we’re in. One of them was the late professor Huston Smith (1919-2016), who was an authority in World Religions. In an interview, which took place years ago, he was not optimistic regarding the status of Religions and their roles in people’s lives in the future. These intellectuals worry about the closing of the American mind and the rest of the world. They want to see the preservation of the essence of our Religions and their effects on different cultures. They think we’re gradually losing grip on the value of what it means to be virtuous and ethical. They have seen the economic inequality, which has been on the rise since the end of the 60’s till now. They have studied the widening gap between the rich and the poor for the past 50 years. They have observed the disappearance of the middle class. Allan Bloom warned us about the status of higher education. He saw the collapse of America from that point of view. Without being superstitious, is this the sign of the end of time?
I believe all of us ought to take time and have our own philosophical contemplation, speculation, and moments regarding where we have come from, where we are, and where we’re going. We should question the nature of reality, being, and life. We must learn to slow down to think about who we are in this universe. We have to know the meaning of life, if there is one. We have been thinking a lot, but we’re off the track when it comes to answering the most fundamental questions concerning things that matter. We have been alive and yet don’t live authentically. We’re lost in this maze and we’re having hard time finding the way out of this mess.
We blame the economy and unfair distribution of wealth for our unhappiness. Jobs become more important, so we can be alive. Perhaps Karl Marx was right when he put economy ahead of Religion. However, we also have heard “man doesn’t live by bread alone” (Christ).We complain about the environmental problems, whether we have been contributing factors or not. We’re concerned about our health, especially as we get older. We’re apprehensive and worried regarding our mortality, knowing that one day we have to go. “Father don’t go, (son)” “I must,” (father), (latest movie on Cinderella). I’m yet to see a presidential debate between two candidates in which they dealt with the spiritual and religious affairs of their nations.
We needed Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), the German philosopher, to remind us that we have forgotten both death and being. We no longer question what death is all about. He said we’re being onto death. I guess movies and shows have belittled the meaning of death. We take what
we watch as reality although we know very well that what we see on T.A. are not realities. Once we forget being, we also forget nothingness. He walked in one day and gave a speech on nothing. One of the participants was asked: What did he say? He answered: nothing, because being has no meaning without non-being. Another day he came in the class with a piece of bark and told everyone that there’s more philosophy in this than in the whole history of philosophy put together. He lived the rest of his life in the black forest in Germany. Little did he know that this beautiful place would soon become the subject of environmental disaster created by man, which led to the death of good portion of this magnificent habitat for animals and plants caused by pollution? Perhaps he had predicted what would happened to our natural world, once we became forgetful regarding the health of our mother nature, which was the result of the forgotten truth of death and being. Just as Fried Nietzsche warned us about the consequences of the death of Christian theology (God is dead), for the 20th century, which was the emergence of wars leading to the death of millions of people, Martin Heidegger indirectly tried to awaken us to the fact that we’re systematically destroying our planet. They made a philosophical attempt to stop us from a gradual suicide. By the end of this century, if we’re still alive, we’ll have witnessed the death of many of our metropolitan cities all around the world once they’re submerged and turned to Atlantis.
We ought to learn to have our own philosophical moments along philosophical speculations before it is too late.
As science progressed, faith seems to have taken the back seat. Snake of psyche, wrapped around the decayed tree of sacred knowledge, has been forced to leave, thus, our psychological problems of the modern age. This snake can no longer hold on to the cross because the body of Jesus has been brought dawn and put away. This tree now only symbolizes the death of a primordial man, or as it is believed, God. Once the bark of this tree begins pilling off, it will show the sign of decadence. Christ wasn’t in the tomb. He was resurrected. All three crosses on the hill gradually either were used or abandoned to decompose. Jesus is now in heaven. He no longer has physical body. He instead has a heavenly body. Psyche should now anchor to this Christ to stay healthy. Adam, Eve, and the snake are now out of the Garden of Eden. Only the tree remains. Those who saw the physical body of Jesus and seized the moment were few. Others who didn’t, they ought to appeal to his heavenly body now and gain knowledge by reading the Bible, which is the body of his teachings.
Depression is one of the main causes of death in our culture. Some doctors, who’re into psycho-somatic field, have finally realized that our physical problems can’t be cured by simply using substances and drugs. Apparently Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the Austrian physician and the father of psychoanalysis, himself warned us regarding this fact. However, substances are still used on patients with psychological problems including depression.
Nevertheless, there were physicians like the great Persian philosopher Avicenna (980-1037), who lived more than one thousand years ago, and applied psycho-somatic method to heal his
patients. He was a renaissance man before the term became a reality as rebirth or revival between 14th and 16th centuries in Europe. Not only was he a philosopher, theologian, physician, he was also a man who sat with the Sufis (Muslim mystics) or Dervishes and learned from them. He was a religious individual who hardly missed his prayers. This was the time when there was no separation among Religion, philosophy, and science. This lack of cooperation among these three disciplines gradually emerged after renaissance and Protestant reformation and continues to this day. We moved from the one to the many, from the whole to the parts. Now we ought to go back to oneness. We’re badly in need of the ancient wisdom. In a commercial on T.V we hear a Hollywood actor says: out with the old, in with the new. Just because something is old, it doesn’t mean it should be thrown away. Novelty is beautiful but not at the expense of the destruction of the past. We ought to take care of our elders and those who’re getting old and helpless. We can learn a lot from them. Some aged French wines, of course, are full-flavored and consequently they become very valuable as they get older. This is so, till for some unknown reasons they begin to leak. Once this takes place, then the result is a different product, which is nothing but vinegar. Some people believe the older you get, the wiser you become. This is not necessarily true. Nonetheless, as we become older, we mellow down and based on our accumulated experiences of life, we gain more wisdom concerning the life we lived. Even though we would like to be alive for our loved ones, we also want to live authentically before we leave this world. We have a lot to pass to the posterity and the next generation.
Old generation ought to be respected, according to Confucius. He went back 500 years chronologically and studied the golden age of Chou dynasty to find out how they had managed to maintain a hierarchy of reverence in their society in which man and nature were living in harmony.
Christopher Columbus once said that unless we lose sight of the coast, we’re not going to reach our destination. Confucius would never agree with such an idea. He would say that unless we know our past, we’re not going to know where we’re going in the future.
In another commercial a little boy is giving his stuffed animals haircuts and just as he was about to do the same thing to his little sister mom cut him red handed and gave him a frightening and dirty look. Do you think she punished him at least verbally? Not only did she not, instead she was standing there with a mop in her hand. Where is the ethical message in this? You shouldn’t spill the milk or juice on the floor. However, if you did, I have the right paper tower which can wipe it out in no time. What are we teaching our kids? Isn’t this a form of child abuse in the disguise of commercialism? In another commercial we see whole bunch of tiny kids are sitting on the floor and are asked: What is better, more or less? Of course, the little innocent ones are taught to say, more, which would mean the more you have, and the happier you’re. Why do we allow these strangers touch the mind of our children at this early age? Aren’t not we morally responsible? We go after the pedophiles and to bring them to justice no matter where they’re and when they committed such acts. Some of those who have or have had pedophilias happen to be priests and they’re now 60 or 70 years old. We look for them so they can face justice. However,
when child abuses occur in commercialism we tend not to do anything about them. Who’re educating our children? I read in a magazine, AARP “The danger of whooping cough is not once upon a time—it’s now.” This is accompanied by a picture of mother and father wolves sitting on a couch while the father is holding a baby. This picture alone should tell us something about what we were just talking about. We need to act now before it too late. Are the thousands of dollars offered for such commercials that important so we don’t even mind using our own loved ones, our own kids to get them? We might get a response from these parents that they save this money for their schools in the future. This sounds more like Robin Hood’s approach to provide the money for a cause. How easily we accept the golden calf for the God of Moses. Perhaps we don’t even miss Sunday mass or going to church. How about the media and the net works that have been accepting millions of dollars from these advertisers who have been violating ethical norms? What happened to our moral responsibilities? On the one hand, we fight for justice when it comes to politics. On the other hand, we’re subsidized by these companies and their immoral commercials. Can we have our cake and eat it too? Where are our philosophical moments here? Why ‘thinking’ should be placed only in parking lots of ‘philosophy departments’?
We watch thousands of movies throughout our lives and never ask: why do we have such a desire for stories that happened long time ago? One of the reasons is our longings for eternity. Time destroys as well as it preserves. It is Shiva, which is the destroyer and it is Vishnu, which is the preserver. When we watch the movies regarding the past, let us say, the old west, we ask this question: why do I want to watch these either historical or fictional stories? We were making western movies long before Wyatt Earp, one of the last gunfighters died in 1929 in California. In fact, John Wayne, the famous western movie star met with him before he passed on. To defy the onslaught of time and death, I believe, we create myths and mythologies. In the absence of ancient myths Joseph Campbell wrote about, we come up with our own. I once asked a friend why there have been and there’re so many millions of novels written all around the world? He simply answered: escape. But what’re we escaping from?
Consequently, based on some of these novels, stage shows crowded the theaters and eventually end up in Hollywood or other movie maker centers like Mumbai, which happens to making more movies than even Hollywood. Are escaping from our past? Then why are we going back to it through novels and movies? How about the unknown future, which makes us, be apprehensive at times? We’re advised to stay with the present, the now, and the moment and seize the day. However, the present is moving fast and taking us with it into the past. While we’re writing, like what I’m doing right now, we’re becoming part of the death of history. When we make a movie, which is about what happened during the civil war, like for example, ‘gone with the wind’, we try to show the readers and watchers how life was then. But these phenomena, the book by Margaret Michel and the movie themselves are becoming part of the history. In 1939 this movie appeared in movie theaters across the United States and later on the world. 78 years ago this movie was made, which was about what had happened almost 78 years before in America. While we write about things of the past as, let us say, historians, what we have written is already
becoming part of history. We can’t escape from time and history. Many movie stars who acted during the fifties and sixties are dead already. Perhaps the reason why we made so many western movies so quickly was to fight against the ravage of progress towards a future, which was destroying the past. The western movies in some sense were trying to show the modern world how simple life was then. We’re aware of the fact that Life is a trade off. But we can’t deny the reality that life was a lot simpler then. In the movie, ‘The shootist’ John Wayne played the role of an old gun fighter who was retiring. He was dying of cancer. One day he asked the landlord, who was a widow, to go out with him for a ride in the countryside. He was nostalgic about a life that had past long time ago. He was passing through a different time entering the 20th century. It sounds like in spite of the accelerating train of progress, which made the modernism and whatever that came with it possible, Hollywood wanted to go back to the world of 19th century. It is possible that Wyatt Earp saw one of these movies and didn’t know what to make out of it. He lived in that world of which we don’t know much except what the historians tell us. We build myths and mythologies around them as time goes on. We try to escape the passage of time by going back to those days without the hardships the people had gone through. The more we go forwards, the more we can’t detach ourselves from the past. We suffer either way. We try to escape the pain of existence, pain of being in this imperfect world. We make an attempt to lose ourselves in the stories we read, the novels we wished to be true so we could hide in them. We’re like the actors who go through different roles and imagine they’re in a different world. They are also escaping from the roles they were playing before. We would like to get lost in the movies we watch. We’re slave to our past and future. Time takes the best of us. We’re never in the moment. While we think we’re here and now, we’re either in the past or the future. We ought to be in the center. We should be in the pivot of the wheel of life. We must be in the hub regardless of the spokes, which are turning around us.
What is the role of Religion in my philosophical moments? The question is: Which Religion? The one that has been prepared for me throughout the centuries or the one that reveals itself to my Intellect regardless of the layers of interpretations and misinterpretation, which have been covering its essence?
I believe there is an important relation between ethics and psychological behaviors of human beings. If it is the case that Religions are here to remind us of our moral responsibilities, then it is also concerned about our psychological states. There is no doubt that the vertical reality of Caduceus is pointing to the sky like a pinnacle of a church. The snake of the psyche has coiled itself around the rod of the Intellect. The snake is holding on to the fabric of morality like our ribs are connected to our spines. Once we lose track of how we ought to think, talk, and behave, then we’re subject to all sorts of abnormal behaviors. We need the divine power to overcome the temptation of our psyche. Our, so called, ordinary reason or Kant’s pure reason needs guidance from on high or else is slave of passion, as Hume argued. There are times when we hold some people morally responsible for their actions as if they’re psychologically normal. Little do we know that they’re mentally not healthy? At this stage they need help in a different way. It is not
fair to treat them as if they’re normal individuals who are not following the rules and regulations of ethics.
Let us not be naïve to think that all psychological problems are due to the lack of some fundamental ethical construction within our characters. I never claim to be an expert in this subject, which is the result of many years of psychological studies and activities. As far as the connection between morality and psychology, this is my humble perspective and nothing more. As the core reality of Religion and its values are gradually forgotten, there seem to be more psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists. When a person behaves abnormally or in an awkward way or is involved in a domestic violence, we immediately say he or she needs help. This doesn’t mean this individual is in need of spiritual assistance and should visit an expert in the science of the soul or spirits or pneumatology. The closest to this is what the Catholic Church has been practicing for centuries going back to the time of Jesus himself. A demon possessed person was brought to Christ once and he cast evil spirit to an animal. In Africa the medicine men appealed or still do to some kind of magic to get the evil spirit out of the body of the patients. There’re times chemical imbalance becomes the cause of certain behaviors, which are not to a moral standard. The hormonal changes during certain time of the month among women can also create what is not acceptable ethically. However, can we use these physical facts as determining factors or realities, which would interfere in what we ought to be? In other words, can they be used as excuses for acting what is morally wrong? Having extrapolated this matter to the best of my ability, we see a great confusion in this area.
This field of psychological activities seems to be more popular than philosophy or Religious studies on campuses these days in the West in general and other parts of the word in particular. There was a time, in the West, when departments of theology and philosophy were in the middle of university campuses. But today these great centers of spirituality and intellectuality are so far away from the center and exist on the periphery of many universities replaced by more important fields of studies.
What matters and demands an urgent attention is the fact that we ought to return to our own center. We should concentrate, which literally it means, together center. Basically, we must center ourselves or draw to our inner reality. Is this too abstract? Perhaps it is. But it seems we have become abstract, that is, we have drawn ourselves away from the most fundamental way of being. We have forgotten the meaning of death. We no longer question where we have come from, and where we’re going? We’re just not concerned about the reality of life. Instead, we focus on living and being alive. We choke the sound of the truth. We make so much noise so we don’t have to hear the silence. We have been dressing the real with falsehood. Fakeness has become a form of art. We’re longing for transparency. We’re surrounded by millions of lies every day. Truth seems to have been lost in the midst of the crowd of untruth. Movie stars are awarded and glorified and highly paid for playing the roles of those they’re not. They’re to use their imaginations and pretend to be what they’re not. They seem to be going through some kind of reincarnation in terms of the characters they change, while they’re still human beings. It is a
parody of what real reincarnation is all about. Those who try to be actors or actresses and can’t do what they’re expected from, are put away just because they are not able to be those they’re not. If they’re singers but can’t act, they’re simply cast away like Madonna the famous singer. Perhaps she had hard time to become alienated from who she really was. You’re to be emptied of who you’re and be replaced by another character, fictional or non-fictional. Let us say, you’re a Shakespearian actor playing the role of Romeo. If you’re very good at playing this role, then it is possible that at one point you might lose yourself so much that you become Romeo himself. You’re no longer yourself, at least, for the duration of this acting. You love your dog so much that after she dies you become that dog and bark the same way. This is an example of alienation. You have become empty from inside, and then you’re no longer yourself. Jennifer Lopez played the role of Salina, the Mexican American singer who was shot dead years ago. Imagine that at one point she became so involved in her role that she thought she really was Salina, as if Salina herself was back as Jennifer Lopez. I question the nature and purpose of acting. Why do we act? I’m afraid to find out that movie actors are not the only ones who act. Perhaps the reason why we relate to them is that we ourselves are actors in our own ways. We’re all actors. We put on different personas or masks for every occasion. As a teacher, I act in a different way. As a husband, I act also in a different way. This can go on till I ask this fundamental question: Why can’t we be ourselves all the time? Who am I once my masks are lifted? Why do I have to adopt different roles or the roles that are given to us by the family and the society we live in? We’re expected to put on an act for whatever we do. It is hard to free ourselves from these roles. In Hollywood, you’re given a role to play on top of what is given to you by the culture you’re in any way. They, in reality, have multiple roles to play. We, on the other hand, are not professional actors. However, we’re expected to play our roles properly. We’re constantly under different personas. The whole world is a masquerade. Even God wears different masks (The masks of God, by Joseph Campbell).
The Ultimate Reality may have different personas, like Vishnu, the preserver, Brahma, the creator, and Shiva, the destroyer in Hinduism. This is the realm of many in which Brahman (Ultimate Reality) functions. Nevertheless, this Reality, which is One manifests itself in these masks of many. This is not number one, which gives us time, and it is sandwiched between –1 and +1. In one of the sacred sayings of the Prophet of Islam, which are not his, God says: I was a hidden treasure. I wanted to be known. Therefore, I created the whole universe and man. To show its perfection, the Ultimate Reality creates imperfection without which it wouldn’t be perfect. Creation is within the possibility of this Reality. That is why we’re possible or contingent beings. We could be or we couldn’t be. But God must be and He cannot not be. God is necessary existence. The Ultimate Reality, however, being beyond any duality, it is also Meta (beyond) being and non-being. In other words, it doesn’t even be. So we can put the minds of those who’re looking for the proof of the existence of God at ease. Besides, would I want my God to be outstanding? Well, that is what the word ‘existence’ literally means. Doesn’t it really? It means: a going out standing, which means standing out there. To stay out of this linguistic discovery, we can simply use the term, ‘to be’. According to Kant, existence is not adding
anything to the word, ‘God’ because ‘God exists is an analytic statement. It is like saying, ‘all bachelors are unmarried people’. On the other hand, what are we proving? The word ‘God’ is at most a title and a name. Names are limiting factors. I call what I’m using to write this article a lap top computer. Existence here is limited to this tool. By naming this machine, we tell what it is. But can we tell what the Ultimate Reality is by naming it? In fact, we’re limiting this Reality in our own mind and worship it. Am I worshiping a name? Language is a limiting tool of our communication. In the Holy Qur’an, God compares Adam and the angels by saying that the former, namely, Adam knows the names while the latter, that is, angels don’t. Adam knows what everything God has created, but does he know Him or Her or It? Thus, naming doesn’t assist us to know the reality of God.
But why this Reality plays hide and seek with us as Lila in Hinduism? Why does this Reality act? Why does it hide from us but we can’t hide from it? Why this one way street?
So are we all acting in this life? Is life a game? Why are we pretending to be who we’re not? Is this Reality hiding the truth from us, which is itself? Does this mean It is lying to us? Why do we have to be transparent while this Reality is not? In the Holy Qur’an we’re told not to dress or cloth the truth with falsehood. So we ought not to lie. Are we talking about a verbal or logical reality here or perhaps we mean something else by the truth? The logical truth doesn’t necessarily set me free. Jesus says, ‘Truth’ shall make you free. Does the truth set me free so I can lie? Am I telling the truth because it is good for business? In other words, is this a hypothetical imperative (command) to which Kant referred or just a conditional fact we’re dealing with everyday? Did Jesus mean the logical one or he meant something else? It sounds as if he is referring to what the Hindus call, ‘Atman’. There is this eternal and infinite Reality within me. This is the one that frees me. This is the real source of freedom. This is hidden within me. There is no name for it. The word ‘God’ refers to this masked Reality. This Ultimate Reality is a great actor Itself. We’re indirectly imitating it. We’re given the roles to play. This Reality can’t be given a role to play. It wants us to dance like her and also play our roles correctly so that we can become one with that Reality. In the movie, ‘The next karate kid’, which was the late Pat Morita’s last appearance, Mr. Miyagi tells the teen age girl, in a Zen Buddhist monastery, not to follow a monk who doesn’t know how to dance. In Hinduism, Shiva as Nataraj or Nataraja, represents Himself in His dancing form. He is one of the masks of Brahman (Ultimate Reality), who is known for his dances. After all, we’re all parts of this Ultimate Reality, so we also dance. Although we’re imperfect, we still can dance with him as long as we know our steps. If we don’t dance properly, we can’t be in harmony with the universe. We play hide and seek with one another. We ought to learn the dance to its perfection because we’re imperfect. We’re Its possibilities without which It wouldn’t be perfect.
Truth is the source of real freedom. Truth is that very Atman that once it is covered by its opposite, namely, falsehood, it turns us into slaves. We’re slaves of our passion and lust, unless we discover our true Self. The blind is closed, so we can’t see the sun shine. We’re the ones blocking it; otherwise it is not dark outside.
What am I going to do with what I own? I have collected many things in my life time. I hardly notice the existence of some. What is going to happen to them? They’re so dear to me. I’m so attached to them. When I pass away, those who survive me have to somehow get rid of them. Whose hands are they going to fall into? I’m not there to claim them. Are they going to become garage sale items? Perhaps this is their destiny. Because I don’t possess very expensive things to be auctioned off someday. I guess rich people should worry about that. I’m not one of them. However, I still like to own things, even though I know one day they’ll be owned by others. I can’t take them with me to my grave. It is sad. We live in a world in which we like to have fine and beautiful things. We think sometimes that we’re going to be here forever. But ‘forever’ has no meaning in this realm of existence. We build houses to last for many generations to come. The buildings and houses finally survive, unless they’re for some reasons destroyed or demolished but we’re gone. As much as I would like to think we possess forever, the reality proves otherwise. Some of the weapons used in the Civil war are still with us. But where are those who used them? This fact was brought up in the beginning of the movie, ‘Dead poet society’ starring Robert Williams. This movie was based on the life of a teacher at a top all boys prep school. One day, as his class started, he gathered his students in the hall way before the pictures of the base ball players after the Civil war. He told them that those great players became the fertilizers for the daffodils, as time went by. This particular event must have really happened, because during my conversation with the teacher, he never told me that this was Hollywood creation. These young teenagers shook up for a moment before the class was dismissed. Perhaps Heidegger was right after all, especially when he announced that we have forgotten we’re beings on to death. Death, he said, is a present possibility. We’re here today and gone tomorrow. Of the 6 members of my family, there’re 3 left, father first, mother was next, and the older sister followed their footsteps. Life has always surprised us, and we know it. As we walk, we go through series of beings and non-beings. Every time, I take one step, I leave a vacuum behind. It seems this is the death of a moment in time. So motion or movement, change and becoming are the theater of life and death. When Cratylus, the student of Heraclitus, said that there is no river to step in, he must have meant that motion is the manifestation of death. Heraclitus is known to have said: ‘We can never step into the same river twice’. Whether he was the one who said it is not the issue here. What matters, however, is the fact that death is this very possibility, which exists with us at every moment. The moment is all we have. We’re, the sons of time, as the Persian Sufis (Dervishes) have always said. We’re connected to time. If time is in the center, we’re related to it like the spiders’ web. Time is the measure of motion, as we know from the medieval philosophy. Things happen in time. Things travel in time. Imagine that time is the river and the fish are in motion. “Don’t squander time. This is the stuff life is made of” (Ben Franklin). We can see this on a boar sign in the beginning of the movie, ‘Gone with the wind’. If motion is an illusion, then time doesn’t even exist or vice versa. In fact we didn’t have to wait till Einstein found out about it. Our movement is caused by the engine of life and death. It is a demonstration of some kind of Samsaric phenomenon. It is a cycle of birth and death and rebirth. It is death and resurrection. Therefore, either there is motion or not. If there is, then death and
birth follow each other. Time and motion, to me, fall into the same category. Time heals as much as it kills. Time demolishes as much as it builds. We’re moving in the river of time. We’re going through pick and valley of life and death. It is like the surfs as they approach the shores. They also have picks and valleys while moving forwards.
How beautiful it is when you make me worthwhile. When you see how good I’m rather than only looking at my faults and mistakes. Why do we try to find dirt in each other? I’m not claiming I’m perfect. I’m making my best to please everyone. But it seems it is never enough. What makes you be when all you do is criticizing and remembering my short comings? When I do well, you forget to compliment me. However, as soon as I act the way it is not pleasant to you, you make me feel like I’m worth nothing. No matter what I do, it is never enough to satisfy you. When I do well, you don’t remember. But as soon as I make one mistake, hell is unleashed upon me. Is this the art of management at its best? On a utilitarian note, the companies that keep their employees happy have the highest productivity records and are most successful ones.
Once upon a time, a respectable gentle man bought a mule as a means of transportation to get to his work. He wanted to go shopping one day, so he asked his little son to double ride with him. As soon as they began their journey, the passers- by started making comments as to why that man should be so cruel to over load the poor animal? Having heard them, he got off and let his son alone be on the mule. As the father began walking and he heard the bypassing people saying that it is not fair for a father to walk while his son is riding the mule. He then got on the mule and let his son walk. After a while he heard some wanderers whispered it is not right for poor little boy to walk while his father is riding. Finally they all three started walking and father hoped he wouldn’t hear any criticisms any more. But, to his surprise, he heard some people, while laughing, were saying how foolish some could be to walk along side of their mule without riding it. Can we ever please everybody in this world? I guess it is not possible. Apparently Abraham Lincoln once said: If you keep digging, you can always find some dirt in everybody. The question, however, is why look for stinking dirt like flies, while you can be like honey bees and humming birds hovering over beautiful flowers enjoying them without destroying these magnificent phenomena. Why can’t we bring the best in each other instead of filth? If you’re happy in side, there is no reason to make people around you unhappy. There’re those who would rather have chaos around them than order, destruction instead of creation, demolition in the place of beautiful buildings. To achieve their objectives, they annihilate everything on their ways. The goal justifies the means for them. They get what they desire by intimidation. They bully or browbeat to get even. They’re revengeful. Unfortunately there are many unhappy souls who love to have more people like themselves, thus, they treat others with unhappy thoughts. They deal with them with unfairness so that they in turn get angry and spiteful like themselves. They can’t forgive and forget. Nevertheless, if these unhappy folks are resisted by those who have self confidence and wouldn’t allow themselves to be used or abused and reduced to their level, they can’t run slavery. We ought to have high moral immunity system to battle those who erode our soul. If you let them, they would make you depressed so you would sink to the depth of
hopelessness. We’re suffering because we’re unable to reach the level of virtue. We’re on a constant battle with evil. This war will not come to an end till our time is finished in this world. Whether evil is our own doings or what others commit, we’re facing an uphill battle. Cry for justice is heard and many times to no avail. They let you go for smallest excuses, though you have done your best to be excellent at your job. There’re times you go for justice, but it is costly. If you were rich, you would hire the best lower to defend you in court. But if you’re not wealthy, you’re to bow down in humility while swallowing your pride at the same time. But there’re times when you’re down sized by your company so they can hire two individuals with your salary and perhaps this is the main reason why you’re told to step down or fired. You gave them your best and dedication, but at the end you’re treated like you had never existed before. Just as you thought you were qualified enough to be rewarded and appreciated for many years of service you were asked to leave. You forgive them because human beings make mistakes and miscalculate. But this attitude is already based on the assumption that you’re without faults. No, we’re not without faults, because only Jesus can say: Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. I can say: Father please forgive them, if they have done me wrong and forgive me, if I have also done them wrong. Am I seeking for revenge under the disguise of justice? It is possible. Would I enjoy quietly, if something happens to them? Is this what Socrates did? As far as we and the scholars of this great mind know, no such a thing ever occurred. He was not cherishing his ego. Socrates was a philosopher par excellence. He was a true educator. He wouldn’t appeal to this kind of petty means to achieve his goal, even though what they did to him hurt him very badly. Those who accused him never understood his real intention in what he did. They just went by the book without looking at the totality of who he was and what he was trying to teach. Perhaps they listened only to those who couldn’t accept his arguments and didn’t know his intentions behind his dialogues. He became sacrificed for the way they thought education ought to be. He got caught in the midst of the politics of his time. They were those who felt he was not guilty and tried to defend him to no avail. He became cornered by the sophists who were not happy with the way he had arrived at certain conclusion through his dialectical method. The complaints of a few students of his was enough to accuse him of having corrupted the youth of Athens. Did he hate them? Did he wish them harm? None of these were part of the character of who he was. He accepted their sentence and abided by the law and left. He became a model for a lot of thinkers who have regarded him as their role model ever since. He took an issue with those who believed in many gods because he had faith in only one God. He never denied his belief in the Ultimate reality, which is One. Many are its possibilities without which it is not perfect. There is no duality between this universe of imperfection and the One. Without the Ultimate Reality, possibility has no meaning and vice versa. Socrates is said to have tacitly admired Persian monarchy and their strong belief in Ahura Mazda (Ormazd), which means wise lord. However, Spartans, from the south of Greece, apparently believed in the many gods as the Athenians. Perhaps they took their Religion very seriously and gave it the highest status in contrast to the folks from north. Socrates had discovered these facts long before anybody else. He knew there was something wrong with his culture, which led to its destruction. He was very concerned about
the decline of ethical standard. He felt morality was in utter chaos. It is possible that he was against the majority rule in Athenian democracy. Perhaps he reached the conclusion that there was a relation between Religion and morality, or the principal of right and wrong. The very fact that the sophists had falsely accused him of corrupting the Athenian youth and also didn’t want to accept his arguments regarding the gods and democracy in his Greek culture was the best proof of the collapse of religious foundation and morality in his society.
Socrates must have believed in the expression that says: keep your friends close and your enemy closer. Sometimes we can learn a lot from our enemies, even more than our friends. We ought to know, first of all, why they have become our enemies to begin with. But there are times we can teach our enemies a thing or two. So this accusation was totally unfounded. Socrates compared the Persian monarchy with the Athenian democracy. He believed in the oneness of one God over many gods of democracy. In Athens, 40,000 men were involved in the decision making process for the country. In Persia the king was the only ruler at the top of the pyramid. At the bottom, it is the realm of many, which is where four angles and corners are present. Perhaps this was the sign of stability in ancient Egypt. From the sun passing through a prism we have the color of the rainbow, which is the manifestation of many. He was like Plato’s philosopher king. If he was not a philosopher, as we know the word, he was a wise man. Solomon, the great king and wise man, also enjoyed the advices of his close associates out of humility. He was like Marcus Aurelius (121-180) A.D., the Roman emperor, who was also a stoic philosopher.
Socrates you’re not popular in Athens because of what you teach and the way you answer your student’s questions. You also have been going around harassing people asking them whether they’re wise. Yes I have been like a gadfly trying to see if the horse or Athens, is still alive and not dead by constantly stinging her. I was told by the Oracle that I’m the wisest. Far from it! However, I know this much that I don’t know and this is my wisdom. However, I worry about those who think they know but in reality they don’t. I acknowledge my ignorance but I don’t claim I know or I’m wise, let alone the wisest. The God Olympia perhaps has been testing me on this matter. The wisest, indeed, is the Ultimate Reality, Olympia. But I prefer not to use anthropomorphic language for this One Reality. We need to remove you from Athens regardless of your popularity. You know as well as I do, once my name is out there, there’re those who will come to hear me, unless you take away my name. Even then, there’re students like Euthyphro, who will look for me. When they see me on the streets of Athens they recognize me and occasionally they say: Socrates you have saved my life. If I were so unwanted, then why is there a crowd around me when I teach? Why have I been attracting many seekers of knowledge? Why do I have such an audience when they hear I’m about to teach? If they didn’t like what they hear, they simply wouldn’t attend. Well, that is because of the fact that students of law are supposed to have certain knowledge of subjects dealing with Religions and philosophy before they’re considered to study law. When there is no one else around, they come to your lectures what’re in the area of justice, love, and the Ultimate Reality. I’m sure there’re other educators, but why me? Are you telling me there are no differences among those who play flute? I’m not claiming I’m
the best . in Athens. However, I know what I teach. Gentlemen, don’t you want to give me this much credit for what I have been doing all these years? At the end of the day nobody is forced to come to my gatherings. They do because they want to. My students are free to choose whoever they like to hear. Is not our democracy about majority rule? If your answer is ‘yes’, then majority of my students should decide who they want to listen to. The majority rules, regardless of a few who for whatever reasons might not be interested in my lectures. Are you listening to the minority and making your decisions concerning the quality of my teachings? As you know by now, I’m against the Athenian democracy. Therefore, you and I shouldn’t disagree with each other. Don’t you think so? However, I’m using your own democracy to show you that you’re wrong about me. Why do we have to make use our, so called democratic principles only when it suits us? Right now you’re using the majority principle to sentence me to death. But when it comes to the wishes of my students, you totally ignore what a democracy stands for? Do you realize that you’re contradicting yourselves? The fabric of this universe, I believe, is made in the fabric of morality. We can’t violate the principle of ethics and expect our polity to survive. Just because you’re in the position of power as judges, you think you ought to get rid of me. Just because you can commit such an act, it doesn’t mean you should. The question of morality and ethics come in. Just because this is the way things are, it doesn’t mean you should sentence me to death. Just because it works for you, it doesn’t mean it is right. Either you made a mistake or you didn’t. If you have made an error, then admit it and be transparent. We all make mistakes. Unless you’re ordered by the authorities at the top to do what you’re doing to me, which still doesn’t mean you should obey the order. Gentlemen think for a moment and ask yourselves if you’re morally responsible for your actions. If you’re, then there’s no reason to obey the order, unless you worry to lose your positions. But you ought to do what is right, even if you may have to jeopardize your financial status. I have been trying very hard to change the views of the Athenians concerning their gods and democracy and the way they have been handling their affairs morally. I have been doing all these and many more without any expectation. About 200 years ago, the Hindus wrote the ‘Bhagavad- Gita’ or the song of the Lord in which Lord Krishna asks Arjuna to give without expectation. This non-consequentialist act is the core of our moral responsibility. Just because you’re told to get rid of me doesn’t justify you to do so. You can disobey the order knowing that this command is not based on justice and fairness. You could argue that Socrates has been contributing a great deal to our culture for many years and it isn’t right to dismiss him. We ought to do what is right regardless of the results and consequences. Just because your commanders ask you to commit murder in the army, you don’t have to obey them. You ought to stand for what is right. How can you turn your backs to what is just and teach about justice at the same time? How can you live with contradiction? How can you write books regarding justice while committing an act of injustice? How can you live with your conscience while I’m gone? What kind of moral example will you set up for your children? Because one day they will ask you whether you have any regret for what you did to me. Are my errors so destructive for which I should be sentenced to death? You sophists, how can you regard yourself as the educators of the youngsters of Athens, when you treat this old man the way you do? You
so quickly decided that I’m no good for Athens; therefore, I should be dismissed. Your job as the educators of the youth ought to be revealing the truth and not covering it. You hide the truth but I have always been the protector of the truth. However, in the name of justice, you’re sentencing me death. Perhaps you didn’t like the quality of my teaching. In this case, all you had to do was to work with me so I can improve what I have been doing all these years. But instead, you prefer to separate me from the majority of my students because of the complaints of a few. Do you consider this ‘democracy?’ For what crime committed do I have to feel guilty? You get rid of me because it works and what works is right? After I’m long gone, what would my students think about you guys, if they find out what has happened to their teacher? I have always tried to teach my students honestly and integrity. I have made an attempt to embody the transcendent forms of perfections as much as I could. I never consider myself to be better and above everybody else. I believe in justice and fairness. You gentlemen charge your students to teach them the art of persuasion and rhetoric. I don’t get paid for my service. I feed my family by working in my small farm and by raising chickens. But what do you teach these youngsters? They learn from you how to win an argument to persuade one side over the other. Does the truth matter at all to you? I, however, teach them my method, which involves dialogues. It is a dialectic way of reaching the truth. I bring out knowledge from them just like when midwives deliver babies. My mother was a midwife, as you all know. I believe we don’t add anything to our students but instead we subtract. My students already know the forms of perfections. What will be the future of Athens given the quality of education at hand?
According to my top student, Plato, we’re reincarnated. Pythagoras also believed in reincarnation. In our past life we must have had the knowledge of the forms or perfect realities. For example, we knew what a perfect triangle looked like without which we are unable to know an imperfect one.
I can never say that reason is limited, unless I know what an unlimited one is. What is it, imagination? But imagination is not Reason. My intellect knows about the infinite and eternal Reality which is within me. There is no way I can claim my pure reason is limited, unless I know the totality of the unlimited one. I can’t know how apricots taste, unless I have eaten organic ones. This is true about other fruits too. Plato believed we must have tasted the real knowledge of Forms. When I pick a peach and eat it, I can easily tell the difference between the tastes of this compared to the pesticide free ones. How am I able to tell the difference? Naturally those fruits, which have been sprayed with pesticide, taste like cardboard, to put it mildly. So if you have been either in different states or countries beside where you live and had the opportunity to eat the organic fruits, then you realize what the real tastes like. If I haven’t had the chance to experience the real, then how can I know the difference, when it comes to quality? Plato argued that this world is the realm of many and imperfect things. In our past life we must have seen, perceived, conceived, and observed perfect Forms including geometric ones. We’re reborn or incarnated.
According to Hinduism, there is no automatic or gradual and vertical evolution here. Based on our actions or karma, we’re reincarnated. The human being level is close to the highest one can get. Plato’s ideas are based on the assumption that we human beings have already reached high enough to become humans. Being human is the very reason why we must have been able to see the essences or the Forms as they really are. The holy Qur’an attests to the fact that Adam knows the names, not the angels. In other words, Adam knows the essence of everything there is in this world. According to Plato, however, we have forgotten the Forms or the essences. We need to wake up. Teachers, following Socrates, ought to remind their students of what they already know. They’re supposed to wake them up from their dogmatic slumbers. (Kant). They should tell them that the moving images on the wall of the cave are not the reality. Those are what appear to us as real, just like dreams. They’re phenomena, not noumenon. (Kant). They’re the inter play of the categories of my mind, which are reflected on the wall of the world. Once I’m unchanged and able to climb up from the bottom of the cave, then I would see the bonfire in front of which there’re individuals who’re walking. Their shadows are on the wall of the cave. In other words, the wall is reflecting the acting of the fire and those moving in front of it. Our mind is the combination of those and the fire. As long as I’m chained, that is my world. I’m looking at my mind when I can unchain myself. I have left the camera of my mind to see what is happening on the stage. This is one revelation. As long as I’m chained and the world or the wall is reflecting the categories of my mind, I’m in this subjective world I have created for myself. I’m between my mind and the world around me. “When I change the way I look at things, the things I look at change.” (W. Dyer). This occurs because I’m still in the confinement of my mind. Again, as long as I’m locked up in the world of the mind and the wall with its images, I’m unable to know God, my true Self, and the reality beyond the phenomenon world. Once I’m out of the cave of my mind, I can see the beautiful light coming into the cave from outside. I climb up vertically to reach the source of the light. Although my pure reason was not able to see beyond its limit, I can now know the Reality with my own Intellect, which is the ray of the sun piercing through the cave. With the help of this ray, I can find my way all the way till I get out of the cave completely. Plato believed Socrates was able to see this light as a result of which he was enlightened. He was enlightened like Buddha. 2700 years ago Buddha taught that we ought to purify our mind in order to become enlightened. Only those who have reached this light can tell whether our pure reason is limited or not because they know the unlimited Intellect. Immanuel Kant, with his subjectivism, couldn’t have possibly been enlightened to be able to claim the limitation of the pure reason. Kant was no Socrates. He also didn’t believe in Plato’s idea of Forms.
Then how can I reject Plato’s idea of forms? I know them innately. I ought to acknowledge this fact. By considering the limitation of reason, I’m already acknowledging the existence of the unlimited reason or the Intellect. We don’t have to know God through ethics. We ought to concentrate on the unlimited Reason or the Intellect instead. The word ‘God’ is already a limited reality anyway because once we name the Ultimate Reality we have limited it, at least in our mind. So, if we regard pure reason as being limited, then this means a limited tool of mind is
trying to know a limited God. I don’t think we should have any problem with that. One irregularity deserves another. (F.Schuon).To know the unlimited Reality, however, we need unlimited Reason or the Intellect. Apparently, Kant himself regarded imagination or Mundus Imaginalis used by Suhravardi, the Persian philosopher first and later by Henry Corbin, as this particular phenomenon, which is different from the ordinary use of the word. Since I’m not a Kantian scholar, it would be presumptuous on my part to claim I know what Kant had in mind concerning this word. However, with the help of this Atman, I can also know who I really am. My true Self is nothing but this unlimited Reality within me. I will get to know the [noumenon, using Kant’s own terminology.]
But Socrates, you talk about reincarnation, which is not a common belief among us Athenians. The idea of reincarnation is alien to us. Pythagoras must have learned this idea from the Egyptians or the Persians. But apparently he got to know about it from either the Hindu merchants, who had been traveling to Egypt from south or the Persians from north thousands of years ago. We believe you and your student, Plato, have been indirectly following Hinduism. Now you know why we have been accusing you of turning your back to the gods of Athens? But gentlemen, by the time the period of Upanishads appeared on the stage of the Hindu culture, which was roughly a little more than two hundred years ago, Hindus had become monotheistic. They went from many gods to one. The Hebrews also acknowledged that there were many gods but they worshiped only one. It is about time we came out of the shadow of worshiping many gods. We ought to believe in only one God.
Reincarnation involves a cyclical reality. What is history to us? Is it linear or cyclical? Your answer is naturally it is cyclical. Is it possible that this idea of time and history also entered our Greek culture from India by way of Egypt or Persia? You respectable gentlemen of Athens, I know a thing or two about the Religions of mankind. Not only am I a philosopher or a lover of wisdom, I’m also a lover of truth, no matter where it may be. Religion is truth possessed and philosophy is truth pursued. I believe we need both of them. Once you own the truth, you’ll have the stagnant water of a pond; which needs constant rain water to stay fresh. But if you pursue the truth, you’ll have a river, which keeps on moving till it reaches its destination.
Socrates, your teachings draw many students and your gatherings are making Athenians wonder why the sophists can’t attract as many seekers of the truth. I’m confused gentlemen. Because, on the one hand, you’re telling me my students don’t value me and thus I’m no longer popular, which makes me a subject of rejection from Athens. On the other hand, you can’t but admit that my teachings bring in many students. If I’m that unpopular, then why do you think students gather around me once my name is announced? Is it possible that you just want to get rid of me; therefore, you have come up with such excuses? Then why don’t you be transparent and truthful and let me know where I stand here? Why do you let me carry the burden of guilt for what I have not done? I know who I’m and what I do. I have enough self confidence in order to ward off your false opinions of me. I’m sure it will boomerang one day. My absence will be a loss for Athens and the students I deeply care for. You may deprive me of teaching them, but they shall
always remember what I have left with them in my teachings. They’re young now, however, one day they’ll look back and realized what I had done for them in all those years. They’ll also find out who were those who removed me from Athens. I’m not looking for revenge and worldly justice. Nevertheless, people shall receive what they have given. It is said: As you sow, so shall you reap. In other words, what goes around, come around. This, I believe, is woven into the moral fabric of the universe. This is what the Hindus and Buddhists call karma (action). I care even for my enemies and I forgive them, but not out of contempt. I don’t desire to see them suffering in this world. I don’t want anything happen to their families. Just because they don’t know what they do, they shouldn’t be punished for their ignorance. However, I’m not aware of the laws of the universe gentlemen. I’m simply telling you that I’m innocent of all these charges and don’t deserve this punishment. I forgive you but not because I’m without sin. My worries are about the fact that the universe might not accept your behaviors as just. You have sentenced me to death with impunity. You could censure me in stead. However, I love you and care for you so much that, I forgive you. However, I can’t stop the wrath of God upon you because it is unfortunately out of my hand. You still have time to change your mind though. One of the lawyers present at the trial objected to the sentence by saying that we ought to check and see how popular Socrates is in other states. As far as we know, there’re seekers of knowledge who have been coming to Athens to hear him from all over Greece and other countries. Why is it that all of a sudden Socrates has become subject of criticism in his own home land? Death penalty is a severe punishment for such small issues as one’s disbelief in the gods of Athens or corrupting the youth. As to learning from our enemies, we have always said: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
I believe you ought to reconsider your decisions, Socrates uttered. However, once you decided to order me to take the hemlock, then I’ll abide and shall drink it. What makes you think you’re right and we’re wrong, the sophists asked? Socrates responded by saying that after all, if there’s a universal law of justice, you should also be getting your share of punishment beyond the physical and biological death. When I reflect upon myself, I couldn’t agree with you more. I have made many mistakes in my life and have also sinned. Nonetheless, I have always tried very hard to apply what I teach my students in my everyday life. My teachings are not separate from my conducts. If I asked Euthyphro to not falsely accuse his father for murder, I have always been very careful not to jump on the bandwagon and judge people so quickly to regret it later on. I still don’t claim I’m most knowledgeable of all Athenians. As I have mentioned before, I know this much that I don’t know. As far as your judgment, I have used rational and logical tools defending myself. I don’t possess perfect knowledge, but I have always advocated the fact that truth shall manifest itself in systematic dialogues. There’re those who are not given a chance to appear in the court to defend themselves for the crimes they have not committed. I’m not one of them for which I’m very grateful to you. However, even if they showed up in the court, like me,
they still can be innocently convicted of what they have been accused of and are sentenced to death. This really is crime against philosophy and those who love wisdom.
You see, I ought to be honest with you respectable Athenian folks. You accused me of what I had not done, namely, corrupting the youth of this great nation, which is now left to ruin. I have never done that and I would never do such a thing. I have been, however, trying to educate the youngsters of this, once the intellectual light house of the Western world, to become great leaders and philosopher kings of Athens. My concern has always been to make sure the top of this pyramid doesn’t rot like a fish. Those who emulate the Plato’s Forms of perfection are worthy of leading Athens.
This destroyed center of intellectual and scientific endeavor was once a shiny city upon the hill of Western civilization. Pericles (405?-420), was a great Athenian general and statesman during the golden age of the Greek culture, as you know. However, in later years his leadership was questioned given the war in the southern Italy, war with the Persians, and Spartans. Athens, just like the China of Confucius time, has been left devoid of a true King. This has been occurring in the absence of an intelligent monarch. We’re in dire need of a wise philosopher. A true thinker can bring Athens back to its glory days. Gentlemen, Greek culture and soldiers have become very vulnerable to attack by the enemy. Now you know the urgency of bringing up a generation which will make nation of ours great again. We ought to have an ideal King, who believe in Plato’s ideals, Forms, essences, archetypes, universals and paradigms.
Yes, I have been tacitly praising our enemies and keeping them closer for their military achievements and firmness in their religions. I’m not denying that at all. All of my arguments with you are about the fact that none of these cases against me are justified. Neither should be the reasons to make me stop my teachings. I never claimed I was perfect. We could work together in order to help our new generation reach the highest in wisdom and the art of leadership. By getting me out of your way you’re not solving any problem. By just obeying your superior’s decision, you’re not proving that you’re independent thinkers. After all, you have a moral responsibility to be fair in your judgments. You can disagree with those above you, regardless of the consequences.
I have always made an effort to embody what my beloved student Plato has called Forms. One of them is justice. I have tried to be as just and fair as I could in my relation with my fellow men and women. That is why it is very hard for me to see that in the name of Justice I’m being sentenced to death. Gentlemen there are definitely problems with your system of justice. My whole purpose has always been to teach my students to be moral and ethical in whatever they do in life. But now I have become the subject of what I have always been fighting against, which is nothing but injustice and unfairness. You’re a teacher and you know you’re risking a lot, because one day you could become the victim of what you have been warning your students all along. The world is full of those who think they know what justice is but in really have no clue as to what the form or the totality of what justice is. Solomon could have cut the claimed baby in half.
But the way of virtue is not about the middle of straight line between ‘A’ and ‘B’. The geometric middle is not the aim of virtue. The old scales which are still used in doctor’s offices tell a different story. The balance is the goal here. This is exactly what Solomon did. He was the embodiment of justice. He didn’t cut the baby in half. Instead he used different method to achieve real fairness. He had to be fair to the real mother. He told them he was going to do that but he waited till the rightful owner of the baby performed her role to save the life of her child. She was a mother and naturally a life giver. Solomon induced the labor and the baby was born. He acted like Socrates whose mother was a midwife. We ought to deliver the baby of knowledge. Solomon brought the baby to life. He induced first and the true mother gave birth. We struggle for sacred knowledge, not information. We’re up against those who’re ignorant. Father forgive them, for they KNOW not what they do. (Christ) We ought to save the baby of knowledge in spite of the odds.
This life is a battle between the forces of good and evil. We may win or we may lose. But what matters is that we shouldn’t be acting like a lame duck. We need to stand up and find a no conflict way of dealing with our everyday life. Life is very short gentlemen and there is not enough time left for not existing authentically. We’re here on this earth on a journey traveling to an unknown destination. It is possible we’ll be reincarnated according to what we have done in this realm. Even though time and eternity are not proportional, whatever we do in this temporal life will have their effects in the eternal world. Therefore, let us wake up before it is too late. Now if you don’t mind, I have to get ready for my next journey.