Thursday, February 18, 2010

Conversation with a Social Worker

I received this lovely email from a visitor to my personal site. Here are parts of the conversation that I hope will continue as a meaningful dialogue:

Thank you so much for your very thought-provoking email. I am so proud of people like yourself who stay on a vibration of well-being for all, the world certainly needs it. I’d like to carry on our conversation by responding to some of your points.

>During my course of study, i took a couple of courses and concluded that the western philosophical thoughts take you away from your own beliefs and one starts to question about religion. Philosophers like Nietzche, Plato, and Socretes. But i would like to say that in fact studying philosophy open new vistas to think critically about your own being and analyze one creed and society where one is living.

As you might know from my personal writings, Philosophy (literally the ‘love of wisdom’) has been the way of enlightenment for me in terms of thought, action, and belief. I do not think that ‘western’ philosophical thought per se has led to a decline in religious belief. On the contrary St. Thomas Aquinas has shaped Christianity while Aristotle has influenced the Islamic foundation significantly. Islam in particular owes a lot to the ancient Greeks. Philosophy has taught me (or rather I have taken from it) that it is quite necessary to question and go away from one’s own beliefs because that makes a person come into alignment with their true self which chooses freely. As you said, philosophy definitely opens new vistas and fires neurons in your brain you never knew existed. For me for e.g. when I heard Nietzsche say “God is dead” I started to re-look at the role of God in our everyday lives, and realized how much power we have in creating our daily experience all on our own. When Plato said “We do not learn; and what we call learning is only a process of recollection” reminded me that we just might be eternal beings having a temporary human experience which reminds me of Muhammad Iqbal when he says “Be not entangled in this world of days and nights; Thou hast another time and space as well.” And when I read Socrates’ most famous statement “The unexamined life is not worth living” I knew this to be intuitively true without having to rationalize it. The philosophy behind these ideas appear to be against the norm of what we know religious dogma to be, but they’ve contributed to the understanding of my world and the embracing of my imperfect perceptions.

>It is high time and our dire need to transform our thoughts and actions to develop an understanding and sense of tolerance. I believe in equality, equal treatment, social justice and equal accessment towards resources. I believe that men and women are equal and we have to work for gender balance in our society.

I wholeheartedly agree that developing a sense of tolerance is the only way humanity might not self-destruct. Equality is a noble idea and I understand that your social work will be based on this belief. I also cheer you on your belief that men and women are equal. Yes, they absolutely hold equal value but they are not equal in every way (just research gender responses within any study). Well I personally hope that men will never be able to get pregnant and have babies anytime soon, and hope that women continue to remain the multi-taskers they’ve been for eons! That said, I am quite inspired by the idea that humans are more than their gender. I believe this to be the core mission of your social work: To delve into the true nature, and bring into conscious awareness, of what it means to be human on this earth, beyond gender. And this is the realization people must come to in order for there to be equal treatment and social justice. It may sound like a humungous task but if you concentrate on each moment, live in the NOW instead of thinking about the long way to go while doing this work, it will get easier and be more satisfying.

>I would like you to write and talk about feminism, discrimination, racism and all other faces of discrimination against women not only in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and other less developed countries, but universally in order to make it a better place to live.

I can talk and write all day about feminism, racism, and all the negative isms we experience every day. But I find that when we give more energy to it and wage war against it, it comes back at you harder and meaner. We know these things exist and we know they will never die as long as our news media is alive. Why don’t we focus more on what we CAN do. Educate, build, love, dream, act. Talking about it creates awareness but action creates change. And plus if I only talk about discrimination against women, the men will remain their ignorant selves. And let’s not forget people who have come into the world as intersexed. Let’s talk about US and the forgiveness that is needed on the part of all as a first step. But that said, I am open to discussing specific cases that arise and actions that are required.

Hope the conversation continues.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Message on Valentine's Day

It is here again, the dreaded V-Day. D-Day for many! "Will my boyfriend make plans with me to express his love or will he make an excuse of it?" or "Will my girlfriend please stop nagging me about taking her to an ultra expensive restaurant she wants to brag to her friends about?" What is this day for anyway. If you are curious about how this day got started, read about legends on why February is considered the month of romance: History of Valentine's Day.

For many Valentine's is a day of explaining your Facebook relationship status. Either you are single, complicated, in a relationship, engaged, married (are there any more options?). But what are you in real life? I personally know some of my Facebook friends who are "married" on their status but where real life stories either range from being unhappy, or the marriage has broken down within a few months but Facebook status remains the same because of shame, getting a divorce, the marriage is completely sexless, or they are indeed having an affair outside holy matrimony.

This was a side note. What I really want to talk about is why are people so disconnected is one, but also two, why are people obsessed with showing the world that they are part of a privileged group of human beings who have perfect and rosy relationship statuses? With each passing year, this is what I've been noticing Valentine's Day becoming. A day where relationships are put under the microscope and singles are supposed to feel like rejects who don't belong to a privileged group of recipients who are lucky enough to be validated by that thang called lovvvee.

See herein lies the problem. Human beings who are not aware of their own spiritual nature believe something unbelievable. They think that another human being would complete them and make them whole! So we are constantly in search of our 'soul mate' or a life partner who is destined to be our 'other half'. This is the biggest lie ever propagated by our socialization, our media, our movies, our romance novels, and our dating experts. My message is loud and clear: You are complete in the way you came into this world because you will be taking back just that when you depart. You will not be taking your house, your money, your career, or your husband/wife to your grave.

I was at the bookstore the other day and noticed Sylvia Browne's book 'Insight: Case Files from the Psychic World'. I was just flipping through it and randomly read a line from some page (BTW, I usually do this to see if a particular book is meant for me, pretty unscientific I admit but I'm also a spiritual warrior of some sort). It went like this: "If you ever come across someone who seems not to need a relationship or says that they don't need a man or a woman in their life, I guarantee you they end up with the most meaningful, intimate, long lasting relationships ever." Why? Because they're already complete by themselves. They appreciate everything they have and accept their strengths as gifts and know that their weaknesses are their human side.

Here is the spiritual side of things. We are more than our bodies, and we are believe it or not more than this life. So any person who wants to join us in our earthly existence is welcome to do so provided they add to, rather than take away from us, our purpose and joy. I find it frustrating when married family members advise me on needing to find a mate to be happy, or how marriage is about compromising what you would have done as a single person. Why do we need to give up our joys or purpose? It is sad that most people give up many things when they are married simply because they don't know how to arrange their time, and don't know the art of outsourcing. My sense is this is why the 60% divorce rate is not a surprise.. people giving up what they are meant to be and do on this earth.

So on this Valentine's Day whether you are single or not, I urge you to feel complete in yourself. You can never be more than what you are, because significant others are risky propositions. They change, they die, they move on, and so do you! Let your significant other realize it too so they can be complete in themselves and they can let you be you. And then experience your relationship in a new way when you tell them, "If you'd like to join me in my joyride come along but please know that I love myself first and that I am already complete."