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Intellectual Eunuch

By Roya Monajem, Tehran

Every human being becomes something like a eunuch with the surgery knife of Nature after a certain age! Yes, I know we never had female eunuchs and this is most probably the only case in the history of 'man'-kind that females were more fortunate than men! Yet if we take eunuch to mean a person who is incapable of establishing sexual relationship (that is why those poor men were castrated: to make them harmless, anodyne, for working in harems), then we can have female eunuchs too. In everyday language, this is the old age phase of life; that until recently it could be the most 'respectable and cherished' stage for the simple reason that old people were regarded as the treasury, the encyclopedia, the library of a nation among other things. But in the world we are living today, old age has become the most unfavorable stage in life. Who wants to listen to the 'stone-age' versions of 'Cinderella?' narrated by an old grandparent, for example, when the other choice is to watch 'star-track'- like cartoons from an ultra-modern TV set? In short, if in the past, old age was the only stage in life when one experienced the sweet 'dream of the peace of the mind and the heart,' it now appears as the stage experienced in nightmares; the kind of life that eunuchs lived. Is there a way out? Perhaps, if we choose to make use of another important characteristic of this 'nightmarish' age which is the dominance of reason over passion. And one of the most important mottos of Reason is to show prudence and foresight in life. Intellectual 'eunuch-ism' can help us to follow the above 'reasonable motto' in practice. This means to consciously adopt the eunuch way of life, we can find the guidelines in spiritualism, particularly Tantra Yoga where it demands us to transcend all dualities (including the sexual one) and discover the original unity and wholeness within oneself. [1] But to accept a fact, an axiom, an advice mentally is one thing, and to practice it is another thing. Now according to a Chinese proverb, an image can convey a message much more efficiently than thousand words. And the image which helped me immensely in grasping the above Tantric axiom was the image that appeared in my mind while reading the following Pre-Zoroastrian Persian creation story.

According to this myth, man and woman (gem and gema, mashi and mashiyaneh) were born from rhubarb in an embrace. Let me do a little bit of search in the Internet and see if I can find a picture of it. But whether I find it or not, such a creation story tells us, automatically and clearly (that is, without any arduous efforts needed to reach the same conclusion in respect to other holy scripts) that according to ancient Persians, human beings were born in the state of love with the obvious inference that love is the foundation of human life. No wonder that the only moments human beings can experience wholeness and bliss is when they are in the state of love - no matter what the object of their love might be.

The 'modern' 'intellectual' interpretation of this mashi-mashiyaneh (yang-yin) origin of life is that the ultimate wholeness is achieved when one stops the 'futile' search for one's complement outside and instead discovers and 'embraces' one's inner feminine or masculine self, thereby re-creating the original wholeness for eternity this time.

In Taoism when a woman wishes to follow this path in practice, the first thing they ask her to do is to shave her hair and also give her special exercises to stop her menstruation. The underlying reason for the first practice is the fact that hair is regarded as one of the most beautiful feminine characteristic in most cultures and thus women are naturally very attached to it. In fact, shaving the hair is the first lesson that can teach us 'non-attachment.' And they are asked to stop their menstruation because Taoists believe that it is usually after the menopause that women attain wisdom.

Therefore, in order to accelerate the process of opening my eyes to our inner 'wholeness', I shaved my hair. Vow! What a fun it turned to be, particularly in this hot summer of our country!

Because of my grey hair which automatically helps me to go around 'invisibly' (who wants to look at an 'old' man and particularly an 'old' woman!), I dare to remove my scarf whilst driving, because even if people do notice my plucked eyebrows, they usually me as a homosexual.

However, the first important advantage of not wearing a scarf - except the liberation from its suffocating knot around the neck which associates the rope of gallows, particularly when the surrounding indoor and outdoor temperature is high - yes, its most beneficial result is freedom from masculine pestering and harassments while driving through the countryside. God knows how many times I was nearly killed just because I dared to pass a car in the curvy dangerous road to the Caspian Sea, just because men take it hard when a woman 'beats' them. Most probably they regard it as an insult to their manhood! (Now when I think about it, I should do that more often, with the hope of awakening their true manhood - meaning the ability to stand against injustice, violation of rights, tyranny and...- and not this appendix-like vestige, remnant of the past.)

The second advantage (here too while driving through countryside) is when I need a toilet and can not wait to reach the next restaurant along the road (as every body knows, the bladder sphincter, like other muscles of the body, get weak and flabby with age so it gets increasingly difficult to have control over this physiological need.) Ah, you see it is working! I am already accepting old age. In order to make you laugh a little, I am exaggerating the case to the extent that my 'egoism' is now screaming at me saying: "Come on; you are not that old!" I don't know. Is 50 old or what?

Let us leave this discussion and go back to our main story and the physiological need in question. No doubt, seeing a woman using the shelter of a tree or a stone in the countryside attracts more attention. It is not difficult to guess what she is up to. For men undertaking such a 'great task' is indeed easier! With my male appearance there is no need to be scared and thus hurry up with the result of getting 'wet' all over! In an Islamic traditional country it is indeed a great blessing to be a man. I am enjoying my new status like hell!

However, there are also cases (even though much fewer in number) when it is a blessing to be a women, such as when passing large trucks and police stations. In my experience truck drivers and police men find it amusing when they see a woman driving a car. They usually smile and let you pass without complication. Perhaps because they normally just see yang energies around, so a little bit of yin can help to cool that 'fiery masculine energy?!'

Other blessings of womanhood include a greater chance to find an empty seat in women department of public buses during rush hours; shorter time of waiting in queues - when and where there are separate queues, such as crowded governmental offices, etc.

But the most interesting incidence that has happened so far was a 'fight' with a male driver when coming home from a trip, feeling exhausted and simultaneously happy that I will soon reach home, sweet home. (Despite my wish, I have to go into details here so that you would have a better view of what actually happened.) As I was driving through one of the few remaining nostalgic garden-alleyways in the north of Tehran, I saw a car coming toward me from the other end. These alley-ways are usually quite narrow and it is difficult for two cars passing each other easily. So I automatically reduced my speed, but then I noticed a light post on his side of the alley which meant that he was the one who had to stop. As the majority of Iranian drivers are inconsiderate and drive very selfishly, I usually do not pay attention to these details and just stop to prevent complications. But due to some obscure reasons I continued driving. As expected he did not stop as he should have according to driving laws. I was doing my best to pass his car (as he had already reached the impasse of the light post), when one of my tires got stuck to the high edge of a brook and I got stuck too with our driver- side-windows facing each other now. So I asked him to move a little bit forward, but before finishing my sentence, he started to shout at me rudely and hit me on the face! It was such an unexpected reaction that my involuntary defensive reaction of raising my hand did not work efficiently. Now my fury was out of control and I started to shout as well when suddenly I saw him trying to get out of his car, this time to knock me down I suppose. On seeing his enormous stature compared to my skinny figure, I instantly came to my senses and did all I could to calm and tame the wild beasts raging in both of us. Let alone the rest of the details, we finally left the scene peacefully by virtue of my knowledge of 'the working' of human mind and psyche. However, the whole thing was so strange that I could not stop thinking about it for a long time. Trying to analyze the incident as objectively as I could, the first question that crossed my mind was: "Didn't he realize that I was a woman?" In this and other patriarchal countries (which includes all countries of the world in fact), it is still quite 'unmanly' to use physical force against the weak in general, and women and children in particular. Surely, even if he took me as a man because of my appearance, once I started protesting, he must have realized my true sexuality. So what caused him to act so violently? Was it because men take women drivers as cowards and conservative and do not like to see them behaving imprudently? But still his reaction was really too much. So most probably he must have taken me as a man. But even if that were the case, I still could not understand why he acted so violently. Particularly when I tried to remember his face and manners, he appeared to be a nice respectable gentleman. So why did he react so furiously? Here and out of the blue, I remembered a more or less similar aggressive reaction (not as badly as this one of course) from another driver during the same trip which again had puzzled me... And suddenly, Eureka! Eureka! That must be it! These men took me as a mullah because of the cap I had on in both instances. This is a small round cap that mullahs wear under their turban. In fact it is even called by that name; something very similar, only a little bit bigger than those that the Jewish boys wear after puberty. It prevents the turban from slipping on the hair. By virtue of this discovery, not only the burning sensation of that 'unfair' slap on the face and the rage disappeared, but I managed to forgive both men - particularly that nice gentleman - immediately! I was just the victim of quarter of a century of priestly injustice and tyranny.

Going back to our main subject of discussion, shaving my grey hair is giving me the opportunity to 'change' and 'choose' my sexuality depending on the circumstances. (Believe it or not, the way my hair has turned white is in such a way that my head now almost looks like the characteristic Chinese icon of yin-yang! Only the black area (i.e. yin part) is smaller which I interpret it as a more realistic symbolic representation of feminine principle in an Islamic and intensely patriarchal country!)

The next amusing thing that I am planning to do is to walk through the streets while embracing an adventurous girl- friend ready to pay the price, in case we get caught. Although this is exactly one of the things I do not like about the Western countries, because I think there should be a difference between 'humans in heat' and 'animals in heat,' it is like being forced to watch porno movies live! I say 'forced' because, it is difficult to walk around keeping one's head down - to avoid seeing such scenes- all the time. However, here it is just the opposite; whenever I see couples hugging and on very rare occasions almost kissing each other, I like to congratulate them for their courage. They are risking so much! It is like performing a 'revolutionary' act.

I should also go to Laleh Park, where I have heard is the meeting place of homosexuals and see how that could help me to experience the original 'wholeness.' It can be useful from another important aspect too. When people look at us, we get energy. This is in fact one of the main reasons that drives quite a number of Iranians (particularly women), who have the choice to live abroad, to come back home. Here they are 'somebody.' There they are 'nobody.' There, (i.e. in western countries) people are so involved in their own world and are so busy 'to mind their own business' that they do not have time to even look around especially at others attentively. Here people (particularly well-off women) have "so little to do" that 'minding other people's business' keeps them busy. In addition, considering the present reactionary enforced restrictions in regard to men-women relationship, streets, parks and cafés are almost the only opportunity for men and women to meet and socialize. So here people still look at each other in the streets and other public places attentively. This 'free' - meaning gratis - attention is exactly what the above people miss abroad. No doubt that there is no need to emphasize on the vital psychological role of attention in human life. And this might at the end be the very reason that I might start wearing my scarf again, as 'age' can be hidden under a little bit of lip stick and eye shadow, etc and I am not getting this energy now, except from a few middle-aged women who can be interested in a 'respectable' grey hair man riding a new car.

1. It is very interesting how each culture tries to see itself as the source of the world wisdom. It is not only the Persians who in the words of their great epical poet, Ferdosi believe that "Art is only in the hands of Persians and that's it!" It is amazing to find the same trend even in America, a country 'without' history when compared to India, Persia, Greece, Egypt, etc. For example, Christopher S. Hyatt, speaks of "Western" Tantra in a tone, as though it has nothing to do with the ancient Tantric tradition of India (see her Secrets of Western Tantra) and in some of the issues of American Journal of Acupuncture of 70s, one can find articles in which the authors insist that what they do is totally different from Chinese Acupuncture and call it American!

... Payvand News - 9/13/04 ... --

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