By Mali Mostoufi, New York
The visionary dreamers of our oriental past would wanted us to enter and remain in their beautiful dream-world and ignore this "unworthy" world that we came to live in: Every one of us as an individual, and all of us as the masses. They even dragged many of us, the readers and then believers, into their "world" that practically we forgot how to live on our Earth with all its challenges. (Some die-hard mystic-dreamers of these times even now are continuing the same for us!.. I come to them, later). All those "needed illusions" were nothing but phantasmagoria, or mirage.
We started to wake up, from our centuries sleep, almost in the end of Nineteenth Century. We woke up, face to face, with our backwardness and our stagnant societies: educationally, socially, economically, politically and even artistically. Our History lied to us for more than and "After One Thousand and Four Hundred Years"-- No wonder that this Two- Volume-Book by Dr. Shojaedeen Shafa is largely ignored by our so called 'reform minded intellectuals' who still are not completely 'free' from the past mirage and still are in the grips of religious fanaticism and, they claim reforming an ideology that was, more than fourteen hundred years, the very reason for the slavery to the Persian masses, and the cause and the tool of the last twenty six years of "the collective despotism of a group of clergies" in Persia.
We woke up when the very intelligent and advanced usurpers from Europe came to our lands, violated them, plundered our resources and actually encouraged our masses, directly and indirectly, to stay deeper in the world of our ignorance and fanaticism. They even encouraged the creation of 'some newer ideologies' for us-- one of policies of "Divide and Rule" of these New Usurpers!
When in Persia, Ahmad Kasravi wrote and published his analytical and critical books, they immediately were considered as Blasphemies and he was assassinated by the Fatva of a minor clergy then, in 1945 (1324 of Persian Calendar).
Now it is more than a century that we are trying to deal and live with the realities of our world and lives with all their blessings and all their beautiful and even their ugliness. Although we are still in such 'a double-grips' , internally and externally, we, the masses in Persia, in India, in China and in the whole world of the so called 'the third world ' recognize our internal enemies, the despotic Holinesses-- reformed or not-- and our external enemies, even with the banner of 'Freedom and Democracy' in their hands. Both aims are to plunder and to deceive us and to continue usurping the wealth of the lands and of the peoples.
In Persia the dreams of our great visionaries of the past, for so long, perhaps saved us from the wounds, the pains, and the sorrows of our inevitable losses and hopelessness that we faced for centuries with deaths and destructions caused by the savage attackers. The dreams also had soothing effects for our souls or minds to feel less pain and less hopelessness when at the same times we were slaves to the despotic dynasties and their gatekeepers: their various holinesses.
Habits, when repeated for centuries, turn into chronic addictions. We became so used to 'our goal-keepers' that we, century by century, fell in love with 'them' and accepted and drank whatever poison they fed us. We even got drunk and slept longer and longer!...
The mystics with the wine of their mysticism, and with of course their 'good intentions' shared 'their bottomless cups' with us. We drank and our sorrows and pains were soothed. But the wine brought us false pleasures, false happiness and false hopes. " Never mind if you are miserable on this Earth, look up!... In the sky there is your world!..." In deed as we say in Persian, the world of "Haparoot" (or 'Allam-e-Haparoot'). Artistically, beautiful, fantastic. Their magnificent poems and proses not only captivated us but even enthralled many European scholars that later on they were known as the Orientalists.
In the works of our past visionary mystics, we visioned "another world" so beautiful, so peaceful and full of 'eternal ' Love and Beauty. Through fantasy, we became 'hopeful' and longed for a "Heaven" that simply does not exist-- the religious mysticism of Persian artists still enthralls many in our time.
In China and India, Buddhism (in various forms) even far longer than ours, were in ''control " mostly as some kind of secular, or even atheistic mysticism. In America, in Mid-Eighteen hundred the Chinese immigrants, besides their hard labor, brought to California a mix of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. The Vietnam War in 1960s came and Zen Buddhism and Hinduism became very fashionable among the American youth and some famous intellectuals who were fed up with the hypocrisy of the Church and resented that War imposed by the politicians on the nation. Both the church and the politicians here, learned their lessons -- They now control the largely, politically ignorant masses over here much more sophisticatedly!...
From almost Fourteen Century AD while the Europeans, as known as Westerners, were rapidly moving ahead, going through several wars and revolutions, going through the Industrial Revolutions and many social, economical and political changes; but we in the East stayed in 'bed' with our mystics, Attars, Rumis and Buddhas, etc., and of course without having any real biography about their personal lives: Never crossed our minds to ask, "By the way, who were their wives, children, mistresses, friends and foes?... and how they felt or were treated by those great men?... How rich or poor they lived, financially?..." We just joined their 'dreams of a world beyond this world'-- It was easier to see, hear, feel, even taste and touch, the world of fantasy than the Miserable World of more than fourteen hundred years of Persia and Persian Nations. True, we had and have our great men and their great works to make us to boast with pride (our everlasting pride!)
is no wonder that the writings of "toady's dreamers" have less believers and
readers. We are today tired of old dreams and tired of whoever intends, any
longer, to lecture us about 'how to be happy' by "Dream Prescriptions"
or as an American saying goes, "By the pie in the sky..." If "The Other
Worlders" of this era, this Twenty-first Century, wish not to face our
world, they are welcomed to theirs!... But some of us are curious and
wonder Why. What was and is in the personal lives of our contemporary mystic
artists (writers, poets, etc.) who hide behind the veils of their fantastic
mystical world?... Why can't we have access to their biographies?... How
do they live or lived that just like their predecessors we have no knowledge of
their personal lives?... No real exposing biography, for example, is on
our great Rumi who so passionately loved his beloved
Shams, a man who by his own admission, was so cruel and sadistic that took pleasure in flogging his little pupils in his studies, to the extent that their skins came off bleeding. I have often asked myself, how my beloved Rumi could see "God" in such an abusive and sadistic fascist. But then, the world of fantasy plays on the mind, sometimes like, upside down. Scientific Psychology and Psychiatry can, reasonably, answer such phenomenon. We can have access to the lives of say, Byron, Rimbaud, Coleridge, Virginia Woolf even the half Oriental, Cavafy, through all the biographies available in the bookstores. But we know next to nothing about our world famous novelist, Hedayat. Hence his book "The Blind Owl" was interpreted as a political manifesto by some demagogues!...
Throughout the Persian history, the powerful religious demagogues took full advantage of the classical works of our past visionary poets and writers. They used the beauty of those poems, proses and stories as tools to prove the 'truth' in 'sacred books.' Whoever dared to criticize those books, believe me, ended up into a fate far worse than Salman Rushdi-- he was slaughtered to pieces!...
Nowadays the contemporary dreamers mix their ideologies with pseudo-sciences as "scientific facts." But they deceive themselves and, unfortunately they fool some individuals by such 'new old discoveries!'
I have a little true personal story, not directly related to the subject of this article, which I want to share with you, my dear readers:
It is about a man, who actually was a secular person and wished to change his life and his close family's, but too late; the transition came to my father in his old age, after twenty years when he was retired from his job. It was in 1960 or 1961 when in a brief conversation with me in London he told me, "... You know, it is like believing for so long in 'a wrong philosophy' and had taught it for 40 years and not knowing that you were wrong all along. Now how can you admit to yourself, or worse, to your students, that your ideas were false?..."
My father never wanted to hear the voices of a Nation who at the end of 19th Century had started to wake up and sing the songs of Constitutional Revolution. He never wanted to hear the voice of our masses from the mouth of our great leader, Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, when we demanded to nationalize our oil industry; he did not wish to walk with us or to hear our true aspirations and hopes for ourselves and for our future generations; because my father was taught to believe that Persian Nation are incapable of running their own country without the help of another advanced country. I think the shock of reality killed him one year later.
I never asked my old man, "Why did you, or 'God' or whatever bring us to this world, or to this existence?" or "on this earth." Like him and all the other thinking human beings, I had no answers to these questions, and I still don't. But I believed then, and still do now that between this "coming" (existence) and that "going" (death) all of us have the urge to live, and to live a better life for ourselves and make our world a better place for our future generations. As a Chinese Proverb says, "One generation plants the trees, another gets the shades." Our own realities and of our living world must be faced by ourselves and not through the fantasy world created by some great poets, writers, prophets. We can learn and apply some of their wisdom in our lives, enjoy some of their artistic work and be proud of our heritage in this world.
Eric Fromm in one of his profound statements, says, "If you do not treat kindly every miserable truth when it knocks at your door, you may not recognize it one day when it comes as rags." Eric Fromm did not want us 'to sleep and dream of false dreams' in the middle of progressive 20th Century; but some, even in the dawn of our 21st Century even when they wake up, they turn from side to side, insist to stay in 'bed' and still dream about their fantastic dreams. They, personally, have every right to do so, but we must no more be dragged into their false fantasies.
I believe we can enjoy the works of our past mystics as arts and entertainment but not as the map of life, just as the admirers of, for example, Shakespeare's works do not LIVE in his plays, poems or his proses. Although I think some of his plays and many of his and our Hafez's lines in their sonnets are nearer to our hearts and well spoken of our personal and social experiences, and therefore both (and works of many others) are timeless.
"Under this azure heavens, I admire the resoluteness of the
Is free from whatever takes the color of attachment."
Hafez is talking about absolute freedom for us in this couplet.
* My free translation of the above couplet. M.M.
... Payvand News - 4/4/05 ... --