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On the ways up the mountain – Part 2
by Ahmad Damen
June 18th, 2014 (No comments)
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Following our spirituality, religion and politics discussion, we’d naturally ask:

Why is spirituality important? Is it missing in the Arab world? And what is the alternative?

We have always associated Europe’s success with its ability to break away from the Catholic Church, start the Renaissance and establish the importance of logic and science over superstition.

And who is the guy who started this trend in Europe? An Arab, of course!

YEAH… we used to do other things instead of smoking shisha all day!

The Andalusian philosopher Ibn Rushd of the 12th century (known in the west as Averroes) wrote on merging the philosophy of Aristotle with that of Islamic philosophy started by scholars like Avicenna (Ibn Sina) and Al-Farabi. He wanted to respond to the extreme right religious scholar Al-Ghazali, hoping to re-establish the “power of the mind” and logic as part of the world’s answer to religious extremism.

But is that really the reason of the success of the European model?!

Well, it did help in justifying the eradication of the natives in the New World back then, and giving a good excuse for stealing the resources from Africa and taking its people as slaves. But in all cases, the pope would have given them permission for the “greater good” if the issue were to come to his table.

The model of capitalism and greed is still being used today in the West, with horrible results for planet and humanity, in my opinion.

And yes, it is helping in keeping certain parts of the world rich over others, but it’s not working for Arabs and also does not provide a lot of answers to the average European/American.

Why is it not working for Arabs? Because it conflicts with our fundamental set of beliefs that were evident since Christ’s time and continued to develop with the arrival of Islam. Due to later failures (that would not fit here), we were not able to succeed in pushing our model forward, and we were resigned to adopt the European model without limits. We didn’t choose the success factors that apply to our culture.  Instead, we simply took everything.

This resulted in a society that is full of contradictions, multiple personality disorders on a massive scale, and (as you can see) a broken system. The Arab economic, educational and social institutions are now useless.

I don’t claim to know the answer to this big dilemma, but I could at least look at a practical solution within our grasp. For an Arab reading this (no matter what religion you follow) there is a way to pull yourself together and start your climb up the mountain.

It’s called Spiritual Awakening.

Eastern societies have always understood the importance of spirituality for their society’s structure and way of life. You can see this in India, China, Japan, Malaysia and other models in the Far East.

The Arab World has always been the link between the East and the West… Remember "The Silk Road"?

Spiritual awakening is NOT about following one path.  It’s the use of one or many paths to reach salvation and inner peace for your soul and body, to find the answers and seek to be an active part of humanity as a whole.

It is based on the idea that the mind or consciousness, upon which the humans are allegedly unique, is a limited device. It could only show you so little about life, keeps deceiving you into confusing reality and dream, and limits your acceptance of imperfection, by creating the ego.

And oh I bet you have met and seen many of those “inflated egos” in this world, a world driven by competition and greed, which is causing the rise of a new trend psychologists in the West now call a “narcissistic epidemic”.

Everybody wants to have the full cake and is looking for their “cheese” everywhere. Books have been written, talks and presentations held on how to succeed by climbing on top of others, to be a “highly effective” person, and to have the largest share you can grab of the world’s limited resources!

When your PC (god forbid) is full with viruses and is not operating well, you have the choice of “formatting,” no matter how painful and time consuming this could be, and starting anew.

And that is exactly what spiritual awakening is all about. Our society that is becoming dangerously exclusionary, competitive and greedy needs to get rid of all the rust that’s clogging it. We have to realize we are no longer teachers in this world and stop asking the world to adopt "our way," because it has failed.

This is a huge issue for the new “ego-inflated Arab” nowadays.

We are merely students who should accept failure and start again with a lot of humility. We do not have to re-invent the wheel, we just have to adapt a new system that could fit our basic culture.

This was suggested by the Morrocan scholar and philosopher Taha Abdel Rahman in his “Religious Practice and Renewal of the Reason” (1989). In order to achieve this, according to Abdel Rahman, we have to:

1) Realize the limits presented by the mental model adopted in Europe, which is far from being sufficient in answering both the moral and life questions.  Also, we have to realize the potentials and blessings of reaching higher dimensions that surpass our ever-deceiving consciousness.

2) Give spirituality back to the people by experiencing it firsthand instead of the voices of priests, imams and mullahs.

Again, I’m not referring to one path over another. There are many ways up the mountain.

What are the religious clerics and politicians doing about it? They are standing at the foothill telling everybody that their choice of the "way up" is a “sin” and the wrong choice that would lead us to hell.

Meanwhile, in fact, their way has lead us only downhill to the pits of darkness and the real hells beyond.

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* Ahmad Damen is a musician, soundtrack composer and an award-winning film director from Ramallah, Palestine.

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