Improving Emotional Health

I have been featured in the symptoms of a show-cased emotionally imbalanced personalty in this toolkit step 1 of emotional intelligence. I intend to follow it. [Keep updating this post]

Elder Brother's Advice

Winter was settling in. I am visitng my family after a 2.5 hour drive from Lahore to Sargodha. The peaceful, silent (not even humming) air of Sargodha's night embraces me, and I feel one with the city.  My elder brother (8+) is here to pick me up. We stop at a BBQ joint - a classic example of Pakistani management: sweaty place, with malnourished, disgruntled employees, acting as informally as they can, but with a clarity in voice, a voice distilled by the hardships of a common poor Pakistani. We wait for the order. We sit down; he lights his cigeratte with quick, effortless bodily movements which I envy. I cannot sit down on a chair without compulsively looking around for gravity's or chair's conspiracy against me. As coherent, crisp, effortless, short and eloquent his bodily movements, he has a substantial advice, an omen for me.
You need to jump into the real world, he began. Get yourself tired by your efforts. Hid the road. Discover the world, travel. Deal with people. Do not go through it, and you will slip off the edge. You will never make it. You will lose all the confidence of meeting people, dealing with things. [That's a bad paraphrasing]
There was no effort in his beginning nor in his end. No word was extra, no word left things undesired. A clear vision of two possibilities conveyed, which I could feel. It made the evening more chilling. Night appeared to be long. I lost all obsessive compulsive interests at that time

How to make Pakistan Iron of the World?

Iron is a powerful metaphor symbolising rigor, robustness, edge, practical value and leadership. It cuts through dullness. It is full of unending vigor. It was the metaphor which late PM Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto used as a vision for Pakistan. He asked in his roaring voice at a public jalsa, "Would you become the iron of the world?" Meaning by, would you be the energy source of the world? Would you become drivers of the world? He succeeded in launching Pakistan as a nimble start-up IronMan for the Muslim world at least. He opened various fronts. (Perhaps too many.) Oh! Its an intoxicating dream my father's generation can't still shake off (most of whom, if not all, where enamored by Bhutto). There is no time for Ahs! and Alas! Right after losing half of a country a nation is thrust forward to world stage; it becomes a voice for the Muslim world; a handicapped nation with 90,000 soldiers imprisoned by its 'mortal' enemy (excuse me for exaggeration though). Right after its defeat, it exponentially multiplies its effort. It kicks off nuclear program to secure its future. That project is complete. And we have paid its cost: Eating grass. We've paid the price. We've made our IronMan. Now it is time to become the IronMan of the world. It is just the beginning. From the floors of this earth, you can just go up and up.

It is not the how you can make Pakistan Iron of the World. The question is: do you want it to be so? Has the idea possessed you like it possessed my father and his generation? Have you impersonated world's IronMan? Are you acting like one?

Finding solace in Hobbesian World?

Finally finished reading commentary of Frederick Copleston - indeed a very comprehensive and thought provoking one from phil-legal p.o.v - on Leviathan of Thomas Hobbes.

Being a highly insecure person who wonders why people with greater physical or other types of might put up with meek people say while going on road or while making a bargain, i found my intuition about an instinctively warring human nature confirmed in Hobbes' book.

His idea of an all powerfull, illimitable, indivisible Sovereign State rests of following premises:

In the state of nature (where every man is for himself / "atomic individualism") > all men are at war against all in self-perservation;

In such state, one's reason and conscience is the judge of good and bad;

There can be no peace and security in such a state - in fact, there can be injustice in this state, for truth and justice have no place in war

Hence, it logically follows, that greater good, peace, justice, pursuit of self-preservation and security for all - all must enter into a contract with each other to give their a) judgement of good and bad (including scriptural interpretation); b) power to inflict harm/punishment/make laws etc to one Sovereign (except the power of self-harm to themselves).

Important part of this logic is that Sovereign is above accountability; in fact he is not a party to the contract at all. He enforces the contract. And, he remains a Sovereign as far his ability to enforce the contract goes.

My analysis: This is a condensing outline of his theory. Obviously, today state is party to the contract. It may have monopoly of violence, but sovereignty today is no more indivisible. What appeals more in terms of legitimizing state is not its influence, but its conduct and commitment to Civilizational and cultural norms.

My Beloveds

They are usually shy, contemplative, reserve, kind, introvert. I cherish them because I see myself in them. I feel for them all the time. I think about their welfare for their own sake. They are like a small home on a cut off region filled with natural beauty and serenity in a homeless, endless, cosmopolitan galaxy. Some of them cannot add to my learning beyond their defined geniuses; some of them have grown exponentially as a functional human being. It is only that they complete that vacuum which no successful person can - vacuum of devotion to thought, kindness, solitude. Yes, these traits may not offer humanity anything material or even psychological (except prayers); but these are dispositions I was born with. It is only that only their faces, gait, movements, words, struggles, frustrations, behaviors, and little joys they elicit from bewildering life can reflect my need for solitude, contemplation, and a sense of seeking goodness in all and hopefully for all (for I lack miserably in being like my brother who is a nuclear civil resource for people in greatest need).

Strayness

I am running low on energy. Losing positive outlook I acquired over my BSc years. Those were nonetheless vague, sheepish years - though enjoyable and spicy. Logical conclusion was to carry on with line of expertise, but i chose to enter a new field: the law. I assumed advantages of having done a BSc would follow - they did, but I didn't exploit my advance reading and comprehension skills and did not hone writing skills.

The good parts: i am acquiring independent thinking in deciphering political-legal texts. I wish it continue and leads towards full-fledged learning of fundamental philosophical systems.

My belief in fundamental value of competency is reigniting. Cosmetics such as outward confidence, smooth talking, good dressing and familiarity with impressive jargon have lost much value in my eyes. The basic issue is of restoring self-esteem. It can only be long-term if i acquire competencies, insightful productive thought-patterns, positive behavioral traits and high-energy levels.

One major flaw in thinking has been total disregard for an overarching grand purpose and set of milestones in life. Fear of loss of wealth, honor and status are beyond me. They are fruits whom God bestows on whomever he wishes. My job is to think nobly of serving my people through my competences, manners and kindness. My job is to create legacy like my father has (in form of a school dedicated to quality education in his home village belt; in his untiring efforts to mediate peace, lead community welfare projects; take care of poor, orphans, relatives; through leadership at all levels). My job is to nurture my family and people around like my mother has so selflessly, endlessly.

Without these qualities I cannot live as a functional human being.

Turn Offs in a Relationship

- Goals remain to be valued, respected, honored, to be thought of as a blessing, awed, curiously sought for conversations, struggles, mutual insights, cared, emotionally supported,
- Excessive, complicated, unnecessary words.
- Emotional excesses.
- Not developing oneself… Most potent though implicit turn off
- Not hitting at areas of interest that can arouse wonder, curiosity, probing, introspection, matters close to human heart and soul, then guided out of deepest puzzles like Dr Agha does, few words interpreted so well it amazes the beloved.

- Not gaining lots of important and diverse contacts that can be used

How is Studying Law Similar or Different to Studying Math & Physical Sciences?

Question: I am currently studying law, in first year. Its external program of University of London. As I had rightly predicted, it gives endless opportunity to read and read, and weigh arguments and interpretations.

My question to mind scholars and philosophers is that how is its study different, mentally, from mathematics and physical sciences?

Your Answer...???

Losing the Beloved

1. Fear of losing the beloved exhausts the emotional fuel tanks of the Beloved and makes the reactions and actions of the Lover short-sighted, obsessive, hopeless, and sad. It breeds impracticality and is a uni-dimensional state of mind in which roses by birth are rotten. It waits for a miracle, when there's no agency other than lover's heart that can perform a miracle of Union of Lover and Beloved

2. The fear should be less than the hope and excitement to resonate with the will, temperament, condition and whole spectrum of concerns of the Beloved! Fear should just keep the lover alert, not scramble him over nothing. Let the sub-conscious and unconscious do the magic of resonating with the frequency of the Beloved with maximum bandwidth of pure concern, valuing and service beyond their wildest expectation! Keep it sweet and refreshing!

Inferiority Complex towards Physical Sciences

As a humanities student, please share your positive negative experiences and thoughts, especially in Pakistani context.

My thoughts in piepline... Excuse the laziness

Beginning

Beginning was careful. Hours spent in stalking and careful planning of the right moments and measured inputs; in search for appropriate openings for advancement across the enemy field, arousing least suspicion. State of mind was curious, attachment and investment was minimal; but there was desire. Minimal desire stays, but investment and extraction of pleasure has pervaded whole body and psychic being. Will, fueled with desire, helped me take action despite risk of cover getting blown.

Book Review: Alchemist by Sehrish Asghar

I always consider books to be my friends. They are the ones that guide and show me the right path. Out of all these good friends, if I have to choose my best friend it would be “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.

Paulo Coelho through this book has taught me that a fighting spirit is very important indeed. The famous quote from the Alchemist, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it,” has had a big impact on my life. People usually comment about me that I am hard-working and sensitive about my studies; I feel that this is somehow due to this book and this famous quote.

This book revolves around a boy named Santiago who travels to the pyramids of Egypt to chase his dreams. During the course of this journey he meets many people, overcomes many obstacles and learns many lessons. He learns the importance of following his dreams. A huge emphasis has been laid on the Soul of the World. This philosophical, but very influential, concept is definitely the beauty of the book. When we start a task, the first few stages go very smooth. This is because the soul of the world is letting us get comfortable with the task at hand. But later we find many difficulties, because the soul of the world is then testing us.

The Alchemist is a beautiful book indeed! The writing style is simply mesmerizing. You never get bored. It is all very philosophical, symbolic and a fun read. To me this book is an all-time classic – not a doubt in it. Another plus point of this book is that it is not a lengthy 500 page long book like many other best-sellers. Rather it is a very “petite”, very concise and to-the-point one. And it is amazing how beautifully Paulo Coelho has summarized these lessons of persistence and chasing your dreams with such precision. I would say to anyone who has not read this book: go grab a copy. You are missing out on a timeless classic.

This book has left a deep impact on me. The Alchemist has not taught me how to make the elixir of life, but the book has given me something much more precious, much handier for the rest of my life. It has given me the formula for the elixir of strife. Now I know struggling, fighting back and chasing my dreams is very important – and when I do that, the soul of the world will always be there with me. A person is never aware of the outcome, and the outcome might differ from what was originally anticipated. But what really matters is your strife, your search for the realization of your dreams, and this is what the book talks about.

Ghalib & nature of universe

عالم تما م حلقہء دام ِ خیال ہے

Footnote: Hoodbhoy & Iqbal

"It may be pointed out here that Syed Ahmad Khan, Syed Jamal-ud-Din Afghani and hundreds of the latter’s disciples in Muslim countries were not westernized Muslims. They were men who had sat on their knees before the mullas of the old school and had breathed the very intellectual and spiritual atmosphere which they later sought to reconstruct. Pressure of modern ideas may be admitted; but the history thus briefly indicated above clearly shows that the upheaval which has come to Turkey and which is likely, sooner or later, to come to other Muslim countries, is almost wholly determined by the forces within, It is only the superficial observer of the modern world of Islam who thinks that the present crisis in the world of Islam is wholly due to the working of alien forces."

From, Islam & Ahmadism, by Allama Iqbal.

Dialectic & Poetry



Frithjof Schuon writes:

Dialectic convinces us with ideas,So that we may understand things abstractly;Poetry has feeling, works with imagesAnd seeks thereby to soften the austerity of thought —So that we may see the truth with our heart.

Like a seed bury yourself

Fears about uncertain future cloud my mind. But more than that i have failed to appreciate the potential i've within myself, like any other human being. Dr Hameedullah compares potentials of man to a tiny seed that turns out to be a colossal tree if nurtured well, and in the first place if it buries itself in the darkness of the mother earth.

How can i be so ungrateful to Allah and be hopeless of my in-competencies? I've to tell myself again and again. I've to be singularly focused on my growth like a selfless seed. I've everything at my service due to Grace of God. Yet this yaas, despair and irrational doubts...

Toxic Effects of Inferiority Complex in Pakistan (III)


Read part I and part II.


In South Africa there are two million whites against almost thirteen million native people, and it has never occurred to a single black to consider himself superior to a member of the white minority.
– Frantz Fanon

The feeling of inferiority of the colonized is the correlative to the European’s feeling of superiority. Let us have the courage to say it outright: It is the racist who creates his inferior.
– Frantz Fanon

(First quote of Fanon really shook our spines to the core. This thought has never occurred to us! We must confess. Ask yourself. The second one is a ‘proven’ psychological fact.)

There’s an undeniable existence of self-hatred, self-pity and total disregard for our Way (cultural and above all religious) present in many of us, especially those dazzled by all things ‘western’. Another term for this disease is Occidentosis. Speaking of which Jalal Al-i Ahmed writes in his famous Occidentosis: A Plague from West:

“Under [occidentosis] we are like strangers to ourselves, in our food and dress, our homes, our manners, our publications, and, most dangerous, our culture. We try to educate ourselves in the European style and strive to solve every problem as the Europeans would.”
Jalal has comprehensively summarized negative effects of westernization in various aspects of our individual and collectives lives which we’ll attempt to examine as following.

Read full article here.

Blasphemy Laws: A Rationale

Muslims - by the virtue of the Prophet - still have a sense of Sacred. This is why they so emotionally and intellectually react to any desecration of Sacred. It is their civilizational right & duty to defend the rights of God, his prophets & his idyaan. West fails to understand that, perhaps.

 In USA, if you curse God or Prophet Jesus, nobody would even care, they won't even look at you and pass by. But if you curse someone's color, race or even nose, you'll get sued for 100k dollars or even worse.* This is because they've lost that sense of Sacred. It is against this aggression towards the rights of God that blasphemy laws exist.

Last para example is taken from an audio clip on Salman Rushdie Affair by Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr.http://mac.abc.se/home/onesr/af/_audio/A065e_SH.Nasr_Sh.Tantawi_19.mp3

Modern Science & Beauty?



The morning dew is a source of freshness and is a proof of God too (at least for a saint). Unfortunately, those who worship modern science and technology whole day, do not realize that from its standpoint everything is nothing but matter, with no vertical dimension and causality to it. Divine Imprint is the source of all meaningful beauty.

This mechanistic and materialistic view of nature, that modern science possesses, is also the cause of so much destruction of environment. Because from its view, there's no sacred element to material world, hence it's there to be captured according to free market forces. They realized it later that destruction of nature creates imbalance (too obvious to us though). We must salute from heart all native cultures that are disgusted by the idol of indefinite economic progress. Yet, many muslims who're envious of worldly power and resources have fallen to the same trap seculars did.

Historical Roots of Inferiority Complex in Indo-Pak

Blowing brains and spirits out

Colonial Invasion & State Structures. Loss of self-confidence in Muslims is justifiably related to defeats on the battlegrounds at the hands of west. But a military defeat is not enough to enslave hearts and minds, as it can be an impetus for revenge. Today Muslims are envious of West’s power, which proves the fact that the real challenge of west is not of materialism, but of intellectuality (which modernity certainly lacks in the true sense of the world).

However, what happened after the first phase of colonial invasion? How did colonials succeed in subduing large populations in vast areas? We’ve partial answers.

Realizing the danger that native “monkeys” might overrun them by sheer numbers, colonizers had to play the games of perceptions and mind control. They had to look big and strong. Few in numbers, they developed railway and laid communication systems to travel fast over the huge mass of land to subdue any possible mutiny, which did take place and successfully crushed. But the physical assets won’t do the job if the natives were enthusiastic and confident of their victory. Hence, that spirit of rebellion was decimated, and fear and inferiority complex were placed like time bombs beneath our (un)conscious. Self-confidence was shattered when Muslims’d see Tipu Sultan’s majestic dress being worn by peons of whites. Healthy, buildup, young officers constantly replaced older ones to give the illusion that all whites are brave and strong and can’t be messed with. These are just few of countless examples of this social-engineering.

We’ve to contextualize heroic things we attribute our colonial masters. Colonialism was about dispossession. In a paper on this very topic, Cole Harris summarizes colonists’ grand strategy of dispossession as following: 

“The initial ability to dispossess rested primarily on physical power and the supporting infrastructure of the state; the momentum to dispossess derived from the interest of capital in profit and of settlers in forging new livelihoods; the legitimation of and moral justification for dispossession lay in a cultural discourse that located civilization and savagery and identified the land uses associated with each; and the management of dispossession rested with a set of disciplinary technologies of which maps, numbers, law, and the geography of resettlement itself were the most important…” (‘How Did Colonialism Dispossess? Comments from an Edge of Empire’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 94, No. 1 (Mar., 2004), abstract)

Hence, administrative and other infrastructures, and all the technologies were means to loot and pillage, although in a more civilized or face-saving way.

Education: Colonists’ Most Favorite Vehicle (MFV)

While military and political subjugation of colonists broke the spirits of many, colonial education convinced many that modern West’s ventures in barbarism were for our own benefit. When defeat induced fears of a mightier foe, the education changed the victim’s heart. As Akbar Abadi said: ‘An easterner would cut off the head of the foe; a westerner would change his heart’. British justified their rule to their own people on the pretext of ‘civilizing’ natives. This was different from what was happening to Blacks in Africa. This comparison will make things more clear.

Blacks were made colonizers on the basis of their color. They were led to believe that their skin color reflects that of sin, ugliness. Black lies are unforgivable, white lies are ignored. They don't have any right to exist. Be white or disappear was the attitude of their colonizers. Blacks even had dreams of being white. They craved for white color at any cost.

Our minds were made slaves. Our color is not such a problem to them. Our culture, religion, and thought endangered their existence. They worked to snatch our inheritance, our ilm from us. That is why they used education. They changed minds.

Economic-historian Atiyab Sultan writes that in the beginning of 19th century, colonization became more ‘pedagogic’ in India. Previously, Britishers were consolidating militarily and administratively. It was time to tend to education, which was primarily used to create a special kind of class of natives, loyal to them.

Liberals and utilitarians advocated ‘civilizing’ natives in the “universal image” of modern western man. There were 3 distinct groups in British parliament who lobbied for their own educational programs (with unmistakable similarities): Evangelicals, utilitarians, and uiberals. Evangelicals like Charles Grant believed Indians to be 'race of men lamentably degenerate and base'; liberals like Macaulay fancied, “A single shelf of a good European library is worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia”; and utilitarians like JS Mills considered Indian stock of knowledge to be ‘obscure and worthless’ (perhaps he did so without digesting a page of Indian literature). On the contrary, Dr Asad Zaman argues, “A single chapter on sacrifice in a book like Fazail e Amaal that teaches man to go against his nafs, is worth the whole literature of modern West.” Only Orietnatlists, Atiyab mentions, argued that colonial educational system in India should be according to indigenous sources and be taught according to indigenous views.

In a way summing up the educational policy, which was fiercely debated in English parliament, Atiyab further writes:

“Education was also a chief instrument in the creation of a colonial subject that would be a loyal and willing consumer of British knowledge and produce. Macaulay voiced this concern thus: ‘Indians should not be too ignorant or too poor to value and buy English manufactures’ (Basu 58.) In a larger sense, the loyal subjects were needed for the calm preservation of empire, echoing the imperial policy of cultivating supportive local elites …”

It becomes clear that their educational institutions served colonists needs, not ours. This reminds of what Iqbal called the “un-Muslim character” colonial education produced. Also, that system was unfair to the masses as it sent few to higher service, leaving the rest impoverished. We should also add that this created an anti-native character in Indians at large, to which Hindus responded very well, boycotting foreign goods.

Triumph of Materialism. Hamza Yusuf (HY) notes that the colonists saw the global and historical link Muslims maintained due to their religious Tradition. Muslims had many global learning centers which played vital role in this regard and maintained some kind of visible unity (although the underlying unity of ummah is still undeniable and, in fact, crucial to the venture of Islam). In order to destroy that unity among Muslims, colonists sought to destroy this ‘historical link’. And as per HY, they did so by injecting inferiority complex in Muslims regarding their lack of material progress. “It’s all documented how they did this,” he emphasizes. For instance, they’d compare paper to pre-modern tablet, which Muslims used for instruction. “Using a tablet is backward. Now we’ve paper!” This notion of backwardness is still on the lips of 75-80% (if not 100%) of Muslims, especially the educated class.

Eurocentrism. The roots of civilizational inferiority complex may also lie in the venom called eurocentrism, especially for uncritical bookish minds. These are more less two central tenets of this mythological, racist & historicist thesis: All civilizations must develop along the lines of West to achieve the idols of indefinite economic progress, civility and “enlightenment”; and that Europe is at the center of world stage, and that all other civilizations are mere supporting pillars, resource fields to it. But western civilization not the end of civilizations, argues Rene Guenon:

"So long as western people imagine that there only exists a single type of humanity, that there is only one 'civilization', at different stages of development, no mutual understanding will be possible. The truth is that there are many civilizations, developing along very different lines, and that, among these, that of the modern West is strangely exceptional, as some of its characteristics show."

Further Guenon scrutinizes the true nature of this highly over-rated civilization, which dominates the world materially so far (we would concede to the objection that even its material dominance is soon to be surpassed):

"The civilization of the modern West appears in history a veritable anomaly: among all those which are known to us more or less completely, this civilization is the only one which has developed along purely material lines and this monstrous development, whose beginning coincides with the so-called Renaissance, has been accompanied, as indeed it was fated to be, with a corresponding intellectual regress; we say corresponding and not equivalent, because here are two orders of things between which there can be no common measure. This regress has reached such a point that the Westerners of today no longer know what pure intellect is; in fact they do not even suspect that anything of the kind can exist…"

Post-Pakistan: British Legacy goes on. Leadership produced by the British took over the country after the partition. They molded state policies and institutions in the image of their departed masters, more or less. Discussion of continuation of such structures is not relevant here. What’s important is that the inferiority complex of native Brown Sahibs’ turned into superiority complex that caused much harm.

After 1947 we witnessed exploitation of our Bengali brothers, which was at once racial and materialistic. It wasn’t religious extremism that separated two brothers, but the absence of spiritual training of the governing “elites”, in bureaucracy, politicians and army. We’ve accounts of how West Pakistani elites treated Bengalis as lower level race. Our false-elite was certainly a clone of their masters.

Co-authored with Noor.
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