UNDERSTANDING THE EAST AND THE WEST
This work is an attempt to explain and clarify how the realization of soul and its personal understanding is a way to the philosophical and experiential resolution to the perception of controversy. It's pretty simple. If people are minding their own business and not anyone else's, the world will be a peaceful, co-operative place. But what is our business? That is the question. Every essay in this work will address a part of the whole picture, and I'm not implying that all parts of the whole picture will be addressed. But to grasp what I am referring to as 'the whole picture', let me offer a general background.
It is said that in the way of the Sufis, or in the way of truth (the Tao, Allah, God), there is no controversy, or argument. And yet I accept that there certainly appears to be controversy and misunderstanding, and especially within ourselves. This controversy is fundamentally over what is true and what is not, what to do about it when discovered, and whether one's personal experience is sufficient proof of truth, both for self and for another whose experience appears to be different. I call it the "Unique Mistake".
As I've mentioned in previous writings, each realization attempts to explain itself in its own language in its own time. This is from its nature, and from the nature of the effulgence of creation, and not from any directed perception of necessity, although it may, and should, fill a need. In other words, Revelation, or exposition, is not preaching - again with the caveat that it might indeed be expressed in identical tones - it simply is. Inspiration may be instructional, and it often is, by its nature, teaching, but it is not directed, in the sense that there is a felt need or urgency for which the work is 'the answer'. It is directed, however, simply because it often addresses the perceived issues of the time.
This work can also, in a parallel theme, be explained in a traditionally 'Islamic' motif, and such an exposition is entirely justified in the world of Islam, and the libraries are full of them. But the idea of combining the two expositions into one seems a bit daunting, for reasons of what I know to be two very different (and mutually incomprehensible?) means of expression.
Muslims express their deep selves not so much in terms of the heart and soul, with which they are as unfamiliar as the common bloke on the streets of the western world, but in terms of accepted 'truths', most of which are written and which they have devotedly learned and follow. Even the most extremely 'westernized' educational processes that they adopt and submit their children to are still couched and phrased in a basis of understanding that is entirely out of reach to the average westerner. Hence the perception of the Middle East as being the heart of mystery and the source of mysterious and incomprehensible understanding.
It's almost as though even though each exposition is phrased within the now more or less universal English language, they are still in reality, two different worlds and languages. I'm not sure how closely integrated I want the translations to be. The idea of completely integrating the entire work into one huge explanation is the least appealing to me because I feel that the complexity of it will cause both readerships to avoid its undertaking. So I have chosen to address the dilemma by creating two (parallel) parts of the same book, with as many footnotes and cross-references to each other as possible. We might thinks of it as an attempt to bring Western realization into Islamic terminology, and the Islamic science of Self and God-realization, referred to loosely as Sufism, into a western perspective.
The Muslims that escape the prison of their culture (and we are all imprisoned in our culture) by coming to the west for total immersion are still in the same dilemma, in that the force of the truth, of and in their language, is in reality quite inescapable. This is because it is not meant to be escaped, it is meant to be accepted, and it is in its acceptance that the escape is effected, as will be demonstrated to you if you ever have the pleasure of meeting a totally integrated Muslim. Such a phenomenon is rare, for it is not a traditionally accepted part of the Muslim agenda to integrate. Since the proper means escapes them, the idea is anathema. It is a mater of intense difficulty and concern, this point of 'where to draw the line', for Muslims educating their children in the West. It is also a subject worthy of the deepest exploration but outside the scope of this present endeavor. It is, however, this quality of integration that I wish to encourage, for I experience it to be a form of perfection and a goal to be attained. I also believe it to be a goal of the Sufi, and the truly Islamic, way.
This idea of integration may fall outside the parameters of what is perceived by an ordinary Muslim to be within the scope of proper Islamic education and upbringing. But I assure you that it will occur, at some point in time, to even the staunchest and most 'well-educated' Muslim man or woman, that the parameters of their religion may indeed go so far as to include everything. (See my work on Theistic Monism, the Philosophy of All-inclusivism.)
There are huge issues at stake here and of such immensity that I balk to even address, let alone approach them. Convincing a Muslim who is certain of the truth of his understanding, that there is more to his understanding than what he understands, can be a challenging if not life-threatening undertaking. One such issue is that of what is referred to as 'pantheism', which both exists and does not (as in all the conundrums of life). But it is here that I wish to begin, and let me state for my own benefit and yours, that beyond this one I will not tread except it be in another entire volume. (Not, at this point, very likely.)
Muslims are bound to their religion. This comes as no surprise. They feel it their duty, honor and privilege to explain their religion to any one interested (and to many who are not, also. <smile>), and this is fine. In this treatise I will propose that the finest way to do that, and the highest way espoused in their teachings - the traditions of the Prophet - is by example. In other words through the use of the religion to attain and manifest its fruits in the form of excellent behavior, appropriate advice and good counsel. And as the Muslim readership is aware, there are myriad traditions to support this assertion.
Westerners, on the other hand, are either bound to their religions, or bound to 'no religion' which becomes their religion. The exceptions to this are the relative few who call themselves spiritualists, in one form or another, and who are seeking some form of satisfaction from the acceptance that there is a God, in some form or another (or none, as the case may be).
It is in the rather specialized but increasingly popular field of psychological investigation, the leading edge of which has become 'Spiritual Psychology', contributed to by the like of such sufi-influenced and oriented people as Idries Shah and George Gurdjieff, to mention only a few among many, that the most headway to unific understanding between the West and the Middle East has been made. Spiritual Psychology is the very stuff of Sufism, and the similarity between the proclaimed truths and experiences of the Sufis and other Eastern mystics are emerging as the written verifications of the experiential learning of western students and practitioners. The number of psychologically couched Sufi, Islamic and other realization schools and literary contributions is increasing exponentially, to which fact this current work is testimony.
This is the field of study that has most fascinated me and has had the most profound influence upon the intellectual development of my personal understanding.
I would also like to introduce to the current investigation the plausibility of yet another study - that of what I am calling, 'Transformational Psychology', the alchemy, or the science of knowing truth as the basis for the "transformation" (not "elimination") of falsehood. It is again the oldest science in the world but in each new practitioner revived.
The point of this is to guide Westerners and Sufis to a valid and self-validating understanding that will support, understand and assist all beliefs and belief systems, as well as all people and situations, with truth, love and understanding. And that is the highest goal of life and all religions and it matters not what method one uses to attain it as long as it remains the goal of all. And also to explain to Muslims that the point of our religion is not to divide and conquer but to unify, understand and love.
With peace and love,