Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Trade and Spirituality

Commercialism has become notorious among many people nowadays. Poeple have started associating negative conotations with the term "commercial". But is doing trade and being commercial really something bad?

Answer lies in our perception of business. Since ancient world, it is in the basic nature of man to try everything he can to fulfill his needs. Man has been doing trade since ages and we all know that he will continue, because he has to satisfy what he considers as basic need of his life. Here, we all have to agree that trade and business will continue with the existence of man. Should we assign negative connotations with something very basic to human?

If we reflect on this, then there remains only one reason for attaching negative connotations to commercialism: The way business is done is questionable. But, can't we improve it?

A businessman is very central person for a nation. As, he's the one who supplies oil for the machinery of a nation. Concept of collective self should be introduced to businessmen first, so that he can trade for nation rather than himself.

Alas! our corporate businessmen have become selfish and greedy. Exploitation of nation and its resources have become something normal. They can do anything to keep their pockets filled, even depriving someone from his/her life.

When we trade it's obvious that the objective is to earn. Can't we do it in interest of our nation? Isn't there spirituality in such a trade in which interest of collective self is taken into account rather than individual self?

If there is spirituality in serving humanity, then there is spirituality also in business which serves humanity.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Brain drain

My friend was arguing with me about job opportunities offered in Pakistan. According to him, it is very much rational to leave Pakistan after receiving education. I was listening quietly and smiling. My imaginations led me to all the moments I've spent in Pakistan. The problems, reliefs, joy, sadness, people and my relations with them, all emerged in a complex form in my imaginations. Suddenly, I realised that he stopped talking and now it was my turn to say something. I said, "I love my country and I can't leave it permanently". He smiled and said, "You're a Kid"

I'm certainly a kid. A child who is still attached with his mother land. Or rather, a native who loves his nation. If loving is immaturity then I'm proudly immature. But my heart says that loving one's country and nation is a moral value which we all must acquire. Those educated people who leave the country instead of serving it, are like children who leave their parents alone when they get mature. But it's not that this always benefits them. Many of them face identity crisis in foreign countries.

I quote here a song sung by Mehdi hassan and written by Masroor Anwar. You might have listened to it, perhaps many times. But now, read it as if the spirit of our nation is complaining to the people who left it and settled abroad.

mujhe tum nazar se giraa to rahe ho
mujhe tum kabhi bhi bhulaa na sakoge
na jaane mujhe kyuN yaqin ho chalaa hai
mere pyaar ko tum miTaa na sakoge

meri yaad hogi jidhar jaaoge tum
kabhi nagmaa banke, kabhi banke aaNsoo
tadaptaa mujhe har taraf paaoge tum
shamaa jo jalaayee hai meri vafaa ne
bujhaana bhi chaaho bujhaa na sakoge

kabhi naam baanton mein aayaa jo meraa
to bechain ho ho ke dil thaam loge
nigaahon mein chhaayegaa gham kaa andhera
kisi ne jo poochhaa sabab aansuon kaa
bataanaa bhi chaaho bataa na sakoge

Click here for english translation of this song

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Unconscious mind and Collective Self

A writer, although conscious by every definition of consciousness, is not free from unconscious writings. This is an experience of my life for which I had to leave my province for the first time in life and go to Lahore in order to attend Young Leaders Conference 2007.

It was a six-days conference. We spent first three days in PC hotel Lahore. At the end of first day, we were given an assignment to prepare a drama. The objective of drama was to show how we see our country in future. Drama was to be performed on the third day. We had a group of fifteen and I knew that none was much interested in dramatics except me. As the first day was very tiring, we had to leave the preparation of drama for the second day.

But the second day of the conference was very busy. We were not able to take out time and when activities of the day were over, we started discussing about the drama at 1:30 a.m approx.

They didn't know it, but I had a surprise drama for them in my bag. I wrote it during one of the lecture sessions of second day. It was story of a person who seeks revolution, but for that he had to recognise his own self, and then he starts communicating his ideas to other people. In the process of communication, he dies. I quote some initial lines of this drama (It was a kind of drama where poetry is narrated in the background with silent acting on stage) :

Main tha iss jahaN meiN zinda
Jaisey koi masoom darinda
Har pal thi koshish jeeney ki
Jaam-e-duniya ko peeney ki
Ek mor aya
MaiN behek gaya

By this, one can easily get the impression how I used to see the world, that is, false and unimportant. I used to give importance to my inner-self only.

The group discussed about what to do, till 2:15 approx with no conclusion. I was silent. There was a flaw in my drama..... It didn't show how the future will be, instead it showed how to transform ourselves to a better future, according to my perception at that time.

Well, I spoke and took the drama out of my bag. Read it. They all clapped after I finished. But one group member identified the flaw in the drama: It didn't fulfil the purpose. They all liked the drama, but they all agreed that we had to amend it a bit to allign it with our purpose. They all agreed that the protagonist should not die in the end as it is depressing.

Time was running fast, at 3:10 a.m, I took permission from my group to leave them and go to my room, as I needed some silence to write a new drama for them. They reluctantly gave me permission. I promised I will return after half an hour.

After half an hour at 3:40 a.m, I returned with a half finished drama. I read the lines I've written and requested them to give me ten minutes more to complete the drama. After listening the unfinished drama, they all clapped more encouragingly than before, even at that hour of morning when they were really sleepy. They all accepted my drama. Initial lines of this drama are as follows:

Ek qaum ho aisi, jaani pehchani
Jis par barasti hoN rehmateN aasmani
Jo kisi ke khwaaboN se kam na ho
Jo kisi ke rokney se khatam na ho

Our drama got much appreciation next day when we performed it.

But, this drama is really a mysterious text. Concept of "qaum" (Nation) was there, and it was "jaani pehchani" (already known). It's written that it confirms to "Kisi ke khwabon" (Anybody's/Somebody's dreams). I never dreamed of any such nation. Then who did? Iqbal?? Our nation?

The second drama was certainly not made up of my ideas. Those ideas were unconscious. I believe every Pakistani writer has such ideas, they can only be explored through interaction with people of Pakistan. I wrote that drama just because I had to confirm to the ideas of my group members. If we start interacting with people of our nation, these ideas will automatically emerge in our writings.

Our unconscious mind already has the idea of Collective Self. It just needs exploring itself through interaction with people of our nation.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Conference of the Birds - Simurgh portrayed by Attar

What is Simurgh? This is the first question which comes to a visitor's mind while visiting my page (If the person doesn't have any prior knowledge about it). So today I introduce Simurgh to such readers.

Simurgh is a mysterious, benevolent, mythical flying creature in Iranian mythology. A reference to Simurgh is found in the poem "The Conference of the Birds" (Mantiq at-Tayr) written by Sheikh Farid ud-din Attar (born 1145-46 in Nishapur – died c. 1221) . To understand Simurgh as portrayed by Attar, we first have to know the story as constructed in this poem. Here is a short summary:

Birds of the world hold a conference to search for their king, as they have no leader. The hoopoe encourages them to the quest to find their king, called "Simurgh", who lives behind the far-away mountains of Kaf. Soon, under the guidance of hoopoe, a group of birds start a journey to find Simurgh.

But the journey comes out to be very difficult. They pass through seven valleys, namely:

1) Aban (Flash) (or "Talab" which means Quest)
2) Ishq (Love)
3) Marifat (Gnosis)
4) Istighnah (Detachment)
5) Tawheed (Unity)
6) Hayrat (Bewilderment)
7) Fuqur o Fana (Selflessness and Oblivion)

In each of these stages, there are several events by which the birds learn different lessons. One by one, in each of these valleys, birds give up the journey, not being able to endure it. Only thirty birds are left when they cross their final valley and reach the land of Simurgh. There, only what they see is their own reflection in a lake, and not the mythical Simurgh.

There in the Simorgh's radiant face they saw
Themselves, the Simorgh of the world - with awe
They gazed, and dared at last to comprehend
They were the Simorgh and the journey's end.
They see the Simorgh - at themselves they stare,
And see a second Simorgh standing there;
They look at both and see the two are one,
That this is that, that this, the goal is won.
They ask (but inwardly; they make no sound)
The meaning of these mysteries that confound
Their puzzled ignorance - how is it true
That 'we' is not distinguished here from 'you'?

As "Si" means thirty and "Murgh" means birds in Persian, so Si-murgh means Thirty Birds. Interestingly, these birds found their king in their Collective Self. This Collective Self appears when one and many are the same thing.

(The above summary has been made with help of wikipedia and free texts available online. Translation quoted is by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Thoughts about Simurgh

"Simorgh is where one and many are the same thing", writes Khurram Ali Shafique while commenting on one of my blogs. As recently this concept of Collective Self is penetrating into me more than any other idea, I have started thinking futher into it. Is it just another concept which is "too Idealistic", or is there a practical side of it too? I tried to think about this concept, and here are my thoughts regarding it:

1) If our collective self and individual self become the same thing, then we might be sharing similar problems. Problems of the nation will be problems of an individual layman who belongs to it. But my question is: Is that possible? A mad example comes to my mind: When electricity load shedding increases, individual person and nation both suffer. But this is also an ideal thought, as we can see all of us don't have same level of electricity load shedding, and there might be areas in Pakistan where there might be no electricity. So I'm left with no examples still in place where nation and individual suffer the same.

2) Nation and Individual might be having similar interests, where individual interest will lie in the interest of nation. I've thought about this concept, but well I don't see any example of it really existing. An increase in taxation rate might be good for nation overall, but individual suffers.

3) There will be consensus, but this consensus is a different concept from democracy. Where democracy exits, there is rule of majority. But consensus implies that there is absolute consent of the whole nation. This again sounds something, which cannot be seen in today's world till yet.

There is so much of Idealism hidden in the concept of Simurgh. Even sometimes I fear that this kind of unity can only exist in theories.

When I think about this too much, there is only one light that shines in my mind. Perhaps if we float this concept, only then we will be able to attain such a state of Collective Self. Becuase if this concept will become popular, we will start feeling like one nation and that may cause ourselves to become something near to Simurgh.