Tag Archives: Unity

HUMANITY

Syed Hasan Askari’s thoughts from “Towards A Spiritual Humanism”  (published 1991)

“Let us reflect further on this shared value of humanity because there is so much in it. I feel that both the humanist and religious traditions sound almost simplistic or monolithic when discussing this category, namely, the human.

Syed Hasan Askari
Syed Hasan Askari

Let me share a few perspectives to deepen this value because this holds the key for our progress in dialogue. Firstly, the humanistic view, namely, that we are first of all human, appears to me primarily an extension of one’s identity in space – from one’s own house to the entire planet, or to use the popular expression for the planet in our times – the global village. This is not enough for me, because it is an aspiration only in a spatial-physical mode of a greater aggregate,  whereas it may also be viewed as a metaphor for a sympathy across distances, between people, between all humanity. That sympathy cannot be a material bond, or even a bond which is merely psychological. It should be a spiritual bond.

This makes me bring in another dimension of the aggregate of humanity, namely time. Holding on to the same value of humanity, I should say that across time – across all time both past and unborn time, there should be the unity of the human self. As soon as we invoke time as a dimension of unity, the collapse of the material expression of unity is self-evident.  It is this which is celebrated in the religious, or to be very specific, in the Christian Catholic notion of communion, particularly the communion of saints.

Setting aside the religious connotations, on a purely pragmatic level, the unity of the humans both in space and time, presupposes an internal unity. So, I request my humanist friends to take their value of humanity more deeply and have the courage to draw all the conclusions possible, neither hampered nor tempted by any ideological options. Therefore, our criterion in this discourse is that no ideological criterion should come in the way of our celebration of human unity as a whole.

I have another perspective. I don’t see humanity, even when we take the dimensions of both space and time together, as one monolithic whole. We have many humanities within one humanity, and we have to be extremely careful in differentiating, deep within our own personalities, four humanities!

The first humanity is co-terminus with our physical status as material beings dependent upon water, air and food; the extension of this principle is our dependence upon urban water supplies and refrigeration; upon the technology we have created and all the comforts that principle involves and the culture which it creates. There are vast numbers of people who do not progress beyond this level.

The second humanity is also widespread, and it includes those who have fallen in love with the images they have created in their philosophies, in their religions, and in their doctrines. They are clever and self-conscious people. However, they are in a state of hypnosis. They cannot move from the outward profiles of their doctrines and religions  – yet they too are human.

The third humanity is free from the physical, free from outward profiles and forms; it is inward looking and holds onto its own essential being. It is this humanity which, in my view, holds the key to the sympathy, the resonance of feeling across space and time. It is this which creates philosophy universally, which creates science universally, which creates an intelligible discourse across races and cultures and nationalities, and which is to me the goal of humanity.

The fourth humanity is almost celestial, almost super-human, almost trans-human. It is one with the entire cosmos which is the ultimate principle of unity. It is like a spark of light in each one of us, even in those who are lost in the physical world, even in those who are wrapped up in the traditional profiles of identity, dogma and doctrine.

So, when I hear the word “humanity” I respond to it emotively because I hold that perspective, but at the same time I am disturbed, because we may lose sight of the hierarchy and differentiation, on account of our obsession with uniformity of the physical image of man. I am not subscribing to any elitist notion of an inner or hidden group of mystics. I am saying that both ontologically and psychologically humanity is a highly differentiated principle and it is because of this differentiation that it is human. If it is not differentiated it becomes a technological, mechanistic principle. It is in this sense I consider humanism as pointing to this differentiation, not submerging it. Otherwise, we become unfair or unjust to our own inner hierarchies.

Let us take this opportunity to point out that most so-called religious people also have a very simplistic view of humanity which is in one sense more dangerous that the simplistic view of popular humanism because they equate their humanity with their collectivity. For them, humanity is co-terminus with their particular religious congregation. For example if you are a Christian you will consider yourself human; if you are Muslim you will consider yourself human; but those who do not fall within the collectivity to which you personally belong are not fully human, they are sub-human or only potentially human. So, there is a greater danger in the ideological, doctrinal, religious or secularist understanding of humanity because such an understanding doesn’t allow for the idea of a spiritual differentiation between different levels of consciousness……Therefore, our quest is how to increase the life of humanity, not the vegetative life, not animal life, but the life of reason, the life of the spirit, the life of intuition.

This life has many sources outer and inner, both known and unknown. It is perhaps towards that humanity we are all moving.”

Syed Hasan Askari (1932-2008) 

 * See also on this blog:

“There are only Four Communities” , “When the Atheist Met the Mystic”

Towards Unity

from ”Alone to Alone” by Hasan Askari (1932-2008) published 1991

The very idea of unity is a step towards self unification, towards unity of all that is, which carries within its simplicity the secrets of universal communication and sympathy.

The path that opens up towards self unification leads also to intuitive and revelatory experiences bringing along with them a transparency and a power, a knowledge which results from the abolition of all dichotomies: subject and object, I and you, here and there, now and then, inner and outer, far and near.

The world is then seen as a reflection of multiple dimensions, domains, presences. A great unrest may follow. One may require a guide at this stage.

Time is then multiplied moving, as though, in a circle. The difference between eternal recurrence and eternal “now” might disappear. Great confusion may set in. One prays now for grace.

A power unknown in its might and scope is brought near, a power all the time within us and before us, and yet hidden, the power of the unembodied over the body, of control and direction without physical means, so sacred that is calls for humility and renunciation of all power.

Those who practice patience wait in trust, and those who cannot contain what they have known and seen go mad. Those who combine both the states are the dervishes who whirl with ease and intensity around an invisible axis. Their secret is hidden.

“Seven Thoughts on Love” by Musa Askari

LOVE: A question, an idea, a goal, one of those elusive things that has pre-occupied humanity constantly. Therefore my first thought on love is that it is a “Constant”. Never failing and all Embracing. Crossing all categories of identification and limit. Running through them as like wind rushing through the trees and the leaves flutter all of a sudden coming to life. At times the wind rushes with such speed it overpowers, at others a gentle breeze of embrace and we rest in its arms. It is One & Many and yet no thing in one place or locality. Therefore my second thought is that it is “non-material, not physical” and thus available to all at one and the same time despite the differences in expression it may take in our lives – One Love. Leading by consequence to my third thought, one cannot speak of Love without speaking, or better still, “Remembering” one’s Being as non-material also, namely Soul. For me Love’s origin, in our lives, springs from the depth and breadth of Soul. The individual Soul and above it the Universal Soul. Love is that insignia, that spark within the Soul, that seed, which is pure “Longing”. Yearning to be whole, to be complete, to come to a rest after much wandering. It is love within the Soul that drives it, nay, compels it to yearn and long for its Source, once it realizes it has a Source, if it realizes it has a Source. Therefore, my fourth thought love is also a “returning home”. A fullness of Being.
 
If I had a choice of either constantly feeling Love’s embrace through Soul or choosing that from which the Loving Embrace originates, its Source, I would give up love and choose the Home of Love instead. For what could be more “Loving” than that which inspires the Love I feel and seek, which my Soul feels and seeks? Therefore, my fifth thought, love is also to perhaps “forsake love”, to give it up at the final stage of Soul’s journey. After much wandering and longing, love has brought my Soul from shore to shore, over still and raging oceans only to realise to cross that last threshold there can be no duality. “Do not say two. Say One!” (Hasan Askari). I must give up even the feeling of love and be within, as they say “In-Love”. The ship of the seas is no use now. The journey is of another kind. There in that Realm Soul purified of all its ills and hypnosis, filled with the Vision of Visions, there nothing what I think of love or feel is of any use. What gift can I bring to the Giver of all gifts? No gift will suffice except my very Being, my Soul. I bring it back as it was given, “empty” of all projections. Empty with only that remaining which was given in fullness. “Wheresoever one looks, one sees the Face of one’s Glorious and Majestic Lord” (Quran). It is forgotten that this ayat (verse) is more about the Soul than anything else.
 
What more drop of love can I add to the Source of Love itself? Then I, as Soul, realise with tears of joy and thankfulness, the Love within my Soul which drew me near to the Source, powerful and wondrous as it was, the wind in my sails, is nothing but an image of the Reality of Love. I give up the image and turn to the Original. Where Love is complete, simple, a Unity of all unities. Therefore my sixth thought, love is “pure”. And after such purification there is perhaps only one thing to do. Be humble with bowed head, to wait in patience for the “Beloved” to arrive. At that threshold one does not enter by one’s will for personal will was left far behind in the earlier stages of the journey. One is invited to enter at the behest of the Beloved – to be “in” Love. As the bride waits for the arrival of the bridegroom, an image well illustrated within the Indian custom as among others. And for that invitation, for that recognition, one would wait an eternity if one had to. This is “loyalty” at its peak. For there is no other to turn to. That is why perhaps we now can have a clue in the beautiful adage, “Home is where the Heart Is”.

One may be wondering why I have not referred to Beauty. Ah, but what to speak of Beauty at this stage, All is Beautiful. Love & Beauty are in Union now. And that is my seventh thought; “Beauty” itself. It drew me from the First and draws me to the Last. Should one be invited to enter in to that “Presence”, the journey continues and I cannot speak on that at present for that is Mystery, Beyond Being.

There is knowledge of Unity-Oneness (Tawhid) and then there is Unity-Oneness it-Self. The two are not the same. Words are of no use at that highest stage.
 
With such a vision, with love considered, in my view considered properly with Soul, one can then engage with the world, with family, relationships, friends, neighbours, “strangers” (in truth there are no strangers to the Soul), seeing that behind all such relationships is the same Love, one-many. “In Love” there is no such thing as the “other”. All are One. Then one may say with utmost sincerity, “Your soul and my soul are one Soul. Your God and my God is One God.” (Hasan Askari).

Of particular interest, spiritually, across diverse traditions, has been and remains the relationship between Master-Disciple, Guide-Guided and Teacher-Pupil. That relationship sits within my heart and Soul all the days of my Life. Beyond grateful to have known it and know it still.

The pendulum swing of Life. Life as a Soul, un-embodied, embodied and un-embodied once more. On the upward swing “we are of God and unto God we return”. On the downward swing, “we are of God and unto God we return”. Only as Souls can one recite this. 

From Love, With Love and In Love now and forever.  Amen!

*(photograph, January 1995, Hasan Askari & Musa Askari)

*(Thank you to Rahul Singh for asking me about “Love”)

Inter-dependence as an agent of Unity

To  say “All” implies Unity. Thus “All” diversity in the sensible realm if it is to possess unity; how does it display or present that unity? A unity that is not of its own. As beauty of a particular form is not the forms’ full possession. Beauty being bestowed. Unity in diversity is equally bestowed. The unity of the body for example. All organs operating in harmony, unaware so to speak, of each others’ particular function and purpose; yet inter-dependent. To interpret the inter-dependence proving hazardous for the body. It is perhaps inter-dependence which implies a unity making order.

Inter-dependence thus being the agent of a Unity above it. Unity working through inter-dependence to bestow on body “health”. Inter-dependence between bodily organs implies also a limit, a term, a period of time. For the material world is prone to wearing. A cliff face today is not the same cliff face in exact from decades ago having been weathered over time. Inter-dependence relating to the life of the body has a limited term. It cannot go on eternally.

Inter-dependence with body requires each organ working to its potential and purpose. Should one organ fail or weaken the consequences of that failure are not limited to only that organ leading to other “weakenings”. Lungs may fail, circulation may be affected and so too the heart. Therefore, inter-dependence within the body is more than co-operation to sustain bodily life. Inter-dependence perhaps has its roots in a metaphysical origin. It is an image of something else. It exists so long as soul is conjoined with body one could postulate. Returning to a potentiality or latent phase within the soul when soul is free from association with body which is an image itself.

Are there any such other interdependencies pointing to a Unity in diversity within humanity? Thought for example. The power of an Idea. Love, Kindness, Generosity, mutual regard and other loftier Values. Diversity does not have to imply competition and exclusivity of claim; one-sidedness. That we know in its worst form as totalitarian and oppressively forcing conformity. Unity as stated in brief here is not conformity. When we say “All” we truly mean “All-Diversity” universally as The Unity and not our own collective lesser “all” of race, ethnicity, creed, language, culture and religion divisively expressed. Unity has no requirement to mean uniformity – like for like in other words. If  unity does fall to mean as such to conform and be uniform not only in outward social customs (secular or sacred) but also in control of our thought then it is not strictly a unity but instead a force for dis-unity as it will be in competition with other groups (secular or sacred) who equally claim unity as their sole possession. On the other hand when Unity is understood to be present in like AND un-like; Unity seen in such a way can help one to overcome conflict and opposition.

By Musa Askari