Formats Quote

But then where do I fit into all of this?

“So, Swami-ji, what would you say that Advaita is?” The eager young woman crossed her legs and sat expectantly, pencil poised above a pristine pad of paper.

“It simply means ‘not two’ – the ultimate truth is non-dual,” replied the Sage, reclining in a large and comfortable-looking armchair and not sitting in an upright lotus position, as he ought to have been, for the sake of the photograph that she had just taken, if nothing else.

She continued to wait for further elucidation before beginning to write but it soon became apparent that the answer had been given. “But is it a religion? Do you believe in God, for example?”

“Ah, well, that would depend upon what you mean by those words, wouldn’t it?” he responded, irritatingly. “If, by ‘religion’, you mean does it have priests and churches and a band of followers who are prepared to kill non-believers, then the answer is no. If, on the other hand, you refer to the original, literal meaning of the word, namely to ‘bind again’, to reunite the mistaken person that we think we are with the Self that we truly are, then yes, it is a religion. Similarly, if by ‘God’ you mean a separate, supernatural being who created the universe and will reward us by sending us to heaven if we do what He wants, then the answer is no. If you use the term in the sense of the unmanifest, non-dual reality, then yes, I most certainly do believe in God.”

The pencil raced across the paper, recording the answer for the benefit of the magazine’s readers but, as the words clashed with previous ideas in her memory, the lack of a clear resolution of her questions was reflected by an increasing puzzlement in her expression.

He registered this with compassion and held out his hand towards her. “Give me a piece of paper from your pad.”
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What is meant by Moksha

“Moksha is freedom from bondage or dependence. This bondage is caused by the first three Purushārtha namely Dharma Artha Kāmaha. Any thing or being in the creation can cause bondage. What type of bondage is this ? Bondage is of two types :

– When an object is present – The presence of objects causes a bondage called Bhāraha. The stress or strain of handling the object or person. Handling the object or person or relationship itself especially if it is a human relationship, that itself becomes a very big Bhāraha. In fact when many people face problems, it is the stress and strain caused by human relationship.

– When an object is not present – This creates another problem called emptiness or loneliness.

So I am not sure whether I want them or I don’t want them. When I don’t have them I crave to have them and once I have them, I crave for freedom. Either way, I am in a soup. This is called Ubhayataha Pāshā Rajjuhu. And by Moksha we mean, I am free from this problem caused by the world. This means the presence of objects will not cause strain in me if I am a free person and the absence will not create emptiness in me. The presence of people will not create the strain of relating and the absence of people will not create loneliness without companion. So if I can have Dharma Artha Kāma when they are there and I can be happy even if the Dharma Artha Kāma are not there, either way I am fine – this is called Freedom. With objects or people I am fine, even without objects or people I am fine. And this Freedom is the result of self-knowledge. This inner freedom expresses in the form of threefold virtues which are very useful for human life.” – Swami Paramarthananda, Introduction to Vedānta (Tattvabodha)

Right Attitude

Swami Paramarthananda

“I love everything that I do and accept all experiences in life because they are Īshvara Prasādaha which will lead to Samattvam. Samattva Bhāvanā is the result of Īshvara Arpana Prasāda Bhāvanā. These two put together will lead to very fast spiritual growth. This is called Chitta Shuddhihi.

Chitta Shuddhihi can be put in the simplest context as – I can understand that all my problems in life are not caused by the world, but are caused by my wrong handling of the world because of my ignorance. So the ignorant I handles the world wrongly, and hence I suffer. If I become the wise I, I know how to handle the world which is Nandanavanam – Sampūrnam Jagadeva Nanadanavanam. So ignorant-I is the problem and wise-I is the solution – this diagnosis is the result of Karma Yoga which is otherwise called Chitta Shuddhihi.” – Swami Paramarthananda, Introduction to Vedānta (Tattvabodha)

Geachte bewoner

Hierbij ontvangt u informatie over de geluid werende maatregelen die aan uw woning worden getroffen.

Ondanks de zorg die aan deze informatie is besteed, bestaat altijd de kans dat er onjuistheden zijn. De aannemer die het werk gaat uitvoeren komt bij u langs voor de voorbereiding van het werk. Dit noemen wij een “warme opname”. Op dat moment wordt ook nog een keer gecontroleerd of de hieronder verstrekte gegevens juist zijn. Omtrent het tijdstip van de “warme opname” zal u mettertijd op de hoogte worden gesteld.

Loggia 1-W1 is de pui tussen de woonkamer en de loggia. Het rooster boven de deur worden vervangen door een geluid isolerend ventilatierooster. Rondom de bestaande deur worden aan de binnenkant van het kozijn nieuwe kaderlatten aangebracht met rubbers tot tegen de deur ten behoeve van de kierdichting. Bij de onderdorpel wordt op de kaderlat een slijtstrip aangebracht.

Raam 1-W1 zijn de twee aluminium ramen in de woonkamer. Bij deze ramen worden de rubbers van de te openen ramen vernieuwd. Waar nodig worden de ramen afgesteld zodat deze netjes tegen de rubbers aansluiten.

Raam 1-S1 zijn de twee aluminium ramen in de slaapkamer. Bij deze ramen worden de rubbers van de te openen ramen vernieuwd. Waar nodig worden de ramen afgesteld zodat deze netjes tegen de rubbers aansluiten.

Loggia 3-S1 is de pui tussen de slaapkamer en de loggia. Het rooster boven de deur worden vervangen door een geluid isolerend ventilatierooster. De deur wordt vervangen door een nieuwe deur met geluid werend glas en dubbele kierdichting. Rondom de deur worden aan de binnenkant van het kozijn nieuwe kaderlatten aangebracht met rubbers tot tegen de deur ten behoeve van de kierdichting. Bij de onderdorpel wordt op de kaderlat een slijtstrip aangebracht. Het bestaande glas, naast de deur, wordt vervangen door geluid werend glas.

The need for a solid foundation

Even though Western Advaita seekers do not follow a certain methodology to prepare themselves, those who find themselves unable to realize Truth, will readily admit something like „I don’t think that I am advanced enough“. So they do acknowledge that a certain maturity is needed in order to be able to recognize ones true nature.[1] Yet, no-one seems to know what this maturity may consist of, let alone a definite way to obtain it.

What is a mere notion in Westerners, is taken for granted in traditional Advaita Vedanta: of course the seeker needs to be prepared for knowledge to dawn! As preparation is taken to be indispensable, Advaita Vedanta provides a whole lot of clues and tools to further it.

This is in stark contrast to Western Advaitins who kind of wait for the right moment to miraculously arrive one day. Not that they are idle – no, they will try meditation, affirmation, chanting, reading inspiring books, psychotherapy, mental coaching, to name but a few methods. Many of those can be useful, the problem is not so much with the method as such but with the lack of methodology. Most Westerners are seeking on their own. They visit the Satsangs of their preferred Satsang teacher or teachers, read their books as well as a lot of others and follow the various recommendations of other seekers. They do not commit to one teacher and most Satsang teachers do not encourage them to commit.

It is beautiful that there are Advaita seekers, Traditional as well as Western, who do wake up to what they really are. But as most of them know: this is not the end. For Westerners, though, the only way to proceed from here is “wait and see”. While this may work out sometimes, traditional Advaita Vedanta provides an answer, which is more definite and more practical. Someone who has truly recognized his nature and still states: “No, there must be more, I have not arrived” often lacks, as Swami Paramarthanandaji put it, a solid foundation described in Chatushtaya Sampatti.

Traditionally the nine virtues of Chatushtaya Sampatti should already be part of the seekers make up before he even introduces himself to a Guru. Yet, even amongst traditional seekers this is merely an ideal and in most cases the work on developing those qualities will last till the search is complete.

Sadhana Chatushtaya Sampatti comprises:
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The lost one who knows his position

“Does he need energy work? Feng Shui? Or mental training? Maybe he should buy a pendulum? Should he turn to light work or rather make contact with elementary ghosts? Buddhist writings are very inspiring, the Talmud is great too, but somehow both do not seem to be effective. Maybe completeness is hidden in one of those many alternative healing methods or rather with channeled beings? How about angels? Even better, archangels! One could also try out magic or simply ask the tarot cards. Meditation is quite soothing but probably before really getting results one has to have a go at more meditation methods – Sufi Whirling for example, or contemplating the question „Who am I?“ Actually it has been a while since the last Satsang, quickly check the Internet which spiritual teacher will pass through next. But probably first, one has to simply create a healthy foundation; a sturdy psychotherapy, that would be it, wouldn´t it! Primal work and later tantra to improve the relationship. Indeed, it certainly won’t work if, on top of it, one does not also learn how to forgive, do a family constellation and investigate one’s own past lives. Psychodrama also is supposed to be very good. Then, of course, quantum healing, the newest hit. Yesterday’s night session with chanting mantras and quotations from the Upanishads was very uplifting, but maybe skilful affirmation would do the job too? Did not a new book come out about it? Unfortunately, next week-end’s vision search has been cancelled. Well, maybe the monastery vacation on Corsica will pull it off. This would also be an opportunity to experiment with the Tibetan death meditation.” -Sitara Mittag

Read more: Essay 10/2012 The Spiritual Search

Foundation Reading optional

Dear Living Your Design Guides,


After extensive consideration, and a great deal of feedback over the past few years, the IHDS and Jovian Archive are making a modification to the educational standards as it pertains to the Living Your Design Workshop.

In 2006, Ra Uru Hu created the Living Your Design Workshop Guide program as an experiential program for newcomers. The spirit behind the Living Your Design Workshop is that the LYD Guides are now the entry point for those new to Human Design. The LYD Guide program has been met with an amazing response, and we now have hundreds of front line workers ready to assist and introduce people to Human Design. This is wonderful news!

1) We are modifying the standards to remove the ‘requirement’ that before someone participates in the LYD workshop they must have a Human Design reading. Hence forth, the Foundation reading can take place either before, or after the Living Your Design Workshop.

2) A student must have a Full and Certified Foundation reading from a Certified Analyst before entering the Foundational Education phase of Human Design Education, which begins with Rave ABC’s.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Lynda Bunnell
The International Human Design School

You are already that….

You said yesterday that surrender happens when there is no ego,
but we are with egos. How can we move towards surrender?


“THE EGO is you. You cannot move towards surrender; in fact you are the barrier, so whatsoever you do will be wrong. You cannot do anything about it. You simply, without doing anything, have to be aware. This is an inner mechanism: whatsoever you do is done by the ego, and whenever you don’t do anything and remain just a witness, the non ego part of you starts functioning. The witness is the non-ego within you and the doer is the ego. The ego cannot exist without doing anything. Even if you do something to surrender, it will strengthen the ego and your surrender will become again a very subtle egoistic standpoint. You will say, ‘I have surrendered.’ You will claim surrender, and if somebody says that it is not true, you will feel angry, hurt. The ego is now there trying to surrender. The ego can do anything; the only thing that the ego cannot do is non doing, witnessing.

So just sit silently, watch the doer, and don’t try in any way to manipulate it. The moment you start manipulating, the ego has come back. Nothing can be done about it; one has just to be a witness to the misery that ego creates, of the false pleasures and gratifications that ego promises. Doings in this world and doings in the other world; the spiritual world, the Divine, the material, whatsoever the realm, the doer will re main the ego. You are not supposed to do anything and if you start doing something you will miss the whole point. Just be there, watch, understand, and don’t do. Don’t ask, ‘How to drop the ego?’ Who will drop it? Who will drop whom? When you don’t do anything, suddenly the witnessing part is separate from the doer; a gap arises. The doer goes on doing and the seer goes on seeing. Suddenly, you are filled with a new light, a new benediction: you are not the ego, you have never been the ego; how foolish that you ever believed in it.

There are people who are trying to fulfill their egos; they are wrong. There are people who are trying to drop their egos; they are wrong. Because when the witness arises you simply see the whole game. There is nothing to be fulfilled and nothing to be dropped. The ego is not of any substance. It is made of the same stuff that dreams are made of. It is just an idea, an air bubble — just hot air within you and nothing else. You need not drop it, because in the very dropping or in asking how to drop it, you believe in it, you are still clinging to it.

It happened that a Zen Master awoke one morning and he told his disciple, ‘I had a dream in the night. Will you please interpret it for me?’
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What you take to be the “I” in the “I am” is not you.

Nisargadatta Maharaj

“To know that you are is natural, to know what you are is the result of much investigation. You will have to explore the entire field of consciousness and go beyond.

A general longing for liberation is only the beginning; to find the proper means and use them is the next step. The seeker has only one goal in view: to find his own true being.

The idea of enlightenment is of utmost importance. Just to know that there is such possibility changes one’s entire outlook. It acts like a burning match in a heap of saw dust. A spark of truth can burn up a mountain of lies. The very hearing of it is a promise of enlightenment.

For self-realization you need a well-ordered and quiet life, peace of mind and immense earnestness.” Nisargadatta Maharaj

This Knowledge Means Nothing if You Stand Alone


Now, it’s not that this is about setting up some kind of prejudicial boundary, because it isn’t about that, and that’s not what I’m about. Some of my closest friends don’t even want to know what design is. It’s not about that. It’s really about seeing that, in order for you to live out your design, you need as much support as possible, and that support can only come from those who also understand.
In your intimacy and in your business dealings, in your career, it’s essential for you to have people around you who understand what you understand about the nature of being. Otherwise, those relationships are not going to be productive and they’re not going to be healthy for you.

You have to make an effort, because in truth, it means nothing if you stand alone. I know; I once stood alone with all this knowledge. It means nothing, and I was more alone in the physical-social sense than I had ever been in my entire life, because there was really no one to talk to. There was only a world to teach, and no one to talk to. And you see, the point now, after all these years, is that there are a lot of people now who know design. Know about design, have met it at some level, and you’re the core representatives of that in America.

You have to see that in order for you to really have your fulfillment, you have to get through your seven years, and you need to have around you the support that’s essential. You have to be recognized for what you’re doing. Teach those around you. Inform them. Do their readings. It doesn’t matter whether they believe it, want it, or care about it.

Their reaction at any given level is not the point. Anybody who meets Design, at any level, isn’t going to get rid of it, and it’s important for you to set that basis of your relationships with others, so that they recognize where you’re coming from, and that you can see them, so that you have clear, clean associations.

That’s why I enjoy these groups. The chatter of Human Design people—it’s a wonderful chatter. It’s unlike anything that I’d ever known in my life, and you can only get that in certain environments at certain times. One day, it’ll be as common as asking somebody what their astrological sign is, but the whole thing is that you are the ones that are going to be called upon, ultimately, to be able to take people who have become fascinated to a deeper level. You have to be there. You have to be there.

If you’re living out your Type, and you’ve got support around you, you will get there. If you’re constantly being dragged back into all kinds of conditioned arrangements, you’re really going to get messed up. You’re the ones that have to go through that process.
~ Ra Uru Hu

Ra’s Words of Wisdom

Introducing the Montana 610, 610t Camo, 680 and 680t

25 AUGUST 2015 @ 5:59 AM  / OUTDOOR BLOG /


Today we’re excited to announce the Montana 610, 610t Camo, 680 and 680t, adding four new units to the popular line of outdoor handhelds. Featuring an updated 8MP camera for high-quality geotagged photos, the new Montana 600 series units now have GLONASS support for improved positioning and quicker fixes, as well as 250,000 preloaded geocaches and storage capacity for millions more. The new Montana 600 series feature a ruggedized design with multiple mounting and battery options, and support for a wide range of Garmin cartography, including a free subscription to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery on all units and preloaded TOPO US 100K on the 610t Camo and 680t.

“The new Montana units are ready and able to handle anything our users get themselves into,” said Dan Bartel Garmin vice president of worldwide sales. “From navigating lakes or waterways on your boat, trekking through the backcountry, cruising on your ATV, geocaching or receiving turn-by-turn directions to the grocery store, Montana has the mapping and versatility to handle what you need it to do.”
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The Nature of Experience

The Fundamental Presumption of our Culture
There is one fundamental presumption upon which our world culture is founded. This basic presumption states that experience is divided into two essential elements – a subject and an object – joined together by an act of knowing, feeling or perceiving.

This gives rise to the familiar formulations of experience such as, “I know such and such,” “I feel sad,” “I perceive the tree.” In this way experience is believed and felt to consist of a knower and a known, a feeler and a felt, a perceiver and a perceived. In each case a subject knows, feels or perceives an object.

The subject and object are two inseparable aspects of the same belief – the belief in separation or duality. Mystics tend to explore the subject and scientists and artists tend to explore the object or world. However, being inseparable aspects of the same belief, the investigation of either will suffice for an understanding of the true nature of experience.

Our Essential Nature of Being, Knowing and Happiness
Let us start with our self. What can we say for certain about ‘I,’ our self, the subject, the one that knows experience? The first thing is that I am obviously present – I am. If I were not present I wouldn’t be aware of these words. And the second self-evident fact about our self is that I am aware or knowing. If this were not true I would not be aware of thoughts, sensations or perceptions.

In other words, I am and the ‘I’ that I am, is aware that I am. This knowing of our own being – its knowing of itself – is the most familiar, intimate and obvious fact of experience and is shared by all.

This present and aware ‘I’ is sometimes referred to as ‘Awareness’, which means the ‘presence of that which is aware’. It is a word in which the two fundamental qualities of our self – being and knowing – are recognized as one.

What else can we know for certain from experience about our self? ‘I’ am aware of thoughts, sensations and perceptions but am not made out of a thought, sensation or perception. ‘I’ am made out of pure being and knowing.

As such ‘I’ could be likened to an open, empty space to which or in which the objects of the mind, body and world (thoughts, sensations and perceptions) appear. And just as empty space, relatively speaking, cannot resist or be agitated by the appearance or activity of any object within it, so the open, empty space of Awareness cannot resist or be disturbed by any appearance of the mind, body or world, irrespective of their particular quality or condition. This inherent absence of resistance is the experience of happiness; this imperturbability is peace. This happiness and peace are not dependent upon the condition of the mind, body or world and are present in and as the essential nature of Awareness under all conditions and in all circumstances.

Thus happiness and peace, as well as being and knowing, are essential to our true nature.
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Still Interested In Enlightenment?

“Very few understood what freedom really implies. The freedom a spiritual master of India is most likely envisaging for his people is called moksha, and it implies much much more than freeing the personality. It means freedom from the personality itself, not freedom for it. In fact, freedom for the personality is a contradiction in terms because the personality cannot be free ever. It can only be better or worse.

Osho once said: “I am cooking something else.” – I am afraid that he is still waiting for us to complete the cooking and finally eat the meal! When I was a therapist in Poona, Osho was constantly hammering on us that we should move on from the personal to the spiritual. But except for including the daily meditations and discourse in the groups nothing much happened. He had made life so wonderful for most of us and opened up such a great inner adventure playground – why not enjoy more and more and more of it before leaving it behind?

This lead to a deep misunderstanding of spirituality being something confined to expanding the possibilities of the personality or, when tired of that, being content and fine with what is. Even though this may be kind of wise, it is understating by far the true potential of human beings. Yes, a good sannyasin life is definitely much better than most people’s lives are because of the personal liberation processes we went through. But this is nothing compared to what is possible.” – Sitara Mittag Read more on OshoNews

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the illogical life

“Zen is unique because no other religion exists on anecdotes. They are not holy scripture; they are simply incidents that have happened. It is up to you… if you understand them, they can open your yes and your heart. These small anecdotes in their very smallness, just like dewdrops, contain the whole secret of the ocean. If you can understand the dewdrop, there is no need to understand the ocean-you have understood it.

A naive young man who had lived a sheltered life finally decided he could not take any more. He arranged an appointment with his doctor and poured out the whole story.
“It is this girl I have been going with,” he said. “I suspected she was fast, but I never dreamed she was a sex maniac. Every night now for weeks and weeks on end, I keep trying to break off the romance, but I haven’t got the will power. What can I do? My health just can’t stand the pace. ”
“I see, “said the doctor grimly. “Tell me just what happens; you can trust me.”
“Well, every night I take her driving in my car. We park in some secluded street. Then she asks me to put my arms around her. And then, every night, she reaches over and holds my hand.”
“And then?”
“What do you mean ‘and then’?” gasped the youth. “Is there more?”

Once a beginner asked a Zen master, “Master, what is the first principle?”
Without hesitation the master replied, “If I were to tell you, it would become the second principle. “

THE FIRST PRINCIPLE cannot be said.
The most important thing cannot be said, and that which can be said will not be the first principle. The moment truth is uttered it becomes a lie; the very utterance is a falsification. So all the scriptures of all the religions contain the second principle, not the first principle. They contain lies, not the truth, because the truth cannot be contained by any word whatsoever. The truth can only be experienced. The truth can be lived, but there is no way to say it.

The word is a far, faraway echo of the real experience. It is so far away from the real that it is worse than the unreal because it can give you a false confidence. It can give you a false promise. You can believe it, and that is the problem. If you start believing in some dogma, you will go on missing the truth. Truth I has to be known by experience. No belief can help you on the way; all beliefs are barriers. All religions are against religion-it has to be so by the very nature of things. All churches are against God. Churches exist because they fulfill a certain need. The need is that people do not want to make any efforts; they want easy shortcuts. Belief is an easy shortcut.

The way to truth is hard; it is an uphill task. One has to go through total death-one has to destroy oneself utterly; only then is one newborn. The resurrection comes only after the crucifixion.

To avoid the crucifixion we have created beliefs. Beliefs are cheap. You can believe and yet remain the same. You can go on believing, and it doesn’t require any basic change in your life pattern. It does not require any change in your consciousness, and unless your consciousness changes, the belief is just a toy. You can play with it, you can deceive yourself with it, but it is not going to nourish you.

A wealthy horse-owner died and left a large fortune to a university. A provision in the will, however, was that the school must confer the degree of Doctor of Divinity upon his favorite horse. Since the university was anxious to receive the money-it was a really big sum-the Dean set a date for the animal to receive a degree of DD.
This unusual occasion was attended by the press, and one of the reporters asked the Dean, “What is your reaction to this strange arrangement?”
“Well,” replied the Dean, “in my experience I have awarded many degrees. However, I must admit that this is the first time I have awarded a degree to a whole horse.”

All others were donkeys, not whole horses.”-Osho, Zen: Its History and Teachings and Impact on Humanity

On several occasions

“at least one of them embarrassingly public, Putin has acted like a person afflicted with kleptomania. In June 2005, while hosting a group of American businessmen in St. Petersburg, Putin pocketed the 124-diamond Super Bowl ring of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. He had asked to see it, tried it on, allegedly said, “I could kill someone with this,” then stuck it in his pocket and left the room abruptly. After a flurry of articles in the U.S. press, Kraft announced a few days later that the ring had been a gift -preventing an uncomfortable situation from spiraling out of control.

In September 2005, Putin was a special guest at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. At one point his hosts brought out a conversation piece that another Russian guest must have given the museum: a glass replica of a Kalashnikov automatic weapon filled with vodka. This gaudy souvenir costs about $300 in Moscow. Putin nodded to one of his bodyguards, who took the glass Kalashnikov and carried it out of the room, leaving the hosts speechless.

Putin’s extraordinary relationship to material wealth was evident when he was a college student, if not earlier. When he accepted the car his parents won in a lottery, though the prize could have been used to greatly improve the family’s living conditions, or when he spent almost all the money he made over the summer to buy himself an outrageously expensive coat-and bought a cake for his mother-he was acting in ways highly unusual and borderline unacceptable for a young man of his generation and social group. Ostentatious displays of wealth could easily have derailed his plans for a KGB career, and he knew this. The story told by the former West German radical-of Putin demanding gifts while in Dresden-completes the picture. For a man who had staked most of his social capital on conforming to the norm, this was particularly remarkable behavior: it seems he really could not help himself.

The correct term is probably not the popularly known kleptomania, which refers to a pathological desire to possess things for which one has little use, but the more exotic pleonexia, the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others. If Putin suffers this irrepressible urge, this helps explain his apparent split personality: he compensates for his compulsion by creating the identity of an honest and incorruptible civil servant.” -Masha Gessen, The man without a face; The unlikely rise of Vladimir Putin

The different religions confused me


“Which was the right one? I tried to figure it out but had no success. It worried me. The different Gods – Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Mohammedan – seemed all very particular in the way in which they expected me to keep on good terms with them. I couldn’t please one without offending the others. One kind soul solved my problem by taking me on my first trip to the planetarium. I contemplated the insignificant flyspeck called Earth, the millions of suns and solar systems, and concluded that whoever was in charge of all this would not throw a fit if I ate ham, or meat on Friday, or did not fast in the daytime during Ramadan. I felt much better after this and was, for a while, keenly interested in astronomy.” ― Richard Erdoes, Lame Deer – Seeker of Visions

The pneumatic figure of a girl

Kûki ningyô

Air Doll (2009) “Kûki ningyô” (original title)

“It seems life is constructed in a way that no one can fulfill it alone. Just as it’s not enough for flowers to have pistils and stamens. An insect or a breeze must introduce a pistil to a stamen. Life contains its own absence, which only an other can fulfill. It seems the world is the summation of others. And yet, we neither know nor are told that we will fulfill each other. We lead our scattered lives, perfectly unaware of each other… Or at times, allowed to find the other’s presence disagreeable. Why is it, that the world is constructed so loosely?”

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Writers: Yoshiie Goda (manga), Hirokazu Koreeda (screenplay)
Stars: Doona Bae, Arata Iura, Itsuji Itao
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Waarom iedereen zijn Mohammedboek moet lezen

Je kunt veel van IS zeggen, maar duidelijk zijn ze wel. Hun voorman Aboe Mohammed al-Adnani had twee weken geleden heel duidelijk gewaarschuwd dat de heilige maand ramadan ‘een ramp’ zou worden voor ongelovigen, sjiieten en afvalligen. Een week later waren er de aanslagen in Tunesië, Frankrijk en Koeweit. Het is duidelijk dat IS echt oorlog wil op álle fronten, uiteraard in de verwachting dat dan ook van álle kanten de strijders zullen toestromen, en dat men daarbij geen boodschap heeft aan de traditionele betekenis van de ramadan als maand van vasten en bezinning. Niet van moord en doodslag. Maar IS weet dat zij in deze de Profeet aan zijn zijde heeft. En dat moslims dat ook weten.

Bloederige koranverzen
In het oude Arabië waren de heilige maanden, behorende bij een bepaalde god (en zijn heiligdom) bedoeld om pelgrims de gelegenheid te geven om deze god te kunnen bezoeken, zonder dat men gelijk allerlei beveiliging moest regelen. Alle (stammen)strijd kwam dan (met een beetje geluk, en onder de dreiging van goddelijke wraak) tijdelijk tot stilstand. Maar nadat Mohammed en zijn strijders uit Mekka vertrokken waren, hielden die zich daar niet aan, zo blijkt uit het volgende vers:

Zij zullen u ondervragen over de gewijde maand, het strijden daarin. Zeg: Strijden, daarin is iets ernstigs maar afwenden van de weg Gods en ongeloof aan Hem en [afwenden] van het Gewijde Bedehuis en het uitdrijven daaruit van de lieden die erbij horen is ernstiger bij God. (soera 2:217)

Met andere woorden: God beschouwde hun verdrijving uit Mekka als zo’n vreselijk onrecht dat zij het recht hadden om de heilige maand te negeren. En het zijn juist dit soort goddelijke opdrachten waar IS graag gebruik van maakt. Ook voor andere misdaden als het onthoofden van ongelovigen (en dus ook sjiieten, en al helemaal afvalligen) citeren zij de ‘juiste’ verzen, en wijzen ze op de bijbehorende verhalen over het meedogenloze optreden van Mohammed. Wat hen betreft is de ware islam niets anders dan het imiteren van de Profeet en zijn gezellen. Zolang zij dat doen, zal God hen zegenen en zullen ze in staat zijn iedereen te verslaan.

9789025307554 & 9789025307561

De traditie afpellen
Was Mohammed een wrede heerser, een ‘verschrikkelijke man’ zoals ex-moslim Ehsan Jami ooit zei (en waarvoor hij klappen kreeg)? Naar de huidige maatstaven: ongetwijfeld. De traditie laat daar geen twijfel over bestaan dat hij tegenstanders uit de weg liet ruimen, en het is ook nauwelijks voorstelbaar dat hij zich als leider van een Arabische stammencoalitie staande had kunnen houden als hij niet (op z’n tijd) meedogenloos was geweest. De vraag is welke les we hieruit moeten trekken. Voor velen ligt die les voor de hand: het waren andere tijden. Maar voor veel moslims is dat toch een stuk lastiger. Want als het gaat om de vraag wat het is om een ‘goede moslim’ te zijn, wat juist en onjuist is, spelen verhalen over de Profeet vaak een grote rol. Mohammed was eigenlijk gewoon een ‘doorgeefluik’, een sterfelijke mens die Gods openbaring ontving. Maar in de beleving van zeer veel moslims was Mohammed degene die de islam op perfecte wijze voorleefde. En de verhalen over wat hij deed of zei, spelen hierbij een grote rol. Dus wanneer Aboe Bakr al-Bagdadi, de leider van IS, zegt dat zijn bloedige kalifaat gebaseerd is op de leefwijze van de Profeet en zijn gezellen, is dat voor veel moslims helemaal geen absurde (voor velen zelfs een aantrekkelijke) denkwijze.

Wat kunnen moslims daartegenin brengen? Er bestaat het officiële theologische antwoord, waarbij dergelijke agressieve verzen worden gerespecteerd maar met zó veel voorwaarden en uitzonderingen worden omgeven, dat er van een flukse toepassing in de praktijk (zoals IS die voorstaat) geen sprake kan zijn. Maar dat soort redeneringen zijn voor de fijnproevers. Gewone moslims stellen tegenover het beeld van de wrede heerser simpelweg een ander beeld, dat van Mohammed de man van de vrede. Iemand die vredelievend, tolerant, et cetera was. Ook daarover bestaan voldoende verhalen. Maar daarmee is de eerste, de wrede Mohammed, niet van tafel. Er wordt gewoon een andere naast gezet. De strijd om de geest van de islam, om de vraag wat nu de kern van de islam is (een geloof van oorlog of van vrede), draait zo uiteindelijk om de vraag wie de Profeet nu ‘eigenlijk’ was. De talloze verhalen gaan alle kanten op; die bieden geen antwoord. Wat nodig is, is een kritischer houding tegenover álle verhalen over de Moh. Een kritische benadering van de traditie. Zodat er een andere visie op de Profeet ontstaat; een visie die de mogelijkheid biedt om afstand te nemen van die verhalen én van de manier waarop Aboe Bakr al-Baghdadi ze gebruikt.

Mijn boek ‘Mohammed en het ontstaan van de islam’ is bedoeld om een dergelijke visie aan te reiken. Of in ieder geval een eerste stap in die richting te zetten.

Ongezond islamdebat
Maar mijn boek is vooral bedoeld voor niet-moslims. Zij weten immers niets van Mohammed. En dat terwijl zijn leven een zeer fascinerend verhaal is. Mohammed was geen geweldloze bleekneus zoals Jezus, maar profeet én meedogenloos leider in één. Iemand die boven kwam drijven in een zeer gewelddadige tijd. Ongelovigen kunnen nu op een ‘ongelovige’ manier kennismaken met de stichter van de islam. Ik ben geen moslim; ik ben überhaupt niet gelovig. ‘Mijn’ Mohammed is dus niet onfeilbaar en leefde de islam niet voor. Mohammed was een gewone sterveling, die er heilig van overtuigd was dat het Einde der Tijden nabij was, en dat hij openbaringen van God ontving, bedoeld om de Arabieren (op het nippertje) te redden van de Hel. Of zijn openbaringen/ingevingen ‘echt’ van God kwamen, daar doe ik geen uitspraak over. Dat is een zaak van geloof. Dat is de keuze die de gelovige maakt. Daar kan een agnost natuurlijk niet in meegaan, maar hij moet zeker niet zo dom zijn daar minachtend over te doen.

Maar waaróm moet niet-moslims iets over hem weten? Heel eenvoudig: om erger te voorkomen. Het ‘islamdebat’ is de afgelopen jaren alleen maar harder en agressiever geworden. Toenemende terreur en de wassende stroom vluchtelingen hebben van ‘de islam’ een nog grotere boeman gemaakt dan voorheen. Menige ongelovige Nederlander wil er niks van weten en lijkt te denken dat als ‘wij Nederlanders’ maar hard en agressief genoeg zijn, ‘die moslims’ vanzelf hun biezen zullen pakken. Een gevaarlijk misverstand. Moslims are here to stay, en die agressieve toon zal gemakkelijk kunnen ontaarden in massaal geweld. Er is geen enkele reden om te geloven dat de geschiedenis zich in dat opzicht niet (voor de zoveelste keer) kan herhalen. Om dat te voorkomen, zal er enige overeenstemming moeten komen over de vrijheid die moslims hebben binnen de dominante Nederlandse cultuur. Wat is onaanvaardbaar, en wat moet de rest van Nederland voortaan tolereren? Dat soort vragen worden nu al regelmatig gesteld. Denk aan de discussie enige jaren geleden over rituele slacht. Denk aan de verontwaardiging over de manier waarop binnen de moslimgemeenschap omgegaan wordt met (en gesproken wordt over) homo’s en de rechten van vrouwen. Dergelijke discussies zijn géén zaak van moslims alleen. De seculiere westerse samenleving heeft haar eigen opvattingen over wat mag en niet mag, en dwingt religieuze groepen wel vaker tot een pijnlijke aanpassing van de eigen opvattingen. Ongelovigen moeten dus deelnemen aan dat debat – maar dan wel op intelligente wijze. Niet op basis van agressieve generaliseringen over ‘de islam’. Ze moeten openingen bieden, maar ook in staat zijn om moslims die zich al te gemakkelijk beroepen op de traditie of het voorbeeld van de Profeet, van repliek dienen. Dan is het wel verstandig als je iets over Mohammed weet. Verstandig, want als die dialoog er niet komt, ligt het geweld op de loer.

Niet-moslims moeten dus aan de bak. De tijd van ongeïnformeerd lekker maar wat roepen over de islam is voorbij. Er moet een einde komen aan een ‘islamdebat’ dat gedomineerd wordt door platte oneliners en stoere taal over ‘de islam’ (die ‘achterlijke cultuur’). Ze zullen hun huiswerk moeten maken, zich moeten verdiepen in de islam. Er is geen alternatief. Wie denkt dat ‘wij Nederlanders’ niets hoeven te weten van de islam, en moslims wel even het land uit kunnen pesten, zaait alleen maar de haat die onvermijdelijk een keer tot uitbarsting komt. Ook daarom heb ik dit boek geschreven. Omdat ik, net als Mohammed, bang ben voor de toekomst.
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