Divine Action: Reviving Spirituality in the Post-Modern World

divine action Jan 30, ’09 3:05 AM
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Divine Action

When you do not believe in God than you act as what god asks, you are divinely religious.

It is what I get from a seminar in mp.Book point on Monday 5 January 2009. Mp book point belongs to my lecturer, Mr Haidar Bagir. This seminar was a serially seminars engaged through java from 5-15 January 2009. It was round table discussion that the participants actually limited and invited from some universities in different countries.

In mp.book point, the presentations were by Prof. Dr. George F. Mclean from Catholic University of America Washington DC and Prof. Dr. Gholamreza Aavani Director of the Iranian Institute of Philosophy Iran. The moderator was the owner of mp. Book point Dr. Haidar Bagir. And the topic was;

Reviving Spirituality in the Post-Modern World

It was interesting topic for me and my classmate, because our Islamic Mysticism lecturer Mr. Muhammad Bagir, five days before, asked us to discuss a topic having relation with this topic. It wasSpirituality without Religion (or God). This class discussion was unfinished with a deal result of idea. But it gave some new things to be discussed more;

1-     After quarrelling in defining religion, Mr. Muhammad Bagir gave an idea that it maybe possible to reach spirituality without religion, but not without tradition which is broader and includes religion in it.

2-     It arose from a question; when a new prophet comes and his environment has no religion –in strict meaning- so what is what he engaged to gain that prophetic achievement –which is part of spiritualit or even highest of it.

I myself urged that there is even profane mysticism or spirituality –without immaterial soul or transcendent Being-. That profane mysticism is gained by merely feeling of fascination of green grass in flowered garden; like what I understood from a book Mysticism East and West and Varieties of Religious Experiences by William James. But my lecturer –Muhammad Bagir- says that it is uncomfortable with the term spirituality itself that implies a spirit or immaterial soul coming from transcendent Being.

I was unsatisfied with his explanation, because the word spirit doesn’t always mean immaterial soul. Sometimes it means to blow or courage, also the word mysticism’s is to close eyes.

Than, the seminar engaged in mp.book point is good opportunity to take this problem deeper. Prof. Mclean gave some points;

1-     Even the first history of human being, which is totemic, has spirituality occurred by believing in spirit of their ancestors or impersonal power.

2-     Modern age throws the spirituality a side and the world in this age lives in no meaning.

3-      Post-modern age breaks modern age with its meaningless world. So even in one side, post-modern put absolutism, but in other side it causes a rising of religion again or a sense of love, justice, and peace again that maybe can be a basis of spirituality.

Other presentation by Prof. Aavani pointed out;

1-     Human being in its nature or fithra has a part of God which is blown in their material body. Thus, human is not just imago Dei, but as having part of the Dei. And he explains three levels of human; material, between, and immaterial/intellect/heart. Further, human can’t be separated from spirituality. Otherwise, human will lose.

2-     There are two ways to gain this spirituality; (a) wilayat or saint (b) hikmah (a school of philosophy founded by Iranian; Mulla Sadra, died in 1640 CE). And Prof. Aavani explicitly says that hikmah is higher than wilayat. Because it is with a rational explanation.

In the end, even unconfidently because I never asked in a seminar before, I asked the Question above; a possibility of spirituality without something beyond or trancendet. The first answer comes from Prof. Aavani, he says that if what I mean is atheist, it is impossible. The reason is even Buddhism has a transcendent thing, though it is impersonal.

Prof. Mclean answer was that the Divine can be understood and manifested immanently in action. It is the transcendent too. And Prof. Karim Douglas Crow from Nanyang Technological University Singapore –one of the scholars invited- stresses this anwesr by saying that even someone neglects God or the transcendent by his mouth, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t divine if his action is full of love and justice for example.

I was satisfied with this answer that there is spirituality without the transcendent which takes human from this worldly life to me. I felt winner in front of four of my friends that joined that seminar. And they knew that from this discussion.

But one day after that, Miss Asna Husen, Ph. D (she is Prof. Douglas’ wife) met me and said that she talked to those three professors about their answers which maybe imply that it is possible to gain spirituality without God. She said to them the three levels of human being given by Prof. Aavani are undeniable. So there is no opportunity to achieve spirituality without God, because the highest level which is intellect/heart has a relation with God. According to her, those three professors agreed with her.

She gave me her ID card and I sent her an email about this a week ago. But she didn’t reply yet.




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