Posts Tagged With: Culture

Go with The Flow

Surely, We have sent revelation to thee, as We sent revelation to Noah and the Prophets after him; and We sent revelation to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and his children and to Jesus and Job and Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and We gave David a Book. We sent some Messengers whom We have already mentioned to thee and some Messengers whom We have not mentioned to thee …” (Koran, Ch.4 v.164, 165)

“Verily, We have sent thee with the truth, as a bearer of glad tidings and as a Warner; and there is no people to whom a Warner has not been sent.” (Koran, Ch.35 v.25″)

I have to admit that I actually don’t have a lot of other Bengali/Indian/Pakistani  Muslim friends. 
While I did grow up in a largely non-orthodox Muslim household, being Bengali meant that many of my parents’ close friends were and are Hindu, and it meant absolutely nothing out of the ordinary for us to go over to their homes for various Puja celebrations or having them come over to our place for Ramadan
Breaking the Ramadan fast

Breaking the Ramadan fast

That’s not always the norm in many Bengali Muslim homes. In fact, there was anti-Hindu bigotry right in my own family. Several of my more “hard-core Muslim” uncles would forbid their kids (i.e my cousins) to play with us because they feared our family would have a “bad influence on them”.  
Just cause a girl wears shorts, does that make them a "bad influence"?

Just because a girl wears shorts, does that make them a “bad influence”?

The sources of that bigotry are many and it easy to see why so many hard feelings developed over the course of time. The British effectively ruled India by pitting Muslims and Hindus against each from Day 1. Divide and rule was official policy. While the British were there, preferential treatment was given to Muslims because it was an Abrahamic religion they could relate to, hence why Muslims got the choicest jobs and opportunities. When the British left, the tables were completely turned around, communal fighting broke out all over India, Muslims were discriminated against and Hindus went to the top of the power structure. 
This is an excellent video about Partition, about how India and Pakistan were formed after British rule. While the video talks about what was happening on the Western front, please bear in mind the atrocities were also happening on the eastern front, namely West Bengal and East Bengal (—> which became East Pakistan and then finally, Bangladesh). 
I bring up the quotes from the Koran because, really what those quotes are saying is that named and unnamed prophets, teachers, seers, sages, wise and holy men and women have been sent to all people of this world, every creed, every color, of all lands, at all times and that Muslims are to revere and respect them all, no exceptions. This includes First Nations Elders, Australian Aboriginal Elders, Mongolian shamans,  Buddhist bodhisattvas, Gnostic Christian spiritual masters and anyone else who has genuine spiritual insight and can teach us all to become better human beings with wisdom and grace. 
This sense of inclusiveness and plurality is unfortunately missing with many of the Muslims I grew up with and knew (which would probably explain why I don’t get along with many of them).  Rather, a certain rigidity in outlook, a sanctimoniousness and belief has set in and with the money from Saudi being poured into the rest of the Muslim world.  It has unfortunately meant that Wahhabi Islam, an extremely puritanical, minor, rigid and monolithic form of Islam native to Saudi Arabia is also spreading. It’s a “Live by the Sword – Die by the Sword” form of Islam which in my opinion,  is completely against life and sucks royally and anyone with even half a functioning brain would be wise to run away from. 
These guys and their ideology DO NOT represent all Muslims

These guys and their ideology DO NOT represent all Muslims

What’s also happening is that very poor, migrant workers from countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan are going to the United Arab Emirates to work as cheap laborers for construction companies.
Many of them are illiterate, not educated and completely ignorant about the history of their own countries, cultures and religions. Many of them don’t realize that there was a history in those areas long before the introduction of Islam. They see the vulgar wealth in the UAE and it’s then very easy to develop an inferiority complex in the face of that wealth and power especially in contrast to what they saw and lived through back home. What then happens is that they start using Islam and faux-piety as a form of showing up who is “more Muslim” and then that Wahhabi Islam then becomes something worth emulating, copying and spreading.
If you went to Bangladesh in the 1970s and 1980s, you would never see a burqa or hijab on the streets. Women were always in saris and salwar kameez and were considered decently dressed according to Islamic norms.
You go to Bangladesh now, and hijabs and burqas are everywhere. When I talk to my Turkish friends, they say the same thing is also happening in Turkey. 
This is NOT the way it used to be.

This is NOT the way it used to be.

It’s not just dress that’s being affected. 
Take for instance female genital mutilation which is NOT an Islamic practice, but one rather which is from  sub-Saharan Africa and became incorporated into those cultures, primarily Somali and Eritrean. When Islam was introduced to those areas, cultural and religious practices became fused and suddenly it was an “Islamic” practice. Now the practice is being exported to other countries like Malaysia under the guise of “Islam” when it has exactly zero to do with Islam.
This is my biggest axe to grind with many in the South East Asian Muslim community. Nobody flippin’ questions or investigates anything. They just internalize whatever their parents and grandparents told them and that’s it. I remember once having a conversation with one of my cousins’ husband. Dude has a PhD in Biochemistry so he’s not exactly dumb. However, he is from the village in Bangladesh, was extremely bright, did well in school, got full scholarship and landed in the USA and completed graduate work there. We were discussing the very Koranic verses I cited above and hence why I read so much about other traditions. His response is that was “you don’t need to understand Buddhism. You don’t need it. Who cares?”
It was a repudiation of Buddhism. It was a mechanical, pragmatic way of looking at the world and a deliberate method to staying ignorant and comfortable in a narrow worldview represented by his upbringing and socialization. It was also a slap in the face to my world view which is expansive and inclusive. (I should add, I can’t stand the guy and neither does most of my family.)
It’s not just Muslims who are like this. I mean we can point the finger at the Christian Right in the United States or Hindu radicals in India. That rigidity is everywhere. My only wish is that people everywhere become more fluid and accepting, like a stream or a river.
Afterall, isn’t it the Chinese who believe that water is the strongest element, capable of changing the earth itself?
Categories: False prophits, Politico, Raise your EQ, Think like the Illuminati, This is why the planet is screwed up | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Rainbow Tribe

"Controversial" ad by Benetton

“Controversial” ad by Benetton

“The Rainbow Tribe consists of everyone, of native and non-native blood, that believe that in our coming together as a tribe of people, of all colors ,that we will make the one true tribe of two-legged ones that we are.  The Rainbow Tribe is actually many small groups that are coming together in understanding and celebration of the diversity of people and who understand their importance and their obligation of love to the Mother Earth and all that is here.”

The Spiritual Network

I have steadily been watching various discussions online about the lack of inclusion in the yoga world this past year. Anarchist yogis “The Babarazzi” does a fantastic job of periodically putting out wonderful, thought-provoking posts on this issue. What comes to mind was a post they did back in October called “Is De-Culturing Yoga an Act of Good Faith or a Promotion of Xenophobic Ideology? /// A Light and Easy Subject”.

Taking the "Indian-ness" out of yoga to make it more palatable to the Venice Beach crowd is not cool.

Taking the “Indian-ness” out of yoga to make it more palatable to the Venice Beach crowd is not cool. This is a form of cultural appropriation

Moonlit Moth, by blogger Andrea MacDonald based out of Vancouver is also taking an anti-imperialistic stance in taking on the issues of accessibility and anti-oppression in yoga.
Andrea writes:
“I strive to make my classes anti-oppressive. By anti-oppressive I mean anti-racist, queer, trans and LGBTQ friendly, patriarchy resistant, anti-colonial, body and ability positive as well as affordable for my students and sustainable for me as the teacher. In order to create a safe space for all my students I will do my best to address oppressive language and behaviour in the studio. Usually I find open, honest discussion can help make the classes safer for everyone involved.”
Kula Yoga Toronto is also offering “Brown Girl Yoga” and “Queer Yoga”  in an attempt to reach out to those communities and create a space where others can feel comfortable.
From "Essence" magazine

From “Essence” magazine

I applaud all these initiatives and discussions and while I think these issues of inclusion, diversity and accessibility are now being talked about more than ever online and off and are a far cry from that fall evening back in 2002 when I first stepped into a Bikram yoga studio and found myself as the only person of color in a roomful of pony-tailed golden boys with wash-board abs and a host of tall, lithe Caucasian trophy wives  discussing their Filipino nannies in the change room, I still think there is a long way to go.  I did not even have to look further than to scroll down  to the comments section of my article on EJ to see how far the so-called “enlightened” yoga crowd have to go.
Rabbit Pose - Do you honestly think anyone can do this pose on their first time ever doing yoga?

Rabbit Pose – Do you honestly think anyone can do this pose on their first time ever doing yoga?

White entitlement and white privilege are in essence, almost taken for granted. They have been institutionally sanctioned for a couple of hundred years now, mostly in advent of  European imperialism and colonialism. It’s only maybe in the last 50 years serious questioning and scholarship has started to take place, mostly in academia and it has slowly started to filter down into mainstream culture.
W.E.B DuBois - serious academic and activist on racial issues.

W.E.B DuBois – serious academic and activist on racial issues.

That’s beyond the scope of this blog post but any discussion of race is going to cause fireworks to go off no matter what. Someone always ends up getting pissed off. People don’t like to think of themselves as racist or bigoted and they certainly don’t like it being pointed out to them even if it is done unconsciously.  And it would seem yogis, for all their talk of oneness and spiritualism, they positively hate to have it pointed out to them and have their artificial balloons of security and illusion popped especially by someone who is not white.
One of the things I had to undergo when I did my stint as a spiritual caregiver at a hospital trauma unit as well as when I studied cross-cultural management for my undergraduate degree was something called diversity training. In essence, it’s about learning how to deal with people who are different from you in ethnicity, color, socio-economic background and culture without disrespecting them, their heritage, background etc, being mindful of the differences in order to bring out everyone’s best for the sake of improving overall teamwork and outcomes. In all honesty, I think more studios, more instructors, more training centers need to start including this as well, if all this talk of inclusion and plurality is to amount to anything.
I had to watch this film in the course of my studies. “The Color of Fear” is now considered a classic in diversity training and cross-cultural management seminars around the world and I think it merits several viewings. There are some comments alone which will force you to stop it and look at yourself and your own reactions. I think Victor Lewis probably has the most powerful voice here in expressing why some people are more equal than others. I warn you, it can be an uncomfortable watch but I think if we want that dream of a Rainbow Tribe to ever materialize, some hard questions and soul-searching needs to take place. This is as good as a beginning as anything else out there.
Categories: Ascension, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cultural Ignorance is for Lazies

This is something which has been bugging me for a while now within the conspiracy-theory set.

Kerry Cassidy - a walking botheration

Kerry Cassidy – a walking botheration

I guess what set it off was this interview by Project Camelot’s Kerry Cassidy, who for the record, I can’t stand. From what I have read, she is someone who tried to go into acting and it just didn’t work out but even watching and listening to her interviews online, she drives me nuts because she’s constantly interrupting her guests and interjecting comments to try to show off how knowledgeable she is, when she isn’t and I just wish she’d learn some journalistic manners. She’s almost as bad as Lilou Mace.
David Wilcock - classic New Age shyster

David Wilcock – classic New Age shyster

When the whole Drake/David Wilcock-thing blew up and there was no rounding up and mass arrests of Illuminati members, Cassidy should have been accountable from the get go. Here is the pathetic interview she aired with David Wilcock crying his crocodile tears and freaking out over the (non)danger to his life.
But that’s not what bugs me about her. It’s her complete and total and utter cultural ignorance of anything out of the American, White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (WASP) paradigm which she is a product of. I mean in that first interview, she’s interviewing some dude who is convinced the Jesuits are more powerful than the Illuminati. While I agree that there probably are not-very-nice secret societies and groups within the Catholic Church like Opus Dei, what strikes me over and over again within the conspiracy-world set is that many of them are either British or American. They view the world through that same British-American, White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant paradigm. Not all, but most.
Before any of you freak out on me, I’m generalizing of course. I’m generalizing about the general public, most don’t know about the Catholic world and churches which predate Catholicism by millenia. Most of them know zilch about the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church or even earlier churches like the Nestorian , Manichaean or Sabian Christians. They know even less about Islam. What boggles my mind is that these earlier churches and cultures are the roots of their own Western civilization and bridged that period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages and eventually laid the groundwork for the Renaissance and Enlightenment. They only know about Hinduism and Buddhism because they are popular due to yoga, Gandhi and the Dalai Lama. Or Bruce Lee movies.
Lalibela - Do many WASPs know that this church in Ethiopia is also a part of their religious background?

Lalibela – Do many WASPs know that this church in Ethiopia is also a part of their religious background?

Of course these other cultures and traditions do not speak English. Many of their original writings have not been translated into English or French or Spanish (the imperialistic languages) properly. They are usually in their original archaic Greek, Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian or Copt. However, very often, if you’re not alert, there usually is a hidden agenda of indirect cultural supremacy which is being promoted.
When you read history, you always have to keep in mind about biases and why those biases are there.

When you read history, you always have to keep in mind about biases and why those biases are there.

To give you an example of this cultural underhandedness, let’s use historian Thomas Cahill and the book he wrote “How the Irish Saved Civilization”. Cahill posits that after the fall of Rome, when Europe began to be overrun by barbarians like the Huns, Saxons and Visigoths and plunged into the Dark Ages, all those precious manuscripts and tomes from Classical Greece, the works of Aristotle, Plato, Pythagoras, Socrates etc. were saved by Irish monks who painstakingly preserved those works by copying them by hand, generation after generation and that they were the ones who saved these works which eventually were the cornerstones of the European Enlightenment.
A typical page from the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript from ireland.

A typical page from the Book of Kells, a beautiful illuminated manuscript from Ireland.

While I don’t disagree with Cahill on that point, he makes it out that ONLY the Irish saved civilization. What Cahill fails to mention is that while Europe slid into the Dark Ages, Islam was experiencing it’s Golden Age. All those classical Greek and Egyptian treatises were also copied, saved, studied and discussed in cities like Baghdad, Damascus, Alexandria, Timbuktu, Constantinople, Tehran, Bukhara leading to discoveries in algebra (al-jabr), advanced mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, optics, plumbing, water management and medicine. Much of that knowledge was then hauled off back to Europe during the different Crusades. The Crusades were not just about “re-capturing Jerusalem for the Christendom”. It was about economics, hauling back silks, carpets and most importantly, spices. That’s the equivalent of the American military saying that they want to “liberate” Iraq, when everyone now knows it’s about the oil, stupid. Same shit, different century.
The Silk and Spice routes

The Silk and Spice routes

More recently a THIRD area has now been identified by scholarship where many works from the ancient world were saved and that is the ancient monasteries of Armenia, in and around Yerevan. Polish writer Rzysard Kapuscinski (especially in his book “Imperium”) and Russian scholars have increasingly found that the ancient world was much more inter-connected than we realize. That knowledge did not go only in one direction (i.e West) but spread out like a cloud in ALL directions from the Mediterranean basin, Asia Minor and Near East.
Civilization and knowledge from the classical world did NOT just go into the orange areas on this map, unlike what most Western history textbooks will tell you.

Civilization and knowledge from the classical world did NOT just go into the orange areas on this map, unlike what most Western history textbooks will tell you.

Much has been written about and speculated about the Vatican Archives and library, about the fabulous treasures hiding there and how no one can access that library except the Pope. The Vatican Library is not the end all and be all of ancient human knowledge. In recent years, there has been an effort and push to catalogue and assess the holdings of Mount Athos, Greece. Mount Athos, in case you did not know is probably the holiest site in Orthodoxy and the Orthodox Church is far older that the Catholic one. The monasteries there have survived, uninterrupted, nearly for 1500 years and even survived the Nazi Occupation of Greece during WWII when the Patriarch outwitted Hitler. Mount Athos is also still regularly producing saints and seers in modern times like Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain.
Modern day saint - Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

Modern day saint – Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

Like I mentioned earlier, the older centers of learning were Baghdad, Damascus, Timbuktu, Alexandria, Tehran, Mount Athos and Yerevan.
Baghdad–> Iraq (museums were looted, libraries destroyed, ancient manuscripts gone)
Damascus–> Syria (in the throes of civil war)
Alexandria–> Egypt (still in transition)
Tehran–> Iran (ear-marked for war eventually)
Mount Athos–> Greece (in economic disarray)
Yerevan–>Armenia (your guess is as good as mine)
Almost daily demonstrations in Athens against austerity measures being imposed on the Greeks.

Almost daily demonstrations in Athens against austerity measures being imposed on the Greeks.

Iraq, Syria, Mali, Egypt, Iran, Greece…does anyone here see a pattern?
There is hope against this imperialistic attitude, historical revisionism and all-out bullshit. People are waking up and questioning things, slowly but surely but more needs to be done.
Watch what happens here when he showed up in New York City, in Times Square and tried to incite a crowd…
Categories: Ascension, Conspirio, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Think like the Illuminati, This is why the planet is screwed up, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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