Iran and Wakeful Reflection
ایران و بیدار اندیشی
During the 8 years of Iran-Iraq War, the progressive forces of Iran, as much as they could, struggled for peace, and did not stop till the peace treaty was signed, and contacted any international authority they could, to end the house-burning war, that had started with Khomeini's provocations and Saddam's invasion, a war that had continued for years because of the incompetent leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). But exactly at the last minute of the end of war, it was not Khomeini who drank the hemlock, it was the Iranian progressive forces who by the order of Khomeini on Sept 1, 1988, were massacred in IRI's prisons, so that IRI's incompetence would not result in the fall of the regime. It is true that part of the opposition forces, meaning mojahedin khalgh, cooperated with Iran's enemy, i.e. Saddam's Iraq, and it is also true that another part of Iran's opposition, thought of standing up to the foreign invasion, as being equivalent to defending IRI, but the majority of Iranian progressive forces, while resisting Iraq's invasion, wanted to end the Islamic Republic as well. Nonetheless, in practice, Iranian progressive forces, when struggling worldwide to end the war, were not attentive that ending the war, while IRI remaining in power, when the regime had no more worry of the external enemy, meant the massacre of the progressive forces in IRI jails, which happened later. Of course, my words do not mean that I find the struggle for achieving peace to be a wrong action, but my point is to emphasize this reality that simultaneous with struggle for peace, we should have done a very serious work for freedom of the political prisoners and also for organizing to take power from the Islamic Republic, not that all the strength of the opposition to be spent for international efforts to end the war, independent from the freedom of other-thinking political prisoners, which was a wrong approach. This lack of wakeful reflection was so true that for a long time Iranian progressive political forces, did not know of the details of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners by Khomeini, and with disbelief heard the first scattered news of this heinous historic crime which was not much less than the gas chambers of Hitler's fascism, and these were uncovered because of the differences inside IRI in committing this atrocity, differences of Ayatollah Monazteri and Khomeini, the internal conflicts of the regime that more and more revealed the specifics of this crime against humanity.
Today we are witnessing the US-Iran conflict about the issue of nuclear arms. Some of us are spending our time about whether Iran has a right to have nuclear energy or not, the same way that at the time of Iran-Iraq War, some people spent their time on the issue of Iran's right to Arvandrood river. Not that these are wrong discussions, and not that these are unimportant, but when these happen at the cost of lack of *attention* to the reality that IRI's animosity to Iranian people and progressive forces, at the end like the time of Iran-Iraq War, we will be wrecked. Or some have put all their energy in sending letters to the American people to inform them that Iranian people do not want war and only in their letter, in passing note that Iranian people do not want the Islamic theocracy without noting that Islamic Republic has been in war with the Iranian people for 26 years and Iranian political prisoners today are in the same danger that their predecessors were in at the time of 1988 experience. Again not that expressing the opposition of Iranian people to US invasion and informing the American people to be wrong, but we should remember that every day there was an anti-war demonstration in Europe and US, Saddam felt more powerful. Again I do not mean that anti-war demonstrations are wrong, but my point is to pay *attention* to the fact that regimes like Saddam's Iraq and IRI take advantage of these correct and rightful activities of ours, and misuse it for their benefit. Let's assume that tomorrow the war of US and Iran, ends, before starting, and like China, IRI and the US come to a cooperation accord, can't we the next day, just like the day after the signing of the peace treaty with Saddam, expect to see another massacre of political prisoners by the IRI? Wasn't this same IRI that once used the label of "Saddam Kaffar" (meaning the sacrilegious Saddam) to call Saddam Hussein, and the day after signing the peace treaty with Iraq, called him "Brother Saddam" and opened the door of cooperation, with the close US ally, Saudi Arabia? Isn't it possible to call Bush, "Brother Bush", and to come to new agreements with the current governments of Iraq and Afghanistan? Isn't making deals with these states, easier than making deals with Saudi Arabia, which Khomeini had previously called its leader Malek Fahad with all kinds of insults and quarrels and still was able to achieve the cooperation with Saudi Arabia? Of course, if in one way, one group of Iranian opposition has been busy making demonstrations in the U.S. and Europe, in another way, another group of Iranian opposition, have been riding the horses of American hawks, and contrary to the group that write to American people about not wanting a war, this group are trying hard to encourage the a US war on Iran. Both these groups have already divided the future state positions of Iran among themselves and the smell of power has made them so intoxicated that many of them have let go of the principles for which they had talked of for years, and ignore or justify many violations of individual rights on the basis of the so-called exigencies of the time, which reminds one of the justifications of human rights by some of the progressive forces, in the first years after the 1979 Revolution. But regardless of all the shameful squashing of human rights by these claimants of democracy, if tomorrow US and IRI make a deal, the coworkers of these forces inside Iran, will end up with a fate like the collaborators of Soviet Union in Iran, at the time of the ghavAmolsaltaneh-Soviet accord in 1946.
Are my words about the first group to say that we should not struggle for peace? Of course, not. Are my words about the second group to say that we should not work for regime change in Iran? Of course not. My word is that we should be awake and see the reality. In the following lines I am not going to continue this political discussion any more, and I want to specifically discuss the topic of wakeful reflection itself, meaning to be awake and to live with mindfulness.
What is Wakeful Reflection?
What I mean by "wakeful reflection" is not a certain kind of thinking, and it is not even limited to thinking and is the way of our attention to the whole of existence, in other words what I mean by wakeful reflection is being awake, aware, and in better words is to live mindfully. The following story by Krishnamurti shows this difference very well:
"Attention is not the same as concentration. Concentration is exclusion; attention, which is total awareness, excludes nothing. It seems to me that most of us are not aware, not only of what we are talking about but of our environment, the clouds, the movement of water. Perhaps it is because we are so concerned with ourselves, with our own petty little problems, our own ideas, our own pleasures, pursuits and ambitions that we are not objectively aware. And yet we talk a great deal about awareness. Once in India I was traveling in a car. There was a chauffeur driving and I was sitting beside him. There were three gentlemen behind discussing awareness, and unfortunately at that moment the driver was looking somewhere else and he ran over a goat, and the three gentlemen were still discussing awareness-totally unaware that they had run over a goat. When this lack of attention was pointed out to those gentlemen who were trying to be aware it was a great surprise to them" [Krishnamurti-Freedom from the Known, Page 31]
The above words show that wakeful reflection is about our way of attention to the world, and not just about a way of thinking, and thus awareness cannot be thought of as equal to learning, the same way that many know cigarettes are poison, but are unable to quit it. In fact this truth, has been stated whether by astute thinkers of the East such as Buddha, or by scientific minded Western thinkers like René Descartes. In relation to Buddha, the following story is very interesting, where in reality the essence of Buddhist meditation is explained in wakeful reflection, and I should note that the term "vipassana" in the following text means seeing everything as they are:
"It is said that soon after his enlightenment, the Buddha passed a man on the
road who was struck by the extraordinary radiance and peacefulness of his
presence. The man stopped and asked, "My friend, what are you? Are you a
celestial being or a god?"
"No,"said the Buddha.
"Well, then, are you some kind of magician or wizard?"
Again the Buddha answered, "No."
"Are yu a man?"
"Well, my friend, what then are you?"
The Buddha replied, "I am awake."
The name Buddha means "one who is awake," and it is this experience that is the very heart and essence of vipassana, or insight meditation" [Seeking the Heart of Wisdom,P.3, Jack Kornfield"]
Even the founder of Western rationalism, René Descartes, in his book entitled Discourse on Method, in contrast to the scholastic philosophers of his time, explains his understanding of approaching *truth*, as follows,:
"It thus seemed to me that since book-learning, at least insofar as its reasons are only probable, not demonstrative, has been made up, and has developed gradually, from the opinions of many different men, it is therefore not as close to truth as the simple reasonings that a man of good sense may perform as regards things that come up." [Discourse on Method, from Descartes Philosophical Writings, Anscome/Geach Edition, Page 16]
In other words, even from the view of this founder of modern scientific thought, thoughtful attention to reality, more than any other way, gets us closer to reality. It is interesting that in the same writing, he writes of the Aristotelian Scholastic philosophy of his time as follows:
Aristotle's most passionate disciples of today...are not satisfied with an understanding of what is intelligibly explained by their author, but wish, besides that, to find in him the solutions of problems about which he says nothing and perhaps never thought." [René Descartes, Ibid, P.51 ]
I see a lot of disciples of various schools of thought today, who like the Aristotelians of Descartes' time, who look to the icons of the old schools of their interest, for answers to today's problems, instead of paying *attention* to the world before their eyes, with wakeful reflection, to try to solve today's problems.
Today that the development of future Iran has become the focus of attention of the world, wakeful reflection of Iranians and the rest of the world, can not only make a determining effect on the Futurist Iran (http://www.ghandchi.com/500-FuturistIranEng.htm), but it can make at the world scale, play an important role in the global post-industrial development in the areas of justice, democracy, and progress.
Hoping for a Democratic and Secular Futurist Republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
March 28, 2005
Secularism & Pluralism-Essays