The audience was distinctly international. Every nation was represented, some in traditional costumes, some in exquisitely designed clothes. The woman sitting next to me, according to her nametag, was from Sweden. She wore a long black evening gown and a black vest graced by a simple silver chain.
I was captivated by her appearance, but also by something else about her. Her gown was more designed for easy walking and dancing than for sitting in tightly spaced theater seats. Whenever she crossed her legs the fabric would part and reveal her beautifully shaped legs that were more attractive to look at than the finest silk dress. She didn't seem to notice, or pretend not to notice my interest. The thought that she might let the sharing happen as an element of sharing her humanity, made the moment even more exciting, so that I couldn't help but respond to. It created a feeling of closeness and of gentle peace, a peace that was also reflected in the music of Mozart's piano sonata that was performed from the vast volume of Mozart's compositions. Perhaps the piano piece had been chosen for its simple, soft melody where nothing is forced and overpowering, or abstract, or remote; where the beautiful moment unfolds naturally. The melody reflected the peace of the satisfaction that I felt. It wasn't underscored by an unfulfilled longing, but by an exciting sense of peace. This peace was carried by the sufficiency of the moment that seemed complete in itself.
The feeling of sufficiency, and the peace that flowed from it, lingered. During the intermission I found it reflected as a feeling of gratitude for just being there among so many beautiful people, some with beautiful smiles and gentle and proud gestures.
When the concert finally ended, the Swedish woman, who was still sitting next to me, stood up and turned away to leave. Except as she did, she turned back momentarily with a big smile, which I promptly returned.
For this brief moment there was a link established that might have said more than all of Steve's words. She didn't growl with an angry look, nor was it a look of indifference that reflected a mere accommodation of my evident needs. Her smile was bright like a note of thanks, like she was saying thank you for noticing me, for acknowledging that I exist, that I am a beautiful human being worthy to be loved and admired. I didn't realize at that moment that her smile reflected something far greater than I had understood.
For the moment I treasured the smile and the gentle expression that accompanied it. I treasured the brightness of the moment. It stood in contrast to the many angry expressions that I also saw in many other faces.
Some time later I saw the Swedish woman again outside of the auditorium. She stood alone in front of a fountain. The spray of the fountain sparkled in the sunshine. I walked towards her, almost by instinct, but also reluctantly against my innermost fears and against my timidity, all of them fighting for dominance to stop me. Who was I to approach such a beautiful person? "Don't do it!" said a voice within.
I must have smiled at myself when I actually succeeded.
"Would you kindly allow me to invite you for a cup of coffee?" I said to her, almost trembling as if facing a firing squad, ready to be shot down.
"You are most perfectly welcome to do that," she answered, and curtsied slightly to make her reply match the style of my silly way of asking. Then she laughed. "The coffee shop's on the second floor. Shall we take the stairs?"
I felt stupid to be speechless. Still I managed to ask somehow to be forgiven for my brashness in asking her. I added that someone as lovely and beautiful, and as kind as she was, must also be a beautiful person that I really wanted to meet, though I almost didn't have the nerve to ask.
She replied with the same warm smile that she gave me in the auditorium, saying that a long time ago she found herself in a similar situation. She said that she had come to America as a tourist. She had read stories about the wide-open hospitality of the American people. So there she was. She said she was in Florida, traveling with a tour group. The tour had stopped at a hummock in the Everglades, an oasis of trees in a wide world of shallow open waters. She said that she had relished the narrow walkways of the hummock, threaded through its jungle-like setting, and the private seclusion that some of the lookout places provided, all the while hoping for her prince to appear in this setting. She said she pictured him romantically emerging from somewhere out of the crowd of tourists that always converge at the tour stops. People had come on these tours from all over America, and maybe the world.
"And?" I asked.
She shook her head slightly and smiled. "Nothing happened; nothing at all. Nothing of that sort happened that day, the day after, or on any other day," she replied. Strangely, she said this with a smile and her smile was getting brighter.
"That must have been a lonely holiday for you," I said somewhat perplexed by the smile, "but it is all history now, right?"
"No it wasn't a lonely holiday at all. It became a beautiful holiday," she replied with a grin now. "It became a revelation."
As we were seated with our coffee at a table for two by the window, where she continued her story. "So, there I stood at the end of a path at a lookout overlooking the Everglades, the perfect spot for romance, and there was no prince as I hoped there would be. Not a single person had sought me out. No one was there to love me. No one was there at all, except me and myself. Then, suddenly something clicked in my head. 'Why not love yourself?' a voice kept saying to me from within. And did I have an answer ready. 'Self-love is more opaque than a solid body,' I said to myself and turned that suggestion away. I had read this in a book. I really believed it, too, which of course is true for the kind of self-love that manifests itself as greed, possessiveness, dominance, arrogance, and so forth. But at that moment I also realized that self-love can have a second meaning on a higher level, where it can mean the opposite. Can you understand what I am saying?"
"I suppose, you looked in a mirror and fell in love with yourself," I said jokingly. "I certainly would have if I were you."
"That's exactly what happened, except the mirror was in my mind. I looked at myself through that mirror and realized that I am a lovely, intelligent, sentient human being, capable of a great deal of joy and humor, and also love, endowed with the capacity for rich and interesting experiences. I realized right there and then, that I simply didn't need to wish for anyone else to be with me. I felt complete in myself. I began to take note of myself and to love what I saw. At the end of the bus ride that day, in a town called Flamingo, I treated my newfound friend to a fine steak-and-shrimp dinner, and I appreciated the gesture all at the same time. After supper we went for a boat ride together, through the Ten Thousand Islands area of the lower Everglades, just me and my newfound self. We were sitting right up at the front of the boat. And you know, that became a most wonderful trip to end a wonderful day."
"That's an incredible story," I said, and I meant it. "You didn't talk to yourself, though, I hope."
"Of course not. The dialog was all mental. But then, we are always in a dialog with ourselves when we think about anything. No doubt, you had quite an interesting dialog going on with yourself when you treated yourself to that sexual experience you had in the auditorium earlier, during the concert."
"Don't worry my friend," she said and smiled. "Remember, I am the champion when it comes to treating oneself! But be honest, was it a beautiful experience?"
I nodded and said, "thank you," quietly. "Thank you for giving me the opportunity."
"No thanks are needed," she replied. "I felt enriched by it as much as you were, just by knowing that I am not the only freak who finds a great peace in embracing oneself. You found in me an echo of that embrace of yourself. Evidently you found no need to go further with this. Am I right?"
I nodded and closed my eyes momentarily as if this would keep the mental vision alive and engrave her lovely smile into my mind. I wanted to keep that vision alive.
"Isn't it amazing in how many ways it is possible to treat oneself with all those wonderful aspects of our humanity?" said the woman when I opened my eyes again. Her smile had become a grin.
"It is also amazing how much we need this," she added moments later, "and how easily this need is satisfied. It appears to me that it took you a great deal of courage," said the woman, "when you approached me against all those voices crying within that would hold you back, right to the very last moment. But you overruled their crying. Do you remember what you said? 'Would you kindly allow me to invite you for a cup of coffee?' That was as much a request to yourself as to me. Your face lit up like a sun when I said yes. Those small things are sometimes the most beautiful treats that we give to ourselves."
"And to one-another," I added.
"How could I have possibly said no," she replied, "if my part in this is such a small one? The impetus for it was all your own. It came out of the great heart of our humanity in which all love is rooted that we all share universally and are able to acknowledge with joy. Isn't life beautiful when this happens?"
"I agree. It is beautiful if we aren't too scared to embrace it," I replied. "You must have had beautiful experiences then, treating your friend," I said a while later while embracing her in my thoughts, including her smile that was so honest and so penetrating to the very heart of the love within that she had so freely talked about.
"I was never really indulging myself," she said moments later. "I was treating myself with the same love and consideration with which I would have gladly treated the dearest friend. I also realized right from the beginning that I didn't step into a fairy tale world by doing this. I am convinced that all people are naturally generous and loving. They just don't give themselves a chance to experience it."
"What caused you to realize that?" I asked when she almost blushed for some reason.
"I learned this from a businessman," she said quietly. Then she really blushed as if she said something that is hard to believe. "He wasn't a stock broker or something like that," she added. "He was a small-scale manufacturer. His experience in selling his product has been that people are more than willing to be helpful. He said to me, 'just go into any store and ask for direction to somewhere, and people will help you. They may even draw you a map.' He made this process into be a two way street. He found that no high-pressure sales pitches were needed to sell his products, because he saw himself as the bringer of goods that would enrich their life. He didn't come to them to get, but with an opportunity to enrich their world. In this environment people came to him and asked for his products. He told me that he always endeavors to give a portion of his success back to humanity in order to keep the process alive that enriches the world on which his business is built.
"I have merely adopted this process towards myself," said the Swedish woman named Astrid, according to her nametag. She said that if people are naturally loving and generous, then can I be so to myself, to me, to Astrid. "And you know, that means a great deal to me now. So you see my friend, what I did wasn't done out of pity as it might have been done, but out of love. I am always careful not to waste my emotions on pity, either for myself or for anyone else. Life is too precious for it to be wasted like that."
She said that the results that came out of this alertness have always been amazing. "I can recommend it to anyone. I have never looked back to the olden days, once I began to love in this fashion," she said. "The dark ages have ended. Of course, it wouldn't make any sense looking back, because I have pulled myself up onto a higher level of living in which the Old World is no longer relevant."
She told me that she never felt lonely again after her healing that day in the Everglades. She told me that this single experience of that day in the Everglades totally changed her life. She said, it brought into focus what she had somehow always believed but had never lived up to. She added with a smile that this process of living up to a wider reality is still unfolding. She urged me to be alert of the fact that there is always something new to be discovered in the wide world of loving oneself and of embracing the whole world in that love.
When the end of our meeting came, as the end always does, long after the coffee was gone and we were leaving the coffee shop, I asked her in my exuberance if we could possibly meet again.
"What for?" she asked and embraced me. "What good would that do? If you love yourself fully, as I know you will in time, what more could I possibly add to that fulfillment? If anything, I would be a hindrance. The world is full of beautiful people with interesting faces and loving hearts that you might want to treat yourself to meeting. We are all a part of the same humanity, are we not? I think it is the greatest treat in the world to give ourselves the chance to find this out and experience the boundless riches we find there."
On the way out I dared to ask her to reconsider. "Why shouldn't we be able to meet over coffee again, or perhaps for dinner?" I asked.
She smiled. "I hear what you are saying, but these things won't stop there, will they? They tend to become private, and intimate, and narrow."
I hesitated answering. "Self-love is a wonderful thing," I said cautiously as we came near to the door, "but it doesn't need to lead to self-isolation. I fear there is something missing if it does. I feel that there is something spiritually lacking in self-isolation. No universal principle that I know supports self-isolation. I think you may be cheating yourself along this route by not taking the next step. My friend Steve in East Germany told me that universal love isn't a duty, by which one is duty-bound to love universally. To the contrary, he suggested that the reality unfolds the other way around. He said that universal love is the environment in which we live, that surrounds us, that we cannot get away from like the air that we breathe. He says it rests on everything; the grass; the trees; the birds in the air; the fish in the rivers; and on men and women and children. He said we find its substance in every smile, every hug, every kind thought and deed, in every kiss, every intimacy, also in sex, in joy, and in building great works that enrich our world, as well as in art that brings beauty to it, and in music, and laughter, and poetry, and all the other wonderful things that we do as human beings. Universal love is the universal human environment, which he says it is our privilege to open ourselves up to a wonder for us to experience. I think this would be the kind of playground on which we could safely meet again, you and I, not as beggars begging each other, but as fellow travelers who are mutually enriched by life's riches. Why would you want to close the door to all of that? I fear that you might choose self-isolation into an empty world."
"Maybe I do, or maybe not, Peter. However, I see a beautiful precedent for what I am doing. The precedent exists in the greatest historic advance in civilization. That is what the headscarf represents, which is worn by Muslim women around the world. I think they call it hijab. Hijab is an ancient custom that was designed to give a woman the freedom to be herself. It doesn't isolate the woman from men, but offers her a sanctuary. Hijab came out of the greatest spiritual renaissance that I know of, which raised the status of woman way beyond anything that existed up to that time. Hijab gave her a space to be, and to be at peace with herself and to live quietly without intrusions. These aspects are essential for a person's self-development as a human being. Hijab has kept the sexual interrelationship at a manageable level. Evidently it is still needed in modern times when so much of a woman's worth is judged by sexual appearances. I want to stay away from that intrusive environment."
"Wasn't the Islamic hijab a part of a world that existed hundreds of years ago?" I almost protested. "The world has changed. Does a woman still need the scarf to hide behind? Have we not progressed beyond that?"
"Hijab is an aspect of Principle, Peter," said Astrid. "Principle is timeless. It is always valid, Peter. So don't be hasty to throw away what was once a part of the greatest renaissance in history. I am talking about the Islamic Renaissance that began in 700 AD. It truly changed the face of civilization. In fact, without the Islamic Renaissance you and I might not exist. The USA might never have been established. The whole world might have been radically darker with far fewer people living in it, existing at a precarious state of existence. But you are right. There exists a need in the world to always advance beyond the brightest of the past. For example, the USA was founded on the Second Renaissance that gave the world the Peace of Westphalia. Furthermore, and the Second Renaissance was built on the First European Renaissance, the Golden Renaissance that emerged out of Italy three centuries earlier. Of course, the Golden Renaissance itself was created on the foundation of the Islamic Renaissance. We've taken the oldest awakening of mankind and moved forward with it. I think we may have done the same also with what hijab once represented. So it remains alive as something that is of great value."
"I find hijab beautiful in its basic design," said Astrid. "I find its principle so enriching that I am reluctant to let go of it completely without a good reason. So far, I have not discovered such a reason. Can you understand what I am saying, Peter?"
I nodded. "Yes I hear you," I said. "However, you might be clinging to an ancient tradition for nothing more than the sake of tradition," I said cautiously. "You might also be wrong assuming that the founding of the USA was a direct result of what happened fourteen centuries ago in the world of Islam."
Astrid shook her head and suggested that the answer has to be, NO, on both counts. "I am not clinging to ancient traditions," she said. "I find value in what was a part of a development that uplifted civilization far more than what is generally acknowledged. The Islamic Renaissance is virtually unknown today."
"That is true," I said quietly in agreement. "Everybody knows about the Golden Renaissance that changed the face of Europe."
Astrid nodded. "Hardly anybody is aware that the Golden Renaissance would never have happened had the Islamic Renaissance not prepared the ground for it during the preceding six centuries. Likewise, only few people realize that the founding of the USA was the direct outcome of the Golden Renaissance in Europe that led to the profound developments that came after it, that created the Second Renaissance in Europe right in the middle of the Thirty Years War. The entire world would be radically darker, Peter, if the Islamic Renaissance hadn't happened, which gave rise to all that. The Golden Renaissance wouldn't have happened then, and every other renaissance thereafter might not have occurred. That's the kind of huge shift in thinking that I am talking about. By all accounts, the accumulative cultural impact of the Islamic Renaissance was immense. It was profound. And the more I think of it, the more I stand in awe before it. I am clinging to a universal idea, not a tradition, Peter. I am clinging to something that is rooted in a world-shaping renaissance power. That's what I see reflected in the principle of hijab. I cannot throw this away. Surely, you can understand this, can't you?"
While I was searching for an answer, Astrid had spotted a woman in the lineup coming into the coffee shop, wearing the Islamic hijab. She pointed her out to me and then introduced us. "May I ask you a bold personal question about hijab?" she said to the woman. "Could you kindly explain to my American friend the significance of hijab and why Moslem women are wearing it?"
According to her nametag the woman that Astrid addressed was from Baghdad, named Mohja. She, in turn, introduced her husband, Jamal, standing next to her.
"Your question is an easy one to answer," said the woman to me moments later. "Hijab is a gift from Allah to all the women of humanity. I wear it with pride. It gives me dignity. Hijab is telling the world that we women are not dependent on whether anyone in society finds us beautiful to be loved, but that it is important to us that we find ourselves to be beautiful and are thereby at peace with ourselves and with the world. Hijab makes me feel beautiful as a person and dignified by wearing it. It is also a symbol of our love for Allah."
She turned to Astrid. "Our men are not required to wear hijab," she said, "but they are demanded to respect what it symbolizes. Every time they see a woman wearing hijab they see it as a symbol of the same obligation to themselves as human beings. In a sense, we women are wearing hijab for them, out of love. We are wearing hijab for ourselves and for all men, but we do it out of our love for Allah."
Her husband, Jamal, explained that Allah is the Islamic name of the only true God, a name that really stands above religion. "Therefore, Allah has neither gender nor physical form," said Jamal, "and can only be recognized as singular and universal. The plural sense of Allah is not possible. Such a concept is totally invalid. It would destroy the 'face' of Allah, because Allah already means All; the All-in-All. There is no plural sense possible for, All. The name Allah is a double term, really. It means 'All' and 'awe' combined into one. We stand in awe before the Universal All. Allah is all power, all being. We human beings, women, men, and children, are one with this Universal All."
"This prevents us from 'speaking down' to our children," interrupted Mohja. It also prevents us from becoming servants to them, and likewise to one-another."
"You may associate Allah with the power that orders the universe," said Jamal. "I believe your scientific 'name' for Allah is Principle, or more precisely, Universal Principle. What you know about the universal principles of the universe, we know about Allah. The concept is the same. We know Allah as the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the All-powerful, the All-loving and eternal. Allah is universal Principle. No one can own it. We simply stand in awe before it. That is what Allah really means to us. It means 'All,' and 'awe,' combined into one single concept."
"Allah is an indivisible concept," said Mohja. "Allah is also absolute good. It is the Principle of the universe in its countless expressions, which is necessarily good. The expressions of Principle have to be good, because it is inconceivable for Principle to manifest itself in self-contrary expressions. If this were the case, Principle would be self-defeating, which is not possible."
"We recognize Allah as natural good, because no other expression of Principle is possible than natural good," Jamal continued. "That is how you must see Allah. You must see Allah as natural good. Should one not stand in awe before that realization? We call Allah the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful. You may say the same about the Principle of Universal Love and Universal Sovereignty, and so forth. Wouldn't you then say the same thing about these principles? Wouldn't you then, in acknowledging their reality, stand in awe before them as we do before Allah?"
"Wow!" was all I could say.
"That is what we do three time a day. We bow before Allah three times each day," said Jamal. "We bow before the Universal Principle of the universe in which is bound the entire reality of our being. And we do more than bow. We kneel before Allah in prayer. In doing so we remind ourselves that we are at one with the universal force for good. In prayer we renew our dedication to everything that Allah is. We remind ourselves that we, as human beings, are a part of the universal All and have a role to play in honoring Allah by being alive ourselves as the tallest species of life in the universe. We see our role as representing the nature of Allah and to bring his good to light in our life in the form of peace, harmony, mercy, and goodness. That is what worship is to us, the way I see it. And for this reason, my dear friend, we face in prayer towards Mecca or Medina where the greatest man in history became a prophet for Allah. The name of the prophet is Mohammed. He gave us the highest scientific concept of God that has ever been envisioned. As I said, you may call Allah universal Principle, or the Principle of Universal Love, or the Principle of Economics, or the Science or Civilization. We only have one name for all these principles, the name Allah."
"Why do you call Mohammed a prophet?" I asked cautiously.
"Isn't that obvious?" said Jamal. "He prophesied the universal recognition of Allah, the recognition of universal Principle, of the Principle of Universal Love as an inevitable recognition. He prophesied what you are already bringing out in your life. Mohammed recognized this inevitable universal unfolding. It was an easy prophecy to make."
"Allah is inevitable," interrupted Mohja. "Civilization is inevitable. Civilization is inevitable, because Allah is inevitable manifestation. Allah is the principle of our being and its manifest, and the principle of the universe. Shouldn't their unfolding in our life be inevitable too?"
"Some people say that the Islamic Renaissance ended in the 16th Century," said Jamal. "I would say that the real Islamic Renaissance has not even begun, considering its potential and its scientific basis. To Mohammed, Allah was holy, because Principle is absolute. That is what holy means. Holy is that which defies hierarchical thinking to its very core. We still have to learn to discover that. In defying hierarchical thinking we find ourselves standing side by side with one another and equal in Allah. Every spark of life, especially human life, represents the All-in-All of universal Principle and its awe-inspiring dimensions. Allah defines it as a privilege to be a human being with a Mind that makes us one with the universe and one-another.
Jamal paused, searching for words. "When we speak of Allah as the Most Merciful, and the Most Gracious, then that is what we aim to reflect in our life. Life and Love are universal. We don't aim to emulate Allah, but we do aim to live up to the supreme standard that Allah is and bestows on us. We do it to reflect its nature in which great peace is found. Peace is an active quality, a quality that reflects Allah. It unfolds from a high regard for oneself and one-another. It also comes to light in what hijab represents. That is why we call hijab a gift from Allah."
Jamal turned to Mohja and hugged her. "One day we will be able to lay hijab aside," he said to her. "This happens when the universal Principle, or Allah, is fully established in our heart and becomes it own imperative. Then, when the real is established we won't need the symbol anymore."
"Didn't Moses lay the groundwork for that?" I interjected. "His Ten Commandments are hijab in the larger sense. On the surface they are all passive demands. They tell society that one mustn't do this and that. However, I see an active principle behind each passive demand. When this principle is recognized as already rooted in our heart and Soul, then the active principle becomes so profound in our life, and so uplifting, that it becomes forever impossible for us to violate the passive demand."
"Mohammed stood on this same kind of platform," added Jamal. "From this platform of active principles, which he called collectively Allah, it was impossible for him to kill another human being. Allah made it impossible for him to kill, or to injure, or even to avenge the most terrible atrocity. The worst atrocities that were committed against him and his people, of which there were many, were forgiven without a thought for revenge. This forgiving included even the horrible atrocities that were committed against his own beloved uncle who had been ripped apart alive, and mutilated, and his liver ripped out and chewed on as a gesture of his enemies having power over him. Mohammed is said not to have raised his hand when vengeance was put before him as an option, but had proclaimed, 'I trample under my feet all what divides man and man, and the hatred between man and man.'
"To Mohammed, Allah included the principle of universal brotherhood and the equality of all mankind," said Jamal. "Without that, the concept of Allah as universal Principle would have had no meaning."
"We need to get back to that sense of humility and humanity," I interjected.
"Oh, have you changed your opinion about Islam?" said Jamal to me. "If this is so, hijab is no longer a trivial relic then, of an irrelevant antiquity, but represents a universal principle that is rooted in our heart as human beings. You are not excluded from that. No one is excluded from universal principles and their manifestation in human living. I regard what you said as evidence of your own unfolding love for Allah as the Principle of the Universe and of your own being, something that you want to discover further, scientifically. What else would have caused you to say that we need to get back to that? You find value in something great, something that is greater than the 'small' concept of oneself. It is something that once changed the course of mankind and the shape of its history."
"Did you know that the great prophet, Mohammed, had said the very same thing that you have said?" said Mohja to me before I could reply. "The ravishing of Rome had dragged civilization to such a low level that Mohammed appears to have recognized that mankind simply cannot go on like that. He also recognized that there was no need to do so."
"Mohammed appears to have responded as a human being to the ever-darkening civilizational crisis that Rome had set in motion. He responded by drawing together into a single visual construct all the universal principles of the universe and our humanity that he knew," said Jamal. "That is how his discovery began."
"I know somebody, a woman who had experienced such a process," I said to Jamal. "She beheld a profound visual construct in responding to a need for healing, the healing of a friend. It appeared to her as though she was taken by the hand and was shown what is real about the dynamics of the human world. With that the needed healing happened by the power that she beheld. It may well be possible that Mohammed was 'shown' the same sort of thing in his mind in a different context, which may have brought to light profound aspects of truth that he had never been consciously aware of before. He may have literally experienced 'God' unfolding before him as infinite Mind in which is rooted the power and the order of the universe. Obviously, Mohammed stood in awe before this All-embracing reality beholding its majesty, just as my friend Helen stood in awe before what she saw as the reality of our being. In this context I can recognize Mohammed is a prophet," I said to Jamal. "He was a prophet in the sense that he was a pioneer who recognized the power and majesty of universal Principle before anyone else had, suggesting as he did, that the unfolding human understanding that he had become a part of would inevitably be universal. So, as a prophet, he recognized as it were a dawning in consciousness, what is inevitable for the whole of human society to embrace and to come to terms with. Am I right? It appears to me that he beheld the reality in which the future of humanity is rooted, without which humanity is in grave danger and has no hope, as was well demonstrated in the days of Rome."
"Or as may be demonstrated in the fast approaching days of the impending Ice Age that the world's honest scientists are expecting soon, maybe in a hundred years," added Jamal. "Mohammed was a prophet therefore, in the sense of being a scientific pioneer that paved the way for us to come out of our shell of small-minded thinking."
"What are you talking about?" Astrid interrupted Jamal. "The whole world is talking about global warming and you are worried about a coming Ice Age?"
Jamal just laughed. "Global warming is a fairy tale my dear. It's designed to entertain children. The IPCC is worried about a manmade global temperature rise of two-tens of a degree over the next hundred years. The planet experienced a ten times larger warming 6000 years ago, and this completely without industrial pollutants. The much warmer climate didn't cause a catastrophe either. To the contrary, it put mankind on the map by enabling the great agricultural revolution that caused the development of civilization. The warming that the Earth had been experiencing historically, and is experiencing a little again today, was all caused by solar variances, as was the Little Ice Age in more recent times between the 14th and 18th Century. My dad, who is presently teaching in Baghdad, is in touch with a Polish fellow, Jaworowski by name, who has excavated ice samples out of seventeen glaciers on six continents for almost fifty years. The evidence that he finds supports what is general known about the Ice Age cycles, namely that Ice Age conditions are normal for our planet but are interrupted every 100,000 years by warm periods, like the one we are in now, which is about to end.
"The evidence that Jaworowski sees," said Jamal, "is that the Earth is a greenhouse, which is 97% to 98% caused by water vapor and only 2% to 3% by CO2. That is the reality that he sees, not the 75% for water, and 25% for CO2, which the IPCC is dreaming about. The IPCC fails to consider that the two effects are not additive, but that the water vapor greenhouse effect masks the CO2 greenhouse effect. If the CO2 were to disappear, the greenhouse effect would be reduced by 3%, but if the water vapor were to disappear, the CO2 would become more effective and might maintain the greenhouse at 25% of the present level. The CO2 factor, therefore, becomes important only during an Ice Age when the water vapor effect becomes reduced. In fact the CO2 becomes a dangerous factor during an Ice Age, because in geologic terms the atmospheric CO2 content has been constantly diminishing. It is presently at an all-time low. It is threatening to cause more severe Ice Ages in future, and if the trend is not reversed, it might cause in the far future the complete freeze-up of the entire planet. That's what a Russian fellow by the name of Budyko is warning about. By this factor you can tell the real scientist that tell the truth, apart from the riffraff."
"Aren't we facing a global warming crisis instead of an Ice Age crisis?" said Astrid, interrupting Jamal. "Everybody is worried because of the vast increases in CO2 levels since the industrial age began?"
"Jaworowski laughs at this nonsense," said Jamal. "The vast increases don't exist. They are imagined by the false interpretation of the ice core data. People see what they want to see. Sometimes they see a ghost, and think it's real, and so they lie to themselves. Sure, there has been an increase in the CO2 levels since the beginning of the industrial age, but far less than one would wish to see, certainly far less than would be needed to soften the severity of the coming Ice Age. Of course, every bit helps. The minute manmade increase in greenhouse gases during the Industrial Age might help us a tiny bit during the Ice Age, but not enough to make up for the existing deficiency. Budyko suggests we should be burning all the fossil fuels that we can lay our hands on, and not only to soften the coming Ice Age, but also to give the biosphere a boost, which thrives on CO2, which is presently at near starvation levels. Jaworowski points out that the present global warming began 300 years ago with the reversal of the last Little Ice Age. This happened long before the age the automobile and large-scale power plants and industrial production. And even now we are only half way back to the warm climate we had before. Mankind didn't cause that warming that got us out of the Little Ice Age, the universe did this, just as the universe caused the Little Ice age and is causing all the big Ice Ages and the exceptional warm periods in-between. The changing climate of the Earth is a function of major variances in solar cycles and galactic events that affect the water vapor content of the Earth's atmosphere."
"That sounds like science fiction to me," Astrid interrupted Jamal.
"It makes perfects sense to me," said Jamal. "The water vapor content in the atmosphere varies with cloud formation. The cloud formation in turn varies with the intensity of the cosmic radiation that ionizes the troposphere. The cosmic radiation, in turn, is effected by periodic changes in solar activity that is reflected in variances in the Sun's magnetic storms and solar winds that deflect some of the cosmic radiation away from earth. That gives us fewer clouds, resulting in our warm climates. We don't know precisely what causes the periods of large solar flair-ups that pull the Earth out of its Ice Age deep-freeze for 10,000 years every 100,000 year period, we only know that these cycles happen because we see the evidence of it. We also know, for instance, that during the Little Ice Age a few hundred years ago the solar activity was quite different for a while. There were fewer sunspots observed. For example, only 50 sunspots were observed during the Little Ice Age period, compared to the 50,000 we see today. As I said, we really don't know what precisely causes these variances, including the larger ones that get us in and out of the full Ice Age conditions. We only know that these cycles happen and will change the climate as they have during the last million years. We also know that these cycles happened, and since we can't change them, that they will continue and cause another Ice Age soon with dramatically colder global temperatures."
"We also don't know precisely what effect this will have on our global food production," Mohja interjected. "We can assume however that the Ice Age effect on food production will likely be huge. A big global cooling, especially if it is made more severe by the declining trend in CO2 levels in geologic terms, might easily wipe out ninety percent of the present agriculture. Our global agriculture is based on warm climatic conditions. That's the only condition that mankind has known for the last 10,000 years. It might be possible perhaps, for the tropics to be transformed from a jungle to become the breadbasket of the world in an effort to recover at least some of the lost capacity. But it still wouldn't be enough to feed five billion people. So it all adds up to the need for an enormous technological preparation in upgrading our world to give us the capacity to put the present agriculture into indoor facilities where it can be protected from the low temperatures to come."
"Indoors agriculture can never be big enough to feed the world," Astrid interrupted again. "I've seen the American grain belt stretching from Canada all the way south into the USA. We flew for hours over fields, stretched out as wide as the horizon. And that was seen from the air!"
"I didn't say it would be a small effort," said Jamal. "I said it is possible to do that. I expect yields to increase thirty-fold, maybe fifty fold, when all factors are optimized in indoor agriculture. Right now we don't even know what the most ideal growing conditions are in terms temperature, air composition, CO2 concentration, light intensity, light cycles, light color composition, moisture content in the air, the complexity of soil composition, or even the bacteriological composition in the soil, or soil temperature, soil moisture, and many other things. The fact is, we virtually don't know anything about real agriculture. The real agricultural revolution hasn't even begun. I would say we are still walking in our baby shoes. We might get ten or twenty harvests in a year for some crops under optimized conditions. We might even supplement the botanical processes with bacteriological engineering to vastly increase the nutritious content of the foods gown. Right now we drown our fields with fertilizers to increase the tonnage, while we kill the bacteriological processes in the soil that produce folic acid that is essential for making minerals soluble and useful by plants and for human digestion. Modern agriculture has made our foods nutritionally 'hollow.' We've been racing backwards. We've been starving society with plentiful food. Optimized agriculture based on scientific processes can take us fifty steps ahead and produce highly nutritious foods that actually taste like they're supposed to taste. We might even be able to develop brand new crop species in the super-optimized environments, which will likely be even more efficient. In a very real way, that kind of dramatic increase in humanist energy that I am talking about, by means of technology, can revolutionize the productive power of the botanical world beyond anything we have seen in the prehistoric periods when steaming jungles supported hordes of gigantic voracious eating machines that we now stand in awe before in the museums. With advanced scientific engineering well be able to out-produce any of the biologically most productive periods in the planet's history. Certainly we would out-produce our present puny efforts in outdoors agriculture, possibly as much as 10,000 fold per acre of land area, utilizing multistory facilities."
"Technology then becomes our firewall that keeps the biological fire intensely burning when the Ice Age climate would quench the 'flame,'" added Mohja.
"It's that simple in principle," said Jamal and laughed. "Technologically it is totally possible to put all of the world's food production indoors. It may take a hundred years of intense effort to do it, but it can be done. We may have to build agricultural development labs that are fifty times the size of an Olympic stadium to discover the optimized processes, but it can be done."
"So why haven't we started?" I asked.
"Well, we haven't been able to tackle the biggest challenge yet," said Jamal, "which involves transforming mankind from a universally divided and isolated society, mired in greed, hate, fear, indifference, fascism, and gross inhumanities, as we have them today, into a globally developing coherent society, empowered by the Principle of Universal Love. The challenge to get there from where we are today is probably as huge as the challenge that Mohammed faced in the post-Roman period of utter barbarism. He faced the challenge to recreate a human society and a world in which people have a future. And he was highly successful in meeting this challenge. What he achieved towards this end created such a huge scientific renaissance in humanist terms that its echo uplifted Europe in its darkest hours. It created two major cycles of renaissance in Europe, which in turn gave rise to the USA as the beacon of hope and the bastion of liberty for mankind."
"While most of these long-term historic achievements have been destroyed again," said Mohja, "the demonstrated principles behind the achievements remain. That is why Jamal and I are digging deep into our history, the history of Islam, and into what stood behind it, as a starting point for creating the biggest renaissance ever, in which the Ice Age will not even be an inconvenience when it begins."
"We truly have the capacity as human beings to cause this to happen," said Jamal. "We also have the capacity to uplift ourselves to empower us to do this. That may add up to a huge challenge, considering the mess the world is in today. But so what? If Islam once met this type of challenge and created a whole New World, then we can do this again. We can do this, even though the challenge that Mohammed faced was miniscule in absolute terms in comparison with what must be accomplished presently and in a very short time. But we can do this, because the process and the principles are the same then those that Mohammed discovered and utilized."
Mohja raised her hand and interrupted Jamal. "We are facing nothing less than the challenge of turning a multiply divided world with the deepest divisions that ever existed, into a globally cooperative and mutually supportive world. That's like turning night into day. That means reversing all the deep divisions that are presently magnified and duplicated in countless ways and in countless spheres of people's petty little self-interests, where total disregard rules for the survival of civilization and mankind as a whole. For getting ourselves out of this trap we have to question everything that we believe in for its validity in terms of validated scientific principles," said Mohja. "Islam comes to light as a powerful foundation in this process. It may once again save mankind from its deepest abyss and uplift it sufficiently high in its scientific self-discovery as human beings that an Ice Age Renaissance may be created. If we achieve that, it will uplift mankind to such a degree of advancement that it may never collapse into its ancient trap of imperialism again.
"Do you have any idea what vast implications are intertwined with what you have just laid on the table?" I said to Jamal. "You just said that Islam is bound to be the Final Renaissance."
"No, that's not what I said," said Jamal. "I merely suggested that Islam is our pathway out of religion, and out of imperialism and dogmatism, which are all the same in essence, and becomes a pathway to the higher scientific recognition of the Truth. Of course Islam itself will have to be rescued from the same trap. The name of Islam may indeed vanish in this process while its renaissance principles and its foundation in scientific and spiritual development will come to the foreground to be further developed, perhaps even without a specific name attached."
Jamal paused at this point and smiled. "Islam is Science!" he continued emphatically. "There exists only one Science. This Science may have countless different expressions, but there is only one Science possible, because there is only one Truth. In Christianity, Science has been given the name, Christ. Mohammed has called it Islam. Science opens an approach to the Truth in which we discover ourselves as sublime human beings. Mohammed put before humanity a concept of God that is universal Principle, that is Truth, Life, Love, and is our universal human Soul. No one has presented a greater concept of God. Most religions trend towards an eventual merging at this universal perception, except perhaps Hinduism that appears not to be a religion in the standard sense, but appears to have been created from the ground up as a politicized mythology designed for imperial population control through depopulation. Hinduism appears to be the opposite to Science, and thereby to the scientific development of the self-discovery of mankind in which we discover ourselves as the most advanced species of life in the known universe."
"Islam puts Science forward as a progressive construct that uplifts mankind into the lateral universe of truth where hierarchical concepts have no place," said Mohja. "No one has yet superceded this profound perception of Science. Mohammed pulled it all together and said of the one Truth, which mankind is in the process of discovering in its own self, reflected in its own being, saying, 'this is it, stand in awe before it as I do!'"
"Mohammed called the discovered universal Truth, simply, 'All' or 'Allah.' The name, Allah, then represents the combined process of a profound scientific recognition, and of the inevitable awe that comes with that recognition in the form an understanding of it. That brings together the All and the awe. And that, I truly recognize as a scientist, to be the inevitable outcome of human development."
"Mohammed was evidently a greater prophet than anyone in that respect," said Mohja. "He was probably the last in the line of the old prophets, since the absolute and its inevitable recognition by society, cannot be superceded."
"We can only find ourselves standing side by side with it," I interjected. "But is this really the universal perception of Islam today?"
Jamal shook his head. "This is my perception. This is the highest and truest perception of Islam that I can perceive. I am not a spokesman for other people and for what they perceive."
Mohja nodded at this point. "The recognition that I see unfolding before me can only become clearer universally from this point forward," she said. "It becomes clearer as we begin to discover what Mohammed has put on the plate of humanity. It doesn't really matter how far distant people place themselves from the universal Truth of which there is but one. In the progressive environment of Science, regardless of the many names by which Science is referred to, mankind will converge inevitably at the one Truth and find it imbedded in our humanity and reflected in our universal human Soul."
"To me, Islam is the scientific extension of Christianity," said Jamal. "Islam is Christianity's scientific name. There may be other names added in the future that give it a clearer identity. And some day we will surely drop all the different names and call Science for what it is; the gateway to the Truth. I can also recognize that Islam is already unfolding towards that point with the continuing development of a rigorous scientific structure in perceiving our humanity, moving towards the healing of mankind. While other names and other forms of Science may emerge, and other processes of Renaissance may unfold, they can only reflect what has already been recognized in essence as universal Principle, unfolding presently as Allah."
"Allah means to me not just universal Principle, and so forth," said Mohja. "Allah includes for me also our understanding and acknowledgement of universal Principle in universal Science. I like to see Science as a universal lateral concept that no human being is distant from. Ideally, this universal concept can have no name that would 'isolate' it. Thus, for me, I find Science included in the one name that represents All names, which is not really a name, but is simply Allah, a process of touching the Truth. In this process we can all stand in awe before our humanity and one-another and the principles we represent."
"Maybe that is what love is," I interjected. "Through universal Science our understanding and acknowledgement of universal Principle brightens our life as nothing else can. Thus we stand in awe before the Truth that we represent in our recognition of the boundless nature of our universe and ourselves as human beings."
"Do you really believe all of that?" said Astrid to me.
"I do believe that," said Jamal in my stead. "It all fits together and makes sense, doesn't it? Mohammed has put that kind of scientific perception on the table and created a new civilization on this foundation to start the process, but he didn't close the door to its infinite unfolding."
I nodded in agreement. "It seems then that what Mohammed did was absolutely necessary in his time, in order to rescue humanity from a great civilizational crisis," I interjected.
"Astrid suggested that it was a beginning with an open door to Science and progress. What else would prevent the tragedy from being repeated in our world, like the one that Rome had once dragged humanity into?"
"You don't know how right you are," said Jamal. "Mohammed was born a hundred years after the fall of the Roman Empire that had destroyed civilization so deeply that there was no respect left for the human being, and much less for women. Under Roman rule, Greece, the cultural pearl of the Old World had been so severely trashed that its population had been reduced in numbers to fifteen percent of what it had been before Greece became Romanized. Other areas suffered similar losses. But the madness didn't stop when Rome collapsed. The degrading momentum continued so that conditions became still worse. With that the dark ages began, which dragged on for almost a thousand years in Europe. The dark ages might never have ended had the Islamic Renaissance not been created by Mohammed, which many centuries later provided the cultural foundation for the Golden Renaissance in Europe when the dark-age collapse was at its worst there. The brightness of the Islamic Renaissance had pulled Europe out of its darkest mess. It brought Plato back into Europe and with it a scientific foundation for a new Christianity. That became the Golden Renaissance."
"Mohammed did the same in the Arab world. Except he began it from a standing start," said Mohja. "He had nothing to fall back to except what was rooted in his own nature as a human being in a process of the scientific discovery of it. In real terms he tapped into the reality of his being and all being. It appears that when the post-Roman mess had become intolerable, Mohammed became aware that a radical shift was absolutely necessary and was possible and inevitable. His trending towards this shift may have been ongoing in the background for many years until it culminated into the profound discovery when he was forty years old, which changed the world. The principles that he discovered, and later laid down in the Koran, created a new civilization throughout much of the Old World. It became a civilization founded on Mohammed's Allah concept of the self-revealing Principle and Truth. Out of that emerged the Islamic Renaissance, a scientific renaissance. It created a New World and is still creating it. But Mohammed started it all."
"Mohammed grew up as an orphan," said Jamal. "His life began at the bottom-level in a harsh world. However, he became soon recognized as a man of great integrity. He became the trusted master of a caravan. Eventually he married the woman who owned the caravan, by which he became a businessman as well. He may have been driven by the need to build a richer civilization for his children and for all children. He may have wanted to create a future worth living for. Being a resourceful man, he simple created it. It may have been his love for the children, in whom he saw his own humanity reflected, that may have impelled him to create a world in which they have a future, and in which his immortality as human being was reflected and assured in concrete terms."
"It may likewise be our own love for our children," said Mohja, "becoming a force in the modern world, as we seen in them our own humanity reflected that will prompt us to upgrade our world so radically that the coming Ice Age will have no effect on them. It may be our love for our children, once again, that will save civilization and protect mankind."
"We face the need to achieve the greatest transformation in society that has ever occurred in human history," Jamal continued, "and the need to do it quickly, so that we will complete the hundred years development cycle throughout the world before the Ice Age starts, which may only be 150 years away at the very most. Our love for our children may be what empowers us to do this, and to see the project through to save mankind and civilization from a doom worse than anything we have seen before. If we were to fail in that, the consequences would give fascism a benign in comparison to what we might see when food begins to run out across the world. Nine-tens of mankind might be doomed by the loss of global food production if we fail to upgrade our world by utilizing the physical resources that we still have today."
"I think we will do everything that is needed, and more," said Mohja. "It is being said the Allah dictated the Koran to Mohammed. That's how science developed that has no limits. This 'dictation' in which the Koran was received is not possible in the literal sense, of course, since the kind of Allah that Mohammed recognized has no physical form or voice, or gender, but unfolds as a voice in the Mind. That is also how Allah is unfolding to us today to enable us to continue to uplift civilization with the resources of the limitless Mind that unfolds in mankind. During the Islamic Renaissance the forward moving kind of scientific discovery process, that Mohammed had started, continued on. Now we are forced to move further still. In the olden days Islam became the center for a broad range of scientific and spiritual development. The process continued for eight hundred years unabated. It still continues today to some degree and may flair up again into an Ice Age Renaissance, breaking limits that we haven't even perceived yet."
"When Baghdad became the capital of the world in the early period of the scientific development of Islam," said Mohja, "the works of Plato and many other works of the Greek Classical Era were translated and kept alive. Apparently Plato's method for scientific discovery had a great influence on the Islamic Renaissance and may yet again become the root of the continuing process of mankind's self-discovery for a modern Ice Age Renaissance that I expect will unfold.
"The 'living Plato' was the foundation that Islam brought to Europe," said Jamal. "It happened at a time of Europe's greatest need during the twin crisis of its devastating financial collapse in 1345 and the black death plaque that resulted from it two years later that wiped out half of the population of Europe. In the ever-deepening shadow of this horrendous crisis Islam gave Europe a new start on living, a foundation for living as human beings. That is how Plato came back to Europe. On that foundation the Golden Renaissance emerged. It literally came out of Baghdad, and one never knows, Baghdad may yet become the cradle again for another New World, in this case for the soon to be emerging Ice Age Renaissance."
Jamal turned to me and began to laugh. "That historic development makes Mecca, Median, and Baghdad the cradle of the USA and the cradle for our future. Did you know that? Without the Renaissance there would have been no USA, and without that, we might not have enough of a foundation to built ourselves up to meet the Ice Age requirements when much our agriculture will have to be carried on in protected and enriched indoor environments on a scale that no one can yet imagine."
"I hope you realize now what a huge potential we have as human beings," said Mohja to Astrid, "and how the world can change once we begin to develop that potential. We are spiritual beings on a journey through a material world. We are endowed with the power to transform this world and to uplift it. That makes us unique. That gives the dynamics of human life a unique quality. The animal world doesn't have that unique power. Many animal species become wiped out in the Ice Age for the lack of protection, unless we protect them with our life-preserving technologies. You weren't aware of any of that, were you?"
Astrid shook her head.
"Baghdad really was the scientific center of the world prior to the Renaissance in Europe," said Mohja, looking at me. "Baghdad still is the intellectual center for the Muslim world. Whoever is seeking a scientific education in the Muslim world will go to Baghdad. That's only natural, because Science is our link to Allah, and Baghdad is the historic center of both. It is our link to universal Principle reflected in the human being and the universe. Unfortunately a lot of the old tradition has become lost. Even hijab is fast disappearing, while its principle remains valid on a higher level."
"Are you sure that its principle remains valid?" I said to Mohja. "Has its principle not been overlaid with a religious type of imperialism? For many a woman Islam has become a trap. It begins with hijab that encourages a woman's self-isolation. It then prepares her for the still deeper isolation that follows in marriage, which is mandatory in Islam, where it then becomes her mandated role to perform the function of a sex-slave and household servant. Her husband's happiness becomes her personal responsibility under the Islamic marriage doctrine. What I see happening here is miles distant from the ideal that you said Mohammed had represented when he said in essence that I, meaning Islam, trample on everything that divides human beings from one-another."
"Look at your Christian world," said Jamal quietly in answering for Mohja. "You find the same regressing process happening in Christianity."
"That doesn't excuse anything," I replied in the same quiet tone. "Islam presents itself as the scientific extension of Christianity. It should set its stage on higher ground. If Allah represents the acknowledgement of the profound universal principles of our humanity, which we truly stand in awe before, then hijab has to symbolize the freedom, dignity, and universal worth of the human being, rather than symbolizing a dead end trap."
Jamal hugged Mohja as if to protect her from a sudden attack.
"I have raised the question of hijab," said Astrid, "because my friend from America appears to seek some sort of sexual contact with me. I see hijab as a warning to me, not to go down this road, but to be happy just by being in love with myself."
Jamal answered with a faint smile. "Be careful with that! You may be heading in the wrong direction. Mohja and I regard hijab as a spiritual platform. We respect hijab for that. We aim to uplift it onto a higher platform whereby the moral principles that society finds difficult to deal with, become raised up to ever-greater conformity with what is real about our humanity. The Islamic Renaissance has been a renaissance of scientific progress. Right now, true scientific and spiritual progress is regarded the enemy of mankind. Every empire in history has been at war with mankind's love for scientific and spiritual progress. Islam has been especially targeted in that war. It has been given a harsh imperialistic and unyielding fundamentalist face. Mohja and I, and a small circle of friends are trying to restore the scientific renaissance-potential of Islam. This means restoring hijab onto a platform of a beautiful spiritual principle by which it represents the opposite of self-isolation."
"The opposite of self-isolation? Tell me, what protects the fire from the water?" Astrid interrupted, speaking to me, as if she wanted to change the focus to justify her self-isolation.
"What protects the fire from the water?" Mohja repeated. She paused. "You mean a special kind of firewall that keeps the water out and the fire in?" she said moments later. "You want a firewall that protects the fire? If you were equating the fire with passion for sex, the passion for being alive with a joy that radiates from experiencing the riches of our humanity, then I would say hijab is the answer that you seek. It protects the fire within. To me, hijab is that firewall that protects the fire of the passion for being alive from the floods that would drown it. As far as I am concerned, hijab fulfills that role. It truly is a gift from Allah, because without it that fire would be drowned for sure as it largely has been downed throughout the world by imperial cultural warfare. Just open your eyes and look around you. There is no passion left for being alive, in people's life."
"I see lots of passion in the world for sex," Astrid interrupted Mohja.
"I think you are mistaken," said Mohja and smiled. "What you call passion is likely darkness. Too much of the fire has been drowned. There's no firewall left standing to protect it, which I can see. The firewall that protects the fire of living as a human being, is love? How much of it do you see? I see greed, hate, rape, fascism, slavery, killing, exploitation, abuse, jealousy, and so on. The firewall is love, but I see little of it. And without the firewall, without love protecting the fire, the fire dies. It becomes quenched. Hijab is that firewall that will keep it from being quenched. Hijab is universal love."
"Universal love?" I repeated. "Are you prepared to go as far as to say that this fire of passion for life, protected by universal love, includes a passion for sex, even sex across the marriage boundary, which Islam strictly forbids?" I said to Mohja.
"Islam forbids nothing," said Jamal to me in her stead. "Islam enables. It does not disable. We ourselves do the disabling. As Mohja said, the determining factor in keeping the fire alive is love, nothing else. Love is the critical sphere. Sex outside the sphere of love is not passion for life. It is a dead thing that affords nothing, like a quenched fire affords neither warmth nor light. Outside the sphere of love there is no fire possible. Such a fire that would be started there is instantly quenched. Nothing is protected there. It doesn't matter therefore under what umbrella sex happens, within or without marriage. The determining factor isn't marriage. The determining factor is love. And the determining factor for love is the great renaissance principle, the Principle of the Advantage of the Other. That principle comes to light at the sublime level of the self-discovery of our humanity. It is linked to the principle of the universal marriage of mankind as human beings. In that universal marriage the fire is protected, because universal love is sublime, whereby the fire is unquenchable. At the lower levels the fire is at risk, with our without our marriage in the small domain. If the fire is quenched, regardless under which umbrella this happens, the sexual scene is dead. Pornography represents a quenched fire, with or without marriage, and so does sex that has become drowned with lust and countless forms of rape or rage or emptiness. Hijab protects us from all of that. Hijab keeps the fire alive and burning brightly by keeping it in the sublime domain protected by love and its focus on the Principle of the Advantage of the Other.
"We need to have many such protected fires burning in the modern world in order to radically develop the passion for life around the globe that empowers us to create an Ice Age Renaissance," said Mohja. "We need that fire in order that life will not fizz out into nothing for the lack of food resulting from a lack of universal love. Right now I can see no fires lighting up the horizon. I see a scene that is so dead that an Ice Age Renaissance appears totally impossible. I see no passion left for life anywhere, with a few exceptions. The whole world appears to have been drowned in greed, hate, envy, pitiful smallness, or appears to be asleep in dreams of mythologies where nothing is real. There are no fires in abundance that can power the kind of vast renaissance development that puts agriculture indoors and protects it in a nuclear fusion powered world, bright with material abundance so that the Ice Age can cause us no harm."
"If the fires of passion for life and for our humanity remain drowned out," said Mohja, "then nine-tens of mankind is doomed to die when the Ice Age begins. Without love, which keeps the fire of passion for life burning, mankind is doomed. But this development has to start now. Without hijab there won't be an Ice Age Renaissance possible. Without love as a passion for life that comes to light as a profound love for our children, nothing empowers us to create the Ice Age Renaissance in which that love will continue to burn brightly and be maintained forever. The critical factor isn't in which arena the passion for life and for our humanity unfolds, whether it be within or without marriage, but that it unfolds and keeps burning brightly in countless different ways, and in the process kindles many more fires everywhere."
Astrid seemed astonished. "If you say that, then you say that we have no hope," she said to Mohja. "You suggested that the fire has already been quenched all around the world."
"It appears to have been quenched in all areas but one," said Mohja, "and I think this one factor will pull us through and turn the tide in the world. This factor, as I already said, is our love for our children. Without that love we would say, who cares what happens in a hundred years from now? Who cares what happens to future generations? Let them freeze and starve to death. I hear no one saying this, because whether we are conscious of it or not, we have a vested interest in the survival of our children and the long-term survival of mankind. I think this happens, because we see in our children an echo of ourselves, of our own humanity reflected. Our careless allowing for this to be blown away with the wind is paramount to self-denial. Therefore we keep the 'fire' of our humanity alive with a passion, which in this case is a passion for our immortality. Our passion for immortality, reflected in our love for our children may be our greatest assets for protecting civilization and the existence of mankind. That is why I am certain that we will create the Ice Age Renaissance, and it will be powered by all kinds of fires of passion that will be lit along the way, enabled by scientific development. All these fires will be lit because Science forbids nothing that is rooted on the Truth and enables its unfolding."
"To me, Islam means Science, and as Mohja has already said, Science forbids nothing that is rooted in the truth that reflects our humanity," said Jamal. "In fact, the universal principles that we discover in science cause one to move in a certain direction, like discovering great beauty, strength, value, power, and peace rooted in the heart of every human being. Moving in this direction becomes a 'devotion' to an active principle that closes the door to us moving in the opposite direction where the fire becomes drowned. Obvious one cannot move into two opposite directions as the same time. If scientific and spiritual progress move together and cause one to discover more and more of the value and the beauty of the human being, then in the fire of passion for human life inhuman pursuits, like killing, stealing, creating poverty, hate, envy, etc, become impossible."
"If we look at hijab, the Islamic scarf of a woman from this standpoint, " said Mohja, "then hijab no longer represents the closed door of self-isolation and subsequent institutional marriage isolation that is presently unfolding in general practice. Instead hijab represents to us a commitment to close the door to everything that lies in the opposite direction from what the universal All is, which Allah represents, manifest in the fire of the passion for life that puts us in awe before what love protects and enables to be. That spiritual hijab, thus closes the door fully to what dishonors the human being, and what is degrading, oppressive, and enslaving; or things much worse, like violence, rage, rape, injury, even murder. It also closes the door to the soft things that dishonor, such a jealousy, envy, neglect, disloyalty, and so forth. But it never closes the door to what we are as human beings and our joy of being alive and what we are developing in the fire of our humanity, including sex. And so, the fire of sexual passion is good, as it draws us together universally if we allow it to be and protect it with love."
"I suppose that is true," said Astrid. "However, the same water that drowns the fire also nourishes all life."
"Yes, yes, but the water needs to stand side by side with the fire and not drown it," said Jamal. "Love needs to be the firewall, the protector of both the fire of passion and the water that satisfies."
Mohja hugged Jamal as she said this. "The bottom line is, that we both regard hijab as a commitment to honoring one-another and all human beings to such a degree that we stand before the Principle of Universal Love with the same awe as we stand before Allah. If we do this I see no reason why this active honoring should not extend beyond the marriage space and embrace humanity universally. Shouldn't the sphere of love be expanded to encircle all human beings? Shouldn't the fire, which love protects, put us in awe of life itself and all life as Allah implies? If this active honoring includes honoring one-another as sexual human beings, which we are, then sexual contacts will naturally be included in the fire of life or else we become hypocrites. In fact they must be included as a demand on us to assure that nothing enters this sensitive arena that is in anyway degrading and might in the slightest manner mar the face of the human being as the supreme being in the universe."
"Behind the closed bedroom door of the conventional word the demand for this kind of sensitivity does not exist," said Jamal. "With the bedroom door open, however, it becomes a paramount necessity that we demand the utmost of honesty with ourselves, never to violate our highest perception of the human being in any way or form. This higher-level demand for the utmost in sensitivity tends to upgrade the whole sexual scene everywhere. It tends to remove all the elements that are not honestly justifiable between human beings and serve the advantage of the other."
He turned to Mohja. "Our personal experience has been, of Mohja and I, that the focus of the fire becomes increasingly shifted away from the physical sexual domain into the mental and spiritual domain that may on occasions have a physical component to some degree. On this path our relationships towards one-another as human beings can never again drop down to the level where people allow an orgy of lust, rape, or other forms of exploitation to happen," said Jamal. "It simply won't be possible, because what one finds in that low-level sewer simply doesn't measure up to what can be attained at the higher level where sex is not dirty, but comes to light as something gently human and beautiful. That's like leaving the ox cart behind in the pages of history, for the automobile. Of course, there are huge challenges involved in getting to this point. To Mohja and I, hijab represents a commitment to master the challenges. It also reminds us of the unproductive road that we leave behind, and the tragedy that pervades the entire imperial world in all its aspects that darkens civilization with countless forms of its old-world traditions of domination."
"Almost all of the world's religions spin a web around sex to regulate it, and to regulate society with it," said Mohja. "In Judaism, the great tribal religion that goes back in time the biblical sons of Jacob, sex is kept forcefully within marriage boundary. However, within this boundary the unconditional availability of sex is guaranteed under the weight of law. The law of Judaism attributes the highest degree of respect for woman that we have seen throughout the ages. It gives a woman the right to hold property and to conduct business. However, under that law a husband is required to provide sex as requested by his woman, almost on demand. By this kind of compromise the human need is met to some degree, almost ideally so, so it seems. However this demanded fulfillment comes without any guarantee that a fire of passion for life will be lit and lighten the sky out of the riches of our humanity. To the contrary, this forced setting comes at the horrendous cost of universal isolation and subjection to ritualized regulations. My point is that we are human beings and don't have to stop at a compromise stage if we can step up to higher ground and move beyond it and take sex up with us to this higher ground. Basic psychology tells us that sex and love are not essentially the same thing unless love gives a higher meaning to sex, which in turn enriches the dimensions of love. This mutually uplifting process is much more demanding, of course. Its vastly greater challenge appears to be acknowledged in Buddhism where the focus is no longer on barriers but on compassion, opening the gates to love. Judaism also contains a faint element of compassion, as it counsels that sex should only be experienced in times of joy. However, I see us going still farther with that by combining sex, joy, and love, and uplifting all three to the level of universal Principle? Shouldn't this achievement be the greatest guarantor for the rights of any human being? Wouldn't it cause each human being, men and woman alike, to be cherished in its fullest universality, acknowledging mankind as the brightest stars in the universe that we stand in awe before?"
"We find in Hinduism some daring attempts to raise sex to a higher level," said Mohja. "We find some attempts there to acknowledge that sex is one of the most deeply rooted elements in the human experience and is something greater than just a pleasurable experience. Some attempts had been made to give it a spiritual dimension that I find inspiring, though it's inadequate as there is too much spiritually lacking. For instance, in Hindu the human body is seen as a temple. In the Upanishads an attempt was made to uplift sex into this more precious dimension. A verse from the Upanishads comes to mind that I clearly remember. It says about woman:
Her lap is the sacrificial altar,
"That sounds like veiled pornography to me," I interjected. "I don't think that the truly spiritual and holy can be wrapped up into the small dimension of sex, where sex is the exiting cause. I think that verse from the Upanishads is an insult to sex and to women and men. The 'fire' has to be nourished by love and be protected by it. Love has to be the exiting cause. The renaissance principle of the Advantage of the Other has to power the process. Or else there is nothing there that is alive and uplifts people's existence and the status of civilization. Indeed, we need a sexual renaissance on these sublime terms, and that takes us miles into the opposite direction from what the Upanishads have idealized. What we have in the Upanishads is meant to open the gates of exploitation. Sex can't be meant to be pursued as a game, even a religiously regulated game, such as authorized sex. If it doesn't unfold in the fire of life and uplifts civilization as it unfolds in bonds of love, it profits us nothing for advancing the progressive development of the human dimension where life unfolds beyond merely meeting the human need? Life should be a celebration carried by joy. Sex should have a part in that celebration of life that uplifts everything to where love and joy become combined and set the stage for universal happiness. Sex is most certainly not a sacrificial altar. That verse from the Upanishads defines a woman as a sex slave, doesn't it?"
Mohja just laughed. "Did you expect the Upanishads to uplift the human dimension? Look at the historic cultural quagmire that the Upanishads became a part of, in which the human scene was ruled by imperial brutality and exploitation for three thousand years. What goes for spiritual value all too often idealizes imperial processes of subjugation, or self-subjugation, where lust, domination, rape, injury, neglect, and exploitation rule," said Mohja. "Unfortunately, what the Upanishads describe in that verse reflects very much the scene of our own world today where the fire of love, the Principle of the Advantage of the Other, has been quenched by the waters of greed and lust and power. Hijab shields us from that. Only the imperatives of active universal principles can get us to this higher stage where all those lower aspects fall away and sex becomes transformed from being a sacrificial altar on which humanity is sacrificed in 'holy isolation' and the deepest division that has yet been created. We should celebrate sex as a beautiful human dimension in an atmosphere of joy that reflects it as a valuable part of our humanity that all experience tells us is designed to unite us and bring us closer to one another, even to where we are standing side by side as spiritual beings."
"Occasionally we take a small step in that direction with a smile and a hug, which says I love you, and if we are really lucky manage a kiss," I said to Astrid. "The rest we dream about, because without the renaissance principle, the Principle of the Advantage of the Other, we lack the love that becomes the firewall that keeps the waters out. And so the fire dies, the kisses become rare and the hug a faint expression of what might have been had we built a richer world for ourselves."
"In the wide world of Hinduism we find only a spark towards this end, if that," Jamal agreed. "Hinduism is said to be a way of life that focuses on tolerance. Unfortunately, this tolerance has been terribly abused for countless centuries under the yoke of religionized mythology that trends away from universal principles towards autocratic imperial rule and arbitrary dogmas that once opened the floodgates to the worst inhumanities imaginable. The Hindu religion had been hijacked and destroyed, but it appears to have had a rich core in ancient times before the abuses began."
I raised my hand to interrupt Jamal. "Are you are saying that Hinduism is the total opposite of your Allah recognition where we stand in awe before the majesty of the universal principles that order the universe?"
"It appears that Hinduism smothered what would normally be reflected in our humanity and in the unfolding profundity of the human experience," said Jamal. "Hinduism has become a tool intentionally created for the imperial conquest and domination of society beginning with the Aryan invasion of India around 1500 BC. Its perversion has cut deep into the human heart for over three millennia, casting a shadow so long that it may have blanketed the human Soul around the world. A great deal of healing is evidently needed to remove that blanket. Now the Ice Age is forcing us to get on with that 'healing.' For this we need to develop the Principle of Universal Love, and everything that goes with it. The capacity to do this is our gift from Allah. It turns isolation into an embrace. It makes the healing achievable, and a non-event whenever it happens. As I said before, the path to building an Ice Age Renaissance is not an impossible road, but a beautiful road, straight and easy, leading to an ever-richer world."
Mohja nodded to me. "You should have signed up for the ^Love Beyond Religion^ workshop," she said to me. "Actually the workshop should have been called ^The Incredible Human Experience.^ One of the moderators spoke about the process of combining sex and love as a mutually enriching process in which both aspects become greater, and the end-result becomes greater even than both aspects simply combined."
Mohja told us about the workshop. She compared the process of combining sex and love into joy, and said it is similar to the process of tending a garden that has been neglected, which becomes an unending process of pulling out weeds that shouldn't have rooted there, and of planting roses in their stead. She pointed out that it isn't enough to pull out the weeds, which would leave the garden bare. She added that there are many such 'weeds' on the sexual scene. Pulling out weeds alone does not make a garden great. She told us that one needs to replace them with beautiful things that one wishes to grow up with in life. She looked at Jamal and said that the human garden becomes richer in beauty by this kind of process as new colors are added. She told us that the human garden will then soon 'explode' with a profusion of colors and joy, all created with endless devotion and a great care to bring to light the beauty of the human Soul as all gardens invariably do. She pointed out to us that there are sixteen kinds of flowers in the garden of the Taj Mahal. She said that each represents a facet of the color, the beauty, and the fragrance of love. She also said that the sixteen kinds of flowers do not represent a limit in human unfolding, but rather represent infinity. She told us that the factor four is prominently represented in the design of the Taj Mahal, and she added that in her perception the four elements are love, sex, joy, and beauty. She said that these four elements are deeply rooted in the fabric of our passionate humanity, where they are all needed and need to be cultured, and be cultured together again and again, by which the incredible human experience truly becomes as incredible as it has the potential to be.
I interrupted her, suggesting that she forgot marriage, economics, science, peace, truth, even Allah, as essential elements in the fabric of our humanity.
She just grinned. "They are included," she said, "and it becomes your task to figure out how. In real life they are all intertwined, and many aspects have different meanings in different contexts. That makes our scientific self-development as human beings such a wonderful adventure."
"That might also be the reason why the garden of the Taj Mahal is not a 'closed' garden," said Jamal. "The garden is made up of four groups of four squares, each with four different flowers. Thus, the factor of four is multiply interwoven and represented at different levels, one of which may represent the absolute that we don't know yet, but which we are in the process of discovering. If that stands behind the design of the Taj Mahal, the Taj Mahal is designed to enrich mankind in a scientific dimension, which is really a spiritual dimension, and it is that dimension which satisfies. That's the 'water' that love also protects."
"Did you realize that the Taj Mahal was built during the brief Islamic period of India?" Astrid interjected. "It is therefore one of the many marvels of the forever ongoing Islamic Renaissance."
"That is why it is still a focal point for the self-discovery of countless people," said Jamal. "They bring the riches of their love into it as they come from all the corners of the world to stand in awe before the splendor of the garden and the greatest temple to love ever built. The very shape of the Taj Mahal is the shape of love. It is a monument to beauty, care, and sublimity. It inspires love and represents it, and so it enriches our world. Perhaps it is meant to inspire us to reflect these qualities in all aspects, because without love, sex, joy, and beauty coming together in an ever-higher form as a rich presence in our hearts, our civilization is doomed to collapse and vanish. We seem to be told that these elements need to be cultured to come together as a 'sun' that brightens the universe of our humanity. And that, I think, is what civilization is. It is a brilliant human universe created out of the treasures of our humanity."
"Without that 'sun' that we culture within, we cannot survive," interjected Astrid with a smile that was like a sun itself. "The forces that would unfold without it would destroy us as history has amply shown in the tragedies of the dark times when the sunshine is blotted out and the fire quenched."
"What the Taj might have been built to represent might yet save us from further tragedies," said Mohja. Then she blushed and continued in a more hushed voice. "One participant in the workshop said during one of the many discussion periods that the shape of the dome of the Taj Mahal gives the structure an intensely feminine feel to it. The woman said that the gently swelling form of the great dome was not only unique in architecture, as it was probably difficult to built, but that it also affected her in a powerful sexual kind of way as if it were erotic by design. That woman's comment caused quite a few protests," said Mohja, "but she defended herself. She told the class that since the Taj is widely regarded as a timeless monument to the grace of Indian womanhood, why then shouldn't it reflect elements of feminine sexuality? And indeed, why shouldn't it for any reason? Sex is an element that unites us across status and wealth, across all cultures, religions and all nationalities. Sex was, and still is, valued by kings and beggars alike, by noblemen and slaves, by priests and congregations, and by people of all vocations and colors, on all the continents on Earth. It was evidently even valued by the great Shaw Jehan who had caused the Taj Mahal to be built for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, his most beloved, who has born him fourteen children and then died at childbirth. Sex was no doubt a factor in all of that, although evidently without the needed care and love that might have prevented her untimely death."
"In that sense the Taj Mahal is also a monument to folly," I interjected. "The fire of sexual passion wasn't guarded by love. Maybe there was no love behind the sexual indulgence. Maybe there was not enough there that protects the passion for life from being quenched. Maybe the woman died as a sex-slave. The great renaissance principle, the Principle of the Advantage of the Other, had evidently been missing in the Shaw's marriage. I see no evidence of its existence. I see no evidence of the firewall of love that protected the woman as a person? She probably was abused as a cherished sex object that turned her into a baby factory, which eventually cost her her life. The Taj Mahal might have been built as a monument of repentance by Shaw Jehan and as a warning to mankind not to ignore the great renaissance principle, the Principle of the Advantage of the Other."
"That principle was on the cultural horizon at the time," interjected Jamal. "It unfolding in Europe, and it probably wasn't hidden there as it eventually provided a new foundation for civilization with the Treaty of Westphalia. In historic terms the Taj Mahal was completed within months of the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia that ended eighty years of utter folly in Europe in the form of the Thirty Years War. To my knowledge, the Principle of the Advantage of the Other was never implemented socially anywhere as a principle, especially sexually. Shaw Jehan might have recognized faintly in exploring his tragedy that this essential connection didn't exist in his thoughts. Of course, we'll never know if this was the case. Nor do we need to know. The important question for us is, do we recognize the essential connection today and build our civilization on it, collectively and individually."
"Sex has always been an extremely difficult subject for society to deal with, especially when it became overshadowed by religion," said Jamal. "That is why so many attempts have been made to bottle it up, to contain it, to hide it, to privatize it, to demonize it, to regulate it. Almost all religions try to regulate it and divide it, and isolate society in the flow of it. In Islam the burka and hijab have offered a retreat from this flow, except that led to a passive response which became isolation rather than a response impelled by an active principle that empowered the freedom of movement with complete security. I have been told that many women value the privacy that the burka affords, but I can't help feel sad, as this leads to an empty peace, not the rich peace that comes out of the Principle of the Advantage of the Other. Nevertheless, in spite of all these countless hurdles that have been created, sex has always drawn people together, even across the severest boundaries built by myths, traditions, emotions, guilt, fear, penalties, even the death penalty. The longing for an empty peace in isolation appears inconsistent with this kind of universal response. It doesn't solve the problem. It evades the problem. I think Mohammed would be horrified to see a woman isolated by the burka, and even more so to discover the pitiful small-minded thinking that still divides and isolates the whole of mankind from one-another after all those years. I think he would take the best we have been able to achieve with what he started, such as the Principle of the Advantage of the Other, and add another section to the Koran to explain it. Most likely those verses would contain words that empower the kind of response in people in which sex unfolds as an element of our humanity that unites us as human beings, rather than isolates us. He would likely tell us that we are hypocrites, because we do respond to this principle only secretly as best as we can, even if the principle itself isn't understood. Of course, as an uniting element sex goes against the grain of nearly all religions. The religions all oppose what would erode the hierarchical model on which every religious institution rests. Thus, the priestly trend remains today what it always has been, an urgency to squash whatever unites mankind, if need be with death penalties, or as in the case of Hinduism, with female genocide and 'holy' prostitution."
"Holy prostitution?" Astrid interjected questioningly.
"The Devadasis prostitution in India," answered Jamal. "The Devadasis were temple servants originally, to do the cleaning, teaching, dancing and so forth. There was never any official temple-prostitution, of course. Prostitution was always organized for financial gain, usually by the rich, and all too often the destitute temple servants became dragged into the 'trade' by which the trade was given a noble cover and the victim a horribly degrading stigma. This tends to be the trend in a hierarchical exploitative society. In this sense I see no paradox between female genocide and 'holy' prostitution. They're but different facets of the same thing. The same sort of thing happens with sex in society generally. People want sex, they go to great lengths to get it, but they speak ill of the people that are abused and dragged into this empty process. Terrible names are given to women that become victimized. It appears to me that the further society moves away from the Principle of the Advantage of the Other, the darker becomes the trap that it drifts into. It seems that by trashing sex that way, society defames an element of itself rather than raising its perception of it as a deeply uniting human element."
"Our fascination with sex, if allowed to stand on its own and far apart from these abuses, stands at the same level as love, doesn't it?" said Mohja. "It stands at the same level as our ability to create, our appreciation of beauty, and our capacity to discover principles and truth. Universal sex, if honestly pursued, as we acknowledge our universal humanity, becomes an impetus for sensitivity, honor, respect, reverence, love, and other such spiritual qualities, the kind that unfold into a renaissance within that uplifts all the other aspects as well. How else can we begin to overturn the universal division and self-isolation of mankind that stand in the way of building the Ice Age Renaissance by which the existence of civilization and mankind hang in a balance?"
"Maybe our love for our children, who will depend on this Renaissance for their life, will impel us to resolve our petty divisions," I interjected, "and our empty forms of self-isolation."
"We embrace sex with love and with a sense of beauty," said Mohja, "and we let it unfold with such joy that we become infinitely sensitive not to let an iota of it drop to the ground and be trampled under foot. It becomes for us an impetus, among may others, to discover ourselves to be human as the most capable and creative species of life in the universe."
Mohja turned to Astrid while she was still speaking and pointed a finger at her. "You shouldn't shy away from that," she said, "if a possibility exists to experience our universal humanity that incorporates so much beauty, so many aspects of love, so many reasons for joy, and above all those wonders of sex that defy all divisions we have imposed against it. Rather than trashing it, let us develop it and allow it to unite us with the 'fire' of our human Soul."
Astrid shook her head slightly.
"Why would you want to isolate yourself from that?" said Jamal to Astrid. "There is nothing in self-isolation and self-denial that is elevating our human experience. While self-isolation is deemed moral, it is a poor state. At best, it is but the minimal starting point on the road to higher ground where we touch the hem of progressive development. Self-isolation is putting us all to sleep. That is why it has been cultured for centuries. It nurtures self-denial, the imperial game that robs people of their human Soul and opens the horizon for the imposition of fascism."
When Astrid stopped shaking her head, Jamal continued. "Let me tell you an apparently true historic account of scientific spiritual development," said Jamal to Astrid quietly. Without waiting for an answer he began relating the story.
A respected holy person of Islam appears in Mecca and intends to issue the public call for prayer. He intends to do it in such a profound way that people would never forget it. In order to accomplish it he intertwines the call to prayer with a simple demand on people that requires them to reach for the sublime in a manner that the light of the human Soul enrich everyone's heart.
Jamal stopped and looked at Astrid. "What would you do if you were that holy person, determined to raise everybody's perception of our universal humanity to a higher level?"
Astrid shook her head again.
"Let me tell you what the holy man did," Jamal continued.
In order to accomplish his objective the holy man selects a black person who is also a slave. He asks him to announce the official call to prayer. Now, as if this were not enough of a shock for a snobbish religious society that a black man, who is also a slave, should call them to prayer, the holy man instructs the black slave to make that call to prayer while standing on the roof of the Ka'ba in Mecca, right on top of the most holy shrine in all of Islam. And that is what appears to have really happened.
As expected, a lot of people were horrified that a black slave would stand on top of the most holy shrine of Islam and defile it, and defile the call to prayer as well. To counter their response, the holy man stood before them all and recited a new verse that he later added to the Koran. That verse raised the universal dignity of the human being to a higher level than it had ever been raised before. After everyone had listened to the new verse and heard the message the black man, who was also a slave, was then honored by the people as one of their own.
"With this single act the whole of humanity became redefined and became honored as sisters and brothers," said Jamal. In this manner a New World had been created for them that never existed before. In this New World no one was isolated. All were standing side by side with no distance between them. Now at last the holy man was satisfied that the prayer could begin, because the platform on which one could now stand before Allah with awe and joy had been established. The people had something profound to acknowledge in their prayer, both about themselves and about their raised perception of humanity."
Here Astrid's face lit up with a smile. "Now I know what I would have done, and what should still be done today. I would have done everything the same, except I would have a woman stand on top of the Ka'ba, without a burka, without a veil, and without those dresses that cover her totally to the tip of her toes. Nor would she be dressed in a bikini, but in a manner that extends her beauty as a woman that she is, like any woman would."
"Burying the burka would revolutionize Islam and maybe also the way sex is perceived throughout the world," said Jamal. "Maybe that is what we need, something that can cause the liberation of men," he added and grinned.
"Some day we may loose our sexual isolation in that way," added Mohja. "In fact we will loose all isolation against one-another once this process begins, as we master the sexual isolation that is the most powerful form of isolation right now. This is inevitable, of course. Mohammed prophesied this kind of advance of freedom in embracing the reality of our being as a tall spiritual species. He prophesied that the Principle of Universal Love would bridges all isolation by its own power, politically, religiously, economically, and sexually. He said that he tramples under foot everything that divides mankind from one another. That's an expression of the Principle of Universal Love. This is how an active peace is won in the world," added Mohja.
"I would say that you should move with this process as far as this becomes possible," said Jamal to Astrid. "This, my dear sister is the path we try to follow, Mohja and I. It has been a rich path so far. It is our path towards becoming sensitive to the great principles of the universe. That's the Allah process. It is not a process of self-enslavement to anything, but a process of embracing all the principles of the universe and of our humanity, and of our standing in awe before them. And that is the natural outcome of touching the truth. If you open your door to Allah in this way, along the path of scientific progress, you begin to enter the world of Islam, which to me means, Science. You enter a New World of infinite dimensions; a world that you may have never known to exist; a world in which barriers fall away; a world of kindness, of humanity with humility; a world of joy-bound happiness, of piety and wonder; as we discover ever more of the reality of our being."
"And hijab symbolizes all that?" I interjected.
"I wear it proudly as a gift from Allah," answered Mohja, "because for me it symbolizes no longer a commitment to limits and isolation. It symbolizes to me a commitment to the truth, to the boundless wonders of our humanity that we begin to discover with the Principle of the Advantage of the Other. That's what I want to surround myself with, and proudly so. That is why I wear hijab. Hijab represents light. That is what hijab symbolizes for me. I see myself in it as being clothed with the sun. That is why my hijab is now golden in color. It has been my experience that people who see me in this fashion will not shy away, but join me in the light of the golden hijab. It symbolizes my own Golden Renaissance, as it were. In its light there is no distance remaining between anyone and us, and at times intimately so. That is why I say that hijab is a gift from Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful that gives us in our days what we most hope for and stills our needs before we even recognize them, and brings a healing that unfolds as a non-event."
My response to what Mohja had said was one of awe, indeed. I found myself bowing to her and to Jamal. Or was I bowing to Allah? I also bowed to Astrid who seemed to have glimpsed something of the great profundity and had made a rule for herself not to loosen her hijab until its 'gold' had been made precious enough to become a sun with which she might uplift the world and brighten civilization.
I told Astrid after we had said goodbye to Mohja and Jamal, as we were leaving the coffee shop, that I had already experienced the kind of intimate encounter that Mohja had hinted at as being possible and natural.
"I know you have," she said and smiled.
I shook my head and told her that the encounter I meant had happened in East Germany and that I hadn't understood much of it at the time, except for one aspect, which I understood deeply. I had been fully aware at this time that nothing must be allowed to enter the intimacy that was unfolding, which would mar or cheapen even the slightest aspect of it. I had determined that only that would be allowed, which would enrich one-another so that there would be light and joy in abundance, instead of tensions and darkness. I also told Astrid that I faced a much greater challenge now in retrospect. I said that I faced the challenge to find a way to invite my wife to meet me in the sunshine of that New World. I explained to Astrid that I had welcomed the assignment to come to Russia, hoping that it might serve me as a sanctuary where I might figure things out, while instead the challenge became larger. I told Astrid that the scene became constantly wider, while the door to the Old World that was left behind, moved ever farther out of sight.
I also told Astrid that I was gradually beginning to understand what the Venetian oligarchy must have recognized when the Golden Renaissance overshadowed their existence. "The Renaissance was sweeping across Europe at the time with such a force that the Venetian's must have seen the door to their old imperial way of life, and with it the door to their empire, receding far into the distance. They couldn't allow this Renaissance to go too far. Loosing the Old World had threatened to cut them off from their way of life that had sustained them from the day the empire was built. They acted swiftly therefore, and took hold of the door to the Old World and reopened it. They destroyed the Renaissance by committing themselves to their Old World, and by the same token they started a war against every other Renaissance that ever came along. That is why I must never reopen my own door to the Old World," I said to Astrid, "but must find a way to bring my wife into the New World with me, where there is brightness and peace."
"We all must do this," said Astrid quietly. "We must become so successful in this that no one is ever tempted to reopen the door to the Old World again when a New Renaissance begins to unfold, like the New Islamic Renaissance that our friends from Baghdad appear to be determined to work for. This means that we are in a race now. The race is to create the new and profoundly human environment in the world that prevents Baghdad from becoming crushed in the coming drive to prevent the New Renaissance from erupting again from that old cultural center."
"The old 'Venetian' Empire is therefore on the march again, so it seems," I replied. "Russia is also in need of a New Renaissance," I added, speaking just as quietly. "If a New Renaissance in Russia doesn't happen, the Soviet Union may collapse. The present Soviet World is empty and scary and blackened with the Ogarkov Plan for nuclear war, by which the Soviet Union is doomed. However, when the giant falls, which the Soviet Union is, nothing will remain the same in the world. The whole world will be transformed, but not for the better. The process of collapse into chaos doesn't bring society any closer to responding to universal principles. Chaos doesn't cause development, unless a renaissance can be created that links society back to previous achievements. But that will likely be prevented too, this time around. Baghdad will likely fall in the whirlwind behind the collapse of the Soviet Union, because Baghdad too, has been emptied from within of its humanity under centuries of cultural warfare against it. It appears that Islam, like everything else, has been reduced to but a shell, and Allah to but a word. It appears to me that the awe the Mohammed's perception inspired has abated. This loss always happens universally when Science becomes reduced to a religion, by which the truth becomes meaningless."
Astrid didn't argue my point. She agreed with me with a kiss and a smile and then immediately added as if nothing more needed to be discussed, that it was time to leave. We shook hands on that note and parted with those last few words still echoing in my mind. Thus, before I fully realized what happened we were going our separate ways again.
Looking back, it appeared to me that the prospect for Astrid and I to remain close seemed uncomfortable to her and possibly too challenging. As it turned out, I didn't see Astrid again all the next day and the day thereafter. It was as if she had faded into the crowd and out of sight. Maybe she didn't want to be seen. I also came to agree with her that there was no need for us to meet any further. So I simply stopped looking for her. Nevertheless, I felt certain that I wouldn't forget her, or the profound 'experiences' we had together in the context of her hijab. It came like a surprise therefore, mixed with a sudden joy, when I saw her again on the third day after the afternoon session. She stood by the fountain, alone, as before. Was this an invitation to meet again? I didn't dare see it that way. Still, she noticed me. Nor did she look away. Instead she waved gently.
"May I invite for a cup of coffee once more?" I said with a big smile and bowed slightly when I faced her close up.
"That depends on who is asking," she replied and smiled back at me.
"Who is asking?" I repeated. "Oh I see! No, I'm not asking you as your prince," I said and grinned, "nor am I asking as a beggar who is looking for a handout. Allow me to invite you as a brother perhaps. After all, we are two human beings, and by this we are more closely related than people are on those lower platforms where they marry and become isolated from the world as if the rest of society were from another planet? So I am asking like a real brother might ask a sister if she would you kindly agree to join me over a cup of coffee to explore some aspects of the universal history of mankind. I have come across something that I have found puzzling. Your nametag says that you are a teacher. I believe that as a teacher, the issue that I find puzzling, might interest you."
"Aspects of the universal history of mankind," she repeated. "That is a wide scene," she said and nodded.
"It is also a fascinating scene," I replied. "Of course, what is puzzling me is probably not taught in history classes. It is more related to the subject of love between people than to any standard curriculum, but it is also related to mathematics, specifically the history surrounding The Fundamental Theorem of Algebra."
She shook her head. "I teach the primary classes back home. However, what you say sounds intriguing. What possible connection could there be between mathematics and love, and me?"
"One of the connections is that it all started close to your home turf with the work of the Finish mathematician Albert Girard," I replied. "It started way back in time, in the year 1626. I have been told that Girard was the first person in history to formulate The Fundamental Theorem of Algebra. A friend in Germany got me interested in this. He said it started a development that became a turning point in mathematics and possibly also in history, and in both cases for the good. Turning points in history don't always have to be for the worse. This time they appear to have been for the better."
"You are wrong about one important minor detail," interrupted a tall Russian man in dark hair who stood nearby at the fountain. His hair was almost totally black. "You are wrong on two counts," he said to me and began to smile. "The year was 1629, not 1626, and Albert Girard was Flemish, not Finish. You are right about one thing, however. The Fundamental Theorem of Algebra marks a turning point in the history of mathematics. Up to this time it was understood that every mathematical equation could yield only one single solution. Girard's theorem was that polynomial equations with powers of n must have n solutions. Except he couldn't prove it. No one could prove it. It took 170 years before someone was able to solve the puzzle. In fact it took nearly 120 years before anyone seriously tried. D'Alembert made the first serious attempt in the mid-1700s, but he failed, and so did all the renowned mathematicians of this time, like Leonhard Euler and Joseph LaGrange. They all worked on this problem. The problem was finally solved by Carl Friedrich Gauss in 1799 in his famous doctoral thesis, which Gauss submitted as an entry paper to get into the university."
The Russian paused and looked puzzled. He turned to me. "I too am at a loss in figuring out what this has got to do with love?" he said. "There was never much love lost between the feuding mathematicians."
I shrugged my shoulders. "A friend in Germany made the proposition, or rather hinted at a connection. I am trying to figure this out too. I also know that he is probably right. He always seems to be right in these matters."
"What do you think, Astrid?" asked the Russian man reading her nametag. He had no nametag himself.
She shrugged her shoulders.
"I think the connection lies in the general history of that timeframe," I said to him. "From what I remember another friend telling me, the early 1600s had been a period of profound humanist developments. Girard's discovery in 1629, as you say, was made smack in the middle of the Thirty Years War. Historians call this the worst period of military atrocities prior to the 20th Century. It became an orgy of raving beastmen by whom entire cities became radically depopulated. Countless villages, or parishes as they called them then, simply disappeared. This horrible period also became a period of an honest, deep reaching humanist renewal. The most advanced thinkers perceived the human being in a much different light than the beasts that made war. The pioneers perceived mankind as a being endowed with the godlike capacity to reason and to discover principles, to figure things out, to understand the 'movements' behind what they could see, principles that can give society peace and a civilization that makes life worth living. Girard was probably caught up in this deep reaching search as to what we are as human beings, and what we are capable of as people with a godlike intellect.
"I think what Girard discovered in respect to Algebra seemed to unfold in parallel with the discovery of another profound universal principle which a friend of mine called the Principle of Universal Love," I added. "My friend suggested that the unfolding recognition of this principle in the form of the Principle of the Advantage of the Other, was reflected in the Peace of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years War. We know that all of this came to a head in 1648, but it appears to have started much earlier. This means that there may be a connection between the two momentous developments, the development of an advanced perception of love and the development of an advanced perception in mathematics. Both developments might have started in parallel from a common cultural root."
I turned to the dark-haired Russian. "We have two profound developments unfolding here side by side. One is the development of the proof of The Fundamental Theorem of Algebra that was eventually discovered by Gauss in 1799. The other development is that of the proof of the Principle of Universal Love that is still being developed. We have discovered a few partial proofs of the Principle of Universal Love."
"Isn't that what Jamal and Mohja had talked about?" said Astrid to me. "They seem to think that the entire Islamic Renaissance was proof of this principle." She explained to the Russian that our two Islamic friends had talked a lot about this principle, the Principle of Universal Love. "They also talked about a principle that they called the Principle of the Advantage of the other," she said. "They seem to think that this principle was rooted in this second European renaissance that gave us the Peace of Westphalia and the founding of the USA."
"Isn't that proof enough that these are two profound principles?" I said to the Russian. "One proof is found in the Treaty of Westphalia that gave us peace after eighty years of war. The other proof is located in the founding of the USA that gave us the first true nation-state republic in world-history. These two great achievements were both built on the Principle of Universal Love. Both resulted from the humanist development that began right in the middle of one of the worst wars ever unleashed, the Thirty Years War. It seems that both developments took us miles away from this tragedy of a raging war and literally created a New World, each in its own way."
The Russian nodded. "The Treaty of Westphalia became the foundation for modern civilization," he said. He spoke in a quiet, thoughtful manner. "Nothing before this time came even close to what the Treaty of Westphalia had put on the table. Nor has anything comparable been achieved since then. Under this treaty all war-atrocities were forgiven. No blames were laid. No reparations were demanded. Even the war-debts were forgiven. It was as if the nations got together and closed the book on the Old World and began with a new clean page. On this clean new page each nation had its name written and had its name acknowledged as intrinsically sovereign, tall or small, mighty or weak, rich or poor, signed and certified by all the nations. It was a momentous achievement for the nations to do this. Can you imagine what a wonderful world we would have today if we could do this again? This feat has never repeated."
"We can only dream about it now, and even that dream is already fast fading away together with the Principle of the Advantage of the Other that once stood tall behind that achievement," I said to the Russian, who simply smiled an nodded in apparent agreement.
"So you know about that principle too," said Astrid to our Russian friend. "Let's all have a coffee as Peter had suggested," she said to both of us. "Would you kindly join us?" she added, speaking to the Russian.
On the way to the coffee shop Astrid explained to him that a painting had puzzled her that may be linked to that period of the Thirty Years War. It's Rembrandt's painting of Susanna in the Garden. "I believe it was painted in the 1630s," she said. "That puts it right into the middle of that period in which all this profound awakening began. The painting had puzzled me when I first saw it, because as far as I know it wasn't Rembrandt's thing to paint female nudes. He did a few. I believe there weren't many. But why did he paint this one at this time? I feel it must have had something to do with the developing peace movement."
"That's an easy problem to solve," said the tall Russian man in reply. As we entered the coffee shop he asked in a laud tone if there was anyone present who could answer a question of art history concerning Rembrandt's painting of Susanna in the Garden. He asked in Russian and then in English.
A young girl came forward. "The painting is called, Susanna and the Elders," she said. "It is considered by some to have been a political statement. Someone in the political movement might have commissioned it. It appears that the story of Susanna was discussed at that time, which is the story of the biblical Susanna. Susanna was about to take a bath in her garden when two elders of the community surprised her. They demanded sex with her. As she refused the elders threatened that they would accuse her of adultery, which was punishable by death. Since she didn't give in to their demand, they carried out their threat and accused her before the whole community. During the resulting trial for the death penalty the elders were believed of course, and the woman was condemned to die. The elders' lies were taken for the truth. Their testimony as respected leaders outweighed the pleading of an accused woman. As things developed, Susanna would have been executed in this travesty, had not Daniel intervened and defended her. Daniel, by his wisdom proved that the elders were liars and conspirators. He even managed to get the elders to convict themselves with their own stories, since each one told a radically different story when pressed for details in individual questioning. Susanna's innocence was thereby established. It appears that the Susanna story had been used during the period of the Thirty Years War to shatter the public's illusions that the leaders of society are beyond treachery and lying. I think that shattered the entire 'citadel' of 'might equals right' that the wars were founded on. It revealed the citadel as a myth based on lies, erected by a conspiracy for imperial objectives."
Astrid's face lit up. She turned to me. "That's were you might find the link to the Principle of Universal Love that you had mentioned earlier. It appears that Susanna's story had been utilized in that period as a historic precedent to overturn the lies of the war-philosophers that had perverted the nations into becoming enemies of each other. The lies of the war-philosophers had made the whole of Europe a battlefield based on the intentional distortion of the nature of the human being. In this case the Susanna story was used to defend civilization by upholding the truth about our humanity and the value of the human being."
"The Susanna story appears to have helped in establishing the renewed focus on the Principle of Universal Love that in earlier times stood at the heart of the Golden Renaissance," I interjected. "The renewed focus paved the way to the Treaty of Westphalia. The refocusing onto the truth might have made the treaty possible."
"The war-philosophers were Thomas Hobbes and many like him," said the tall Russian man to Astrid and to the girl who had joined us. The girl nodded in agreement. "The war-philosophers said that the human being is intrinsically evil and must give up its sovereignty to an imperial ruler, to a Sovereign or Emperor or King, who will thereby protect society from its own evil tendencies," said the Russian. "Love was said to apply only in the smallest private sphere, but never in affairs of state or in business where the watchword was, 'might equals right.' The Venetian Empire appears to have stood behind the philosophers who said these things. The Venetian Empire had been determined to destroy the Renaissance, which had threatened its existence. So, it all makes sense, doesn't it?" said the Russian. "Cultural warfare was their way to get it done, just as in the Susanna story. Nothing else could have destroyed the Golden Renaissance. Cultural warfare is cheap and effective. Today's Western Empire is absolutely and deeply committed to cultural warfare. It is pursued under the heading of 'cultural freedom,' meaning in essence, the freedom to lie, to cheat, to steal, and to destroy the very notion of truth itself, even to destroy education, beauty, science, and the empowerment of a person to be human."
The art-history girl interrupted the Russian. "The Susanna story was evidently used to discredit the war-philosophers," she said, "which you say the Venetian's had used in their cultural warfare to destroy the Golden Renaissance."
The girl added that as far as she could tell, the Golden Renaissance had been founded on the premise that the human being is created in the image of God. This renaissance image of mankind gave humanity incredible dignity. Great cultural and scientific achievements were wrought on this basis. The Renaissance Art and the related devotion to beauty were predominant at this time. The Renaissance Art is still among the finest of mankind.
"Maybe it was in the recognition of beauty were the scientific recognition of the Principle of Universal Love first began to unfold in post-Roman history, in the Islamic revival of humanism," I said in agreement with the girl. "It appears that the Principle of Universal Love was revived later again by the humanist pioneers in Europe that were struggling to revive civilization while the Thirty Years War was still tearing the European world apart. It appears that the Susanna story became a profound focal point for the effort to stop the war by putting truth back onto the table, and with it the dignity of the human being. If the elders had lied about Susanna, couldn't the noble war-philosophers have also lied about the nature of the human being? And what did they lie about? The lied furiously about the Principle of Universal Love that is native in the human heart?"
"That makes sense to me," said the Russian. "The Golden Renaissance began when the financial system collapsed in 1345 and the Old World collapsed with it economically and biologically into a chaos worse than anything that had been experienced before. The entire European economy disintegrated when relentless looting wrecked its financial system, just as we may soon have it again today worldwide. The population become so physically ravished then, by the rapidly expanding poverty, that when the Black Death plaque erupted two years later out this morass more than half of the population in many areas simply died. They had come to the end of the line.
"Wouldn't any human being wonder in the light of this chaos what its existence on this planet is all about?" said the Russian. "What is a person to think if two thirds of the people one has ever known suddenly become sick, keel over, and are gone? Deep questions would be asked in those times, and they were asked. And answers were found. They were found in the late Greek Classical Era, spearheaded by Plato and Socrates and carried forward by Christ Jesus and later again by the Islamic Renaissance."
"Christ Jesus had illumined the pages of Hebrew history," I interjected, "the history of a profound monotheist culture, by combining this history with the leading edge processes of scientific thinking. The emergence of this scientific 'miracle' in the form of one who would open the gateway to the truth had long been prophesied and been recognized as being inevitable. It had been forecast repeatedly throughout the ages in different ways. Christ Jesus not only fulfilled this prophecy, he also made his own scientific forecast. He put the Principle of Universal Love on the table with the promise that it would transform society in due course through continued scientific development. It appears that this profound Principle of Universal Love that seems to be thread through all ages was rediscovered centuries later in the Arab World, together with Plato's works, which, when they were drawn together with the works of Christ Jesus to become the foundation for the Golden Renaissance."
"So you agree that the Islamic Renaissance brought Plato to Europe," Astrid interjected.
"Of course, I do," I said.
The Russian nodded his own approval. "Of course, I said this earlier. The key is that this profound scientific development process all came together at a time of great need in Europe and became the Golden Renaissance. Except this renaissance was all new then. It didn't have deep roots. Consequently it was easily destroyed by the Venetians. But it was rediscovered again during the Thirty Years War that was just as devastating as the Black Death Plaque. The rediscovery then become the Second Renaissance and the foundation for the Peace of Westphalia," he continued. "Then, many decades later, by the time that Gauss proved The Fundamental Theorem of Algebra, the Principle of Universal Love had been proven just as profoundly with the founding of the USA. The founding of the USA happened almost simultaneous with the breakthrough Gauss made, within few years. So as you can see the humanist awakening came together once again in many profound ways. None of the great historic events that have shaped the world, as profound as they were, were really isolated events, were they?"
"Are you saying that the USA might not have come about if the Islamic Renaissance hadn't happened as an early link in this chain?" Astrid interjected again.
The Russian nodded again. "Except in today's world all that has been lost. We have to prove the same principle all over again, and apparently by the same process, only in a much more advanced fashion and with a deeper reach into the social fabric of society, uplifting people's own self-perception and not just their politics," said the Russian. "We have no other option left except to save the world and civilization from the collapse of society within, in order to head off the destruction that we are racing towards right now, especially with the Ice Age coming up."
"You didn't mention two vital aspects that are crucial to understanding the Renaissance," said a young American who overheard our conversation at the neighboring table. "You didn't mention what made it possible for Plato to be rediscovered for creating the Golden Renaissance, without which there would have been no Renaissance. For this you have to look to the Arab world. Plato had been kept alive there in Arab culture."
"That's what we've been saying," Astrid interrupted the man. "That Arab culture is Islam. Islam set the stage for the revival of science."
"I just wanted to make sure that you don't forget that the founding of the USA would not have been possible without this profound scientific focus on the truth in Arab culture that had created its own renaissance a long time back. You should also consider that the Golden Renaissance was a failure," said the American man. "The Golden Renaissance had been built on the Principle of Universal Love, but society had failed to implement this principle. It failed to do this politically by not implementing it socially. Thus, the great cultural Renaissance that changed the world had no foundation to stand on to weather the coming storm. Likewise, by not implementing its own chief-principle politically, the Renaissance assured that the coming storm would erupt by which it would be doomed. Consequently it became defeated."
Astrid turned to the American man and was about to protest, but the Russian raised his hand and intervened. "Our American friend is right," he said. "The League of Cambrai should never have been formed. The Venetian Empire had remained a dark spot on the map of the bright new Renaissance. In an effort to 'cleanse the landscape' of that dark spot the Renaissance powers had banded together and had formed the League of Cambrai. Their goal had been to eradicate the Venetian Empire, which had been the world's foremost empire of slavery and financial looting. I think our American friend suggests that this military attack on Venice was a historic tragedy, perhaps one of the worst ever."
The American man nodded and smiled. "The Principle of Universal Love had been abandoned by the Renaissance powers. As a consequence of this failure the Renaissance powers threatened Venice with extinction. History records that the Pope intervened and saved Venice. The Venetian oligarchy then turned around to crush the Renaissance that had threatened it. The Thirty Years War was the final outcome of it. This train to hell should have never been started."
"Are you implying that this mistake by the Renaissance powers corrupted Venice into becoming the enemy of mankind?" asked the Russia.
The American just laughed. "Venice was the enemy of mankind. Venice was self-corrupted. No other system of government is as deeply self-corrupting as the imperial system is. It fashions beastmen out of human beings. It 'eats' the human soul like strong acid cuts through a person's skin. The executioner reigned in Venice more than the Dodge. No my friend, Venice wasn't corrupted by the Renaissance. The Renaissance powers had corrupted themselves by submitting themselves to fighting Venice on its home turf. You cannot fight evil with military force. You can only fight evil with the humanist development of the truth. The world fought the Hitler-beastman in World War II and won the war, but it didn't defeat fascism. Fascism survived and grew and now threatens the mankind more severely than Hitler did. You can only fight evil by raising the fight to a higher level, and I don't mean just the moral level. That won't do. You have to raise the fight to the scientific progressive level of dissevering the great value and dimension of our humanity as human beings. That would have worked. This fight should have been fought in parallel with defeating Hitler. Venice should have been drawn up into this kind of fight, rather than the Renaissance powers laying themselves down to fight their fight at Venice's low-level beastly platform. By this mistake, the forming of the League of Cambrai, the Renaissance put itself on the imperials' map as their number one enemy rather than their number one resource for getting out of the trap of their ever-deepening self-corruption under the imperial system."
The Russian nodded. "The same pattern was repeated many times thereafter," said the Russian. "Every revival of the renaissance-spirit of humanity from this time to the present has been crushed by the imperials whoever they were. It has been crushed again and again and with the same beastmen type assault that is typical for absolute fascism that corrupts a people. That's the kind of corruption of even the common people that the Thirty Years War had become infamous for. The French Revolution was created for advancing the process. It killed the humanist elite and glorified the barbarism of the beastman process that Napoleon later typified. It became the opening round of the universal fascist revival of medieval bestiality.
"Of course, the Jacobin terror during the French Revolution was a British imperial fascist operation," said the Russian, "and so was the subsequent terror unleashed by Napoleon all across Europe, and by Hitler later on. After all, Napoleon was a member of Palmerston's zoo. Of course, now we are facing the biggest contest of them all, a fascist empire in a quest to take over the world, armed with nuclear weapons."
"The original fascist focus in the imperial attacks on Europe, following the French Revolution, had not been to wipe out a lot of people," said an Iranian man from the same table the American was at. "The early imperial attacks were against Plato, against the platonic method of scientific discovery that had been the cornerstone of the Second Renaissance. This Second Renaissance, which resulted in the Peace of Westphalia, had been built on the scientific rediscovery of the Principle of Universal Love in the form of the Principle of the Advantage of the Other. Europe had been the center of this movement. It had been a movement inspired by the Platonic-method. The Platonic thinking had also provided the intellectual power behind the American independence drive and the creating of the American republic. The British Empire went to war against Plato in Europe to prevent the Platonic type of thinking from inspiring other colonies to become independent republics. Thus, quite literally, the demise of the British Empire, and other empires, loomed on the horizon in Europe. That is why the Jacobin terror operations had been organized by the imperials to destroy France's intellectual elite, while Napoleon was set up later to do the same all over Europe."
"This means that the western imperial war against Islam is also a war against Plato," interjected Astrid.
"No it isn't," said the Iranian. "Plato is dead everywhere. Nevertheless, Islam is still seen as a danger to imperialism, because of its earlier link with Platonic science. It will always be seen that way for as long as imperialism exists, because no empire is ever secure, being dead within itself. The ever-recurring fear by the European empires for their precarious existence may have been the underlying reason why earlier in history the imperial powers organized the infamous crusades against the Arab world, against the Mohammedan as they called them. The crusades were organized to crush the unfolding renaissance there, and to crush Plato there. They ravished the Old World in order to eradicate that Arab 'plaque' of scientific thinking before it would come to Europe and staged a renaissance there. The crusades against the Arab world had evidently nothing to do with religion, at the imperial level, but had been cultural wars to prevent scientific thinking. Religious zeal merely provided a convenient cover for the crusades and their murderous rage. The real fight appeared to have been against Plato and the renaissance spirit."
"Now the same war is being perpetuated further in a somewhat more 'civilized' fashion," said the Russian man and began to laugh. "Today's crusade continues to be a cultural war by the imperials. We are stuck right in the middle of the most intense covert cultural warfare operation that has ever been unleashed against America under the guise of protecting it from Russia. Evidently, the goal is to eradicate in this process the world's last remaining historic heritage of the renaissance spirit, which exists in America's historic background. For that the imperials are in the process of destroying America culturally, and they are succeeding. So again, my friends, cultural warfare proved to be far more destructive than any other form of war. No other form of warfare would have succeeded against America and reap a destruction so deep as has been achieved, and at almost no cost. It looks like the modern western imperials have rediscovered the Venetian's old method and raised cultural warfare to new highs of sophistication. They are working with such finesse now that the cultural warfare has been carried out against America for several decades already, without hardly anyone realizing that the war is in progress. That is what the big contest that we face today is all about. It is now coming to a head. It threatens to be biggest contest of all times between imperialism and humanity. As far as I can tell, humanity isn't even fighting back. It doesn't know yet that the fight is happening."
"What do you mean with the biggest contest?" said Astrid.
"Something of historic dimension?" the American replied.
The Iranian man nodded his approval.
"The contest began in 1763 with the unfolding American republic," said the Russian. He spoke patiently as if he had to explain to a child repeatedly what is essential for it to comprehend. "The British Empire wasn't created by the monarchy. The British Empire started as a private world-empire, privately run by an imperial oligarchy, and remained that way. A private financial oligarchy ruled much of the world from those days on to the present. The British Empire was then, and still is, a private operation, a private empire. The British East India Company 'owned' the Empire initially. With its associated private central banking interests the ever-expanding private imperium created a new type of feudal slavery built on a financial feudalism. It operated a far-flung system of sovereign private banks that were all focused primarily on looting the world. That ill-based private system that has ruled the world from 1763 onward is now breaking down. It is breaking down, because it has been extremely successful. It has successfully depleted the world. The irony is that it depleted the world that it depends on for looting. There is nothing left to loot. The game is over. Unfortunately the imperium has also become a huge imperial power in the process of its looting. This sovereign private looting system has become politically so powerful that it operates far above the level of any government, most of which it 'owns' anyway. It has become a nearly worldwide system of interlocked oligarchic dictatorships that carry out the imperial design. The thing is so huge now, that it will cause worldwide repercussions when it becomes unglued. And it will become unglued since it is already bankrupt. The imperium can only save itself by superimposing on the world globally interlocked police-state measures as a cover to continue its insatiable looting. And even that won't work. In real terms the imperium has destroyed the economies of the world that it depends on. Political force or fascist brutality cannot overcome this ironic reality. The imperium has bankrupted itself beyond repair. It now expects mankind to bail it out. Somehow, I don't think this will happen, since it is physically not possible to do that. It looks like that we are now coming to the end of the imperial system. The day of its doom may not be foreseeable, but it is unavoidable."
"We might be entering a huge contest alright," I said, "provided that society wakes up to wage a fight. When this happens there will be two titans fighting for survival as the doomed system disintegrates. One of the titans will be the financial oligarchy that is determined to maintain its power by force, demanding that society bear the cost of its bankruptcy. The other titan will be humanity that must reorganize itself once again to function as sovereign nation-states as a means for its survival in a community of nations committed to universal principles. That means shutting down the imperial system, once and for all, totally and completely. If society fails to fight, or fails to win the fight, the world will enter a New Dark Age in which building an Ice Age Renaissance will no longer be possible, maybe for all times to come. If that happens civilization ends and mankind dies back to a minuscule presence, if it survives at all in the ensuing wars armed with nuclear weapons as societies will be fighting over the remaining food resources and places to live in an Ice Age World."
"The key-mistake for the coming crisis was made in 1508 with the founding of the League of Cambrai," said the American man from the neighboring table. "That key-mistake has not yet been corrected to the present day. That is why the contest will happen and why we are in danger of failing again."
Astrid agreed. "The key-mistake was to turn the oligarchy, beginning with the Venetians, into the enemy of mankind. The Renaissance powers created an enemy. The mistake was in failing to bring the Venetians on board with the Renaissance by means of the discovered Principle of Universal Love that had powered the Renaissance."
Astrid paused and continued in a quieter tone of voice as if hushed by an awesome revelation. "This tells me that every war that has been fought from the day onward when the historic key-mistake was made, may be the direct result of this mistake and could have been avoided. It also could have been avoided at each step along the way, but wasn't. This means that we won't win any victory for civilization this time around, in the great contest of the titans that looms ahead, unless we correct that key-mistake in our relationship towards the oligarchy."
"That means beginning with our relationship towards one another as human beings," I interjected. "Of course that takes us back to the Principle of Universal Love, which you say had been evaded in 1508, which now becomes the key element for protecting civilization and possibly mankind from extinction. And still, society says, nay! This happens in countless different ways."
Astrid seemed shocked by what I said.
"But who is this WE that must correct that key-mistake?" said our Russian friend. "As you seem to say, the task of rebuilding mankind on the platform of the Principle of Universal Love is not a one-sided requirement. Are you saying that the demand applies to the oligarchy too, because it too won't survive otherwise? I can certainly see that the oligarchy will annihilate itself with its own fascist tendencies if it fails to rediscover its humanity and the core-principle of humanity, the Principle of Universal Love. It becomes the task of all mankind, therefore, to assure that this upgrading will happen within the oligarchy. Both society and the oligarchy must not fail in that. Such a failure happened in a big way once in Roman times. The Principle of Universal Love could have saved the Roman society from its self-made doom. Instead Rome became an empire opposed to the Principle of Universal Love, whereby Rome was self-doomed, and society was doomed with it. We face the same danger again in today's world."
"We surely do," I interjected. "And this danger will continue for as long as mankind stands universally isolated and divided and denies its universal humanity. The Principle of Universal Love is the principle that civilization is built on. By trashing it we destroy ourselves, just as the Roman society destroyed itself. Except, now with the Ice Age challenge looming on the horizon, the repeat of the Roman folly might end mankind's journey as a civilization for a long time to come, possibly for all times to come. We really have no choice therefore, but to get back to this principle and move forward with it no matter how challenging this may appear, especially socially. In order to get through the Ice Age with any form of civilization mankind must develop itself into a nuclear fusion-powered society. This upgrading won't be physically possible in a primitive Ice Age world-environment in which only few people would be remaining with just a scant few resources accessible to them. The few oil and coal resources that we still have will likely be gone in two hundred years. The modern nuclear fission power resources that might last ten thousand years in a renaissance environment might not be operable in a primitive world, challenged by starvation. If we don't make the transition to a Renaissance World now, mankind might be forced back to burning firewood, provided there is any, and to fish-oil lamps, provided there are any fish left. That is how mankind would be facing the next ninety thousand years of the Ice Age before the warm period begins again, provided that mankind hasn't become extinct along the way. If nuclear fusion doesn't power an Ice Age Renaissance before the Ice Age hits this planet, the future of mankind appears to be irreversibly doomed. The key for a human future, therefore, truly rests in our hands today, beginning right now. The challenge is huge, but if we blow this chance that we still have, like the Romans did so in their time, the game will be over for all times to come. I am convinced, therefore, that somehow, as human beings, we won't let this happen. I am convinced that somehow we will find the resources within us to discover the full dimension of our humanity and change our thinking accordingly, and change our world with it."
"You are correct my friend, we can find a perfect parallel in Roman times to what happens today," said the American man from the neighboring table. He turned to Astrid. "Can you tell me what the historic key-mistake was that was made by the Roman Empire, by which it was doomed?"
While American waited for Astrid to answer, the Iranian man intervened as if none of us would likely come up with the right answer anyway, which our silence indicated. "The key-mistake of Rome was that the Empire executed Christ Jesus and fed the Christians to the lions," he said. "From that moment on Rome was doomed. They executed the world's foremost representatives of the Principle of Universal Love who could have transformed and uplifted the Roman society into becoming the brightest on the planet with a rich and enduring culture. By this one key-mistake the Roman society was doomed to disintegrate. In a rage of political madness based on fear they trashed the Principle of Universal Love. They thought that they did it to preserve an empire. Instead, they assured the destruction of the entire society. It might be that the same would also be said of us in future times, provided there is anyone left to say it. This will happen unless we correct this key-mistake now, even while we are still in the process of making the same blunder again."
"Instead of correcting this mistake," said Astrid and began to laugh, "humanity has made this world-shaking key-mistake at every critical junction in history." She looked at the Iranian man and nodded. "You are right, we are still making that mistake. Nothing has changed."
"So why don't you take the lead and change the world?" said the tall Russian man to Astrid.
"Actually, we are making the same old mistake on every level, from the political level all the way down to the grassroots social level," I said to the Russian. "Who even talks about the Principle of Universal Love in the social domain? We talk about everything except this principle? We are still building empires."
The Russian shook his head. "Why don't you take the first steps yourself?" he said to me. "Maybe you can't change the world politically over night, but can take profound steps forward socially. No physical inertia stands in the way, no funding restraint, no law, no power, no principle, nothing but yourself stands in your way towards loving more fully socially and universally. That's quite a challenge, eh?"
"Why don't we all take that one first pioneering step?" I replied. "It's scary, right? Just try it. You can't move! You can't get your feet unstuck! So, my friends, I hope that you are now beginning to appreciate the difficulties. It is easy to say we should change the world. But to take even one step out of the Old World is hard. We've ground ourselves into a rut, I'd say. It seems that the imperials got us precisely where they want us, stuck in mud and impotent, and scared, and playing their imperial game at every turn of the way."
Astrid nodded; the Russian did too. I looked at him and continued. "We call our private empires families, set in isolated competition with other such empires. We compete in the stock market against each other, in business, in almost every part of life. One can't take just one step to get out of that, without also taking all the other steps simultaneously. The Adam Smith mythology of greed-based economics, if you can call it that, has turned most of society into tiny little empires fighting each other for meaningless profits while millions are forced to starve to death in the shadows. No one can overturn this so-called culture in a single step. We can't even stop ourselves from literally rushing headlong into battle with it against our own deepest interests. That is what we all do, and it is hard to change course. We are committing suicide as we go. We destroy what we should build on. That's committing suicide, right? We fight against the Principle of Universal Love. We are more inclined to fight it, deny it, slander it, and shun away from it, than to develop it and implement it. We have lost our self-love as a people. And you say, take one step. We need a revolution, a renaissance in one comprehensive blastoff."
Everybody agreed with my assessment. Even the Russian nodded, slightly. Then he raised his hand. "How many steps does it take to implement the Principle of Universal Love?" he asked and laughed. "It's a one-step process to implement this principle. You do it. That's the step."
Astrid shook her head. "Why then are we making this historic key-mistake again and again by rejecting the Principle of Universal Love as if it were not big enough to meet our need?"
"The reason is probably the same as that for which the Roman Empire made its key-mistake," said the Russian.
"And what is that reason?" said Astrid. She promised a kiss for the right answer.
"The reason why the Roman's made their key-mistake," I said, "was their lack of self-love as human beings."
"I rest my case," said Astrid.
"Yes, that appears to be the reason still for which we allow the world to go to hell while we think that the principle that is rooted in our humanity, on which our civilization rests, isn't big enough," said the Russian. "We make the same mistake all over the world, even in Russia, and for the same lack of self-love. Thereby we have lost our conditioning to survive. We may soon have to pay the price for that."
Astrid approved his answer as well, and the kiss was given as promised. Since the Russian and I agreed with each other in answering her question, we were both rewarded in this manner to our great surprise and joy, which we couldn't hide.
After our lengthy discussion over coffee had ended, the tall Russian invited Astrid and me to a boat-tour on the Black Sea. "I hear they serve excellent Borsht on board at dinner time," he said to us. "I hear the dinner cruise is the pride of the Black Sea Resort Administration. I've heard it mentioned even in Moscow." The Russian smiled at Astrid as if his invitation was a reward for her kiss.
Astrid smiled back but waved a finger at him commenting that she enjoyed having two of the finest 'princes of all the lands' courting her, but that she had made a rule for herself not to engage in adventures 'outside' of herself. Then she began to laugh and said that two men being in love with her was two too many. She offered a good bye kiss.
The Russian pretended not to be disappointed, but it was plain to see that he was. On leaving the coffee shop I suggested to him I would gladly join him for the cruise. I offered to pay the fare for both of us.
"Are you sure we can survive another four hours of the kind of discussions that we just had without Astrid stepping in and holding us back?" he said. He grinned and accepted the offer.
"Survive?" I said. "We may come out richer!"
From: The Lodging for the Rose - Episode 2a: The Ice Age Challenge