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Duties of Brotherhood in Islam - Part 2

by Sangharakshita

The Duties of Brotherhood in Islam” Seminar Page 1
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[Tape 7, Side 1]


S: - but I don't agree with this because in the first place one could say simply it's a question of the best and most qualified Order member
leading, and the general feeling on that occasion was that that was Nagabodhi, so he led; and clearly some people are better at leading than
others. But apart from that I would even say, as a matter of psychology, that the majority of women, leaving aside those who are perverted by
feminism, would actually appreciate being led by a man more. I would go so far as to say that.

Devaraja: Why do you think that is?

S: Well, a man usually manifests more energy and enthusiasm and that sort of thing.

Kulananda: More leadership.

S: More leadership, one might say, using the word in a positive sense. And a retreat has to be led - not in a forceful or blatant way; gently and
skilfully - but none the less led. Initiative taken. And it does seem that a man is so constituted as to be able to do that more easily and naturally,
especially if it's a large retreat. And one of the things that sometimes women Mitras, the more reasonable and balanced ones, complain of is they
don't - though they don't actually use this term - get enough leadership from the women. And they appreciate things which are being led or taken
by men, as when Subhuti goes and leads a study weekend. They say they get from that more than they get from the women Order members.
They are quite frank about it, and quite grateful.

Devaraja: The same when Sagaramati led a study weekend for women down in Brighton, ......

S: So it could be that in the future some woman Order member arises who does exhibit qualities of leadership, and then we might consider, 'All
right, perhaps she should lead the mixed retreat'; but I don't think they have any such person at the moment. Just to put a woman there for the
sake of having a woman, simply because there are a lot of women on these retreats is again just departing from our own principles, and being
unduly swayed by some foreign inimical ideology. But perhaps that's clear.

Prasannasiddhi: What puzzles me is that if by some chance men are more capable of spiritual development, or find it easier or should be more
interested, how come we get more women on the retreats? [Laughter]

S: Well, this is a ..... we shouldn't go into on this occasion, but I'll just deal with it briefly.

One, this year at least, women have not had many retreats. They don't have anything like Padmaloka that we get, so men have been able to go on
Order/Mitra weekends and various things on at Padmaloka, women have not had that facility; so they tended therefore to flock to the big mixed
retreats.

The Duties of Brotherhood in Islam” Seminar Page 2
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Two, I think women still like mixed situations quite a lot, big situations. And also I think women are attracted towards a positive group as a
positive group. The Movement down in London around the LBC appears to, or presents itself to a lot of women - some men too perhaps - as a
positive group situation, providing positive emotional support, security, social life and so on.

I did get a letter only this morning, by the way - this is perhaps a little bit relevant - from a new woman who's been coming for some time but she
said - she seems a bit exceptional - that she'd been going to the Tuesday class but didn't altogether appreciate it because she said there was a
cocktail party atmosphere to it. She said that she did not appreciate this. She took it that it was as it were very English (she happened to be
Irish). She attributed the cocktail party atmosphere to the Englishness of most of the people present. That may or may not be the case, but that is
interesting because I'm sure a lot of people, and especially women, would be rather attracted to that sort of atmosphere, if in fact that is a
justified criticism.

So I think we have to be very careful, and I have spoken, down at the LBC, in terms of strengthening the purely spiritual element there, rather
than the social. I think this is very necessary.

Anyway, we must press on ........ 'Reasoned argument can be sorcery.' I think we can agree with Muhammad here. 'He evidently disapproved of
it, since he likened it to sorcery.' All right let's go on then.
"Thus he said, in another traditional report:
- Abuse and argumentation are twin branches of hypocrisy."

S: 'Abuse and argumentation are twin branches of hypocrisy.' I don't know whether he means hypocrisy in quite the literal sense; but there's
abuse, as when someone says to you, 'You're just a sexist' or 'you're just a male chauvinist.' That's abuse. That is not an argument. But
argumentation also, if it is not sincere, not really intended to arrive at the truth, can be what Muhammad calls one of the twin branches of
hypocrisy. But we're having to confront a lot of this sort of thing, abuse and argumentation, from people holding these sort of ideologies. We
don't come up against orthodox Christians; we don't come up against militant Marxists, but we seem to come up against feminists. They seem to
be the sort of people who impinge upon us. Maybe for a woman feminism is the near enemy of the spiritual life, because it resembles it
superficially to some extent because it speaks in terms of being an individual and being independent, and all that sort of thing.

Vajrananda: What do you think he means by hypocrisy?

S: Apparently it's not hypocrisy in the literal sense here. I don't know what the original term is but it would seem to be just general dishonesty
of life. You are not in this case trying to arrive at the truth. You're pretending to arrive at the truth but actually, while pretending to be trying to
arrive at the truth but actually you're indulging in just abuse and argumentation - in wordy warfare, as the Buddha called it.

Subhuti: Isn't this all an illustration of these two points he's made - one of which is about not looking at your own characteristics?

The Duties of Brotherhood in Islam” Seminar Page 3
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S: It could be, because in abuse you're just scolding someone for his alleged negative characteristics and overlooking your own, so to that extent
you are a hypocrite. Anyway just go down to the end of this paragraph.
"And further:
- God disapproves of argumentation for you: all argumentation."

S: Argumentation clearly is here being distinguished from honest discussion with a view to arrive at the truth. That doesn't need any
elaboration.
"Al-Shaf'i (may God have mercy on him!) said:
- There is not one Muslim who obeys God without ever transgressing against Him, nor is there one who transgresses against Him without ever
obeying Him.
If a man's obedience outweighs his transgressions, then he is righteous."

S: Well, we saw yesterday, I think, that a Buddhist wouldn't altogether agree with this because we do believe that there is a possibility of
attaining a state in which one isn't transgressing, to use the Muslim term, at all, where no unskilful actions are in fact being performed. But
nonetheless, for those who fall short of that, yes, however much good one may do, however many skilful actions, there will be some intermixture
of the unskilful and vice versa. I think the vice versa is also interesting - that no one is ever being completely unethical. There's always an
element of non-transgression, however small. And for most people, we just have to be sure that we are not transgressing to a greater extent than
we are transgressing; that the positive outweighs the negative. So long as the positive outweighs the negative and continues to outweigh the
negative, then progress will be made and we shall eventually reach the Point of No Return, where the positive finally and irrevocably outweighs
the negative, and when there is no possibility of the negative ever outweighing the positive again, or the unskilful ever outweighing the skilful
again. Would you like to complete that paragraph?
"If such a man be accounted righteous in his duty to God, how much more should you consider him righteous in his duty to you and the
obligation of your brotherhood."

S: It seems that there are, in our terms, two relationships here. There is the vertical relationship to God, and there is the horizontal relationship
between brother and brother. So the author is saying you cannot expect ...

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