Monday, January 06, 2014

Popcorn, 3 Kings, the idea of community, cultivating a healthy identity, and love

Do you automatically buy popcorn when you go to the movies? I don't. Nothing against popcorn or those who like to devour it, but it seems such an obviously conditioned thing to do - therefore I can't resist:  I must be different, not indulging in it! It gives me a tremendous joy of being non-conformist and somewhat free. Don't get me wrong, I do have moments where I actually delight in eating popcorn - but you can bank on it that it ain't happening in a cinema. Yes, I'm a little queer, and gladly so (trying to avoid the gay word, which nowadays has gotten sad overtones, at least in my ears - but we will get to that in a moment).

Today is "Jan 6" which is celebrated in Spain, Mexico and other Latin countries as "los tres reyes magos" / "the three kings" (the day of gifts) - while at the same time Eastern Orthodox Christians in Russia etc. celebrate Christmas according to the Julian calendar. To all, no matter where and what: "Have a blessed celebration and a wonderful day!" 

The three kings were also called wise men or magi who came from the East with presents of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The word magi is the plural of Latin magus, borrowed from the Greek μάγος magos, which itself is derived from the Old Persian maguŝ from the Avestan magâunô, the religious priest caste into which Zoroaster was born. The three magi were Melichior who was a scholar from Persia; Gaspar or Gathaspa an Indian scholar; and Balthassar or Bithisarea a scholar from Arabia.

Coming back to popcorn and the cinema - the last movie I saw was "The Physician" (in Germany also called "Medicus"), where a British wanna-be-doctor travels from a rather unscientific and barbaric reality of northern gloom to a delightfully bright set up in Persian Isfahan in order to study medicine under the famous Ibn Sina, known in the West as Avicenna. Right away I recognized that the Oriental scenes where of course shot in versatile and beautiful Morocco and the film was rather enjoyable (with or without popcorn). 

Ya Shifa! Oh healed One! The healing know-how was in those days evidently with the Orient. But as we well know, things do shift: cultures are born, develop, reach a climax on a certain peak, decline and die, or are transformed into something else and might fuse with a new impulse. History is nothing but cycles, repeating itself in variations of civilization impacts and diverse culture manifestations - like evolving jam sessions of the same basic musical theme just appearing again and again in different drag, always new and fresh as perpetual creation in action. 

Evolution doesn't seem to be linear. At times it gets interrupted or inspired by revolutions and / or suffering the retro-rocker-blues going fossilized or backward - only to later make another quantum leap, provided that time, place and people are aligned with the cosmic harmonies of the Zeitgeist. And when all goes well things turn even multidimensional with ripple effects going off in all directions, provided it is the moment for a real event to take place. Some events are minor ones, or could even be called pseudo-events without any reality impact at all, illusion-like or as a desert mirage (in the Hausa language and funnily also in German called "Fata Morgana"). 

In reality also negative and positive events do of course exist, causing all sorts of sad or happy situations. While some situations actually come across as bothersome problems. Naturally we've heard of blessings in disguise, but when hit by a problem, a sad or negative event, we usually can't see the blessing and get busy to complain or cry (like in the Sufi teaching tale, "The Story of Mushkil Gusha"). Often rightly so, but that's beyond the point. The point is to cultivate a positive perception and see blessings in disguise! Without doubt that's a big plus point and an art form of being more refined in terms of perceiving! From an alchemical standpoint of transformation / transmutation / metamorphosis it is half the rent. 

At the end of the day it boils down to knowledge - starting with self-knowledge, and love - in order to transform. I shall get to that later again. By the way Mushkil Gusha, in the Sufi story mentioned above is used as a name of a mysterious character. Literally this half Arabic half Persian word-cocktail, means: Problem Dissolver!

A few days ago I came across a gay blog from down under (Australia), which made me rather sad and reflective, while calling upon Mushkil Gusha to dissolve and transform the tragic-sounding and quite depressive scenario. A scenario that was not at all unfamiliar. Perhaps a lot of us have come across the phenomenon? Or are you all deluding yourself, pretending all is well and eternally happy in the global gay world?

Some people believe Mushkil Gusha is Al-Khidr (the Green One), others reduce him to a mysterious voice from above, some see in him 'Ali, but all agree it is a helper of hu-mankind to transform problems. And at present we are very much in need of that - on a personal level, as well as on a global one. 

The person of the blog was a 37-year-old gay man who at this still somewhat tender age had already given up all hope on the gay community. He compared his coming out time in Sydney in 1993 - which sounded like a colorful and diverse scene - to our contemporary internet-chat obsessed global gay world dominated by grindr, planetromeo and similar devices where the tone of communication - if one may call that at all honest and human communication - has changed to a brief minimalist summary of stats and a shorthand headline: height, weight, race (ideally white), penis size, often in a laughingly called "open relationship", barking for NSA (not the spying National Security Agency, but standing for "no strings attached"), and lusting after straight acting pseudo-hetero dudes who all fit the normative gym ideal of men who look like plastic clones. The ones who love delusions and who seem to delight in self-hatred, being fearful of the idea of any commitment or, God forbid, indulge in any trace of true feelings and emotions - leave alone a sense of diverse gay community. Not to forget very fixed and rigid sexual rolls - don't you ever dare to question them! Like a rose is a rose is a rose, so now the song goes: a top is a top is a top and a bottom is a bottom is a bottom - forever and ever! Amin! Oh Lord, what a boring, dull and predictable horror scenario! Do you eat every day shawarma?

What happened to versatile people? To Yellow-Pagers who do all the numbers in the book? To individualists? To those who are engaged in alternative thought and action? Where is GLBTQ solidarity? Where are the delightful misfits? And what happened to human rights in such a hardcore consumer set up where people are looked at as if shopping in a degrading meat market?

In this new global gay world order there seems only room for certain age groups (anyone above their limit counts as already dead and highly unwanted). There seems only room for all sorts of fetish obsessions, and all those who conform and dislike diversity are very welcome. Where "the other" is out and firmly excluded before he or she can even come close to the hetero-normative tribe in vogue. In short, the sad scene is dominated by impatient hungry-Hilda-types who throw out headlines like: "Don't waste my time!" 

How can anyone waste another person's time unless you allow it? If you are hanging out in an online chat room why should there be a guaranty that Mr. Wonderful according to your preconditioned idea and order will pop up within seconds like a pizza home delivery with extra cheese and no onions please? That is quite an arrogant attitude and very immature. If not to say utterly unrealistic!

So the unhappy gay man from down under sounded very sad, frustrated and disillusioned of contemporary modern gay life and I don't blame him one bit, he has all my sympathies and I agree with him. As a matter of fact since some time I no longer define myself as "gay" and prefer the word "queer" which still has some power and a sense of position outside the commercialized homosexual mainstream goof. And by the way I long ago deleted all my gay internet profiles - I'm out of cyberspace cruising and I'm not missing it at all - au contraire, now I no longer waste my time in futile online activities - give me a 3-D-break where I'd be quite willing to check things and even flirt or date! Ya Haqq! Nothing can beat the real and reality! Let me see, smell, touch and hear the real thing and not some advertised normed online fantasy in the style of a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy.

Am I capable of having a sense of community with this virtual gay ghetto which is often dominated by strange, unfriendly, intolerant, xenophobic, islamophobic, racist and discriminatory language, bad attitude and behavior? No, I don't. Who needs any of that? Nobody does! Instead what seems a real need is an alternative niche with different queer manifestations that allow for identifying and a sense of belonging for diverse people who consider themselves queer human beings. 

Now how do you define yourself? Is it just by your sexuality? Your gender? Your body? Your profession? Your religion or the lack of it? Your ethnic background? Your passport(s) and nationality? The languages you chose to learn? The place you were born or the place(s) you decided to live and work or visit?

Perhaps ask yourself these questions and reflect. What is your take on a healthy identity? Do you believe it is static or evolving?

I for my part answered those questions and I still can see how my identity keeps changing and evolving all the time. Al-Hamdulillah! We are living in a dynamic universe where creation is an on-going process. Therefore the changes also apply to people's identities. Of course there are some souls who resists change and fear anything new or different like the devil. But as we know, one day, this too shall pass!

Some time ago I made a documentary dealing with the issue how people define themselves, entitled "Identities". The theme is still not at all out-dated and I believe it will stay that way, as people deal with the questions: "Who am I? Where do I come from and where am I heading?" 

In the alchemy of spiritual transformation it is the power of love that is the strongest agent to set things into motion. Love is the best transformer to change copper into gold. 

Ya Wadud! Oh Loving One!

يا ودود
* * *
وَمِنْ آَيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآَيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

And among His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you might incline towards them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you: in this, behold, indeed there are signs for people who reflect!
Qur'an 30:21


Note the word "mates" is gender neutral and can be applied for women and men, women and women, men and men! So we all have our supposed soul mates, no matter what. The questions remains where to meet and how to hook up? However, meanwhile it might be a fruitful action to focus on the dhikr: Ya Wadud! Become a loving one! And also love yourself, and practice loving kindness towards all of creation and the Creator.
Ishq bashad, saludos Rahal