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Book Title: Philosophy of Unity:Love as an Ultimate Unifier
Author: Michael Bassey Eneyo
Published by: Xlibris, 2019
Reviewed by: Desh Subba

Osho as saying:
"Nations are just man made boundaries, races are stupid discriminations, and
religions are man-manufactured and they are all dividing man against man."

One of the tasks of philosophers is to collect information from different sources
and process them to bring out beautiful insights about the reality of life. We can as
well say that a philosopher is a collector, maker and a distributor of ideas that are
capable of bringing love, development and unity in human society. Pragmatically
speaking, unlike a manufacturer that specializes in a specific area of production as
s/he devotes time, energy and resources to ensure that such production comes out
as a good and appreciative product, a philosopher specializes in the quest for the
ultimate truth about everything in the world. His scope of enquiry is anything that
exists, as well as the inexistent. Philosopher investigates every tiny particle to
know how best such knowledge can help in the making of a better society. There’s
no part of beings; either human or non-human that has not enjoyed at least a dose
of the activities of philosophers. One can justifiably argue that philosophy is that
umbrella which gives coverage to all aspects of enquiry or study: both the
empirical and rational dimensions of knowledge are tinged with philosophy.
Michael Eneyo’s work is a reflection of this undeniable truth. Eneyo in this book
has successfully collected ideas from different sources right from the classical to
the present philosophic expositions and garnish it with many insightful
renovations. He resorted to the study of different fragmented entities such as:
atoms, ants, plants, animals, humans, etc, and then concluded that the apparent
fragmentation and individuation of things in the universe is just an illusion; that
everything is connected to everything else. He is of the opinion that unless
opposites are taken into consideration, enquiry is incomplete.

In one of his quotes he said: "don't desire to acquire so much wealth, but desire
that you live a happy life; true happiness is the greatest wealth."

Yes! Philosophers not only try to know what “is”, they also want to know what
was before creation and what would be after existence. It is always on expanding
scope that covers varieties of things. No wonder most scholars refer to philosophy
as "mother of all discipline"(P4).
It is therefore the character of philosopher to use any available tools in search for
absolute truth. Philosophers never stop at one destination; they look at both front
and back, up and down in search for answers to many barren questions of life. For
a philosopher to accept anything as appealing, desiring, virtuous, justice, etc, s/he
must have reason(s) to support such stance. This attitude of having reason for any
knowledge claim makes some people say that philosophy is the study of “why questions.

” They are always curious about why the thing is the way it is, and then
suggests how it ought to have been.

It is also true that philosophers always search for answers and these answers
always produce new knowledge. One can say that a philosopher is a planter of
knowledge; always curious to plant for others to harvest. Philosophy digs the depth
of knowledge, virtue, justice, nature, hell and heaven and every other thing that is
worth knowing. Michael Eneyo, a philosopher, the fearologist, lovist: is a
philosophical farmer whose duty is to plant knowledge in this field called universe.
The resounding philosophic dictum in most of his works is Love. For him, love is
the ultimate unifier of all fragments and their opposites. To support the above
dictum, he exhibited how different beings such as: animals, birds, human body,
plant, etc, are naturally connected with one another in the universe, which
according to him is predicated on love. He is of the opinion that the universe is
dialectically constituted and that every being is fundamentally guided by some set
of rules (p.25).

In one of his quotes he said: "don't desire to acquire so much wealth, but desire
that you live a happy life; true happiness is the greatest wealth". I agree with him.
From experience, we can see that people try to find happiness in material wealth,
but true happiness is not found in wealth. It can be in the forest, mountains, and
rivers or in nature itself. Happiness is a creation of the “self”; we are the one to
make ourselves happy no matter the situation. If we search for happiness in
politics, in business, in writing or in religion, we may not find it unless we choose
to be happy ourselves. When Socrates went out in search for wisdom among
politicians, authors, businessmen and among the youths of Athens, he couldn't
find it. Wisdom was already inside of him. It is the same way happiness is inside of
us, we only need to bring them out the way Socrates tried to bring out the
knowledge which he claimed was already in everyone.
Again, the author in this work says in another of his dictums that, "there is an
enduring battle between life and death. When life changes it battle ground, the
result is death, and when death changes, we call it life." Everyone is in-between life
and death. This again is very true. Absolutely, life is all about being saved from
death. Throughout our lives, we always try our best to ensure that we save it from death.

Eating, doing exercises, having balance diet, invention of medicines,
engaging in politics, enactment of certain laws, rules and regulations are mostly
associated with our fear of death. We are always in battle between life and death.
When we lose the battle for death, we die and if we win; we live. That is why we
always struggle to be the winner. Eneyo is right! All our struggles in life are
between life and death. Most people are afraid to die that is why they engage in
many activities that can prolong their lives.
Eneyo has cited a thought from Ernest Becker. Becker has said that all human
anxiety is ultimately a manifestation of their fear of death. This assertion is similar
to Eneyo’s. I am personally in agreement with Becker and Eneyo here. To add to
Becker’s assertion; depression, stress, mental problems are also ultimately
manifestations of humans fear of death.
In this book, Eneyo discusses that both the positive and the negative unity are
caused by love. But R. Michael Fisher, one of the renounced fearologists argues
that the kind of cultural unity discussed by Becker is caused by fear of terror; thus,
it cannot be interpreted as unity motivated by love, but Eneyo has successfully
prove his point in the pages of this book. This again depends on the belief or the
perspective Fisher is looking at fear. Fisher's department of specialty is on fear, so
his interpretation, no doubt seems to be influenced by his field of expertise. An
idealist once said to Sartre;"there is a god". He replied, "If there is a god, then
there must be existence". This means that things are necessitated by the
influence of other related things.

Another beautiful presentation of the illusion of division and disunity in this
naturally unified world is well captured when the author cited Osho as saying:
"Nations are just man made boundaries, races are stupid discriminations, and
religions are man-manufactured and they are all dividing man against man". This
is a dynamic approach. In fact it is true; we are now in the universe where human
beings have created for themselves; nations, boundaries, race, and classes. This
idea of division and disintegration is not original to humans. These are the factors
that divide us; thus, turning us into enemies to each other. Even though Osho
seems to have looked at this factor of division from human perspective, I want to

add that other non living factors like: technological machines, pollutions, and
bombs are also dividing us through the way they are used by humans. Though in
the beginning, man invented these facilities for his benefits, after awhile, the
supposedly benefits have evolved into abuse; thus, becoming enemies to man.
That is why Jean Jacques Rousseau says that everything was good in the state of
nature, but everything degenerates in the hands of man. In the state of nature
there was no man-made religion, boundaries, race and class; everything was part
of everything else. This kind of natural unity with a contemporary mindset is what
the book envisioned.

Michael Eneyo’s book on unity is a panacea for mutual cohesion in the
contemporary society that is characterized with all kinds of disunity. Unity is the
best solution to war, violence, conflict etc. I recommend readers to carefully go
through this masterpiece of Michael Eneyo on unity of beings. Not only will it help
you in understanding the international conflicts and how it can be addressed, but
will also help you to understand how to handle domestic violence and conflicts
too. Once we understand the root of war, violence and conflict, we will certainly
have solution for them. The book: Philosophy of Unity is indeed a compendium of
solutions to international and domestic conflict, war, violence and all forms of
civil unrest.

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How Will Love Do It?

Just finished my Part 2 Video doing a fearanalysis of Marianne Williamson's campaign so far: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHDlATRUYLM

The Marianne Williamson campaign-- questions are being asked as in this Forbes magazine article on MW... [see also my blog a few posts ago on this ning]

Warrell, a fan of MW, asked (as many will) in this article ending: 

"Will love win out over fear in a political system that seems to so richly reward those who are most masterful in manipulating fear in their favor?  Time will tell."  

https://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2019/01/29/marianne-williamson-can-love-transcend-fear/#6cc095f4141b

 

ALSO, my daughter (Vanessa) interviewed in a podcast Marianne in 2012, well worth listening to: http://www.poetic-justice.ca/for-the-love-of-social-change--interview-with-marianne-williamson --at one point Marianne says, "forces of fear are intensifying; forces of love are intensifying" -- sounds a lot how I think too but my philosophical and theoretical frame looks at this as forces of fear/fearlessness are intensifying... 

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This blogpost is a quick rendering of my practical life interest in terms of "helping" others. I am most interested, for a lot of autobiographical reasons, to observe and assess the nature of caregiving. I and Barbara (my life-partner of 26 years) have often said "we are recovering caregivers" and it leads most of our professional and academic lives. It leads because we are deeply aware of the upside and downside of caregiving. This caregiving is the largest umbrella and practical term for what includes everything from parenting to service work and especially we have the most experience in watching and working with nurses, counsellors/therapists, health care providers in the largest sense, and this includes the large field of educators and teachers of all kinds. Then, there is a large group of people who are community-oriented caregivers in social services, etc.

I have been working in and/or closely around these caregivers since the day I was born. I seemed to have had an extra-sensitive if not empathic antennae built-in to recognize caregivers as both important in society and my own development but also to recognize when they were inadequate for the job due to many many reasons, not all of their own making by any means. And, the more important reason I think I watch the caregivers is because so many of them go into leadership positions. They want to care for others, even for whole nations or the world--and, thus, I have been likewise interested in world leaders. Barbara has focused her dissertation research in the past on women leaders, and more recently she is in collaboration (as am I) with academic women and leaders of various kinds and how they are "burnt" by the world and the academy especially these days with the neoliberalism agendas of institutions in general (especially, in the Western world).

So, how does fear and fearlessness and "allergies and addictions" come to play the central theme of my life's work and this blogpost. If you read my past Forum blog on this ning you'll see what I call my latest turn of the latter years (65-80) on HEALTH in the largest sense of that term, and how I can bring my critical work and life-experience to bear on how we approach health (and illhealth, and wellness) in societies. But, I want to give a sharper focus to that for the moment in this blogpost. It comes from working of late with academic caregivers from the fields of Nursing and Education, and in watching my life-partner be impacted over the last 15 years by entering the Academy and what that does to a person, to a woman, to a feminist, to a caregiver. Yes, Barbara has been a caregiver ever since she was old enough to hold a baby, and most of the babies in her family were on loan, so to speak, as her minister dad and caregiving expert mom took on foster kids for many years, as well as having a family of five children.

A major highlight that really transformed my life was marrying an x-nun (if that is even possible), my first wife Linda. She was a fresh and enthusiastic and idealistic Catholic girl who at age 17 graduated high school successfully (if that is possible to be healthy in the Catholic girls schools only) and she entered a life-time commitment to Jesus Christ (yes, the nuns marry JC literally in ceremony) and to helping the suffering in the world. Of course, I fell in love with that kind of woman, as I met her in the field of Education, a year after she left the nuns (which was a highly traumatic scene) and wanted to train to become a school teacher (in Social Studies). Again, this blogpost is not going to give you the whole story. It turned out to be a largely disastrous family we made together in terms of dramatic tragedy and traumas. She has literally no relationship with me or her girls at this point, which started when the girls were late teens many years ago. 

So, as I said, I have watched the Love and Fear interplay in and through the dynamic ecology of caregiving, across many fields, and I have been lucky enough for the most part to escape it all because for the most part I left all institutional-based caregiving long before my life-partners, and friends, and colleagues. I watched them from the outside, and I have spent decades observing and studying and finding best ways to help them. The entire caregiving establishment of our Western societies is very pathological in my view--a conclusion I reach with great care. I have seen the Love-based motivations of caregiving turn over and over into Fear-based motivations and most of it driven by the larger 'Fear' Matrix of society. One cannot simply be naive about this. You enter caregiving with good intentions and the hurts add up and caregivers are often as hurt and damaged soon after by the system and those that they help. I am not the only one to have noticed this problematic of caregiving. Yet, I have studied how Love and Fear play out. Most don't do that systematic detailed fearanalysis. I have continued to watch the desperation of coping means professional caregivers use to handle this and I have read more research by academics studying their own crumbling under the institutionalization of care.

The book I can see I ought to write is entitled "CAREGIVING: ALLERGIES AND ADDICTIONS OF GROWTH" ... something like that. I am referring not only to the physical (clinical) manifestation of allergies (moving away from) and addiction (moving toward) but as Ken Wilber brilliantly analyzes the issues of growth and development and its dysfunctions (see earlier blogposts by me on Wilber's new book). Again, I'm not going to elaborate at this point on this problematic. The simple application of the book is to help caregivers of all kinds see a better framework for caregiving than the one they absorbed from their mothers and fathers, their teachers, their nurses, etc. There is so much woundedness that has been accumulating faster than our models of caring and healing. That's pretty much the story I would tell. And I have hundreds of case examples to draw upon, to explain why caregivers 'burn out'--some make the best of that experience and transform healthily again (if that is even possible) and most don't make a positive turn around but drive themselves down into oblivion through various allergies and addictions in extreme... often manifesting severe illnesses. Again, my interest is in physical, emotional, mental and spiritual allergies and addictions--that is, dis-eases and their cures. Of course, one's relationship to Fear and Fearlessness (and Love) is an essential part of the Wilberian developmental analysis but I take that even further into a critical theory and praxis, I simply call fearanalysis.

So, maybe we can get the caregivers to come on to the FM ning and start to reflect on their lives as caregivers in light of some of these things I have brought forward (over simplified) above.

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Rafiq's Response to My Blog (Oct. 9/16)

I appreciate Rafiq's sincere and nuanced long response to my blog (Oct. 9/16) where I "review" his book. He was fine with me publishing his response here, as we both intend to keep the conversation going and invite others to comment and join in. Enjoy. I'll respond soon to this piece in Comments format.

Sometimes Fearlessly: A Grateful Response to Fisher’s Riff on Days of Shock, Days of Wonder

Rafiq

In his blog post “A Peek into a Young Artist’s Days of Fearlessness: Rafiq,” R. Michael Fisher does me a great kindness.[1] He takes my work as a writer seriously and he invites his readers to do the same. At the conclusion of his riff on my memoir Days of Shock, Days of Wonder: The 9/11 Age, the Ways of the Mystics, and One Man’s Escape from Babylon in the Belly of a Whale,[2] Mr. Fisher writes, “Rafiq will be an interesting player of the revolution to come, for I have no doubt of his importance … He and his work are still young and growing toward something more powerful. I’ll be watching, as no doubt will others, for what form it all takes.”

More than that, Mr. Fisher has invited me into a dialogue about my work with a reader who cares about the same things as me: the psychology of fear, the depth of love, the chance for revolution in the face of, as he puts it, “a harsh predatory capitalist world that doesn’t give a shit about his quest or mine.” It is rare for a writer to find a truly kindred reader. It is even rarer to find one who is passionate enough to ask questions whose answers can help carry the whole project of social and self evolution just a little bit further forward. In the interest of that project, then, here are my replies to his comments. I’m grateful for the chance to help frame these important ideas if I can.

But, first, a correction is in order. Although Days of Shock, Days of Wonder is endorsed on its cover by scholars Four Arrows (aka Don Trent Jacobs), David Ray Griffin, and Kevin Barrett, I never was able to find a publisher for this memoir. Like my first book, Gaj: The End of Religion,[3] which I wrote to counter the idea of God or Allah as an individual who could take sides in the “war on terror,” my memoir was published by my own company, Hay River Books, a writer’s cooperative that I set up in 2004, where various artists work on each other’s productions in exchange for similar help. So when Mr. Fisher writes the following, I think he has mistaken Hay River Books for Hay House: “It is an impressive feat for anyone to get a book like this published by an official publisher the quality of Hay River Books, as I believe they have published many of Noam Chomsky’s political tracts. Good for him.” I am happy to see that my book left the impression that it could have been published by Hay House, but it just ain’t so.

[RMF: Oh, you are right. My mistake. But actually I didn't think you'd at all be in the genre of 'new agey' type for Hay House publishers, but I meant Haymarket Books, where Chomsky publishes often]

Also, before turning to Mr. Fisher’s questions about Days of Shock, Days of Wonder, I should explain the context in which he asks them. His blog post, as I say, is a riff, not a review, for it is based on his reading of only the book’s final four chapters. He writes,

“I confess, beginning context material can sometimes be important for understanding what comes later in a book. So, if I misinterpret anything herein, it’s my own damn fault. Rafiq or anyone can correct me if I am way off the mark. Frankly, I get a thrill out of the risk of mis-interpretation. I can’t explain it other than it’s freeing to just ‘fly’ and be ‘incomplete’ and not apologetic to those who want a standard book review.”

I’m happy to say that Mr. Fisher is not at all “off the mark.” But filling in some pieces from earlier in the book will shed more light on my understanding of the themes he brings up.

On the matter of fear, I should respond to the following: “He skirted around defining ‘fear’ a lot more carefully (maybe, earlier in the book he does so) … I found him a bit of a conformist … in regard to his imaginary and understanding of fear and its management and/or transformation.” In my first book, which is a work of religious-spiritual philosophy, I write that a lack of connection to the greater whole “can give rise only to fear about the outcomes of our lives and to fear of each other. In turn, this fear breeds actual division, discontinuity, and the exaggeration of difference, such that our fears (like prayers) become the means by which we weave our futures” (p. 90). By the “greater whole,” I mean what can be called “God,” and I am writing about the distinction between God as an individual separate from creation and God as an energy that animates all of creation. This distinction is discussed in chapter one of Days of Shock, Days of Wonder, where I tell about how I came to write my first book.

In Days of Shock, Days of Wonder, as Mr. Fisher points out, I am “not trying to write a serious philosophy book.” Unlike my first book, which is all theory, my memoir is all practice. So rather than defining “fear,” it seeks to illustrate the conditions for fearlessness. The primary condition, as I say, is a worldview that is rooted in a holistic understanding of reality, wherein God is already conspiring in one’s favour, so to speak. One can move from the belief that this is so to the knowledge that this so only through firsthand experience of what I refer to in the title of my book as “wonder,” by which I mean evidence of a singular intelligent force at work in all of life.

Examples of such wonder appear in my memoir’s first chapter and form the core of many of the early chapters, continuing to accumulate across the real-life narrative of the book. Their collective effect is that they begin to suggest a grounds for fearlessness. But connection to the greater whole, whether in theory or practice, is not the same thing as absolute knowledge of the greater whole. As Four Arrows emphasizes in his recent book Point of Departure, the inspirited realm should be regarded as the “Great Mysterious.” One’s interconnection with the Great Mysterious is thus based on courage in the face of the unknown.[4] Courage precedes fearlessness, which cannot merely be claimed based on dogma but must be hard-won through experience.

In chapter nine, as I begin my retreat from Babylon in a camperized Volkswagen van, I write, “Driving out of the city, I turned on the radio in the middle of the Beatle’s Hey Jude to hear a joyous refrain. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ crooned McCartney. I told myself that I wouldn’t” (p. 67). What follows is an account of nearly killing myself while cliff jumping with my niece and nephews. The rally cry that day had been “no fear.” But they were just words, and when it was all over, I reflected, “I’d summoned enough fearless calm to come through with nothing but scrapes and bruised heels. But I was humbled. I’d been running around half-cocked. A city boy in nature. Real fearlessness was measured and patient. I would have to make it a practice on the road” (p. 68).

And that is what I did. The latter half of Days of Shock, Days of Wonder is an attempt to illustrate that process. After a week volunteering at a Buddhist retreat centre on Canada’s west coast, I write, “Each day before breakfast and dinner, I meditated with the group for thirty minutes. I was calmer than I’d been in my life. The world seemed ephemeral and simple. More than feeling fearless, I saw that there was nothing to fear after all. I vowed to keep meditating” (p. 73). Here, the link between fearlessness and an increased connection to the greater whole through meditation is key. This inner experience of God is a companion to the outer experiences of God that I narrate in terms of wonder.

After my van gets stuck on a beach, with its rear-mounted engine buried in a pit dug by my unsuccessful attempts to get it out, I write,

“If the tide came in, the engine would be flooded with salt and sand. It would be the end of the road. My pulse started to race. Was I truly fearless? I was about to find out … I lay awake and listened to the waves lap the shore … The waves seemed louder. All suffering is just thought, I told myself. The Buddhist stance … I turned out the light and slept fitfully” (p. 76). “At five-thirty I saw a thread of yellow in the clouds low over the ranch lands. Morning at last. I got out of the van. The tide was coming in. I started walking. I told myself that if all went to shit, I would catch a bus to an airport and get on the next plane to Montreal. I would leave the van behind, the solar panel, most of my stuff. But I didn’t really think it would come to that” (p. 77).

And it didn’t. My van was pulled out of the sand by a farmer with a tractor. We crossed paths on the road, and he managed to free the van before the tide was even getting close. Experiences like this one made it possible for me to keep on “jumping into the unknown without a net in sight” (p. 133). So although it may appear that there was little method to my madness, particularly given my professed preference for aligning with the flow of the Tao and letting its current carry me where it might, there was indeed a well-conceived basis for my fearlessness.

Mr. Fisher writes, “I was glad he interacted some with Four Arrows around the fear concept … However, in the pages I read I did not see an intricate synthesis that convinced me Rafiq was utilizing the best of what Four Arrows’ work had to offer him in this area.” Mr. Fisher is correct that at the time of writing Days of Shock, Days of Wonder, I had not moved from theory into practice with respect to Four Arrows’ ideas about how fear impedes rational reflection by making one susceptible to subconscious input from figures of authority.

Yet in chapter twelve I recount numerous experiences of Four Arrows that show how this aspect of fear works, all drawn from his memoir Primal Awareness.[5] I have included that part of my book in an article entitled “Indigenous Wisdom Explains Hypnosis of the 9/11 Lie” because understanding the psychology of fear is a necessary first step toward liberation from fear.[6] To be fearless in confronting authority, we must cultivate inner authority, and to do that we must confront past lies and discard subconsciously accepted nonsense. An ongoing project, to be sure.

As for the matter of love, I should respond to Mr. Fisher’s observation that I “didn’t spend a lot of time defining love systematically either. This makes me wonder, what does he actually mean when he writes about these important terms [i.e., fear and love] in human existence?” As with my attempt to illustrate the conditions for fearlessness, my book’s real-life narrative is intended to illustrate an opening of my heart and the factors that made this lived experience of love possible. And because no journey is linear, but instead a spiral that brings one back around to the same themes and awakenings again and again as it tightens, I structured my book as a double journey into love. That is, both the book’s middle and final chapters conclude with a surrender to love.

In the case of the middle chapter, it ends soon after a German mechanic I met while living in my van on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico tells me about his part in setting up a murder. I write,

“I watched the German sweating there on his back in the gravel and ground-up seashells of what was once an ocean floor. Like he was lying at the bottom of the world. And I felt only forgiveness. Love. Something I’d never felt for the killers in high places who’d done the [9/11] attack. Those misguided faces of the One. My days on the beach had opened my heart” (p. 81). Before the chapter’s end, I add, “I recalled what an American man had said to me in Nizamuddin. How the important thing was to choose one path and follow it to the end. At the time, I’d scoffed. That would be like reading only one philosopher. I’d forgotten what the Hindu thinker had said about all religions being a finger pointing at the same thing. The unifying, indwelling quality of God … [I felt] like I’d followed the path of Sufism to its end. Love for all in All. And I’d found my heart again” (p. 81).

While living on the Baja, I had come into the possession of a fat book of poetry by the Sufi poet Hafiz, who lived during the 1300s. Along with my immersion in nature and practice of meditation, this book played an important part in my orientation toward love. Having read it through twice, I write, “Not Shakespeare in his sonnets nor the Old Testament in its psalms built a greater monument to love than Hafiz. Love of self and love of God. The two entwined” (p. 78).

At the end of the book’s final chapter, I write that a true revolution required that we “ignite our inner fire and illuminate our hearts. We had to love. This was the teaching of Quetzalcoatl, Jesus, and Hafiz. It was what Gandhi had meant when he told us to be the change we wanted to see in the world … Love for all in All had to be the elixir” (p. 165).

From these passages, we see that I understand love, like fear, to be a factor of our connection to the greater whole. Love for God as a part of ourselves is the path to love for both ourselves and others as part of God. In a truly holistic understanding of God, all is God, so all grounds for distinction, all grounds for hate, fall away. When Four Arrows writes on the cover of Days of Shock, Days of Wonder that I have written “a book to ignite a generation,” he is referring to my memoir’s potential to ignite people’s hearts by illustrating through narrative how the workings of the inspirited realm testify to our unity, which is the grounds for our mutual love. Mr. Fisher is right when he says that my book is unlikely to ignite “anything of such grandiosity” as a revolution by my generation. Before that can happen, we need a reorientation as individuals toward a love-based rather than fear-based cosmology.

So what does fearless love look like in action? Mr. Fisher writes, “I think often because of his total fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, and other factors, Rafiq ‘missed’ the boat of doing effective good work that could have been accomplished on his four-year journey.” He wonders whether I could have done my “socially-engaged art practices ‘better’” in the communities I frequently visited in Mexico. He is talking about actions on the ground in response to the lived experiences of actual people. I am not surprised that he should look for this type of practice in his assessment of what he calls a “a socially engaged artist,” a category that I am happy to occupy. In this respect, as with many others, his thinking and mine are aligned. As the following account will make clear, to quote a poster on the door of my Grade 2 classroom, I believe that “love isn’t love until you give it away.”

In chapter one of Days of Shock, Days of Wonder, I explain, “I was living in a one-room apartment above an all-night diner in a seedy part of downtown Montreal. A lot of people asked me for spare change. I usually gave them some” (p. 6). What follows are two anecdotes about how face-to-face generosity illustrates that giving and receiving are links in a single chain –  the source of reciprocity. In chapter three, I tell about two homeless Inuit men for whom my apartment became a kind of drop-in-centre where they got warm, cooked on my stove, and occasionally slept on my floor when the winter turned bitter cold. I would end up making a documentary with them so that they might have a voice. It’s called Be Smile: The Stories of Two Urban Inuit.[7]

Later, when I settled in the town of Sayulita on the west coast of Mexico, a similar situation arose with a teenage girl from Mexico City who was sixteen when we met and had been living on and off the streets for three years. She ended up staying with me or using my camping gear to set up home on the beach. Eventually, I helped her get a job at a friend’s shop, and she worked there for two years, living with me whenever she needed to. I thought about including her story in Days of Shock, Days of Wonder, in which case it would have been there in the final chapters that Mr. Fisher read, but I didn’t have any distance from that experience at the time. In fact, she and her punk rock friends from Guadalajara were crashing in my living room as I pounded out the book’s final pages.

There is one final comment to which I should respond. Mr. Fisher writes, “I’m curious what happened eventually to the white whale? In the 80’s I bought a 1973 VW and well ... a kinship with Rafiq’s spirit is inevitable.” The white whale, Ballena Blanca, is what I came to call the van that took me out of Babylon. In chapter fifteen of Days of Shock, Days of Wonder, after three harrowing months stuck in Belize with mechanical problems and after a week of daily vehicle breakdowns of various kinds as I drove north trying to get back to Canada, the van died in Austin Texas. The engine was blown. I write,

“I could rebuild it for about four grand. I could replace it for a lot more than that. Or I could sell the van for parts and walk away … I walked away. It was 2011. Two years to the week since I’d bought my home on wheels … I kept my drum, a backpack of clothes, a knapsack with my laptop, video camera, and hard drive. And one of the younger mechanics gave me a duffel bag for my books and some odds and ends. That was just about all of my possessions” (p. 130).

True to what I told myself the night that my van had gotten stuck on the beach with the tide coming in, I walked away with no more than I could carry. And I continued on. Sometimes fearlessly. Sometimes with love in my heart. Always in search of the authentic.

Notes

[1] R. Michael Fisher, “A Peek into a Young Artist’s Days of Fearlessness: Rafiq,” Fearlessness Movement Blog, 9 October 2016, http://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/a-peek-into-a-young-artist-s-days-of-fearlessness-rafiq.

[2] Rafiq, Days of Shock, Days of Wonder: The 9/11 Age, the Ways of the Mystics, and One Man’s Escape from Babylon in the Belly of a Whale (Montreal: Hay River Books, 2016), https://www.amazon.com/Days-Shock-Wonder-Mystics-Babylon/dp/0973656115.

[3] Rafiq, Gaj: The End of Religion (Montreal: Hay River Books, 2004), PDF at www.endofreligion.com, https://www.amazon.com/GAJ-The-End-of-Religion/dp/0973656107.

[4] Four Arrows, Point of Departure: Returning to Our More Authentic Worldview for Education and Survival (Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, 2016), 62, https://www.amazon.com/Point-Departure-Returning-Authentic-Worldview/dp/1681235900.

See also Rafiq, “Indigenous Worldview and the Art of Transformation,” review of Point of Departure by Four Arrows, Truthjihad.com Blog, 28 September 2016, http://truthjihad.blogspot.mx/2016/09/indigenous-worldview-and-art-of.html.

[5] Four Arrows, Primal Awareness: A True Story of Awakening and Transformation with the Raramuri Shamans of Mexico (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 1998), https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0892816694.

[6] Rafiq, “Indigenous Wisdom Explains Hypnosis of the 9/11 Lie,” Truthjihad.com Blog, 9 September 2016, http://truthjihad.blogspot.mx/2016/09/rafiq-indigenous-wisdom-explains.html.

[7] Rafiq, Be Smile: The Stories of Two Urban Inuit, documentary (2006), https://vimeo.com/103911360.

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