Man by his nature is located in a process of comprehending and understanding the world, of being interested in the world—if we consider “interest” in its original etymological sense of inter-esse, of being-within—a process by which the division between a rigid subject and an equally rigid, externally located object is overcome in favor of the idea of a constant relationship in which (as the Buddhists say) “I do not only see the rose, the rose also sees me.” This is just a special formulation of this procedural, reciprocal relationship of man to the world.

There is more: this being-in-the-world, this giving-oneself-to-the-world, this self-transformation in the act of life, is only possible when man loses his greediness and stinginess and abandons his self as an isolated, fixed ego that stands opposed to the world.

Only when man abandons this self, when he can empty himself (to use the language of mystics), only then can he fill himself entirely. For he must be empty of his egotistical self in order to become full of what comes to him from the world. It does not matter whether that something is a person or nature or an idea. The person who is filled up with himself is neither open nor free to give himself.

– Erich Fromm, The Essential Fromm : Life Between Having and Being

bel esprit

وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ

{And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks I will give you more but if you are thankless verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.}

(Ibrahim 14:7)

Gratitude is love. Love is the space consciousness whence creativity sprouts; all of life is creative. So when we make room in our hearts for the things in life that feel beautiful, our focus draws in more of it. This is the gist of Allaah’s promise that for the grateful, they’ll be increased.

Ingratitude is described as ‘kufr’. Linguistically, kufr means covering, burying. The only way someone can deny the blessings of Allaah is by suppressing parts of himself. Because in truth, everything in existence is a fractal blessing.

And what is the torment guaranteed for the ingrate? Is it a punishment meted out specifically for the failure to do something? No. The ingrate is punished by his very being. His heart collapsing in on itself under the weight of the ego blocks the space consciousness, being confined to a place of decay. Having one’s heart blocked to Allaah’s love and light is the epitome of torment.

كَلَّا بَلْ رَانَ عَلىٰ قُلُوبِهِم مَّا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ

{Nay! But their hearts were made impenetrable by the evil they used to do.}

كَلَّا إِنَّهُمْ عَن رَّبِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ لَّمَحْجُوبُونَ

{Nay! Surely they will be veiled from their Lord that Day}

ثُمَّ إِنَّهُمْ لَصَالُو الْجَحِيمِ

{ Then indeed, they will [enter and] burn in Hellfire.}

ثُمَّ يُقَالُ هَذَا الَّذِي كُنتُم بِهِ تُكَذِّبُونَ

{Then, it will be said to them: “This is what you used to deny!}

Denial of the divine truth is rejecting what one needs in order to thrive, holistically.

I pondered all this thinking about love in our hearts. Can someone who is a qabiliste be grateful? Fully? Can someone who erects boundaries along lineage lines or political affiliation be willing to acknowledge blessings that could trigger cognitive dissonance? Can women who have been supporting and perpetuating the tradition of female mutilation be able to hold loving spaces for the divine inspiration? Can we outgrow cage?

We don’t need a bigger military or more intricate policies, but more tolerance for the in-between spaces. Instead of denouncing, ask yourself what could cause something. Instead of berating somalis who you deem despicable, ask yourself what in your heart has been shamed and suppressed by you such that seeing it in others flares it up. Instead of contracting from what irks you about others, expand beyond your comfort zone to keep an open heart to the discomfort that arises.

I said this before, and I’ll say this again : our collective healing lies in finding our way back to the creativity that once defined us.

“Man is thrown into this world without his knowledge, consent or will, and he is removed from it again without his consent or will. In this respect he is not different from the animal, from the plants, or from inorganic matter. But being endowed with reason and imagination, he cannot be content with the passive role of the creature, with the role of dice cast out of a cup. He is driven by the urge to transcend the role of the creature, the accidentalness and passivity of his existence, by becoming a “creator.”

Man can create life. This is the miraculous quality which he indeed shares with all living beings, but with the difference that he alone is aware of being created and of being a creator. Man can create life, or rather, woman can create life, by giving birth to a child, and by caring for the child until it is sufficiently grown to take care of his own needs. Man— man and woman —can create by planting seeds, by producing material objects, by creating art, by creating ideas, by loving one another.

In the act of creation man transcends himself as a creature, raises himself beyond the passivity and accidentalness of his existence into the realm of purposefulness and freedom. In man’s need for transcendence lies one of the roots for love, as well as for art, religion and material production.

To create presupposes activity and care. It presupposes love for that which one creates. How then does man solve the problem of transcending himself, if he is not capable of creating, if he can not love?

There is another answer to this need for transcendence: if I cannot create life, I can destroy it. To destroy life makes one also transcend it. Indeed, that man can destroy life is just as miraculous a feat as that he can create it, for life is the miracle, the inexplicable. In the act of destruction, man sets himself above life; he transcends himself as a creature. Thus, the ultimate choice for man, inasmuch as he is driven to transcend himself, is to create or to destroy, to love or to hate. The enormous power of the will for destruction which we see in the history of man, and which we have witnessed so frightfully in our own time, is rooted in the nature of man, just as the drive to create is rooted in it.

To say that man is capable of developing his primary potentiality for love and reason does not imply the naive belief in man’s goodness. Destructiveness is a secondary potentiality, rooted in the very existence of man, and having the same intensity and power as any passion can have.

But—and this is the essential point of my argument—it is only the alternative to creativeness. Creation and destruction, love and hate, are not two instincts which exist independently. They are both answers to the same need for transcendence, and the will to destroy must rise when the will to create cannot be satisfied.

However, the satisfaction of the need to create leads to happiness; destructiveness to suffering, most of all, for the destroyer himself.”

– Erich Fromm, The Sane Society

More book recommendations

Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think – Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck -Mark Manson
Power vs. Force – David R. Hawkins
Originals – Adam Grant
To Have or To Be? – Erich Fromm
Designing Your Life: Build a Life That Works For You– Dave Evans, Bill Burrett

Steps to the Humanization of Technological Society – Erich Fromm

Emergence- Steven Johnson

Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work – Paul Babiak, Robert Hare

Fascist Shepherd

“​If a society is transformed into what Mumford has called a “megamachine” (that is, if the whole of a society, including its people, is like a large, centrally directed machine), fascism is almost unavoidable in the long run because 
(a) people become sheep, lose their faculty for critical thinking, feel powerless, are passive, and necessarily long for a leader who “knows” what to do—and everything else they do not know, and
 (b) the “megamachine” can be put in operation by anybody with access to it, simply by pushing the proper buttons. The megamachine, like an automobile, essentially runs itself: i.e., the person behind the wheel of the car has only to push the right buttons, manage the steering and the braking, and pay some attention to a few other similarly simple details; what in a car or other machine are its many wheels, in the megamachine are the many levels of bureaucratic administration. Even a person of mediocre intelligence and ability can easily run a state once he or she is in the seat of power.”

— Erich Fromm, (To Have or To Be?)

Book recommendations

Women who run with wild wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Estés

A return to love – Marianne Williamson

Heart of the soul- Gary zukav

Escape from freedom – Erich Fromm

Art of loving – Erich Fromm

Women, food, God – Geneen Roth

On becoming a person – Carl Rogers

All about love – Bell Hooks

Prisoners of hate – Aaron Beck

Emotionally absent mother – Jasmin lee corri

The intuitive way – Penney Peirce

To be a man – Robert Augustus

Emotional intimacy – Robert Augustus

Sister outsider – Audre Lorde

The modern heroine’s journey of consciousness  – Molly McCord

52 Quotes to live by – Zett Why

The law of divine compensation – Marianne Williamson

Either/or – Søren Kierkegaard

Man and his symbols – C.G. Jung

A hidden wholeness – Parker J. Palmer

Blur –  Bill Kovach, Tom Rosenstiel

Codependency –  Melody Battie

The drama of the gifted child – Alice Miller

The undefeated mind – Alex Lickman

Rising Strong – Brene Brown

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  – Marie Kondo

The courage to create – Rollo May

Constructive wallowing –  Tina Gilbertson

Soulshaping – Jeff Brown 

Between the world and me –                             Ta-nehisi Coates

The enlightened heart – Stephen Mitchell

The dancing Wu Li masters – Gary Zukav

Feminism= Attack on men?

​When asked to comment on perceptions of the feminist movement as “an open, violent fight against men,” 
Fromm answers:
” One cannot understand the psychology of women, and for that matter the psychology of men, and one cannot undrstand the element of sadism, of hostility and destructiveness in men and women if one does not consider that there has been a war between the sexes going on in the last six thousand years. This war is a guerrila war. Women have been defeated by patriarchalism six thousand years ago and society has been built upon the domination of men. Women were possessions and had to be grateful for every new concession that men made to them. But there is no domination of one part of mankind over another, of a social class, of a nation or of a sex over another, unless there is underneath rebellion, fury, hate and wish for revenge in those who are oppressed and exploited and fear and insecurity in those who do the exploiting and repressing

“Women have been so thoroughly oppressed that they have accepted unconsciously the role that the ruling sex, man, gave to them. 

They have even believed in male propaganda, which is very much the same as the propaganda in other wars, wars against colonial people, etc. Women have been considered to be naive: 
Freud said that they were narcissistic, unrealistic, cowardly, inferior to man anatomically, intellectually, morally. 

The fact is that women are less narcissistic than men, for the simple reason that there is almost nothing that man does which has not some purpose of making an impression. 
Women do many, many things without this motive and in fact what you might call women’s vanity is only the necessity to please the victors.
As far as the lack of realism in women is concerned, what should we say about male realism in an epoch in which all western governments, consisting of men, are spending their money building atomic bombs, instead of taking care of threatening famine, instead of avoiding the catastrophes which threaten the whole world…” 
― Erich Fromm , interview from 1975


Steady rock

Self-love is such a misunderstood concept. I’m able to digest Ph.D level material in no time, but things to do with my own self? My mind goes blank. I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around the concept of self-love for years, and it’s been like explaining Facebook to a Somali nomad in 1820! 
Partly because I’ve been conditioned to equate self-love with selfishness, but mostly because only parts of me were celebrated and encouraged, whilst others were shunned and discouraged. While my intellectual side was given free reign, my emotional side (which is bigger than my intellect) was relegated to the shadows. And what is suppressed and relegated to the subconscious grows disgruntled and toxic. Much like how a person marginalized and silenced would react. 

I did everything right:I studied, I developed an iron will, I drank my milk, I obeyed, I stayed out of trouble, I prayed my salawaat, I was polite, I was positive. But each construct I built was undermined by my suppressed side. 

I hated it. I hated my guts. I was weak weak weak for not being able to stifle that emotional side. Why did I have to feel when others seemed to have no issues with their emotional side? 

Emotions are the balm and oils to the soul. It’s what protects us from friction when we interact with the world. It’s what soothes our aching hearts. It’s what allows us to love and be creative. It’s the thermometer and litmus test of souls. It’s the wind in our sail, the pillar in our home, the anchor. 

Self-love then is seeing one’s self in its entirety, without cutting parts out, without blurring parts. It’s accepting oneself unconditionally and understanding that souls only grow when their lamentations are heard. Hearts recover when their pain is validated. Self-love is like watering a plant; it’s giving oneself what one needs without imposing on it what the world – or one’s intellect- thinks it needs. A plant will let you know when it needs more water, it’ll let you know when it’s wilting, when it’s crooked and needs support growing. You just have to give it space and trust that in the absence of your control, it knows how to grow.

In the absence of self-love, the heart seeks its balm through unhealthy channels like codependent love, substance abuse,comfort eating, status obsession. A person who hasn’t been listened to can’t hear others. A person who shuns parts of themselves will shun parts of others. A person who hates themselves for what they see as weakness will mock others who show emotions. 

The truth and reality of this world is this: You can’t give goodness, wholesome and unconditional goodness, to the world if you haven’t given it to your self. You can’t fight and help bring down evil in  the world if you haven’t fought the evil in yourself. And the evil in yourself isn’t fought through silencing, but through shining the light of self-awareness and self-acceptance on your darkness. You can’t reconcile between people in earnest if you haven’t reconciled between your broken parts. You can’t discover in the world what you haven’t discovered through your own soul. 
Once you go through that journey, you’ll realize that the world and everyone in it are cut from the same cloth. You’ll know others the way you know yourself because just like beneath the superficial differences in skin colour and hair texture, runs crimson red blood, lies skeleton, beats a heart. Beneath our life stories and emotional makeup lies the same core that seeks growth and awareness and love. Unless that core becomes malignant, in which case it needs to be fended off by other healthy cores.

“ Selfishness is not identical with self-love but with its very opposite.

Selfishness is one kind of greediness. Like all greediness, it contains an insatiability, as a consequence of which there is never any real satisfaction. Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.

Close observation shows that while the selfish person is always anxiously concerned with himself, he is never satisfied, is always restless, always driven by the fear of not getting enough, of missing something, of being deprived of something. He is filled with burning envy of anyone who might have more.

If we observe closer still, especially the unconscious dynamics, we find that this type of person is basically not fond of himself, but deeply dislikes himself.
Selfishness is rooted in this very lack of fondness for oneself. 
The same holds true with the so-called narcissistic person, who is not so much concerned with getting things for himself as with admiring himself.

While on the surface it seems that these persons are very much in love with themselves, they are actually not fond of themselves, and their narcissism – like selfishness – is an overcompensation for the basic lack of self-love.”

– Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom

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