Thursday, March 5, 2020

On submission

“Some people make the mistake of confusing "submission" with "weakness", whereas it is anything but. Submission is a form of peaceful acceptance of the terms of the universe including the things we are currently unable to change or comprehend.”

― Elif Shafak, The Forty Rules of Love

For some time I have been fascinated by the concept of submission as interpreted in mystical strains of Islam. In western culture we are used to think in terms of progress, constant self improvements and utilitarian choices. Sure we have a duty to change the world around us, fight injustices and avoid harm to all those around us. But there is also an existential dimension in a chaotic world, where things happen by coincidence. Many including myself spend too much time getting entangled in thoughts simply to better understand things from a detached point of view. Sure that can be a very healthy exercise. The more one understands the world, the greater the ability to change it for the better. But this also has to co-exist with an acceptance of unpredictability, futility and silence. Many associate the idea of submission with fate. But fate itself is misunderstood as a preordained future rather than as blurring of distinctions between past and future in to an eternal present. Ultimately life happens for no reason at all but that makes it even more worth living. And realizing that is ultimately the greatest act of submission.

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