The Cult of the Self
As I have said before, neither Islam, nor Sufism discourage self-improvement or the enhancement of oneself. Where such enhancement ENDS, however, is when it impinges upon the rights of others to be Other than oneself. An “Islam” that encourages collective narcissism of majorities and the oppression of minorities is an anathema. At the same time, both Sufism and Islam assert that self-transcendence is a greater form of self-actualization. In such “self-transcendence,” one does not lose the uniqueness of the individual self, but EXPANNDS it, through humility, to include the interrelatedness of all beings. This is not the same as the hyper-individualism that animates most mercantile, liberal societies.
“the cult of self dominates our cultural landscape. This cult has within it the classic traits of psychopaths, superficial charm, grandiosity, and self-importance; a need for constant stimulation, a penchant for lying, deception, and manipulation, and the inability to feel remorse or guilt. This is, of course, the ethic promoted by corporations. It is the ethic of unfettered capitalism. It is the misguided belief that personal style and personal advancement, mistaken for individualism, are the same as democratic equality. In fact, personal style, defined by the commodities we buy or consume, has become a compensation for our loss of democratic equality. (Christopher Hitchens, “Empire of Illusion,” p. 32.).
© Copyright 2011 Dr. Yannis Toussulis
Dr. Yannis Toussulis is the author of Sufism and the Way of Blame: Hidden Sources of a Sacred Psychology, and he currently serves director of Itlaq Foundation – AIWP, a non-denominational religious non-profit dedicated to Sufi Studies. Dr. Toussulis formerly served as an adjunct professor in political psychology at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and he was formerly director of the Consciousness Program, Antioch University/West. He can be reached at Itlaqfoundation.com .
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