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Contemporary Voices from Anima Mundi

A Reappraisal

Edited By Frédérique Apffel-Marglin and Stefano Varese

This book is a reconsideration of spirituality as a lived experience in the lives of the contributors. The authors speak both as well-informed scholars and as individuals who experienced the lived spirituality they give voice to. The authors do not place themselves above and outside of what they are writing about but within that world. They speak of living psychospiritual traditions of healing both the self and the world; of traditions that have not disembedded the self from the wider world. Those traditions are from indigenous North and South America (5 essays), a Buddhist/Shakta from Bengal, an Indo-Persian Islamic psychoanalyst, and a mystical Jewish feminist rabbi. The book also includes a historical essay about the extermination of the Renaissance worldview of Anima Mundi.

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Chapter Two: Lost and Found (D. Ahmed)

Extract

chapter two

Lost and Found

Gifts, Dreams, and Sanity

d. ahmed

We are lived by powers we pretend to understand. (Auden 1991, 249)

This chapter is based on excerpts about an initial period of events forty years ago that are part of an ongoing story. Condensed for coherence, it is a mosaic of certain motifs or themes linked with Indigenous cultural knowledge systems in South Asian Islam and the problem of understanding embedded in the Western psychological “gaze.” In the first part, I present an impressionist “case history” of events and characters. In the second, I construct a framework for analysis, leading to the third part, where I make personal reflections on the subject. For reasons of confidentiality, all names and some personal details have been changed.

An Event, a Dream, and a Gift

Approaching forty, in many ways I had “established” myself professionally and socially in one of Pakistan’s largest cities. I had a successful private practice as a psychotherapist and was on the verge of becoming a professor at a leading art institution. Among my friends was Samantha Winter, with whom I shared a unique relationship. She was American and had come to Pakistan as a Christian missionary and teacher of English literature at the college I attended after high school. I was sixteen and she twenty-six. After college, our lives diverged. Samantha returned to the U.S., and I embarked on different journeys: travel,...

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