Book Section: CHAPTER VII — Interpreting Omar Khayyam’s Treatise on the Science of the Universals of Existence in Light of Its Intellectual and Historical Contexts As a Whole — by Mohammad H. Tamdgidi

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Abstract

This essay, titled “Interpreting Omar Khayyam’s Treatise on the Science of the Universals of Existence in Light of Its Intellectual and Historical Contexts As a Whole” is the seventh chapter of the book Khayyami Philosophy: The Ontological Structures of the Robaiyat in Omar Khayyam’s Last Written Keepsake Treatise on the Science of the Universals of Existence, which is the fourth volume of the twelve-book series Omar Khayyam’s Secret: Hermeneutics of the Robaiyat in Quantum Sociological Imagination, authored by Mohammad H. Tamdgidi.

In this chapter Tamdgidi brings into an integrative whole the previously offered clause-based interpretations of Khayyam’s treatise in light of the broader intellectual and historical contexts in which the treatise was written. His purpose remains asking whether and how the study of Khayyam’s treatise can offer us a glimpse at the framework informing the ontological structures of his poetry. 

Khayyam’s theory of creative evolution, framed by his notion of succession order offers a way of reconciling the existence of an omnipotent creator and a universal substance that He created to be self-reliant, relatively, in the image of Himself. Khayyam’s theory offers a clearly stated notion transcending the dualism of the object and the subject in understanding existence, pointing that humankind does not become human unless it subjectively, self-reflectively, recognizes and awakens to its position and role in the succession order of existence. The implication of such a non-reductive, and non-dualistic conceptualist notion of existence is immense, for it allows Khayyam to solve the most puzzling aspect of universal existence, the problem of determination. 

According to Khayyam’s new insight, while there is such a thing as deterministic forces blindly operating in the succession order, by becoming self-consciously aware and intentional in shaping its own reality, humankind also participates in how the universal existence is understood and governed. The notion that there is a predetermination beyond human control, as found in the cruder forms of astrological thinking, therefore, is replaced by an “active intellective” notion that the reality of the universe is also shaped by how we come to understand and shape it in turn. In Khayyam’s view, the universe is what we make of it, in other words.

So long as we remain blind and asleep to the place we occupy in the succession order, and therefore to the nature of our spiritual affinity with the active intellect as the first result of God’s creation, we remain dolls and robotic playthings on the poppet stage of existence. But, once we become aware of our place in the succession order, of where we come from, and where we can go to, we will be able to remold our realities in favor of a world which can be characterized at once as a good life and more importantly toward a spiritually fulfilling end in this world itself. 

This is what would lead Khayyam as the author of the treatise to ask us to awaken to ourselves in the hear and now, in this world, today, in order to achieve the spiritual knowledge and experience of proximity to our Beloved Source, before it is too late, since there is no guarantee that another chance like this could come our way ever again.

Khayyam’s Islamic worldview advancing a notion of existence as a unitary substance is quantum conceptualist, since it includes the humankind, the observer, in the succession order of existence itself. His having arrived at the conclusion that this world is a “nest of sorrow” is not an objectively bygone conclusion, but a reality that is also subject to the active, creative, agency of humankind—that the sadness of the world also depends on whether we give in to its blind logic. In contrast, we can choose to live a joyful life despite the sorrows of the world, shaping the realities themselves to make of our world the good life we wish for it to be, at once both materially and spiritually fulfilling, one that in Khayyam’s view God, the Beloved Source of our existence, has meant it to be, since from absolute goodness can never come anything but goodness.

Khayyam’s treatise has solved the problem of the one and the many, by offering us an alternative, holistic vision of the universal substance where the active intellect is not just in the highest sphere amid a ladder-type, or onion ring-type, fragmented hierarchy of spheres, but one in which what is above is at once also in below. 

The first active intellect, being an indivisible spiritual substance, is everywhere, including in our inner world, expressed symbolically by the voice of the Wine-Tender trying to reach us beyond the distracted, fragmented, conditions of our everyday life. It is always there, whether or not we are aware of it in our everyday lives. It is indeed to encourage us to see and experience such a presence that Khayyam’s quote from the prophet Muhammad is aimed, namely that “Divine grace comes from God to you during your daily life. Do you not want to pay attention to them?”

But the leap of becoming self-consciously aware of the presence of the active intellect, the server of spiritual Wine, in our inner world itself is not an automatic process and pre-ordained. It depends on our own conscious and intentional action in order to try to awaken to and relate to it. 

We have therefore a choice to make in our everyday lives. Either we wake up in our worldly lifetime, here-and-now, to our spiritual nature and use this opportunity to gain a knowledge of our Beloved Source, experiencing His presence­—one that is not veiled from us but is available to us provided that we cleanse our inner world and ethical conduct through the necessary meditative practices—and thus experience the paradise in the here-and-now cash of our present, or we miss the chance, our cups breaking down again and being recycled for another chance, a chance that may or may not come about again.

Recommended Citation

Tamdgidi, Mohammad H. 2021. “CHAPTER VII — Interpreting Omar Khayyam’s Treatise on the Science of the Universals of Existence in Light of Its Intellectual and Historical Contexts As a Whole.” Pp. 279-320 in Omar Khayyam’s Secret: Hermeneutics of the Robaiyat in Quantum Sociological Imagination: Book 4: Khayyami Philosophy: The Ontological Structures of the Robaiyat in Omar Khayyam’s Last Written Keepsake Treatise on the Science of the Universals of Existence.  (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Vol. XVII, 2021. Tayyebeh Series in East-West Research and Translation.) Belmont, MA: Okcir Press.

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