Tagged: philosophy

Last Stop Is the Graveyard: More Thai Buddhist Aphorisms

As a sequel to my translations of some Proverbs I like by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (last post: Proverbs VIII), here are some Buddhist aphorisms or maxims found on the website of Wat Traphang Thong, a Buddhist temple in Sukhothai, Thailand.

Some maxims on this webpage are in Buddhadasa’s booklet too; I have not translated these again but in a few cases I have translated aphorisms that are variants of proverbs found in Buddhadasa. Later, in the comments section of this post, I’ll put parallel versions together to show that proverb-making can have a “variations on a consistent theme” component. As to reliability of the sources, a book published under Buddhadasa’s name is certainly neither more nor less relevant than a Sangha temple’s webpage; all these thoughts are of authentic Thai Buddhist coinage. The translations are my sole responsibility.

One word on the title of this post. It is my translation of one of the aphorisms. Although Buddhists do not bury their dead but cremate them, they too have cemeteries, where they lay ash-filled urns either in holes dug in the earth or in walls or other constructions. Therefore, I think the words “grave” and “graveyard” are apt to describe such Buddhist places even though we are not talking of buried full bodies.


Inner matters are more important than external matters.

A person who only knows the outer shell cannot compete with one knowing the essence.

อดีต คือความฝัน ปัจจุบัน คือภาพมายา อนาคต คือความไม่แน่นอน
The past is a dream, the present an illusion, the future uncertain.

คิดก่อนทำ อดทนไว้ พึงอภัย
Think before doing, endure, forgive.

ไม่มีอะไรเป็นของเรา แม้แต่ตัวของเราเอง
Nothing belongs to us, not even our self.

โกงคนอื่น เหมือนจุดไฟเผาตัวเอง
Cheating others is like setting oneself on fire.

อย่าระแวงคนอื่น ยิ่งกว่าระวังตัวเอง
Don’t be suspicious of others, instead be cautious of yourself.

ชีวิตไม่พอกับตัณหา เวลาไม่พอกับความต้องการ
Life is not enough for lust, time not enough for desire.

ที่พักครั้งสุดท้าย คือป่าช้า
Last stop is the graveyard.

ถ้าท่านกล้าเกินไป ท่านจะทำอะไรไม่สำเร็จ
If you are too bold, you won’t achieve anything.

ถ้าท่านกล้าจนเกินงาม ท่านจะพบกับความเดือดร้อน
If you are too bold, you will meet with hardships.

ถ้าท่านขาดความพอดี ท่านจะพบกับความทุกข์อย่างมหันต์
If you lack moderation, you will meet with great suffering.

ถ้าท่านขาดความยังคิด ชีวิตทั้งชีวิตจะหมดความหมาย
If you lack thinking, this whole life will be devoid of meaning.

ถ้าท่านมีความพอดี ท่านจะเป็นเศรษฐีในเรือนยาจก
If you have moderation, you’ll be like a rich man in the poor man’s house.

ถ้าท่านมีแต่ความงก ท่านจะเป็นยาจกในเรือนเศรษฐี
If you only feel greed, you’ll be like a beggar in the rich man’s house.

ถ้าท่านคิดถึงความหลัง ท่านจะพบรังแห่งความเศร้า
If you miss the past, you’ll meet with the hive of sorrow.

ถ้าท่านหวังพึ่งแต่คนอื่น ท่านจะต้องกลืนน้ำตาตัวเอง
If you rely on others, you’ll have to swallow your tears.

ถ้าพูดโดยไม่คิด เท่ากับพ่นลมพิษใส่คนอื่น
Talking without thinking is like spitting venom at others.

ถ้าจริงจังกับโลกเกินไป จะต้องตายเพราะความเศร้า
If you are too serious about this world, you’ll die of sorrow.

ถ้าต้องการความเป็นอิสระ ให้พยายามชนะใจตัวเอง
If you want to be free, attempt to triumph over your own heart.

ถ้าไม่รู้จักความทุกข์ จะพบกับความสุขได้ที่ไหน
If you don’t know suffering, where can you find happiness?

ถ้าไม่ยอมปล่อยวาง จะพบกับความว่างได้อย่างไร
If you refuse to detach yourself from things, how will you find emptiness?

ถ้าหาความสุขจากความมัวเมา ท่านกำลังจับเงาในกระจก
When you look for happiness in intoxication, you are grasping your reflection in the mirror.

ถ้าอยากเป็นคนงาม อย่าวู่วามโกรธง่าย
If you want to be handsome, don’t flare up in anger easily.

ถ้าอยากเป็นคนนำสมัย อย่าทำลายวัฒนธรรม
If you want to be modern, don’t be a destroyer of civilization.

ถ้าอยากเป็นคนมีเกียรติ อย่าเหยียดหยามคนอื่น
If you want to be honored, don’t humiliate others.

ถ้าอยากเป็นคนความรู้ อย่าลบหลู่อาจารย์
If you want to be knowledgeable, don’t insult the teacher.

ถ้าอยากเป็นคนมีอำนาจ อย่าขาดความยุติธรรม
If you want to have power, don’t disregard justice.

ถ้าอยากเป็นคนดัง อย่าหวังความสงบ
If you want to be someone conspicuous, don’t hope for quiet.

อย่าทำตัวให้เด่น โดยการสร้างหนี้ให้ตัวเอง
Don’t make yourself conspicuous through debts.

การทำความดี มีได้ทุกโอกาส ความประมาททำให้พลาดจากความดี
Opportunities for doing good are never missing, carelessness will make you stray from the good.

ความดี ให้ความอิ่มใจในเบื้องหลังให้ความสมหวังในเบื้องหน้า
Goodness brings satisfaction from the past and hope in the future.

ความชั่ว ให้ความขุ่นใจในเบื้องหลังให้ความผิดหวังในเบื้องหน้า
Evil brings frustration from the past and disappointment in the future.

ไม่ยินดีในสิ่งที่ตนได้ ไม่พอใจในสิ่งที่ตนมี เป็นคนอาภัพอับโชคที่สุด
Not pleased with what they can, unsatisfied with what they have: most unfortunate beings.

ถ้ากล้าจนเกินงาม จะพบรักความเดือดร้อน
If you are too bold, you will fall in love with trouble.

ถ้าทำมักง่าย จะวุ่นวายภายหลัง
If it’s easy, it will cause travails later.

ถ้าทำใจร้อน จะร้อนใจภายหลัง
If you are impatient, later you will worry.

เห็นโทษในสิ่งที่ตนได้ เห็นภัยในสิ่งที่ตนมี คือความเป็นอิสระในโลก
To see the evil in what you can, to see the perils in what you have, this is to be free in this world.

ถ้าสบายเมื่อหนุ่ม จะกลุ้มใจเมื่อแก่
If you had it easy when young, when you’re old it will hard.

ถ้าทำตามใจชอบ จะได้รับสิ่งที่ไม่ชอบใจ
If you do as you like, you’ll get what you don’t like.

ถ้าทำบาปแลกบุญ จะขาดทุนเรื่อยไป
If you sin for merit, you will lose on and on.

อย่าทำตัวให้เด่นกว่างาน จงพยายามทำงานให้เด่นกว่าตัว
Don’t make yourself more outstanding than the job, try to work to be more outstanding than yourself.

อย่าทำบ้านให้แข็งแรงกว่าพื้นฐาน จงทำพื้นฐานให้แข็งแรงกว่าบ้าน
Don’t build the house stronger than the foundation, build the foundation stronger than the house.

อย่าพยายามทำสิ่งที่ได้ให้เท่ากับใจ จงพยายามทำใจให้เท่ากับสิ่งที่ได้
Don’t try to make things equal to your heart, try to make your heart equal to things that can be made.

แสวงลาภจากการงาน ดีกว่าบนบานบวงสรวง
To seek fortune from work is better than from prayers at the altar.

ไม้เท้าของคนเฒ่า ดีกว่าลูกเต้าอกตัญญู
An old man’s cane is better than children’s ungratefulness.

ปิดปากไว้ไม่พูดจา ดีกว่านินทาเพื่อนบ้าน
Not talking is better than gossiping about neighbors.

ยอมลำบากเมื่อหนุ่ม ดีกว่าจะกลุ้มเมื่อแก่
Suffering when young is better than worrying when old.

อยู่คนเดียวอย่างสงบ ดีกว่าคบคนพาล
To be alone in peace is better than to make friends with rogues.

คอยตักเตือนตัวเอง ดีกวาเพ่งโทษคนอื่น
To keep admonishing oneself is better than to blame others.

ยอมลำบากเมื่อตอนต้น ดีกว่ายากจนทีหลัง
To be poor when young is better than to become poor.

ชีวิตคือการต่อสู้ จงเป็นอยู่ด้วยความอดทน
Life is a struggle, you must be enduring.

ถ้าตกอยู่ใต้อำนาจยาเสพติด เท่ากับเผาชีวิตทั้งเป็น
Falling into the power of drugs is like burning alive.

อำนาจวาสนา คือที่มาของความกังวล
The power of fate is a cause of worry.

โลกจะลุกเป็นไฟ เพราะใจขาดธรรมะ
The world will set on fire because of lack of morality.

ชีวิตจริง ไม่เหมือนฝัน
In truth life is not like dreams.

ประชาธิปไตยตามใจว่า คือที่มาแห่งความวุ่นวาย
Do-as-you-please democracy is a source of chaos.

คนไม่เคารพกฎหมาย เหมือนวัวควายไม่มีคอก
People without law are like cattle without stalls.

ดูบ้านเมืองดูที่ความสะอาด ดูประชาชาติดูที่ความสามัคคี
When examining a house, look at cleanliness; when examining a nation, look at harmony.

ดูหญิง ดูที่ความอาย ดูชาย ดูที่ความกล้าหาญ
When considering a woman, look at modesty; when considering a man, look at courage.

ดูพระ ดูที่กิจวัตร ดูคฤหัสถ์ ดูที่ความขยัน
Examining monks, look at routine; examining laymen, look at diligence.

เพ่งโทษตนเป็นบัณฑิต เพ่งความผิดคนอื่นเป็นพาล
To blame oneself is of a wiseman, to blame others is of thugs.

เห็นคุกเป็นบ้าน สุราบานเป็นเพื่อน บ้านเรือนเป็นศาลา คือที่มาของความวิบัติ
To see prison as accommodation is to see liquor as a friend; when a private dwelling is a city hall, it’s a cause of disaster.

ความสุขโลกีย์ มีได้ชั่วคราว ความสุขยืนยาว ต้องเข้าหาธรรม
Worldly happiness is temporary, sustainable happiness must find dharma.

ถ้าจะทำงานเพื่อศาสนา อย่าแสวงหาอามิส
If you work for the religion, don’t look for enticement.

อยากให้ไทยคงเป็นไทย อย่าทำลายวัฒนธรรม
If you want that Thai be Thai, don’t destroy the culture.

ความวิบัติของชาติ คือผู้มีอำนาจแตกสามัคคี
One person with the power to break up unity is the ruin of the nation.

เป็นทุกข์เพราะความจน ดีกว่าทนทุกข์เพราะเป็นหนี้
To suffer from poverty is better than to suffer from indebtedness.

ประดับกายด้วยความดี มีราศีกว่าประดับเพชร
Adorning the body with goodness makes more sparkles than with diamonds.

ฆ่าสัตว์ได้โทษ ฆ่าความโกรธได้บุญ
Killing life gets punishment, killing anger gets reward.

อยากจะหนีความทุกข์ อย่าหวังความสุขทางกาย
If you want to avoid suffering, don’t hope for happiness in the body.

อยากเป็นชายจริงหญิงแท้ อย่าเปลี่ยนแปรประเพณี
If you want to be authentic men and women, do not change tradition.

คุณค่าของสัตว์อยู่ที่กาย คุณค่าหญิงที่ชายอยู่ที่ความประพฤติ
The value of an animal is in its body, the value of a woman for a man is in her good behavior.

ภัยใหญ่ของชีวิต คือความคิดลุ่มหลง
Infatuation is the great peril of this life.

ถ้าไม่อยากให้ผิดหวัง ให้ระวังอย่าโลภ
If you don’t want to be let down, be wary of the greed in you.

ถ้าไม่อยากจะเศร้าโศก ให้มองโลกเป็นอนิจจัง
If you don’t want to be sad, look at the world as impermanent.

เจริญทางวัตถุ จะคุกรุ่นเป็นไฟ เจริญทางจิตใจ จะแจ่มใสสงบ
Material progress is a smoldering fire, mental progress is cool and quiet. [In Thailand, where the weather can be very hot, coolness has very positive connotations.]

ความสุขแบบชาวโลก มีทุกข์โศกเป็นผล ความสุขอริยชน มีผลเป็นความสงบ
Happiness of the worldly turns out to be suffering, happiness of the noble minds results in quiet.

เลิกเห็นแก่ตัวได้เมื่อไร จะสุขใจเมื่อนั้น
When you stop being selfish, you’ll be happy.

ไม่ทำการงาน คบอันธพาล มั่วสุขสำราญ ไม่นานหมดตัว
Who doesn’t work mixes with thugs, who carouses is soon exhausted.

หวังได้ทรัพย์จากการพนัน คือความเพ้อฝันของคนสิ้นคิด
Hoping to make a wealth from gambling is the dream of the desperate.

ปัญหาเศรษฐกิจและจิตใจ ต้องแก้ไขพร้อมกัน
Economic and mental problems must be solved together.

ทางพัฒนาที่ถูกทาง คือการเสริมสร้างคนดี
The right way for development is to support good people.

ดูคนดี ดูที่การกระทำ ดูผู้นำ ดูที่การเสียสละ
Looking for good people, look at the acts; looking for leaders, look at the sacrifices.

ศัตรูของประเทศชาติ คือประชาราษฎร์ขาดสามัคคี
The enemy of the nation is a people without harmony.

ชีวิตที่ยุ่งยาก เพราะมีความอยากมากเกินไป
Life is difficult because of too much desire.

หมั่นนึกถึงความตาย คืออุบายแห่งความไม่ประมาท
To think of death is a means to avoid carelessness.

คนเกียจคร้านไม่ทำงาน เป็นคนพิการสากล
Lazy people do not work, they suffer from overall disability.

คนที่หวังพึ่งโชคชะตา เป็นคนปัญญาอ่อน
People who rely on fate have soft brains.

คนที่ท้อถอยเบื่อหน่าย เป็นคนตายก่อนหมดอายุ
Weary people are dead before their time.

คนที่มัวเมาเอาแต่เงิน จะห่างเหินจากญาติมิตร
People intoxicated with money estrange themselves from relatives and friends.

กินเหล้าเพื่อเข้าสังคม เป็นค่านิยมที่ผิด
Drinking to socialize is a wrong value system.

ไม่หลงของเก่า ไม่เมาของใหม่ เป็นหัวใจการพัฒนา
Not infatuated with the old, not beguiled by the new, this is the way of development.

คนเก่ง ๆ มีมาก คนที่หายากคือคนดี
The smart guys are many; what is difficult to find is good people.

ตัวอย่างที่ไม่ดีในสังคม สร้างค่านิยมที่ให้โทษ
Bad examples nullify social values.

ความง่ายอยู่ที่ปาก ความยากอยู่ที่ทำ
Easiness is in the mouth, difficulty is in doing.

สู้รบแบบพุทธะ คือการเอาชนะตัวเอง
To fight like a Buddha is to triumph over oneself.

ระวังหูของเรา ดีกว่าเฝ้าปิดปากคนอื่น
To watch your ears is better than to shut others’ mouth.

ลำบากเพราะการงาน ดีกว่าสำราญแล้วกลุ้ม
Pain because of exertion is better than exhaustion from carouse.

คุณความดีมีมาก ส่วนที่หายากคือคนทำดี
There is plenty of ritual merit-making, what is difficult to find is someone who does the good.

ความสุขที่ได้จากตัณหา มีค่าเท่ากับความทุกข์
Happiness that comes from craving has the same value as suffering.

การรู้จักปล่อยวาง เป็นวิถีทางสงบสุข
Knowing how to let go is the way to peace and happiness.

สัตว์ไม่ได้โหดร้ายกว่าคน คนต่างหากโหดร้ายกว่าสัตว์
Animals are not crueler than people, people are crueler than animals.

สังคมวุ่นวาย เพราะอบายมุข
Society is a chaos because of depravity.

ทำแล้วไม่พูด ดีกว่าพูดแล้วไม่ทำ
To do and keep silent is better than to open one’s mouth and do nothing.

แต่งแต่กายไร้ค่า ถ้าไม่แต่งใจ
To dress the body is worthless if you don’t dress the heart.

จงทำตามความถูกต้อง อย่าทำเพราะความถูกใจ
You should do what is right, not what you please.

ทำอารมณ์ให้ผ่องใส เป็นอุบายแก้ทุกข์
To make one’s mood cheerful is to relieve suffering. [Cheerful joy is one of the four so-called Pure Abodes of Buddhism.]

พัฒนาไปจะไร้ผล ถ้าทุกคนหวังแต่เงิน
Development will be in vain if all what people want is money.

คิดไปก็ไร้คุณ ถ้ามัววุ่นอยู่แต่คิด
Thinking is of no value is you are only busy thinking.

ทำไปก็ไร้ค่า ถ้าไม่กล้าจะทำจริง
Doing is of no value if you lack courage.

ยิ่งทำไปยิ่งได้บุญ ถ้าเกื้อกูลกันและกัน
The more doing the more merit-making when people support each other.

ภาวนาให้ใจสงบ จะได้พบสันติภาพ
Praying quietens the heart, will make you find peace.

บอกบุญบ่อย ๆ จะถอยศรัทธา บอกถูกเวลา ศรัทธาเจริญ
Too frequent solicitations for charity will slacken the faith, solicitations at the right times will improve the faith.

ถ้าจะพัฒนาเขา ให้พัฒนาตัวเราก่อน
For development let us develop ourselves first.

บ้างเมืองจะพินาศ เพราะคนในชาติกอบโกย
The nation will collapse when citizens are for grabs.

ทำอะไรตามอารมณ์ ทุกข์ระทมจะตามมา
When you act according to mood, suffering ensues.

ความดีอยู่ที่การเสียสละ ชัยชนะอยู่ที่ขันติธรรม
The good lies in sacrifice, victory in tolerance.

ดูตัวเราคอยเฝ้าดูความคิด ดูญาติมิตรให้พินิจความดี
When looking at yourself, look at thoughts; when looking at relatives and friends, look at the good.

หญิงชายจะไร้เพศ ถ้าปฏิเสธศีลธรรม
Woman and man will be genderless if they disown morality.

โลกนี้ไม่มีปัญหา ถ้าศึกษาให้รู้ความจริง
There will be no problem in this world if you study to know the truth.

สิ่งที่ได้มาเปล่าคือความเฒ่าชรา สิ่งที่ต้องแสวงหาคือคุณค่าของชีวิต
What you get for free is old age; what to seek is the value of life.

ความร้อนอบอ้าวจะมาก่อนฝน ความลำบากยากจนจะมาก่อนความสุข
Scorching heat precedes the rain, the straits of poverty precede happiness.

ทำดีไม่ได้ผล เพราะทำตนลุ่ม ๆ ดอน ๆ
Doing good will have no result in case of inconsistency.

สัตว์ตายเพราะเหยื่อ คนถูกเบื่อเพราะอามิส
Traps kill animals, enticements poison people.

เห็นคนเมา เท่ากับเห็นคนบ้า เห็นคนขี้ยา เหมือนเห็นคนตาย
Seeing a drunk person is like seeing a lunatic, seeing a drugs addict is like seeing a dead body.

ถ้าไม่อยากยากจน อย่าทำตนเป็นคนมั่งมี ถ้าอยากเป็นเศรษฐี ให้ทำทีเป็นคนจน
If you don’t want to be poor, don’t pretend to be rich. If you want to be rich, act as if you were poor.

เมาสุราพาให้ประมาท เมาอำนาจพาชาติล่มจม
Inebriation provokes negligence, infatuation with power brings the nation to ruin.

ความดังไม่คงที่ ความดีไม่เปลี่ยนแปลง
Popularity is unstable, the good is unalterable.

ไม่ระวังปาก ได้ศัตรู ไม่ระวังหู ขาดหมู่ญาติมิตร
Not being cautious of your mouth brings you enemies, not being cautious of your ears estranges you from friends.

คนฉลาดที่ขาดคุณธรรม เป็นผู้นำที่ดีไม่ได้
Intelligent people without morality are leaders who can’t do good.

ความหรูหราของชาวสังคม เป็นค่านิยมที่เสื่อม
Luxury nullifies social values.

พูดตั้งพันคำ สู้ทำให้ดีไม่ได้
To say a thousand words is of no use in the fight for the good.

อย่าคบคนชั่วเป็นมิตร อย่าทำบัณฑิตให้เป็นศัตรู
Don’t make friends with evil people, don’t make enemies with the wise.

ความงามอยู่ที่ความดี ความมั่งมีอยู่ที่ความสันโดษ
Beauty is in the good, fortune is in solitude.

แมลงวันชอบของเน่า คนโง่เขลาชอบทำบาป
Flies enjoy rot and fools enjoy sin.

การรักษาศีลห้า ช่วยแก้ปัญหาโรคเอดส์
Keeping the five precepts will help solve the problem of AIDS. [The “five precepts” are the rules of conduct for lay people in Buddhism.]

ถ้าไม่ได้ทำความดี มีชีวิตอยู่ร้อยปีก็ไร้ค่า
Without doing good, living a hundred years is worthless.

วิชาให้ความฉลาด ถ้าขาดธรรมก็ให้โทษ
Learning improves intelligence but absent dharma it brings suffering.

คนฉลาดขาดความดี เป็นคนอัปรีย์สังคม
Intelligent people without morality are the scourge of society.

สุริยุปราคา พระอาทิตย์มืดมัว จะดีจะชั่ว อยู่ที่ตัวเราเอง
A solar or lunar eclipse is good or bad omen depending on us.

พูดให้เขารัก ยากนักยากหนา พูดให้เขาด่า ว่าง่ายนิดเดียว
To utter something endearing is difficult but to utter things that make others curse is easy.

ความเจริญทางวัตถุ ยั่วยุให้คนลืมตัว
Material prosperity makes people lose their self-control.

อย่าเป็นทุกข์ในสิ่งที่เสียไป จงพอใจในสิ่งที่มีอยู่
Don’t find grief in what you lack, instead find satisfaction in what you have.

พระดังอาจจะไม่ดี พระดีอาจจะไม่ดัง
The famous monk may not be good, the good monk may not be famous.

ความขยันเป็นคุณสมบัติของคน ความอดทนเป็นคุณสมบัติของพระ
Industriousness is of people, patience is of monks.

ถึงยากจนก็เหมือนมั่งมี ถ้ายินดีในสิ่งที่มีอยู่ ถึงมั่งมีก็เหมือนยากจน ถ้าไม่พอใจในสิ่งที่มีอยู่
Poverty is like wealth when you are satisfied with what you have, wealth is like poverty when you are not satisfied with what you have.

ร่างกายนี้เป็นโลกอนิจจัง เป็นเรือนของโรค เป็นที่อยู่โรค
This body is the world of impermanence, the house of disease.


Wat Traphang Thong on its islet in Sukhothai (credit: Onyvatravel)

Philo 29 : Rechtsphilosophische Grundlagen der Religionspolizei


Le journal Aujourd’hui en France du jeudi 29 septembre 2022 titre « Qui peut être derrière le ‘sabotage’ des gazoducs en mer Baltique ? » avec le sous-titre « (…) tous les regards se tournent vers la Russie, qui nie. L’UE promet ‘la réponse la plus ferme’. » Dans le corps de l’article, ceci : « Les États-Unis ont aussi nié toute implication, alors que Joe Biden avait laissé entendre en février que Washington ‘mettrait fin’ à Nord Stream 2 si Moscou intervenait en Ukraine. Mais l’insinuer est ‘ridicule’, a commenté ce mercredi la Maison-Blanche. Et la porte-parole du Conseil de sécurité nationale de prévenir : ‘Nous savons que la Russie fait de la désinformation, et elle le fait de nouveau ici.’ » Nous avons donc d’un côté la Russie, pour qui un gazoduc détruit représente une perte stratégique, et de l’autre les États-Unis qui avaient menacé de détruire le Nord Stream. Mais le sous-titre est « tous les regards se tournent vers la Russie ». C’est le problème : dans le contexte belliciste européen, l’évidence n’a plus aucune espèce de valeur. Dans toute enquête, celui qui a menacé d’un crime est le premier suspect quand le crime en question se produit : donc « tous les regards » sont forcément tournés vers les États-Unis. Cependant, comme nous sommes en opération spéciale contre la Russie, non, les regards ne se tournent pas vers les États-Unis mais vers la Russie. À la page suivante du même journal, interviewé le « consultant défense » Pierre S. explique l’intérêt pour la Russie de détruire le Nord Stream : envoyer « deux messages subliminaux ». On en est là.


Introduction to the Essence of Mutawa
oder Rechtsphilosophische Grundlagen der Religionspolizei

“Firemen confronted religious police after they tried to keep the girls inside because they were not wearing the headscarves required.”

This made the case against Saudi mutawa police and for their defanging. However, it is obvious that the mutawa officer’s decision in said case of emergency was incorrect and he must bear the blame, not the institution that he represents. Blaming a whole institution for one officer’s decision is unwarranted in every conceivable situation, so in fact the incident served to attack a policy rather than its enforcement: a devious line of argumentation.

It was an emergency but as a religion with martyrs Islam knows that not all emergencies allow for exemptions, so let us specify. The norm is covering one’s head in the public space. The girls escaping from the fire would be met and assisted by the fire patrol, which would cordon off the area; the area thus cordoned off, although outside the building and included in the public space, is for the sake of emergency under control of the fire patrol and withdrawn from the free public space momentarily. The presence of uncovered persons in this area during the fire patrol operations does not therefore violate a norm regarding the public space. And girls escaping from a fire cannot be deemed, when having their heads uncovered in such situation, to act out of disregard for the law. The mutawa officer’s appreciation of the situation in this case was blatantly incorrect, a statement of fact that has no bearing, however, on the institution and/or policy’s legitimacy.


“Girls escaping from a fire cannot be deemed, when having their heads uncovered in such situation, to act out of disregard for the law.” I wrote this in order not to let one think that the issue is all about defining the public space, but it was begging the question as I was supposed to answer to “not all emergencies allow for exemptions.” The answer tended to show it was not a true exemption, in the case of girls escaping from a fire, as the area they reached was not, momentarily, public space. As to the other aspect of the discussion, assuming it was a true exemption, was it a justified one? In other words, was the mutawa officer right in demanding compliance with the law with a high probability of “martyrdom” involved? Indeed, the girls would have been shahidah for the sake of complying with modesty commands. One of the issues, there, is how probable martyrdom was: I do not have all the elements of the case to answer this question. God’s command sometimes requires that one must be willing to sacrifice one’s own life for upholding His command, for instance when martyrs were asked to sacrifice, even mere flies, to idols, they refused and knowingly paid their refusal with their lives. In other words, was the mutawa officer justified in demanding that the girls be subjected to a risk of martyrdom for upholding the command of the veil? If yes, was he justified in this only in the case of a small or miniscule risk or even in the case of perfect certainty or somewhere in between and then where? Or was he not justified because the exemption was a justified one? Exemptions must by necessity be strictly defined, both out of reverence for God and out of respect for His martyrs who sacrificed their lives instead of benefiting from exemptions. This is the crux of the issue and must be decided according to Islamic jurisprudence. My legal expertise ends here.


On the Accommodation of Minorities and Fairness

Discussing the depiction of American university departments of philosophy as “a sad and boring place, tragically deprived of the creativity, playfulness, and kinship of crip culture,” although I see what worth creativity is, I have doubts about the two other qualities endorsed. Playfulness should be left at the door. At some point one has enough of playing, and as it is assumed one is playing during their leisure time, when it comes to business it is also assumed one has had his share of playing already, for a while, and we now expect him to be stern. Otherwise, we might think she is playful in the amphitheater because she was stern in private and is in the habit of depriving her most intimate company of her delightful playfulness. If money comes from private companies, it is up to them to say whether they want playful academics on their paychecks, that is, they can ask for playfulness as academic duty for their money, if that is how they see the world (like a TV commercial with people dancing on the flimsiest occasion), but as far as public funds are concerned, how advisable is it to demand that taxpayer’s money allow a few professors to daily revel in the playfulness of life? I guess the taxpayer would not allow this for too long (due to their alienation, most certainly). As to kinship, I have no idea where this leads to, only that it smacks of the same exclusiveness here decried, of nepotism and preferential treatment for one’s kind, lightyears away from traditional–and sound–academic ethics. Signed: A nonacademic philosopher.


The kinship quality of crip culture seems to be an allusion to affirmative action but as a self-serving argument it then fails to convey per se the idea that non-members of this culture or institutions such as philosophy departments will, contrary to creativity and, disregarding my previous remarks, playfulness, benefit from greater inclusion of said members, except in the broad sense that all historically discriminated cultures would make society a better place for everyone through greater inclusion. Therefore, my remark that the kinship quality smacks of the same exclusiveness decried is of course discardable on the same grounds as opposition to affirmative action in general, namely, that countermajoritarian exclusiveness is not a problem as it is in fact the cure to majoritarian exclusiveness, a cure to be preferred upon formal neutrality because of structural “isms” that neutralize all attempts at neutrality. Still, in a list of specifically crip culture qualities, this is a misplaced qualification as it describes the culture based not on cripness but on the more general notion of discriminatedness.

As to playfulness, it may be on the list as a correction to received ideas. The squares may have the notion that crips are not playful, therefore it is important to stress playfulness. In other words, that would mean crips are as playful as anybody, except professors of analytic philosophy, and the crux of the argument would be a call to replace anachronistically stern professors with professors more attuned to prevailing cultural codes characterized by playfulness. Not so much an improvement, then, the whole of society being considered, as the playful normalization of a stronghold of sternness.

Nota bene: Qualities deriving from discriminatedness alone, or intrinsically, cannot be an argument for inclusion from a majoritarian point of view, because they are the qualities that may or even must vanish through inclusion. Use of the word “squares” alludes to carefully nurtured marginal cultures whose aim is precisely to avoid inclusion and normalization for fear of losing certain distinct qualities.


Kinship, I am told, means in the context that crips “simply prefer each other’s company.”  How it is a quality in the sense of a universal maxim is not to understand from the standpoint of ones accustomed to hearing about minorities’ demand for inclusiveness. When nondisabled people, when the majority does little to include crips, their exclusiveness is described as a problem according to mass media and the political debate, so kinship is not a universal value according to the very crip culture and militancy as defined by mass media and politics. It is “my” kinship, my minority’s kinship, that is good; “your” kinship is oppressive.

Why, in a world where kinship is of any value, should the majority have a duty to accommodate “others” rather than nurture their own kinship? It is an either-or matter. Either kinship is a value and the majority has the right to ignore minorities’ demands because it is its kinship versus theirs, and all kinships are of the same value as kinship is a value per se, or kinship is not a value and then when crips defend their sense of kinship they should be left to revel in it inside their margin; the majority will not–should not–heed their demands for inclusion. We no longer accept privileges. When preferential treatments are institutionalized, the truth of this institutionalization is that the special treatment corrects (to any possible extent) an unfortunate situation. If there is no misfortune to correct, a preferential treatment, for instance quotas, is a privilege that, according to liberal worldviews, must be destroyed. The “philosophical” viewpoint that disability is a “tragedy” is not primarily philosophical but sociopolitical: Special measures for inclusion are for those who need them, that is, are in a sorry condition of want without them. It sounds like unabashed cheekiness when the ones accommodated through special treatment are telling those who accommodate them that they are the ones to pity. Maybe crips do not care about inclusion at all and it is a misunderstanding when one talks of a crip militancy for inclusion; this militancy would then be the result of political machines’ activity aimed at votes through creating an inclusion lobby out of nothing where there is only the will to be left alone among one’s kind, reveling in one’s kinship. Yet seemingly, even if the lobby were a machine’s ex nihilo scheme, many, perhaps most members of said kinship culture are conditioned by the plan: They want to be left alone and yet fully endorse the machine’s machinations and combinazioni. A form of hypocrisy.

“Normate culture,” as described, smacks a lot of middle class and suburbia. Yet nondisabled persons are not bound by the prescriptions of normate culture, they can withdraw, they can ask to be left alone (even if there is a price to pay, it does not seem unreasonable to say it is a price everyone can afford). On the other hand, are crips free to withdraw from their own culture? If not, would it not be obvious that being a nondisabled person, from whom the normate culture is at most a relative prescription, is an ontologically better condition than being a crip, whose crip culture is a true Fatum of iron ineluctability? This is left unanswered, except that by extoling the crip culture one gives to think that withdrawal is not an option. Yet it is the option that makes the difference.

Fixation on the so-called normate culture betrays absorption. The scholars responsible for this kind of description are evidently permeated by the normate culture, they find it in their lives, in their surroundings, in themselves; it is first and foremost a self-description. How many nondisabled persons will read this description of “their” life with a mere shrug of the shoulders? As a ballpark estimate I would say one fourth, because, as marriage and child-rearing are given as a central feature of this culture, and about one sixth to one fifth of people in any given population do not beget children–this figure is said by some to have been a constant over time (from readings in evolutionary psychology)–a rough guess is one fourth, considering the figure to be close to one fifth and subtracting crips and queer people. One nondisabled, straight person out of four simply does not fit in the nondisabled, straight culture as defined, and we only took one of the given criteria, so “exceptions” to the other criteria must also be considered, which is likely, all combined, to reduce the figures of “normalcy” to thin air and to make a joke of the definition. Scholarly work of that kind does not address a reality but a mere ghost, and the difference does not seem to occur to the scholars.

Same remark for what is said about queer people. Authors fail to address one major part of the queer militancy as presented by mass media and politics and evidenced by surrogacy demands: Queer people want to raise families, to marry and live happily ever after.

It is the obvious consequence of the kinship quality of a culture, that it is normative. A kinship culture of cripness or queerness is as “normate” and ritualistic as any majoritarian one, as a first approach. On a second approach, it is even more normate if withdrawal is less an option, if there is less room for the possibility of withdrawal than in the case of a majoritarian normate culture.

Finally, I would like to stress a legal issue that does not exist in as severe a form in the United States due to First Amendment case law but is a sickening problem in Europe. European countries did not stop at decriminalizing homosexuality, they criminalize critic, “disparagement” of homosexuality. From the point of view of freedom, the move, therefore, is of a quite dubious worth. Were drugs decriminalized, it would occur to no one to criminalize critic of drugs’ use. Representative associations of this and other minorities protected by group disparagement laws are invited, like true bounty hunters (which character, however and at the same time, European countries purport to have ruled out), to partake in the criminal process and may ask, as “moral persons,” financial damages. This, playful as they may be, really spoils the fun, I find.


This is not to say that a “mere ghost,” as I called it, does not have some kind of existence. For instance, when, in office life, the life of organization women and men, one invites her colleagues to an afterwork office party to celebrate her last kid’s birth (and her return from parental leave), she is asking people to stay with her after work hours while her colleagues might just be tired after the long day and long to be home, especially if one has no plan to have children and is, after reading nonqueer, nondisabled, anti-natalist Norwegian philosopher Peter Wessel Zapffe, an anti-natalist, in which case he will question the celebration’s rationale itself. This person may find excuses on this and that occasion, but most certainly a systematic eschewing of afterwork events would bring him to his hierarchy’s attention, who would look askance at the attitude and perhaps translate it in managerial measures, with more or less obvious sanctions.

As to parental leave, the uncompensated increase of workload for the colleagues of the woman on leave is often measurable (yet often unmeasured). Her colleagues pay for a public natality policy and women’s inclusion policy. Admittedly, it is not too high a price in the U.S., nothing in comparison with Europe, which must be a feminist Eldorado for American gender scholars, presumably. To avoid making it look like too blunt and shocking a privilege for women in the workplace, European legislators have extended the parental leave to fathers (not on a par with women’s leave though, because of some obscure biopolitical reasons, this said tongue in cheek). Childless workers of both sexes pay the full price for women’s inclusion and natality policies, and that includes uncompensated increase of workload, besides, of course, tax money.

For French women, the legislation is, for children 1-2, 16 weeks leave for each, for children 3+, 26 weeks, paid 405 euros per month, namely 89.03 euros per day to which applies a tax rate of 21 per cent. (I thought it was a percentage of the working income, by the way, and to be honest, this subsidy is a little comical, since the poverty line in the country is at 1,100 euros per month for a single person: an obvious slap in the face of single mothers, in case they do not pocket alimony). For the father, the leave is of 25 working days, the amount of subsidy not a flat fee, unlike the mother’s, but a percentage of the three last paychecks, namely X divided by 91.25 for each day, so for 6,000 euros (income of 2,000 euros per month), 65.75 euros per day for 25 days, 1,643 euros in all. (A father’s leave is indexed on his actual earnings, contrary to a mother’s leave. On the one hand the legislators made the father’s leave much shorter, on the other hand they made the loss of income smaller for the father in the middle to upper incomes bracket. How is this justified?)

In comparison, “There is no obligation for US employers to give paid maternity or parental leave to their workers. Instead, maternity leave is a matter left to each employer to decide upon. … However, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires that US employers (with 50 or more employees) to allow mothers and fathers to take unpaid time off (up to 12 weeks) for the purpose of pregnancy or child-rearing. They must hold the worker’s job and health insurance in place. There is no requirement to provide pay.” (Foothold America)

The comical nature of these “achievements” will hardly escape the reader. The maternity leave means living in abject poverty if the woman is not supported by a partner or someone else’s income, or by alimony: either relinquishing income (“no requirement for the employer to provide pay”), in the US, or being paid thrice less than the poverty threshold, in France.

One may say 16 weeks (for child 1 and child 2) is only 4 months, so it is only a question of saving money for these four little months (up to 3 months in US), like one saving before a sabbatical year, and then life goes on, with a new soul in this world. No doubt a single mother with law firm partner income can afford to singly raise on leave as many children as she wants. As has just been said, it is only a question of saving money. For subprime profile Charnesia LeBlanc, almost drowned already in consumer credit repayments, one may call her maternity leave the rope around her neck. She will not take it.

There is another aspect to the question, namely that fertile women who pocket maternity leaves during their career–and we saw that for a French woman who gave birth to, say, four kids, that means 84 weeks leave, 1.6 year,–demand nonetheless the same progression pattern in the organization’s hierarchy as those who worked those 84 weeks for the organization, in the name of–what?–women’s rights and the bubbling natality of the nation. I wanted to stress that but, seeing the true nature of the achievement that maternity leave is, namely a mere Mrs Jones’s achievement (who lives on Mr Jones’s income too), that would be a little futile.


I said money for leaves is nothing in US in comparison to Europe (taking France as example) but this deserves further discussion. US legislation says, “There is no requirement to provide pay.” A simple war-of-the-classes reasoning leads to “Don’t count on it.” However, it must be assumed, as always, that it is only at one end of the spectrum that one doesn’t count on it, while at the other end some women probably get maternity leave packages that no French woman can dream of.

The federal state has provided “paid parental leave” (which has got its acronym: PPL) for its civil servants since 2020 (Federal Employee Paid Leave Act FEPLA of Dec 2019). Before that, “[s]ome individual US states and possessions, however, do provide for paid maternity benefits, including Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Jersey, California, New York and Puerto Rico.” (International Labor Organization, 1998) Try as I might, and I tried hard enough, on official websites with memos and FAQs, I could not find a single clue on how much money the PPL is for its beneficiaries, to compare with French figures. Talk of transparency!

“This new benefit will likely improve the desirability of Federal employment … the Office of Personnel Management said” (Washington Post). It will do more than that, it will make of the US a bureaucratic state. In a country where, according to the same WashPo paper, only 21 percent of private sector employees are eligible to paid parental leaves, because for them the rule is that there is no requirement to provide pay, for bureaucrats paid leave is now an entitlement. Of course, this will achieve civil servants’ whole desolidarization from private sector employees. So much for feminist solidarity: Die, Charnesia, die on the altar of Mrs Jones’s PPL!

Not only is maternity leave creating a differential treatment between men and women or rather childless workers and fertile (or adopting) women in the workplace, but a pregnant woman’s workload is also adjusted before her leave. For instance, if there is night work, the pregnant woman will be dispensed from it; that means more night work for her colleagues. The rationale is that the pregnant woman is some kind of disabled person.

Disability in the workplace may be the nondisabled workers’ misfortune, I am sorry to put it bluntly. When one organization has defined what some call a “theoretical workforce,” for instance in an administration, and that theoretic workforce has been defined for one department as, say, 20 people, they are not going to count a disabled worker one half or whatever fraction of a person in this workforce. The disabled worker is 1 out of 20, but his work is adjusted according to his or her disability, so for the same workload, with the same figure of 20, you must count yourself as lucky if no disabled person works in the same theoretic force in which you belong. This, obviously, does not consider those who are always happy with their workload, however bloated it becomes, and I am told this kind of people exist. – A simple solution would be to not count a disabled worker as a whole unit in the workforce, to adjust not only their work but also their weight accordingly in the theoretic workforce…

Back to pregnant women, those other disabled workers. One line of legitimation for such differential treatment is that everyone benefits from the system, the woman’s partner, the next woman to become pregnant, etc. Everyone who reproduces, that is. A blunt disregard of the others.