Shahriar Shahriari

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Fallacy or Fact?

The Webster Dictionary defines "Fundamental" as: of or forming a foundation or basis; basic; essential.

Therefore its derivative word, "Fundamentalism", should mean adherence to basics and essentials, the philosophy of going back to the roots and foundations. Then how come all the fundamentalist sects and movements that we encounter are extremists, and seemingly so far from the essentials?

Fundamentalism in our society, whether it is religious, political, or sociological, generally refers to literal interpretation of the rules, written or unwritten. Whether we look at Christian or Islamic fundamentalists, or ultra-right conservative fundamentalists, or even groups such as environmental fundamentalists, what we encounter is extremism in orthodoxy, a mirror image of extreme radicalism.

So in reality, it is not fundamentalism which is the problem. The real issue is the attitudes to which we have given that label.

If we really separate this extremism from its undeservedly acquired label, we can openly look at the real value of fundamentalism.

For instance, when we look at our investment behavior, we are constantly driven by the greedy attitude of finding higher return - higher risk vehicles to maximize our gains during the limited time that we have in this world. As a result, we are constantly attracted to more and more exotic investment vehicles.

We become so technology dependent in our approaches, so involved in the games and the ups and downs of the markets, that we completely forget the fundamental rules of return.

While we hear about the derivatives, options, futures and so on, we completely forget the first and cardinal rule of investment: Buy Low, Sell High.

We all take it for granted that this simple rule is of course an inherent part of our strategy, yet when the market is low and it is time to buy, we expect it to go lower. And it doesn't, it actually goes higher. At this time, we have the belief that it is going to come down again, so we wait for it to come down, and of course it doesn't. It goes higher and even higher.

And when it is so high that it is time to sell, we acquire the false belief that the market has been going up, and it will continue to do so. Then we buy when it is high. And of course the market comes down. We then kid ourselves that it was once high and it will return to the same and higher levels. And it goes lower, and lower, and lower...

And again, when it is time to buy, we panic that there is no bottom to this trend, and we sell. And the cycle continues.

So while we laugh at the notion of Buy Low, Sell High, in reality we practice the exact opposite: Buy high, sell low. So much for sophistication of our high return vehicles.

When the fundamentals are lacking, we will simply go faster towards oblivion.

Let us consider our relationships and love life. Perhaps the most fundamental rule here is that it takes two people to form a relationship.

It is seemingly obvious, even absurd. But many of us, time and again in our lives have fantasized about a certain person. Dreamed of how it would be like when we finally get together, and continue this for months and even years. Until the other person finds somebody else and shatters our relationship.... the one that never existed.

At other times, we are in a fine and loving relationship, or so we think, and simply because we are not communicating with our partner, the other person in the relationship, we are completely shocked and surprised to find out that our partner is quite upset or even disappointed with our relationship.... and so it continues.

Even in our spiritual lives, we are so absorbed with the rules and teachings of our religion or belief that we completely forget why they were ever created.... to provide us a structured path to explore our spirituality, and ultimately to touch the divine within us, and allow it to express itself in relation to the divine outside of us; and ultimately merge the two, to make the divine within and without, one and the same.

Instead, we focus on the steps which have ossified in our lives to the extent that we have become living fossils, going about our daily lives without thinking, accusing and blaming everyone else while preaching love, trying to fix the problems of the world while completely ignoring and even avoiding our own shortcomings, even killing in the name of compassion, because our religion is the ultimate religion and our god is the ultimate supreme being. We claim that there is only one God, yet we dedicate our lives to destroying other Gods.

Again we are so absorbed in the games of religions that we completely bypass the fundamental needs of our spirit.

So from whoever that says I am a fundamentalist, we should ask: "And what are the fundamental beliefs that you follow?" And from whoever that says fundamentalism is wrong, we should ask: "How can you have the superficial and trivial without the fundamental?"

Shahriar Shahriari
January 1997
Vancouver Canada

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