In 2004, as the Vice President of Iran and during the Khatami Administration , I was invited to deliver a speech at the University of Seoul. The conference hall was jammed with students and academics who were curious to hear from a woman Vice President from Iran.
In that session I spoke about the common aspirations of human societies , about the fact that many global challenges including environmental degradation and the widening gap between rich and poor nations are rooted in the distorted lifestyles that we humans pursue. We need to improve ourselves individually and collectively in terms of consumption patterns, destruction of the natural environment, violence, war and abrogation of human rights.Today we come to the conclusion at the international level that we need to change lifestyles and attitudes in order to correct the current unsustainable trends. I mentioned the need for an inner journey to correct the attitudes and behavior that has become so detrimental. The Four Journeys of Mulla Sadra could be taken as a model , where four stages of cognition and spiritual upliftment were included, I noted. I was fascinated to hear the very intelligent questions and the level of understanding that Korean students displayed to concepts which came from a very distant country and culture but which touched common human values and aspirations.
The inner journey we all aspire for may begin with the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a chance to change the monotonous routine of our self-centered and egoistic lives . It is a chance to see beyond the material limits of the self and by closing doors on material senses and desires, to open a door to the mystical realm of the spirit. Ramadan is the month when Muslims refrain from eating and abstain from desires. One should endeavor to refrain from lying and all other sins during this holy month. Ramadan is a time for the inner journey for perfection. Ramadan has benefits for both the mind and the body as well as the spirit. Eating, sleeping and work behaviors are all altered during this month paving way for a new lifestyle during the whole year ahead.