Vice President Mashaee spoke to our delegation poetically, passionately, and at length. He had a lot to say about American arrogance, of course. And he also addressed how we can improve US-Iran relations.
But he became most animated when he talked about the universal spirit of the Islamic Revolution. As he and Ahmadinejad see it, the Islamic Revolution is a universal liberating new possibility that actually “belongs to the whole world!” In a future post, I’ll try to convey my nascent understanding of this proud and defiant idealism.
I happened to be seated next to three of Mashaee’s deputies. When I saw how strongly he was emphasizing the importance of spiritual inspiration and US-Iran citizen dialog, I took this as an invitation to engage. I handed them an envelope containing my Integral Documents.
Toward the end of our scheduled appointment, he had essentially answered our group’s prepared questions about culture and politics. He had even responded affirmatively to our requests to facilitate future civilian diplomacy delegations. A pause ensued, an opening for... what? Something new? Our delegation’s moderator looked around as if unsure what to do. I caught her eye, shrugging, and indicating that if this was a loose ball, there was a shot I’d like to take… and she nodded. So I went ahead.
I described the inter-religious dialog now taking place at the Integral Spiritual Center, and I told him that we thusfar had no Shia representation. I asked if he could help facilitate meetings for our delegation with serious spiritual practitioners during our coming time in Qom the following week. He asked who I'd want to meet with, and I explained that what would be optimal would be individuals with personal mystical realization who are also familiar with the Western intellectual tradition - and knowledge of English would also be a great plus.
The Vice President responded with a few questions, and then an enthusiastic yes. We ended our meeting and his press attachés (and a couple of enterprising delegate-photographers) took a few pictures of him with our group.
Interestingly enough, this conversation provoked two very strong and opposite reactions. Many of my fellow delegates were furious because I had departed from the specific list of questions that the group had been prepared beforehand. ("On a peace delegation, it's essential that we make decisions and statements only as a group.") The Vice-President and his deputies, on the other hand, seemed extremely intrigued and engaged. I was asked twice for my business card. One of the deputies stopped me afterwards to discuss more specifically the kind of meetings I was seeking. We parted cordially, with pledges to follow up.