Saturday, February 18, 2006

Once upon last night... *oh no!*

“Raat ki baat ka ab zikar hi kiya
Choriye raat gayee, baat gayee”

Let’s not talk about what happened yesterday. Let it be; what happened yesterday, end yesterday.

So said the poet who believed in getting over. One would wish more people with his wisdom. I had a look at my psyche recently, and it revealed to my squeaking surprise that most of what I thought was my own hurt was actually the result of listening to the excruciating details of The Constant Whiners.

While I do have respect for sharing feelings and getting the opinion of the wise, I have – like many other humans do – a disinterest in elaborating past chronicles, especially the painful, inane ones. To be on the listening end can quickly go beyond being a patient listener into being a soapbox, a wailing wall, or a forced supporter.

I can’t say, though, that I have stuck to my philosophy. For a while it seemed to me that the one way of getting along with others is to rejoice in complain.

The experience has been an eye-opener, if no less a heart-splinterer. I cannot say if it’s because the agonizing (painful or dull, boring – it’s just agonizing) past itself, or whether it’s the difference of my optimistic Sagittarian nature with this kind of post-mortem analysis – I found my experience disturbing and sticky like a wet blanket. If you haven’t been stuck on by a wet blanket before, experiment dealing with a soggy cotton ball.

Being stoical and patient was right after all. And if my personal experience doesn’t hold a candle, here is additional testimony of those who are even getting paid to listen.

P.S. “Burying it” is quite different and just as drastic as “venting it – again. And again.” The correct strategy is to “face it, understand it, resolve it, and move on.” Those who bring you back to it should be calmly and forcefully reminded to mind their own business. I’ve tried it.

P.P.S. In case of any psychological or personal issue, don’t look up to blogs or friends equally clueless as ourselves – no matter how smart and deep they sound. Go see a counselor, a mentor, or any other wise person who has no stake in your life. If your gut doesn’t trust them, let your feet walk. Be happy.

4 Steps to Light

Has it ever happened to you that you meet a very educated person who’d believe, say, or do something so astoundingly stupid that you wondered: what dent did education make in this man or woman?

And then on other times, a child or a person seemingly not literate of words believed, said, or did something very profound? Especially the children – who are the most underestimated of wise saints.

Many of us may have had a similar experience. And so have I.

But why talk of what I saw in others? In myself too, I have often felt knowledge making no or little difference in the way I carry out my existence. And I know quite a few things. What on earth, then, makes a difference? And what is this difference anyway?

In my search for an answer, I have come across what seems like the key, or the door, or the first step – whatever our imagination entertains – to discovering an answer to this riddle.
There are four steps of… opening one’s mind, shall I say?

Nay! It’s not just the mind that leads us; the heart governs in its own ways. In fact, the beauty of this wisdom is this that it suggests that the heart must be tamed before the mind is to be educated.

The Four Stages of Enlightenment

  1. Awareness: To know that one knows nothing

  2. Training & cleansing of self: To prepare the heart’s intent, and to cleanse the self of desire

  3. Education: To gain what is known as “knowledge;” the pure understanding of the what, how, when, why, for/by whom, where in our circle of concern

  4. Wisdom: To judge between right and wrong; to make fair and right use of education so that education may attain what the heart knows our purpose is

The stages are as I learnt them, and the explanations are mine.

It seems that the modern education system spins around the third stage alone. The “awareness” – at least in my country where I have witnessed the “educational” system closely – is in the form of indoctrination at best.

These steps also explain why our emotional development (result of step 2) might be years behind our mental and physical development. Is that what makes this model so true?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sense and the Muslim sensitivity: polls apart?

If the fate of the Muslim “renaissance,” self-respect, and confidence depends on which answer to this CNN poll gets the higher number of votes, I offer my condolences. Is this how low and pitiable the state of the Muslim world is – that we are in a frenzy to win an unscientific poll as open to rigging as this one is?

One only has to thank Allah that finally (as of this time) the Muslim-favored choice seems to be winning with 67% votes. Until about a couple of days ago, this was 33%, and it was a major concern to assure that “Respect for religious belief” wins over “Freedom of expression” in answer to “What is more important?”

I wonder what agony would result if this poll winner was/eventually is “freedom of expression?” And I wonder how, in any real and meaningful way, the Muslim condition will improve if all my friends and their friends vote for “religious belief?”

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Of conversations

I talk like a tree.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Of conversations, an imaginary contentment

Yawer shared these lines – likely a translation of Faiz’s poetry, he wasn’t sure – dug up from the trenches of his computer. We were speaking of loneliness and the weather and privacy and the pretensions of being okay when we are not right before.

The afterglow traps you in its skin.
Hours later, you are still stepping in and out
Of conversations, an imaginary contentment.
I walk around the house, restoring solitude
From room to room, only to find your smile
Wrapped around my hand, opening doors.

. . . . .

On a silent pond,
A peel of exile sky
Caught a skin of distant cloud
And felt its still heart stir
For the silver babble of raindrops

Exile sky…. Sounds like Faiz. Beautiful lines anyhow. In the first piece, I like the imagery of stepping in and out of conversations; the normal tip-tap sounds of an ordinary day passing by in the mind of the poet.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Are you thinking what I am thinking!?

A shared consciousness, or a pool of knowledge – well, to remain accurate, consciousness – is a possibility that has intrigued many over the ages. I am only observing a growing tendency in my on life these days: incidents of finding highly like-minded individuals – parallel to the increasing intolerance in the world. And individuals who can think for themselves, because zombies are the most all-alike things there are.

So. Finding so many people who are actually working on the exact same idea that I am, facing similar challenges, going through similar situations, having similar epiphanies, coming to similar is strange and fascinating to me. Especially because I always had an intellectual appreciation for intuition, but perhaps never went through the process. I preferred “experiment” over “experience.”

To me, intuition is a very complex math that spans over various fields. I have seen that the very calculating are, no matter what their intentions, often also highly intuitive. That hurts a little, because intuition, then, is like a pure form of knowledge. And sadly, pure knowledge can be used or abused. Having intuition is like having fire. It always irks me a bit to see a gift with the dangerous-minded talented.

As someone who taken immense delight in discerning and identifying patterns, I have always hoped that I find a way, or know of a way, in which patters can be used to understand their origin: a collective consciousness from which leaps out intuition.

Let me double-back a bit: I think intuition is mathematical because it is based on acute observation – whether fantastic, vicarious, or real. Over time, a person starts classifying experiences; stereotyping, tagging, and noting patterns. Next time faced with a similar situation, a person applies their “algorithm.” But the funny thing is that this algorithm may be part of a universal set.

In a previous post, I have mentioned the possibility of a universal aesthetic. And a universal body of knowledge. It’s like an ocean. So far, I did not know of serious academic interest in this and similar theories (if you can already see not one but many theories above, congratulations, you understand exactly what the “problem” is: many branches of the same tree!). Today I discovered that scientific minds indeed have wondered about the beyond. (Einstein was one of them, but let’s talk about the less popular.)

The Global Consciousness project at Princeton is all about reading patterns and understand if there is one gigantic body, a source, where all this info is being generated from. The creators of this project, in order to have a balanced approach between hard science and the tenderness of Man, they have “enriched [their view] by a creative and poetic perspective.” The links section is very rich. To be honest, it looks right to see acknowledgement of this sort of thinking by the mighty Princeton.

The interesting left-brain, right-brain visual on the main page amuses me. I am certain of a near future when the concept of whole-brain thinking on a global scale will be seen as not only refreshing, but also as the only way to resolve the global/glocal/local conflicts.

Online spiritual library. Will the wonders of discovery cease?

It seems that I will never cease to be amazed at the under-marketing/ un-marketing of Pakistani websites. Have they checked the latest figures for internet usage? Perhaps this news item about the success of Pond’s online campaign can convince marketers that internet has arrived in Pakistan.

Anyway. I found out another treasure of info. This time, it might be a little off the beaten track, but not for readers of Urdu literature in the country (Pakistan). It is the link to Roohani Digest, issued by the guardians of the Azeemi Sufi order in Pakistan. As a regular reader of Urdu papers since my childhood – I have read the spiritual guidance columns by the Azeemi sheikhs in Jang. What I like most about them is their practicality, straightforwardness, and an appreciation for Science.

The order believes that women will achieve a rise in status the world over in the 21st century – unparalleled with female achievements earlier in the history. Combine that what writers like Paulo Coelho (original view) and Dan Brown (pop fiction guy) have been whispering, and you might be looking at a rather coherent body of knowledge pointing in the direction of the possibility of the rise of a feminine society.  

But that’s a recent attraction only – and now that I have just opened my mind to all this talk about Gaia. Ask no questions and you will get no lies. Or rather, no theory-in-progress. But I digress.

The major attraction in spirituality, for me, has been the Azeemis’ inclination towards science and their sympathies for the prosecuted scientists of the Renaissance/ Enlightenment. The works, translated in English and in original Urdu version, are available in the Azeemia Library for free.

I have also tried and tested some of their spiritual recommendations. They work; and that’s where I shall leave it. For this is neither an endorsement nor a recruiting campaign. I am myself, so far, a distant reader.