Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Vote Goes To...

Dear Prophecy,

I am ready to vote tomorrow. What I do as an individual does not change the course of the history - but it does. There is real danger to Pakistan right now. I felt afraid for a while, but then I made a decision: I will do whatever is in my influence to do the appropriate thing.

My vote will indirectly favor a man who is much maligned and has erred, but I see strength and determination in him.

This is how time is going forward, Prophecy: One is the course of the Universe, and the rest are courses of Man. What prevails is the course of the Universe. The Universe favors the man I am going to also empower with my vote.

There is time required to correct our internal ills as a nation. Simply by starting pockets of resistance we can't escape or shoo away the fate that has arrived to knock down our doors and storm our homes by force. What am I talking about? I mean Pakistanis have been lazy about figuring out their course of action over 60 years. We are blaming, ill-mannered, and irresponsible. Many factors contribute to it: none the smallest is the way we are brought up in our families: over-protected, doctored, and engineered. No wonder the mental capacities of the adults!

Also, we have to let go of our history - and see the present as it is. We are not who we were 5000 years ago, we have to synthesize as a nation. We have to find unity within diversity by accepting the beautifully diverse people we are.

We have to create institutions, methods of work, undertake entrepreneurial activity, make things happen. Before that, we have to have education - and an enabling of minds, of people, of mothers.

Most of this has to come from within each person, their hearts, their thoughts, their actions, their lives. What we have wished after seeing the results of our inaction and lack of perception is to hope that we can shift the blame and make the results go away - elsewhere.

This is not happening. We are going to see the outcome of our flawed actions or of lack of decisions.

An entire generation has to pass away and a new one has to emerge in leadership positions - holding steady to greater human values and principles. The youth have to NOT GIVE UP. EVER. The light is at the end of the tunnel, but we will have to cross the tunnel. There is no way to avoid that.

I am going to vote for the man who is able to see, and who is determined to lead us out, despite our thrashings-about and resistance. His methods may not be desirable, but consider this:

You are stranded in a strange town that's falling apart with plague and destruction. You want to get out and get back home. A guide can tell you the only road out, but it's patchy and difficult, he has no idea of what trouble can befall on the way because the situation is not clear, and the group which wants to get out is busy thinking selfishly and not cooperating with one another. What compels this guide to lead except a leader's last bit of courage - of not abandoning those he's guiding. What pleasant drive are you going to have on the road? Does it even matter?

Pakistan is in a dangerous place. Despite all our photos of food street and the enchanting Northern Areas to "create a positive image", we better not run away from this reality anymore. We have pockets of delusional people amongst us - they are part of us, but some have become too cancerous to be tolerated. We are, overall, a sick and dishonest people who are always referring to higher ideals but no ground realities. WE MUST STOP DREAMING AND START TAKING ACTION, or action will take us as it has.

There are forces in action. A consciousness is rising. People are getting together and thinking and talking and communicating and reflecting. Women are becoming more empowered. Elders are reflecting upon their roles. Youth are getting restless. Some are on the route to their self-destruction - sorry, it's their problem right now.

But we can't hide behind our attempts to change. Unless we put these new ideas into action, live by them OURSELVES rather than inviting others to do-what-I-say, let go of possessive power - we will not get out of the plague. We are a people who counter those who step out of lines and break traffic laws by going a step ahead in breaking and still telling others they ought to have fallen in line because we say so that it's the principle! What nonsense!

We have to become unpossessive, unconditional, contributing members of an emerging family that our whole nation is.

Prophecy, tomorrow I vote for those who are in the present. Who have a vision, and who are delivering. They have a scarred history, and my family has been one of the victims. But we were sitting by the sides hoping someone else to take care of everything while we focused on our route from home to school to home to work to home to shopping center to home to Masjid. This is to end. Tomorrow could be a violent day, but Prophecy, I am a Pakistani. If I sit home, who is going to die? Why should they be out and why not me?

As is my right to live in Pakistan, so is my right to face the tribulations and the death. In all death, Prophecy, there is the true meaning of life.

I feel very strong and empowered and hopeful in the midst of this suicidal madness. I am casting my vote tomorrow for the NOW, Prophecy.

Pray for Pakistan!


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Saving a Country's Dying Soul

It is time to sleep, but something has brought me back to my writing desk. I want to share this. Right now.

Before slipping into bed, I felt like practicing a calming ritual. I sat on the floor, put my forehead on the bed, and prayed like a child. Within a few instants, I felt that reassurance, the power that prayer has been giving me. Evermore since I have learned the true meaning of prayer...

Then suddenly something welled up inside my chest... something that has been there for some time, that I have been trying to grapple and understand. Up, and up, and up the feeling surged - until it broke away through my eyes as tears.

I cried for Pakistan.

I was not in the country to witness when the camel's back was broken with Benazir's murder and the ensuing riots and mass mania. But I've been there through the 2005 Earthquake, the Red Mosque Showdown, the former Chief Justice's ups & downs. I've been there seeing my family be the victim of violence, robbing, and harrassment - and feeling completely frustrated with the frigid system of justice.

Since I have returned from a journey of my personal transformation taken in Africa, I have needed time to let the mood of fellow Pakistanis as it is now, sink in. There is a visible, eerie silence. There is a tangible, fragile fear. There is a complete break-down of sense and sensitivity. There are lying and never-learning politicians and their blind worshippers. There are men and women of good intentions but deeply flawed actions. Then there are the clear messages in the voices of Pakistanis: it has ended. All has ended.

Isn't it strange how the currents of life seem to be synchronizing? The small and the big tides all travel together - in one direction - within one fathomless sea - towards one shore. I felt that in that moment of prayer, somewhere, my personal history just merged with Pakistan's...

I had bent my head to pray purely for personal reasons. I wanted to talk to Allah about my health, healing, my hopes.

Within a moment, the story of my life rose in tides of hundreds of images in my head, and broke on the screen of my consciousness.

In that story was a message for Pakistan.

More than three years ago, one night, I had written in my blog:

"I am afraid for the first time in life. Afraid of myself, afraid of life, afraid of past, present, future. I feel despair. But beyond the end of every limit lies freedom. If it's not passion that drives us to go beyond that limit in a leap of courageous faith, it's despair."

Miserable in a high-rise career that had trapped me, heartbroken by a lie of a relationship, carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and unhinged by the general crumpling of my life and vitality - there came a long time in my life when I had no idea of why was I to live and how come I was still alive thinking and feeling. Nothing worked. Nothing stayed. Everything I held on to gave away. In those moments, I knew I had met and escaped some kind of death - but it touched me so deep I lost notions of what Life is.

It was at that time, that a will took control of me - I began to write. Each day, I would ponder over why was I "dying," what was the cause of my deep unhappiness, and, most importantly, was I going to survive? How?

This became a vast quest. One night, I broke up crying bitterly. After having a good birthday celebration in the day with close, caring friends - I tried to repair a broken relationship at night, and received a cold lack of response. That night, several things happened.

First, I cried my bitter heart out. Second, I made a pact with God to safe-keep my heart. Third, I asked myself: "Why would a person, who is so loved and cared for by many, seek to get the attention of one individual who makes it clear they dont' care?" I started counting my very good friends (recall having tallied at least 16 true-blue souls), and was actually surprised I hadn't been valuing them instead.

I made a note in my blog about that experience:

"[Last night,] I took my most precious assets - my heart - and entrusted it to God. He can safe-keep, until I can have it again, and He can have it again, and I can have it again.

Acts of faith are not easy, but they are part of the cycles of life. It is strange. For all eternity, humans have travelled towards an unknown future. What do we know? We only have theories of what lies ahead, and some stories and divinations that help along the way. What have we seen beyond this very second? Nothing. What do we have for the future? A little vision, and a tremendous amount of faith."

I learned that night that my heart is safe as long as I surrender it completely to where it belongs. That we get wrong answers as long as we ask the wrong questions; we meet the wrong people as long as we seek them; and that we can stay alive as long as we have faith - or when death truly comes calling to set us free.

Tonight, when I started praying, I realized with joy that I have friends who pray for me - who care enough to contact and let me know simply that they have thought of me and prayed for me. They touch my life unconditionally, even briefly, and I am bathed in a glow of love. What a contrast from the night - that endless, bleak night - when I couldn't understand why a pointless phone call wasn't being returned?

Tonight, when a feeling rose up and up in my heart, it was the heart of a Pakistani who cried for Pakistan. Three years ago, that night, I died in many ways. The death of deluded old me was imminent, and necessary. At that time, I did not even have the power or will to make a decision, or the foresight to make sense of what could happen to me.

I can't think of what's going to happen to Pakistan. Is it - the words that we dare not say - going to break? Will there be civil war? Will there be draught and inflation? Will there be more political assassinations? Who can rescue us? Why are we, the people and the leaders, all one nation, ending up in the wrong place? What's wrong with our seeking?

I don't know. Pakistan doesn't know.

But my heart knows just one thing. It knows that it's life was saved one night when I simply held onto the only things I could still see:

Faith, and Prayer.

There is nothing that is going to hold Pakistan together. There is nothing that gives a clue to what is going to happen in this country tomorrow. Yet there is something infinitely powerful still in the hands of people - something that no oppression or folly could take away from humans - the power of their prayer to transform.

A prayer is not a senseless uttering. At times of utter misery, it is a persons' encounter with Truth. It is a person's admission that their schemes aren't working and won't work. It is, paradoxically, also the staunchest form of promise that one makes to themselves - it is not a state of inaction. It is a word of honor that we give to ourselves - allowing the Universe to favor us.

So, despite all my lack of sight about my country, I will save its soul, in as much as God empowers me to do, with that which saved my own soul, and brought me alive on the other side - smiling, strong, vibrant, and alive.

I will pray for Pakistan.

Long live!

(Published on 29 December 2011, pulled up from a draft last saved on 13 Feb 2008)

I Will Tell the Universe's Story. Again.

Dear Prophecy,

The story must be told. I have decided to write my memoirs and the story of my learning. What form they take - I know not. Only I know, it's a story of faith, and of love. It is a story that the Universe has played out and witnessed for four billion years. It is always the same story, and always unique to the one who tells it again.

So Prophecy, I pick the story up once again from its universal thread and spin the yarn. I will both tell it and listen to it. For that, my dear, is the purpose of this story.

- Oh my dear God! I just had a realization - for a certain billionth time!

I just got it! I just said it!

"The purpose of The Story was that it will be played out again and again and again. It will be told again and again and again. It will be heard again and again and again. It is always the same story - yet always unique to the one who experiences it. In the end, the one who tells and the one who hears are One."

You just heard the secret, Prophecy. Again.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Yes. We. Can.

Wow! Such an inspirational song! Can't help but share. Can Pakistanis can?

(The "Yes We Can" Barack Obama video)
Via: The Telegraph UK & YouTube

Friday, February 08, 2008

As of Now: An Animal Enlightenment (2 of 2)

Continued from Part 1
From my personal diaries, January 29, 2008

Animal Consciousness

It was in the Kruger National Park, away from any person I had known all my life, alone in most senses of the word, that I put to practice what I had been learning earlier in Africa. I decided to see without looking. The whole obsession of spotting the Big Five – elephant, rhino, leopard, lion, and buffalo – was frustrating. Early the second day, stretching our necks and darting our eyes over the landscape in the hope of spotting an important animal, I remembered that as a child, I would have been ecstatic simply to have been in a jungle! There I was, in Africa, in the wild, with animals nearby most likely hiding in the tall summer grass, feeling thoroughly ungrateful and tired having spotted yet another impala.

Then I took stock of my situation, and undertook a few actions. I thanked my life for preserving itself; I thanked my Lord for giving me life at all. I thanked all favorable chances for bringing me to the jungle, amidst the trees, surrounded by the possibility that wild animals will cross my path. I allowed myself to feel the hidden-ness of the animals, the scent of their proximity. I bowed lightly to the trees, acknowledging their graceful presence. They shivered in response.

I asked my consciousness to travel in all directions, instantaneously, to let the animals know that there was someone amidst them who loves them. I am not going to stare at them. They are not objects. They are alive, swift, agile, wild! They are in touch with nature! They are animals!

I want to behold the raw energy of their presence, to allow myself to feel those parts of myself that resonate with their energy. I have respect for my animal self, which was me before I became me as I am.

I resign to the fact that no animal was ever sighted because a human was looking and staring in their direction. Rather, the animal was there, and the human chanced to have looked at that place just then; or the human was an agile hunter who had anticipated the animal's behavior and plotted to cross their path. This is how things happen. This is the duality. My set of eyes produces no animals. In half, I depend.

On the other half, the animal depends on me to hold it in awe, for it to be, relatively, an “animal” – wild, raw, powerful and dangerous – indeed.

An unlikely large number and variety of animals – including the Big Five – appeared on our path during the tour. In particular was the leopard who loitered about nearby, and didn't go until we had the fill of our sighting. Rather, we got a little fatigued by the wearing off of novelty, I admit. I joked to the guide that I had prayed for these extraordinary sightings. But the truth was that I had submitted to the wilderness; with the general satisfaction that my life was no longer out to get me.

So far, it was I who had been getting my life, holding it by its poor throat and chortling it to produce my self-created end or else die!

I gave that all up.

Then, The Submission

I gave all that nonsense up – as wholly and unconditionally as I could.

By the time of the miraculous leopard sighting, I had come to believe that life is at once smaller and larger than I. And it is benevolent to the extent that I am benevolent to myself. There is no other Secret other than “I am.” In those moments, whatever remained in me of false hopes and expectations – I gave up.

I took my memory out of me, and blew it back in the direction of The Universe.

Note: All photos were taken by the blogger "The Prophecy" in the Kruger National Park. Not to be re-published without permission. For the interested, there are more animal close-up shots and videos - especially of the Leopard. Please email inquiries. (Email address on the blog A Quest for Beauty; a Lust for Life!)


As of Now: The Absence of Memory (Part 1 of 2)

From my personal diaries: Jan 29, 2008

I am possessed by the strangest of sensations: I feel like a woman who's lost her memory. Last week, I knocked into someone who I have known like the color of my nose. I knew her – she is the sister of a close friend with whom I have seen some ups and downs of life. We've been together, I can tell. But for the life of me, I couldn't then and I cannot now recall her name. Who is she?

It's just one of those many things that are completely gone from my mind.

I don't, for instance, feel as though I was there, two weeks ago, watching wild animals in Africa. I look at the photos I took, and they give me an eerie sensation. As if I know them – but then what am I doing here? Sitting in the bleakness of Karachi, with no idea of where I have come from, and where I am going to. Do I belong to the world of animal sightings and roaming the wilderness? Do I belong here, staring at my laptop which, partly due to its uncooperative operating system, seems unfriendly and unfamiliar? Do I belong to neither a place?

Aye, that seems to be the root of my very pleasant cluelessness.

The End of Being

I only know that in the year 2007, I had reached the end of my being, as it was then. The year carried forward a series of spectacular what-shall-I-call-them? – losses – all around me. Gold turned to dust, yet I was still untouched by the death of all things that I owned, or things that owned me. I stayed put in the eye of the storm, watching its destructive wave unfurl around me.
I remember losing the least bit of interest or anxiety. I recall I had realized that nothing of my doing was going to work; and that my heart would set on immediate fire if I went in any but one direction.

And in that one direction I went. Without thought. Without plan. Thought with a degree of uncertainty and with some fear. Yet in my inner heart, with absolute certainty, I walked into the Uncertain.

I left what I called my home, and went to where my heart was going. I went to Africa.

Oh, Her African Odyssey!

There were some vague notions in my mind of what could happen during that sojourn. And with those notions was a laughter at them, for I knew nothing will be like I could design or expect. The safest was to ensure the mundane: take care of travel arrangements, buy clothes, buy a camera, buy a PDA, put them all into the rucksack I had acquired earlier only to remind myself that I am born to wander.

I took the invite of my host – and decided not to ask any questions. Who are you exactly? Where do you live? What kind of facilities will be available to me? What do I need to bring with me? What shall I do once there? Why have you invited me, by the way? What do you expect of me? What should I expect of the visit? What shall I do afterwards?

None of these questions I asked. Why should I have?

In my previous life, I had had the opportunity of examining some liars and psychopaths at close proximity – that is to say, experientially. Which is to say, they exercised their craft upon me. And I knew what they were up to, but didn't ask them a question. I always felt I need to ask myself why do things happen to me the way they do? Why, indeed, are things happening to me at all?

In an even earlier life, I have never felt that things sort of fall upon my head somehow. Good, bad, sudden, distinct, funny, absurd – I used to know what was going to happen, and took it as it was. I used to possess an instant knowledge of where I was and what to do.

When I left for Africa, that fluid life was part of my knowledge bank, but nothing I was experiencing any longer. I had vague feelings that I wanted to reclaim that past – and on the other hand the sad realization that there is no such thing as “reclaiming the past.” Many fine people have fallen into this trap and I didn't want to be like them.

I didn't want to be like anyone – for all my heroes and goals have appeared short the instant I have reached closer to them. All my definitions and dreams are pygmies. They're like too short clothes that I don't wish to be restrained by, certainly not forever.

And thus, I asked no questions about the one thing that my heart had felt so very sure of in a long time. I felt safe. I felt secure. And I honored my feeling by tainting it with no logical, reasonable doubt.

I went to Africa, all judgments and expectations suspended. I pardoned myself from the self-created necessity of always having a goal. I submitted to life as it appeared – vast, tranquil, still, and deep – on the horizons of my perceptions. I left the shore, and floated into the Sea.

To quote my Teacher, then onwards, all experiences made me feel “I knew that I knew!”

Without “doing” too much or too many varied things, I felt a vastness of experience and of being-ness just encapsulating me. I felt the past and the future of Africa in its air; but I was curious about neither. I felt the incredible diversity of human race and class, of strife and resolution. I felt unconditional love too.

Above all, I did feel the not-feeling of that certain consuming fire which had been making me sick and insane over the past few years. The painful sickness that had driven me near my physical death suddenly left me one night. I became a free woman.

It was a New Year the next morning. I woke up with an emptied heart, feeling light. Feeling as though I had no memory, only an intellectual recollection of events I had been witnessing. I could as well be talking about someone else.

Continued next.