Allah is Beautiful, and Hu Loves Beauty!
When the primordial Question, "Am I not your Lord?" reached my perception, I remember, I had said, "Yes! And You are Beautiful! And I love You!" That became the anthem of my soul. Then I was put to sleep. Now I wake up. This is a chronicle of my awakening.
Monday, December 29, 2008
There are two political leaders for whom my heart is saying contrary today to what it used to say.
One is Benazir Bhutto. I am usually careful of doing anything that I shall be ashamed of later, something I cannot account to myself. But against the voice of my own heart, I said unkind words about her after her death, remembering her as a "corrupt politician" that Pakistanis once cursed. Suffice it to say that my view of us Pakistani and our curses has changed more significantly than anything else. I think we cursing people should hold ourselves to task before we are held to task (as it is happening right now). Also, my view of what is corruption and what prompts is, what is it, and how others perceive it is also rather evolved. I do not accept corruption, but I see a new definition of it. In summary, there is a corruption that is real corruption - that is the rotting of a heart. And then there is corruption that is arbitrarily defined. And then there is that legally defined corruption that happens much more often passively (i.e. by the "victim" or totality of the system) - but is only attributed actively and tangibly, i.e. to a person taking money. I think today that it is not just that a person does wrong, but that they are silently, subtly, and by way of inaction and unfairness supported in their ways by the larger world.
Each has to transform themselves alone.
As of Benazir, I would think that another case applied to her: that is of repentance and transformation. Certainly the woman who came here is not the woman who had left this country: one who was much less maturer and inappropriate. I also sometimes wonder how much fortitude did she show in becoming the Prime Minister in the first place, and being a woman in the second place! How often is it that a woman truly shows the collective spirit of those around her, for a woman is a tribe, she does not walk alone. For whatever wrong she did, how much was really her fault? The situation cannot be accounted for in terms of facts, many of which are not known in legal truth be people. But there is a truth larger than that and that is the voice of human hearts -and in that voice, she is forgiven. She is not vile.
A year ago I may have dismissed eulogies for her (though I felt my heart rebuking me as I did so), but soon after I admitted the voice of my own heart. I forgive her. And not just that, I say she inspired me for this entire year of 200 to give my last bit of flickering hope to this country. What this country has now chosen for itself is its own choice.
The second politician is George W. Bush. Yes, that man whose bad end we have all been ardently wishing for.
No President walks alone either, in a democratic world. The decisions of a leader depend upon him and on his character. But this is not the age of one lone hero/ villain especially in complex political systems such as that of the USA. We humans seem to be carrying our political memories from the days of kings and queens. The system today is not so arbitrary.
I do not say that George W. Bush is either a wise man or one with exceptionally good intent. But I do feel today that he has had much more ill ascribed to him than really belonged to him alone. It is entirely possible that he only managed to bring what was already doomed to its catastrophic end. And I also would dare say, much as I revile war and aggression - that the nations that suffered from these aggressive acts should have been more proactively engaged with the world.
Of the one who commits violence and who seems to be dead by it, we tend to hold the first as responsible. If a fast car hits a man who was rushing across the road in darkness, whose fault is it? It may be the car's fault, but to stop at that conclusion and not attempt to create pedestrian bridges and well-lit streets is to have poor vision. Indeed the people who I find most disruptive and harmful are the one who beat the point of the "aggressor's" fault to death and engage for ages the energies of everyone else also to reach that bland conclusion.
The act of wrong is obvious. How to correct this in the present and for the future is not obvious to the blind. That remains the quality of the vision of only a few.
We must broaden our vision and open our hearts enough to be able to see that the victim and the victimizer are both born into a skewed world; and of the two, one assumes the active and the other the passive role. Yet both are in the same drama.
That is why I also detached from the movements of the "Civil Society" in Pakistan shortly after I protested against Musharraf's unwise handling of the events of March 2007 and thereafter. I think the one who protests and says statements like, "Stop.... " actually plays along in the drama and does nothing more than attract more violence. From animals to predators to street thieves to dictators, each violent force will go again and again for such people - this is a psycho-forensic fact. For whoever is genuinely interested in change, the real task is to stop themselves from acting in the drama.
There is One Nation - and yes I just put that in the caps - that has really used its own ills to transform itself. Of the significant nations of the world, this nation is definitely the first. That is America.
America is a much-hated country in the world as of 2008, and certainly the most hated nation before November 2008. From friends to foes to the apathetic, people fear America and despise its system - and fear is hatred by just another name. The ills of any nation - its waywardness, its hysteria, its lack of empathetic human values, its incompatibility with the rest of the world - were apparent in full force in the American nation for the past eight years.
It was like an infection that fully came to boil, and it had distorted the face of America.
For a person or for a nation, this is a truly horrid and painful situation to be in: when you think you want to be beautiful and loved, but you are all ugly and repulsive.
As the year of 2008 ends, though, it can be truly said that America dealt with the dark night of its soul - and grew through it. Look anywhere in the world and you shall see the worst of all people as the leaders of the nation - the people most hated and loathed and suspected by the nations are ruling them! This shows how morally bankrupt and weak the world is, for its worst men are in positions of power, telling lies that everyone knows are lies, raping entire countries - and still they are in comfortable power! This would astound a political analyst alien brother from Mars!
The only nation, so far, that has managed to arrive in the next era of inclusive, collaborative, enlightened leadership is the USA. Barack Obama's election is as much a wonder of people's power as of his own character. Persons of character and promise mean nothing in politics if they are not acknowledged by the common people - it is a dance of the two. (Though having character only takes one: the politician. And making correct decisions takes only one: the citizen.)
This is just the beginning of human nations renouncing old dogmas and schemas. The quicker a nation allows its old constructs to fall apart today, the sooner it shall be liberated from a world that we are all tired of. This is the way to liberation.
It is no wonder, thus, that the whole world erupted into cheer at the election of a highly unusual politician as the President of United States - one who is, in the spirit of the times, collaborative, calm, and collected.
As the history of humanity continues its inevitable evolutionary march on an ever more densely populated planet, we need a spirit that gives rather than snatches space from the other. We must also let go of our history, and appreciate that all that has happened thus far is a great human experiment. And that what we need right now, in this present, is a forgiveness of the past, a fearlessness about the future, and an absolute conscious presence in the world as-it-is, NOW.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.
Inspiring source: What Love Demands
Thursday, December 25, 2008
However I like to believe we can. And that we do, eventually. Still, it depends upon our fortitude and indeed upon the larger will of Being. There are, of course, essentials that never change such as blood relations. To attempt to sever our very foundation leads to a very quick death, remember that. People who break ties too often, die.
Let there be no admonishment of self for the past. That is guilt, too often sold as a virtue. Being your true self in the first place would ensure you do not enroll yourself into a situation where you eventually cannot get along. Know that I am not suggesting we attempt to eliminate unfavorable situations - or that what we perceive as unfavorable - and make our lives a pursuit of ill-defined pleasure. I am suggesting that we consistently choose to flow with our life. That's it. We all know when and how we choose to go where we don't want to, and don't go where our heart calls us.
As it is said there is no right or wrong path - rather a path with your heart in it, and everything else. The difference is not of right or wrong, but what you want to live and what you won't. A far more crucial matter is of acceptance and non-acceptance. The Land of Right and Wrong is for those with lesser vision. Let them be.
If you are glad that your path is clearer in any way, for God's sake and for your own, be thankful and happy. It is not what happens that matters as much as our attitude towards it. Do not laugh at people even in your privacy. Have compassion - have absolute compassion even if you are not meant to associate with a person, event, or idea in your life. Choose not to see them as much as you see yourself - for you are the fundamental constant in the changing equation of your life.
Teach yourself compassion, and practice it! There are matters that do not even need our actions. They appear to us, and then they dissolve. We do nothing more than observe them. Let them come, and let them go. Do not think that you are the lord of every bit of your life. There are other people in this space where we co-exist. Let them be. That is your freedom. Do not choose the version of freedom that enslaved minds envision: a situation where they face nothing. That is the vision of freedom of one who is essentially a captive of their own entity.
In this space, there will be rise and fall and growth and perishing. Observe more than you interfere. Grace is the engagement you allow yourself - of course you can opt for the inappropriate and then get to see the results.
Acceptance is of two kinds:
First, you accept yourself.
Then, you accept the moment.
The acceptance of self is in the form of ever -evolving knowledge. The acceptance of the moment is to do the appropriate thing. Over time the two build on each other, but if there is a first move, then it's the one that you make by choosing to accept yourself. For you are the source. You are the fundamental integer of Being.
Prophecy, do not read as much into the story as in your outlook towards it. The message in the moment if for you to just be. You feel happy. Feel it deeply. Feel gratitude even if there is no reason. Make compassion your way. For the next few days, make it an active practice to behold a situation or person that you hate in Love.
Perhaps to begin with, hold yourself in Love. I must practice the same? I feel there is too much ordering of you.... How parental!
All right, let compassion begin at heart, shall it? "I forgive my own self!"
This is Christmas Eve - the world is commemorating Christ, peace be upon him. In his spirit, let there be overflowing love and light within!
Let there be Love! Let there be Grace! Amen, amen!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Life is but an instance of a wave's separation from and return to the
Ocean. It is too much of me to presume that I shall live until the
morning to tell of what I learned this evening - a stunning, marvelous
I discovered it as I was writing this evening. Over the hours till
midnight when I spent a few moments gazing at the star-filled sky, it
grew as a well-integrated revelation. I marvel, as usual, not on just
what I learned, but in the manner that it came about. I am as yet
ungrateful for it superficially, but my heart is on to connecting that
next, that very significant dot! With it, I hope, comes the Gratitude
that shall set me free! I be-lieve in it!
Ah, look! Here I have told you the whole story about the story whereas
all I was saying is that I cannot even grasp the entirety of my
realization in words tonight.
I am still writing; and a moment ago there was yet another door unlocked!
But let me stop here just to say: I am presuming that I shall have a
tomorrow to finish transfering the thought in words. Yet I intend to
live that much longer.
We live to fulfill our debts, did you know that? Except, of course,
the very unfortunate who die indebted. And then there are debts we
still carry. I don't know the difference between what we pay back and
what we carry forth other than that I sense there must be some - of
I speak too much when I'm excited, eh? This too shall pass as a way of being.
In my phone's Word doc archives is a file named 'Heart Universe.' One
really must not presume, so this file contains what my ealization of
Now on a related note - Pray, Prophecy, that I learn to live a life of
absolute readiness for death! Pray there are no debts of the kind a
human can pay back to a living human! Pray there is strength and the
correctness of time to do what I must do, just then!
It's 2:19 am Prophecy! Not a time for the wise to stay up without
reason! May you learn to master the art of living with Seasons and the
Time - only then will you always be ready, not in debt of your own
life, and have all the time to do a thing when it's meant to be done:
I.e. in the moment that it arises! Amen!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
From political leaders to family, to religious men to loved ones, no one is the master of our minds. We alone should master this machine - and master it, not be its slave. Most people, however, who are intelligent and well-read are the slaves of the little, brilliant machine called the human mind. They are used by it: by its data, its patterns, and its imaginative projections. By the stuff it memorizes and regurgitates. By its cold calculations of the best advantage. By its instinct for its own survival, at any cost.
In this condition, they fare even lesser than animals - for even animals are capable of training their minds than be trained by it.
We humans are often quick to point to figures in our families or localities or nations or our own world as "dictators" or "tyrants." Especially in the political sense, there are dictators that we "all agree upon." I'd put that in quotation marks because this universal agreement is an assumption - perhaps not all agree, and certainly in identifying historical figures as dictators is to come up with a label that satisfies the mind. And that is a far bigger danger!
The most fearsome dictator in the world is the human mind on auto-pilot.
It is a mind that has been fed dogma, data, theories, factoids, pictures, presentations, fixed dreams, visualizations - and then turned on. It controls an individual like no dictator can. It is inflexible and hardened over time. After all, the brain's patterns are reinforced after usage, quite literally creating an imprint.
After all, if the definition of a dictator is one who dictates, and if dictation is "to control or command, to prescribe with authority, to say or read aloud to be written or recorded by another," then truly the entity that conforms to this definition is the human mind running on its own. Most people are not aware of how when their senses of perception and communication are not feeding into the mind as much as they are being fed by it. And that the words and actions they are undertaking are being directed by the mind's automatic commands.
Once, a few years ago, I got used to watching the formulaic Indian soaps. I used to work for television myself, and was familiar with how actually the formula for the dialogs are created based on market research about basic human nature. One day, I was talking to someone who offered to tell me the background truth about a situation that deeply concerned me and about which I felt I was in the dark. And as they said, "I want to tell you...," I interjected with a cliched line offered at just such moments in the soaps: "Neither do I know, nor do I want to know!" This declaration was so unneeded and dramatic that there was a brief what-the-heck pause in the conversation. And I had a rather amused feeling, what had I just said? Wow!
That little incident just grew in significance as it became a thread that I pulled, and somehow I ended up undoing quite a fabric of automatic programs running in my mind. In those days, I was also reading Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The book refers to the "scripts" that are taught to us by the society and other sources.
The fundamental truth to know, though, is that we accept those scripts - and that we have the absolute ability to override and completely erase those scripts. Most self-help teachers teach us to "write our own script." This only goes as far. To be able to become the writer of our own script, we first have to empty the mind entirely while training ourselves to write an able script. And it is vital to know that the level of self that runs on scripts is not the same as the very evolved self that is able to write a meaningful script. In between these two selves lies the ability to read our own code - to know who we truly are - and to act upon that ability.
This is the quality of a human being who is free of dictation and tyranny. It is an absolutely personal and individual choice.
After all, how often have we seen in history that the most seemingly powerful, fearful, vile, and watchful dictators have been challenged and finally reduced to nothing by ordinary individuals with simple ideas? It did not matter if the dictator was a person or a system. All it took was for a challenger to say, "No!"
What was different about those who rose? They were people who were free in themselves while others about them allowed their minds to take them over - and of course I would not suggest that there were rather physical forms of limitations and tyranny that has kept people enslaved. It is, indeed, not just a mind game.
The point is to remind us that we are free. And we are truly free when we are free of the entity that truly enslaves us: a sleeping mind.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Prophecy, no one really tells us what to do. This is the beauty of adult life.
If they indeed are telling us, then either we are living in a society that is immature - or they are indeed deciding for us when we cannot make up our own minds.
Force is relative. If you are not exerting it, someone else is. For the purpose of your life, it must be you who must be exercising the force, by making decisions. It's called "being alive" by another name.
Yet decisions are the outcomes of a process. That process is up to you and within you, for it is relative to you.
An a conscious adult, Prophecy, we should be acutely aware of our own energy and its shifts. What value are we experiencing, and how is it changing? Say, we experience strangeness or excitement when we enter a new city - that's the value. And then after a while it diminishes - that's the modulation or change of the value.
The city can be large or small; its people can be many or few; yet our feeling is ONE. It is centered in us.
The city is not going to tell you in your human, coded language - your Urdu, your English, your French - to live or go. It has a language of its own, and your heart is the translator. When the lights and sounds no longer call you, they are suggesting to you that you consider a change in scene.
This is not a metaphor. This is truly a language. Everything has a language - elements, minerals, plants, animals, children and the deaf and dumb. Yet only the perceptive hear that which is not said in their own language. As it is, not every word is spoken. Language is part of a whole. Not everyone sees this wholeness. The blind and the seeing are not equal.
Those blind to the space that is part of the wholeness will not see the room to grow. They do not grow as a consequence. Shift happens in space within which shift can take place. One has to have a fine perception to sense shift. And be wise enough to act upon that sensation.
This sensation tells us "what to do", often more clearly - nay, definitely more clearly and with honesty - than human language can . It does not, however, command us like the voice of the mind does. The choice to act upon it is solely ours. This is human freedom.
So Prophecy, to wait to be told is a sign of immaturity. To wait for a situation to go from "telling" to "screaming" is lethargic and pathetic or apathetic - you pick what you like.
A mature heart is sensitive to its own change, and it acts upon what it is sensing. To decide in the moment, one has to let go the mind's chatter and the persistence of memory - for they are the true enemies of decisions.
And that, my dear, is the art of decision making.
(Written on December 16, 2008)
I am helpless in the face of my condition. Like a sneeze or paralysis, the condition of the heart just occurs - and I have no control over it.
My heart tells me what to write, what not to write. Who to speak with, who to be silent with. When. What moment. "Yes now," it says, "end this." Then it says, "Go ahead, and do as I suggest." The voice of the heart is quite distinct from the mind's. It has none of that cold, mechanical quality of the mind. The heart has a voice that is intuitive, tender, and loving to the other. It is the voice that broods when we are nasty to others. It does not tell the difference between one and the other.
And so as it is, my heart demands complete seclusion. Well, almost complete. And I have no control over it. I just witness how the whole scheme unfurls; thankfully, I am able to get over my feelings of redundancy.
But I am rambling! I had to tell this: once again, I was perusing through the beautiful book Women of Sufism and reading a passage about Michaela Ozelsel's khalwa (Sufi retreat) experience.
It is a passage taken from her diary, kept during a traditional 40-day khalwa in Istanbul. Therein she speaks of her experiences, raw and evolving with time. She spoke of the trembling - that, in the words of Rumi, an essential trembling - of a lover. Except that she did not use the word "lover," but I shall use it to refer to a seeker.
She writes of how she cried - how she overcame her self's complaints by expressing exaggerated gratitude - and then... she writes of zikr!
Zikr! Remembrance of the Lord! That in which hearts find true satisfaction!
And then I could read no more. I closed the book and realized, "Oh dear God! Quite despite myself, I am not only experiencing solitude, I am also enjoying it! I feel love and I feel connection. And I feel I want to give, I have no expectations, indeed I do not want anything from anyone. My soul is laughing! And yet, suddenly, there is something that I miss!"
Could it be....? But of course! How I have brought myself to see my life as a story being written. I am so comfortable with it. I flow with the words. I am the story, indeed. My teacher says, "Events are God's vocabulary, and Time is God's grammar." I must be the story!
The key is to achieve a state of such stability in the heart that we see the design of this story as benevolent. Begin in the name, the word, that is All Merciful, Compassionate. Then begins the story, I.
What a state of ecstasy that put me in! I wondered - wow - how could I not see that this seclusion, too, is written by the One Hand That writes it all. Why would the Hand write this? And why would then this reading of this particular book that I had been unable to read for the past few months come into my story - now?
It is all so visible. Seclusion. Almost exactly after a year of when I undertook my own khalwa. A return, a remembrance. I have been woefully forgetful of my practices. And yet my heart has been delving into zikr spontaneously these past few days. I am here. I am exactly where I a supposed to be. Secluded, with a choice to remember.
I remember through my writing, and I remember through the chants. The task is clear, though: remember, remember!
And my heart whispered, right this moment, "Remember who you are?"
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Take refuge in the cave:
God will spread His grace over you, and will endow you --
whatever your outward condition --
with all that your soul may need.
Chapter Al-Kahf (The Cave) 18:16
I have somehow picked up the book again to read at bedtime nowadays. This passage glowed and attracted me as I was reading about the Sufi spiritual practice of khalwa (the secluded meditation) - that I have also undertaken. What a practice!
I undertook it for two nights spent alone in a room; the meditation that is essentially a replication of the experience of death emptied me first, and then filled me with Divine Presence. These days, as I have secluded myself to empty myself, as I seek stillness, and I seek cover for my own heart, perhaps nothing cold have resonated so strongly with me as this Qur'anic passage about a group of young believers and their dog who seeked refuge in a cave.
May my heart be blessed with Grace! Amen!
- Jami (Sufi)
If I have made "accept your self/ another/ this moment in Love" my realization in this month of December - and if my belief in the power of Love as the greatest healing force in the world had been reinforced through experience - then this quote I found during a random Twitter search is an affirmation of all that I am feeling at this moment.
Love, that is found in our heart and nowhere else; Love, that is given and not taken or demanded or hoped for; Love, which is the most benevolent form of attention - it is this that sets us free from the only entity that truly possesses us: our lower self.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
When you start accepting yourself, you will experience such a fullness, such a richness and wholeness that your wanting will leave. You will then come to know it were not "your" wants at all. They were just wants, that occupied your heart. They can leave, and you can keep your heart.
You see, all ailments of the Self are holding the space for your (healthy) choice. There is no vacuum; so something holds the space until we replace it with what we acquire after transcending. We begin in a state of fall, only to rise. This "fall" holds the place for our "rising." It is like rising steps.
Honor yourself every step of the way. And to honor yourself demands that you discipline yourself.
Have you seen people with fit bodies, and people with out-of-shape and unhealthy bodies? The difference between the two of them is their discipline - and their honor for their own Self. The one who disciplines themselves (reasonably, of course) is the one who honored themselves. And the one who honors themselves is the one who accepted themselves.
It is your not wanting that has set you free.
How does it feel?
It feels like no-thing. Not desiring is nothing in itself, for it were, that would be desiring or fearing yet something else.
You see this is the process. It can be achieved in an instance or step-by-step. Do not worry whichever way that is. You do not have to choose this, indeed do not attempt to!
You are a story, like many others, that this Universe tells itself. Be your story, do not attempt to become it or to achieve it.
Divine creativity does not exhaust. It is powerful so it examines itself under ever newer conditions. You are the condition that you are. It is only for the perception of duality that the faster is better than the slower, or indeed the slower is sometimes said to be better than the faster. Put that duality aside! Who knows when it is better to be fast, or to be slow?
Haven't you experienced the traffic when it slows down in sleet and ice? It is better to be fast, or to crawl?
The answer depends on the circumstances, and often the circumstances are not perceived by us. In fact the sum of circumstances is perennially beyond perception.
So do not coerce yourself. You are who you are. Want neither more, nor even less. It is grace to accept yourself and your circumstances as they are. You see we often argue with our circumstances for we are not accepting our Self.
Accept yourself. Acceptance is not want. It is still. Want moves. Acceptance is living, and want dies.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
All spiritual practice puts a great emphasis on NOW, on BEING. Somehow the word "Be" in this oft-heard axiom struck me afresh as it addressed me more personally.
"Be The Change." Not become. But be.
Be. As you are.
In a flash something connected in my head. I was struggling a bit in letting go some associations, a bit of (physical) baggage (all my stuff!) - and it seemed that a birthday, especially as it occurs in the last month of the year, is a good time to "close." I was sorting through my head and thoughts too when this came about.
Be the change.
How often do we try to become the change! Altering ourselves unnecessarily. There is a subtlety in BE THE CHANGE.
It suggests that we are the change. And in just being ourselves, we live out the change.
There is a letting go implicit in this phrase, for it acknowledges that every new human is a change unto themselves. That truly our highest purpose is to live out who we are, as individual selves - yet live collectively.
Human knowledge is at a rather advanced stage today. We have mapped several natural systems in the mathematical, chemical, physical, biological sense. We can see how each system contains individual elements that behave true to their own nature,yet co-exist in the system. They are at once individual and collective.
Living this way is not just possible, it IS. We do not do anything with this knowledge, we just come to know it.
We are the change. I am the change. My highest task is to unlock my own code and to live it. This is my highest service to myself and to collective humanity.
Now this simple notion helped me de-clutter my mind of the various to-do's, un-do's, and undones. It has lent me focus again. Meanwhile I am clearing out my stuff, journaling much more extensively and just being. And somehow, in being just my true self, I am being all the change I am!
Friday, December 12, 2008
It is this December, of 2008,
that I have truly rested after years.
When I have separated rest from the constant need
to do something.
Fearing that if I won't be
doing something -
one or another -
I will perish as a person.
That I owed something to the world
the need to stay afloat, to stay in touch,
to, in short, constantly do something.
That I had, somehow, the weight of the world
upon my shoulders.
That I must carry it across.
Perhaps, to a degree, this was all right.
Of course the past, anyhow, is all right.
It is the Present that matters.
If at all!
Yet it is not our actions, but our intentions
that are our true life.
Or the value that we derive from life.
It is this winter of 2008
that I have truly
had a free intent in a long time.
Partly, as I feel that there are more shoulders
shouldering the world. That we now have
more able people, more dreamers
living their dreams. And that indeed
the world that will come later is better than
what we have seen before.
Partly, because not just my universal soul
but my individual self has come to rest.
A rest as absolute as we can have
in a relative world.
I have stopped conversing compulsively;
answering every bit of flake that flew
in my direction. I have stopped
honoring the trivial. I have come to value
that which is valuable, in truth.
It is this cool winter - that is still warm enough
to inspire a bit of free poetry -
that I feel no fear, no obligation, no compulsion.
That whatever I do comes from my own
deep wish to be. Therefore, right now,
I do nothing and just be.
And all this has led me to poetry and writing....
There is a quality about winter
that we lose in our resistance against
what we perceive to be the
inconsistency of seasons.
We want everything to be permanent.
Only the essence of anything is permanent,
eternal, timeless. Its doings are not its being.
Being is still.
Doings shift. So do seasons.
The beauty of winter is that it is still.
When we are used to running, pursuing a dream,
we can hardly appreciate the glistening, clear, icy
stillness of winter and a full moon night.
When we just are, neither running nor reclining,
We are still in the midst of all that goes on,
we are aligned with winter. It is a season to rest.
It is cool, restive, reflective. It allows moments of
gatherness within: that precious art of self-collection.
If we lived with season, with winter as it is,
perhaps we would experience that which I,
this winter, have been blessed with:
not doing, but being.
aka The Prophecy
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
No reason. None none! Just happyyyyyy!
Thank! You! God!
P.S. OK: there is a reason. I is no longer be needed to carry the weight of the world! I is free! People is awakened!
Good morning, people! You took so long to wake up, the Universe had to ring all sorts of alarms! From the world of finance to the earth right beneath your feet, everything has been shaking you out of your stupor!
Let's get up and going! NOW.
I am bringing back a certain discipline and a drive into my life. These few days of "me time" are the buffer zone between now and what is to come. They, however, are my now. If I were to die any of these random moments, I want to be ready. That is all I am preparing myself for.
And being ready is to give and to give up. I have to give something up. I thought of making a little act out of it... but I think my intent has already shifted the reality. A friend reminded me: "Our actions speak so loudly that what we say cannot be heard." I do think my actions are clearer, and they deliver a loud & clear message in this particular case. It is all about intent, and I have determined mine.
But I still feel just a tad nervous, may be because I want to be. I feel excited too! I am just being. It is interesting to be in the space of not knowing.
I have a little decision to make on how to make closure on that which I must give up - but in the world of spirit, I know, the closure has been made. Life is beautiful. I am still awake. I shall go read the lovely book I spot on my table. It's called Women of Sufism.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
The Gestalt of No-Thing
So. I have been a rather driven spirit all my life. This particular period in my life which has stretched over several years is a bit of a swamp in terms of activity compared to the previous ones. It is a rather bigger nebula than those I previously attempted to make stars out of.
For the past four years in particular, I have had no definition or description of what I am doing. Where am I going. I have no idea.
I have only the vaguest of ideas that everything I want to do is one that a young woman in my society, from my background, does not typically do. There are women much more fashionable, rich, and outgoing than I am. Yet I have only rarely encountered one who is free, as a human. One whose freedom is based on who she is, not what or who she depends on.
I want to travel independently, investigate news and phenomenon, talk to strangers, and spend nights and days alone in far out places such as seas and mountain tops. Wilder than that is the notion that I want to be a human who has an independent consciousness. One who is essentially free.
This simple wish has taken me into an entire Universe of shapeless dust and cloud, one that is waiting to be formed through human will. It is an enormous task, and one that can hardly be named. How do you describe something new with old words and concepts? Often the quest has been to find those very names. What a quest! It has taken me to dig deeper and deeper to lay a foundation of being.
Contemporary society is so high on individual achievement, it holds no concept of generational achievement. From very early on in my life, I have been comfortable with the notion that all dreams that occur to me are not necessarily to be lived out by myself. Perhaps, I shall dream and another shall get to fulfill! Then I won't need to live old enough, and they would not need to start from the scratch and grow old laying the foundations. I am not afraid to lost interest in ideas that spark in my head, to let them just lie around after they effused through me. Perhaps, I am just the bringer of the idea, and another is the designer, yet another the executor.
We are all inter-linked.
And so it is that the only valid suggestion that occurs to me, completely intuitively, is to write my life story.
I have always wanted to write a book - everything from a text of history to books of religion and occult, to science to romantic novels. Textbooks of English and tomes of poetry. Books on business. Even film scripts. Yet what I am doing now, at this God blessed hour late in night, is to write my story. Much as this task absorbs me, I have an intuition that this is a book that is asked of me to be written. I simply obey the command.
The more I write it, the more the memory and strength that had fleeted me in the past ten, seven, three years return - these years arranged in this very magical sequence that marks "cataclysmic" events: my enrollment in a mind-altering, confining graduate business school (1998), the complete abolishing of my family's wealth one night (2001), and the end of my last significant relationship (2005).
What can I say? I only write.
Gestalt means, simply, whole. The applied principle also suggests that the whole is larger than the sum of its parts. A definition occurs to me: Gestalt = stuff + space. Space is where stuff is created, and kept.
I see and sense this space. It has no name - for names are limitations, and limitations are for stuff, not space. It is in this space where I live.
It may appear to observers, and even to my self at occasion, that I do no-thing. It is, however, a state to which I have arrived partly through deliberation and partly by forced inevitability. As of right now, even though I feel I may not be living up to any "goals," I know this non-doing and just-being is something in itself. This halt is a journey. What matters not what happens to us, but what we perceive and what we learn.
The only goal that has, thus, occurred to me at this moment is simply this: clear out your life. Live Lighter. Most people do this at a time of a transition that they have planned. Me, I always was unable to bring myself to get lighter because I did not know what I would do with the space, and I feared my space would be filled with another's commands, not my dreams. Yet my fears have come to pass, I have conquered something I am unaware of. I am shedding of the weight of being for no particular outcome, except that this particular lightness must be experienced - what happens thereafter will reveal when it will.
I have spent this entire day addressing this particular subject partly because it matters so much to me, partly to encourage myself, and partly to affirm another who may relate to these circumstances.
We are inter-connected. I have no idea how my dreams, my work, my writing, my working on my own self, my thus far impatient and henceforth gentle removal of blocks may weave into the life story of another. It does not even matter, for all stories beyond me.
I found this beautiful verse in a lovely note by Irving Karchmar, it makes for an apt closure now:
Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.
~ The Prophecy
Goals, or Journeys?
Yet it's true that when I started teaching myself, I had no outcome in mind. I only had a passion to learn, and day to day, I lived my passion under a certain self-discipline. I sometimes see my work in life as "bringing the unknown into known" or "making method of madness." I enjoy that kind of thing. It is like delving into a nebula, and fetching a stone or a star. You don't know, but you can be certain that if you develop your own method and you commit yourself to it, you will form a star from a nebulous dust.
To me, the outcome did not matter, I just revel in the journey and took every step of it. I had no complaints about a new life. I did not blame my books, nor my teachers nor myself. It was simple enough to my mind: if you have a challenge, overcome it. By the way, this whole analysis of a "colonial lens" did not bother me at that time. Indeed, I was only 11, but I was able to rigorously discourage and conversation that I thought empowered any other force than myself.
What does it mean? It means that if you find cooking difficult, do not say, "They have difficult recipes, the recipes were developed for ovens, I only have a stove." Just learn to cook. Everything that comes between a challenge and your mastery of it is nonsense. It is an illusion, designed to keep half-hearted people away from the final mastery. Often the journey itself is the achievement.
I understand I am not the only kind of human in the world, and some are motivated by other ways. Some students focused on grades and positions, and that got them to study. I studied for the love of knowledge, and I ended up amongst the top three, always. To each their own.
Not Outcomes, But Preparation
Years later, in 1998, I also taught myself A-level Accounting in 3 months, and ended up in the top 3% of all exam takers. 97% percentile. Highest amongst my fellow students - who had all taken private tuition and dreaded what would happen to the carefree me.
This time I had set myself rather specific goals, on paper, only in terms of scheduling my self-study routine. I don't like discussing my plans with nervous people, so I studied solo and focused. If this may help anyone, here was my only strategy in terms of grades: Know what is the cut-off point of failure, beat it early on during the exam, and then enjoy the paper. In that way, you have paid your dues. If failure is below 40%, secure 40% marks by carefully and quickly attempting as much part of the paper, throw in another 10% as a cushion, and then just enjoy answering the question.
I never planned any high grades, but I always decided not to fail. That was the technical part of studying; the truth is, I have loved studies, and I actually enjoyed exams.
A further ten years down the lane, as I reflect upon life, it seems that I clearly did not define achievement in terms of outcomes, that being the grade in the school context. Achievement to me was something that I controlled, which was my schedule and preparation. That was my mastery. It so happened that in a far easier exam, Business Management, I fell sick during the paper and needed to leave the room which I was not allowed to. I lost concentration, and got a B, which surprised everyone since I was star in that class and a back-bencher in Accounting. During O-levels, I had received a B in English Literature, and an E? - or was it a D? - in English Language. I had somehow chosen to do the English-as-first-language version of the later exam, and lost all my focus because I did not know the meaning of the word "rubble" which was the key word in a compulsory question. That experiment failed in terms of grades, and succeeded in terms of my fascination with a level of English that was not being taught at our school, but one which I attempted to hack at in the future.
Continued in part III
Monday, December 08, 2008
I have had a long-term habit of keeping things. It turned into hoarding, which yielded stuff and has ended up in clutter.
Now anyone with a basic know-how of the art of space (feng shui, for instance) can testify that clutter creates blocks in life. It's true. Not only is stuff overwhelming in itself, but it get in the way of our change - and change is Life by another name.
Even if our stuff/ clutter is organized and clean, it is taking up our time and energy. There are people who clean and fold and unfold the same un-needed clothes again and again.
So I'm in my room right now, clearing stuff. I must confess that it's already been four years since I had a stark realization I should straighten things out. Yet back then, I was supremely distracted by career & life, not too well, and did not know how to let go.
I've done many things since then, changed the world in my own ways, started my consultancy, enhanced my social circle, trained myself in new disciplines, engaged in conversations, and inspires change along the way. I've overcome a chronic pain condition, taught people, and started writing. I have undertaken a spiritual pilgrimage.
Yet I still feel a kind of stagnation. Something keeps my external situations just the same. Without a doubt, I can say: it is Stuff. Too much stuff; I only use less than 5% of it.
Early in 2008 I started an experiment: how little can I survive on? My entire income for year has been less than Rs. 100,000. True, I've drawn on my savings, but not much. All I did was to dramatically reduce consumption. And I have survived rather well. (The experiment wasn't very well focused, it may have social costs; I intend to be more middle-of-the way starting 2009.)
So. A chance encounter with a techie somehow dissolved my resistance about putting my life online. I have been wary of Google having all my data, but I worry no more.
1. I'm used to it now.
2. I don't have things to hide.
While I started unabashedly putting stuff online, I also got time to think: why am I holding on to stuff? Let's keep psychological explanations out. Most of my stuff includes books and papers, and
there is one single reason I held on to them: I wanted to share the knowledge within!
As I have been journaling, and writing my memoirs with a rather specific objective of sharing them (OK, publishing! I admit!), I have felt a great flow of energy within.
Now, the two streams are joining into one flowing: my attempt to live lighter, and my sharing of my story.
In other words, the more I share my gift, the more I don't feel the need to hold on. And as I reduce stuff, the more I have the unblocked energy to grow!
GIVING OF OUR GIFT GROWS US, AND OUR GIFT!
I must go over one thing again though: one must have enough assets to be able to operate well, though. My consumption starvation has not been entirely healthy. It may have prevented me from sharing more. Yet I was spending time in spiritual reflection, and many across the world were dramatically cutting back on our consumption just to compensate for the over-exploitation we've done as a specie - and to become desperate enough to find another way... and I joined that experiment.
I believe the year 2009 would bring a balance to the journey, and I shall explore the middle path as advocated by my faith!
In my life,I have often transcended my situation by setting myself goals.
How to Learn a Language
I have done things like teaching myself O-Level English back in 1990 when I came to Karachi from Faisalabad, and found myself woefully inadequate when it came to the knowledge of language. In Faisalabad, we read English even though I went to the top school, that being Faisalabad Grammar School. Yet the culture of Faisalabad was a culture of Faisalabad, it did not even venture as far as emulating Lahore, the more metropolitan neighbor. People did not speak English in Faisalabad.
When I came to Karachi to live with my parents, having lived previously in a large joint family headed by my paternal grandmother, I faced a different world. People were decidedly more shrewd, savvy, and calculated here. The pace of life was faster. I was a quiet, observer kind so I did not break ice with people for a few years to come - but I did embrace my new life.
So one of the early challenges that I faced was in school. First, schools here had a more pluralistic demographic of students: children came from multiple ethnic backgrounds. The society was more open. Girls and boys were not separated and certainly did not have gender issues on their mind - rather they were focused on personal achievements. We were only in 6th grade, and already, the people were quite savvy in getting along independently in the world. One of my first challenges was with language, or rather speaking at all. I was not talkative, and often adamantly refused to join the chatter. The other part was a bit embarrassing to me. I was a top student in my previous school. Here, I was challenged with a more sophisticated level of education, the high point of it being the English Language. Now, schools in Pakistan make a great deal out of English. It is a matter of status and distinction. And in 1990, when Pakistani society still did not have open media, I'd say we still saw English through the lens of a colonial mentality. That was the awkwardness part.
However, a language itself is a language and English, without denial, is a useful medium that gets one to connect with the people of the world. Period.
I had, now I realize upon reflection, a healthy approach to the issue. It was simple: "I have to learn."
Thus began my personal learning campaign. I picked up text books, an Oxford Dictionary, and a notebook. I underlined every word that was unfamiliar in the textbooks, checked the meaning and the pronunciation in the dictionary, and copied the word and meaning in my notebook. Then I constructed sentences. I read aloud passages from the textbooks. When I was gifted an electronic dictionary four years later, I searched all the idioms, copied them in a notebook, and learned their meanings. I practiced them (unnecessarily) in conversations and verbose essays. My teachers could not get through my writing which was often a string of big words, antiquated idioms, and olde spellings.
While many find it embarrassing, I can assure this: the fastest way to learn a language is to copy the accent. It is a delightful activity. Besides, there is a kind of gestalt effect in it. Copying the accent not just teaches us words and meanings, it somehow reverse-engineers the culture behind that language.
I have only visited two countries so far in my life: Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage, and South Africa for pilgrimage of a spiritual kind. But my knowledge of the the world is wider and deeper than this limited exposure. The key is to understand language and tone - and television and the Internet are my media to language.
And so, 19 years later, after enduring critique for fake accent, big words, and other bizarre experiments in learning languages - I think I have ended up fairly well. When I write or speak now, people find it compelling enough.
Continued in part II
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
- David Whyte, Where Many Rivers Meet
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Equality of human/
Submission to Hu!
aka The Prophecy
Today is the Day of Arafat. It is a day on which the last Prophet, Muhammad peace be upon him, spoke from the mountaintop of Arafat, and delivered to the people a sermon to be transmitted to all humanity to come. Known as the Last Sermon, it asserted in 632 AD, a full 1376 years before USA elected Obama to mark a historical victory for a black man, that "a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white - except by piety and good action."
That women have some rights over men just as men have some rights over women.
And that every person is their brother's keeper.
This oral constitution for humanity is a living tradition that ought to be understood and followed by all humans - Muslims in particular - for it ends the supremacy of one human over another and instead, subjugates us all to our Creator.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
At 29, I sometimes get to hear comments about my skin. It's clear. Some people want to know how. In the spirit of sharing beauty with my fellow humans, here are my simple "secrets" in no particular sequence (or narrative style):
Fundamental principle: Our faces reflect the condition of our souls. As the condition changes, so does the face.
Now, the secrets that I practice:
1. Love people.
2. Spread courage, not fear.
3. Whatever trouble Allah gives me, I accept for Hu's love's sake.
4. I love life.
5. Negative things in our life are opportunities for us to transcend; I attempt to transcend them, and therefore negativity washes away from my face over time, though it may occupy the place momentarily.
6. I smile and speak of joy when my heart is splitting apart, which it often does. It is a transformative practice - it is living the truth, not telling a lie.
7. I wash my face with cool water often. Be careful on cold windy days! Do not expose face to cold if it seems to resist.
8. I say my prayers (at last 4 times a day), and this allows for an electrifying ablution each time. Salaat yoga and reiki give additional energy.
9. I think of light and love.
10. There is little if any grudge in my heart. If there is something I cannot tell people, I attempt to transcend it at my own end.
11. Our faces imitate others'. And we see others according to our beliefs. I have good beliefs about humanity. I acknowledge that I see the Face of Allah wherever I turn, and that in turn reflects upon my face.
12. When my heart is full, I cry.
13. I use natural ingredient to cure skin ailments.
14. When I have skin ailments, I do not worry about them.
15. I seek forgiveness when I do wrong.
16. Between virtue and vice, I choose virtue - even if it means sacrificing my self-interest, in fact particularly when the latter is needed. Now that was a principle I was defaulting on for the past few years. The result was a strangely aged look. Recently, I have worked my way back to the ageless principles, in as much as I could and then I gave up my development to the Will of Allah. Aging sings have started receding since.
17. This is one I have not been able to practice very well for a long time, but I'm putting this here so, may be, it will become obligatory on me? Here it goes: think well of yourself. Honor yourself. Respect yourself. In-joy yourself!
When I was a child, I was fortunate to have read a few quality books, and to have been brought up in an environment where I believed what I read. The book said, "Eyes are the windows of the soul." And there were similar views about the Face representing our soul. The Face is a sacred part of our body, revered in human tradition. Humans are a form of energy, being represented by a physical form. To correct yourself, correct your energy. Everything else follows!
Friday, December 05, 2008
What did I tell you? Listen to your heart EXACTLY at the moment when it speaks! :) Do exactly as it says! You missed again, woman! How unlearned!
You did not pay heed again, right? None of your signs shall come from the outside. You *must* live your principles NOW and in entirety. DO. NOT. BE. FOOLED. BY. THE. RELAXATION. THAT. IS. GRANTED. TO. YOU. You will end up amongst blind fools, banging their heads against walls within which they shall find themselves confined! Do not be fooled at all. This time calls upon your highest ethic, your sacrifice of self-interest, your avoidance of that which is convenient and tempting. Do not be fooled at all. All lies are to come to an end. Very soon, you shall see.
Listen. Listen closely. What did I tell you? You must see the flaw: you are asserting the principles that you are not living. The key is to live your principles! For your own sake!
Listen! The doors of the Source are closed to those who do not integrate. In fact, the door is created out of dis-integration! Layers of your SELF are the thresholds! Do not split, do not scatter yourself over space and time. Fear not, desire not! Do not be amongst the fools. Do not be misled.
Listen! Hold on to the rope of Allah. Hu alone is the One Who shall not disappoint you. Do not forget Hu as your purpose of being.
What did I tell you? I told you, look not to the back. There you shall see a closed Universe and finished business. It is sometimes helpful when wants to reflect, but this is catastrophic as a habitual perspective. Look, rather towards the vast, unformed Universe that is waiting for you to become a question for it is your answer! You felt comfort and liberation in the thought, but then there you went off to the familiar!
You have very little time left. Have sense, have foresight, and quickly move away from here. Trust Allah, trust Allah's Benevolence, and open your heart up to reception from The Source itself.
Have fortitude. Have greatness of heart. Let things and people be. Let the Truth be as it is and wish not against which Allah has ordained for you. Have conviction in the benevolence that has so far guided you. Trust yourself. Love your self. Honor your self. Leave, and do not turn around or else you will become the mythical stone forever etched in pathetic misery. What is to happen behind you is not a matter for you to indulge in!
This is a gentle but last warning. The signs around you are so quite you shall not know what happens, how fast, and when. Do not play with Hu's limitations. Hold on to the rope, and distinguish the rope from the long leash that the fools are on.
And yes, Happy Birthday!