The Forty Rules of Love…(2)

The Forty Rules of Love have the potential to affect and change people from all walks of life…they can make absolute sense or push the boundaries of our beliefs, perceptions and prejudices…they can open up exciting opportunities to embrace this timeless message…they can propel us to find love and inspiration in unlikely places…above all, they force us to think…

11. The midwife knows that when there is no pain, the way for the baby cannot be opened and the mother cannot give birth. Likewise, for a new Self to be born, hardship is necessary. Just as clay needs to go through intense heat to become strong, Love can only be perfected in pain.

12. The quest for Love changes us. There is no seeker among those who search for Love who has not matured on the way. The moment you start looking for Love, you start to change within and without.

13. There are more fake gurus and false teachers in this world than the number of stars in the visible universe. Don’t confuse the power- driven, self-centered people with true mentors. A genuine spiritual master will not direct your attention to himself or herself and will not expect absolute obedience or utter admiration from you, but instead will help you to appreciate and admire your inner self. True mentors are as transparent as glass. They let the Light of God pass through them.

14. Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?

15. God is busy with the completion of your work, both outwardly and inwardly. He is fully occupied with you. Every human being is a work in progress that is slowly but inexorably moving toward perfection. We are each an unfinished work of art both waiting and striving to be completed. God deals with each of us seperately because humanity is a fine art of skilled penmanship where every single dot is equally important for the entire picture.

16. It’s easy to love a perfect God, unblemished and infallible that He is. What is far more difficult is to love fellow human beings with all their imperfections and defects. Remember, one can only know what one is capable of loving. There is no wisdom without love. Unless we learn to love God’s creation, we can never truly love nor truly know God.

17. Real filth is the one inside. The rest simply washes off. There is only one type of dirt that cannot be cleansed with pure waters, and that is the stain of hatred and bigotry contaminating the soul. You can purify your body through abstinence and fasting, but only love will purify your heart.

18. The whole universe is contained within a single human being—you. Everything that you see around, including the things you might not be fond of and even the people you despise or abhor, is present within you in varying degrees. Therefore, do not look for Satan outside yourself either. The devil is not an extraordinary force that attacks from without. It is an ordinary voice within. If you get to know yourself fully, facing with honesty and hardness both your dark and bright side, you will arrive at a supreme form of consciousness. When a person knows himself or herself, he or she knows God.

19. If you want to change the way others treat you, you should first change the way you treat yourself. Unless you learn to love yourself, fully and sincerely, there is no way you can be loved. Once you achieve that stage, however, be thankful for every thorn that others might throw at you. It is a sign that you will soon be showered in roses.

20. Fret not where the road will take you. Instead concentrate on the first step. That’s the hardest part and that’s what you are responsible for. Once you take that step let everything do what it naturally does and the rest will follow. Do not go with the flow. Be the flow.

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The Forty Rules of Love…

The reading habit has the potential to leave imprints in our lives like few things have the power of doing…it teaches us…nourishes us…nurtures us and takes us on journeys of unimaginable dimensions…above all, it impacts…colors…and shapes our sense of being in vibrant and radiant colors…allowing all the bits to help shape and remake ourselves…nudging and allowing us to be in harmony with the heart and the universal truths of the universe…

Some reads touch you in ways that is almost complete in its entirety…a recent read, The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak, was one such! A fictionalised account based on Mevlana Rumi’s life, Rumi, poet extraordinaire of the Sufi canon, and his spiritual mentor the whirling dervish known as Shamz of Tabriz…the fact that this story is set in a country and city I have fond memories of, is a bonus! I will set down these forty rules of love of God from the book in four parts…hoping they will comfort…instruct…be food for thought and introspection…and inspire you as they did me…

1. How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings to mind mostly fear and blame, it means there is too much fear and blame welled inside us. If we see God as full of love and compassion, so are we.

2. The Path to the Truth is a labor of the heart, not of the head. Make your heart your primary guide! Not your mind. Meet, challenge, and ultimately prevail over your nafs  (ego) with your heart. Knowing your ego will lead you to the knowledge of God.

 3. Each and every reader comprehends the Holy Qur’an on a different level in tandem with the depth of his understanding. There are four levels of insight. The first level is the outer meaning and it is the one that the majority of the people are content with. Next is the Batıni—the inner level. Third, there is the inner of the inner. And the fourth level is so deep it can not be put into words and is therefore bound to remain indescribable.

 4. You can study God through everything and everyone in the universe, because God is not confined in a mosque, synagogue, or church. But if you are still in need of knowing where exactly His abode is, there is only one place to look for Him…in the heart of a true lover.

 5. Intellect and love are made of different materials. Intellect ties people with knots and risks nothing, but love dissolves all tangles and risks everthing. Intellect is always cautious and advises, ‘Beware too much ecstasy,’ whereas love says, ‘Oh, never mind! Take the plunge!’ Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures.

6. Most of the problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstandings. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of love, language as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence..

7. Loneliness and solitude are two different things. When you are lonely, it is easy to delude yourself into believing that you are on the right path. Solitude is better for us, as it means being alone without feeling lonely. But eventually it is best to find a person, the person who will be your mirror. Remember, only in another person’s heart can you truly see yourself and the presence of God within you.

8. Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighborhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful! It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for all that he has been denied.

9. Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be so shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.

10. East, west, south, or north makes little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you’ll travel the whole wide world and beyond.

Good Times…

Extended travel trips, and I am in the midst of one, gives you the opportunity to see life in general, as well as your own life, from multi-faceted sides…it often leaves me reeling whilst trying to absorb…rethink…appreciate…understand…relate…reformat…to all the vistas one is privy to…be they of the visual or personal kind…this is a learning experience and process like no other…the exposure…perspective…consciousness…provided by this view is ‘non pareil’…given one is willing to accept and embrace the fact that “minds, like umbrellas, work best when open”…

A ‘first’ for me on this trip was a long…very long…non-stop flight from Dubai to Dallas…a ‘first’ I was really not happy about…long flights are just not a preferred mode of travel…frequent stops are the norm…and my all time favorite dream of the “Beam me up Scotty” scenario was all I could literally dream about! For someone who has been traveling right from the word go…I was born in Moscow when it was still the USSR…this comes as a surprise, but I think age is a contributory factor, as is the fact that travel, whilst it has gained from the levels of comfort and technology available, has lost the graciousness and charm of yore…

A  sixteen hour flight just sounded too daunting and I was being ostrich-like by neither thinking about it nor discussing it with anyone…luckily this reservation about long flights is well known to my family and friends! It seems to have worked…I willed myself to think that…”this too shall pass”…and it did…the saying that often we have nothing to fear but fear itself has made a valid point…

After a brief stay in Dallas with much loved family members…Vancouver, a city well known for its heightened ‘livability’ factors… was the next destination ! All the preambles to Vancouver and its environs were not only justified but well merited…the city has delightful overtones and undercurrents of British and European influences…is large hearted in its welcome to nationalities of all denominations…is comfortable in accepting international languages resonate in its metropolis …and is truly home to very many, whose passport country originally was not Canada! What it brings home…in homes very far from what often still remains ‘home’ in one’s heart…is a gracious and warm welcome…an unusual commodity these days! 

 The beauty of its surroundings is in turn soothing and breathtaking…quite idyllic…and ideal for walking! It nearly succeeded in turning this non-walker into one who actually enjoyed this activity…nearly! This trip also helped establish a more personal and much appreciated and heartwarming contact with a fellow blogger! Meeting with so many younger members of my family in this far away land from ours…brought home forcefully the extent to which our family alone is helping the TCK family’s burgeoning numbers! Above all…it was spending time with so many loved ones in this beautiful city…celebrating this togetherness with good times of love…laughter…gluttony…shared memories…that helped make it the blessing par excellence that it was…

Raising the Bar…

Particular days designated to celebrating days, moments in time and occasions…often unheard of till fairly recently, seem more like Hallmark days to me rather than anything else…but celebrating a special day for women internationally…this I feel for…not only to celebrate with my own but because, across the board globally, a huge number of women have and continue to, make their mark slowly but surely at great personal cost often to establish and have themselves acknowledged in areas of life that should not need this sort of validation! A great number of them are  unsung heros, their contribution irreplaceable in the magnitude of work they have done and inspired…some of them excel publicly and reach the very apex of success…raising the bar continuously for those who will follow…against all odds , obstacles and oppression..and who continue in this struggle on a daily basis. To celebrate such strength…courage…commitment…conviction…sung or unsung…globally, to acknowledge and celebrate such achievements in the face of regular uphill struggles…makes this day, dedicated to women , a celebratory matrix…

In our part of the world, primarily due to a confusion about religious and liberal thought and a huge lack of educational processes in the true sense of the word, this disconnect sometimes translates into horrifying aspects in a  woman’s life! One such horrifying aspect was documented by our very own…Sharmeen-Obaid-Chinoy , our first Oscar winner for her bold, honest, heartbreaking and inspiring documentary…Saving Face ! Women across the social strata in Pakistan have been rejoicing and basking in the glory, prestige and awareness she has brought us and the beautifully dignified and controlled manner in which she accepted this award…particularly in the way in which she dedicated her Oscar to…”all the women in Pakistan who are working for change. Do not give up for your dream!”

The quiet dignity…confidence…compassion…shown by Sharmeen at the glittering Oscars ceremony, with her grace , glamour and articulate acceptance speech was a treat to behold and brought a spontaneous burst of euphoria across our land, manifesting itself instantaneously and hugely in all the social medias! It does however leave one wondering if this may have interfered with the image of Pakistan in many minds across the world…for this she has our respect and gratitude! Sharmeen also chose to showcase working women of Pakistan in all aspects of her appearance and presence at the Oscars…from the resilience and bravery of the the women in her winning documentary to her quintessentially Pakistani attire given appropriate emphasis and fusion whilst retaining the essence of Pakistani couture…presenting a prefect picture of a sophisticated and contemporary Pakistani woman…a face often unknown to the rest of the world…

More than anything else that Sharmeen has managed to highlight with this one high profile appearance is, as a very wise and much admired columnist wrote, quoting the last line of her speech…Do not give up your dream…”This, finally is the heart of the matter. We must hold on to our dreams even when reality hits us in the face…like acid thrown on the faces of wronged women…

Karachi Literature Festival…

Karachi…the pulsating metropolis of my country hosted its third literary festival this weekend…as one of the many literary heavyweights in town for this event said…this sort of event and turnout is symptomatic of a society in search of establishing a paradigm of excellence in the arts and cultural scene as well as in avenues for intellectual discourse..which is seen as a dichotomy in a society that is often termed as one that is being intellectually defranchised…this is however one of those pockets of excellence that makes the heart soar with a sense of…controlled euphoria. If you measure a country from its culture, then there is something great going on in Pakistan said Hanif  Kureshi…amidst much cheering from the literati and glitterati of Pakistan…

Once again the hues and colors of this venue were inspiring and had all the ingredients of A literary bonanza….the awe inspiring writers…super audiences…fiery speeches…lively debate…tolerance for all denominations of literary culture and talent…a broad spectrum of creativity in the arts that leaves us craving for more! Both languages, Urdu and English, were beautifully and compassionately used and presented , which brings to the fore that language does have a vast and most tolerant and accepting geography…as also the ease of bridging distances between our today and cultural heritages by helping us to delve into and appreciate treasure troves and personalities who have mastered languages that define our identity…a creativity inspired spirit that helps us relive imprints often relegated to the back burner of the present…whetting appetites and creating new vistas to explore…

The Karachi Literature Festival is gaining in repute…attendance…star power attraction…organization…variety…vision…above all, in the spirit of enthusiasm, interest and participation ! Small though our literary fest may be as compared to others across the world stage…this one is ours…makes us proud…the addition of a very dear family member as a panelist on a most relevant issue of the day was a bonus..all this must perforce showcase us as more than the sobriquets we as a nation are wont to be on the receiving end of…

An Open Mind…

A fellow blogger very wisely reiterated the reminder that…a mind not open to other’s thoughts and ideas is a great tragedy. This is I think one of life’s major challenges…one that is sadly gaining traction in the inability to give the other the benefit and respect of listening with an open mind to their beliefs…opinions…perspectives…Choices…because we have forgotten that…minds like  parachutes, work best when open…

I do believe that to operate from a paradigm of an open…receptive…unbiased…and compassionate mind is definitive on so many levels and enables one to give life a meaning that is not always possible otherwise. It is important to give significance to our lives by giving importance to and valuing the  lives of others…this is not always easy,  but then, very few things worth doing are! Morals of excellence are created by showing tolerance in personal spaces between ourselves…as also creating spaces in the political and religious discourse…using the power of the heart as well as the power and depth of the mind. To respond intelligently, with humility, tolerance and kindness…is justice, the firmest pillar of society….to wax indignant, harboring justifiable feelings of resentment…prejudice…superiority… is so much easier but lacks developing the incomparable potential that is an inherent part of human nature and  embedded in everyone’s soul like a shared DNA…

The Good Lord works in mysterious ways and this last week just as this was on my mind..I found myself in positions that needed all this and more on the table…I met a friend after a long time…the path and choices of her personal journey of growth has been one that has not always  been easy to understand…accept or wrap my mind around…it is still hard…but it has been her journey and one that now seems to have brought her a sense of inner peace…it gives me a warm sense of comfort for her…I also heard a scholar whose  erudition…knowledge…sagacity…is praiseworthy…just one I find hard to relate to…his impact on others is significant…even whilst I find it difficult to comprehend! What is apparent thereof is that the paths to personal evolvement…growth…understanding…learning… and the curve it takes, are not just varied but also sometimes incomprehensible to our understanding…that does not make them wrong…just different…the difference often being the ability not to jump to make harsh judgement calls for things…opinions…views…lifestyles…choices which are difficult to comprehend and relate to…because it is only together, with everyone contributing in the firm belief that we can make a difference…that we do…

 Voltaire said…I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to death your right to say it…that may sound a  bit dramatic…but what a lot of wisdom that line carries…

The Almighty Schedule…

The price of keeping to a schedule, with punctuality added to it for good measure is becoming more and more into a never ending series of games with no-one to play with but the ticking clock! It is said that there is a thin line between thinking of time as golden…and it being nothing more than a big chunk of fools gold…I have spent a big part of mine thinking that mine was obviously thought of as the latter…even as I am repeatedly told that this is nothing compared to a lifetime of just waiting for me…

Punctuality…almost as a discipline, was a motto carved in stone in our home! Father was one of the ‘old school’ who thought that it was not just a courtesy and a duty to keep a schedule and be on time, but a duty to the development of the self…he was just so perfect in his role of diplomat! In more disciplined and conscious societies this works…more…sadly in some parts of the world, the term being ‘ fashionably late’ has been taken to a whole different level…it now comes almost as a discipline in itself…with a whole new set of rules of the Game and of course it’s own set of ‘groupies’! It is becoming more and more a whole Brave New World out there and not only do I not feel brave enough to tackle it but oftentimes  painfully ill equipped to handle it and the nonchalant air of disregard that accompanies it…

I cannot help but think that this has to color all of the other aspects of our life…as an action…interaction…example…thought process…and way of life! How can the disregard for another’s time impact in any positive manner! On the contrary, it breeds a sense of contempt…disregard…disrespect…besides being sheer bad manners…but then, maybe I am being harsh and deserving of that common refrain…old fashioned…passe! Aristotle said…to enjoy the things we ought and to hate the things we ought has the greatest bearing on excellence of character…it is just that each generation has its own list of such things…hence the Generation Gap…I however remain stuck in the groove  of craving a world with a more gracious and secure sense of dispensation and conduct…whilst waiting with a cup of coffee…

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