Reclaiming our Humanity…

The countdown to the New Year has started…depending on our geographical locations, the New year is closer to some of us than others and as this year reels to an end, the heart is saddened at the manner and speed at which our humanity is plummeting to baser depths than the mind and soul can even begin to grasp! Reeling in shock the paradigm of human behavior seems beyond almost any…human dimension! How does one fall into such an horrific abyss of brutality… injustice…atrocities…flagrant wrongs…which are now taking place across borders and continents with impunity and a scary nonchalance…with non committal and apathetic stances and  insouciant nods and approvals from the “powers that be”…this is certainly not the man the Good Lord made in His image…

I realize it is easy to lay blame…randomly on circumstances…lack of education… poverty…mob frenzy…but do we not as members of a Civil Society have to own up to having failed on all these levels…and then some…because we are witnessing regular barbaric acts of inhuman actions in our milieu…with no end in sight…unfortunately the media does not always help and has to stop pushing the envelope of depravity and horror just because that garners more readership…

Where does all this behavior take root? In the mothers arms..the mother who is regularly abused by a system that gives her no respect or dignity…in an education system that is defective even in it’s eliteness…in imparting or rather failing to impart core values of substance…in daily social dealings that lay no emphasis on justice and rights…on a total  lack of a commitment and adherence to laws of basic human conduct. Responsibility and  accountability, two vital humane proponents seem not to concern us too much…they are not qualities we seem to pay much attention to…admire…or even try to inculcate…

Public and personal outrage is also not new…despair… remorse…sorrow…anger…grief is demonstrated as a collective outpouring…but more is required…much more.! We have to relearn core human behavioral tenets…We have to relearn to live them…We have to stand up to be counted in a commitment for change…starting from each and everyone of us! 

As always, I do believe, that it is the belief in a higher form of accountability, that more often than not propels us towards a more humane and just approach to all we do and say. A regular dose of personal introspection and critical self analysis is absolutely vital! When all is said and done , we need to be prepared to stand up to be be counted ! Reclaiming our humanity is where we have to begin…there is no doubt that the pockets and islands of excellence that abound around us are praiseworthy on all sorts of levels…we do however still need to aspire to making serious commitments for change in our bid to reclaiming our humanity across the board…

This blogging year has been one of much joy…encouragement…discovery and personal growth…my blogging ‘family’ is now a vital part of my being…and although this year I have been absent from it for long periods of time…it is now very much a part of me! 

As always, the Lord be praised , we had a family Celebratory Finale to the year…and my common and blessed refrain is…truly my cup runneth over…

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year….may it be one of much joy…good health…love and laughter….inner peace for each one of us as well as a collective one for our world….

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I Believe…

As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use! 
Gustave Flaubert!

This is a hard  hitting and sadly little acknowledged fact of life. Whilst we all talk of our beliefs and freedoms and our levels of tolerance and understanding…we forget that freedoms are only safe when they are shared! As another wise man, Blaise Pascal said…Men do not do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it for religious reasons. This has sadly become a sad and vile aspect of our times, one that is talked about endlessly without any real and meaningful effort being put into addressing and solving this issue…which leads to the utterly devastating thought that “the powers that be” deliberately and insiduously turn a blind eye to this and let acts and incidents of this nature escalate to the levels of pure and unadulterated negation of all that is fine and moral and upright and worthy of being the Good Lord’s viceroy on earth…I believe we are continuously selling ourselves short on this exalted position, because I believe human beings have a unique place and responsibility among God’s creations…

I believe that any one person’s death due to violence and aggression is a heartrending and heartbreaking occurrence…this should not be given meaning and importance based on nationality…creed…color…gender…or geography!
I believe every violent death tears at the very fabric of the human rights of ‘civil society’! 
I believe it is easy to spout and sow seeds of discord and venom!
I believe that defending certain freedoms in a discriminatory manner is unworthy and unwise “double speak”!
I believe it is each and everyone of our’ responsibility to defuse this and start dialogues in our own spaces!
I believe we have to be careful not to buy into all that is being thrown at us! 
I believe Life prepares us through trials and tribulations…ups and downs…so as to be able to meet the rest of Life head on!
I believe Life is about growing to your own personal best in your own space…and taking responsibility for that space!
I believe Life is a privilege not a ride!
I believe that every action of mine will have an opposite reaction…and that what goes round comes around!
I believe that I cannot always control things around me…I can however control my reactions and subsequent actions of thought and deed !
I believe great Nations like people need to commit to the tenets of justice…truth…peace…human rights…freedom…on an even keel!
I believe that it is in the heart that all wars are fought and won!
I believe that the ultimate wisdom of God is greater than ours…and that we have to trust this and follow His edicts !
I believe positive and definitive personal change and growth must be the essence of Belief!
I believe that a people full of national honor and no sense of ownership of the Nation cannot make a difference!
I believe we all have the potential to make a difference!
I believe we are not trying seriously…mere lip service does not count!
I believe we have to stop waiting for a miracle whilst refusing to help create one!
I believe that our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world…as being able to make ourselves as a people and as Nations!
I believe universal truths are embedded in all our souls like a common DNA…
I believe the time has come to tap into them!

The Forty Rules of Love…(4)

As human beings our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world…as being able to remake ourselves…said Gandhi! Being in harmony with our hearts…beliefs…and Universal truths increases our ‘human’ potential and strength! Kindness in thinking…words…sharing…giving…allowing the laws of God to take precedence over the laws of man…creates profound pockets of love and confidence…and becomes a source of an exponential power! 

In this world of changing values…perceptions…priorities…we need to hold fast to the values we have grown up with…be unafraid to defend them…hold firmly to our tenets of belief and let them be our help and guide…but being able take the reins of our life in our hands requires a deep abiding commitment to stay the path…take personal moral responsibility for the space we occupy…believe in the ultimate wisdom of the divine…so that it can all come together to help us develop into our personal potential and greatness…

31. If you want to strengthen your faith, you will need to soften inside. For your faith to be rock solid, your heart needs to be as soft as a feather. Through an illness, accident, loss, or fright, one way or another, we are all faced with incidents that teach us how to become less selfish and judgemental, and more compassionate and generous. Yet some of us learn the lesson and manage to become milder, while some others end up becoming even harsher than before. The only way to get closer to the Truth is to expand your heart so that it will encompass all humanity and still have room for more Love.

32. Nothing should stand between yourself and God. Not imams, priests, rabbis, or any other custodians of moral or religious leadership. Not spiritual masters, not even your faith. Believe in your values and your rules, but never lord them over others. If you keep breaking other people’s hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good. Stay away from all sorts of idolatry, for they will blur your vision. Let God and only God be your guide. Learn the Truth, my friend, but be careful not to make a fetish out of your truths.

33. While everyone in this world strives to get somewhere and become someone, only to leave it all behind after death, you must aim for the supreme stage of nothingness. Live this life as light and empty as the number zero. We are no different from a pot. It is not the decorations outside but the emptiness inside that holds us straight. Just like that, it is not what we aspire to achieve but the consciousness of nothingness that keeps us going.

34. Submission does not mean being weak or passive. It leads to neither fatalism nor capitulation. Just the opposite. True power resides in submission –- a power that comes from within. Those who submit to the divine essence of life will live in unperturbed tranquillity and peace even when the whole wide world goes through turbulence after turbulence.

35. In this world, it is not similarities or regularitiesthat take us a step forward, but, blunt opposites. All the opposites in the universe are present within each and every one of us. Therefore the believer needs to meet the unbeliever residing within. And the nonbeliever should get to know the silent faithful in him. Until the day one reaches the stage of Insan-ı Kamil, the perfect human being, faith is a gradual process and one that necessitates its seeming opposite: disbelief.

36. This world is erected upon the principle of reciprocity. Neither a drop of kindness nor a speck of evil will remain unreciprocated. Fear not the plots, deceptions, or tricks of other people. If somebody sets a trap, remember, so does God. He is the biggest plotter. Not even e leaf stirs outside God’s knowledge. Simply and fully believe in that. Whatever God does, He does beautifully.

37. God is a meticulous clockmaker. So precise is His order that everthing on earth happens in its own time. Neither a minute late nor a minute early. And for everyone without exception, the clock works accurately. For each there is a time to love and a time to die.

38. It is never too late to ask yourself ‘Am I ready to change the life I am living? Am I ready to change within?’ Even if a single day in our life is the same as the day before, it surely is a pity. At every moment and with each new breath, one should be renewed and renewed again. There is only one way to be born into a new life: to die before death.

39. While the parts change, the whole always remains the same. For every thief who departs this world, a new one is born. And every decent person who passes away is replaced by a new one. In this way not only does nothing remain the same but also nothing ever really changes. For every Sufi who dies, another is born somewhere.

40. A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western… Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water.

The Forty Rules of Love…(3)

The Roller Coaster of Life moves and changes at speeds that are often difficult to fathom much less understand…the perfect balance and harmony of the universe  however makes it all seem so effortless…and although many parts are often in motion and in a flux…the whole is exactly where it is meant to be and it is only we, who move in this perfect whole in a more disjointed and distressed manner who need to come to terms with this flux of life…time to understand and absorb…and take comfort in the reality that though physical links may be broken, it begets other links to help us continue in this circle of life and love…

This last week, a very dear Uncle of mine passed away…he epitomized  love of life , generosity of spirit, elegance, humor and a positive attitude in all aspects of his life. The heart grieves at the end of an era…but is comforted in rejoicing at the wonderful and personal Memories we all have of him! For me this Celebration of Memories is epitomized by the reality, that the mention of his handsome and debonair personality always brings an involuntary smile to all our faces…that is a commendable legacy…

21. We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No two hearts beat to the same rhythm. If God had wanted everyone to be the same, He would have made it so. Therefore, disrespecting differences and imposing your thoughts on others is tantamount to disrespecting God’s holy scheme.

22. When a true lover of God goes into a tavern, the tavern becomes his chamber of prayer, but when a wine biber goes into the same chamber, it becomes his tavern. In everything we do, it is our hearts that make the difference, not our outer appearances. Sufis do not judge other people on how they look or who they are. When a Sufi stares at someone, he keeps both eyes closed instead opens a third eye –the eye that sees the inner realm.

23. Life is a temporary loan, and this world is nothing but a sketchy imitation of Reality. Only children would mistake a toy for the real thing. And yet human beings either become infatuated with the toy or disrespectfully break it and throw it aside. In this life stay away from all kinds of extremities, for they will destroy your inner balance.

24. The human being has a unique place among God’s creation. “I breathed into him of My Spirit,” God says. Each and everyone of us without exception is designed to be God’s delegate on earth. Ask yourself, just how often do you behave like a delegate, if you ever do so? Remember, it falls upon each of us to discover the divine spirit inside and live by it.

25. Hell is the here and now. So is heaven. Quit worrying about hell or dreaming about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment. Every time we fall in love, we ascend to heaven. Every time we hate, envy, or fight someone, we tumble straight into the fires of hell.

26. The universe is one being. Everything and everyone is interconnected through an invisible web of stories. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in a silent conversation. Do not harm. Practice compassion. And do not gossip behind anyone’s back –not even a seemingly innocent remark! The words that come out of our mouths do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space, and they will come back to us in due time. One man’s pain will hurt us all. One man’s joy will make everyone smile.

27. This world is like a snowy mountain that echoes your voice. Whatever you speak, good or evil, will somehow come back to you. Therefore, if there is someone who harbors ill thoughts about you, saying similarly bad things about him will only make matters worse. You will be locked in a vicious circle of malevolent energy. Instead for forty days and nights say and think nice things about that person. Everything will be different at the end of forty days, because you will be different inside.

28. The past is an interpretation. The future is an illusion. The world does not move through time as if it were a straight line, proceeding from the past to the future. Instead time moves through and within us, in endless spirals. Eternitiy does not mean inifnite time, but simply timelessness. If you want to experience eternal illumination, put the past and the future out of your mind and remain within the present moment.

29. Destiny doesn’t mean that your life has been strictly predetermined. Therefore, to leave everything to fate and to not actively contribute to the music of the universe is a sign of sheer ignorance.

30. The true Sufi is such that even when he is unjustly accused, attacked, and condemned from all sides, patiently endures, uttering not a single bad word about any of his critics. A Sufi never apportions blame. How can there be opponents or rivals or even “others” when there is no “self” in the first place? How can there be anyone to blame when there is only One?

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.

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…

Ramadan…

This last month seems to have have flown by and I realize that I have not written at all! The reason for this disappearance from the blogosphere is due in the most part to the fact that it has been the blessed month of Ramadan! Ramadan is celebrated across the world by 1.5 billion muslims…it is now universally acknowledged…accepted and respected as a month that is held in great awe, reverence and deference across the Muslim world…for many of us, it is a month of going underground as it were, in the search and effort for more understanding in our own personal and ongoing spiritual journeys!

This month is observed, celebrated and followed with due deference and reference to Quranic teachings…colored by cultural and social norms and practices depending on your geographical position. The outer form of this month is a universal one…the abstinence! The inner one with an emphasis on ‘more’ in terms of prayer…behavior…seeking guidance…mercy…charity, both of deed and kind…has it’s own individual need, hunger and pace! The prayer here is that the significance and blessings of this blessed and glorious month will help color our lives in a more definitive…compassionate…ethical…moral…virtuous…just and fair manner…above all, that this will be in a positive and progressive curve after experiencing each passing month of Ramadan in our lives!

The end of this holy month is celebrated with great gusto and festivities across the Muslim world…this sense of celebration comes from a feeling of praise and glory of the Good Lord and His blessings upon us…which are manifested in love and brotherhood of family and friends celebrated over three days…a time of much celebratory joy, happiness, gluttony and thanks!

It is also my lovely daughter’s birthday today…and so this comes with additional thanks and gratitude to the Lord for this special blessing as part of His countless and unending gifts of grace and generosity! With the prayer that her beautiful smile will continue to bring love and sunshine to all who love and surround her…and help radiate her life always with it’s unaffected goodness and love…amen!

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