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!

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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…(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.

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.

A Leap of Faith…

In the face of an unending and relentless barrage of negative news, events, non events, disasters…natural and man made, it is becoming easier to throw up one’s hands in despair, giving in to the hype of a sinking ship of state. This brew has been simmering on the flame of discontent for a while now…slowly sliding into, more than anything else, a burning morass of heartbreak…however…when all is said and done…heard and found difficult to digest…the sorrow and anger seems to be misplaced and is wrongfully eating away at the very moral fibre of our collective moral responsibility of actions and beliefs…and needs a committed leap of faith once again after so many years…

Actions in the form of national ownership is the need of the hour…paying lip service in the secure confines of our comfort zones is not going to do it anymore! Standing up to be counted has to be the diktat of the times. We have to believe this in the face of all that goes against it! We have to believe that the Good Lord is in His heaven and all is in His control! Giving in to despair is a negation of this belief! This is the leap of faith that has to prompt us to become those pockets of excellence that have helped us all these years! Creating spaces of excellence and integrity in the personal, political and social discourse is vital to start the way back from the scourge of an immense spiritual, emotional, physical, ethical and intellectual wasteland…a wasteland being precipitated on account of apathy…doublethink…acceptance of contradictory beliefs…above all, an acceptance, adherence and fidelity to the corruption at all levels of personal, social and political discourse and behavior…

“When men stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing…they believe anything!” Chesterton very wisely said this many moons ago…it is as acutely pertinent today as ever…this is the divide we have to overcome today…this is the leap of faith we have to take to be part of a comprehensive process of rehabilitation of the incredulous wasteland our people and land are fast turning into…this has to be done with a deep and real sense of commitment, ownership and national honor and pride…

Simply put…

Sometimes…nay…quite often my children say something so thought provoking, in such a simple manner that it takes my breath away…in the first instance at the renewed realization that they are by the Good Lord’s grace all grown up, astute, intelligent, wise in ways mothers are often surprised at, above all, most thankfully humane, with the added quality at their being able to put things in perspective so simply! This surprise is often followed by great joy and pride…so thank you all for having done that many a time even though I may not have told you…I have benefitted from it in so many ways unbeknown to all of you…God bless you…

The last such bit of a ‘simply put’ thought was concerning this blog…it has been of help almost in an unexpected way!  Often we lose track of our own narrative by giving in to the perceived and expected one! We are responsible for all the energy that we create for ourselves and hence we are also responsible for all the energy we bring into our space…for which we need to, not only take ownership but we also need to take pride in the space itself, without giving into the maintenance of a fantasy which we are subjected to on a regular basis. The maintenance of fantasy is fanned quite blatantly and insidiously through the media, advertising, peer pressure…and the holies of all holy…what will people say!

We indulge in this in the face of an unending and relentless barrage directed towards maintaining the fantasy…forgetting that the inherent dichotomy of fantasy is the maintaining of the unrealistic…it exists because the desire must be perpetually out of reach…desire supports fantastic fantasies! Getting caught up in this leads us away from the real purpose of life…which is the achieving of God’s Grace above all…we are exactly where we are meant to be…the manifestations of God are all around us…there are no coincidences…only and always…just the Grace of God…

Dallas…

Being lovingly and comfortably ensconced in the warmth and love of a dear daughter’s home…seeing her so lovely in her radiance of beauty, love, strength and independence is truly…a blessing par excellence…to then be surrounded by the love…joy…laughter and rambunctious abandon of a home filled with three young grandchildren and the gentle and caring attention of a son-in-law…is even more so…

Since I travel so much, home, is often in many places and continents…but what defines it more than anything else, is knowing that ‘home’ is where you all realize what truly matters…where we love is home…where we cherish our human connections is home….where family is not an important thing, it is everything, is home…being bound by common threads of history…experiences…memories…even prejudices, is home! Motherhood seems to carry a part of ‘home’ with it as it were…haunting moments of motherhood is hearing your own words come out of your daughter’s mouth…echoes of my Mother’s voice and deeds reflected in this third and even fourth generation of women…this is movingly and comfortingly familiar…the circle of life complete…

In lands, ours by adoption…rather than by birth…the family of friends is a power to be reckoned with and is most comforting and reassuring. Being surrounded by such graciousness and affection is heartwarming and makes the physical distances we live with so much easier to accept! To be at home wherever I find myself…in a safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned…with respect for our connective tissues…treasuring the love and joys we receive…these are truly the power and manifestations of God’s grace…and I can say once again, with much thankfulness…truly, my cup runneth over…

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