Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chekhov


  • Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
  • All of life and human relations have become so incomprehensibly complex that, when you think about it, it becomes terrifying and your heart stands still. 
  • If you are afraid of loneliness, do not marry. 
  • Faith is an aptitude of the spirit. It is, in fact, a talent: you must be born with it. 
  • Love, friendship and respect do not unite people as much as a common hatred for something. 
  • Only entropy comes easy. 
  • Money, like vodka, turns a person into an eccentric.
  • We learn about life not from plusses alone, but from minuses as well. 
  • One must be a god to be able to tell successes from failures without making a mistake. 
  • You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible. 
  • We shall find peace. We shall hear angels, we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.

Anton Chekhov.

He is an artist who knows his subject well. Its people.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Zikr-e-Man...


Maula-Maula laakh pukaaray, Maula haath na aaye
Lafzon se hum khel rahay hain, maa'na haath na aaye

Jo pani ke naam ko pani jaanay, naadaani hai
Pani-pani rat'tay rat'tay, pyaasa hi mar jaaye

Shola-shola rat'tay-rat'tay, lab pe aanch na aaye
Ik chingaari lab par rakh lo, lab fauran jal jaaye

Ism pe qaane hone waala aur Musamma khone waala
Kaam na karne waala moorakh bas Naam se ji bahlaye


English Translation:

Calling out Maula Maula! Maula still escapes us.
We only play with words, meaning still escapes us.

Who understands the word Water as Water, is a fool,
He will keep chanting Water Water and will die of thirst.

By chanting Fire Fire, the lips don't feel the heat,
Place one ember on the lips, then see how they burn.

He who contents himself with names, end up loosing the Named.
The fools who puts in no effort amuse themselves with Name!



Poet: Zaheen Shah Taji

Phir ......?


Phir Uski shaan-e-Kareemi kay hoslay daikhay
Gunah-gaar ye kehday gunah-gaar hoon main!


Ameer Minaee

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sakraat

Tu hai muheet e bay-karaan, main hoon zara si aab-jo
Ya mujhay humkinaar kar, ya mujhay bay-kinaar kar!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Welcome Back

"Come even though you have broken your vows a thousand times, Come, and come yet again. Ours is not a caravan of despair." 

This blog had an invite-only,  restricted access for a couple of days, for which I would like to extend an apology to all for any inconvenience.

I hope to have your continued support and energizing and enlightening participation, which has been the impetus to keep this space alive over the years.


May the life brimming in the samovar of your self, be the intoxication that unveils the Beloved.

Stay blessed, always. InshaAllah.

Burning Into a Beginner



For Zen students the most important thing is not to be dualistic. Our "original mind" includes everything within itself. It is always rich and sufficient within itself. You should not lose your self-sufficient state of mind. This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few.


In the beginner's mind there is no thought, "I have attained something." All self-centered thoughts limit our vast mind. When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something. The beginner's mind is the mind of compassion. When our mind is compassionate, it is boundless. Dogen-zenji, the founder of our school, always emphasized how important it is to resume our boundless original mind. Then we are always true to ourselves, in sympathy with all beings, and can actually practice.


So the most difficult thing is always to keep your beginner's mind. There is no need to have a deep understanding of Zen. Even though you read much Zen literature, you must read each sentence with a fresh mind. You should not say, "I know what Zen is," or "I have attained enlightenment." This is also the real secret of the arts: always be a beginner. Be very very careful about this point. If you start to practice zazen, you will begin to appreciate your beginner's mind. It is the secret of Zen practice.


Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transience, we suffer.


Little by little with patience and endurance we must find the way for ourselves, find out how to live with ourselves and with each other.


When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.





Excerpts from "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind", Shunryu Suzuki (1905-1971) 

Friday, January 14, 2011

...Verily, God never fails to fulfill His promise!
Al Quran 13:31


[This is] God's promise. Never does God fail to fulfill His promise - but most people know [it] not:
Al Quran 30:6




And [so, O Muhammad,] they challenge thee to hasten the coming upon them of [God's] chastisement: but God never fails to fulfill His promise - and, behold, in thy Sustainer's sight a day is like a thousand years of your reckoning.
Al Quran 22:47





And they say, "The fire will most certainly not touch us for more than a limited number of days." Say [unto them]: "Have you received a promise from God - for God never breaks His promise - or do you attribute to God something which you cannot know?"

Al Quran 2:80






HENCE, do not think that God will fail to fulfill the promise which He gave to His apostles : verily, God is almighty, an avenger of evil!
Al Quran 14:47

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Beauty Refining Imagination

Here you shall find a short audio clip as a pre-glimpse of an upcoming CD, in Tina Sani's voice bringing back to a second life the words of Faiz. I tried but couldn't find some means to download/ directly post the clip. And believe you me, the beauty is too irresistible to be let pass otherwise. 
It is being transcended into another dimension of time where it exhales grace, where the space is of total charm.

I have lost count of the times I have replayed the track over and over again!

Kuch pehlay in aankhon agay, kia kia na nazara guzray tha!
Kia roshan ho jati thi gali, jab yaar hamara guzray tha
Thay kitnay achay loag kay jinko apnay ghum say fursat thi
Sab poochtay thay ehwaal jo koi dard ka maara guzray tha


I can not stress it further than: it is MESMERIZING.








Insha Says ..






Band aankhain hoi jaati hain, pisaarain paoon
Neend see neend! humain ab na uthana logo
Aik hi shab hai, taveel, itni taveel, itni taveel
Apnay ayyaam mein amroz na farda logo
Ab koi aye tou kehna kay, musafir tou gaya
Yeah bhi kehna keh, bhala ab bhi na jata logo


Ibn e Insha

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Middle Grounds


Last 24 hours have seen Pakistan's name flashing on all the international channels, and once again for the wrong reasons!

The serving Governor of the largest province got murdered in broad daylight by his own official guard.
The issue was religious, and the situation has now become too bloody to be talked about.

There have been many people who did't appreciate Mr. Taseer's views at things that matter, however, his murder (which remains the most condemnable act) has triggered an altogether different debate. 
It is now an issue of basic tolerance as a human being that is now being asked.

What alarms me now is the fact that through this episode, once again the ever present biases are contributing to create a situation that is going to enhance the disparity between logic and decisions. It is going to broaden the gulf between the two poles of the society: liberals and conservatives. It is a vicious cycle and, much as I hate to think, there is no looking back.

I hear analysts talking on tv airing views that question the sanity of the officials who had appointed a "bearded" person as the Governor's guard. And I think WTH....!
Where are we heading to?
I wonder and shudder.

I dont observe 'pardah' in the typical sense of the word. My son goes to the most liberal school in town. Yet I, very proudly, consider myself an adherent.

I shudder to think of the society my son is going to inherit. The extremity of polarization wont allow him to offer his five prayers and later go out to jog with his wife. Either he would be asked to renounce his prayers, or he would have to keep his wife locked indoors.
These are the two extremes.

And they are not allowing any middle grounds.

I am afraid for the future.

I am afraid some one unwittingly, is pushing us to an extreme I dont want to embrace.

Serenity




1) a) Listen to this Ney (the reed-flute) that is complaining and narrating the story of separation.

b) The Ney is the body of man and the breath blown into it is the spirit (breath of God). This refers to the Koranic verse: Behold, thy Lord said to the angels, “I am about to create man, from sounding (dry) clay...” and “when I have fashioned him (man) and breathed into him My spirit fall ye down in obeisance unto him (the Koran, XV/28 and 29); and “for God has poured His love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit who is God’s gift to us” (the Bible, Romans 4/5).

2) a) Ever since they (the people) have plucked me from the reedland, my laments have driven men and women to deep sorrow.

b) The “reed-land” here means the original place of man where he dwelt before his coming to earth. It was in the vicinity of his Beloved God (Paradise) where he was watered with His spiritual light, as was the reed of the Ney once watered by a stream or a lake. Since man is deprived of the vicinity of God and is separated like the piece of reed from its origin, he too laments and cries in every sort of company (of men or women). He can no more be green and fresh (attain eternal joy) unless he succeeds in obtaining spiritual water.

c) The “Ney” here does not necessarily mean a “perfect man” as most of the commentaries say, because being at the higher spiritual stage (being naught in God), a perfect man is already with God and he is free from any worldly worries as the Koran says: “Behold verily, with the friends of God there is no fear nor shall they grieve” (X/62-63). It can mean any man who is in love with God and has begun to feel abandonment. Moreover, it is not used here in its ordinary meaning of “a Ney = a flute “as Ahmad Atesh says (see his article, p.48)



3) a) I want someone with chest (heart) pierced by abandonment so that I may tell him about the pain of my longing.

b) The Ney (actually Rumi or a lover of God) says that it wants to express its unbearable pains caused by the separation from the Beloved to someone who has a heart full of pain like that of its own. Those who have no feeling for love will not be able to appreciate the grief brought about by the separation.



4) a) He who falls aloof from his origin seeks an opportunity to find it again.

b) Rumi here gives a general rule that everything in the universe tends towards its origin. For instance, the physical elements of a human body desire to go back to the earth but the spirit of man wants to rejoin its Centre; and like the dry piece of reed in the shape of the Ney yearns for its reed-land. The breath blown into the Ney also wants to go back to its blower. Since the spirit is the breath of God, it wants to go back to Him. The farther the spirit falls from its Origin, the more it loses the attraction of the Centre.

5) a) I am mournful in all sorts of company and sought by the happy as well as by the unhappy.

b) The company of the Ney can be enjoyed both by the happy and the unhappy (the wretched). Here the happy are those who have attained the Divine Love and are preoccupied with it; and the unhappy are those who indulge in the temporary pleasures of the world and who are prisoners of shapes and forms. They listen to the Ney for physical entertainment but the former listen to it because they hear the voice of their Beloved.

6) a) Everyone becomes a friend with me according to his faculty of perception and many do not seek my inner secret.

b) The “inner secret” here means the spiritual states that a Sufi experiences. Many failed to discover the states Rumi passed through, especially under the guidance of Shams, and they judged Rumi and his master just by looking at their outer appearance. Some orthodox Muslims thought that music, dance (the Sema), and even poetry were non-Islamic elements.

7) a) My secret is not distant from my cries, but physical eyes and ears do not possess the light (to see it).

b) God says in the Koran, “Those who reject our signs (our symptoms in each phenomenon) are deaf and dumb and they are in the midst of darkness” (the Koran VI/39). “The best kind of knowledge is gained when a man may discover God by means of His signs...

The friend is closer to me than myself,

And strange it is that I am so far from him!”. (Bhagawat Gita, Per., p. 79)

Thus, the spirit of man is not concealed from the body but not all-physical ears and eyes can see it. In order to see what lies behind a physical object, one needs spiritual intelligence and illumination.

8) a) (In fact) the body from the spirit and the spirit from the body are not concealed, yet none (not many) are allowed to see it.

b) The spirit that is connected with Divine World is not far from the human body. The spirit and the body can recognise each other, but men may not be able to discern it.



9) a) The sound of Ney is fire and it is not the ordinary wind but he who does not have this fire may he become non-existent.

b) For many people the wind blown into the Ney and its sound are ordinary phenomena, while for a lover of God it is the fire that burns in the core of his heart. The person who has no feelings of love might as well die, because without the divine love, life is meaningless. As the heat of physical body is essential for life so is the love of God for the spirit.

10) a) It is the fire of Divine Love that has entered the Ney, it is the yearning for love that has bought the wine into action.

b) Fermentation of wine, the vibration of the musical instruments or even the motivation of the living beings is due to the hidden attraction of Divine Love. The lovers of God are all in search of their Origin and when they hear the sound of the Ney their fire of love increases too.

c) Like the word “Ney”, wine is also a well-known metaphor in the Sufi language. It means “the esoteric joy or a paroxysm of ecstasy”. If wine is taken in this sense then it would mean that zeal of a Sufi is because of his spiritual drunkenness and due to his physical pleasure.

11) a) The Ney is a friend with anyone who has been deserted, and its musical divisions have torn off veils too.

b) It is not possible to hide the moaning of the Ney when it is played. Similarly, a lover of God (Sufi) cannot hide his feelings of love. Thus the notes of the Ney (perde) tear off the curtains (perdes) of a lover. The Persian word “perde” has been used rhetorically in the double meaning (Homonym).

12) a) Who has seen an antidote as well as a poison like the Ney; who has seen a sympathising and longing lover like the Ney?

b) The Ney is a poison to those who fail to pass from sensory phenomena to intelligible noumena under the light of intuitive guidance, and who remain the prisoners of outer forms. For those whose spiritual eyes have been opened, the Ney is like an antidote, which consoles them when they burn with the fire of love. “The Ney is poison” also refers to orthodox Muslims who give more importance to physical rituals than to inner enlightening.

13) a) The Ney speaks about the bloody and dangerous path and tells stories of Majnun (who sacrificed himself for his beloved Leyli).

b) The path of Divine Love is not a bed of roses for in this path one has to sacrifice all his selfish, carnal desires, egoistic intelligence, and passions. One’s heart should be filled with nothing else but the love of God.

14) a) None other but he who has abandoned his worldly senses can comprehend the secret of my heart (or the story of the Ney); and it is the ear that is the customer (receiver) of the tongue.

b) In order to understand the spiritual state of a lover of God (or the Ney) one has to move out of the bounds of this physical intellect and attain the intuition and spiritual illumination with the heat of Divine Love and devotion. In order to receive the celestial message one has to possess spiritual ears.



15-16) a) In sorrow our days have lost sense of time and they have become fellow travellers with our grieves. If the days have passed away, tell them to keep on going there is nothing to worry about; but O you the purest one (the love of God) stay with us.

b) The love of God makes a lover oblivious of time; and along with this he forgets his worries. The time, fame and wealth of this world are transient but love is eternal and in its presence, the fear of death and the cruelty of time have no value. It is the enduring love that converts all worries into real happiness, so be with such a love.

c) The “pure one” does not mean God Himself as indicated by Nicholson with the capital letter “Thou” (Nich.1/5) nor is it a reference to Husameddin but “Ma=we” refers to all lovers.

17) a) Everyone except a fish is sated with water and he who is not provided with his daily bread (earing) fails to pass days in comfort.

b) “Fish” is again a symbol. It means a lover of God whose desire for spiritual water is endless because he is in the Sea of Mercy and Love. Like a fish the more he drinks of the reviving water of God’s love, the more he desires it. But the man who has never been in such a Sea, he is like a person without wages or a job for he cannot buy spiritual food for himself. The currency of this world is of no use in the love-land of God.

18) a) Since a raw (immature) man is unable to perceive the state of a ripe (mature) man, it is better to cut a long story short and bid him farewell.

b) “An immature man” means a person who is preoccupied with sensory pleasures and is detained from journeying further on the path of love, while “a ripe man” is a person who has gone further towards Truth. Immature man also refers to a fanatic Muslim who does not understand the story of the Ney (Rumi) and who would scorn the musical companies of Sema and the recitation of the Masnevi. To such people Rumi suggests that we should say “farewell” only. In Urdu there is a proverb, “To play the Ney (Biin) in front of a buffalo” or the English “To cast pearls before swine” is what is meant here.

A page from Indian Commentary on Rumi's Masnevi

Source: Masnavi Info

Monday, January 3, 2011



Hence place thy trust in the Living One who dies not. and extol His limitless glory and praise: for none is as aware of His creatures' sins as He.


Al Quran 25:58

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reinterpretation


Five years back, exactly at this hour and date, we were in search of a working ATM machine. The road was Rashid Minhas road,  and the city was of Karachi. It was crazily rushy on the roads and in my heart of hearts I was petrified to meet something ugly. We had already had some real trouble at the ATM machine they had at the Marriott and picking up omens as I always try to, I was sure that owing to the date, there would most definitely be some glitches with the entire network, something quite a norm in our country.
Had it not been some immediate need, I would have loved to get it deferred. To be honest, I didnt think it to be an immediate need as such..... It was such that I was about to board on a flight early in the morning and I was out of cash.

As we reached the intersection that joined Rashid Minhas road to the main city road, the Shahrah e Faisal, we met a total jam pack. Some government-official's convoy was to pass through the road and they had blocked the road some 15 minutes earlier so that no one moves on the "V.I.P. route". The traffic teemed with excited youngsters not ready to miss any chance what so ever to find a let out of their energies, a very much Karachi thing. And that day, it was the day of the days .... the New Year Night. Voila!

Right then when we were amongst the front rows of the cars at the Rashid Minhas Road, I noticed a car right there in front on the Shahrah e Faisal that ran perpendicular to the R.M. road. It was hard not to notice this car, loaded with young boys of late teens and early twenties, who appeared to be too hyper by any definition of normality. The shrieking car stereo, their loud volumes and accompanying moves repelled like a bad stench. I thought of all kinds of vices that the boys had indulged themselves into before coming out on the road: booze, drugs, etc etc. and I looked away. I was appalled. 

Just then, there was this sound of a siren.
'The convoy has finally arrived', I thought with a sense of relief. But it was an ambulance siren. It was an Chhipa ambulance, its siren blowing loud, the red light on its roof blinking hard, and some patient in it probably breathing his last. The police administering the V.I.P. route protocol, stopped it there on the Shahrah e Faisal. Stopped an ambulance!

My heart sank. We cursed the Police and the Convoy both, and I fell in a silent prayer for that someone battling for life in that ambulance. After all that was all I could do, I thought.

The ambulance stood there in front of us and the siren wailed. We watched and cursed. 

And just then the most unexpected happened. 

The bad bad boy from that indecent troop jumped out. And I heard him yelling. He went to the traffic sergeant and no sir, he was neither quiet nor polite when he took him to task! A few others from the troop joined him as well and they fought for the ambulance to be allowed to proceed. 
They were there, still fighting, when finally the hooters began to blow and a convoy of a couple black Mercedes cars and army jeeps flew past us. Life suddenly returned back from a stand still. With a start the ambulance accelerated towards Jinnah Hospital, and I saw the boys jumping back into their vehicle.

The car moved, amongst that uncontrolled mass of traffic suddenly breaking free. And my gaze never left that car as long as it stayed in sight.




Many a times, when I am stuck in paths, I still think of that car.