Archives for June 2018

10 SEC READING: careful with your work


Illustration by Ken Crane
As a boy, Abin-Alsar overheard a conversation between his father and a dervish.

“Careful with your work”, said the dervish. “Think of what future generations will say about you.”
“So what?”, replied his father, “When I die, everything shall end, and it will not matter what they say.”

Abin-Alsar never forgot that conversation.

During his whole life, he made an effort to do good, to help people and go about his work with enthusiasm.
He became well-known for his concern for others.
When he died, he left behind a great number of things which improved the quality of life in his town.

On his tombstone, he had the following epitaph engraved:

“A life which ends with death, is a worthless life.”

10 SECOND READING: the one who cared most

The writer Leo Buscaglia was once invited to be on the jury of a school competition to find ‘the child who cared most for others’.

The winner was a boy whose neighbour, a gentleman of over eighty, had just been widowed.
When he saw the old man sitting in his garden crying, the boy jumped over the fence, sat on the man’s lap and stayed there for a long time.

When he went back home, his mother asked him what he had said to the poor man.

‘Nothing,’ said the boy. ‘He’s lost his wife and that must have really hurt.

“I just went over to help him to cry.”

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Master, who was your master?

One of the great Sufi Masters, Junaid, was asked this when he was dying. His chief disciple came close to him and asked, ?Master, you are leaving us. One question has always been in our minds but

we could never gather courage enough to ask you. Who was your Master? This has been a great curiosity among your disciples because we have never heard you talk about your Master.?

Junaid opened his eyes and said, ?It will be very difficult for me to answer because I have learned from almost everybody. The whole existence has been my Master. I have learned from every event that has happened in my life. And I am grateful to all that has happened, because out of all that learning I have arrived.?
Junaid said, ?Just to satisfy your curiosity I will give you three instances.”
Dog and the Begging Bowl
 
 “Once, I was very thirsty and I was going towards the river carrying my begging bowl, the only possession I had. When I reached the river a dog rushed, jumped into the river, started drinking.
I watched for a moment and threw away my begging bowl, because it is useless. A dog can do without it. I also jumped into the river, drank as much water as I wanted. My whole body was cool because I had jumped into the river. I sat in the river for a few moments, thanked the dog, touched his feet with deep reverence because he had taught me a lesson.
I had dropped everything, all possessions, but there was a certain clinging to my begging bowl. It was a beautiful bowl, very beautifully carved, and I was always aware that somebody might steal it. Even in the night I used to put it under my head as a pillow so nobody could snatch it away. That was my last clinging-the dog helped. It was so clear: if a dog can manage without a begging bowl, I am a man, why can?t I manage? That dog was one of my Masters.”
The Patient Thief
?Secondly,? he continued, ?I lost my way in a forest and by the time I reached the nearest village that I could find, it was midnight. Everybody was fast asleep. I wandered all over the town to see if I could find somebody awake to give me shelter for the night, until finally I found one man. I asked him, ?It seems only two persons are awake in the town, you and I. Can you give me shelter for the night??
?The man said, ?I can see from your gown that you are a Sufi monk….??
The word Sufi comes from the word ‘suf’ which means wool, a woolen garment. The Sufis have used the woolen garment for centuries; hence they are called Sufis because of their garment. The man said, ?I can see you are a Sufi and I feel a little embarrassed to take you to my home. I am perfectly willing, but I must tell you who I am. I am a thief. Would you like to be a guest of a thief??
For a moment, I hesitated. The thief said, ?Look, it is better I told you. You seem hesitant. The thief is willing but the mystic seems to be hesitant to enter into the house of a thief, as if the mystic is weaker than the thief. In fact, I should be afraid of you. You may change me, You may transform my whole life! Inviting you means danger, but I am not afraid. You are welcome. Come to my home. Eat, drink, go to sleep, and stay as long as you want, because I live alone and my earning is enough. I can manage for two persons. And it will be really beautiful to chit-chat with you of great things. But you seem to be hesitant.?
And then I became aware that it was true. He asked to be forgiven. He touched the feet of the thief and he said, ?Yes, my rootedness in my own being is yet very weak. You are really a strong man and I would like to come to your home. And I would like to stay a little longer, not only for this night. I want to be stronger myself!?
The thief said, ?Come on!? He fed the Sufi, gave him something to drink, helped him to prepare for sleep and he said, ?Now I will go. I have to do my own thing. I will come back early in the morning.? Early in the morning the thief came back. Junnaid asked, ?Have you been successful??
The thief said, ?No, not today, but I will see tomorrow.?
And this happened continuously, for thirty days: every night the thief went out, and every morning he came back empty-handed. But he was never sad, never frustrated–no sign of failure on his face, always happy –and he would say, ?It doesn?t matter. I tried my best. I could not find anything today again, but tomorrow I will try. And, God willing, it can happen tomorrow if it has not happened today.?
After one month I left, and for years I tried to realize the ultimate, and it was always a failure. But each time I decided to drop the whole project I remembered the thief, his smiling face and his saying ?God willing, what has not happened today may happen tomorrow.?
Junnaid said, ?I remembered the thief as one of my greatest Masters. Without him I would not be what I am.
The Lit Candle
?And third,? he said, ?I entered into a small village. A little boy was carrying a lit candle, obviously going to the small temple of the town to put the candle there for the night.?
And Junaid asked, ?Can you tell me from where the light comes? You have lighted the candle yourself so you must have seen. What is the source of light??
The boy laughed and he said, ?Wait!? And he blew out the candle in front of Junaid. And he said, ?You have seen the light go. Can you tell me where it has gone? If you can tell me where it has gone I will tell you from where it has come, because it has gone to the same place. It has returned to the source.?
And Junaid said, ?I had met great philosophers but nobody had made such a beautiful statement: ?It has gone to its very source.? Everything returns to its source finally. Moreover, the child made me aware of my own ignorance. I was trying to joke with the child, but the joke was on me. He showed me that asking foolish questions ?From where has the light come?? is not intelligent. It comes from nowhere, from nothingness, and it goes back to nowhere, to nothingness.?
Junaid said, ?I touched the feet of the child. The child was puzzled. He said, ?Why you are touching my feet?? And I told him, ?You are my Master–you have shown me something. You have given me a great lesson, a great insight.?
?Since that time,? Junnaid said, ?I have been meditating on nothingness and slowly, slowly I have entered into nothingness. And now the final moment has come when the candle will go out, the light will go out. And I know where I am going to the same source. I remember that child with gratefulness. I can still see him standing before me, blowing out the candle.?
No situation is without a lesson, no situation at all.

Marriage & Monotony


I read Zahir recently. I could not understand clearly though that what do u think should be done to avoid making this relationship so monotonous. What are your views on what is Marriage? (question by Shipra)

How to keep our relations out of monotony is a very personal thing.
In regards to the situation you mention in The Zahir, what enabled the main character to finally re-live his passion for his wife was her absence.
I will quote here one of my favorite writers, Khalil Gibran, on the subject of marriage since I think he expressed really beautifully what marriage is:

“You were born together,
and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings
of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the
silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between
the shores of your souls.

And stand together, yet not too near together.
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress
grow not in each other’s shadow.”

 

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The five regrets before dying


(One of my friends here sent me a link while commenting on “Insult the dead”. I checked it and I stumbled upon a very interesting text by Bonnie Ware. Below a resumée: )
For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE, CLICK HERE

 

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20 SEC READING: asking questions

Warriors of light always keep a certain gleam in their eyes.

They are of this world, they are part of the lives of other people and they set out on their journey with no saddlebags and no sandals.

They are often cowardly.
They do not always make the right decisions.

They suffer over the most trivial things, they have mean thoughts and sometimes believe they are incapable of growing.

They frequently deem themselves unworthy of any blessing or miracle.

They are not always quite sure what they are doing here.

They spend many sleepless nights, believing that their lives have no meaning.

That is why they are warriors of light.
Because they make mistakes.
Because they ask themselves questions.

Because they are looking for a reason – and are sure to find it.

________________
in in WARRIOR OF THE LIGHT: A MANUAL

20 SEC READING: The window and the mirror

A very rich young man went to see a Rabbi in order to ask his advice about what he should do with his life. The Rabbi led him over to the window and asked him:

‘What can you see through the glass?’

‘I can see men coming and going and a blind man begging for alms in the street.’

Then the Rabbi showed him a large mirror and said to him:

‘Look in this mirror and tell me what you see.’

‘I can see myself.’

‘And you can’t see the others. Notice that the window and the mirror are both made of the same basic material, glass.

‘You should compare yourself to these two kinds of glass. Poor, you saw other people and felt compassion for them.
‘Rich – covered in silver – you see yourself.

‘You will only be worth anything when you have the courage to tear away the coating of silver covering your eyes in order to be able to see again and love your fellow man.’

Conscious attention

There is a meditation exercise which consists of adding – generally for ten minutes a day – the reasons for each of our actions.

For example: “I now read this blog because I saw a link in Facebook or Twitter. I now think of such-and-such a person, because the subject I read about lead me to do so. I walked to the door, because I am going out”.
And so forth.

Buddha called this “conscious attention”. When we see ourselves repeating our ordinary routine, we realize how much wealth surrounds our life.
We understand each step, each attitude.
We discover important things, and useless thoughts.

At the end of a week – discipline is always fundamental – we are more conscious of our faults and distractions.
But we also understand that, at times, there was no reason to act the way we did, that we followed our impulses, our intuition; and now we begin to understand this silent language which God uses in order to show us the true path.

Call it intuition, signs, instinct, coincidence, any name will do – what matters is that through “conscious attention” we realize that we are often guided to the right decision.

And this makes us stronger.

 

 

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