Monday, December 31, 2007

NOTICE:

The first post of this blog never changes. It will always be on top, with the picture of the three flags. To see updates, scroll down...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Why this blog...




So that I don't forget...


I have been asked a couple of times to make a blog where all my Nirvana articles could be archived. For me, the idea of having a blog has been on my mind for sometime, but for a different reason. A much different one...

During the past few years, I have had an incredible opportunity to reflect upon so many things. I have had the time, the effort, and the resources necessary for me to focus on my own spiritual and mental growth. More than anything else, I was lucky to be able to do some Phenomenological thinking, Heidegger style, and try to think of things like right and wrong, and so many others, in an isolated manner, away from the pressures of society. A society does not like those who think differently and dare to say that they do. Perhaps these new thoughts, and the methods used to reach them, could not be poorer and more wrong, but it is the idea that someone dares to go beyond what everyone else thinks as true is something that is so abhorrent, so terrible.

And I think I came up with one or two insights, at least for myself. I would always feel this rush whenever I feel as if a lamp was turned on, shining light in some previously unknown territory of my brain, perhaps in the way Archimedes shouted Eureka!, "I found it! - وجدتها". It was the same adrenaline rush I felt as I would take for moderately dives into the sea. I started to develop my own theory of everything, and in many ways it felt good. But more importantly, self-reflection allows you to see things beyond the rush of life, beyond how everyday millions of us like cattel being led go into jobs which we hate, beyond how our societies tell how and why (and to whom) we should get married and form friendships, and beyond what our neighbours tell us to be an unchanging important fact and what is not. You begin to realise what is truly important, at least for yourself. You realise how, and why, you want to live. On another level, you also understand the world itself in a different, although most probably incomplete, way. You see how people, include yourself, exploit others consciously or unconsciously, for your own benefit. You see how nations and corporations, fighting for their own survival, and for that of its leaders, may go to extreme lengths, include the annihilation of others. You see how our envinronment is being ruined, how the North Pole is melting, how Skin Cancer is becoming as common as the flu, how our lungs are full of tar and how. as we worry about the world we leave for our future generation, more and more of us have lost the ability to create this future generation because of technology and or insufficiently tested modified and enhanced foods and crops, or even just stress. You see how that we created markets, companies, countries and others to serve us as human beings, as means to organise ourselves to create greater happiness, yet now we have become elegant slaves for our markets, companies and countries, and that the human society's happiness is more important than all of these artificial and forever changing entities. You see how love has become all about physical lust, and that there is no longer any spiritual lust for one another. You see how God has become a political tool for people to dominate and kill one another, and not a source of our happiness, fulfillment, and growth. You see how in the morning we criticise those who deceive, only to become them in the evening. You see so much ugliness, that you almost forget about whatever remaining beauty, that you decide to take a stand, and to live for the sake of making a difference. You decide to become better than all what you see around you, as much as you can.

But then one must eat. It is the primal instinct within us, and it is so powerful that it has led men and women to eat one another to this very day, alive or dead. A human being may hate her/his body, life, or everything, but will do anything to stay alive, and eat. So, I had to join the cattle myself, and become somewhat of another cow myself. What makes you a cow, in a non-Hindu sense, is that you give away your unique self, your own spirit, your own dreams and your own sources of joy, happiness and fulfillment. As I began to find these things wanting to slip from my immediate memory to my bottom one, from my RAM to my harddisk, I decided to create this blog.This blog is to remind me of who I truly am, or want to be. If I do change, then it would be because I wanted to, and not because of wanting to fit in, and my fear of being different.

Today is the first day of Ramadan (2005 Anno Domini, Gregorian) and I did find myself laying around with a couple of hours on my hands. I thought that this could be the perfect time to start this blog. In it, I will keep my previous Nirvana Articles, any new material I get published, and the thoughts that I am afraid to lose. By publishing the latter, I shall tie myself to them.

This blog is for that I don't forget...

Thank you for coming here. Shukran & Hvala.







Blizu, daleko, sjever, jug, zapad, ishtok, volim te Palasinca.
Za uvjak :)

Friday, October 06, 2006

On the Pain and Beauty of Life

Someone was just saying that there is so much pain in life...

It's true...

There is so much cruelty around us. During the past few months, I have been exposed myself to some of life's most intolerable cruelty. I have learned what it is like to do almost all you can for something, to fight in secret more than in public so as not to "disturb the peace" as they say, to bleed in blood and thought, and end up losing it all. And even those for whom you "fought in secret" for end up believing that you did nothing for them, and you did not care enough. And you can never still tell them everything that happened. They taunt you, and you have bled for them.

But enough of that for now...

That is not the story...

The story is that in the midst of all of the agony of life, the injustice, the hunger, the pain, the sickness, the sadness, we still find that survival is our primary instinct. Something inside of us does not want us to let go.

The garbage collector who gets 150 pounds a month and works like hell in the dirty unforgiving streets of Cairo still fights for survival when a car almost collides with his body. And you'd think he'd just let it end his misery.

It is because we are designed to recognise pain at the its inception and end it that the body and mind give it so much more recognition than all the beauties of life that it explores every second of the day...

Despite everything that goes on, something pushes us to have another cup of tea with mint; to relive those magical first ten seconds when you run from the heat of the street into an air conditioned room; to sit in car as it drives glides upon the road as you listen to Sarah Brightman singing "Ave Maria", Fairouz singing songs from the "Wala Keif" album, or even Tamer Hosny singing "Ma yehremniesh Mennak"; to take a walk in the street and watch the faces of people as they pass by; to relive that "rush" you get when you listen to a new song and realise that it is a "good" one, or when you see a new movie and you realise that it is going to be one of your favourites; to read a good book that you would never forget; to watch as a friend mis-pronounces words in a very funny way, and remember the times when you mis-pronounced words in a way that was not that funny; to dance the Tango again to the melodies of Carlos Gardel's "Por Una Cabeza"; to have another walk in the Hussein and suffer another food poisoning that you would laugh about for years to come as you also remember that souvenir you bought for 10 times its normal price; to stand waiting for hours as Taxicabs pass you by refusing to take you anywhere; to explore a new country, city, town, or even a new street that you have never gone to, discovering all new places and facts that had never been a part of your life before; meeting new friends who would become like brothers and sisters, although a few days earlier you wouldn'd have recognised them on the streets; enjoying the friendship of pet that is nothing like you and yet a bond out of love and care develops between two totally unrelated species; to eat a hot pizza with a cola drink as you watch a good game; to just sit bored around the house one day; to write a small poem that someone likes; to learn the words of a new language, to learn how to pluck the strings of a musical instrument, and to learn how to play Squash without squashing your partner; and I could go on forever...

To just be able to watch in amazement the desert, the sky, the waters, to see how the elements of nature and the creatures seem to complement one another, all in an effort to create new life; to watch with childlike astonishment the television as you appreciate the genius of the idea of just sitting at home and flipping channels as you watch the world to your heart's desire; to even have a small fight with a family member you love; to experience the taste of something good that you have never had before, or to actually find out that something that you had avoided all of your life actually does taste good; and I could go on forever...

And there are two joys that are unparalelled...

The joy of working so hard for infinite hours on something you love and believe in, gaining the admiration and respect of people around you, or even just yourself.

And love. To live that experience of becoming one with someone who was once a total stranger, and to be willing to throw away everything, even your own life, for his or her sake. There is nothing more miraculous in life. There is nothing that makes us see the true beauty of God's spirit as such an experience...


And yet life is hard. You could have so much and lose it all. We could sometimes get so taken with our pride and strength until God and life slap you in the face, making you understand how little control you actually have over things. You could have great dreams that you have lived your entire life for, and you may be forced to give most of them up for the sake of a sick family member. You could run so fast down the road of your choice until you come across a wall that you cannot move alone, and you must wait for a helping hand - and changing the road sometimes may not be an option. And you can wait a long time. It is true that in a single day we could lose all our wealth, health, beauty and control. One day we could ignore others in false pride, and the next day we could be begging them to even look us in our faces. One day we could be suffocating from how much money we have, and another day we could be suffocating from its lack. One day you could make a huge sacrifice for someone you love, and you would never be able to tell that person about it, even if it meant losing them. I could go on forever...

There are those who live in suffering. There are those who have been deprived of things like the ability to walk, talk, hear, see, or even their basic health. There are those who suffer extreme poverty and disease. There are those who suffer from extreme oppression and pain. There are those who are not as fortunate as many of us.

All I know is that we should try to go on...

We should live our lives trying to create more good than harm in our final balance. We should all do our jobs as if we were living a mission. Even the security guard could see himself as the protector of the lives and properties of people, a William Wallace of a different sort. We should try to get as much beauty and goodness out of life as possible. Everyday, we should try and do at least one little thing for the less fortunate, whether by actually at doing something (such as giving money or clothes) or at least refraining from showing off what we have and they do not. A lot of the misery in life that we and others live can be stopped, or at least limited. We could do a lot by doing little.

In the end, we must remember something...

What goes around, comes around...

Ignore and you shall be ignored; help and you shall be helped; abandon and you shall be abandoned; learn egoism and your ego shall be destroyed; inspire and you shall be inspired; sacrifice and you shall be served; love and you shall be loved. Call it God, call it Karma, call it life. It just happens.

In the spirit of Ramadan, I would like to paraphrase something that Prophet Mohammed said. He said: "live for your life as if you would live forever, and do for your death as if you die tomorrow."

I'm not sure what this piece of writing is really about. It is the scribbling-out of a state of mind. I look at it and I see the writing of a 14 year old, and I don't mind.

I don't mind at all...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hey!

I have been away for quite some time...

From you (whoever reads this, and from myself)

But now I am back. And it feels great. Not just to be back writing, but to return to yourself. What does it mean?

Doesn't matter.

I am giving a lecture on Buddhism Next Monday 3/7/2006 in Studio 206 in Maadi at 6:50. Come if you are interested :) Till then, await more writing.

Bassem

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Whose blood is this?


(Picture taken from: http://www.slickrock.co.uk/adventure/Iditarod/images/Blood.jpg)


(Call 09007234 if you know the answer and you may win $1000!!!)

I haven't written in a while. Contrary to what you may think, it has not at all been because I have been out of words. Actually, the problem was that I had too much to say, and I just could not decide which words should get out first...

Then I watched TV...

I watched TV for about 45 minutes. All that was on, even when you flip through 7 different channels, was a collection of different ways in which people die, and kill one another...

I just wanted to say something. Look at the picture above. It is a picture of blood. I was going to choose a more expressive picture, but I thought I should not go too far so as not to actually repel you from the page. All I ask you is this. Can you tell me whose blood is this? I am not asking for names. I am simply asking to give general data on it.

Is this the blood of an Arab? A European? An American? A Latin American? An Asian? Chinese? Indian? African? Was it a man or a woman? Was s/he old, young or in between? Was it a rich or a poor person? Was this person a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Hindu, Baha'i, or what? Was this a kind or an agressive person? Was this person lovable or hatable? Is this the blood of an enemy, or that of a friend?

One cannot tell...

You cannot tell because we know that the person who is your beloved friend could have been your enemy, had s/he grown on a different ground, or to a different ideology. Because we should know that there is no such a thing as an inherently evil person. Finally, because we must know that our blood is one and same, and so is pain...

Cursed be they who think they are better than others, and deserve life over others...

I wonder... Is the human being a magnificent creature that can do terrible things, or a terrible creature that can do magnificent things? I wonder if it is neither...

With all that I see on TV however, I do not see one death as tragic. Mine! At least I would be released from this misery...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Parables and Koans 2:
You can never please
everyone!



(The story is based on Goha/Go7a, and picture is taken from: http://tricolour.net/photos/trips/donkey.jpg)

Goha the old jester went with his son to buy a donkey to use for work and life. After the bought the animal, they started thinking on who to ride it on the way back and who to walk beside it. Goha thought that since he was an older man of greater endurance, he should be the one to walk with the animal, and that he should let his son ride it. But as soon as they passed through the market, people exclaimed:

"Ah! What a heartless boy! Young, energetic, yet lets his old father drag him around!"

To avoid the anger of people, Goha let his son down, and he went up the animal. A few minutes after walking through market, voices were clear again:

"Ah! What a heartless man! Experienced, strong, yet lets his young son drag him around!"

Since they already tried the reverse situation, they both rode the donkey, thinking that now people would have nothing to say. It was only a few minutes later that they heard people shouting:

"Ah! What heartless people! Heavy, two of them, and they both ride the poor donkey which could hardly drag itself around!"

Annoyed, they decided to mount off the donkey and walk, both of them, beside it. Now, they thought, no one can say anything about them! They immediately decided to abandon the donkey and return it to whence it came from when they heard the following comment:

"Ah! What idiotic people! A long journey awaits them, a hard terrain to walk on, and they both leave a perfectly fine donkey without any of them riding on it!"

You can never please everyone…

Just do what you believe to be right, as long as both your heart and mind agree…

Parables and Koans 3:
You can't have everything at once
!



(picture from http://www.cr.nps.gov/museum/treasures/html/J/TUIN1810.htm)

A man/woman was very hungry one day. Storming around the house looking for anything to eat, she found a jar full of peanuts. She put her hand into the jar and grabbed a large pile of peanuts inside her fist. Nevertheless, because of how large the pile was, she could not get her hand out. For hours, she strove to get her hands out, but couldn't. She fought with the jar for days. She was so hungry, trying to her all the food she needed. As her hunger grew, she actually kept adding more to what was in her hand, making it further impossible to get it out.

Eventually, she died of hunger…

Had she eaten one peanut at a time, she would have eventually fed herself to satisfaction…

No one person can do everything at one time. You will do nothing in the end. One step at a time, and you will get there…