Believe those who seek truth, doubt those who find it.
Prophet of the Most High by Jean Moore
I first came across a similar version of the above quote in first few pages of the book ‘Makhmalbaf at Large’ written by Hamid Dabashi.
I find that it neatly summarises the philosophical position at which I have found myself arrive at, since 2013.
The seekers of truth(s)
I have discovered them through the ages, and undoubtedly they are few in numbers, yet they are the ones who I feel a deep reverance for.
Sometimes the world has called them saints, philosophers, poets, artists, or revolutionaries. Other times, they have been called heretics, or madmen.
No matter what their labels, I believe they have shared a precious and rare commonality. This is their inheritance of an abnormally sensitive and fragile soul.
A soul that is highly attuned not only to the subliminal rhythms of nature, but also engrossed in deep contemplative thought that is urged by the combination of a child-like curiosity, the restlessness and melancholia of their life experiences. With this, they are inspired to make sense of the complexities of their Self and other human experiences. Continue reading
Many of us may have heard of the legendary and timeless love story of Qays and Layla, popularly known as Majnun Layla. It is reported to have been composed by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi as well as Amir Khusrow later on, and many others who have interpreted and been inspired by it in different cultures. The love that Qays has for Layla is such that it surpasses the boundaries of mortal love, and he becomes known by the people as Majnun – meaning the mad or possessed.
Here is one of the anecdotes which involves Majnun and the Praying Man that I came across many years ago and which I have presented in my own words. Continue reading
A beautiful, poignant piece of writing about how our childhood sense of innocence slips away from us.
Written by Jeff Coleman – a modern literary fantasy author.
Innocence of Youth
There are those exceptional moments in life when you experience crystal clarity in thought and purpose, when all is as it should be, when all is right and good with the world. But those moments are rare, are few and far between, and they almost always occur when you’re young. As a child, you didn’t have time to formulate your own beliefs; instead, your world view hinged on the beliefs of others. The innocence of youth is a wonderful carefree time in which the mind and the heart are free from the burdens of autonomous thinking and responsibility.
Nietzsche by Edvard Munch (1906)
The Turin Horse by Bela Tarr (2011)
The Ill Nietzsche by Hans Olde (1899)
It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
The alleged moment which executed Friedrich Nietzsche’s journey into apparent clinical insanity is the basis for Bela Tarr’s masterpiece film ‘The Turin Horse’ (2011).
This moment of inhumane cruelty and bleakness that Nietzsche witnesses in his life against an innocent animal, could be a symbol of the tyranny and silent desperation in elements of our lives and the world around us.
We continue with our lives desensitised and immune to the brutality within, and around us. Perhaps our inability to not become ‘clinically’ insane at all this, is evidence of the silent sickness (or the true insanity) that has engulfed our lives.
So, I consider his emotional reaction at this particular moment and the mental breakdown that ensues, as a sign of the deep sensitivity and aliveness of his soul.
Here is the account of this moment shown at the beginning of ‘The Turin Horse’:
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Yes, there is truth to the idea that Ghazals and Qawwalis are the passions of the old.
Despite my limited proficiency in Urdu and my complete ignorance of the intricate differences between the different forms, I have seized the few chances I have had to attend such gatherings. Each time I have been surrounded mostly by the older generations.
I think this may be partly due to the frequent use of complex Urdu or Punjabi poetry which is difficult for the generally linguistically-challenged generations of today – myself included. It could also be because there is a greater focus on the lyrical value of the words sung, rather than simply emphasising repetitive foot-tapping musical numbers which appeal so much to the mainstream. But mostly, I think it is because of the deeper existential and melancholic themes that dominate the poetry – which appeal to older people who have perhaps had the gift to reflect on the past experiences in their lives, unlike the naive and inexperienced younger generations.
Maybe this happened, maybe it didn’t. Do the facts even matter, when the truth is so illuminating?
Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a brave woman approached him.
“Oh my — It’s Picasso, the great artist! Oh, would you be kind enough to sketch my portrait for me?”
Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a few pencil strokes to create her portrait in a few minutes. He handed the woman his work of art.
“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with a few strokes, in such little time. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”
“That will be ten thousand dollars” Picasso replied.
The woman was floored.
“Ten thousand dollars! How can you want so much money for it? Why, it only took you a few minutes to draw this sketch!”
To which, Picasso replied, “No, madam. It took me thirty years of my life to be able to draw like that”
Written by Maria Popova
We live in a culture that often romanticizes books as the tender and exhilarating love-making to the “orgasm without release” of Alan Watts’s admonition against our media gluttony — an antidote to the frantic multitasking of modern media, refuge from the alleged evils of technology, an invitation for slow, reflective thinking in a fast-paced age obsessed with productivity. Books, Kafka memorably asserted, are “the axe for the frozen sea inside us.”
Given I spend the majority of my waking hours reading and writing about books, I have certainly bought into that romantic notion. But everything, it turns out, is a matter of context: Imagine my amusement in chancing upon a poem titled “Don’t Read Books!” in the altogether wonderful slim volume Zen Poems: Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets (public library).
Penned by Chinese poet Yang Wanli in the 12th century, the poem, translated by Jonathan Chaves, is a renunciation of books as a distraction from the core Buddhist virtue of mindful presence: