"The weak lose themselves in God; the strong discover Him in themselves." ~ Allama Iqbal

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jumping Off a Cliff with Ray Bradbury

Science fiction writer, Ray Bradbury, died this last week at the age of 91.  Go here to read a brief but very inspiring article about him.

What immediately struck me, while reading this article, was Bradbury's deep knowing that what he wrote about were possibilities.   Perhaps, though, even more than writing about possibilities, his writings inspired others to pursue possibilities, to reach for horizons yet unknown, to quest. What interests me, and is inspiring to me about Bradbury is less about space exploration, but about that innate core in humankind through which we quest for what is Great.

From a poem in Bradbury's "Mars and the Mind of Man" are the lines:

"I send my rockets forth between my ears, hoping an inch of will is worth a pound of years, aching to hear a voice cry back along the universal mall: We've reached Alpha Centauri. We're tall, oh God, we're tall."

Reading about Bradbury led me to consider Allama Iqbal's writings on the creation and birthing of Ideals.  Iqbal states (in the article, "Our Prophet's Criticism of Contemporary Arabian Poetry"):

"The highest art is that which awakens our dormant will-force, and nerves us to face the trials of life manfully."

Bradbury wrote:

 "Anything you dream is fiction, and anything you accomplish is science.  The whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction."

I propose that Bradbury is an example of an artist (writer) through which Truth exposed itself, exemplifying an awakening of dormant life-force of which Iqbal speaks.  What is best in humans showed Itself through Bradbury, a man whose writings inspired many others to make manifest the depths and heights of the organ of imagination.

Iqbal wrote that "The ultimate aim of all human activity is Life-glorious, powerful, exuberant."  Bradbury is quoted as saying: "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off.  Build your wings on the way down."  Both of these quotes speak to me that Life is lived from the inside out, and that belief in mankind is itself Faith.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Morn of Resurrection

In Allama Iqbal's poem, "The Conquest of Nature" (from his second book of poetry, "Message of the East"), is the passage below, "The Morn of Resurrection."  In this section, humanity now stands before God at the Day of Judgment.  Earlier, the devil refused to bow to Adam.  Now, at the point at which humanity gives a collective accounting, the devil bows.

After this passage (below), I share my reflections.  I can only, of course, offer reflections according to my personal capacity.  My intention, however, is for this to be helpful.  

Personally, I consider all such reflections on Iqbal's works as (potentially) highly practical, and supportive of humankind's genuine role.  So it is in this spirit, that is, a practical support for realizing collective unity, in this world, now, that this post is offered.  
The Morn of Resurrection
Adam in the presence of God

You, whose sun gives the star of life its splendour,
With my heart you lit the candle of the sightless world!
My skills have poured an ocean into a strait,
My pickaxe makes milk flow from the heart of stone.
Venus is my captive, the moon worships me;
My reason, which does great deeds, subdues and controls the universe.
I have gone down into the earth, and been up into the heavens,
Both the atom and the radiant sun are under the spell of my magic.
Although his sorcery deluded me, excuse my fault, forgive my sin:
If his sorcery had not taken me in, the world could not have been subdued.
Without the halter of humility, pride could not be taken prisoner.
To melt this stone statue with my hot sighs, I had to don his zunnar.
Reason catches artful nature in a net and thus Ahriman, born of fire,
Bows down before the creature of dust!

[Translation by Mustansir Mir]

The above passage speaks to me of hope, of the potentiation of the gold of humankind that is made discoverable by the very seduction of the world.  Without the world, and the devil ever tempting, how could the mettle of humankind be tested?  How could lead be transformed into gold?

But it takes patience to live in the world, and yet not be seduced into thinking that all is lost.  Around us everywhere is (seeming) destruction, negativity, and man's inhumanity to man.  It is the easiest thing in the world to give up hope.  

Loss of hope is a gift of the world.  I can only speak for me, but I refuse to extend my hand to accept that gift.  No matter what evidence may be presented in front of these eyes (and there's a lot of it everyday) to try to convince me that hope is only a dream or wishful thinking, I refuse to accept it.

I sense that this poem speaks to the abiding nature of hope, and to the fact that it is ever-present, if only one does not buy the program of the world.  You buy the program of the world at the cost of hope.  Buying of the program of the world is not the same as being in the world.  The latter is possible without the former occurring.  

According to me, it's the easiest thing in the world to accept loss of hope.  You simply passively accept what the world is saying.  You believe what the physical eyes see.  It actually takes strength and sustained striving to maintain hope, to not be intoxicated with all the apparent hopelessness (which I say is utterly specious), and to look - with intention - at the stars.

I very much like "The Morn of Resurrection."  To me (and I do not pretend to understand it, but only to appreciate it according to my capacity), it speaks to the triumph of humanity.  It is a triumph, however, that seems (to me) to be entirely dependent upon Adam's earlier seduction out of heaven and into the world. Had the temptation of Adam not been successful, would we have this ending?

Similar (I propose) to King Arthur attaining the throne by pulling the sword out of the stone, so too is the halter of humility hidden in the burning world of materiality.  It says in this poem:

"If his sorcery had not taken me in, the world could not have been subdued."

The Devil, and his burning, was a trap. But only by entering the trap could we be set free from it.  By entering the trap, there was some kind of activation of potentiation of self. With the status of heaven gone, now Splendor or Disaster could be willingly chosen.  

I could see (though no one seems to ever talk about it) that the Devil was a bit worried all along that humanity would discover the subtle gold hidden in the dark places of the world.  Or perhaps not, as he might have a role much deeper than the insipidly simple one which most people seem to attribute to him.  Some might say that the devil could be the worthy opponent without which humankind would be without struggle, and thus the opportunity for Overcoming and Triumph.

But...some say, what to make of all the seeming horrors of the world when what is (seemingly) "good" gets trampled over by what is (seemingly) "bad?"  Why cannot justice occur here and now?  That line of thinking, to me, leads to a dark place absent of hope.   

I have spent many years working in fields directly related to man's inhumanity to man. I don't understand it, though I work in the world of mitigating it, in the context of human-determined justice. I sense (meaning simply that I don't know, but merely intuit) that man's justice may be qualitatively different than divine justice. I don't know what is divine justice, but I doubt that it is what is in my mind when I think of justice (as we know it here in creation, in the world).

It is my opinion that the "normal" modern person (any culture, any religion) has an awareness/consciousness that is excessively focused outwardly.  Inwardly focused awareness/consciousness is rare.

I am of the opinion that the bad stuff in the world is a consequence of long-term abandonment, in collective humanity, of an inner orientation.  This is visible (any culture, any religion) in how, for instance, confused and fearful people hijack religious understanding/realization, and/or nationalistic fervor, and/or both, and give it their own, very worldly (burning) spin.  They then mistreat the beautiful, loving, and tolerant aspects of a religion, making it twisted and hurtful, and thus mistreat their fellow man by denying them beauty, love, and tolerance.  And, of course, the mistreated parts of the religions themselves are cited as justificatory reasons for this insanity.   

Then bad is perpetuated, with the justification being simply what can pointed at in the outer world.  Our greatest enemy, then, runs amuck, unchecked, while all problems are projected outwardly onto others.

For me, I very much consciously try, to the degree that I am able, to divorce myself from societal, national, and worldly conditioning (conditioning is ever-present from birth onward). This takes sustained effort to be aware of such conditioning.  I try to lift myself up out of this so that I do not get swept away in the apparent insanity, while, at the same, remaining receptive to currents of collective consciousness. 

I refuse to give up hope that humanity, as a collective whole, will discover its Splendor.  I refuse to give up believing in what all the great ones tell us repeatedly about how people can transform into true human beings. 

I refuse to accept the scissors of separation that are so openly and daily given to us from the world.  I do not want to cut and cut and cut.  I would rather have a needle so that I can sew things together.

I realize, as I write this, that I am denying on the one hand, and affirming on the other. If I don't say "no," with intention, then I'm too easily fooled into believing that "yes" does not even exist.  For me, I have found this to be true.  I must say "no" to this, while saying "yes" to something else.

All of this is, for me, not merely a pleasant myth with which I can be distracted from the challenges of the world.  At the day of humanity's collective accounting, I want the Morn of Resurrection to be the Reality.