Thursday, December 31, 2009

How to leverage the power of intent

It is cruical to crystallize our intent. I've talked about the How and Why of it and explained this through examples. Thus you will have a grasp on how to use your 'intent' to grow and thus with time be able to handle a larger set of problems.

How can we crystallize intent: Hold yourself accountable for malevolent* intent each time. So it may gradually become more benevolent*.

Why should we crystallize intent: As your intent crystallizes i.e. becomes more benevolent you will notice that you are able to handle a larger set of challenges that come your way. Thus you become MATURE and benefit from the advantages of being mature. As this process of Maturation continues a point will come when one becomes Mature enough to bear life's greatest challenge i.e. death itself.

So let's see this through examples.

IMMATURITY: On one end of the spectrum lie Indian Dramas.

In these dramas the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law [who in Indian homes live in the same house] are always shown obsessed with each other, occupied with such horrendous non-sensical fights that if it were an actual family; no one would be able to focus on REAL issues the family needs to address. This is because the fights are extremly paralyzing.

Thus we could call this sort of behavior, which is essentially malevolent and practically disabling IMMATURE behavior.

MATURITY: On the other end of the spectrum are prophets such as Moses, Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad (saw) who are the opposite.

These models intend to stand up and change the status-quo of society; bringing it to sobriety and instilling in it values such as compassion, justice, brotherhood, love, emancipation, care for the orphans, etc.

In fact they are so clear about this and struggle for it so intensely that they are ready and able to bear the challenge of tremendous physical and emotional persecution.

Thus this benevolent behavior which is extremely enabling is 'Mature' behavior.

And indeed in love's bosom,
and out of reasons's grasp
into an ishq such as at Karbala
hath delivered into martyrdom,
is intent's journey complete.

For whatever the Beloved calleth upon
Ishq would have him deliver
so that in intent's final resting place
is intent's complete surrender!

Note: See the Postualtes of the Thematic. It provides a comprehensive framework for leveraging intent.
#1) Malevolent - wishing evil or harm to another or others; showing ill will; ill-disposed; malicious.
#2) Benevolent - characterized by or expressing goodwill or kindly feelings [e.g. desiring to help others].

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bomb blast on the Karbala procession today in Karachi

I was there...
and talked to people,
saw a man with half a arm that wasn't there now,
and another man who brought in his brother - i first consoled him he'd be ok - 20 mins later i couldn't break the news [to him, at civil hospital] that the brother had died.

i saw a group of people,
saying "the Muthamida should have shot back at them , i.e. the shias when they burnt the bazar," *

and I a shia with a black attire was talking to them,
saying instead...
itminan aana chayheyae/ agar woh , un mein thora sa woh sakoon un mein aajae to sab khatam ho jae ga,
un kae leaders ko sirf un ko samjhanae kee aur un ko itmenan calm karnae ke zarorat hae

to which he said something
and then I said yeh aek hal ee vehshat hae,

and they all agreed

So we moved from:
1) Mutahida needing to fire at the shias; to
2) acknowledging that everybody is in a state of vehshat
3) and instead of retaliation further calm needs to prevail
4) so it may come to a close and we may have peace.

thus a simple message of love,
is ENOUGH to bring
In fact it's ALL that's needed. Alhamdollilah!

For if we stop taking corners we will see that we are,
all of us just the same.

In reality there aren't too many differences between us,
for we feel the same,
feel the touch of love just the same way;
and the touch of fear in just the same way.

*I personally was inside the hospital by the time the violence started so I don't know; nor have a sense of the people involved in the actual violence.

Karbala: A martyrdom cradled in Ishq

The martrydom offered by the ahl e bayt and their companions,
was offered out of a position of power,
and not out of weakness.

It was offered as unconditional act of worship,
to contribute to the consciousness of the human race,
its sobreity and stage of maturity.

This act of worship,
was out of Ishq for the Lord,
and His way,
so it would awake a love for His way,
the Haqiqat,
in the hearts of those,
with open hearts.

From Karbala a million threads have emerged,
that tie the world since.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Inn

There are many idols I worship
All rewarding me with fear
Promising it is best this way
That the fears won’t further come near


My Lord promises Freedom
Says being His guest I needn’t worry
That He will take good care

So he teaches me the ways of the Inn
And as I learn of decorum
I learn the royal heritage and my potential
Reminded but again to leave the worry to the powerful Host

At the Inn I meet other travelers
All of them guests, each cared for
In what I learn I find I ought,
Give these travelers a nod and the one a wink

Courtesy is a rule here at the Inn
By which the Rabb Promises to teach us
secrets of the heart they say by which
Gradually unravels all the potential within

But to think a fellow traveler or object important
In measure greater than his due
Is to raise an idol and begin an ill

That to cross beyond courtesy into
Servility or cross into Oppression
Is making unto a traveler an Idol
For there is need for neither at the Inn

The idol raised belongs to a tribe they call “NEEDINESS”;
All darkness is legacy of this neediness
The decorum is to break these idols
That to treat each traveler or thing
With courtesy they are due, not more, nor less

In seeking assistance I hear His words
I am guest and must worry less
That this neediness is born out only of distance from the Host

But the heart of a momin they say can contain Him
My heart one day too would contain Him
Were I to leave all concern for my care to the Host
I need first connect and then move closer still

In nearness to Him is nearness to all at the Inn
Which we perpetually learn is made benign
And we, all of us, are the royalty within

So let’s us be overwhelmed I say
Feel an inner expansion thus to compliment Him,
For the boundless mysteries and generosity
With which He hath prepared this Inn

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A framework on thinking

Two principles:
  1. You can trust your internal working, COMPLETELY.
  2. All humans to have ever walked the Earth are made in just the same way.
    • Implication of the 2nd principle: You would feel the same [in their shoes] if you acted the same way.

  1. You have an analytical mind, by which to figure out things [also called the Left Brain]
  2. You also have an ability to have split-second insights into situations [this cognitive faculty is called intuition; referred to as Right Brain processing]
  3. In any given situation,
    • Freeze analytical thinking first
    • Then get attuned to the situation [Metaphorically think of the situation as a place, a backyard to your new house that you are currently exploring]. Get a feel of it so you could close your eyes and predict what's placed where in it.
    • The 'aura' of this backyard or situation that you've captured "internalize it" i.e.
      • become one with the place and feel what it feels. To be able to appreciate this for a second think of the place as being conscious or being alive and thus capable of exhibiting feeling. While this is a metaphor it can actually work if you get 'attuned' to the place. Try to close your eyes and predict what will happen next. 
      • This you can extend to people even and use to predict what the next point in conversation will be. Suppose you are having a conversation with a friend. If you are attuned to how he or she is feeling you would be able to tell what they will say next.
      • Thus use this method of cognition alone to think through 'any situation' place/person/party/business meeting [etc] and collect insights upon insights.
      • At times its necessary to use a bit of Analytical Thinking to make sense of peculiar insights.
      • Thus this is how to leverage intuitive thinking to think through 'any situation' you come across throughout the day.
      • Summary: "Feel first, think next". 
    1. The more harmonious you feel with the situation the better you'll be able to predict what will happen next. Good Luck! :)

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    A submission to the Lord

    Our heart can sense,
    Reality very deeply,
    Thus it gives an ‘insight’ into!

    Heeding it is submitting to the Lord,
    For it dislikes disturbance all kinds;
    Disturbance is itself only “a distance from Reality”!

    Trust yourself,
    And your feelings keenly,
    For they offer invaluable insight to
    bridge the gap to Reality;

    Our minds are another miracle, given
    so we may make sense of it all,
    return and once more be grounded;

    Thus the Universe is designed to
    take care of all,
    who heed this language of the heart.

    Quantum Thinking

    In any situation, we would wish to interpret
    we may use our mental faculty to interpret it,
    but there is a more powerful technique available to us.

    if we are emotionally aware,
    completely awake I'd say,
    we may use the emotions that arise to interpret, as well

    Cognition through emotions is quite potent,
    much more than without them,
    for emotions sense and reveal,
    things our minds aren't able to detect!

    each feeling when interpreted,
    its cause revealed, tells us,
    through insight, something new,
    and something always interesting!

    but for it to work,
    there mustn't be any background noise,
    of a kind - unresolved emotional trauma,
    that overshadows the heart's ability to feel!

    Note: This is probably not the mainstream use of the term 'Quantum Thinking'. I use it because its a quicker method of thought possible by the processing of an instant's worth of  experience i.e. one's state of emotion at the time.

    Monday, December 14, 2009


    The device of wisdom is the heart, which
    whispering in the language of insights*,
    leads our thoughts.

    However with disturbance near by,
    this device first warns,
    then overwhelms,
    and if overburdened, turns off.

    If this happens, we cannot think,
    ourselves out of danger easily,
    for the device that senses
    is compromised;
    thus we are once more vulnerable

    But LOVE,
    the soldier from outside,
    can rescue us, our heart,
    make it beat again.

    Once revived,
    afresh and awoken,
    the heart pulsates through the body, clear thoughts
    from a place of peace;

    With this feeling of peace within
    we are able to sense discomfort,
    flag danger, easily
    wherever we may go

    The heart thus a guardian angel,
    is sent by the Lord,
    to protect should we heed it

    But also an "emotional-cognitive" engine
    that unfolds wisdom,a treasure of it
    each time we interact with the world using it

    For to sense around the world,
    with complete awareness of emotions,
    recognizing, trusting, making sense as each arises,
    decoding the purpose behind,
    is as if we hear an angel speak.

    Only by committing vile
    thus overburdening heart,
    by traumatizing ourself,
    will the angel, the heart leave
    till we remedy our act,
    or another is sent from without,
    the soldier-angel we name, Love!

    So harmony without,
    comes from harmony within,
    that heart through its wisdom,
    if heeded has power to maintain.

    *Insight -> Comes through intuition.

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    Video: A successful escape from: the mind

    The theme to life

    to learn
    and grow to the next stage
    to repeat this cycle
    and experience it all
    is the theme
    to our life
    this chance
    gifted us by our Lord,
    so we may
    experience all, that as human
    we are built to experience

    we are built, with
    the faculty of bodily experience
    the faculty of intellectual experience
    the faculty of emotional experience
    to put this to work
    so we may really experience

    but there are those of us
    who linger into oblivion
    don't full fill their purpose
    to live complete experience

    the depraved among us
    linger at the first stage
    never living it all,
    or learning of the sight from beyond,

    those conquered by their ego,
    trapped within their own intellect
    don't leave or experience from beyond
    the second stage

    and those indulgent in emotion, romance
    not able to tame it
    through a matrimony, which
    the natural course of this kind of love,
    is only a birth pain
    to create a matrimony
    pushing us into our final stage

    where we have powerful experience
    and now wanting and ready
    having full filled our purpose
    to have lived it all,
    we desire return
    from where once we were pushed and sent
    from where we were given
    gift only the Lord has power to give
    a divine gift,
    our opportunity to live

    Thursday, November 26, 2009

    Heart & Mind are independent

    The Qalb is the heart. We use our minds to think but the Qalb can be used to assist it; and what a mighty assistance it is! Alhamdollilah!

    Main Article:

    The mind reasons, uses logic and grasps a new idea whenever it comes across one. It can also organize information and connect to previous knowledge we have so that one can make sense of it all. Thus the mind can be thought of as a unique tool that's very good at processing information and retaining knowledge.

    This ability and power to process as reasoning engines is something that will Inshallah one day be matched by Grand computer softwares that can think it all. In specific domains such as chess there is already software that can out-think the best human players! [Remember: Chess is a game of the mind]

    Our hearts on the other hand use a slightly different faculty to sense or [make sense of things]. They do so by 'feeling'; which is a non-thinking faculty that humans posses. Thus we know in our heart of hearts that peace is superior to war, which reason might calculate forever but our feeling & capability to empathize QUALITATIVELY with the loss involved would tell us it can't be any other way; And this is a processing computers can't do for they cannot feel.

    [Even humans with closed hearts would surely prefer to debate over this endlessly thus generating a QUANTITATIVE by-product of the reasoning mind; which in itself is useless as far as 'acknowledging' the principle is concerned]

    So the heart and mind each process differently; and both faculties which are independent must be used in complementarity to each other as we do our left and right hands to completely grip onto the matter at hand. So let's delve into this a little deeper and see how we can use them well.

    The Interaction Between Them

    Now the processing by our hearts is churned out as intuition.
    Whereas the processing by our minds is reasoning.
    Interestingly intuition leads reasoning! Let's see through an example:

    The words I say during ordinary unprepared speech comes through intuition. Which is also how ideas for a formal speech could come! Once however the ideas have come; say I jot them down on paper I would then re-arrange, organize and sculpture them for eloquence using my reasoning. Hence, what came to me first as intuition was taken to the mind and consumed by it.

    So when our hearts are at harmony: they sense -> churn out some intuition -> that is sent to the mind -> which through its ability to reason understand this intuition and spells it out->so you have a firm grip on the matter present before.

    And that's how poetry happens; comes to life! for whatever you feel is put across by the heart and interpreted and given language by the mind.

    Using the Heart
    Section A

    When we bring our attention to the present moment we engage it by coming out of whatever perpetual day dream we are otherwise a victim of.

    To engage the moment is a matter of engaging the issue at hand in a way that we are able to use our hearts to sense around it.

    Thus we are in a position to untangle the issue as one would a ball of wire.

    We do this by discovering the complex of feelings we posses about the issue and untangle these feelings one at a time. Each time we untangle a feeling it is replaced by an answer that arrives by intuition.

    Using the Heart
    Section B

    If we are willing to accept this answer, [which might at times be challenging for we will have to be open/vulnerable to whatever answer comes to us] our consciousness will rise.

    If we aren't brave enough to acknowledge and accept this answer [when it is about a difficult matter] we return to the old status quo and the disturbance remains within - (locked up).

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    Love articulated

    Love overwhelms us
    there is an exterme of passion
    joint with an extreme of discipline
    a most delicate balance indeed
    it empowers us
    making us unconditional
    it burns away our daemons
    this true of mother and her babe

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    My view of the world at present

    I think our world is in pretty good shape. This because there is at certain parts of the world competency that has been established and is rewarded by an economic reward system.

    Within this economic system we have a subsystem where we may educate ourselves, pursue a career, marry, raise a family, build a house, fulfill our responsbilites as parents, then to our larger families, our society; each time being recongized for a job well done. [For it is in their interest to protect you!]

    The one missing element however, in many lives, is spiritual education. This is something organized religion should be doing, but instead is taken up by Fakirs and Sufis who teach the basics such as perhaps 'Intro to Love 100'. [An important milestone being we must reach the switch from feeling victimized at all times, to - the universe is benign and we a welcome friend - that it is in fact in the interest of others to protect us!]

    Many people who have worked very hard and accomplished much suffer distrubance because spiritual education did not enter into their life.

    In conclusion I'd say that the world's current system does not include as a part of it spiritual education [in the main stream]. Put this piece and the puzzle seems complete!

    Sunday, November 22, 2009


    We survive on ehsas
    but not a struggle for ehsas from others
    but the ehsas within for others
    the first is just a struggle
    an expectation put forth in articulation
    that scares the other
    serves a stick to drive them away
    but the latter
    is an appreciation of the other
    and a result of feeling,
    from the pit of our hearts and core of being
    felt, unarticulated, spontaneous!
    this another of love's secrets

    Ehsas is an Urdu word.
    Description: A 'feeling', and an 'awareness' born out of this feeling.

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Me and You

    You are I
    me in the mirror
    this kaleidoscopic world
    yet I hesitate you and I
    our reflection
    we one another
    till we use this mirror
    to see each other - and breakthrough
    to find ourself

    when I scare you
    I scare myself
    and to love myself
    is a journey unto peace
    that I give you your due
    this the beginning of a love
    I myself am due
    that I recognize you

    in you as child
    I see myself of past
    that looks at me now
    the adult that till now
    had remained a mystery

    in my own thoughts
    once silence
    I know yours
    a final testament we are one
    look inside yourself
    so you may hear mine

    each new face
    from however far a place
    even times past
    is me another mood
    myself the grand mystery
    that I discover more

    Thursday, November 19, 2009


    Her company
    teleports me into clouds
    carried with an angelic grace,
    her stunning innocence,
    and breathtaking beauty,
    it seems for my awe
    that I behold and witness
    the Rab has created
    all this for HIS recognition
    this mystery that speaks
    a creature of the Garden
    - Faraz Haider

    *Rab: Arabic word connoting a caring, protecting, nurturing God.

    if the morning breeze, a lock of yours, unloosens
    a thousand lives prisoned, from their cares, are freed
    - Ameer Khusro

    @ Ameer Khusro:
    Pretty obvious why Mr. Khusro!
    A spectacle such as this would dissolve away the cares of me and many of my brothers!

    Monday, November 16, 2009


    You imagine and entertain fear
    But you experience and transcend it
    Seeing the pain for what it is
    It is bearable
    It is always bearable
    For spirits in flesh
    Divine beings
    Pain is but a play

    In it we witness our vulnerability
    And witness our beauty
    For the flute when hollowed
    Is prepared for music
    Setting free our soul

    Her yearning answered
    She dances now the mystic dance
    at the universe's center
    Intoxicated in the trance
    she whirls

    For pain and its kind
    She has left behind
    To find her companions
    In Peace Joy and Love
    Guarding her they come to her aid

    But pain and its kind
    were aids sent for help
    Her friends of old
    They fill with gratitude
    For a job well done

    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    Become free

    you are not intimidating me,
    but You are intimidating yourself,
    do you not see the stress you feel,
    stop now
    become free

    in lust you do not ruin me
    you miss out,
    you ruin yourself
    stop now
    become free

    let's escape
    there is a way
    let's end the fight between us
    let's do it together
    for we are the same you and I
    in every way

    though it is a sentry
    failure cannot stop us
    for death has been sent
    to our rescue

    Friday, November 13, 2009

    Intuition and our modern mind

    The modern mind
    It teaches you to hold objects
    As when you were a toddler your hands did
    But you must stop the juggle
    You have to move on
    You had an innate faculty to sense things
    Revive it

    Intuition leads reasoning. And is itself led by intent
    One scientific measure of how highly conscious you are is the degree to which your faculty of intuition gives you insight into situations, people and everything else.

    In the case of Prophets such as Hazrat Yousuf his power of intuition was highly developed so that he could predict the future based on an interpretation of his dreams [using I am certain an intuitive faculty]. How the dreams were revealed I still wonder.

    As intuition works with us when we have an insight into a matter we use logic to fill in the gaps and build a concrete understanding of the matter.

    It is perhaps connected that at the hight of its development with a power of intuition individuals who have found their way may have the ability to prophesize the future.

    Lust - but why not?

    Lust is bad
    you sell yourself short
    you may recover yourself
    but you ruin the other
    a person whose heart is open will settle for lust only after a jabbar on themselves
    and this is akin to shooting your self in the foot
    this is why

    1. Jabbar is an Arabic word that implies the object on which jabbar is being done is being antagonized and put through pain.

    Friday, November 6, 2009

    Video: After finding the Self

    A stage in one's evolution should come where they become aware of their "self".

    To do so would mean to enjoy interacting with the universe as a form of art through the use of our faculties of mind and heart jointly to interact with it.

    In so doing we become the artists.

    But there is a stage it seems that lies beyond finding the self.

    It appears to be a higher form of consciousness, where we loose the 'self' we found, and hand over the brush of the artist to the universe as it demands from us. A complete form of submission it would seem.

    1. My use of the word 'self' may not be how others use it.

    Thursday, November 5, 2009

    The progress I have made

    Read my posts a year ago @ and then read some of my recent posts.

    Thanks to Blogspot I have had the opportunity to record my thoughts and I am myself in awe of the progress I have made.

    There is a huge jump in the sophistication of the:
    1. Kind of topics I am dealing with now
    2. The increase in my consciousness
    3. My ability to put 'feeling' in my words [Read this]
    4. How lean my world view is [Read this]

    And yes I can now write a poem! [Read here]

    And God is kind to those who try. Alhamdolillah!

    Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    Affirmation - How to get God's help in an instant

    Allah has said that HE is closer to us than our jugular vein. It is also said that HE loves us more many times over than our mother possibly can. Clearly HE is also a being of ultimate power who communicates to us through the universe. But the question arises in my mind: “if this is so how can I ask HIM for help?”

    I have written below one answer I have found.

    An Affirmation can be described as: When you think about something it happens.

    Let’s think of humans as machines for a moment. In that sense the thoughts that go through our minds influence us. Eventually the actions we do are a reflection of the thoughts we keep. In fact each action we do is completely derived from the collection of thoughts that have brought it into creation [through interplay of our conscious and subconscious minds and the environment that brings to us the particular situation].

    If this is so than by ‘invoking’ thoughts we should be able to create events in the future through our actions that we don’t know of.

    But what thoughts should we ‘invoke’ to generate fortune, love, beauty, peace, power, healing, knowledge, etc.

    And the best answer I have at present is to meditate on the 99 names of Allah. Each name is an attribute of HIS that exhibits itself as phenomena in the universe. You can find these names here.

    Let’s take ‘Al-Shafi’ for example the ‘Healing’ attribute of God [I don't think it's in these 99 names...].

    In my experience meditating on this attribute brings an immediate sense of peace in my heart and I begin to intuitively recognize the various ways in which the universe works to heal me. [One of these phenomena is the progress of medical science that we have seen. Then the kinds of music that have a healing effect, the song birds sing, the sound of a water-fall or even our ability to experience love.]

    Thus through this meditation we begin to co-create [at a conscious and subconscious level] events in our future that will heal us and serve to heal others.

    Thus invoking each of the 99 names of Allah has an immediate effect on our life.

    1. When we stall various Lateral Thinking tools [such as by Edward De Bono] serve to help us find ‘grasping points’ through which we can take further our thoughts on the situation at hand.

    Saturday, October 31, 2009

    Video: A short cut to higher consciousness

    To understand the benefits read the post titled: "A function of poetry and a view of the 7th valley in the tale of the seh-morgh".

    Clearly the strength one can derive from Love, by reciprocating it, is priceless and even Oxygen for a person who wants to make this journey of 'waking up'.

    An important point to remember though is that: The true nature of everything on this planet even the Pharaoh is Goodness, Purity and Love. The only reason its not there where its not is because in this case the Pharaoh continued in his state of disturbance by suppressing his Consciousness. [This is the miracle of CREATION and a miracle of HUMAN NATURE.]

    The good news is that: The process of reaching a higher state of consciousness can be troubling while it happens. But onces its reached the disturbance goes [because you correct yourself] and you become powerful and at the same time more at peace.

    Interestingly after achieving a higher state of consciousness you will not be able to do certain things [that are harmful] because it will require such a heavy toll on you that you will have no choice but to avoid it.

    There is in reality no choice for us but to constantly up our state of consciousness and after a while it doesn't seem that scary either.

    An easier less violent way to look at this process may simply be to think of entering a 'state of wonder' and enjoy the excitement associated with it only to come out. And then to re-enter again and again.

    "Awe is the salve that will heal our eyes."
    Mevlana Rumi (1207 - 1273)
    Source: Essential Rumi, Page: 65

    1. The key: Intent connects each moment in time as a string a necklace of beads.
    2. The key interpreted: in each moment you must maintain the same level of consciousness. Whenever you go against your conscience you will again feel disturbed.

    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    Video: Sinnerman - Thomas Crown Affair

    The song just captivates me! The lyrics are so simple and beautiful.

    All on that Day
    He ran from the Devil and sought help and refuge with all,
    And nobody could help
    And he ran yet again
    But with none left to turn to he went to his Lord
    But his Lord said to him to go face the Devil
    And So He went to the Devil and sought Power from his Lord
    All on that Day

    Monday, October 26, 2009

    Video: If you fail try again

    A burning desire within always consumes all contradictions and doubt that come its way!
    Submit to it! Resist it no more.
    Since your desires will be a reflection of the thoughts you keep. Think good!
    And spend time in the presence of God - through HIS remembrance!
    For this is the key to 'great thoughts'!
    For what you think will come your way!
    Thus to entertain 'evil thoughts' is a play with fire!
    In HIS presence you will have HIS protection!
    HE inspires good thoughts.

    Recognize the 'Holy' around you so you may find HIM!

    So follow your heart and go where you must!

    So the flame within will become stronger!

    And the daemons you have become friends with will burn away!

    And the weak man will go.
    The powerful man will take his place.

    Video: The key to a healthy marriage

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    Video: The world is changing at hyperspeed

    Video: Learning basic essentials from YouTube

    I had to go for an interview and despite being a few months away from my 30th birthday I still did not know how to wear a double knot tie.

    I had about 30 minutes to figure it out and no body at home to help me.

    So I went on youtube and found this video. I followed the steps and yes I had the perfect double knot necktie just the way I had wanted.

    Watching and learning from this video struck me in its similarity to how Trinity downloaded instructions for flying a helicopter [into her mind] from a computer! [from the Matrix Triology]

    1. Next I wanted to learn "Moon Walking" and the steps were so simple I got it right the first time. But I need practice to get a smoother 'walk'!

    Responsibility and Blame Understood

    "Blame" vs. "Responsibility"
    By Ramla Akhtar

    Know that "blame" is only "responsibility" by a darker name.

    They are the same thing. The only difference is whether one is assuming responsibility by themselves, with their free will. Or are they waiting until someone else puts the responsibility on their head -- in which case, it is called "blame".

    In other words, is it inside-out (from me to the world) or outside-in (from the world to me)? If I do something I must do, it's responsibility. For instance, I have to make sure that my water tank does not overflow into the street. But if I ignore to do something that I have to do anyway, and someone reminds me.... it may become a blame. For instance, a neighbor can knock my door and say, "The water from your tank is flooding the street."

    It is decent at that point to still see it as a responsibility. But those with weak character -- that is, a character that does not have awareness and knowledge -- will feel "blamed".

    If ever you feel "blame", stop and ask: what is my responsibility? What is that thing which I can do?

    Now, the first thing is to be aware of the real meaning of being responsible.

    What is responsibility?

    It is response-ability. That is, the ability to respond.

    So there are two key concepts here:

    1. Ability

    This word is from the Latin root habilis which means "handy".
    The origin of handy is "hand" -- which directly refers to the hand... the organ on the body.

    What is hand associated with? Skill. Learning.
    The hand learns to grasp objects. Deal with them. Move things. Stop things. WORK. Essentially, "hand" is for physical work and
    The hand is trained for this. Weak hands cannot pick or drop objects. Babies are always exercising their arms and hands. They are jumping, they are moving. In the animal world, animals properly train their limbs, their paws, their wings. They practice all the time.

    Why practice? So that one is ready for various situations as they arise. One is able to respond at the moment. Every moment is unique, it never happened before, it will never happen again. There are certainly many, many situations that happen only for the first time. We walk for the first time. We drive the first time. We start eating with our own hand the first time at a very little age. But the hand could not pick the first spoon if it was not already trained and exercised. It doesn't have to exercise by picking a spoon. It can exercise by moving about.

    It's just like you don't practice for climbing Everest by climbing Everest. But you exercise, train on rock climbing units, climb other mountains, do other sports to build stamina and skill to climb Everest the first time.

    Ability has to be there before response, even though the situation is unique, happening for the 'first time'.

    2. Response

    This is from the Latin root respondēre which means "to promise".
    "Promise", in turn, is from the root word prōmissum which means "to send forth".

    Aha! "To send" and "forth".

    Forth means: "Forward in time, place, or order; onward."

    [To] Send is:

    - an action
    - it is outward from the self
    - it is "giving"
    - it implies deliberate choice. It is not the same as "throw away", not "snatched from".
    - an action that requires a receiver. We cannot send something to an imagination.
    - done in the present moment. One cannot send in the past. One cannot even send something in the future. (The 'future' will be 'present' when you're sending it. So if you're sending something "tomorrow", when you send it, it will be "today". The date today is Oct 22. You cannot send anything on Oct 23 while you're still in Oct 22.)

    Take the case of a greeting card. If I "send" it, it means I chose. No one snatched a card from me. I did not hand it over, I was not pulled form. Also, an action took place. Some work happened. It required ability to send. What is the ability in this case? Remembering the occasion on which to send the greeting.

    Coupled with "forth" the meaning becomes even more clear. One is "sending ahead of time" -- which means, one is being proactive. One is doing something by one's own will and power and ability, rather than being asked to do it.

    So, let's summarize:

    Response means promise. Promise means to send forth. To send forth means to actively do something, and it's done to real event or person; also it's done in the present time.

    Ability is to have trained to give a response when a response is required.

    Also, NOT DOING SOMETHING is also an action. For example if you put a seed in the soil. You can water and fertilize it. But you cannot make it grow. You will have to sit and wait (and do other work) while it grows itself. That part when you're not doing anything more to the seed is not lack of action. It is patient action.

    Also know that to be ready does not mean to attack. It means develop the ability to respond.

    So, too, taking matters in one's own hands means to develop one's skills and knowledge and ability. It does not mean to become aggressive and attacking. The person who really has matters in their hands is one who is calm and collected, especially under adverse situation.

    Losing control and to be emotional means there is a lack of character development.

    How to improve that? By developing ability.

    Now: What is blame?

    Blame is when an action becomes due upon oneself, but one has not done it, or cannot do it. Someone or something from the outside reminds one to take action. That is felt as a 'blame' by the Self. In itself, blame is nothing. Responsibility is the real thing.

    When there is a blame, one may honestly investigate the cause and redress it. It is possibly that one is wrongly blamed. In that case, the "responsibility" is to clear the blame! Send forth an explanation or correction!
    And this is how blame is simply "responsibility" in reverse.

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Fundamentals of Humor

    The goal of humor is to make the audience laugh. I show how a basic joke that aims at producing laughter is made of specific building blocks. Here I also talk about varying style to produce different kinds of humor. This is shown diagrammatically. The material for the post comes mostly from an online Google book by the author Mary Ann Rishe titled “Writing Humor: Creativity and the comic mind”.

    Laughter is a pleasurable physical response we experience as we respond to humor. Emotion builds in the body and then, because it can't be reabsorbed by the brain as quickly as cognition, it erupts as "excess energy". [Thus it is a physiological response to a stimulus].

    Our goal is to create this "excess energy" in the audience. To understand how let's turn to the definition of humor.

    Humor Defined
    "Humor is playful incongruity that contains a tension between two levels of meaning followed by a clash of sufficient complexity that surprises and delights and that leads to a resolution of that meaning."

    We will develop our understanding of 'incongruity' and 'tension' to grasp the definition above.

    Incongruity means anything that doesn't fit our logical expectations or our normal view of things: We expect a man in a winter storm to wear a heavy jacket and boots, but Charlie Chaplin in Gold Rush arrives in Alaska wearing his shorts, ill-fitting coat and bowler hat, naively unprepared for the freezing wind and snow. He's also followed by a bear.

    There also has to be sufficient 'tension' between the normal meaning and the incongruity since mere differences are not enough. Take for example the following scenario: A fourteen-year-old girl and a fifty-year-old man walking into a classroom are of different sexes and ages, but that by itself isn’t funny. To make the scene humorous, you'd have to make her a precocious teenager with an IQ of 170 and have us discover that she's actually the professor, and he's the student.

    A diagram of the humor process:

    Thus when we have two parallel meanings that are incongruous with sufficient 'tension' resolving this incongruity creates laughter. Thus we have our basic joke [molecule].

    Let's take a joke and see how this works:
    Henny Youngman: "Now that I know how to get the most out of life, most of it is over."

    Look at the structure of the humor process in figure 3 and apply the joke to the diagram. Meaning #1 centers on the word play "most out of life", which we understand to mean the value of life, and which operates as a normal statement. Meaning #2 focuses on the amount of life left to live, "most of it is over". That becomes incongruous in comparison to meaning #1. [There might not be sufficient tension but note that the joke only makes us laugh when we understand the two meanings and resolve them. Resolved: By the time you become wise and learn how to carry yourself in difficult situations you aren’t young enough to apply this ‘knowledge’ in situations that are accessible mostly to the young.]

    Thus we have the basic joke [molecule].

    Joke molecules put together give our next building block: a paragraph. Here one joke follows or 'tops' the previous joke. Let's see the jokes apart and then put them together to get our complete paragraph.

    The first joke [This is a simple enough joke]:
    The problem, I argued, is that men -- because of a tragic genetic flaw -- cannot see dirt until there is enough of it to support agriculture. This puts men at a huge disadvantage against women, who can detect a single dirt molecule 20 feet away.

    Topping it with another joke:
    This is why a man and a woman can both be looking at the same bathroom commode, and the man -- hindered by Male Genetic Dirt Blindness (MGDB) -- will perceive the commode surface as being clean enough for heart surgery; whereas the woman can't even "see" the commode, only a teeming, commode-shaped swarm of bacteria.

    Topping it with another joke:
    A woman can spend two hours cleaning a toothbrush holder and still not be totally satisfied; whereas if you ask a man to clean the entire New York City subway system, he'll go down there with a bottle of Windex and a single paper towel, then emerge 25 minutes later, weary but satisfied with a job well done.

    And our final and complete paragraph:
    The problem, I argued, is that men -- because of a tragic genetic flaw -- cannot see dirt until there is enough of it to support agriculture. This puts men at a huge disadvantage against women, who can detect a single dirt molecule 20 feet away. This is why a man and a woman can both be looking at the same bathroom commode, and the man -- hindered by Male Genetic Dirt Blindness (MGDB) -- will perceive the commode surface as being clean enough for heart surgery; whereas the woman can't even ``see'' the commode, only a teeming, commode-shaped swarm of bacteria. A woman can spend two hours cleaning a toothbrush holder and still not be totally satisfied; whereas if you ask a man to clean the entire New York City subway system, he'll go down there with a bottle of Windex and a single paper towel, then emerge 25 minutes later, weary but satisfied with a job well done. Link to source

    Thus we have seen the building blocks of humor and the response it is meant to generate. Now let’s turn our attention to understand how style in humor varies.

    Let’s go back to ‘incongruities’. Incongruities can be small creating humor that is closer to reality or the incongruity can be very large producing 'non-sense' or silly humor. See the diagram below:

    Another variation in style comes in the form of humor that is jolly or light vs. humor that is tragic or dark. Our primary tool for this variation is in calibrating how 'playful' we make it.

    The following diagram shows this:

    Thus we can revisit our basic joke molecule and vary its style to create different kinds of humor.

    Having understood the basic components of a joke we can use this to sharpen our wit. This can be done in two ways. Firstly we do this by applying the framework to all humor we come across to grasp it better. [There is good written humor available on the internet, such as the resource mentioned in the notes that exhibits the use of this framework.] The second exercise we can do is practice writing our own humor. Having grasped the fundamentals of humor, practice should allow us to become good in manipulating these building blocks. Thus we should be able to sharpen our wit.

    1. An advice on the appropriateness of using humor: “it is like a mask that you wear for a while and in some particular company on occasion. YOU CAN'T WEAR it all the time... that is being a NIT WIT, not witty at all!”
    2. Link to good humor: [Read some of his classic columns...]

    The only choice we really have

    A 2 year old child quite naturally acts appropriately. But for an adult this does not remain easy in fact a choice is introduced. He may act appropriately or may not act appropriately and this choice eventually determines his quality of life.

    This is the only real choice he has for all else follows. Let's see how this is so.

    2 year olds act appropriate to their age. They don’t think of what to do they just do it. Unfortunately they don't have a highly developed level of consciousness and so it is easy for them to follow to the letter whatever their consciousness tells them. Naturally because of this [i.e. a limited consciousness] they are vulnerable to the world more than an adult.

    Adults over the years through experience and observation develop a higher form of consciousness of the world around them. This is why they can protect themselves from danger. Inevitably to protect themselves from danger they have developed a sense that warns them of danger - much like how Spiderman's spider sense works.

    Sometimes however the adult goes against his gut feeling or spider sense as I call it and may not act appropriately.

    To act appropriately may require us to show courage in the face of danger. And so we may need to pick a fight with a man stealing an old lady’s hand bag. Or it may equally require us to show tolerance as in the case where it’s better to be silent than continue an argument.

    In any case the key is to unconditionally follow our conscience and do what is appropriate for in doing so we learn new things and mature and proceed to the next level of consciousness. In avoiding this choice and acting inappropriately we miss out on the opportunity to learn and grow. In the process we may also collect ‘emotional or excess’ baggage that will lead us to resentment. This may be so if we do not stop the man from stealing from the old woman or continue the argument instead of keeping silent and thus feel guilty later.

    We not only protect ourselves from a feeling of guilt but all sorts of harmful things. Thus unlike the 2 year old we are less vulnerable to the world to the extent that we are mature and have a sophisticated conscience.

    One way to develop our consciousness is to learn from books and other peoples’ experiences, to pray, fast and remember God.

    Thus in choosing to act appropriately we are at our best using all our faculties and our skills, our knowledge and our wisdom. How we respond to a situation may vary over time but in acting appropriately we are at our best.

    Thursday, October 15, 2009


    By Etsko (Ebrahim) Schuitema

    Allah has not made us to be socially useful, He has made us to worship Him. Worship means that our fascination is with His attributes, that we regard Him as Significant, and that we recognize that all that is good and beneficial in our lives comes from Him and all that is harmful comes from ourselves. Being worshipful means to understand that we are fundamentally unable to be useful to either ourselves or others, and that when things go right and succeed it is because He made it so. In so far as we have been designed to the end of being worshipful, it means that this capacity to act unconditionally and leave the outcomes to Him is the highest aspect of our nature. The deen is a vehicle to establish this transformation of being fascinated with our selves, our own consequence and significance to being enthralled with Him and His Significance.

    The community that we are in ideally provides a context in which this transformation from a life focused on self to a life focused on Allah can take place. The escape from the fatal narcissism and selfishness of adolescence is made possible because, as responsible adults, there is no question about the fact that we fundamentally have more duties than rights, particularly if we have families. It is the duty bound world of the parent that drags us out of the essential selfishness of the adolescent by our ears.

    However, this phase of subordinating the narcissism of the self in the process of becoming socially useful both in a reproductive and a productive sense is itself transitory. There comes a phase in every person’s life where the robustness of the responsible adult gives way to decrepitude, with the associated growing disquiet regarding the proximity of death. This is called a mid life crisis. At some point every adult comes face to face with the fundamental truth and that is that all human activity is fundamentally futile, no matter how nobly intended. This sense of futility of our own endevour enables another possibility: the insight that our inability to make things work is the platform from which we can witness how Allah makes things work, stupendously, miraculously.

    This suggests that there are two kinds of societies, which one could describe as either benevolent or malevolent. A benevolent society plays its role in the maturation of the individual, firstly by creating the conditions where the stormy, indignant and rights based world view of the adolescent is pounded into the compliant duties based world view of the parent. Secondly and paradoxically, it honours the withdrawal of the elderly into essential spiritual and socially useless activity and, indeed, regards that as the zenith of human aspiration. In this sense a benevolent society provides a pathway for the realization of the highest aspiration in man: God consciousness. A benevolent society is regarded as subordinate to the enablement of the highest in the individual. This society is there for the individual, not the other way around.

    A malevolent society subordinates the individual to the social project. In such a society only that which is useful is tolerated and all is subordinated to that which the elite designate as the social good. In its worst form, such as our own, such a society will harness an essentially competitive adolescent psychology in pursuit of shameless accumulation and domination with no regard for the environment and social consequences associated with unbridled self-interest.

    The Pharaonic model of society 'uses' the individual for the social project -- often in the name of 'good'This distinction between benevolent and malevolent societies is symbolised by the distinction between nabi Musa and Firaun [Pharaoh]. The pharonic model subjugates the people to the work of the social project. This project is apparently useful, it results in an impressive building, however, this building is in fact a pyramidic mausoleum for the leader. The aim of this mausoleum is to ensure the immortality and eternal aggrandizement of the leader. The people are enslaved to this project principally because of their own need for the security of life in Egypt. They accept their enslavement to the pyramidic structure because, apparently, it feeds them and keeps them secure. Their lives are therefore harnessed and subordinated to work which appears useful but is actually about the preservation of the elite.

    The community of Moses is one that 'walks the path' and clarifies itself for the benefit of the individual's growthIn the prophetic model of nabi Musa the work done is fundamentally bizarre. It amounts to an aimless wandering through the desert for forty years. However, this wandering is about enabling a generation of free people. The social project is therefore the means to the end of enabling the people, not the other way round. A pharonic society subordinates the growth of the individual to the social project and the social project is about the immortality and aggrandizement of those in control. A prophetic society applies the social project to the end of enabling free, mature and realised people and the leadership of this society expend themselves to this end. Another perspective on the same problem is that malevolent societies applaud doing what is expedient while benevolent societies applaud doing what is correct, particularly when it is inexpedient to do so.

    What is crucial about this distinction is that it is a distinction in intent, not in content. It does not matter how noble the content is, if it is used as a means to subjugate and control people it is pharonic. If the deen is applied to the end of producing good citizens it is a tyrannical misapplication of the vehicle, even if what is being established is a new Medina Munawarrah. If it is applied to the end of producing free, worshipful beings who delight in their capacity to lose all unconditionally it is being appropriately applied. Unfortunately, in most Muslim communities, the former is the case rather than the latter.

    When I first became Muslim it became apparent to me is that Muslims and Christians had a very different views of the community of the faithful. The Christians referred to the community of the faithful as a church. At the same time, the same word is used for a building in which worship takes place. This suggests that the community constituted a supra personal structure that the individual went into, like a building. Worse, this building was assigned a persona, in the sense of a legal persona such as in Roman law. Again, the individual was subordinate to the structure, and it implied that it was quite legitimate for the structure to reduce the life of the individual to a resource to be expended in the pursuit of its own objectives. This idiom has survived in modern organisationsal language which refers to people as human resources that are used in the pursuit of organisational objectives.

    On the other hand, Muslims referred to the community of the faithful as an ummah, a community. A community is something organic, something comprised of individuals which does not exist independently of or over and above the individuals involved. Properly speaking a community does not view the individual as expendable, as cannon fodder for the cause. A community recognises that if the individual life is seen a purely a means to the establishment of something else, something deeply brutal and aberrant was taking place. It does not matter how noble this objective is, as soon as the individual life becomes the means to establish a social objective then the loss of that life in the cause is like the killing of whole of mankind because it negates the fundamental purpose and calling of being human.

    We are not here to be socially useful. Being socially useful is a short epoch in the total journey of unconditional surrender. The climax of a process is its finale, and in the human life this finale is called death. Death does not ask you what you want to get or what you have established for yourself or others, it only asks you if you are able to walk out of your life unconditionally. This walking out of your life unconditionally is an individual event, it is not social. If we sat together on a bus and got gassed to death, this would not be a convivial experience. I would not ask you whether you are still breathing or could still move your feet. We may die en masse but we die alone.

    The highest point of human life does not concern the group, it concerns the individual. The group are staggering fickle in their treatment of the dead. They cannot wait to get this scary thing into the ground. They leave you to die on your own. Since your life has this event as its zenith, it implies that you have been designed to deal with more momentous things than purely being socially useful. You have been designed to learn how to submit unconditionally and become socially perfectly useless, like a corpse.

    -- The End --

    Thursday, October 8, 2009

    How to make sense of the universe in terms of energy

    I have tried to extend my understanding of energy to understand and relate all the phenomena I know.

    Energy is of different kinds and can exhibit at different levels. I call these ‘kinds’ differing frequencies.

    Now we operate at different frequencies at different times - for example:
    1. Each mood represents a different frequency
    2. When we do something brave we have a different frequency
    3. When we cheat somebody or think ill of somebody we have a different frequency
    4. When we work hard we have a different frequency
    5. When we are lazy we have a different frequency

    And these frequencies may exhibit themselves at different levels, such as:
    1. Such is the case when we work hard vs. when we give it everything we’ve got
    2. When we like somebody vs. when we are in love
    3. When we are hesitant vs. when we have a phobia
    4. When we have an interest in something vs. when we are passionate about it

    The combination of a frequency and its level make a unique state I will call an energy signature. Thus at any given time we have a specific energy signature.

    Just like a person has an energy signature everything he or she creates also has an energy signature.

    Inanimate objects too have an energy signature:
    1. The Grand Canyon [has a unique affect as do the following two]
    2. The moon light and the night or;
    3. the sun light and the day.

    Every energy signature can be put into one of two categories. Everything we call good has an energy signature that has a common pattern to it. In its purest form this is captured by the word “Holy”. Everything evil also has an energy signature that has a pattern to it and in its purest form this is captured by the word “Evil”.

    The energy signature of HOLY is more powerful than the energy signature of EVIL because the former creates a harmony and the latter some form of disturbance. The fact that the former creates harmony shows that it is closer to reality. And its power comes from its relationship with reality, that it harmonizes us with it. Anything Evil on the other hand is by its nature destructive [of us and others] and creates contradictions.

    We can DEVELOP a particular energy signature through:
    1. Conversations
    2. Meditation
    3. Prayer
    4. Reading and Writing
    5. Helping others vs. hurting or harming them
    6. The kind of work we choose to do

    Take a conversation for example. In any conversation a person can maneuver it and create an energy signature [of the group] using their speech and by deciding when to keep silent. You can practice to maneuver energy signatures in conversations you have even if the meet up is brief.

    Prayers and any ritual meant for God have an influence on us. The purer our intention in the dedication to God [of our prayer] the more powerful the impact on our frequency and energy level.

    We can do works of evil and they too influence our frequency and energy level.

    Thus I think power too can be understood as the ability to maintain and maneuver energy signatures into that which we want.

    Interestingly energy signatures we interact with have the power to impact us just as we have the power to impact them. In fact every interaction can be understood in these terms of an interaction of energy. Every time we enter a one on one conversation with another person there is a play of energies. This may form a reinforcing spiral of energy if both people have the same energy type [holy or evil]; thus they will resonate with each other. We feel stronger when our meeting creates a reinforcing spiral and awkward or uncomfortable when our energies negate each other.

    Mother Nature has a holy energy signature. That is why we enjoy a Safari or witnessing the Niagara Falls. In fact when we interact with Mother Nature our energy signatures are influenced and change.

    Movies, people and books can influence us in the same way.

    The Universe understood in terms of energy:
    The source of energy is God. So when we go towards HIM we get godly energy and when we move away from HIM [we lose harmony with reality – because HE has created reality and thus] we feel a disturbance. This disturbance has a frequency of its own.

    Everything in the universe is energy in some form and as already has been said there is godly or HOLY energy and satanic or EVIL energy [where the latter is a disturbance that owes to a separation from reality].

    As we interact with the world we resonate with different energy signatures. To become powerful we need to work out of contradictions and thus we must dissociate from EVIL. True power is godly power and all of us have felt this kind of power [It's the kind that makes us feel good when we resonate with it]. We should thus choose to resonate with such energy around us, all the time, because the more we do the easier it will be differentiating [by detecting energy signatures] between what is good for us and what is bad for us.

    By practicing this we become good at maintaining holy and even negating evil energy. Thus we achieve power.

    Other implications of this understanding of energy
    If we are searching for a moment that reminds us of a fond memory then we are searching for a specific energy signature.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    A function of poetry and a view of the 7th valley in the tale of the seh-morgh

    Poetry must have many important functions. If it is good it is sure to create a presence about it that can influence us in powerful ways. In this post I have discussed an important function: how poetry can be a guide to us.

    Rudaki was an Iranian poet born in the year 858, in Khorasan, Iran. His many contributions to Persian poetry, nearly 1,300,000 verses, and to Iranian culture have rightly won him the title of the father of Persian Poetry.

    One of his most popular verses is:
    Booyeh Jooyeh Moulian ayed hamay
    Yad ae yaar ae mehrban ayed hamay

    "I smell the scent of the River of Moliyan and memories of a kind friend pervade my senses"

    In this stanza I find a resonance I would describe as ‘elegant’ [in form], ‘subtle’ [in essence] and 'far reaching' [in its depth].

    I imagine the stanza holds within it a presence of the poet. And thus I feel that in relating to the stanza one is able to find a worthy goal which is to seek within our self such a presence.

    But what would it be to have such a presence?

    Having a presence such as this to me means having the ability to stretch oneself and one’s comfort zone to the most diverse surroundings and still maintain balance. It’s an art of stretch and balance for which one must be able to detach, to know what needs knowing, have experienced love and thus have the power to welcome the darkest realities and deal with them at face value.

    To do all this with the comfort and ease of a child.

    Thus the fluency with which a stanza walks us through a complex maze [of some aspect of our life] should be [the fluency] with which we can wish into creation a solution to a problem.

    Thus it would mean an ability to breeze through this life and every challenge with the elegance with which a poet writes their poetry. And with an agility such as this anything becomes possible!

    1. Read this post.
    2. A post about the 7 valleys.
    3. This post has been inspired in part by a post on Marzieh’s blog.

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    A story - Why we must discover choices

    We must discover new choices for that is the most beautiful part of our journey in this world.

    To show this by allegory I have narrated a story from the Animatrix which is a prequel to The Matrix Trilogy.

    Background to the Story
    1. Machines reason like us and feel like us i.e. they are human but made of metal.
    2. Machines are ruling the planet
    3. Humans who are free are only in Zion – a small secure place somewhere on Earth

    The Story
    A group of humans ambush a machine and take him unconscious. Their objective is to find a way to gain control over the machine but unfortunately find that it is a complicated task.

    The machine has a reasoning ability like that of humans and so he can't simply be re-programed. Thus they have to find a way to trick him, inevitably choosing between having to kill him or successfully brainwashing him [into willingly help the humans].

    And so the group of humans plugs themselves and the machine into a virtual world where they intend to brainwash him.

    In the beginning they brutalize him by playing mind games; they do this by creating a world of horror with the scene changing from one moment of darkness to another. In doing so they are successful in traumatizing the machine.

    The second part of the simulation, towards the end, is when one of the women [a member of the human group] goes up to the machine and drags him out into more comfortable surroundings. She takes care of him and makes him feel loved. It seems the machine is taken to the woman [because we know that he has the heart of a human].

    Near the end of the simulation a raid by a group of machines begins on the [human] hide out and in the battle that ensues some of the attacking machines and almost all the humans die.

    In one part of the battle we see that an enemy machine comes to attack the woman who needs help. She calls out to the machine she had befriended. The friendly machine thus has to make a choice between helping the machine or helping the human.

    But the friendly machine has already fallen in love and decides to save her. During the attack the woman looses consciousness. So he plugs himself and her back into the virtual world [where they are both awake]. But because the woman never really loved him and has herself just been traumatized chooses to run away.

    The machine realizes that what had touched his heart wasn’t real but he knows he felt it and understands this feeling.

    In the last scene we see that the machine is alone on a mound of earth in a barren waste land sitting pensively.

    What I saw in the story
    The machine was made aware of a choice – the feeling of being loved – and now it does not want to go back to the operational routine world of the machines. [It detaches himself from the machine world and ponders on the options]. I imagine he wants to find a way to be in love again.

    Thus I think discovering a choice can shake the very world we live in.

    Our Cognitive Junk and a short cut through it

    Over our lives we learn what to do and how to behave in certain known situations. These ‘ways’ are mental frameworks that we have developed. In psychology these mental frameworks are called schemas. [The advantage of a schema is that it helps us predict a result - but this result can be achieved even without this schema]. At times our schemas also make it difficult to get to a ‘desired’ result. This post suggests a method to get to this desired result by by-passing an incorrect schema and calls such incorrect schemas 'Cognitive Junk'.

    A Schema is a mental framework that deals with a situation. For example our schema for eating at a restaurant is the following: we ask for a table, go through the menu, order, enjoy the food, pay the bill and then leave.

    We can rely on this schema because we expect the same routine every time.

    Schemas make things predictable. They could be used by someone to predict our behavior.

    Now the behavior a schema triggers always leads to the same [or nearby] effect. But this effect could have been reached without the schema - the following experiment demonstrates this:

    Experiment: A specialist came to class and took an IQ test. He did not grade the test but said that certain students had very high IQ. 6 months later those students showed a marked improvement.

    Schema: Teacher wanted students in her class to do well. She also thought that high IQ meant potentially better grades. So when told 'certain' students in her class had high IQ she gave them better attention.

    Cause-Effect: Teacher gave more attention to a student so he/she did better.

    The schema has an effect but the schema itself is not needed to improve student performance. The teacher could have given more attention despite this experiment and had the same effect.

    It’s important to focus on the cause and effect and not the schema.

    One example of how this applies to our daily lives is shown below.

    If two people are in a relationship that is going bad chances are the relationship will become worse. Their behavior becomes one of malevolence towards each other and this naturally halts progress. At times this behavior is a result of some incorrect schema[s] the two individuals have [i.e. they have un necessarily complicated the problem in their mind] probably because they don’t want to deal with each other. If they cut right through their schemas and are good to each other [without want of recompense] the other person will be good to them and this would solve the problem. Thus the schemas [for this situation] they hang onto are completely useless and harmful.

    Hence schemas sometimes make up for cognitive junk that keeps us from zeroing in on an underlying cause-effect relationship. If we work on a benefiting cause-effect relationship we can produce the desired effect.

    1. Some of the debates I have witnessed are useless debates over schemas and do not focus on the underlying basic cause-effect relationship that would resolve the debate.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    The bearing Will Power has on our lives

    People have moments where they stand up to do what is needed of them. An example can be meeting a deadline or quit smoking. We make these efforts many times in a day, for the smallest of matters that have to be done right. Thus when the ‘will’ to do the right things is strong there are good effects.

    There are also moments that have had power ‘over’ us. These moments make us uneasy. Sometimes a conversation that we witness or a moment on t.v. or a moment in a movie captivates us so much so that it’s hard to pull out. These moments are my lows where I think I didn’t resist enough. And thus when the ‘will’ to do what is needed is weak there are bad effects.

    Clearly then ‘will’ is the most important resource we have. More so than knowledge, wisdom or money for if one does not have sufficient ‘will’ all their knowledge and wisdom put together will not be sufficient to rescue them from the moment.

    ‘Will’ is the tool by which we can move mountains. Somebody has said that ‘will’ is energy and ‘intent’ is the movement of this energy. But when intention is absent [the will to act won’t exist and thus] the act will not take place. Thus we could possibly get stuck in inappropriate patterns we can’t get out of.

    But what is an inappropriate pattern?

    A pattern exists when we give the same responses to the same situations. An example can be conversations we have with somebody where these conversations have 'theme[s]' that repeat themselves.

    A pattern is ‘inappropriate’ when there is discomfort every time it recurs. So to continue the example an inappropriate pattern would be one where the person we have a conversation with is a bully and you the victim. As long as we can’t resolve this problem the pattern of being bullied will persist.

    To get out of this pattern one could simply get support from their teacher or friends. But you can see that to do even this one would need resolve [or ‘will power’].

    Thus patterns we have become used to can be broken if we intend [and thus have the 'will'] to break them.

    Such is the use of Will Power.

    1.To break a pattern one has to identify it. To do this one should detect any recurrent patterns of discomfort they feel. To get out of this pattern the best general strategy I have is to discuss the pattern with somebody. This helps because it is like taking a second opinion in a situation where you get stuck.

    2.In the process of breaking patterns we also learn important lessons. These lessons teach us about new choices we didn’t know we could make. And as has been said very succulently in the movie The Matrix: "The difference between the powerful and the powerless is the choices they make”. Where the value of learning these lessons is presented at another place: "To move beyond a choice you have to understand it".

    3.Time is Decompartmentalized: Life is a collection of moments where each moment is significant in how I unfold my will. Thus life [my time on Earth] is de-compartmentalized as a play with the moment.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009

    How to unlock greater joy from within every moment

    In my last post I proposed that the absolute pinnacle of our aspiration might simply be to interact with the world in a way that we are rewarded with joy; that such a reward would have to be based on a struggle on our part to do something worthwhile such as making a living, taking care of family or doing good for people not in our immediate circle.

    Interestingly in an earlier post I had mentioned that the choice that each moment presents to us can reward us if we choose to do in it a good act because the good act creates a good effect that would benefit us.

    Now you might see that there is a relation between experiencing joy that I mention in the first paragraph and the choice that we make [that I present in the second]. This relation is simply that the choice can lead to joy.

    But the key as it were to unlocking from this choice its latent joy is the ‘intention’ with which I prepare for each choice.

    If we intend in each moment to do well, good will happen and if we compromise on our intention we will suffer a more inadequate outcome [than would have been had we intended well].

    So it is as if the tool we really need to work on to experience joy in each moment is ‘our intention’.

    Most interestingly fasting in the month of Ramazan offers an opportunity to do just this. When we stay without food or water the whole day we are clearly strengthening our power to intend things. Naturally if one can control himself in one situation they could control themselves in another situation for they could exercise the same self control again. It is very much like the act of fasting helps you sharpen your intention like a smith sharpens his knife.

    The sharper your knife is the more bread you can cut with it. This is similar to how a sharper intention will lead to better choices that would thus unlock higher levels of the much sought joy.

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    What should we aspire to

    I have come about an understanding about the absolute purpose of our being and I think it’s not ambition but an aspiration.

    But if it is an aspiration what could be the absolute aspiration?

    Clearly the pharaoh must have taught his people to aspire to a position in his court. His method must have been a reward for serving him. But what service did he put his society to? It was the building of the Pyramids.

    Now the pyramids like all his other social projects were aggrandizement meant for him. And with the pharaoh at the top and his workers at the bottom another structure was created which was the hierarchy of society. Interestingly this entire society was put to one goal only: aggrandizement.

    Aggrandizement of any kind is inherently fleeting. For example if we aggrandize money it will get used up and disappear. If we aggrandize a seat of power sooner or later it will also disappear. Hence neither aggrandizement serving ourselves nor for another can be the highest we can aspire for. In fact it’s hardly an aspiration, it is an ambition.

    Thus our progress based on aggrandizement is not an aspiration because aggrandizement is fleeting and an aspiration cannot be fleeting.

    In fact aggrandizement has much bigger problems.

    Somebody said of a queen that she had 300 people or so to help her in the palace through her daily routine, most of which was about trivial tasks. It seemed as if her seat of power having enabled such care paradoxically made her more delicate. While on the other hand was a man who could give her consultation and sit with the pauper if he so chose to experience the other side of life. The man did not suffer a contraction on his freedom.

    In fact the more power or wealth a person gathers the greater they have to spend of their freedom to keep it from disappearing.

    So the question you might want to ask is if there is a different model [other than aggrandizement] that can be equally fulfilling [if not more so] and yet is not fundamentally flawed.

    To understand this we must understand beauty and the source of joy.

    To me the most beautiful moments I have had are when I found an answer that reconciled a severe contradiction. I also saw of this beauty and joy in an 11 year old boy who entered a national reality show talent competition [in the UK]. When the judges told him his dance performance was better than any they had witnessed so far in all the years of the show, with the entire audience cheering him I can only imagine the joy he must have felt.

    Every time I achieve something through my hard work I have felt fulfilled and this fulfillment can not be taken away. On the other hand whenever I have tried to get something by somewhat unjust means the feeling of malevolence inherent in it has made me uncomfortable.

    So if beauty is in our hard earned achievement and peace is in it have we not then something to aspire for?

    Can the absolute aspiration not be to experience more of this fulfillment that the universe provides to us every time we struggle in it.

    And wouldn't we have a house, a family, people and a career to take care of us if we simply wanted this sense of fulfillment as a result of a struggle to grow while contributing to them?

    Can we not aspire to experience such a joy at ever greater levels?

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    Why feedback is important

    We learn about the world as we get feedback from things within it such as from family, friends, mentors and even books.

    Feedback can tell you where you went wrong and affirm what you do right. It can thus help you predict the future.

    Interestingly there are people I have met who question the importance of feedback. They say: “I can figure out everything I need to on my own. I don’t need feedback like others do.” This is not true. In fact there is a big danger lurking in this notion.

    If the world you are creating is your own you might get stuck in it or some part of it and not know what to do next.

    If however, this world of yours and all parts of it are based on some feedback you will always know who to ask if you get stuck.

    Somebody once said that "fundamentally we are here not to be seen, but to see" i.e. to see things outside of ourself. You will notice that all growth you have had has owed itself to some consistent feedback.

    Suppose you wrote an essay. You wouldn't really know if it’s good or bad till somebody tells you the flaws in it or the strengths it has. In any case to improve your essay you will definitely need constructive feedback.

    A similar example can be about basketball. If you want to improve your game you will need a coach. If he is good he will point out your weaknesses and strengths.

    Thus it is very important to get as much ‘constructive feedback’ as you can.

    Somehow all feedback is not good. Some people give contradictory messages when they give feedback i.e. one message will tell you an act is good and another message tells you the same act is bad. Avoid such people or at least don’t rely on what they say.

    Thus feedback is a way to make sense of the real world.

    Invest heavily in it. The more you invest the faster you will grow.

    The story of Rukhsana

    Rukhsana was discussing the matter of her job at the family dinner table. Her father said: "You should apply to 100 different places", Her mother "What have you planned, what are you going to do?".

    As this was happening something must have sparked in her because she said "Let's bring this discussion down to earth and out of the clouds! Let me think this out with you, let us all be Rukhsana and let us think as if I had to get a job. Let me bounce my ideas against you."

    Her mother said "Rukhsana i'm in a different field and don't think i'll understand"

    Rukhsana: "I am sure you will, I will help you make sense of it"

    Mother: "But it sounds like Greek!"

    Rukhsana: "I know but I can translate it into something you can understand. It's all common sense and because you are a rational, professional person it will make sense to you too. Here me out..."

    Mother: "ok...go ahead..."

    Some conversation took place.

    And then it hit Rukhsana that in all her 28 years she had never bounced 'important ideas that matter' with other people. All her conversations had been about un-important matters. Either they were about a movie, some book she had read, something about her job or people she knew, but nothing that reached too far.

    What more she realized was that issues she was particularly sensitive about - her bottlenecks never ever came up in a conversation. There was no body she could bounce her ideas off! As she thought this she wondered what an amazing discovery this was.

    A few minutes later, overwhelmed she got up and left as if to gather her thoughts. It occured to her that she must call her best friend, somebody she had been with since grade 6 and discuss this with her. She thought am 'I' the reason I never have a conversation, do I block people off or is everybody like that? She had to find out and so she went that same night to her friend.

    In the company of her friend she slowly unraveled herself. She said "with none of my friends have I ever engaged in a conversation about 'my job; things that matter in life'. I think it's quite a discovery for me! And now I think there isin't any reason left for me to discuss petty things with others, not to teach them nor to learn from them something that hardly centers in my life!"

    "I don't believe I never figured this out!"

    "I am sure there are other people like me too. And for all those people I think they must feel so isolated living in a country full of people but having nobody to discuss their bottlenecks with. Even if they go to a psychologist they would talk for 50 mins and the doctor for the remaining 10 and that only once a week. Hardly any conversation I think! And then when so many people are around!"

    "I know nothing is really tough in life and that's why I think if such people could move across their bottlenecks faster they would make such tremendous progress!"

    "I know there are a lot of people out there who still have not figured this out. What a trance everybody is living in!"

    "I thank God that I have atleast discovered this! Alhamdollilah! God is very kind to those who try!"

    Her friend was a bit ambivalent. She didn't know what to say.

    What would you have said to Rukhsana?

    -Written by the author of this blog

    The valley of wonder in the tale of the seh-morgh

    Allama Iqbal has written a book called the Javaidnama which was meant to be a guide for his son [whose name is Javaid]. It narrates the story of the seh-morgh i.e. the story of a large gathering of birds who decide to find their King. They travel across 7 valleys and eventually find him. However as they cross each valley many among them stay behind. The fifth valley was the valley of Love and the sixth valley the valley of "heran-eyat/Wonder". In the seventh valley they find their King.

    The sixth valley is beginning to make sense to me. I am sure there are many in the world who are mentally numb - asleep and I begin to see this reality not intellectually but through my heart.

    In our culture it seems there is many times a "auto-immune disease" among many peers and even adults such that people generally get uncomfortable talking about serious matters even if they are their own.

    And many people I am sure don't have anybody to sit down and hear them out - hear them out till they finish. How amazing is that!?

    People in unhealthy organization are in some fashion scared of their managers - clouding their judgement; often resulting in stunted growth in their careers. But how many organizations are truly healthy? How many managers welcoming?

    People who come in talk shows on Pakistani T.V. to discuss serious matters, often engage in a circular discussion that naturally only painstakingly moves forward [when that movement happens].

    Sometimes this phenomena is more subtle. If you notice some of the movies that Hollywood makes are sometimes pretty inane; particularly a certain brand of cheap comedies. While their humor is cheap people don't seem to realize that because it's Hollywood doesn't mean it has to be more than trash. The fact that such movies have a market is something that makes me wonder, Why? In fact a lot of people need to debate this and argue that art should not be judgeded. Even if this is so the fact that there is a demand for them shows that there are consumers of movies that are essentially unhealthy.

    I am sure it is awareness of this sort that is meant by the sixth valley - the valley of wonder!

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    To find peace within

    To find this peace the first step is to identify our different faculties. These are:

    The Body: A physical tool - connects us to the world [through it's pleasures]
    The Mind: Corroborator of the heart
    The Heart: A guide for us - a compass
    The Soul: The soul I think connects us to God like a baby to their mother's womb. Thus the purpose of the soul I understand is to connect us to HIM. [Thus it connects us to the total view of reality, something more encompassing than the heart, mind or body. The heart for example may at times be too tender to allow us to connect with reality and to acknowledge it's potential for brutality.]

    If these faculties are not clearly identified and thus not understood they will leave a person vulnerable to the outside world.

    One example of what can happen if the heart is not identified is shown below:

    Somebody once said to another: When you go to a party do you prepare something to say? How else are you so comfortable at speaking to everybody at the party?

    For the first person the socializing process was missing the element of the heart's guidance and thus suffered a lack of spontaneity.

    The first person was trying to intellectualize the process and this was her mistake. Thus because she did not identify her heart she was vulnerable.

    Having identified our faculties however is not enough to secure us from vulnerability or to bring peace within.

    The final step is a HARMONY among them. I mean by this, that while a faculty/faculties are 'affirmed' NONE should be 'negated'. To demonstrate this I have discussed three examples below [This explanation is in terms of the faculties and their 'affirmation' and 'negation'.]

    In the first example I will take you back to the question about the party. By trying to find a solution through intellectualizing alone seems to show that the person asking the question was not aware of her heart. While affirming the mind she would be in trouble at the party as long as she negated her heart.

    Another example is of a man in the company of a lewd woman. The lewd woman would affirm his body but negate his soul [See the function of the soul above]. Here the soul serves a counter-check to the body. But alas, the body serves a counter-check to the soul [as well]!

    The soul has the power to carry a person into a land very esoteric and it is the body that has the power to bring him back into the world and live among men. It serves to remind him of a world outside his hermitage. A world more encompassing and rich that has the power to be more fulfilling than the hermitage alone [, however fulfilling that hermitage might be!].

    [And so it sounds like a brilliant idea to get married!]

    Thus it is that harmony must exist between the 4 faculties. None should be negated.

    Comment by Ramla:
    I must say I appreciate your intellectual honesty. The fact that you don't... mince your words.

    Speaking of vulnerability... Ah! One of those things where the Truth if the matter is upside-down vis-a-vis the 'common reality'. The common reality or belief or understanding may be that knowing your heart's truth makes you 'invulnerable'. The Truth, the very sign of the heart being affirmed (and 'followed') is vulnerability. The heart is connected, thus open and, thus, vulnerable. The opposite of that is a heart that is closed, hardened, and cynical. It is a heart not realized. Yet.

    My reply:
    The vulnerability that the heart exposes a person to will later protect him from danger. Thus by opening your eyes you see more clearly in a way that a cynical, hardened heart can not. By being able to 'see' you can protect yourself better.

    Alas [in connection with my earlier post] it makes you aware of more choices. And choice as somebody said is the difference in this world between the powerful and the powerless.

    Reply by Ramla:
    A sense of vulnerability, a softness, a tenderness... a humbleness with respect to all existence is a sure sign that the heart has opened. It is a heart, surrendered. Willing to take It All in.

    ... Once again, amusingly, the Truth becomes the opposite of what would be common: once one is vulnerable, then they will understand the real Truth: THIS is real strength. THIS is real protection from harm. None can be harmed -- i.e. their soul cannot be damaged by the 'outside', by the 'Other' -- when they have opened the Self up to the Other, making them One. 'One' is benevolently disposed. One shall not hurt Oneself.

    If you know what I mean, which I trust you do. :)

    My reply:
    I do and it is very well said and yet there should be a pause to take caution.

    The system of cause and effect that exists is very just. If a person however close to God makes a mistake he will be punished for 'that' mistake.

    Thus a bad cause has a bad effect just like a good cause has a good effect.

    Maybe the prime example of this is what happened to Satan!

    Thus we must always seek His guidence and His mercy.

    Thus I think I have made sense of God's jalali traits - they are there to maintain order in the universe.

    The beauty of this order, science has already revealed to us and so has the Prophet! [The former at the emperical level the latter at the vertical - man's search for peace and the potential/power unlocked within]

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    A little about us and a little about God

    We clearly operate at these four levels:
    1: Body - We want affirmation for this and thus it is that it affords us an opportunity for pleasure
    2: Intellect - writing my first software program was a great achievement. Every time something makes sense to me intellectually there is a pleasure in it
    3: Heart: When somebody affirms my heart/qalb* I take comfort in it
    4: Soul: When somebody removes a deep-seated contradiction in my world view I become powerful by it

    There is a pleasure at each level and clearly as we move from 1 to 4 the pleasure derived increases. So when the intellect is affirmed [and not idled] you enjoy more than when the body is affirmed. Similarly when somebody [actually] affirms your heart, that is more enjoyable than an intellectual experience. And finally when somebody solves some deep-seated problem, it can send quite a shudder down our spine.

    This is not a framework or a model this is our psychological built!

    And this is how Allah has created every human being!


    At the same time He has created the universe to work on the principle of Cause and Effect. If we seek affirmation He will be happy but if despite seeking affirmation we contradict the universe [by choosing to create the wrong causes] we would suffer a brutality no one has the power to escape.

    If He has made us so then this must reflect God's psyche.

    It is not possible then that a person who does not recognize the heart can profess to be complete. Similarly a person who does not recognize the intellect or the soul cannot be complete. But what is it to be complete?

    To be complete is to have an independence to make your own choices as opposed to being pre-programmed for a response in a given set of situations.

    But to be truly complete one has to acknowledge the brutality and the negative in the universe [that exists because of Cause/Effect] and thus take heed from it.

    *heart/qalb: It is that within you that cries when you see a distressed and orphaned child or that shows you the brutality in the humiliation [without purpose] of another human being. Or that knows [without argument or thought] that peace is superior to war.