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The journey through the 7 valleys - Javaidnama

A story was written about birds who wanted to find their king. To find this king they collected together and started a journey that would require them to cross past 7 valleys. Thousands of birds started on this journey together but, in the journey to the next valley, many of them would be left behind. At the end of the journey only 30 birds had made it through and they did find their king. The king was the collective: the 30 birds themselves.

The journey is symbolic of the journey of the individual to the Ultimate Reality [also referred to earlier as ‘enlightenment’ and also as a journey to ‘God’] I read of the valleys from Muhammad Iqbal’s Javaidnama [the abridged version] and what I understood from it I have written below.

The fourth valley struck me as a valley where people [in those valleys] occupy themselves with switching from “narrative thinking” to “propositional thinking” [My post How we think talks about this] As a result of this switch you are able to process things in your environment a lot faster than other people. You can also make a lot of money because you can think better and thus make better decisions.

In any case you start to perceive reality in a way that is different from others who can not think like this. I feel that studying logic and logical fallacies [informal logic] can be instrumental to come to this valley.

Another characteristic of this valley is that you “detach” from others around you [because you have only started to see things differently and have not achieved a level of articulation where you can explain this to others]

The fifth valley is a valley where you search for direction to focus the ability you learnt in the fourth valley. This direction requires a guide [this can be a living person or maybe even a person such as Rumi whose written works can be of great help]. Together with the guide it requires that a person “has faith in HIMSELF” and therefore is [determined] able to struggle to turn his life [his world] into a beautiful happy world. [My post Steps to enlightenment talks about this]

In the sixth valley one is exposed to all the “evil, pain, misery, despair” in the world such as “rape, murder, awareness of what happened in wars and war camps, awareness of the pain that is ongoing in the world, awareness of the evil in his environment”. I understand that to move on from this valley it is necessary for the person to assimilate the exposure he gets in this valley. By assimilation I mean that the misery and pain should stop to “bother” him [this does not mean he doesn’t want to improve it, he will want to improve it in any way he can].

In the final valley “what you imagine very quickly becomes real”. This is because your imagination itself is based on reality and secondly because you have enough control over yourself to [do acts that] bridge the gap between “what you want/imagined” and “what is there at the moment”.

You come closest to understanding the Ultimate Reality in this valley.

As Iqbal said you “dive into the reality of your heart to understand the reality of the universe”. By this what is meant is that you use the direction of your heart [things such as love, happiness, beauty] as a guide to connecting “to people around you” and through them understand the Ultimate Reality. I have elaborated on this below.

An ayat says “Your creation and resurrection should be like the creation and resurrection of a single soul”. By this I understand that the single soul [in the case of the 30 birds, the collective of the birds] is the whole of humanity and that we as individuals should be “connected” to the whole of humanity [in a way I write below].

The whole of humanity however is too large [to come to an agreement]. However the single soul manifested at the level of a “corporation” and even that of a “nation” is still [a] reasonable [scope to achieve].

People in Pakistan like Ibn-e-Safi connected with this “collective [the whole nation]” and wrote books that were popular in all segments of the society. He could do this because he could relate to all segments of society.

The way to connect to the collective requires one to [“dive into one’s own heart” so that one can] relate to people from all segments of society. If you are able to do that I think the Ultimate Reality will dawn on you.

This is what I have understood from reading the Javaidnama of Muhammad Iqbal.


Added on 6th October 2009
My understanding of the 5th valley has improved. The 5th valley represents an awareness of one's heart. [I think falling in love can be instrumental in developing this awareness.]

This is my understanding of the heart:
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.

One example of what can happen if the fifth valley is not reached and thus the heart 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.

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Explanation of the movie 'Revolver'

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This is what the movie says:

1) In every game and con there is always a victim and there is always an opponent. It's good to know when you are the former so you can become the latter.

2) But the question is how do you prepare yourself for this game?

3) You only get smater by playing a smarter opponent.

4) The smarter the game the smarter the opponent

5) Checkers is an example of such a game. Chess is a better game. Debate is an even better opportunity to learn and so on.

6) But the question is where does the game stop? or one can ask what is the smartest game one can play?

7) The answer according to the movie is: "The game of con you play with yourself".

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The text below has been added on 3 Dec 2008 and is based on a comment posted on October 30, 2008, at time 4:12 PM. I have only recently understood what this person meant and it is …

What the journey means to me

My journey so far has been about discovering the meta rules of how the self works. The essence of what I have learnt is that the self can change and in fact does change every time it undergoes an experience. Where any experience is significant because of the meaning it carries for us. It means something to us by the fact: it changes our feelings from state (state a) to another state (state b). Where this movement between states is a process we can call witnessing.  The exercise of witnessing can be powerful and enriching.  In fact if we could communicate what we have witnessed through poetry or through prose, perhaps with the aid of metaphors, we could share these experiences with our family, friends and with the larger community. 
Thus to go in retrospect and search for meaning in the experiences we have had can help us grow mature, become stronger and make us more aware.

My Criteria for my marriage partner

1) She should be a home maker. 10 on a scale of 10
2) I should be able to fall in love with her and her with me … 7 on a scale of 10.

First criteria:

10 on a scale of 1-10 for this criteria because I consider my family my second self. The better my partner will be at making my family the best the better off my second self will be. Who doesn’t want to aim for the best? In accordance with this she should have the best of the characteristics that every home maker should have:

1) Intelligent
2) Practical
3) Ability to take stress and bounce back – agility of mind
4) High level of commitment
5) Principled
6) Caring
7) Want her children to be the best
8) Want to learn how to make her children the best

Of course there is an ideal woman out there who would rank very high in all these areas. But then I have to be practical too. I would want to marry the most ideal woman who is compatible with me. Compatibility is covered in the second criteria.


Second Criteria:

Description of scale:

5: passes the basic crite…