The Beauty Of Being Open To The “Other”

We are sitting around a table.
A man is convinced he has found the philosophy which is the elixir to life.
He may be right, for the idea he speaks of is a beautiful one, but then he insists it isn’t just an idea, it is the idea.
The only one.
There is only one right philosophy and he knows it.

A palpable tension begins to travel around the table. A few people shift uncomfortably in their seats.
He asks, “What do you do when you are thirsty?”
Someone answers, “You drink water.”
“Yes there is only one thing to do when you are thirsty. This philosophy is that water,” he says.

Silence.
I want to join the uneasy silence, but I can’t help but disrupt it with a thought that is burning within me, “Yes, when you are thirsty, you must drink water, but water can be drunk in many ways, from a waterfall, a river, a crystal jar, an earthen pot, a glass cup, water harvested from the rain, water transformed from the sea, water from melted snow, water from a tap, a stream and a well. It seems there are many ways to drink the same water and quench one’s thirst. Aren’t there?”

Read the whole story at : The Huffington Post

Summer-Hose

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Warrior Of Light – by Paulo Coelho

“Warriors of light always have a certain gleam in their eyes.
They are of this world, they are part of the lives of others, and they set out on their journey with no saddlebags and no sandals. They are often cowardly. They do not always make the right decisions.

They suffer over the most trivial things, they have mean thoughts, and sometimes believe that they are incapable of growing. They frequently deem themselves unworthy of any blessing or miracle. They are not always quite sure what they are doing here. They spend many sleepless nights, believing that their lives have no meaning.

That is why they are warriors of light. Because they make mistakes. Because they ask themselves questions. Because they are looking for a reason – and are sure to find it.”
― Paulo Coelho

photo - by John Brauer

photo – by John Brauer


I love the whole book, but I especially love this quote, for it presents being human as imperfect, often plagued by doubt and still worthy of miracles.

Between Life & Death – by Mitch Albom

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in. We think we don’t deserve love, we think if we let it in we’ll become too soft.
But a wise man said, ‘Love is the only rational act.'”

“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves.
We’re teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own.”

“If you’re trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down at you anyhow. And if you’re trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone. Do the kind of things that come from the heart. When you do, you won’t be dissatisfied or envious. On the contrary you’ll be overwhelmed with what comes back.”
Quotes from Tuesday’s with Morrie

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On Youth & Temptation – by Oscar Wilde

“Ah! realise your youth while you have it.
Don’t squander the gold of your days listening to the tedious, trying to improve the hopeless failure, or giving away your life to the ignorant and the common.
These are the sickly aims, the false ideals of our age. Live!
Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing…. A new Hedonism – that is what our century wants. You might be its visible symbol. With your personality there is nothing you could not do. The world belongs to your for a season.”

“Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind and poisons us.
Nothing remains but the recollection of a pleasure or the luxury of a regret.
The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.”
Oscar Wilde

>inspiration
youth-isnt-what-its-cracked-up-to-be-jan-amiss-photography

Five levels of Truth-telling – by Walsch

“1. When you tell the truth to yourself, about yourself.
2. When you tell the truth to yourself, about another.
3. When you tell the truth about yourself, to another and reveal who you are.
4. Telling the truth about another, to that other. – your truth of course, not the truth. The truth objectively doesn’t exist, but sharing your innermost truth about another, with that other.
5. When you tell the truth to everyone, about everything.
And if you can take these five steps, you’ve taken five steps closer to heaven, because heaven is not having to lie any more.”
– Neale Donald Walsch

Whoa, while I certainly haven’t mastered these, I find this a beautiful life-long practice to acquire.

> Inspiration
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The royal man and the arrack seller’s daughter.

He was royal.
An Indian steeped in British blood whose family owned lands as far as the eye could see and lived a life of great luxury. He loved his whisky and drank it everyday, and for some reason on that particular day he ran out.
Left with no choice, he drove to the little local liquor store to get freshly home-brewed liquor.

She was poor and too young to sit at her father’s arrack shop.
In fact she never did sit there, but for some particular reason on that day, her mother and father were out and when he came in to ask for liquor, only her hands came out of the little wood opening to serve him.
He saw just her fragile beautiful hands and fell in love. He wanted to know who they belonged to and just how beautiful could the woman who had such hands be.

He came back the next day, saw her and he knew. He asked for that very hand.
When he proposed the idea to the church, they said, “It’s Lent, this isn’t the time to get married.”, but he cared little for such rules, got married and took her home.
In true movie style, his family was outraged saying, “If you choose to be with someone from the street, you’re free to leave the house.”

And he did. He went to one of their many lands which had two little rooms and turned to her, ” Well this is going to be our home darling.”
She looked around and there was no electricity, there was almost nothing.
He took his grandmother out the next day for a few drinks, got her drunk and got her to sign that land’s paper on his name. They had a home to live in now.

For the next 50years that was their home, and as my friend invites me to the mansion that now stands on that land overlooking the vast coffee plantations, telling me the story of two great lovers, her mother and father..
She also tells me of the time when she chose wrong in love.
Her mother who knew exactly what it is like to love a soulmate deeply, told her outside the church door, “Sweety forget about the people gathered here or the money spent, if you take two steps back instead of two steps forward, I’m with you. Don’t worry about a thing, I’ll call this off.”
She looked into her mother’s eyes and said, “I’d like to go ahead.”
Her mother sighed, made the sign of the cross and walked in with her.

Her mother was right and after what almost seemed like an eternity of pain and separation – she found the one with whom her soul was twined by God’s very hands and the house was once again filled with great love and magic.
“My mother and father are so happy.”, she says to me.
“How do you know that? They aren’t here anymore.”
“They are with me always. I feel their spirit smiling.”, she says as if death were only a door into life.
The hot wax from the candle lit to her father in prayer, seeps out from beneath and forms a perfect heart.
The two great lovers are happy, that their daughter found love as great as theirs.

What inspired a man of great wealth to trade the world for a woman, just by seeing her hands? Was it not great love?

by SHENAZ WAHID

The Italian baba

“Have you ever been in love?”, I ask the Italian baba living on the hilltop we had walked to, after debating for a while with myself if it’s the right question to ask the holy man.
“Yes, many times”, comes an easy reply with a smile.
“Have you ever loved one woman more than the others?”, I ask again
“Yes, I lived with her for 7years before I came here.”, he says, as he hands me the biography written on him by the Italian writer Falco Terzani titled, “A Piedi Nudi sulla Terra” or “Naked footsteps in the earth.” as if to say, you’ll find all the details in here curious young lady.

Mia my new German friend suddenly asks, “Is jealousy in love, just a product of the ego and the mind?”
“For sure.”, he replies falling back into the silence, never speaking more than he is asked nor supplying us with any great wisdom on life.
“Do you ask him that question because you have experienced jealousy in love?”, I ask Mia.
The Italian baba is now poised between a smile and a laugh as we women confront each other.
“Yes”, says Mia.
“I have too.”, I say.
Lini nods as if to agree while Mia says, “I suppose we all have at sometime.”

It’s the beauty of sharing emotions, not just the beautiful ones full of light, but also the dark ones we’re asked to hide. When you share them honestly, you realize that everyone feels just the same as you do.

The Italian baba doesn’t come across as an enlightened man far beyond human reach, but very unafraid to show his emotion and so all the more interesting. Interesting enough for BBC to film a documentary on him and his biography due to be translated in English soon. Although he is a recluse, people sought him out over the mountain, to know his story, which brought me to the question, “So then what are you doing here on this hilltop, in the forest?”
If he had loved, what was he doing here alone for over 58 years in India?
“I came here in the last hippie caravan from the states. We were the last hippies standing. I felt drawn here. It felt right to stay.”, he says simply as if I should have all already known this, before I came here.
“Do you miss Italy?”, I ask.
“I was just there a month back.”, he says smiling and gets up to recite effortlessly fluent Sanskrit chants for his evening puja, after having passed around and shared a strong joint of marijuana with his Shiv-bhakts.

I came back home to read contradicting statements on him such as, “He’s an amazing being and so very special.”to “He’s a fake.”,
Whatsoever be the truth, I admired that he answered my question with perfect honesty. He just was, sitting there, his lips poised between a smile, intriguing us. It was we, who were curious enough to have sought him out deep into the woods.

As the sun drowned over the hills in Hampi, we walked back before it got too dark and the conversation deepened with the girls, just by sharing one little doubt, one little question. And just like that, I understood love if only for a glimpse deeper.
I was able shed a layer of fear right there, simply by sharing what I feel.

by SHENAZWAHID

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A painting of The man.

44 01-19-2010
Igniting a light.

Meeting fear in the dark lake

Dusk was soon handing herself to the dark and the three of us are standing on the rocks by the lake.
The lake which has a signboard outside saying, “Beware of crocodiles.”
The villagers say it is a hoax, so that the tourists will swim in a nearby beach whose shops can profit.
We ourselves had swum in the lake, the previous day in the sun’s company.

But right now is completely different.
The rocks casting dark shadows in the darkness that deepened every second, brought alive all our fears.
The crocodiles, whether or not they were hiding beneath those deep black waters, were alive in our imagination, lurking somewhere far beneath, waiting.
It is all so beautiful as long as we are standing outside, looking at the sweeping landscape begin to dream in the night, but we had come here to jump in.

Wasi heroically says something about swimming to a far off rock and back, but quickly changes his mind.
“So I’m going to have a smoke over it.”, says Tanzim as he sits down on a rock to light his cigarette.
We are all staring at the water when Wasi says, “Look there, the eyes staring out.”
“What? Where?”, we ask. It was his attempt to get us to completely change our minds. A cup floating in the water appears as the crocodiles snout and by now there is no way I’m jumping in either. There is not a soul far in sight but for the three of us and the crocodiles in our mind.

In one crazy moment, I ask my guardian Angel to protect me. Wasi runs and dives into the water first and I follow him. Pitch black bottomless darkness within.
We swim out in a matter of seconds.
Me and Tanzim jump in the second time, and the manner in which we jump back out, both throwing ourselves at Wasi, arms and legs beating the water madly, to get us out, is beyond hilarious.

We laugh hard as we ride into the stars and the rice fields, our bodies and hearts soaked in the lake’s sweetness, feeling more alive than ever.
Even if just for a few moments, we had dove into our fears to find they were silly voices in the head, that die the moment we embrace them. As I turn back to look, while the bike drifts through the road back home, fireflies ignite the path.

by SHENAZ WAHID

To God

God,
Thank you for giving me birth in a world full of beauty and full of agony.
One that only you understand, why you made it so.

Thank you for Love, and for the pain of hatred that teaches me Love’s worth.
Thank you for the sweetness of solitude, for the joy of company and for the aching loneliness that allows me to treasure both.

Thank you for the butterflies, mountains, fishes, oceans and trees.
Thank you for the friends I lost, ones I found and for those who stay through it all.
Thank you for the love I lost. Thank you for the love I found.
Thank you for those who come from nowhere, light a fire in my soul and change me forever in ways I couldn’t have done without them.
Thank you for those who make my heart cry without tears.

Thank you for my Angels and thank you for keeping me safe from the devils in my own mind.
Thank you for the moments of magic that turned into despair, and for the moments of despair that turned into magic.

Thank you for music and dance and for the deliciousness of silence. Thank you for the silence even when its loud.
Thank you for the joyous laughter. Thank you for the bitter tears.
Thank you for the sun and the moon. Thank you for the dark sky.
Thank you for light and thank you for the darkness, that gives the stars and moon a place to show themself.

Thank you for the moments I know myself, for those where I feel lost, and have a chance to find and be found.
Thank you for remembering me and thank you for forgetting all that I too must forget.

Thank you for those who understand who I am, for those who misunderstand and for those who couldn’t care less.
Thank you for all that I understand, and all that is far beyond me
in beauteous mystery’s womb.

Thank you for wisdom and insight and for my mistakes and folly.
Thank you for the nights of peace, and thank you for the restless sleepless nights.
Thank you for the mountains triumph. Thank you for failures abyss.
Thank you for the blessings, and for all that my foolish heart deemed as a curse.

Thank you for all that’s deep and for all that’s shallow in me, that needs digging.
Thank you for a mind that wants to turn moments into a story,
sometimes beautiful, sometimes frightful.
Thank you for words, without which I couldn’t tell any story.

Oh Thank you Dear God for the Dreams in my soul, for putting them there and thank you for all that is good and bad
that I will have to encounter along my journey’s length.
Thank you for what I know, for what I don’t, for what I will and for what I won’t.

Oh Thank you for People, both happy and sad as they make me. The ones who amaze and inspire, and the ones who hurt and confuse.
Thank you for keeping me company even when I don’t ask you to, and for never forsaking me even when I have myself
Thank you for all that has gone past me by, for now and for all that will be.

Thank you for magic and mystery, for revealing and hiding.
For all the funny contradictions of Life, the ecstasy and agony
one without which I wouldn’t know the other.

Thank you above all for LOVE
Thank you being a God of Love.

Thank you for it ALL.
Yours,
Shenaz

by SHENAZ WAHID