Feeling small

Sometimes, in life, one comes upon horrific challenges and one feels very small. Or one goes a certain distance in rising to the challenge and then one falls down. And one feels like a terrible failure. Abraham Lincoln mused a great deal on the significance of failure and success. Any man tested by history must muse on such things. Otherwise, how can he learn to play his part?

Lincoln has been a light for me, since my early 20s. He once said: "Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm." Yes. I think, in part, success is the ability to fail and then to get up again, brush the dust off one's back and figure out what is the decent thing to do. Failure is the greatest teacher of perserverance. But you must be careful, it can teach apathy and a sense of being small and not up to supreme challenges. You must not be fooled by failure - otherwise you will never learn from it the lesson it would have you learn. And if you fail to do that success will always elude you.

Lincoln has more to say:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity. But if you want to test a man's character - give him power."

Adversity is part of life for all men. How we learn to face up to it, is, ultimately, down to how we mold our personality and our character. We have the power to transform ourselves. Yet, if we seek out profound change - which usually involves a profound relationship with a wise person - and if we try to build a life based on that, it is no easy task - though it is an essential one. It requires intelligence and inner simplicity. It takes determination, faith and above all love. There are challenges all along the way. Financial challenges. Familial challenges. The challenge of loneliness - of seeing something deep very clearly and having virtually no one to share it with. The challenge of silence and the challenges of being - which must be grasped - for if it is not - we inadvertantly seek solace in action - and the consequence of such misguided focus is that we become pray to boredom and misunderstanding of our true nature. We must find balance in action and non-action...but that can be tough - especially if one is trailblazer. When you go alone - who is there to temper you and reflect with you. And if you are lucky to have such a soul companion on the way - who is to say they or you are right or that your concurring and reflections are sound?

What Lincoln is saying above though is significant. All men face challenges. But the real test of a man is when he comes into his own in some way - whether it be financially or talent-wise or political power. Hamlet was not up to it. Mozart and Beethoven brinkered on the edge of madness thanks to their genius. There must be ways to deal with it.

A great yoga teacher I had the privellege to meet insists on cleaning his own toilet regularly...It makes sense - if one cannot stand side by side with the lowliest of the low - how can one ever dream to rise to a higher station and do it in a way that keeps one grounded and related to the building blocks of existence on this plane? That is not to say that all kingly or noble men must wash their own toilets - but it does point to the hidden urgencies implicit in success. Success comes with an urgent need to stay small. Not the small born of a sense of inadequacy. But the small that comes with a feeling of being united with out innate compassion and sensitivity. A loud, brash person can never listen. To listen you must be very still and very small - in order to get out of the way of yourself and in order to be party to the miraculous symmetry of real affection. One can have a vast presence and yet be small. I think that is what Tolstoy meant when he said in tribute to Lincoln that he was one of those rare men who sort not to see the world in himself but to see himself in the world. Tolstoy added that, "He was the only real giant in depth of feeling and in certain moral power."

Lincoln has stirring words for dreamers and believers. He says:

"You can have anything you want if you want, it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose."

I lived in Korea recently...and I left that country with a tinge of sadness. I hate nationalism. And Korea is a very nationalistic country. Nationalism amounts - more often than not to an unpleasant sense of place - rarely does it embrace forgiveness and a sense of our universal humanity. Korea is a country that wants to win. It is in a hurry to win.

It is ironic because in Korea people study very, very hard. They become so very tied up in academic standing and competitiveness - that they seem to become wandering robotic knowledge-bases. Education is not cultivating cleverness - that is such a shallow thing. Korea seems to raise its glass to that though and it saddens me. Intelligence has nothing to do with education. It is born of going to the root of things. Something which our education often fails to awaken us to.

The last quote of Lincoln's that I would like to share is this one:

"It often requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong."

How true this is! My journey to India represents for me the courage to dare to do the right thing. It's not an easy thing to do. And there are many alternatives that have come to my mind - all much easier to do - but all much, much harder to live with(the easy way out is always that way). Intuitively, I know all those alternatives are wrong and unsuited to what I must do and, being aware of that, I somehow remain sane and up for the mad challenges which my dharma is dealing me (dharma is a word from sanskrit, which encapsulates the sense of what our inner potential, when awakened, needs to do in the times into which we are born and raised - in order that we might live a balanced and fulfilling life).

I have just come back from India to visit my family in suburban England. India is colorful. India is hot and humid and chaotic and rampant. In India my life is non-stop work - with some yoga thrown in. Here in England I get to rest my way through the holiday season and rest a little. It is a very welcome break and I am very grateful for the change of scenery. It allows one to breathe. Here there are not a hundred fuming motorbikes at every traffic light. Here there is no dust to brush away in the courtyard in the morning. Here the poverty is manageable. Here there is affluence. Here there are carol concerts and chaffinches, pink and undulating in their flight against the gray sky. It seems there is more honesty here too. I don't meet people with a sense that - due to my skin and circumstances - people will rip me off. Here there is customer service that is easy to reach and does what it says it will (even though they may be in India - thanks to outsourcing!). In India, there is none of that. In India, the numbers of people seem to swell to bursting point. Here the cultural references are easier for me - but that is slowly changing as I learn the way of things amidst the mosquitos and the monsoon. India is a strain. India is culturally rich. England has orchestras and high street fashion. It has reality TV and America is not so much a distant land of opportunity and promise - it is just an extension of the Anglo-saxon culture across the pond. Bigger and more prosperous - but it is certainly not the land that has replaced Moksha - as it is for many Indians.

I recently read in a book by an American Ayurvedic doctor that England is a land of Sudras. The Sudras are a class in the caste system of India. Members of this class are the peasants and working class of the society who work in non-polluting jobs. Below them are untouchables - above them are the warriors, the business people and the priests. I found this strange when I first read it. But when I came to England it began to make sense. Yes, England has priests and warriors and business people - but there does seem to be a sense of working class equanimity here which gives a sort of evenness to life across the board - even though there are some very rich people here, as well as some very destitute people - there seems to be a common cultural smorgasbord which they all feed from - you can see this very clearly in the media and the entertainment and the literature of the land. In India religion and movies are the binding realities - but even so, there rich and the poor lack the feeling of equanimity that one feels in the European and American cultures. Perhaps this is in part due to the terrible corruption in India. Perhaps it is due to the problems of overpopulation. By and large, the ladders of possibility that one must climb in India to make a better life for oneself - are much steeper and far rarer than those that are available to Westerners.

Perhaps that is why I found the stark realities of the caste system such a trial when I first went to India. Why can't there be more evenness? Why can't there be a clearer sense of fairness across the board - England - and America even more so - has succeeded with that - why can't India? That being said, India has riches that we lack. I find that India has more lively myths - they are deeper myths (for those who are ready to dive into them) and this is a profound statement - if one is at all interested in finding meaning in life. That being said their modern myths are pretty terrible. We have the myth of the new man - a very healthy and essential myth. But they have macho women slapping movie stars - their version of Rambo...and the refined modern man is harder to find - because he swamped out by the weight of the masses and their lust for bravado and blood.

Even though the British came to India and tried to decimate India's sanskrit heritage in some ways, in other ways it introduced the technology of a modern democracy. And the weight of that experession is on "technology". India and democracy are old bedfellows - at least in the sense of dialgueing important issues. In a way democracy, in the form of enlightened dialogue, had its roots in India.

So I am living at the intersection of two worlds and their fertile intersection can be many things. It can be overwhelming. It can be fascinating. It can give me pause for thought. Deep thought. And it can yield many frustrating and painstaking contradictions. One can also feel small. Small in the sense of inadequate. So much poverty. So many problems. How to face up to them? Sure, I know they are not my problems. It is not job to take on the weight of the world. I know that. But it is perhaps not so easy to be comfortable with that when you live in a busy city in India - with slums and desperation seemingly around every corner.

I know so many Indians that want to escape India. Hence how America has become moksha (the Sanskrit word for englightenment) to them. Some of those people who so revere America as an ideal - get to go to America and perhaps they become prosperous and liberated in many ways. I have seen that often. But I have also seen how in their lust for the West - they lose their own culture. Or - as is the case with some Indians - they become disdainful of Western culture...because though it has given them security - there is this niggling feeling in them that the West as a whole have compromised their integrity to be prosperous. They have sold their values and their families for pleasure and plastic. So there are the tradionalists and the money hungry - and amazingly - they seem to exist together as split-personalities in the Indian psyche. Because side by side their wonderful heritage their runs a river of pain and poverty which craves the order and space of places like America and Europe (speaking in relativities here).

At the end of email messages I quote the following quotes:

"Every day is a winding road"

"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be." -- Patanjali

The first seems to sum up the reality of existence for all of us: every day is actually a winding road. Some days are full of emotional wonders and other days are somehow more non-descript. Some days one is more philosophical - and other days there is such a blur of motion that one sees everything through fleeting comparisons and references...On other days work seems to swallow us up and one fails to seem to find relevance in anything. I could go on and on about the changing shades of a different individual day.

Living in India, and reflecting on my life in general in these few precious days of rest at my family home...I think sometimes I do feel very small. In suburban England it often appears that the madness of our world is conveniently confined to the television screen...Close enough for comfort - distant enough for us to go on with our own lives and not be too disturbed. But living in India - it is not that way. I don't have a television - and I do wrestle daily with the dirt and the inequality - and very often it is far too close for comfort and never distant enough. The contrast with the feeling I get staring out upon the estuary and the spacious fields of my family home is huge! It is a refreshing and stark contrast...When I look into my neices eyes or walk around the lake I feel a sense of wonder about this northern paradise... It is not paradise - for it is cold and the harsh, dry air makes my skin dry and faces gray. But Christmas trees come with presents and plenty of good food and everyone has so much plenty...that I wonder if they know or care to know the value of what they have. The winter can bring on harsh depressions and the monotony of life - wherever you live in the world - can be a trial to the mind.

I feel small when I think of my past and future in India. Not because it is so big...so unfathomable (and yet I MUST try to fathom it)... but because of the contrasts with the sights that greet me when I come home. There is such a cauldron of problems...such an endless catalogue of struggling and corrupt and needy stories in India - and we, in the West with out wealth and Christmas cheer seem so alien - and at time so sane (the sense of order, the electricity which is not mired in constant power cuts, the sense of things getting done; the managable numbers of things and people) - and yet at other times so insane (the way everything here seems to be reduced to jokes and sex and boose and intellectual and artistic interpretation - all of which so often lacks soul. India has its own version of these things of course - unquestioned religions and endless traditions which stifle and destroy spontaneity and freedom).

The second quote which I sign off my emails with I will repeat:

"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be." -- Patanjali

It is this quote - which I keep coming back to. It this quote which is the thread for me behind Lincoln's line: "Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm." I don't think you can do that without believing in what Patanjali is saying. What Patanjali is pointing too is the ultimate reason why we can and must succeed...no matter how small we may sometimes feel.

Devour what he says. Let what he is saying impregnate your consciousness. How dare you put yourself down! How dare you boost yourself up! Be still with what is...and perservere...Never, never give up. And what's more, you might get to be a new man (or new woman for the politically correct!) my son; a man adapted to the times and yet reverent of the profound and perennial wisdom of the ancients - a wisdom which went to the heart of the challenges of the human condition. No matter the problems it found in that inner journey, it resolved to make sense of them and triumph. As Buddha once asked the question: "Is there an end to suffering potential in the human mind?" - so must you...and you must go into it deeply...until no verbal answer appeases; until no emotional response, no loss or gain... has the power to conquer and corrode you - until you recognise yourself - he who is Master over his own mind and heart - he who is related to everyone with equal sensitivity, whilst remaining compassionately detached and aware at all levels of one's being. It is no small challenge and consequently, as I am learning, one is bound to feel small at times.

Reflections on religions

It is true that religion is by and large a form of prejudice. It is funny to visit my family and to see my parents and their friends. My mother declares herself an atheist. A lovely neighbor, who is a very talented musician enthuses over classical music with me - but when I broach the question of Buddhism - he goes stone cold.

I remember as a child looking for rhyme and reason in things. I found rhyme and reason in writing. I wrote my first poem at 4. I still do. I also was fascinated by the natural world and I wanted somehow to decode it. Over the years, I was given a tour of the great cathedrals of Europe and I was entertained with visits to museums and homes and studios of great artists. I remember to this day going to Beethoven's home.

As I grew - the beauty of my childhood - which was one swamped in a meticulous study of ferns and redshanks and fossils...all came together in Darwin. Evolution made intrinsic sense. God seemed to be something for madmen. And funnily enough, to this day I feel that is pretty much the truth. But there are different brands of madmen.

Organised religion is madness. And I would not recommend it to anyone. It will destroy all that is organic and valuable in a man. But evolution points to something - it points to a spiral effect; an unfolding of something. And that begs deeper questions...how does natural selection account for Beethoven? How does natural selection account for apparent acts of altruism? How does natural selection account for a saint?

I remember in my 20s a mentor (of sorts) of mine - once said: "Pearls before swine" in response to something I was harranguing over at the time. It hit me powerfully.

Some things cannot be conveyed to certain individuals. Certain individuals are totally lost in delusion - certainly most so-called "religous" people for sure. But equally - anyone who is so wound up in an ideal - be it atheism or selfish genes. Theories can clarify many things...but truth is unique in that it destroys all ideas, all beliefs, all cherished misnomers.

I don't believe in God. I don't not believe in God. What a nonsense! What is actually true is not an idea of what is actually true. It is the clock ticking on the mantlepiece; the war waging in Sudan....or wherever it might be. Truth is toothache and laughter. It is undeniable. It is what is actually there. That is not to conclude that that which cannot be seen or heard is not true...is not actual. For what if their are subtler levels which the intellect cannot verify? As silence became more important in my life - then those subtler levels began to reveal themselves to me.

Christ did not save me. Jesus is not the way and the light. Drop all of that. And look in the mirror of experience at what is. Some settle for Elvis and chocolates. And die with out looking any further. Some accept Jesus into their hearts - and cling to their own private madness. Not I.

I look at the oak. I look at the war. I look at the moments of depression and the moments of deep happiness. And I listen and try and learn from it all. I neither brush the possibility of God aside nor am I fooled by the loneliness that invents God in the first place. I stay with what I am...and go slowly into its fold...prizing sacred secrets from the realm where the frantic clammers of ego drop away and NOW takes over. Gratefulness and a strange disembodied reality is Here...and that is what I feel we are here to discover. But who am I to make definitive statements on this? What is definitive except self-discovery? Throw everything else someone tries to sell you into the garbage heal of experience! All I can do is listen and learn. And if you reckon you are any different - then I beg to differ...but I beg to differ silently - for why should I bother picking a fight with a mad evangelist who is so blinded by their own rhetoric that they have not the space to see their own delusion...Indeed, why should I pick a fight with anyone bound by any conclusion? - love is born of attention - it does not spring up from the dry, bitterness of conclusive ideation.

All of this is perhaps elementary to any sensitive human being. The question that follows though - and it is a very interesting question indeed is this: What is authority? Not the authority of external disciplinary action...not that which is imposed. But that which is born of some deeper level of insight? That question is seat of my quest in life.

Who am I now?

Birth and Death

M: What is it that had birth? Whom do you call a human being? If, instead of seeking explanations for birth, death and after-death, the question is raised as to who and how you are now, these questions will not arise. You are the same while deeply asleep, in dream and in the waking state. Is the "I"-thought jiva, or the body jiva? Is this thought our nature? It is the body that feels pain; there is no pain in the Self.


Taken from http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/gthursby/fonda/jung03.html

Consciousness is described as developing in an evolutionary process. The ego is considered the centre of conscious personality and with it the individual is born. Jung considers it to be less developed in preliterate cultures (Shades of Evolutionism) as he considers these persons to have less concentrated reflection (What of the demands of oral traditions?) and have a smaller "area of consciousness" (Jung must mean structurally--how can one say this, he just didn't have the right tools to measure it within its own context). Thus he concludes that preliterate cultures are more easily influenced by the stirings of the unconscious that those of the West.

under the conscious realm, is the unconscious. the unconscious is considerd to be the matrix out of which consciousness emerges in each succeeding generation. Immediately below the consciousness is the personal unconscious whose character is determined by the personal past. Its contents are the personal experiences of the individual's own lifetime, some of which have been repressed and others which have simply been forgotten. Within the personal unconscious lie the complexes. Complexes are emotionally coloured ideas that are split-off from consciousness as a result of traumatic influences or incompatible tendencies that may help or hinder conscious activity. A complex--e.g., the mother complex--can become an autonomous and fragmentary personality that seems to live a life of its own, dominating the individual's thoughts, feelings and actions. Usually disturbing or harmful, complexes can act positively by challenging the individual to seek new possibilities. To Jung such unsolved problems are essential for psychic activity.

Deeper in the psyche, beneath the layers of the personal unconscious, are other layers that have been formed over the millennia and in every member of our species. Here, Jung says, lies deposits of the experience of pre-human evolutionary forms. All of these layers form the collective unconscious, which is the most important and controversial of Jung's theories. In the dreams and fantasies of his patient's Jung found ideas and images whose origins, he felt, could not be traced to the individual's personal experiences. The resemblance of these ideas to religious and mythical themes led Jung to refer to them as primordial images or archetypes.
The archetypes, Jung thought, are not memories of past experiences but "forms without content" representing the possibility of a certain type of perception and action. They offer a certain kind of readiness to produce the same or similar mythical ideas over and over again. To Jung they are "the ruling powers, the gods, images of the dominant laws and principles, and of typical, regularly occurring events in the soul's cycle of experience." They are responsible for the human quality of human beings, are on the effects and deposits of experience but are also active agents that cause the repetition of these same experiences.

Because we can only know of the manifestations of the archetypes--historical and individual--we can say very little about them. Jung speculates that there are as many archetypes as there are typical persons and situations in human experience. Because a fluid interpenetration is part of their nature, however, they cannot be clearly circumscribed or reduced to a formula. Thus to Jung reductive explanation is neither desirable nor possible.

From years of psychiatric work and phenomenological research in religions and mythologies, Jung identified several key motifs that the archetypes can take. The ones that he felt were especially important include: the persona, the shadow, the anima/animus, the mother, the child, the wise old man, and the self. To Jung, abstract figures, situations, places and processes can also give expression to them.

THE PERSONA: is the mask we wear to make a particular impression on others; it may reveal and conceal our real nature. It is called an artificial personality that is a compromise between a person's real individuality and society's expectations--usually society's demands take precedence. It is made up of things like professional titles, roles, habits of social behaviour, etc. It serves to both guarantee social order and to protect the individual's private life. That is, when the ego identifies itself with the persona, the individual become particularly susceptible to the unconscious.

THE SHADOW: Is a step further towards self-realization when one recognizes and integrates it. It is the negative or inferior (undeveloped) side of the personality. It is said to be made up of all the reprehensible characteristics that each of us wish to deny, including animal tendencies that Jung claims we have inherited from our infra-human ancestors. It is said to coincide with the personal unconscious and because all of us has one it appears to be a collective phenomena.

The more unaware of the shadow we are, the blacker and denser it is. The more dissociated it is from conscious life, the more it will display a compensatory demonic dynamism. It is often projected outwards on individual or groups who are then thought to embody all the immature, evil, or repressed elements of the individual's own psyche. (Symbols of the devil and the serpent contain elements of the shadow).

ANIMA / ANIMUS: following a person's coming to term with their shadow they are then confronted with the problem of the anima/animus, the archetype which is said to personify the soul, or inner attitude. It is usually a persona and often takes on the characteristics of the opposite sex. The anima is said to represent the feminine in men, and come from three sources: 1] individual man's experience with women as companion; [2] man's own femininity--rooted presumably in the minority of female genes and hormones present in man's body; and [3] the inherited collective image that has been formed from man's collective experience of woman through out the centuries.

Anima often appears in dreams, as long as she remains unconscious. She may also be projected outwards onto various women--first the mother, then lover and wife as one grows. This projection is said to be responsible for the passionate attraction or aversion and a man's general apprehension of the nature of women. Should a man mistakenly identify with the anima, Jung says, she can produce effeminaty or homosexuality. The anima remains in an compensatory relationship with the outer, conscious attitude. The more a man identifies with the masculine persona, the more he will be subject to the projections of his anima. In all men the anima is responsible for moods and is a complication in all emotional relationships (rather a stereotypical statement, certainly reflects no attempt to remove himself from cultural assumptions).

After the middle of life, according to Jung, the anima is essential for vitality, flexibility and human kindness. She appears in a variety of manifestations which reflect her bipolarity. She can be both positive and negative from one moment to another, young and then old, mother and then lover, good and them evil, and so on. She is an ambivalent image and has occult connections with the ancient mysteries and hence a religious tinge.

The animus is the comparable counterpart in the female psyche. (Naomi Goldenberg's critique points out that Jung provides emperical evidence for anima, but the 'animus' is just a postulate opposite. See: Changing of the Gods and Returning Words to Flesh). It is said to be the woman's image of a man. Unlike the anima, the animus appears in a plurality of forms. To Jung this reflects the differences in male and female conscious attitudes. He says that the woman's consciousness tends to be exclusively personal and centred upon the family, the man is made up of various worlds of which the family is only one. Thus he finds the anima and animus to be the opposites of each of these conscious attitudes, plural and singular respectively. (Again we find stereotypes of male and female. The fact is that men are trained to be more sinle minded that are women in Western Society. Things have changed dramatically since the last century and the roles of men and women have altered drastically. Jung's response to women who work, unfortunately, is that work too much are too masculine and undesirable, if not suffering from pathology.)

For the anima Eros is the undifferentiated unconscious principle (the root of all emotions), for the animus it is logos (which in the woman's mind is said to be responsible for unreasoned opinion and critical disputatiousness). Animus manifests itself most often in words and not images (Emma Jung), typically as a voice that comments on a person's situation or imparts general rules. When it does take a form, usually in dreams, it appears as a "plurality of men, a group of fathers, a council, a court, or some gathering of wise men," etc. It may also manifest itself in the single figure of a real man--father, lover, brother, teacher, judge, sage, etc. It is in short a manifestation of a man distinguished in some way by mental capacities or other masculine qualities (since when is thinking a purely masculine quality?). Its positive forms are characteristically benevolent, knowledgeable or understanding; its negative aspects are cruelly demanding, violently tyrannical, seductive, moralistic or censorious. It can also function, like that anima, as a bridge between the inner and outer worlds.

THE MOTHER ARCHETYPE: range of images of mother archetype are almost inexhaustible--usually some from of maternal aspect, the underworld, womb-like, etc. Most important of this archetype is mothers of the literal sense followed by those of the figurative. It may also be symbolized in a variety of impersonal forms (paradise [of birth], Kingdom Of God, church, university, city or country, earth, woods, sea, moon, gardens, caves, cooking vessels, certain animals--cow, hare). Evil symbols include, in the Western context, dragons, witches, graves, deep water, and death.

THE CHILD ARCHETYPE: Also takes many forms--child, god, dwarf, hobbits, elf, animals--monkey--or objects: jewels, chalices or the golden ball (trickster like). It represents original or child like conditions in the life of the individual or the species, and thus reminds the conscious mind of its origins and helps to keep them continuous. A necessary reminder when the consciousness become too one sided, too willfully progressive in a manner that threatens the sever the individual from the roots of his or her being. It also signifies the potentiality of future personality development, it anticipates the synthesis of opposites and the attainment of wholeness. Thus it is said to represent the urge and compulsion towards self-realization. This is a reason that so many of the mythical saviour gods are childlike in their nature.

THE WISE OLD MAN: is the archetype of meaning or spirit. It often appears as grandfather, sage, magician, king, doctor, priest, professor, or any other authority figure. It represents insight, wisdom, cleverness, willingness to help, moral qualities. His appearance serves to warn of dangers, provide protective gifts and so one (Gandalf in Lord of the Rings). As with the other archetypes the wise old man also possesses both good and bad aspects.

THE SELF: this is, according to Jung, the most important archetype. It is called the "midpoint of the personality" a centre between consciousness and the unconsciousness. It signifies the harmony and balance between the various opposing qualities that make up the psyche. It remains basically incomprehensible, as ego consciousness cannot grasp this supraordinate personality of which the ego is only one element. The symbols of the self can be anything that the ego takes to be a greater totality than itself. Thus many symbols fall short of expressing the self in its fullest development. Symbols of the self are often manifested in geometrical forms (mandalas) or by the quaternity (Any figure with four parts). Prominent human figures which represent the self are the Buddha or Christ. This archetype is also represented by the divine child and by various pairs--father and son, king and queen, god and goddess, or by a hermaphrodite.

Theriomorphic symbols include powerful animals such as the dragon, the snake, elephant, lion, and bear, etc. It is also expressed by plants--lotus and rose--and various mythic objects--the holy grail, philosopher's stone. To Jung the self is a representation of the "god within us."


To Jung individuation means becoming an in-dividual, it implies becoming one's own self. We could thus translate it as "self-realization." The aim of individuation is nothingness than to divest the self of the false wrappings of the persona and the suggestive power of the archetypes.
Individuation must not be confused with individualism, which over-looks collective factors and seeks some peculiarity valued by the ego. Although Jung calls individuation an "ineluctable (not to be avoided) psychological necessity" he also says that its nature is aristocratic, and that it is available only to individuals who are predisposed to attain a higher degree of consciousness and who are called to it from the beginning (elitism). To Jung the average person is content with limited horizons that do not include knowledge of the collective unconscious. (What does this mean? Is reading Jung enough? Must one go through a crisis?) Still he presumes that wider consciousness may be a universal capacity.

For Jung the process of individuation takes place in two stages: youth and middle age. The time of youth requires and extroverted attitude when one's libido (cf., Freud's) which is directed to outward and material things--marriage, career, education, etc.
The transition from this first stage to the next occur, says Jung, between 35-40. Along with it is supposed to come an urgent need to re-examine accepted values and to appreciate the opposites of earlier ideals. This stage is marked by Introversion where a person's concerns progressively become centred in the internal world and the fuller development of the psyche. This is a time of culture and wisdom and is governed by its own principles which are directed toward the end of self-realization through the union of opposites.

A further pair of basic types that Jung outlines are those of sensation and intuition. These are two differing modes of apprehension. Sensation refers to the process of perceiving physical stimuli from both outward events and inwards organic changes. Its opposite is intuition: which is said to mediate perceptions in an unconscious way. Intuition yields a content that is said to be whole and complete, a knowledge that possesses immediate certainty and conviction (Kant's a priori). Both sensation and intuition are called irrational as they deliver perceptions which are not based upon reason.

The next pairs of types that Jung points out is concerned with the conceptual relationships of psychic contents. He divides the means of doing this into thinking and feeling. Active thinking is directed and undertaken intentionally toward the end of some judgment. Passive thinking is called intuitive and is a case in which conceptual connections seem to establish themselves of their own accord and may lead to judgments that are contrary to one's intention. Both of these forms of thinking are to be distinguished from associative thinking, which produces ideas that form no connections and yield no judgments. Jung, it must be noted, considers only directed thinking to be rational, as the undirected thinking lies in unconscious processes and the idea of associative thinking is not really thinking at all.

Thinking is viewed as an opposite to feeling. It is a process that responds to psychic content with a subjective judgment of values. It is considered rational insofar as it is influenced by reflection and is in accord with the laws of reason.

The ideal situation to Jung is one in which the individual develops equally each of the two attitudes of extroversion and introversion, as well as the four functions of sensation and intuition, thinking and feeling, and also the two modes of apprehension, perceiving and judging. Every one, however, is considered to prefer one or the other opposites that from these pairs. One of the three sets of pairs ailing themselves to the person's aspect of extroversion or introversion. When one function is singled out it becomes superior and remains in conscious behavioral patterns, while the other, less favoured opposites, falls into unconsciousness--called the inferior function--here it remains inaccessible, undifferentiated and autonomous (but not dormant). The remaining two functions become secondary and operate in the service of the superior function.

each of these represents pairs of opposites and the conflict between them provide the psyche with its energy. They are also necessary for renewal and self-regulation. This theme of opposites is the most persuasive and problematic in Jung's writings. That is, conscious/unconscious, rational/irrational, feminine/ masculine, matter/spirit, etc. To Jung's understanding of the unconscious, however, the unification of these pairs of opposites is always possible. Thus Jung sees individuation a never-ending process of differentiation and integration which repeats itself on higher and higher planes. One's analytical abilities function to distinguish, develop, and contrast the individual components of the individual psyche. The creative forces of the unconscious, on the other hand, provide symbols that bring the divided and one-sided elements into unity on a higher level. This is a process which Jung calls the transcendent function, i.e., it is a complex which brings conscious and unconscious together and allows for an organic transition from a 'lower' attitude to a 'higher' one.



The whole nature of man presupposes woman, both physically and spiritually. His system is tuned into woman from the start, just as it is prepared for a quite definite world where there is water, light, air, salt, carbohydrates etc..
"Two Essays in Analytical Psychology" In CW 7: P. 188

The more remote and unreal the personal mother is, the more deeply will the son's yearning for her clutch at his soul, awakening that primordial and eternal image of the mother for whose sake everything that embraces, protects, nourishes, and helps assumes maternal form, from the Alma Mater of the university ot the personification of cities, countries, sciences and ideals
"Paracelsus as a Spiritual Phenomenon" (1942) In CW 13: Alchemical Studies P.47

What can a man say about woman, his own opposite? I mean of course something sensible, that is outside the sexual program, free of resentment, illusion, and theory. Where is the man to be found capable of such superiority? Woman always stands just where the man's shadow falls, so that he is only too liable to confuse the two. Then, when he tries to repair this misunderstanding, he overvalues her and believes her the most desirable thing in the world.
"Women In Europe" (1927). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. P. 236


If you want to know what love is...
It is like a moth to a flame.
Love will intoxicate you.
Love will consume you.
And eventually it will destroy you.
But then you wake up and remember who the real "You" is.
That's the miracle of love.
So very few get to experience it.
And yet it is the most natural thing in the world.
We settle for what is unnatural - for what is easy.
But that which is easy - is not that which is natural.
If you have trouble with this - think of plastic surgery - and compare it to Michelangelo's David...
That which is natural takes guts and hard work...dedication, discipline and austerity.
That which is effortless is of two levels: the superficial - the easy...
and the deep - which is much rarer...and takes great wisdom to discover.
They are like night and day.
Only one is made for sleep...one for activity.
Only direct perception can reveal that which is truly effortless...

Ramana on Death and Identity

M: The birth of the "I"-thought is your son's birth; its death is the person's death. After the "I"-thought has arisen, wrong identification with the body arises. Thinking yourself as the body, you give false values to others, and identify them with bodies. Did you think of your son before his birth? Only as you are
thinking of him, he is your son. Where has he gone? He has gone to the source from which he sprang. He is one with you. So long as you are, he is there too.

Ramana on what happens after death

Q: Is it possible to know the after-death state of a person?

M: Some are born immediately after, and others after a lapse of time. A few are not reborn on this earth but get salvation from the higher regions, and a very few get absorbed here and now.


"So long as one identifies oneself with the gross body thoughts will materialize as gross manifestations (the world) and appear to be real. The life-current having existed here, it will certainly survive death. Hence, under these circumstances the other world exists. On the other hand, consider that the One Reality is the Self from whom the ego has sprung. The ego loses sight of the Self and identifies itself with the body, resulting in ignorance and misery. The life-current has passed through innumerable incarnations, births and deaths, but is still unaffected. There is no reason to mourn."

Ramana Maharishi

Self-Realization - Death

"Who wants physical immortality? We should want only one thing: to realize and be in the Self and to get out of this body. Why then prolong life in it?"

Ramana Maharishi


He was a funny fellow - I read somewhere recently that he said to Harold Wilson - the British Prime Minister of his time..."you know I really get a terrible headache if I don't have sex every 24 hours - do you have that problem Harold?" Harold was a little dumbstruck! Brilliant! :)

Anyway JFK had this to say - which is damned good...I am sure he did a lot of bad stuff too - just goes with being a modern American president - still what he says below - has its own beauty...

"To solve the problems of the world we do not need sceptics or cynics whose visions are limited by the obvious realities of their own horizons; we need men who can dream of things that never were."

JFK 1962


"If you are really serious, then when you look the old momentum comes to an end."

Mr Jiddu Krishnamurti

Busy = Lazy

"They busier you are the lazier you are."

Tara Singh

The end of sorrow

Ramana Maharishi: "There is no kind of sorrow for those who give up (cease) seeing through their physical senses and begin to see everything as their own Self. Further, this grief does not indicate real love. Love which one displays towards external objects and forms is not real love. Real love always has its abode in one's own Self."

Contemplations on A Course in Miracles

A belief system is anything which blinds us. Thought is the lowest vibration.
What transcends thought - transcends belief - because belief is thought.
If you look at my blog - I have a recent section about The Book of John in the Bible - Chapter 11 - it highlights the word "believe" used by Jesus himself the use of it here - implies faith in the intuitive perception and the goodness of the Christ energy - it has nothing to do with dogma or doctrine or blind allegiance to a church.

When jesus spoke of the church - he was speaking of the dharma of the Christian message - ie the vehicle of his teachings...as carried in the hearts of those who really hear and impliment the wisdom of what he had to say. It has nothing to do with pews or denominations or sectarian rivalry or any of that nonsense...

Belief of itself is a dead thing - as it is the construct of thought.
Belief systems have no relationship with truth. Period.

Truth is not material. Thought is material and conditioned.
Belief is, by its very nature, conditioned.

Wisdom is not conditioned - it is of another dimension entirely. Most of the world - including learned professors are lost in nonsense - and that is clearly a
fact!~ just look at the crooked nature of the world - with discrimination - rather than judgment.

If you are a Christian (or any other religions for that matter) reading this - as to whether you are a part of "churchianity" or not - hmm - I suppose if you have a belief system and defend it - then you are. If you have reached the state of defenselessness which is the essence of the Christ energy's nature - then i guess not. To be in that state requires discrimination and a rare kind of courage - a courage that has nothing to do with outward shows of strength, but rather inward surrender to wisdom.

Condemnation is of the energy of thought. Direct perception is of an entirely
different order.

Do you see the nonsense of beliefs? - how they divide? - how thought and your opinion of me is between you and I - affection is lost when thought and opinons and beliefs take over.....each one is sacred and the relationship between each individual and another is sacred - but the sanctimonious and devout - are blinded by their own arguments...belief/thought is the very thing which divides....there
is no belief in love/truth - it transcends all such fearful approaches.

I was fortunate to have a teacher who lived on another level. How privelleged I was
to meet such a being. Such humility. Such intelligence.

If you can drop your conclusions and belief systems for awhile and come to it with an open mind....you might be truly inspired by the Course in Miracles....the New Testament has many worthy moments- but it is a record of Christ's life by secondhand sources (the Sermon on the Mount though is as great as any scripture ever written) - the Course on the other hand is given directly by Christ himself....it is the injection of sanity which Christianity has been in waiting for for centuries....but as with all wisdom...it is only for those - very rare few - who have the
ears to hear. And you cannot hear when your mind is filled with the noise of thought and belief.

Death is nothing but material change

When the news of the death of King George V was brought to the Ashram, Chadwick's eyes filled with rears, and the other disciples commiserated half- weeping with him in sympathy. The Maharshi finally broke in, after having remained silent throughout.

M: You unwise people! You may 'die' and discover your real Self, and then live without death. So why do you care about the death of a third person? The Self does not perish, only the body. Get rid of your materialistic outlook!

Ramana Maharishi

Patanjali - the source of Yoga

All yogas lead to vichara (inquiry) and teach abidance in the Self. All yogas are good for purification of the mind. Only the purified mind is capable of grasping the method.

Source of yoga – taught through the story of Patanjali

Ananta (name) – something that cannot be measured.
A snake – flexible and hard as needs be
Attention and comfort => absence of pain
Just living on breath – “vatasana”

Ananta is a good example to mankind

Amsha avataram – a small part of the being descends

Anjali mudra (gesture) – asking for something, expecting something
Taught how to speak (mahapasham)
How to be healthy (ayurveda)
How to have a stable state of mind (yoga)

Pranava – “tasya vacakah pranavah”

The power of pranava can remove all obstacles.

What is real faith?

"“Faith” is often used by agnostics as a term of abuse. That is to say, it is taken to refer to the blind credulity which accepts all kinds of dogmas and creeds without question, repeating parrot-like what has been taught, and closing its ears to doubt and reason. Such “faith” should certainly be attacked. It is compounded of laziness, obstinacy, ignorance and fear. Because it is rigid and unyielding it can be quite easily shaken and altogether destroyed. But this is not the true faith – true faith is provisional, flexible, undogmatic, open to doubt and reason…
Suppose you are subject to indigestion. One day you read a book about diet or meet a doctor who tells you that he can restore your health if you follow his instructions. You do not have to accept the book or the doctor with blind faith, but you do have to have a provisional, hypothetical faith. You have to try it before you can say with authority whether it is helpful or useless. So too with spiritual diet.”

Some cool Swami whom I lost the name of!

To jump a million years

“We are told by the biologists that it has taken millions of years for the brain to develop to its present state and that it will take millions of years to develop further. Now, the religious mind does not depend on time for its development. What I want to convey is that when the brain, which must function in its responses to the outward existence, becomes quiet inwardly, then there is no longer the machinery of accumulating experience and knowledge. Therefore, inwardly it is completely quiet, but fully alive, and then it can jump the million years.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti

I wrote this out of nowhere...it says a lot on multiple levels

“There is so much to do” said the master pointing to the empty bowl.

From a Course in Miracles….words to lift the heart and guide the mind…

“Extend goodness and you will come to embody the truth about yourself.”

“Safety is the complete relinquishment of attack.”

“The only way to have peace is to teach peace. By teaching peace you must learn it yourself, because you cannot teach what you still dissociate. Only thus can you win back the knowledge that you threw away. Everything you teach – (i.e. express through your example) you are learning. Teach only love, and learn that love is yours and you are love.”

“Forget not that the motivation for this Course is the attainment and the keeping of the state of peace. Given this state the mind is quiet and the condition in which God is remembered is attained…where he can enter, there he is already.”

ACIM p499 Text

One hardly meets an original human being

It is funny how man runs away from his own solitude. I remember my father once said to me "You're British." It has to be one of the most absurd statements I have ever heard.
Labels...I think they must be man's way of hiding from loneliness. To be alone without the need of another. Whether in the quiet, still clearing of a wood or in an apartment in the center of a modern city...quiet with yourself...without the hiss of television, without the stuttering intrusion of a telephone...just sitting or lying peacefully with the murmur of the breath...in such moments one sees how terribly rare love is - one sees because one is alone - completely alone. One hardly meets an orginal human being. To be original there must a penetrating gaze within - an insight into the beautiful nature of aloneness.

A strange envelope

"There is always some romance in opening a strange envelope. However wearied with correspondence we may have become, the sporting instinct and the promptings of curiosity always stir us a little. It may be a bill, or it may be a legacy. Hope and apprehension therefore clash and neutralise."

Written by an author I lost the name of - a British soldier who fought in the Middle East some decades ago...

This kind of thinking brings history to life...

An understanding of history - surely requires such (natural) amazement...

"There is a lonely place in the woods of Chilham, in the County of Kent, above the River Stour, where a man comes upon an irregular earthwork still plainly marked upon the brow of the bluff. Nobody comes near this place. A vague country lane, or rather track; goes past the wet soil of it, plunges into the valley beyond, and after serving a windmill joins the high road to Canterbury. Well, that vague track is the ancient British road, as old as anything in this Island, that took men from Winchester to the Straits of Dover. That earthwork is the earthwork (I could prove it, but this is not the place) where the British stood against the charge of the Tenth Legion, and first heard, sounding on their bronze, the arms of Caesar. Here the river was forded; here the little men of the South went up in formation; here the Barbarian broke and took his way, as the opposing General has recorded, through devious woodland paths, scattering in the pursuit; here began the great history of England.
Is it not an enormous business merely to stand in such a place? I think so."

Hillaire Belloc

The Community today

"The community today is the planet, not the bounded nation; hence the patterns of projected aggression which formerly served to co-ordinate the in-group now can only break it into factions."

""Live," Nietzsche says, "as though the day were here." It is not society that it is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse...Every one of us shares the supreme ordeal...not in the bright moment's of his tribe's great victories, but in the silence of his personal despair."

Joseph Campbell - The Hero Today Chapter of Myth and Society

When I see that society is, by and large mad...I think of this:

"A prayer for the wild at heart, kept in cages."

Tennessee Williams

The Complete works of my spiritual preceptor - Tara Singh

Love Holds No Grievances softcover
Nothing Real Can Be Threatened
A Gift for All Mankind
Awakening A Child From Within
Commentaries on ACIM
Commentaries on ACIM
How to Learn from ACIM
What Is The Christ?
The Joseph Plan for the Lean Years
Moments Outside of Time
Remembering God in Everything You See

How to Learn from ACIM w/Linda Evans, 2 tapes, 3 HOURS
Forgiveness: Removing Blocks to Peace 1 tape, 60 min.
Keep The Bowl Empty 1 tape, 60 min.
Wise Parent, Happy Child 1 tape, 60 min.
All Relationships Must End in Love 1 tape, 60 min.
Awakening the Light of the Mind 1 tape, 60 min.
Simplicity and the Art of Living 2 tapes, 120 min.
What Are Miracles & Why Do We Need Them? 2 tapes, 120 min.
Exploring ACIM 3 tapes, 180 min.
Wat Is The Christ? 3 tapes, 180 min.

Holding Hands with You first 50 Lessons of ACIM, 25 tapes
Manual for Teachers 10 tapes
One Year Given to God full set, 72 tapes
One Year Given to God monthly installment, 6 tapes

The Power within Us Daniel Long’s version of Cabeza de Vaca 31 pages 5.00
Living with Integrity TS interview with journalist 30 pages
The Present Heals 2 TS talks on healing 22 pages
The End of Loneliness 3chaps. fr. Future, 2nd ed.44 pages
Jesus and the Blind Man TS on John: 9 36 pages

Silence Within (Tara Singh Video) 1 hour
How to Raise a Child of God (Tara Singh Video) 1 hour


THE FUTURE OF MANKIND Ballantine edition
REMINISCENCES OF TARA SINGH letters to TS on 72nd birthday

The Impossible Question

"Sirs, look, we never put the impossible question - we are always putting the question of what is possible. If you put an impossible question, your mind then has to find the answer in terms of the impossible - not of what is possible. All the great scientific discoveries are based on this, the impossible. It was impossible to go to the moon. But if you say, `It is possible' then you drop it. Because it was impossible, three hundred thousand people co-operated and worked at it, night and day - they put their mind to it and went to the moon. But we never put the impossible question! The impossible question is this: can the mind empty itself of the known? - itself, not you empty the mind. That is an impossible question. If you put it with tremendous earnestness, with seriousness, with passion, you'll find out. But if you say, `Oh, it is possible', then you are stuck."

5th August 1970.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Tribute to Idries Shah

Idries Shah, Sayed Idries el-Hashimi

The following tribute to Idries Shah was written after his death on 23rd November, 1996.

List the accomplishments and achievements of Idries Shah, and they begin to seem the work of many men - probably because in our 'pessimistic society', as he often described it, we do not expect such prodigious capabilities in a single individual.

One of his lives, as it were, was as the author of more than 35 books and over a hundred academic monographs. The books included 20 best-selling titles on Sufism - of which he was the great living exemplar - which so far have sold 15 million copies in 12 languages. That would have been enough for most single lifetimes. But he was also Director of Studies for the Institute for Cultural Research , an educational charity which researched and published materials on cross-cultural patterns of human thought and behaviour.

He was advisor, too, to a number of monarchs and Heads of State. He was actively involved in a cluster of other enterprises, academic, humanitarian, scientific and commercial. He was a founder member of the Club of Rome, a Governor of the Royal Humane Society and the Royal Hospital and Home for Incurables. And, not least, he was a family man and father.

Though he seemed the epitome of Englishness in speech and bearing, belonged to the Atheneum and Garrick Clubs, and lived for many years in a large Regency house near Tunbridge Wells, Shah was in fact born in Simla, India, in 1924, into a distinguished Hashemite family, which traces its ancestry and titles, confirmed and attested by Doctors of Islamic Law in 1970, back to the prophet Mohammed. His inalienable titles included Badshah (sovereign), Emir, Sirdar (general). Then there was Sharif, translatable as prince of the blood, and Hadrat, which means holy, presence.

His Scottish mother met his father, the writer and savant Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah, when he was a medical student in Edinburgh, and went to live with him in the Afghan highlands in Paghman, the stronghold and fiefdom of the family. From the start, the young Shah was at home in both East and West: educated, as his father before him, by private tutors in Europe and the Middle East, and through wide-ranging travel and personal encounters -- the series of journeys, in fact, that characterise Sufi education and development. He was briefly at St. Catherine's College, Oxford, and though he discontinued the course of study there, he was always amused that that university, like so many others around the world, incorporated his books into their essential curricula.

In keeping with Sufi tradition, his life was essentially one of service. His friends and associates included soldiers, scientists, artists, writers, thinkers, businessmen; the high-achieving, the famous, the royal. But equally they included as many, if not more, of the obscure and humble. And in everything he did he exemplified the way of the Sufi. It was his contention that people educated as he was, and as he attempted to educate others, could become multi-faceted, high-achieving, dedicated to the service of others, and also be funny, entertaining, and in the best sense 'ordinary'. He was, for instance, an unparalleled storyteller, and also an excellent cook. People lucky enough to get an invitation to one of his fabled parties would fly in from all over the world. He was also frequently to be found combing through boot fairs and junk shops, even in the last months of his life, looking for (and given his vast knowledge of such things, frequently finding) rare and valuable antiques of both East and West.

His knowledge and interests seemed limitless. He could rage in the face of negativity and wilful foolishness, but was more usually warm, approachable and encouraging. People who benefited professionally from his knowledge have described a range of capacities he himself would never have bothered to draw attention to. A musicologist, for example, says he helped her decipher ancient Egyptian songs unheard for 3,500 years (and subsequently broadcast on the BBC); a scientist honoured during World War II for his inventions in naval radar claims that years ago Shah helped him in the research and development of his pioneer patents in air ionisation; one of Britain's leading architects says that a nudge from Shah sent him in a completely unexpected direction in his career, dramatically improving the quality and usefulness of his work. This was characteristic: when it was appropriate Shah would nudge and hint; throw some ball from his huge storehouse of knowledge, and see who could catch it.

Shah's knowledge and activities took place in so many different areas of specialisation and in so many countries, that friends and sometimes even family were aware of what he was doing purely on a 'need to know' basis. So an account such as this inevitably refracts a very limited - and Western - view. The concealment was in part a mixture of modesty, discretion, and an unwillingness to waste time; and part a refusal to indulge anything that smacked even faintly of gossip of self-serving. Shah himself, and those round him, were masters of disinformation. For example, when in 1967 Robert Graves, a long-time friend, published his new translation of the Rubayyat of Omar Khayyam and declared Khayyam a Sufi, a group of academic Orientalists who felt their territory undermined by the fresh air Shah was bringing to the subject, attacked him by association, and even travelled to Afghanistan to collect ammunition against him and his family. Unaware of the tradition there of protecting the Hashemite family from idle curiosity. they were fed all kinds of tall and ridiculous tales, which they gave unchecked to the press, in an attempt to discredit him. But such attacks were neutralised by the warmth and weight of other scholars, far more eminent than the critics, who sprang to Shah's defence.

His public and formal work, as Director of Studies of the Institute for Cultural Research, began when Shah was in his thirties. Such scholarly criticism as there was in the early years climaxed in the Omar Khayyam affair, and then dwindled, as Shah himself was invited to lecture at various seats of learning, including Stanford University in America, and Geneva University, where he was a visiting professor. The Sufis, published by Jonathan Cape in 1964, slightly ahead of the surge of interest in metaphysical ideas, pronounced that tradition alive and well, and more or less invited readers to approach its ideas and test them out. The evident sense, and common sense, most readers found made it clear that here was a sane, authoritative voice in the wilderness of the gobbledegookish mysticism of the sixties.

In all the books that followed, whatever he made available always linked realistically into the culture to which it was offered. Through Octagon Press , the publishing company he founded to keep these books in print after mainstream publishers might drop them from their lists, he also established a broad historical and cultural context for Sufi thought and action. Through Octagon he also disseminated, in a range of books, an enormous amount of little known information about Afghanistan, forseeing that such documentation would provide a crucial record in the aftermath of that country's tragic devastation.

During the Afghan-Russian war he risked his life more than once on missions inside Afghanistan and with the Mujahuddin. Already in his sixties, he entered the country secretly - had he been betrayed to the Russians, it would have been an enormous propaganda coup. In the event, his best-selling novel, Kara Kush, was based on fact, incorporating his first-hand knowledge of the stupendous courage of the Afghan people, and the appalling atrocities inflicted upon them. And he was not above tweaking the Russian bear's tail by embedding titbits of secret intelligence in his fiction which nobody was supposed to know, such as the telephone number of the KGB.

About a year after his last visit to Afghanistan, in the late spring of 1987, Shah suffered two successive and massive heart attacks. Sick as he was, his hilarious and hair-raising analysis of the behaviour of the medical profession, and his capacity to conserve himself and still work, was an eye-opener to those around him. His physicians told him he had only eight per cent heart function remaining, and could not expect to survive. But over the next nine years, in between bouts of weakness, pain, further illness and frequent hospitalisation, he produced further books and worked with characteristic dedication, seriousness, humour and light-heartedness, teaching and advising the now necessarily depleted but still large number of people who approached him, as well as actively directing his enterprises and preparing those who would succeed him. He showed, as he had done all his life, how much it is possible for a single individual to achieve in the face of towering obstacles.

By their nature, newspaper obituaries focus on public record. But it is necessary to say that Idries Shah's visible achievements, however profound and wide-ranging, may really have been the very least of his impact. His purpose and knowledge, his kindness, his seemingly limitless patience and generosity; the warmth of his companionship; the perceptive, zany humour in a range of wickedly accurate accents which could send serious-minded adults rolling on the floor in laughter; his sheer understanding and sanity, also operated invisibly in the realm of the human heart. The thousands of people who were his students and friends, and others who encountered him however briefly, were probably all affected in a degree and dimension for which it is hard to find words. It is impossible to assess his influence, and his legacy is incalculable. The Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, once wrote that the Sufis must be 'the biggest society of sensible men there has ever been on earth'. Idries Shah was indeed a sensible man. He was also, it is said, the Sufi Teacher of the Age.

Idries Shah, writer and savant, born Simla, India, June 16, 1924; married Cynthia (Kashfi) Kabraji, 1958; one son, two daughters; died London, November 23, 1996.

The Kasîdah of Hâjî Abdû El-Yezdî

The Kasîdah of Hâjî Abdû El-Yezdî or “Lay of the Higher Law”

“Translated and annotated by his friend and pupil, F.B.”
Richard F. Burton



The Translator has ventured to entitle a “Lay of the Higher Law” the following composition, which aims at being in advance of its time; and he has not feared the danger of collision with such unpleasant forms as the “Higher Culture.” The principles which justify the name are as follows:—

The Author asserts that Happiness and Misery are equally divided and distributed in the world.

He makes Self-cultivation, with due regard to others, the sole and sufficient object of human life.
He suggests that the affections, the sympathies, and the “divine gift of Pity” are man’s highest enjoyments.
He advocates suspension of judgment, with a proper suspicion of “Facts, the idlest of superstitions.”
Finally, although destructive to appearance, he is essentially reconstructive.
For other details concerning the Poem and the Poet, the curious reader is referred to the end of the volume.
F. B.
Vienna, Nov., 1880.

The hour is nigh; the waning Queen
 walks forth to rule the later night;
Crown’d with the sparkle of a Star,
 and throned on orb of ashen light:

The Wolf-tail1 sweeps the paling East
 to leave a deeper gloom behind,
And Dawn uprears her shining head,
 sighing with semblance of a wind:

1 The false dawn.

The highlands catch yon Orient gleam,
 while purpling still the lowlands lie;
And pearly mists, the morning-pride,
 soar incense-like to greet the sky.

The horses neigh, the camels groan,
 the torches gleam, the cressets flare;
The town of canvas falls, and man
 with din and dint invadeth air:

The Golden Gates swing right and left;
 up springs the Sun with flamy brow;
The dew-cloud melts in gush of light;
 brown Earth is bathed in morning-glow.

Slowly they wind athwart the wild,
 and while young Day his anthem swells,
Sad falls upon my yearning ear
 the tinkling of the Camel-bells:

O’er fiery wastes and frozen wold,
 o’er horrid hill and gloomy glen,
The home of grisly beast and Ghoul,2
 the haunts of wilder, grislier men;—

2 The Demon of the Desert.

With the brief gladness of the Palms,
 that tower and sway o’er seething plain,
Fraught with the thoughts of rustling shade,
 and welling spring, and rushing rain;

With the short solace of the ridge,
 by gentle zephyrs played upon,
Whose breezy head and bosky side
 front seas of cooly celadon;—

’Tis theirs to pass with joy and hope,
 whose souls shall ever thrill and fill
Dreams of the Birthplace and the Tomb,
 visions of Allah’s Holy Hill.3

3 Arafât, near Mecca.

But we? Another shift of scene,
 another pang to rack the heart;
Why meet we on the bridge of Time
 to ’change one greeting and to part?

We meet to part; yet asks my sprite,
 Part we to meet? Ah! is it so?
Man’s fancy-made Omniscience knows,
 who made Omniscience nought can know.

Why must we meet, why must we part,
 why must we bear this yoke of MUST,
Without our leave or askt or given,
 by tyrant Fate on victim thrust?

That Eve so gay, so bright, so glad,
 this Morn so dim, and sad, and grey;
Strange that life’s Registrar should write
 this day a day, that day a day!

Mine eyes, my brain, my heart, are sad,—
 sad is the very core of me;
All wearies, changes, passes, ends;
 alas! the Birthday’s injury!

Friends of my youth, a last adieu!
 haply some day we meet again;
Yet ne’er the self-same men shall meet;
 the years shall make us other men:

The light of morn has grown to noon,
 has paled with eve, and now farewell!
Go, vanish from my Life as dies
 the tinkling of the Camel’s bell.

In these drear wastes of sea-born land,
 these wilds where none may dwell but He,
What visionary Pasts revive,
 what process of the Years we see:

Gazing beyond the thin blue line
 that rims the far horizon-ring,
Our sadden’d sight why haunt these ghosts,
 whence do these spectral shadows spring?

What endless questions vex the thought,
 of Whence and Whither, When and How?
What fond and foolish strife to read
 the Scripture writ on human brow;

As stand we percht on point of Time,
 betwixt the two Eternities,
Whose awful secrets gathering round
 with black profound oppress our eyes.

“This gloomy night, these grisly waves,
 these winds and whirlpools loud and dread:
What reck they of our wretched plight
 who Safety’s shore so lightly tread?”

Thus quoth the Bard of Love and Wine,4
 whose dream of Heaven ne’er could rise
Beyond the brimming Kausar-cup
 and Houris with the white-black eyes;

4 Hâfiz of Shirâz.

Ah me! my race of threescore years
 is short, but long enough to pall
My sense with joyless joys as these,
 with Love and Houris, Wine and all.

Another boasts he would divorce
 old barren Reason from his bed,
And wed the Vine-maid in her stead;—
 fools who believe a word he said!5

5 Omar-i-Kayyâm, the tent-maker poet of Persia.

And “‘Dust thou art to dust returning.’
 ne’er was spoke of human soul”
The Soofi cries, ’tis well for him
 that hath such gift to ask its goal.

“And this is all, for this we’re born
 to weep a little and to die!”
So sings the shallow bard whose life
 still labours at the letter “I.”

“Ear never heard, Eye never saw
 the bliss of those who enter in
My heavenly kingdom,” Isâ said,
 who wailed our sorrows and our sin:

Too much of words or yet too few!
 What to thy Godhead easier than
One little glimpse of Paradise
 to ope the eyes and ears of man?

“I am the Truth! I am the Truth!”
 we hear the God-drunk gnostic cry
“The microcosm abides in ME;
 Eternal Allah’s nought but I!”

Mansûr6 was wise, but wiser they
 who smote him with the hurlèd stones;
And, though his blood a witness bore,
 no wisdom-might could mend his bones.

6 A famous Mystic stoned for blasphemy.

“Eat, drink, and sport; the rest of life’s
 not worth a fillip,” quoth the King;
Methinks the saying saith too much:
 the swine would say the selfsame thing!

Two-footed beasts that browse through life,
 by Death to serve as soil design’d,
Bow prone to Earth whereof they be,
 and there the proper pleasures find:

But you of finer, nobler, stuff,
 ye, whom to Higher leads the High,
What binds your hearts in common bond
 with creatures of the stall and sty?

“In certain hope of Life-to-come
 I journey through this shifting scene”
The Zâhid7 snarls and saunters down
 his Vale of Tears with confi’dent mien.

7 The “Philister” of “respectable” belief.

Wiser than Amrân’s Son8 art thou,
 who ken’st so well the world-to-be,
The Future when the Past is not,
 the Present merest dreamery;

8 Moses in the Koran.

What know’st thou, man, of Life? and yet,
 forever twixt the womb, the grave,
Thou pratest of the Coming Life,
 of Heav’n and Hell thou fain must rave.

The world is old and thou art young;
 the world is large and thou art small;
Cease, atom of a moment’s span,
 To hold thyself an All-in-All!

Fie, fie! you visionary things,
 ye motes that dance in sunny glow,
Who base and build Eternities
 on briefest moment here below;

Who pass through Life liked cagèd birds,
 the captives of a despot will;
Still wond’ring How and When and Why,
 and Whence and Whither, wond’ring still;

Still wond’ring how the Marvel came
 because two coupling mammals chose
To slake the thirst of fleshly love,
 and thus the “Immortal Being” rose;

Wond’ring the Babe with staring eyes,
 perforce compel’d from night to day,
Gript in the giant grasp of Life
 like gale-born dust or wind-wrung spray;

Who comes imbecile to the world
 ’mid double danger, groans, and tears;
The toy, the sport, the waif and stray
 of passions, error, wrath and fears;

Who knows not Whence he came nor Why,
 who kens not Whither bound and When,
Yet such is Allah’s choicest gift,
 the blessing dreamt by foolish men;

Who step by step perforce returns
 to couthless youth, wan, white and cold,
Lisping again his broken words
 till all the tale be fully told:

Wond’ring the Babe with quenchèd orbs,
 an oldster bow’d by burthening years,
How ’scaped the skiff an hundred storms;
 how ’scaped the thread a thousand shears;

How coming to the Feast unbid,
 he found the gorgeous table spread
With the fair-seeming Sodom-fruit,
 with stones that bear the shape of bread:

How Life was nought but ray of sun
 that clove the darkness thick and blind,
The ravings of the reckless storm,
 the shrieking of the rav’ening wind;

How lovely visions ’guiled his sleep,
 aye fading with the break of morn,
Till every sweet became a sour,
 till every rose became a thorn;

Till dust and ashes met his eyes
 wherever turned their saddened gaze;
The wrecks of joys and hopes and loves,
 the rubbish of his wasted days;

How every high heroic Thought
 that longed to breathe empyrean air,
Failed of its feathers, fell to earth,
 and perisht of a sheer despair;

How, dower’d with heritage of brain,
 whose might has split the solar ray,
His rest is grossest coarsest earth,
 a crown of gold on brow of clay;

This House whose frame be flesh and bone,
 mortar’d with blood and faced with skin,
The home of sickness, dolours, age;
 unclean without, impure within:

Sans ray to cheer its inner gloom,
 the chambers haunted by the Ghost,
Darkness his name, a cold dumb Shade
 stronger than all the heav’nly host.

This tube, an enigmatic pipe,
 whose end was laid before begun,
That lengthens, broadens, shrinks and breaks;
 —puzzle, machine, automaton;

The first of Pots the Potter made
 by Chrysorrhoas’ blue-green wave;9
Methinks I see him smile to see
 what guerdon to the world he gave!

9 The Abana, River of Damascus.

How Life is dim, unreal, vain,
 like scenes that round the drunkard reel;
How “Being” meaneth not to be;
 to see and hear, smell, taste and feel.

A drop in Ocean’s boundless tide,
 unfathom’d waste of agony;
Where millions live their horrid lives
 by making other millions die.

How with a heart that would through love
 to Universal Love aspire,
Man woos infernal chance to smite,
 as Min’arets draw the Thunder-fire.

How Earth on Earth builds tow’er and wall,
 to crumble at a touch of Time;
How Earth on Earth from Shînar-plain
 the heights of Heaven fain would climb.

How short this Life, how long withal;
 how false its weal, how true its woes,
This fever-fit with paroxysms
 to mark its opening and its close.

Ah! gay the day with shine of sun,
 and bright the breeze, and blithe the throng
Met on the River-bank to play,
 when I was young, when I was young:

Such general joy could never fade;
 and yet the chilling whisper came
One face had paled, one form had failed;
 had fled the bank, had swum the stream;

Still revellers danced, and sang, and trod
 the hither bank of Time’s deep tide,
Still one by one they left and fared
 to the far misty thither side;

And now the last hath slipt away
 yon drear Death-desert to explore,
And now one Pilgrim worn and lorn
 still lingers on the lonely shore.

Yes, Life in youth-tide standeth still;
 in manhood streameth soft and slow;
See, as it nears the ’abysmal goal
 how fleet the waters flash and flow!

And Deaths are twain; the Deaths we see
 drop like the leaves in windy Fall;
But ours, our own, are ruined worlds,
 a globe collapst, last end of all.

We live our lives with rogues and fools,
 dead and alive, alive and dead,
We die ’twixt one who feels the pulse
 and one who frets and clouds the head:

And,—oh, the Pity!—hardly conned
 the lesson comes its fatal term;
Fate bids us bundle up our books,
 and bear them bod’ily to the worm:

Hardly we learn to wield the blade
 before the wrist grows stiff and old;
Hardly we learn to ply the pen
 ere Thought and Fancy faint with cold.

Hardly we find the path of love,
 to sink the self, forget the “I,”
When sad suspicion grips the heart,
 when Man, the Man begins to die:

Hardly we scale the wisdom-heights,
 and sight the Pisgah-scene around,
And breathe the breath of heav’enly air,
 and hear the Spheres’ harmonious sound;

When swift the Camel-rider spans
 the howling waste, by Kismet sped,
And of his Magic Wand a wave
 hurries the quick to join the dead.10

10 Death in Arabia rides a Camel, not a pale horse.

How sore the burden, strange the strife;
 how full of splendour, wonder, fear;
Life, atom of that Infinite Space
 that stretcheth ’twixt the Here and There.

How Thought is imp’otent to divine
 the secret which the gods defend,
The Why of birth and life and death,
 that Isis-veil no hand may rend.

Eternal Morrows make our Day;
 our Is is aye to be till when
Night closes in; ’tis all a dream,
 and yet we die,—and then and THEN?

And still the Weaver plies his loom,
 whose warp and woof is wretched Man
Weaving th’ unpattern’d dark design,
 so dark we doubt it owns a plan.

Dost not, O Maker, blush to hear,
 amid the storm of tears and blood,
Man say Thy mercy made what is,
 and saw the made and said ’twas good?

The marvel is that man can smile
 dreaming his ghostly ghastly dream;-
Better the heedless atomy
 that buzzes in the morning beam!

O the dread pathos of our lives!
 how durst thou, Allah, thus to play
With Love, Affection, Friendship, all
 that shows the god in mortal clay?

But ah! what ’vaileth man to mourn;
 shall tears bring forth what smiles ne’er brought;
Shall brooding breed a thought of joy?
 Ah hush the sigh, forget the thought!

Silence thine immemorial quest,
 contain thy nature’s vain complaint
None heeds, none cares for thee or thine;—
 like thee how many came and went?

Cease, Man, to mourn, to weep, to wail;
 enjoy thy shining hour of sun;
We dance along Death’s icy brink,
 but is the dance less full of fun?

What Truths hath gleaned that Sage consumed
 by many a moon that waxt and waned?
What Prophet-strain be his to sing?
 What hath his old Experience gained?

There is no God, no man-made God;
 a bigger, stronger, crueller man;
Black phantom of our baby-fears,
 ere Thought, the life of Life, began.

Right quoth the Hindu Prince of old,11
 “An Ishwara for one I nill,
Th’ almighty everlasting Good
 who cannot ’bate th’ Eternal Ill:”

11 Buddha.

“Your gods may be, what shows they are?”
 hear China’s Perfect Sage declare;12
“And being, what to us be they
 who dwell so darkly and so far?”

12 Confucius.

“All matter hath a birth and death;
 ’tis made, unmade and made anew;
“We choose to call the Maker ‘God’:—
 such is the Zâhid’s owly view.

“You changeful finite Creatures strain”
 (rejoins the Drawer of the Wine)13
“The dizzy depths of Inf’inite Power
 to fathom with your foot of twine”;

13 The Soofi or Gnostic opposed to the Zâhid.

“Poor idols of man’s heart and head
 with the Divine Idea to blend;
“To preach as ‘Nature’s Common Course’
 what any hour may shift or end.”

“How shall the Shown pretend to ken
 aught of the Showman or the Show?
“Why meanly bargain to believe,
 which only means thou ne’er canst know?

“How may the passing Now contain
 the standing Now—Eternity?—
“An endless is without a was,
 the be and never the to-be?

“Who made your Maker? If Self-made,
 why fare so far to fare the worse
“Sufficeth not a world of worlds,
 a self-made chain of universe?

“Grant an Idea, Primal Cause,
 the Causing Cause, why crave for more?
“Why strive its depth and breadth to mete,
 to trace its work, its aid to ’implore?

“Unknown, Incomprehensible,
 whate’er you choose to call it, call;
“But leave it vague as airy space,
 dark in its darkness mystical.

“Your childish fears would seek a Sire,
 by the non-human God defin’d,
“What your five wits may wot ye weet;
 what is you please to dub ‘design’d;’

“You bring down Heav’en to vulgar Earth;
 your maker like yourselves you make,
“You quake to own a reign of Law,
 you pray the Law its laws to break;

“You pray, but hath your thought e’er weighed
 how empty vain the prayer must be,
“That begs a boon already giv’en,
 or craves a change of law to see?

“Say, Man, deep learnèd in the Scheme
 that orders mysteries sublime,
“How came it this was Jesus, that
 was Judas from the birth of Time?

“How I the tiger, thou the lamb;
 again the Secret, prithee, show
“Who slew the slain, bowman or bolt
 or Fate that drave the man, the bow?

“Man worships self: his God is Man;
 the struggling of the mortal mind
“To form its model as ’twould be,
 the perfect of itself to find.

“The God became sage, priest and scribe
 where Nilus’ serpent made the vale;
“A gloomy Brahm in glowing Ind,
 a neutral something cold and pale:

“Amid the high Chaldean hills
 a moulder of the heavenly spheres;
“On Guebre steppes the Timeless-God
 who governs by his dual peers:

“In Hebrew tents the Lord that led
 His leprous slaves to fight and jar;
“Yahveh,14 Adon or Elohîm,
 the God that smites, the Man of War.

14 Jehovah.

“The lovely Gods of lib’ertine Greece,
 those fair and frail humanities
“Whose homes o’erlook’d the Middle Sea,
 where all Earth’s beauty cradled lies,

“Ne’er left its blessèd bounds, nor sought
 the barb’arous climes of barb’arous gods
“Where Odin of the dreary North
 o’er hog and sickly mead-cup nods:

“And when, at length, ‘Great Pan is dead’
 uprose the loud and dol’orous cry
“A glamour wither’d on the ground,
 a splendour faded in the sky.

“Yea, Pan was dead, the Nazar’ene came
 and seized his seat beneath the sun,
“The votary of the Riddle-god,
 whose one is three and three is one;

“Whose sadd’ening creed of herited Sin
 spilt o’er the world its cold grey spell;
“In every vista showed a grave,
 and ’neath the grave the glare of Hell;

“Till all Life’s Po’esy sinks to prose;
 romance to dull Real’ity fades;
“Earth’s flush of gladness pales in gloom
 and God again to man degrades.

“Then the lank Arab foul with sweat,
 the drainer of the camel’s dug,
“Gorged with his leek-green lizard’s meat,
 clad in his filthy rag and rug,

“Bore his fierce Allah o’er his sands
 and broke, like lava-burst upon
“The realms where reigned pre-Adamite Kings,
 where rose the Grand Kayânian throne.15

15 Kayâni—of the race of Cyrus; old Guebre heroes.

“Who now of ancient Kayomurs,
 of Zâl or Rustam cares to sing,
“Whelmed by the tempest of the tribes
 that called the Camel-driver King?

“Where are the crown of Kay Khusraw,
 the sceptre of Anûshirwân,
“The holy grail of high Jamshîd,
 Afrâsiyab’s hall?—Canst tell me, man?

“Gone, gone, where I and thou must go,
 borne by the winnowing wings of Death,
“The Horror brooding over life,
 and nearer brought with every breath:

“Their fame hath filled the Seven Climes,
 they rose and reigned, they fought and fell,
“As swells and swoons across the wold
 the tinkling of the Camel’s bell.”

There is no Good, there is no Bad;
 these be the whims of mortal will:
What works me weal that call I ‘good,’
 what harms and hurts I hold as ‘ill:’

They change with place, they shift with race;
 and, in the veriest span of Time,
Each Vice has worn a Virtue’s crown;
 all Good was banned as Sin or Crime:

Like ravelled skeins they cross and twine,
 while this with that connects and blends;
And only Khizr16 his eye shall see
 where one begins, where other ends:

16 Supposed to be the Prophet Elijah.

What mortal shall consort with Khizr,
 when Musâ turned in fear to flee?
What man foresees the flow’er or fruit
 whom Fate compels to plant the tree?

For Man’s Free-will immortal Law,
 Anagkê, Kismet, Des’tiny read
That was, that is, that aye shall be,
 Star, Fortune, Fate, Urd, Norn or Need.

“Man’s nat’ural state is God’s design;”
 such is the silly sage’s theme;
“Man’s primal Age was Age of Gold;”
 such is the Poet’s waking dream:

Delusion, Ign’orance! Long ere Man
 drew upon Earth his earliest breath
The world was one contin’uous scene
 of anguish, torture, prey and Death;

Where hideous Theria of the wild
 rended their fellows limb by limb;
Where horrid Saurians of the sea
 in waves of blood were wont to swim:

The “fair young Earth” was only fit
 to spawn her frightful monster-brood;
Now fiery hot, now icy frore,
 now reeking wet with steamy flood.

Yon glorious Sun, the greater light,
 the “Bridegroom” of the royal Lyre,
A flaming, boiling, bursting mine;
 a grim black orb of whirling fire:

That gentle Moon, the lesser light,
 the Lover’s lamp, the Swain’s delight,
A ruined world, a globe burnt out,
 a corpse upon the road of night.

What reckt he, say, of Good or Ill
 who in the hill-hole made his lair,
The blood-fed rav’ening Beast of prey,
 wilder than wildest wolf or bear?

How long in Man’s pre-Ad’amite days
 to feed and swill, to sleep and breed,
Were the Brute-biped’s only life,
 a perfect life sans Code or Creed?

His choicest garb a shaggy fell,
 his choicest tool a flake of stone;
His best of orn’aments tattoo’d skin
 and holes to hang his bits of bone;

Who fought for female as for food
 when Mays awoke to warm desire;
And such the Lust that grew to Love
 when Fancy lent a purer fire.

Where then “Th’ Eternal nature-law
 by God engraved on human heart?”
Behold his simiad sconce and own
 the Thing could play no higher part.

Yet, as long ages rolled, he learnt
 from Beaver, Ape and Ant to build
Shelter for sire and dam and brood,
 from blast and blaze that hurt and killed;

And last came Fire; when scrap of stone
 cast on the flame that lit his den,
Gave out the shining ore, and made
 the Lord of beasts a Lord of men.

The “moral sense,” your Zâhid-phrase,
 is but the gift of latest years;
Conscience was born when man had shed
 his fur, his tail, his pointed ears.

What conscience has the murd’erous Moor,
 who slays his guest with felon blow,
Save sorrow he can slay no more,
 what prick of pen’itence can he know?

You cry the “Cruelty of Things”
 is myst’ery to your purblind eye,
Which fixed upon a point in space
 the general project passes by:

For see! the Mammoth went his ways,
 became a mem’ory and a name;
While the half-reasoner with the hand17
 survives his rank and place to claim.

17 The Elephant.

Earthquake and plague, storm, fight and fray,
 portents and curses man must deem
Since he regards his self alone,
 nor cares to trace the scope, the scheme;

The Quake that comes in eyelid’s beat
 to ruin, level, ’gulf and kill,
Builds up a world for better use,
 to general Good bends special Ill:

The dreadest sound man’s ear can hear,
 the war and rush of stormy Wind
Depures the stuff of human life,
 breeds health and strength for humankind:

What call ye them or Goods or Ills,
 ill-goods, good-ills, a loss, a gain,
When realms arise and falls a roof;
 a world is won, a man is slain?

And thus the race of Being runs,
 till haply in the time to be
Earth shifts her pole and Mushtari18-men
 another falling star shall see:

18 The Planet Jupiter.

Shall see it fall and fade from sight,
 whence come, where gone no Thought can tell,—
Drink of yon mirage-stream and chase
 the tinkling of the camel-bell!

All Faith is false, all Faith is true:
 Truth is the shattered mirror strown
In myriad bits; while each believes
 his little bit the whole to own.

What is the Truth? was askt of yore.
 Reply all object Truth is one
As twain of halves aye makes a whole;
 the moral Truth for all is none.

Ye scantly-learned Zâhids learn
 from Aflatûn and Aristû,19
While Truth is real like your good:
 th’ Untrue, like ill, is real too;

19 Plato and Aristotle.

As palace mirror’d in the stream,
 as vapour mingled with the skies,
So weaves the brain of mortal man
 the tangled web of Truth and Lies.

What see we here? Forms, nothing more!
 Forms fill the brightest, strongest eye,
We know not substance; ’mid the shades
 shadows ourselves we live and die.

“Faith mountains move” I hear: I see
 the practice of the world unheed
The foolish vaunt, the blatant boast
 that serves our vanity to feed.

“Faith stands unmoved”; and why? Because
 man’s silly fancies still remain,
And will remain till wiser man
 the day-dreams of his youth disdain.

“’Tis blessèd to believe”; you say:
 The saying may be true enow
And it can add to Life a light:—
 only remains to show us how.

E’en if I could I nould believe
 your tales and fables stale and trite,
Irksome as twice-sung tune that tires
 the dullèd ear of drowsy wight.

With God’s foreknowledge man’s free will!
 what monster-growth of human brain,
What powers of light shall ever pierce
 this puzzle dense with words inane?

Vainly the heart on Providence calls,
 such aid to seek were hardly wise
For man must own the pitiless Law
 that sways the globe and sevenfold skies.

“Be ye Good Boys, go seek for Heav’en,
 come pay the priest that holds the key;”
So spake, and speaks, and aye shall speak
 the last to enter Heaven,—he.

Are these the words for men to hear?
 yet such the Church’s general tongue,
The horseleech-cry so strong so high
 her heav’enward Psalms and Hymns among.

What? Faith a merit and a claim,
 when with the brain ’tis born and bred?
Go, fool, thy foolish way and dip
 in holy water burièd dead!

Yet follow not th’ unwisdom-path,
 cleave not to this and that disclaim;
Believe in all that man believes;
 here all and naught are both the same.

But is it so? How may we know?
 Haply this Fate, this Law may be
A word, a sound, a breath; at most
 the Zâhid’s moonstruck theory.

Yes Truth may be, but ’tis not Here;
 mankind must seek and find it There,
But Where nor I nor you can tell,
 nor aught earth-mother ever bare.

Enough to think that Truth can be:
 come sit we where the roses glow,
Indeed he knows not how to know
 who knows not also how to ’unknow.

Man hath no Soul, a state of things,
 a no-thing still, a sound, a word
Which so begets substantial thing
 that eye shall see what ear hath heard.

Where was his Soul the savage beast
 which in primeval forests strayed,
What shape had it, what dwelling-place,
 what part in nature’s plan it played?

This Soul to ree a riddle made;
 who wants the vain duality?
Is not myself enough for me?
 what need of “I” within an “I”?

Words, words that gender things! The soul
 is a new-comer on the scene;
Sufficeth not the breath of Life
 to work the matter-born machine?

We know the Gen’esis of the Soul;
 we trace the Soul to hour of birth;
We mark its growth as grew mankind
 to boast himself sole Lord of Earth:

The race of Be’ing from dawn of Life
 in an unbroken course was run;
What men are pleased to call their Souls
 was in the hog and dog begun:

Life is a ladder infinite-stepped,
 that hides its rungs from human eyes;
Planted its foot in chaos-gloom,
 its head soars high above the skies:

No break the chain of Being bears;
 all things began in unity;
And lie the links in regular line
 though haply none the sequence see.

The Ghost, embodied natural Dread
 of dreary death and foul decay,
Begat the Spirit, Soul and Shade
 with Hades’ pale and wan array.

The Soul required a greater Soul,
 a Soul of Souls, to rule the host;
Hence spirit-powers and hierarchies,
 all gendered by the savage Ghost.

Not yours, ye Peoples of the Book,
 these fairy visions fair and fond,
Got by the gods of Khemi-land20
 and faring far the seas beyond!

20 Egypt; Kam, Kem, Khem (hierogl.), in the Demotic Khemi.

“Th’ immortal mind of mortal man!”
 we hear yon loud-lunged Zealot cry;
Whose mind but means his sum of thought,
 an essence of atomic “I.”

Thought is the work of brain and nerve,
 in small-skulled idiot poor and mean;
In sickness sick, in sleep asleep,
 and dead when Death lets drop the scene.

“Tush!” quoth the Zâhid, “well we ken
 the teaching of the school abhorr’d
“That maketh man automaton,
 mind a secretion, soul a word.”

“Of molecules and protoplasm
 you matter-mongers prompt to prate;
“Of jelly-speck development
 and apes that grew to man’s estate.”

Vain cavil! all that is hath come
 either by Mir’acle or by Law;—
Why waste on this your hate and fear,
 why waste on that your love and awe?

Why heap such hatred on a word,
 why “Prototype” to type assign,
Why upon matter spirit mass?
 wants an appendix your design?

Is not the highest honour his
 who from the worst hath drawn the best;
May not your Maker make the world
 from matter, an it suit His hest?

Nay more, the sordider the stuff
 the cunninger the workman’s hand:
Cease, then, your own Almighty Power
 to bind, to bound, to understand.

“Reason and Instinct!” How we love
 to play with words that please our pride;
Our noble race’s mean descent
 by false forged titles seek to hide!

For “gift divine” I bid you read
 the better work of higher brain,
From Instinct diff’ering in degree
 as golden mine from leaden vein.

Reason is Life’s sole arbiter,
 the magic Laby’rinth’s single clue:
Worlds lie above, beyond its ken;
 what crosses it can ne’er be true.

“Fools rush where Angels fear to tread!”
 Angels and Fools have equal claim
To do what Nature bids them do,
 sans hope of praise, sans fear of blame!

There is no Heav’en, there is no Hell;
 these be the dreams of baby minds;
Tools of the wily Fetisheer,
 to ’fright the fools his cunning blinds.

Learn from the mighty Spi’rits of old
 to set thy foot on Heav’en and Hell;
In Life to find thy hell and heav’en
 as thou abuse or use it well.

So deemed the doughty Jew who dared
 by studied silence low to lay
Orcus and Hades, lands of shades,
 the gloomy night of human day.

Hard to the heart is final death:
 fain would an Ens not end in Nil;
Love made the senti’ment kindly good:
 the Priest perverted all to ill.

While Reason sternly bids us die,
 Love longs for life beyond the grave:
Our hearts, affections, hopes and fears
 for Life-to-be shall ever crave.

Hence came the despot’s darling dream,
 a Church to rule and sway the State;
Hence sprang the train of countless griefs
 in priestly sway and rule innate.

For future Life who dares reply?
 No witness at the bar have we;
Save what the brother Potsherd tells,—
 old tales and novel jugglery.

Who e’er return’d to teach the Truth,
 the things of Heaven and Hell to limn?
And all we hear is only fit
 for grandam-talk and nursery-hymn.

“Have mercy, man!” the Zâhid cries,
 “of our best visions rob us not!
“Mankind a future life must have
 to balance life’s unequal lot.”

“Nay,” quoth the Magian, “’tis not so;
 I draw my wine for one and all,
“A cup for this, a score for that,
 e’en as his measure’s great or small:

“Who drinks one bowl hath scant delight;
 to poorest passion he was born;
“Who drains the score must e’er expect
 to rue the headache of the morn.”

Safely he jogs along the way
 which ‘Golden Mean’ the sages call;
Who scales the brow of frowning Alp
 must face full many a slip and fall.

Here èxtremes meet, anointed Kings
 whose crownèd heads uneasy lie,
Whose cup of joy contains no more
 than tramps that on the dunghill die.

To fate-doomed Sinner born and bred
 for dangling from the gallows-tree;
To Saint who spends his holy days
 in rapt’urous hope his God to see;

To all that breathe our upper air
 the hands of Dest’iny ever deal,
In fixed and equal parts, their shares
 of joy and sorrow, woe and weal.

“How comes it, then, our span of days
 in hunting wealth and fame we spend
“Why strive we (and all humans strive)
 for vain and visionary end?”

Reply: mankind obeys a law
 that bids him labour, struggle, strain;
The Sage well knowing its unworth,
 the Fool a-dreaming foolish gain.

And who, ’mid e’en the Fools, but feels
 that half the joy is in the race
For wealth and fame and place, nor sighs
 when comes success to crown the chase?

Again: in Hind, Chîn, Franguestân
 that accident of birth befell,
Without our choice, our will, our voice:
 Faith is an accident as well.

What to the Hindu saith the Frank:
 “Denier of the Laws divine!
“However godly-good thy Life,
 Hell is the home for thee and thine.”

“Go strain the draught before ’tis drunk,
 and learn that breathing every breath,
“With every step, with every gest,
 something of life thou do’est to death.”

Replies the Hindu: “Wend thy way
 for foul and foolish Mlenchhas fit;
“Your Pariah-par’adise woo and win;
 at such dog-Heav’en I laugh and spit.”

“Cannibals of the Holy Cow!
 who make your rav’ening maws the grave
“Of Things with self-same right to live;—
 what Fiend the filthy license gave?”

What to the Moslem cries the Frank?
 “A polygamic Theist thou!
“From an imposter-Prophet turn;
 Thy stubborn head to Jesus bow.”

Rejoins the Moslem: “Allah’s one
 tho’ with four Moslemahs I wive,
“One-wife-men ye and (damnèd race!)
 you split your God to Three and Five.”

The Buddhist to Confucians thus:
 “Like dogs ye live, like dogs ye die;
“Content ye rest with wretched earth;
 God, Judgment, Hell ye fain defy.”

Retorts the Tartar: “Shall I lend
 mine only ready-money ‘now,’
“For vain usurious ‘Then’ like thine,
 avaunt, a triple idiot Thou!”

“With this poor life, with this mean world
 I fain complete what in me lies;
“I strive to perfect this my me;
 my sole ambition’s to be wise.”

When doctors differ who decides
 amid the milliard-headed throng?
Who save the madman dares to cry:
 “’Tis I am right, you all are wrong?”

“You all are right, you all are wrong,”
 we hear the careless Soofi say,
“For each believes his glimm’ering lamp
 to be the gorgeous light of day.”

“Thy faith why false, my faith why true?
 ’tis all the work of Thine and Mine,
“The fond and foolish love of self
 that makes the Mine excel the Thine.”

Cease then to mumble rotten bones;
 and strive to clothe with flesh and blood
The skel’eton; and to shape a Form
 that all shall hail as fair and good.

“For gen’erous youth,” an Arab saith,
 “Jahim’s21 the only genial state;
“Give us the fire but not the shame
 with the sad, sorry blest to mate.”

21 Jehannum, Gehenna, Hell.

And if your Heav’en and Hell be true,
 and Fate that forced me to be born
Force me to Heav’en or Hell—I go,
 and hold Fate’s insolence in scorn.

I want not this, I want not that,
 already sick of Me and Thee;
And if we’re both transform’d and changed,
 what then becomes of Thee and Me?

Enough to think such things may be:
 to say they are not or they are
Were folly: leave them all to Fate,
 nor wage on shadows useless war.

Do what thy manhood bids thee do,
 from none but self expect applause;
He noblest lives and noblest dies
 who makes and keeps his self-made laws.

All other Life is living Death,
 a world where none but Phantoms dwell,
A breath, a wind, a sound, a voice,
 a tinkling of the camel-bell.

How then shall man so order life
 that when his tale of years is told,
Like sated guest he wend his way;
 how shall his even tenour hold?

Despite the Writ that stores the skull;
 despite the Table and the Pen;22
Maugre the Fate that plays us down,
 her board the world, her pieces men?

22 Emblems of Kismet, or Destiny.

How when the light and glow of life
 wax dim in thickly gath’ering gloom,
Shall mortal scoff at sting of Death,
 shall scorn the victory of the Tomb?

One way, two paths, one end the grave.
 This runs athwart the flow’ery plain,
That breasts the bush, the steep, the crag,
 in sun and wind and snow and rain:

Who treads the first must look adown,
 must deem his life an all in all;
Must see no heights where man may rise,
 must sight no depths where man may fall.

Allah in Adam form must view;
 adore the Maker in the made.
Content to bask in Mâyâ’s smile,23
 in joys of pain, in lights of shade.

23 Illusion.

He breaks the Law, he burns the Book,
 he sends the Moolah back to school;
Laughs at the beards of Saintly men;
 and dubs the Prophet dolt and fool,

Embraces Cypress’ taper-waist;
 cools feet on wavy breast of rill;
Smiles in the Nargis’ love-lorn eyes,
 and ’joys the dance of Daffodil;

Melts in the saffron light of Dawn
 to hear the moaning of the Dove;
Delights in Sundown’s purpling hues
 when Bulbul woos the Rose’s love.

Finds mirth and joy in Jamshid-bowl;
 toys with the Daughter of the vine;
And bids the beauteous cup-boy say,
 “Master I bring thee ruby wine!”24

24 That all the senses, even the ear, may enjoy.

Sips from the maiden’s lips the dew;
 brushes the bloom from virgin brow:—
Such is his fleshly bliss that strives
 the Maker through the Made to know.

I’ve tried them all, I find them all
 so same and tame, so drear, so dry;
My gorge ariseth at the thought;
 I commune with myself and cry:—

Better the myriad toils and pains
 that make the man to manhood true,
This be the rule that guideth life;
 these be the laws for me and you:

With Ignor’ance wage eternal war,
 to know thy self forever strain,
Thine ignorance of thine ignorance is
 thy fiercest foe, thy deadliest bane;

That blunts thy sense, and dulls thy taste;
 that deafs thine ears, and blinds thine eyes;
Creates the thing that never was,
 the Thing that ever is defies.

The finite Atom infinite
 that forms thy circle’s centre-dot,
So full-sufficient for itself,
 for other selves existing not,

Finds the world mighty as ’tis small;
 yet must be fought the unequal fray;
A myriad giants here; and there
 a pinch of dust, a clod of clay.

Yes! maugre all thy dreams of peace
 still must the fight unfair be fought;
Where thou mayst learn the noblest lore,
 to know that all we know is nought.

True to thy Nature, to Thy self,
 Fame and Disfame nor hope nor fear:
Enough to thee the small still voice
 aye thund’ering in thine inner ear.

From self-approval seek applause:
 What ken not men thou kennest, thou!
Spurn ev’ry idol others raise:
 Before thine own Ideal bow:

Be thine own Deus: Make self free,
 liberal as the circling air:
Thy Thought to thee an Empire be;
 break every prison’ing lock and bar:

Do thou the Ought to self aye owed;
 here all the duties meet and blend,
In widest sense, withouten care
 of what began, for what shall end.

Thus, as thou view the Phantom-forms
 which in the misty Past were thine,
To be again the thing thou wast
 with honest pride thou may’st decline;

And, glancing down the range of years,
 fear not thy future self to see;
Resign’d to life, to death resign’d,
 as though the choice were nought to thee.

On Thought itself feed not thy thought;
 nor turn from Sun and Light to gaze,
At darkling cloisters paved with tombs,
 where rot the bones of bygone days:

“Eat not thy heart,” the Sages said;
 “nor mourn the Past, the buried Past;”
Do what thou dost, be strong, be brave;
 and, like the Star, nor rest nor haste.

Pluck the old woman from thy breast:
 Be stout in woe, be stark in weal;
Do good for Good is good to do:
 Spurn bribe of Heav’en and threat of Hell.

To seek the True, to glad the heart,
 such is of life the HIGHER LAW,
Whose differ’ence is the Man’s degree,
 the Man of gold, the Man of straw.

See not that something in Mankind
 that rouses hate or scorn or strife,
Better the worm of Izrâil25
 than Death that walks in form of life.

25 The Angel of Death.

Survey thy kind as One whose wants
 in the great Human Whole unite;26
The Homo rising high from earth
 to seek the Heav’ens of Life-in-Light;

26 The “Great Man” of the Enochites and the Mormons.

And hold Humanity one man,
 whose universal agony
Still strains and strives to gain the goal,
 where agonies shall cease to be.

Believe in all things; none believe;
 judge not nor warp by “Facts” the thought;
See clear, hear clear, tho’ life may seem
 Mâyâ and Mirage, Dream and Naught.

Abjure the Why and seek the How:
 the God and gods enthroned on high,
Are silent all, are silent still;
 nor hear thy voice, nor deign reply.

The Now, that indivis’ible point
 which studs the length of inf’inite line
Whose ends are nowhere, is thine all,
 the puny all thou callest thine.

Perchance the law some Giver hath:
 Let be! let be! what canst thou know?
A myriad races came and went;
 this Sphinx hath seen them come and go.

Haply the Law that rules the world
 allows to man the widest range;
And haply Fate’s a Theist-word,
 subject to human chance and change.

This “I” may find a future Life,
 a nobler copy of our own,
Where every riddle shall be ree’d,
 where every knowledge shall be known;

Where ’twill be man’s to see the whole
 of what on Earth he sees in part;
Where change shall ne’er surcharge the thought;
 nor hope defer’d shall hurt the heart.

But!—faded flow’er and fallen leaf
 no more shall deck the parent tree;
And man once dropt by Tree of Life
 what hope of other life has he?

The shatter’d bowl shall know repair;
 the riven lute shall sound once more;
But who shall mend the clay of man,
 the stolen breath to man restore?

The shiver’d clock again shall strike;
 the broken reed shall pipe again:
But we, we die, and Death is one,
 the doom of brutes, the doom of men.

Then, if Nirwânâ27 round our life
 with nothingness, ’tis haply best;
Thy toils and troubles, want and woe
 at length have won their guerdon—Rest.

27 Comparative annihilation.

Cease, Abdû, cease! Thy song is sung,
 nor think the gain the singer’s prize;
Till men hold Ignor’ance deadly sin,
 till man deserves his title “Wise:”28

28 “Homo sapiens.”

In Days to come, Days slow to dawn,
 when Wisdom deigns to dwell with men,
These echoes of a voice long stilled
 haply shall wake responsive strain:

Wend now thy way with brow serene,
 fear not thy humble tale to tell:—
The whispers of the Desert-wind;
 the tinkling of the camel’s bell.

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Mind is the closest thing to our Reality...Be careful how you use it. Businessman, yogi, teacher, addicted to laughing...