Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Farewell

What is behind the curtain?
Walk the way of moderation ...

What is behind the curtain?
Prepare yourself, take only a glimpse ....

What is behind the curtain?
Be cautious, it will burn your being ...

What is behind the curtain?
Force of all forces, love of all loves, essence of existence ...

I have waited forty years ... ?!?
Do -NOT- drop the curtain, you will burn alive ...

What is this? What do I do now? My eyes are going blind!!!
Way of moderation, moderation ...

What is burning me? What do I do now? Where do I go now?


Where are you? Why don't you answer me? Why ...


_________________________________________
Welcome!

_________________________________________
Welcome my dear old friend!

Who are you? I cannot see anything! Who are you?
Welcome to your source, where you came from!

Who are you? I do not know you, do I? I cannot see anything!
You asked for me, you called me, I am the sea of darkness!

I don't ... I called you?
Your dream, the flood that took you, I am here to take you ...

I am afraid, I cannot see anything!
I am the night of all nights, the essence of non-existence!

I am afraid, what do you want from me? I called you ...
You lacked the power to deal with what was behind the curtain, it took your sight and you were lost ...

I know you, you are my depression, my darkest moments ...
I am where you came from, nothingness, and you are back to me, welcome!

I have good friends, where are they?
Your friends? Huh ...

I love them and they love me ... where is love?
You left them ... when you decided ...

When I decided?
To drop the curtain, it was a one way street, now it is only us and we have the eternity ...

But I have to say goodbye ...
Goodbye?

To those whom I love, those who love me ...
That is what you are doing!

That is what?
What you are doing now!

Oh ... But why am I so afraid? So anxious? Where is the calm of nothingness?
You are still desperately moving and resisting, calm down!

Calm down? I am afraid ...
Don't be, stay still, let me infuse in you ...

Calm down ...
Still, free, freedom of nothingness, we will be one ...

Still ...
Shshshsh ... calm and free, nothing can hurt you anymore

________________________________________________
________________________________________________

I am not ready for calm and peace, yet. I rather keep struggling blindly ...


******************************************
http://www.telesterion.com/meeting1.htm
``There is an anguish implicit in being a fragile living being -- doomed to live in an uncaring eternal universe, doomed to suffer and die and disappear -- that is universal and absolute. This anguish cannot be explained away, and it cannot be fought. The spiritual literature claims that the cosmological dark side only appears terrible, and that, in fact, its nature is love. The truth of this assertion can only be verified in the crucible of personal experience.''
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/087477618X/telesterionbooks

http://www.angelfire.com/moon/fae/shadow.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkp5ENs8e5g

دیدار شمس و مولانا

اپرای مولوی - قسمت ششم 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rvm69InmflE


اپرای مولوی - قسمت هفتم


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC5x9fjXyD8

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A friend's heart

Your true friend speaks from his heart. It is a priceless gift. Appreciate it and be grateful.

Today, two of my best friends, Maziar and Sima, gave a lesson to me when I was sad. They were present for me, accepted me as I were, listened to me, and opened their hearts to me.

That is what I need to be to my self, as my closest friend, when I am sad. Accept my condition, listen to what is inside me, and be present with an open heart.

Things will be alright.

در کار گلاب و گل ...

جام می و خون دل هر یک به کسی دادند
در دایره‌ی قسمت اوضاع چنین باشد

در کار گلاب و گل حکم ازلی این بود
کین شاهد بازاری، وآن پرده‌نشین باشد

 غمناک نباید بود از طعن حسود ای دل
شاید که چو وابینی خیر تو درین باشد

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htpEV_hTucc

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Restoring Justice

In response to my question in a previous post [Question on Justice], I have come up with one idea so far. In order for a victim to feel the sense of justice, that a wrong is made right, it is important that the victim is given---ideally---the same choice. In practice, it is impossible to give the victim exactly the same choice, but the closer is the situation to what the victim of injustice has experienced, the more liberating will be the outcome. This may be the idea behind the Islamic law of "ghesas".

In the personal situation that I discussed in my earlier post [Question on Justice], this means that you revisit the situation again. This is a situation that you have made a decision that has hurt part of your personality and has unduly deprived parts of you from pleasure. You give yourself the true freedom to make that decision again. For example, if you have chosen a carrier for a wrong reason (such as social pressures) then you give yourself a ---GENUINE--- opportunity to make the same choice against. It is very important that you feel the realness of the choice, that you embrace the outcome whatever it may be. Then, even if you decide to continue the same career, you feel more integrated and in peace with your situation.

Yeah! I found my answer!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Change Metaphor

A good way of thinking about "change" and its appropriate pace is through the metaphor of "weight loss". I saw an article a few weeks ago that unless weight loss is very gradual, the body treat it as starvation and does its best to reverse it! Implementing any meaningful change must be very gradual too; otherwise our body and subconscious mind will reject it as an anomaly and does its best to reverse it!

This is very important insight. If you don't want to get into fight with yourself, you have to be very patient in implementing any change. Here is the fine line between accepting who we are and growing into a better person: Time and patience. A friend told me once not to expect overnight changes. Now I see the wisdom in this simple advice. Sudden and extreme changes are cancerous and deforming, and may lead to self-hatred and self-loathing attitudes and actions.

Link [NPR story on weight loss]: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/10/31/141794801/losing-weight-a-battle-against-fat-and-biology

Monday, November 21, 2011

Intense Moments

Intense moments hijack our soul. ---LOTUS

It is not that moments of intense pleasure are detrimental to your soul; if anything, they can be nourishing. It's the attachment to their memory and the desire to repeat them that steal our soul from what is in the present.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Question on Justice

Tonight, I accidentally came across a PBS documentary, ``Elusive Justice,'' about bringing World War II Nazi criminals into justice after many decades. Many people interviewed in the program emphasized the importance of bringing justice to those suffered the war atrocities by punishing the criminals.

Watching the program brought an interesting novel idea into my mind. It has been a while that I have observed serious self-destructive tendencies in myself. These acts of self-destruction are particularly forceful when I do things that deprive some parts of me from pleasure or expose them to hardship. What if there are some parts of me who have suffered undue hardship throughout my life and they act out like an angry victim of injustice? How can you deal with such a hypothetical situation?

A possible immediate answer is to be kind to those parts. This is what I have been thinking about for the past couple of years and, very recently, I have made good progress in it. I have been able, for the first time, to make some meaningful connections to those parts. I have found ways to please them. And more importantly, I have found useful practices, what I label acts of kindness, that I am in the process of writing down. But is ``kindness'' a replacement for ``justice''?

I am thinking that the answer is, ``No, justice is not replaced by kindness.'' I am not proficient in religious studies but it seems to me that many religions separate ``kindness'' from ``justice''. Justice is more related with a sense of closure, that something unjust has become just. But if so, then how do you makes things right for part of your psyche? How do you bring a sense of justice and closure to parts of you who have suffered undue hardship and deprivation?

It is obvious to me that parts of me have already engaged in taking revenge. The unfortunate thing is that revenge is blind and destroys both sides (which, in this case, are essentially parts of me!) These acts of revenge typically end up in sinking the ship that will drown me and may even harm people close to me. Therefore, even though these questions seem very hypothetical and abstract, in fact, they are practically important.

If you have any insight into these questions please share. I do not remember seeing anything like this in my studies of the texts on self-awareness and spiritual paths. Thanks!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Beethoven - Cello Sonata - Glenn Gould & Leonard Rose

Cello Sonata No. 3 in A major, Op. 69. Composed in 1808.
Part 1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GchB9unYkOE


Part 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w2T7JMCxxg



Part 3:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF15KPegFYY



Rostropovich & Richter - Beethoven: Sonatas for Cello and Piano (Edinburgh 1964)--- A 2 hour program!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca4iYDlzYo8



Sviatoslav Richter approach to performance [from Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sviatoslav_Richter]

Richter explained his approach to performance as follows: "The interpreter is really an executant, carrying out the composer's intentions to the letter. He doesn't add anything that isn't already in the work. If he is talented, he allows us to glimpse the truth of the work that is in itself a thing of genius and that is reflected in him. He shouldn't dominate the music, but should dissolve into it." Or, similarly: "I am not a complete idiot, but whether from weakness or laziness have no talent for thinking. I know only how to reflect: I am a mirror . . . Logic does not exist for me. I float on the waves of art and life and never really know how to distinguish what belongs to the one or the other or what is common to both. Life unfolds for me like a theatre presenting a sequence of somewhat unreal sentiments; while the things of art are real to me and go straight to my heart."

Richter's belief that musicians should "carry ... out the composer's intentions to the letter", led him to be critical of others and, most often, himself. After attending a recital of Murray Perahia, where Perahia performed Chopin's Third Piano Sonata without observing the first movement repeat, Richter asked him backstage to explain the omission. Similarly, after Richter realized that he had been playing a wrong note in Bach's Italian Concerto for decades, he insisted that the following disclaimer/apology be printed on a CD containing a performance thereof: "Just now Sviatoslav Richter realized, much to his regret, that he always made a mistake in the third measure before the end of the second part of the 'Italian Concerto'. As a matter of fact, through forty years -- and no musician or technician ever pointed it out to him -- he played 'F-sharp' rather than 'F'. The same mistake can be found in the previous recording made by Maestro Richter in the fifties."

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Right Moment

An apple never misses the right moment to drop. ---Lotus (ME :)
I woke up in the morning thinking intensely about the right time to do things. I realized that a more subtle dimension of ``doing the right thing'' is "finding the right time'' to make a decision. What does this mean? When it is time for an apple to drop, it falls with all its weight. It does not debate whether to fall or not. When you make a decision at the right time, all you heart and soul will fall behind your decision. You execute with you wholeness.

****************************

Amid these thoughts, I relaxed and entered a state between awakeness and sleep. In that state, I could observe my thoughts as they were formed in my head, as separate entities. When I came out of the state, I was very excited!

****************************

In the afternoon I accidentally visited a colleague's web profile. A long impressive profile. I immediately started comparing myself to him and beating myself up for wasting my time on everything that I have been doing for the past 2-3 years. I felt I am escaping from the reality of life and do not appreciate my abilities and my opportunities. My depressed mood persisted even after some yard work, raking and gathering leaves. I was ashamed of being unfocused and lazy and dreamy.

***************************

After an hour of late afternoon sleep, I woke up with a sense of calmness. I realized that I cannot change things much anyway. That, all I can do now is to continue my practices and hope that over time I find some inner guidance and power to improve my life. It was an important insight. All we can do is to do the small things well and quit worrying about grave matters that are essentially out of our control.

***************************

In Kyudo, the concept of "the right time" is best captured in the release of an arrow. The idea is that the arrow releases itself at the right time, and not by the conscious effort of the archer. It is one of the most difficult parts of the Kyudo practice and developing it requires long practice, developing trust, establishing a relaxed focus, and perfecting the form of the shooting, among other things.

If I can come up with some practices to help with this (acting at the right moment) it would be great.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Expectations: My Worst Enemy

I was taking a shower this morning. I suddenly remembered something, a feeling maybe, from my childhood. That I "must" not stay happy or successful for a long period of time. That would raise everyone's expectations from me. It would raise my own expectations of myself. The best way to avoid people's demand is to fail, to show weakness, and to be sad. If you are sad and weak and miserable, then you have a good excuse and people will leave you alone. This is what happened to my mom, essentially, after we moved to Tehran. Under a lot of pressure from different sides, she broke down and became depressed and got severe anxiety. I have a vague memory of one day that my mom could not go to work and a doctor and my father came to our house. She was lying in the bed and was the center of attention. And maybe for the first time, she did not have to worry about us and with a free conscious enjoyed receiving others' attention.

I had a very good, caring, and relatively normal family given the norm of the days. My parents attended to us and our needs, maybe sometimes too much. They had high expectations of us and I was the first child. I started to read and write and draw and do math and play chess before age of 5 or 6. They were really proud of me. I remember my dad showing my works to our guests with pride. In the summer between my second and third grade, everyone in the family decided to study one grade in summer and jump ahead. I have good memories from elementary school before that. But my memories from the fourth grade (I studied the third grade in that summer) is very vague. That was the year of the revolution as well.

As some point, high expectations became internal. At that point, it did not really matter much what others thought or expected from me. I was my own worst enemy. I would constantly predict and worried about what other  people thought of me and expected of me. I still do that. The most stressful situations for me are when I imagine others' direct expectations from me. For example, I avoid playing tennis matches, especially doubles matches, even though I am a good player.

What is the solution to extreme internal expectations? What are some possible exercises and simple practices that would help in moderating one's self expectations?
My experience is that a direct approach to this type of problems, that is, a practice that directly deals with the issue, is not typically successful.

********************************

This evening I was supposed to go to an award ceremony. At about the time to get ready, I felt that I did not want to go there. Suddenly, all those expectations, my own and my prediction of others' expectation, came upon me: What if this? And what if that? What do I tell this? Then, I just decided to do the right thing and listen to my internal voice. So, I emailed the coordinator that I did not feel well and could not make it. Did some sweeping of dead leaves and went to the coffee shop to do some work. At the coffee shop, I did some work (on my book as well as on a review for a journal). On my way back home, I felt satisfied and fulfilled, so much that I did not buy cigarettes, happily! Reflecting on my feelings made me see the answer to my question!

*******************************

A few days ago I developed a simple practice and wrote it on my other blog, [Practice: Doing The Right Thing---Fearlessness], to encourage listening to the voice within. Doing this practice also helps with moderating our expectations of ourselves, helps us to be forgiving to ourselves, and to love ourselves as we are. So here is the answer, or at least one answer: It is quite simple and yet quite amazing!

Summary of the Practice
During normal daily activities stop yourself:
  1. If necessary meditate for a few minutes to calm your mind.  
  2. Ask yourself this question: `What is the right thing to do in this particular moment?'
  3. Announce your decision to yourself in a loud and clear voice: `The Right Thing to Do here and now is ...'. 
  4. Implement your decision with total focus and with whole heart, as if it is the last thing you will do in your life. 
  5. Evaluate your decision. Criteria for the evaluation: (1) Feeling fulfilled. (2) Feeling courageous.



Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Let's have faith in the start of the cold season

ایمان بیاوریم به آغاز فصل سرد
And this is I
a woman alone
at the threshold of a cold season
at the beginning of understanding
the polluted existence of the earth
and the simple and sad pessimism of the sky
and the incapacity of these concrete hands.

This is the start of one the most beautiful, and yet darkest, Forough Farokhzad's poem titled, "Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season". She was apparently suffering from depression. And this believe, in the ultimate return of the darkness is the pillar of depression. No matter what you do, what great, amazing insight you arrive at, it is the darkness that is awaiting you. Maybe that is the true acceptance. And maybe it is not such a bad thing. Like the turn of seasons, or the cycle of day and night. The depression time is a signal to stop and to take a rest, and to accept. 

See the Complete English translation here (A Lonely Woman Michael C. Hillmann page 126-127 )
Link: http://www.forughfarrokhzad.org/analysis/analysis3.asp   

And the complete poem in Farsi here:


Disclaimer :)

My last three posts are all about my own struggles and not my friends. When I am around people whom I love, be it my best friends like Sima and Maziar or those who do not love me back, I am visibly happier. I know this and several times others have told me so. Moreover, all of the people whom I love are so kind and gracious to let me enjoy their company. As I have said before, for example in [Love is Gratefulness], I feel grateful to all of them for providing me the opportunity to experience love and happiness.

So whatever is discussed in the previous posts are essentially my own internal struggles. For example, I tend to go to extreme and over-exploit my relationships and in general anything that may bring me happiness. This is true specially when I am depressed. I just need to learn how to work out my own issues and problems.

Freedom

Yesterday, after I wrote the last post [Strange Deal], I had lunch with Sima and then slept for a couple of hours :) I woke up with an amazing sense of freedom. Quite new feeling. To give a better perspective on what happened, I need to mention a simple incident from Sunday.

Both Sima and Maziar have been telling me to be friend with myself but I had had little sense of what they meant. On Sunday evening, I felt a craving to watch the "Ghost Dog" film another time (after I recommended it to a friend passionately earlier in the afternoon :) I was talking myself out of going all the way to the "Videodrome" store to rent the film. Suddenly, I thought, ``If Maziar was here and he would tell you that he craved watching the film, you would go instantly and would get the film for him. Why shouldn't you do the same for yourself?'' So, I did it!

Last evening, I enjoyed the sense of freedom. I kept sweeping and collecting leaves, instead of going to Kyudo practice and then did some work. I had this strange sense that I am the master of myself and can decide what to do or not.

Last night, I recounted all the events for Maziar and going through them I realized a couple of things:
  1. I feel that for the first time I was able to talk to part of me that was hurt and angry for a long long time. I think the act of kindness that I did toward this part on Sunday was helpful in convincing him to listen :)
  2. I know that my current feelings and insights, are temporary. I know for a fact that I will be feeling sad or angry or depressed. What is important is that my body learns things slowly through each of these experiences. Every time that I get this sense of freedom, or satisfaction from doing the right thing, or deep happiness from performing acts of kindness toward myself, the feelings are stored somewhere in me, and after a while my body, like the body of an addict, starts craving for those good feelings and tries to repeat them. I think this is the true way.
  3. It seems to me that "feeling love toward yourself" is rather an abstract concept, but "performing acts of kindness for yourself" is a concrete task that we can practice.

*********************************

A folklore piece with DoTar:
http://nematolahi.com/mosighi/sonati/155%20yani%20che.mp3

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Strange Deal

I have entered a very strange deal. Why strange? First, I am not sure how I got into it. I was telling Sima, complaining really, that many of my relationships are asymmetric: There are many  whom I love and they do not care for me, and some who love me and I do not care for them as much.
Then the idea came to me that I need to stop imposing myself on the life of the first group of people (those whom I love and who do not love me back).
Second, I am not sure whom is the deal made with. I guess part of myself. I have tried to distance myself from people many times, out of self-destructive anger and spite, and always part of me would get extremely sad and angry at me, like a kid that resents his parents for not letting him do as he wishes.
Interestingly, that part has been quite patient with me this time, maybe because I promised him something in return, which brings us to the third strange aspect of this deal. Third, I do not know what is the other side of the deal, that is, what do I get back in return for not imposing myself into the life of others. I have some feeling that I get something that has been denied of me for a long time. Maybe respect or true love? I don't know. But as I said, so far I am OK.
Finally, when you give up a pleasurable activity, like being with people whom you love, you need to find a replacement. And the fourth strange aspect of the deal is the nature of this replacement activity: cleaning dead Autumn leaves.
Sima has told me for years that cleaning dead leaves is a great meditation and very pleasurable. I refused to follow her suggestions, until a couple of weeks ago. This past weekend I cleaned the whole backyard with the most primitive tool, a broom, and collected the dead leaves in ``Whole Foods'' paper bags.
Notice that sweeping leaves is not enough, collecting them and disposing them is essential. I believe the sheer pointlessness of this activity is very important. It is almost like playing a video game, but much much more meditative.

Anyway, this is my new craziness. We will see how it goes and how long I will be able to keep the deal. Good luck!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Acceptance: My New Obsession

How can I accept who I am? How do I measure up against what I dreamed to be in this age, when I was a teenager? Does it matter what I had wanted to be?
I guess I need to be more honest with myself. At the age of 41, you better be able to look in the mirror and see yourself for what you are. I am a moderately successful assistant professor of finance at an average-low research university in the US. I am told I am smart and I know that I learn fast but do not stay with what I learn long enough (swimming is the exception) to become really good at it. As you can see in the previous sentences, I am obsessed with my mediocrity in my career. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be many things, animal-scientist, football player, volleyball player, assassin, sorcerer, a mystic figure, women seducer, musician, gymnast, almost anything other than normal. I have a rather normal life now and I am unable to enjoy it. I feel that I do not have time to be good at anything anymore. The best I can do is to get in terms with who I am and live in peace for a few years.
I have loved many people who did not love me back. I have been loved by many people whom I did not love. Maybe in a few occasions the two sets intersects. That is being lucky.

*******************

I had a dream last night. I had parked my car in the parking of a building and the car had a problem, so I walked back and forth between another place and the parking,  trying to get stuff to fix my car. I noticed another car close by with a few suspicious men around it; they looked like gangsters. When I approached my car for the last time to leave the parking lot, they surrounded me and took me into a car. We drove around and their boss asked me questions to find out what I saw. I was terrified, almost in tears. At the end, he appeared convinced that I was no threat to them and I thought they would let me go. We stopped and everyone got out of the car and formed a circle around me, the boss and two other men. Then, the boss made a profane gesture implying that I could be free if I gave the three of them oral sex (blow job). I thought for 2-3 very long seconds, many images passed before my eyes. I finally knelt and said, shoot me! One of the men in the circle start firing an automatic gun and everyone except me was killed. I woke up.

My interpretation: There is something, some situation, that I have to make the right decision, do what I feel is the "right thing to do". [See my recent post on the other blog on doing the right thing, it's another recent obsession of mine: http://donotsaybenotdo.blogspot.com/2011/10/practice-doing-right-thing-fearlessness.html ] I may be really afraid and it may seem that doing the right thing get me into serious trouble, but in reality that is the only thing that will save me!

Seeing gangsters in my dream is probably related to the fact that I watched "Ghost Dog" film, maybe for the fourth or fifth time, last night:
Link on rovi: http://www.allrovi.com/movies/movie/ghost-dog-the-way-of-the-samurai-v180005

*******************

I feel there is something simple right in front of my eye, too close to be seen, that is the cause of all this. It is something that I have to accept or something that I have to do the right thing about, or both. It is the worst situation when something IS in front of your eye, and you know it, but you cannot see it!

*******************

Here is a very interesting interview on "Fresh Air". Terry Gross talks to the SNL's Darrell Hammond. Very emotional.
http://www.npr.org/2011/11/07/141990958/snls-darrell-hammond-reveals-cutting-abuse

Body Intelligence

As Lucy reflected on her outrageous behavior of the night before, the memory only served to draw her upward, like a flower toward the sun...