The opposite of difficult

Simplicity comes naturally, it is not forced, and it is not deliberate. It is in that idea you just stumble upon or that feeling that just tells you to do something even when your brain is telling you to do otherwise. It is in the universe of things, those beautiful and charming things that we yearn all our lives, a cottage on the hilltop overlooking a lush valley.
In this life, we face difficult situations, we face life as it is. But stop look back! Don’t you feel everything most subtle that happened to you came out from simple beliefs and truths that you weren’t even looking. Isn’t beauty in the simplicity of things? Isn’t beauty simple? Something that doesn’t require rational justifications or pros and cons and what not. It is simply there.

We want something of this and something of that, we have our whole lives planned out in front of our lives. Seeking out our loved one, planning an amazing getaway, or getting that dream job, travelling the world, meeting new people, writing that novel etc. In our endeavors of living life on our terms, puts an immense pressure of doing things and experiencing things that matter to us and being who we are. In this pursuit many of us drift, some of us stumble, others founder on their journeys, some come out of this victorious, and some really make this world a better place. It is imperative that we handle life without overdoing or overthinking things. We shouldn’t worry about things we can’t change and instead focus on simpler things that just comes naturally to us. It is in those things we could really find inner peace. It is a delirium of construed fantasies that leaves us grappling with intricate thoughts about life, frustration ensues from it and we are stuck in the abyss of nothingness. It is in our heart that we must find love for life, for people and for this world. To hear what our heart says we need to let go of things; difficult things.

It is in this simplicity of things we need to find difficult solutions. We complicate things when we overanalyze and in my opinion we all experience the bliss of creativity in simplicity. It always comes easily like cold breeze of summer gushing through our body, leaving behind dampness of love and compassion. All of these words might sound like me oversimplifying nitty-gritties of life but don’t you think life is too short to make things difficult.

We see imperfections, ambiguities, and guile in everything we encounter. It is us making things difficult by judging things on the outset. We do not ponder over simpler facts, things that are right in front of us. We seek love, which is not to be sought, we yearn for success, which is not to be yearned. We just need to look within ourselves. It cannot be simpler than this, but only when we are ready to take that plunge.

Living out simply is the ultimate satisfaction that we could ever want from life. Be simple and stay blessed.

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Strand that binds us together

Compassion is just flying without wings. It builds our inner world and the visible world. It is what it takes to accomplish something. It isn’t rage or war or cowardice that drove us, it has always been the derivatives of compassion that accomplished something. Compassion is a living force, when it takes hold of us it runs in our veins and sparks in our neurons, firing up our reservoir of infinite energy, taking us to the valleys of love, conquering our fears and opening up ways that we never could have imagined. We see world as a broken place and humans as tragic beings who are at once in the middle of rights and wrongs, who are cornered by the very ideal of duality within themselves. Rage might bring somebody to task, it might inspire somebody to greatness, but rage is not the conclusion of this conflict. We don’t see villains as heroes, it is always the ideals of compassion that inspire somebody above all else. The synthesis of duality must be the conclusion of this conflict which is abound in the depths of compassion.

Life is a choice we make and the foundations of those choices must be set on what the grandeur of compassion teaches us. We must love ourselves and love those around us no matter what.  They are the travelers of the same journey as we are, they have been or they will be across the same paths we treaded.  Be gentle and kind to everybody. Life can be a bed of roses if we choose to provide one in our grasp. Let us make use of what we have and don’t bother about what we don’t. Live in the moment and deliver what we have been here for. Search within ourselves and believe that we are not alone, we are here and we have a purpose, might it be grand or small it is something we were created for. Practice sentience, practice compassion.

We wouldn’t have to survive, if we make others fit. We are knitted together with a strand of humanity. If a single strand fails, nobody survives. This is the idea of all-encompassing compassion that we need to live our lives by.  We have to give not take, we have to be courageous enough to let go and not hold on to our grudges, we have to promote love and not rage. The doctrine of compassion does not differentiate between high and  low,  rich and poor,  white and black,  man and woman, elder and younger, it is not something geographical or something otherworldly, it is now and  here in all of our hearts.  Brains think but it is the hearts that see and hear. When love engulfs our being and we experience fearlessness, that is when we are truly free, the most pure form of bliss, we can ever imagine. These words might sound theoretical or utopian, but it is my faith that these are true and what else have we got besides faith to believe in. I don’t believe that one divided by zero is equal to infinity. 🙂

Discovering yourself by getting lost in Nature

Getting lost to discover some of our selves is an adventure most of us want to partake. It takes money, time, and people to invest in such an endeavor but once we have taken the leap of faith we never rue our decision. World needs exploring and we are but explorers. So, we need to get in touch with the explorer within ourselves often. “I couldn’t have found God in the seminary” thought Paulo Coelho’s Santiago in The Alchemist.

The common denominator between destinies and adventure is the spirit required to embark upon both. Adventure is closely knitted with our destinies. Reconnecting with nature rewires our brain grounding all the negatives. It connects ourselves to our self. Persistence is required for happiness and it is the very thing we practice in all our adventures. Life is nothing but an adventure.

Adventures remind us of our strength and courage, lost in the chimes of daily life, invigorating our soul from within to accept the challenges of life. If we have what it takes to be at strange places among strange people facing situations unknown to us, we are likely to be more persuasive in achieving our dreams. Dreams are nothing but our resolve to see our future selves.

Adventures also reconnect us with the world around. We live lives far from nature, severing our ties with nature that is an indispensable need for our souls. Getting out from the manmade world helps us discover what we often ignore in our daily lives. In this connection we can find that lost happiness within ourselves. In our habitual automatic lives we become ignorant of the beauty, and of the wonders we have in our daily lives, unable to imagine life without amenities that we so casually enjoy. Nature can teach us our history; how did we came to live such lives?

It is difficult for us to trust people in our daily lives. We fail to see the beauty within. In journeys of self-discovery, we meet strange people and we need to trust them. This enables us to feel that rejuvenation of trusting others. Relationships are unsaid emotions kindling between two beings connecting their thoughts and minds reminding each other that they belong to each other. Adventures can teach us that. Adventures can really help us do what Alan Watts said:

“When you’re in the way of waking up, and finding out who you really are, what you do is what the whole universe is doing at the place you call here and now. You are something that the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is something that the whole ocean is doing… The real you is not a puppet which life pushes around; the real, deep down you is the whole universe.” Alan Watts

The Mistake

What divided us and uprooted our sanctity of unity is older than we might believe it to be:

“. . . — that the diversity of men in religions and creeds, plus the disagreement of the Community of Islam about doctrines, given the multiplicity of sects and the divergency of methods, is a deep sea in which most men founder and from which few only are saved. Each group alleges that it is the one saved, and “each faction is happy about its own beliefs.”

Al-Munqidh min al-Dalal (Deliverance from Error) by Imam Ghazali (1058-1111 A.D), translated by  Richard J. Mccarthy, S.J.

What then started all this divergence and can it be said the beauty of religion? I don’t buy this argument of seeing beauty in disagreement. It has led us here and one cannot simply remain aloof to the predicaments of our society that this disagreement has brought. The problem is as old as our own history and its solution cannot be a mere modern interpretation of lexicons. The grandeur of the mistake must inspire us to delve further into our own beliefs. In the past we must seek this mistake and correct it so that we don’t founder in building our future.

Islamic concept of education

Intisaab - Book Hikmat-e-Iqbal by Dr Rafi ud din

[Dedication of book Hikmat-e-Iqbal (Wisdom of Iqbal) by Dr. M. Rafi-ud-Din]

[Roughly translated as: To the lovers of beauty of the being (God), who in future will find the inevitable universal state based on the Islamic proposition of the philosophy of khuddi (human self-consciousness)]

Just read this article written by Dr. Muhammad Rafi-ud-Din. He outlines in it the philosophical rhetoric about the motives of education and has critically examined theories put forward by McDougal, and Percy Nunn. He is of the opinion that the purpose of education is not merely to build a “character” or to prepare an individual to “spend” his life rather, its purpose is to impart in an individual a complete code of ideology. The “ideology” he states has deepest implications on an individual’s life and the life of community which he is a part of.

He then probes into the matter of different ideologies (Capitalism, Socialism) that are the result of particular forms of education. He argues that these ideologies are the result of educational system of the particular peoples of these places. There is a right ideology and there is a wrong one and there is a need to be aware of the two. According to Dr. Rafi-ud-Din there is no way for an individual to know whether he is right or wrong as long as he is a part of that particular system. As there is no way to judge when there is prejudice. The solution he suggests is to rediscover the purpose of education, as every ideology strives on its educational system. He discusses the biggest problem faced by the western thinkers of education and states that they are concerned about matter only and resultantly they have attributed human development to be a mere extension of instinctive abilities of animals. Therefore, they are deluded in the present state of affairs where they don’t find appropriate to “impose” any “ideology” on the individual. This is the flaw of western educational theories as we as Muslims already have an ideology.

He then moves on to assert the Islamic ideology of education that it is based on the belief that reality of humans is through khuddi (human self-consciousness). He suggests to the philosophers of his time that if they accept this world view all their problems related to human sociology can be resolved. He then stipulates the things needed to have a healthy khuddi which should be the goal of Islamic education. Like healthy nutritious diet is needed to protect the body against physical illness, so does mental protection of khuddi is needed to protect the body from psychological illness. The diet for khuddi is love for a concept of beauty. The more beautiful one’s ideology is, more flourished there khuddi will be. Beauty is the nourishment of khuddi. He is of the opinion that different nations have different ideologies that they deem beautiful and are in love with them. Although there is partial beauty in those ideologies but the completion of this beauty cannot be achieved without God. God is the supreme beauty, he concludes, and the purpose of all knowledge is to discover the wholeness of His beauty.

It is inevitable for the people, who believe in an ideology, to form a communion and live their lives according to that specific ideology. If people who are in love with God’s beauty come together, the result will be the formation and following of universal principles of ethics, desire for knowledge and art. He then sees the decadent state that Muslims are currently in and he sees education as a decision of life and death for Muslims. In final pages he has iterated the example of dialectical materialism of Soviet Union. He has stated how their ideology forms the basis of their educational system and how it is flawed. He is of the opinion that Islamic ideology is a belief just like any other ideology and Muslims have the right to follow it just like other nations are following their ideologies.

It is an interesting read and you will be amazed by the thoughts of Dr. Rafi-ud-Din on education. He has written extensively on this subject in his book, “First Principles of Education”.

Essentials of nourishing our spirits

Hisilicon Balong

Millennials have gone all out in search of liberty and in that battle have lost something; nourishment of the spirit. They are concerned with achievement, goals, and success that revolves around things that are material. In these life-long quests they have forgotten about the unseen emotions, feelings and beliefs that are essential for souls like the air for breathing.

There are tons of applications used by millions of millennials like me to accomplish variety of tasks but happiness eludes us. It seems like happiness has become a holograph, you try to grab it and it is nothing but thin air. Why is that? Why can we not be happy about ourselves and our work? The answer is simple: we are not getting enough spiritual nourishment that brings out our happy ‘self’, we are not feeding our souls right.

The essence of delightful soul rests in sacrifice. Once Rumi said “little by little wean yourself. This is the gist of what I have to say”. Weaning carves a character out of a person who is content. Contentment is not synonymous with inaction rather it is the ability of seeing the path and treading it with patience no matter what comes ahead. This is the sheer result of a well-nourished mind that is bound to achieve ‘happiness’ in life whether it achieves or fails.

“One must first learn, unmoved, looking neither to the right nor left, to walk firmly on the straight and narrow path, before one can begin ‘to make one’s self over again.” Habit – William James

Balance comes when we give our minds a taste of our own yearning. ‘Will’ requires this balance and it is nothing but a conscious control of our self; weaning away from things that don’t matter but always seem to matter. When we change our self, slouching towards a new path, we come closer to treating our minds with satisfaction of finally doing what we really wanted to do. This way of ‘changing’ for the better is the essence of gratifying our souls with all kinds of tasty flavors of contentment and a strong will power that is the source of all action and beauty.

We are here because of our collaboration and we were not alone in it. The sum of human history is the product of people working together with zeal and zest.

“Happiness is only real when shared” Into the Wild – Christopher Mccandless.

So sharing, communicating, connecting, and collaborating minds are the result of a healthy ‘mindful’ diet. We need to join hands in building a bright and worry free future of our generations and when we make ourselves join hands with other people we are nourishing our character and of those ahead of us.

TEDx Islamabad, An Assembly of Great Speakers

If I have to define what TEDx Islamabad has all been about I would borrow this line narrated by Taimur Rehman on the event “Khuli ankh say khawab dekho” or “Dream through open eyes”. It was a gathering of inspiring minds coming together to share and inspire courage required to break the barriers of social injustices. From the courage of a 14 year old girl (Hadiqa Bashir fighting against child marriages in Swat), we had glimpses of the courage required by a woman to manage a portfolio of $49.6 billion (Noor Aftab president of International Women Economic Council).

The event was mesmerizing and had a touch of excitement cuddled inside it. I have been to many events but I haven’t seen anything like the way Saad and his team (TEDx Islamabad team) have orchestrated that evening. Thanks to them for bringing these great speakers to us.

Mahoor Jamal shared her story of contradictions that every soul is constantly fighting with. Starting from “small city big dreams” and following the journey of self-expression to finally becoming a freelance illustrator that happens to be “an artist who wears a niqab” instead of a “niqabi artist”, she has become an icon for young achievers. She broke the barrier of people’s voices by embracing her contradictions. Her message “Embrace your contradictions you might find a friend”.

Then we had there Assam Khalid (Strategic Planning Director) who unveiled secrets of our own minds to us. He showed how there is our fast brain that wants to deliver information almost instinctively and then there is our slower brain that requires us to think. Marketing is all about targeting the faster brain that doesn’t think about why we are choosing a certain product without going into the nitty-gritty of the choice being made. He then told us about his coke and pepsi experiment as well. It was an interesting talk.

Guliafshan Tariq and Samar Khan lead us to believe that women can do whatever they set their mind to, and for them it was going to Pak-China border on a bicycle. They started their treacherous journey from Islamabad and ended on the high land of Khunjerab Pass and were the very first females to do so, breaking barriers.

Finally Umair Jaliawala took us from the dream of old Pakistan to the new Pakistan. He told us about the times when Queen Elizabeth traversed her way on the streets of Karachi, the days when PIA was amongst the top airlines of the world and when president of Pakistan spoke to the assembly of US. He then showed us the crevices that our society has now fallen into and it has besmirched the dream of the new Pakistan. He closed by compelling the audience to look for the remedy within ourselves. To open up, educate, probe, reflect, aim, give and celebrate. “Let’s not just put a ladder, let’s break the wall.” “Don’t ask God how big is your storm, tell the storm how big your God is.”

The last performance was by Amna Mawaz Khan, who is an activist and a dancer. She expressed her empathy to those who are left out from the society and those for whom nobody speaks. Those who speak (likes of Baba jan of Gilgit) are imprisoned. She wanted to see the revolution hidden inside us.

The attendees left the hall feeling elated, inspired and changed. I believe somewhere in those 4.5 hours everyone found a spark of courage to break the barriers that are stopping this Nation to be.

Motives of Wars

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[Source]

It has been suggested by one of the visitors of this website that motive is as important as the will itself. It brings me to seek the reasons behind these events and/or personalities in whom motivation flourishes.

Bertrand Russell has regarded Power as the ‘fundamental concept’ of social sciences while John G. Stoessinger regards ‘misconception’ as a reason of most wars of the 21st century. The reasons can only be justified by those involved and there would probably a peaceful solution of the conflict if both sides were willing to let go of their bias. Despotic wars cannot gather sympathy by any means except their sole lust of power. Religious wars have had a different agenda in different religions and has resulted in a different kind of society afterwards. War has always brought more trouble than what was expected. When war ensues humanity loses. Although the motive of wars varies greatly but the feelings of fighters is of importance:

“Collective excitement is a delicious intoxication in which sanity, humanity, and even self-preservation are easily forgotten, and in which atrocious massacres and heroic martyrdom are equally possible.” Power, bertrand Russell

The will to act no doubt becomes extraordinary in this situation.

Forms of Power

“When a pig with a rope round its middle is hoisted squealing into a ship, it is subject to direct physical power over its body. On the other hand, when the proverbial donkey follows the proverbial carrot, we induce him to act as we wish by persuading him that it is to his interest to do so. Intermediate between these two cases is that of performing animals, in whom habits have been formed by rewards and punishments; also, in a different way, that of sheep induced to embark on a ship, when the leader has to be dragged across the gangway by force, and the rest then follow willingly.

All these forms of power are exemplified among human beings. The case of the pig illustrates military and police power. The donkey with the carrot typifies the power of propaganda. Performing animals show the power of ‘education’.

The sheep following their unwilling leader are illustrative of party politics, whenever, as is usual, a revered leader is in bondage to be a clique or to party bosses.

Let us apply these Aesopian analogies to the rise of Hitler. The carrot was the Nazi program (involving e.g. the abolition of interest); the donkey was the lower middle class. The sheep and their leader were the Social Democrats and Hindenburg. The pigs (only so far as their misfortunes are concerned) were the victims in concentration camps, and the performing animals are the millions who make the Nazi salute.”

Power, Bertrand Russell