I spun some yarn to sell for food
And sold it for two silver coins.
I put a coin in each hand
Because I was afraid
That if I put both together in one hand
This great pile of wealth might hold me back.
– Rabi’a al-Adawiyya
Hellos – Farewells…
Said hello to friends this week end at a gathering at Miss Cymon’s. Old friends, new friends, life path friends. I got to spend some time with the young poet Cliff Anderson as well. Nice young man.
I said farewell to our dear friend Tom Charlesworth yesterday as he left to Sedona Arizona. Ah, that was hard. I have known him most of my life. It isn’t easy to see him go, but his life has taken another direction for awhile. Bless Ya Tom. Miss you already.
We deal with the very human side of things today, in the writings, poetry, and pictures.
I hope this Monday treats you well.
On the Menu:
Three Tales From Idries Shah
Animals And Albert Schweitzer
The Poetry Of Rabi’a al-Adawiyya
Three Tales From Idries Shah
There was once a small boy who banged a drum all day and loved every moment of it. He would not be quiet, no matter what anyone else said or did. Various people who called themselves Sufis, and other well-wishers, were called in by neighbors and asked to do something about the child.
The first so-called Sufi told the boy that he would, if he continued to make so much noise, perforate his eardrums; this reasoning was too advanced for the child, who was neither a scientist nor a scholar. The second told him that drum beating was a sacred activity and should be carried out only on special occasions. The third offered the neighbors plugs for their ears; the fourth gave the boy a book; the fifth gave the neighbors books that described a method of controlling anger through biofeedback; the sixth gave the boy meditation exercises to make him placid and explained that all reality was imagination. Like all placebos, each of these remedies worked for a short while, but none worked for very long.
Eventually, a real Sufi came along. He looked at the situation, handed the boy a hammer and chisel, and said, “I wonder what is INSIDE the drum?”
There was once a miserly man from Aberdeen who was learning golf. His teacher suggested that his initials be put on the ball, so that anyone who found it could return the ball to the clubhouse where he might later claim it. The Aberdonian was interested. “Yes,’ he said, “please scratch my initials, A.M.T., for Angus McTavish, on the ball. Oh, and if there is room, add M.D., as I am a physician.” The instructor did this. Then McTavish scratched his head. “While you are about it,” he said, “you might as well add, ‘Hours,11:30 to 4′ “
Two mothers talk about their sons.
One says, “And how is your boy getting on as a guru?”
“Just fine,” replies the second. “He has so many pupils that he can afford to get rid of some of the old ones.”
“That’s great,” says the first. “My son is getting on so well that he can afford NOT to take on everyone who applies to him!”
Animals And Albert Schweitzer
By Ingrid E. Newkirk
January marks the 131st anniversary of the birth of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, a giant of a man whose legacy of kindness has trickled down through the years and still touches us today. Equally important to the poor people he served in equatorial Africa and to the wounded and orphaned animals he took in, from pelicans to pigs to baby gorillas, he worked to stop everyones pain and suffering. He still found time to author many books, including the ambitious The Philosophy of Civilization, a guide to ways in which our ethical beliefs can be the driving force in our lives.
A dose of Schweitzer’s philosophy would do us a world of good in today’s complex society.
Schweitzer believed that our obligation to be ethical should never be abstract. He suggested that that we consciously decide what we believe to be right and good conductin his case, a reverence for all lifeand that, rather than wandering through life robotically, we should truly live it by being active participants.
Underlying this was his belief that our principles should compel us to effect the changes in conduct that we know we should and to persuade others to make them, too, even if it meant sacrifice and self-discipline. In other words, we shouldn’t simply ponder our lives and observe others around us, but rather, we should take actions that will help make the world better for our having passed through it.
Schweitzer, although himself a scientist, thought that laypeople were far more important in the world than scientists. Laypeople, he argued, are more in touch with life than those who feel the compulsion to examine and dissect it bit by bit. So Schweitzer believed, as did Lin Yu Tang, the Chinese philosopher, that “to comprehend the organs of the horse is not to comprehend the horse itself.”
Put another way, to smell the flower and appreciate it is superior to plucking it and taking apart its petals. And to know a gentle cow’s personality is preferable to eating her.
Schweitzer, a vegetarian, believed that it is only possible to be truly ethical when we “obey the compunction to help all life . . . and shrink from injuring anything that lives.” He looked out for others because he felt it his obligation.
Schweitzer’s philosophy is similar to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ belief that we must stand up, speak out and give of ourselves to stop unthinking and deliberate acts of cruelty to all those around us.
“We need a boundless ethics that includes the animals also,” he said. It is important, he believed, to give sympathy based on how much someone elseanimal or humansuffers, rather than on some arbitrary measure of value. A worm was no less valuable for being “lowly” and Schweitzer was not afraid to be thought sentimental for moving a stranded earthworm from the pavement into the grass.
Just imagine what our world could bethink of the suffering we could stopif everyone, from the lowly to the most exalted, were valued and treated as though they mattered.
Ingrid Newkirk is president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.peta2.com. Her latest book is 50 Awesome Ways Kids Can Help Animals (Warner 2006).
And now… another visit with the
Poetry of Rabi’a al-Adawiyya
With My Beloved Alone
With my Beloved I alone have been,
When secrets tenderer than evening airs
Passed, and the Vision blest
Was granted to my prayers,
That crowned me, else obscure, with endless fame;
The while amazed between
His Beauty and His Majesty
I stood in silent ecstasy
Revealing that which o’er my spirit went and came.
Lo, in His face commingled
Is every charm and grace;
The whole of Beauty singled
Into a perfect face
Beholding Him would cry,
‘There is no God but He, and He is the most High.’
I have loved Thee with two loves –
a selfish love and a love that is worthy of Thee.
As for the love which is selfish,
Therein I occupy myself with Thee,
to the exclusion of all others.
But in the love which is worthy of Thee,
Thou dost raise the veil that I may see Thee.
Yet is the praise not mine in this or that,
But the praise is to Thee in both that and this.
O God, Whenever I listen to the voice of anything
You have made
The rustling of the trees
The trickling of water
The cries of birds
The flickering of shadow
The roar of the wind
The song of the thunder, I hear it saying:
God is One! Nothing can be compared with God!
In love, nothing exists between heart and heart.
Speech is born out of longing,
True description from the real taste.
The one who tastes, knows;
the one who explains, lies.
How can you describe the true form of Something
In whose presence you are blotted out?
And in whose being you still exist?
And who lives as a sign for your journey?
I have two ways of loving You:
A selfish one
And another way that is worthy of You.
In my selfish love, I remember You and You alone.
In that other love, You lift the veil
And let me feast my eyes on Your Living Face.
The source of my suffering and loneliness is deep in my heart.
This is a disease no doctor can cure.
Only Union with the Friend can cure it.
I have made You the Companion of my heart.
But my body is available to those who desire its company,
And my body is friendly toward its guest,
But the Beloved of my heart is the guest of my soul.
Brothers, my peace is in my aloneness.
My Beloved is alone with me there, always.
I have found nothing in all the worlds
That could match His love,
This love that harrows the sands of my desert.
If I come to die of desire
And my Beloved is still not satisfied,
I would live in eternal despair.
To abandon all that He has fashioned
And hold in the palm of my hand
Certain proof that He loves me—
That is the name and the goal of my search.
If tomorrow on Judgment Day
You send me to Hell,
I will tell such a secret
That Hell will race from me
Until it is a thousand years away.
Whatever share of this world
You could give to me,
Give it to Your enemies;
Whatever share of the next world
You want to give to me,
Give it to Your friends.
You are enough for me.
If I worship You
From fear of Hell, burn me in Hell.
If I worship You
From hope of Paradise, bar me from its gates.
But if I worship You for Yourself alone
Then grace me forever the splendor of Your Face.
Rabi’a al-’Adawiyya (717 – 801 AD) was born in Basra. As a child, after the death of her parents, Rabi’a was sold into slavery. After years of service to her slavemaster, Rabi’a began to serve only the Beloved with her actions and thoughts. Since she was no longer useful to the slaveowner, Rabi’a was then set free to continue her devotion to the Beloved.
Rabi’a held that the true lover, whose consciousness is unwaveringly centered on the Beloved, is unattached to conditions such as pleasure or pain, not from sensory dullness but from ceaseless rapture in Divine Love.
Rabia was once asked, “How did you attain that which you have attained?”
“By often praying, ‘I take refuge in You, O God, from everything that distracts me from You, and from every obstacle that prevents me from reaching You.”
(Circe – Wright Barker 1900)