Heightened Senses

Hello. I'm Imraan. This is the only thing I own outright; and yes, I'm wearing a T-shirt.

Pain and Presence

I’m writing this, not so much as to tell the world about what’s happening with me these days; rather it is so that I might have some-place where it is recorded.

Last night, I went through a (small) ordeal, which necessitated a trip to the Emergency Room to tackle an extreme bout of pain to my abdomen, and chest. In fact, as I speak now, it feels as if it might recur and I’d need carting-off.

Pain,  which I’m not exactly a stranger to, is something that when it seizes your being, it feels as if it consumes you.

Something happened, though, when this particular pain took. It was so intense, so extreme, I was writhing around in agony, sweating, retching, burning, shouting, shaking… it was unrelenting in a way I’ve never known. Its appearance to me was profound as in a sense, it was the one thing by which my reality was defined entirely at that moment.

But I realised something at that moment, when things felt so bleak.

My mother was running around fetching me drinks to cool off, rubbing on my legs to stop them from writhing around, whilst we were waiting for the paramedics to arrive.
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O Man, you make me wonder so!

Sayings by Imam Ali (a)

More wonderful than man himself is that part of his body which is connected with his trunk with muscles. It is his brain (mind). Look what good and bad tendencies arise from it. On the one hand it holds treasures of know- ledge and wisdom and on the other it is found to harbour very ugly desires. If a man sees even a tiny gleam of success, then greed forces him to humiliate himself. If he gives way to avarice, then inordinate desires ruin him, if he is disappointed, then despondency almost kills him. If he is excited, then he loses temper and gets angry. If he is pleased, then he gives up precaution. Sudden fear makes him dull and nervous, and he is unable to think and find a way out of the situation. During the times of peace and prosperity he becomes careless and unmindful of the future. If he acquires wealth, then he becomes haughty and arrogant. If he is plunged in distress, then his agitation, impatience and nervousness disgrace him. If he is overtaken by poverty, then he finds himself in a very sad plight, hunger makes him weak, and over-feeding harms him equally. In short every kind of loss and gain makes his mind unbalanced.

Imam Ali

Why Democracy is Evil!

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kPwW8nBVc0g

Remember this from last month?

Pictures of the World – Between Method and Zeitgeist?

“One of the most disagreeable present consequences of the failure to understand what method is, and hence what the limits of any method must be, is our current fashion in respectable pseudo-science. Every scientific epoch has been hospitable to charlatanry and hermetic nonsense, admittedly; but these days our shared faith in the limitless power of scientific method has become so pervasive and irrational that, as a culture, we have become shamefully tolerant of all those lush efflorescences of wild conjecture that grow up continuously at the margins of the hard sciences and thrive on a stolen credibility. This is especially true at the fertile purlieus of Darwinian theory, which enjoys the unfortunate distinction of being the school of scientific thought most regularly invoked to justify spurious theories about precisely everything. Evolutionary biology, properly speaking, concerns the development of physical organisms by way of replication, random mutation, and natural selection, and nothing else. The further the tropes of Darwinian theory drift from this very precise field of inquiry, the more willfully speculative, metaphysically unmoored, and empirically useless they become. Yet texts purporting to provide Darwinian explanations of phenomena it has no demonstrable power to describe pour in ceaseless torrents from the presses and inexhaustible wellsprings of the Internet. There are now even whole academic disciplines, like evolutionary psychology, that promote themselves as forms of science but that are little more than morasses of metaphor. (Evolutionary psychologists often become quite indignant when one says this, but a ‘science’ that can explain every possible form of human behavior and organization, however universal or idiosyncratic, and no matter how contradictory of other behaviors, as some kind of practical evolutionary adaptation of the modular brain, clearly has nothing to offer but fabulous narratives – Just So Stories, as it were – disguised as scientific propositions.) As for the even more daringly speculative application of Darwinian language to spheres entirely beyond the physiological, like economics, politics, ethics, social organization, religion, aesthetics, and so on, it may seem a plausible practice at first glance, and it has quite in keeping with our cultural intuition that evolutionary imperatives somehow lie at the origin of everything (an intuition, incidentally, impossible to prove either as a premise or as a conclusion), but it is a purely analogical, not empirical, approach to things: pictoral, not analytic. It produces only theories that are neither true nor false, entertainingly novel metaphors, some more winsome folklore to add to the charming mythopoeia of materialism; and there is no way in which it could ever do any more than this. As soon as one moves from the realm of physiological processes to that of human consciousness and culture, one has taken leave of the world where evolutionary language can be tested or controlled. There are no longer any physical interactions and replications to be measured, and no discrete units of selection that can be identified (assuming one is not so gullible as to take the logically incoherent and empirically vacuous concept of ‘memes’ seriously). Even if one believes that human consciousness and culture are the results solely of evolutionary forces, one still cannot prove that they function only in a Darwinian fashion, and any attempt to do so soon dissolves into a rosy mist of picturesque similes.

“No doubt it says something about the extraordinarily high esteem in which the sciences are held today, after so many remarkable advances over so sustained a period, that there is scarcely a field of inquiry in the academic world that would not like a share of their glamor. It also goes some way toward explaining the propensity of some in the sciences to imagine that their disciplines endow them with a sort of miraculous aptitude for making significant pronouncements in fields in which they actually have received no tutelage. It is perfectly understandable, for example, but also painfully embarrassing, when Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow casually and pompously declare that philosophy is dead (as they recently have). They might even conceivably be right, but they certainly would not be competent to know if they are (as the fairly elementary philosophical errors in their book show). Every bit as silly are the pronouncements of, say, Richard Feynman or Steven Weinberg regarding the apparent “meaninglessness” of the universe revealed by modern physics (as if any purely physical inventory of reality could possibly have anything to tell us about the meaning of things). High accomplishment in one field – even genius in that field – does not necessarily translate into so much as the barest competence in any other. There is no such thing, at least among finite minds, as intelligence at large; no mind not constrained by its own special proficiencies and formation, no privileged vantage that allows any of us a comprehensive insight into the essence of all things, no expertise or wealth of experience that endows any of us with the wisdom or power to judge what we do not have the training or perhaps the temperament to understand. To imagine otherwise is a delusion, no less in the case of a physicist that in the case of a barber – more so, perhaps, as the barber, not having been indoctrinated with the very peremptory professional dogmas regarding the nature of reality, would no doubt be far easier to disabuse of his confidence of the limitless capacities of tonsorial method.”

David Bentley Hart, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss (Yale, New Haven: 2013), pp 72-74. Okay it has been a while since I’ve had to cite anything properly, but that ought to suffice, one hopes! Typos are most-definitely mine.

On ‘Logic’

I’ve recently joined a book-discussion group with a couple of dear friends, and the title we’re discussing is Logic and Transcendence by the late Frithjof Schuon, a philosopher and comparative-religions’ scholar, a man who many consider to have been a modern sage. I’m falling back on my reading as my health has other objectives, nonetheless it gives me something on a weekly basis to look-forward to!

He seems to eschew a large part of the Western analytic and philosophical tradition in general. There’s a very incisive short passage that I shall re-post for you here, which gave me something about which to chuckle.

 

 A rationalist is a person who upholds the primacy, or rather the exclusive worth, the reason against both intellection and Revelation,  each of which he accuses of being “irrational”: he will claim, for example, that a miracle is irrational because it is contrary to reason, which is an altogether useless pronouncement since nothing in any religion is opposed to reason such; the most one can say is that the supernatural is contrary to common experience and to certain subjective tendencies that have been systematised and then given the name of logic. (!)

Maybe, just maybe, he has a point :)

 

Walk then in the way I shall indicate, but do not ask for an explanation.

   At the idea of God the mind is baffled, reasons fail; because of God the heavens turn, the earth reels. 
   From the back of the fish to the moon every atom is a witness to his Being.
   The depths of the earth and the heights of heaven render him each their particular homage.
   God produced the wind, the earth, the fire, and blood, and by these he announces his secret. 
   He took clay and kneaded it with water, and after forty mornings placed therein the spirit which vivified the body. 
   God gave it intelligence so that it might have discernment of things. 
   When he saw that intelligence had discernment, he gave it knowledge, so that it might weigh and ponder. 
   But when man came in possession of his faculties he confessed his impotence, and was overcome with amazement, while his body gave itself up to exterior acts. 
   Friends or enemies, all bow the head under the yoke which God, in his wisdom, imposes; and, a thing astonishing, he watches over us all…
   There is none but Him. But, alas, no one can see Him. The eyes are blind, even though the world be lighted by a brilliant sun. Should you catch even a glimpse of Him you would lose your wits, and if you should see Him completely you would lose yourself…
   When the soul was joined to the body it was part of the all: never has there been so marvellous a talisman. The soul had a share of that which is high, and the body a share of that which is low; and it formed of a mixture of heavy clay and pure spire. By this mixing, man became the most astonishing of mysteries. We do not know nor do we understand so much as little of our spirit. If you wish to say something about this, it would be better to keep silent. Many know the surface of the ocean but they understand nothing of its depths; and the visible world is the talisman which protects it. But this talisman of bodily obstacles will be broken at last. You will find the treasure when the talisman disappears; the soul will manifest itself when the body is laid aside. But your soul is another talisman; it is, for the mystery, another substance. Walk then in the way I shall indicate, but do not ask for an explanation.”

From The Conference of the Birds, (C.S Nott [Trans]), as found in The Inner Journey: Views from the Islamic Tradition, Edited by William C. Chittick as part of the PARABOLA Anthology Series, Series Editor Ravi Ravindra; Morning Light Press (Idaho, Sandpoint: 2007), p. 103.

On Tennyson, and on M.E.

“‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
——-

Tennyson wrote that. (I think!) It made me reflect on what resolve my family and other loved ones wish that I had. But what could they see of it when Will alone is not reversing the treachery that is M.E?

I am not terribly eloquent, so you’ll have to excuse my musings tonight.

I’m sorry that it seems to you that I’ve given up. I know no other way to keep the symptoms at bay – I am literally trapped in my own body that betrays me at every hurdle.

Sometimes, I see no way out from myself.

Despite my best efforts.

The physical pain is unbearable and I have borne it. The exhaustion is inexhaustible and I’m exhausted by that fact.

Being ceases to ‘be’ in any meaningful sense sometimes, yet I have no choice but to exist, awaiting its passage from me. At least in this world.

Often this seems the most pragmatic. But it lets me reflect on the blessing that it is to ‘be’ at all.

You claim my bed sucks me into an abyss, sometimes you see in me no more than my physically debilitated self. You identify me with this bed.

The bed that I despise. Or, as I once heard said, I try to unshackle myself from her bondage, yet the symptoms Amplify and I’m filled with anxiety.

Your Will clouds your Vision. I wouldn’t have it any other way, though; what right have I to ask you of anything else – you persist in feeding and sheltering me despite your Will for me? How dare I?

Life speeds on ahead at thundering pace, and is leaving me behind, and holding you back as you care for me whilst I lay, almost always limp, yet tense, in my bed.

I fear sometimes that your comments hold a great deal of Truth. Yet the relentless illness, that strikes with such caprice in her manifested symptoms, are the only kernel to which I cling that convince me of what is Real. Or at the very least, what seems Real to me.

Though the fear of the Next Life haunts me – did I really fail to do my best to rid myself of this state?

Often I wonder what His Will holds for me; and what vision I can manufacture of it. It’s hard to know the Mind of God.

Tell me what choices I have, and I will tell you that you have freed me.

“And for all this, nature is never spent…” – Gerard Manley Hopkins

God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

The Path to God

image

I thought I’d share something that I found myself drawn to, this morning.

Some verses as found in one of my most-cherished possessions, a highly-recommended book entitled:

The Inner Journey: Views from the Islamic Tradition, Edited by William C. Chittick as part of the PARABOLA Anthology Series, Series Editor Ravi Ravindra; Morning Light Press (Idaho, Sandpoint: 2007), p. 206.

Left-Wing Christians

Left-Wing Christians are in dire need of dating-agencies.

Terry Eagleton

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