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Issue #1342 - Thursday, February 6, 2003 - Editor: Jerry
A mirror image
there among so many things,
looking for the one.
The goal of life (piravi payan)
In VivekachuuDamani which is being discussed by Nananda separately,
durlabbham trayamevaitad daivaanugrahametukam
manushyatvam, mumukshutvam mahapurusha samshayaH
rear indeed are the three - the bith as a human being, even after bith,
desire for liberation and even having that association with a realized
soul to help are very rare indeed and only the result the grace of the
na yogena na saankhyena karmaanaa no na vidyayaa
brahmaatmaika bodhena mokshaH sidhyati na anyathaa|
Neither by yoga(bhakti,karma, j~naana), or by intellctual analysis,
neither by action nor education that one can gain liberation. Only by
the teaching of oneness of the oneself with the infiniteness that one
cna gain moksha.
By HERBERT MUSCHAMP
(link may no longer be working.)
Click on the Interactive Feature to see architectural designs and to hear the architects describe their purpose and vision.
Taken together as a kind of shotgun diptych, the two designs chosen as finalists by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation illustrate the confusion of a nation torn between the conflicting impulses of war and peace.
Daniel Libeskind's project for the World Trade Center site is a startlingly aggressive tour de force, a war memorial to a looming conflict that has scarcely begun. The Think team's proposal, on the other hand, offers an image of peacetime aspirations so idealistic as to seem nearly unrealizable.
By Pico Iyer
A novel about a literature student in love? Well, why not? We had A.S. Byatt's "Possession," and that did just fine for us, even if it was about the usually dry subject of the lives of literature teachers and critics.
So here's Pico Iyer's "Abandon," which the publisher subtitles on the cover "A Romance," starring a Brit, John Macmillan, on a grant to study in Santa Barbara with one of the world's renowned scholars of Sufi poetry, and only the year to write his thesis on the work of the great Sufi poet Rumi. Feel the tension building? It's not your average person's variety of suspense.
But then Sufi poetry isn't your average person's variety of verse. "Woozy, we drain the glass/ Again; then again; again./ 'We're not ourselves,' you say. / 'We never were,' I answer." Even mock-Sufi poetry, of which there is a good amount in this novel, for reasons of plot I do not want to spoil by revealing, sounds like Emily Dickinson high on grass.
Macmillan, a reader of Persian who is already stoned on Sufi art, scarcely knows what hits him when he meets the enigmatic Camilla, who knows more about his subject than she lets on and leads him deliciously astray. He's a sophisticated traveler, running errands at the drop of a hat for his main professor, the erudite and himself quite enigmatic Iranian scholar in exile Javad Sefadhi, flying off to Syria and India and Spain for a few days here and there. But nothing he does gives him more pleasure than tooling around the hills east of Santa Barbara or driving up into the Santa Cruz Mountains with his new beloved.
The young English student's love of California is almost as great as his attraction to Camilla and is in evidence every time Iyer turns his hand at drawing the landscape. "As they turned onto Painted Cave Road," he writes, "an ancient canyon on one side, poison oak, thick trees, a gurgling stream on the bottom, they were taken farther from the world than ever, the road closing in on them on both sides and the rocks above enforcing a kind of sovereignty. The switchbacks were harsh, and up above, when they stopped beside the canyon, the markings in the Chumash cave showed scorpions, circles, snakes. Whatever you might believe about California was here, on this shaded road: the ancient signs, the open bright sky. Farther up, nothing but rolling hills and mountains in the distance, Cachuma Lake blue in the sultry afternoon."
And at first Camilla seems to fit right in, a prototypical California girl, a pretty erratic geist to Macmillan's quickly running out zeit, remaining as elusive as a fabled new Sufi manuscript that the young scholar has been searching for all around the world. She arrives at his apartment early, early in the morning, stays a day or so, and then disappears for a while. The fault lies in her childhood, she seems to imply. "All the time I was growing up," she tells John, "I was always sure I was going to be abandoned." And she lets on that he abandons her for his work, a situation that allows Iyer to play on the double idea of abandonment -- describing both deser-
tion and rapture, religious and sexual -- throughout the novel. The closer he feels toward her, the more she moves away. The closer she would like to be, the sooner he's off on another world journey.
Which is not a bad rhythm to employ when dramatizing the ups and downs, the come-hithers and the keep-your-distances of a contemporary love affair, and not a bad metaphor to invoke when dramatizing a young literary sleuth's quest for certain meaning in manuscripts in an old language about ambiguous theological matters. At some distance, meaning seems authentic. Draw close, and the letters and meaning blur.
It's probably best to read Iyer's novel in that light, as a desertion of realism (because graduate work has never been this much fun or interesting or laden with so much intrigue) and as a rapturous narrative about the pains and pleasures of serious affection. It's the perfect gift for young scholars in any field, tied with a bow by the prolific world traveler Pico Iyer.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are
inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are
powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not
our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask
ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you
not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing
small does not serve the world. There is
nothing enlightened about shrinking so that
other people will not feel insecure around you.
We are born to make manifest the glory of God
that is within us. It is not in just some of
us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own
light shine, we unconsciously give people
permission to do the same. As we are liberated
from our own fear, our presence automatically
--Marianne Williamson (sometimes incorrectly attributed to Nelson Mandela)
in the neural network soap
life is but a dream
on a never ending cruise
with nobody at the wheel
In the heart of life, if we pause long enough, go deep enough
listen, we may hear the beating, the rhythmic pounding of life's very
essence, of our fears, joys, longings, hopes, dreams, nightmares...
In the heart of life lies a steady pulse, a never ceasing rhythm of
all that exists - has ever existed - of all that we have created out
of our collective imaginings in this obscure bubble of time and
space. We move through it, finding our way, making our choices, at
times simply giving in to the rhythm itself, allowing it to cradle
us, allowing us - if only for one brief moment - to just be... to
feel the timelessness of our very existence.
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