Saturday, August 30, 2008

quatrain 62

From Sunlight, three versions of quatrain 62:
If you want to live, leave your banks,
as a small stream enters the Oxus, miles wide,
or as cattle moving around a millstone
suddenly circle to the top of the sphere.

version by Coleman Barks

Are you searching for your soul?
Then come out of your prison.
Leave the stream and join the river
that flows into the ocean.
Absorbed in this world
you've made it your burden.
Rise above this world.
There is another vision…

trans Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi

if you want to find yourself
leave yourself alone
wade in no little creek
swim in the big flow
you are that bull
who carries the world
revolt for once
and topple the globe.

trans Nader Khalili

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

beauty and beast

Carla Bruni shadowing the Dalai Lama during his visit to France.
Dalai Lama with Carla

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

invitation to Islam?

From sunlight, a passage from the Masnavi that seems to invite the reader to Islam:
All selfish pleasures are false:
surrounding that flash of lightning is a wall of darkness.
The lightning gleams but a moment,
then surrounded by darkness, you'll find the way long.
By that light you can neither read a letter
nor ride to your destination.
But, because of your enchantment with the lightning,
the beams of sunrise withdraw from you.
Mile after mile through the night
the lightning's deception leads you,
without a guide, in a dark wilderness.

One moment you fall against a mountain, the next into a river;
now you wander in this direction, now in that.
O seeker of worldly position, you'll never find the guide;
and if you find him, you'll turn your face from him,
saying, "I've already traveled sixty miles on this road,
and now this guide tells me I've lost my way.
If I pay attention to his strange advice,
I'd have to begin my journey all over again under his orders.
I've devoted my life to this journey:
I'll pursue it come what may. Go away, O master!"

"Yes, you have journeyed far,
but only in opinion insubstantial as lightning:
come, make even a tenth of that journey
for the sake of the glorious sun of Divine inspiration.
You have read the verse, Opinion cannot serve instead of truth,
and yet by a lightning flash like that
you've been blinded to a rising sun.
Listen, climb into our boat, O wretched one,
or at least tie that boat of yours to this boat."

Mathnawi VI: 4094-4106
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski

A possible verse from the Koran as referred to in "You have read the verse" at the 5th line from the end:
6:116 Pickthall
If thou obeyedst most of those on earth they would mislead thee far from Allah's way. They follow naught but an opinion, and they do but guess.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

fine words

Salim Mansur has some fine words to say about the American people today:
Folks in Middle America are realists. Middle America, besides geography, also refers to the American character -- irrespective of ethnic origin -- of being proud of a country built by the love and sacrifice of previous generations into the greatest power in history.

Middle Americans uncomplainingly run the daily routines of keeping America free, prosperous and strong. Theirs is a story of unfailing optimism, generosity, courage and romance.

from Salim Mansur: Kerry, too, was the media darling

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Friday, August 01, 2008

a shameful conquest of itself

[...] "This England that was wont to conquer others," wrote Shakespeare, "hath made a shameful conquest of itself." [...] The country's lack of self-confidence is in stark contrast to the implacability of its Islamist terrorist enemy, within and without. [...] Thus, we are in a confused and vulnerable condition. Some believe that we are already at war; but all may agree that generally a peace-time mentality prevails. In all three ways — our social fragmentation, the sense of premonition, and the divisions about what our stance should be — there are uneasy similarities with the years just before the First World War.

We are fortunate in not having the specific external state enemies who once posed threats to the British state and against whom we could therefore define ourselves. There has been no straight substitution of the Cold War threat with another threat of different source but similar type. But the range and nature of the threats to the security of British citizens in 2008 are not confined solely to what the Islamists call their "jihad" against the West.

A shifting complex of risks faces us. An adequate approach to Britain's security in the next few years must address questions that are intricate, delicate, and strange to our conventional way of thinking. The familiar categories of "home" and "abroad," which have long reassured the British in a deep part of their national identity, are breaking down. We know much less about what threatens us and how it does so than our official policies assert.

from Gwyn Prins and Robert Salisbury, "Risk, Threat and Security," quoted at Middle East Quarterly

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