Sources of Compassion and Happiness

 

I have been pondering on the question: Is compassion inborn or can it be acquired through learning and practicing in a lifetime? Though I easily recognize compassion when I see it in another person, it is difficult for me to evaluate how compassionate I am as a person or if the degree of my compassion varies depending on the context. When I observe the people (more…)

The Novice Who Had Some Gold


A novice had a little store of gold.
His sheikh knew this, although he had not been told.

There was a journey that they had to make –
The two set out, the young man and his sheikh;

Then night came to the valley where they walked,
And into the path they followed forked,

The novice trembled for his hidden gold
(Which makes its owners less than bold);

“Which way to you advise?” he asked his sheikh.
“There are two paths; which is the best to take?”

The sheikh said: “Throw out what you cannot hide,
Then either way will do –you decide.”

Let gold win someone’s heart, and when that is done
Even the devil, out of fear, will run.

When gold is weighed, what arguments ensue:
“One grain too many!” “No, one grain too few!”

A king when cheating people, but a fool
When faith is mentioned –a bewildered mule.

The man whom shining gold can lead astray
Is captured by the world, he is lost his Way.

October 25, 2018

Farîd-od-Dîn ‘Attâr (1146-1221). The Canticle of the Birds. Translated from the Persian by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis. Paris: Diane de Selliers, Éditeur, 2013.

The Moths and the Flame

 

Moths gathered in a fluttering throng one night
To learn the truth about the candle’s light,

And they decided one of them should go
To gather news of the elusive glow.

One flew till the distance he discerned
A palace window where a candle burned – (more…)

Words of Truth

On the path of Truth, all faiths and religions are one, race and color have no relevance, and there is no difference between men and women.[1]

This saying is from Words of Truth, the unique book of wisdom I am going to write about today. Compiled by Dr. Bahram Elahi, Words of Truth is a collection of sayings based on the teachings of his father Ostad Elahi (1895-1974). Having read it a few years ago, I go back to it whenever I am in need of an answer or looking for guidance. It is a handbook of wisdom, and of practical points on how to conduct a “good life” while becoming a true human being.

Ostad Elahi was a renowned Persian magistrate and musician who dedicated his life to the search of Truth, and to acquiring self-knowledge. Having spent first 25 years of his life in asceticism and traditional spirituality, he renounced traditional mysticism in order to join society. He undertook the judicial career to become a magistrate, and started to build his innovative approach to spirituality. Ostad Elahi’s approach is based on his personal experiences, observations, and research. The key features of his teachings are practical and adaptable to everyday life, regardless of religion or gender.

His lifetime quest for Truth resumes:

“Truth” is knowing what we are, where we have come from, what duties we have here and where our ultimate destination lies. To access the Truth, we must devote ourselves to the pursuit of this knowledge and seek to understand it through practice.[2]

 In this quest for Truth, the essential prerequisite is to become truly human.

A true human being’s natural inclination is to always strive to have a positive impact; his actions benefit society and he is well-liked by others. In other words, when a person becomes truly human, his nature dictates that his actions always be beneficent[3]…[he] rejoices in the happiness of others and shares in their sorrows. The other sign of a true human being is to feel an aversion toward vile deeds and all that is contrary to one’s conscience and dignity.[4]

 However, there is a major obstacle in the pursuit of Truth, which is the inevitable “confrontation with the imperious self”[5]. This confrontation entails an ongoing fight against the imperious self’s instincts and illegitimate desires that urge for immediate gratification. It also does not take into account reason or law, or the rights of the others. This fight thus accumulates “a strong negative psychic energy which is harmful for the soul and which prevents us to see the Truth”[6].

One should strive to strengthen the body, while at the same time fortifying the soul such that the body, with all its means, remains subservient to the soul. This approach to confronting the imperious self is analogous to a new science of medicine intended to purify the soul that I’ve come to realize through personal experience. The whole of the twelve years of asceticism that I endured prior to entering public service had less spiritual value than just a single year spent in a professional work environment.[7]

 The coherence of one’s actions, words and conduct in society is emphasized as an essential part of becoming human.

Words are one thing, for them to have an impact is another. By practicing that which we believe, our actions and words are endowed with impact. It is action alone that yields impact.[8]

Throughout the book, one can find answers to essential questions such as:

  • How to become a true human being and remain virtuous while living in society?
  • How to fight against the imperious self and advance in our quest for the Truth?
  • The immortality of the soul and what awaits us in the other world?

Words of Truth may be like a treatment for the soul. Every time I reopen this book and read even a few words, it cultivates an inner richness in me, and I see its noticeable impact on my everyday life. Its simple and sincere language provides me with the tools I need to enrich my self-knowledge and, who knows, to become one day a true human being.

If you want to discover Words of Truth for yourself, it’s published and available in the following languages:

D.Bruce

15 June 2018

[1] Saying 21

[2] Saying 1

[3] Saying 4

[4] Saying 277

[5] Introduction, French edition page 16 (translated by the author of this article) .

[6] Introduction, French edition page 16.

[7] Saying 322

[8] Saying 337

Homage to Hafez-e Shirazi

 

A flower- tinted cheek, the flowery close

Of the fair earth, these are enough for me –

Enough that in the meadow wanes and grows

The shadow of a graceful cypress tree.

I am no lover of hypocrisy;

Of all the treasures that the earth can boast,

A brimming cup of wine I prize the most –

This is enough for me!

 

To them that here renowned for virtue live,

A heavenly palace is the meet reward;

To me, the drunkard and the beggar, give

The temple of the grape with red wine stored!

Beside a river seat thee on the sward;

It floweth past –so flows thy life away,

So sweetly, swiftly, fleets our little day –

Swift, but enough for me!

 

Look upon all the gold in the world’s mart,

On all the tears the world hath shed in vain;

Shall they not satisfy thy craving heart?

I have enough of loss, enough of gain;

I have my Love, what more can I obtain?

Mine is the joy of her companionship

Whose healing lip is laid on my lip –

This is enough for me!

 

I pray thee send not forth my naked soul

From its poor house to seek for paradise;

Though heaven and earth before me God unroll,

Back to thy village still my spirit flies.

And, Hafız, at the door of Kısmet lies

No just complaint –a mind like water clear,

A song that swells and dies upon the ear,

This is enough for me!

 

Hafez-e Shirazi

Translated by Gertrude Bell

The Hafez Poems of Gertrude Bell. 2007. Maryland: Ibex Publishers, p.73.

 

The 5 characteristics of people who well take care of their mental health

For most people being mentally healthy means being up, alive and happy. For they know that mental health needs taking care equally as the body does. Going on being in the midst of thousands of thoughts crossing the mind every day and different shades of emotions coloring one’s mood, all the while being exposed to numerous stimuli from the external environment how can the human being keep his or her mind clear, healthy and in well order?

Here are the 5 things they do which bring them the “mental wellness”:

  • Attention and mindfulness: The typical practice is taking 3 minutes of pause every day to review their actions, choices and reactions.
  • Seeing the good: They spend effort to see the good in whatever happens and with whoever it happens to be such that it becomes a daily exercise for their mental wellness.
  • Self-compassion: They regard themselves with compassion, aware of their shortcomings they know they are not perfect and they are willing to forgive themselves.
  • Physical well-being: As one takes care of his body, it gives way to take care of the mind and the soul as well as reducing the stress and depression levels.
  • Altruism: They help others. Consequently, they become happier and such kind of happiness lasts longer. They live longer.

 

Duygu Bruce

April 25, 2017

Psychology Today, March 2017.

Journey of the Souls

One of the richest books I’ve read about the spiritual worlds and the life of the soul. Michael Newton, PhD, the renowned hypnotherapist is set out to write this phenomenal book based on the case reports of 29 patients that he worked with in his professional practice as a counselor and therapist. He reflects on his life, and becoming the author of this book in the following recollection: (more…)

One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich

The true story of a dutiful Russian soldier wrongly accused of treason and sentenced to ten years in a Siberian labor camp –the gulag –where there is no escape but death out in the cold, dark and bare tundras. The very existence of the gulag system was enough to keep the (more…)

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