“In Baghdad, Dreaming of Cairo; In Cairo, Dreaming of Baghdad”

A story from Rumi. Strange how all who ask questions are sent to Cairo.

No more muffled drums!
Uncover the drumheads!

Plant your flag in an open field!
No more timid peeking around.

Either you see the beloved,
or you lose your head!

If your throat’s not ready for that wine, cut it!
If your eyes don’t want the fullness of union,
let them turn white with disease.

Either this deep desire of mine
will be found on this journey,
or when I get back home!

It may be that the satisfaction I need
depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone
and come back, I’ll find it at home.

I will search for the Friend with all my passion
and all my energy, until I learn
that I don’t need to search.

The real truth of existence is sealed,
until after many twists and turns of the road.

As in the algebraical method of “the two errors,”
the correct answer comes only after two substitutions,
after two mistakes. Then the seeker says,

“If I had known the real way it was,
I would have stopped all the looking around.”

But that knowing depends
on the time spent looking!

Just as the sheikh’s debt could not be paid
until the boy’s weeping, the story we told in Book II.

You fear losing a certain eminent position.
You hope to gain something from that, but it comes
from elsewhere. Existence does this switching trick,
giving you hope from one source, then
satisfaction from another.
It keeps you bewildered
and wondering, and lets your trust in the unseen grow.

You think to make your living from tailoring,
but then somehow money comes in
through goldsmithing,
which had never entered your mind.

I don’t know whether the union I want will come
through my effort, or my giving up effort,
or from something completely separate
from anything I do or don’t do.

I wait and fidget and flop about
as a decapitated chicken does, knowing that
the vital spirit has to escape this body
eventually, somehow!

This desire will find an opening.

There was once a man
who inherited a lot of money and land.

But he squandered it all too quickly. Those who inherit
wealth don’t know what work it took to get it.

In the same way, we don’t know the value of our souls,
which were given to us for nothing!

So the man was left alone without provisions,
an owl in the desert.
The prophet has said
that the true seeker must be completely empty like a lute
to make the sweet music of Lord, Lord.

When the emptiness starts to get filled with something,
the one who plays the lute puts it down
and picks up another.

There is nothing more subtle and delightful
than to make that music.
Stay empty and held
between those fingers, where where
gets drunk with nowhere.
This man was empty,
and the tears came. His habitual stubbornness
dissolved. This is the way with many seekers.

They moan in prayer, and the perfumed smoke of that
floats into heaven, and the angels say, “Answer
this prayer. This worshiper has only you
and nothing else to depend on. Why do you go first
to the prayers of those less devoted?”
God says,
“By deferring my generosity I am helping him.
His need dragged him by the hair into my presence.
If I satisfy that, he’ll go back to being absorbed
in some idle amusement. Listen how passionate he is!
That torn-open cry is the way he should live.”

Nightingales are put in cages
because their songs give pleasure.
Whoever heard of keeping a crow?

When two people, one decrepit and the other young
and handsome, come into a bakery where the baker
is an admirer of young men, and both of them
ask for bread, the baker will immediately
give what he has on hand to the old man.

But to the other he will say, “Sit down and wait awhile.
There’s fresh bread baking in the house. Almost ready!”

And when the hot bread is brought, the baker will say,
“Don’t leave. The halvah is coming!”

So he finds ways of detaining the young man with,
“Ah, there’s something important I want to tell you about.
Stay. I’ll be back in a moment. Something very important!”

This is how it is when true devotees
suffer disappointment
in the good they want to do,
or the bad they want to avoid.

So this man with nothing, who had inherited everything
and squandered it, kept weeping, Lord, Lord!

Finally in a dream he heard a voice, “Your wealth
is in Cairo. Go there to such and such a spot
and dig, and you’ll find what you need.”

So he left on the long journey,
and when he saw the towers of Cairo,
he felt his back grow warm with new courage.

But Cairo is a large city,
and before he could find the spot,
he had to wander about.

He had no money, of course, so he begged
among the townspeople, but he felt ashamed doing that.
He decided, “I will go out at night
and call like the night-mendicants that people
throw coins into the street for.”
Shame and dignity and hunger
were pushing him forward and backward and sideways!

Suddenly, he was seized by the night patrol.
It so happened that many had been robbed recently
in Cairo at night, and the caliph had told the police
to assume that anyone out roaming after dark
was a thief.
It’s best not to let offenders go unpunished.
Then they poison the whole body of society. Cut off
the snakebitten finger! Don’t be sympathetic
with thieves. Consider instead
the public suffering. in those days
robbers were expert, and numerous!

So the night patrol grabbed the man.
“Wait!
I can explain!”
“Tell me.”
“I am not a criminal.
I am new to Cairo. I live in Baghdad.” He told the story
of his dream and the buried treasure,
and he was so believable in the telling that
the night patrolman began to cry. Always,
the fragrance of truth has that effect.
Passion
can restore healing power, and prune the weary boughs
to new life. The energy of passion is everything!

There are fake satisfactions that simulate passion.
They taste cold and delicious,
but they just distract you and prevent you
from the search. They say,
“I will relieve your passion.
Take me. Take me!”
Run from false remedies
that dilute your energy. Keep it rich and musky.

The night patrol said, “I know you’re not a thief.
You’re a good man, but you’re kind of a fool.
I’ve had that dream before.
I was told, in my dream,
that there was a treasure for me in Baghdad,
buried in a certain quarter of the city
on such and such street.”
The name of the street
that he said was where this man lived!
“And the dream-
voice told me, ‘It’s in So-and-so’s house.
Go there and get it!'”
Without knowing,
he had described the exact house,
and mentioned this man’s name!
“But I didn’t do
what the dream said to do, and look at you,
who did, wandering the world, fatigued,
and begging in the streets!”
So it came quietly
to the seeker, though he didn’t say it out loud,
“What I’m longing for lived in my house in Baghdad!”

He filled with joy. He breathed continuous praise.
Finally he said,
“The water of life is here.
I’m drinking it. But I had to come
this long way to know it!”

-Rumi

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Homeward-Bound

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“If light is in your heart, you will find your way home.”
-Rumi

This road keeps getting stranger and stranger. This path has gone through the pits of hell and the heights of heaven, thrown me into too many incredible people, broken me, mended me, stripped me of everything, given me everything, tossed me and turned me in all its own unimaginable ways, and it has made me.

Truth is, nothing has gone quite according to plan. I am not entirely the person I expected myself to become.

Somehow this path has twisted and turned so many times, and life has given me so many unnecessary, but essential, stops. It’s made me who I am, and I am somehow happy with that.

My only one certain truth, is that I am still walking this road, and wherever it takes me, I hope I’m heading home.

There is this energy greater than hope; something inside me knows I’m heading home.

We all carry this truth inside us.

Somehow we all carry this memory of home. Something inside you reminds me of the home I’d left so long ago, maybe eighteen years ago, and maybe many years before. (Funny that we try to measure these things with our own blurred concept of time.)

Something inside us is walking towards the same destination; clear your road that I may find you there, and perhaps, with any luck, we can walk together.

On Caring, a Little Too Much

I don’t know when it started, and I’m sure as the heavens I could never exactly pin-point it, but at some point in this short intense life of mine, I started caring, a little too much.

Here’s how it goes: it’s both universal and person-specific, both internally and externally displayed, though more internally devastating (but I can think of times where it really was physically devastating as well), and both fulfilling and depressing with res

ults ranging from “saving a fellow man” to simply scaring people off.(I bear-hug, a lot, for that matter, haha)

Universally, I’m a great believer in the power of good men (hence this blog’s name; if you’ve yet to notice that). I’m also a great believer in what I like to call social responsibility, wherein a person is inherently entitled to help and be kind to other people. That’s good I guess, it’s not that bad; makes me sound naïve to a bunch of moral indifferents but I never minded them.

I never minded anyone too much really. But there are people I do mind, and these are the ones I make the too-often-fatal mistake of individually caring for and loving.

See there’s a fine line here, a fine line between caring for people because that’s just what you do, and caring for people because somewhere inside, you’ve made an either intentional or unintentional link between your two souls, and tied a rope a little too tight around something that’s supposed to be sturdy enough to hold the bonding and breaking of a myriad lives’ courses in an endless cycle of love-and-leave or an undetermined and emotionally detached cycle of live-and-serve.

The problem is when you stumble upon a person, and you give in to the temptation of love. For a man of service, that indeed, is a tragedy, both dear and dire.

Perhaps it is that they expect a man of service to love without attachment, to offer of himself without holding to another. Perhaps it is that true care and love can only be expressed in their most raw sense, attachment.

But then, what is such a man to do when the love of one precludes the active service of another?

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No-Names Hall

Let not the wild of bad men rise,
Out through the mouths of good men wise,
And not the feats of good men stay,
Mere compensation for worse yet day.

If t’will not come on good man’s day,
To say a word and nations call,
There’ll come a time where good lands may,
Honor such in no-names hall.

A hall so wide and stretching long,
‘Tis no man’s hall and all men’s place,
All good men’s hall and bad men’s fall,
And suffers not the bad man’s chase.

And in the hall the incense burns,
To honor those who’ve come and gone,
Left a life in spec or seed,
And come unto the holy one.

The holy one, he looks on all,
The greatest name in no-names hall.

The holy one, whose angels call,
The greatest name in no-names hall.

on the 14th of December, 2013

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My Daily Prayer: “Lord, Call Me Again”

Below is my daily prayer which was written on a whim after I had practically been singing it all morning one day.

It does not follow a specific rhyme scheme (though I did eventually tweak a few parts). It’s really just something I like to go back to every once in a while.

The reason why this prayer of mine is so dear to me is because it often serves as a reminder of my calling and purpose: reminiscent of the time I first found God, when everything fell into place, when all suddenly made perfect sense, and when I learned that if there were anything worth devoting oneself to, it was the humble service of good, and the faithful service of the God of the good.

Therefore I share this with you, in the hope that it may inspire, guide, or help at least one person out there in the honest pursuit of God. (P.S: if you happen to be that person: contact me right away!)

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Lord, Call Me Again

Lord, Heavenly Father,
Lord, Light of my day.

Lord, there is no greater,
Than your heavenly name.

Lord, Father almighty,
Lord, Tender and right.

Lord, I have no worry,
For you bless me with grace.

Lord, I ask you nothing,
But to serve in your name.
But to fight in your battles,
Till the end of my days.

Lord, Call me again,
Lord, To serve in your glory,
For the glory of faith.

God, Serve me not comfort,
God, Serve me not wine,
But serve me to serve you,
Oh father of mine.

Lord, I hear you breathing,
With every breath I take.
Lord, As the sun rises,
Lord, I thank you today.

Lord, Call me again,
Lord, Guide me, Command me,
I, your faithful slave.

God, there is no greater,
Than to serve in the name,
Of a master so righteous,
Of a master so dear.

Lord, father of every,
Living creature and man,
Lord, Look at your people,
That look to you this day.

Lord, Help me to serve you,
Lord, Call me by name.
Christ, I want to know you,
More everyday.

Lord, Call me again,
To be by your people,
Serve them more each day.

Lord, I hear you breathing,
With every breath I take.
Lord, All that I ask you,
Is to bless my day.

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Hello dear readers and fellow pursuers of God!

I hope you have enjoyed this short prayer.

Feel free to share this with a friend and also like, comment, reply, tweet, post, share, reblog, or even start a side-talk with me on the matter!

Always a pleasure hearing from you!
God Bless your day!

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See you soon.

The Three Layers of Self: A Personal Doctrine

“The Three Layers of Self” is the title of a basic personal theological concept I live by.

To illustrate, man’s drives can be arranged into three categories:

Socio-Spiritual Morality/Interaction (the domain of the soul),
Intellectual Curiosity (the domain of the mind),
Somatic Pleasure (the domain of the body).

The three layers are thus, and in the divine unalterable order:

1)Soul
2)Mind
3)Body

The soul longs for God and human companionship, and in its longing for God also longs for God’s morality and thus sets the moral law for the rest of the self.

The mind longs to share in God’s glory, and thus seeks to understand the creation of God, and in the case of theologians, to understand God himself. Also, not only does the mind marvel at the work of God, but it sets out to mimic Creation itself through its own God-given innovative power. Also, it provides practical solutions to trivial worldly problems. In other words, the mind is the mediator between the earth and the heavens, the body and the soul. It spreads over the abstract and the concrete.

The body longs to maintain itself through nutrition and other needs, also longing to achieve pleasure through fulfilling those needs. However, the true function of the body is to fulfill the righteous longings of the soul and mind.

I find that any change in the priority of one over the other would spell disaster.

The mind and body must always remain subordinate to the soul.

A mind insubordinate to a soul is catastrophe served on a silver plate.

For example, it was, disregarding morality, very logical to force slaves into picking cotton and starving them to death back in the darker days of America. Nevertheless, after the restoration of Government morality under the guidance of Lincoln, slavery was later abolished.

That is an exact example of why the soul must always rule over the mind.

In whatever we commit to, we must place first, our entire souls, second, our entire minds, and finally, our bodies.

The three layers of the self must always remain in perfect harmony; any conflict between the three must be resolved under the light of a moral code, the soul.

Conflict between the desires and longings of man is the most basic cause of psychological disorder.
To make a reference to Lincoln:

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
-Abraham Lincoln

I find this applies perfectly not only concerning society but also and most importantly concerning the individual.

I firmly state, nevertheless, that an internal discrepancy between the three must often be fought. Thus we must possess the courage to wage an internal war, regardless of the confusion it is sure to immerse us in, in the hope of restoring and establishing a better person within ourselves.

In the end, remember to always place your morality before your practicality, and your thought before your actions.

The true value of any thought is its relevance under the light of a supreme moral code, and the true value of any action is its relevance under the guidance of the mind and the supremacy of the soul.

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
-Abraham Lincoln

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Share, repost, reply, tweet, or send to a friend.
Also feel free to start a private conversation with me on the matter. Always a pleasure hearing from my readers.

10 Everyday Good Deeds

For years, history has marveled at the great feats of leaders and peoples, strange though, it is seldom noted the almost invisible everyday actions that have kept the spirit of humbleness and good alive since the dawn of time.

We speak of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall for example, but often overlook or barely ever truly grasp the yearning of separated families and friends to reunite.

For years, neighbors have smiled at each other, carried heavy loads into each other’s homes, consoled each other, and stood by each other. And that same invisible yearning of man to help his fellows has been and forever will be the cornerstone of any righteous society.

A couple thousand years ago, Jesus established the highest commandment, “Love thy neighbor”. He knew that if there were any hope for the sustainability of a society, it was in the simple everyday acts of little people.

“We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle

I would argue with that one Greek mind that we are rather our thoughts, and our thoughts may not always materialize into actions.

I would most certainly agree though, that what we repeatedly do does indeed have a decisive impact on what we become.

It is thus in this hope that I publish this article, the hope that if we as fellow men, could make a habit of doing good things, perhaps, someday, these habits may internalize to make us all overall better people, good people.

The beauty of an action resides in the invisible motivation that exists within, man’s enthusiasm to help his fellow man. The charity we offer others may never be returned to us, but may I remind you of the Ripple Effect; every action we do, good or bad, sends a ripple into the fabric of the world, and thus allows us to decide every day, what kind of a world we seek to establish.

You will find listed below 10 everyday good deeds, and I would only like to add that good deeds done for personal merit have to them a selfish origin, which makes them vile altogether. Rather, a good deed must always be done with an honest and open heart, not for any personal gain, but for the humble service of others.

1. Smile more! Smile at people on the street (not at night), at school, at work, on the bus, at the supermarket! A smile is an acceptable and wonderful gesture almost anywhere and the truth is, it really does brighten other people’s day as well as yours. It’s infectious, and the first person you’ll turn happy is actually yourself! Also, consider this, you never know for sure what kind of life someone’s leading, for all you know, your smile might just set the landslide victory against something as hopeless as suicide.

2. Offer to carry things for others. So truth is, with the rising trend of consumerism (and schools and colleges’ rising preference for heavy textbooks!) everyone’s carrying at least something around these days, and offering to help someone out with that daily load every once in a while can really let the person know that somewhere out there, there are still people like yourself that genuinely care about helping them out.

3. Surprise family members with snacks or drinks. If by any chance you happen to have a workaholic father like mine, you know for sure that he’s not going to stop for one second to even chew as much as a raisin before he finishes whatever he’s working on. Thing is, we’ve all at least had some time when we realized a family member was just working a bit too hard, and just to show we appreciate that extra effort, or that long enduring stream of hard work, I think a glass of water would be just wonderful!
Get creative, come up with snacks or maybe chop up some fruit, they’re almost guaranteed to appreciate it. Who knows, as far as modern work days go, you might just set the highlight for someone’s day!

4. Listen. It’s nothing hard, nothing new, nothing you’ve never been nagged about, but still, it’s essential and even sometimes (like when it’s really dreadfully boring), it might just be a good deed on your part. Say your friend’s been going through a lot lately, sure you’ve got your own problems, but really, providing that little extra support, lending an ear to an ailing friend, or maybe just listening to your grandma’s same old stories, could mean the world to them.

If you could count the number of people around you that are desperate for someone to give them the care to lend an ear, I’d place a good bet you’d have only counted half as many as there truly are. Listen to people, give them your time and attention, let them know they matter.

5. Make small-talk with someone you wouldn’t otherwise talk to. We all have this one person we see every day but who we’ve really never spoken to. It might be that janitor from work or school, that weird guy that nobody talks to, that new kid who’s having trouble “fitting in”, heck it might even be your next-door neighbor!

The matter at hand is that humans are social beings, and no matter how strong or independent they seem, they’re always in need of that daily dose of interaction. I’m not in any way implying that these people are your charity or that they should be grateful that your highness has stooped so low to talk to them.

All I’m saying is, a lot of people out there are lacking that daily interaction, and that little “good morning” won’t cost you more than a couple calories in return for helping your fellow man.

6. Compliment. So you’ve got this friend who’s always there for you, that guy who’s like a math genius, and that girl who’s wearing a brand new pair of earrings. What do they all have in common? They’d all like a compliment every now and then (unless that girl just spends her life in a mall and buys new earrings every day). With low-self-esteem complexes having reached a record high within the past decade, I think it’s important to reassure that friend that you do appreciate him, that kid that he is brilliant, and that girl that she really does look pretty (knowing that it isn’t the only criterion for her self-worth).

Everyone likes to be complimented from time to time, it boosts their confidence, helping to avoid depression and a number of psychological disorders. So for the sanity of the earth, a couple honest words of appreciation or admiration won’t cost you a nickel, in fact, you might actually gain some friends. Just make sure you don’t waste your time complimenting the already-inflated ego-centric types who really don’t care or deserve it.

7. Say “Thank You”! So this sounds more like a manners kind of thing, like what you were (hopefully) taught as a toddler, but the reason why in the name of all things good this ended up on the good deeds list is, simply put, because the genuine display of gratitude is an integral part of every Good Man’s code of conduct.

I’m not telling you to recite “Thank you” over every single occasion fitting, but rather to live, eat, breathe, sleep and maybe even snore with an awareness and appreciation of the labor of others.

If you can’t think of at least a couple of people that deserve that kind of appreciation, I’d recommend you take a clinical screening test for sociopathy.

8. Give someone a surprise text message telling them how much you appreciate them. Ah yes, the positive side of pop culture (who knew it even existed!).

Surprise someone with a special text every now and then. It’s made my day almost every time someone’s done that for me! Use every bit of the objects and the technology that surround you in an effort to help and empower your fellow man.

9. Be generous. Stinginess is the mark of the beast, keep that in mind. Whenever you start thinking of preserving your own personal savings as something superior to putting those savings in good use by helping others, let that sentence just flash by you for at least a moment or two, if you don’t feel the least bit guilty, may I again suggest, take a screening for sociopathy.

It doesn’t matter how much money you donate, it matters how much of your own wants and needs you are giving up to help others.

Generosity must not always relate to monetary value; time, I believe is a donation as well.

The Franciscans believe in only saving what little you need to survive and donating all the rest to the benefit of the needy. As extreme as that sounds, I’ve found it not only brings a smile upon the faces of the helped, but also enriches the lives of the helping.

10. Spread the light. If, like me, you have been pledged to the peaceful service of the glory of God almighty, bathed with holy water, and anointed with oil, you may also know that you have a duty to spread the light that you’ve been given. A very telling analogy on the matter is the saying,

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”

I’ve personally taken the habit of tweeting Bible verses and otherwise simple words on God, positivity, charity, hope, among other such topics, and though it often feels like a useless burden, once in a while, someone sends me a text, a message, or somehow informs me that my tweets have helped them, guided them or even inspired them, and without exception, it warms my heart to the very core. (You know yourselves!)

I’m not telling you to shove your religious or spiritual philosophy down anyone’s throat, religion is something that must be freely accepted. I can’t seem to stress enough on that. What I’m saying is that, in the least, we have a duty in reminding people of God’s love for them.

Also, don’t ever judge people because there’s always more than meets the eye with human beings.

More than anything, it’s about setting people back on track towards the light, and towards the purpose that God has assigned them.

“The beauty of an action resides in the invisible motivation that exists within, and the graceful solemnity with which it is given.”

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Please feel free to comment, like, reblog, or just start a side-talk with me on the matter, always looking forward to hearing from you!