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Showing posts from April, 2012

Be Free, Part Four: True Attachments

For 15 months we've been hearing news of people being killed for no reason almost every month. Most of them were young people, they were the best in us. They gave their lives for us to live a better life, they went to the front lines and fought, not afraid of death. It breaks my heart, and most of others' hearts that they died and none of their dreams came true. With every martyr who left us, a piece of my heart was broken and it won't mend until we make them proud and punish every single person who stole them from us. My heart broke although I didn't personally know anyone who has been killed, but when it came to someone I partially knew the pain was so different.
Karim Khouzam was "officially" one of my students, bur the course didn't involve me giving classes, so I never met him in person. But to come to think that he was a person who went to the same place I went to everyday, a friend of many people I know, and also a neighbor... It just hurt ten tim…

Be Free, Part Three: Love and Other Obsessions

There is a fine line between love and obsessions... Excess of love toward something or someone is an obsession. Yes, love is infinite but it is where this love is directed that makes it infinitely healthy. Since the strongest types of love is a partner to partner love, this is what I'm going to use as an example.
There are three phases of love, and each phase can turn this love into an obsession:
Looking for love
We all want to be in love and to be loved back, having a lover is like life's candy. But of course we're not all necessarily in love all the time. What happens when we're not in love is that we search everywhere for that love. Some might want to be in love because of how good it feels, because that's how life should be, because they want to find the right person to make a family with, etc. Others, who need to find love will have their whole lives revolve about this aim; to find a person to love. Their reasons for needing rather than wanting could be the sa…

Against the Current

She looked up to the ocean's droplets on the dark endless carpet. It was a moonless night, dark as emptiness, but the droplets shined like hope amid desperation. She looked up to a witness of endless memories, she looked up to the eternal view. Nature was so silent, not the sound of the waves of the sea, not the whistles of the air. It was only them and nature, they too were silent. She looked up while he looked down, he looked down to the soft golden crystals, he looked to the castles, hills and holes. He looked down to the memories of yesterday that won't be here tomorrow. He looked to grains ready to shape endless memories. They sat together but were in different worlds, the smell of lands of far away brought them back to where they were. They both looked ahead to a world that never stops moving, to a life that could take them so far from home. They looked ahead to the way that might take them to different sides, he held her hand. They knew walking against the current would…

Sky of Silk

I have been waiting for this day all my life, the day my wings grow and set me free. I have lived in this cocoon for as long as I remember, others call it raw silk, but I call it prison. I have have waited to see the third dimension of the world, I have waited to fly in this sea of blue silk, real silk. I have waited to feel this borderless world, then the day came and I made my hole. I went out and spread my wings ready to fly thinking that now I have become free. Then a voice came to me, saying that I can only fly a few inches, that I belong on the ground. I felt my wings, and I felt strong, like I could do anything, like I could change the world. Then the voice came back to me telling me that I'm too small to make any difference, that I'm too big for my wings to carry me. I looked above, and I saw inspiration, I felt it fly through every scale. I knew I might be small, I knew my wings aren't that strong, but I knew that if I tried hard enough I will make it. I hovered…

Be Free, Part Two: Practical Examples

I have some practical examples for how choosing the right path would help us in being free from all obsessions. In this part I'll give examples on how each of the eight sides of the Noble Path can help us be free. In the next part, I'll speak of one of those things we confuse with obsessions.
Right Views: if you're Egyptian or an Arab or someone who follows world news, you'd know that we, here in Egypt, are having our first ever presidential elections. The example I'll give here is a weird one, but I have a point. We've seen what happened when the Salafi Abu Ismaeel was out of the presidential race because of his mother being American. We've seen that it has been proven so many times in so many ways, but the guy's supporters would not believe any word that has been said about it. They have decided to blindfold themselves and not believe anyone but Abu Ismaeel himself, and even though they have seen all the possible proofs, they are still fighting for so…

Fight for All

So today everyone is talking about Mona El Tahawy's piece in Foreign Policy, and the opinions have varied from complete hate to complete like. My opinion lies in the middle (Buddha style ;)), and although this post isn't really about El Tahawy's article let me just say a thing or two about it which will also lead to my opinion about problems with feminists in general. 
The first thing is that this article is more of a hate speech than shedding light on a serious cultural problem. And I see hate speech as a repulsive force that will stop one from actually seeing the real problem. And although I totally agree that anyone and everyone responsible for the disastrous oppression we're living in should be hated, I don't think these people are El Tahawy's audience. And the way she accuses a whole gender of these disasters will only result in many not wanting to go on with the reading. I know many feminists who would say to hell with anyone who doesn't want to read…

Be Free, Part One: Buddha

When I wrote my post about obsessions and attachments (Slaves), it was right after knowing about the teachings of Buddha. I understood that I should detach myself, but didn't know how. And although the answer lies in his great philosophy, my mind was too busy thinking about all the things it's attached to, and was unable to see how to set itself free from these attachments. I understood from Buddha back then that one should always find the middle way, as in one should enjoy whatever they wish to enjoy as long as it is not harmful, yet our lives should not depend on them. But I didn't know how to set myself free from obsessions that already exist. Of course there was the part about being attached to timeless values instead of everything that will eventually decay and die, but back then it didn't seem practical. Then after reading other people's opinions in the past few weeks, and after rereading Buddha's teachings, I think I now know how to set myself free, and…

Pen of Life

If you were my pen I'd draw my life with your ink in the color of happiness. You'd draw on leaves of Lotus, so pure as a baby's soul. Your words would tell the story of a quill that has stopped flying and landed down for a greater good. With every line you write you'll add meaning to the world. With every figure you draw a bird will be let out of that big cage of mine. The edits you make will bring my birds closer to the sky wisdom. With every line you draw under a word a new truth will be discovered. My dear pen, the day you stop drawing is the day my birds stop flying, is the day my world becomes dim, so never stop drawing all the beautiful meanings in the world.

The Silent Scream

The sound of my heartbreak is so loud that it shakes my walls, it is so deep inside me that it can't be heard. I run in circles in this garden of thorns trying to find the way out, but I'm locked up here inside of me. I want to end this misery, to jump off my cliff, but there's no place to fall. I look around in my circles trying to find my broken pieces, but they're gone. They left with the last hope of mending my soul. They've left me to a grey sky that never turns blue, it's the end of my light, the end of me. I wish I could share these burning flames that darken my days with someone, but I have lost the will to speak. The only thing that comes out whenever I open my mouth is the silent scream...

Ancient Egyptian Wisdom

What you are doing does not matter so much as what you are learning from doing it. · It is better not to know and to know that one does not know,than presumptuously to attribute some random meaning to symbols. The kingdom of heaven is within you; and whosoever shall know himself shall find it.There grows no wheat where there is no grain.  If the Master teaches what is error, the disciple's submission is slavery; if he teaches truth, this submission is ennoblement.The first concerning the 'secrets': all cognition comes from inside; we are therefore initiated only by ourselves, but the Master gives the keys.  When the student is ready, the Teacher will appear.Fair speech is more rare than the emerald that is found by slave-maidens on the pebbles.Great is Truth, appointing a straight path

Because She's a She...

The first baby, born to an upper middle class family. They're happy to have her, but they wait for the boy who's going to run the business, carry the name, be the owner of all that was made especially for him. A few years later he arrives, and they all celebrate, including his sister. They grow up and go to school, same school, but different allowance. The boy was always given more money, he was always given whatever he wanted. The girl was never treated badly, but the boy was always treated better.
Her curfew was always hours before her younger brother, and whenever she asked why she was told that girls shouldn't stay out late. Her brother starts smoking at a very young age, she knows about it but decides to stay silent, because she knows she will be blamed for not minding her own business. Her mother finds out, but never tells him stop or tells the father anything about it.
She grows up and becomes a beautiful young lady, just like all the other girls she's a victim…

When Nubians Ruled

April 18, 1964, A man sits by the Nile, holding his knees close to his chest. He looks around at the village he once called home, and he can't stop his tears. He gets up and leaves the abandoned city that was forcibly abandoned. He remembers the times he did not live, through the stories he has been told, stories of four other times when his ancestors had to leave their village. He grew up knowing that someday, he too will have to abandon the only place he could call home.
Some say that it's OK for them to leave their village for the greater good, and maybe this is true. But when leaving their village comes with abandoning their culture it becomes a great problem. I'll start what I have to say about Nubia with some history. The Nubian culture started evolving in the 5th millennium B.C. they were able to make a somewhat strong dynasty in South Egypt and Sudan, until later in around 1500 B.C. when the Ancient Egyptian dynasty conquered Nubia. Nubia has always been of a grea…

Proud

I'm Egyptian and proud! I'm Muslim and proud! I'm Christian and proud! I'm so proud to come from a country with all these monuments! I'm so proud that our football team is...awesome like that!
Have you ever wondered about all the things you're proud of? You were born an Egyptian (or of any other nationality for that matter), weren't you? Why are you then proud of something that you didn't work on gaining? You say you're a proud Muslim (for example), although you're only a Muslim because you were born that way. You can say you're proud if you were born an atheist then decided to... change creed. You say you're a proud descendant of the great Ancient Egyptians, when you had absolutely nothing to do with their civilization, if anyone should be proud it's them not you. They're the ones who worked hard to have this civilization and they're the ones who should feel proud, and they didn't! If you feel so proud because you belon…

Captured Regret

She lies awake every night in bed, regretting everything that has happened in the past year. She regrets every word she said, and every word left unsaid. She regrets everything she decided to do, everything she decided not do, she cries herself to sleep. She dreams every night, of undoing all that she has done. She dreams of making things all right again, then she wakes up and life takes her somewhere else never thinking or regretting anything.
She has grown up dreaming of being a professional photographer, she was talented and she loved it. She finished high school, took all her savings, bought a professional camera, and started on the path of her dreams. She loved capturing nature and that's what she did best. She took thousands of photos, ones that people loved, but never bought. "Nobody is interested in nature", she was always told. She had to find a job, but that would stop her from taking photos. She tried and tried to sell her photos, but no matter how good they …

The Street of Eden

It's that street I walk everyday, where I meet myself, my other self. It's where I reach my other world, my other life. It's where I reach happiness, happiness that gets me through my day, my life. It's that street filled with shops and coffee-shops, filled with people running in all directions. In my imagination it's nothing like that; it's that street with a garden in the middle. The garden of Eden, the garden of fulfilled dreams, of immortal hope, of eternal faith. The street is always clean, the sun is always shining there, the temperature is always at its best. The music plays all the time, comforting, relaxing music, a symphony sung by little birds. The scent of mixed flowers makes everyone walking there smile as they walk. No one is running, we're walking slowly enough to enjoy the view, quickly enough to benefit from the walk. We all know each other, we meet there everyday, we greet each other as we go, sometimes with just a smile or a quick gestur…

Peaceful Warrior

It's amazing how many of us want to be something else in their "other lives". It's like we're all stuck in this bubble we call life, doing what we have to do, not what we love to do. We keep our dreams stuck in our heads, never able to see the light because we're busy. Busy trying to make enough money to live, busy trying to find a spouse to satisfy the society, wearing the newest fashion, living a life that has nothing to do with the real dream...

In my other life I am a philosopher, a lover of wisdom. I roam the world spreading what I have learned in my short life. I help people find themselves, their passions. I help people believe in their dreams, to be who they want to be, to reach eternal happiness. With every person I teach, I learn something new, about life and about myself. With every new place I see, I discover a new part of me, I discover a new power I have.


I teach people to act upon their virtues, upon whatever is timeless. I teach them to be fre…

Wedding Ring

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So Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are finally engaged! All of us, fans, are happy and excited for them getting engaged and for seeing the engagement ring (here it is):

An almost 18-carat, princess cut diamond of the purest of kinds of diamonds. It was specially made for Jolie of course. Pitt was the one who designed it for her with the help of designers; it took him almost a year to come up with the design that fits her hand best. "The side diamonds are specially cut to encircle her finger. Each diamond is of the highest gem quality." The designer says. You can imagine how much it cost, but of course seeing how lovely of a person Jolie is, she deserves the best, especially when it is not a problem for Pitt to pay.
The question here is this: is that what makes an engagement special? Is this what makes an engagement ring special?  Its price? That it is one of the purest diamonds in the world? That it is an 18-carat diamond? Or is it that it was made specially for her to fit her…

Food for Thought

"A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side." ~ Aristotle
"A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions." ~ Confucius
"Time is flying never to return." ~ Virgil
"Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great." ~ Machiavelli
"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." ~ Marcus Aurelius
"From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate." ~ Socrates
"When anger rises, think of the consequences." ~ Confucius
"A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle" ~ Gibran
"All the gold which is under or upon the earth is not enough to give in…

Be a Bee, Part Two

I was watching the Bee Movie the other day (yes, apparently my obsessions have increased by one =)), and it gave me some more thoughts about life that I wanted to share with you. Let me first give you a small summary about the movie, but please use your imagination =). The star is a bee, Barry, who has just finished school and is going on an orientation for his new workplace, Honex, where they make all the honey. Barry immediately hates all the small boring jobs that he will have to choose one from to do for the rest of his life until the day he dies without even one day of vacation. While walking around Honex he finds the pollen jocks and decide to go out with them to see the world. He loves the trip so much, but knows the he wasn't bred for that and can't do it. Through a friendship with a human being he finds out that humans take their honey without their permission, although it takes a lot of hard work from bees to be able to make it. He decides to file a lawsuit against …

Table for Two

It all happened here, in this same restaurant, on that same day, at that same hour. We were both here, but it wasn't a table for two. The minute your eyes fell on me I felt that it was you, the person who's meant for me, we both knew. We sat at different ends of the big table, but our eyes kept meeting, our hearts kept beating, our souls kept dreaming. It was so loud, but I could only hear our symphony start playing. It was so crowded, but I could only see us together till death do us part. The food was served, but I only had your scent in my nostrils, the one I knew that I'll always wake up to. The food was so tasty, but it only tasted that good because I shared it with you. So many people were talking to me, but all I could think of was the touch of your hand that was only for a fraction of a second, but felt like years.
Soon enough it was just a table for two, just you and me. This time I couldn't sense anything, because our souls took over. This time they were in…

Change the World

"Change is the only constant." That is yet another paradox of ours. Yet, change is important, to the better of course. As much as we love stability, we always seek change; change of job to one that pays better, of residence to somewhere more posh, the way we dress, the way talk, etc. Then comes a day when we want to change the people around us. And although some of us might know that no one will change unless they want to and that you only help them through the way, we all try to change others. At times we fail, at other times we might succeed. Then we go on wanting to change the world, wanting to conquer it, for it to be just the way we want it to be. Sometimes we try to do it nicely, other times by force. Sometimes we want to change it to what's rightful, other times to what we want. And this all is only good or bad according to the situations. But how many times do we try to change ourselves?
Have we ever at all? Have you ever sat down and asked yourself that simple …

Be Like a Bee

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Busy Bee, is this a positive or negative name? Most people I know use it as a negative name for those who are always busy working and never having any fun. But the question is busy doing what? You can be busy working, exercising, eating, sleeping, chatting, dancing, thinking or doing anything else you might think of. Busy means doing something, bees never sit there doing nothing, that's why we say they're busy. They're fast creatures, they do a lot in a short time, and what they do is one very important job. Just like us, everyone of us has a very important job and not doing it well and fast will make a difference to the whole society.
Back to being busy, wasting your time on doing nothing is a crime to one's self. The time we waste everyday is enough for us to live a totally different life. We waste time not wanting to get out of bed in the morning, playing addictive video games, in traffic, saying what needs to be said in one minute in more than an hour, etc. You kn…

Generalizations

All generalizations are not true- that's a paradox, that in itself is a generalization. 
What about this one: "all people are equal in rights and duties", or at least they should be? Shouldn't that generalization be true? Should all people be treated equally when it comes to law? 
But we can definitely say that most generalizations are not true. Like: "Nobody understands anything", "I know everything in the world", "all women lie", " all redheads are evil", "all people are the same" (no we're not the same), "all men are unfaithful".
Most of the time when you generalize you become unfair to someone. That is when all the labeling problems start. So whenever you find yourself generalizing, think again. That is of course you care about not doing wrong to anyone.

الليلة الكبيرة

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Knowing that some of the my generation have no idea what "El Laila El Kebeera" is was a great shock for me. Especially because I regard it as a very important part of our culture, not just because it's a lovely puppet play, but also because it records a lot of our rituals. These rituals define Egypt, they're only here and are not done in that way in any other country, they're our unique culture. So for me it's a great treasure that everyone should grow up to know, especially since most of us have never even seen a real مولد. Mooleds in themselves have a very special taste here, we're one of the very few Sunnis who celebrate Mooleds, a custom that is more of Shiites than of Sunnis and one that we've become accustomed to since the Fatemi Dynasty which was Shiite. And since I brought this up, during the Fatemi Dynasty (named after Fatema El Zahraa), the Azhar Mosque was built (also named after Fatema El Zahraa). Also note that before this Salafi invasio…

Soul Mate

Finding your soul mate is everyone's dream, everyone wants to find their Prince Charming or princess for that matter, the love of their lives. And yes, this person exists for everyone, I've talked about that in the last paragraph of this post. But the question is who is that person? What is it that makes someone your soul mate? Looks? But looks come and go, they won't last forever. Likes? But a person can change what they like every now and then. Job? But they could decide to have a career change. Money? They can go bankrupt (and as our famous Egyptian proverb says: يا واخدة القرد على ماله يروح المال و يفضل القرد على حاله =)). So what is it that makes someone your soul mate? That you love each other dearly? Of course, yet it depends on what that love is based on.
So why do you love that person? Because they're cool like that? That could change with the change of the definition of what's hot and what's not. Because of their sweet romantic words? But these are j…