Monday, October 28, 2019

There is one more idol to break

Let the tired, roving caravan
That's going nowhere, stop.
It's time to become absent, become bereft
It's time to receive the one who never left.

Clouds upon clouds of thoughts and sensations
Arise from the minds of numberless men
Filling the air like puffs of dust
Stricken, frightened humanity
Choking on its own polluted breath

The world is a temple teeming with idols
So many gods, so many selves
So many idols for us to break
But, break as many idols as you may break
As long as you exist as a self
There is one more idol to break
That poem comes from Ali Ansari's 'Sufism and Beyond'. Ali Ansari, who was born in India and now lives in the States, is a writer, poet and engineer. His though-provoking book, which is subtitled 'Sufi Thought in the Light of Late 20th Century Science', explores the neglected borderlands between spirituality and science by fusing Ibn 'Arabi's concept of waḥdat al-wujūd - oneness of being - with the Buddhist teaching of anattā - no self. It focuses on the danger of applying scientific reductionism to incorporeal states, a salutary warning as binary technologies are the ultimate expression of Cartesian reductionism. As long as you exist as a selfie, there is one more idol to break...

Suggested listening is the album 'Nothingness' from composer and setar (Persian lute) virtuoso Masoud Rezaei, who was exiled from Iran and now lives in Los Angeles. In the sleeve essay Masoud Rezaei explains how its "musical outlook... is an observation free from the restrictive elements so as to create a liberated and fluid atmosphere". In other words he asked that vital question - does it serve the music or does it serve the ego?

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