ya ukhti,

i woke up this afternoon thinking, freedom and love, freedom and love, a wild love for the universe,  a wild ride through the terrain of life, is all that i really want.

all i can really say – has already been said before by brilliant writer:

i believe that learning to love, to really truly love, is a revolution.

–aaminah al-naksibendi

you are a part of a revolution.

love,

mai’a

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dear aaminah,

the moon is a sliver.

our interest in reality is extremely low.  no, we want to think.  we want to worry through all our preconceptions.  we want to figure life out. and so before we know it we’ve forgotten all about this moment, and we’ve drifted off into thinking about something: our boyfriend, our girlfriend, our child, our boss, our current fear…off we go!  there’s nothing sinful about such fantasizing except that when we’re lost in that, we’ve lost something else.  when we’re lost in thought, when we’re dreaming, what have we lost? we’ve lost reality.  our life has escaped us.

this is what human beings do.  and we dont just do it sometimes, we do it most of the time.  why do we do that?  you know that answer, of course.  we do it because we are trying to protect ourselves.  we’re trying to rid ourselves or our current difficulty, or at least understand it.  there’s nothing wrong with our self centered thoughts except that when we identify with them, our view of reality is blocked.

–charlotte joko beck in everyday zen

the fagr call to prayer has passed.  and the sky is becoming light.  the leaves of the tree outside my window in silhouette.

most of the time, maybe about 90-95 percent of the time, we do not need our thoughts.  we do not need to be figuring anything out.  we just need to be here, in reality, in this moment, right now, experiencing life.  our job is not to figure out life, but to savor it, to love it, to worship and adore it, to be in it, to let it flow through us.

instead we try to convince ourselves that we are all powerful.  that if we just think and obsess and ruminate and worry long enough we will find a solution to our problems.  our problems being that we want life to be different that it is.

now this is understandable.  life can be painful.  and no one wants to be in pain.

this ramadan, there has been pain in my life.  great joy and celebration.  iftar with friends.  fagr over the nile river.    but also bitter disappointment, ugliness, thievery.

i have watched myself be angry, hurt, sad, and vengeful.

and i let those thoughts and emotions flow and cycle through me.  repeatedly.  and as i did so, i labeled them: anger, pain, confusion, self-righteousness, tension, fear.  i returned again and again to the body.  to the breath.  to the simple acts that i could do right now.  walk, answer the phone, dance with aza, laugh with cal, type, clean, listen, and respond.

do one thing at a time and savor doing it.

in your everyday life, you can practice this by taking any routine activity that normally is only a means to an end and giving it your fullest attention, so that it becomes an end in itself.  for example, every time you walk up and down the stairs in your hourse or place of work, pay close attention to every step, every movement, even your breathing.  be totally present.

or when you wash your hands, pay attention to all the sense perceptions associated with the activity: the sound and feel of the water, the movement of your hands, the scent of the soap, and so on.

or when you get into your car, after you close the door, pause for a few seconds and observe the flow of your breath.  become aware of a silent but powerful sense of presence.

there is one certain criterion by which you can measure your success in this practice: the degree of peace that you feel within.

the single most vital step on your journey toward enlightenment is this: learn to disidentify from your mind.  everytime you create a gap in the stream of mind, the light of your consciousness grows stronger.

one day you may catch yourself smiling at the voice in your head, as you would smile at the antics of a child.  this means that you no longer take the contenet of your mind all that seriously, as your sense of self does not depend on it.

–eckhart tolle in practising the power of now

the sky is grey white now.  birds are gurgling in the tree outside my window.  ramadan is almost finished.

the voice in my head wants to ‘figure things out’, so that i can learn from the past and not make the same mistakes in the future.  so that i can protect myself, as if i can control abusive people, or really anything in this world.

but i cant.  i cannot control anything.  and no amount of thinking is going to change that fact.

all that i can do is:

to accept the things I cannot change
courage to change the things I can

and in order to have the wisdom to know the difference, i need to stop trying to control life, so that can see this life, this reality clearly for what it is.


dear Mai’a,

everytime i think about coming here and posting something i feel suddenly overwhelmed and like i have nothing to say. i know i haven’t kept up with posting like i should and i’m sorry about that.

so, here i am finally… with nothing to say. really, quite blank. so instead of trying to come up with anything remotely interesting or important to say, i’m just going to give you a couple of quotes that have been on my mind lately:

I am in the world but not concerned with the world. I am going through the marketplace, but not as a purchaser. ~ Kabir

~~~

If your principles are harming people, maybe it’s time to rethink those principles. ~ Kiri

~~~

If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that’s his problem. Love and peace are eternal. ~ John Lennon

~~~

Do (good) deeds according to your capacity. God does not tire of giving rewards unless you tire of doing good. The (good) deeds most loved by God are those that are done regularly, even if they are small. ~ Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings be upon him)

~~~

Those who regard things as determined by God turn to God in everything. ~ Nuri

~~~

There are those among you who desire this world and there are those among you who desire the world to come. But where is He who desires God? ~ Al-Shibli

i am not at peace.

i am angry.

if shaytan is in chains, and we are seeing the true nature of people, then i want to cry.  not out of self pity, but out of broken heartedness for what and who people are.  i want to cry for how alienated people are from their basic humanity.

today i was stolen from, by people i have trusted and loved.

today i had to fight for my right to my own possessions.  and while part of me feels like i should be able to let it all go. its just things.  another part of me wonders if we cant trust people to keep their word, then what?

i am not peace.  it is past maghreb.  but i am still hungry and no amount of food or water is going to fill me up.

today the police were called, and i was told that i have little rights and should never have trusted anyone without a written contract signed in blood.

aza looks at me and asks, mama where is my doll?

they must stop anyone from listening to the natural world, lest they be reminded of what they have forgotten–that they and the institutions they serve and with which they identify are murdering the forests and rivers and plains and oceans and skies and aquifers and mountains and those who live in these places, those who are these places.  they’ve forgotten also– and will stop anyone from reminding them — that they too were once capable of hearing the salmon and the spotted owl speak.  they will kill you to maintain their enforced deafness, because otherwise they will lose their identity as journalists and scientists and activists and engineers and technicians; they will lose their identity as civilized; they will, from their perspective die.

usually though the experts dont need to kill us.  instead, they tell us to trust them, and so we surrender to them.

–derrick jensen, endgame vol. 2

dear aaminah,

i am at the beach.  in dahab.  in the sinai.  right now it is iftar, the maghreb call to prayer is resounding over the red sea.  i am staring at the water and the mountains on the opposite coast that line saudi arabia.

i am amazed by the amount of stress that i carry in my body usually.  amazed to feel that stress draining out of me as i stare out to the ocean, eat dinner with instant friends, and dance salsa and bachata at night with the sound of the sea in the background.

there are no great realizations.  just gratitude for being able to feel the wind and water and the sand.  watching full moon rise over the red sea.  watching aza swim in the salty water.

am practicing to have no expectations. to simply take existence as it comes.

whenever whatever.

dear Mai’a,

i really related to that last post. you’re so right… girls like us face down things every day. it’s not always a man in a big truck either. sometimes it’s other women online. and that’s why when we find our sisters, we have to stick together. i’m mighty blessed as i’ve been told i’ve got brothers i can count on too. but there is something special about connecting with other women. you know, growing up i had a harder time connecting with girls and women. i was a tomboy and found that guys were more inclined to be friendly with me. since becoming Muslim, i’ve been forced to cultivate relationships with women and avoid relationships with men. and that hs been hard for me, but it gets better with more time & practice. AlhamdulAllah for the internet, since some of my deepest most meaningful friendships have been formed with women online, such as you, that i would never have had an opportunity to know otherwise.

as Ramadan is a time for deep reflection, i reflect on the relationships i have, the relationships i wish i had, and yes, even what relationships are toxic and need to go. strangely, i think we have a harder time cutting off toxicicity from people and situations that we aren’t even all that close to or deeply invested in. maybe it’s because we aren’t so invested and figure we can leave anytime, so we stick it out longer than we really should. i am learning to really value those relationships where i can be authentic and where i am open to the authenticity of the other person(s) as well. sisterhood isn’t really sisterhood if i have to hide parts of myself or am too self-centered to let them be the complicated women they are.

i am definitely seeking authentic relationships now. they are essential to my survival in this world.

mama,

i am so glad that you are safe!  and yes i know that shaking in the body after being verbally assaulted. not from islamophobia.  but yes girls like us dont get to simply walk down the street.

today i am thinking about girls like us, the little communities that we create of folks who are struggling as we are to surrender ourselves to the deep silence.  how although we all have different outward practices, we are holding each others lives in our palms.  we are telling each other there is space for you, for us in this world.

today i wrote:

i am very grateful for all my sistren who have worked with me to ask the difficult questions. who do not let me take the easy way out. who do not fluff up my ego. who arent scared of receiving or giving critique. who laugh with me in difficult times. thank you. thank you. thank you.

and everytime we do this.  ask the difficult questions aloud.  refuse to allow ourselves the easy out.  we are encouraging others to do the same.

this practice requires patience.  so much patience.  our answers dont come quickly.  we have to wait.  and wait.  and wait some more.  and we cannot distract ourselves from looking at the world.  we have to stay curious.  we have to stay present. or we will have given up.  not just on ourselves.  but on each other.

i cannot control another person.  i just have to understand them.  stay curious about them.  rather than allowing myself to take the easy way out and attack them for not being who i want them to be.  i have to ask the deep questions.  who are you?  who are we?  and then wait for the answers.

i am practicing patience with myself.  not expecting to have it all right, right now. that i am allowed to take up space and time in the world even if i am not perfect.

and i am so grateful to my sistren who are practicing patience, questioning, looking deeply at the world, moving the ego out of the way.  they sustain me.

thank you.