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Devotion, modeled in magnet and iron filings

Friday, June 16th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — science and Islam, but not the creationist, the analogivcal approach — sufism and the nature of pilgrimage ]
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I am apparenrly not alone in finding that iron filing surrounding a magnet resemble pilgrims cirucumambulating the Kaaba:

The upper photograph depicts the work of the artist Ahmed Mater. A note elsewhere on his work notes:

Ahmed Mater is a Saudi artist and qualified GP. Working in photography, calligraphy, painting, installation and video, Mater reflects his experiences as a doctor and the ways this has challenged his traditional background and beliefs, and explores wider issues about Islamic culture in an era of globalisation. In the series Magnetism, what at first appear to be pilgrims circling the Ka’ba, the sacred building at the heart of the sanctuary at Mecca, are in fact iron filings spiralling around a cube-shaped magnet. Mater refers to the spiritual force that Muslim believers feel during Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

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The lower photograph, portraying actual pilgrims circumambulating the Kaaba, is accompanied by the following tale of Junayd:

A man came to visit Junaid Baghdadi, whose life reflected no change, even after having performed Hajj.

Junaid asked him: “Where are you coming from?”

“Sir, I have returned after performing Hajj of the House of Allah”, was the reply.

“So, have you actually performed Hajj?”

“Yes, Sir, I have performed Hajj “, said the man.

“Did you pledge that you would give up sins when you left your home for Hajj?” asked Junaid.

“No, Sir, I never thought of that”, said the man.

“Then, in fact, you did not even step out for Hajj. While you were on the sacred journey and making halts at places during the nights, did you ever think of attaining nearness to Allah?”

“Sir, I had no such idea.”

“Then you did not at all travel to the Ka’bah, nor did ever visit it. When you put on the Ihram garments, and discarded your ordinary dress, did you make up your mind to abandon your evil ways and attitudes in life as well ?”

“No, Sir, I had no idea of that.”

“Then, you did not even don the Ihram garments!” said Junaid ruefully. Then he asked; “When you stood in the Plain of Arafat and were imploring Allah Almighty, did you have the feeling that you were standing in Divine Presence and having a vision of Him?”

“No, Sir, I had no such experience.

Junaid then became a liltle upset and asked: “Well, when you came to Muzdalifah, did you promise that you would give up vain desires of the flesh?”

“Sir, I paid no heed to this.”

“You did not then come to Muzdalifah at all.” Then he asked: 0?Tell me, did you happen to catch glimpses of Divine Beauty when youmoved round the House of Allah?”

“No, Sir, I caught no such glimpses.”

“Then, you did not move around the Ka’bah at all.” Then he said: “When you made Sa’i (running) between the Safa and the Marwa, did you realize the wisdom, significance and objective of your effort?”

“Sir, I was not at all conscious of this.”

“Then you did not make any Sa’i!” Then he asked: “When you slaughtered an animal at the place of sacrifice, did you sacrifice your selfish desires as well in the way of Allah?”

“Sir, I failed to give any attention to that!”

“Then, in fact you offered no sacrifice whatever.”

“Then when you cast stones at the Jamarahs, did you make a resolve to get rid of your evil companions and friends and desires?”

“No, Sir, I didn’t do that.”

“Then, you did not cast stones at all”, remarked Junaid regretfully, and said:

“Go back and perform Hajj once again, giving due thought and attention to all the requirements, so that your Hajj may bear some resemblance with Prophet Ibrahim’s Hajj, whose faith and sincerity has been confirmed by the Qur’an:

Ibrahim who carried out most faithfully the Commands (of his Lord).” (53:37)

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A similar point is made by an anonymous Celtic source, who admonished pilgrims in his own time and circumstance:

Coming to Rome, much labor and little profit! The King whom you seek here, unless you bring Him with you will not find Him.

Hearts and minds connected

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — shd be obvious, but useful to know in the battle for hearts and minds, buddhism! ]
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Hearts and minds, hearts and brains — tell me, heart, are minds and brains the same?

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Sources:

  • The National, Pat Kane: To stop terror we must look into the hearts of Jihadis
  • Lion’s Roar, Buddhist researchers find actual link between heart, mind
  • Sunday surprise: Paul Ryan

    Sunday, May 7th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — Paul Ryan and friends, plus dogs, pants, tardigrades, and the quantum cat ]
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    Kyle Matthews provides his Twitter followers with a fine example of a visual DoubleQuote, which I’m reproducing here with the two images at the best magnification for Zenpundit:

    If Paul Ryan and company were performing a re-enactment, they could scarcely have done a better job!

    **

    On a more serious note.. Paul Ryan gave a presentation of his health care plan, which CNN brings you complete, thus:

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    Less seriously again though, as Time reports, The Internet Is Having a Field Day Turning Paul Ryan’s Health Care PowerPoint Into Hilarious Memes. This one in particular caught my eye:

    **

    Take a closer look at that slide. It’s amost a koan do dogs have pant-nature?

    Sometimes imagining yourself into the scene helps solve the conundrum:

    Or applying it to another koan:

    Or applying it to the lovely but somewhat complex tardigrade..

    Hey, you could always reduce it to the quantum level..

    — probably — but not once the wave-form collapses..

    Canadians, however, got all practical and entrepreneurial, with a company called Muddy Mutts:

    Oh, and cute:

    **

    With any luck, I took your mind off politics for a moment there..

    Sunday surprise — naval biology, the sad fact of the matter

    Monday, March 20th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — hilarious, with a hat-tip to Dr Farls — thundering herds of battleships, eh? ]
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    The phrase ‘time crystals’ is mental clickbait, well nigh irresistible

    Thursday, March 9th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — science fiction & science fact meet — JG Ballard, Kurt Vonnegut, strange matter and a sacramental world ]
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    Ooh and aah! From Researchers create ‘time crystals’ envisioned by Princeton scientists, Phys Org News, yesterday:

    Time crystals may sound like something from science fiction, having more to do with time travel or Dr. Who. These strange materials — in which atoms and molecules are arranged across space and time — are in fact quite real, and are opening up entirely new ways to think about the nature of matter. They also eventually may help protect information in futuristic devices known as quantum computers.

    **

    A system in equilibrium cannot be a time crystal, but non-equilibrium systems can be created by periodically poking, or “driving,” a crystal by shining a laser on its atoms.

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    Two groups of researchers based at Harvard University and the University of Maryland report March 9 in the journal Nature that they have successfully created time crystals using theories developed at Princeton University. The Harvard-based team included scientists from Princeton who played fundamental roles in working out the theoretical understanding that led to the creation of these exotic crystals.

    What’s in a name?

    If they’d called these whatevers “chronosynclastic infundibula” there’s be less excitement, less funding — but fans of Kurt Vonnegut would have had a quiet chuckle.

    **

    But no, they called them “time crystals”. Brilliant, from a PR perspective.

    And me? It reminds me of JG Ballard‘s brilliant 1964 short story, The Illuminated Man, which I here juxtapose to the Princeton / Harvard science, in another effort to stitch together the arts and sciences at one of the high arch- points in the nave of what Hermann Hesse called “the hundred-gated cathedral of Mind.”

    Some choice quotes:

    ‘Here in this forest everything is transfigured and illuminated, joined together in the last marriage of time and space.’

    **

    Something glittered in the dusk behind me. I turned to see a brilliant chimera, a man with incandescent arms and chest, race past among the trees, a cascade of particles diffusing in the air behind him. I flinched back behind the cross, but he vanished as suddenly as he had appeared, whirling himself away among the crystal vaults. As his luminous wake faded I heard his voice echoing across the frosted air, the plaintive words jewelled and ornamented like everything else in that transmogrified world.

    **

    There in the Everglades the transfiguration of all living and inanimate forms occurs before our eyes, the gift of immortality a direct consequence of the surrender by each of us of our own physical and temporal identity. However apostate we may be in this world, there perforce we become apostles of the prismatic sun.

    **

    I shall return to the solitary church in that enchanted world, where by day fantastic birds fly through the petrified forest and jewelled alligators glitter like heraldic salamanders on the banks of the crystalline rivers, and where by night the illuminated man races among the trees, his arms like golden cartwheels and his head like a spectral crown.

    **

    Kurt Vonnegut:

    These places are where all the different kinds of truths fit together as nicely as the parts in your Daddy’s solar watch. We call these places chrono-synclastic infundibula.

    JG Ballard:

    Here in this forest everything is transfigured and illuminated, joined together in the last marriage of time and space.

    And that brief quote —

    There in the Everglades the transfiguration of all living and inanimate forms occurs before our eyes, the gift of immortality a direct consequence of the surrender by each of us of our own physical and temporal identity. However apostate we may be in this world, there perforce we become apostles of the prismatic sun

    — that in turn calls to mind Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch’s A Theology of Creation, from which I quoted yesterday in On riding a rapidly accelerating world.. in slower motion:

    Absolute personal existence, the Lord as a divine Person, “One of the Holy Trinity,” as our Liturgy says, not only lets himself be contained by the universe at one particular point in space and time, but by realizing at last the vocation of the person, he contains the universe hidden in himself. He does not want, like us, to take possession of the world; he takes it up and offers it in an attitude which is constantly eucharistic. He makes of it a body of unity, the language and flesh of communion.

    In him fallen matter no longer imposes its limitations and determinisms; in him the world, frozen by our downfall, melts in the fire of the Spirit and rediscovers its vocation of transparency.


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