Monday, June 16, 2014

It's Getting Better

A couple weeks ago I made and finished a new mix. Haven't made a mix in a couple years so it was fun to get back into it. I quite enjoyed putting the tunes together, though since I'm not a DJ, and probably won't be, please pardon my lack of mixing skills. :-)

This mix unlike my other mixes has more of a journey to it. It starts off with some poppy tunes then moves into dance music, both new and old, then goes into what I like to call "mind music", music for your mind that lets your mind travel, and then the last few tunes are from the "East", ie the producers are of Eastern origin, including, erm, myself. Here's the tracklist:

(mix starts up after 15 seconds)
Hot Natured - Benediction
AlunaGeorge - Your Drums Your Love
Thomas Bjerring feat. David Skog - 2:45
Todd Edwards - Saved My Life
KLF - 3am Eternal
Oliver Heldens - Gecko
Leon Vynehall - Brother
Kode9 - Bad
Happa - Bring It Back
Marie Claire D'Ubaldo - The Rhythm Is Magic (Todd Terry Rubber Mix)
Gerry Read - Roomland (Youandewan Remix)
Hyetal - Northwest Passage
Borealis - Streamsnare
Jamie xx - Sleep Sound
Leon Vynehall - Untitled017
Hena Ashraf - Marvel
Dauwd - Lydia
El Mahdy Jr. - Phantomatik (Alter Echo & E3 Remix)
Yasmine Hamdan - La Moush

I decided to call it "It's Getting Better" because I wanted an optimistic title. Have a listen if you want something to listen to.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Forty Rules of Love

Excerpts from The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

Page 66
…he said one should keep the intellect satisfied and yet be careful not to spoil it. It was one of his rules. “Intellect and love are made of different materials. Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but love dissolved all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advises, ‘Beware too much ecstasy’, whereas love says, ‘Oh, never mind! Take the plunge!’ Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures.”

“Most of the problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstandings. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of love, language as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence.”

Page 140
“You are bleeding,” Shams murmured as he started to wipe the blood off my face. “Not only on the outside, but inside as well.”
Upon saying that, he took out a silver flask from the pocket of his robe. “Apply this ointment to your wounds,” he said. “A good man in Baghdad gave it to me, but you need it more than I do. However, you should know that the wound inside you is deeper, and that is the one you should worry about. This will remind you that you bear God within you.”
            “Thank you,” I heard myself stutter, touched by his kindness. “That security guard…he whipped me. He said I deserved it.”
            As soon as I uttered those words, I was struck by the childish whining in my voice and my need for comfort and compassion.
            Shams of Tabriz shook his head. “They had no right to do that. Every individual is self-sufficient in his search for the divine. There is a rule regarding this: We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No two hearts beat to the same rhythm. If God had wanted everyone to be the same, He would have made it so. Therefore, disrespecting differences and imposing your thoughts on others is tantamount to disrespecting God’s holy scheme.
            “That sounds good,” I said, amazing myself by the ease in my voice. “But don’t you Sufis ever doubt anything about Him?”
            Shams of Tabriz smiled a tired smile. “We do, and doubts are good. It means you are alive and searching.”
            He spoke in a lilting tone, exactly as if he were reciting from a book.
            “Besides, one does not become a believer overnight. He thinks he is a believer; then something happens in his life and he becomes an unbeliever; after that, he becomes a believer again, and then an unbeliever again, and so on. Until we reach a certain stage, we constantly waver. This is the only way forward. At each new step, we come closer to the Truth.”

Page 216
Other than my mother back in my childhood, Shams was the only person who treated me with unconditional compassion. He had taught me not to be despondent, no matter what. Whenever I told him there was no way someone like me could shed the past, he would remind me of one of his rules: The past is an interpretation. The future is an illusion. The world does not move through time as if it were a straight line, proceeding from the past to the future. Instead time moves through and within us, in endless spirals.
            Eternity does not mean infinite time, but simply timelessness.
            If you want to experience eternal illumination, put the past and the future out of your mind and remain within the present moment.
            Shams always told me, “You see, the present moment is all there is and all that there ever will be. When you grasp this truth, you’ll have nothing to fear anymore. Then you can walk out of this brothel for good.”

Page 233-234
            On the surface we lived a collective life where everyone ate, drank, and performed the same activities at the same time, but underneath we were expected and encouraged to remain alone and look within. On the Sufi path, first you discover the art of being alone in the crowd. Next you discover the crowd within your solitude – the voices inside you.
            … I suddently knew that I didn’t need to go anywhere. Not anymore. I was sick and tired of always longing to be somewhere else, somewhere beyond, always in a rush despite myself.
I was already where I wanted to be. All I needed was to stay and look within…

Page 246-247
“Religious rules and prohibitions are important,” he said. “But they should not be turned into unquestionable taboos. It is with such awareness that I drink the wine you offer me today, believing with all my heart that there is a sobriety beyond the drunkenness of love.”
Just as Rumi was about to take the glass to his lips, I snatched it back and flung it to the ground. The wine spilled on the snow, like drops of blood.
“Don’t drink it,” I said, no longer feeling the need to continue with this trial.
“If you weren’t going to ask me to drink this wine, why did you send me to the tavern in the first place?” Rumi asked, his tone not so much curious as compassionate.
“You know why,” I said, smiling. “Spiritual growth is about the totality of our consciousness, not about obsessing over particular aspects. Rule Number Thirty-two: Nothing should stand between yourself and God. Not imams, priests, rabbis, or any other custodians of moral or religious leadership. Not spiritual masters, not even your faith. Believe in your values and your rules, but never lord them over others. If you keep breaking other people’s hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good.
“Stay away from all sorts of idolatry, for they will blur your vision. Let God and only God be your guide. Learn the Truth, my friend, but be careful not to make a fetish out of your truths.”
I had always admired Rumi’s personality and known that his compassion, endless and extraordinary, was what I lacked in life. But today my admiration for him had grown by leaps and bounds.
This world was full of people obsessed with wealth, recognition, or power. The more signs of success they earned, the more they seemed to be in need of them. Greedy and covetous, they rendered worldly possesions their qibla, always looking in that direction, unaware of becoming the servants of the things they hungered after. That was a common pattern. It happened all the time. But it was rare, as rare as rubies, for a man who had already made his way up, a man who had plenty of gold, fame, and authority, to renounce his position all of a sudden one day and endanger his reputation for an inner journey, one that nobody could tell where or howit would end. Rumi was that rare ruby.
“God wants us to be modest and unpretentious,” I said.
“And he wants to be known,” Rumi added softly. “He wants us to know Him with every fiber of our being. That is why it is better to be watchful and sober than to be drunk and dizzy.”
I agreed. Until it turned dark and cold, we sat in the courtyard with a single red rose between us. There was, beneath the chill of the evening, the scent of something fresh and sweet. The Wine of Love made our heads spin gently, and I realized with glee and gratitude that the wind no longer whispered despair.

Page 257
“Ah, so you do have questions after all,” Shams said. “The message is that the torment a person can inflict upon himself is endless. Hell is inside us, and so is heaven. The Qur’an says human beings are the most dignified. We are higher than the highest, but also lower than the lowest. If we could grasp the full meaning of this, we would stop looking for Sheitan outside and instead focus on ourselves. What we need is sincere self-examination. Not being on the watch for the faults of others.”