Archive for August, 2010

Thanks Tiburon!

I want to thank all of my Tiburon patrons who came by over the weekend for a visit.  It was wonderful speaking with all of you.  And of course a very special thank you for all those who actually made a purchase of one or more photographs.  Its you folks that allow me to keep bringing the beauty of our world to light so that everyone can enjoy it.  You are much appreciated!

See you Next Year if not Sooner.
Peace.

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Tiburon Art Festival

I will be exhibiting the Organic Light Photos this coming Saturday and Sunday, August 28th and 29th, 11 am to 6 pm both days in the lovely Marin town of Tiburon in the Tiburon Art Festival For more information check here. The weather will be perfect!

I will be showing some new work as well as the classic Organic Light images that you have all come to know and love.

It would be great to see you there.

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Mercy: Day 10 – Forgiveness

“To err is human to forgive divine” -  Alexander Pope’s words from An Essay on Criticism.  True in every sense but one.  Why can’t emulate the attributes of the Divine?  In fact we find within us many of the attributes of the Divine and forgiveness is certainly one of them.  However, what usually manifests among us humans are not the Divine attributes that raise us to high stations but rather degrading states of blameworthy actions that debase us.

Rather than Generosity we commonly find Avarice and Greed.  In place of Justice we often find Inequity.  Instead of Truth we hear Lies.  Rather than Forgiveness we find Blame.  And while all of these rarely found attributes in humans are mercies on to themselves, I think the greatest of all divine attributes missing from our human discourse is Forgiveness.

To forgive someone for a slight, trespass, injustice or any wrong perpetrated against the wronged would place that person in a very high station indeed. It is difficult to act accordingly when indignation takes hold of one’s heart.  However we do need to remember that to show forgiveness is a great act of mercy.  And if we desire that mercy be shown to us, we must act accordingly.

Need I remind, as the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him, said in an amazing tradition – “Those who are merciful will have mercy shown to them by the Most Merciful.  Show mercy to those who are on Earth and the One who is in heaven will have mercy on you”.

Forgiveness is an overarching act of mercy in that in spite of the wrong perpetrated, the forgiver can still allow the one seeking forgiveness absolution.  If we find it difficult to forgive others, maybe its because we cannot forgive ourselves or possibly that we have never sought out forgiveness so that we may taste its sweetness and desire it for others as well.  That would be the ideal, however most often than not, forgiveness only comes about through a sincere beseeching of the one wronged by the one who did wrong.

In this way, the forgiver can see that the who committed the transgression is sincere in having forgiveness shown, then a compassion in the heart can arise that would allow the one wronged to even consider forgiving.

Now think of yourselves.  Right now.  Can you forgive?  Have you ever sought out the Mercy of Forgiveness?  Have you ever felt remorse for something that you did?  Did you turn to the one who you might have slighted and asked for forgiveness?  Did you get it?  How did you know? How did it feel?

I know, as humans, we have transgressed our selves to no end.  We have transgressed against the Earth in unimaginable ways.  And we have slighted our Merciful Sustainer in ways that would shake the very firmament of our existence if we understood the gravity of our slights.

I want to be shown the Mercy of Forgiveness from the Most Merciful for what I have done.  And if it means that it could only come by The Forgiver to have mercy on every single one of us inclusively then I would wish for everyone alive today and for everyone whoever lived and for everyone who will live in days to come to be forgiven so that I may be so as well.  I hope that you, my dear reader, can find such mercy in your heart to hope for the same.

Repentance

Repentance

Peace.

P.S.  And so concludes the 10 days of Mercy.  We move now into the the 10 days of Forgiveness.  Its now time to get to work.

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Mercy: Day 9 – Golden Rule

We all know the famous words immortalized in time Do unto others as you would have done unto you attributed to Jesus the Son of Mary, peace and blessings of God be upon him. However, this moral code of conduct was not something new in his time but has been a part of every culture and religion through out time. Nonetheless, it makes it no less important.  In fact it has many variations that all lead us as human beings to reach a very high moral character.  Nearly every Prophet we know of, philosophy or culture has the same teaching, grant it in some variation in the wording.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him, taught it as well and repeated in several of his traditions.  He, peace be upon him, was recorded as saying “None of you truly believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself”.  In another narration “None of you truly believe until you love for people what you love for yourself”.  And in his final sermon while on his final pilrgimage to Mecca, there is this excerpt, “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you”.

When I read these words, I find a lump in my throat and I can feel the tears starting to well up in my eyes.  I have true certainty in the Messengers and Prophets of God. Among their attributes there are four that are necessary for them to be true prophets or messengers of God.  Any true messenger of God must have these four following attributes: 1. They are truthful – that is they never lie, their words are true, and I mean TRUE.  2.  They are trustworthy in their mission of guidance and delivering the message given to them, if they were given one to deliver.  3.  They deliver the entire message sent with them, holding nothing back or hiding any of it.  And 4.  They are intelligent and consciously aware, that is they are not heedless of God at any moment and can’t be fooled.  So when I read their words I hold them in high regard and take them to heart and put them to practice as best as I can.

As I grew up I came across many instances when someone would do something to me that I most definitely did not like and in fact sometimes found the action quite abhorrent. When those situations would occur, I would make a deep mental note not to do the same in return to that person or to anyone else.  I hope that following such a path has made me a better person, and a better believer.

When I think about the possible consequences of putting those teachings into practice on a global level I shudder.  The awe that overcomes me when I think that we could live in harmony with each other by simply doing good to each other is sometimes to great.

I want to be respected for who I am.  Is it that hard to do the same to everyone else?  I want to feel safe in my home, my city, my country.  Is it so hard that we can’t extend that feeling to everyone, everywhere?  I do not like getting hurt.  Is it that hard to restrain my hands or my tongue from hurting others?  You only have to put yourself in another’s shoes and ask if you yourself – would I like it if what I am about to do to this other person is something that I would like done to me?  If we asked ourselves this question I think we could bring this world to a very peaceful state.  The difficult part is not in acting thusly, but it is in being conscience people about our actions and reflecting about the consequences of our actions before we do them.

And I know the criticisms that have come up about the golden rule and its “loop holes”.  I don’t want to entertain those as they are the words of critics and critics rarely have anything good to say about anything.  To them their life and to me my own.  I know… that if this golden rule is the guidance of those Beacons of Light sent to us by The Most Merciful, The Compassionate, then it is one of the greatest mercies that this world has ever seen and it is worthy of following it, no matter what.

True Colors

True Colors

Till Tomorrow, Peace.

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Mercy: Day 8 – Teaching

Imagine if we had to grow up without anyone teaching us a thing.  What if our parents did not teach us how to walk?  Or if they did not teach us how to speak, or to eat with utensils, go to the bathroom, how to wash our hands afterwards, how to get dressed, comb our hair, brush our teeth.  What might we have turned into?

What if we did not have someone to teach us how to read and write, how to add, subtract, multiply and divide.  What if no one ever taught us at all,  how would we know anything?  How many times have you confronted something that you were ignorant of and felt overwhelmed and wished you had someone to walk you through the first time so you could learn how to do whatever it was you were trying to do?  I know I have.

We are all born ignorant and all knowledge is acquired in one way or another. Given a proper education and we can live an erudite life, remain ignorant and an ignoble life is all we will find.  Obtaining an education is not all easy especially without a teacher. Teaching is one of the noblest of all callings that I can think of. The transmission of knowledge from teacher to student is scared whether the knowledge itself is sacred or secular.  It is an intimate relationship, one that fosters communication between student and teacher.  A student cannot learn, no matter how great the thirst for knowledge is without a teacher willing to give what he or she knows.  A teacher cannot instruct a person who does not come asking to be taught.

The teacher has contained within his or her heart wisdom of immense worth that can only be given to those who appreciate it, desire it and in the end honor it by teaching it to others as well.  Give it to those who do not want it, care not about it and toss it aside as if it was a trifle and it would be as if one gave pigs pearls. They know not what they have and trample over them and soil them in filth.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him, came as both a teacher and as a Mercy to all of the worlds.  The mercy afforded to those who are taught by a teacher is unfathomable.  There is no measure to the depth of mercy and benefit the one acquires from the teacher.  Teaching is one of our greatest mercies bestowed upon us.  How unfortunate that we do not honor the teacher in our day and age.  Perhaps that is an indication to the lack of mercy that exists in the our world today.  Maybe all we need in the world is the impression of a teacher to bring Mercy back into the world.  We should ponder on that.

Impressions

Impressions

Till Tomorrow, Peace.

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Mercy: Day 7 – Love

Love is one of the greatest mercies endowed among humans.  It binds us together and is the impetus that fuels our ever growing population and what makes us hold on to those who have passed away.  However to often love is mistaken for infatuation and unsubstantiated passion.  Love is much deeper than that and while those feelings do come along with love in some cases, true love does not need those facets to exist and grow between us.

Love is that emotion, that emotive force that drives the lover to do anything for the sake of the beloved willingly without hesitation even if it is not in the best interest of the lover.  The lover not only loves the beloved, but loves everything that the beloved does, or makes, or says.  And when the there is reciprocation, a bond is formed between the lover and the beloved that can’t be broken.  Compassion forges it way in that bond as well and protects each from harming one another.

As love grows it becomes a safe haven, a port of protection from the ravages of an unruly world out for self gain and self aggrandizement and it fills the heart until it flows over its brim and spills out into the world to infect others who happen to be too close to the outpouring.

When this love is directed towards the Creator, the lover’s love becomes unlimited and extends to everything that the Creator has ever touched, done or will do as everything is in the fold the the Creator’s Will.  In fact one of the 99 beautiful names of God happens to be The Loving as our Creator is indeed One that Loves His creation so much so that even in spite of our transgressions we still enjoy every blessing we could think of.  But to love the creation like that, for the sake of the our Beloved, The Loving, would move us to a high station indeed. What mercy could extend to others if we loved them the way God loves them? How much violence would remain in the world? How many wars would cease?  How few there would be that were hungry, or thirsty, or homeless or orphaned? What a world this would be if our hearts popped with the Mercy of Love!

My Heart Pops

My Heart Pops

Till Tomorrow, Peace.

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Mercy: Day 6 – Shade

For anyone who lives in a region of the world where it is hot, like in a desert, I think it goes without saying that shade there is a great blessing and mercy.  Temperatures in the shade can easily be 20 to 30 degrees cooler than in the sun.

However, I want to look at shade in a different way.  Actually from a different meaning altogether.  If we understand light then we should know that light, pure light, is invisible.  I have mentioned it before in this journal that right now, there is light passing between you and this monitor and you cannot see it.  Likewise, in the total absence of light we can’t see anything either.  Mix the two, pure light and pure darkness and the result is shade.  It is only in the shade that we can actually see.  This mixing produces a spectrum of intensities that range from pure darkness to pure light.  Also, depending on the physical objects basking in this shade, we also see hues of varying color.  Mixed with the intensities, we get all the millions upon millions of possibilities in the visual spectrum that we observe in the world, all of them emanating because of shade.

In spite of the digital nature of Creation, in its continuous flip-flopping between existence and non-existence at the hand of the Sustainer, the resulting interaction of shade produces a continuous spectrum from pure darkness to pure light.  It leaves the heart in awe and the mind in unfathomable perplexity.  At the same time, by permission of The Light, one of the 99 beautiful names of God, we are given a glimpse of this amazing Creation through the mercy of shade.  It leaves me in humble awe every time I look out to see.

Postscript Light

Postscript Light

Till tomorrow, Peace.

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Mercy: Day 5 – Knowledge

It has been said that knowledge is power.  Likewise the saying, Ignorance is bliss.  They seem diametrically opposed, however both are true.

Having knowledge of something is what brings tranquility to the heart when it is troubled with something foreign.  Ignorance of something brings fear, and fear brings caution and sometimes aggression which leads to oppression of ourselves and of the object of our fear.  Knowledge can dispel all that.  If you fear something learn about it before you cast your first stone.  You might find that instead of being held captive by fear, you will be liberated by what you know.  In that, knowledge is a true mercy.

At the same time knowing some things can be very detrimental to our well being.  Certain things are hidden from us and will never be known, like the moment when we will leave this world for the next life.  And in some part what life is like beyond the veil of the unseen world is also a mystery.  Having knowledge of that moment would only bring angst and worry as it approached.   The spectacle of death is not something easy to experience.  It is well known that people will die in the manner that they lived.  Live a wretched life and death will be the same.  Live a graceful life and death will mimic that.  I have witnessed a person who showed patience in life come to their end in the most dignified and patient manner.  I know of an angry and ungrateful person who died in a manner where he went out with a blaze of profanity emanating from his tongue that would embarrass even the most brazen of people.

Ignorance of the state in which we meet our end and when we meet it is mercy as well.  Not knowing that and knowing that would, I hope, encourage us to be the best of people in the interest of dying with dignity.

To attain dignity in life become a person of knowledge – know things.  Not just information, that false enlightenment served up in our modern world under the guise of knowledge.  To know something is to know it intimately in the heart.  Think about somthing that you know inside and out, something that you could teach someone without having to find a reference for or look up in a book or on the internet.  That is true knowledge.  It empowers, enables and endows the knower, bringing peace and tranquility to the heart and is a mercy to the knower and the one seeking to know.

Lifting The Veil

Lifting The Veil

Till tomorrow, Peace.

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Mercy: Day 4 – Diversity

Living in the United States, and North America in general, poses some interesting problems.  One issue that is absent from practically every other nation on the face of the planet is that of diversity.  We have ethnicities from all over the world living within these borders.  Not only that, this country was built by a diverse ethnic labor force, that spanned the globe.  Almost every people have had a hand in making the United States what it is today and it is also what keeps the nation going.  Some unfortunately see this as a problem rather than a strength.

The only other nation that experienced such a diverse make up was that of the Muslim nation.  Within 100 years of the advent of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him, Islam had spread as far west as Morocco and Spain and as far east as China.  Islam brought with it one unifying trait and that was to recognize that the Creator was One.  Other than that and the primary tents of the faith, such as daily prayer, alms giving, fasting in Ramadan and making pilgrimage to the ancient ancient house of worship in Mecca, the faith allowed for much diversity.  All strata of life and from all corners of the Earth, people were accepted as who they were and seen as equal to any other person, regardless of skin color, language, or financial class.  The only trait that distinguished a person from another was that of piety, and that could only be judged by the Judge Himself on the day when we all return to Him.

This diversity is what made the Muslim nation so powerful and why whenever Muslims went to new lands, people accepted what they brought as a new way of life.  The Muslims also incorporated what these new cultures had in the way of philosophy, science, industry as long as it aligned with the tenets of the faith and this propelled civilization to great heights during the 800 years of the golden age of Islam, as it has been called.  It was on the shoulders of this Giant that the new world benefited from greatly in its formation.  However, this time, the diversity came to the new land rather than diversification coming to it.  Growth and prosperity seemed to follow diversity wherever it appeared.

However as of late, there seems to be a push toward conformity, purity, and indistinguishability.  The unfortunate by-product of such an idea is that of oppression and, I don’t want to say ethnic-cleansing as that is to narrow a view, but rather a difference-cleansing.  Anyone that is different needs to be removed from society and expunged from history.  And whether this is coming from here in the West or from the East, it is a corruption and the very antithesis of not only diversity but Creation itself.

Just look out into the natural world and count the number different types of trees, fish, mammals, insects,  or anything else for that matter.  The beauty of this is that every one of those different entities have a role to play in the grand scheme of the the universe.  Diversity is the hallmark of all of Creation.  In a scared tradition or hadith qudsi from the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him, the Prophet said “When God decreed the Creation He pledged Himself by writing in His book which is laid down with Him: My mercy prevails over my wrath”.

This being the case and the fact that we can see an incredibly diverse universe should be self-evident that diversity is Mercy.  Why anyone would want to remove oneself from the Mercy of God is beyond me.

Unity, true unity,  comes from within through the recognition that we are all the same and that we can be in concert with the rest of Creation unified in the glorification of The One who made us all.

In that we will find beauty, peace and a Mercy from the Most Merciful will pervade us all and we will exhibit that to each other.

Strata

Strata

Till Tomorrow, Peace.

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Mercy: Day 3 – Water

Its 4 AM again and we all stumble into the kitchen to prepare our morning meal only to find that the water purifier reservoir is empty!  What do we do without water for the day?  I quickly fill the purification tank and allow the filter to do its job while we prepare our food.  By the end of our meal, there is enough water for us to drink for the day and we begin our fast.

Every living thing in the world is made of water.  Life cannot exist without the presence of water.  We search the planets in our solar system for signs of water in the hope that someday we might be able to inhabit that planet.  We ourselves are made mostly of water, about 70% of our bodies are and consist of water, the remaining 30% sold matter.  Is it a coincidence that the Earth is made up of the same ratio of water to dry land?  The Earth is after all out mother and when we meet our end in this life, we return to the earth decomposed into dust.

What is hard to fathom is that all 6 billion plus humans on this planet survive not on that 70% of water, for most of it is salty and brackish, but on only 1% of the total water on Earth, 1 percent.  Only 3% of the water in our world is palatable and most of it is not usable as it is either locked up as ground water or as glaciers or ice caps. only 1% of all the water on the Earth is actually usable.   Of all the resources in the world it is water that is vital for our existence and it is what will ultimately limit our population.

Many think that it is space or food that limits the unencumbered growth of humanity, but its water.  For example,we can take all 6 billion plus inhabitants of the Earth and we can put all of them in the state of Texas and each person would have about 1000 square feet of space, that is the size of a small house or a large apartment.  Don’t believe it here’s the math – the area of Texas is 268,820 square miles or 7,494,271,488,000 square feet.  The world population at 04:32 UTC  Aug 15, 2010 was 6,862,438,430 people.  Now divide the area of Texas by the population and we get 1,092 square feet!

Some more math will show how long we could survive on the currently available water.  The total volume of water on the planet, is about 333 million cubic miles (See Here).  Of that over 96% of it is saline and cannot be used by us.  Of the total fresh water available, 68% is locked up in glaciers and ice caps.  And another 30% is ground water leaving about 0.007% of the total water (about 22,300 cubic miles) in lakes and rivers which the majority of the population relies on.  Lets see how many glasses of water that gives each person on earth.  A glass of water is 8 oz.  In a cubic mile there are 140,942,994,870,000 ounces.  In that, by dividing by 8, we can get the number of  “glasses” of water – 17,617,874,358,750.  That’s over 17 trillion glasses of water.  Now divide that by the population and we find that each person gets 2,567 glasses of water.  If each person drank 8 glasses a day, the recommended amount, that person would have enough water for 320 days, about 1 month shy of a year, and this does not account for the other uses like cooking and cleaning.

I suppose it is a good thing that water keeps cycling from salty to fresh.  For that amount of fresh water is what is available at any given time.  If our water cycle was to cease, we would have about 1 year of life left on earth; a sobering thought indeed.

But through the Mercy of the Sustainer, the water cycle continues to bring us fresh water continuously.  And it is through rain that fresh water makes it way back on to dry land and into our lakes and rivers.  The rain is in essence the Mercy of God.

When the Prophet of God, Muhammad (peace and blessings of God upon him) prayed for rain, he said:O God! Provide water for Your servants and Your cattle, display Your mercy and give life to Your dead land”.

Rippled Reflection

Rippled Reflection

Water, use it wisely and do not squander the Mercy that falls down upon us.

Till tomorrow, Peace

P.S. Just another interesting tidbit – the salinity of ocean water is the same as that of our blood.  I find that interesting.

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