As you might be aware the next few days might be of particular importance for the future of human societies on this planet. In the next two weeks a UN Climate Summit will be held in Paris. In this occasion governments from around the world will meet up to decide a global action against climate change.
There is overwhelming evidence that climate change is already a reality.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated different possible scenarios for climate change. All of them involve a temperature rise (from 0.6 to 4 more grades Celsius on average according to the scenario) [see table below].
Many different schools of thoughts, both religious and secular, came-up with the conclusion that we live in an inter-connected reality where the well-being of the whole system depends on the actions of the individuals. In other words we inter-are, as zen master Tich Nhat Hanh would put it. I could not agree more.
I believe there is an interesting parallelism between the scenarios developed by the IPCC and the vision of inter-dependence of philosophical and religious traditions.
This period of in history is a big chance for all of us to realise more deeply this fundamental truth. What we do affects others, both across the world and across generations. What we have is a big chance to recognise this inter-dependence and to change our behaviour on this planet to ensure we enter a more sustainable path. It is a duty we have for the whole of life really.
I hope this chance will be taken by both the world’s population and by the world’s politicians. I would love to see the walls that divide us to fall when we recognise that change is needed for everybody’s future survival and well-being.
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh [him again, I know!] asked all mindfulness to practitioners to make personal commitments for environmental change. These might include joining a march, fasting from meat or diary products, wear a green ribbon, raise awareness as so on. Similar needs to raise awareness and take concrete actions were raised by Pope Francis. Anyway, independently of your political or religious views I would encourage to take action as well to raise awareness on this important issue.
We live in a beautiful planet. If you think about it, the changes of having a planet as beautiful as the one we have we pretty damn low. Furthermore this planet is our home, it is the source of our life and especially it is the only one we have. It is key that we treat it with respect and wisdom.
If you still are not convinced about why we need to love our planet, here are some nice pictures of it which will help you remembering..
And this is me being totally awesome during my first bike ride when I was 14!!!
Table 1: IPCC estimates of future temperature rise
|Temperature Change||Sea Level Rise)|
|(°C at 2090-2099 relative to 1980-1999)a||(m at 2090-2099 relative to 1980-1999)|
|Case||Best estimate||Likely range||Model-based range excluding future|
|rapid dynamical changes in ice flow|
|Constant Year 2000 concentrationsb||0.6||0.3 – 0.9||NA|
|B1 scenario||1.8||1.1 – 2.9||0.18 – 0.38|
|A1T scenario||2.4||1.4 – 3.8||0.20 – 0.45|
|B2 scenario||2.4||1.4 – 3.8||0.20 – 0.43|
|A1B scenario||2.8||1.7 – 4.4||0.21 – 0.48|
|A2 scenario||3.4||2.0 – 5.4||0.23 – 0.51|
|A1FI scenario||4.0||2.4 – 6.4||0.26 – 0.59|
I deeply sorry for this city I love.
I wanted to write, to write a lot.
I wanted to speak about people like me,
and about the cowards who took their lives.
I wanted to write about the discomfort
that one can feel now in a big city
upon hearing the minimum noise.
I wanted to speak about the West
and its ability
to generates its own enemies.
I wanted to write, to write a lot.
A river of words about all,
about people I knew, even if barely,
about people who are now gone.
I prefer to be quiet,
at least for this time,
and let the world cry its children.
In Photo “Peace for Paris” by Jean Julien
Sometimes we can get the feeling of being overwhelm by thoughts, by things to do, by business. All of these things might feel like a burden or as a reason to run with no limit in every direction.
All of these feelings, emotions and restlessness are tiring and ultimately they waste much of our spontaneity, creativity and time.
More than anything else, all of these things are just a symptom of us being caught in the bubble of our ourselves. We believe all of those impulses to be important, when ultimately they are not.
From that perspective we see things as constrained by the images we have of ourselves, of what we have to do and of where we should be. Not really a nice place to be in.
So, what could be a way to get out of that bubble? How to regain spontaneity in what we do?
One possible way is to give back.
To give back means to stop, to relax, to get out of our thought processes that want us to be at the centre of the universe and then for a while to think at what is that we can do to release the suffering of others, or simply to look at things from their perspective.
By giving back we have a change of putting ourselves to a side. We can allow ourselves to be present for somebody else. We could speak in such a way we could not speak like when being busy being busy.
Giving back doesn’t have to be something exceptional, on the contrary.
To give back might a very simple action, like a smile, a different attitude in performing our work, a volunteering activity on a Sunday, or even more simply an evening spent with a friend listening to what that friend has to say.
To give back is an opportunity for us to find value and purpose, both for ourselves and for others.
To give back can show us that we are one of the many. We have our colours, and in this sense we are special, but not more special than others.
To give back doesn’t take long, but it can make all the difference.
The process of taking out all of impurities was not an easy one, this is what Mahir was realising in his practice.
He realised all of that as he gathered with that company of Sufis, as they called each other, right outside the city of Izmir.
Mahir heard quite a lot about those sufis before deciding to join them. He heard so many different things on their behalf. He heard that they had lost their common sense, that they were mad, that they ruined their family’s reputation by leaving everything else aside and by joining this unconventional path.
Mahir did not fear of all this. He heard deeply in his hearth the burning desire to join that unusual fellowship. He knew when his hearth was telling him something he could not doubt. As a brave young man, he was rebellious enough to follow what his hearth whispered him.
“Remember Mahir”, once told him his uncle, “the rebellious ones are those who, over the centuries, gave humanity new ways of seeing things. All the prophets were not accepted by their fellows at their times, yet they did not give up. This is how things go”. Who knows, perhaps his uncle’s words plaid a part in his decision to join the company of dancing holy men.
Joining the Sufis was exactly how Mahir expected it, at first. A bunch of joyful people, dancing in circle and repeating the name of the Beloved. Everything was perfect, ecstatic, joyful. Nothing seemed to impair that bliss that Mahir had always experienced in the background of his consciousness and that finally seemed to have found the right foundation on which to grow.
Months had passed since he joined the Dervish. Mundane preoccupations were just a memory of the past. The future seemed to be one of bliss and divine enjoyment. Until the day were the unexpected happened.
On that day Mahir woke up early. He was going all the way to the central hall to start his daily work, as it was the rule of the community. As he was walking from his house to the hall something from the inside struck him. A deep sense of pride suddenly struck him like a thunderbolt. This feeling overcame to him quickly and deeply that Mahir did not even had the time to hide this feeling under some momentary distraction.
It was just unbelievably obvious to him how much his life had always been centred in his sense of superiority to other human beings. Even the holiest of his decisions, the one of joining the company of dancing dervishes, appeared to him as driven by a desire to gain importance, power and prestige, not in material terms, but in much subtler ways.
The more Mahir looked at this feeling the bigger the feeling seem to get.
After a few time the feeling grew so strongly that Mahir had a clear sense of exploding. Inside his brain a thousand voices suddenly appeared. Those voices were telling him how much he deserved to be recognised, that he was the holiest of his family, that he was the holiest of that company of dancing dervishes, that the was the holiest of the whole world. The voice was not stopping there. It started to remind him how well he did in school and that if he wanted he could start his studies again so that the whole world could benefit from the knowledge that was naturally flourishing in him.
Many other promises arose on that day in Mahir’s mind, many of which we cannot speak about because of decency.
Luckily for Mahir not all of his good will disappeared in a instant. He remembered what he had read on the Quran. He was well aware of the tricks that demons could play to the people in the search for God. He knew what had to be done. He had to visit Jalal, the headmaster of the dervish company to tell him all of his doubts and temptations.
“Beloved Master”, started Mahir. “Joining this company was the choice that most drew me closer to God. This is, at least, what I used to think before this day. Since this morning, however, there is a voice inside of me that screams so strongly it can’t be ignored. It tells about me. It tells about my place in the world. It tells about how you should sit at my place and how I should stand on your throne. It tells about all sort of unworldly things. I know that this voice is not true, but yet it won’t stop. I know that I am sinner. I am still the same sinner I was when I first joined. Oh Master, all of my search is just pure pride and I deserve nothing!”.
“Very well”, stated the Master, “I was waiting for you to come to this place. To be a Dervish is to accept God’s gifts, both in light as in darkness, as there is not without the other”. The Master stated.
“The human hearth is like a raw metal”, continued the Master, “to come to purity the metal has to suffer. It has to be put in hell’s fire and be beaten a thousand and more times. No metal has been born pure. Nor it is you, Mahir”.
Upon hearing those words Mahir’s pride intensified, just to quickly lead him to confusion and then desolation.
“But then tell me, beloved Master, what shall I do to overcome my pride? Because this pride squeezes me, like a bug under a shoe. Yet, I know there must be more. I have seen it in the past!”.
“You shall dance, Mahir”, stated the Master, “with your right palm asking for mercy and your left offering the world the blessings you’ll receive. In your dance you shall rotate, to remember that all in this world is a cycle in God’s will”.
From that day Mahir started to dance. He danced and danced and then he danced some more. He danced so much he could not remember his name. He danced so much that even his feeling of pride fell off. He danced until there was nothing else in this world apart for the dance itself.
Mahir finally became that dance, and the people looking at that dance, and impulse leading that dance. He became everything and only because Mahir was no more.
When the dance finally stopped Mahir returned to be who he was. He returned as Mahir, the dervish, with a hearth filled of gratitude. He knew in his hearth that that was just the beginning. The beginning of a wider dance in which to give roots to what he saw in his whirling bliss…
It was a dark night at the small pond of Clissold Park. It was one of those nights with lights, flashes and lots of rain. It was really not desirable for a lady like Madame Agnette to go out there and get wet. Nonetheless there are times where a mother’s instinct simply takes over and drives a lady, like Agnette, into choices that a rational mind would discharge. This seems to be the case especially when offsprings are involved. An offspring was indeed what drew Agnette’s actions into that awful night. She saw him there, all alone right at the bottom of the big tree. Agnette immediately understood what the consequences of all that water would have meant for that poor creature. Although she knew that bringing unknown kids into one’s own household might one day have lead to trouble, she could not refrain her motherly instinct. More than an instinct, to Agnette the instinct to save that small creature felt like an order she could not refuse. She just hoped that the poor creature would have grown up robust and healthy in her house, together with her hundreds other kids.
Harry was a spider who always had one dream: To walk on water.
That little fellow did not know where that crazy and uncommon dream came from. What he knew was that he always felt an impulse to master that unpredictable liquid element. He also knew that pursuing his dream would have probably not had taken him anywhere in life. Harry knew this because all his peers were interested only in becoming good web builders. None of them showed the minimum interest in water and less interest was shown for the idea of walking on it! This, however, was not good enough of a reason to stop him trying to pursue his dream.
Every day, after his web school classes (not a school about social media, but an actual school to create spider webs), Harry went all by himself near to the small pond outside the spider village to experiment new ways of achieving his dream.
Harry tried many different approaches: he put leaves under his tiny feet to balance himself on the surface, he tried to roll down a hill and then enter the pond as fast as he could and he even tried to experiment with explosives to get enough propulsion power. All of these attempts resulted in failures, one escaped drowning, a lot of laughs from his fellows and a deep worry from his mother Agnette. Yet nothing seemed to be able to distract Harry from his desire. Everyday he learned something more about the nature of water and about his own body. He was sure that all of these efforts would one day lead him to finally make his dream come true.
As years passed by all of Harry’s fellows became good craftsmen in the art of webs. Also most of them were already having few hundred offsprings. Harry.. Well Harry was just able to explain all the rules of hydrodynamic by heart (an useful skill in the human kingdom, less so among arachnoids), he developed a good knowledge of his own body, about nature, the wind, and seasons. Harry became a fast learner and most of all a person, oh excuse me, a spider, who was able to listen to the talk of the wind. In other words Harry was becoming more and more content of himself, yet, the secret of walking on water was still something beyond his grasping.
One day Harry had what he called: “The Golden Summer”. The golden summer resulted in a period of intense intellectual activity and inspiration. In a few months Harry was able to create many incredible inventions: the bubble machine deluxe, able to create protective air bubble, the leg-accelerator-2000, which moved legs incredibly quickly and the people mover, a complex system of leaves and lianas able to move people around. It is needless to say that none of those invention brought him nearer to walk on water. Most of them turned out to be useful for other uses, and they made the spider some profits as those machines turned out to solve many of his villagers’ problems.
All of this gave Harry a more comfortable life, allowing him to leave his crooked web and move to a comfortable house. Even his fellows now started to respect him and to show some signs of appreciation (even though to be seen to be near to Harry was still socially challenging!).
Nonetheless Harry dream was yet to be fulfilled…
The Golden Summer was turning to an end and Harry knew in his heart that if he wouldn’t be able to walk on water during that summer then he might as well have said goodbye to his attempts. For the first time Harry became aware that his dream might not have turned into a reality at all. For how sad this might have felt he was finally ready to accept this truth.
Harry was immersed into those thoughts as he was walking alone one day in front of the small pond of Clissold Park at the sunset. He so immersed in those reasonings that the voice he heard came with a big surprise. “Have you ever tried to just walk on it?”. Harry never heard that voice, yet it sounded as the sweetest thing he ever heard. It required just an instant to move around and see those beautiful eight eyes looking straight at him. Harry did not know what he felt in that moment. He just remembered the feeling of being overwhelmed he had the first time he almost drowned. Yet this time it was much sweeter.
Carolina, that was the name of the beautiful lady. Well you know how many stories go. Between the two it became love at first sight. She turned out to be just as gentle, smart and beautiful as you might imagine. More than everything Harry was in love with the fact that she was always able to show him how everything could be seen from a different perspective. As you can imagine Carolina made him completely forget about his dream to walk on water. This time, however, Harry had absolutely no regrets about it, on the contrary, he never felt happier in all his life!
Harry’s dream fell away completely from his consciousness until one day in which he was walking again near the pond with Carolina. They were speaking about living together, having kids and starting a family. Harry was so happy he could barely keep his smile. It was like that, without him even noticing, that Carolina made him realise that he was actually walking on the surface of the pond. It took Harry a while to recover from the surprise! He was actually walking on water! He, Harry, the little spider was finally walking on water! Without even noticing Harry made his dream come true!
How funny dreams are. At time they make little sense already to us and even less sense to others. Perhaps in reality they do not make much sense. Nonetheless there is something in dreams, in the ones that are coming straight from our hearths. They make us happy, they make us dream and especially, they give us an excuse to start a journey on which we grow, we develop and we exchange our lives with the one others, stepping into treasures were we could not possible foresee that there was one in the first place.
Well, now you know Harry’s tale. It is a true story, you know. I haven’t added any fiction in it. Ok, maybe just a little. Yet it is important every now and then to be remembered that it is good to dream, but that the best dreams are the ones we share with the people we love. And now, if you don’t believe in the Harry’s story, you can ask about it to the ducks in Clissold Park. They would be more than happy to tell you their version of it!
All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the spirit. K. Gibran
One day, as I was travelling in a place far far away, I’ve heard those words being spoken by a wise man. He was smiling, with a long board and a round face. I am not sure I’ve got all he was saying. To most of it I’m still trying to find some sense. Yet, it seems to be something hard to shake off, as in strange ways it still resonates with me…
“Among all animals the human being is the one which is nearer to the search for the Spirit. In truth his search is fundamental for his health and complete development.
While searching one should not be diverted by the word Spirit. Words sum up concepts and concepts are like a pair of gloves. Even if from the outside one can see the glows moving, it doesn’t mean that they move by themselves. What moves them is what dwells inside, what is alive.
Similarly one does not have to make much effort to meet with the Spirit. You can see it everyday in the small things without pretension. All of those things we notice when we are not distracted.
The reflections of this Spirit can be seen in many tiny mirrors scattered in this world: the eyes of a kid, a smile, a kind gesture, or the blowing of the wind flowing through the hairs when one walks in the park.
The secret to get in contact with this Spirit is always one: to travel lightly. One has to leave the burden of expectations and demands.
All of those claims in life are like heavy suitcases which we lift one our heads. In reality we could easily leave those suitcases in the closet while we enjoy the trip.
What we need will always be given to us, whether we know it or not. And often what we need arrives in unexpected ways and always outside the mental map of the world we drew.
The wise thing is then to make a step behind and present ourselves to the world with open heart and with a good intention empty of illusions.
We just need to make the first step. The where and how will come by themselves”.
Neither of them would ever had imagined that after so much time spent with the circus of Prague, Pawel and Yelena Julich seemed to have become sedentary people. Not that they decided it on purpose. Like most things that happened in their lives, even this last one occurred to them almost by accident. Everything happened when, after an unexpected storm, the circus decided for the first time to make a diversion to the small town of Magicville. Neither Pawel nor Yelena could say what was in the air of that town that attracted them so much. Yet, both of them never felt so happy since they had left Serbia for the first time. More than happy they both seemed to have fallen into a state of grace. In the three days of the show they did in that town every step of the trapezoid seemed to happen without any effort. Even the triple pike, their showpiece, seemed to have just happened by itself, as easy as jumping into a puddle. Nonetheless, despite their almost euphoric state, neither of them had taken into account the possibility to settle. Maybe both of them were so used to move that it now became embedded into their DNA. It was only when the time to move came that it became clear that their life plans were about to change forever. On that they, in fat, their faithful RV-house decided that it had enough of travelling. Even the blockbuster did not manage to move it of those few meters that might have started the battery once more. Pawel and Yulia were to the difficulties of an itinerant life, hence they did not immediately lost heart. On that morning they with Franck, the director of the circus, which shown to be very understanding. He agreed with the acrobats that they would reach the circus in the next town on the tour plan the following week, nothing that could not be sorted out. For the two acrobats it would have been enough just to find a mechanic, take a break in the beautiful bay of the town and then let Magicville behind. Everything seemed easy and decided. The only issue was that three weeks passed by already from that conversation with Frank. Neither Yelena nor Pawel could figure out where the time had flown as they were having nice walks at the sunset of Magicville. It was only after those few weeks that Yelena became aware that she started to have thoughts she never believed she could ever have. “How would it be to settle in a place? What feeling would it give to see every day the same buildings and the same faces? Passing a year without a change in the environment must feel like an eternity, or perhaps not?”. Those were the thoughts that started to pop-up more and more frequently. Perhaps these were exactly those things that her grandmother tried to put on guard on. “Do not stay in the same place more than the necessary, Yielena!” That’s what she used to tell her. “We circus people are children of the wind and the wind, as you know, has no patience. If you let him waiting he will leave you and you will become like those boulders that remain throughout life still in one place”. “To stand still in one place, now that’s a strange concept” thought Yelena by herself. “Yet all the boulders I have seen in my life did not seem to be doing badly. Moss was growing on them, squirrels were hiding under their acorns and porcupines were making their dens under them. Perhaps at the end of the day being a still rock for a while was maybe not that bad. Maybe being still for a while might meant to be secure”. No, what he was thinking! Yelena had to shake those thoughts out of her head! Yeah, that’s what she was ought to do. Shake those thoughts away and then have a talk with Pawel. He would have understood and they they could have reached the circus once more. Yes, reaching the circus, that was a good idea.. Not before enjoying another beautiful sunset over the Gulf of Magicville though…