CLIMATE CHANGE: A CASE FOR CONTENTMENT
by Alireza Nurbakhsh
Issue 92, Winter 2017
This issue of SUFI brings the reader right up against what is uncomfortable. Forget about politics: let’s talk about the weather. Too hot in cold months, too dry in wet ones, ferocious when it should be bleating like a lamb.
Alireza Nurbakhsh, current Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, describes the planetary climate, and then the spiritual one. He finds that excessive consumption—of goods, people, ideas—probably anything—is one of the causes of deadly changes in our environment. This is not necessarily a surprise, but the cure he prescribes for the problem is. Contentment, “a state wherein one is happy with who he or she is and what he or she possesses,” is the antidote, and what makes contentment possible, he clearly shows, is unconditional loving-kindness, a broken-open love that asks for nothing in return, and sees the Beloved right in front of it at every moment.
Mark Nepo advocates an unflagging and faithful “devotion of attention” to the one moment in front of you as part of the path leading to the love and truth in our hearts, broken open and blooming like window box geraniums when we least expect it.
Marilie Coetsee shows how the medieval Sufi thinker al-Ghazali discusses an experiential knowledge similar to the contentment that can only be acquired through engagement in loving kindness. In this case the special knowledge is acquired through the medium of emotions specifically and is unattainable through the intellect alone, demonstrating that “the heart has its reasons” in a new and profound light.
Edwin Bryant, interviewed by Komal Majmundar and Jawid Mojaddedi, shows that a muscular approach to spirituality is not always the most direct path, although it can certainly be one of them. He discusses the differences among bhakti yoga and other branches of yoga, grounding his remarks in Patajali’s definition that “yoga is the stilling of all fluctuations of thought.” Stop for a second, pay attention, love is arising, in all its forms.
Scenes as disparate as a pristine Quaker meeting house in Vermont and a center for sex workers, addicts, and other desperate youth in New York City, the first in J. Brent Bill’s article on silence, the second in Safoura Nourbakhsh’s interview with Adam Bucko, co-founder of The Reciprocity Foundation, find that deep listening and contemplative silence are the core of loving and transformative action on behalf of others.
In every contribution in this issue of SUFI, readers will find that what we most need is not for sale. Grace is freely given, but we do not dictate the terms of delivery. Love, in its rhythms heard and unstruck, is there when we quiet down and let go of everything else.
—The Editors of SUFI
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1. Bruce Hood, The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity. (New York: Oxford UP, 2012. PDF e-book), 105.
2. Evan Thompson, Waking, Dreaming, Being. (New York: Columbia UP, 2015), 358.
3. Marya Schechtman, “The Narrative Self,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Self. ed. Shaun Gallagher (Oxford, UK: Oxford UP, 2013), 395.
4. Schechtman, “The Narrative Self,” 395.
5. Ibid., 396-397.
6. Ibid., 399. See also, Katherine Nelson, “Narrative and the Emergence of a Consciousness of Self,” in Narrative and Consciousness. eds. Gary D. Fireman, Ted E. McVay, Jr., and Owen J. Flanagan (New York: Oxford UP, 2003). For more on the development of the narrative self, see Robyn Fivush and Catherine A. Haden eds., Autobiographical Memory and the Construction of a Narrative Self: Developmental and Cultural Perspectives, (New York, Psychology Press, 2013).
7. Khenpo Tsewang Gyatso, “Definition of Ego,” in The Healthy Mind Interviews. ed. Henry Vyner vol. 2 (Kathmandu, Nepal: Vajra Publications, 2004), 46-47.
8. Gyatso, “Definition of Ego,” The Healthy Mind Interviews, 50. Here Vyner is explaining how the mind works according to Gyatso.
9. Ibid., 63.
10. Ibid., 116,135.
11. Lopon Tegchoke, “Knowing the Emptiness of Thoughts,” The Healthy Mind Interviews. ed. Henry Vyner vol.3 (Kathmandu, Nepal: Vajra Publications, 2004), 66-70.
12. Tegchoke, “Emptiness,” Interviews, 90.
13. Wendy Hasenkamp, et. al., “Mind Wandering and Attention during Focused Meditation: A Fine-Gained Temporal Analysis of Fluctuating Cognitive States,” (Neuroimage 59, 2012), 750-760. quoted in Thompson, Waking, 351-352. For more on Focused Attention (FA) and Open Monitoring (OM) meditation techniques, see Antoine Lutz, Heleen A. Slagter, […], and Richard J. Davidson, “Attention Regulation and Monitoring in Meditation,” Trends in Cognitive Science, (April 19, 2007): PMC U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health, accessed April 17, 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2693206/.
14. Norman A. S. Farb et. al., “Attending to the Present: Mindfulness Meditation Reveals Distinct Neural Modes of Self-Reference, Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience 2 (2007), 313-322. quoted in Thompson. Waking, 354-355.
15. Ibid., 355.
16. Baime, Michael, “Your Brain on Mindfulness,” Shambala Sun. (July 2007): 84, accessed April 17, 2015, https://www.nmr.mgh.harvard.edu/~britta/SUN_July11_Baime.pdf.
17. Lopon Tenzin Namdak, “The Trechko Interview,” The Healthy Mind Interviews. ed. Henry Vyner vol. 4 (Kathmandu, Nepal: Vajra Publications, 2004), 107-109; 120-123.
18. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “The Dalai Lama Interview,” The Healthy Mind Interviews. ed. Henry Vyner vol. 4 (Kathmandu, Nepal: Vajra Publications, 2004), 66.
19. Javad Nurbakhsh, The Psychology of Sufism, (London: Nimatullahi Publications), 11.
20. Javad Nurbakhsh, Divan-E Nurbakhsh: Poems of a Sufi Master ed. Danny Kopoulos and Paul Weber (New York: Khaniqahi Nimatullahi Publications, 2014), “Glossary,” Divan, viii.
21. Ibid., viii.
22. Javad Nurbakhsh, The Path, (London: Nimatullahi Press, 2003), 174.
23. Javad Nurbakhsh, Divan-E Nurbakhsh, 280.
24. Javad Nurbakhsh, The Path, 34.
25. Ibid., 175.
26. Javad Nurbakhsh, Quatrains, Divan, 324.
27. Ibid., Divan, 357.
28. Ibid., 326.
29. Nurbakhsh, “Words Accomplish Nothing,” Divan, 16.
30. Nurbakhsh, “Words Accomplish Nothing,” Divan, 16.
31. Nurbakhsh, “He is the Truth,” Divan, 9.
32. Ibid., 150.
33. Ibid., 126.
34. Ibid., 9.
35. Ibid., 233.
36. Ibid., 45.
37. Ibid., 106.
38. Ibid., 104.
39. Ibid., 182.
When we think of cardiovascular health, physical activity
Given the ubiquity of street photography, it can now be easier to trend-spot outside fashion shows than inside. Case in point: the big and bold retro skirts so many women were wearing at the shows last month. You almost expected Carmel Snow to pull up in a Cadillac Brougham. Zanita Morgan, a model turned blogger and photographer, was a latter-day Grace Kelly in a voluminous skirt and angora sweater; Eva Chen, the Lucky editor, was uptown chic in a brocade Tibi; and Eleanor Strauss, the style director of Shopbop, wore a shorter style with a fitted crop top and leather jacket. While the days are still mild, you can pull off a hint-of-skin top under a leather jacket or peacoat.
For winter, try a relaxed-fit pullover and a waist-cinching coat that hits a few inches above the hemline of the skirt. Or for a different play on proportions, match with a slim turtleneck and short boxy jacket. On your feet: tall boots or ladylike heels. And, unless you’re perversely proud of your undergarments, beware of those subway grates.
Under It All, the Poetry of Silk
True & Co., an e-commerce site founded in 2012 to make bra shopping a less fraught experience — there’s an online fit quiz and a home try-on service — has enlisted Nikki Dekker of the cultish lingerie line the Lake & Stars to design a private label collection. Called She Walks in Beauty (+ Light), Ms. Dekker’s collection (she’s also the site’s new creative director) is appealing in the way that Lake & Stars is, with undies that can be layered and worn as outerwear. They’re done in luxe silk and a soft color palette, with patterned straps, cutouts and contrast closures, all at accessible prices of $24 to $94. This plunging bodysuit, available in black or mint with black straps, at $94, is a sexy piece to layer under a sharp jacket. At trueandco.com.
Worthy of a Song Or at Least A Bit of Boasting
In its first season, Kara, a line of smart everyday handbags, was impressively picked up by Opening Ceremony, Harvey Nichols in London and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong. Designed by Sarah Law, who worked as an accessories designer at Gap, the line, including a pebble leather backpack that keeps selling out, is easy, cool and affordable. (The name is borrowed from one of her favorite activities, karaoke.) “I don’t really buy things that are over $1,000,” Ms. Law said of her moderate pricing. “I’ve maybe done it once in my life, and it was a really big deal.” Her new resort collection has backpacks and smaller stowaway bags in speckled cream calf-hair and mesh, but we are especially fond of this dry bag, which has an adjustable strap so it can also be carried as a bucket bag.
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Microsoft has shown off parts of its Xbox One dashboard previously, but the company has now started to demonstrate it fully with just under a month until the console is released. In a new video briefly posted to the official Xbox One site, Microsoft demonstrated apps, games, and TV switching from the very start of powering up the console to switching it off — all with the voice-enabled Kinect camera. We’ve seen dashboard demo leaks, but this latest official video details the login experience and navigation around the dashboard to launch various apps and games using Kinect.[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/39221366[/vimeo]
Xbox One’s “Game DVR” service, which lets you capture gameplay and share it over Xbox Live, is also demonstrated in the video. Switching to TV appears to be near-instant, with apps like Internet Explorer also snapping into place speedily. It all looks impressive if it works this quickly and smoothly in reality, but it’s not clear if this is just a marketing video that speeds up scenarios. Microsoft hasn’t placed the usual warning on its video. Previously, the software maker has demonstrated its Xbox One friends app, with Twitter-like followers and feeds, and previewed its dashboard behind closed doors. As the company moves toward the November 22nd release date, we expect to see a lot more about apps, TV integration, and game switching. For now, this video offers up the latest glimpse at how the Xbox One will operate.
Not since the 4th Earl of Sandwich called for two pieces of bread and a slab of meat to eat at his card table has there been a better time to enjoy a sarnie. And if you’re the sort of person who tends to grab a sad ham and cheese roll on the run for your lunch, then you are really missing a trick. The sandwich has had quite a makeover.[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByIzJAgOV2M[/youtube]
Forget the questionable egg mayo and Coronation chicken triangles you’ll find festering away in your local shop, because all over the country increasingly outrageous offerings are being peddled: pork banh mi from Vietnam, lobster rolls, giant Reubens and meatball subs. And they’ve got bigger; half the time you’ll find a knife and fork is required to actually tackle them. Usually thought of as being a cheap, deskbound snack, this new generation of sandwiches is often served up in high-end joints (and often with prices to match). Nor are these creations destined solely for lunch; people are gorging on them for dinner, too.
So why has the sandwich gone all decadent (not to mention international)? Helen Graves, author of the new book 101 Sandwiches: A Collection of the Finest Sandwiches from Around the World, suggests that this sandwich renaissance is in part down to recent food trends.
“I think US television programmes such as Man v. Food really introduced the public to these giant creations. People were saying, ‘Oh, Americans really do sandwiches differently’. That sort of food then became very popular and fashionable. There was a lot of so-called ‘dude food’ about, restaurants such as MEATLiquor. The street-food trend made a big difference, too: you can hold on to sandwiches and they’re easy to eat while standing.”
The rise of street food certainly should be held accountable: the popular food trucks that do well go on to become proper restaurants. Then, before you know it, everyone is eating variations of sandwiches while dining out. There is also the sheer array of sandwiches from around the globe, introducing the hungry to all types of exotic fillings and breads.
Chefs are keen to experiment, too. Recent eye-popping creations include the ramen noodle burger and the mac-and-cheese burger (in this carb wonder, the noodles and macaroni are transformed into the bun). And, yes, burgers are counted as sandwiches. “Really I would say that anything enclosed in bread is a sandwich,” says Graves. “But I am quite flexible. I would argue that a burrito is a sandwich, and I have included a recipe for one in the book. A hot dog is, too. A calzone, however, is not. But I don’t mind letting certain things in. For instance, I put in a recipe for an open sandwich because in Scandinavia they are a classic. We shouldn’t be too uptight about what qualifies as a sandwich.”