Ephemerides

A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Tuesday 30 October 2001

Spent half the day with a new client. J needed help setting up a digital camera to photograph her husband's jewellery so she can create sales brochures. As J has no background in publishing, she has a lot to learn. Luckily, J is fun to work with. Most of the people I've trained CorelDRAW! suite in the past have been graphics people, not beginners.

It's been over a year since my last eye test came due, so I booked myself in for tests. Seeing close up has become increasingly bothersome the last few months and probably accounts for the reduction in reading books on paper.

My sister phoned last night to tell me that our mother's health has taken a drastic turn for the worst. When I phoned my mother today, she insists that Janet was panicking unnecessarily. Janet is a trained nurse and so knows about such things, but my mother has an indomitable will and has lived much of her life in less than full health. She is looking forward to seeing The House of Steel and I am glad that its completion is only weeks away.

Thought for the day:

Death is as sure for that which is born, as birth is for that which is dead. Therefore grieve not for what is inevitable.

Bhagavad Gita


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Wednesday 31 October 2001

Steve Grady saved my bacon:

Hi Jonathan,

Your dates on your website for the current week are incorrect your are using last week's again.

I am still enjoying reading your Ephemeredes and the views you express particularly your views on institutional religion , I think that last time I made reference to the fact that you like to give issues a good shake and you felt that I likened you to a "Pit Bull Terrier" or something the like. That is not the impression I have, it was Einstein who said "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds". I was raised a conservative Christian (not that I consider myself one now) and even studied theology for three years with a view to becoming a minister of religion, and I have found that this statement of Einstein to be true I have seen religion become aggressive against anyone you dared ask "why". I have seen God (In whatever form you conceive him/her to be) be supplanted by the worship of a book (the Bible). I do not consider myself a "Great Mind" in Einstein's reference just one who struggles with life and its meaning and the expression of spirituality. Keep up the good work.

On another note, some of you readership, like me, have been with you since the beginning of the house of steel and seen and read every detail of its building and your struggles. In my own way I celebrate with you its completion. One day I would like to see it in person.

One of your Sydney Readers in Down Under,

Steve

Thanks for the heads-up on my mistake, Steve.

I am familiar with the Einstein quote, but I think you have confused "great spirit" with "great mind". Wisdom comes from more than just a great intellect, it comes as I believe Einstein says, from having a great spirit. When I moved to live near the village of Franklin, I discovered people who knew far more about the Things That Are Really Important than I did. A humbling experience!

Thought for the day:

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.

Basho (a Zen monk)


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Thursday 1 November 2001

I downloaded the latest certified driver for my Matrox G400 and installed it on my workstation (Win2k Pro). At last, I appear to have speed and a display free of artefacts. It certainly took long enough!

-oOo-

Steve's remarks of yesterday echoed through my mind. The religions of The Book have two aspects: an explanation of the world and a code for how to live in the world. Having discovered that modern science has a better explanation of the world and how it works, many reject the code for how to live in the world. Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater! Others, seeing the result of living without moral principles, want to retain belief in the millennia old explanations of the world as the price of retaining the moral code. Just leave your brains in that jar over there and let the priests do your thinking for you! Piffle!

Explanations of the world, scientific or otherwise, are irrelevant when it comes to living a life of principle. The Talmud puts this best: "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary."

Here are some of the expressions of that Law from other faiths:

And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

This is the sum of duty: do naught to others which if done to thee would cause thee pain. The Mahabharata 

Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others. Shayast-na-Shayast 

Hurt not others with that which pains yourself. Udana-Varga 

All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 

No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. Hadith 

Do not do unto others what angers you if done to you by others. Socrates 

An it harm none, do what thou wilt. Wiccan Rede

Tzu-kung asked, "Is there a single word which can be a guide to conduct throughout one's life?" The Master said, "It is perhaps the word shu. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire." Confucius

Refraining from doing what we blame in others. Thales 

You shall love your neighbour as yourself. Leviticus

Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. Matthew

Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself. an-Nawawi

A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. Sutrakritanga

Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence. Mencius

One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire. Mahabharata

Comparing oneself to others in such terms as Just as I am so are they, just as they are so am I, he should neither kill nor cause others to kill. Sutta Nipata

One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts. Yoruba Proverb

Thought for the day:

Be still like a mountain and flow like a great river.

Lao Tsu


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Friday 2 November 2001

From fellow DayNotes Gang member, Mike Barkman:

Hi Jon...

Talepiece for Thursday: (from an old SF story - can't remember which)

1. Don't annoy others. 2. Don't be too easily annoyed.

Cheers ... /Mike

======================================================= 
Visit my web site and daynotes at http://www.icarus.gen.nz

I tried to locate a source for this, but it's such a common netiquette injunction, I failed. 

-oOo-

After a week of wet weather, today was mild and mostly sunny. The weather bureau expects warm weather on Sunday, before a return to wet and windy on Monday. Saturday we go to a friend's place for a barbecue and Sunday we will be having our first barbecue at The House of Steel, so the weather forecast is promising. I mowed the grass today, but the quagmire around the cottage means that can await finer weather.

Thought for the day:

Think hard about it: I'm running out of demons. I'm running out of villains. I'm down to Castro and Kim Il Sung. 

Colin Powell, US general and chairman of joint chiefs of staff, 1991


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Saturday 3 November 2001

I just received a phone call from a friend I mentored into the computer industry a while ago. He recently purchased a Microsoft MCSE training kit for Win2k Server. The cover of the kit says "CD Enclosed", but there's no Win2k Server, just training material on the CD. Got in touch with another friend to see if he had a NFR or 120 day evaluation copy, but struck out. He says that he hasn't been able to get NFRs or evaluation copies of any of the Win2k products! Perhaps, these days it's only MSDN subscribers who receive these things. My MSDN expired some time ago, so I burnt my friend a copy of Win2kS RC1 that I have here. Perhaps Microsoft aren't as generous towards computer professionals as they used to be. 

Thought for the day:

It's too bad I'm not as wonderful a person as people say I am, because the world could use a few people like that. 

Alan Alda


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Sunday 4 November 2001

Yesterday's party was fun. Had a great discussion with my friend Doug Wynter and invited him and his lady Ulricha to our barbecue today. He has some Sufi books that I have yet to read and I have some interesting books on consciousness I think he'd enjoy.

Here's Doug's favourite Sufi story:

The Merchant and the Parrot

There (once) was a merchant. And he had a parrot, imprisoned in a cage-- a beautiful parrot. (Now) when the merchant prepared for a journey (and) was about to travel to India, he spoke to each male and female slave (and asked), out of generosity, "What shall I bring (back) for you? Answer quickly!"

Each one asked him for something wished, (and) that good man gave (his) promise to all.

(Then) he said to the parrot, "What present from the journey do you want, so that I may bring it to you from the region of India."

The parrot answered him, "When you see the parrots there, explain my situation (and) say, "'The parrot so-and-so, who is yearning to see you, is in my prison by the decree of the heavens. "She sends you greetings of peace and wants justice, and desires a remedy and the path of right guidance.

"She said, 'Is it proper that I, in (such a state of) yearning, should give (up my) life here (and) die in separation? "'Is it right that I (should be) in (such) strict bondage, while you (are) sometimes on the green grass (and) sometimes on the trees? "'Is the faithfulness of (true) friends like this, (that) I (am) in prison and you (are) in the rose garden?'

"O great ones, bring (to mind) the memory of this weeping bird, (by drinking) a dawn cup (of wine) among the grassy meadows!"

(Since) the story of the [ordinary] parrot of the soul is like this, where is one who is the [chosen] confidant of the birds? Where is a bird (who is) helpless and without sin, and (yet) within him (is a) Solomon with (his entire) army? When he cries out bitterly, (but) without gratitude or complaint, a clamor [to aid him] occurs in the seven heavens!

The man of trade accepted this message (and agreed) that he would deliver the greeting from her to (her on) kind. When he reached the farthest regions of India, he saw some parrots in a wilderness. He held back (his) mount (from going), then gave a shout: he delivered the greeting and returned that (which he had been given in) trust.

Among those parrots, one parrot trembled greatly, fell, died, and stopped breathing. The merchant became sorry about telling (such) news, (and) he said, "I went in destruction of (that) animal. "Is this one, perhaps, a relative of that little parrot? (Or) was this, perhaps, (a case of) two bodies and one spirit? "Why did I do this? Why did I deliver the message (and) burn up the helpless (creature) by means of this crude speech?"

The merchant finished his trading (and) returned to (his) home, satisfying (the best hopes of his) friends. He brought a present to each male slave (and) gave a share to each female slave.

The parrot said, "Where is (this) slave's present? Tell what you saw and said!"

(The merchant) replied, "No. I am myself (very) sorry about that, (and am) chewing my hands and biting (my) fingers (over it). "Why did I foolishly bring (such) a crude message out of ignorance and thoughtlessness?"

(The parrot) said, "O master, why are you (so) regretful? What is it that calls for (all) this anger and sorrow?"

He replied, "I told your complaints to a group of your fellow parrots. "That one parrot-- her heart broke from getting wind of your pain, and she trembled and died. "I became regretful (and thought), 'Why was (the use of) saying this?' But since I had (already) spoken, what was the benefit of remorse?"

When she heard about what that parrot did, she then trembled, fell, and became cold. When the master saw her fallen like this, he jumped up and hurled (his) cap on the ground. (And) when the master saw her with this appearance and condition, he leaped up and tore the upper front (of his robe).

He said, "O beautiful and sweet-crying parrot, what happened to you? Why did you become like this? "Oh what sorrow! My sweet-sounding bird! Oh what misery! My close companion and confidant! "Oh what regret! My sweet-singing bird! The wine of (my) spirit, (my) garden, and my sweet basil! "If Solomon had had a bird like you, he never would have become occupied with (all) those (other) birds. "Oh what a pity! The bird which I got (so) cheaply! (Yet how) quickly I turned my face away from her face!

"O tongue! You are a great injury to mankind! (But) since you are talking, what can I say to you? "O tongue! You are both the fire and the harvest stack. How long will you set fire to this harvest stack? "(My) soul is lamenting in secret because of you, even though it keeps doing everything you tell it (to do)."

The merchant, in (a state of) burning, and agony, and yearning, kept saying a hundred scattered and disturbed (things) such as this.

After that, he threw her out of the cage. The little parrot flew to a high branch -- The dead parrot made such a (swift) flight, (it resembled) the sun when it charges forth, like a Turk, from the sky [and rises up at dawn].

The merchant became bewildered by the bird's action. All of a sudden, (still) without understanding, he saw (that there were) secrets involving the bird. He raised his head and said, "O nightingale, share a portion (of wisdom) with us in explanation of the situation.

"What did (that parrot) do so that you learned (something), prepared a trick, and burned us (with sorrow)?"

The parrot answered, "She gave me advice by her (very) action, meaning, 'Escape from (attachment to) elegance of voice and joyful expansion [of your breast in song]. "'Because your voice is keeping you in shackles.' She herself acted dead for the sake of (sending me) this advice, "Meaning, 'O (you who) have become a singer to (both) commoners and the elite: become "dead" like me so that you may find deliverance!'"

The parrot gave him one or two (pieces of) advice, full of (spiritual) discrimination. After that, he said to him the "salaam of parting." The merchant said to her, "Go in the protection of Allah. You have now shown me a new path." The merchant (then) said to himself, "This is the advice for me: I will take her path, for this path is luminous. "How should my soul be inferior to a parrot? The soul ought to (follow) such as this, for it is a (very) good track (indeed)!" The body resembles a cage. The body has become a thorn to the soul because of the deceptions of those (who are) inside and outside. This one tells her, "I am your confidant," and that one tells her, "No, I am your companion." This one tells her, "There is none like you in existence with (such) beauty, and grace, goodness, and generosity." (And) that one tells her, "Both this world and the next are yours, (and) all our souls are the (eager) uninvited guests of your soul." When he sees the people drunk from (being with) him, he loses control of himself and goes (about full) of pride and arrogance. He doesn't know that the Devil has thrown thousands (just) like him into the river's water.

From "The MathnawÓ-yť Ma`nawÓ" [Rhymed Couplets of Deep Spiritual Meaning] of Jalaluddin Rumi. Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard (with gratitude for R.A. Nicholson's 1926 British trans., and A.J. Arberry's 1961 British translation-- "Tales From the Mathnawi")

For those who love the poetry and stories of Jalal al-din Rumi, the 13th century Sufi Mystic - enjoy Rumi poems in your mailbox. Daily posts present a variety of translators and translations. Subscribe to Sunlight by sending a blank email to: sunlight-subscribe@onelist.com

Thought for the day:

History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.

Abba Eban


 

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© Jonathan Sturm 2001

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© Jonathan Sturm 2001