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Illness in the Center of the World

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Okay, with confidence i can say this is the highest temperature i’ve ever had. And no, i’m not talking about the Saudi Arabian climate. My overall shittiness is on par with the thing i had at the beginning of the year where i was projectile vomiting, but at least that didn’t last so long.

A bit over a week before i came to Saudi i had just gotten over strep. Then i stupidly took a week-long live Typhoid vaccine. Then i didn’t sleep on an overnight flight. A flight, by the way, to a place where the weather and bacteria are foreign, harsh, and unforgiving. So i guess i was asking for this. Anyways, it resulted in my first overseas hospital experience. It didn’t seem much like a hospital. Sort of halfway between a doctor’s office and a walk-in clinic. The doctor spoke English but he didn’t want to hear English besides my saying yes or no to his questions. Then i’m given my first ever experience with taking a suppository. And what is it? Paracetamol. Paracetamol is another term for Tylenol. I might as well have just gone to the pharmacy next door and bought myself some more ibuprofen. I’m also given an IV for Paracetamol and a saline drip. And finally, the antibiotic prescription (which was all i’d wanted in the first place). All in all i’d rate the experience at the “medical center” a 3.5 from 1 to 10. At least it was clean and not overflowing with people. And the doctor did speak English… sort of… But not somewhere i’d recommend visiting on a trip through Saudi Arabia.

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“Sure i can give you antibiotics, but first would you kindly please shove this up your ass? kthnx”

So about a day goes by, i take my two daily doses of antibiotics, drink tons of water, and am subjected to a large amount of Arab folk medicine foods and treatments, and i wake up at 7 something after 3 hours of sleep to take my temperature aaaaand… 104. Can’t that give adults brain damage or something? Yes. Yes it can. I will admit this has me a little scared. So i’m given cold rags to put on my forehead and body, i take a dose of antibiotic for the day and 600mg of ibuprofen and… 102.4. Fuck. Well at least my trip should only improve from here…

As the title states i’m right by the center of the world for the 1.2-1.5 billion muslims in the world: Mecca. Which i should be going to visit soon. In addition, i should be going to the other major holy center in Saudi, Medina, where the Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad is, and so is he, so i might as well go say hi (if only the dead could speak… not that my Arabic’s good enough for interesting philosophical conversations yet anyways). I should be going to Ta’if high in the Hijaz mountains, where supposedly there are wild baboons everywhere, and even more rare and interesting here in Saudi: Trees! Live, actual, wild, untamed trees! The joy! But most importantly to me, while i’m in Mecca i will be going to see the Jabal An-Nur — the mountain of light — where Muhammad (SAAWS) first received his revelation from the angel Gabriel. This being the start of my lifelong dream of visiting key spiritual centers around the world.

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It’s worth noting that for me it’s important that when visiting a new culture i adopt more than just the culture and language, but their very manner of thought, right down to religion. I certainly am beyond the capacity for dogmatism, but to temporarily suspend doubt and see the world through new “psychic eyes”, new thought patterns, is one of the most eye-opening, life-changing of experiences. At heart, my core philosophical conviction will always lie with Buddhism, but as a Buddhist, as a person with the unshakable conviction that compassion is the greatest power in the world for happiness and change, i know of nothing which better builds empathy (wisdom, too) than putting aside one’s own beliefs temporarily in order to understand others. So for this month at least, i am muslim, and will always have it lying dormant within me to draw upon when i need to.

La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasulu Allah.

April 8th, 2014; 11am-ish

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Self

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Lines of soul
Piles of self strewn across the floor
What do they mean?
A gateway to passion and wisdom
But a false idol!
And from the feet of the false idol in supplication we draw the blood of sub-existence
This is self
Broken. Empty. Nothing.
Like a beautiful lie–the vehicle of truth.
Bliss and truth rest in the effulgent over-being of all-ness
You knew it all along:
The idol was a signpost pointing the way to nourishment
And instead you tried to drink its blood

Prayer to Purify My Consciousness

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This is my prayer to transcend ignorance. Let all beings bear witness.
I will remove all fear, anxiety, and aversion around mere experiences.
I will not let psychological trauma, delusions, and compulsions control my life.
I will detach from the past and overcome anxiety about the future.
Instead i will have gratitude about every experience — even the undesirable.
I will let go of ego and self-concern and instead be humble, relaxed, and accepting.
I will forgive all who have transgressed me and my dear ones, and generate boundless compassion and love towards them.
I will diminish the untamed monkey-mind and adopt the rock-solid foundation of focused attention,
While also holding fast to patience in the certainty of more than enough time to live.
I will let go of over-analysis and let myself experience in the present without attachment to the experience.
I will not fear death at any level, gross or subtle.
Indeed, i know the fulfillment and meaning of life come from what i create, inspire, and how much i love.
I am perfect. Life is perfect. There is enough time and energy and resources.
There is nothing to strive for, to attain, to acquire, to experience;
There is only to be, to love, to give of myself.
This is my prayer; May its merit be dedicated to all living things.