Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Bride Price

O friend, I have composed books for you. My subjects come before you, to honor you, and to give advice in its place. But if you would be truly guided you would know that these are not the best of books.They are the least of them. If you read these works yet understand only these few words, you will put my books aside and take up others. Then you will have heeded my advice and these gifts will have served some good purpose. 

Why do you draw from your quiver the crooked arrow? 
Toss it away and take up the straight! 

Be satisfied with the work of Rumi or Attar instead. In verse and prose they might bring you nearer your goal; they offer rest and comfort and solace to the weary. 

To Rumi’s tales a wiser man refers, 
To Attar’s skillful verses he defers. 
Though envious of them, I cannot claim, 
Their finer bow, their arrow, or their aim. 

These two surpass me, but if they are not to your liking, turn instead toward the bounty of Abha, risen in your midst if you but looked. From Him you will find sure footing on this ruined road, and clear vision through a fog of doubts. 

For my part the season has ended, and the fruits were long ago gathered up. Upon that field the sun has set; in that effort the work is done, the foundation built and I offer no further service. Recall the words of Sa‘di. 

If it should not touch anyone’s ear of desire, 
The messenger told his tale; it is enough. 

After doubting the angel, Zechariah could not speak. For nine months his tongue was locked; silence from that sage was His sign, for what tongue can move without His leave? 

If I were to put words on paper again, some reason must move me; some new thought or notion must enter my mind. Yet, except to mourn the errors of my previous work, nothing more can be said. 

Whoever speaks when his speech is done, 
Burns the very bread of his motives, 
And bleaches the shirt of meaning to tatters. 

But you are my friend, and how can I refuse you? I have renounced the writing of books, yet others request from me the writing of books. When friend and desire band together, no man can withstand their entreaties. 

My pride rejoices, my arrogance now has fine excuse. Like Odysseus, I hear those lovely voices, yet I hurry to do their bidding and am not tied to any mast. 

I swore I’d never take up pen again, 
To save myself from vanity’s temptations. 
I saw my nature could not bear the loss. 
“For now I will renounce renunciations.” 

Listen to these words if you must, yet remember that, whoever speaks, the voice is always mine alone. He sings to you like Solomon’s father, from the branch of a rose tree, that you might know the name he hides. 

Now I stand at the door, not venturing in, like Ravana having cut off his ninth head, hesitating with his sword at the throat of the tenth.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Trial of Paris

For a period of five years, beginning some time in 2006, I have worked occasionally on a book entitled The Trial of Paris. In that time I have written much of it; the first part is complete, the second and final part is missing only one section. Unfortunately, the missing section is especially difficult to write and I have put it off while I completed books like The Temple of Hanuman, The Island of Amodhai, and begun work on my edited version of The Bhagavad Gita. In this regard, my procrastination has been productive, and I’ve drafted nearly three books in the intervening years. However, it was never my expectation to abandon The Trial of Paris. It is one branch from my work The End of Reason (The Temple of Hanuman representing another branch).

The Trial of Paris is divided into two parts. The first is an exploration of the existence of God as argued by an atheist and by one who subscribes to the Perennial Philosophy (made famous by Aldous Huxley). The first chapter of the first part provides a rational basis to disbelieve in God, as I armed the atheist with powerful arguments against both revealed and natural religion. The second chapter, however, is refutation of disbelief, and argues from analogy that the underlying assumption of any rational understanding of God, whether leading to conclusions of belief or disbelief, is inherently faulty. The second chapter provides an antidote to the first. At this point, the first part of the work concludes and the second part begins.

I have posted the first part of The Trial of Paris, and the first chapter of the second part. To the right, you will see the cover of the book. By clicking on the cover, you will open or download the work. It can be saved and read in Acrobat Reader version 8, 9, or 10. Since I am still only partly done with The Bhagavad Gita, I do not expect to have completed The Trial of Paris, with its remaining three chapters, for another year.

When I have finished the book, The Trial of Paris will represent my last major work. The End of Reason, with its dangerous second part, is the most popular and controversial. The Temple of Hanuman is the most important. The Trial of Paris is the last city on this road, and within it you will find something of me. In its last page, it is the most self-revelatory.

I won’t pretend that I will never write again. I fully expect I will, even until the day I die. But like The Ninth Hour and The Island of Amodhai they will be small works of little consequence, baubles and trinkets. Where I leave off with The Trial of Paris, I will either have reached my destination, or discovered that I will never reach it.