Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Look Around You Because God's Mercy is Everywhere

Feroz sees holiness even in unholy situations, but most of all he senses spirituality in acts of generosity big or small

(Mr. Feroz Ahmad Paray, 23, was born in Kalampora in Pulwama District. He completed his B.Sc. degree (pre-medical stream) from the Government College in Pulwama, and is currently pursuing post graduation in Business Economics from Wigan & Leigh College in Srinagar. His personal interests vary from writing poems and playing cricket to net surfing and shopping. His favorite author is Khalil Gibran.)


If I can ease one life the aching
Or cool one pain
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again
I shall not live in vain
(Emily Dickinson)

During the early stages of the spiritual journey, we can feel a certain deprivation when we have to keep saying “no to the senses as they clamor for things that will only add to the burden of the journey later on.”

Don't eat this. Don't drink that. Don't smoke. Don't watch that. This is what you keep hearing from your spiritual teacher. There is no rapture, no ecstasy, only do’s and don'ts.

The purpose is not to subjugate the body. We need to rein the senses to be faithful allies on our journey for two compelling reason: First, the body is our vehicle, and we need to keep it healthy, strong and resilient so that it can carry us steadily and safely to the summit of consciousness. Second, training the senses strengthens the will. A strong will is required to move out of the Valley of Death, which is our physical world. An un-trained will becomes self-will, an enemy. But a trained will is a powerful ally.

Everything that God has created is potentially holy, and our task as humans is to find that holiness in unholy situations. When we can do this, we will have learned to nurture our soul. We must remember that everything in this world has God's fingerprints on it - that alone makes it special. Our inability to see beauty doesn't suggest that it is not there. Rather it suggests that we are not looking carefully enough to see it. As long as we can find even a little of holiness in a situation, our soul will grow and feel cared for.

Nourishing our soul can be compared to nourishing our body. Sometimes we pause during a meal and truly savor the food. We realize how really wonderful it is, appreciate it and count our blessings. Other times we simply shovel the food into our mouth, unaware we're nourishing our body. The same is true of spiritual nourishment. There are times we are simply "blown away" by finding ourselves in the presence of God. When we perform acts of kindness - when we pray, give to charity or forgive someone who may have hurt us - we get a wonderful feeling inside. Each of us was put on this earth to fulfill their potential for humanity and the soul is that part of us that makes us truly human.

The soul is not a physical entity. Since the soul represents the parts of the human being (our values, memories, identity, sense of humor etc.) that are not physical, it cannot get sick, it can not die, it can not disappear. In short it is immortal. When we fulfill our soul's destiny, we feel “right." Conversely, when we get caught up in our own self-interest and forget to care for others, we feel empty and unfulfilled. Let's therefore find some way to “give back" something to the world and especially to this downtrodden Kashmir, in order to feel a sense of completeness.

Any number of things can fulfill this goal: Helping someone in studies, volunteering for community services, cheering the patients in the hospitals, and much more. Whatever we choose, we will gain a sense of giving of ourselves and of sharing ourselves with the world. In this way, we are fulfilling the destiny of our soul.

Many of us make the mistake of believing that if they only had more money or more of that, more of this, or a better looking body, they would feel the sense of “wholeness” they have always craved. Virtually without exception, this is not the case. What is actually lacking is the dimension of giving as a means of nourishing the soul. God is everywhere. The proof of the existence of God is that we often witness ordinary people doing extraordinary things and coming up with the strength they never knew they had. God doesn't take away the problem but He gives us the resources to cope with it. Religion can not change facts but it can change the way we relate to them. We “meet” God when we pray, when we are helpful and kind, when we overcome nasty habits, addictions and pettiness in our lives. The spiritual growth is like climbing a ladder. Each step nourishes our soul. In time we feel completely nourished and connected to God. We will have truly met God. So what are you waiting for? Start nourishing your soul sooner rather than later!

Thank you God for the delicious food that sustains us always, everyday, every season, every moment. Thank you Mother Nature and to the farmer who harvested the crop, the grocer and everybody. Thank your mom and dad for tasty preparations. Thank you all!

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