Archive for October, 2010

Zero Carbon by 2030

October 31, 2010
Bolivian Ambassador Maria de Souviron

Bolivian Ambassador Maria de Souviron

I was on my way up to London on the train to Zero Carbon by 2030 and the news was coming in fast, Vodafone stores were dropping like flies. A good start to the day! [see Nationwide shut down of Vodafone stores]

Zero Carbon by 2030 organised by Campaign against Climate Change was a look at how we get to an economy free of carbon by 2030. We have a window of opportunity of five, maybe ten years, before it will be too late. How do we get there?

I missed the introduction on the science, but as I am already very familiar with all the positive feedbacks I probable did not miss anything of importance.

I caught the tail end of Stephen Murphy from Zero Carbon Britain talking about how they intend to get there. From what I heard it sounded very fuzzy and not well thought through. All become veggies and yes we can still fly if we plant lots of crops for biofuels! [see Sustainable Energy]

Ben Brangwyn talked of Transitions Towns. He gave two examples from opposite ends of the spectrum, Totnes in Devon and Heathrow. How do we oppose a new supermarket? Talk to planners, take direct action or set up an alternative food network so people do not have to go to the supermarket? At Heathrow a derelict site had been brought back into food production and it had brought about community involvement. The police had seen a 50% reduction in crime rate. David ‘Big Society’ Cameron please note.

We will have to change to adapt to the future. If we start to change now, future shocks will have less impact, we will be more resilient.

I have mixed feelings re Transitions Towns. Nothing wrong per se, growing local food etc. is all a step in the right direction but does it give a warm cuddly feeling that we have done our bit? Ben Barngwyn admitted the jury was out on this. On the other hand if it makes people more political aware, empowers them, then yes, it is a good direction as nothing is going to happen without direct action, we can forget politicians and big business doing the right thing. [see Transition towns]

Vicki Hird from FoE talked of the need to restructure agriculture to be less energy intensive. She urged everyone to support the campaign Join the Moovement.

John Stewart from Airport Watch told us that even for cheap flights, it was the rich that were using the flights not the poor, it was not the myth that is often peddled that is is bringing aviation for all. The rich benefit but it is the poor that suffer, especially the poor in the Third World. We are suffering second-hand noise, second-hand pollution.

Aviation has to pay its way. It is not as easy though as John and others would have us believe to slap on taxes. It is international treaties that give aviation tax exemptions. We can though be creative. Air Passenger Duty is ill-conceived as the airlines simply pass it on to their passengers. It should be a tax per flight. The worst offenders pay the highest tax. This would be a combination of emissions, nuisance and loading factors. There is then an incentive to improve.

The most obscene offender by far is the business aviation at Farnborough Airport. Average of 2.5 passengers per plane. A Boeing Business Jet is a re-configured Boeing 737.

Deepak Rughani from Biofuelwatch was a breath of fresh air. He said there was too much focus on carbon and we were ignoring ecosystem destruction. That if we destroyed the Gaian control mechanisms it would make no difference were we to reduce carbon emissions, reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere as these targets have no meaning if our Gaian control mechanisms are destroyed.

Plantations have about 4% the carbon of pristine rain forests. Every time we destroy a living species, we destroy part of the complex web of life with unknown and often unknowable consequences.

Deepak Rughani attacked the presentation earlier suggesting we could reach Zero Carbon Britain by growing crops for aviation fuel! Sadly there are some folk living in cloud cuckoo land. But most of the NGOs are not listening.

There are plans to import wood chips as biofuels. This means forest destruction in Canada and the Third World. We also see human rights abuses associated with the production of biofuels.

Land should be used for Food not Fuel.

There is no such thing as sustainable palm oil production. The land could be used for growing crops or restored to forest.

For years I have been highlighting biofuels is bad. Biowaste yes, but not the growing of crops as fuels. It has to be seen as a sick joke when earlier in the week Rainforest Action Network were promoting sustainable palm oil plantations. But then RAN also supports the logging of primary forests.

Wood burning stoves, associated with traditional coppicing of ancient woodland improves the biodiversity of the woodland. Picking up dead wood from the woodland floor is destroying the lifeforms within the dead wood.

Bolivian Ambassador Maria de Souviron said the poor countries were not going to be bullied into an international agreement that left them worse off. Global temperature rises had to be limited to no more than one degree centigrade. In Bolivia there was a grass roots movement Mother Earth. The Cochabamba Declaration argues for a target of limiting temperature rise to no more than one degree centigrade and a maximum limit of 300 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere.

Speaking to Maria de Souviron afterwards I asked what brought an ambassador to such an event. She said she was only too happy to lend her support as climate change effected the poorest countries. Some countries would disappear or be devastated by rising sea levels. In Bolivia the glaciers would melt. In the winter they would have floods, in the summer drought.

A trade unionist gave the trade union viewpoint. We could create a million green jobs. But we should not as he asked, stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the picket line with Luddite Trade Unionists to protect jobs in dirty industries, but we will support the workers in the call for the creation of green jobs.

Andrew Simms from The New Economics Foundation spoke of the limits to growth. We live on a finite world with finite resources. We are citizens, not consumers. In one day he counted over 400 adverts calling for us to consume, but only three that asked for good behaviour from us as citizens. The news links High Street spending with the state of the economy. NEF has launched a programme The Great Transition.

Alexis Rowell from Camden CAN and 10 by 10 Campaigning forward told us of what is happening in Camden. Council vehicles powered by fuel from biowaste, education of Camden planning officials on what green means, buildings that recycle grey water, green roofs. In Wales there was initiatives with New Economics Foundation on the use of well-being indices. As a Libdem councillor he was very outspoken against the Libdems in the coalition government.

The one aspect of our energy use that was not discussed was embedded energy.

Caroline Lucas who had hoped to be there sent her apologies. She was attending a rally on cuts in Brighton.

John McDonnell was due to speak but sent a video message with his apologies.

In the evening we had entertainment. Poetry and music. Songs from Seize the Day. An amazing guy on guitar with another guy on violin. A lovely poem on the earth shedding tears (the words please).

There was a meet up in a pub the Cock Tavern in Kings Cross later but the map was illegible, many people had gone home.

I called it a day. I had a chat with Shannon, lead singer in Seize the Day, she signed a copy of Standing Strong, only released that day, mine was number five she told me. The first track, Boys on the Balcony, which Seize the Day performed live, is about the Vestas workers who last year occupied their wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight to try and prevent its closure.

Nearby in the back streets at the side of Euston Station are some very good Indian restaurants. I had a dosa, two glasses of water, then caught the overcrowded train home.

There is to be a big (or hoped to be big) march in December I would question the timing and the futility of such a march. Who is wanting to march on a cold December day? What is the purpose of marching on Parliament on a Saturday when no one is there? Lessons are not being learnt. Marches attract zero publicity and do not achieve anything. It is direct action that achieves change, that gets publicity.

The suffragettes learnt a hundred years ago that marches gets you nowhere. Change comes through direct action, through confronting those in power, by making the status quo costly.

Also see

Climate Rush ‘do a Banksy’ on HM Treasury

Yes Men hijack Chevron media campaign

Crude Awakening shut down Coryton Oil Refinery

Gaia’s prayer

Transitions towns

Nationwide shut down of Vodafone stores

Funny Weather

Sustainable Energy — without the hot air

Soft Energy Paths

Curitiba – Designing a sustainable city

Natural Capitalism

Suheir Hammad

October 31, 2010

Suheir Hammad (1973- ) is a Palestinian-American poet, author and political activist who was born on October 1973 in Amman, Jordan to Palestinian refugee parents and immigrated with her family to Brooklyn, New York City when she was five years old. Her parents later moved to Staten Island.

Her work embodies and embraces the concept of identity as an immigrant, a Palestinian, a Muslim and as a woman challenging society’s social conventions.

She will be performing at Poetry 2010 at the South Bank in London on 5 November 2010.

Also see

Peace Oil

Peace Oil or taking the piss?

Nationwide shut down of Vodafone stores

October 31, 2010

I was on my way up to London on the train to Zero Carbon by 2030 and the news was coming in fast, Vodafone stores were dropping like flies.

It started at 11 am that morning at a meeting in Hyde Park. Then it was close down the Vodafone stores in London and across the country. By the end of the day over 20 Vodafone stores had been reported by UK Uncut as closed in a day of action against Vodafone.

Vodafone claim their unpaid £6 billion tax is an urban myth. Why then have they not demanded a retraction for all those who have published? Do the FT, Private Eye, Grauniad and Forbes spread urban myths as leaked to them by HMRCR?

If an urban myth, as Vodafone claim, how is it that BBC Radio 4 programme File on 4 were able to rebroadcast their excellent documentary A Taxing Dilemma on how Big Business fiddle their taxes? And as A Taxing Dilemma shows it is not only Vodafone.

Vodafone claim they always pay their taxes. Why then is India demanding $2.6 billion unpaid tax?

£7 billion cuts in benefits to the poor. £6 billion unpaid tax by Vodafone. We can all do the sums and we do not like the result.

Sign the petition calling for Vodafone to pay their unpaid tax

Follow on twitter

The Vodafone protest has brought a whole new generation of protest out onto the streets. It was in the High Street in full view of the public. People could see that direct action works. We will not sit back and take the cuts.

Old style demos are a thing of the past. Corporate bosses are twitching. Who will be next?

Only a couple of weeks before protesters from a Crude Awakening had shut down the Coryton oil refinery. [see Crude Awakening shut down Coryton Oil Refinery]

Also see

Vodafone £6 billion unpaid tax bill

Brixton Anti-Cuts March & Vodafone Protest

Vodafone shops blockaded in tax protest

Britain’s £6bn Vodafone Bill

Full report of todays Vodafone action

Vodaphone protest in Oxford

Vodafone stores in York shut by protests

A day of direct action against Vodafone

London: Oxford Street Vodaphone store shut down by protestors

21 Vodafone Stores Shut in Anti-Cuts Action

Tax protests target Vodafone stores

A Day of Action: Liverpool

A Day of Action: Glasgow

A Day of Action: York

A Day of Action: Birmingham

A Day of Action: Manchester

A Day of Action: London

A Day of Action: Oxford

Cat Smith on the direct action against Vodafone

Why are there protests against Vodafone? A simple guide

We are the angry mob

Vodafone protest shows tweets can get people on the streets

Saturday’s Nationwide Vodafone Shut-Downs

Maktub by Paulo Coelho

October 30, 2010

The master says: “If a decision needs to be made, it is better to make it and deal with the consequences. You cannot know beforehand what those consequences will be. The arts of divination were developed in order to counsel people, never to predict the future. They provide good advice, but poor prophecy. “In one of the prayers that Jesus taught us, it says, ‘God’s will be done.’ When His will causes a problem, it also presents a solution.

If the arts of divination were able to predict the future, every soothsayer would be wealthy, married and content.”

Also see

The Alchemist

Maktub : It is written

Maktub: What does it mean that everything is written?

The Role of Science and Faith in the Development of Civilisations

Meesha Shafi – Chori Chori – Coke Studio Sessions

October 29, 2010

Coke Studio Sessions. Produced by Rohail Hyatt.

The Role of Science and Faith in the Development of Civilisations

October 29, 2010
Professor Adel Sharif

Professor Adel Sharif

talking to Guildford and Godalming Interfaith Forum

talking to Guildford and Godalming Interfaith Forum

Religion is a submission to God and services to His creations. — Prophet Mohammed

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. — Albert Einstein

What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses, and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the enquiring and constructive mind. What these blessed men have given us we must guard and try to keep alive with all our strength if humanity is not to lose its dignity, the security of its existence, and its joy in living. — Albert Einstein

It is the inspiration of my faith and the events in my home country Iraq as well as the opportunity given to me in my host country, the UK, that influenced and allowed me to apply the knowledge I acquired, and to focus my research on water and energy for the benefit of society and the wellbeing of mankind. — Professor Adel Sharif

Lord, I believe in you, and You believe in me. Let’s continue working together. — Paulo Coelho

Only mediocrity is safe. Take your risks and be the best. — Paulo Coelho

A talk given by Professor Adel Sharif at the Guildford and Godalming Interfaith Forum on 27 October 2010 at Saint Nicolas Church in Guildford.

The meeting was packed. It was also very diverse in terms of age, gender, faith and nationality.

Professor Adel Sharif, as well as being a professor of water engineering at Surrey University and founder and director of Aqua Osmotics is also a devout Muslim. Born in a village in Iraq, he has travelled a long way to his post at Surrey University. It is his faith that inspires his work.

It is a strongly held belief of Professor Adel Sharif that it is faith that produces great science and great scientists. The same is true in the arts.

I saw an example of this when the previous week in London I saw at the V&A the Sistine Tapestries by Raphael. I see it when I read the works of Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho, a devout Catholic whose faith inspires his work. On the day I was in London he asked for a global prayer to give thanks and that he would continue to write. I hear it when I listen to the works of Bach. Hildegard von Bingen saw herself as being ‘a feather on the breath of God’. Stone masons working on mediaeval cathedrals carved stone that no one would ever see, but they knew God would see their work.

The basic premise of the talk by Professor Adel Sharif was that there is no conflict between religion and science, that it is a symbiosis between the two that has advanced civilisation. Men are driven to achieve great things, not through greed or wealth or fame, but through faith. Those who say there is a conflict have no understanding of religion, no understanding science, it is an artificially contrived conflict.

Is there a human mission? Do we have a purpose in life? What are we here for, what is our role?

Scientists have not attempted to answer this fundamental question, as they thought it is of a philosophical nature.

Philosophy and religion, are interested in such a subject.

The States of Man can be plotted on an exponential curve against time. Each period that we can identify is of shorter duration, each building upon the knowledge acquired in the past. We can identify six states.

Hunter gatherer – physical strength, endurance, knowledge of the natural world.

Agrarian economy – understanding the soil, seasons and natural cycles.

Industrial age – skilled artisans, engineers, technicians and managers for the production line.

Technology age – technical abilities and skills, but applied to software, design and intellectual capacity.

Information age – turning information into knowledge, building virtual teams to share that knowledge and applying it to create value.

Sustainable age – unlocking the insight, intellect, energy, emotional and spiritual intelligence and value generation capabilities of everyone to address the problems to be solved and opportunities to be grasped.

The sustainable age is the future. Some of us are there but the rest still wallow in their ignorance. If we do not enter this age, recognise Gaia, the Earth as a living system where all the living creatures, ecosystems and geophysical process work to maintain the earth for life, then we have no future. Some may recognise this as similar to that described in the Culture novels by Iain M Banks.

Prophesy and Inspiration

Knowledge of the future (usually said to be obtained from a divine source).

A prediction of the future, made under divine inspiration.

Bible prophecy, or “biblical prophecy” refers to prophecies in the Bible, to passages in the Bible which predict future events, which are believed.

Islamic Prophecy is “Inspiration”.

Knowledge and Science

Knowledge, information, learning, erudition, lore, scholarship.

Familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or study.

Science is organized knowledge. – Herbert Spencer

Knowledge acquisition involves complex cognitive processes: perception, learning, communication, association and reasoning.

This brings us to the question: Is knowledge possessed only by humans and or God? Furthermore do we create or only acquire/discover knowledge?

We discover, we stumble upon, we find. We cannot create knowledge. If we did, we would have many different universes. We all inhabit the same universe. If not the laws of physics would be different depending upon who created them.

An interesting philosophical discussion takes place in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Were the Laws of Motion as discovered by Isaac Newton spring into being when he discovered them or were they lying around waiting to be discovered.

It is important that we distinguish between creating and making. This is not clear in poor translations of the Koran. To create is something out of nothing. When we make we are transferring, for example baking a cake.

There is a difference between scientific knowledge and religious knowledge.

Scientific knowledge

Scientific method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.

Science, and the nature of scientific knowledge have also become the subject of Philosophy. As science itself has developed, knowledge has developed a broader usage which has been developing within biology/psychology — as meta-epistemology, or genetic epistemology.

Religious meaning of Knowledge

In Christianity (Catholicism and Anglicanism) knowledge is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Hindu Scriptures present two kinds of knowledge: second-hand knowledge is knowledge obtained from books, hearsay, etc. and knowledge borne of direct experience, ie knowledge that one discovers for oneself either through observation or experimentation.

In Islam, knowledge is given great significance. “The All-Knowing” (al-’Alim). The Qur’an asserts that knowledge comes from God (2:239). Islamic scholars, theologians and jurists as well as scientists are often given the title alim, meaning “knowledgeable”.

Knowledge is one of the three pillars of Islam.

Science and belief

Belief is a subjective personal basis for individual behaviour, while Truth is an objective state independent of the individual.

Philosophy has traditionally defined knowledge as justified true belief.

The relationship between belief and knowledge is that a belief is knowledge if the belief is true.

A false belief is not considered to be knowledge, even if it is sincere.

Science is organized knowledge. — Herbert Spencer

A True Belief, therefore, is Science.

I may sincerely believe the moon is made of green cheese or the earth is flat, but it is a false belief not upheld by empirical evidence.

Wave-particle duality of light – Light may not be either, we have a model that works in some circumstances but not in all.

Science and Religion

Science is a system where beliefs are derived from objective methodologies.

Religion is a system of beliefs based on faith.

If the beliefs are true; then science and religion are compatible.

Science is True Beliefs (submission).

Technology provides tools to serve mankind.

Science & Technology are therefore compatible with religion and are True beliefs too.

Miracles, Discoveries and Inventions

Miracle: an event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs; an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment. An extraordinary event which follows natural laws and principles that we have not discovered yet. For example prophecies.

Discovery: A making known; revelation; disclosure; Finding out or ascertaining something previously unknown or unrecognised. It is a new knowledge.

Invention: A new device, method, or process developed from study and experimentation. It is an incremental development of known knowledge. It is the making/converting process of knowledge.

In How to Know God, Deepak Chopra notes that sages, prophets, saints and mystics can cross with ease the transition zone, something the rest of us have the potential to do.

The Birth of Civilisation

The earliest civilisation arose in the Middle East in around 3,500 BC in what is now Iraq. The first cities, Ur and Uruk, were built in Mesopotamia on the banks of the Euphrates. Ur is mentioned in the Bible as the birthplace of Abraham (2,000 BC). It was here we had the first religious temple, the first writing, the first government, people of taste who had table manners.

It was in Iraq we saw a flourishing of the arts and mathematics and the sciences. The Golden Age of Islam (750-1100). Islamic scholars were inspired by their faith. A centre of learning was established that drew upon Persian, Greek and Indian knowledge. Great works were produced in the field of medicine, mathematics, astronomy, geography, geometry, algebra, chemistry, optics. Zero was invented.

Ibn al Haytham (965-1040) (Alhazen) was the First Scientist to test hypotheses with verifiable experiments, developing the scientific method. To discover the truth about nature, Ibn al Haytham reasoned, one had to eliminate human opinion and allow the universe to speak for itself through physical experiments.

Faith inspired similar progress in Europe in the Arts and Science.

We have seen an exponential development in the sciences, but not in religion, where too often we hear the voice of the fundamentalists, the bigots.

This is the face we see of Islam. We see intolerance. And yet that was not the view we heard from Professor Adel Sharif a devout Muslim. It is not the view Benazir Bhutto presents in Reconciliation, the book she was working on when she was killed.

The first word in the Koran is read. It is seen as a command. To be able to read we require education. It does not say men read, or only men read. It says read.

To learn, to acquire knowledge, is a fundamental precept of Islam.

One thing Professor Adel Sharif told me he had learnt in life is patience. If something happens it is for a reason. Pause and reflect. That obstacle you hit is to give you a chance to take a different path, maybe the path less travelled. When one door closes, another door opens. Some people are deemed lucky, others unlucky. No, it is is that some fail to take the opportunities that life offers us, do not dare take risks, then bemoan their ill fate and lack of luck.

At the end of the evening Professor Adel Sharif offered me a lift to the station. I was too polite to decline his kind offer, it was actually quicker for me to walk, and as a consequence I missed my train with an hour to wait in the cold for the next train. I cursed as I watched it pulling out, 30 seconds earlier and I would have caught it. I calmed down and slowly walked back to the station entrance. There patiently waiting for me was Professor Adel Sharif. We agreed we would go off to a Turkish restaurant at the top end of the High Street where we and his son enjoyed an interesting conversation.

Maktub: What will be will be. It is written.

Synchronicity: On my way home I found the two quotes by Paulo Coelho which had been sent to me earlier in the evening. The two quotes were pertinent to and summed up that which we had been discussing. Not only that, synchronicity and Paulo Coelho both got a mention in our conversation.

I arrived at the meeting early and whilst chatting with other early arrivals I expressed my concern at the sale of so-called Peace Oil at St Mary’s Church and the deception that was being practised. All agreed that it was a scandal and Peace Oil should be removed and it would be far better to have on sale the olive oil Holy Trinity and St Mary’s had brought over from Palestine.

Up coming events

Faiths in Harmony Guildford and Godalming Inter-Faith Forum at St Nicolas Church in Guildford. 3pm, Sunday 14 November 2010.

Israeli Apartheid: Hosted by West Surrey Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Ben White, author of Israeli Apartheid and campaign co-ordinator of A Just Peace for Palestine, will talk of the plight of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. 7-30pm Thursday 18 November 2010, St Nicolas Parish Centre, Guildford.

Woking Quakers as part of Interfaith Week are putting on a show from the Edinburgh Fringe On Human Folly by the Plain Quakers theatre company. Friends Meeting House, 41 Park Road Woking. 2pm Sunday 21 November 2010.

Also see

Islamic Civilization and Muslim Thinkers

Reflections of the Islamic scholar Ibn Sina

The Alchemist

The Valkyries

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Gospel of Thomas

How to Know God

God Is

Christian Theology and Gaia

The Tao of Physics

The Dancing Wu Li Masters


Where does religion come from?

Changing reality

Vodafone £6 billion unpaid tax bill

October 29, 2010

While the poor starve, the rich and global corporations fiddle their tax.

Last week, the UK government announced massive cuts in public spending with the poor and the disadvantaged and the environment being hardest hit.

The week before the government had announced a whole new army of investigators to track down benefit claimants who might be fiddling their meagre income, might be doing the odd few hours down the pub cash-in-hand as the only way to make ends meet. As one young mum told me, it was this little extra that paid for clothes and the occasional treat.

And yet at the same time, tax collectors are to be cut.

It does not not need much thought to see who benefits from this, the rich and Big Businesses.

Just one example that has caught public attention, especially after their flagship London store in Oxford Street was closed down in protest, is Vodafone, £6 billion which the government has apparently said they do not have to pay.

We are told we are staring into the abyss, facing bankruptcy, but it is ok for Vodafone to be let off the hook over an unpaid tax bill of £6 billion.

On Wednesday protesters shut down the flag ship Vodafone store in London. On Wednesday protesters shut down all six Vodafone stores in Leeds.

This Saturday (30 October 2010), ie tomorrow, it is planned to shut down every Vodafone store in London, and if possible across the country.

This type of protest coordinated by UK Uncut, and similar protests on Climate Chaos by groups like Climate Camp and Climate Rush, is far more effective than French-style protests and political rallies as it is hitting directly the greedy bastards who got us in the state we are currently in.

£7 billion cuts in benefits to the poor. £6 billion unpaid tax by Vodafone. We can all do the sums and we do not like the result.

Sign the petition calling for Vodafone to pay their unpaid tax

Follow on twitter

Earlier in the year George Osborne the millionaire Chancellor who last week announced the massive cuts was in India promoting Vodafone! The irony is not lost that India is demanding that Vodafone pays their unpaid taxes!

It is not only Vodafone, other big companies are dodging their tax. Barclays has a special secret unit to advise companies and the super rich on how to avoid their taxes. Listen to the excellent BBC Radio 4 File on Four documentary, A Taxing Dilemma.

Also see

Vodafone Direct Action Spreads – Saturday Callout

Johann Hari: Protest works. Just look at the proof

Vodafone’s tax case leaves a sour taste

Taxman let Vodafone off £6bn bill

Insurrection on Oxford Street

Protestors shut down Vodafone store over ‘tax dodging’ claims

Occupation highlights Vodafone’s legal tax dodge

Leeds protesters shut down Vodafone

Vodafone Oxford St Occupied! We want our £6bn back

First Cuts Not the Depest

Vodafone must pay $2.6bn India tax bill

Vodafone given $2.5bn Indian tax bill deadline

Islamic Civilization and Muslim Thinkers

October 29, 2010

Also see

Reflections of the Islamic scholar Ibn Sina

The Role of Science and Faith in the Development of Civilisations

Reflections of the Islamic scholar Ibn Sina

October 28, 2010

Islamic scholar Ibn Sina reflects upon his achievements. What will history say about us?

Also see

Islamic Civilization and Muslim Thinkers

The Role of Science and Faith in the Development of Civilisations

Tell a story

October 28, 2010
telling a story

telling a story

The great Rabbi Israel Shem Tov, when he saw that the people in his village were being mistreated, went into the forest, lit a holy fire, and said a special prayer, asking God to protect his people.

And God sent him a miracle.

Later, his disciple Maggid de Mezritch, following in his master’s footsteps, would go to the same part of the forest and say:

“Master of the Universe, I do not know how to light the holy fire, but I do know the special prayer; hear me, please!”

The miracle always came about.

A generation passed, and Rabbi Moshe-leib of Sasov, when he saw the war approaching, went to the forest, saying:

“I don’t know how to light the holy fire, nor do I know the special prayer, but I still remember the place. Help us, Lord!”

And the Lord helped.

Fifty years later, Rabbi Israel de Rizhin, in his wheelchair, spoke to God:

“I don’t know how to light the holy fire, nor the prayer, and I can’t even find the place in the forest. All I can do is tell this story, and hope God hears me.”

And telling the story was enough for the danger to pass.

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog. Illustration by Ken Crane

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