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Conquering oneself

chevalSir Edmund Hillary apparently said “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” He should know as he climbed for the highest mountain on earth.

As a teacher, there is nothing more fulfilling than the glee of a child saying “look, I did it myself!” As we advance in life, this exhilarating feeling is rarely felt unless one takes courses, classes, learns a new language or just tries something new or silly like jumping over a bridge with a rope tied to your legs. But this is still well-named child’s play compared to conquering the self.

Conquering our fears, taming our character, channeling our emotions is indeed a steeper trail. Some useful pickaxes: prayer, reflection and meditation. Prayer helps us tap into this mysterious well of spirituality, gives us strength to develop our virtues and connect to others. While reflection combined with meditation ” frees man from the animal nature, discerns the reality of things, puts man in touch with God.”(1). For those who like me have vertigo standing on a stool, there is a beauty in having tools that do not require to go up a mountain or be locked in an isolated spot.  We can use them every day as we go about our daily business. Daily prayer for ourselves, our loved ones or by working in a spirit of service; reflection at the end of each day on our actions and how to improve;  meditation (2) on the meaning of events, words, concepts.  So one day, I might conquer myself and my self, pulverize this monstrous mountain in me and become the person God had intended me to be.

“Great is indeed your blessedness inasmuch as His unfailing grace hath been vouchsafed unto you and ye have been aided to recognize this Cause — a Cause through whose potency the heavens have been folded together and every lofty and towering mountain hath been scattered in dust.”(3)

(1) Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 174

(2) disclaimer: I do not advocate any particular technique. Holding still in silence for a couple of minutes is already a feat in my too talkative, hyperactive opinion.

 (3) Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 264)




Exposition - Potoklinica 050-1The night before we were meant to enter the period of fasting, our house was broken in. Although the thief did not take much he stole two things I find difficult to detach from: my grand-mother’s watch and my camera which was the last birthday gift of my late father. I remember someone telling me that to be detached from things or people we need to love them. If we don’t love, it is not detachment but indifference.

During the fast, we learn to detach ourselves from our bodily needs and specially of food which I simply love!  So apparently I’m in a crash course in detachment and my soul needs some serious work.

As this accidental pattern I photographed a long time ago on a wall of Sarajevo which looked like a portrait, I hope that one day I’ll get a bird’s eye view on what kind of design events and efforts in my life will finally compose. Hopefully something beautiful. Even if it is by accident.