The Point

The point is that there is no point.
The stars will burn out.
Our deeds will turn to dust.
Our names will be forgotten.
And the names of our children.
And the names of their children.
And the names of all humans that ever lived.

And Earth will join the Sun.
Joined in the dark, in a darkening galaxy.

All will be darkness.
There will be no sound. 
No movement. No light.
Darkness everywhere.
Darkness all around.

The point is that there is no point.
There is no need to worry about success.
There is no need to worry about where your life is going.
It is not going anywhere.

Soon, there will be no “where” for it to go to.

The point is that there is no point.
Empty are our words,
Empty are our deeds.
Our lives are going nowhere.

This is what life feels like to me without God—if there is no God to preserve our genes and deeds and resurrect us at some point in the future. Written on May 27, 2016. Also a reminder of the emptiness of all deeds and accomplishments other than those that benefit the afterlife.

A guide to using PHP to download OneDrive files selected by users in the OneDrive Picker

In my previous blog post  I described how to get the OneDrive picker to work on a local development server. In this post I will describe the second piece of the puzzle, downloading the file to a local server using PHP after the user selects it:

First, below is the JavaScript/jQuery used to open the file picker:

$(function() {
    $('.onedrive-button').click(function() {

function openOneDrivePicker() {
    var odOptions = {
        clientId: client_id,
        action: "download",
        advanced: {
            redirectUri: redirect_uri,
        multiSelect: true,
        openInNewWindow: true,
        success: function (files) { /* success handler */
            var files_array = files.value;
            for(var i in files_array) {
        cancel: function () { /* cancel handler */
        error: function (e) { /* error handler */

The success method goes through the file or files selected and calls a function called processOneDriveFile() on each one of the file objects.

Below is the code to the processOneDriveFile() function, which submits the file to a PHP handler file called file_handler.php:

// this function automatically submits the file to the server as soon
// as the user picks a file from the OneDrive picker. You may
// instead want to store the files in a variable and only submit when
// the user clicks some "Submit" button somewhere in your app.
function processOneDriveFile(file) {
    var file_name =;
    var file_size = file.size;
    var download_url = file['@microsoft.graph.downloadUrl'];

    var data = {
        file_name : file_name,
        file_size : file_size,
        download_url : download_url,
        command : 'handle-onedrive-file',
        url: '/path/to/file_handler.php',
        type: 'post',
        data: data,
        error: function (data) {
        success: function (data) {
            // success message

And here is the code for file_handler.php:

// bootstrap code

$command = $_POST['command'];

if('handle-onedrive-file' === $command) {
 $file_name = $_POST['file_name'];
 $file_size = $_POST['file_size'];
 $download_url = $_POST['download_url'];

 $ch = curl_init($download_url);
 curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HEADER, 0);
 curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
 curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_BINARYTRANSFER, 1);
 curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_FOLLOWLOCATION, true);
 curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYPEER, false);
 curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYHOST, false);
 curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_CONNECTTIMEOUT, 20);

 $data = curl_exec($ch);
 $code = curl_getinfo($ch, CURLINFO_HTTP_CODE);
 $content_type = curl_getinfo($ch, CURLINFO_CONTENT_TYPE);
 $error = curl_errno($ch);
 // A file with the same name may exist, that must be handled.
 $file_save_path = '/some/path/' . $file_name;

 file_put_contents($file_save_path, $data);
 echo 'File successfully retrieved and stored!';

That’s all. Make sure that the curl PHP library is installed and enabled (it is not sufficient to have the Linux curl utility, the code above uses the PHP library for it).

A guide to using PHP to download Google Drive files selected by users in the Google Drive Picker

Let’s say you’ve managed to get the Google Drive JavaScript Picker API to work, and have also managed to coerce your users into logging into the Picker and selecting one of their files:

And you have verified that the onSelect function works properly:

function initGoogleDrivePicker() {
    var picker = new FilePicker({
        apiKey: api_key,
        clientId: client_id,
        buttonEl: document.getElementsByClassName('google-drive-button')[0],
        onSelect: function (file) {

Where to go from here to send the file to the server and have it saved there?

First, we’ll create a function called processGoogleDriveFile(file), which will be added to the onSelect function of the picker:

function initGoogleDrivePicker() {
    var picker = new FilePicker({
        apiKey: api_key,
        clientId: client_id,
        buttonEl: document.getElementsByClassName('google-drive-button')[0],
        onSelect: function (file) {

The function will be as follows. It will extract the file’s information, then use a jQuery AJAX request to send it to a PHP file called file_handler.php:

// this function automatically submits the file to the server as soon
// as the user picks a file from the Google Drive picker. You may
// instead want to store the files in a variable and only submit when
// the user clicks some "Submit" button somewhere in your app.
function processGoogleDriveFile(file) {
    var data = {
        file_id :,
        file_name : file.title,
        extension: file.fileExtension,
        mime_type : file.mimeType,
        // the function below is provided by the library
        // from
        access_token : gapi.auth.getToken().access_token,
        command : 'handle-google-drive-file',
        url: '/path/to/file_handler.php',
        type: 'post',
        data: data,
        error: function (data) {
        success: function (data) {
            // success message

On the back-end side, in file_handler.php, we have the following code:

// bootstrap code

$command = $_POST['command'];

if('handle-google-drive-file' === $command) {
    $file_id = $_POST['file_id'];
    $file_name = $_POST['file_name'];
    $extension = $_POST['extension'];
    $mime_type = $_POST['mime_type'];
    $access_token = $_POST['access_token'];
    // if this is a Google Docs file type (Google Docs, 
    // Spreadsheets, Presentations, etc.) we convert it
    // to a PDF using the export function of the API before saving it.
    // we could convert it to other file types that are also supported
    // by the API.
    if (stripos($mime_type, 'google')) {
        $getUrl = '' . $file_id .
        $authHeader = 'Authorization: Bearer ' . $access_token;
        $file_name = $file_name . " (converted)";
        $extension = 'pdf';
        $file_mime_type = 'application/pdf';
    else { // otherwise we download it the normal way
        $getUrl = '' . $file_id . 
        $authHeader = 'Authorization: Bearer ' . $access_token;

    $ch = curl_init($getUrl);
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HEADER, 0);
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_BINARYTRANSFER, 1);
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_FOLLOWLOCATION, true);
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYPEER, false);
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYHOST, false);
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_CONNECTTIMEOUT, 20);
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HTTPHEADER, [$authHeader]);

    $data = curl_exec($ch);
    $code = curl_getinfo($ch, CURLINFO_HTTP_CODE);
    $error = curl_errno($ch);

    // 1. the file name could already have an extension in some cases,
    // that must be handled if needed.
    // 2. A file with the same name may exist, that must be handled.
    $file_save_path = '/some/path/' . $file_name . '.' . $extension;

    file_put_contents($file_save_path, $data);
    echo 'File successfully retrieved and stored!';

That’s all that is needed. Not all of Google’s proprietary MIME types can be converted to PDF. You must add a check to the onSelect or processGoogleDriveFile() JavaScript functions to check whether this is a MIME type you want to support. If it not, you can alert the user to choose another file.

Make sure that the curl PHP library is installed and enabled (it is not sufficient to have the Linux curl utility, the code above uses the PHP library for it).

How to get a demo of the OneDrive File Picker JavaScript SDK to work on a local development server

After getting the Google Drive file picker working on the page of a project I’m working on within just a few hours, I was faced with the task of getting the OneDrive JavaScript Picker to work, which I almost abandoned because of Microsoft’s brain-dead documentation. After hours of watching Microsoft videos and piecing together documentation, I finally got it to work.

Through it all, I was often reminded of this good old joke:

A helicopter was flying around above Seattle when an electrical malfunction disabled all of the aircraft's electronic navigation and communications qquipment. Due to the clouds and haze, the pilot could not determine the helicopter's position and course to fly to the airport. The pilot saw a tall building, flew toward it, circled, drew a handwritten sign, and held it in the helicopter's window. The pilot's sign said "WHERE AM I?" in large letters. People in the tall building quickly responded to the aircraft, drew a large sign and held it in a building window. Their sign read: "YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER." The pilot smiled, waved, looked at her map, determined the course to steer to SEATAC airport, and landed safely. After they were on the ground, the co-pilot asked the pilot how the "YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER" sign helped determine their position. The pilot responded "I knew that had to be the Microsoft building because, like their technical support, online help and product documentation, the response they gave me was technically correct, but completely useless."

So here is how to actually get their amazing picker to work. I will assume you’ve already created your app in the App Portal.

1. Enabling SSL

You must first enable SSL on your demo server if you don’t have it. To do that quickly and for free, create a self-signed certificate and install it. Here is a guide on creating a self-signed SSL certificate.

When creating the certificate, don’t forget to use the Fully Qualified Domain Name for your local server. I use the fake domain as the domain name for my project, and put as the FQDN.

After you have generated your .key and .crt files, put them in /etc/ssl/crt/ or some such similar place.

With that done, create an SSL virtual host that uses the files you created, as follows (this is for a PHP website). The following code will have to be added wherever you have your VirtualHosts, it could be apache2.conf, or in a new file (such as ssl_vhost.conf) placed inside the sites-available directory (/etc/apache2/sites-available). If you put it in sites-available, you will have to run the command a2endsite /etc/apache2/sites-available/the_file_name_I_used.conf to enable the vhost.

ServerName default

## Vhost docroot
DocumentRoot "/var/www/html"
SSLEngine on
SSLCertificateFile /etc/ssl/crt/myproject.crt
SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/ssl/crt/myproject.key

## Directories, there should at least be a declaration for /var/www/html

Options Indexes FollowSymlinks MultiViews
AllowOverride All
Require all granted

Require all granted
SetHandler proxy:fcgi://
## Logging
ErrorLog "/var/log/apache2/default_vhost_error.log"
ServerSignature Off
CustomLog "/var/log/apache2/default_vhost_access.log" combined

## Custom fragment

2. Creating the URI Redirect File

Somewhere in your file structure, for example in /var/www/html, create a file called onedrive_picker_redirect.html (or any other name you choose). The file has to load the OneDrive JavaScript SDK, it doesn’t have to do anything else. Here is the contents of the file (note that I’m using version 7.0 of the SDK, use whichever one you want to use for your project):

3. Add a link to the redirect file in the Microsoft App Portal

Put the full SSL link to the redirect file (such as in the App portal, as shown in the screenshot below. You can keep the Logout URL blank.

4. Add the redirect file to the OneDrive picker launcher using the “advanced” parameter

We now get to the easy part. On the file from which you want to launch the picker, add the following code to launch the picker, or modify your existing code to match below. Notice the redirectUri parameter, which has to exactly match the one you used in step 3.

5. Go to your demo page using the HTTPS URL

The picker will not work if you try to launch it from a non-https page. If you were doing your development on a non-https URL earlier, you will now have to go to the same page under https. If earlier the page was at, now go to

6. Now try it out

Now click the button to launch the picker. You will get a login prompt. After logging in, you will get the picker. Click on any file you want and click “Open”.

7. Look at the console

To verify that everything is working properly, open the console, and if you used the picker code above that I used, you should see an object that contains the information for the file you picked:

8. Go back to square one

Now that we have gotten Microsoft’s limitless supply of self-absorbed ineptitude out of the way, we can get to do some actual coding to interface with their horrible products and discover entirely new and never-before-experienced ways of suffering.

If you want to send the file info to a server to store it there, see my blog post on using PHP to download OneDrive files picked from the picker.

Chronic fatigue update: Naps and the failure of vitamin D3 and zinc

This is an update that applies to my chronic fatigue treatment program.

A week ago I started having 2000 IU vitamin D3 and 25 mg zinc sulfate with my 3 PM meals. This helped my mind feel active and willing to learn in the evenings. I was finally able to finish Plato’s Republic and read through half of The Canterbury Tales.

Unfortunately, I experienced worsening fatigue during the day, which culminated in my not being able to get any work done at all for the past three days. Yesterday I realized that the new addition of the vitamin D3 / zinc supplements might be culprit, so I didn’t have any yesterday.

Today I feel like I’m recovering. I’m able to work again, but I have headache-like feeling in my head, like I’m recovering from brain damage, probably due to toxicity from high levels of calcium (caused by D3) and zinc sulfate.

Therefore I’m going back to my old solution for having a functioning brain in the evenings: To lie down for 45 minutes before I eat. Therefore I will be lying down from 3:00 PM to 3:45 PM, listening to an old audiobook (as new audiobooks require too much attention and will prevent proper rest).

This can be called a nap, but it is not necessary to fall asleep. I don’t like doing it since I don’t enjoy it, and I don’t feel good at the end of it, but it works. I am able to listen to new audiobooks in the evenings after doing this.

Napping after the meal doesn’t work for whatever reason.

Napping for less than 45 minutes doesn’t work. I have tried 30 minutes and didn’t get anything like the benefits of napping for 45 minutes.

Vitamin K2

It is possible that taking high doses of MK4 (a type of vitamin K2) will prevent the damaging effects of vitamin D3. 25 mg zinc is still too high and lower doses should be tried. I have run out of MK4, maybe I will try this out in a month or two.

My Chronic Fatigue Treatment Program

[August 28, 2017 Update: I have unpublished this book as the program, which seemed to work well for many months, has stopped working reliably. As I’m not certain of the value of the information presented in it, for now I will keep the book unpublished.]

In this essay I will summarize the treatment program I have developed over the past 9 years to treat my chronic fatigue, which used to completely overshadow my life for months at a time, preventing me from getting anything done or taking any joy in life.

This is not a cure but a treatment, as the fatigue comes back if the treatment is stopped. I will categorize my treatments into “essential” and “optional” treatments. The essential ones are necessary for the treatment to work and cannot be dispensed with. The optional ones improve the effectiveness of the treatment program but can probably be skipped.


1. Meal Time Management

The foundation of my program is to take in zero carbohydrate or protein calories until 3 PM (8 hours after my wakeup time). I spend the day drinking unsweetened black coffee with matcha (green tea powder) added to it as a creamer and as a source for l-theanine, the amino acid that prevents coffee jitters.

I only use organic coffee that I grind right before I make the cup of coffee. I cannot stand pre-ground store-bought coffees.

Oils are an exception. I drink tablespoons of MCT oil and walnut oil in the morning (and some people put coconut oil in their coffee), this will not affect the program.

2. The Feeding Window

I only eat between 3 PM and 5 PM, a two-hour feeding window. If I eat later than that, it affects my sleep quality and brings back my fatigue the next day.

3. Avoiding Sugar, Fruit Juice, Grains and other Simple Carbohydrates

I do not eat bread, anything made with wheat flour, rice or potatoes, fruit juice, sweet fruits or sugary things. In short, I avoid eating/drinking large amounts of high-glycemic foods. These foods keep my blood sugar high throughout the night, reducing my sleep quality and giving me fatigue the next day.

I do not avoid them religiously. I still have small amounts of fruit (such as an occasional apple). But I make sure to never have significant amounts of simple carbohydrates except on special occasions.

3. Carotenall

Carotenall is a source of carotenoid anti-oxidants (vitamin A-like substances). I have one upon wake-up. Without this, nothing else works.

Beta-carotene (which is commonly called “plant-based vitamin a” doesn’t work. Retinol (animal-based vitamin A) works, but I need extremely high doses of it (100,000 iu the night before to feel the benefits the next day), which is toxic to the liver.

Spirulina (a tiny sea creature high in vitamin A) also works, but it is toxic to the liver because it is always contaminated with other creatures that produce liver toxins. I received severe liver pain from spirulina, even though the brand I tried was a highly-rated organic one from I tried a different brand (the Health Ranger) which prides itself on having clean and high-quality supplements, but even that gave me liver pain.

4. Nettle Root Extract

I have one capsule of Now brand nettle root extract (250 mg) in the morning upon wake-up. Nettle root extract is a powerful anti-inflammatory supplement. I do not know the specific reasons why it works, but it does, and my chronic fatigue treatment cannot work without it.

Do not confuse with nettle leaf extract. Do not use non-extracts, the supplement should say “extract”. I have tried multiple brands, only Now brand and Solaray brand have worked for me.

5. Perika

I take 3 Perika tablets upon wakeup. Perika is a high-quality extract of St. John’s Wort, it is what St. John’s Wort should be. I have taken St. John’s Wort but it doesn’t work for me, Perika does.

Perika is necessary to create a form of mild optimism / happiness that is conducive toward feeling motivated.

6. Caffeine With Proper Timing (Probably Essential)

I stop drinking caffeine 15 minutes before my meal time (i.e. at 2:45 PM). If I have caffeine with my meal or after it, this brings back some of my fatigue the next day.

Caffeine is an important part of my day. It might be possible to use the rest of the treatments mentioned while being caffeine-free. I haven’t tried it, so I cannot say whether it will work.

7. Berberine and Banaba (not Banana) Extract (Essential for Me)

These two herbal extracts together are essential for managing my insulin resistance, and without doing that, the worst of my chronic fatigue comes back. If you sweat an hour or two after eating and the sweat smells somewhat sweet, or you carry amount significant amounts of belly fat or cellulite, or your eyes get very dry after eating, you probably have insulin resistance (or some other insulin-related condition).

I spent four months of zero motivation and productivity from March 2014 to July 2014 until I discovered this combination. I take a supplement called GlycoX which contains 500 mg berberine and 25 mg banaba extract  per capsule. I take 2 with my 3 PM meal, and 2 more at 5 PM. Different people will need different amounts.

8. Copper and Magnesium (Possibly Essential)

I take 2.5 mg copper glycinate and 130 mg elemental magnesium (from magnesium citrate) in the mornings. Copper helps with will power (the ability to focus on whatever one wants to focus on at will), while magnesium helps promote calmness and reduce eye dryness.

Copper is pro-excitatory for neurons (makes them more likely to fire), meaning that if it is missing, one feels fatigue in the brain, while if there is too much, neurons fire too often (known as excitotoxicity), causing a feeling of being scatterbrained and unable to focus. I recommend being careful with dosages of copper, more is not necessarily better.

9. Vitamin D3, Zinc Sulfate and Vitamin K (Essential for Evening Productivity)

I take 2000 IU vitamin D3, 25 mg zinc sulfate and 5-15 mg MK4 (a form of vitamin K) with my 3 PM meal. In this way my mind feels active and desirous of learning throughout the night, enabling me to listen to new audiobooks (my eyes are too dry at night to use them to read). If I don’t take these, I lack the motivation and the ability to focus necessary for being interested in learning.

Zinc, like copper, helps with the ability for neurons to fire. Zinc also reduces oxidative damage and inflammation. 25 mg might be too much, I plan to test lower amounts. Too much zinc, like copper, causes excitotoxicity.

The MK4 is not essential for these benefits, but it is necessary to prevent organ damage that is caused by vitamin D3, due to the fact that it increases calcium levels in the blood. MK4 also has the additional benefit of reducing inflammation and helping with insulin sensitivity, in this way improving sleep quality.

There is a fad where people take very high doses of vitamin D3. Taking 5000 IU gives me kidney pain, therefore I recommend not taking more than 2000 IU. I took 5000 IU vitamin D3 for years seemingly without issue, perhaps the reason my kidneys hurt now if I have this much is kidney damage caused by it.


1. Piracetam (Possibly Essential, Possibly Not)

Piracetam helps reduce inflammation in the brain and improves memory and processing speed. I take 290 mg upon wakeup and 290mg around 11 AM. This is a relatively low dose, as some people take many grams of it per day, but it seems sufficient.

After the liver damage I got form spirulina, piracetam would bring back some liver pain, therefore I reduced the dosage to 290 mg.

2. Tianeptine Sulfate

Tianeptine sulfate is an anti-depressant and brain enhancer. It has amazing powers of reducing feelings of stress, promoting calmness and reducing social anxiety. It gives me a sort of calmness that makes it easy for me to spend hours on a single task without getting bored. I take 25 mg in the morning and 25 mg around 11 AM.

3. Oils

I take a tablespoon of walnut oil (which is high in the Omega 3 oil alpha-linolenic acid) in the mornings, which helps with motivation and brain function, and also helps with my eye dryness. I also take MCT oil, avocado oil, hazelnut oil and grape seed oil occasionally to experiment with them.

4. Melatonin

I take 250 mcg (0.25 mg) melatonin at bedtime, it helps improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue the next day. More is not better, taking 1 gram or 5 gram makes me wake up many times during the night and makes it difficult for me to fall back asleep.

The Social Factor in Chronic Fatigue

As I explain in detail in my book, I have discovered that social settings matter in chronic fatigue. If I don’t feel motivated, going to a coffee shop to work often brings back my motivation. Being surrounded by loved ones also reduces fatigue and increases motivation

There is a new theory of depression known as the Immune-Cytokine Model, which says that loneliness causes inflammation, designed to make us feel bad, to motivate us to go back to our loved ones, in this way ensuring that we do not spend time away from the safety of our families and tribes.

Ways of benefiting from these observations is to move in with your parents or another loved one if you can, to join meet ups and clubs (such as a martial arts club), to work outside (for this to work, you must be somewhere where you feel watched, if you feel entirely ignored by everyone, it doesn’t help, this is just how the brain works). Even getting a pet may help.

Things to Avoid


ALCAR (acetyl-L-carnitine) is a great supplement for managing blood sugar. Unfortunately, it causes a (pleasurable) feeling of laziness, where lying down and doing nothing is all I want to do. Taking any ALCAR today also seems to reduce my motivation the next day.


Alpha-lipoic acid (not to be confused with the omega 3 oil alpha-linolenic acid) is an anti-oxidant supplement that helps with blood sugar. It gives me neuropathy (pain in my fingers and toes), probably due to the fact that it removes minerals from the body, and it also gives me extreme depression and fatigue if I have too much of it, or if I have it on an empty stomach.

A bash script for automatically restarting an unresponsive Apache server only when needed

One of my servers responds to about 100,000 requests per day. Apache would randomly hang a few times a day, taking all of the websites down. I tried every solution I could find online to prevent Apache from hanging, but nothing helped, so I decided to stop wasting time on it and simply develop a good bandage for the problem.

At first I used a script to automatically restart Apache once every two hours. This wasn’t good enough because sometimes Apache would hang multiple times within one hour, other times it would keep running for 12 hours without issue (probably having to do with traffic spikes and waves of spider bots).

Eventually I developed the following script, which restarts Apache only when needed. The script tries to download a page from the website, and if the server fails to respond within 15 seconds, the script assumes Apache is down and restarts it. The script should be run once every minute for eternity.

The script



# prevent multiple instances of this script from running
# at the same time. Note that the script's file name is
# auto_restart_unresponsive_apache, update it to match
# whatever file name you use for this script
for pid in $(pidof -x auto_restart_unresponsive_apache); do
    if [ $pid != $$ ]; then
        #Process is already running with PID $pid"
        exit 1

# try to download a webpage from one of the sites on the server.
# we use --head to only download its header, we don't need the page's contents
# we pass a ?t=some_number parameter to the web page, this allows the script
# to bypass web caches like varnish, otherwise Apache could be down but a caching
# mechanism could still return a functional web page for hours

if curl -s --max-time 15 --head`date +%s` | grep "200 OK" > /dev/null
        echo "$now:The HTTP server is up!" > /dev/null
        service apache2 restart
        echo "$now: Restarting apache" >> /var/log/apache_restart_log

The cron job

Below is the cron job I use to run the script once every minute. The output is sent to /dev/null, and any errors are also sent there. Otherwise you could receive emails on the server every time the script runs.

* * * * *  /some_path/auto_restart_unresponsive_apache >/dev/null 2>&1

“The Footsteps of Water” by Sohrab Sepehri (1964)

Sohrab Sepehri

I am a native of Kashan1
My days are not so bad.
I own a loaf of bread, a bit of intelligence, a tiny bit of taste.
I possess a mother better than the leaves of trees.
Friends, better than the water of a running brook.

And a God who is this near:
Within these gillyflowers, beneath that tall pine tree,
Hovering above the awareness of water, above the Law of Foliage.

I am Muslim.
My qiblah2 is a red rose.
My praying spot is a spring, my prayer stone is light.
Plains are my praying mat.
I make ablution with the heartbeat of windows.
In my prayer flows the Moon, flow the colors of the spectrum.
Stones are visible from behind my prayer:
Crystallized are all the particles of my prayer.
I do my prayer when,
Its athan3 wind, from a cypress tree’s minaret, has sung.
I do my prayer to grass’s saying “God is the Greatest”
To the iqama4 of waves.

My Kabaa5 is by the lip of the brook,
My Kabaa is under the acacias.
My Kabaa like the breeze, blows from garden to garden, from town to town.

My Black Stone6 is the brilliance of the garden.

I’m a native of Kashan.
My craft is painting:
Now and then I build a cage with paint, sell it to you
So that with the song of poppies that is imprisoned in it
The heart of your loneliness may cheer up.
What a dream, what a dream…I know
My canvas is lifeless.
I know well, my painting basin contains no fishes.

I’m a native of Kashan.
My descent perhaps goes back
To a plant in India, to an earthen vase from the soil of Sialk7
My descent perhaps goes back to a prostitute in the city of Bukhara8.

My father behind two migrations of swallows, behind two snowfalls,
My father behind twice sleeping in the veranda,
My father behind eras has died.
My father died when the sky was blue,
My mother jumped from sleep unaware, my sister became beautiful.
My father died when the policemen were all poets.
The grocer asked me, “How many melons do you want?”
I asked him, “How much is a happy heart?”

My father used to paint.
He used to make tars9, played the tar too.
He also had a nice handwriting.

Our garden stood on the side of the shadow of wisdom.
Our garden was the interweaving place of feeling and plants,
Our garden was the meeting point of a glance, a cage and a mirror .
Our garden was perhaps, an arc of the green circle of happiness.
The unripe fruit of God on that day, I used to chew in sleep.
Water I used to drink without philosophy
Berries, I used to pick without knowledge.
As soon as a pomegranate used to crack, hands turned to fountains of desire.
As soon as a cello used to sing, the chest burnt from a longing to hear.
Sometimes loneliness used to stick its face to the windowpane.
Passion used to come, and put its arms around the neck of sense.
The mind, used to play.
Life was something, like a rainfall during Eid, like a plane tree full of starlings.
Life at that time, was a line up of light and dolls,
It was an armful of liberty.
Life at that time, was a music basin.

The child, slowly, walked away along the alley of dragonflies.
I packed my things, went out of the city of carefree fancies
With my heart filled with homesickness for dragonflies.

I went to the party thrown by the world:
I, to the field of grief,
I, to the garden of mysticism,
I, to the illuminated veranda of knowledge, went.
I climbed up the stairs of religion.
To the end of the alleyway of doubt,
To the cool air of self-sufficiency,
To the wet night of love and affection.
I went to see someone who was at the other side of love.
I went, I went until women,
Until the lantern of pleasure,
Until the silence of desire,
Until the flapping sound of the wings of loneliness.

I saw things on the face of the Earth:
I saw a child who was smelling the Moon.
I saw a door-less cage in which brilliance was flapping its wings.
I saw a ladder on which love ascended to the roof of heaven.
I saw a woman who was pounding light in a mortar.
Lunch on their table was bread, was vegetables, was the distance of dew, was the hot bowl of affection.

I saw a beggar who was walking door to door begging for the song of a lark
And a sweeper who was praying to the rind of a melon.

I saw a lamb that was eating a kite.
I saw a donkey who understood hay.
In the meadow of Advice I saw a cow, satiated.

I saw a poet who, when he talked, he addressed a lily as “Your Highness.”

I saw a book, its words all of the make of crystal.
I saw a sheet of paper, of the make of spring,
I saw a museum far away from grass,
A mosque far away from water.
Above the bed of a hopeless scholar, I saw a vase, overflowing with questions.

I saw a mule whose burden was Essays.
I saw a camel whose burden was the empty basket of Proverbs.
I saw a mystic whose burden was tanana ha ya hoo10

I saw a train that was carrying brilliance.
I saw a train that was carrying knowledge and so torrentially it went.
I saw a train that was carrying politics (and so emptily it went.)
I saw a train that was carrying seeds of lotus and the song of canaries.
And an airplane, which on that height of thousands of feet,
through its windows the soil was visible:
the topknot of hoopoes,
The spots of a butterfly’s wings,
A frog’s reflection in a pond,
And the passage of a fly from the alleyway of loneliness.
The clear desire of a sparrow, when from a plane tree it comes toward the ground.
And the maturation of the Sun.
And the beautiful love making of a doll with the morning.

Stairs that ascended to the greenhouse of lust.
Stairs that descended to the cellar of alcohol.
Stairs that ran to the Law of Corruption of Red Roses
And toward the understanding of Mathematics of Life,
Stairs that ran to the roof of enlightenment,
Stairs that ran to the platform of manifestation.

My mother down there,
Was washing the cups in the stream’s memory.

The city was visible:
The geometrical growth of cement, steel, stones.
The pigeonless roofs of hundreds of buses.
A florist was putting up his flowers for sale.
Between two jasmine trees a poet was hanging a swing.
A boy was throwing stones at the wall of School.
A child was spitting plum stones upon dad’s faded praying mat.
And a goat was drinking water from the Caspian Sea of a map.

A laundry-line was visible, a restless brassiere.

The wheel of a cart longing for the horse to become weary,
The horse longing for the carter to sleep,
The carter longing for death.

Love was visible, waves were visible,
Snow was visible, friendship was visible.
Words were visible.
Water was visible, and the reflection of things in water.
The cool shade of cells in the heat of blood.
The moist side of life,
The east of sorrow in the human heart.
The season of drifting in the alley of women.
The scent of solitude in the alley of seasons.

A fan was visible in the hand of summer.

The seed’s journey to flowering.
The ivy’s journey from this house to that house.
The moon’s journey into the pond.
The eruption of flowers of regret from the soil.
The falling of young vine from the wall.
The raining of dewdrops on the bridge of sleep.
The leaping of joy from the ditch of death.
The passing of events behind words.

The battle of a pit with the light’s desire.
The battle of a stair with the long leg of the Sun.
The battle of solitude with a melody.
The beautiful battle of pears with the emptiness of a basket.
The bloody battle of pomegranates with the jaws.
The battle of Nazis with branches of delicacy.
The battle of a parrot and eloquence.
The battle of the forehead with the coldness of prayer-stones.

The attack of the mosque tiles on prostration.
The attack of wind on the ascension of soap bubbles.
The attack of the army of butterflies on the program of Pest Control.
The attack of dragonflies on the class of pipelayers.
The attack of reed pens on leaden letters.
The attack of a word on a poet’s jaw.

The opening of a century by a poem.
The opening of a garden by a starling.
The opening of an alley by an exchange of greetings.
The opening of a town on the hands of three or four wooden horsemen.
The opening of a New Year by two dolls, one ball.

The murder of a ratchet on the mattress in the afternoon.
The murder of a story at the entrance of the alley of sleep.
The murder of a worry by the instruction of songs.
The murder of moonlight by the command of neon lights.
The murder of an oak tree by the hands of government.
The murder of a depressed poet by a chimonanthus11.

All was visible on the surface of the earth:
Order was walking in the alley of Greece.
An owl was howling in the Hanging Gardens12.
The wind was blowing a sheaf of history’s straws on Khyber Pass13 towards the east
On the serene lake of Neghin, a boat was carrying flowers.
In Banares14, at the entrance of each alley an eternal lamp was burning.

Peoples I saw.
Towns I saw.
Plains, mountains I saw.
Water I saw, soil I saw.
Light and darkness I saw.
And plants in light and plants in darkness I saw.
Creatures in light, creatures in darkness I saw.
And humans in light, and humans in darkness I saw.

I’m a native of Kashan, but
My city is not Kashan.
My city is lost.
I, with endurance. I, with fever,
Have built a house on the other side of nighttime.
In this home I am close to the humid anonymity of grass.
I hear the sound of the breathing of the garden.
And the sound of darkness, when it drops from a leaf.
And the sound of brightness, coughing from behind a tree,
The sneezing of water from every crack of rock,
The dripping of swallows from the ceiling of spring.
And the clear sound of opening and closing of the window of loneliness.
And the pure sound of the mysterious moulting of love,
The concentration of the passion for soaring in wings
And the cracking of the soul’s self-restraint.
I hear the footsteps of longing,
And the methodical footsteps of blood in the veins,
The pulsing of the dawn of the pigeons’ well,
The beating of the heart of Friday night,

The flowing of carnations through thoughts,
The pure neighing of truth from afar.
I can hear the sound of the blowing of matter,
And the sound of the shoe of faith in the alley of excitement.
And the sound of rainfall on the wet eyelids of love,
On the sad music of adolescence,
On the song of pomegranate orchards.
And the sound of the shattering of the bottle of joy at night,
The tearing of the paper of beauty,
And the wind filling and emptying the cup of nostalgia.

I am near to the start of the Earth.
I take the pulse of flowers.
I am familiar with the wet fate of water, the green habit of trees.

My soul is flowing in the new direction of things.
My soul is young.
My soul sometimes, from excitement, gets a cough.
My soul is jobless:
Raindrops, the cracks in bricks, it counts.
My soul sometimes is as real as a stone on the road.

I didn’t see two poplars in enmity.
I didn’t see a willow selling its shade to the ground.
For free it offers, the willow its branch to the crow.
My passion blossoms wherever a leaf exists.
A poppy bush has bathed me in the surge of being.

Like the wings of insects I know the weight of dawn.
Like a vase, I listen to the music of growth.
Like a basketful of fruit, I have strong fever for ripening.
Like a tavern, I stand on the border of languor.
Like a building at the lip of the sea I am anxious about the high eternal waves.

Sunshine as much as you want, union as much as you want, increase as much as you want.

I am content with an apple
And with smelling a chamomile bush.
I with a mirror—a pure connection—am content.
I will not laugh if a balloon bursts,
And I will not laugh if a philosophy halves the Moon.
I know the sound of the flapping of a quail’s wings,
The colors of a bustard’s belly, the footprints of a mountain goat.
I know well where rhubarbs grow,
When starlings come, when partridges sing, when falcons die,
What the Moon is in the dream of a desert,
Death in the stem of desire,
And the raspberries of pleasure, in the jaws of love-making.

Life is a lovely ritual.
Life has wings as vast as death,
It has a leap the size of love.
Life is not something that, on the windowsill of habit, to be left forgotten by you and me.
Life is the rapture of a hand that reaps.
Life is the first black fig in the acrid mouth of summer.
Life is the dimensions of a tree from the eyes of an insect.
Life is the experience that a bat has in the dark.
Life is the homesickness that a migrating bird feels.
Life is the whistle of a train that turns through the dream of a bridge.
Life is observing a garden from the obstructed windows of an airplane.
It is the news of the launch of a rocket into space,
Touching the loneliness of the Moon,
The notion of smelling a flower on another planet.

Life is the washing of a plate.

Life is finding a penny in the brook of the street.
Life is the square root of a mirror.
Life is a flower to the power of eternity.
Life is the Earth multiplied by our heartbeats.
Life is the simple and monotonous geometry of breaths.

Wherever I am, so let me be,
The sky is mine.
The window, thinking, air, love, the Earth are mine.
What importance does it have then,
Sometimes if they grow,
Mushrooms of nostalgia?

I, don’t know,
Why some say, “Horses are noble animals, pigeons are beautiful.”
And why there is no vulture in any person’s birdcage.
What do clovers lack that red tulips have?
Eyes should be washed, in another way we should see.
Words should be washed.
A word in itself should be the wind, a word in itself should be the rain.

Umbrellas we should shut.
In the rain we should walk.
Thoughts, and recollections, should be carried in the rain.
With all the people of the town, in the rain we should walk.
A friend, in the rain we should call on.
Love, we should seek in the rain.
In the rain we should sleep with women.
In the rain we should play.
In the rain we should write things, speak, plant lotuses.
Getting drenched from time to time,
Swimming in the pond of right now, is what life is.

Let us undress:
Water is one foot away.

Let us taste brilliance.
Weigh the night of a village, the sleep of a deer.
Let us feel the warmth of a stork’s nest,
Tread not on the Law of Lawn,
Loosen the knot of tasting in the vineyard.
And open our mouthes if the Moon emerges.
And not say that night is a bad thing.
And not say that the shining moon is unaware of a garden’s eyesight.

And Let us bring baskets.
Take all this red, all this green.

Let us have bread and cheese in the mornings.
And plant a sapling at every turn of a sentence.
And pour the seed of silence between two syllables.
Let us not read a book in which the wind doesn’t blow,
And a book in which the surface of dew is not wet,
And a book in which cells don’t have dimensions.
Let us not wish the mosquito would fly off the fingertip of nature.
And not wish that the leopard would go out of the door of creation.
And let us understand that if worms didn’t exist, life would have lacked something.
And if caterpillars didn’t exist, the Law of Trees would have suffered a blow.
And if death didn’t exist, our hands would have sought something.
And let us know if light didn’t exist, the living logic of flying would have gone astray.
And let us know that before corals, a void was being felt in the thoughts of the seas.

And let us not ask where we are,
Let us smell the fresh petunias of the hospital.

And let us not ask where the fountain of luck is.
And let us not ask why the heart of truth is blue.
And let us not ask what breezes, what nights the fathers of our fathers enjoyed.

Behind our backs there isn’t a thriving space.
Behind our backs no bird sings.
Behind our backs no wind blows.
Behind our backs the green window of poplars is closed.
Behind our backs dust has settled over the whirligigs.
Behind our backs what there is is the weariness of history.
Behind our backs the memory of waves throws cold shells of silence on the coast.

Let us go to the lip of the sea,
Cast nets,
And catch freshness from the water.

Let us pick up a pebble from the ground,
And feel the weight of existence.

Let us curse not the Moonlight if we have fever,
(Sometimes I have seen in fever, the moon descends,
The hand can touch the ceiling of heaven.
I have noticed that the goldfinch sings better.
Sometimes a wound that I have had under my food,
Has taught me the ups and downs of the ground.
Sometimes in my sickbed the size of a flower has multiplied,
And increased it has, the diameter of an orange, the radius of a lantern.)
And let us not fear death.
(Death is not the end of the pigeon.
Death is not a cricket’s inversion.
Death flows in the soul of acacias.
Death has a seat in the pleasant climate of thinking.
Death in the spirit of the village’s night speaks of morning.
Death with a bunch of grapes comes into the mouth.
Death sings in the red larynx of the throat.
Death is responsible for the beauty of a butterfly’s wings.
Death sometimes picks basil.
Death sometimes drinks vodka.
Sometimes it is in the shade watching us.
And we all know,
The lungs of pleasure, are full of the oxygen of death.)

Let us not shut the door on the alive speech of appreciation which we hear from behind the wattled twigs of sound.

Let us remove the curtain:
Let us allow feeling to get some fresh air.
Let us allow adolescence to dwell under any bush it wishes.
Let us allow instinct to play.
To take off its shoes and following the seasons, leap on the flowers.
Let us allow solitude to sing.
To write things.
To go to the street.

Let us be simple.
Let us be simple whether at a teller’s window or under a tree.

It is not our job, discovering the secret of the red rose,
Our job maybe is
To, in the charm of the red rose, become swimmers.
To camp behind wisdom.
To wash hands in the rapture of a tree leaf before sitting at the dining table.
In the mornings when the sun, rises let us get born again.
Let us let our excitements fly.
Let us upon the perception of space, color, sound and the window sprinkle water .
Let the sky settle between two syllables of existence.
Let us fill and empty our lungs with eternity.
Take the load of knowledge off the shoulders of the swallow.
Let us reclaim the name from clouds,
From plane trees, from mosquitos, from summer.
On the wet feet of rain let us climb to the heights of compassion.
Let us open the door on mankind, light, plants and insects.

Our job maybe is
Between the lotus flower and the century
To run after the song of truth.

Kashan, village of Chenar (plane tree), summer of 1343 (1964)
Translated from Persian by Ikram Hawramani, Slêmanî, Iraq, 2008.

“So Intoxicated I Am” by Jalal al-Deen Rumi

So intoxicated I am, so intoxicated I am today,
That out of my hoop I have leapt today!

Such a thing that cannot be imagined,
That’s how I am, that’s how I am today!

In spirit out to the Heaven of Love I went,
Though in body still in this world I am today!

I took reason by the ear and said, “Out!
Get out of here! Free of you I am today!

“O reason, wash your hands of me!
For one with the Madness of Love I am today!”

That beautiful Yusuf has given me an orange,
For both of my hands I have cut today!

To such a state it has brought me that cup of wine,
That so many vats of wine I have smashed today!

I know not where I am, but surely,
In a station of blessedness I am today!

Good fortune came coyly to my door and I,
Out of intoxication closed my door on him today!

When he returned, after him I ran,
Not for one minute did I sit down today!

Now that my “We Are Nearer” has concluded,
No more will I worship myself today!

Do not tie up that tress, Shams al-Din-e-Tabriz,
For like a fish in that net of yours I am today!

Translated from Persian by Ikram Hawramani, March 2017.

Below is this poem as sung by Shajarian. The word “today” has been replaced with “tonight” in the song, and some of the verses are omitted:

87 to Socrates

If you had a list of your ancestors and went back through them to your 87th ancestor, you will reach a man and woman who lived around the time Socrates was born.1

This chart below shows how unimportant we are. In 1000 years we will be just another number on someone else’s timeline. It also shows how important we are. If any of these men and women had failed to reproduce, the chain would have been broken and we wouldn’t exist today.

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