Tuesday 14 February 2012

The Zahir

Hope born of distress by Solange Noir

Anyhow, where we were?  What were the three things?  Well. Nothing dramatic really.

No mansions.
No big fat publishing deal for my Samael.
No great reveal from my husband.

Sorry, Ashen. J

First up was an email from my dear friend, my soul-sister, Soli.  She sent me an image.  She  knows that, while I am no artist, images sing to my soul. When I write I hear the words in images. As well as scent, of course.

And she said, ‘Read The Zahir.’
And first I thought Borges, a vague memory of a story. But then I realised she meant Paulo Coelho.  Oh, I thought.  I’d read a lot of his books many years back. I’d liked them but they hadn’t really ‘stuck’.  In fact, when I perused my shelves, I realised I’d given them all away.  And I’d stopped reading any new ones.  I think I felt he’d gone the way of so many ‘spiritual’ writers, believing his hype maybe? 
‘I think I’ve already read it,’ I said. And put it out of my mind.

Except it wouldn’t go.  So I Googled it.  A story about a man whose wife vanishes one day. He starts to obsess over their relationship, over her. She becomes the one unforgettable thing, the Zahir. And while he’s in the grip of the Zahir, he can achieve nothing, he cannot move forwards. So he seeks her.
It sounded atrocious.  And the reviews were…awful.  Yet, still, it resonated, of course it did, for, as you know, I have been in the grip of my own Zahir, a pilgrim on a strange, obsessive journey, a seeking, a hunt.  And Soli had been so sure.

I bought it.

Interesting book. Coelho says of his writing that he is effectively just the typist; that the stories just come through him. Or rather the protagonist in his book says that but, given he’s a barely fictionalised version of Coelho, it’s neither here or there.  He’s not a sympathetic character at all – arrogant and self-centred.  And the book doesn’t really hang together all too well. And some of his ‘lessons’ sound trite and pat. But still.  Not all. Not all at all. 

It’s a book about love. Not just personal love but the energy of Love and about how it needs to be allowed to flow through the world once more.  About an underground tribe of people who are spreading ideas of freedom, of change, encouraging the circulation of love.  Not soppy love but pure, hard as diamond, true Love. The love that comes out of war, out of looking death in the eye.  And, he says…’If just one person changes, the whole world changes.’ And it can. Think about the good old ‘butterfly effect’ – tiny tiny shifts can affect startling change. 

And I think again about love, here and now, on this day dedicated to ‘love’, that should be a celebration of wild hearts but all too often becomes all about trying to ‘fix’ love.  And you can’t fix love.
As Coelho says: ‘Love is untamed force, when we try to control it, it destroys us, when we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.’

And again. ‘The important things always stay. What we lose are the things we thought were important but which are, in fact, useless, like the false power we use to control the energy of love.’

Love (as in romantic love) is beautiful, blissful, entrancing.  It can also be torment, agony, anguish and pain.  And love changes. From moment to moment.  From nano-second to nano-second. You cannot put it in aspic, you cannot chain it, you cannot say it must be like this, just like this, forever and ever. Amen. Some loves stay, some don’t. Most change, transform, shift.  For better or for worse.  And you have to ride that, you have to let it flow.

But, of course, our human loves are only the faintest shadow of the great big huge LOVE that lies beyond.  And that Love does not change or shift or change in any way. 

Open your heart wide wide open. Truly, it’s the only way to live. 

And then, I read Borges again... and this is how it ends...

"According to Idealist doctrine the verbs “to live” and “to dream” are rigorously synonymous; as for me, thousands of appearances will become one; a very complex dream into a simple one. Others will dream that I am mad, while I dream of the Zahir. When every person on earth thinks, day and night, of the Zahir, which will be dream and which reality, the earth or the Zahir?
In the deserted hours of the night I am still able to walk through the streets. Dawn often surprises me upon a bench in the Plaza Garay, thinking (or trying to think) about that passage in the Asrar Nama where it is said that the Zahir is the shadow of the Rose and the rending of the Veil. I link that pronouncement to this fact: In order to lose themselves in God, the Sufis repeat their own name or the ninety-nine names of God until the names mean nothing anymore. I long to travel that path.
Perhaps I will succeed in wearing away the Zahir by thinking and re-thinking about it; perhaps behind the coin is God."


Unknown said...

Sometimes you have to look beyond the written words, find the meaning underneath. I'm glad it spoke to you, too. Love you.

Tee said...

I tried explaining that last point to someone.

I work to achieve unconditional love. For the earth, for people, for animals. It is with this love that we learn to understand we are never alone. With this love, that people don't even think exists, we are allowed a preview of what is beyond. What extends past us.

Love is all encompassing. It surpasses words. It's why I always say my words do my feelings no justice. They never do.

Love is a light. We all have it in us. And we must let it shine.

Or something like that.

Sandie said...

People need to enjoy loving - i.e. love as an output - instead of only seeing Love in the context of what comes back at them; being loved.

*Then*, imo, and only really then is love a wonderful thing... it breathes purely because it exists - demanding nothing, surviving with or without reciprocation... and nobody can take Love in this form away.

Anonymous said...


Rob-bear said...

Words fail. Meanings continue.

Ashen said...

Cohelo's alter ego seems to tap dance on the corpus callosum :)

I read a book review the other day:
Iain McGilchrist
The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World
Yale University Press, November 2010. 544 pp.
A timely look at what most of us intuitively know. I like the last line. We could all do a review on it to set the world right.

Ashen said...


The link again, since it got mangled in the last mail. And here the last line of the review:
I leave it to the reader to discover just how important this insight is. Perhaps if enough do, we may not have to settle for what’s left when there’s no right.

Anonymous said...

"Love is a light. We all have it in us. And we must let it shine."


lololololol xxxx

Exmoorjane said...

@Soli - True. Love you too..

@Tee - Amen.

@Sandie - see, said you were wise...

@Jobo - haven't heard that before - like it.

@Bear - er, yeah... I think. :)

@Ashen - sounds a fascinating book...and makes perfect sense to me. Shall investigate further. Thank you for the link.

@Jobo - y'know, I could see you in that line-up of good ol' boys. lol
For a moment there I thought you were going to play this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fttiMMpXc4&feature=related :)

Anonymous said...


I like this version better! lol x

Anonymous said...

BTW. "It'll shine when it shines" is a brilliant album. Recommended.

Here's a nother track:

Anonymous said...

My daughter bought me a small plaque years ago. It is on the door of my studio. It simply says "Where words fail, music speaks"

Sometimes, simple sounds, vibrations, can give us more by way of answers than countless words ever could. xx

Exmoorjane said...

1. Cute... way cute. :)

2. Y'know, now you got me wanting to be driving down some US road in the middle of nowhere in a big ol' truck, one finger on the wheel and a leg dangling out the window, mirror shades and cowboy boots, listening to this kinda stuff. Don't sound the same in stiff old Exmoor. lol.

3. Amen. :) xx

Anonymous said...


Dig out the potcheen!

Anonymous said...


Now I can't sit down.....lol

Exmoorjane said...

Best band name I've heard in years..lol And yeah, those are the roads I had in mind. You know, you made me listen to swamp music all the way to Tiverton.. :)

And, funny thing, every time they play this at Zumba, it reminds me of you for some reason! :)

Anonymous said...

Probably because it's my name - as if you didn't know, and I got sick to death of it being sung to me when it first came out. Not so much when The Beatles did it, but more so when Marmalade covered it.

Exmoorjane said...

What's your name? Desmond? Molly? Or Obladiblada? I didn't know that. Weird. Yeah, I think they probably play The Marmalade version, come to think of it - too knackered by that point to care, frankly. :)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Exmoorjane said...

Yeah, that one's equally irritating! lol

Anonymous said...

I feel like that about Andy Stewart stuff.....It's probably an age thing....Ha!


Tee said...

I talk to people with music all the time.

Some people get it. Others don't.

But I very rarely just push a song out into the world without it having a reason. Or it meaning something.

Rob-bear said...

Good grief!

You're driving down some US road in the middle of nowhere in a big ol' truck, one finger on the wheel and a leg dangling out the window, mirror shades and cowboy boots, listening to this kinda stuff.

The counterpoint: "Mommas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys." (Male or female babies that is.)


Not in Exmoor, you say? Bl**dy right!

Milla said...

cor, way to up your comments, get Jobo on board!!

Milla said...

PS loathe Paulo Coelho. Only read one, that dreadful Alchemist. Sorry!!

Anonymous said...

Milla said...
cor, way to up your comments, get Jobo on board!!

Whoops....That's gone and fucked things up a bit now then......lol

Exmoorjane said...

Every blog needs a little Jobo. Hey, Milla, you could pay him in popcorn... :)

Anonymous said...

Brilliant idea, Jane, she could leave the popcorn on the dressing table like your punters do with the money.....lol

Anonymous said...

And with that,I bid Auf Wiedersehen to the media whore, with thanks for the entertainment and the message that it's been fun watching the delusion. xxx