We all know of H. Houdini, the late and famous ‘escape artist’. Amazing sort of bloke, by all accounts, able to perform the most outrageous and daring feats.
But as far as I am concerned, I will always cherish the memory of a little wizard that could at all times, in my humble opinion, ‘Out-Houdini Houdini’!—this was Ranji, the little mongoose.
“The purpose of Aikido is to remind us that we are always in a state of grace”. If any one person embodied that state of grace in recent times, it was Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), perhaps one of the greatest martial artists ever, and a great exponent of Japanese Zen philosophy in the 20th century. Aikido—or more correctly Aiki-do, “The Way of Peace”—is a distinct martial art and system of self-defence created by Morihei Ueshiba, O-Sensei (the Master) himself. The ‘Way of Peace’ is amazingly non-aggressive as a martial art and teaches that the best way to counter opposition/opponents is to turn the energy of their aggression against themselves. The art embodies not just a simple martial technique or style but a profound set of philosophical and ethical principles which relate directly to the laws of Nature i.e. achieving the ultimate goal of ‘naturalness’, of becoming the ‘natural/perfected being’; of obtaining release from all aspects of duality, in the finest Zen Buddhist tradition. But who, indeed, was the man, O-Sensei, the Master of the Age, who created this Way of Peace? What principles did this ‘warrior of peace’ espouse? And how did the Founder’s own actions, thoughts and movements embody the high standards of humanity that he set out for himself and others?
Taufiq Rafat was a pioneer, one of the ‘fathers’ of English poetry in Pakistan. He legitimized the writing of this unique and productive genre at a time when it was much reviled by a so-called ‘literary intelligentsia’ paying lip-service to Urdu literature and toeing the official line which proclaimed that all ‘good and loyal Pakistanis’ must, perforce, think and act and speak and write only in Urdu. Rather typical of our rulers’ Orwellian mindset/s.