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Journal 2008-08-21

Finished Shantaram, a very good book, with a Bollywood style ability to invoke every possible emotion, but also full of profound reflections upon life and our position in the universe. I think it deserves to be taken in a non-judgmental way, as the reflection of one man's experience.

Before surrendering the book to the next reader - someone at J's hostel - I thought to copy out a few key passages. I wonder whether this has a real purpose. If I don't get everything the first time, is there a reason to hope that there is a chance to learn more? Still, when reading a novel, one doesn't always read with a close attention to detail, and there are plenty of opportunities to glide over important points, so here goes:

For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more. Think. Act. Feel. Add our little consequence to the tides of good and evil that flood and drain the world. Drag our shadowed crosses into the hope of another night. Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day. With love: the passionate search for a truth other than our own. With longing: the pure, ineffable yearning to be saved. For so long as fae keeps waiting, we live on. God help us. God forgive us. We live on.

Resolution theory - about how the universe is always moving towards complexity - Idriss

You can't kill love. You can't even kill it with hate. You can kill in-love, and loving, and even loveliness. You can kill them all, or numb them into dense, leaden regret, but you can't kill love itself. Love is the passionate search for a truth other than your own; and once you feel it, honestly and comletely, love is forever. Every act of love, every moment of the heart reaching out, is a part of the universal good: it's a part of God, or what we call God, and it can never die.

The fully mature man or woman, he said, has about two seconds left to live.

Doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

No political philosophy I ever heard of loves the human race as much as anarchism. Every other way of looking at the world says that people have to be controlled, and ordered around, and governed. Only the anarchists trust human beings enough to let them work it out for themselves. And I used to be that optimistic once. I used to believe and think like that. ut I don't any more. So no - I guess I'm not an anarchist now.

The truth is that there are no good men, or bad men, he said. It is the deeds that that have goodness or badness in them. There are good deeds and bad deeds. Men are just men - it is what they do, or refuse to do, that links them to good and evil. The truth is that an instant of real love, in the heart of anyone - the noblest man alive or the most wicked - has the whole purpose and process and meaning of life within the lotus-folds of its passion. The tuth is that we are al, every one of us, every atom, every galaxy, and every particle of matter in the universe, moving towards God.

There's a truth that's deeper than experience. It's beyond what we see, or even what we feel. It's an order of truth that separates the profound from the merely clever, and the reality from the perception. We're helpless, usually, in the face of it; and the cost of knowing it, like the cost of knowing love, is sometimes greater than any heart would willingly pay. It doesn't always help us to love the world, but it does prevent us from hating the world. And the only way to know that truth is to share it, from heart to heart, just as Prabaker told it to me, just as I'm telling it to you now.

It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn't sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it's all you've got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.