Shots of Awe

Psychologist Nicholas Humphrey has proposed that our ability to awe was biologically selected for by evolution because it imbues our lives with sense of cosmic significance that has resulted in a species that works harder not just to survive but to flourish and thrive.

Join Jason Silva every week as he freestyles his way into the complex systems of society, technology and human existence and discusses the truth and beauty of science in a form of existential jazz. New episodes every Tuesday.

“…open the love window”

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and the lily how passionately it needs some wild darling | painter Maureen Silc
and the lily how passionately it needs some wild darling | painter Maureen Silc

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There is some kiss we want with our whole lives,
the touch of Spirit on the body.
Seawater begs the pearl to break its shell.
And the lily, how passionately it needs some wild darling!
At night, I open the window and ask the moon to come
and press its face against mine.
Breathe into me.
Close the language-door,
and open the love-window.
The moon won’t use the door,
only the window.

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~ Rumi


Dali Dare


Dali-Atomicus,1948 | Photographer… Phillipe Halsman
Dali-Atomicus,1948 | Photographer… Phillipe Halsman

I adore the work of the Spanish painter, Salvador Dalí – Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marqués de Dalí de Pubol (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989). He was a skilled draftsman, but is best know for his striking work, labeled by many timid eyes, of his time and even today, as bizarre. Dali produced over 1,500 paintings in his career and left behind an expansive repertory of solo and collaborative works in painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, writing, and film. A surrealist with influences of the cubist and dadaist movements, his best-known masterpeice was ‘Persistence of Memory’ where he, questions the notion that time is fixed, completed in 1939.

Dali volleyed back and forth with the French surrealists, by whom he had been initially embraced, for their leftist politics for most of his career. Ultimately, he was subjected to a trial by a jury of his colleagues in the movement and was formally expelled. To this decision, he retorted, “I am surrealism.” Such was the nature of his confidence and dare.  Dali has been cited as a major inspiration for modern artists such as Damien Hirst, Noel Fielding and Jeff Koons. Andy Warhol proclaimed Dali, an important influence on the pop art movement.

My passion for Dali lays principally in his eccentric dare, his freedom, in his work and in the way in which he lived. He loved “everything that is gilded and excessive.” All artists must be free I believe, we (dare I say) must to put aside convention and dare to dig deeper into ourselves and our human existence to find truths. If one isn’t free, one, in my opinion, can neither be sincere or truthful. Freedom is truth. Truth is freedom. Dali embodies, for me, the freedom and depth to which we must we commit ourselves to be able explore and connect to our greatest capacity to truly realize our distinct and authentic selves.

Lion And Eagle

Griffin, a mysterious creature — having the body, size and weight of a lion with an addition of wings and face of an eagle — is not just strange because of its appearance but also because it remains strangely elusive and does not crop up very often in as many legends as other mythical creatures.

This unusual looking creature is said to have resided in the regions from Africa to the Middle East and in the mountainous regions of India and Europe. It is said to be the guardian of gold and attacked those who tried to outsmart the creature or by stealing the treasure it guarded.

In mythology, the griffin laid eggs made of agate, a precious gemstone. However, in the 12th century, a German nun, St Hildegard of Bingen wrote something different about griffin’s eggs and its abode. She wrote that the female of the species searched large caves having a narrow entrance to lay eggs; she then guarded the eggs until they were hatched and the size of the egg was that of an ostrich’s egg.

In some legends, the griffin is said to have had the forelimbs of an eagle with the pointed ears of a lion and only the female had feathers. While in others, both males and females had wings and the forelimbs of a lion. Thus, due to the amalgam of two different creatures, lion, the king of all animals while, eagle, the king of all birds, makes griffin the king of all mythological beasts having attributes like, braveness, strength, courage and sharp vision.

There are many interesting tales associated with the griffin, one of which is about Alexander the Great, who is said to have captured a pair of griffin, hoping to tame them. He tied and starved them for a while and later, tempted them with some pieces of meat.

Another interesting story is regarding Captain Cook’s first voyage of discovery during the 1770s, in which, according to botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, the captain brought a griffin from a Pacific Island back to England, and some believe that it is still living in England.

Modern day sighting reports started in 1984 when a man walking past The Green Dragon Apartments, UK, saw ‘a dog with wings’ flying across the sky. The same man saw the creature once again after a year and claimed that he got a better look this time saying that it had wings and a long muzzle. Then some people on a bus also reported seeing it near the local art centre while it was perched on a gas metre! To add to the reports, a psychologist who was jogging around the Thames also claimed to have seen it. These sightings earned place on the local TV channels and phone lines were also set up for people to report further sightings. However, no follow up to the sightings have been reported up till now.

Apart from these, there are many statues and references to the griffin found in classic Greek art and also in Bronze Age Crete of the fifth and sixth centuries. One can also find the creature in Persian poetry, especially that of the famous poet Jalalluddin Rumi and in the 14th century travelogues writer Sir John Mandeville Book of Travels.

Sir Mandeville writes, “In that country, be many griffins, more plenty than in any other country. Some men say they have the body upward as an eagle and beneath as a lion; and truly they say that they be of that shape. But one griffin hath the body more great and is more strong than eight lions as be on this half, and more great and stronger than an hundred eagles such as we have amongst us”.

Palaeontologists believe that no such creature ever existed and the bones found in ancient times in certain regions where people believe that griffin lived were actually that of the Protoceratops, a dinosaur about the size of a sheep and was an herbivore.

By Fatima Sajid | 

Griffins | The Life of Apollonius of Tyana

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Griffin Flavius
Griffin Flavius

Flavius Philostratus mentioned Griffins in The Life of Apollonius of Tyana: 

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“As to the gold which the griffins dig up, there are rocks which are spotted with drops of gold as with sparks, which this creature can quarry because of the strength of its beak. “For these animals do exist in India” he said, “and are held in veneration as being sacred to the Sun; and the Indian artists, when they represent the Sun, yoke four of them abreast to draw the images; and in size and strength they resemble lions, but having this advantage over them that they have wings, they will attack them, and they get the better of elephants and of dragons. But they have no great power of flying, not more than have birds of short flight; for they are not winged as is proper with birds, but the palms of their feet are webbed with red membranes, such that they are able to revolve them, and make a flight and fight in the air; and the tiger alone is beyond their powers of attack, because in swiftness it rivals the winds.”

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Griffin | The One Who Wraps Himself

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Persian Griffin
Persian Griffin

God called the Prophet Muhammad Muzzammil,
“The One Who Wraps Himself,”
and said,
“Come out from under your cloak, you so fond
of hiding and running away.
Don’t cover your face.
The world is a reeling, drunken body, and you
are its intelligent head.
Don’t hide the candle
of your clarity. Stand up and burn
through the night, my prince.
Without your light
a great lion is held captive by a rabbit!
Be the captain of the ship,
Mustafa, my chosen one,
my expert guide.
Look how the caravan of civilization
Has been ambushed.
Fools are everywhere in charge.
Do not practice solitude like Jesus. Be in
the assembly,
and take charge of it.
As the bearded griffin,
the Humay, lives on Mt. Qaf because he’s native to it,
so you should live most naturally out in public
and be a communal teacher of souls.”

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 ~ Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī


Taj Mahal, India

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Stars, sparkling, mystical in your eyes,
Hopes, high, flung up to the sky.
Feet, firm, naked on the ground,
In stillness, you fly.
Joy is your creativity.
Love is your goal.
Peace, your pinnacle.
And Light, your soul!
Yes, fly…

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Wishing you the best of the best in 2011 my friend.

~ Namaste, Len

image: Sabriya  Simon