The number of stars in the universe

is 300 sextillion, or 3 trillion times 100 billion.
Some starry, starry night: 300 sextillion

(Another researcher) "Conroy looked up how many cells are in the average human body-50 trillion or so-and multiplied that by the 6 billion people on Earth. And he came up with about 300 sextillion."


A different kind of gift

On TED.com I found this amazing piece. Stacey Kramer offers a moving, personal, 3-minute parable that shows how an unwanted experience can turn out to be a priceless gift.

It is just a matter of who you take this, gift!


Meaning of what we do, from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves, but in our attitude towards them.


A world

A World
A World
7AM in the morning.
In my living room.
A world within a world.


Temporal nature of desires

As we approach to the end of Ramadan, I think about what it really meant for me. It made me realize (once again) how I am chained to daily, simple, natural desires. But can live without them perfectly.
A glass of cold water on the table will give instant relief from the pain of thirst. But I won't die if I don't take it. The physical desires pushes me to my limits, but I don't even think about it. The desire passes (as clouds passes by, as they say.)
I am free.



From Different Ways of Laughing:

Guernica: Are there particular friendships in your life that you would point to?

Coleman Barks: I had a teacher who came to me in a dream, and then, I met him about a year after that. That was a pretty good conversation that we had. [Laughs] He said to me, when he first met me, “Will you meet with me on the inside or on the outside?” I didn't know what I was meeting. In kind of a tricky, intellectual way, I said, “Isn't it always both?” I should have said, “Inside, now.” I didn't know what he was offering me.

This man's name was Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, he was a Sri Lankan teacher, who came over here in the early '70s, and I met him in '78. I read him a few [ of my translations]. He said this work has to be done. I claim that he's helping with it, even though he died in 1986.


Save the lives of all mankind

I am speechless because people don't hesitate to kill in the name of religion, any religion, including my religion.

The new Taliban targets - women, children and foreigners

Qur'an 5:32
Because of this did We ordain unto the children of Israel that if anyone slays a human being unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth - it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.


A daily dose of Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR)

I went to the Israel Restaurant near where I work today. The owner greeted me and looked surprised that, as a Turk, I was still going to his place.

I looked into his eyes, and I felt his emotions. We are so far away from our land, and yet due to the tags of our nationality, we were feeling awkward.

Yesterday my boss got angry with me because of some stupid remark I made. But I didn't get angry with him as he had a point. I still like him, as I would do the same, if I were in his position, age, up-bringing.

"We could be the same." Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR), as Carl Rogers defined, means unconditional love and empathy for the other party. "NO matter what they say!"

We Could Be The Same, Final version


We Could Be The Same

This year's Turkey's entry to Eurovision Song Contest came with a surprise. The lyrics are simple, and as mostly simple things in life, powerful:
We could be the same
You could be the one in my dreams
You could be much more than you seem
Anything I wanted in life
Do you understand what I mean?
I can see that this could be faith
I can love you more than they hate
Doesn’t matter who they will blame
We can beat them at their own game
I can see it in your eyes
It doesn’t count as a surprise
I see you dancing like a star
No matter how different we are
For all this time I’ve been loving you
Don’t even know your name
For just one night, we could be the same
No matter what they say
And I feel I’m turning the page
And I feel the world is a stage
I don’t think that drama will stop
I don’t think they’ll give up the rage
But i know the world could be great
I can love you more than they hate
Doesn’t matter who they will blame
We can beat them at their own game
I can see it in your eyes
It doesn’t count as a surprise
I see you dancing like a star
No matter how different we are
For all this time I’ve been loving you
Don’t even know your name
For just one night, we could be the same
No matter what they say
For all this time I’ve been loving you
Don’t even know your name
For just one night, we could be the same
No matter what they say
No matter what they say
No matter what they say
We could be the same
No matter what they say

maNga - We Could Be The Same-Video


Taste of life

St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, apparently said something about having a real feeling for the life: tasting and feeling the truth.

I don't care about my worries, deep fears that tie a knot in my stomach. I walk in the rain, feel the cold wind on my bare chest. I enjoy the taste.


Long narrow road

Asik Veysel, a Turkish minstrel and poet describes our life journey, which is a long and narrow road, although it may seem going in rounds or cut by obstacles:

I'm on a long and narrow road,
I walk all day, I walk all night,
I cannot tell what is my plight,
I walk all day, I walk all night.

Soon as I came into the world,
That moment I began my fight,
I'm in an inn with double gates,
I walk all day, I walk all night.

I walk in sleep - I find no cause,
To linger, whether dark or light,
I see the travellers on the road,
I walk all day, I walk all night.

Forty-nine years upon these roads,
On desert plain, on mountain height,
In foreign lands I make my way,
I walk all day, I walk all night.

Veysel does wonder at this state,
Lament or laughter, which is right?
Still to attain that distant goal,
I walk all day, I walk all night.


A new site on Wisdom

I came across a new site, WisdomPortal, An Illumined Gateway to the Internet. I am slowly browsing through. One great story is A Cook Initiates a Prince on the Way of Life from Chuang Tzu.


Does't matter

The Ecsatatic Faith of Rumi has great quotes of Rumi's work.

Many of them has a Zen's koan kind of feeling:

Come to the orchard in Spring.
There is light and wine, and sweethearts
in the pomegranate flowers.

If you do not come, these do not matter.
If you do come, these do not matter.


Unconditional Positive Regard

These are from Rumi:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

For days I have been working on Unconditional Positive Regard by Carl Rogers. Just think about it for a while. Treating everybody with unconditional regard, which can only be done by by empathy and love. Unconditional. No matter whom that person is, what he/she did or does. Not judging, not imposing our own values or beliefs.

Don't we almost ever do it? We like or dislike a person, we treat that person accordingly. Our care and regard is conditional, we don't know how to just "give."


Beyond mundane

Recenly I realized that there are parallels between these two totally seemingly unrelated texts:

One is from Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder, Chapter 2, "Top Hat":

All mortals are born at the very tip of the rabbit's fine hairs, where they are in a position to wonder at the impossibility of the trick. But as they grow older they work themselves ever deeper into the fur. And there they stay. They become so comfortable they never risk crawling back up the fragile hairs again. Only philosophers embark on this perilous expedition to the outermost reaches of language and existence. Some of them fall off, but others cling on desperately and yell at the people nestling deep in the snug softness, stuffing themselves with delicious food and drink.
"Ladies and gentlemen," they yell, "we are floating in space!" But none of the people down there care.
"What a bunch of troublemakers!" they say. And they keep on chatting: Would you pass the butter, please? How much have our stocks risen today? What is the price of

The other one is from Holy Quran, , by Muhammad Asad (Muhammed Esed in Turkish), 67 - AL-MULK, 22:

But then, is he that goes along with his face close to the ground (19) better guided than he that walks upright on a straight way?

19 - Lit., "prone upon his face" - i.e., seeing only what is immediately beneath his feet, and utterly unaware of the direction into which his path is taking him: a metaphor of the spiritual obtuseness which prevents a person from caring for anything beyond his immediate, worldly concerns, and thus makes him resemble an earthworm that "goes along prone upon its face".

To me both texts refer to our possible loss of direction in daily worries, mundane and transient affairs. The person who does it otherwise is described differently, but I feel that that isn't the point.


Painted On Water-Bravo Sertab and Demir

I am currently listenining Sertab and Demir Demirkan's new album Painted on Water. Amazing. I am speechless. A very good mix of styles and genres. Sertab's voice is at its best.


Happy New Year

This is 2nd morning, along the river I live near by.


No words are necessary, right?

Who is poor?

Many years ago Rudyard Kipling gave an address at McGill University in Montreal. He said one striking thing which deserves to be remembered. Warning the students against an over-concern for money, or position, or glory, he said: "Some day you will meet a man who cares for none of these things. Then you will know how poor you are."

A quote from Rev. Halford E. Luccock, which is on the first page of The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki


Favorite quotes from Rumi

Here are some my favorite quotes from Rumi (Mevlana):

Be like a river in generosity and benevolence
Be like the Sun in compassion and forgiveness
Be like the night in covering other's faults
Be like the dead in rage
Be like soil in humility and modesty
Be like an ocean in tolerance
Either be what you look like, or look like what you really are

Whatever you wish, search it within you!
There is a soul within your soul, search for that soul!
There is a treasure within your mountain, search for that treasure!
If you are searching for the wondering dervish;
He is not outside of you,
Search him within your soul!

The wise sees first what the ignorant sees last.

The love is born of knowing.

If you find the knowledge that is learned sufficient, it means you have brightened your eyes with somebody else's candle.

The world is a mountain, our deeds are sounds; the sounds are echoed and come back to us.

(All translations are by me, please forgive me for any misinterpretations.)


"Abilities Not Disabilities"

The following is from Yomiuri Article titled, The biggest disability is prejudice:

I think people often focus on people's disabilities rather than their abilities. Maybe this is because they don't know the person very well and only judge by appearances. I think if you tried to know them more, you would find their abilities are far greater than their disabilities.

How true...

Then we have Suzan Boyle, who is currently number 1 in the US and UK charts. Her YouTube videos, and there are several of them, were viewed by a total of more than 15 Million people!

There is nothing more I can say.


Faith as a driver

This is an excerpt from an article in the Economist,
Religion and climate change
Sounding the trumpet

ENVIRONMENTALISM is a hard corner to fight in Louisiana, a state where oil, gas and chemical companies are big in the economy and politics. But it takes a lot to frighten Albertha Hasten, a larger-than-life campaigner for poor citizens, and above all for fellow African-Americans, who in her view suffer disproportionately from contamination of the air, water and soil...Ask what emboldens her, as a black woman of modest origins, to challenge the sophisticates of Washington, and she answers like a shot: her deep Baptist faith. “When God calls you to do something, you have to work patiently until all is well.”


It is just a moment-2

This was just playing on the radio when I was contemplating the previous one!


It is just a moment

On Saturday I went to a near by onsen (hotspring in Japanese). It wasn't too crowded. The weather was also good, so it felt pretty nice.

There is a steam sauna where they steam some herbs, which cures my coughs or any other early indicators of a common cold. I stayed there for a few minutes before soaking in various onsen pools outside.

Then I wanted to inhale the herbal steam again; and went in. When I opened the door, I slipped, fell back and heard a loud scary sound....It was from my head, or the inside of it. I had hit the back of my head somehow badly. I stood up and went out. I had this strange headache in the opposite side of my head for a minute, when I was resting outside. Then I decided to leave the onsen.

I was somehow uneasy for half of that day: you never know. I could die. We all die someday, but that could be the day.

Then I thought: yes, of course, it is totally out of control. It somehow, instinctively feels the other way round, but it is not. It is just a matter of time.

Now when I do all the routine and futile things everyday, this is what I think: are these the things I want to do, knowing that I can just leave in this moment? In this VERY moment of my, say, last day?


Quotes from Drucker

Recently I have been reading Managing the Nonprofit Organization by Peter F. Drucker.Great, great book. One of the best books on management and leadership. I didn't know much about Drucker's Christian upbringing and influence of faith in his world view.

Here are some quotes from the book:
Self-development (...) Self-renewal (...). Both are action. You become a bigger person, yes; but, most of all, you become a more effective and comitted person. So, I conclude by asking you to ask yourself, what will you do tomorrow as a result of reading this book? And what will you stop doing?

When I was thirteen, I had an inspiring teacher of religion, who one day went right through the class of boys asking each one, "What do you want to be remembered for?" None of us, of course, could give an answer. So, he chuckled and said, "I didn't expect you to be able to answer it. But if you still can't answer it by the time you are fifty, you will have wasted your life."

One prays for miracles but works for results, St. Augustine said.

There are also true believers who are dedicated to a cause where success, failure, and results are irrelevant, and we need such people.



These are from one of the movies I watched recently, Doubt:

Father Brendan Flynn: A woman was gossiping with her friend about a man whom they hardly knew - I know none of you have ever done this. That night, she had a dream: a great hand appeared over her and pointed down on her. She was immediately seized with an overwhelming sense of guilt. The next day she went to confession. She got the old parish priest, Father O' Rourke, and she told him the whole thing. 'Is gossiping a sin?' she asked the old man. 'Was that God All Mighty's hand pointing down at me? Should I ask for your absolution? Father, have I done something wrong?' 'Yes,' Father O' Rourke answered her. 'Yes, you ignorant, badly-brought-up female. You have blamed false witness on your neighbor. You played fast and loose with his reputation, and you should be heartily ashamed.' So, the woman said she was sorry, and asked for forgiveness. 'Not so fast,' says O' Rourke. 'I want you to go home, take a pillow upon your roof, cut it open with a knife, and return here to me.' So, the woman went home: took a pillow off her bed, a knife from the drawer, went up the fire escape to her roof, and stabbed the pillow. Then she went back to the old parish priest as instructed. 'Did you cut the pillow with a knife?' he says. 'Yes, Father.' 'And what were the results?' 'Feathers,' she said. 'Feathers?' he repeated. 'Feathers; everywhere, Father.' 'Now I want you to go back and gather up every last feather that flew out onto the wind,' 'Well,' she said, 'it can't be done. I don't know where they went. The wind took them all over.' 'And that,' said Father O' Rourke, 'is gossip!'

Sister James: It is unsettling to look at people with suspicion. I feel less close to God.

[last lines]
Sister Aloysius: Sister James...
Sister James: What is it, Sister?
Sister Aloysius: [crying] I have doubts. I have such doubts.



This is from Memorable quotes for
The Matrix Revolutions
, the last of the Matrix series and one of my favorite movies, due to its pop culture interpretation of life, destiny and universe.

Did you always know?
The Oracle:
Oh, no. No, I didn't. But I believed... I believed.

This was one of the last dialogues of the movie series.


Overcoming tragedies in our lives

Here is an excerpt from an interview with Petti Smith by Daily Yomiuri article From punk to peacemaker: The balanced life of Patti Smith:
n 1989, she lost her best friend, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, the man behind the iconic cover shot for Horses. Five years later, Smith's husband, Fred (himself a member of prepunk legends MC5), and her younger brother, Todd, also died.

"I have more patience...less fear of death," she says. "I feel that each person that I loved very much that died, when they died, I felt more like them. More of who they are, and my memories of what I know of them, or their spirit was very strong in me," she says, adding that such experiences have made her a better person.

"My brother was a very kind and good person, and I feel some of his kindness. When I'm taking photographs, I feel I understand more how Robert Mapplethorpe was taking photographs. I understand in raising my children the mind of my husband. It's just, they are magnified. It's just like you have the essence of these people. They're not there anymore, and you're not taking them for granted or half listening [to them] or whatever. You know, when people die, it's not the end of communication with them," she says.

A year after their deaths, Smith met Sebring, and during the filmmaking, Smith lost her parents.

"I am still learning from my mother, still feeling loved by my father," she continues. "The other thing is you learn how to listen more--to listen inside yourself, listen to the spirits, listen to the wind, nature. Listen."


Suffering (in Turkish)

(I hope to translate this to English soon)

Sorarım soru sırra eremem
Ararım döne döne duramam
Yürürüm diken diken kanamam
Yola düşünce

Bilemem başı sonu nerede
Akarım nehir gibi yine de
Yaşamak ve inadına ve ille de
Cana uyunca


Göremem bazı boşa bakarım
Bir dua bir türkü bir can yakarım
Beşerim şaşar hata yaparım
Kötü huyumca

Tutamam yerin toz tanesiyim
Bir garip dünya biçaresiyim
Bir kulun deli divanesiyim
Aşka gelince


Ne rahat bir soluk aldım
Ne huzur buldum
Yine de sevdim bu acı dünyayı
Gitmedim durdum

Söz: Sezen Aksu
Müzik: Arto Tunçboyacı


Deep colors

Derin renkler
Derin renkler
Derin renkler
Derin renkler

Every week I go out during sunset. To watch the scene that is one and unique. Each day a different scene. We never notice when we pursue our daily lives. But it is there. Always different. Always perfect. Even when it is cloudy or rainy.

Last week was one of the best.
Colors were deepest I have ever seen there. Maybe it was due to a chased away typhoon.
It was also a wonderful surprise to see Fuji-san's shadow,


A spark for a moment

It was too bright and too direct.
Hard to see what it was and where it was originating from.
Then the sun set.
All returned to what they really are.

Seimeiryoku-Power to live of asagao (Japanese morning glory)


Everything starts with a seed.
An idea, an inspiration.
A hope.
A life.


Grades are anathema to learning!

The following is an excerpt from an interview of Michael Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg, by Richard Poynder.

RP: What is your memory of school?
MH: School was just boring, except for baseball, marbles, dodge ball etc. School can be lots of fun if you don't care about grades. Grades are anathema to learning.
RP: Why anathema?
MH: When I was concerned about grades I never had a grasp of The Big Picture, it was all "Will it be on the exam?", whereas when I didn't care about the grades I studied the subject as a whole, remembered only what I thought was important, didn't worry about the exams so much, and got better grades anyway. When I was out for The Big Picture, I would read the textbooks for fun, entertainment, and education, not just slave tasking, and the results were better in every way.
The more years I spent in school, the less attention I paid to grades, and in the end I finished college with straight A's in only two years. I had learned how to learn. Something they don't really teach in school. Young kids know how to learn, and then this is taken away from them as school goes on. I relearned it.
RP: The mission statement of Project Gutenberg is to "break down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy." Does that not imply a wish to empower people politically by giving them free books?
MH: Breaking down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy is only political if someone else is trying to keep them up! A political statement tries to set policy; I don't set policy. I just try to lead by example. eBooks are revolutionary in the non-political sense, and yet they could change the world as much as the Gutenberg Press did.
RP: So what is the aim of Project Gutenberg?
MH: Project Gutenberg is about education and literacy, and providing a level playing field. I don't try to change people; I try to change the information infrastructure. We make eBooks and give them away. We don't choose which books or where they should go. What people do with them is totally up to them.


Learning and Teaching

I am reading The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho.
It is different from The Zahir or Alchemist, in the sense that it has more of Christian esoteric concepts and spiritual symbols.

On page 163 of the edition I read, in chapter titled "Personal Vices", I noticed a very interesting-true assessment:
Teaching is only demonstrating that it is possible. Learning is making it possible for yourself.



On the weekends I try to wake up before the dawn to take a walk along the river. I meet elderly, sometimes with their dogs. They smile and say "ohayou gozaimasu!" Even to a "gaijin." I return the greeting and feel happy to start the day this way.

One of those days, on the way back home, I noticed a board, probably written by the shop owners in the area:

Let's pay utmost attention (or let's be alert):
Small courtesy shows our compassion to others.

That is why I still like being in Japan.


Seeing the pain

Compare this:
Michael Jackson, Billy Jean, Live in NY, 2001

With this:
Motown, 1983

Billy Jean was the first song that got me into "foreign."

I just don't get the feeling that he was greatly enjoying it. Oh yes, people were enjoying the show.
As a professional, like all of us who has to do what we are told, what we are paid for, he was just delivering the "final good", in perfect quality.
People who had given the money were happy, enjoying the experience of "seeing the King" so close.
I wonder if anyone ever felt that he was in pain and he was struggling to perform because he had to.
His video hits on YouTube are now counted by millions with comments like, "I am so sad", "Good bye." Great, we were part of the machine who created and destroyed him. Now we have got one more icon down, God save the rest!


Corporate life-no life

Greed and fear is ruling there. What is the ultimate goal, why are were really working for? Nobody things about these anymore. Endless discussions to define the future, serve only for the weak and laud.

I tried to stick longer. Tried more. But the end may be closer.

Didn't know what I was getting when I was young and still dreaming.
I didn't know it would get this tough as I get higher.

I didn't know myself, the realm that will take much longer to discover.
I didn't know it would bring its choices.

I have always thought the answers tough, too tough to find.
I was wrong. The answer is always and always the easiest.




A bright morning in the middle of the mountainous hot spring town of Shirahone in Nagano Prefecture. Clean snow air. I open the window the get rid of Tokyo smog in me. There is a rain of melting snow. Then the sun shines from the opposite side over the snowy slope.




It was a summer afternoon Istanbul. In a not so crowded movie theater I watched Akira Kurosawa's Dreams. The movie was a compilation of 8 short films, arranged as a series of his dreams or fantasies, starting with his childhood ones.

In those days I didn't know much about the Japanese culture, folklore and myths. It was nothing like I watched before. Stunned by the beauty of the scenes, as well as the way each story talked about the changes in modern society, environment, wars and our destiny, I didn't realize how those 2 hours had passed.

The last of the 8 films was titled "Village of the Watermills." In that scene, there was a paradise-like village where death was celebrated and modernism was rejected. For a long time I thought that the scene was a shot in studios, and no such place could ever exist. To my surprise and great delight I was told by one of my friends that the place actually existed in Japan. It was a part of Daio Wasabi Farm in Nagano prefecture. Then last November we had a chance to go there.

It was a really strange feeling, the way I felt. It was as if I was still in the movie theater years ago, but transfered to the movie to live in it, defying time and space. Or it was some kind of rendezvous with the future, and there I was, keeping the promise.

I kept gazing at the slowly flowing water, not knowing whether I was still watching the movie or witnessing my destiny.


Beauty you find

One day mom gave me a CD titled in Turkish "Singers of the World Sings Livaneli Songs." I listened it once or twice. Then I forgot about it.

A few months ago, I remembered it, and listened again. I found out about Jocelyn B. Smith, who sings a few Livaneli songs beautifully in the album. One of them is titled "Today":
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened.
Don't open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Rumi, Translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks, I found in A Buddist Library

I couldn't find a video on YouTube or why the lyrics were of Rumi. But I keep thinking about it every morning when I wake up, when I shave before I leave for work.


Sudden rain

Just a slight breeze.
One drop hits a leaf.
Then another.
I turn off the radio, open the window.
It pours.
A soothing smell fills me.
I close my eyes
To watch.


I live everyday as if it is new. Don't remember who I am, what I have become, what I accumulated over years...as none exists. There is only today, which has no place for the things from yesterday. The friend I meet has changed, I have a new face today, the sky is more blue, the wind is lighter.
Today is a new day.

How lovely to halt and rest – and then to go on your way,
Not frozen nor muddled, to stay fresh by flowing away.
Yesterday is past and gone – so are your words of yesterday:
How lovely to find for each new day something fresh to say.



On Essence

The bamboo shadows are sweeping the stairs,
But no dust is stirred:
The moonlight penetrates deep in the bottom of the pool,
But no trace is left in the water.
Author unknown (Essays in Zen Buddhism – First Series 352)

Empty-handed I go and yet the spade is in my hands;
I walk on foot, and yet on the back of an ox I am riding:
When I pass over the bridge,
Lo, the water floweth not, but the bridge doth flow.
Shan-hui(Essays in Zen Buddhism – First Series 272)