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Enter The Lore of The Afghan Lor / Lohar

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The Lor sometimes Romanized as Lohar is a very unique design we stumbled across a little while back.
 
The word Lor (Lohar) can sometime mean a Tinkerer or Blacksmith. In this case we will be discussing The Lor as a tool.
 
The Lor is a a traditional Farming tool carried by the Tribesman near the Khyber Pass (Afghan-Pakistan Border). It looks very like The Japanese Kama or Tomahawk sized Scythe or Sickle. Though Similar designs have existed in India.
There are two Main Types of The Lor: a Fixed Blade version and the much more interesting Folding version. Every Tribesman must to make his own, decorating, and stylizing it to their own liking. With that said, the common material used to make The Lor are Carbon Steel, Brass, and a Bone Handle.
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The Lor has a variety of speculated uses:
 
*Farming tool
*Assassin’s Weapon
*Status Symbol and Cultural Identifier of the Tribesman of Khyber Pass
*Pick-Axe to assist in climbing the steep unforgiving snow covered terrain of the region.
 
There is some truth in all of them.
 
The Tribesman of the Khyber Pass region used The Lor against the British. We haven’t been able to find much historical record of this.
 
Due to the Short Range of the The Lor, it wouldn’t have provided much benefit over a sword or spear. It’s Biggest advantage are conceal-ability, and Speed of Deployment for Ambush type of attacks (Once they have been worked in).
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It is one of the more interesting designs we have stumbled across in our travels. It has an Assassin’s Creed – Steam Punk sort Flavor to it.
 
If you want to own one of these unique pieces of history, we have a Limited number of them available:
 
*Please add a Free Shemagh on us*
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Ranger Bands Ragnar Bands: What Are They and How Are They Used?

The Ragnar Bands are our take on “Ranger Bands”. Ranger Bands were originally made from Bicycle inner tubes cut to make rings.

Due to the stiffness of the rubber of the inner tube and the small size, the applications were somewhat limited, and they could be a bit difficult to use in some of the cases, but they worked “Good Enough”.

“Good Enough is the Enemy of The Best”

Upon special request from a RedTeam Member, we set out to design the best, most versatile and user friendly version of the Ranger Bands we could, and the Ragnar Bands were Born.

The Standard Specs of Ranger Bands are:

Length Folded: ~2” or 50mm
Width: ~1/2” or 12.5mm
Thickness: ~ .040” or 1mm
Material: Tire Inner Tube

*Please note there may be slight deviation from those specs*

The Specs for Ragnar Bands are:

Length Folded: ~4” or 10cm
Stretched Length: ~8” or 20cm @5lbs
Width: ~3/8” or 10mm
Thickness: ~ .060” or 1.5mm
Material: Resistance Band Grade Rubber

The Ragnar Bands were designed to look much like Regular Rubber Bands, but in Black, and they were sized to be able to be worn on the wrist, making them easily confused as cause bracelets.

The greater length makes them much easier to fit around larger objects, and they can be easily doubled up for securing smaller objects.

With the Ragnar Bands being 50% thicker, but only 20% narrower, there is 30% more cross-section than the commonly available Ranger Bands

The slightly thicker, higher grade rubber provides more Strength, Stretch, and Durability than the Original Design.


Ragnar Bands have a variety of uses:

*Tinder
*Hair Tie
*Strengthening the Extensors of the Hand
*Improving your Trigger Pull
*Mini Brujo Bands for Swollen Knuckles
*Taking the Rattle out of your kit
*Weapon Rention (Libre Style)
*HoodRatArts And Crafts: Launchers, Grips
*Keeping container lids closed
*Attachment of Gear to
*Etc. your Rig


Check Out the Video Demo Playlist:


Our Ragnar Bands aren’t an off the shelf Product. They were Purpose Built to our exacting specifications from the same High Grade materials as our Resistance Bands, and Brujo Bands.

Ragnar Bands are available exclusively through Delta 2 Alpha Design Inc, Get Yours Here

https://Delta2Alpha.com/shop/Ragnar-Bands-10-pack/

 

 

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Learn How To Use a Kusari

Learning how to use flexible weapons and Flails (like the Kusari) can be difficult, and frustrating at first.

The Strength and the Weakness of the Kusari and other flexible weapons are that they will always follow through, and they are difficult to stop.

Below is a Seven Video Series we put together to get you started, and familiar with how a Kusari Moves, as well as how to move the Kusari around your body, your body around the Kusari, how to flow through your strikes, and the basics of chaining it all together.

This Just lays out the basics, and is be no means a complete list of what you can do with a Kusari.

**The Last video in the Playlist shows how to make a Trainer**

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HoodRat Arts and Crafts How To Make a Manriki Kusari Fundo Trainer

HoodRat Arts and Crafts:

How to make a Trainer for your Manriki Kusari some time also know as a Kusari Fundo.

As anyone that has played with a pair of Nunchucks (after watching “Enter The Dragon” or TMNT) can attest to; You will hit yourself… a lot… and in the face. When I was learning, I definitely didn’t hit myself behind the ear, and I definitely didn’t see stars from it… Nope, Sure didn’t

My Brother Ruelas Tool (IG link Below) has started to experiment and popularize the idea of a Kusari with Metal weight as an EDC option. In the Video Below we show how to easily make a training version of the Kursari.

Check Out:
https://www.instagram.com/ruelastools/
and
https://www.instagram.com/delta2alphadesign/

******Flexible Weapons can be a bit tricky in the beginning. Let us know if you want to see a few drills and techniques to help get you started.******

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How to Add Weight to Your Mace Bell

 

#Strength #Power #functional

A Mace Bell will build a weird level of FreakStrength in ways few items can.

After about a year of working with the 15kg Mace, I decided it was time to take it to the next level.

When I received a 20kg Mace in the mail, I found that the jump was a bit too much for me; my form suffered, and so did my elbows.

Here is how you can work up to the next size of Mace without having to drop your training volume, keeping your form on point, and your Joints happy…

… and without breaking the Bank .

 

Ace

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Project Lazarus Phase 1 – The Rejuvenation and Regeneration of The Old Man

Project Lazarus:

This will be an ongoing series that documents the process of rejuvenation and regeneration of a man approaching his golden years, with some hard miles on his body.

The Goal:
Keep an the old man in his boots, cheating death, and surly as ever for another half century.

This will all be done with exercises found in the Fugitive Fitness Concept.

Feel Free to Post Comments and Questions below… and of course follow along to cheer him on.

Test Subject is Currently:
Sex: Male
Height: 5’4
Weight: 200lbs
DOB: 1950’s

The Complaints:
*Complains of Restless Sleeps
*Memory Fog
*Displays Mobility Issues (A shuffle)
*Has problems “getting going” sometimes

Observations:
*Shuffle
*Mobility issues; especially in the Upper back (ie. Hunched Forward)
*Balance Issues
*Loss of Mass in glutes
*Loss of strength in lower body

Supplementation:
Turmeric:
*Started with 1000mg capsule in the morning, and saw improvements with in the week.
*After 3wks, dose was increased two 1000mg capsule in the morning, and 1000mg around lunch so as to not affect sleep quality in a negative way
+Turmeric is well know in India for:
-Anti-inflammatory; reducing pain
-Improvements in memory and neurological function
-Promotes Testosterone Production

Initial Exercise prescription:
We always want to bring what someone can do, and work towards that they can’t in a gradual upward trend. In short:

The key to success is incrementally sucking-less”

Enter The Lazarus Squat:
With an aging population one of the things we notice is a loss of mass in the posterior chain; more specifically in the Glutes and Rhomboids. This muscular imbalance leads to joint pain, and hunching forward. This leads to a lack of mobility, and with it further muscle loss.

The Lazarus Squat is designed to promote activation in the Upper Leg, Glutes, and Upper Back.

In front of a box or chair, that they can get up out of with medium difficulty:

  1. Stand with feet about shoulder width a part. Eyes looking slightly upward, with the toes angled outward. Maintain Eye and Foot position, as much as possible, through the movement
  2. Extend Arms out in front for counter balance, position your body weight so that it is at the front part of the heel.
  3. Push the butt back, and slowly lower the butt until it comes in contact with the chair.
  4. Leading with the chest, drive up through the heels out of the bottom, bringing the hands/arms back as you come up.
  5. At the top position, the arms should be locked straight, fingers splayed, and the shoulder should be as far back as your upper back can pull them. At the same time actively squeeze the glutes and quads as hard as possible for 2-3 seconds.

Every time the subject sits down in a chair, and gets out of the chair, they need to perform the Lazarus Squat twice. We are using what has been referred to as “Greasing The Groove” (a la Pavel T.) to continually prime the nervous system; creating more activation. This has the effect of not exhausting the subject, while getting more total reps through the day.

“Frequency is more important than duration”

If you have any questions, comment below, and please feel free to share

*The Concepts discussed here can easily be applied to Men or Women, Young or Old, and we would be honored if we can help you or someone close to you. But because aren’t there to monitor the details of your situation, you should always consult a someone with letters after their name before doing any of this.*

**Remember, I am just some guy with muscles on the internet**

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I’d HIIT It

Your training can stay exactly the same as it currently is. We will be adding something to the end of your workouts or ideally at the start of your day. The total duration will be less than 10min per day.

You could do it at home, in the gym, or while traveling, and in addition to anything else you do.

Some of the testing we have done in Strength Focused Athletes have shown dramatic increases in their ability to recover, improved work capacity without sacrificing strength, and all while leaning out.

Interested? Keep reading:

***

Progressive days:
(1) Minute Maker
– On the minute 40 fast rope rotations with high knees
– repeat 10 times

(2) Double Tabata
– 20 seconds of fast rope rotations with high knees
– 10 seconds of rest
– Repeat eight times, 2 minutes Break, Then Repeat the round

(3) Dirty 30s
– Every 30 seconds 20 rope rotations with high knees
– Repeat 20 times

(4) Four – fours
– 20 seconds of fast rope rotations with high knees
– 10 seconds of rest
– Repeat four times for a round, rest one minute, complete four rounds

(5) Five 100s
– Every 2 minutes 100 rope rotations with high knees
– Repeat 5 times

*These should be treated as sprints, Ie. Doing them as fast as you possibly can, then Rest.
**These are to be done with the Upgraded Rope; see previous posts
***For best result you will do this within the first hour of waking, It is also Acceptable to use these as a finisher to your existing training program
****Complete one of these everyday for 12 weeks; repeating the sessions in the order that they appear.
***** Take before, and after photos in the same clothes, as well as what your bodyweight is before, and after the 12 weeks. Feel free to measure anything else you feel is relevant.
******Feels free to add reps as you adapt.

******* This is to be done in addition to what you are currently doing (or not doing); not instead of.

***

Now, Shall we being…?
Ace

Please LIKE and SHARE with whomever you feel will benefit.

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Dante’s Inferno

This program template was developed for a Client (with an existing strength base) that was looking to develop strength and conditioning at the same time.

They also for a variety of factors, had a small window to train. If disciplined about rest, one should be able to have trained, finished mobility work and be in changing out in less than 1 hr.

Skipping with the AGRO Rope is an easy way to build agility, as well as muscular endurance and increased vascularity in the upper extremities.

“Can I use this program without the AGRO rope?”
You can do whatever you like, but the results will vary.

Day 1: Barbell squats front / back
Superset with 10 x KB swings or Banded Pull Throughs
Skipping 30 to 50 rotations

Day 2: Press incline Bench or standing overhead press
Superset with pulls and banded pec deck
Skipping 30 to 50 rotations

Day 3: Deadlifts sumo / Romanian style
Superset with squat jumps (land on mats for foot longevity)
Or bench jumps
Skipping 30 to 50 rotations

Day 4: Weighted pull ups / resistance pulls up / wide pulls ups / neutral grip pull ups
Superset with plyo push ups
Or rebound push ups (drop into the push up)
Skipping 30 to 50 rotations

Guidelines for strength days:
Do no more than 6 – 8 sets.
Keep rep range at 2 – 6 reps.
2-3 minute rest between strength sets.

CONDITIONING OPTIONS: Use the EMOM (Every minute on the minute) or HIIT (high intensity interval training) to maximize your time. A timeline of 10 to 30 minutes will serve you well.
– Burpees (keep them snappy)
– Sprints (consider use of hill sprints, skipping rope, bike, rowing machine, assault bike, etc)
– I’d HIIT It Protocol (see below)

I’d HIIT It:

(1) Minute Maker
– On the minute 40 fast rope rotations with high knees
– repeat 10 times

(2) Double Tabata
– 20 seconds of fast rope rotations with high knees
– 10 seconds of rest
– Repeat eight times, 2 minutes Break, Then Repeat the round

(3) Dirty 30s
– Every 30 seconds 20 rope rotations with high knees
– Repeat 20 times

(4) Four – fours
– 20 seconds of fast rope rotations with high knees
– 10 seconds of rest
– Repeat four times for a round, rest one minute, complete four rounds

(5) Five 100s
– Every 2 minutes 100 rope rotations with high knees
– Repeat 5 times

*These are five individual sessions, only one per day
*These should be treated as sprints, Ie. Doing them as fast as you possibly can, then Rest.

Schedule:
Strength day 1
Strength day 2
Conditioning
Strength day 3
Strength day 4
Conditioning
Off recovery

Or

Strength day 1
Conditioning
Strength day 2
Conditioning
Strength day 3
Conditioning
Strength day 4
Conditioning
Off recovery

Or

Strength day 1
Strength day 2
Off recovery
Strength day 3
Strength day 4
Off recovery
Off recovery

Guidelines:
**Don’t do more than 2 strength days in a row**
*Do the “postural reset sequence” daily in addition to any required stretching and mobility sequences.

Postural Reset: 1-2 sets of 15-30reps

Limber 11:

Simple 6:

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Fugitive Fitness: A Quick Restoration After Being Stuck in a “Cattle Car” pt. 1:

If you are anything much more than Hobbit sized, the seats of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles will leave you feeling banged up, and hunched forward.

This is further amplified by the amount of time most people spend on their phones or at a desk.

Whether you are traveling for fun or for a “gig”, here are some quick exercises you can do almost anywhere to get feeling right again.

You can use the D2A resistance bands:

 

Resistance Bands Package

 

You will need one band.

*The exercises are shown with a 30# red band from Rogue Fitness.

Click for Rogue Monster Bands

 

Cycle through the following 1-3x:

Banded Squatting Horizontal. Row 15-30x
Banded Vert Row 15-30x
Gymnastics’ push up 6-12x
Banded underhand Pull a parts 15-30

***

Banded Squatting Horizontal Row 15-30x

From semi squatted position

As you pull make sure to rotate your hands as Shown.

Also be sure to squeeze each rep for a one count in the contracted position.

***

Banded Vertical Row 15-30x

Start with hands over head, with arms at full extension.

As you pull down, think about bringing your elbows to your ribs, and the band to touch your shoulder blades

Make sure to squeeze in the contracted position of each rep for at least one second

***

Gymnastics’ push up 6-12x

Hand placement is such that the thumbs are contacting the nipples.

The core is locked in an Isometric contraction through all reps, this includes the legs.

Pay close attention to the elbow, and how the  elbow pits are turned forward at the top position, and there is an isometric contraction for 1sec at the top of each Rep.

***

Banded underhand Pull a parts 15-30x/p>

With the band at eye level, and palms up; ensure that at shoulder width there is some tension on the band.

Pull the band so it comes down to your collarbone or upper chest.

As you reset the rep make sure you are maintaining some tension on the band.

***


Part 2, coming soon…
Ace

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On Measuring Wisdom

Many of us have attempted to improve ourselves in our careers, in martial arts, in business, or in our finances.  Often we have measurable benchmarks, such as:  Can I lift more weight on this movement?  Can I run faster and farther in a shorter time?  Have I moved up within my organization?  Am I am taking on more responsibilities and challenges in my life?  Many people would argue that these are measurable benchmarks of “improvement” or “success.”

However, how can we measure something as abstract as:  “Am I becoming wiser?”

I thought about the measurement of wisdom many times over the last few years, and never came to a satisfactory conclusion.  One day, I was introduced to a book called “Thirty Seven: Essays On Life, Wisdom, And Masculinity.” The book was written by a modern scholar and traveler named “Quintus Curtius.”

The book spoke to me so deeply that I read the book many times, highlighting many sections and putting in numerous book marks.  The book speaks to the nature of human wisdom, courage in adversity, and much much more.  I then purchased more copies for my friends and family.  Later, I reached out to the author to let him know how I appreciated it, and how many of the essays were being used in philosophy discussion groups. 

After corresponding back and forth, I asked Quintus if he would allow me to share my favorite essay, “The March of Worldly Wisdom” with the Delta2Alpha audience.  Quintus has graciously allowed us to reproduce the essay in its entirety on the Delta2Alpha blog.  This essay was originally published as essay 12 in “Thirty Seven:  Essays on Life, Wisdom, And Masculinity.”

 

You can find more of the authors work at:

http://www.qcurtius.com

 

You can buy his books on Amazon at:

Thirty Seven: Essays On Life, Wisdom, And Masculinity

http://www.amazon.com/Thirty-Seven-Essays-Wisdom-Masculinity-ebook/dp/B00NCLWQQ0

Pantheon:  Adventures in History Biography and the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/Pantheon-Adventures-History-Biography-Mind/dp/1511496045/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

 
 
 
knight head
 
The March of Worldly Wisdom by Quintus Curtius
 

We seek self-improvement in many areas: in physical fitness, language proficiency, travel, professional advancement, and in growth of character and worldly wisdom. Our premise is that development in all these areas makes us better and more successful men. It is relatively simple to measure our progress in the first five areas just listed. They are readily quantifiable fields of endeavor. Years ago, when I wanted to maximize my score on the Marine Corps physical fitness test, for example, I would work towards running three miles in eighteen minutes, doing eighty sit-ups in two minutes, and doing twenty pull-ups.

But how is it possible to “measure” our progress in developing character and wisdom? Is there any meaningful metric that can be used? The question is an important one. Without some method of regular self-examination, we will inevitably make things easier on ourselves. We will slide into complacency; advancement will come to a halt. We will become like the weight-lifter whose progress has reached a plateau, and then just fizzles out. There are some signs that can be used as indicators of progress in worldly wisdom. If you are aware of what they are, you will be more likely to notice them. As you continue your humanistic studies, and (more importantly) the flesh-and-blood school of hard knocks, you will begin to notice one or more of the following signs of maturing wisdom.

You are making regular contributions and additions to your philosophy of life.  Wisdom accretes slowly, like mineral formations building in a cave from the steady dripping of water. As the poet Hesiod says in Works and Days (361-362): “If to a little you keep adding a little, and do so frequently, it will soon be a lot.” You build your house of wisdom slowly, one timber and one shingle at a time.

You begin to notice connections between things (ideas, places, personalities, emotions, etc.) previously not perceived.  Increasing wisdom and virtue opens doors of perception that were previously closed. Ultimately, all physical beings are connected in one way or another. The ability to perceive this, and to look beyond the façade of everyday life, is a sign of maturing wisdom.

You begin to lose enthusiasm for being around people without ambition or purpose.  Abandoning people or things that add no value to your life is an important step in forward progress. Keeping company with dullards, fools, and dissolute people will bring you to ruin sooner or later.

Depressions of the mind or spirit become less frequent and more tolerable.  The philosopher Plotinus, seeing that his pupil Porphyry was suffering from extreme depression, encouraged him to take an extended vacation in Sicily. The change in routine did him wonders, and accelerated his forward progress in Neoplatonism.

You are less and less disturbed by the foolishness, absurdities, and cruelties of the world.  A major sign of progress is to maintain one’s calm in the presence of the avalanche of nonsense which the world throws at us. I confess I need more improvement in this area.

Your style of discourse (in speaking and writing) begins to change.  Refinement will inevitably become a feature of your discourse. As the gem becomes more polished and cut, it gleams more brightly.

You begin to lose your inflexibility in holding on to your cherished beliefs.  What we once saw as doctrine, we begin to see as only one perspective. Certainty is the mark of a closed mind, and is murderous.

You no longer feel the need to convince or convert people to your position.  People will arrive at the truth in their own time, and on the backs of their own horses. Losing an argument or debate with another man will mean nothing to you. Aristippus, after being verbally lashed by another man, said “I who have been beaten in an argument will have a better night’s sleep than my victor.”

You become less governed by your passions, and more governed by reflection and reason.  Unformed spirits are slaves to their fear, greed, envy, and rage. As a man makes progress in acquiring wisdom, he shifts his focus from the baser passions to the milder, less serious ones. Advancement of wisdom takes the edge off the destructive passions. One example will illustrate this. Two of Renaissance Italy’s most brilliant lights, Poggio Bracciolini and Lorenzo Valla, allowed themselves to be drawn into a bitter and extended quarrel. It was fought in the open, with all the acrimony which their powerful pens could muster. Another humanist, Francesco Filelfo, wrote to both of them, pleading them to cease and desist from their literary brawls. It is a masterful letter, and contained some pearls of wisdom:

We are accustomed sometimes to desert our senses and follow the perturbations of our spirit; we do this type of thing when we are deceived by persuasion of others, who either hate us secretly or are desirous of revenge; they put out stimulations to insanity, which bring us to the most vehement agitation, so that we go against all human and divine directives, not thinking of our own dignity, but looking to do contumely and evil things against others…And what injury is it which forces you to such madness? It is enough that he who lies is unbalanced. This truly is the nature of a perturbed soul (with the violence, impetuosity, and the rage) that it cannot moderate itself…So he who is deprived of the light of reason, as long as he lacks this, he neither understands anything clearly, nor rightly is able to judge.
[27]

You become more focused on action, and less focused on excuses.  The wise man knows that nothing in this world is attained without effort and struggle. He spends less time in fantasy, and more time in execution.

You begin to seek out other wise men and value their company.  As Plutarch says, “And a young man improving in character instinctively loves nothing better than to take pride and pleasure in the company of good and noble men…” This is true not only of young men, but of men of all ages. The good seek out the good, and the wise seek out the wise.

You become more focused on attending to details.  Carelessness and frivolity are feminine traits. The wise man, who seeks progress through study of philosophy, will begin to realize that this world is a serious place, requiring a certain sense of sobriety and application. The responsibilities of life should be embraced, not shirked.

You begin to see the unity of all things, and the love of this unity growing within you.  As the philosopher and theologian Nicolas of Cusa says,

Beauty of soul comes through love in devotion, and this that it is resolved in tears. It is like a fire that is applied to living wood, which burns one part while smoldering in another. And thus so it happens to a cold soul…Therefore, love is the cause of order, and when it comes to an end, order does too.
[28]

You become more and more drawn to the study of philosophy.  If you care about the world and about yourself, then you care about philosophy. Its study will raise you to heights undreamed of. As the Roman writer Valerius Maximus says, in a brilliant aside in his Memorable Doings and Sayings (III.3):

There is a powerful and steady militia of the spirit, influential through the written word, priestess of the timeless precepts of scholarship: philosophy. Who has received it in his heart, it drives off every useless and unbecoming affectation, confirms its edifice of solid virtue, and makes itself more powerful than fear and pain.

In the end, our powers of analysis can only do so much. There is an inescapable balance in life. The more difficult a goal is to achieve, the more worthwhile it will be. Acquiring worldly wisdom is the most difficult of all.  You will mostly feel lost, bewildered, and confused. You will often feel like  abandoning the pursuit altogether. But even in these moments, remember that you are progressing, even if you believe you are not. Watch for the signposts on the road, as I have listed them above, and continue on your journey. Allow others to help you. As the great Lorenzo Valla said, “To take pleasure in the success of the good and the wise falls only to him who is good and a lover of wisdom; this type of man, like all precious things, is rare and limited in number.”
[29]

You do not feel compelled to do things you do not wish to do.  The developing mind will feel anguish at being forced to do things he does not want to do. He will feel anger or rage. Anger, properly understood, is essentially a form of pain; it is pain resulting from the inability to achieve one’s ends. If we cannot change our environment, we can at least change ourselves. Through discipline and reflection, we can find a way to suture our own festering wounds, to salve our own burns, to alleviate the sting of painful knowledge with the blessings of consolation and guidance.

It is not good to say that someone else controls your emotional state.  No one can “make” you behave one way or another. Thinking in this way empowers the other person, and renders the thinker helpless. And you are not helpless: no one can do anything to you that you do not permit them to do.  Your identity is not conditioned on the approval of another. When you see someone behaving in an arrogant, haughty manner, think of this teaching anecdote by the Roman fabulist Phaedrus (IV.15):

By the grace of Jupiter, the she-goats were able to obtain beards, just like the male goats. At this, the he-goats were full of indignation, afraid that the females would rival them in prestige and dignity. “Tolerate them,” said the God, “and let them enjoy their empty honors and badges of your rank. It signifies nothing, as long as they do not equal you in masculine virtue.”

As long as we remain centered in our masculine core, the unnatural behavior of another person should not be our concern. Our purpose is to seek a philosophy of life, a way of thinking, that will enable us to be lit by an inner light, a light that will guide us in this hostile modern environment; a philosophy that will enable us to draw sustenance and strength from ourselves, rather than from the approval of others. We travelers have spent a great deal of energy and effort to travel abroad. We travel here, and we travel there.  But what about the inner journey? This is a profounder type of travel, one that will enable us to advance to ever-higher levels of consciousness, until we begin to approach true illumination. These are the journeys of the great mystics and poets of the past.

The mystic poet Farid ad-Din Attar (c. 1145-1220) in his great work Discourse of the Birds, believed that a sincere seeker could undertake a spiritual journey through six “valleys” or levels: Searching, Love, Knowledge, Detachment (from personal desires), Union (where he sees that all things are one), and Astonishment (losing sense of individual existence).  Eventually, with persistence, he might be able to achieve the ultimate stage, Annihilation (of the self in the Divine). By going through these stages, Attar held, a seeker could become a “Perfect Man” who had the power of direct communion with the Divine. No soul is fully happy, says the pantheistic Attar, until it loses itself in this World Soul which emanates from the Divine. The only real religion was the search for such a union. Although Attar was severely attacked for his ideas, he confounded his critics by living a long and happy life.

Happier still was Saadi of Shiraz (c. 1184-1283), perhaps Persia’s most beloved poet. For nearly thirty years he traveled all over the Near East and North Africa, experiencing all degrees of deprivation and poverty. He once complained that his shoes were in tatters, until he met a man without feet, and so “thanked Providence for the bounty.” He fought in the Crusades, was captured by the Franks, released on ransom, and fell into a new kind of slavery after marrying the daughter of his ransomer. Eventually ridding himself of this servitude, he retired at age fifty to a small house in Shiraz, where he wrote poetry extolling the virtues of a simple life, animated by the sensual pleasures of physical love. The mystics were always careful to teach that the things of this world were illusory and fickle. To pursue them too rashly was to subject ourselves to inner torment and turbulence. Ibn Arabi (c. 1165-1240) brought this idea to its fullest and most elaborate expression in his many esoteric volumes of prose and poetry. What the great mystics had in common was: a wide experience of travel, constant writing, a belief in their own inner light, spiritual exercises to achieve a level of enlightenment, a sense of humor, and a healthy enjoyment of worldly pleasure tempered with a knowledge that all such things were fleeting. We would do well to learn from them. The growth of wisdom involves a recognition that we should not feel bound to accept the expectations, limitations, and projections of others.

The poetry of Al-Mutamid (c. 1040-1095), Emir of Seville, is perhaps the last word on the folly of chasing the phantoms of the world. He led a life of combat, fighting at times both Christians and Moslems in Spain, yet never stopped writing verses. Eventually captured, he was brought in chains to Tangier where he lived until his death. One of his last poems expresses in a few lines what only long experience and true wisdom can ever hope to know:Do not woo the world too rashly, for behold,
Beneath the painted silk and broidering,
It is a faithless and inconstant thing.
Listen to me, Mutamid, growing old.
And we—that dreamed youth’s blade would
never rust,
Who wished wells from the mirage, roses
from the sand—
Shall understand the riddle of the world,
And put on wisdom with the robe of dust.
[30]

[27] Letter to Poggio and Valla, 1453. See Cook, B. (ed.), Lorenzo Valla: Correspondence. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013, p. 266-267.

[28]Izbicki, Thomas (ed.), Nicolas of Cusa: Writings on Church and Reform. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008, p. 473.

[29] Letter to Cardinal Tommaso Parentucelli, 1446. Cf. Cook, supra at 207.

[30] Quoted in Durant, Will, The Age of Faith, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1950, p. 307, and adapted from Mark Van Doren’s Anthology of World Poetry.