Monthly Archives: November 2007

What Is Marriage, Pt. 2

The union between a man and a woman is sacred, a coveted bond fostered by family and society. The purpose the union serves is not only for bearing children, but to create a long-lasting mutual dependence for perpetuating the familial lineage, and thereby mankind, with cultural, spiritual, and other factors at stake. Ideally such unions cannot be sacrificed -once they are formed and a pact has been decreed between the couple, there cannot be any physical or spiritual force that divides them. Emotions may disrupt the union and give way to infidelity, yet if the union is sound to begin with, if the canons written by man and woman are well-founded and just, such potential scenarios should not cause distress as being probable. The man and the woman must relentlessly be confident that their bond of promise and trust cannot be severed, that the family’s integrity will not be deprecated.

But why is it essential that the union be enforced by law and rite? Surely if a bond has been consummated by a man and a woman and the understandings of mutual dedication have been laid forth, no law or symbolic ritual will have any relevance. The term “marriage” holds lawful connotations that compel a couple to bind together as a unit decreed as being valid by the state in which the man and woman reside. For arguably thousands of years bonds have been sealed by governing bodies-political, religious, or both. The custom of marriage is thus dictated by society, it is a concept that came to fruition by societal bodies in order to dissuade immorality and convey supreme significance in the sacred union. In the early days of intellectual mankind marriage perhaps served as a commitment to the tribe to which the couple belonged, that children would be born to strengthen the tribe against foreign nations and ensure the longevity of the race. But in modern times, cross-race interaction is becoming a diminishing threat to society as cultural as well as religious divides are being decimated despite conflict created to oppose that reality. Transportation and communication facilitate international integration which will only progress, perpetually melding and homogenizing the human race. The relevance of religion and law in the certification of the personal union will slowly fade and the symbolic concept of marriage will wither as a result. The titles of husband and wife will revert simply to man and woman.

Given the modern times we live in and understanding the potentially imminent breakdown of religious divisions, the ideology behind marriage, that is the religious and lawful properties of the union, will possess less and less significance. The linkage must first and foremost be enforced by the couple entering that sublime cooperation in a private agreement which cannot be compromised by any external or interpersonal conflicts. The understandings of the relevance of the pact must be mutual between the man and the woman, while law and rite should not be essential in validating the bond. If the couple cannot come to terms with their commitment to the relationship itself and to each other, the union should not and cannot be forged in the first place. The decision lies upon the man and the woman to determine their own fate, to form the family structure, and perpetuate man’s existence. Such a union cannot be limited by terminology, and the state or institution should not demand how the bond is to be realized. Government and deity worship must have no influence on the union, as it is a sacred entity for the duo who wish the fruition of eternal codependence, to travel along the path of existence harmoniously with grace, fortified by immortal faith.


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What Is Marriage?

Lately I have been perplexed by the concept of marriage, now second-guessing the institution and what purpose it serves in society. As I have understood it marriage is a bond that is shared commonly between a man and a woman (although even that fundamental rule has changed since the turn of the 21st century). Marriage is the link between two people which is sometimes bonded in the name of love, another increasingly indecipherable concept to me. In marriage two people unite to form a common entity, in which individual freedoms and sometimes romantic concepts or self-promotional interests are sacrificed for the forging of the unity. Ideally the sacrifices made are mutual. Independence as was known by either spouse before marriage was initiated ceases to exist, as both husband and wife become codependent on each another, and in the ideal scenario counterbalancing one another emotionally, socially, and even spiritually, especially when the marriage crosses religious boundaries. The couple unites chiefly for the purpose of having children and raising families. Despite socioeconomic, psychological, or emotional obstacles that a married couple faces, they must both persist and overcome the difficulties that meet them, no matter how drastic. In idyllic situations, divorce will not occur since both husband and wife have fully committed to the institution of marriage as well as to their family. However, that last canon is no longer valid, as many marriages currently end in divorce. According to a 2002 study the divorce rate in the United States was 10 percent. In another study it was determined that 45.8 percent of new marriages ended in divorce, while in Armenia by stark contrast the figure was 6 percent. In other, more traditional cultures where the hearth and family must not be jeopardized divorce is uncommon, Armenian culture being no exception. Yet the probability of the breakdown of marriage is significant.

How do two people know when the right time has come for marriage? In many world cultures, again Armenian being included in that number, it is acceptable for the arrangement to be made by immediate family members, rather by the fathers or senior male familial representatives of the candidate spouses. But in the Western or modern world we can safely assume that the steps towards marriage are initiated by two people who wish to share a lifelong bond, and not by external influences. Sometimes convenience plays a greater role in the intention of marriage than love.

Nevertheless, if two people do not find common ideological ground, not to mention commonality on spiritual and emotional planes, the concept of marriage is moot. The reason why marriage fails arguably is because the understandings are not comprehended at the time of contemplation of unity, which conceptually could lead to infidelity. Divorce threatens when the intentions of commitment to the marriage are not clearly defined from the onset, casting silent ambiguity into the darkness to weaken the bond of chastity at the heed of speculation. Yet is there the possibility for such miscomprehension to be one sided, for one spouse to have doubts about the relationship while the other is faithfully certain, perchance blinded by love? Unquestionably it exists.

Marriage can only be consummated when the mutual understanding and acceptance of the institution is founded. Love is not a relevant factor in the desire to marry and preserve the bonds, rather it is convenience and commitment that make the marriage last. Without comprehension of the ideal and the willingness to sacrifice self-independence, marriage cannot be preserved and families should not be formed.

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Melancholy Ponderings

I have been musing over my life during the last couple of hours. Strange situations have found my way this year. I find myself in a sort of limbo, in the transition I had discussed once before here. It is in a way unnerving because I or anyone else cannot say when the transformation will resolve or what will come of it, whether something beneficial or possibly detrimental, perhaps both. Suffice it to say that the realm of uncertainty and obscurity is very much real for me, and is probably where I will float for a while. One personal relationship, the most important one in my life at that, crumbles apart more with each passing day. Others are just budding, but whether they will flower and give fruit is not transpicuous. It is this limbo state that occasionally obliges me to think about where I am and will eventually be.

Lately I have been reading more about happiness and attainment, mostly as it applies to Eastern philosophy. The concept of karma has been intriguing me for some time. In karma, you as an individual are in charge of your own fate, according to the actions that you consciously choose. Thus there is the right versus wrong conflict, being cognizant of what life decisions may perhaps be the wise ones which will ultimately lead to spiritual wellness and those that will cause harm not only upon your own fortune but to those in close contact you. There is a degree of luck I believe that plays a hand in karma. If you are prone to have good luck, then you are more apt to have positive outcomes with karma. Those that cannot find the right path towards their destinies I would say are at a loss spiritually. But what if you are generally fortunate but encounter a situation where karma is unfavorable as it applies to your life in a certain circumstance? Can karma have both positive and negative traits for an individual, pulling at opposite ends of the same rope? And what if the concept of karma is not understood by an individual; in other words if a person is not familiarized with the meaning of karma, does that ignorance bear weight on the positive or negative outcome of his or her karma?

I am also interested in Zen, having read the autobiography of Zen Master Hakuin. His accounts about his own life and especially his attaining of enlightenment were fascinating. The discipline the students of Zen possess is astounding. They often sit in one position, sometimes for days at a time, in order to find the plane of consciousness they seek to reach. It is not uncommon for them to eat only a small bowl of rice a day or abstain from sustenance for an extended period of time. And they ceaselessly wander from one temple to the next in search of the ideal place for meditation. Their persistence to be enlightened, to see what others cannot even imagine, keeps them moving forward, despite all odds that attempt to dissuade them. Materialism means nothing to them. The success they achieve is spiritual, and their goal is to retain faith.

Writing too much about such topics is tedious on blogs in my opinion, but they should be touched upon. I believe in the concept of karma as it holds total logical significance to me; it is a practical philosophy that can be applied to any individual or perhaps to all animals, assuming they are aware of the consequences of their actions. The difficult task regarding karma is discerning the decisions that are significant in life from the ones that matter the least. And the person who dwells in the life transition is subservient to karma at the limit of persistence.

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Learning My А Б Вs

I have been trying to learn the Russian alphabet for the last three years. Rather, I keep forgetting to learn. I manage to study for one or two days at a time then for some reason my absentmindedness kicks in and the continued learning stops. It’s a strange tings-like phenomenon. However I was able to absorb at least half the letters. Word comprehension unfortunately is weak. Beside the usual words used in everyday conversation like “privet,” “paka,” “maladets,” “kharasho,” “sbasiba,” and my personal favorite term for finality, “vsyo,” I only know about twenty or so, including some phrases. For some reason, there has always been very little opportunity to learn despite being surrounded by fluent Russian speakers all day long. And there aren’t any Russian-language classes to attend for adults since Russian is more or less the shared mother language here, although Armenian is obviously still preferred. Hiring a tutor is not an option since I work long hours and it should never have been necessary in the first place. But I know one thing: I can’t do much without actually being able to read the letters and understanding their pronunciation nuances when combined with one another. So until then, looking up words in the dictionary is futile. Thank goodness for Wikipedia.

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I am having trouble staying awake at work. Occasionally this dilemma plagues me, but there seems to be nothing else to do other than write about it. That way I can find an excuse to stay awake. But why am I falling asleep? It could be that I am bored, it happens from time to time. But is it normal behavior? You hear about people being proactive all day long, running companies, managing employees, designing architectural masterpieces. Here people are sitting and diligently writing code (supposedly) while I sit at my desk, switching between the New York Times and BBC News Web sites, all the while trying to find an article to attract my astute attention ( I hope my boss does not read this). But then the eyes become drowsy and suddenly I find myself living an abstract version of what I am reading in my semi-sleepy mind of the moment, from moment to moment to moment. I seem to be wide awake now, but I can’t say for how long. About an hour ago when I awoke from one of several brief reality time-outs I went down to the corner convenience store and bought a bottle of spring water along with a tasty turnover filled with chicken and mashed potatoes. I figured the tea I was drinking to stay alert was dehydrating me and presumed some water would revive. Fifteen minutes after I returned the listlessness resumed. There’s two hours to go….

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Paneer or Banir?

Last night I went to an Indian restaurant called “Karma” after work for a late night bite to eat. For some reason I was craving Indian food, the curries, gravies, naan bread brushed with melted butter, and so forth. I ended up ordering a “paneer” dish which had a tomato-based sauce with sautéed small, purple onions and green peppers infused with several spices that made my spirit rise, as is the case when I eat Indian food in this country for some reason. In Boston it doesn’t taste the same, rather bland despite eating very similar dishes. The meal I ordered was with paneer, which is considered a cheese and has the consistency of a dense, strained cottage cheese, but cut into bite-size cubes like tofu. The Hindi word paneer is strikingly similar to the Armenian word for cheese, “banir,” and there are other similar words that I can’t remember now. It makes sense I suppose because both languages are Indo-European and there are clear cross-cultural similarities as I have learned just by mingling with Indians living here. But I wanted to understand the true roots of the word. Here’s what I found out:

Paneer (sometimes spelled Panir or Paner), is the Persian word for “cheese”. It is an unaged, acid-set, Farmer cheese that is similar to Queso blanco except that it does not have salt added, and to acid-set fresh Mozzarella. Like Mozzarella, Bengali paneer is beaten or kneaded. However, other types of paneer are simply pressed. Paneer is the only type of cheese indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, and is most commonly used in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisine. Paneer is a primary source of protein for Buddhists (typically those of South Asian origin).

Source: Global Oneness

So it is not even a Hindi word, it is from Farsi. Very interesting. Which means banir is undoubtedly comes from the Farsi, unless of course the Persians adapted the Armenian word into their own language. A mystery that cannot be solved here, unfortunately, since I am not a linguist.

According to Wikipedia, paneer is made in the following way:

To prepare paneer, food acid (usually simple lemon juice or vinegar) is added to hot milk to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are then drained in a muslin cloth or cheesecloth and excess water is pressed out. Next, the obtained paneer is dipped in chilled water for 2-3 hours to give it a good texture and appearance.

From this point, the preparation of paneer diverges based on its use. In Mughlai cuisine, the paneer-cloth is put under a heavy weight, such as a stone slab, for 2-3 hours, and is then cut into cubes for use in curries. Pressing for a shorter time (approximately 20 minutes), results in a softer, fluffier cheese. Oriya cuisine and Bengali cuisine demand paneer-dough produced by beating or kneading the paneer by hand into a dough-like consistency.

The “dough-like consistency” fools you in believing that you are not actually eating cheese when first tasting the stuff and not knowing what it is. It could be mistaken for raw or partially risen dough I suppose, although it is pure white in color. Lucky for me I found out from the onset what paneer was the first time I tried it a couple of years ago served with a lovely masala sauce. Thing is, it doesn’t taste like any European or Armenian cheese I have ever had, not even close. But when drenched in curry-laden sauces it’s delicious. Although I cannot imagine wrapping paneer in bread in its raw state and eating it.

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