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Angels and Demons: Aphorisms 

by Yahia Lababidi

It’s a sign of spiritual maturity when lesser transgressions prick our conscience more than before.

Inhibitions might be the handmaidens of conscience.

As with all battles, how we fight determines who we become.

Every enmity with another is part of our unfinished work on ourselves; a free person has no enemies.

As we make peace with ourselves, we become more tolerant of our faults—in others.

No grace is possible—physical or spiritual—without attention.

The demon honors you by their attentions; seek to be a worthy foe.

Where there are demons, there is something precious worth fighting for.

At the heart of every vice sits selfishness, yawning.

Scars are treasure chests.

In our inverted era, the Love that dare not speak its name is Divine.

The grades of love we are ashamed to confess: from the playground crush to Divine madness.

To truly begin, again, requires utter humility.

Our salvation lies on the other side of our gravest danger.

A poem arrives like a hand in the dark.

The world of images is not that of the spirit.

There’s nothing casual about intimacy, or passing through a temple without bowing.

Where ocean and shore greet, a metaphor, for where Spirit and body meet.

Poetic ideal: a language scrubbed clean by silences.

Certain silences are more damning than words; they are actions.

Certain silences are hard to take back.

Aphorisms respect the wisdom of silence by disturbing it, briefly.

As protection from your lower soul, surround yourself with reminders of your higher soul.

An apocalyptic viewpoint is a veiled death wish.

Numbness is a spiritual malady, true detachment its opposite.

The contemplative life is not a passive one.

The problem with being full of yourself is that you cannot fill up with much else.

Mysticism is the disappearing act that takes a lifetime.

The true poet, and the mystic, are not too proud to admit that, in matters great and small, they cannot proceed until they receive further instructions.

You can't bury pain and not expect it to grow roots.

If we ask life for favors, we must be prepared to return them.

To acquire a third eye, one cannot blink.

Miracles are everyday occurrences, recognizing them is not.

Mysticism teaches us that, if we can hold our breath long enough, we may breathe under water.


Yahia Lababidi began writing aphorisms as a teenager in Egypt more than twenty years ago. His book of aphorisms, Signposts to Elsewhere (Jane Street Press), was selected as a 2008 Book of the Year by The Independent (U.K.). This was followed by well-received collections of poems, essays and conversations. Most recently, Lababidi is included in the first-ever anthology of contemporary American aphorists, Short Flights: Thirty-Two Modern Writers Share Aphorisms of Insight, Inspiration, and Wit (Schaffner Press). His forthcoming book, Balancing Acts: New & Selected Poems (1993–2015), will be published this spring by Press 53, in the Silver Concho Poetry Series. (1/2016)

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