The epigenesis and development of new genetic capacities

From the lamp, once polished, came the djinn–an allegory how life's experiences shape us

From the lamp, once polished, came the djinn–an allegory how life’s experiences shape us

History of the jinn and its etymological roots

Much has been written over the last decade about the new science of epigenesis, and the transmission of genetic patterns–often about faulty genes, and inherited illnesses, but also,  the more positive application of how we switch on ‘good coding’. InnerDialogue has fortuitously worked in this area for the last forty years, predating this research by working with the Jinn / Djinn. The story is complicated and perhaps not yet ready to be articulated fully on a web page, but nevertheless, we have trained our practitioners to, if not able to feel or be aware of these forces, recognize that these elements are part of the lexicon of our work, and can be part of the narrative of a client. Our understanding is that the djinn represents the power (read force) that activates or suppresses a code; and turns it ‘on’ or ‘off’. These codons (a sequence of nucleotide triplets) can be detrimental to the person, or not; they may switch on (or off) genes that would augment the client’s well-being, life, and purpose. They are the ontogenes of modern science and are either activator or suppressor genes, yet they are also of being; they exist as entities. Some switch on our old code which predisposes us towards illness, disease, and psychosis and which mirrors our understanding of Hahnemann’s miasma–inherited predispositions towards inherited types of illness. Others switch on new behaviors. What we do know is that science articulates that the behaviour may be switched on, but the cellular and extracellular environment has to be conducive to augment the change. The environment has to support the change–whether it is about the health of our cells and body matrix, supportive nourishment at all levels, our personal consciousness (cognitive awareness of the change(s) required), a good marriage or partnership, a loving household, extended family support, a relationship with an enabling community, a hospitable clime, social ease, personal economics.

The original awareness and initial understanding of the jinn as forces, can be traced back to pre-Islamic thought, and the djinn, described using different words, are in many old traditions, in (most) cultures around the world. They were specifically named in the Qu’ran, as beings made of smokeless fire (light) and as companions to humankind, living in parallel with us.

“Indeed We created man from dried clay of black smooth mud. And We created the Jinn before that from the smokeless flame of fire. ”

— Quran 15:26-27

The original etymology in Arabic is جَنَّ‎ (Janna, “to hide”), from the root ج ن ن‎ (j-n-n). By default, the jinn are (mostly) hidden from human view. The prevailing view of early Arab observers was that these jinn were the activators of madness and illness (in the passive جُنَّ‎ (junna, “to go crazy”). On another etymological journey we may note that in Azerbaijani, the Persian word  جان (jân) (definite accusative جانێ‎ (janı), plural جانلار‎ (“Janlar”) infers:

  1. soul, spirit

  2. being, creature, life

  3. body

  4. force, vigour

Again, from the  Middle Persian HYA, yʾn’ (gyān, “soul, ghost”), from Proto-Iranian *wi- + *HanH- (“to breathe”), from Proto-Indo-European (“to breathe”), whence, for example, Latin: animus. The list goes on:

Tajik: ҷон (jon) → Uzbek: jon → Azeri: can / جان‎ / ҹан → Bashkir: йән (yän) → Georgian: ჯანი (ǯani) → Hindustani: Hindi: जान (jān) Urdu: جان‎ (jān) → Uyghur: جان (jan) → Uzbek: jon → Kazakh: жан (jan) → Kyrgyz: жан (can) → Middle Armenian: ջան (ǰan) Armenian: ջան (ǰan) → Russian: джан (džan) → Ottoman Turkish: جان‎ Turkish: can → Albanian: xhan→ Macedonian: џан (džan)→ Serbo-Croatian: džan / џан → Tatar: җан (can)→ Turkmen: jan

Likewise, by extension, the English and French use of the word genie: From French génie (“genius”, “genie”) (used to translate Arabic جِنّ‎ (jinn) based on similarity of sound and sense) from Latin genius (“household guardian spirit”). We might ask now, in the light of modern genetics, where does genius arise from? A tutelary spirit (guardian spirit) or a set of genes switched on in-utero or in our early learning environment?

Gene is much more difficult to explain: I have placed this in the linear arrangement of descriptive words in the title. A gene is (from wiki dictionary):

  1. (genetics) A theoretical unit of heredity of living organisms; a gene may take several values and in principle predetermines a precise trait of an organism’s form (phenotype), such as hair colour.

  2. (molecular biology) A segment of DNA or RNA from a cell‘s or an organism’s genome, that may take several forms and thus parameterizes a phenomenon, in general, the structure of a protein; locus.

We can move our argument from something concealed, hidden, to a force of light–photons–to the tutelary spirit which bestows (divine) genius to a gene which ‘parameterizes phenomena to ontogenesis–the development of an individual organism, an anatomical or behavioural feature from the earliest stage to maturity.

“So let us return to the matter in hand: this spiritual world surely takes on many different forms and manifests in perceptible forms. ”

— Ibn Arabi, in Futūhāt al-Makkiyya

If we look at folklore narratives or stories; many are teaching stories, as they contain wisdom and knowledge in their convoluted and colourful weavings. The most important one, in this particular topic, is “The Thousand and One Nights” (Alf Laylah wa Laylah), a tome of collected works whose span is over many centuries of collation. It tells of the courtesan Shahrzad telling stories every night to put the King or Shah in the mood to hear the sequel the following night, delaying her execution. (The King was in the habit of sleeping with a courtesan and having her executed the following morning!)

Within the book is the extraordinary teaching story of Ala’din (Arabic: علاء الدين‎, ʻAlāʼ ad-Dīn) whose name means ‘nobility of faith’ or ‘nobility (excellence) of religion’.

There are of course many copies and variations of the story, having him Chinese in some renditions, others as some street-wise kid from Baghdad. The story setting is probably unimportant, save they are talking about the exotic. The content is basically the same, and I will try to paraphrase rather than tell the whole story.

The story of Aladdin

Alāʼ ad-Dīn

Aladdin came from a foreign land, possibly Turkestan, or even China, and was a street-wise kid, with a destitute mother; for their father, a fiscally immature tailor, had died, leaving them with little. Aladdin played on the streets, stealing what he could, but was by-and-large liked for his good nature, even though he was renowned for filching food and bits and pieces from those in the bazaar. They knew of his plight. His mother relied on the boy, who was often out on the streets, to find the food to feed them.

One day a wizard, from the Maghreb, appeared, disguised as the tailor’s long-lost brother. He had picked out Aladdin as a mark, whilst observing him on the streets.  He introduced himself as the boy’s uncle and ingratiated his way into his life. During their casual but manipulative talks, he brought up the idea of Aladdin becoming a merchant himself. In the process the wizard persuaded him to go into the desert, to a hidden cave, to retrieve a forgotten lamp. The lamp, he was told, was an important asset towards Aladdin becoming a merchant himself.

The two of them go into the desert, and the wizard gives Aladdin a ring to wear as a lucky talisman. The wizard pushes aside the boulder hiding the cave and Aladdin climbs down aided by a rope into the darkness. He is commanded not to touch anything, but to find a stairway that would lead him to his prize. He fumbles around, amongst untold treasures, jewels, and gold glinting into the ambient light. He eventually finds some steps and goes down further into the darkness away from any light, and feels on the threshold of each step, a door, which he opens but finds nothing. Eventually, he does encounter a lamp, so described, and safely puts it under his threadbare jacket, and begins his journey back. As he ascends into the first part of the cave, his natural acquisitiveness, and, of course, duty to his mother, makes him pilfer some of the gold plates, jewels, and the like.

He returns to the shaft of the cave, and the rope. The wizard, who has impatiently waited for his return, is agitated because he has spied some travellers approaching him and the opening to the cave. He calls out to Aladdin for the lamp, but wisely Aladdin does not hand it up, but grabs onto the rope, heavy with his booty. The added load proves too much for the wizard, who, in his haste not to be discovered, drops the weighted boy and slams shut the boulder over the entrance.

Aladdin is crestfallen, collapsed in a heap in the darkness of the cave. There is no light at all. He sits dejected, angry, bewildered, and after a while starts absentmindedly to twiddle with his ring. Suddenly in a puff of smoke and light, a genie exits the ring and stands before him.

Arabic talismanic ring.jpg

“I am the djinn of the ring, and whoever owns the ring, I am servant to”, it intoned. The astonished boy simply asked to be removed from this predicament. In a whoosh or a flash, he is transported back to his mother’s house.

His equally astonished mother, probably also fed up wondering what had happened to him, was overjoyed at his sudden and magical return. However, all she got from him was a mumbled excuse, and a curt ‘don’t worry.’ Aladdin didn’t recount his adventure nor of the gold, but hid it in his room. Due to his know-how on the street, he knew what he should do. He went around the bazaar offering one of the golden plates to a local Jewish dealer who was able to give Aladdin a fair and honest price for his ‘find’. This of course kept them in good stead for months, and then the time came for him to sell another piece. This continued over time until he was left with the lamp. It was obviously old, unused, and certainly long forgotten. He thought he had better polish it up. He took out a rag and began to polish. Suddenly in a flash and with smoke, out of the spout exited another genie. Much bigger than the first one. Its shape was hazy and smoky and it had vaguely humanoid features. This one told him that any wish was his command. ‘Food for the table’ was Aladdin’s first command, and in an instant, there was a banquet in front of him.

Archetypal djinn out of bottle card.jpg

This banquet was presented in their house every day, and indeed, any request was instantly conveyed by the djinn. All of their needs were met. Aladdin was able to acquire money, and then a fortune, for indeed, as promised by the magician or wizard, he became a successful businessman.

Aladdin’s business prowess actually had been always there; his street smarts allowed him to see businessmen go about their commerce; their bartering, the deals behind doors, the backhanders, and the cheating. As his adventure subsided, their needs met, he went back into the streets; now adequately fed, clothed–a re-imagined still young, but mature man. His natural instincts both acquired from his father, albeit not actuated by him, were now awakened in his new life. He honed his skills, perfected his speech, was true to his word; remembering the honesty of the first dealer who gave him money for the golden plate he first sold. As he became known in the souks of the city, his fame grew, people respected him, and he became a successful trader. However, he never forgot his inner duty. He both polished his act–his business skills–but also polished his soul. This he did by being steadfast in his religious duties, praying, and going to the mosque. This of course, in a generally pious environment contributed to both his well-being and his citywide renown.

Some years passed, and one day spied upon the Sultan’s daughter coming out of the town and back into the palace. At first glance, his heart was taken. This was his consort, partner for life. However, his initial attempts at asking for her hand were summarily dismissed.

Unfortunately, he was a commoner, a mere businessman but rich and famous. Indeed he had no pedigree or weight at all. He had to find a way to convince the Sultan that he was worthy of her hand. He summoned the jinni of the lamp, polishing it–for a time had gone by, and it had fallen into a tarnished state. When it appeared he commanded the jinni to bring a camel train full of gold, jewels, and precious merchandise through the city gates and to pass by the Sultan’s palace.

The camel train did indeed pass, and was of course so spectacular, and outrageous even the Sultan had to lean over the parapets to see what was causing the commotion. He asked his Vizier to find out the name of the merchant, whose extraordinary caravan was passing by. The vizier hurried off and came back offering up a slightly grander titled Sheikh Alāʼ ad-Dīn as the merchant. The Sultan was impressed and asked to see him, if available. Aladdin, was at this time, back at his home, and, on hearing the summons, had to hurriedly find some good clothes–by asking for some new threads, via his friendly and ever so obliging jinni. He went off to the palace and presented himself. The Sultan was enthusiastic, thinking about his daughter because this rather grand chap seemed promising for a rather large dowry. The coffers of the Sultan were never really full.

After this first meeting Aladdin, and after a little time had passed, again repeated this exhibition, bringing in a further and even larger, more grand caravan of riches. He had the camel master parade the long train around the city to catch the ear and eye of the sultan. Again he was summoned and again Aladdin basically fobbed off the Sultan with his various entreaties, comments, and small talk whilst he tried to gain some understanding of who this princely merchant was.

Stamp Hungary Aladdin.jpg

This spectacle was repeated a third time. In front of the Sultan, and now on familiar terms, they chatted. The Sultan was surprised when Aladdin asked for his daughter’s hand, but secretly happy–thinking of the possible dowry for the young woman. She was called Badroulbadour, and she was as beautiful as the fullest of all moons; bright, splendid, magnificent, illuminative. The Sultan accepted Aladdin’s wish.

Of course, the wedding was spectacular, the dowry equally so, and the two lived happily in a beautiful palace that the génie built for them.

As time went by, Aladdin got somewhat too comfortable, and lazy in his duties, as his financial empire was huge, riches immense, local renown prominent, perhaps even reaching the far-thrown regions of the kingdom. He forgot his duties of religion as he became less than excellent or noble. The lamp lay unused, tarnished, dirty, and forgotten.

Meanwhile, the wizard had returned, looking for the lamp that he had so wanted but lost. He had heard of Aladdin’s marvellous ascension through the ranks of the merchants and his marriage to the Sultan’s daughter. He went to investigate, and on seeing Aladdin’s now corpulent body, and also his wife, understood that this was the same person. He devised a strategy because he could see that Aladdin had fallen spell under the power that wealth, privilege, and position give people. He knew instinctively that he had forgotten to remember God, to polish who he was through devotion and prayer.

“New lamps for old, new lamps for old”, the magi cried out. His voice lifted higher and clearer as he passed by the palace. To no avail, he repeated this process for some days, giving to people who came out of their houses the new for the old. One day, however,  Badroulbadour, heard his cry and remembered, that somewhere was indeed an old, awful, dirty, and rather beat-up lamp somewhere in the palace. She found it and lent it out of the window handing it to the magi who duly exchanged it for a new one.

The magi went off with his prize, and out of sight, rubbed the lamp, and the genie reappeared. ‘Send the palace and its occupants to the farthest part of the kingdom’, he commanded. In one instance the palace vanished, occupants and all.

In the city, the rather fat, corpulent Aladdin, carried by exhausted servants in a paladin, went back to his palace, to find … nothing, an empty lot. He wondered at first whether his servants had merely taken him to the wrong part of the city, but all the familiar buildings around his palace were still there. Astonished, exasperated, angry, mystified he stomped around; unable to grasp what had happened. His wife, palace, and money had disappeared.

It took Aladdin several days to catch up with what had happened. He had sent some of his retinue to sniff around, ask questions, and interrogate the locals. These were the few who had been with him that fateful evening coming back from the souk where he had been conducting business, alongside the tea, stories, jokes, and laughter with his equally indolent friends and acquaintances. All the rest of his magnificent retinue had disappeared along with Badroulbadour., and the palace.

He understood bit by bit, that it was indeed the magician who had secreted himself to the trust of the city folk, by taking old lamps for inexpensive but new ones. It was this information that told Aladdin what had actually happened.

Aladdin was determined to find  Badroulbadour, whom he had loved dearly; the riches, opulence, and grandeur were nothing compared to her beauty, love, and companionship. He set out on a search and many many months later came across his palace in the farthest corner of the kingdom. His old cunning, street-smart skills had again been honed on the journey, as he listened for vital clues, and manipulated those in his company to supply clues about the magician who he was tracking.

He encircled the palace, and found the small window, that he himself had used on occasions to escape the confines of his palace, or when he wanted to mill amongst the people, picking up valuable business opportunities; the state of the economy, and the common people’s needs.

He pulled himself through, an easy job having lost pounds during his long search, and that had toned his flabby muscles. He moved furtively from room to room, looking for his beloved. He found her eventually; alone, lethargic and despondent, lying on her bed. She had been confined as a virtual prisoner in her own palace and was guarded by the magician who seemed to know her every move. Suddenly a huge snake appeared and rose up, ready to strike. It was the magician, who had transformed himself into a striking cobra. Quick as a flash, the quick-witted Aladdin picks up a vase-shaped container as the cobra strikes. As it moved to bite, it disappeared down the conical opening and hitting the bottom, couldn’t move, so pulling its tail down, it turned to try to emerge. Aladdin jams a nearby cloth shawl into the opening, temporarily imprisoning the snake in the vase. It shook and vibrated with the suppressed anger of the magician, who now, as himself, was trapped in this small vessel. Taking the now exhilarated and renewed  Badroulbadour by the hand they went looking for the lamp, which they duly found. He furiously rubbed the lamp and the génie appeared. He commanded the elemental to take the container and what’s inside and deposit it in the farthest country in the world. Puff, and so it did. Then he commanded them to be taken back to his city, palace, and all.

The mighty self-important Aladdin, on arrival back home, soon became a more pious, good man than he had always been; he was more generous with his zakat, giving tithes to institutions, and became a truly noble human in his community. He became in this truly humble state a man who everyone loved, cherished, asked for advice and wisdom, and was talked about after his long life and death for many centuries later.

The story is an important one, even though it appears to be left out of the original compilations of the Alf Layla wa Layla. It tells of the descent, ascent, forgetfulness, courage, and tenacity of a  human to realize his or her goals. It speaks volumes about our own chicanery, stupidity, and forgetfulness in the pursuit of goals; realistic or unrealistic. It tells us of our own demagoguery, and powerlessness when confronted with our own shadow self when we are not in command or have no idea. It lets us remember the polishing of ourselves; whether through education, workshops, best practices, self-help, and remembrance of Higher principles –a Higher Reality that underlies and is central to everything.

“Your sickness is from you, but you do not perceive it and your remedy is within you, but you do not sense it. You presume you are a small entity, but within you is enfolded the entire Universe. You are indeed the evident book, by whose alphabet the hidden becomes manifest. Therefore you have no need to look beyond yourself. What you seek is within you, if only you reflect. ”

— Ali ibn Talib (a.s)

Reflection - pause, waiting for the vision to come to you

Reflection – pause, waiting for the vision to come to you

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