Be afraid of the man who always looks down (or avoids your eyes by looking down)
vahr naihoghehn vaghtzeer
Eye contact is important for communication. It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul.But, one who avoids eye contact by looking downward has something to hide. It may be due to a guilty feeling for having done something that they are ashamed of; or it may be because they have a sinister plan.
There is saying in Armenian ahck ahckee, seerd seerdee, eye to eye, soul to soul – two people communicate with their eyes and hearts(souls). Another saying is seerdeh seerd jahmpah gah- from heart to heart there is a way(a connecting path).
There is a famous song by Shehram, an Armenian minstrel, entitled “Naz Ahckeek – Pretty or Charming Girl.” The song’s refrain is the following.
yeghneegee nuhmahn mahn kahlut
With the searching eyes of a deer you gaze (longingly)
gahkahvee nuhmahn bahr kahlut
You (gracefully) come dancing like the partridge
suhrtounkut lahl ou mahrjan eh
Your delicate lips pout with the grief (of separation)
naiyvadzkut hohkee guh hahnneh
Your bewitching eyes impel my soul to run to you (take my soul out)
Shehram’s poetry expresses the power of a beautiful woman’s glance.
The dog is lame until he sees the fox
Shahnuh gagh eh meenchev vor ahghvehssuh dehssneh
Fear makes an ass run faster than a horse
Ahhuh ehssuh tzeeyehn ahvehli vahzouhk guhneh
The one legged chicken
Once Nasreddin Hohja decided to give a gift to improve his friendship with the king. The king had fought many great battles and had lost one leg which was seriously injured and cut off to save his life from the rapid spread of infection.
The Hodja chose a prize hen and roosted it to perfection basking it with butter, spices, and more butter. He placed the roost on a large plate with fresh pilaf and many decorative garnishes. He walked toward the palace with his delicious gift. As he walked, the mouth watering odor of the dish wafted into his nostrils and he became ravenously hungry. He thought that there would be no harm if one of the legs of the hen were missing. After all, the king had one leg missing and he might consider it a complement that the hen is also missing one leg. He stopped and ate one leg. He couldn’t resist his own cooking.
Arriving at the palace, he was shown into the king’s reception room and he bowed before the king and presented his gift. The king was pleased that one of his subjects wanted to please him with a delicious gift, But, on examination of the roosted chicken he saw that one leg was missing. He took this as a personal insult and angrily addressed the Hodja. “Is this a bad joke or a serious insult. How dare you gift me a one legged chicken, you imbecile,” said the king.
The Hodja in a state of panic realized he made a big mistake. He composed his thoughts quickly and said, “Your Majesty, there is something you might not be aware of. All the birds in our land are one legged.”
The king became even angrier, “You insolent fool, do you think I am stupid enough to believe your lies?”
“Dear Sir, please look out your window to the lake. You will see all the birds are standing with only one foot.”
The king looked out the window and saw many birds standing on one foot. He said, “You idiot, I will show you that you are lying.” He called one of his soldiers and ordered him to run after the birds with a large stick and beat them. The soldier did as he was ordered. When the birds saw the soldier running toward them waving a big stick they all began to run on two feet and fly away.”
The king pointed out to the Hodja that his statement was wrong.
The Hodja countered the king by saying, “Your Highness, you have misunderstood what just happened. If your soldier ran after me with such a big and dangerous stick, I would also grow two more legs to run away as fast as possible because of my fright.”
Fearless – ahnyehrgiough
An old man once claimed that he was without fear
Of ghosts, goblins or strange things that might appear
Superstitions of the ignorant, old wives tales
Made up stories to daunt and cause the mind to ail
He boasted to his friends, “Send me anywhere
Where there are evil spirits that might scare
One friend asked, “Can you stay overnight
in a graveyard without deep sleep or fright?”
“Oh sure,” he said without hesitation
“I’ll brave the night with no trepidation.”
That night he stayed in that hoary, dark place
til dawn no apparition, not a trace
“Just see,” he said, “ghosts and ghouls don’t exist
Though I stayed throughout the night in their midst.”
He walked out the graveyard with happy mien
Musing why silly folks fear the unseen
Unnoticed were briars with thorns on the ground
That caught his long cloak, pulled back without sound
Shocked out of his wits as if dragged to death
Imagined evil ghosts and exhaled his last breath
When fear comes, death is forgotten
ahhuh (vahkhuh) goukah, mahhuh guh mortzuneh
Another way to say this is: mortal fear makes one forget death.
During the 1895 Turkish massacres of Armenians in Malatia, a large number of Armenians took refuge in the Holy Trinity Orthodox church. Near the church was a newly built school building that could possibly pose a great danger if the Turks captured it. They could easily damage and harm the church and its large number of refugees. Two Turks secretly entered the school. There was a local man named Ohmayentz Crazy Boghos (khent Boghos) who saw them.
Crazy Boghos would walk the streets of Malatia and never spoke to anyone. He never spoke a word. But at that crucial moment, he miraculously shouted to the Armenians and alerted them that some Turks were in the school building. He saved the Armenians from untold danger. This is an example of how mortal fear can make one forget the dangers of imminent death and in the case of Crazy Boghos do something that he never did before that benefited many people.
One who has seen a snake, is afraid of a rope
otzuh desnoghuh bahranen guh vaghnah
A black rope was made from twisting thick black hair.This was called “bahran.” The fright of seeing a snake was sometimes so harrowing that just seeing a black rope would make someone afraid thinking it might be a snake.
This fear is triggered by mistaken perception. Such a mistaken perception is the root of material life and material consciousness.
Not seeing or hearing (touching, smelling, or tasting) something correctly is called a mistake. This can lead to mistaken decisions, and identifying wrongly or confusing something with another thing, or accepting one thing to be something else erroneously.
When a person understands something wrongly due to imperfect perception, it is called a mistake. Due to such a mistake of perception, one may accept one thing to be something else . This is called an illusion. For example, on a dry, hot sunny day I may see slicks of water on the asphalt highway. Actually, there are no slicks of water. It is a visual mistake due to the heat, the asphalt, the distance, my imperfect senses, etc.
Accepting a rope for a snake as the above proverb says, causes unnecessary fear. Due to this fear, we may do many rash things that may cause further complications and entanglements.
On the other hand, I might mistake a snake for a rope. My sense of caution will be disarmed by my mistaken perception which could cause me to be bitten by the snake and suffer the consequences because of my mistaken perception. Such mistaken perception leads to accepting one thing to be something else. This is called an illusion. When one is definitely convinced that the illusion is true, he enters into a state of delusion or a deluded state of mind. Acting under such a deluded state of mind is the cause of great misfortune in life.
The ultimate misconception is identifying our body as being our real identity. In other words, mistaking the body for the soul or thinking the body and the soul are one and not different. The bodily concept of life or thinking my identity is connected irrevocably with my material body and the extension of my body such as family, tribe, ethnicity, nation, land of birth, family or ethnic traditions, language, etc. All these identifications are at most temporary and not relevant to our real spiritual identity as an eternal individual soul. The body temporarily covers the individual soul for a short period. During that period the body continually changes from birth, to youth, to adulthood, old age and finally death. Our body changes many times during this period and death is an ultimate change of body.
Identifying our self with the body is a serious error that causes us to accept many false concepts and engage in many activities that takes us away from seeking the truth about our existence.
A classical example is that of a deer who observes water in the desert. He actually sees in the distance the reflection of sunlight off the hot sands. There is no real water but it appears to be because of the mirage. Is there a large lake of water in the distant desert? No. Yet, the deer can see it with his eyes and believes that the mirage is real. As it moves to approach the mirage, it goes deeper into the desert thinking it is ever so close and a few more steps will suffice to reach it. The deer wanders to its death looking for something in the wrong place. Becoming convinced that an illusion is real is the cause of a wasted life.