Kissing the Toad

Here is a reminder inspired from the words of Rupert Spira. It is necessary and terribly efficient to look into these matters for ourselves. This is why I like to share here the parts of a spiritual teaching that sounds like ‘something to do’, something to experiment and verify for ourselves:

See that you never really meet your uncomfortable feelings, that you are always avoiding them by activities, thinking… Try to be brave, turn around, and face the feeling. Welcome it, invite it in, be interested, get to know it… Experience for yourself the power of courage and avoidance… See how the avoiding of the fear, or of anything, is worse than the fear, or the thing itself… See how the facing of any uncomfortable feeling that you have has a releasing effect…

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Further exploring on the subject:

The instrument of your torture, the thing which once threatened to break your spirit, eventually becomes your salvation, even wakes you up, to presence, to gratitude, to the miracle of creation. When we turn to fearlessly face apparent darkness we may discover only undivided light, find a part of ourselves longing for love. Freedom lies not in escaping into the Absolute but in affirming life as it is – in consummating our marriage to our humanity, including all its trials and tribulations, and knowing God as the unbreakable principle present even in our pain, that which holds us even when we cannot hold ourselves.” 
~ Jeff Foster

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Just trace your feelings back to their counterpart in the body as sensation, and then trace these sensations back to this luminous empty knowing. It’s all that’s there. This luminous empty knowing, the stuff out of which these sensations is made, to know that, to touch that – THAT is the experience of happiness, or peace. The happiness we seek lives at the heart of our deepest, darkest feelings. We don’t find happiness by avoiding our deepest, darkest feelings and trying to replace them with another kind of feeling. We do the opposite, we trace our way back deeper and deeper and deeper, to go right to the heart of the feeling where we expect to find the monster – the one that is really responsible for our feelings. We never find the monster. If it recurs, then meet these recurring feelings with this recurring exploration. In other words, meet it with your experience. Your feelings cannot stand the truth of your experience. In the end, they have to bow down. They will in time bow down.” 
~ Rupert Spira

~

Eventually, it occurs to me to stop trying to do (or not do) anything, to give up the search for a solution or a distraction, to simply be present, to allow everything to be just exactly as it is. Suddenly it becomes possible to completely surrender to the actuality of Here / Now, to resist nothing, not even the compulsive biting of my fingers if that is what is happening. Instantly, I feel the heart open. This is the end of grasping and seeking, the end of resisting and avoiding, the end of trying to fix myself and be somebody else, the end of trying to figure it all out or get the right conceptual map nailed down. This is not knowing anything and not needing to know. Suddenly there is no problem anymore. There is no me. There is only this undivided, spacious presence that includes everything, just as it is. Everything is okay, even fingerbiting or feelings of uneasiness or anxiety. Nothing needs to be other than how it is, and when there is complete openness to how it is, I find it is no particular way at all. Everything is moving and changing and dissolving. There is a huge sense of relief. The problem was imaginary.”
~ Joan Tollifson

~

If we trace our suffering back far enough,
there, right at its heart, right at its origin,
we find the experience of peace and happiness
which we were previously seeking
by avoiding the suffering.
The moment we kiss the toad,
it turns into the prince.”
~ Rupert Spira

 

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The picture is by Helena Cuerva/Pixabay

Bibliography:
– ‘Presence’, Vol. I & II – by Rupert Spira (Non-Duality Press)
– ‘The Way of Rest: Finding the Courage to Hold Everything in Love’ – by Jeff Foster – (Sounds True)
– ‘Nothing to Grasp’ – by Joan Tollifson – (Nonduality Press)

Websites:
Rupert Spira
Joan Tollifson
Jeff Foster

Suggestion:
Fleeing to God (other pointers from the blog)

 

I will Trust your Ways

Meeting with you is always so pleasant 
I love being reunited again
How wonderful it is to feel you
In me, once more
I thought you had been upset
By my late silly ramblings
You know how the ways of life
Can make me forget
And wander far remote
From your loving gaze
And embrace.
So I thank you
For your faithful presence 

I will trust your ways
Dear friend
Trust that you are never far away
And make the effort
To come to you
And hug you dearly
Every day
After all
What best friend do I have
Other than
Your very being
Your so solid shoulder
And sweet tender heart

I will trust your ways
Dear friend
And know that behind
All that is fragile in me
Inconsistent and fearful
Just here, hidden
Mingled with my clouds
Dancing with my being
You stand firm and generous
Supporting everything 
Giving your substance
To what is happening 

I will trust your ways
Dear friend
And not be an obstacle
To you – the sun
Making a shadow
Of your presence
But let you be the one
That governs my world 
Let the light that you are 
Fill my body to the brim
And spill over to be like
A perfume 
Investing every corner of my being

I will trust your ways
Dear friend
And let you be
Just be
Here 
Now
Not interfering
And when you have taken over
I will be showing 
My way
For it is you
Not me
That stands behind it

 

~~~

Text and photo by Alain Joly

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Suggestion:
Voices from Silence (other poems from the blog)

 

 

The Divine Play

Jnaneshwar was a Marathi saint, poet and mystic born in 1275. He is the author of two major works of Marathi spiritual literature. The first was written when he was only sixteen, and is a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita called ‘Jnaneshwari’. The second is called ‘Amritanubhava’, ‘The Nectar of Wisdom’, and is indeed the fruit of his own understanding and realisation. Jnaneshwar lived an intensely spiritual life and was a precocious writer. He was able, through his first-hand experience of truth, to reject the formatted religious orthodoxy, and use the common language of vernacular Marathi for his expression. He is deeply loved and appreciated to this day in Marathi culture and can be compared to Adi Shankara. His life is mythical, travelling with his equally religious brothers and sisters, and punctuated by extraordinary events and meetings. In 1296, he voluntary ended his short life in what is called ‘sanjivan-samadhi’. He was only 21. The text presented here is made of various portions of his writings, the bigger part being excerpted from a poem called ‘The Union of Shiva And Shakti’. With beautiful poetic accents and images, we are invited to see again and again how the world is not just an illusion to be pushed away in favour of a pure abiding in consciousness, but is the dance of consciousness itself, the Divine Play:

 

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It cannot be spoken of or spoken to;
by no means may It be comprehended by the intellect.

It is that one pure Consciousness who becomes everything,
From the gods above to the earth below.

Objects may be regarded as high or low,
But the ocean of Consciousness, ever-pure,
Is all that ever is.

Though the shadows on the wall are ever changing,
The wall itself remains steady and unmoved. 
Likewise, the forms of the universe take shape from Consciousness,
The eternal, primordial One.

Sugar is only sugar,
Even though it may be made into many forms.
Likewise, the ocean of Consciousness is always the same,
Though it becomes all the forms of the universe.

Various articles of clothing are made from the same cotton cloth; 
Likewise, the varied forms of the universe are creatively fashioned
Of the one Consciousness,
Which remains forever pure.
Whatever form appears,
Appears because of Him.

There is nothing else here but the Self. 
It is the gold itself which shines
In the form of a necklace or a coin;
They are made of nothing but gold.

In the current of the river or in the waves of the sea,
There is nothing but water. 
Similarly, in the universe, there is nothing which exists
Or is brought into existence
Other than the Self.

Whether appearing as the seen,
Or perceiving as the seer,
Nothing else exists besides the Self.

Jnaneshwar’s writings on the Divine Play of Shiva-Shakti (READ MORE…)

 

Our Mother’s Lap

Let the little children come to me, 
and do not hinder them, 
for the kingdom of heaven 
belongs to such as these
.”
~ Mark 10:14

 

I’m sure we can all remember this. We were small children, we were playing in the courtyard near our house with our little friends. Maybe running after a ball. Then, pushed by a rough little boy, we fell and hurt our knee on the ground. It was painful. We got confused and a rush of pain and sadness overwhelmed us. We froze for a second, confused, and then what? Then we ran to the house to find our dearly mother. Our mother’s love is always here at hand, available, so we cried and complained for a while, but something magic happened. In our mother’s lap we were gradually consoled and reassured until our sadness and pain gently melted and disappeared in no time. Why was I hurt in the first place? It’s such a tiny little wound! So we rushed back to our playground, eager to continue our game and be with our little friends again. …

A divagation into the ways of the little child we once were (READ MORE…)

 

Fragrance

Prayer is our one link with the real 
– if by ‘prayer’ we mean simply an attention 
both extreme and careless of any result, 
an attention so pure that the one who practises it 
is not even aware of doing so
.”
~ Christian Bobin

 

The other day, I found the old, beautifully handmade prayer book of my grandmother, and skimmed through it. Prayer has always been to me something of a difficulty and I think the time has come to seriously address it. I’m intending to share prayers on this blog, making it the subject of a new category. 

There seems to be two habitual ways of praying. The main one is to beg, implore, request – positively or negatively, asking for something objective, however refined this object can be. The second way is devotional, contemplative, but often turns out to be a repetitive, compelled form of recitation. Both forms are unsatisfactory, ranging from being naive, belief-based, self-concerned, to just lacking efficacy. 

A good prayer is a totally non-objective one, at least in spirit if not in words. Rupert Spira says: “The turning of the mind away from the objective content of experience towards the source or essence from which it has arisen is the essence of meditation or prayer.” And Meister Eckhart says nothing different when stressing that the most powerful form of prayer is “the outcome of a quiet mind” or “a pure going out of what is our own.” And such a mind, in his own words is one that “is forever immersed in God’s most precious will, having left its own.” A prayer is an invitation to rest or abide in what is most essential in our being, and in that it can be equated with meditation, which is originally the Hindu or Buddhist form of prayer, or with the koan of zen. 

A prayer comes from the heart, and points to something that is beyond words and meaning. Its only function is to throw you back to yourself, to silence. It must be devoid of volition, which can only be objective and an expression of separation. In prayer, the result precedes the wish. Rupert Spira sums it up in a beautiful way: “Let what you become be an expression of the source.” Love is all, and love is prayer.

~

In the existence of your love, 
I become non-existent. 
This non-existence linked to you 
is better than anything 
I ever found in existence.

~ Rumi

~

 

Here is a beautiful prayer that I heard from Francis Bennett. It was originally composed by John Henry Newman, a 19th century poet and theologian, and is known as the ‘Fragrance Prayer’:

Dear Presence so divine 
Help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly,
That my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me 
That every soul I come in contact with 
May feel your presence in my soul 
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only You!

Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,
So to shine as to be a light to others;
The light, O Lord, will be all from You; none of it will be mine;
It will be you, shining on others through me.

Let me thus praise You the way You love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching, not by words but by my example,
By the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do,
The evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.

Amen.

 

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Introductory text and photo by Alain Joly

Prayer by John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
(Adapted by Francis Bennett)

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This article is the first that appears in a new category called ‘Fragrance of Love’. This is the place to share a prayer or meditation – this fragrance of ourselves – as the main feature.

Suggestion:
The Quiet Mind
– Watch Francis Bennett’s video on YouTube: Integrating Humanity with Divinity, a Science and Nonduality Conference…

Bibliography:
– ‘Conversations with Meister Eckhart’ – by Meister Eckhart & Simon Parke – (White Crow Books Ltd)
– ‘The Very Lowly: A Meditation on Francis of Assisi’ – by Christian Bobin – (New Seeds)

Websites:
John Henry Newman (Wikipedia)
Francis Bennett (finding grace at the center)
Rupert Spira
Meister Eckhart (Wikipedia)
Rumi (Wikipedia)
Christian Bobin (Wikipedia)

 

Unsubstantiality

I remember one day being at the breakfast table, my eyes peeking randomly through the window. They landed on the courtyard down below where a thin layer of snow were covering the lawns. I was attracted by the curious behaviour of a couple of magpies. One was so to speak climbing up a tree, branch after branch, until it reached a spot where the building of a nest was being started. It wasn’t just flying there, in one big leap, and I wondered why. The other magpie was leisurely sitting on a bicycle shed looking at its friend, attentive, but somewhat unconcerned. I watched this little dance for a while, but realised that there was more to see. 

On the lawn, there was a big ball of snow, may be an unfinished snowman or something of the kind. It had been pushed there by the arms of a few playful children, and became this big, somewhat dirty giant ball sitting strangely in the courtyard. It was massive, solid, and yet had an odd, ethereal presence that drew me to it. It appeared as if it was not really there, somewhat absent in spite of its size and solidity. My mind wandered for a while, finding the snowball to be a perfect analogy for the ‘me’, this ‘thing’ that we assume to be the person, the doer. There is ‘somebody’ there, inside the skull so to say, that is directing the show, and for whom all actions are being undertaken. …

A reverie that speaks of our unsubstantial nature (READ MORE)

 

Welding

“The arrow that is shot should penetrate so deeply
that even the feathers do not show.
Hug the body of the Lord so tightly
that the bones must be crushed to crumble.
Weld to the divine until the very welding disappears.”
~ Akka Mahadevi

 

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Quote by Akka Mahadevi (1130 – 1160)

Photo by Alain Joly

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Bibliography:
– ‘Sky-clad: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Akka Mahadevi’ – by Mukunda Rao – (Westland)

Website:
Akka Mahadevi (Wikipedia)