Speaking of Shiva

When I didn’t know myself, 
where were you? 
Like the colour in the gold,
you were in me.
I saw in you, 
lord white as jasmine,  
the paradox of your being
in me
without showing a limb
.”
~ Akka Mahadevi

 

If you have been to India, you are likely to have met a beggar who came to you imploring, asking you to relieve him from his suffering, but also being a little rough, with something in his voice sounding like a reproach. You probably froze for a second, feeling guilty, not knowing what to do. You felt caught between giving or not giving, between an easy way out or a shameful flight. None of them satisfactory. Torn by this conflict, you may have missed the giving, salvific part of it all. You may have missed that in the profuse tradition of India, one of Shiva’s many forms is the ‘Supreme Beggar’. You may have missed that, in Krishnamurti’s words, “Conflict is the measure of the ‘I’.” Shiva came along to give you a chance, a beautiful opportunity to see that there is in you a way out of yourself, of your little ‘I’, in which you could both give and receive. I’d like to call this freezing, this second of conflict and confusion, the ‘knot of Shiva’. I had this knot undone once, long ago, and was allowed to sneak a peek at Shiva’s face. Evidently, he had some secrets to tell. Let’s walk the road from the egoistic, immature thoughts and images of Shiva, to the more understanding, universal realisation of his true identity. Let’s unravel Shiva’s mysteries…

An essay to explore the many aspects of India’s most famous god (READ MORE)

 

Notice…

“Notice…

Thoughts are nothing more 

than pure imagination.”

~ Byron Katie

 

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Photo by Nicki Gwynn-Jones

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Websites:
Byron Katie (Wikipedia)
The Work of Byron Katie

– An article on Byron Katie’s life and work by The Guardian

~

6E052D74-E6E9-433B-A389-30CB554DE9B1Nicki Gwynn-Jones is a British photographer currently living in Orkney, a group of islands north of Scotland. She has a passion photographing birds, and the coastal life around, full of a wilderness shaped by wind and water. In 2012 she was awarded a Fellowship in Visual Art by the Royal Photographic Society. 
Nicki’s Websitenicki gwynn-jones

 

 

The Quality of Now

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:

Try to find, to feel in yourself the experience of a past or future. See that it’s not possible, that the past or the future is always an idea or a concept… Really ponder the implications of that, the past is not there, the future is not there, it’s never there… Try very hard, feel it, see how this feeling-understanding that there is no past or future affects the quality of the now, see how it impacts the way you move, the quality of your relationship, your daily activities… For each of these three examples, you can do it either with the past or with the future… Experience the new vulnerability in yourself…

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Further exploring on the subject:

As long as there is an observer there must be living in the past, obviously. And all our life is based on the past, memories, knowledge, images, according to which you react, which is your conditioning, is the past. And living has become the living of the past in the present, modified in the future. That’s all, as long as the observer is living. Now does the mind see this as a truth, as a reality, that all my life is living in the past?
~ J. Krishnamurti

~

Past and future are dependent on the present. The past was present in its time and the future will be present too. Ever-present is the present. To seek to know the future and the past, without knowing the truth of time today, is to try to count without the number ‘One’.
~ Ramana Maharshi

~

Now if there is no future, because the future is now and the past is now, then what is action? We said action as we know it now is based on the past – memories, regrets, guilt, experience, which is all knowledge, or the future, the ideal, the concepts – right? Theories, faiths, you act according to that. So you are acting according to the past or to the future. But the past and the future are now – right? So what is action? You understand my question? Please do – don’t give up. You have to exercise your brain, your intellect, your energy to find out, your passion to find out.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

~

The ego struggling to survive either clings onto its accumulated memories, or projects desires into the future, thus using up a considerable amount of energy. Accumulation, choosing, elaborating, all take place on a horizontal plane, in time and duration. The energy constantly turns back upon itself, creating a vicious circle. Being uninvolved with this movement, this dispersal, this sterile swinging between past and future, puts to rest the energies that sustain these habit-patterns, and we finally awake to liberating awareness. Then the energies converge vertically in the eternal now.”
~ Jean Klein

 

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Picture by Alain Joly

Bibliography:
– ‘Presence’, Vol. I & II – by Rupert Spira (Non-Duality Press)
– ‘The First and Last Freedom’ – by J. Krishnamurti – (Rider Publishing)
– ‘Be As You Are’ – by Ramana Maharshi (Edited by David Godman) – (Penguin Books)
– ‘Who Am I‘ – by Jean Klein – (Non-Duality Press)

Websites:
Rupert Spira
J. Krishnamurti
Ramana Maharshi (Wikipedia)
Jean Klein (Wikipedia)

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

 

 

Rendezvous with Ramana, Part II

Paula Marvelly is my second invited guest here. She is the creator and Editor of the exquisite blog ‘The Culturium’, where she explores the interface between mystical spirituality and the cultural arts. I am happy she accepted to let me use her story extracted from her book ‘The Teachers of One’. This is the Part Two of her three part ‘Rendezvous with Ramana’: “Paula Marvelly is now safely installed in the Ramanasramam and imbibing the sacred atmosphere of the home of India’s greatest sage.”

~

The mind is only a bundle of thoughts.
The thoughts have their root in the I-thought.
Whoever investigates the True ‘I’ enjoys the stillness of bliss
.”
~ Ramana Maharshi

~

In search of bliss

I WAKE UP and leap out of bed, panting and thrashing about like a mad woman. It takes a few moments to realize where I am. It was all just a dream, I tell myself. But it was so very real whilst it was all happening. And now, another dream surrounds me. When will I wake up from this one, I wonder?

The following day, I join other devotees in the Main Hall for the morning milk offering to Sri Bhagavan at his Samadhi Shrine. Opened by Indira Gandhi, it is a large, slightly austere auditorium, with a marble floor and cream and green painted walls. At the end is Bhagavan’s shrine — a life-sized statue of Sri Ramana sitting in the lotus position, carved in a black onyx-textured material, is centred on a raised stage, surrounded by a balustrade. Incense billows into the air from burners and multifarious-coloured flowers are scattered all over the shrine. There are also portraits of Bhagavan drenched in garlands and various gods and goddesses standing like sentinels, protecting their Lord, whose body is entombed under the altar. Rather than being cremated as is the usual tradition in India, Ramana’s body has been preserved so that people may still benefit from his presence. …

Embark on Paula Marvelly’s second Part journey to Arunachala (READ MORE…)

 

Etty

We have to rid ourselves of all preconceptions,
of all slogans,
of all sense of security,
find the courage to let go of everything,
every standard,
every conventional bulwark
.”
~ Etty Hillesum

 

Etty Hillesum was born on 15th January 1914 in Holland. When she was 27, she started writing a journal where she described her life with the little community around her and with Julius Spier, a former student of Jung who became her mentor. At this time, the Jews in Holland were being persecuted in the most terrible manner. At her own request, Etty began to work at Westerbork, a transit camp where the Jews were being gathered before being sent to extermination. She wrote: “I know the persecution and oppression and despotism and the impotent fury and the terrible sadism. I know it all … And yet – at unguarded moments, when left to myself, I suddenly lie against the naked breast of life, and her arms round me are so gentle and so protective.” She left the camp for Auschwitz on September 10th, where she died on 30th November 1943.

Patrick Woodhouse, author of ‘Etty Hillesum: A Life Transformed’, writes eloquently: “Her courageous story leads into profound understandings about the nature of God and how suffering and sorrow can be redemptive, not destructive. These emerged out of the struggles of her inner life, and the insights she arrived at were not easily gained. What we witness in the diary, and through her letters to her friends, is a battle to go on living with hope and integrity even as the world around her collapses. Her greatest weapons in this are her love of people, her deep sense of God within, and her passion for truth.”

Her fervour and dedication for Truth was indeed remarkable and deeply touching, as we read repeatedly, page after page, gems such as these:

My life has, so to speak, been extended by death, by my looking death in the eye and accepting it, by accepting destruction as part of life and no longer wasting my energies on fear of death or the refusal to acknowledge its inevitability. It sounds paradoxical: by excluding death from our life we cannot live a full life, and by admitting death into our life we enlarge and enrich it.”
~ Etty Hillesum

~

I am having an ever stronger experience these last days: in my least daily actions and sensations a hint of eternity creeps in. I am not the only one who is tired, sick, sad, or anguished. I am united with millions of others across the centuries. All that is what life is made of. Life is beautiful and full of meaning in its absurdity if you know how to take it as a whole. So life in some sense or other forms a perfect whole. As soon as we refuse or wish to eliminate certain elements, as soon as we follow our own pleasure or caprice by accepting one aspect of life and rejecting another, then life becomes in effect, absurd. Once the sense of the wholeness of it is lost, it becomes arbitrary.”
~ Etty Hillesum

~

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Etty Hillesum – Wikimedia Commons

The great obstacle is always the representation and never the reality. One deals with reality with all the suffering and difficulties that go with it – one deals with it, loading it as we do, onto our shoulders and it is by living with this load that we increase our endurance of it. However, we have to put an end to the representation of suffering. This representation is not suffering itself which is rich and can increase the meaning of our lives. By putting an end to these representations which imprison life behind bars, we liberate reality with all its force within ourselves, and we then become able to tolerate true suffering, in one’s own as well as in the life of humankind.”
~ Etty Hillesum

 

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Quotes by Etty Hillesum

Main photo by Alain Joly

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Bibliography:
– “Etty Hillesum: An Interupted Life & Letters from Westerbork” – by Etty Hillesum – (Henry Holt & Company Inc)
– “Etty Hillesum: A Life Transformed” – by Patrick Woodhouse – (Bloomsbury Continuum)
– “Etty Hillesum and the Flow of Presence” – by Meins G. S. Coetsier – (University of Missouri Press)

En Français:
– “Sagesses concordantes” avec Vimala Thakar, Etty Hillesum, Prajnânpad et Krishnamurti – de Alain Delaye – (Éditions Accarias L’Originel)

Website:
Etty Hillesum (Wikipedia)

 

No Others…

Q: How should we treat others?

A: There are no others.

~ Ramana Maharshi

 

– Photo by Alain Joly

Bibliography:
– ‘The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi’ – (Sophia Perennis et Universalis)
– ‘Be As You Are’ – by Ramana Maharshi (Edited by David Godman) – (Penguin Books)

Website:
Ramana Maharshi (Wikipedia)

 

Rendezvous with Ramana, Part I

Paula Marvelly is my second invited guest here. She is the creator and Editor of the exquisite blog ‘The Culturium’, where she explores the interface between mystical spirituality and the cultural arts. I am happy she accepted to let me use her story extracted from her book ‘The Teachers of One’. This is the Part One of her three part ‘Rendezvous with Ramana’: “After interviewing Advaita teacher, Ramesh Balseker, in Mumbai, she is now ready to embark upon the last leg of her journey to the Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, in a quest to finally discover the answer to the most fundamental question of all, ‘Who am I?’”

~

‘I exist’ is the only permanent self-evident experience of everyone. Nothing else is so self-evident as ‘I am’. What people call self-evident, that is, the experience they get through the senses, is far from self-evident. The Self alone is that. So to do Self-enquiry and be that ‘I am’ is the only thing to do. ‘I am’ is reality. I am this or that is unreal. ‘I am’ is truth, another name for Self.”
~ Ramana Maharshi

~

A quest for the Self

I HAVEN’T SLEPT A WINK. My body is weeping sweat and the pain in my gut has had me writhing on the bed all night, culminating in an acute upset stomach. I feel terrible. Once more, day breaks. The sounds of India seep into my consciousness as I lie in my alien room—strange noises fill the air but not so much the coughing of heating pipes, rather booming Indian television and the strains of toilet flushes.

The taxi arrives first thing in the morning to take me to Mumbai’s Santa Cruz domestic airport. I have booked a ticket with Jet Airways, India’s first commerical airline, to take me to Chennai. I am told the journey to the airport should take about an hour by cab but the driver thinks he is Stirling Moss; the road ahead subsequently turns into a racetrack—buses, rickshaws and fellow members of the human race all serving as chicanes, which he swerves around with terrifying speed. …

Follow Paula Marvelly’s journey to Arunachala (READ MORE…)