Bhakti, the Song of Love

Don’t forget love;
it will bring all the madness you need 
to unfurl yourself across the universe
.”
~ Meera Bai (1498-1546)

 

I intend here to continue exploring the three different pathways towards realising our true nature. I have some time ago given my attention to Jñāna, which in the Indian tradition is the name given to the means of attaining truth through the investigative qualities of the mind, which are mostly thinking and the power of discrimination. The two other paths towards realisation are the tantric path, which involves the senses, and the path of love, which involves feeling, and is the subject of this essay.

The path of knowledge requires a certain steadiness, orderliness, being thorough, constant. But even somebody set on this logical path of knowledge will be exposed to ineffable, timeless moments of pure love. Some people are best suited to a more loving, encompassing pathway, that would allow them to be just as they are, with all their confusion and overwhelming feelings. I can be the me that I am, as long as I am too this loving, embracing presence to which I can offer myself. In love there is no theory, no guidelines to follow. And it is not a surprise to find this expression of truth as one of the means to the realisation of our true self. This pathway of love has been called ‘Bhakti’ in the tradition of India. All the Indian faith, at least in its more popular expression, is of a devotional nature, and has elevated this simple love for god or truth to the rank of art. That seemed to me a good starting point to embark on this path of devotion, which the Śivānanda Laharī (verse 61) describes as: “The way needle seeks magnet, the way creeper seeks tree, the way river unites with ocean and the way the mind seeks the lotus feet of Śiva.”

An exploration into Bhakti, the path of love and devotion (READ MORE…)

 

Where God Speaks

God is my final end;
Does he from me evolve, 
Then he grows out of me, 
While I in Him dissolve
.”
~ Angelus Silesius (The Cherubinic Wanderer)

 

Angelus Silesius was a German mystic born Johannes Scheffler in 1624. Although a Lutheran, he converted to Catholicism and became a priest. After being a physician for a while, he became known for his mystical poetry. He published two poetical works, “The Soul’s Spiritual Delight“, a collection of more than two hundred religious songs, and “The Cherubinic Wanderer“, a collection of over sixteen hundred alexandrine couplets, from which the following selection is excerpted.

These short mystical poems – like spiritual haikus – are like bubbles sparkling with meaning and depth, infused with humour and sweet tenderness, bearing at their core the accents of a true non-dual understanding. I have attempted to give them a loose classification, each theme with a short introductory text, for better access and clarity. Chew them lightly, and they will never fail to deliver, behind their somewhat naive and archaic attire, the honey of their essence. Angelus Silesius died in 1677.

I hope you enjoy this selection from “The Cherubinic Wanderer” by the poet Angelus Silesius…

 

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God is a big word, and it is important to understand what reality is hidden behind such a word.
The poet warns: “To know Him, Knower must be one with Known.”
Enjoy a taste of the nature of God
:

 

Being is not measured
“Turn wheresoe’er I will, I find no evidence
of End, Beginning, Centre or Circumference.”
~ Godhead, 1.2.188

God is not grasped
“God is an utter Nothingness,
Beyond the touch of Time and Place:
The more thou graspest after Him,
The more he fleeth thy embrace.”
~ Godhead, 5.1.25

The knower must become the known
“Naught ever can be known in God: One and Alone
Is He. To know Him, Knower must be one with Known.”
~ Godhead, 8.1.285

God is without will
“We pray: Thy Will be done! and lo! He hath no Will:
God in His changelessness eternally is still.”
~ Godhead, 12.1.294

The Rest and work of God
“Rested God never hath, nor toiled—’tis manifest,
For all His rest is work and all His work is rest.”
~ Godhead, 13.4.166

Enjoy many more poems by Angelus Silesius (READ MORE…)

 

I Am Nobody

Nasreddin Hodja is what could be called a sublime idiot. He is a liar, irreverent, a disturber of peace. But he is also ingenious, free, full of wit, a timeless figure whose stories have spread and been adapted the world over. In the Sufi tradition, they were used for study purposes. “There is the joke, the moral — and the little extra which brings the consciousness of the potential mystic a little further on the way to realisation.” writes Idries Shah. These stories are like ‘eternity with a smile’…

~

One day, the dervish Nasreddin entered a formal reception area 
and seated himself at the foremost elegant chair. 

The Chief of the Guard approached and said: 

“Sir, those places are reserved for guests of honor.”

“Oh, I am more than a mere guest,” replied Nasreddin confidently.

“Oh, so are you a diplomat?”

“Far more than that!”

“Really? So you are a minister, perhaps?”

“No, bigger than that too.”

“Oho! So you must be the King himself, sir,” said the Chief sarcastically.

“Higher than that!”

“What?! Are you higher than the King?! 
Nobody is higher than the King in this village!”

“Now you have it. I am nobody!” said Nasreddin.

~

Nasreddin’s pointers:

Nasreddin is a genius. In just a few attitudes, and a few chosen words, he has just conveyed that nothing, and nobody is greater than god.

There is a presence inside each and every human being, a consciousness, pure, indivisible, that is one without a second, that is all encompassing and infinite, therefore doesn’t bear, or conceive, or even renders possible the existence of another reality by its side. 

Therefore by being nobody, Nasreddin can be all and claim the most prominent seat in the world. That’s why one should show regard for those of humble means. This is the second lesson from Nasreddin, the mollah. Nobody is left aside, nobody is unworthy of the highest, most sublime throne of life, pure presence. For this is each and every being’s birthright and resplendent reality, despite being an unnoticed one for most.

The dignitaries, nobles and ministers of the assembly who believed in appearances and ranks, could not be humbled by a nobody, and catch thereby the high lesson that was delivered in that moment, which is: even a person of no consequence can be Hodja. Hodja is one with the ultimate skill and power to be, who by his or her very knowing of his or her highest identity, can be the vehicle and teacher of a truth that is the greatest and purest one on earth.

This elevation is attainable by everyone through the abandonment of the ego. This is Nasreddin’s ultimate teaching. The ego here is the illusion of being a ‘somebody’. When we abandon our very small identity, our believed being, our own limitations, we can access the highest rank of all. By his genius, in just a few attitudes, and a few chosen words, the mollah has just conveyed the ultimate truth.

This, my friend, is the extent of Nasreddin’s power, the deed of the simple, idiot, absurd, naive, fool, comic, irreverent, sometime witty, sometime wise, Nasir ud-din Mahmood al-Khoyi, known simply as the Hodja, or the mollah.

 

~

Some people say that, whilst uttering what seemed madness, he was, in reality, 
divinely inspired, and that it was not madness but wisdom that he uttered.”
~ The Turkish Jester or The Pleasantries of Cogia Nasr Eddin Effendi

~

 

The Nasreddin story is taken from Sufism/Nasrudin, Wikibooks.

‘Nasreddin’s pointers’ is by Alain Joly

The photo is by Ben_Kerckx / Pixabay

Bibliography:
– ‘The Sufis’ – by Idries Shah – (ISF Publishing)
– ‘The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin’ – by Idries Shah – (ISF Publishing)
– ‘Nasreddin Hodja: 100 tales in verse’ – by Raj Arumugam – (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)

Website:
Nasreddin Hodja (Wikipedia)

 

The Flame of Sorrow

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 see in what way the function of most thoughts in our life is to deflect our attention away from the feeling of emptiness and sorrow and lack… Try to feel the very first impulse of the now being insufficient, not quite enough, and the very beginning of the indulging in an activity, or a thought pattern such as daydreaming… Try to notice the very start of it and do not move, stay where you are right now… See how the mind will be upset by your not moving…

~~~

Further exploring on the subject:

There are various ways of escape but there is only one way of meeting sorrow. The escapes with which we are all familiar are really the ways of avoiding the greatness of sorrow. You see, we use explanations to meet sorrow but these explanations do not answer the question. The only way to meet sorrow is to be without any resistance, to be without any movement away from sorrow, outwardly or inwardly, to remain totally with sorrow, without wanting to go beyond it. … When there is no movement of escape from sorrow then love is. Passion is the flame of sorrow and that flame can only be awakened when there is no escape, no resistance.”
~ J. Krishnamurti (Dialogue 1 – New Delhi, 12th December 1970 )

~

The apparently separate self is made out of the resistance to the Now. There is only one place the separate self cannot stand, and that is Now. In fact, the separate self is not an entity that resists the Now; it is simply the activity of resisting the Now. … See clearly how many of our thoughts contain this imaginary entity at their origin, and how this imaginary entity ventures into a past or future in order to avoid the Now.”
~ Rupert Spira (The Light of Pure Knowing, Meditation 8)

~

We miss the real by lack of attention,
and create the unreal by excess of imagination
.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

~

At certain moments, when alone, we feel a great lack deep within ourselves. This lack is the central one giving rise to all the others. The need to fill this lack, quench this thirst, urges us to think and act. Without even questioning it, we run away from this insufficiency. We try to fill it first with one object then with another, then, disappointed, we go from one compensation to another, from failure to failure, from one source of suffering to another, from one war to another.”
~ Jean Klein

~

No matter what state dawns at this moment, can there be just that? Not a movement away, an escape into something that will provide what this state does not provide, or doesn’t seem to provide: energy, zest, inspiration, joy, happiness, whatever. Just completely, unconditionally listening to what’s here now, is that possible?
~ Toni Packer

 

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The picture is  by Nick_H / Pixabay

Bibliography:
– ‘Presence’, Vol. I & II – by Rupert Spira (Non-Duality Press)
– ‘The First and Last Freedom’ – by J. Krishnamurti – (Rider Publishing)
– ‘Who Am I‘ – by Jean Klein – (Non-Duality Press)
– ‘The Silent Question: Meditating in the Stillness of Not-Knowing’ – by Toni Packer – (Shambhala)

Websites:
Rupert Spira
J. Krishnamurti
Jean Klein (Wikipedia)
Toni Packer

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

 

My Beloved

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 demands, which can only be objective and an expression of separation. In prayer, the result precedes the wish. Uma Gautam has written a lovely prayer that I’m happy to share here with you:

~

My Beloved ~ I pray to you 

Grant us an exhaustion so deep
every cell in the body bows and accepts defeat.

Take away from us
the arrogance of guilt and judgement we don’t even recognise.

Help us move
as  leaves move, free-floating in the breeze
all hidden controls thrown away like muslin in the wind.

Make us so alone
we find we are our own best friend, lover and beloved.

Help us look every belief in the eye and keep it down gently. 

Let every idea we have of ourselves be given a quiet burial. 

Make our every thought word action
harmless as a rose and
sharp shiny and clear as a sword

Suffuse us with a Love so vast 
no sea, no rock, no tree, nothing is safe
from this love anymore.”

 

~~~

Text and Painting by Uma Gautam

~~~

 

7F5817A8-A1AC-4C8B-9BF7-CC52B4759526Uma Gautam paints and writes from the heart, playing and experimenting. She has published a book of poems, ‘Inner Weather’. Uma currently lives in Bangalore, India.

Website:
– ART BY UMA Gautam (Facebook Page)

 

Suggestion:
Fragrance (on the role and nature of prayer)

 

A Silent Wind

Amma. A name, a face, a smile that I have seen represented so many times. Her reputation and aura precede her wherever she goes, and she happened to come close to where I lived. So I went, not knowing what to expect, apart from the Indian ceremonial, a good dose of devotion, and her embrace, this simple gesture for which she has become famous the world over.

Waiting for Amma’s appearance, the immense hall had the flavour not so much of intense devotion, but of an easiness, a casualness, bearing little indication on the spiritual nature of the assembly. I could only be in admiration and awe for this woman who, though coming from a poor background in South India, has by her bare presence and loving hugs reached out to the entire world. …

A day spent in Amma’s presence and embrace (READ MORE…)

 

Duet of One

We sat quietly and watched an osprey circle and swoop over the river. This is what I loved about being in India — the vibrancy, the unexpected, the chance encounters, the conversations that quickly moved from small talk into the question of life and death.”
~ (Excerpted from ‘The Shadow that Seeks the Sun’ – by Ray Brooks)

 

This quote is the essence of Ray Brook’s book ‘The Shadow that Seeks the Sun’. Ray wrote the book that I would have loved to write, mixing the many small happenings, encounters, and dramas of Indian life, to the delving into the self, the contemplation of a new possibility of being. Intertwined with the description of everyday life in Rishikesh are nine conversations between Ray and Rudra, a newly met Anglo-Indian man. These chapters form the backbone of the book, where we delve deeper and deeper into the recognition of our inescapable reality, Rudra leading us into the patient recognition of our true being, relentlessly pointing: “See that what you are is not dependent on anything. See that this indescribable presence is shining as its own light.”

Ray Brook is my newly invited guest on ‘The Dawn Within’. Born and raised in England, Ray discovered at an early age the Japanese art of shakuhachi flute playing and became an accomplished musician. Ray and his wife Dianne, co-writer of the book, now live on Vancouver Island in Canada, and continue to spend most of their winters in the foothills of the Indian Himalaya.

I have chosen here the excerpt where Ray recalls his one to one meeting with Krishnamurti in Ojai, California. I was touched by the simple, humble, yet probing nature of the inquiry that is described. I hope you will enjoy…

 

~

So, Ray, here we are again. You can only find awareness. Tell me. What are you?”

A large brown and turquoise kingfisher landed on a rock in the water. Its huge beak looked too big for its body, its feathers impossibly vibrant in the morning sun. We watched the bird silently, waiting for it to dive. 

“What I am — is all of this.”

~

 

The Ojai Valley runs along an east-west mountain range, twenty miles inland from the Pacific coastline. The area where Krishnamurti was staying was located at the east-end of the valley surrounded by lush green mountains, oak and pine forests, and acres of orange and avocado groves. The locals call Ojai ‘Shangri-la’, and I could see why. It was the most beautiful place I had ever been. 

I arrived early — two hours early — and entered a large, well-kept garden behind an old nineteenth-century redwood house. The lovely property, named Arya Vihara or Noble Abode, was Krishnamurti’s former home and where our meeting would take place. He had lived in this house for a number of years but now, during his visits to Ojai, stayed in Pine Cottage, which was behind Arya Vihara. An inviting bench at the far end of the garden was perfectly placed in the shade. It had a good view of the property and the sun-dappled lawns surrounding it. As I sat down, I wondered whether Krishnamurti and other eminent scientists, philosophers, psychologists, and scholars had sat here. I read somewhere that Aldous Huxley had been to Arya Vihara. Huxley, who had been a good friend of Krishnamurti’s, claimed that listening to him speak was “like listening to a discourse of the Buddha — such authority, such intrinsic power.” …

Continue with Ray Brook’s one to one meeting with Krishnamurti (READ MORE…)

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Photo by Ray Brooks

Bibliography:
– ‘The Shadow that Seeks the Sun: Finding Joy, Love and Answers on the Sacred River Ganges’ – by Ray Brooks – (Watkins Publishing)
– ‘Blowing Zen: Finding an Authentic Life’ – by Ray Brooks – (Sentient Publications)

Websites:
The Shadow that Seeks the Sun
Ray Brooks’ Facebook Page