The Substance of God

‘Neubrandenburg’ – Caspar David Friedrich, 1816 – WikiArt

How can we account for the beauty of the world? Because in spite of everything that is happening within and without, and afflicts us, leaves us distressed, the world bears at its core an intrinsic perfection. It’s not difficult to see. You only have to stand back, to release the grip, be less involved. To look afresh at the blue sky above your head. To see that a blue sky is an extraordinary thing. As is a tree, and the song of the wind in its foliage. As is a cloud, and the sudden tapping of the millions of drops that come to wet the land. As is any human endeavour, and the skill it takes to play a symphony from Beethoven. As is a chair, a blanket, a paper bin, anything that exists. Existence is a baffling thing. It is the core of the matter — that anything exists — and to understand it is to crack the nature of reality. What is the secret hidden behind any appearance? How can a form acquire beauty, a movement express harmony, a shape provoke love? And more interesting even, how is beauty made ugliness, harmony turned into disorder, love transformed into enmity, perfection changed into chaos? What are the workings behind it all?

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A meditation on the beauty and substance of the world… (READ MORE…)

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The Program

Image by Pete Linforth in Pixabay

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There is a program that shows up in our being
. This program was created since the dawn of time. It has been affected by countless lines of conditioning. It is moving, dancing like a sea, moulded by habits or necessities, defined by laws, created by the limitations of having a body. It has its own incentives, formed out of previous incentives. It develops in an infinite number of ways. The program is always surprising. It never stands still. It is entrancing, captivating. It occupies us all, and it does it totally. There is no escape from the program. At least, there doesn’t seem to be. Until one day. Until one day…

That day is the day where light shows up at last. And that light comes as a revelation. It is here to clarify the situation. To give us the truth of the matter. There is in fact a way out of the program. We can be free of it. It doesn’t have to mesmerise us, make us fearful. The program was never really a program. It never was limiting. It was play. And the stage for it was not the universe. The stage for the play was dimensionless. It never came into existence. It didn’t have to. For it is unborn, uncreated, unsubstantial. It is not itself a program. Thank god that it isn’t. It would have had tragic implications. Now listen carefully…

All of life is contained in this infinitesimal point of being that is responsible for your saying ‘I’. This is the stage of life. Beware though of mistaking the stage for the program. That sublime ‘I’ is not the ‘I’ that carries the formulation of the program. It is not the ‘I’ that borrows its existence to the existence of the program. Not that shaky ‘I’. No. That sacred ‘I’ of being is the only thing that is seemingly in the program but is in fact not. That all encompassing ‘I’ is before everything that you can name. It is the nameless that harbours all names. It is the no-thing that contains all things. It is independent of all the things that only depend on it. It is alone within itself. And that aloneness is you, ‘I’, all that you are now. All that you have ever been. Will ever be. Can ever be…

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Text by Alain Joly

Image by Pete Linforth

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Website:
TheDigitalArtist (Pixabay)

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Other ‘Ways of Being‘ from the blog…

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The Names of God

‘Signs of Christ’ – Nicholas Roerich, 1924 – WikiArt

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The knowing of ‘I am’
is the apparition of God’s being
in our human experience.
It is the being of all beings,
the self of all selves
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~ Rupert Spira

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יהוה               الله               ईश्वर

ब्रह्म               رحمن

אֱלֹהִים

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There is something that is very hard to understand about God. A survey of the names that have been given to god makes it unequivocally clear, but we keep missing the target: ‘Being’, ‘Mighty Being’, ‘I Am’, and so many others, refer to the fundamental equation of god with ‘being’, with our very everyday experience of plain, simple, pure being. And yet, we keep projecting the presence of god in an hypothetical outside, another ‘being’ that our very ‘being’. So it seems that a study of the different names of god will help focusing on the fundamental nature of god’s being, this mighty Being whose being rests unseen, unnoticed in our own being.

Etymologically, the word ‘god’ (Proto-Germanic ‘gudan’) finds its root meaning in the ancient ritual of sacrifice, as in ‘libation’, or ‘to pour’, or in the Sanskrit ‘hutá’, meaning ‘having been sacrificed’. So god is ‘the one to whom sacrifices are made’, which extends to the sense of calling, invoking. To whom or what do I give the primary attention in myself? Do I indulge in, or fall to any objective appearance as thoughts, sensations, perceptions? Or do I sacrifice these appearances and find rest in the stillness of the one that is aware of these, which is pure being? To whom does my pouring, my libation go?

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See how the many names of god relate to the sense of ‘being’… (READ MORE…)

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The Ways of Being

Have you ever tried to live just above yourself? Now look. There is a whole set of activities going on down below, but you don’t need to get involved. It’s all conditioned reactions anyway, so don’t get entangled with any of it. You know this ceaseless activity: The ‘thoughts’ and the ‘felts’. Perceptions mesmerising you with their belly dancing. They will precipitate you down. They will be your fall. As for the body, it can take care of itself for the biggest part. Attend to it only when it’s required. To go to the dentist or to the cinema. To give the mind a vehicle. Fair enough. These are the contingencies of life. Feed the body well though. And give it something to do to keep the joints going, or for pure enjoyment. Joy is not some kind of negligible. It’s a necessity of life.

So bodily activity doesn’t need your full involvement. Stay aloof. Enjoy the show. As for the rest, you can be with being. You know this place that’s immobile, that never changes. Trust it. It will keep you safe. Stay there, just above yourself as it were. And don’t think that you are being haughty or bourgeois in this. Being is not that sort of being. It is not really above. It mingles with the lowly too. Actually it is everywhere. It cannot be taken apart. It’s the very fabric of experience. Only give it a little attention, and it will take you with itself. It will invite you at its home. Beautiful. Spacious. Silent. Well situated. You wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. You can bring there all your messiness. She doesn’t mind. Even these noisy and shameful friends of yours. But give them a warning though. They might not be served their usual cheap wine. Being has its ways. Her friendliness is contagious. Your friends might fall in love. They might shrink eventually and disappear. And make ‘being’ their home… move there for ever… even marry her… and be happy hereafter. You know the whole story that goes with it…

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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Other ‘Ways of Being‘ from the blog…

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Longing

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Longing
Is happiness already formed
Crying for your noticing.
It is the soft yet
Heartbreaking expression
Of our forgotten completion.
To suffer was never bad;
Not a thing to run away from
Or curse, or cover, or repair.
It is presence itself ignored —
The wound that it provokes;
It is the plaint of your beloved —
Who wants to turn her down?
Pain is the ecstasy of love
Pushing hard through you,
Elbowing its way on you:
It wants to be revealed;
It aims at being recognised;
It doesn’t thrive in the dark;
Cannot quite find you
In the slumber of your indifference.
Believe me
Suffering has no other attributes
Than the radiance of your being;
No other name or identity
Than a plain and infinite joy —
That thing indescribable
Knocking at your door.

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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

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Prayer to the Higher Self

‘Bodhisattva Padmapani, cave 1, Ajanta, India’ – Unknown author, 450-490 CE – Wikimedia

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This prayer is a beautiful expression of longing from a student to the Master, which the title reveals to be the Higher Self. It is excerpted from a long Sanskrit poem attributed to Adi Shankara in the 8th century, whose original title is the ‘Vivekachudamani’, which translates as the ‘Crest-jewel of discrimination’. The text was used as a teaching manual of Advaita for centuries. I found this prayer to be a very moving and humble call for self-knowledge. It is found in verses 35 to 40, and opens to 540 more verses of elaborate teaching of non-duality…

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“I submit myself to thee, Master,
friend of the bowed-down world
and river of selfless kindness.
Raise me by thy guiding light
that pours forth the nectar of truth and mercy,
for I am sunk in the ocean of the world.
I am burnt by the hot flame of relentless life
and torn by the winds of misery:
save me from death,
for I take refuge in thee,
finding no other rest.

Sprinkle me with thy nectar voice
that brings the joy of eternal bliss,
pure and cooling,
falling on me as from a cup,
like the joy of inspiration;
for I am burnt by the hot, scorching flames
of the world’s fire.
Happy are they on whom thy light rests,
even for a moment,
and who reach harmony with thee.

How shall I cross the ocean of the world?
Where is the path? What way must I follow?
I know not, Master.
Save me from the wound of the world’s pain.”

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Prayer by Adi Shankara (788-820)

Translated by Charles Johnston (1867-1931)

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Something must be said of the painting above. It is one of many paintings found in a series of Buddhist caves near Ajanta, in Central India, excavated between the 2nd century BC and the end of the 5th AD. The caves served as a retreat for monks until the 7th century, before being abandoned and forgotten. They house sculptures and paintings on their walls that narrate the many lives of the Buddha. Speaking of their subjects, the art specialist Ananda Coomaraswamy wrote: “We don’t know what to admire more: either their technique, which is already so perfect, or the intensity of emotion they contain, their lives seeming very close to our own; for they are as modern in design as they are in feeling. […] The grace of their movements, their serene self-control, the love with which their every gesture is imprinted, their profound sadness creates an unforgettable impression.”

Here is another prayer composed by Adi Shankara, ‘In the Morning I Remember’…

Here is a homage to Adi Shankara: ‘Shankara the Great’, on the blog…

Bibliography:
– ‘In the Light of the Self: Adi Shankara and the Yoga of Non-dualism’ – by Alistair Shearer – (White Crow Books)
– ‘Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker’ – by Pavan K. Varma – (Tranquebar)
– ‘The Crest-Jewel of Wisdom’ – by Shankaracharya (Trans. Charles Johnston) – (Pinnacle Press)
– ‘The Ajanta Caves’ – by Benoy Behl – (Thames & Hudson Ltd)

Websites:
Adi Shankara (Wikipedia)
Vivekachudamani (Wikipedia)
Charles Johnston (Wikipedia)
Ajanta Caves (Wikipedia)
Ananda Coomaraswamy (Wikipedia)

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How Difficult is That?

Isn’t this strange to have that constant race towards being when we are already fully being, and furthermore, doing it with absolute perfection? We keep projecting another better being than our present being, which we have judged not enough, un-sufficient, un-perfected. But we couldn’t be being any more or better than we are now already doing. What would I want to be but what I am? Why this be-coming? It is such a plain, inescapable evidence: I am this awaring presence. Presence, or being, is my natural abode. This is who I am.

Yet I’ve had all sort of ideas about it. And fanciful ones, believe me! That this presence was a me-person located inside a body. That it was an idea, a point of view that needed nurturing and developing as I — the me located inside this body — desired it. And if ‘I’ couldn’t do so, that would make this ‘me-majesty’ a sad, upset little ‘me’. And that sad little ‘me’ would go on living the life of a body located in space, projecting all the beings and things it senses as representing an ‘other’, a ‘world’ out there in which he roams about alone, gets scared, and craves, until he finally dies. That’s the end of ‘sad little me’. Body dies, he dies.

Hell no. That’s not the way it is. God forbid. There is no sad little me. That’s not there. It’s an idea, an image with no reality. I am not sad. I am not small. Not located. I am presence itself. I am this sweet, loving, sensitive, subtle knowing of everything that presents itself in this field. I am this field of knowing. This tenderness taking all in. I am the big, soft, loving eye of knowing. Knowing is my home. As for the rest, I am homeless. I don’t need to crave, grab, grip, grapple, grabble. None of that. God forbid. I am free. Unattached. Deep diving into the very substance of my self. Experience is my constituent and I am in love with every bit of it.

How difficult is that?

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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Other ‘Ways of Being‘ from the blog…

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