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

 

Rendez-vous with Ramana, Part III

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 Three of her three part ‘Rendezvous with Ramana’: “Paula Marvelly ascends Mount Arunachala to sit in Virupaksha Cave and experience the oneness of the Self.”

~

Those who have sunk deeply into the ocean of silence and drowned
will live on the summit of the supreme mountain,
the expanse of Consciousness
.”
~ Ramana Maharshi

~

Dispelling illusion

THE LIFE OF Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi was immaculate humility and benevolence. He showed compassion to all beings — animals, thieves, people from all castes, religions and creeds. He refrained from getting involved in worldly activities; he never handled any of the ashram money nor did he answer letters addressed to him, though he would always welcome anyone into his presence.

Ramana also wrote down very little of his teaching. The only verses which arose spontaneously were ‘Eleven Stanzas to Sri Arunachala’ and ‘Eight Stanzas to Sri Arunachala’; the rest of his poetry being produced specifically at the request of a disciple to elucidate a particular point — put altogether as a collection, it only forms a slim volume. And his most well known work, ‘Forty Verses on Reality’ or Ulladu Narpadu, together with its forty supplementary verses, constitutes just over ten pages of written text. “All this is only activity of the mind,” he remarked to a visiting poet. “The more you exercise the mind and the more success you have in composing verses, the less peace you have.” Nevertheless, he did meticulously edit the books published during his lifetime to ensure accuracy of meaning, leaving no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation.

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

 

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…)

 

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…)

 

 

On Labyrinths, Grace and the Via Creativa

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Labyrinth of Chartres Cathedral

Miriam Louisa Simons is a retired artist and educator, and the creator of several excellent blogs on the non-dual journey. I’m happy that she is the first friend invited to contribute here. Out of a lifelong dedication to art and spiritual inquiry, she invites us to delve into the image of the Labyrinth, uncover its connections with our life, with grace, until ‘we arrive naked at the freedom that was always there’…

 

 

 

Do you think I know what I’m doing?
That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?
As much as a pen knows what it’s writing,
or the ball can guess where it’s going next.

~ Rumi

 

The Labyrinth is a familiar symbol. Its enigmatic presence has left footprints that fade back into the beginning of the human story. Its origins and its purpose have been rich fodder for research and speculation.

I don’t pretend to know the truth of its tale, but see the archetypal labyrinth as apt visual shorthand for the map of a life, and that’s how its symbolism is used in this little essay.

The many lanes of the Labyrinth are in fact only one long path that winds and twists and turns back on itself as it explores all the territory of a life before arriving at its Heart.

By ‘Heart’ I mean the natural essence of the ‘walker’ of the Labyrinth – beyond both conception and perception – the unknowable and ineffable awareness we nevertheless recognize as our changeless Being.

An essay from Miriam Louisa Simons (READ MORE…)