Songs of Awakening

Nancy Neithercut is my newly invited guest on ‘The Dawn Within’. After many years of trying to figure out the pain of existence, Nancy has experienced a shift in her life where all sense of separation faded away and, in her own words, “the whirling center of the dream had exploded and imploded into a vast unknowable unknown.” She now writes and speaks about this ungraspable no-thing in countless poems which are direct effusions of her inner life and understanding. They have been gathered in her website, “Nancy’s posts and poems”, and in her numerous books.

I chose and gathered here a few excerpts of her poetry that came my way. My mind drifted through Nancy’s beautiful writings and picked up just what it did, sometimes arrested by the deep meaning conveyed, sometimes by a harmonious dance of words, or a striking force, or a freshness, or just a no thing elusively expressed. At the end of her last book, she wrote: “This is the end of my seventh book of songs of awakening and I have never captured even one bite of this deliciousness… Yet songs flow through me and even as these words appear my story writes itself.” We are grateful for her many attempts. I hope you enjoy reading these songs of awakening…

 

Without a listener there is no song, and there is no singer.”

 

~~~

 

the rush of stillness
sings through it all
it cannot be trampled
or held
it cannot be concocted
by chanting spells
or reading books
or sitting for a thousand years
you cannot wait for it
or gain it
or throw it away
knowing this
is the dawn of love

 

~

 

I would say that the stillness that seekers long for is the end of belief in the dream. Yet this is also feared, because when the dream of this and that is seen to be made up, then it means also that they are made up! It would mean that everyone they have ever loved or known in their entire lives are also made up! 

It would mean that there has never been a past and there will never be a future.  A future where somehow stillness could be attained or lost.  

It would mean the end of all seeking, as the seeker has disappeared.  The end of all ideas of other better more or next.  It’s like the Zen guy sitting there in the cartoon and one guy says to another so this is it huh? And the other guy says Yep.

[…]

Continue reading Nancy Neithercut’s Songs of Awakening… (READ MORE…)

 

The Inconceivable Actuality Here-Now

Photo by Corinne Galois – Galerie photographique

Joan Tollifson is my newly invited guest on ‘The Dawn Within’. Joan writes and talks about being awake to the aliveness and inconceivability of Here-Now — being just this moment, exactly as it is. She has explored Buddhism, Advaita and radical nonduality. Joan’s main teacher was Toni Packer, a former Zen teacher who left that tradition behind to work in a simpler and more open way. Joan does not identify with or represent any particular tradition. You will find ample information on her website: Joan Tollifson, the simplicity of what is. She currently resides in southern Oregon. 

I like Joan’s down to earth, bare-bones approach to reality, which is refreshing and does not need complex practices. I like too her frank and direct relationship to the ’what is’ of life, including the most human, most confused expressions of ourselves. I have chosen to share here one of her texts called ‘The Inconceivable Actuality Here-Now’. It is an extensive, and rather complete description of the descent into the ‘here and now’ of present experience, beyond all maps and conceptualisations. There is immediate and incredible potency in just being present to what is taking place right now — what is taking its place within the awareness that we are. “The rain pattering on the roof—is it inside me or outside me? Is it separate from me? Is there a boundary between these sounds and the listening presence that is hearing them? What happens when full and open attention is given to something?” Joan keeps inviting you to see and understand for yourself the nature of reality. I hope you enjoy…

~

Nature is not imaginary: it is actual; 
and what is happening to you now is actual. 
From the actual you must begin—
with what is happening now—
and the now is timeless
.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

~~~

 

The Inconceivable Actuality Here-Now

I had a high school film teacher back in the 1960s who, in the first class, had us look at our thumbs. After about 10 minutes, he asked how many of us were bored. He told us that if we were really seeing, we wouldn’t get bored. He gave us homework assignments that involved sitting in front of trees and looking at small sections of bark for an hour, or watching grass blow in the wind. One night I was lying on the floor in our dining room in the dark, watching shadows move on the wall. My mother came in, a bit upset, and asked me if I had finished my homework. I told her I was doing it. And I was! What a blessing to have a teacher like this in school.

As I told someone recently in a FB comment, the ‘ordinary’ is actually extraordinary, and what we think is ‘the same old thing’ is never actually the same from one instant to the next. The more closely we attend to anything that shows up (whether it is a visual appearance, a sound, a somatic sensation, a taste, a smell, a tactile sensation), the more it unfolds into ever more subtle dimensions with no end to that unfolding.

By simply looking and listening openly, we can notice and enjoy the fluidity and playful nature of reality — the clouds moving through a puddle of rainwater on the sidewalk, the gorgeous hills and valleys in a crumpled Kleenex, the way light dances on the wall, a tingling in our feet. We can notice it is all one seamless, infinitely varied but undivided happening, and that all our words for it and explanations of it can never capture or nail it down. We also begin to notice the common factor in every different experience: the presence of it, the immediacy of it, how everything is the immovable, infinite and eternal, ever-present Here-Now that never departs from itself. […]

Continue Reading Joan Tollifson’s text on Here-Now… (READ MORE…)

 

A Secret Love Affair with Life

‘Interior’ – Konstantin Korovin, 1913 – WikiArt

Jeff Foster is my newly invited guest on ‘The Dawn Within’. After studying Astrophysics at Cambridge University, and belonging to no tradition or lineage, Jeff embarked on an intensive spiritual quest for the ultimate truth of existence. After the recognition of his true nature dawned on him, Jeff began sharing his understanding and became an author and a teacher. He now holds meetings and retreats around the world, and has published several  books in over 15 languages. You will find ample informations about Jeff in his website ‘Life Without a Centre.

I like Jeff Foster’s simple and compassionate approach to truth, and the quality, the poetry of his writing. I have chosen to share here one of his texts called ‘A Secret Love Affair with Life’. I liked this story full of wit and humour, where one is invited to see how life, in its most simple, humble expressions, holds at its core qualities such as eternity, humility, intimacy, spontaneity, gratitude, play, celebration. I have added the following piece by Jeff on gratitude, which seemed to be the perfect introduction to his text. I hope you enjoy…

~

This moment is sacred, 
because it’s all there is.

Memories of moments gone 
and the dream of moments to come 
both arise in this moment, 
held in an unconditional embrace
beyond mind.

Never forget 
that this moment 
is the source, the wellspring, 
the place where life happens,
the origin and the destination
of your pounding heart.

Breathe into the sacredness,
celebrate the aliveness of things,
and go about your day.

It is never too late
for gratitude
.”

~ Jeff Foster

~~~

A Secret Love Affair With Life

Part I – Doing The Dishes

I’m at home. The washing up is being done. All that exists in the universe is the chinking of plates, the glistening of bubbles, and the whoooossshhh of water as it shoots out of the tap. The washing of dishes fills all available space.

This bowl is particularly dirty. It’s covered in dried breakfast cereal and will take ages to clean.

The phone rings. The bowl is put down, rubber gloves are removed, and kitchen is replaced by living room. Kitchen sink and dirty dishes are replaced by sofa and table and phone. “Hello?” […]

Continue reading Jeff Foster’s text on the intimacy of life… (READ MORE…)

 

The Mystique of Freedom

Bob O’Hearn is my newly invited guest in ‘The Dawn Within’. Bob has a number of blogs and his writings were somewhat influential when I took on the journey of writing myself. I found his essays particularly crafted and it’s a pleasure to share here with you one of them: ‘The Mystique of Freedom’, excerpted from his blog ‘The Conscious Process’. Bob lives with his Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

 

~~

Pleasure and pain alternate.
Happiness is unshakable.
What you can seek and find is not the real thing.
Find what you have never lost,
find the inalienable
.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta

~~

 

In the vast library cataloguing exceptional human experiences, daunting adventures, and intriguing explorations, the tales of humanity’s search for spiritual liberation are some of the more compelling, and have even formed the basis for most of the world’s religions and philosophies. We all love a good story!

However, as fascinating as the reports may be — these bold testimonies of spiritual heroes and heroines persevering through all manner of adversity to finally attain the pinnacle of human potential, pull the sword from the rock, and ascend blissfully beyond the dreary fate of ordinary mortals — the actual truth is that they are all based on a fundamental case of mistaken identity.

It’s not so much that they have often been seriously ‘airbrushed’ (although that is a regrettable though all too common fate of many of these hagiographies), but rather that they were embarked upon under false pretenses from the beginning. That many of these characters burst out laughing in recognition of that fact at the culmination of their quest does provide a saving grace element to the reports. Let’s examine why. …

Continue reading Bob O’Hearn’s essay… (READ MORE…)

 

Precious Little Remains

I have chosen to share with you here a few of the haiku-poems written by Ray Andrews, a friend from Wales. They are lovely little poems, making our heart soft, provoking here a smile, there some tenderness, taking you gently to a place in yourself where silence abides. They are, as one of Ray’s little haikus read, like “Precious little remains On the pathway To the sun”. I have married them with the evanescent photographs of Nicki Gwynn-Jones. Let them both be like little bubbles of meditation in ourself…

 

I gave my beloved
A wild rose
But did not realise
My heart would be the vase

 

A teardrop
Fell slowly
In an ocean
Of joy

 

786A6562-DF9F-4744-AE40-5CA95F1B8251Sometimes our hearts
Grow so much
They cease caring 
Who the owner is

 

 

 

 

 

When the lakes
Mirror surface is broken
No one in their right mind
Would try to repair it

 

Waves break
On the shoreline of ourselves
Sighing with relief
Into the sand

[…]

Enjoy many more of these poems and photographs… (READ MORE…)

 

~

 

Bibliography:
– ‘Just Being One’ – by Ray Andrews (illustration by Anna Fraser) – (The Swirling Leaf Press)

ED8A74BA-C5F0-4D48-B2AA-92FBE1F921D0

– “In the Dreamtime: A Meditation on the Flowers of Orkney” – by Nicki Gwynn-Jones – (Orcadian Ltd)

B6E190FF-17E4-4F23-A34C-326AB8883270

 

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 Brooks’ one to one meeting with Krishnamurti (READ MORE…)

~

5BF87B92-145E-4EBC-8A16-13820E829BE8

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…)