A Thing of Beauty

‘Saint Peter’s Basilica’ – Rome (Vatican)

Isn’t the world the most extraordinary place? I’ll explain. Take a tree. A single tree, with its roots spreading and fiddling deep into the soil. And its erected trunk that divides itself into branches, and a thousand twigs, and a whole foliage of leaves. The shadow it gives. The home that it is for birds and little animals. And the shelter. And a thing of beauty. To be admired, listened to, touched, felt. The roughness of its bark under your fingers. And the presence. There are millions — most certainly trillions — of such trees that spread over the world to form groves and vast forests. Extending their sheltering embrace to countless beings. And to you too, today. A tree! The strangest thing there is. To look at one is to be taken into a well of wonder. Feel that amazement. See where it takes you. You will be surprised.

[…]

A reflection and meditation on the beautiful world that we are… (READ MORE…)

.

The Virtues of Shopping

Shopping is not an activity that I‘m particularly fond of. Quite frankly, I only get on with it. One of these things that I just have to do. Sometimes, it comes with some extra difficulties. Today it is pouring rain. That just came suddenly to annoy me as I’m walking back home with my bag of groceries. Well, I’ll clench my teeth and show some bravery. But my inner world is screaming out loud. A whole company of thoughts that march in my mind, and on it. For they numb me, make me blind and deaf to the world. In short, I’m complaining about all sorts of things: my stiff body and this cumbersome umbrella; a walk far too long from the shop. Now I long to be home and hurry my steps. I fiddle for my keys. Three storeys to climb. No room for a view…

Well, that’s one version of it. The other is to be simply present. But that’s easier said than done. Unfortunately I don’t master it yet. I get lost. Forget myself. Maybe I’m trying too hard. For this quality of presence often comes unexpectedly as a gift when you really let go of yourself; of that little babbling, pestering mind. In those precious moments, you come to know precisely what you are doing. It is such a gift, to know what you are a part of. Life then comes with its own explanatory notes. It unfolds; shows its brightness and dumbfounding simplicity. I know with a childlike clarity that I am now — actually — coming back from shopping. Not in a vague and lazy way but clearly. I am fully participating. There is a slowing down. I become interested. Present.

There is a body walking here in the street. And I’m grateful for it. It’s even a thrill to feel it. To be alive. To have this pain in the shoulder. Nothing much. The little price to pay for carrying the shopping bag. There are not many thoughts around, so the world does not appear somewhat darkened, in two dimensions, as a flat and dull projection of a mountain of resistance. There is some relief, profundity. It is three-dimensional. The rain has stopped and the houses around appear with their various pastel colours, as it is commonly seen in this region. This is really beautiful. Many bicycles are negligently resting against the wall by my side. Some are standing under the trees with elegance, and a certain artistic composure. I feel truly happy. 

I don’t feel constrained by my shopping. On the contrary. It comes with a gentle and subtle sense of pride. To bring back home the necessary food that will substantiate us. It has purpose. What a lovely thing to know what is exactly going on, and not what we project and finally invent. To have a clear view. To see meaning. All these things that come easily when we do not impose unnecessary barriers on our living experience. Countless drops of water are now falling leisurely from the trees onto the pavement. It is a soothing thing to see and hear. It is music. A few high green plants grow around a nearby trunk, stand erect, dance even, stretching towards the rain, blessed. Even plants can show some eagerness of living, some gratefulness, and finally this strange sense of happiness that pervades the world when it is seen for what it exactly and truly is. It is my turn, today, to feel just that!…

.

~~~

Text and photo by Alain Joly

~~~

.

Suggestion:
– Other ‘Reveries’ from the blog…

.

An Unnoticed Pathology

In our relationship to truth, we often find ourselves in the position of somebody who, on waking up, tries to remember his dream. Any searching, any effort to remember, the slightest doing towards that goal, is pushing the dream away, dislocating it irremediably.

The problem is that we want something. This is our state. Our unnoticed pathology. One that we have inherited from society, and that we have integrated to the point of being it — this wanting, craving, searching. We mind what happens and want to control it. Fair enough. But we should do it from a position of truth, of relaxation, of not minding. We should let the story go, the one that tells us that we are incomplete, not enough, needy of a thousand things, and that prevents us from seeing clearly this presence that we are now and of all eternity. 

We cannot even say that we will let go of all seeking and just sit down doing nothing, for our ‘not doing anything’ is already a cathedral of doing that we have patiently and methodically put together over the years. As the French philosopher Blaise Pascal once noticed, “all of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” 

[…]

Some thoughts on our unfortunate propensity for seeking… (READ MORE…)

.

Our Sacred Destination

.

Our whole life ought to be being.
So far as our life is being, so far it is in God
.”
~ Meister Eckhart

.

There is none but you, O Lord! — And yet I am dispersed in a thousand identities. I’m not in your embrace but in the embrace of thoughts, feelings, in the entrancement of the senses, and the endless worries and regrets. I desire only you but do not know it yet well enough. So I’m off in a thousand directions. But why don’t I keep it simple? For all my objective moves and endless searches happen in one place only, which is inside my own self and experience. Why being so dispersed? Go for your self only. Forget about all these apparent ‘other than yourself’. Let them all die. Stay in the glorious being that rests in and as the centre of every experience that you may have, of every quest that you may be engaged in. Be still, without moves. Ignore all your impulses towards these endless, hypothetical outsides. Observe them all and see that they are made only of the still presence of your own self. It will spare you a thousand thwarted expectations. All the weariness that goes with it. And all the efforts to get yourself out of these constant little traumas. Be supremely lazy. Forget about the thousand words that stretch themselves like a forest where you get lost again and again. Cease running about. Empty your load. Have a quiet nap in the shade of your sweet self. It has the gentle coolness of the presence of peace, and the happiness contained in the simple evidence of being. It is about you: your own glorious self. Don’t think that you have to achieve something, or be one of these heroes that you have been conditioned to be by society. Be alone, empty. Let go. Rest. Only rest. How difficult is that? And don’t wait for anything there. Only enjoy the simple destination of being just yourself. You are destined for it. For the simple reason that there is in truth nothing but that. Nothing but the obvious, sacred destination of your self. It all rests there: everything you ever wanted to possess, achieve, understand, reach. All is contained in that simple point of presence which lies in and as the centre of your being. Forget about anything else but the destiny of your one and only sacred destination: Being.

.

~~~

Text and photo by Alain Joly

Quote by Meister Eckhart (1260-1328)

~~~

.

Bibliography:
– ‘Meister Eckhart, Selected Writings’ – by Meister Eckhart – (Penguin Classics)
– ‘Conversations with Meister Eckhart’ – by Meister Eckhart & Simon Parke – (White Crow Books Ltd)

Website:
Meister Eckhart (Wikipedia)

.

The Rightful King

‘The Crown’ – Odilon Redon, 1910 – WikiArt

.

A thought never comes alone. It appears with a container attached to it. But unfortunately, in our most habitual way to relate to experience, this container is felt to be the negligible part. And the same applies to feelings. Every appearance in the mind comes wrapped up with something that supports it. But that support is unseen, ignored, and the fleeting appearance is too often upgraded as being mind itself. Yet I think that the opposite is truer. That thought is the negligible, feeling is the dispensable. Not that they should be neglected. Far from it. For they are pointers. They are blooming flowers brought to our attention for a mission. They are flagging a message to our conscience. One that says, we — thoughts and feelings — are the negligible. We are not mind, but only temporary appearances in the mind. The mind is what matters. The container matters the most. That which we have taken to be secondary, unimportant, negligible — and that we have as a result pushed in the background — is our innermost reality. It is what needs to be raised in and as the foreground. This is the one and only entity there is, far before — and above — any fluttering thoughts or feelings which, to the mind that supports them, are no more than waves on the surface of an ocean. The container — this vast, indomitable expanse — wants to be explored, visited, admired. Cease taking a few thoughts and feelings to be you. They are not you. They only express the parts of you that are blind, unconscious, indolent. By emphasising them, we neglect all that is around them, behind them, beyond them. All that is supporting them, allowing them to be. Every objective appearance is secondary to that unmatchable presence, to whom even the body is a negligible. How could a few unruly servants think that they are the King, that they run the kingdom in place of the rightful King? But be careful here. Don’t neglect any of these unruly servants. Only remind them of their right place and rank. Invite them at your table. Make them see and understand where lies their interest. By thinking they are themselves little kings and queens, they miss an opportunity to surrender to the one who gives them food and lodging. Consciousness is our rightful King. Only give Him allegiance and contemplate His loving and all encompassing nature. He will make you to His likeness, and will send you back to life with a crown on your head. So be yourself the very subject of this majestic presence. Let Her crown you with Her very crown. And you’re not Her only subject, for everything in the kingdom of experience is Hers. Every house, every being, every tree, every expansive sea, every reflection of the sun on every crested wave, are Her subjects. And every subject subjects only one thing: Herself. So let yourself be the ultimate subject. The one that never bows to any object. Many objective appearances will mistakenly think to be subjects, but never will be, never can be. For this is a kingdom of one subject only. Nobody is meant to take the lead, except that which is the rightful King. 

.

~~~

Text by Alain Joly

Painting by Odilon Redon (1840-1916)

~~~

.

Website:
Odilon Redon (Wikipedia) 

.

Churning the Ocean

‘Sagar Manthan’ – Unknown author, 1820 – Wikimedia Commons

.

We cannot be fully established in our true nature as peace and happiness without integrating all our latent tendencies, all these reflexive and self-protective habits born out of our belief in separation. These would prevent the advent of bliss. This is the meaning behind this ancient myth of India called the ‘churning of the ocean of milk’ (‘Samudra Manthan’ in Sanskrit), which is narrated in many religious texts. 

In brief, as the Gods were bored, they decided to gather with some evil beings and unite their strength to churn the ocean of milk with the help of a sacred mountain as the rod, and Shiva’s serpent king as the rope. By doing so, the snake spitted out a deadly poison — called ‘Halāhala’ or ‘kālakūṭa’, literally: ‘black mass’ or ‘time puzzle’ — which Shiva, in its compassionate heart and presence, swallowed to prevent the destruction of the world. The path was cleared for the formation of many precious, invaluable gems, including the ‘amrita’, or ‘soma’, which is God’s drink, the elixir of happiness, or consciousness’ butter. 

[…]

A playful inquiry into the meaning behind this famous Indian myth… (READ MORE…)

.

Being Alone

He who is always alone,
he is worthy of God
.”
~ Meister Eckhart

.

The meaning of the word ‘alone’ in the Oxford Dictionary is stated as such: “having no one else present”. This sounds like a perfect definition of the Advaitic understanding, and an essential feature of the nature of consciousness, of our deepest sense of being. God is alone because he is all encompassing, and doesn’t have another reality by its side. He is alone in the sense that he is all one. This wisdom is fully apparent in the English word ‘alone’ which comes from Middle English ‘all one’. In the French word ‘seul’ though, this is very different. ‘Seul’ comes from Latin ‘solus’, as in ‘solitude’ or ’isolated’. The emphasis is on being one amidst others, not in being all one. So the sense of being alone can bring in both the feelings of loneliness, isolation, separation, insecurity, protection, but also the sense of being one, whole, self-sufficient, contained in oneself, and ultimately at peace. 

So which aloneness are we feeling to be? The one that will express our sense of lack, or incompleteness, or that other one which is the expression of our fullness, of our happiness?

[…]

Continue reading these few thoughts on being alone… (READ MORE…)

.