Being Spiritual

‘Sea View’ – J.M.W. Turner, 1820-1830 – WikiArt

This whole adventure of knowing oneself is not about being spiritual. It’s about being alive. Not just a little bit alive, with holes here and there, where unconsciousness can creep in, and steal us the best portion of what it is to be truly alive. For life is not a collection of deeds or experiences. Life is an energy and an essence that you can feel or know as the totality of your own being. And life extends to everything and everywhere. It is not about you. It never was.

To realise our true nature is not about being spiritual. It’s about being happy. Not the happiness that shakes and crumbles at the least twist of life’s circumstances. Happiness is not meant to be so fragile. And it is not something that you have to attain, or perform. You are not meant to work for that which is your inborn due and essence. Happiness is when you cannot even form or comprehend the concept of unhappiness. It is the distinguishing trait of being.

This understanding is not about being spiritual. It’s about being wholly a human being — inhabiting this whole experience while staying rooted in your true essence as awareness. There is immense delight in being awareness through your whole body and mind. Don’t leave your human experience at the door of consciousness anymore that you should leave consciousness at the door of your human experience. Include your humanness in your understanding.

To recognise our real identity is not about being spiritual. It’s about being in a world. Feeling what a world is — its golden nature — its sacredness — its dazzling presence. Having a world as our own being. Don’t think that you cannot know it through its essence. Knowing the world is like knowing yourself. And that will make you equip the world with ravishing beauty. The world is not about an outside. It is all inside yourself, curling itself into your own being.

I don’t want to be spiritual, or special, or humble. I want to be so fully being that I cannot even formulate such ideas. I want to be so fully myself that I cannot even know the meaning of these words. And I don’t want to be perfect. I want to be soft and malleable, and utterly vulnerable. Not fragile or brittle, but open to every passing feeling, to every hue inherent in living. This is how life shows its greatness. This is how you are truly grateful for being human.

I don’t want to have the identity of being spiritual. I want to have no contours where I can be fixed and localised. I don’t want to be anything that can be bumped into, and get hurt or scarred. I want to be being only being, to leave no room for an other, or for a difference. Why should I define myself? To be truly living is to be undefinable. And to be without objective identity is to belong in everything and in everyone. This is the true meaning of love.

I don’t quite fancy being tagged as spiritual. Being spiritual is only a nice word for everything in myself that cannot quite let go and espouse the pure essence of being. These are the leftovers on the failed path of being one with my essential being. I don’t want to be spiritual any more that I want my true nature to be identified with being French, or being this or that. I want to be what I ought to be when every form of control is seen detrimental and abandoned.

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Text by Alain Joly

Painting by J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851)

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Website:
J. M. W. Turner (Wikipedia) 

Suggestion:
– Other ‘Reveries’ from the blog…

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A Story of Lack

‘Melancholy’ (Part) – Odilon Redon, 1876 – WikiArt

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When the ‘I’ is divested of the ‘I’, only ‘I’ remains.”
~ Ramana Maharshi

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Don’t run in the other direction. Don’t take a sense of lack for a need. For this is what we do, when we sense in ourself an insufficiency, we want to fill it up, by all means necessary. We think it important to grant its wanting, its craving. But a lack is never a need. A lack is a fact that needs no repairing and no repairman. By bowing or giving allegiance to it, we submit ourself. We give up all power of understanding. We place ourself at the level of that lack. We become small. We don’t respect it. For this is not to respect it, to obey a random sense of lack. For lack comes as the supreme teacher, and our genuine bowing to it rather takes the form of listening. This is how we bow to a teacher, how we respect it, fulfil its function: by listening to it. So we listen. We stay motionless and invite its teaching. We don’t run away in the other direction.

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A story about how a sense of lack can be the real teacher… (READ MORE…)

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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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A Mountain Walking

Arthur Rubinstein mural, Lodz – Eduardo Kobra, 2014 – Wikimedia

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People are always setting conditions for happiness…
I love life without condition
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~ Arthur Rubinstein

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Thank you, Master Arthur Rubinstein. For you did it all for me tonight. No need for convoluted meditation postures. That effortless demeanour of yours in front of the piano was enough. All your thousand nuances of lows and heights, of patience and haste, of a suspended note, or a subtle release, all were concurring to deepen me. For it is all about profundity, isn’t it? About keeping a pointed inner eye on a vast array of forms dancing in and out of ourself, while staying like an unmovable rock. The play was prodigious in its complexity and nuances, but the maestro behind it all was at rest. Voraciously still. A fullness was produced at every empty second, as his fingers were slowly racing on the keyboard towards that never moving, never ending melodious symphony of presence. He was boiling life, and the fumes of it were like curls after curls of beauty. And yet all was kept in its pristine simplicity and humility. No effect and no affect. ‘A mountain walking’, to use that koan like image by Zen master Dōgen. That’s what art can truly do. It can take your breath away to never return it back in the way you have known it.

And the maestro is not busy in a cage of his own. He doesn’t perform. He has space, leisure. And he listens. Shhhh… Rubinstein’s listening, walking at his own pace, slowly mountaineering. Loving it all. You see it in his imperceptible smile. Or the minute rise of a couple of muscles above his eyelids. And in the glance exchanged with the conductor. Oh that glance! Rubinstein is not alone. He is conversing with Chopin; co-composing this Piano Concerto No 2. He is conversing with an oboe, or with a clarinet. Meditating with a line of supporting violins. And the maestro is teaching. He’s teaching you how to listen — not to the notes — but to yourself. This is where the notes acquire their meaning and purpose. This is where listening truly takes place. This is how you become a mountain walking. This is where is revealed the essential of life, of a piece of music, of anything. And this is where you find joy. Enjoying is all that the maestro is doing, and he gives it to you. That’s how an audience breaks in rapture, in screams and applauds of thankfulness. You are grateful because the maestro broke your heart, again and again, until you can be served one thing only: yourself. Your own gentle, pliable, undefeatable self. Hurrah!

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Mountains do not lack the qualities of mountains.
Therefore they always abide in ease and always walk.
You should examine in detail
this quality of the mountains walking.
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If you doubt mountains’ walking,
you do not know your own walking
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~ Zen Master Dōgen (Mountains and Waters Discourse, Trans. by Kazuaki Tanahashi)

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I have found that if you love life, life will love you back…”
~ Arthur Rubinstein

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At every concert I leave a lot to the moment. I must have the unexpected, the unforeseen. I want to risk, to dare. I want to be surprised by what comes out. I want to enjoy it more than the audience. That way the music can bloom anew. It’s like making love. The act is always the same, but each time it’s different.”
~ Arthur Rubinstein

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Yes, I am very lucky, but I have a little theory about this. I have noticed through experience and observation that providence, nature, God, or what I would call the power of creation seems to favor human beings who accept and love life unconditionally, and I am certainly one who does with all my heart.”
~ Arthur Rubinstein

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It is simply my life, music. I live it, breathe it, talk with it. I am almost unconscious of it. No, I do not mean I take it for granted — one should never take for granted any of the gifts of God.”
~ Arthur Rubinstein

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Quotes by Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982)

and Dōgen Zenji (1200-1253)

Text by Alain Joly

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Listen to Arthur Rubinstein playing Chopin’s ‘Piano Concerto No 2 in F minor, Op 21’ (with conductor Andre Previn & London Symphony Orchestra), which he recorded one last time, for posterity, when he was 88 years old in an empty Fairfield Hall, only months before becoming blind…

Read the ‘Mountains and Waters Discourse’ by Zen Master Dōgen…

Bibliography:
– ‘My Many Years’ – by Arthur Rubinstein – (Renaissance Literary & Talent)

Websites:
Arthur Rubinstein (Wikipedia) 
Frederic Chopin (Wikipedia) 
Dōgen (Wikipedia) 

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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…)

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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!…

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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Suggestion:
– Other ‘Reveries’ from the blog…

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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.” 

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

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