Where God Speaks

God is my final end;
Does he from me evolve, 
Then he grows out of me, 
While I in Him dissolve
.”
~ Angelus Silesius (The Cherubinic Wanderer)

 

Angelus Silesius was a German mystic born Johannes Scheffler in 1624. Although a Lutheran, he converted to Catholicism and became a priest. After being a physician for a while, he became known for his mystical poetry. He published two poetical works, “The Soul’s Spiritual Delight“, a collection of more than two hundred religious songs, and “The Cherubinic Wanderer“, a collection of over sixteen hundred alexandrine couplets, from which the following selection is excerpted.

These short mystical poems – like spiritual haikus – are like bubbles sparkling with meaning and depth, infused with humour and sweet tenderness, bearing at their core the accents of a true non-dual understanding. I have attempted to give them a loose classification, each theme with a short introductory text, for better access and clarity. Chew them lightly, and they will never fail to deliver, behind their somewhat naive and archaic attire, the honey of their essence. Angelus Silesius died in 1677.

I hope you enjoy this selection from “The Cherubinic Wanderer” by the poet Angelus Silesius…

~

God is a big word, and it is important to understand what reality is hidden behind such a word.
The poet warns: “To know Him, Knower must be one with Known.”
Enjoy a taste of the nature of God
:

 

Being is not measured
“Turn wheresoe’er I will, I find no evidence
of End, Beginning, Centre or Circumference.”
~ Godhead, 1.2.188

God is not grasped
“God is an utter Nothingness,
Beyond the touch of Time and Place:
The more thou graspest after Him,
The more he fleeth thy embrace.”
~ Godhead, 5.1.25

The knower must become the known
“Naught ever can be known in God: One and Alone
Is He. To know Him, Knower must be one with Known.”
~ Godhead, 8.1.285

God is without will
“We pray: Thy Will be done! and lo! He hath no Will:
God in His changelessness eternally is still.”
~ Godhead, 12.1.294

The Rest and work of God
“Rested God never hath, nor toiled—’tis manifest,
For all His rest is work and all His work is rest.”
~ Godhead, 13.4.166

Enjoy many more poems by Angelus Silesius (READ MORE…)

 

Song of the Avadhut

I share here excerpts from an ancient text of India called ‘Song of the Avadhut’, which has been translated by Swami Abhayananda. Although it has been attributed to Dattatreya – most probably a legendary figure – the author is unknown, but it is agreed that it was written around the 9th or 10th centuries. ‘Avadhut’ means ‘liberated being’. The song describes what it means to be spiritually liberated. Swami Abhayananda gives here a short answer: “Man suffers under the mistaken illusion that he is a limited and finite being, separate and distinct from other beings. … But, say the mystics, this superficial play of thoughts, memories, sense impressions, upon the screen of awareness is but a mirage. It is the screen, the awareness itself, that is our true identity. It is that unchanging consciousness, the eternal witness of all movements of thought and appearance, which is who we really are. It is That which is our real, our only, Self.”

 

~~~

अहमेवाव्ययोऽनन्तः शुध्दविज्ञानविग्रहः ।
सुखं दुःखं न जानामि कथा कस्यापि वर्तने ॥ ७ ॥

~~~

 

I

What, then, is the heart of the highest truth, 
The core of knowledge, the wisdom supreme? 
It is, “I am the Self, the formless One;
By my very nature, I am pervading all.”

That one God who shines within everything, 
Who is formless like the cloudless sky,
Is the pure, stainless, Self of all. 
Without any doubt, that is who I am.

You are That which is both inside and out; 
You’re Shiva; you’re everything everywhere. 
Why, then, are you so deluded?
Why do you run about like a frightened ghost?

When a jar is broken, the space that was inside 
Merges into the space outside.
In the same way, my mind has merged in God; 
To me, there appears no duality.

Truly, there’s no jar, no space within;
There’s no body and no soul encased. 
Please understand; everything is Brahman. 
There’s no subject, no object, no separate parts.

Everywhere, always, and in everything,
Know this: the Self alone exists. 
Everything, both the Void and the manifested world, 
Is nothing but my Self; of this I am certain.

Discover the ancient Song of the liberated soul (READ MORE…)

 

The Divine Play

Jnaneshwar was a Marathi saint, poet and mystic born in 1275. He is the author of two major works of Marathi spiritual literature. The first was written when he was only sixteen, and is a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita called ‘Jnaneshwari’. The second is called ‘Amritanubhava’, ‘The Nectar of Wisdom’, and is indeed the fruit of his own understanding and realisation. Jnaneshwar lived an intensely spiritual life and was a precocious writer. He was able, through his first-hand experience of truth, to reject the formatted religious orthodoxy, and use the common language of vernacular Marathi for his expression. He is deeply loved and appreciated to this day in Marathi culture and can be compared to Adi Shankara. His life is mythical, travelling with his equally religious brothers and sisters, and punctuated by extraordinary events and meetings. In 1296, he voluntary ended his short life in what is called ‘sanjivan-samadhi’. He was only 21. The text presented here is made of various portions of his writings, the bigger part being excerpted from a poem called ‘The Union of Shiva And Shakti’. With beautiful poetic accents and images, we are invited to see again and again how the world is not just an illusion to be pushed away in favour of a pure abiding in consciousness, but is the dance of consciousness itself, the Divine Play:

 

~

It cannot be spoken of or spoken to;
by no means may It be comprehended by the intellect.

It is that one pure Consciousness who becomes everything,
From the gods above to the earth below.

Objects may be regarded as high or low,
But the ocean of Consciousness, ever-pure,
Is all that ever is.

Though the shadows on the wall are ever changing,
The wall itself remains steady and unmoved. 
Likewise, the forms of the universe take shape from Consciousness,
The eternal, primordial One.

Sugar is only sugar,
Even though it may be made into many forms.
Likewise, the ocean of Consciousness is always the same,
Though it becomes all the forms of the universe.

Various articles of clothing are made from the same cotton cloth; 
Likewise, the varied forms of the universe are creatively fashioned
Of the one Consciousness,
Which remains forever pure.
Whatever form appears,
Appears because of Him.

There is nothing else here but the Self. 
It is the gold itself which shines
In the form of a necklace or a coin;
They are made of nothing but gold.

In the current of the river or in the waves of the sea,
There is nothing but water. 
Similarly, in the universe, there is nothing which exists
Or is brought into existence
Other than the Self.

Whether appearing as the seen,
Or perceiving as the seer,
Nothing else exists besides the Self.

Jnaneshwar’s writings on the Divine Play of Shiva-Shakti (READ MORE…)

 

Etty

We have to rid ourselves of all preconceptions,
of all slogans,
of all sense of security,
find the courage to let go of everything,
every standard,
every conventional bulwark
.”
~ Etty Hillesum

 

Etty Hillesum was born on 15th January 1914 in Holland. When she was 27, she started writing a journal where she described her life with the little community around her and with Julius Spier, a former student of Jung who became her mentor. At this time, the Jews in Holland were being persecuted in the most terrible manner. At her own request, Etty began to work at Westerbork, a transit camp where the Jews were being gathered before being sent to extermination. She wrote: “I know the persecution and oppression and despotism and the impotent fury and the terrible sadism. I know it all … And yet – at unguarded moments, when left to myself, I suddenly lie against the naked breast of life, and her arms round me are so gentle and so protective.” She left the camp for Auschwitz on September 10th, where she died on 30th November 1943.

Patrick Woodhouse, author of ‘Etty Hillesum: A Life Transformed’, writes eloquently: “Her courageous story leads into profound understandings about the nature of God and how suffering and sorrow can be redemptive, not destructive. These emerged out of the struggles of her inner life, and the insights she arrived at were not easily gained. What we witness in the diary, and through her letters to her friends, is a battle to go on living with hope and integrity even as the world around her collapses. Her greatest weapons in this are her love of people, her deep sense of God within, and her passion for truth.”

Her fervour and dedication for Truth was indeed remarkable and deeply touching, as we read repeatedly, page after page, gems such as these:

My life has, so to speak, been extended by death, by my looking death in the eye and accepting it, by accepting destruction as part of life and no longer wasting my energies on fear of death or the refusal to acknowledge its inevitability. It sounds paradoxical: by excluding death from our life we cannot live a full life, and by admitting death into our life we enlarge and enrich it.”
~ Etty Hillesum

~

I am having an ever stronger experience these last days: in my least daily actions and sensations a hint of eternity creeps in. I am not the only one who is tired, sick, sad, or anguished. I am united with millions of others across the centuries. All that is what life is made of. Life is beautiful and full of meaning in its absurdity if you know how to take it as a whole. So life in some sense or other forms a perfect whole. As soon as we refuse or wish to eliminate certain elements, as soon as we follow our own pleasure or caprice by accepting one aspect of life and rejecting another, then life becomes in effect, absurd. Once the sense of the wholeness of it is lost, it becomes arbitrary.”
~ Etty Hillesum

~

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Etty Hillesum – Wikimedia Commons

The great obstacle is always the representation and never the reality. One deals with reality with all the suffering and difficulties that go with it – one deals with it, loading it as we do, onto our shoulders and it is by living with this load that we increase our endurance of it. However, we have to put an end to the representation of suffering. This representation is not suffering itself which is rich and can increase the meaning of our lives. By putting an end to these representations which imprison life behind bars, we liberate reality with all its force within ourselves, and we then become able to tolerate true suffering, in one’s own as well as in the life of humankind.”
~ Etty Hillesum

 

~~~

Quotes by Etty Hillesum

Main photo by Alain Joly

~~~

 

Bibliography:
– “Etty Hillesum: An Interupted Life & Letters from Westerbork” – by Etty Hillesum – (Henry Holt & Company Inc)
– “Etty Hillesum: A Life Transformed” – by Patrick Woodhouse – (Bloomsbury Continuum)
– “Etty Hillesum and the Flow of Presence” – by Meins G. S. Coetsier – (University of Missouri Press)

En Français:
– “Sagesses concordantes” avec Vimala Thakar, Etty Hillesum, Prajnânpad et Krishnamurti – de Alain Delaye – (Éditions Accarias L’Originel)

Website:
Etty Hillesum (Wikipedia)

 

The Quiet Mind

Meister Eckhart was a Christian theologian and mystic born in 13th century Germany. He became famous as a talented preacher and his sermons, unusual and disruptive to the church dogma and ritual, caused him troubles. Largely forgotten until the 19th century, he is now appreciated by contemporary spirituality, for he is speaking a universal message that many can understand beyond the usual Christian jargon. Simon Parke, who wrote the beautiful ‘Conversations with Meister Eckhart’, says: “Here we have a teaching open to all, but possessed by none, and therefore free like a butterfly in the garden of the soul.”

~

The most powerful prayer,
one well nigh omnipotent,
and the worthiest work of all
is the outcome of a quiet mind.

The quieter it is
the more powerful,
the worthier, the deeper,
the more telling and more perfect the prayer is.

To the quiet mind all things are possible.
What is a quiet mind?

A quiet mind is one
which nothing weighs on,
nothing worries,
which,
free from ties and from all self-seeking,
is wholly merged into the will of God
and dead to its own. 

~ Meister Eckhart 

 

~~~

Text by Meister Eckhart (1260 – 1328)

Photo by Elsebet Barner

~~~

 

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)

 

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In the Morning I Remember

Here is a beautiful prayer composed by Adi Shankara around the 8th century. These three verses, meant to be recited in the early morning, are a beautiful and touching summary of the heart of Advaita. I have chosen here a simple version, devoid of the Sanskrit terms…

~

प्रातः स्मरामि हृदि संस्फुरदात्मतत्त्वं
सच्चित्सुखं परमहंसगतिं तुरीयम् ।
यत्स्वप्नजागरसुषुप्तिमवैति नित्यं
तद्ब्रह्म निष्कलमहं न च भूतसङ्घः ॥१॥

prātaḥ smarāmi hṛdi saṃsphuradātmatattvaṃ
saccitsukhaṃ paramahaṃsagatiṃ turīyam |
yatsvapnajāgarasuṣuptimavaiti nityaṃ
tadbrahma niṣkalamahaṃ na ca bhūtasaṅghaḥ ||1||

~

At dawn, I meditate in my heart on the truth of the radiant inner Self.
This true Self is Pure Being, Awareness, and Joy, the transcendent goal of the great sages.
The eternal witness of the waking, dream and deep sleep states.
I am more than my body, mind and emotions, I am that undivided Spirit.

At dawn, I worship the true Self that is beyond the reach of mind and speech,
By whose grace, speech is even made possible,
This Self is described in the scriptures as “Not this, Not this”.
It is called the God of the Gods, It is unborn, undying, one with the All.

At dawn, I salute the true Self that is beyond all darkness, brilliant as the sun,
The infinite, eternal reality, the highest.
On whom this whole universe of infinite forms is superimposed.
It is like a snake on a rope. The snake seems so real, but when you pick it up, it’s just a rope.
This world is ever-changing, fleeting, but this eternal Light is real and everlasting.

Who recites in the early morning these three sacred Slokas,
which are the ornaments of the three worlds,
obtains the Supreme Abode.

~ Adi Shankara (8th century)

 

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  • Vimala Thakar wrote a beautiful translation and commentary on these lines, starting eloquently: 

In the morning as I meet the dawn, I remember that my heart contains the God, the Beloved, who has not yet been defined and described. I remember that it is He who vibrates within my heart, enables me to breathe, to talk, to listen, to move.”

  • Sanskrit language has infinite subtleties that don’t always appear, even in the best translations. Here, Vimala gives the beautiful analogy of the swan present in the original language:

I arrive at a state of being that has been called by the ancient wise Indians “Paramahansa”, a swan that swims through the waters of duality.”

  • Further down, she exposes the impossibility for the mind to attain the reality of Presence by these beautiful lines:

On the frontiers of the mind I give the mind a job to explore that which lies beyond its own frontiers, that which is not accessible to the word, to the speech, as well as to the mind.

I ask the mind to travel back, through the word, to the source of the word, the sound, and find out how the sound is born.”

“The source can only be experienced, the source can only be perceived and understood, but never defined and described. That is how the mind becomes silent.”

  • She then exemplifies the famous vedantic analogy of the serpent and the rope, and ends up with a perfect conclusion:

I had mistaken the rope of duality for the snake and cobra of misery and sorrow. But the light dispels the darkness and I see that the duality is only a rope that cannot bind me in any way unless I bind myself with it.”

The perfect eternity. The God divine. That is really my nature. I had mistaken the tensions of duality to be me, but then the light dispels all the darkness, and I get rooted back into the ‘ajam’, the ‘aychuta’ – that which can never be swept off its feet. Ajam – that which was never born, and can never die. I am that.”

 

~~~

Prayer by Adi Shankara (8th century)

Translation & Commentary by Vimala Thakar
(Hunger Mountain, MA – October, 1972)

~~~

 

– The prayer by Adi Shankara comes from Aghori.it

– Here is the full commentary from Vimala Thakar.

– Photo by Alain Joly

Bibliography:
– ‘The Crest-Jewel of Wisdom’ – by Shankaracharya / Translated by Charles Johnston – (The Freedom Religion Press)
– ‘Blossoms of Friendship’ – by Vimala Thakar – (Rodmell Press)

Website:
Adi Shankara (Wikipedia)
Vimala Thakar (Wikipedia)

 

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The Last Truth

9DF6C27B-1BF6-4BED-949F-40F4B6360333 man had left his village in search of enlightenment. After many long years, from hardship to hardship, he had become a vagabond, a pariah in our towns. One evening, he landed in a dense forest. He made a fire and thought of everything he had seen, lived and understood: pieces of light, of truth… but nothing like an awakening. He was a little discouraged when he heard a bird singing at the top of a tree: “I have the last truth, I have the last truth. It is for whoever will come and get it…”.

The man then began to climb to the top of this tree. Climbing was difficult and dangerous. As he climbed towards this last truth, he had to fight against vertigo. He was guided by the song of the bird without ever seeing it. He finally reached the summit and, bathing in a sumptuous golden light, he saw the sun set, the stars appear but no bird. However, the voice, coming out of nowhere and everywhere at the same time, said to him: “You came to receive a last truth, so receive it and leave to offer it to everyone who will believe you.”

At that moment all his questions were changed into answers and his answers into questions. The light became shadow and from the shadow was born light. All these pieces of scattered truths came together to form a whole, new, multiple truth. So his last truth became his first. His heart began to smile and his smile began to say the words of his heart. Then, without descending from the tree, awake and light, he was able to continue his way by riding some winds of wild wisdom.

Since then, this tree of passage, of metamorphosis, which was a wild tea tree, is venerated. Some of us offer or receive some of its leaves, attentive to everything that, in the golden glow of a cup, they could tell or sing to us, sensitive to any call.

 

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~~~

Text found in my computer attic, source unknown
(Translated from French by Alain Joly)

Photo by Carol Brandt

~~~

 

Website:
Carol Brandt Photography

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