The Chariot and the Charioteer

‘Pantheon’ – Odilon Redon, 1910 – WikiArt

 

The mental and the material are really here, 
But here there is no human being to be found. 
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll, 
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks
.”
~ Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification)

 

Free will is a tentacular issue. It permeates our life in a very intimate way, like very few things do. Any action that we might engage in, any decision we take, any thought we think, bear at their core the question of their ownership. If we believe in free will and don’t exercise it for all sorts of psychological reason, then the road is open to guilt, shame, regret, self-loathing. Could things have been any different? What if I had not made that choice? What if I had taken a different decision, if I had been more courageous, if I had followed my heart? Well, it is not any different if I feel I have exercised my free will; I could be left with the same regrets. Is it even possible to not exercise our free will, if we leave aside the unchangeable circumstances we are in? Is not free will our nature no matter what? Or conversely, can we ever, at all, exercise our free will? Maybe there is no such thing. Who is here, deep down, to exercise free will? Is there not only a flow of life on which we superimpose a continuous stream of hectic, frantic thinking? What is it?

I was watching a mountain torrent the other day during one of my walks. How miraculous to see the water flow down unquestionably, directed left or right, split up by a stone. If you had been a water drop placed here, it is left, but more there and it is right. Who could imagine such a droplet having any kind of choice? The river would sometimes divide itself in three little currents, forming islands. Sometimes you could be dragged sideways in a stagnant little pool, or rushed about in a forceful cascade. What struck me was the absence of resistance, and the fact that no matter the direction, no matter where you were dragged into, how slow or fast, smooth or jumpy, water was water and you would find yourself downstream at exactly the same place than any other drop of water that you might have judged as having a more harmonious or lucky course. Are we not such a drop carried, or literally swept along, in the stream of life? […]

An exploration into the nature and reality of free will… (READ MORE…)

 

Self Recognition

‘Hibiscus and Sparrow’ – Katsushika Hokusai, 1830 – WikiArt

 

Nasreddin Hodja is what could be called a sublime idiot. He is a liar, irreverent, a disturber of peace. But he is also ingenious, free, full of wit, a timeless figure whose stories have spread and been adapted the world over. In the Sufi tradition, they were used for study purposes.

~

One day Nasrudin walked into a shop. 
The owner came forward to serve him. 
‘First things first,’ said Nasrudin. ‘Did you see me walk into your shop?’ 
‘Of course.’ 
‘Have you seen me before?’ 
‘Never in my life.’ 
‘Then how do you know it is me?’

~

Nasrudin’s Pointers:
I happen to be me, apparently located in, and certainly connected with this body, amongst billions, trillions of other possibilities. I am me, I can be addressed, recognised, challenged, by other beings or things without them ever having the experience of being this particular ‘me-form’ that I am. I am uniquely built. And yet how silly it would be that the consciousness that I am was just but one version of trillions of other consciousnesses. If it was, what would be the chances for these different consciousnesses — including animals’ — to be so closely related to each other, let alone meet in any deep way? Separation does’t seem to make sense. Like Nasrudin is implying, how would we even recognise each other? How would we know, when we address another person, that we could relate at all, that she is a ‘me’ in the same way that I too am a ‘me’? This simple recognition of the ‘I am’ in me, or her, or him, is the very experience of our own true nature, the oneness that reverbates in each and every human ‘I am ness’. It is said in one Upanishad, “When a man directly realises this effulgent Self, the Lord of all that has been and will be, he no longer wishes to hide himself from it.” So even though we think we are, nobody is in fact hidden, private, with his essential being. We are being in full light. We think we are hidden because of a few petty thoughts, images, or memories. But the essential and fundamental part of our being is shared. Stephen Jourdain once wrote: “Somewhere behind you, someone calls for you. Hey, John! Or Peter, or Paul, or Annie. You turn around. I give the name ‘me’ to the gentle and saintly reason of this movement. It’s as simple and luminous as that. No reason to search further. (…) To aim for another encounter other than this one is furious folly.” I had this thought one day that if a young man, a westerner, rich, educated, were to suddenly experience the being of an old, poor, uneducated Indian woman, it would take him a long time to notice that a change had occurred. Such is the power of ‘I am’, of the sense of ‘me’ in every being, of the pervasiveness of our shared being in — or more accurately said, beyond — our apparently different forms. Maybe that’s why, as Nasrudin once asserted, “everything is true”…

~

One day a fool asked Nasrudin ‘is God true?’
‘Everything is true’ replied Nasrudin.
‘Even false things?’
‘Even false things are true’, said Nasrudin.
‘But how can that be?’
‘I don’t know. I didn’t do it’, shrugged Nasrudin.

 

~~~

 

The Nasreddin stories are borrowed from ‘The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin’ by Idries Shah, and ‘Sufism/Nasrudin’ Wikibooks.

‘Nasreddin’s pointers’ is by Alain Joly

Bibliography:
– ‘The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin’ – by Idries Shah – (ISF Publishing)
– ‘Nasreddin Hodja: 100 tales in verse’ – by Raj Arumugam – (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
– ‘Radical Awakening: Cutting Through the Conditioned Mind’ – by Stephen Jourdain – (Inner Directions Publishing)

Websites:
Nasreddin Hodja (Wikipedia)
The Idries Shah Foundation
Katsushika Hokusai (Wikipedia)
Stephen Jourdain

 

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…)

 

The Kiss

“Think ‘I am suffering’, and you are suffering.
Replace the thought ‘I am suffering’
with the thought ‘I am free, I am Freedom, 
I am Consciousness, I am not the body’.
Do not kiss your ego by saying ‘I am suffering’,
rather kiss yourself by saying ‘I am Free’.”

~ Papaji

 

~~~

Quote by H. W. L. Poonja (1910-1997)

Photo by Alain Joly

~~~

 

Bibliography:
– ‘The Truth Is’ – by H. W. L. Poonja – (Red Wheel/Weiser)

Website:
H. W. L. Poonja (Wikipedia)

 

Other quotes from the category Beauty in Essence

 

O Mystic Nuns!

Photo by Abee5 on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Thy love was not of earth; no woman’s soul 
For mortal love craved with such a yearning. 
So thou didst wed great God Himself! O Goal 
Beyond our ken, beyond our dim discerning! 
And soul to soul, like sunbeam unto Sun, 
Thou didst vanish away, O mystic Nun!

~ Sri Devendranath Sen

 

At all times, India has embraced the love and longing for God as a privileged access to our ultimate reality. This path of love or devotion, called bhakti, was trodden by countless seekers and poets who have offered their verses to posterity. Amongst them many women. Women who, alone, have walked the steep path to God, going against the society of men, marriage and conventions, with only one goal: to reach divine love. I present here three such women — Andal, Akka Mahadevi, and Mirabai — these mystic nuns, whose personality and poetry are an unforgettable milestone to this day in India and elsewhere.

Through devoting or directing their love to a god, be it Krishna or Shiva, these devotees were searching to experience the bliss of their own being, the happiness that is the very nature of their self. But by conditioning their love to an object, they also experienced suffering, longing, sadness, anger, which all came to feed their poetry, their songs, all these exquisite expressions. These were the very vector that supported their spiritual search. But don’t think that this is a path that is limited or lacking depth. For though directed towards an object, the love they feel is always their own. The forms of Krishna or Shiva were a vehicle to lead them to their very self, to realise that their longing is and has always been for their own unborn nature, for love itself, the oneness of their own being.

This tension between the love for God as a form, and for being or oneness as a principle, between saguna and nirguna bhakti, as it is expressed in the Indian tradition, is at the core of the bhakti endeavour, of the journey to divine love. In ‘The Embodiment of Bhakti’, Karen Pechilis Prentiss wrote: “The lord is characterized by both ‘paratva’ (otherness) and ‘soulabhaya’ (ease of access). He is both here and beyond, both tangible as a person and intangible as a principle.” These nuns were expressing this tension with various degrees in their many songs and poems. Listen to their voice. Listen to how Krishna’s forms and attributes, ramblings and happenings are only expressions of a deeper reality, of the understanding and tensions at play in the seeker’s very being. They are their paths whose completion will lead to the recognition of their own true self. […]

Listen to the poetry of Andal, Akka Mahadevi, and Mirabai… (READ MORE…)

 

The Search

Come, 
Come away, 
O love, 
Sit beside me; 
I will teach thee 
The way to 
Happiness
.”

 

I have collected here some excerpts of a poetical work by J. Krishnamurti, published first in 1927 under the title ‘The Search’, and later in the book ‘From Darkness to Light’ (1980), along with other poems from this period. Krishnamurti considered these writings as not being part of his official teachings, for they were written when he was still involved with the Theosophical Society, the organisation that raised him to become the new World Teacher and that he left in 1929. They are nevertheless a beautiful read, imbued with the wonder of nature, and the search for happiness. In the Publishers Note, we read: ‘These poetic writings represent a facet of Krishnamurti that is characterized by the intensity of his feelings and by his passionate appeal to the individual for self-realization of truth.’ I hope you enjoy them…

 

~

Balanced between the past and the future, 
the “I” is poised as a tiger ready to spring, 
as an eagle ready to fly, 
as the bow at the moment of releasing the arrow. 

This moment of equilibrium, of high tension, 
is “creation.” It is the fullness of all life, 
it is immortality. 

The wind of the desert sweeps away 
all trace of the traveller. 

The sole imprint is the footstep of the present. 
The past, the future… sands blown by the wind
.“

~ J. krishnamurti (From Darkness to Light)

~

 

I have been a wanderer long 
In this world of transient things. 
I have known the passing pleasures thereof. 
As the rainbow is beautiful, 
But soon vanishes into nothingness, 
So have I known, 
From the very foundation of the world, 
The passing away of all things 
Beautiful, joyous and pleasurable. 

 

If thou wouldst concern thyself with the lasting, 
With the eternal, with the indestructible, 
With divinity, with immortality, 
With wisdom which is the pool of Heaven, 
If thou wouldst know of that everlasting Kingdom of Happiness, 
If thou wouldst know of that Beauty that never fades or decays, 
If thou wouldst know of that Truth that is imperishable and alone— 
Then, O world, 
Look deep within thyself

[…]

Continue reading excerpts from this poem by Krishnamurti… (READ MORE…)

 

Stay Where You Are

There’s this new force that tells us
Stay where you are
Be confined within yourself
Don’t run after every miserable trick
That you invent for countenance

Stay where you are
You have the best view there
In the home that is truly yours
The one you have never built, the one
For which no walls were erected ever

Stay where you are
Where you will be blessed with full protection
For by being open to the winds of life
Defenceless, unprotected, you are therefore
Unbreakable

Stay where you are
In the expanse of your self
Be wide, no matter the limitations
For, believe me, there are none
Except on the racing grounds of mind

Stay where you are
Be a true opportunist 
Where life takes you, be like her guide
For you were never powerless
You are holding the show

Stay where you are
Don’t think it is not enough
For in the less you find the more
You are never prevented from anything 
You have all the freedom you need

 

~~~

Poem and photo by Alain Joly

~~~

 

Suggestion:
Voices from Silence (other poems from the blog)