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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Destroyer of Darkness

We continue our series of texts or essays on different subjects of spiritual interest. The subject here is about examining the figure of the spiritual teacher, or the guru…

 

Be a light unto yourself; 
betake yourselves to no external refuge. 
Hold fast to the Truth. 
Look not for refuge to anyone besides yourselves
.”
~ Buddha Shakyamuni

 

It knew better. This thing, so dense, so light, that took me into its lap, that invited me for a dance with eternity, with infinity, would not leave me alone, unattended. Not even two days after encountering this mystery, after dipping into this bath of love and beauty, I was being shown a way. I believe it is inevitable when there is an opening. In a burst of synchronicity, a friend materialised and handed me a copy of Newsweek magazine where there was an article about a spiritual teacher who had died a couple of weeks earlier. I was immediately drawn to him. It was the beginning of a ten year journey into his teaching. I wasn’t the easiest friend though, nor the most faithful. Just a couple of weeks before, among the temples of Khajuraho, I was explaining to a German lady guru who invited me to her meetings, how little I felt about spiritual authority, how important it was to find out by myself, not to be influenced in these matters. My new spiritual teacher wasn’t the friendliest towards the figure of the guru either, but nevertheless he was my first help and pointer, my first pathway towards understanding. “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”, it is traditionally said.

An exploration into the function of the spiritual teacher (READ MORE…)

 

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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The Fleeting Entity

Here is a reminder inspired from the words of Rupert Spira. The ‘fleeting entity’ is an expression he used to describe the separate self. It is necessary and terribly efficient to look into these matters for ourselves. This is why I like to share here the parts of a spiritual teaching that sounds like ‘something to do’, something to experiment and verify for ourselves:

Keep on looking in what way almost all your thoughts, feelings, activities, are based upon the belief that you are going to die… See that underneath all of that is your fear of disappearing…

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Further exploring on the subject:

This imaginary identification of our self with an object, the body, creates the apparently separate self. … This apparently separate self, being made out of an intermittent object, is, by definition, unstable, always threatened with change, decay and disappearance. Hence the fear of disappearance that resides at its heart and its natural corollary, seeking.”
~ Rupert Spira

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Addiction of any sort, be it to inappropriate sexual behaviour, alcohol, drugs, smoking or any milder form of behaviour, almost always has its origin in the belief and, more importantly, the feeling of being a separate, limited, located self.”
~ Rupert Spira

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Fear and seeking manifest in the most innocuous forms of behaviour, the most common of which is unnecessary thinking, the almost constant mental chatter or commentary that most of us are familiar with. This innocuous commentary is the simplest form of the ‘resistance to what is’. It is the repetitive background chatter that ensures that attention is almost always diverted away from the immediacy, intimacy and simplicity of ‘what is’. This is the primal addiction.”
~ Rupert Spira

~

Between living and death there is time. Time, that interval between what actually is and something which we call death, of which we are afraid. This interval between life and death is brought about by thought. Of course there is actual dying: the physical organism, through disease, accident, through usage, dies. But there is fear of death and the sorrow of death as a psychological ending. So there is not only the fear of physical dying, but also the fear of losing all the things that one has learnt, the memories, the experiences, the affections, the family, the hopes, the works, the character, all that one has developed, cultivated, nourished – fear of their coming to an end.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

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We cling when we fear that without identifying with something or as something, “myself” will lack substance entirely, rendering ordinary life devoid of meaning. Even a glimmer of the possibility of emptiness and meaninglessness can feel terrifying—like glimpsing a bottomless void into which one might fall forever. And of course we fear death which, although many attempt to hold it at bay with religion and spirituality, will mean the end of the entire self-centered production called ‘my life’.”
~ Robert Saltzman

~

It all begins with ‘I, the body’,

That is the root of all suffering,

which our addictions seek to alleviate.”

~ Rupert Spira

 

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– Artwork by Daniel B. Holeman

Bibliography:
– ‘Presence’, Vol. I & II – by Rupert Spira (Non-Duality Press)
– ‘The First and Last Freedom’ – by J. Krishnamurti – (Rider Publishing)
– ‘The Ten Thousand Things’ – by Robert Saltzman – (Non-Duality Press)

Websites:
Rupert Spira
J. Krishnamurti
Robert Saltzman

Suggestion:
Fleeing to God (other pointers from the blog)

 

The Intelligence of Chaos

The first line of this poem: ‘Trust the intelligence of chaos’, is a phrase borrowed from Jeff Foster. I was inspired with these few lines after reading it…

 

Trust the intelligence of chaos

It wants to find its way
Through layers of you

It wants to knock at your door
And make you open your heart

It wants to be protected by you
And let itself melt into your emptiness

It wants to see that it is not a bad guy
To be looked upon and pushed away

It wants to be found inexistant
In the inexistence that you are

It wants to be your friend
Claim your love again and again

It wants you to know that it cares
You only can find its implicit order

 

~~~

Poem by Alain Joly

Photo by Nicki Gwynn-Jones

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6E052D74-E6E9-433B-A389-30CB554DE9B1Nicki Gwynn-Jones is a British photographer currently living in Orkney, a group of islands north of Scotland. She has a passion photographing birds, and the coastal life around, full of a wilderness shaped by wind and water. In 2012 she was awarded a Fellowship in Visual Art by the Royal Photographic Society. 
Nicki’s Websitenicki gwynn-jones

 

Suggestion:
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Hymns to the Dawn

The Rig Veda is the oldest Indian text, a corpus of hymns that have been ‘seen’ by sages, or rishis – these ‘sacred poets’. They are hymns to Agni – the fire, to Soma – the drink of immortality, to the Gods and to nature (the Sun, the Earth, Heaven, Night, Dawn).

I have chosen to share here some hymns dedicated to Dawn. They are simple to understand, full of tender and beautiful imagery. They symbolize the eternal beginnings, the very ones that presided over the birth of the Vedas 3500 years ago. Dawn is the goddess Ushas, the beautiful maiden who infuses life with her beauty and qualities. Shardha Batra writes, “She is the pregnant silence at daybreak, which pulsates with a nebulous promise of fresh hope, dreams to be fulfilled, battles to be fought and conquered. Her gentle yet sure vibrations suffuse the most tired of souls with new potential.”

Also, the dawn symbolises the passage from darkness to light, and was bound to become this strong archetypal figure described by Sri Aurobindo: “Night in the Veda is the symbol of our obscure consciousness full of ignorance in knowledge and of stumblings in will and act, therefore of all evil, sin and suffering; light is the coming of the illuminated higher consciousness which leads to truth and happiness.”

 

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The stars were yielding reluctantly to dawn and there was that peculiar silent expectation when the sun is about to come; the hills were waiting and so were the trees and meadows open in their joy.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

 

Dawn on us with prosperity
O Ushas, Daughter of the Sky.
Dawn with great glory, Lady of the Light.
Dawn Thou with riches bounteous One.

~~

The radiant Dawns have risen up for glory,
in their white splendour like the waves of waters.
She maketh paths all easy, fair to travel, and, rich,
hath shown herself benign and friendly.

~~

The goddess Dawn has eternally shown before,
and the bounteous goddess shines here today.
So will she shine in future. The ageless and immortal Dawn
moves on according to her eternal laws.

~~

Shedding her light on human habitations
this Child of Heaven hath called us from our slumber;
She who at night-time with her argent lustre
hath shown herself e’en through the shades of darkness.

~~

Arise! the breath, the life, again hath reached us:
darkness hath passed away and light approacheth.
She for the Sun hath left a path to travel
we have arrived where men prolong existence.

~~

Singing the praises of refulgent Mornings
with his hymn’s web the priest, the poet rises.
Shine then to-day, rich Maid, on him who lauds thee,
shine down on us the gift of life and offspring.

 

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From Rig Veda (1. 92, 113, & 124) – Translation by Ralph T.H. Griffith

Picture by unknown artist ; Mandala by Elsebet Barner

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Bibliography:
– ‘The Rig Veda: Complete and Illustrated‘ – Translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith – (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)

Websites:
Usha, vedic goddess of new beginnings – by Shardha Batra
– The Vedic Dawn: Goddess Usha – by Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo (Wikipedia)
Vedas (Wikipedia)

 

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The Meeting

I come as an orphan to you, moist with love.
I come without refuge to you, giver of sacred rest.
I come a fallen man to you, uplifter of all.
I come undone by disease to you, the perfect physician.
I come, my heart dry with thirst, to you, ocean of sweet wine.
Do with me whatever you will
.”
~ Jagannātha (Ganga Lahari)

 

FDB86CAA-FA77-4C31-8866-289AB1AC3D00enares – a strange and beautiful city, the most religious city of all, so entrancing, so mysterious. Pierre had often heard of this town, and now he was already treading its soil. Many people had advised him that it’s not a place to linger in. “You will be assailed by the rickshaws, the hoteliers, the merchants…”, said the tourist guides. So he was on his guard that morning, on leaving the station, and was preparing to fight hard with the hawkers and profiteers of all kinds. It was six o’clock in the morning and a beautiful day beckoned.

His anxiety was soon dispelled. Everything seemed strangely calm and serene. There wasn’t here this traditional turmoil of Indian cities, nor the famous dust that envelops every city with a gray and dirty halo. An incredible clarity illumined the landscape. Oh! Of course! One had to endure, as everywhere else in this country, the innumerable calls of the rickshaw drivers, or the greedy shopkeepers. Gazes were as intense as everywhere else in India, students as curious, children as mischievous, cows as nonchalant, dogs wandering everywhere. Everything was so marvelously the same as the rest of India, and yet Benares was not a place like any other.

A short story, that tells of an unexpected meeting (READ MORE…)