The Sadness of Life

The sadness of life is this –
the emptiness that we try to fill
with every conceivable trick of the mind
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~ J. Krishnamurti

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Quote by J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

Photo by Alain Joly

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Bibliography :
– ‘Krishnamurti’s Notebook’ – by J. Krishnamurti – (Krishnamurti Publications of America, US)

Website:
J. Krishnamurti

Suggestions:
Beauty in Essence (other pointers from the blog)
A Day at Brockwood Park (Homage to J. Krishnamurti)

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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.
[…]
If you doubt mountains’ walking,
you do not know your own walking
.”
~ 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 Ballet of Life

The Ballet from ‘Robert le Diable’ – Edgar Degas, 1876 – Wikimedia

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See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!

~ William Shakespeare in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (Prince 5.3)

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Tonight I’m out to see a ballet for the first time. Not any ballet, but one of the prestigious classical ones, namely ‘Romeo and Juliet’, which the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev created in 1935, based on the play by William Shakespeare. As I entered the shell like old royal theatre of Copenhagen, my eyes scanned the prestigious room, with the four golden balconies circling over our heads, one above the other, and the spectacular royal lodge down on the left, close to the stage. In front of us, hidden in the orchestra pit, the musicians were already according their instruments, and enveloped our expectation in a soft and pleasant cacophony.

I found my seat, and my gaze landed on a quote placed right above the curtain. It said in Danish: ‘Ej blot til lyst’, which means ‘not only for pleasure’, stressing that Theatre as an art was also created for learning. It reminded me that in India, the theatrical experience was created as a fifth Veda, for the humble people to whom the old religious texts could not be transmitted orally as was the tradition in these times. On both sides of the saying were two faces in relief. The one on the left was a sad one, and the other on the right was laughing. The ballet that was about to start could have adopted this passage from the ancient Indian treatise ‘Natya Shasta’, where the nature and purpose of the performing arts are described as follow: “Sometimes the law, sometimes gambling, sometimes wealth, sometimes peace, sometimes laughter, sometimes war, sometimes passion, sometimes violent death… Showing the ways of law, glory, long life and grace, strengthening the mind, this theatre will be a source of instruction for all.” As the room acquired silence and the lights slowly dimmed, I was ready to both enjoy and learn, maybe laugh and shed a tear, and if grace allowed, strengthen my mind. The curtain was raised.

[…]

Some reflections on seeing Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet ‘Romeo and Juliet’… (READ MORE…)

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Hunger

‘Raager på Pløjemarken’ – Laurits Andersen Ring, 1891 – Wikimedia

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So this is the mystery,
That there is no mystery,
That it’s all out in the open:
Consciousness being aware of itself.

No dark intrigues, no hidden thoughts,
No story — what an insanity!
Nothing that you were meant to
Invent, project, and be afraid of.

And you were not left away
from the banquet table — never!
Didn’t have to be hungry, to be thirsty,
Had no necessity to believe in any thing.

Your hungers? They were your
Desperation, your final lassitude;
The only thing you could come up with
For not facing death.

So hunger for one thing only:
That one which is without hunger;
And thirst for one beverage and no other:
The beverage of your heart.

Care only for that one spark of light
That will ignite your world
And reveal it to be devoid of hunger,
of thirst, of story — whatever.

But don’t think too big here,
Only have a little hunger,
An infinitesimal thirst,
That will suffice.

That will break
Your hunger
In a thousand
Golden pieces.

It will precipitate you into that
Which is before all hunger,
Incapable of even conceptualising it,
Of only conceiving of it.

The peace of satiation?
Not even that;
The bliss of fulfilment?
That’s too far ahead.

Listen, I’m not admonishing you;
I know about hunger,
To what untold extremities
It can lead us.

Yet its destructiveness
Comes short compare to that
Which will be given to you when
You can be hungry no more.

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Text by Alain Joly

Painting by Laurits Andersen Ring (1854-1933)

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Website:
Laurits Andersen Ring (Wikipedia) 

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The Wisdom of Humility

‘Buddha as mendicant’ (Part) – Abanindranath Tagore, 1914 – Wikimedia

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To look into and understand the meaning and implications of being truly humble, of that state of humility which we often hear about — but rarely fully understand — is a precious thing. The word ‘humble’ finds its roots in the Latin ‘humilis’ which means ‘lowly’, literally ‘on the ground’ (from ‘humus’ meaning ‘earth’). Its etymology covers both the more active aspect contained in being ‘humiliated’, or being ‘humbled’, and the one that refers to the state, or quality, of being ‘selfless’. The first one gives the primary importance to the self that we are, to this separate entity that we believe to be, and which needs to be rendered humbler, smaller, lower. But why would we want to do that? Why, if it wasn’t for our deep intuition that this self is illusory, false, and is ultimately preventing our true identity of peace and happiness to be recognised and realised? 

This inherent peace contained in just ‘being’ refers to the second aspect of the word. Being humble is being without self, without the belief of being separate from objective experience. We are not this restless entity that wants to achieve, to aggrandise itself, and needs to be rendered low. We are rather this pure being whose very nature is complete, and already, unconditionally humble. Otherwise, why would Shiva or Buddha be portrayed as a mendicant? Therefore, the solution to our chronic state of suffering and conflict does not lie in having more, or less, or better ‘self’, but in realising, and living from, this deep and already achieved peace that we are. This realisation, and the action that is born of it, is what true humility is about. This simple phrase from the Bible made it crystal clear long ago: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)

I am sharing here a few quotes that will further explore this deep and essential question:

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In a space of humility,
no conflict is possible
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~ Éric Baret (‘Let the Moon be Free’)

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Humility contains in itself the answer to all the great problems of the life of the soul. It is the only key to faith with which the spiritual life begins: for faith and humility are inseparable. […] If we were incapable of humility we would be incapable of joy, because humility alone can destroy the self-centeredness that makes joy impossible.”
~ Thomas Merton (‘Seeds of Contemplation’)

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Discover many more quotes on this question of humility… (READ MORE…)

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The Fountain of Dark Silence

‘Above the eternal tranquility’ – Isaac Levitan, 1894 – WikiArt

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There is a fountain inside you.
Don’t walk around
with an empty bucket
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~ Rumi

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Dorothy Walters is my newly invited guest on ‘The Dawn Within’. The ‘fountain’ refers here to this deep source at the core of our being, this “fountain of dark silence”, as Dorothy wrote in one of her poems. Dorothy experienced a profound Kundalini awakening in 1981, at the age of 53, which she described as “God moving through your body”, “the Beloved within“, “the goddess above all other goddesses”, or a “relentless agony of ascent”. This was her first expression of the ‘fountain inside’, a fountain of bliss in which she dipped again and again until, as she beautifully expresses in one poem:

“… nothing is left of us
but a fine ash
at the core
and then that, too, melting
to a nothingness,
a no place,
only a marker
where a somebody,
a something
once was.”
(Marrow of Flame)

Profoundly transformed by her experience, Dorothy began writing numerous spontaneous poems which are the direct expressions of the beauty and freshness of this inexhaustible source. They have been gathered in her website “Kundalini Splendor”, and in her numerous books.

Dorothy spent most of her youth as a lover of language and books. She took a PhD in English and American literature and taught both classical and contemporary literature at university. She had a life-long interest in some of the great poets and philosophers like W.B. Yeats, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and later on Rumi, Hafiz, Mirabai and Kabir, which had a deep influence on her poetry. She also helped to found one of the earlier women’s studies programs in the U. S. and directed it for many years. She continues sharing and writing on the subject of Kundalini awakening to this day. After an extended residence in San Francisco, Dorothy now lives and writes in Colorado. I have selected here a few of her poems, which are like the “raw honey of God”. I hope you will enjoy…

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Turn me to gold.”
~ Kabir

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Preparing to Meet the Goddess

Do not think of her
unless you are prepared
to be driven to your limits,
to rush forth from yourself
like a ritual bowl overflowing
with sacramental wine.

Do not summon her image
unless you are ready to be blinded,
to stand in the flash
of a center exploding,
yourself shattering into the landscape,
wavering bits of bark and water.

Do not speak her name
until you have said good-bye
to all your familiar trinkets –
your mirrors, your bracelets,
your childhood adorations –
From now on you are nothing,
a ghost sighing at the window,
a voice singing under water.

(from ‘Unmasking the Rose’)

[…]

Discover more of Dorothy Walter’s beautiful poems… (READ MORE…)

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Into the Night

Photo by johnpaulsimpson on Foter.com

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They left into the night, like thieves, far from the crowd and the taxis. The old Delhi airport was still human-sized for them to be able to get away from it so easily. Peter had no idea what was going on. Where was he going, riding on the determined, almost fiery steps of his two guides? What madness had he gotten himself into?

The little group stopped in front of a garage door. By accepting the hotel proposal from his flatterer, Peter had set in motion a chain of events of which he was not yet aware. Barely off the plane for his first trip to India, he chided himself for being so malleable, for not being more resistant. But the abandonment to which he had now succumbed had the full-bodied taste of the tropical Indian night that enveloped him. A shiver of excitement appeared and mingled with his general apprehension. He became more attentive to the scene unfolding before his eyes.

[…]

A very short story that narrates Peter’s entry to sacred India… (READ MORE…)

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