Rumi

“We are all returning.”
~ The Koran

 

“On the seeker’s path, wise men and fools are one.
In His love, brothers and strangers are one.
Go on! Drink the wine of the Beloved!
In that faith, Muslims and pagans are one
.”
~ Rumi, Quatrain 305

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در راه طلب عاقل و دیوانه یکی است
در شیوه‌ی عشق خویش و بیگانه یکی است
آن را که شراب وصل جانان دادند
در مذهب او کعبه و بتخانه یکی است

 

Rumi is a giant. Somebody whose words resonate with the perfume of truth, but about whom we paradoxically know very little. At least I didn’t. Quoted far beyond the small circle of spiritual seekers, he is taken for granted, like a distant angular stone of spirituality. His verses are shared, loved as so many gems of human history, but without showing off. And yet, what depth of understanding they convey! In what subtle and intricate ways they describe the torturous alleys of spiritual endeavour! And with what simplicity!

 

Why do you stay in prison
When the door is so wide open?
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.
Flow down and down in always 
widening rings of being
.”
~ ’The Essential Rumi’ (Translated by Coleman Barks)

 

Rumi was a Sufi. He was born Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, in 1207, in Balkh in present day Afghanistan, in a family of Sufi tradition. Sufism, which could be defined as ‘the inward dimension of Islam’, has its origins shrouded in mystery. How did it suddenly grow, nobody knows. The word comes from ‘sūf’ which refers to the woollen garment worn by the first mystics who broke away from the mainstream Islamic religion. Sufism didn’t grow in opposition to Islam, the religion that gave it birth around the 9th century, but as a deepening, a going back to the very source and meaning behind traditional Muslim orthodoxy. The Sufi devotee wanted to feel, to know God as the true presence in the heart, not putting an illusory figure at a distance to be worshipped. That’s how Sufism placed love, the love of god, at the centre and expressed it in the most exquisite poetry. That’s how music and dance were allowed and praised. Sufism is understanding and living this primary statement of faith in Islamic religion: ‘There is no god but god.”

Immerse yourself in Rumi’s path of divine love and poetry… (READ MORE…)

 

Variations on the Separate Self

Who am I, and in what really do I consist of?
What is this cage of suffering?

~ Jayakhya Samhita, Verse 5.7

 

Why is it so difficult to recognise something that’s staring us in the face? The distance is always so short between our worse moments of separation and the full recognition of the truth of our being. The tiniest, softest change of focus can either show you a world made of infinite space or throw you into an abyss of tortured thinking. When we stand in the apparent coziness of our false beliefs, we seem to be ages away from any kind of understanding. We feel that no amount of effort will ever bring us into the light. We might as well give up. This is the road towards self-indulgence and sorrow. We think that the burden is too big, the effort required out of reach. No. It’s never like that. We are an infinitesimal move away from the light. No effort is even required. Something of a relaxation. A so slight change of focus that it seems no move at all. It’s here already, waiting for our humbleness. …

Continue finding out about these variations on separation… (READ MORE…)

 

God Only Knows

This poem was written by Katarina Jonsson, a Danish friend. I loved this poem from my first reading for its truth and simplicity. 

 

Where do you come from
he asked
I never arrived
she answered
but I come from a thousand different places
sometimes from sorrow and hurt
sometimes from the greatest joy
other times from shame and guilt
from projections and competition
she said

But where do you come from
he asked
I come from a thousand different places
she answered
I never arrived
Sometimes I come from ignorance and blame
sometimes from darkness and despair
I have come from happiness and communion
from disappointment and loneliness
she said

But where do you come from
he asked
I come from a thousand places 
I never arrived 
she answered 
I came from inferiority and superiority 
sometimes from equality 
I have come from thoughts and emotions 
and I have called them love

They both fell silent

Where do you come from
he asked 
I come from silence 
from love 
from God
she said
I have arrived 

Who has arrived 
he asked
I don’t know
she said

 

~~~

Poem by Katarina Jonsson

Photo by Alain Joly

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The Cave

As the innermost Self of all, 
he dwells within the cavern of the heart
.”
~ Mundaka Upanishad, Hymn II.1.9

 

I had this thought landing in my mind some time ago, that “now I might as well retire, take refuge into the cave of awareness”. This made me think of the retiring into caves, as monks and anchorites do in some spiritual traditions. Retiring from the world, falling into solitude can be useful to withdraw from the entanglement with the ten thousand things of experience. It allows a space in which we can be watchful, and have the leisure to deepen our understanding. In the Hindu concept of Ashrama, which represents the four different stages of life, two are dedicated to some form of withdrawal from the the world: Vanaprastha, which in Sanskrit literally means ‘retiring to the forest’, and Sannyasa, which means ‘to put down everything’. The western word ‘anchorite’ has a Greek origin which means ‘to withdraw’, and ‘monk’ comes from ‘monachos’, which means ‘solitary’.

But what does this withdrawal from the world mean, in deep analysis? All the religious concepts of renunciation, solitude, poverty must point to something deeper than just a physical attitude. Because no matter how thick the walls of renunciation may be, a strong sense of being a ‘person caught in the entanglements of its own re-created world’ can and certainly does survive any physical retirement, be it in a forest, a monastery, or a desert. So this retiring has to be a metaphor. In reality, the true retiring resides inside, where we for a time take our stand as the witness, the presence behind all objective experience. The Indian word ‘sādhu’, which also refers to a person living a form of renunciation, has more ambivalence. Its rich meaning goes from ‘not entangled’ to ‘leading straight to a goal, hitting the mark, unerring’, to simply ‘peaceful, excellent, virtuous’. There is much more here than just withdrawing.

 

The Lord is the supreme Reality.
Rejoice in him through renunciation
.”
~ Isha Upanishad, Hymn 1

 

So the cave, metaphorically speaking, is awareness, the peaceful presence at the core of our experience. This place need not be a remote one, except in the first stages of our understanding, when we need to disentangle our true self from the parasites of a busy and confused mind, or indeed an equally busy and confused world. But, in a way that is truly paradoxical, when you reach the deep, unfathomable cave of consciousness, the inside suddenly turns out to be the outside. The true cave turns out to be no cave at all. It turns out to be the world, the entirety of our experience. As Rupert Spira says: “This empty ‘nothing’ turns out to be the fullness of everything.”

The walls of the cave are made out of our daily experience. The world is the cave and it is placed at an infinite distance. Be careful here, ’infinite’ doesn’t mean ‘far away’, it means ‘at no distance at all’. The world is ourselves. The cave of consciousness where we have retired is ourselves. Not the little self for whom retiring was a separate action with an aim at hand, but rather a new self englobing everything, the whole world. And this world is not a cave of separation, it is the totality playing with itself. And believe me, the infinite possibilities for celebration, the number of possible games to be enjoyed are here if we are only willing to play. Not entering any caves, but giving ourselves – literally – to the non conceivable, the non fathomable, and to the ten thousand things of experience.

 

~~~

Text by Alain Joly

Painting by Joseph Wright (1734 – 1797)

~~~

 

Painting: A Cavern, Evening. 1774 – Joseph Wright – [Public Domain] WikiArt

Websites:
Rupert Spira
Joseph Wright (Wikipedia)

 

The Departure

It’s that dream that we carry with us
that something wonderful will happen,
that it has to happen,
that time will open,
that the heart will open,
that doors will open,
that the mountains will open,
that wells will leap up,
that the dream will open,
that one morning we’ll slip in
to a harbor that we’ve never known
.”
~ Olav Hauge (translated by Robert Bly)

 

His two bags were lying at his feet in the bedroom, wonderfully clean, square, tied up. Slowly, he had dressed with the clothes he had carefully chosen for the trip, had slipped his black leather belt on, in which slept a few bundles of neat traveler’s cheques, had put on his brand new, too new sneakers. Already, he imagined them, old and wrinkled, worn out, tanned, alive with six months of wandering in the land of gods and poverty. He was afraid of this journey, afraid of having to face, one by one, patiently, the thousand problems, the thousand worries, but also the joys, the discoveries, the surprises that would inevitably mark his path. He had prepared as thoroughly as his character allowed him and, at the time of departure, he looked like a bourgeois and shy little son who was about to fight the battle of his life. Nothing will ever be the same now, the die was cast, he would tread the foothills of the Himalayas, the Ganges plain, the Rajasthan desert, he would get drunk on wondrous visions, he would taste the smell of spices, he would marvel at beautiful faces. …

Continue reading about Pierre’s departure to India (READ MORE…)

 

The Deepest Acceptance

It is truth that liberates, 
not your effort to be free
.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

The question of ‘surrender’ is one that is often misunderstood. Surrender implies, in everyday language, something that the mind does, even remotely, in order to give itself to a reality that seems inescapable. It often comes down to a form of resignation, a giving up, something passive at its core, which brings more delusion and suffering. So what is true ‘surrender’, in a non-dual context? I have gathered here many quotes and pointers on this subject, from various spiritual teachers and poets of the eternal and the infinite. I hope that this will bring some clarity into that which Jeff Foster calls the deepest acceptance…

 

~~~

 

People often think that surrender means to renounce wealth, sexuality, or objects. Such a renunciation might be useful but it could also be a hindrance. Real surrender takes place when we cease to take ourself for a separate entity, an object. This renunciation seems, at first sight, limited in scope and too simple, but it is, in fact, the ultimate surrender. Such a giving up has no purpose, it comes from the deep understanding that our true nature, consciousness, is free from all limitations. From this perspective, surrender means to see the limitations for what they are: mere concepts superimposed onto our real being, which is limitless.”
~ Francis Lucille (‘Eternity Now’)

~

You may discover that when there is no resistance to totally being in hell, that heaven opens up and samsara reveals its true nature as nirvana. But the catch is, if you are embracing hell as a strategy to get you to heaven, that doesn’t work. Only the complete absence of wanting what is to be different in any way pops the imaginary bubble of separation. No one can do this. It is like dying or falling asleep. It is the absence of any doing, the absence of control, the absence of effort, the absence of any concern about what happens. It is a letting go, a dissolving, a relaxing. This letting go begins with letting go even of the need to let go, for the need to fall asleep keeps us awake, just as the imperative to surrender is a form of holding on and seeking control. True surrender is the absence of resistance even to holding on if that is how life is showing up in this moment. Surrender is the absence of trying to surrender.”
~ Joan Tollifson

Continue the exploration on the question of ‘surrender’ (READ MORE…)

 

Kabir Says:

(Painting by Tanya Bonello)

Lift the veil that obscures the heart
and there you will find what you are looking for
.”
~ Kabir

 

Little is known about Kabir. Legends abound and certainties are scarce. He was a weaver, probably spending most of his time working at his handloom. He was born in a Muslim family in fifteenth Century Benares, and became a mystic and a poet whose songs and ‘bānīs’ – meaning ’utterances’ – spread in the whole of India and beyond, mostly handed down orally between seekers and sadhus along the roads, sometimes written down. They were the expression of a simple man, probably illiterate, and his first-hand understanding of the deepest truth of living. 

Kabir wasn’t a philosopher, far from it, and many of his poems were deeply grounded in everyday life. His expression was often ruthless, “I see the world. What a bag of tricks it is!” He execrated the bigotry and hypocrisy of Hindu and Muslim devotees alike, and he never tired of denouncing the contradictions between the religions in place, each asserting their own god, beliefs, practices, about something Kabir knew in his flesh and soul to be one single reality, unbroken, and timeless.

Servant, where dost thou seek Me? 
Lo! I am beside thee.
I am neither in temple nor in mosque:
I am neither in Kaaba nor in Kailash: 
Neither am I in rites and ceremonies,
nor in Yoga and renunciation. 
If thou art a true seeker, thou shalt at once see Me: 
thou shalt meet Me in a moment of time. 
Kabir says, ‘O Sadhu! God is the breath of all breath.’

Discover more of the wonderful poetry and legacy of Kabir (Read more…)