A Loss and a Gain

‘The Voyage of Life: Old Age’ – Thomas Cole, 1842 – WikiArt

Well, at some point in our lives, we may start to make a rapid calculation. It may dawn on us that if we had counted on this body and mind to represent us right through the end of life, well… let’s be blunt on this: that’s certainly not our best investment. Old age will make it clear that, after a certain time, if we wait long enough, everything begins to go wrong with our bodies — and so with our minds. We-our body are losing it. New pains arise. Strength diminishes. Memory capacity fades. And disease is lurking. There are threats accumulating, to say the least. We have to come to terms with this plain fact of existence: we will never go back to where we were. We cannot keep holding on to our body, continue having faith in it. This constant hoping for a better body, or a healthier mind, has to end, and this is now. In a way, it really is something to laugh about — a sort of cosmic joke. How could we have been so naïve? This simple and inescapable fact shows — if we needed that kind of confirmation — that this body and mind is not the place for a healthy sense of being. We need to find a way out of this faulty understanding.

We find health in our innermost being. That is the answer. And the body is not this being. It doesn’t represent it. It is not its temple. The body exists but it is not being. Only being has the right and capacity to be. The body is at best a distant vassal. A tool. It is not the home of our being, but rather, it finds its home in being. It rests there. It can borrow its qualities. It can make Being its beloved teacher, if it is wise and humble enough to espouse Being’s extraordinary traits. Then the body and its companion as mind might feel enlarged. They might find their true essence as infinity and eternity. They might acquire a soft and gentle making — less heaviness. And the body-mind will be lit with a strange transparency. It will slowly give up its hard matter-like making in favour of a more airy essence. It might surrender itself slowly while still being alive. Then the natural flaws of its ending will have very little meaning — not something to be afraid of. For its death has already been achieved in love — its true essence. Then its apparent shortcomings and loss will be found to be the supreme gain of life itself. We enter a new kingdom, where death can never be death. It is simply the extinction of everything that wasn’t truly ours in the first place. It is a gentle clarification, and the revelation of our essence. “You may die, my dear body, you may fail and disappear, with your companion-mind, but I will meet you on the burning ground and see you rise again as ‘I’”. This is the meaning of old age and death. This is the gift of our apparent failures. To be raised and revealed as essence. See… we won’t lose it.

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Text by Alain Joly

Painting by Thomas Cole (1801-1848)

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Website:
Thomas Cole (Wikipedia)

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Other ‘Ways of Being’ from the blog…

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Evangelium

‘St Matthew and the Angel’ (detail) – Guido Reni, 1635 – Wikimedia

So many of my thoughts, feelings, and even sensations are here solely because they are sustained by, or dependent on, or conditioned by the representation I have of myself. In more bluntly put words, my belief in being a discrete, separate entity creates the bigger part of them. This is because I think that I am solely this me-person that I indulge in these endless thoughts about myself. This is because I think that I am only this separately existing entity that I am caught in the grip of these disturbing feelings around myself. This is because I think that I am undoubtedly this body that my world acquires a dull and solid reflection where I-myself live and am caught in.

But this apparent suffering reality of our life is only as disturbing, dull, or solid as is the reality of our separate self. This is where our life finds its solace: in the defeating of this illusion; in this looking within to discover the reality of our self, and the truth of our being. This is where the promise of spirituality comes in with its many gifts of release. This is where the ‘good news’ of religion finds its full meaning and effectiveness. And it says something like:

[…]

A meditation on the ‘Good News’ advocated by Christianity… (READ MORE…)

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Unconditional Love

I just happened to fall in love with my life recently. Don’t ask me how and why. I just did. That came surreptitiously after a long line of unfruitful attempts. I had given up the idea. Discarded the thought — too complicated! This happened when I simply stopped wanting, hoping, needing. These are the ways things get done, it seems, in this world. Life is not something that you can mould to your own convenience. You cannot love life if you set up conditions. If you want it to espouse the contours of your likes and dislikes. You might painstakingly get the life you want, but you will reduce love. You will wound it. That won’t be love anymore but bargain, economy. Love can never be found in the market place. Love shows up with its one fundamental, non-bargainable condition: it is unconditional. And I’ll tell you why:

I discovered that life is self. That the one constituent of life is simply being — who I am fundamentally. Not even a small portion of this life of mine stands outside myself. I love my life because my life is my self, and I cannot not love my self. We all love our self. To not love our self is an impossibility. We love our self dearly, because the nature of our self is love itself. Self is made of love. And everything in this world is made out of this very self of love. So we are bound to love this world unconditionally. To love our life unquestionably. To love people boundlessly. People are our brothers and sisters in love. They are made of the very same bright self that we are made of. Therefore the question of not loving life doesn’t even arise. Love is the very home where our life finds everything it could ever need or want. This is how life becomes a fountain of joy: when it is found to be entrenched in love. This fountain of love is sometimes referred as god’s self. Or ultimate being. Or simply happiness — without cause or condition.

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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Other ‘Ways of Being’ from the blog…

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Humanity’s Healers

‘Clytie’ – Frederic Leighton, 1890 – WikiArt

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The moment I realise I am humanity,
that is the greatest action
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~ J. Krishnamurti

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Why has humanity left this whole field of knowing oneself — all the spiritual endeavour, the extraordinary adventure that it is — outside the conventional and widely accepted way of living? It is a difficult thing to understand, since the door to it is so wide open and evident. Of course, religions are there, and have taken an all too consuming place in the past, but yet to no real avail. For an immense majority of people, religious faith didn’t go very deep, and didn’t put much of a light on the everyday suffering of humanity other than being a widespread system of morals and rituals destined to give some rules to society, and to instil fear, consolation or respect. So why has this understanding been confined to only a few, scattered individuals? Why has it not yet become the one accepted and necessary endeavour of our lives?

[…]

An essay exploring the place of humanity in our being… (READ MORE…)

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The Graceful Way

‘Soaring’ – Andrew Wyeth – WikiArt

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I would like to live that way.
In the graceful way
Of a wild animal.
Attentive, on the watch,
Present — Always.
Present in an absolute way.
Which means wholly present.
Not in a sneaky way.
But elegantly, naturally.
In a princely way.
This is what presence is about.

And I want to be wholly myself.
To eat when I eat.
To watch when I watch.
To rest when I rest.
To abide in the peace of just being.
What else is there to be done?
To add anything to the experience
Of being is to sully it.
A wild animal is incorruptible.
It cannot even conceive
Of wasting presence.

I would like to be never yearning
To change my experience.
Such idea is unknown
To a wild animal — This is called
Silence; Humility; Vulnerability.
Each has being as its home,
And abides in changelessness.
Being has the supreme advantage
Of being always only itself;
Owned by a strange necessity.
Ah! — To live as king. As eagles do.

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Text by Alain Joly

Painting by Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)

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Website:
Andrew Wyeth (Wikipedia)

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

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Go Within

‘Church Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption’ – La Grave (France)

All the religious and spiritual traditions of the world, with their complexity and variety, and all the names attached to them, are in fact only pointers to one simple, living reality that can be experienced here and now in every human being. Every Purana, Surah, Gospel, Sutra, Psalm, Hadith, Sermon, Teaching, are one global attempt at pointing or describing the most common experience of our humanity: the nature of our present experience. The truth of our being.

Although the very vehicle with which our experience is known, this instrument — let’s call it consciousness — is ignored and taken for granted. This is what the world’s religious scriptures are here for: to explore this simple reality of ourself which — although experienced faintly or unknowingly — is hidden in the clamour of objective experience. This labyrinthine network composed of our senses, thoughts, and feelings, mesmerises us, hypnotises us, conditions us, and finally renders us like separate beings craving for their lost happiness.

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On how all the world’s spiritual traditions only point to ‘being’… (READ MORE…)

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The Lazy Worker

Today, I went out to clean the streets of Copenhagen. I did it with my love. I hadn’t left it pristine, so it needed a little ordering. I had crowded it with my worrisome thoughts, had encumbered it with my train of escapes, had disseminated some of my many unhappy faces along its avenues — I sure need to clean my mess. So here I am, scanning its landscapes with the blooming of presence, cleansing its pavements with the gaze of beauty, bowing to its people with the healing power of love. This job is an easy endeavour. No need for special tools. Love is accessed through presence. This is how you see every friend, every passing person, as if a long-term companion of voyage. As if we were all coming back from a giant spiritual retreat. Clear and bright. Beautiful. Lovers of being.

Isn’t it extraordinary — how quickly you can repair a world? How easily you can erase the polluting influence of mind? With its thoughts rummaging constantly for a passing, occasional relief. How the litter of separation can be done away with one single sway of the broom of presence? I’m the chief worker wherever I go — which is nowhere but in the expanse of my present experience. I was made the one responsible for the cleanliness of my city-world. To verify that all the neons of presence were shining their light in every dark corner. To make sure that the transports of happiness were running smoothly in all directions. To ensure that behind every blasting horn or tempestuous engine was a silence in sufficient amount.

And guess what? There is! There is already everything that we and the world need! It has already been cleansed through its perfect, eternal, incorruptible making. That’s why this job is only for the lazy workers. Not for the busy ones, attached to their own projected outcomes. Not for the needy ones, expecting to find in their city-world what they think will make them fulfilled and happy. This is all our world ever needs: our presence-ing it — without the ‘it’. In other words, Being.

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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Other ‘Ways of Being’ from the blog…

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