The Guard and the Prison Breaker

‘The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog’ (part) – Caspar David Friedrich, 1818 – WikiArt

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Without freedom there is no self-knowing 
and without self-knowing there is no meditation
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~ J. Krishnamurti 

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Few sensations are as boisterously exhilarating as freedom is. Freedom is something that we all love to feel. To be freed! Freed from all weights and limitations. Freed from everything that bullies us and pins us down. But most of the time, this feeling is experienced from the vantage point of the little thought in our head that thinks it runs the show. This entity thinks that its freedom comes from being separate, and from its capacity to do what it wants. This is what being free means to most people. But is this really what freedom is, where freedom lies? In expressing all that comes from the lack and desperation of a limited, vindicative little self? If that is so, then this freedom takes us nowhere but in the already known boundaries of our self. How could that account for the power and magnitude of this feeling? Freedom cannot be so small and contrived. What is it then? Where is true freedom to be found? 

Freedom can never be fully felt within the conglomerate of our thoughts, feelings and perceptions, between the four walls of our prison cell. We may feel some occasional bursts of pleasure but this is not the real deal. If you search for freedom through that portion of yourself that is fleeting, fragile, untrue, you will by definition prevent the advent of any meaningful freedom. You will have limited freedom, something to be achieved, something to be added that becomes just another object, another aim in view. And don’t forget that this limited freedom can never be achieved anyway, for we in truth can never do what we want. And of what advantage would it be to follow the clumsy, limited, fanciful ideas of a mind that stands on false premises. Because of this impossible claim, we feel bitter, sad, violent, jealous, regretful. Let’s move away from such dangerous idea. 

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An inquiry into the question of freedom… (READ MORE…)

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A Room with a View

‘A Room with a View’ – James Ivory, 1985

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A crystalline voice broke amidst the many murmurs of tourists, between the walls of Roskilde cathedral. A young woman had come to practice her singing here, accompanied by a pianist. I recognised the song immediately. It was Puccini‘s aria ‘O mio babbino caro’, and it sent a wave of delight through me. I recognised it because it is the opening piece and musical signature of the film ‘A Room with a View’, which I have just seen recently. A most curious movie really. A light British romance made in 1985 by the American director James Ivory, based on the 1908 novel of the same name by E. M. Forster. But the film is more than it seems. I encourage you to watch it, for I have a theory about it. The film — and therefore the novel — has been secretly made as an allegory for the seeking of truth.

The film opens up with Lucy arriving at the Pensione Pertolini in Florence, with her cousin and stiff chaperone Charlotte. This is a place where many British citizens come to spend their holidays. We are at the beginning of 1900s, with upper-middle-class characters steeped in the repressive culture and morals of Edwardian England. They come here to have a taste of the more wild and unconventional atmosphere of Italy, along with the beauty of its culture and landscapes. Of course, this film is not specifically about a spiritual search. It is a love story. But not frankly so. It lingers on the edge, giving us some food for thought. Behind the conventional clothing of a delightful romantic romp, it leaves a whole collection of little pebbles in its trail that points to a reflection on life that is both profound and open to interpretations.

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A playful journey into James Ivory’s movie ‘A Room with a View’… (READ MORE…)

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The Wrath of the Lamb

Anatoly Solonitsyn (the Writer) – ‘Stalker’ by Andrei Tarkovsky

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Keep awake, keep awake, artist, 
Do not give into sleep…
You are eternity’s hostage
And prisoner of time
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~ Boris Pasternak

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The film ‘Stalker’, made in 1979 by Andrei Tarkovsky, is an absolute wonder. As usual with Tarkovsky, every shot in it is unique and intrinsically harmonious. As usual with Tarkovsky, you will have your breath taken away. And you will be bored too. And puzzled. Searching for a meaning that will elude you. For his cinema is not about entertainment, plot, revelation, or resolution. His cinema is about poetry, beauty, and the search for bringing forth art’s ultimate purpose, which is the uncovering of the core and substance of our being. With ‘Stalker’, you will feel what it is to be locked in a maze. And as usual with Tarkovsky, amidst the shallow words are pearls. And amongst the mud and the stagnant waters is the eternal truth.

The Stalker is a simple man living with his wife and his little girl in an undetermined country. His job is to guide people who want to enter into a mysterious place called ‘the Zone’, protected by barbed wires and police forces. This is a green, lush, deserted land where stand some vestiges of settlements. Maybe this is the consequence of a fallen meteorite. We don’t know. There is a place, concealed in the Zone, where desires come true. But as one of the protagonists finds out, “it is not merely a desire but one’s most secret desire that is granted here. Here will come true that which reflects the essence of your nature. It is within you, it governs you, yet you are ignorant of it.” As a result, many people want to reach this place in the Zone called the ‘Room’, and they need guides to lead them to it. This time, the Stalker is on again for a new trip with two men called the ‘Writer’ and the ‘Professor’. 

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A reflection on the qualities of Andrei Tarkovsky’s movie ‘Stalker’… (READ MORE…)

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The Rightful King

‘The Crown’ – Odilon Redon, 1910 – WikiArt

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A thought never comes alone. It appears with a container attached to it. But unfortunately, in our most habitual way to relate to experience, this container is felt to be the negligible part. And the same applies to feelings. Every appearance in the mind comes wrapped up with something that supports it. But that support is unseen, ignored, and the fleeting appearance is too often upgraded as being mind itself. Yet I think that the opposite is truer. That thought is the negligible, feeling is the dispensable. Not that they should be neglected. Far from it. For they are pointers. They are blooming flowers brought to our attention for a mission. They are flagging a message to our conscience. One that says, we — thoughts and feelings — are the negligible. We are not mind, but only temporary appearances in the mind. The mind is what matters. The container matters the most. That which we have taken to be secondary, unimportant, negligible — and that we have as a result pushed in the background — is our innermost reality. It is what needs to be raised in and as the foreground. This is the one and only entity there is, far before — and above — any fluttering thoughts or feelings which, to the mind that supports them, are no more than waves on the surface of an ocean. The container — this vast, indomitable expanse — wants to be explored, visited, admired. Cease taking a few thoughts and feelings to be you. They are not you. They only express the parts of you that are blind, unconscious, indolent. By emphasising them, we neglect all that is around them, behind them, beyond them. All that is supporting them, allowing them to be. Every objective appearance is secondary to that unmatchable presence, to whom even the body is a negligible. How could a few unruly servants think that they are the King, that they run the kingdom in place of the rightful King? But be careful here. Don’t neglect any of these unruly servants. Only remind them of their right place and rank. Invite them at your table. Make them see and understand where lies their interest. By thinking they are themselves little kings and queens, they miss an opportunity to surrender to the one who gives them food and lodging. Consciousness is our rightful King. Only give Him allegiance and contemplate His loving and all encompassing nature. He will make you to His likeness, and will send you back to life with a crown on your head. So be yourself the very subject of this majestic presence. Let Her crown you with Her very crown. And you’re not Her only subject, for everything in the kingdom of experience is Hers. Every house, every being, every tree, every expansive sea, every reflection of the sun on every crested wave, are Her subjects. And every subject subjects only one thing: Herself. So let yourself be the ultimate subject. The one that never bows to any object. Many objective appearances will mistakenly think to be subjects, but never will be, never can be. For this is a kingdom of one subject only. Nobody is meant to take the lead, except that which is the rightful King. 

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Text by Alain Joly

Painting by Odilon Redon (1840-1916)

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Website:
Odilon Redon (Wikipedia) 

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Churning the Ocean

‘Sagar Manthan’ – Unknown author, 1820 – Wikimedia Commons

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We cannot be fully established in our true nature as peace and happiness without integrating all our latent tendencies, all these reflexive and self-protective habits born out of our belief in separation. These would prevent the advent of bliss. This is the meaning behind this ancient myth of India called the ‘churning of the ocean of milk’ (‘Samudra Manthan’ in Sanskrit), which is narrated in many religious texts. 

In brief, as the Gods were bored, they decided to gather with some evil beings and unite their strength to churn the ocean of milk with the help of a sacred mountain as the rod, and Shiva’s serpent king as the rope. By doing so, the snake spitted out a deadly poison — called ‘Halāhala’ or ‘kālakūṭa’, literally: ‘black mass’ or ‘time puzzle’ — which Shiva, in its compassionate heart and presence, swallowed to prevent the destruction of the world. The path was cleared for the formation of many precious, invaluable gems, including the ‘amrita’, or ‘soma’, which is God’s drink, the elixir of happiness, or consciousness’ butter. 

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A playful inquiry into the meaning behind this famous Indian myth… (READ MORE…)

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The Great Mystery

‘Lake George’ – Georgia O’Keeffe, 1922 – WikiArt

Bernardo Kastrup is my newly invited guest on ‘The Dawn Within’. Bernardo is a Dutch philosopher and computer scientist who is reflecting on the questions related to mind and matter. His field of study is the nature of empirical reality — of the world we see — which our culture has defined to be fundamentally outside consciousness and made out of matter, with consciousness or mind being a product of that matter. Bernardo Kastrup is tirelessly challenging that idea through his proposition that ”reality is essentially mental” and that “matter is nothing more than the extrinsic appearance of inner experience.” 

Bernardo has worked for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the Philips Research Laboratories (where the ‘Casimir Effect’ of Quantum Field Theory was discovered). His writings and essays have been shared in his website  Metaphysical Speculations’, in his ‘numerous books’, and in many ‘thought provoking videos on YouTube’. His ideas have also been featured in scientific or philosophical magazines.

As an invitation to discover Bernardo Kastrup’s work and ideas, I have selected here a short essay, a few excerpts, and a poem that I hope will unravel this great mystery that lies beyond the nature of our every day reality and world. I hope you will enjoy…

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I argue that we do not need to postulate a whole universe outside consciousness – outside subjective experience – in order to make sense of empirical reality. The implication is that all reality, including our bodies and brains, are in consciousness, not consciousness in our bodies and brains.”
~ From Bernardo’s article ‘My philosophy and quantum physics

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Explore Bernardo Kastrup’s work on the nature of reality… (READ MORE…)

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The Surreptitious Thief

‘A Great Tree’ – J.M.W. Turner, 1796 – WikiArt

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Follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought
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~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson (from ‘Ulysses’)

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What better way is there to realise the illusory nature of something than to study its existence? So a study of the ego is really the most interesting and valuable thing to engage in. For two reasons. One, because you are attempting to describe, evaluate, and understand something that simply doesn’t exist in the form you had imagined. Therefore such a study will naturally push you to discover what lies in the place left vacant. Two, because the presence of the ego has been responsible for the near totality of man’s suffering and the mischief he has done in his desperate attempt to alleviate this suffering or cover it up. Only imagine the beneficial consequences when it is found illusory and therefore impotent. 

But what truly is the ego? This word has been used in a variety of ways, and with various understanding. In psychology, it is understood to mean a sense of being a self, a ‘person’ that is real as such and is the foundation for a healthy personality, and its subsequent functioning. In the spiritual realm, and more specifically in non-duality circles, it is often named by the general term of ‘separate self’. The ego or the separate self is the ‘person’ or ‘entity’ that we feel is present inside ourself, but whose presence is not real, but only assumed. It is a belief that we have ceased to question. Simply a derivative, a bundle of thoughts, feelings, and memories that we have shaped into a form, and from which we derive the existence of a particular being, or person, in command inside the skull. 

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An exploration into the nature of the ego or separate self… (READ MORE…)

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