The Incidental Life

I would like to live the incidental life. Not the one that is a toil. Not the one that finds its significance in happenings and accidents, in various changes or transformations, in happy or sad expressions. I don’t want to be dependent on the forms of life for my happiness. I don’t want to be bound to its many injunctions, be they ones that are imposed or desired. For this is how life acquires its tragic quality. This is how life becomes something that we have to endure or bear with. Something that we have to go through with clenched teeth — which is with hope and belief. Something that we can be happy with, or grateful for, only if we take the right decisions, make the right efforts, and have some good luck too. I don’t want my life to be so brittle and uncertain. To be so imprisoned in endless causes and conditionings. And to have fear as its background music. No. I don’t want to be so grandiose. I want the incidental life.

To have an incidental life is to forever place our gaze on the horizon of being. This gaze implies surrendering to what is, or not minding what happens, as Krishnamurti once affirmed. This gaze will make you see life as being drenched in beauty and love. And this gaze will render you to your eternal, inborn, given nature of peace, happiness, and freedom. This is when experience clothes itself in a sumptuous dress of truth or understanding. One that will allow you, in familiar terms, to leave your life alone. For it can verily and simply take care of itself. Life doesn’t need your painstaking involvement. It doesn’t fancy your pity or concern or greed. Doesn’t want to be taken advantage of. Let your life be in its right place, which is the place of humility. This is where it will find its true colours and expressions. This is when it will rid itself of all the suffering that encumbered it. This is how it will find its own sacred purpose. Don’t give your life an undue position. Don’t take what is secondary to be foremost. And what is foremost to be secondary. See only being as foremost. This is the sun of life: this being. Its essence and direction. The rest? Well, let it be incidental.

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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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The Angel of Death

‘Stranger Things Graffiti’ – Paul Sableman (Jher Seno & the Arty Deeds) – Wikimedia

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A myth is a mask of God, a metaphor
for what lies behind the visible world.”
~ Joseph Campbell (‘The Power of Myth’)

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There is an astounding profundity in popular culture. It is just for us to see when it pops up, when it arises above the sea of confusion that our life is for the most part. What is designed to be just light entertainment, what appears to have no depth or consistence other than being an easy escape out of ourself, can hide the brightest of gems if we can elevate ourself to its hidden meaning. I stumbled across one such meaningful gem recently.

Running Up That Hill’ is a song created by pop singer Kate Bush in the eighties. It recently got a second life and triumph by appearing in one scene of the famous sci-fi thriller series ‘Stranger Things’. In this particular show, there is a hideous monster that roams in an imaginary city, and feeds on the minds of teens deeply affected and traumatised by their past, luring them into its parallel and ultimately illusory reality. In that particular scene, the girl is trapped in some dark chamber of her mind. The ugly beast keeps her prisoner there — a cave like place where she is about to be engulfed in the monster’s hideous mind. She manages to escape the grip and run towards an opening in the distance where is her true self and salvation. Pieces of rocks are falling all around her to stop her course, but she keeps running one-pointedly ahead while hearing Kate Bush’s song ‘Running Up That Hill’. The reason for her escape is to be found with her friends playing this song she deeply loves, and creating in her that powerful call and incentive.

Why does a particular blend of a scene and a song suddenly hit a target, move people beyond what could be possibly expected? Just one glance in the comments of that particular scene on YouTube makes it clear: “Best scene of the series”, “This scene made me want to live”, “Cathartic”, “A metaphor for what’s battling your mind”. Why does anything hit us and move us to feel in ourself a feeling of being alive? Tears may come, a feeling of thankfulness, maybe even some sense of profound happiness. What is tilting in our minds in these ineffable moments is the recalling of our life’s most essential meaning and purpose, and the remembering of a place in ourself that we have neglected. This place is the forgotten but obvious target for all our thirsty mind-arrows. It is the open space of our deepest being that we keep missing at every moment of our lives, precisely because of its total intimacy and openness. How do we manage to miss it? Because we focus on the periphery of objective experience. We are enclosed in a dark chamber of our own making that lures us into itself, and makes us fragile, hopeful dreamers with fearful minds, forever caught in the prospect of impending death.

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See how popular culture is infused with non-dual reminiscences… (READ MORE…)

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The Ways of Being

Have you ever tried to live just above yourself? Now look. There is a whole set of activities going on down below, but you don’t need to get involved. It’s all conditioned reactions anyway, so don’t get entangled with any of it. You know this ceaseless activity: The ‘thoughts’ and the ‘felts’. Perceptions mesmerising you with their belly dancing. They will precipitate you down. They will be your fall. As for the body, it can take care of itself for the biggest part. Attend to it only when it’s required. To go to the dentist or to the cinema. To give the mind a vehicle. Fair enough. These are the contingencies of life. Feed the body well though. And give it something to do to keep the joints going, or for pure enjoyment. Joy is not some kind of negligible. It’s a necessity of life.

So bodily activity doesn’t need your full involvement. Stay aloof. Enjoy the show. As for the rest, you can be with being. You know this place that’s immobile, that never changes. Trust it. It will keep you safe. Stay there, just above yourself as it were. And don’t think that you are being haughty or bourgeois in this. Being is not that sort of being. It is not really above. It mingles with the lowly too. Actually it is everywhere. It cannot be taken apart. It’s the very fabric of experience. Only give it a little attention, and it will take you with itself. It will invite you at its home. Beautiful. Spacious. Silent. Well situated. You wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. You can bring there all your messiness. She doesn’t mind. Even these noisy and shameful friends of yours. But give them a warning though. They might not be served their usual cheap wine. Being has its ways. Her friendliness is contagious. Your friends might fall in love. They might shrink eventually and disappear. And make ‘being’ their home… move there for ever… even marry her… and be happy hereafter. You know the whole story that goes with it…

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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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How Difficult is That?

Isn’t this strange to have that constant race towards being when we are already fully being, and furthermore, doing it with absolute perfection? We keep projecting another better being than our present being, which we have judged not enough, un-sufficient, un-perfected. But we couldn’t be being any more or better than we are now already doing. What would I want to be but what I am? Why this be-coming? It is such a plain, inescapable evidence: I am this awaring presence. Presence, or being, is my natural abode. This is who I am.

Yet I’ve had all sort of ideas about it. And fanciful ones, believe me! That this presence was a me-person located inside a body. That it was an idea, a point of view that needed nurturing and developing as I — the me located inside this body — desired it. And if ‘I’ couldn’t do so, that would make this ‘me-majesty’ a sad, upset little ‘me’. And that sad little ‘me’ would go on living the life of a body located in space, projecting all the beings and things it senses as representing an ‘other’, a ‘world’ out there in which he roams about alone, gets scared, and craves, until he finally dies. That’s the end of ‘sad little me’. Body dies, he dies.

Hell no. That’s not the way it is. God forbid. There is no sad little me. That’s not there. It’s an idea, an image with no reality. I am not sad. I am not small. Not located. I am presence itself. I am this sweet, loving, sensitive, subtle knowing of everything that presents itself in this field. I am this field of knowing. This tenderness taking all in. I am the big, soft, loving eye of knowing. Knowing is my home. As for the rest, I am homeless. I don’t need to crave, grab, grip, grapple, grabble. None of that. God forbid. I am free. Unattached. Deep diving into the very substance of my self. Experience is my constituent and I am in love with every bit of it.

How difficult is that?

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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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Our Sacred Destination

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Our whole life ought to be being.
So far as our life is being, so far it is in God
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~ Meister Eckhart

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There is none but you, O Lord! — And yet I am dispersed in a thousand identities. I’m not in your embrace but in the embrace of thoughts, feelings, in the entrancement of the senses, and the endless worries and regrets. I desire only you but do not know it yet well enough. So I’m off in a thousand directions. But why don’t I keep it simple? For all my objective moves and endless searches happen in one place only, which is inside my own self and experience. Why being so dispersed? Go for your self only. Forget about all these apparent ‘other than yourself’. Let them all die. Stay in the glorious being that rests in and as the centre of every experience that you may have, of every quest that you may be engaged in. Be still, without moves. Ignore all your impulses towards these endless, hypothetical outsides. Observe them all and see that they are made only of the still presence of your own self. It will spare you a thousand thwarted expectations. All the weariness that goes with it. And all the efforts to get yourself out of these constant little traumas. Be supremely lazy. Forget about the thousand words that stretch themselves like a forest where you get lost again and again. Cease running about. Empty your load. Have a quiet nap in the shade of your sweet self. It has the gentle coolness of the presence of peace, and the happiness contained in the simple evidence of being. It is about you: your own glorious self. Don’t think that you have to achieve something, or be one of these heroes that you have been conditioned to be by society. Be alone, empty. Let go. Rest. Only rest. How difficult is that? And don’t wait for anything there. Only enjoy the simple destination of being just yourself. You are destined for it. For the simple reason that there is in truth nothing but that. Nothing but the obvious, sacred destination of your self. It all rests there: everything you ever wanted to possess, achieve, understand, reach. All is contained in that simple point of presence which lies in and as the centre of your being. Forget about anything else but the destiny of your one and only sacred destination: Being.

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

Quote by Meister Eckhart (1260-1328)

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Bibliography:
– ‘Meister Eckhart, Selected Writings’ – by Meister Eckhart – (Penguin Classics)
– ‘Conversations with Meister Eckhart’ – by Meister Eckhart & Simon Parke – (White Crow Books Ltd)

Website:
Meister Eckhart (Wikipedia)

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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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Blown Out

We continue our series of texts or essays on different subjects of spiritual interest. The question here is about ‘having a spiritual experience’, and delving into the nature of what is called ‘awakening’…

 

There is a safe place in view of all, but difficult of approach,
where there is no old age nor death, no pain nor disease.
It is what is called nirvāṇa, or freedom from pain, or perfection;
it is the safe, happy, and quiet place which the great sages reach.
That is the eternal place, in view of all, but difficult of approach.

~ Uttaradhyana Sutra, 81-4 (Buddhism)

 

Nothing much, really. Something just like peeking out of the window. But let’s not be overly disdainful, for this can bend the course of a life and change it in a profound way. To have a spiritual experience is a blessing, a call, maybe a rehearsal for the final dissolution. It leaves you puzzled, wanting to understand, and above all, searching to have it again in the future. It can be just a flavour suddenly lingering at the back of your mind, or a spectacular awakening, or anything in between. In all cases, you meet something new, that is outside any known experience, and yet has a familiar flame, like an old forgotten memory. Above all, peace, love, and happiness are attached to it. It is the DNA of any genuine experience, its vital core, and what makes it so desirable. After all, do we want anything in life but a lasting happiness? It can last for seconds, minutes, or days. It comes as a grace, unexpected, uninvited. One important characteristic is that it fades away, finally disappears. Otherwise we wouldn’t call it an ‘experience’. A spiritual experience is an awakening that failed.

An essay to delve into the nature of Awakening (READ MORE…)