A Thing of Beauty

‘Saint Peter’s Basilica’ – Rome (Vatican)

Isn’t the world the most extraordinary place? I’ll explain. Take a tree. A single tree, with its roots spreading and fiddling deep into the soil. And its erected trunk that divides itself into branches, and a thousand twigs, and a whole foliage of leaves. The shadow it gives. The home that it is for birds and little animals. And the shelter. And a thing of beauty. To be admired, listened to, touched, felt. The roughness of its bark under your fingers. And the presence. There are millions — most certainly trillions — of such trees that spread over the world to form groves and vast forests. Extending their sheltering embrace to countless beings. And to you too, today. A tree! The strangest thing there is. To look at one is to be taken into a well of wonder. Feel that amazement. See where it takes you. You will be surprised.

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A reflection and meditation on the beautiful world that we are… (READ MORE…)

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The Virtues of Shopping

Shopping is not an activity that I‘m particularly fond of. Quite frankly, I only get on with it. One of these things that I just have to do. Sometimes, it comes with some extra difficulties. Today it is pouring rain. That just came suddenly to annoy me as I’m walking back home with my bag of groceries. Well, I’ll clench my teeth and show some bravery. But my inner world is screaming out loud. A whole company of thoughts that march in my mind, and on it. For they numb me, make me blind and deaf to the world. In short, I’m complaining about all sorts of things: my stiff body and this cumbersome umbrella; a walk far too long from the shop. Now I long to be home and hurry my steps. I fiddle for my keys. Three storeys to climb. No room for a view…

Well, that’s one version of it. The other is to be simply present. But that’s easier said than done. Unfortunately I don’t master it yet. I get lost. Forget myself. Maybe I’m trying too hard. For this quality of presence often comes unexpectedly as a gift when you really let go of yourself; of that little babbling, pestering mind. In those precious moments, you come to know precisely what you are doing. It is such a gift, to know what you are a part of. Life then comes with its own explanatory notes. It unfolds; shows its brightness and dumbfounding simplicity. I know with a childlike clarity that I am now — actually — coming back from shopping. Not in a vague and lazy way but clearly. I am fully participating. There is a slowing down. I become interested. Present.

There is a body walking here in the street. And I’m grateful for it. It’s even a thrill to feel it. To be alive. To have this pain in the shoulder. Nothing much. The little price to pay for carrying the shopping bag. There are not many thoughts around, so the world does not appear somewhat darkened, in two dimensions, as a flat and dull projection of a mountain of resistance. There is some relief, profundity. It is three-dimensional. The rain has stopped and the houses around appear with their various pastel colours, as it is commonly seen in this region. This is really beautiful. Many bicycles are negligently resting against the wall by my side. Some are standing under the trees with elegance, and a certain artistic composure. I feel truly happy. 

I don’t feel constrained by my shopping. On the contrary. It comes with a gentle and subtle sense of pride. To bring back home the necessary food that will substantiate us. It has purpose. What a lovely thing to know what is exactly going on, and not what we project and finally invent. To have a clear view. To see meaning. All these things that come easily when we do not impose unnecessary barriers on our living experience. Countless drops of water are now falling leisurely from the trees onto the pavement. It is a soothing thing to see and hear. It is music. A few high green plants grow around a nearby trunk, stand erect, dance even, stretching towards the rain, blessed. Even plants can show some eagerness of living, some gratefulness, and finally this strange sense of happiness that pervades the world when it is seen for what it exactly and truly is. It is my turn, today, to feel just that!…

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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Suggestion:
– Other ‘Reveries’ from the blog…

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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 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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The Navel of the World

How come if we feel to be a little body amongst billions of other bodies, how come if we are a little thing lost, moving in a vast world, that we feel to be so important, like the centre of the world. My thoughts may tell me that I am a small, separate being. But in reality I feel that I am bigger than that. I feel that my little person happens to be most of the time a very big one, that takes literally the whole space. And whose world has become the one and only reality there truly is. Why is that so? 

My thoughts tell me that I am a small, separate being, and yet my felt reality is different. So I want to repair that injustice, to make me bigger, more important than I am, and of course I only expand that part of myself which is only a thought. And this leads me to act in selfish, unkind, or distorted ways. But the intuition was correct. I am wide, everlasting, important, precious, because the self that I am is not just a bundle of thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

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A short reverie about where lies the true centre… (READ MORE…)

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The Golden Thread

A golden thread is running through our life;
It says: listen, I want to be happy,
I long to be free from darkness and strife
And find that peace that is looking for me.

So now I’m out in search of all the things
That will give me some meaning and relief;
But that peace is short-lived, only quick flings
That leave me unfulfilled and full of grief.

Is it that things cannot satisfy me,
Have no power in bringing happiness?
Is it again that I have failed to see
That not a thing away from me can bless?

Life knows it well that puts death at the end
To stop me ‘cause this endeavour is null;
It is only a hint — not some cruel bend —
To show there is some answer in that lull.

Now turn around and face that void in you
That is no thing but bears all things that are,
And remember you’re not anyone who
Can say I am separate and afar.

I am empty presence that knows and sees,
Renders all things as if they were in me;
I’m the silent watcher behind all these
That previously were my identity.

Now hear at last — there is some highlight here —
That when you rest in that newly found ‘I’,
All your strife and suffering disappear,
You’re found to be happy, at peace — oh my!

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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This poem is inspired by Rupert Spira’s suggestion that the longing for happiness is a golden thread which, if followed right through the end, leads to the discovery of our true nature.

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

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The Search

Come, 
Come away, 
O love, 
Sit beside me; 
I will teach thee 
The way to 
Happiness
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I have collected here some excerpts of a poetical work by J. Krishnamurti, published first in 1927 under the title ‘The Search’, and later in the book ‘From Darkness to Light’ (1980), along with other poems from this period. Krishnamurti considered these writings as not being part of his official teachings, for they were written when he was still involved with the Theosophical Society, the organisation that raised him to become the new World Teacher and that he left in 1929. They are nevertheless a beautiful read, imbued with the wonder of nature, and the search for happiness. In the Publishers Note, we read: ‘These poetic writings represent a facet of Krishnamurti that is characterized by the intensity of his feelings and by his passionate appeal to the individual for self-realization of truth.’ I hope you enjoy them…

 

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Balanced between the past and the future, 
the “I” is poised as a tiger ready to spring, 
as an eagle ready to fly, 
as the bow at the moment of releasing the arrow. 

This moment of equilibrium, of high tension, 
is “creation.” It is the fullness of all life, 
it is immortality. 

The wind of the desert sweeps away 
all trace of the traveller. 

The sole imprint is the footstep of the present. 
The past, the future… sands blown by the wind
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~ J. krishnamurti (From Darkness to Light)

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I have been a wanderer long 
In this world of transient things. 
I have known the passing pleasures thereof. 
As the rainbow is beautiful, 
But soon vanishes into nothingness, 
So have I known, 
From the very foundation of the world, 
The passing away of all things 
Beautiful, joyous and pleasurable. 

 

If thou wouldst concern thyself with the lasting, 
With the eternal, with the indestructible, 
With divinity, with immortality, 
With wisdom which is the pool of Heaven, 
If thou wouldst know of that everlasting Kingdom of Happiness, 
If thou wouldst know of that Beauty that never fades or decays, 
If thou wouldst know of that Truth that is imperishable and alone— 
Then, O world, 
Look deep within thyself

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Continue reading excerpts from this poem by Krishnamurti… (READ MORE…)