The Most Important Thing

That might be the most important thing of all. Not the meditations that leave you in a state of gratitude and wonder. Not the repeated understandings, no matter how deep and essential they are. Not the feelings of awe in front of that experience of oneness — the disappearance of yourself, and the appearance of your true, revealed, precious self. “I got it at last” were you thinking… But no. That would have been a bit too easy. None of these might do it in the final end. For these extraordinary revelations will eventually have to die down. For these experiences will have to end of their natural end. For these lack the last little remaining kick. There always seems to be another last ‘top of the mountain’. Another frontier. Another clarification. Another hope. Another deception. Another naïve expectation. And another waving hand and unwanted reminder from your sense of being a separate entity. “Hey, I’m still alive!” And back are you on your meditation cushion for another sprout of failing expectation.

That might be the most important thing of all. Not to leave a way out for yourself to escape and hide in a little corner. To grab yet another last little pleasure. To keep yet another wee sense of pride. To have yet a negligible remaining sense of being ‘me’ and enjoy the show from a distance. For these little remaining indulgences, no matter how small and inconsequential they may appear to be, will give rise once again to a fully grown sense of being a person. And this ‘person’ still has on a leash the dark beast of suffering that seems to come back with ever more strength and power. We might finally be eaten by it and be left here, a panting failure. We might never make it… The beast is barking now. Growling in the background. Waking itself up. Hungering for more and better with sharp scintillating teeth.

That might be the most important thing of all. Simply to give yourself up to just being. To not think you’re going to participate to your own banquet. You cannot be a guest of honour when you are yourself the one to be devoured. You just have to give it all up. Every thing of you. Every remaining bits or crumbs on the table of your apparent self. And it will have to be a pleasant offering. For it will never be forced on you. You are invited to die willingly. Or more precisely, to die understandably. To let go of that pestering little thought of yourself. That old haunting belief. That erroneous identity. Knowing that it’s your only chance. The last little thing left to do. That last remaining kick. The most important thing of all. So do it… That’s how you have a really joyful banquet.

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You can’t both drink the cup
of the Lord and the cup of demons.
You can’t both partake of the table
of the Lord and of the table of demons
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~ 1 Corinthians 10:21 (The Bible)

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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Website:
BibleGateway

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Other ‘Ways of Being’ from the blog…

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The Contemplative Mind

Contemplation is a place of leisure and space. It is, as its etymology conveys, a ‘place for observation’. It has space within itself. It is a temple, which in Latin means an ‘open and consecrated space’. It is a sacred spot. A place where you find yourself meditating without having initiated it. It means that you — your Self — are on an equal footing with the objects of experience. You have not been absorbed, or engulfed by them. You are rather with them, hosting them all, embracing them in your emptiness. You see life from the standpoint of your temple of being. This is the position where from things acquire beauty and meaning. This is how you contemplate — by looking at everything from within the position of your Self. This is like being at the beach. The beach is a threshold, as are the front stairs that lead to the Ganges in Benares. This is when or where the city life is left behind and we come to be on vacation, on a holy-day — which is always a holy ground — to have leisure, freedom. To meet a certain form of death. To face the emptiness of the sea, the river, and the sky in front of us. We know intimately, or have the intuition of this place in ourself — this threshold, this passage from a dull and empty sense of acquired fullness, to the fullness of emptiness which is nothing but our natural, god-given state and being. This is the temple from which objective experience ought to be contemplated. This is where the contemplator is felt to be the contemplated. Contemplation then becomes a prayer. And such a prayer asks for nothing but the fact of being. This is the place of convalescence, where you come to heal from the world, from yourself. This is where you come to paint, to produce a new world out of your Self. This is where you get healed by this new vision, where your life finds a reorganisation, a new standpoint, a new temple where you can breathe at last and be content. Contemplation is completion. Sitting in an empty boat, or amongst dirty laundry, and be taken far out of yourself into your newly discovered sense of Self. This is a cleansing process, both of yourself and of the world. This is the contemplative mind.

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Painting and text by Alain Joly

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The painting was made from an original black & white photograph by Bjørn Weinreich.

Bibliography:
– ‘Benares, A Sacred City in North India’ – by Bjørn Weinreich and Ulla Mørch – (Denmark, 1983)

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Other ‘Ways of Being‘ from the blog…

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