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 Flowers of St. Francis

Brother Nazario Gerardi – ‘The Flowers of St. Francis’

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Praise be to you, O Lord, and to all your creatures. 
Especially Brother Sun, through whom you light our days. 
He is beautiful and radiant and resplendent, 
and derives all meaning from you
.”
~ Canticle to the Sun

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The deepest realisations and expressions of truth in Christianity have sometimes come from words and understanding, as was the case with Meister Eckhart, but it is, by far, not the most common path. Many a man or a woman have come to embrace God’s being through the expression of profound love and surrender. Such a path was trodden by Francis of Assisi, and has been splendidly shown in Roberto Rossellini’s 1950 film ‘The Flowers of St. Francis’. And if all one knew of Francis of Assisi was through watching this supremely elegant film, one would know what needs to be known, one would meet the essential — the essence — of this man’s life, of anybody’s life when it is lived from love and humility. One would know of the pure joy of being, of trust in life’s bounty, of care and attention for every beings on earth.

Showing only a moment of Francis’ life, the film is more a parable on the qualities that were emphasised throughout his life and teachings, than the real description of his life’s journey. Through a succession of simple vignettes, we are exposed to a panoply of Francis’ various expressions of love. We are shown a man who lived with his heart, and a life that has been made into a prayer to god. We are shown that prayer is but an act of love. We are shown people coming together around a common faith in God, their daily life and turmoils, their behaviours. Francis of Assisi encouraged his disciples to access or express god’s being by being oneself an example of the presence of god. And by making this presence shine in all their daily activities, so that the brightness of god can be harvested by everybody around. These expressions are in the film like the little flowers of St. Francis. A whole bouquet of them.

Praise be to you, O Lord, 
for Sister Moon and all the stars, 
which you cause to shine clear and bright
.”
~ Canticle to the Sun

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A homage to Francis of Assisi through Roberto Rossellini’s movie… (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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I have Called You by My Name

‘Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs’ in Roma

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I – luminous, open, empty Awareness – 
am the truth of your Being and am 
eternally with you, in you, as you, 
shining quietly at the heart of all experience. 
Just turn towards Me, and acknowledge Me, 
and I will take you into Myself
.”
~ Rupert Spira

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In some of the religious texts of the world, the subtlest expressions of truth are so deeply buried in the text that they have become unintelligible. The limitations of translation, the analogies and metaphors borrowed, the time in which these texts appeared, the audience for which they were written, the veneer of poetry or story-telling, all these concur to add multiple layers of confusing elements to the original idea. And these texts have also served such inappropriate religious purposes in the course of history that they are, for all these many reasons, rejected or misunderstood by many. The Christian Bible is one such text. 

I have here attempted to find exquisite passages from the Bible, where the veneer is cracking and the hidden meanings shine more brightly. For a clearer understanding, I have selected two excerpts by Rupert Spira that will help focusing on one possible expression of truth and how it comes to be hidden behind the most innocent line in the Old Testament. They make for a necessary and beautiful introduction. They are borrowed from a video called ‘The Memory of Eternity’ in Buckland Hall, Dec. 2018. I hope you enjoy, for when we come to these texts with the right perspective or understanding, they come shining with a new glow of truth…

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Our mind is just a temporary limitation or localisation of the only mind there is, infinite consciousness or god’s infinite being. So our mind is permeated with the memory of eternity, permeated by the memory of its origin. Why? Because it is made of it, although it is a limited version of it. So in everybody’s mind, there lies this memory of its own eternity. And that memory is felt by a person as the longing for happiness, or the longing for love. When we long for happiness, or we long for love, we are desiring to be divested of everything that limits us. We are designed to go back to our wholeness, our fullness, our sense of fulfilment, or completion. That’s why everybody longs for happiness or love. What people do to find happiness or love varies. But the actual longing itself is because there lives in everybody’s heart a memory of our eternity, the knowledge of our origin, or in religious language, a trace of God’s mind.

There is this beautiful line in the Old Testament, in the Book of Isaiah, where Isaiah says (Isaiah speaking on behalf of God): “I have called you by my name. You are mine.” I have called you by my name. I have planted my name in your mind. The name your mind gives to itself — that is the name ‘I’ — is the name of ‘me’. So the ‘me’ (God is saying) the ‘me’ in ‘you’ is in fact the ‘me’ in ‘me’. I have called you by ‘my’ name. That makes the ‘you’ of ’you’, ‘mine’ — or ‘me’. […] Everybody’s experience is permeated by what they call ‘I’. Experience is limited and individual, but the ‘I’, the self that permeates all experience doesn’t share the limits of experience. So Isaiah is saying that ‘I’ is God’s mind in our mind. It’s not even God’s mind in our mind. All there is to our mind is God’s mind, with a limit attached to it. That’s what seems to make it ‘me-the person’. But the ‘me’ of ‘me-the person’ is infinite consciousness.”
– Rupert Spira (‘The Memory of Eternity’ – Buckland Hall, Dec. 2018)

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Read some beautiful expressions of truth from the Bible… (READ MORE…)

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Reality is a Verb

‘The Gray Tree’ – Piet Mondrian, 1911 – WikiArt

Here is a reminder inspired from the words of Rupert Spira. It is necessary and terribly efficient to look into these matters for ourselves. This is why I like to share here the parts of a spiritual teaching that sounds like ‘something to do’, something to experiment and verify for ourselves:

Instead of giving attention to the known object — thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions, give your attention to the knowing of your experience. Neither the knower, nor the known — just the knowing of your experience. Feel only in terms of verbs. Instead of thinking ‘I know such and such’, feel ‘There is only knowing and I am that’. Instead of thinking ‘I love you’, feel ‘There is only loving and I am that’. Instead of thinking ‘I see the tree’, feel ‘There is only seeing and I am that’…’

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Further exploring on the subject:

When there is the awareness of the tree there is no evaluation. But when there is a response to the tree, when the tree is judged with like and dislike, then a division takes place in this awareness as the “me” and the “non-me”, the “me” who is different from the thing observed. This “me” is the response, in relationship, of past memory, past experiences. Now can there be an awareness, an observation of the tree, without any judgement, and can there be an observation of the response, the reactions, without any judgement? In this way we eradicate the principle of division, the principle of “me” and “non-me”, both in looking at the tree and in looking at ourselves.” 
– J. Krishnamurti (‘Awareness’ – ‘The Urgency of Change’)

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We don’t really know or come in contact with an object, called a mind, a body, or a world. All we know is the knowing of our experience. And this knowing is not known by a separate object – the knower — this knowing knows itself. […] In the seeing of a tree for instance, there is no seer and there is no seen. There is no inside ‘I’ that sees and there is no outside ‘tree’ that is seen. The ‘I’ and the ‘tree’ are concepts superimposed by thinking onto the reality of the experience, which in this case could simply be called ‘seeing’.”
~ Rupert Spira (Presence, Vol.2)

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The natural effortlessness of knowing, and the fact that it is always present, clearly prove it to be really the nature of the self; because this knowingness does not come and go like the other functions and does not part with the ‘I’-principle, even for a moment. […] A function should necessarily have a beginning and an end. Knowledge has neither of these, and so it cannot be a function. It serves as the background of all functions, lighting and co-ordinating all of them and their experiences.”
~ Atmananda Krishna Menon (‘Notes on Spiritual Discourses’ – 82 & 175)

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Knowing Self,
mind empty and at peace,
the sage lives happily,
seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating
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– Ashtavakra Gita (Bart Marshall – 17.8)

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Do not see God as having ever created anything but rather as being in every moment a different configuration that sometimes seems to reveal Him and sometimes seems to conceal Him, without any conditions, because He is the first and the last, the apparent and the hidden and He IS knowledge of everything.”
– Balyani (‘Know Yourself’)

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In True Meditation all objects (thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, etc.) are left to their natural functioning. This means that no effort should be made to focus on, manipulate, control, or suppress any object of awareness. In True Meditation the emphasis is on being awareness—not on being aware of objects, but on resting as conscious being itself. In meditation you are not trying to change your experience; you are changing your relationship to your experience.”
– Adyashanti (The Way of Liberation)

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Only if your knowledge of your own Self is correct, can you hope to know anything else correctly. It is our experience that our physical activities do not stand in the way of our thoughts and feelings. Similarly, it is possible for me as witness to be always knowing – even when the body, senses and mind are functioning. Merely note this fact and become deeply convinced of it. Don’t attempt to objectify the witness by thought.”
~ Atmananda Krishna Menon (’Notes on Spiritual Discourses’ – 288)

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In the beginning, 
The very first thing, 
The primary experience, 
Is pure knowing being. 
And that becomes 
— Or rather seems to become
Flesh.
This knowing takes the form 
Of seeing,
And seems to become 
The seen world, 
The object, 
The known.
In fact it never actually 
Becomes flesh. 
It always remains 
Pure knowing being
.”
– Rupert Spira (‘The Language of Non-Duality is only Verbs’)

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Bibliography:
– ‘Presence’, Vol. I & II – by Rupert Spira – (Non-Duality Press)
– ‘The First and Last Freedom’ – by J. krishnamurti – (Rider Book)
– ‘Notes on Spiritual Discourses of Shri Atmananda: Volumes 1-2-3’ – Shri Atmananda (Krishna Menon) (Taken by Nitya Tripta) – (Non-duality Press)
– ‘Know Yourself: An explanation of the oneness of being’ – by Balyani – (Beshara Publications) 

Websites:
Rupert Spira
J. Krishnamurti
Adyashanti (Wikipedia)
Atmananda Krishna Menon (Wikipedia)
Ashtavakra Gita (Wikipedia)
Piet Mondrian (Wikipedia)

Suggestions:
Fleeing to God (other pointers from the blog…)

A Day at Brockwood Park (Homage to J. Krishnamurti)
The Householder Sage (Homage to Atmananda Krishna Menon)
The Song of Ashtavakra (Homage to the Ashtavakra Gita)

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A Vehicle for God

‘Thanjavur Ganesha’ – Unknown author, 1820 – Wikimedia

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Regarding all things spiritual, I have always trusted the vision of India’s perennial understanding. And there is one thought that bothered me recently, which is simply: why do Hindu gods need a vehicle, a mount? Why do they all have an animal by their side, or to ride on? For god is God. All powerful and reaching far and wide. Self-sufficient and contained in Itself. So why would Shiva need a bull as his vehicle, why would Saraswati have a swan by her side, or Kartikeya a peacock, Lakshmi an owl, Indra an elephant, or Durga a tiger? Why such partnership? And for what purpose?

So I pushed further my enquiry. I discovered that these vehicles, these animals, symbolise some of the qualities inherent to the god they are attached to. For example, the swan represents the beauty, wisdom and grace in Saraswati. Or the peacock the splendour and majesty contained in the Hindu god of war. Many qualities like strength, swiftness, sharpness, fierceness, speed, effortlessness, and so many others, are attributes of god which are reflected in, or represented by, their own vehicles. So I looked at myself, as I am too, deep down, this radiating presence of consciousness, of god’s being. Could it be that, in the same way the dreamer becomes conscious of a dreamt world through the agency of a subject of experience in the dream, consciousness is experiencing a world through its being refracted by a mind? So the mind is the vehicle that consciousness needs to experience a world. Doesn’t that make me, in some way, the vehicle of the Self? And do I radiate the qualities of this presence as should a vehicle of god?

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A playful text asking why god needs a vehicle… (READ MORE…)

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A Furnace of Love

‘Sunset over a forest lake’ – Peder Mønsted, 1895 – Wikimedia

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Birgitta was sitting by the window, considering once again the recent chain of events that led to her present day situation. Twenty years ago, she came on this small Danish island for the first time, to never leave again. Lolland! What a beautifully telling name! She loved the place immediately. It is called by some the ‘pancake island’, for it is the flattest place here in the kingdom of Denmark. Its highest point: twenty five meters! But the skies were tall and wide with majestic clouds and the land imbued with a quiet remoteness that she loved on first sight. She had often smiled and still smiles on at the incongruous nature of her new home. For she was born in the heart of the French Alps, the daughter of a mountainous landscape where peaks are soaring high above deep valleys. 

Birgitta was a Catholic nun here, in a small monastery on the outskirts of the charming town of Maribo. Her actual name was Brigitte, but the sisters around her had quickly, and laughingly at first, re-baptised her Birgitta, which was the name of the fourteenth century Swedish saint and founder of their religious Order. She liked her new name for its Nordic and melodic quality. She had fit well here, in this quiet building amongst the trees, close to a little lake that she could see from her bedroom window. She came from a very religious family, and had always felt an attraction for all things spiritual. The trigger to espouse a religious life came rather abruptly, after her first dashed expectations in life. So she embarked on the preparatory journey, a few years of education in France and trips to the mother house in Rome.

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A short story that narrates Birgitta’s journey of love… (READ MORE…)

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