The Song of God

‘Lord Krishna preaching Gita to Arjuna’ – Mahavir Prasad Mishra – Wikimedia

.

भगवद् गीता

.

अहं सर्वस्य प्रभवो 
मत्तः सर्वं प्रवर्तते ।
इति मत्वा भजन्ते मां 
बुधा भावसमन्विताः 

ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo
mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate
iti matvā bhajante māṁ
budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ

.

I am the self, O Gudākesa! 
seated in the hearts of all beings.
I am the beginning and the middle
and the end also of all beings
.”
~ Lord Krishna (Bhagavad Gita)

.

There is an old and long Sanskrit story that arose in India around the fourth century BC. So long that it has been described as “the longest poem ever written“. So encompassing that the poem mentions about itself: “That which occurs here occurs elsewhere. That which does not occur here occurs nowhere else.”(XVIII.5.38). A story that is as big and epic as life and which took centuries to write, up until the fourth century AD. This masterpiece of universal literature, which influenced the thought, customs, and festivals of a whole civilisation and beyond, is called the Mahābhārata. It is composed of fables, myths, and tales of every kind, that are recipients for multiple religious, philosophical and political considerations. The eminent British film and theatre director Peter Brook wrote: “I sincerely believe that, of all the subjects that exist — including the totality of Shakespeare’s work — the richest, densest and most complete myth is the Mahabharata.”

Among the infinite number of episodes in the poem is concealed a jewel. A short 700-verse scripture — out of the 100 000 contained in the Mahabharata — composed of 18 chapters, that stands as a monument of Hinduism and one of the most highly praised spiritual text in the world. Written around the second century BC by the legendary sage Vyasa — also the main author of the Mahabharata — it has been named nothing less than the ‘Song of God’. This text, called the ‘Bhagavad Gītā’, is a magistral teaching given to the Pandava prince Arjuna by Lord Krishna, who happened to be his charioteer. It is set in the middle of the worst battle between two branches of the same family, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, for the control of the kingdom — a war whose story is the subject of the Mahabharata. So here we are, at the dawn of a horrific battle: 

And then all at once, conchs,
and kettledrums, and tabors,
and trumpets were played upon; 
and there was a tumultuous din.” (I.13)

[…]

A summary of the Bhagavad Gita, a monument of spiritual literature… (READ MORE…)

.

There is a Land

There is a land in your sky
When you’re climbing high enough
Above all that is swirling round and round:
The thoughts of yourself, all that finally
Doesn’t stand any scrutiny, that is ready
To shrivel at the slightest disturbance.

There is a land in your sky,
A ground so hard as to secure
Everything in you that is hesitant
Unsure, fragile, lacking, misty; 
That life that you had thought was one 
But shows to be no place to land on.

There is a land in your sky,
A place covered up by your mist,
That needs a certain habituation
Of eyes and ears and mind,
But is the most solid ground of all,
The fairest land where stands all life.

There is a land in your sky,
Feel it in the ethereal air of your self;
Let all your weighty substance fall back
And mingle with its vaporous consistency.
It will show you its strengthy arms,
Will reveal itself as the ultimate ground.

There is a land in your sky,
And another sky above that land.
Your self has here the solidity
Of all that is infinite and calm,
And the world now shows to be
The heavenly harbour of your being.

.

~~~

Text and photo by Alain Joly

~~~

.

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

.

A Room with a View

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

.

.

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.

[…]

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

.

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!…

.

~~~

Text and photo by Alain Joly

~~~

.

Suggestion:
– Other ‘Reveries’ from the blog…

.

An Unnoticed Pathology

In our relationship to truth, we often find ourselves in the position of somebody who, on waking up, tries to remember his dream. Any searching, any effort to remember, the slightest doing towards that goal, is pushing the dream away, dislocating it irremediably.

The problem is that we want something. This is our state. Our unnoticed pathology. One that we have inherited from society, and that we have integrated to the point of being it — this wanting, craving, searching. We mind what happens and want to control it. Fair enough. But we should do it from a position of truth, of relaxation, of not minding. We should let the story go, the one that tells us that we are incomplete, not enough, needy of a thousand things, and that prevents us from seeing clearly this presence that we are now and of all eternity. 

We cannot even say that we will let go of all seeking and just sit down doing nothing, for our ‘not doing anything’ is already a cathedral of doing that we have patiently and methodically put together over the years. As the French philosopher Blaise Pascal once noticed, “all of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” 

[…]

Some thoughts on our unfortunate propensity for seeking… (READ MORE…)

.

The Practice of the Presence of God

The monk at prayer’ (detail) – Edouard Manet, 1865 – WikiArt

.

A little lifting up of the heart suffices.
A little remembrance of GOD, 
one act of inward worship
.”
~ Brother Lawrence

.

From the remote time of the seventeenth century in Paris has come a voice whose freshness and intimacy struck a chord in many a spiritual seeker throughout the generations. The man behind it was a lay brother working in the kitchen of a Carmelite monastery in the French capital. He was born Nicolas Herman in 1614 in the region of Lorraine, but took the religious name of Lawrence of the Resurrection. What a miracle that the writing of this simple lay brother found its way down to us. But although a remarkable journey, it is understandable that it did so. For the words of this humble, hardworking man, all occupied to his cooking activities, show a mountain of dedication to God. His simplicity and softness, combined to an undefeatable and spontaneously joyful practice, is a deeply valuable gift passed down to us.

Sometimes I consider myself there as a stone before a carver, whereof he is to make a statue; presenting myself thus before GOD, I desire Him to form His perfect image in my soul, and make me entirely like Himself. At other times, when I apply myself to prayer, I feel all my spirit and all my soul lift itself up without any care or effort of mine, and it continues as it were suspended and firmly fixed in GOD, as in its centre and place of rest.”
~ Brother Lawrence

[…]

Rejoice in the illuminating life and practice of Brother Lawrence… (READ MORE…)

.

Our Sacred Destination

.

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

.

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.

.

~~~

Text and photo by Alain Joly

Quote by Meister Eckhart (1260-1328)

~~~

.

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)

.