Kissing the Toad

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:

See that you never really meet your uncomfortable feelings, that you are always avoiding them by activities, thinking… Try to be brave, turn around, and face the feeling. Welcome it, invite it in, be interested, get to know it… Experience for yourself the power of courage and avoidance… See how the avoiding of the fear, or of anything, is worse than the fear, or the thing itself… See how the facing of any uncomfortable feeling that you have has a releasing effect…

~~~

Further exploring on the subject:

The instrument of your torture, the thing which once threatened to break your spirit, eventually becomes your salvation, even wakes you up, to presence, to gratitude, to the miracle of creation. When we turn to fearlessly face apparent darkness we may discover only undivided light, find a part of ourselves longing for love. Freedom lies not in escaping into the Absolute but in affirming life as it is – in consummating our marriage to our humanity, including all its trials and tribulations, and knowing God as the unbreakable principle present even in our pain, that which holds us even when we cannot hold ourselves.” 
~ Jeff Foster

~

Just trace your feelings back to their counterpart in the body as sensation, and then trace these sensations back to this luminous empty knowing. It’s all that’s there. This luminous empty knowing, the stuff out of which these sensations is made, to know that, to touch that – THAT is the experience of happiness, or peace. The happiness we seek lives at the heart of our deepest, darkest feelings. We don’t find happiness by avoiding our deepest, darkest feelings and trying to replace them with another kind of feeling. We do the opposite, we trace our way back deeper and deeper and deeper, to go right to the heart of the feeling where we expect to find the monster – the one that is really responsible for our feelings. We never find the monster. If it recurs, then meet these recurring feelings with this recurring exploration. In other words, meet it with your experience. Your feelings cannot stand the truth of your experience. In the end, they have to bow down. They will in time bow down.” 
~ Rupert Spira

~

Eventually, it occurs to me to stop trying to do (or not do) anything, to give up the search for a solution or a distraction, to simply be present, to allow everything to be just exactly as it is. Suddenly it becomes possible to completely surrender to the actuality of Here / Now, to resist nothing, not even the compulsive biting of my fingers if that is what is happening. Instantly, I feel the heart open. This is the end of grasping and seeking, the end of resisting and avoiding, the end of trying to fix myself and be somebody else, the end of trying to figure it all out or get the right conceptual map nailed down. This is not knowing anything and not needing to know. Suddenly there is no problem anymore. There is no me. There is only this undivided, spacious presence that includes everything, just as it is. Everything is okay, even fingerbiting or feelings of uneasiness or anxiety. Nothing needs to be other than how it is, and when there is complete openness to how it is, I find it is no particular way at all. Everything is moving and changing and dissolving. There is a huge sense of relief. The problem was imaginary.”
~ Joan Tollifson

~

If we trace our suffering back far enough,
there, right at its heart, right at its origin,
we find the experience of peace and happiness
which we were previously seeking
by avoiding the suffering.
The moment we kiss the toad,
it turns into the prince.”
~ Rupert Spira

 

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The picture is by Helena Cuerva/Pixabay

Bibliography:
– ‘Presence’, Vol. I & II – by Rupert Spira (Non-Duality Press)
– ‘The Way of Rest: Finding the Courage to Hold Everything in Love’ – by Jeff Foster – (Sounds True)
– ‘Nothing to Grasp’ – by Joan Tollifson – (Nonduality Press)

Websites:
Rupert Spira
Joan Tollifson
Jeff Foster

Suggestion:
Fleeing to God (other pointers from the blog)

 

Fragrance

Prayer is our one link with the real 
– if by ‘prayer’ we mean simply an attention 
both extreme and careless of any result, 
an attention so pure that the one who practises it 
is not even aware of doing so
.”
~ Christian Bobin

 

The other day, I found the old, beautifully handmade prayer book of my grandmother, and skimmed through it. Prayer has always been to me something of a difficulty and I think the time has come to seriously address it. I’m intending to share prayers on this blog, making it the subject of a new category. 

There seems to be two habitual ways of praying. The main one is to beg, implore, request – positively or negatively, asking for something objective, however refined this object can be. The second way is devotional, contemplative, but often turns out to be a repetitive, compelled form of recitation. Both forms are unsatisfactory, ranging from being naive, belief-based, self-concerned, to just lacking efficacy. 

A good prayer is a totally non-objective one, at least in spirit if not in words. Rupert Spira says: “The turning of the mind away from the objective content of experience towards the source or essence from which it has arisen is the essence of meditation or prayer.” And Meister Eckhart says nothing different when stressing that the most powerful form of prayer is “the outcome of a quiet mind” or “a pure going out of what is our own.” And such a mind, in his own words is one that “is forever immersed in God’s most precious will, having left its own.” A prayer is an invitation to rest or abide in what is most essential in our being, and in that it can be equated with meditation, which is originally the Hindu or Buddhist form of prayer, or with the koan of zen. 

A prayer comes from the heart, and points to something that is beyond words and meaning. Its only function is to throw you back to yourself, to silence. It must be devoid of demands, which can only be objective and an expression of separation. In prayer, the result precedes the wish. Rupert Spira sums it up in a beautiful way: “Let what you become be an expression of the source.” Love is all, and love is prayer.

~

In the existence of your love, 
I become non-existent. 
This non-existence linked to you 
is better than anything 
I ever found in existence.

~ Rumi

~

 

Here is a beautiful prayer that I heard from Francis Bennett. It was originally composed by John Henry Newman, a 19th century poet and theologian, and is known as the ‘Fragrance Prayer’:

Dear Presence so divine 
Help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly,
That my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me 
That every soul I come in contact with 
May feel your presence in my soul 
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only You!

Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,
So to shine as to be a light to others;
The light, O Lord, will be all from You; none of it will be mine;
It will be you, shining on others through me.

Let me thus praise You the way You love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching, not by words but by my example,
By the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do,
The evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.

Amen.

 

~~~

Introductory text and photo by Alain Joly

Prayer by John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
(Adapted by Francis Bennett)

~~~

 

This article is the first that appears in a new category called ‘Fragrance of Love’. This is the place to share a prayer or meditation – this fragrance of ourselves – as the main feature.

Suggestion:
The Quiet Mind
– Watch Francis Bennett’s video on YouTube: Integrating Humanity with Divinity, a Science and Nonduality Conference…

Bibliography:
– ‘Conversations with Meister Eckhart’ – by Meister Eckhart & Simon Parke – (White Crow Books Ltd)
– ‘The Very Lowly: A Meditation on Francis of Assisi’ – by Christian Bobin – (New Seeds)

Websites:
John Henry Newman (Wikipedia)
Francis Bennett (finding grace at the center)
Rupert Spira
Meister Eckhart (Wikipedia)
Rumi (Wikipedia)
Christian Bobin (Wikipedia)

 

The Lord of the Dance

The most famous form of Shiva is the Lord of the Dance, ‘Nataraja’, the form in which all other forms of Shiva are included. In one sublime pose, in one movement, one dance, is described the whole process of life and death, of ignorance and understanding. Ananda Coomaraswamy remarks: “Whatever the origins of Shiva’s dance, it became in time the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of. … Its deepest significance is felt when it is realized that it takes place within the heart and the self.” This is Shiva’s secret, buried in what is our most intimate and well known experience: consciousness. It is said that this dance encompasses all of our human experience and the spiritual processes at work on the path to realising our true nature. Indian ancient scriptures divide them in five, namely creation, preservation, destruction, veiling, and grace. I have gathered here many quotes and pointers from various spiritual teachers and poets, that remind us of the eternal truth behind Shiva’s main appearances. Let’s have a taste of it or, in more Indian terms, feel the significance and rasa of Shiva’s eternal dance:

 

O my Lord, Thy hand holding the sacred drum 
has made and ordered the heavens and earth 
and other worlds and innumerable souls. 
Thy lifted hand protects both the conscious
and unconscious order of thy creation. 
All these worlds are transformed by Thy hand bearing fire. 
Thy sacred foot, plated on the ground, 
gives an abode to the tired soul 
struggling in the toils of causality.
It is Thy lifted foot that grants eternal bliss 
to those that approach Thee.
These Five-Actions are indeed Thy Handiwork
.”
~ Chidambara Mummani Kovai

 

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When the Actor beateth the drum,
Everybody cometh to see the show;
When the Actor collecteth the stage properties
He abideth alone in His happiness
.”
~ Manikkavacakar (9th-century Tamil poet)

 

~~

 

Shiva, the Great Yogi’:

When we say ‘Shiva’, there are two fundamental aspects that we are referring to. The word ‘Shiva’ means literally, ‘that which is not’. Today, modern science is proving to us that everything comes from nothing and goes back to nothing. The basis of existence and the fundamental quality of the cosmos is vast nothingness. The galaxies are just a small happening – a sprinkling. The rest is all vast empty space, which is referred to as Shiva. That is the womb from which everything is born, and that is the oblivion into which everything is sucked back. Everything comes from Shiva and goes back to Shiva.”
~ Sadhguru

~

The reason for removing or letting go of all objective experience, all thoughts, images, feelings, sensations and perceptions is to reveal that aspect of the mind that cannot be removed from itself, that cannot be let go of, that is to reveal the essential, irreducible essence of mind. That essential, irreducible essence of mind is inherently free of all objective qualities.”
~ Rupert Spira

More quotes and pointers on Shiva’s dance of life and death (READ MORE…)

 

Speaking of Shiva

When I didn’t know myself, 
where were you? 
Like the colour in the gold,
you were in me.
I saw in you, 
lord white as jasmine,  
the paradox of your being
in me
without showing a limb
.”
~ Akka Mahadevi

 

If you have been to India, you are likely to have met a beggar who came to you imploring, asking you to relieve him from his suffering, but also being a little rough, with something in his voice sounding like a reproach. You probably froze for a second, feeling guilty, not knowing what to do. You felt caught between giving or not giving, between an easy way out or a shameful flight. None of them satisfactory. Torn by this conflict, you may have missed the giving, salvific part of it all. You may have missed that in the profuse tradition of India, one of Shiva’s many forms is the ‘Supreme Beggar’. You may have missed that, in Krishnamurti’s words, “Conflict is the measure of the ‘I’.” Shiva came along to give you a chance, a beautiful opportunity to see that there is in you a way out of yourself, of your little ‘I’, in which you could both give and receive. I’d like to call this freezing, this second of conflict and confusion, the ‘knot of Shiva’. I had this knot undone once, long ago, and was allowed to sneak a peek at Shiva’s face. Evidently, he had some secrets to tell. Let’s walk the road from the egoistic, immature thoughts and images of Shiva, to the more understanding, universal realisation of his true identity. Let’s unravel Shiva’s mysteries…

An essay to explore the many aspects of India’s most famous god (READ MORE)

 

The Quality of Now

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:

Try to find, to feel in yourself the experience of a past or future. See that it’s not possible, that the past or the future is always an idea or a concept… Really ponder the implications of that, the past is not there, the future is not there, it’s never there… Try very hard, feel it, see how this feeling-understanding that there is no past or future affects the quality of the now, see how it impacts the way you move, the quality of your relationship, your daily activities… For each of these three examples, you can do it either with the past or with the future… Experience the new vulnerability in yourself…

~~~

Further exploring on the subject:

As long as there is an observer there must be living in the past, obviously. And all our life is based on the past, memories, knowledge, images, according to which you react, which is your conditioning, is the past. And living has become the living of the past in the present, modified in the future. That’s all, as long as the observer is living. Now does the mind see this as a truth, as a reality, that all my life is living in the past?
~ J. Krishnamurti

~

Past and future are dependent on the present. The past was present in its time and the future will be present too. Ever-present is the present. To seek to know the future and the past, without knowing the truth of time today, is to try to count without the number ‘One’.
~ Ramana Maharshi

~

Now if there is no future, because the future is now and the past is now, then what is action? We said action as we know it now is based on the past – memories, regrets, guilt, experience, which is all knowledge, or the future, the ideal, the concepts – right? Theories, faiths, you act according to that. So you are acting according to the past or to the future. But the past and the future are now – right? So what is action? You understand my question? Please do – don’t give up. You have to exercise your brain, your intellect, your energy to find out, your passion to find out.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

~

The ego struggling to survive either clings onto its accumulated memories, or projects desires into the future, thus using up a considerable amount of energy. Accumulation, choosing, elaborating, all take place on a horizontal plane, in time and duration. The energy constantly turns back upon itself, creating a vicious circle. Being uninvolved with this movement, this dispersal, this sterile swinging between past and future, puts to rest the energies that sustain these habit-patterns, and we finally awake to liberating awareness. Then the energies converge vertically in the eternal now.”
~ Jean Klein

 

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Picture by Alain Joly

Bibliography:
– ‘Presence’, Vol. I & II – by Rupert Spira (Non-Duality Press)
– ‘The First and Last Freedom’ – by J. Krishnamurti – (Rider Publishing)
– ‘Be As You Are’ – by Ramana Maharshi (Edited by David Godman) – (Penguin Books)
– ‘Who Am I‘ – by Jean Klein – (Non-Duality Press)

Websites:
Rupert Spira
J. Krishnamurti
Ramana Maharshi (Wikipedia)
Jean Klein (Wikipedia)

Suggestion:
Fleeing to God (other pointers from the blog)

 

 

A Path, What Path?

The question of the ‘spiritual path’ is a difficult one, that seems to draw different points of view and approaches, both from students and teachers. I have gathered here many quotes and pointers on and around this subject, from various spiritual teachers and poets of the eternal and the infinite. I hope that this will bring some clarity, or at least give a better overview of this ‘thing’ we call the Path… Yes, what path?

 

How shall I cross the ocean of the world?
Where is the path? 
What way must I follow?
I know not, Master.
Save me from the wound of the world’s pain.” 
~ Adi Shankara

~

This is an excerpt of the famous discourse Krishnamurti gave in 1929 the day when he announced the dissolution of the Order of the Star, the organisation built around his person:
I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path. If you first understand that, then you will see how impossible it is to organize a belief. A belief is purely an individual matter, and you cannot and must not organize it. If you do, it becomes dead, crystallized; it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, to be imposed on others. This is what everyone throughout the world is attempting to do. Truth is narrowed down and made a plaything for those who are weak, for those who are only momentarily discontented. Truth cannot be brought down, rather the individual must make the effort to ascend to it. You cannot bring the mountain-top to the valley. If you would attain to the mountain-top you must pass through the valley, climb the steeps, unafraid of the dangerous precipices.”
~ J. Krishnamurti 

~

In the direct approach the premise is that you are the truth, there is nothing to achieve. Every step to achieve something is going away from it. The “path,” which strictly speaking is not a path from somewhere to somewhere, is only to welcome, to be open to the truth, the I am. When you have once glimpsed your real nature it solicits you. There is therefore nothing to do, only be attuned to it as often as invited. There is not a single element of volition in this attuning. It is not the mind which attunes to the I am but the I am which absorbs the mind.”
~ Jean Klein

~

The mind that seeks happiness is like a current in the ocean that longs for water. The mind that resists suffering is like a current in the ocean trying to escape from the water. See what happens to your longing and your suffering when this becomes clear. This understanding is the true alchemy, not the transformation of one experience into another, but rather the revelation of the true nature of all experience.”
~ Rupert Spira

~

More quotes and pointers on the subject of the spiritual path (READ MORE…)

 

The Natural State

‘The natural state’ is an expression borrowed from Joan Tollifson that refers to enlightenment. This is a beautiful way to look at what is often thought to be an extraordinary event. Rupert Spira says nothing less, when he defines it as ‘the absence of resistance to what is’, or simply: ‘this’.

 

Thought doesn’t know truth; it dissolves in it. 
Feeling doesn’t find love; it merges in it. 
Perception doesn’t see beauty; it dies in it
.”
~ Rupert Spira 

 

 

Enlightenment could be defined as the absence of resistance to what is, 
the total intimacy with whatever is taking place 
without any desire to reject or replace it; 

so intimate that there is no room for a self to separate itself out from the whole, 
to stand apart and look at the situation from the outside, 
to judge it as worthy or not worthy, good or bad, 
right or wrong, desirable or undesirable; 

so intimate that there is no room, nor any time, 
in which a separate self could take refuge inside the body 
and so finds itself without boundaries or borders 
pervading the whole field of experience; 

so intimate that there is no ‘me’ on the inside 
and no object or other on the outside,
but only seamless intimate experiencing; 

so intimate that there is no room for a ‘self’ and an ‘other’, 
a ‘me’ and a ‘you’, a ‘this’ and a ‘that’, a ‘now’ and a ‘then’. 

So utterly now and here that there is no time for time 
and no place for distance or space
.”

~ Rupert Spira

 

~~

 

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful relief to recognize that nothing could actually be any other way right now than exactly how it is, that THIS is how the universe IS, that everything belongs? And already, it has completely changed! Can you feel the freedom in knowing that there is no “you” who “should” be doing a better job? How wonderful to see that enlightenment is not a special attainment that only a special few can reach, but rather that enlightenment is the natural state, the groundlessness that is always already fully present. Rather than something we lack and need to attain, it is what we always already ARE.”
~ Joan Tollifson

 

~~

 

As this intimate oneness, it is known as love. 
In its untouchable-ness it is known as peace and 
in its fullness it is known as happiness. 
In its openness and willingness to give itself to any possible shape 
(including the apparent veiling of its own being), 
it is known as freedom and, 
as the substance of all things, 
it is known as beauty. 
However, more simply it is known just as ‘I’ or ‘this’
.”

~ Rupert Spira

 

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Picture by Alain Joly

Bibliography:
– ‘Presence’, Vol. I & II – by Rupert Spira (Non-Duality Press)
– ‘Nothing to Grasp’ – by Joan Tollifson – (Nonduality Press)

Websites:
Rupert Spira
– Joan Tollifson

Suggestion:
Fleeing to God (other pointers from the blog)