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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Unconditional Love

I just happened to fall in love with my life recently. Don’t ask me how and why. I just did. That came surreptitiously after a long line of unfruitful attempts. I had given up the idea. Discarded the thought — too complicated! This happened when I simply stopped wanting, hoping, needing. These are the ways things get done, it seems, in this world. Life is not something that you can mould to your own convenience. You cannot love life if you set up conditions. If you want it to espouse the contours of your likes and dislikes. You might painstakingly get the life you want, but you will reduce love. You will wound it. That won’t be love anymore but bargain, economy. Love can never be found in the market place. Love shows up with its one fundamental, non-bargainable condition: it is unconditional. And I’ll tell you why:

I discovered that life is self. That the one constituent of life is simply being — who I am fundamentally. Not even a small portion of this life of mine stands outside myself. I love my life because my life is my self, and I cannot not love my self. We all love our self. To not love our self is an impossibility. We love our self dearly, because the nature of our self is love itself. Self is made of love. And everything in this world is made out of this very self of love. So we are bound to love this world unconditionally. To love our life unquestionably. To love people boundlessly. People are our brothers and sisters in love. They are made of the very same bright self that we are made of. Therefore the question of not loving life doesn’t even arise. Love is the very home where our life finds everything it could ever need or want. This is how life becomes a fountain of joy: when it is found to be entrenched in love. This fountain of love is sometimes referred as god’s self. Or ultimate being. Or simply happiness — without cause or condition.

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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Other ‘Ways of Being’ from the blog…

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Go Within

‘Church Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption’ – La Grave (France)

All the religious and spiritual traditions of the world, with their complexity and variety, and all the names attached to them, are in fact only pointers to one simple, living reality that can be experienced here and now in every human being. Every Purana, Surah, Gospel, Sutra, Psalm, Hadith, Sermon, Teaching, are one global attempt at pointing or describing the most common experience of our humanity: the nature of our present experience. The truth of our being.

Although the very vehicle with which our experience is known, this instrument — let’s call it consciousness — is ignored and taken for granted. This is what the world’s religious scriptures are here for: to explore this simple reality of ourself which — although experienced faintly or unknowingly — is hidden in the clamour of objective experience. This labyrinthine network composed of our senses, thoughts, and feelings, mesmerises us, hypnotises us, conditions us, and finally renders us like separate beings craving for their lost happiness.

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On how all the world’s spiritual traditions only point to ‘being’… (READ MORE…)

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The Fate of Me

‘Ink Landscape’ – Kanō Motonobu, 16th AD (Art Institute of Chicago) – Wikimedia

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I saw you rise so many times,
Invade the space of my being,
To occupy my whole presence,
Take everything, leaving nothing,
Not a corner of emptiness
Where I could recognise my self.

I saw you rise so many times
Acquire my whole, my essential
To leave me lost, truly yearning
For that silence now filled by you;
To leave me sad, truly longing
For the one here just before you.

I saw you rise so many times
T’was impudent, how did you dare
Burying light in obscurity,
Dimming joy with your avid search,
Thinking it right to lead my life
When you are but a malign ghost.

But more than once, you did vanish
I’ll tell you why, listen to this:
I found you had no consistence
The reason is: you are not found
Your reality imagined
Your existence: your insistence.

Look at yourself, you are not here
You’re not the one you claim to be
You’re just a thought that’s tossed about
In an ocean of presence;
That sea is not a place to be
When you are but a lump of salt.

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Text by Alain Joly

Painting by Kanō Motonobu (1476–1559)

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Website:
Kanō Motonobu (Wikipedia)

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

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Hide-and-Seek

The spiritual search is really only a process of hide-and-seek. When we are lost and unhappy, we seek some relief. Our sense of a peaceful self, which is our true nature, eludes us, is not felt — so we embark into the search for a happy life. The process is clear and evident: when our true nature is hidden, we are naturally engaged in seeking. We try to uncover it, to dispel the confusion. When it is revealed, we bask in it, enjoy our find, treasure it. We don’t keep running about, busying ourself, pretending we’re a seeker. That would make what we have found leave. That would put her off. That would make it flee. That would cover its presence again.

What would you say — when you were playing hide-and-seek as a kid — if your little friend, after having found you, would go on seeking you everywhere intently? If he left you here standing, unchecked? How would you feel? Well, that would put you off. You would resume the game, go back home, leave him to his folly. This is the same with awareness, with your inner sense of being. You seek it when it’s not there, when it’s covered, hidden. But when it is felt, when you are being reunited with your own precious sense of being, then it is time to suspend all activity and celebrate. Remember the giggles when you found your hidden friend — your big open eyes — the joy of it all — the taste of this reunion. This is also how you should be at the moment of re-union with you true sense of self. Enjoy it. Live the moment. Stay there — in that joy.

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A playful exploration of the ‘hide-and-seek’ nature of self-inquiry… (READ MORE…)

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A Place of Thankfulness

This is where I’m big. When I’m following my unique fate as presence. When I’m fully being my self, embodying it as it were. This is where I cannot be led astray. This is where I cannot be persuaded of my dying. This is where life becomes a princely road towards this beloved castle of being. You become immovable. You cannot be displaced. Where would you go? Where would you be?

Do you really need a direction? Follow the motorway of being. It will be your universal compass. Everlastingly pointing to your self, where you cannot be lost. No matter what, or how, or when, or where. It will find you in times innumerable, that will all have their origin as you. It will take you to countless places, that will all have their being in you. Congealed inside you. Resting. Yet like waves dancing softly, swiftly. Your life will find its being in being. It will move in that which cannot be moved. Are you still afraid now? Are you still dreading this unknown course of your life? Think again! There is no wrong direction in being. There is nothing threatening or dangerous in being. Presence is a soft bed. This is your king size armchair, from where life is enjoyed and cherished. This is your place of thankfulness.

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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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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