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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To Know Better

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Knowledge about yourself
binds, weighs, ties you down
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~ J. Krishnamurti (‘Notebook’)

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Humility is the mother of all virtues. For it places us in the right attitude of not knowing, not arguing. To know is to be situated, to have a perspective, a point of view. To know implies to be a person, to be apart, external. And it also implies to suffer. It’s so easy to know, to boast, to show off. We don’t want to be unmasked as ignorant. To know has become a reflex. To know is to claim ‘I am here’, ‘I count for something’, ‘I need fulfilment’. Therefore to know is to fear death. To know is to project, to be the hostage of time, of becoming. ‘What if I don’t become anything?’ To know is to posit a person that needs and lacks. To know is to lock ourself in a world of finite things. It is to exist only in the limits of our own self-created boundaries. To know is to block creativity. To know is to dismiss god, life, for not being competent. It is to invite the big rock of our conditioned thoughts, feelings, and memories, and in doing so, conceal all other entrances or exits. No flow is possible.

Have you ever felt these moments when you don’t know? When you taste the presence of your own absence? When you discover your sense of separation to be imaginary? At the moment you feel one with all beings and things, you are bound to be in the unknown, to not know. How could you possibly know to be anything, when you are merged with presence, with experience? You don’t have the necessary distance to do so. And this absence of distance is the experience of your sweet self. Don’t be the one who knows, but the one who is the knowing. Don’t affirm yourself, but be affirmed in the knowing presence that you are. By just being, you will know everything that needs to be known. You will have everything that needs to be had. And it will be offered to you on the silver plate of love, beauty, and happiness. You cannot know better.

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

Quote by J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

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Bibliography :
– ‘Krishnamurti’s Notebook’ – by J. Krishnamurti – (Krishnamurti Publications of America, US)

Website:
J. Krishnamurti

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Other ‘Ways of Being’ from the blog…

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Prayer to the Higher Self

‘Bodhisattva Padmapani, cave 1, Ajanta, India’ – Unknown author, 450-490 CE – Wikimedia

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This prayer is a beautiful expression of longing from a student to the Master, which the title reveals to be the Higher Self. It is excerpted from a long Sanskrit poem attributed to Adi Shankara in the 8th century, whose original title is the ‘Vivekachudamani’, which translates as the ‘Crest-jewel of discrimination’. The text was used as a teaching manual of Advaita for centuries. I found this prayer to be a very moving and humble call for self-knowledge. It is found in verses 35 to 40, and opens to 540 more verses of elaborate teaching of non-duality…

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“I submit myself to thee, Master,
friend of the bowed-down world
and river of selfless kindness.
Raise me by thy guiding light
that pours forth the nectar of truth and mercy,
for I am sunk in the ocean of the world.
I am burnt by the hot flame of relentless life
and torn by the winds of misery:
save me from death,
for I take refuge in thee,
finding no other rest.

Sprinkle me with thy nectar voice
that brings the joy of eternal bliss,
pure and cooling,
falling on me as from a cup,
like the joy of inspiration;
for I am burnt by the hot, scorching flames
of the world’s fire.
Happy are they on whom thy light rests,
even for a moment,
and who reach harmony with thee.

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.”

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Prayer by Adi Shankara (788-820)

Translated by Charles Johnston (1867-1931)

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Something must be said of the painting above. It is one of many paintings found in a series of Buddhist caves near Ajanta, in Central India, excavated between the 2nd century BC and the end of the 5th AD. The caves served as a retreat for monks until the 7th century, before being abandoned and forgotten. They house sculptures and paintings on their walls that narrate the many lives of the Buddha. Speaking of their subjects, the art specialist Ananda Coomaraswamy wrote: “We don’t know what to admire more: either their technique, which is already so perfect, or the intensity of emotion they contain, their lives seeming very close to our own; for they are as modern in design as they are in feeling. […] The grace of their movements, their serene self-control, the love with which their every gesture is imprinted, their profound sadness creates an unforgettable impression.”

Here is another prayer composed by Adi Shankara, ‘In the Morning I Remember’…

Here is a homage to Adi Shankara: ‘Shankara the Great’, on the blog…

Bibliography:
– ‘In the Light of the Self: Adi Shankara and the Yoga of Non-dualism’ – by Alistair Shearer – (White Crow Books)
– ‘Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker’ – by Pavan K. Varma – (Tranquebar)
– ‘The Crest-Jewel of Wisdom’ – by Shankaracharya (Trans. Charles Johnston) – (Pinnacle Press)
– ‘The Ajanta Caves’ – by Benoy Behl – (Thames & Hudson Ltd)

Websites:
Adi Shankara (Wikipedia)
Vivekachudamani (Wikipedia)
Charles Johnston (Wikipedia)
Ajanta Caves (Wikipedia)
Ananda Coomaraswamy (Wikipedia)

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