The Philosopher’s Stone

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 all objects in your life are made out of gold, of this most precious thing, which is your self. That is the fabric of the world. The way to make real in your life this scratching and the discovery of the gold underneath, is to treat – relate to – everything, animals, people, objects, in that loving way. Then, the world responds, it says ‘thank you’…

~~~

Further exploring on the subject:

We discover that the stuff the world is made out of is more precious than gold. It’s made out of our self. The most precious thing. When you touch an object, you feel that it’s made out only of your self. As soon as we start treating the world like that, the world says thank you. The world responds. People, animal, and even so called dead stuff, it turns round and the first thing it says to us is thank you for treating me as I am. It has an infinite ways of saying thank you, and each way is uniquely tailored to each body-mind. But in one way or another, the world returns the gift. You treat me as I am, I will behave with you as I am. If someone truly loves and respect what we are, it commands us to behave as we truly are. It’s the ultimate generosity. The reciprocation that we get from people, from the world, from objects, that’s the real confirmation. The real confirmation really comes in our lives, in ordinary ways.”
~ Rupert Spira (From YouTube video clip ‘A Fairy Story’)

~

There was a deep widening intensity, an imminent clarity of that otherness, with its impenetrable strength and purity. What was beautiful was now glorified in splendour; everything was clothed in it; there was ecstasy and laughter not only deeply within but among the palms and the rice fields. Love is not a common thing but it was there in the hut with an oil lamp; it was with that old woman, carrying something heavy on her head; with that naked boy, swinging on a piece of string a piece of wood which gave out many sparks for it was his fireworks. It was everywhere, so common that you could pick it up under a dead leaf or in that jasmine by the old crumbling house.”
~ J. Krishnamurti (‘Krishnamurti’s Notebook’, Part 7 – Madras 20th November to 17th December 1961)

~

This day is dear to me above all other days, 
for today the Beloved Lord is a guest in my house; 
My chamber and my courtyard are beautiful with His presence. 
My longings sing His Name, and they are become lost in His great beauty
.”
~ Kabir

~

You are what you are, timelessly, but of what use is it to you unless you know it and act on it? Your begging bowl may be of pure gold, but as long as you do not know it, you are a pauper. You must know your inner worth and trust it and express it in the daily sacrifice of desire and fear. (…) Your only proof is in yourself. If you find that you turn to gold, it will be a sign that you have touched the philosopher’s stone.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj (‘I Am That’)

~

The Self is the centre of beauty and changeless. The symbols are numerous, but the centre is only one, the inmost core of one’s being. Beauty is the real nature of the Self and is unlimited. Beauty anoints with its own gild everything with which it comes into contact. (…) Beauty is something by which you are attracted without a cause. You are most attracted to your own self. Or in other words, your own nature is the only thing that can attract you. So beauty is only an experience of one’s own nature. (…) When the object is removed, the beauty stands alone and permanent.”
~ Atmananda Krishna Menon (‘Notes on Spiritual Discourses of Shri Atmananda’ by Nitya Tripta’)

~

The state of bliss that arises when you are freed of the accumulated experiences of separation, is like the relief you experience by putting aside a heavy load. The appearance of this light is like the discovery of a treasure once lost, the realm of universal non-duality.”
~ Abhinavagupta (from Anuttarāṣṭikā)

 

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The photo is by Rüstü Bozkus / Pixabay

Read this fairy tale ‘Ishani’s Quest’ based on this very topic…

Bibliography:
– ‘Presence’, Vol. I & II – by Rupert Spira (Non-Duality Press)
– ‘Krishnamurti’s Notebook’ – by J. Krishnamurti – (Krishnamurti Publications of America,US)
– ‘I Am That’, by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (Chetana Pvt.Ltd)

Websites:
Rupert Spira
J. Krishnamurti
Atmananda Krishna Menon (Wikipedia)
Nisargadatta Maharaj (Wikipedia)
Abhinavagupta (Wikipedia)
Kabir (Wikipedia)

Suggestions:
Fleeing to God (other pointers from the blog)
Khetwadi Lane (Homage to Nisargadatta Maharaj)
Kabir Says: (Homage to Kabir)
A Day at Brockwood Park (Homage to J. Krishnamurti)

 

Verses on the Perfect Mind

‘Huike thinking’ – Shi Ke, 10th Century – Wikimedia Commons

信心銘
鑑智僧璨

 

It is only recently that I have heard the first two lines of this Zen poem called ‘Hsin-hsin Ming’, which can be translated as ‘Verses on the Perfect Mind’. It is an ancient poem, one of the earliest and most influential Zen writings. It was allegedly composed by Chien-chih Seng-ts’an, who is referred as the Third Zen Patriarch. Very little is known about him, except that he was initiated into the Dharma by Dazu Huike (487–593) and died in 606. It has been multi-translated, and given various names. The title literally means ‘Inscription (or record) on the Believing Heart (or the Faith Mind)’. Verses on the Perfect Mind seems to be a good translation, considering the deeper meaning of the word ‘perfect’ which is ‘completed, accomplished’. The perfect Mind here is an ‘is-ness’, the natural mind, the Buddha mind. As the Nirvana Sutra says, “Great faith is no other than Buddha nature.”

What makes the translation of the poem difficult is the tension between conveying the right meaning and rendering the brevity of the poem. There is a passage in the present translation that goes: “When things can no longer be faulty, it is as if there are no things. When the mind can no longer be disturbed, it is as if there is no mind.” This was translated by Prof. Dusan Pajin: “No blame, no things; no arising, no mind.” The poem consists of 146 unrhymed four-character verses, which is shorter than the usual lines in Chinese poetry which have five or seven characters. So the form is concise, scarce, and that is in line with the Zen meditative form. 

It should not be read as a succession of individual quatrain, but more as a vision, something whole, indivisible. I think it was written in this spirit, for the original work is really just a succession of undivided characters. Maybe it was recited fast, concentrating on the meaning behind the words, the felt-understanding. It starts with these famous lines, so often quoted: “The Great Way is not difficult, for those who have no preferences.” It develops as variations on these lines before ending and finding completion — we could say vanishing — with this strong reminder: “Words! Words! The Way is beyond language, Words never could, can not now, and never will describe the Way.” The present interpretation is by Eric Putkonen. Eric is a Modern-day house-holder yogi and lover of what-is who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida where he hosts nonduality satsangs. I hope you will enjoy…

 

至道無難 
唯嫌揀擇 
但莫憎愛 
洞然明白 

 

The Great Way is not difficult, 
for those who have no preferences. 
Let go of longing and aversion, 
and it reveals itself.

Make the smallest distinction, however, 
and you are as far from it as heaven is from earth. 
If you want to realize the truth, 
then hold no opinions for or against anything.

Like and dislike 
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning (of the Way) is not understood, 
the intrinsic peace of mind is disturbed.

As vast as infinite space, 
it is perfect and lacks nothing.
Indeed, it is due to your grasping and repelling 
that you do not see things as they are.

[…]

Continue reading this old poem by the Third Zen Patriarch… (READ MORE…)

 

The Chariot and the Charioteer

‘Pantheon’ – Odilon Redon, 1910 – WikiArt

 

The mental and the material are really here, 
But here there is no human being to be found. 
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll, 
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks
.”
~ Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification)

 

Free will is a tentacular issue. It permeates our life in a very intimate way, like very few things do. Any action that we might engage in, any decision we take, any thought we think, bear at their core the question of their ownership. If we believe in free will and don’t exercise it for all sorts of psychological reason, then the road is open to guilt, shame, regret, self-loathing. Could things have been any different? What if I had not made that choice? What if I had taken a different decision, if I had been more courageous, if I had followed my heart? Well, it is not any different if I feel I have exercised my free will; I could be left with the same regrets. Is it even possible to not exercise our free will, if we leave aside the unchangeable circumstances we are in? Is not free will our nature no matter what? Or conversely, can we ever, at all, exercise our free will? Maybe there is no such thing. Who is here, deep down, to exercise free will? Is there not only a flow of life on which we superimpose a continuous stream of hectic, frantic thinking? What is it?

I was watching a mountain torrent the other day during one of my walks. How miraculous to see the water flow down unquestionably, directed left or right, split up by a stone. If you had been a water drop placed here, it is left, but more there and it is right. Who could imagine such a droplet having any kind of choice? The river would sometimes divide itself in three little currents, forming islands. Sometimes you could be dragged sideways in a stagnant little pool, or rushed about in a forceful cascade. What struck me was the absence of resistance, and the fact that no matter the direction, no matter where you were dragged into, how slow or fast, smooth or jumpy, water was water and you would find yourself downstream at exactly the same place than any other drop of water that you might have judged as having a more harmonious or lucky course. Are we not such a drop carried, or literally swept along, in the stream of life? […]

An exploration into the nature and reality of free will… (READ MORE…)

 

Self Recognition

‘Hibiscus and Sparrow’ – Katsushika Hokusai, 1830 – WikiArt

 

Nasreddin Hodja is what could be called a sublime idiot. He is a liar, irreverent, a disturber of peace. But he is also ingenious, free, full of wit, a timeless figure whose stories have spread and been adapted the world over. In the Sufi tradition, they were used for study purposes.

~

One day Nasrudin walked into a shop. 
The owner came forward to serve him. 
‘First things first,’ said Nasrudin. ‘Did you see me walk into your shop?’ 
‘Of course.’ 
‘Have you seen me before?’ 
‘Never in my life.’ 
‘Then how do you know it is me?’

~

Nasrudin’s Pointers:
I happen to be me, apparently located in, and certainly connected with this body, amongst billions, trillions of other possibilities. I am me, I can be addressed, recognised, challenged, by other beings or things without them ever having the experience of being this particular ‘me-form’ that I am. I am uniquely built. And yet how silly it would be that the consciousness that I am was just but one version of trillions of other consciousnesses. If it was, what would be the chances for these different consciousnesses — including animals’ — to be so closely related to each other, let alone meet in any deep way? Separation does’t seem to make sense. Like Nasrudin is implying, how would we even recognise each other? How would we know, when we address another person, that we could relate at all, that she is a ‘me’ in the same way that I too am a ‘me’? This simple recognition of the ‘I am’ in me, or her, or him, is the very experience of our own true nature, the oneness that reverbates in each and every human ‘I am ness’. It is said in one Upanishad, “When a man directly realises this effulgent Self, the Lord of all that has been and will be, he no longer wishes to hide himself from it.” So even though we think we are, nobody is in fact hidden, private, with his essential being. We are being in full light. We think we are hidden because of a few petty thoughts, images, or memories. But the essential and fundamental part of our being is shared. Stephen Jourdain once wrote: “Somewhere behind you, someone calls for you. Hey, John! Or Peter, or Paul, or Annie. You turn around. I give the name ‘me’ to the gentle and saintly reason of this movement. It’s as simple and luminous as that. No reason to search further. (…) To aim for another encounter other than this one is furious folly.” I had this thought one day that if a young man, a westerner, rich, educated, were to suddenly experience the being of an old, poor, uneducated Indian woman, it would take him a long time to notice that a change had occurred. Such is the power of ‘I am’, of the sense of ‘me’ in every being, of the pervasiveness of our shared being in — or more accurately said, beyond — our apparently different forms. Maybe that’s why, as Nasrudin once asserted, “everything is true”…

~

One day a fool asked Nasrudin ‘is God true?’
‘Everything is true’ replied Nasrudin.
‘Even false things?’
‘Even false things are true’, said Nasrudin.
‘But how can that be?’
‘I don’t know. I didn’t do it’, shrugged Nasrudin.

 

~~~

 

The Nasreddin stories are borrowed from ‘The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin’ by Idries Shah, and ‘Sufism/Nasrudin’ Wikibooks.

‘Nasreddin’s pointers’ is by Alain Joly

Bibliography:
– ‘The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin’ – by Idries Shah – (ISF Publishing)
– ‘Nasreddin Hodja: 100 tales in verse’ – by Raj Arumugam – (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
– ‘Radical Awakening: Cutting Through the Conditioned Mind’ – by Stephen Jourdain – (Inner Directions Publishing)

Websites:
Nasreddin Hodja (Wikipedia)
The Idries Shah Foundation
Katsushika Hokusai (Wikipedia)
Stephen Jourdain

 

The Inconceivable Actuality Here-Now

Photo by Corinne Galois – Galerie photographique

Joan Tollifson is my newly invited guest on ‘The Dawn Within’. Joan writes and talks about being awake to the aliveness and inconceivability of Here-Now — being just this moment, exactly as it is. She has explored Buddhism, Advaita and radical nonduality. Joan’s main teacher was Toni Packer, a former Zen teacher who left that tradition behind to work in a simpler and more open way. Joan does not identify with or represent any particular tradition. You will find ample information on her website: Joan Tollifson, the simplicity of what is. She currently resides in southern Oregon. 

I like Joan’s down to earth, bare-bones approach to reality, which is refreshing and does not need complex practices. I like too her frank and direct relationship to the ’what is’ of life, including the most human, most confused expressions of ourselves. I have chosen to share here one of her texts called ‘The Inconceivable Actuality Here-Now’. It is an extensive, and rather complete description of the descent into the ‘here and now’ of present experience, beyond all maps and conceptualisations. There is immediate and incredible potency in just being present to what is taking place right now — what is taking its place within the awareness that we are. “The rain pattering on the roof—is it inside me or outside me? Is it separate from me? Is there a boundary between these sounds and the listening presence that is hearing them? What happens when full and open attention is given to something?” Joan keeps inviting you to see and understand for yourself the nature of reality. I hope you enjoy…

~

Nature is not imaginary: it is actual; 
and what is happening to you now is actual. 
From the actual you must begin—
with what is happening now—
and the now is timeless
.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

~~~

 

The Inconceivable Actuality Here-Now

I had a high school film teacher back in the 1960s who, in the first class, had us look at our thumbs. After about 10 minutes, he asked how many of us were bored. He told us that if we were really seeing, we wouldn’t get bored. He gave us homework assignments that involved sitting in front of trees and looking at small sections of bark for an hour, or watching grass blow in the wind. One night I was lying on the floor in our dining room in the dark, watching shadows move on the wall. My mother came in, a bit upset, and asked me if I had finished my homework. I told her I was doing it. And I was! What a blessing to have a teacher like this in school.

As I told someone recently in a FB comment, the ‘ordinary’ is actually extraordinary, and what we think is ‘the same old thing’ is never actually the same from one instant to the next. The more closely we attend to anything that shows up (whether it is a visual appearance, a sound, a somatic sensation, a taste, a smell, a tactile sensation), the more it unfolds into ever more subtle dimensions with no end to that unfolding.

By simply looking and listening openly, we can notice and enjoy the fluidity and playful nature of reality — the clouds moving through a puddle of rainwater on the sidewalk, the gorgeous hills and valleys in a crumpled Kleenex, the way light dances on the wall, a tingling in our feet. We can notice it is all one seamless, infinitely varied but undivided happening, and that all our words for it and explanations of it can never capture or nail it down. We also begin to notice the common factor in every different experience: the presence of it, the immediacy of it, how everything is the immovable, infinite and eternal, ever-present Here-Now that never departs from itself. […]

Continue Reading Joan Tollifson’s text on Here-Now… (READ MORE…)

 

The Kiss

“Think ‘I am suffering’, and you are suffering.
Replace the thought ‘I am suffering’
with the thought ‘I am free, I am Freedom, 
I am Consciousness, I am not the body’.
Do not kiss your ego by saying ‘I am suffering’,
rather kiss yourself by saying ‘I am Free’.”

~ Papaji

 

~~~

Quote by H. W. L. Poonja (1910-1997)

Photo by Alain Joly

~~~

 

Bibliography:
– ‘The Truth Is’ – by H. W. L. Poonja – (Red Wheel/Weiser)

Website:
H. W. L. Poonja (Wikipedia)

 

Other quotes from the category Beauty in Essence

 

O Mystic Nuns!

Photo by Abee5 on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Thy love was not of earth; no woman’s soul 
For mortal love craved with such a yearning. 
So thou didst wed great God Himself! O Goal 
Beyond our ken, beyond our dim discerning! 
And soul to soul, like sunbeam unto Sun, 
Thou didst vanish away, O mystic Nun!

~ Sri Devendranath Sen

 

At all times, India has embraced the love and longing for God as a privileged access to our ultimate reality. This path of love or devotion, called bhakti, was trodden by countless seekers and poets who have offered their verses to posterity. Amongst them many women. Women who, alone, have walked the steep path to God, going against the society of men, marriage and conventions, with only one goal: to reach divine love. I present here three such women — Andal, Akka Mahadevi, and Mirabai — these mystic nuns, whose personality and poetry are an unforgettable milestone to this day in India and elsewhere.

Through devoting or directing their love to a god, be it Krishna or Shiva, these devotees were searching to experience the bliss of their own being, the happiness that is the very nature of their self. But by conditioning their love to an object, they also experienced suffering, longing, sadness, anger, which all came to feed their poetry, their songs, all these exquisite expressions. These were the very vector that supported their spiritual search. But don’t think that this is a path that is limited or lacking depth. For though directed towards an object, the love they feel is always their own. The forms of Krishna or Shiva were a vehicle to lead them to their very self, to realise that their longing is and has always been for their own unborn nature, for love itself, the oneness of their own being.

This tension between the love for God as a form, and for being or oneness as a principle, between saguna and nirguna bhakti, as it is expressed in the Indian tradition, is at the core of the bhakti endeavour, of the journey to divine love. In ‘The Embodiment of Bhakti’, Karen Pechilis Prentiss wrote: “The lord is characterized by both ‘paratva’ (otherness) and ‘soulabhaya’ (ease of access). He is both here and beyond, both tangible as a person and intangible as a principle.” These nuns were expressing this tension with various degrees in their many songs and poems. Listen to their voice. Listen to how Krishna’s forms and attributes, ramblings and happenings are only expressions of a deeper reality, of the understanding and tensions at play in the seeker’s very being. They are their paths whose completion will lead to the recognition of their own true self. […]

Listen to the poetry of Andal, Akka Mahadevi, and Mirabai… (READ MORE…)