The Direct Path

‘Walking on a Mountain Path in Spring’ – Ma Yuan, 1190 – WikiArt

We are such complex beings, always confused by endless choices and directions, caught as we are in the repeated convolutions of our thought patterns. Because we see ourselves as an intricate network of thoughts and feelings, we are naturally engaged in finding the solutions for our life conundrum in that same dark cavern of thought. But mistakingly and unfortunately so. For this is a labyrinth from which we can never come out. It has been designed for our loss and suffering. It has been masterly laid down by ignorance, for the sole and only purpose of perpetuating itself. If you want my advice: stay away if you can. But if you are already trapped and caught, well don’t worry: there is a way out. And it might be an easier one than you think.

The problem with thought is that it is constantly crowning itself as the chief master in all deeds and endeavours. It is doing so well in so many fields that its influence overflows beyond its natural area of competence. It is forever engaged in a process of belief and identification. It has persuaded itself that it represents the body, and is by now certain to be a person — a ‘he’ or ‘she’ who commands. It has put the load of finding happiness on itself, and is driving the body out in the world in a constant search for new objects and circumstances, all with the aim to obtain the precious package. And since it has come all the way here, it might as well seek to bring to itself not only happiness but also peace, freedom, love, justice, beauty, and the likes.

This is how we get lost — along that avenue of thought. Along that deceptive, inefficient, never ending seeking. This is madness — this labyrinth we have created for ourself. Thought and its acolytes as feelings, images, body, hope, desire — all that joyous team — out on a mission to find happiness. The danger of such an endeavour is to be found in the thin line down the page on the contract, that stipulates the side effects of such a folly: namely that this mistaken avenue will produce suffering in the forms of all the fears, violence, hatred, confusion, and sorrow that this endeavour brings with itself. And we won’t be able to heal these unfortunate ailments with more of the same as we failingly try to. Suffering can never be overcome using the tools that brought it in the first place. We have to find another way out of this labyrinthine maze and mess.

The good news is that you don’t have to follow every shallow, intricate alleys of this labyrinth, which is understood by now to be only a dark prospect. You are not doomed. Happiness was never meant to be such a dreary, sweaty enterprise. Right there, in the middle of the maze, in your darkest moment of loss and despair, is the secret chamber of peace, and the gate to the freedom you have sought for so long. Right there is the hidden, direct path out of it all. The short cut through the maze. Right here and right now. When you have slowed down and looked for once from the position of the one that has been here, present in all eternity, just below the threshold of your labyrinthine thoughts and feelings, and in fact mingling with them. This is the abode of rest which magically appears when thoughts, feelings, images, body, hope, desire, and world, have been put in their right place. This direct path is not a path. It is ‘it’. It is that very place or thing — which is not a place, not a thing — of your wildest dreams. It is this one silent watcher that precedes what you take to be your self, and presides over your golden destiny as being. The One that is so easily overlooked and missed — so discreet and transparent is it. Thinner than a breath. Space-like. Peaceful. Blissful. Blessed. As simple and direct as your deepest, most intimate sense of being. Just ‘I’. Yes, plainly just ‘I’.

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Text by Alain Joly

Painting by Ma Yuan (1160-1225)

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Websites:
Ma Yuan (Wikipedia)
On a Mountain Path in Spring

Suggestion:
– Other ‘Reveries’ from the blog…

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At the Crossroads

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
~ Robert Frost

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There are two parallel lives in our life. There are two different roads on offer in front of us. One has a signpost that indicates the destination of death and suffering, of constant uncertainty and tiresome conflicts, with a success that is one hundred percent reliable. You will reach your destination no matter what. The other one is another story altogether. No destination is indicated there. For it all depends on the first step you take. After that it is not well indicated. It is a road with no destination away from your self. A destination that is at no distance from your self. A destination not reachable through time. A predestined destination. You will just have to look behind, above your shoulder, to notice that the distance has already been covered, that you are already at the placeless place of your eternal self as being, and already made of the happiness you are looking for. And all this is right at the beginning, contained in the very first step you take. A timeless step into timeless being.

Take that less traveled road, and your life will have a wholly different perspective. It will become directionless, and yet open to a thousand possibilities. Whether these possibilities are incarnated or not will be of no importance at all. Because you have already reached all that you ever wanted to reach. You have already arrived at your destination. Replete. Complete. In no need of reassurance, or results, or of anything that would prove of your so dearly sought after happiness. This is very different than wanting to incarnate a possibility with the belief that it conceals in itself the recipe for your happiness. And when it is found dry and empty of such promise, pursuing another possibility, never incriminating the process itself but only the object that didn’t meet the required expectation. It is like trying a thousand medecines for a cure, and when proved unsuccessful, only questioning their efficacy and never the diagnosis of the illness.

So the road to suffering is paved with a thousand directions, while the road to happiness shows itself to have no direction at all, for the simple reason that its efficacy is not in self-improvement through the acquisition or pursuit of objects, but in the quiet and peaceful realisation of your being’s directionless and objectless nature, and its hundred percent reliability in matters of happiness, which is all life is about. The thousand possibilities are then only left to express that already achieved happiness, not bearing on themselves the expectation of, and responsibility for happiness. The reason why the road towards suffering is so unfailingly chosen is that as long as you grant objects the power to give you happiness, the direction on the signpost will indicate ‘Happiness’. How could you ever choose an unknown direction over a clearly defined one towards the dearest purpose of your life? Bear in mind that the right indication on the signpost is for you to see, understand, and write. Then the directionless place of your own being will be choicessly chosen and implemented. What you already are is never a matter of choice. What you are not and never could be is only a matter of choice. The less travelled road then becomes the only possible road, and the direction to which it points is the direction of your self, where happiness resides.

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

Quote by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

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Website:
Robert Frost (Wikipedia)

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Other ‘Ways of Being’ from the blog…

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The Puzzled Self

‘Bridges’ – Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis, 1905 – WikiArt

We succumb to this original mistake again and again. That error has been enforced in the system through thousands of years of repetition, belief, conditioning, habit, and its illusory power has strengthened itself to the point of being a truth. The mistake is: we’re looking for something outside ourself. We’re reaching out. All the time. We’re craving for. We are deemed insufficient. Needy. In consequence, we have broken the world apart, have created chasms and distances, have invented time when it is not needed. We have made life into a battle and a struggle. We have given rise to suffering and confusion. And the worse of it, we have isolated ourself. We have projected everything that is not our body and mind as something that is ‘other’, different in nature, and have made that ‘other’ the only open source available for the rising and falling of happiness in ourself.

Quite a mouthful isn’t it? What an inextricable bundle we have created! And our self? Well, it has been reduced to something marginal, that forever needs to be reassured, consoled, fulfilled, aggrandised. We have created an insatiable monster that destroys everything in its path. Its hunger can never be satisfied. And its thirst is unquenchable. It will want to be forever filled. And that process will make us the target of unbelievable constraints. It will divide our world into fragments, and will scatter them around like a gigantic, incomplete jigsaw puzzle. With ourself being only one of its lost pieces. What a dreadful prospect! Well, we have made it ourself, all alone; and the responsibility for it goes nowhere but in the direction of our very own self. But don’t try to fix, arrange, mend, repair. Don’t go back in the wrong direction. Don’t go again after your lost happiness. Don’t do more of the same. There is no hero needed here. What’s needed is something a bit more subtle. And way easier believe me.

You have to look. Just to look. To look and to see. To look is on your part. To see is not. It’s a given. You have to look at your self, at all the scattered pieces of your self. And you have to remove just one element of the puzzle that acts like a wrongdoer, a confusing piece, the error in the system. Remove your well-rehearsed tendency to look for happiness outside yourself. Just take that possibility away from yourself. That’s the grain of sand that blocks everything, and engages you on a road a thousand-time trodden, to no avail. Feel the wonder of that one last element of escape out of the system. Nowhere to go. Nothing to be. Dare for once to look at that simple truth in the eyes, which is: you won’t find anything of value outside your own being. It all falls back on you now. The whole world. The thousand scattered pieces of yourself. The suffering. The confusion. The whole paraphernalia. Everything. On yourself. Then…

Then you will see that you are alone. All alone. Not isolated but alone. You will see what you truthfully are. You will see that you are made of one single piece that only works for and as your self. That piece is the missing element of your puzzle. The one that was unseen, forgotten, and which had been replaced with a clumsy, invented, unfitting one that placed your life into this unresolvable puzzle of suffering and loss. That piece is the unifying factor, the one that will make chasms into a bridge of Life, and your broken world into a fitting piece of Oneness. For that piece has a magical touch that will make every pieces of yourself fall back into place. For there were never any scattered fragments in your Self. There was only Being, the one and only owner of that which you are, and of all that which can possibly be. And that feeling of being, with its supreme knowing, is enough to give you the peace and happiness that you looked for in a thousand directions or scattered pieces. Being is your aloneness. And in that aloneness is the golden spring from where happiness is seen as your only possibility. That’s it. This is the given. What you needed to see… Puzzle completed!

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Text by Alain Joly

Painting by Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (1875-1911)

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Website:
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (Wikipedia)

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The Heart Sutra

‘Buddha preaching Abhidhamma in Tavatimsa’ – Wikimedia Commons

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प्रज्ञापारमिताहृदय

心經

བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་མ་ཤེས་རབ་ཀྱི་ཕ་རོལ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པའི་སྙིང་པོ

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There is a text that came from the dawn of ages, whose author is unknown, but which has been widely accepted, practised, and chanted in Mahāyāna Buddhism as a condensed exposé of the teaching of Buddha. Although known and praised as the ‘Heart Sutra’, its original Sanskrit name translates as ‘The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom’. If the Sutra’s main teaching asserts that all phenomena is ‘Śūnyatā’, a term widely translated as emptiness, its wide implications extend to many other aspects in the understanding of our true nature. Originally translated in Chinese by a 9th century Buddhist monk called Prajñā, the text exists in a shorter and longer version. I am sharing here the standard long version that provides an elegant and story-like context to the main teaching. I have also chosen to give to the many Sanskrit terms their original meaning or context. Following the Sutra is a short text that I wrote, some words that the text has evoked in me. I hope that this presentation will give justice to the profundity of this text, and that you will enjoy the reading.

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Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.”
~ The Heart Sutra

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Discover this milestone of Buddhist literature: the ‘Heart Sutra’… (READ MORE…)

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The Gospel According to St. Matthew

‘The Gospel According to St. Matthew’ – by Pier Paolo Pasolini – (With Enrique Irazoqui)

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The motivation that unites all of my films
is to give back to reality
its original sacred significance
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~ Pier Paolo Pasolini

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The famous Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini made this beautiful statement about his art: “When I make a film, I shift into a state of fascination with an object, a thing, a fact, a look, a landscape, as though it were an engine where the holy is about to explode.” This can be immediately felt as we stroll amongst the first scenes of his 1964 movie ‘The Gospel According to St. Matthew’. We are met with an angelic Mary looking at a bewildered Joseph leaving home after the discovery of her pregnancy. Silence prevails and only a concert of bird’s songs can be heard. Joseph wanders in solitude in a landscape that is desolate yet teeming with presence and energy. He comes to the edge of a town and kneels against a nearby stretch of land where a bunch of children are playing, giving like a lullaby of innocence to Joseph who closes his eyes and abandons himself to the moment. This is the chosen time when an androgynous angel appears and gives him the revelation of the divine nature of Mary’s pregnancy.

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Discover the magnificent film by Pasolini on the Gospel of Matthew… (READ MORE…)

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The Burning Bush

‘The Icon of Theotokos the Unburnt Bush’ (detail) – 19th AD, Museum of Radomysl Castle, Ukraine – Wikimedia

Don’t be shy. Come out of the bush. That bush which is of your own making. The hazy bush of your thoughts, feelings, and the ten thousand things perceived. All that you have invented to keep your self going, to give it a form and a lustrous appearance. This is a bush of endless confusion and deceit. Don’t get entangled in its thorny maze, to be kept here safe but miserable. Don’t be lured into the bush of your apparent self, with its intricate problems, and its endless, unresolvable knots. Don’t make that bush your prison, be it a golden one. Don’t let it dictate your life, to forever seek in the world all that can soothe and heal for a time. And don’t expect that you will find in other similar bushes the remedy to your entanglement. You can gather as many bushes you like, they will never make a marriage worth of the name. Any other thought-induced bush will be revealed as being lost in the same, inherent, desperate obscurity which your self is lost in.

Don’t be deceived once more. Don’t be shy. Come out of the bush. Put it on fire. Burn it to the ground. You’d be surprised of what is left behind. How do you burn a bush? Expose it to the sun of your being. How do you expose the false, but by seeing the truth? How do you fight the fear of death, but by realising your immortality? How do you disengage yourself from your endless suffering, but by recognising your true nature as peace and happiness? You have a sun at hand that is more than happy to help you in that enterprise. Expose the mirror of your separation to that sun and its burning rays will strip this idea naked of any true reality. Show yourself. Come out of the bush. Let that pure being do its job on you. Let it burn that bush of yours down to its roots.

And don’t expect a desolate land after that. There will be no carpet of black, sullen, malodorous ashes. Be audacious, for you will only burn the false that is in you. All that doesn’t truly stand on its own. All that which is not. All that you have made up. These sure will go to never return. These are the unburnt bush of your apparent self. For how do you burn something that isn’t there? How do you extricate something that wasn’t truly entangled in the first place? How do you spot the unseen? How do you kill the invisible? As for the burnt ground, you will only meet what truly is. As for the desolation, you will only be welcomed with opulent love and beauty. As for the loss and suffering, you will only be exposed to the profound peace of your essential being. You will be blessed to notice a self that was here all along but that you had been made blind to. This is where this fire is not a fire of destruction but one of creation. This is where this fire is a never ending fire where no bush, no seeds of folly can ever thrive.

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Text by Alain Joly

Painting by Museum of Ukrainian Home Icons

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Websites:
Museum of Ukrainian Home Icons
Radomysl Castle (Wikipedia)

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Other ‘Ways of Being’ from the blog…

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The Incidental Life

I would like to live the incidental life. Not the one that is a toil. Not the one that finds its significance in happenings and accidents, in various changes or transformations, in happy or sad expressions. I don’t want to be dependent on the forms of life for my happiness. I don’t want to be bound to its many injunctions, be they ones that are imposed or desired. For this is how life acquires its tragic quality. This is how life becomes something that we have to endure or bear with. Something that we have to go through with clenched teeth — which is with hope and belief. Something that we can be happy with, or grateful for, only if we take the right decisions, make the right efforts, and have some good luck too. I don’t want my life to be so brittle and uncertain. To be so imprisoned in endless causes and conditionings. And to have fear as its background music. No. I don’t want to be so grandiose. I want the incidental life.

To have an incidental life is to forever place our gaze on the horizon of being. This gaze implies surrendering to what is, or not minding what happens, as Krishnamurti once affirmed. This gaze will make you see life as being drenched in beauty and love. And this gaze will render you to your eternal, inborn, given nature of peace, happiness, and freedom. This is when experience clothes itself in a sumptuous dress of truth or understanding. One that will allow you, in familiar terms, to leave your life alone. For it can verily and simply take care of itself. Life doesn’t need your painstaking involvement. It doesn’t fancy your pity or concern or greed. Doesn’t want to be taken advantage of. Let your life be in its right place, which is the place of humility. This is where it will find its true colours and expressions. This is when it will rid itself of all the suffering that encumbered it. This is how it will find its own sacred purpose. Don’t give your life an undue position. Don’t take what is secondary to be foremost. And what is foremost to be secondary. See only being as foremost. This is the sun of life: this being. Its essence and direction. The rest? Well, let it be incidental.

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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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