Saturday, October 5, 2013

Abhinavagupta - Bliss

Abhinavagupta (950-1020, Kashmir, India) was one of the most powerfully insightful, deeply profound and logically-clear philosophers of the reality of Living Unbound that the world has ever known. However, he is not at all widely known outside of the circles that his work has touched directly, namely the non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir and certain Indian disciplines of poetics and aesthetics.

This bliss is not like the intoxication of wine or that of riches, nor similar to union with the beloved. The manifestation of the light of consciousness is not like the ray of light from a lamp, sun or moon. When one frees oneself from accumulated multiplicity, the state of bliss is like that of putting down a burden; the manifestation of the Light is like the acquiring of a lost treasure, the domain of universal non-duality.

Nothing perceived is independent of perception and perception differs not from the perceiver, therefore the universe is nothing but the perceiver. 


The Goddess Within

These invocatory verses are from Tantråloka, compossed in the 10th
century by the illustrious teacher Abhinavagupta.

PDF Here

Swami Chetanananda - “Stillness”

“Many myths, sacred stories, and rituals are attempts to recreate a sense of stillness. This is their essence. Indeed, without some awareness of stillness, ritual takes on only its external approximation, becoming heavy and solemn. On the other hand, ritual that arises out of the experience of stillness is a light and joyful thing.

This is not inertia, but the dynamic stillness of the Self, which Abhinavagupta, the thirteenth-century master of the Kashmir Shaivite tradition of India, described as pure consciousness. It is from here that our notion of “I” as an individual self coalesces and reveals the multiplicity of the universe. Stillness is not the same thing as silence, nor is it like quieting the mind. It does not operate on a simply personal level. The stillness we are interested in knowing is always within us, even as we are within it, and we find freedom through our contact with it. As we become established in our contact with its power, we recognize that all our desires, wants, needs, insecurities, and tensions are nothing. Underlying every pursuit, and even our quest for meaning as a whole, is the longing for contact with stillness. When we have this, what more is needed?”

 We see this in the story of the Buddha when he sat down and resolved not to move until he had achieved enlightenment. Once he had made this commitment, all kinds of terrors and temptations overtook him. It was his ability to abide in stillness, even as everything within him intensified, that allowed for his awakening. The great stillness he discovered was the source of his enlightenment and liberation, and of all the Buddhist teachings.

Our mind does have a connection to this reality, but not one that the mind itself can recognize. Through stillness, we discover over and over again that this reality is not what we thought it was. What we learn about it has nothing to do with accumulated knowledge.

So, what is the knowledge being conveyed by the different oral traditions? It is not spiritual knowledge because, practically speaking, this is useless. Rather, it is spiritual experience ­ an experience of stillness.

We are reaching for something deeper within us. When we come into its presence, our ordinary minds and capacity for language are useless. The transmission of the knowledge we seek occurs only obliquely through the spoken word, and more directly through silence, both of which constitute aspects of an oral tradition.

In India, the two kinds of transmission are reflected in two terms for “teacher.” One is acharya; the other is guru. Acharya means “instructor,” or”transmitter of information,” while guru is the “dispeller of darkness” or “giver of the light.” To interact with a guru is to participate in a shared learning experience of a different order.

It is the teacher, in this second sense, who is the locus of our contact with stillness. In Sufism, for example-and particularly among the Mevlevi dervishes-the teacher is referred to as “the post.” In the rituals, he takes on the role of the still point at the center around which the students whirl and turn.

In many of the teaching traditions of India, awareness of the sacred is transmitted through the oral tradition of mantra. Usually this is taken to be a system of practices based on sound, but this is somewhat misleading. The knowledge that the master transmits is more subtle than verbal instruction about mantra or even the experience of sound itself.

When one receives a mantra in direct transmission from a teacher, it is the resonance of the teacher’s awareness-his or her direct contact with dynamic stillness-that is being conveyed, not simply a word or syllable to repeat. This is why the explanation of the mantra must be oral and direct.

In the Kashmir Shaivite tradition, what is truly significant about a mantra is not its actual syllables, but what is always present and unchanging between them. The syllables-their cadence, rhythm and pitch-are all changeable, just as every breath we take is different. What is never different, however, is what lies between the syllables: that stillness which is beyond time and space, and beyond any kind of classification.

In the beginning, we practice speaking and breathing the mantra. In the end, the breath of the mantra practices us.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dogen Zenji - Only this to say

The whole universe
shatters into a hundred pieces.
In the great death
there is no heaven, no earth.

Once body and mind have turned over
there is only this to say:

Past mind cannot be grasped,
present mind cannot be grasped,
future mind cannot be grasped.

 -   Zen Master Dogen Zenji, 1200 - 1253
Enlightenment Unfolds, Edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lalleshwari - Just For a Moment, Flowers Appear

Just for a moment, flowers appear
on the empty, nearly-spring tree.
Just for a second, wind
through the wild thicket thorns.
Self inside self, You are nothing but me.
Self inside self, I am only You.
What we are together
will never die.
The why and how of this?
What does it matter?

[Taken from Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty, Edited by
Alan Jacobs]

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Randal Friend - The Need To Become

Desire and fear - these things dictate the world we know. This is the need to become something, to become somebody - and the fear of losing what we have become or gained.
Why do we need to become anything? Is this because we're not sure what we are NOW? Isn't this sense of what we are very slippery and elusive? It seems to change from day to day - yesterday I felt confident and at ease - today the ground feels like it might shake out from under me.

If happiness and peace were dependent on what our relative sense of identity is, we'd never be happy or at peace. Of course, this is probably what your life seems like now. Happiness and peace are either not present or are fleeting at best.

So if we listen to what the ancient and contemporary sages have been telling us - happiness and peace is not dependent on this shaky, relative identity, which from day to day changes, and our need to become something is strongly based on our insecurity of what we are NOW.

But they also say that this happiness and peace isn't attained through effort, that it's ever-present. Of course that's not what we feel, is it? Our direct experience differs from this explanation. So we believe there must be something we need to do to achieve the sage's perspective.

But isn't this just another thing that we need to become? Isn't this just more of the same - more of that which causes us suffering NOW? So what's the solution? How do we get out of this constant need to become something? How do we find the happiness and peace we seek?

Any answer we give is a conceptualization of some process, something that needs to be done, somewhere to go, something to get. ANY answer we can come up with is not it. It seems we're stuck!

So we can just continue to fight it out, struggle against the ropes that bind us, causing them to get ever-tighter with our new goal of becoming something, this time it's the "ultimate" achievement - Enlightenment.

Or we can realize our predicament - no amount of searching, no amount of mental analysis, reading pointers, attending satsang, sitting in meditation, with the goal of achieving something, will ever, ever, ever lead us to our goal.

So let's drop the goal. Let's drop Enlightenment as a goal - let's stop desiring to become Enlightened. I hear the fear and screaming now! My God! How can I drop it when I've been doing this most of my life? How can I drop it because if I drop it I'll never get peace and happiness!?!

That's the problem - in a nutshell. We fear giving up the need to become something because we will lose the possibility of gaining the benefits of Enlightenment. Enlightenment has become another feel-good initiative, another self-help methodology.

When we get the message, either through clarity of mind or exhaustion from all the seeking, that what we seek we already are, then the seeking stops. There is no longer any point to seek - if we already ARE what we seek, what's the point of seeking? Seeking is another screen or filter through which we see the world - another obscuring factor to the happiness and peace we seek.

So we drop it. And we no longer have any purpose, we no longer have a goal. We no longer need to "attain" Enlightenment, because somehow we're already Enlightened, already what we seek. We have a lot more time on our hands because we aren't reading books, websites, attending satsangs or meditation classes.

We're faced with the bare, naked present moment. We're faced with that which we've spent years trying to get out of - boredom - and the quest to be something more than we are now, achieve something better than we have now.

And we see that thought doesn't get us anywhere - mental analysis just leads to more craving and desire to become something. So in this clear present moment, thought stops briefly. It just runs out of gas. And we're left with nothing - literally nothing - nothing to achieve, nothing to think about, nothing to become - we come to a complete STOP.

And in this STOP - there is just a pure seeing/knowing -there is nothing there - nothing arises - no thoughts about becoming, not even the thought that "I am looking" or "I am looking at a tree" or "I want to become Enlightened" or "I want to be happy or at peace".

To our surprise, happiness and peace is RIGHT THERE! Happiness and peace is the total effortless acceptance of what IS, right NOW! And in this STOP of thought, of seeking, of the desire to become or fear of losing what we think we are - in this STOP we are ALREADY submerged in the happiness and peace we were seeking.

Seeking something better, including Enlightenment - which is supposed to be a "better" state of mind or something - was the very thing which obscured happiness and peace. In seeking, we weren't satisfied, we didn't accept WHAT IS. So we were always striving to become something else, something better in the future. And the clouds hung over the sky, in front of the Sun, which was always there in the background, shining brightly, but obscured to the seeking mind.

See how you are never satisfied with WHAT IS - how you're always searching to become something better and fear losing what you think you are. And see how this search for Enlightenment has become just another goal - the goal itself obscures the already-present happiness and peace. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Alan Watts - Illusion of time

"We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is."

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hakuin's Song of Zazen

All beings are primarily Buddhas.
It is like water and ice:
There is no ice apart from water;
There are no Buddhas apart from beings.

Not knowing how close the truth is to them,
Beings seek for it afar -- what a pity!
They are like those who, being in the midst of water,
Cry out for water, feeling thirst.

They are like the son of the rich man,
Who, wandering away from his father,
Goes astray amongst the poor.
It is all due to their ignorance
That beings transmigrate in the darkness
Of the Six Paths of existence.

When they wander from darkness to darkness,
How can they ever be free from birth-and-death?

As for the Dhyana practice as taught in the Mahayana,
No amount of praise can exhaust its merits.
The Six Paramitas--beginning with the Giving, Observing the Precepts,
And other good deeds, variously enumerated,
Such as Nembutsu, Repentance, Moral Training, and so on --
All are finally reducible to the practice of Dhyana.

The merit of Dhyana practice, even during a single sitting,
Erases the countless sins accumulated in the past.
Where then are the Evil Paths to misguide us?
The Pure Land cannot be far away.

Those who, for once, listening to the Dharma
In all humility,
Praise it and faithfully follow it,
Will be endowed with innumerable merits.

But how much more so when you turn your eyes within yourselves
And have a glimpse into your self-nature!
You find that the self-nature is no-nature -
The truth permitting no idle sophistry.
For you, then, open the gate leading to the oneness of cause and effect;
Before you, then, lies a straight road of non-duality and non-trinity.

When you understand that form is the form of the formless,
Your coming-and-going takes place nowhere else but where you are.
When you understand that thought is the thought of the thought-less.
Your singing-and-dancing is no other than the voice of the Dharma.
How boundless is the sky of Samadhi!
How refreshingly bright is the moon of the Fourfold Wisdom!
Being so is there anything you lack?
As the Absolute presents itself before you
The place where you stand is the Land of the Lotus,
And your person -- the body of the Buddha.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Words of Paradise - Selected Poems of Rumi
(Raficq Abdulla)

Kabir - "Inside this Clay Jug"

Inside this clay jug
there are canyons and
pine mountains,
and the maker of canyons
and pine mountains!

All seven oceans are inside,
and hundreds of millions of stars.

The acid that tests gold is here,
and the one who judges jewels.

And the music
that comes from the strings
that no one touches,
and the source of all water.

If you want the truth, I will tell you the truth:
Friend, listen: the God whom I love is inside.