Saturday, March 2, 2019

Ikkyü - Llike phrases written on water


realized understanding

kindness and the excellent nature

of opportunities and dangers, one ably

breaks through the net of doubts snaring all

sentient beings. Departing from ‘is’ and ‘is not’,

and other such bondages…leaping over quantity and

calculation, one is without obstruction in whatever

one does. With penetrating understanding of the

present situation and its informing patterns,

one’s actions are like the sky giving rise

to clouds: suddenly they exist, and

then they don’t. Not leaving

behind any obstructing

traces, they are like

phrases written

on water.


Thursday, February 28, 2019

Chuck Surface - And the desert bloomed

 There was a time when I found myself,
In a Desert where the Dark Night lingered,
And it seemed that the Sun of Hope,
Had set for all eternity.

Despair became for me, the very blood,
That coursed through the veins of my Being,
Hopelessness, the air that I breathed,
Desolation... simply what it felt like to be alive.

The ashes of faith had long blown away,
In arid Winds of Abandonment and Isolation,
And it seemed with a certainty absolute,
That prayers echoed unheard, in Emptiness.

Until one day, at last, Falling where I stood,
I searched through the Ruins of myself,
To find a shard, a crumb, a drop... anything,
That Desolation might have left to me.

And I found, still Glimmering in the ashes,
The flickering Ember of Love’s Longing,
That had sent me Journeying, so long ago,
In the quest for its Fulfillment.

A Jewel still Sparkling in that Darkness,
A Tear having withstood the fires of Hell,
A Blessing Remaining, when it seemed,
All Blessings were no more.

Longing had endured, when all hope was lost,
Longing remained, in the ashes of faith,
Longing Shone in that unending Darkness,
Longing alone remained to me.

Longing for Love not born of cause or condition,
A Love for which no opposite existed,
A Love that Shone before this Dream of dualities,
In the Heaven of nonexistent Existence.

Holding to my Heart that Jewel of Longing,
Left behind by the Thief of belief and faith,
It was revealed that the Ravager was none other,
Than The Beloved, The Beautiful, The Merciful.

The very Love I had Longed for had driven me,
To the Charnel House of knowledge, belief and faith,
Where the Conflagration of Love‘s Fierce Flames,
Had Consumed all that It was not.

In the Ashes, I found the Blessing of Poverty,
For having Nothing, Love’s Treasure was Revealed,
Being Nothing, I Existed without existing,
And as the Rains of Heaven began to Fall...

The Desert began to Bloom.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Thomas Merton - Heard only in Silence

 One might say I had decided to marry the silence of the forest.

    The sweet dark warmth of the whole world will have to be my wife.
    Out of the heart of that dark warmth comes the secret that is heard only in silence,
    but it is the root of all the secrets that are whispered
    by all the lovers in their beds
    all over the world.

    So perhaps I have an obligation
    to preserve the stillness,
    the silence,
    the poverty,
    the virginal point of pure nothingness
    which is at the center of all other loves.

    I attempt to cultivate this plant
    without contempt
    in the middle of the night
    and water it with psalms and prophecies
    in silence.
    It becomes the most rare
    of all the trees in the garden,
    at once the primordial paradise tree,
    the AXIS MUNDI,
    the cosmic axle,
    and the Cross ...

    There is only one such tree.
    It cannot be multiplied.

    - Thomas Merton, essay, "Day of the Stranger", 1965

Monday, February 25, 2019

Ray Brooks - The Shadow That Seeks the Sun


The Shadow that Seeks the Sun: finding joy, love and answers on the sacred river Ganges, is a thought-provoking memoir of the author’s search for unconditional freedom. With affectionate humor, the narrator, Ray, introduces an unforgettable cast of characters who inhabit the banks of the River Ganges in Rishikesh, India.

 Interwoven throughout these lively stories are nine insightful conversations that take place between Ray and Rudra, an intriguing Anglo-Indian man he met by chance on the ghats. With Rudra’s guidance, these simple, yet profound, talks challenge the author’s long-held spiritual beliefs by pointing directly to that which is ever-present but completely overlooked—our true nature.

“It’s funny, I feel such an exquisite sense of freedom just sitting here next to the Ganga talking with you, Rudra. This qualifies as one of those magic moments I was telling you about. If there was nothing more than this, it would be enough.”

“You know, Ray …” He hesitated, perhaps unsure whether to carry on. “… heightened experiences only have significance if they point to what is already here.”

“Well, I’ve always felt that they point to something beyond the ordinary. I doubt if I’d be sitting here with you today if it weren’t for these experiences. More than likely, I’d be caught up in the system, living the whole ‘catastrophe’. They’ve motivated me to make changes, to keep going, to keep discovering more about myself.”

Rudra nodded unconvincingly and looked out across the river. Undeterred, I carried on.

“I’d like to think these experiences have brought me to this point, Rudra. It was a heightened experience that changed the direction of my life, many years ago.”

“Ray …” He hesitated again. This time there was a long pause before he spoke. “Ray, is any of what you’ve just said true?”

I was startled by the directness of his question.

“You see, there are no ‘experiences’. There is only experience. For there to be experiences there would have to be ‘someone’ to have them. For there to be someone, the knowing and the known would have to be separate. If you’re really interested in the truth you have to see this.”

“I know what you’re referring to, but that has never been my experience. I’m certain that what I’m looking for is connected to these experiences. They’ve shown me that there’s more to life than the mundane and that there is the possibility of freedom.”

“Whether you recognize it or not, you have never been apart from experience. Have you ever experienced a time when there wasn’t experience? If you have, how would you know? Ray, what you’re looking for is not found in experiences. What you’re looking for is beyond the very idea of freedom itself and not in future ‘experiences’. If we don’t remain open and aware of what these ‘experiences’ are directly pointing to, it’s easy to be carried away by them and to make the mistake of believing yourself to be something perceived—something separate from that which is already present. Without seeing this clearly, and based on what you’ve said, you will always be searching for freedom in some future experience and missing the obvious.”

“The obvious? What is the obvious that I’m missing, Rudra?”

“This, Ray. The last place you look—your actual experience, which is right here. This changeless experience is so familiar, so obvious that it goes unnoticed. As for ‘experiences’ bringing you to this point, how could anything bring you to where you have never left, or could ever leave? No matter how sublime the experience, it only ever points to this, where you already are.”

I looked away, unable to stand the scrutiny of his gaze any longer.

“Stop resisting what you’re hearing for a moment, Ray, and look at your experience right now. What do you find?”

“What I find is you and I talking together sitting by the river.”

“I wasn’t asking you for a story about what is apparently going on. Close your eyes and look. What do you find?”

Without giving a description, I was unsure how to answer.

“Well, just me.”

“Yes, just the experience of what you normally refer to as you? So you find only experience, right?”

“I just want to be clear what you mean by the word ‘experience’, Rudra.”

“What it feels like to be you—beingness.”

“Okay … Yes, then just experience.”

“You can find only being, yes?”

“… Yes, just being.”

“Irrefutable being that needs no proof—aware-beingness, that proves all else. Is there any effort required to know this beingness?”

“Well, no. None at all.”

“Right, there’s no effort or special conditions for it to be. It is so obvious that it is disregarded and believed to be a byproduct of the brain or some kind of higher power. When I used the word ‘obvious’, Ray, I wasn’t being condescending in any way. I’m referring to that which you have just seen clearly without any effort. That which is closer than close, yet totally overlooked. Just experience, as you are, and not what thought says that you are, or should be.”

“So you’re suggesting that these heightened experiences that I’ve had get in the way of finding the obvious?”

“You don’t have to find the obvious. You are the obvious. And what is stopping you from discovering this is the idea that being is not present and is found in some future experience. You’re only a glance away from seeing this for yourself. Why not trust your actual experience instead of trusting your beliefs?”

“But Rudra, the freedom during these experiences is unmistakable. If the clue to this freedom isn’t in our experiences, where else could it possibly be?”

“Ray, you’ve just seen where it is. Where else could it be? All that keeps you from seeing this is the common belief that ‘someone’ is having an experience. You and experience are not two things. There is only ever experience. Sorry, I’m already making it sound too complicated. It’s much simpler than words can express.”

I could hardly believe the direction our conversation was taking. Apart from Krishnamurti, I had never met anyone who spoke with such insight and certainty. He was so open and at ease, and there was not a trace of preaching in his voice. I felt exhilarated in his company and was definitely in no hurry to leave.

“I can see you’re very interested in all of this, Ray. But as long as you believe that you are separate and independent from experience—that there is an inside self and an outside world—I can assure you that you’ll be like a dog chasing its own tail.”

“Ever since meeting Krishnamurti, intellectually, I have always known that the separation between the ‘experiencer’ and the ‘experience’ is the very root of the problem, but, in actuality, this has never become clear to me.”

“And it will never become clear as long as you believe you are looking from the point of view of an experiencer—a separate self.”

“Who or what is it that knows that ‘I’ and ‘experience’ are not separate?”

“That which is hearing this voice; the simple knowing of this current experience, without interpretation. All that you know of yourself, beyond any doubt, is that you are self-aware.”

I’d been sitting for almost an hour and the stone step was beginning to feel uncomfortably hard. I took off my jacket and sat on it. Rudra seemed to realize that I needed time to digest what he was saying and paused for several minutes.

“When you see clearly that there is only one ‘knowing’, one timeless experience of this, what could possibly trouble you but imagination?” He paused. “Ray, we’re entering territory that will take more than a few minutes to explore. Do you have time to continue?”

“Yes, I have plenty of time.”

“All right. If I may ask, Ray, where do you find yourself when these magic moments come to an end?”

“Good question … Well, it’s as if I have one foot in the past and one foot in the future. Longing for something—’becoming’ might be a good word to describe it. A feeling of being unsettled might sum it up.”

“Unsettled, yes. Wanting things to be different. Is that sense of not being complete with you now?”

“Now? No. Not at all. I’m really enjoying our talk and there’s an experience of wellbeing. I’m just here. I’m present and I’m aware. I couldn’t think of a better place to be.”

“Be careful here. Present and aware are not two separate things. Presence-awareness is the experience of beingness itself. So, yes, there is just experience—the indescribable certainty that you exist. When I use the word ‘experience’, I am not referring to experiences in time, but only the awareness of ‘now’, which are one and the same.”

“I’m more familiar with using the word ‘awareness’ in these types of conversations. Are you using ‘experience’ as a synonym for ‘awareness’?”

“Yes. Awareness is just another name for experience. The meaning of awareness can be misunderstood and abstract, where experience is known by all. So, Ray, when you look now, there is only the certainty of experience—this aware-beingness. There’s not a sense of becoming or wanting a more pleasurable experience.”

“Yes, that’s right. There’s just aware-beingness.”

“Have you ever known a time when you were not this aware-beingness?”

“Well, there are moments when I’m busy and I forget that I’m aware, or when I’m lost in thought and off in a dream world.”

“For thought to be at all, surely awareness must be there. You would have to be present for thought to arise, wouldn’t you? If not—if something has existence outside of awareness—it would have to be a belief, wouldn’t it?”

Although somewhat mystified, I was fully absorbed by his words. Rudra could see that I was grappling with his statements and kept quiet again for a moment.

“Ray, ‘experience’ or ‘awareness’ or whatever you want to call it, are just other names for ‘you’. That is, the simple sense of ‘I’.”

“I’ve always thought ‘I’ was the problem.”

“We are not talking about the ‘I’ belief that comes with a story of past and future. I’m referring to the simple experience of ‘I’ that is complete and perfect. Beingness itself.”

“If beingness is already complete, why does it leave perfection and go in search of a better state? That seems to be all it ever does.”

“You never leave perfection to go on a search. There’s not two of you; one looking for another. Thought appears unauthored, just like any other appearance, creating the illusion of separation. Once this seamless oneness divides into entities—mind, objects and world—the divisions seem very real. Then thought goes on an endless path, searching for a self that has never been lost. It’s a futile path. Like a shadow that seeks the sun.”

Rudra paused and stared across the river.

“Ray, there is only ever this—this present moment—and it is all you. Without you, awareness, nothing could possibly be.”

I looked at the scene around me. The sun illuminated the pink walls of the ashram across the river. About one hundred yards to my left, a pack of dogs were barking and fighting over something snatched from the remains of a smoldering funeral pyre. A songbird alighted on a nearby rock, shook its feathers, bobbed its tiny body, and began to sing with startling volume and beauty.

“As I said, Rudra, apart from a few glimpses, I understand what you’re saying only conceptually. I’ve tried so hard, for so long, to see this. In truth, there’s something I’m just not getting.”

“Something thought is not getting—thought cannot get this. Thought cannot know peace. It can only know about peace. Ray, it sounds as if you simply want to move from where you are to where you want to be. That new place is peace and happiness. Is this true?”

For a moment, the beauty of the bird’s song overpowered his question. I looked at Rudra and then back at the bird, but it was gone.

“Yes,” I said, a little disappointed with my answer. “As you’ve said, Rudra, everyone is looking for peace and happiness.”

“Ray, peace is not somewhere else. Peace is no other than the absence of resistance to what ‘is’. It is your ever-present nature, the light of aware-presence. It could never cease to shine. The difficulty lies in explaining its utter simplicity.”

Rudra’s words were firm but the timbre of his voice never changed and his expression remained calm. The Muni paraded past us again on what must have been his fifth lap. We didn’t speak for a few minutes.

“Ray, I’m sorry, I’d really like to stay longer, but I must attend to some business in town.”

“Yes, of course, Rudra. I hope I haven’t kept you?”

“No, I have enough time to get there. Such a pleasure talking to you this morning. I hope our conversation has been helpful in some way.”

“It has. Would it be possible to meet again?”

“Yes, of course. I can’t tomorrow, but how about on Wednesday at the same time?”

“I’ll be here.”

We stood up and Rudra placed his palms together.

“Ray, these magic moments are quite wonderful, but words cannot describe the beauty and the love of simply being. To be here, in this love, is easy. All else is effort. Namaste.”

Thanks (again) to the culturium


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Ajahn Sumedho - The Sound of Silence

Plotinus - On Beauty

    Withdraw into yourself and look. And if you do not find yourself beautiful yet, act as does the creator of a statue that is to be made beautiful: he cuts away here, he smoothes there, he makes this line lighter, this other purer, until a lovely face has grown upon his work. So do you also: cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked, bring light to all that is overcast, labour to make all one glow of beauty and never cease chiselling your statue, until there shall shine out on you from it the godlike splendour of virtue, until you shall see the perfect goodness surely established in the stainless shrine.

    When you know that you have become this perfect work, when you are self-gathered in the purity of your being, nothing now remaining that can shatter that inner unity, nothing from without clinging to the authentic man, when you find yourself wholly true to your essential nature, wholly that only veritable Light which is not measured by space, not narrowed to any circumscribed form nor again diffused as a thing void of term, but ever unmeasurable as something greater than all measure and more than all quantity—when you perceive that you have grown to this, you are now become very vision: now call up all your confidence, strike forward yet a step, you need a guide no longer, strain, and see.

    This is the only eye that sees the mighty Beauty. If the eye that adventures the vision be dimmed by vice, impure, or weak, and unable in its cowardly blenching to see the uttermost brightness, then it sees nothing even though another point to what lies plain to sight before it. To any vision must be brought an eye adapted to what is to be seen, and having some likeness to it. Never did eye see the sun unless it had first become sunlike, and never can the soul have vision of the First Beauty unless itself be beautiful.

    Therefore, first let each become godlike and each beautiful who cares to see God and Beauty. So, mounting, the Soul will come first to the Intellectual-Principle and survey all the beautiful Ideas in the Supreme and will avow that this is Beauty, that the Ideas are Beauty. For by their efficacy comes all Beauty else, but the offspring and essence of the Intellectual-Being. What is beyond the Intellectual-Principle we affirm to be the nature of Good radiating Beauty before it. So that, treating the Intellectual-Kosmos as one, the first is the Beautiful: if we make distinction there, the Realm of Ideas constitutes the Beauty of the Intellectual Sphere; and The Good, which lies beyond, is the Fountain at once and Principle of Beauty: the Primal Good and the Primal Beauty have the one dwelling-place and, thus, always, Beauty’s seat is There.

    —Plotinus, The First Ennead, “On Beauty”, 9