who is this moment?

One hundred years ago my generation’s grandparents woke to the news that the world was at war. Many of them, and their own children – our parents – perished in that conflict (the one that was meant to be “the war to end all wars” – remember?) Many more perished in the second, perhaps deadlier version, and there’s no end in sight to the many current conflicts that plague peace on our beautiful planet.

One hundred and one years ago today, my dad was born. It hadn’t happened yet, but Hiroshima Day would become a grisly marker for his birthday. When I asked him how it felt to share his birthday with the remembrance of that atrocity he was uncharacteristically quiet. He said, “It was the war, dear.” His tone implied that it was something I wouldn’t ever properly understand, not having lived through such times, and he was right. But the sense of his resignation fuelled my lifelong inquiry into the nature and causes of human conflict.

Today I want to take some quiet time to honour my dad, to thank him for all the ways he (usually unintentionally) helped to pave my path. I also want to honour the countless souls who perished in those global conflicts, and those who continue to be caught up in the outrageous and totally avoidable conflicts that are occurring right now, as I type…

I haven’t a magic wand that I can wave over the mayhem to restore sanity to a species gone mad, but I do have a question. To answer this age-old question for oneself takes courage; to live the truth of what is discovered is not an option but an imperative. It just might be the only chance we have – as a species – to survive the old story of separation that drives the war machine. And to change the course of history.

Who is this moment that is morphing, with every thought, into a ‘me’ with its skeleton of opinions, certitude and self-righteousness? This ‘me’ who is so programmed by received ideology that it would make of its siblings, parents or neighbours an enemy; that it would exterminate innocents intentionally or unintentionally? Who is this ‘me’-moment that believes itself to be separate from others, who can look into their eyes and fail to see its own Beingness looking back?

There is no one else, nothing else. There is nothing to be found outside yourself.

"Outside of this there is nothing." original sumi painting for your altar or mediation space. The quote is from the Zenrin Kushu, by Seiko Morningstar illustrator of Zen by the Brush. A circle is called an enso and is a common image in Zen Calligraphy. Naturally there is no inside, no outside, no beginning and no end.

When the ego is dead, a new kind of life begins. This is why it is said that when you see the true nature of yourself, there is no way that you can live your life in the old way. It may take a long time to actualize it, but once you see it, it is like an itch that needs to be attended to.

Once we see what is real, it’s very difficult to hide from reality. Before we see it, we can plead ignorance and kind of bungle along, deluding ourselves about our existence. We can blame it on our parents or the president or any number of people, places, and things in order to avoid our responsibility. We can always be a victim, like the unfortunate soul caught in the “winds of circumstances.”

When you realize yourself, all of that self-deception is ended because you find out who is really responsible. It is you. You are the responsible party. There is no one else, nothing else. There is nothing to be found outside yourself.

At first, it is an awesome realization to be responsible, to have no one to blame anymore. It sounds silly if you try and say, “He made me angry,” or “He made me do it,” or “It’s her fault.” It sounds ridiculous, once you have realized yourself, to make the statement “I’m just a victim of circumstances.”

You realize that you are the circumstances, that you create what you experience, that what you do and what happens to you are identical. You realize that cause and effect are immediate and instantaneous; cause doesn’t precede effect, nor does effect follow cause.

If you want to know the past, look at this moment. If you want to know the future, look at this moment. This moment is the future and the past. Where will you find this moment? Who is this moment? What is this moment?

-  John Diado Loori, in Mountain Record of Zen Talks

 


Calligraphy by Seiko Morningstar – the quote is from the Zenrin Kushu.


 

try it, do it

This is another extract from my mother’s file of inspirational clippings and notes, which I first wrote about in the post keep far away.  She has taken some time to copy the last three paragraphs from a book called The Quest of the Quiet Mind: The Philosophy of Krishnamurti by Stuart Holroyd.  In these final lines, the author is summing up Krishnamurti’s take on meditation.

Earlier parts of the chapter make it clear that K held a very emphatic position on what meditation isn’t – not “the repetition of a word, nor the experience of a vision, nor the cultivation of silence … not wrapping yourself in a pattern of thought, in the enchantment of pleasures.” He would have added that it is not prayer – which is rooted in the illusion of separateness, and it is not a way or a path to anything – certainly not to freedom, for freedom is the precondition of meditation.

- – -

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flame_from_a_Burning_Candle.JPG

The basis of meditation, then, is watchfulness, both of the objective and the subjective worlds. It is ‘seeing, watching, listening, without word, without comment, without opinion – attentive to the movement of life in all its relationships throughout the day.’ It is the continual emptying of the mind of thought and experience, allowing the stream of consciousness to flow freely without thought seizing on any of its elements; it is living and dying from moment to moment.

Another paradox about it is that although it is not a thing you can deliberately set out to do, it nevertheless demands hard work and ‘the highest form of discipline – not conformity, not imitation, not obedience, but a discipline which comes through constant awareness, not only of the things about you outwardly, but also inwardly.  Just watch and be aware of all your thoughts, feelings and reactions, without judging, comparing, approving, condemning or evaluating them in any way, Krishnamurti says. Try it, do it, he urges, and you will find that there is a tremendous release of energy, there is the opening of the door into spaciousness, there is the awakening of bliss.

In a telling image he likens the bliss of meditation to a pure flame, and thought to the smoke from a fire which brings tears to the eyes and blurs perception.  In meditation the mind penetrates and understands the entire structure of the self and the world that thought has put together, and the very act of seeing and understanding the structure confers freedom from it, for mediation ‘destroys everything, nothing whatsoever is left, and in this vast, unfathomable emptiness there is creation and love.’

- Stuart Holroyd, The Quest of the Quiet Mind: The Philosophy of Krishnamurti


Find a comprehensive selection of Krishnamurti’s books at the Krishnamurti Foundation Trust website.


Image source


keep far away
words from my treasured teacher


once your cruci-fiction is over

Bill Viola - The Crossing, 1996, video/sound installation

 

once your cruci-fiction is over

you will say Father

thank you for forsaking me

so that what I am

and have always been

could melt, again

into the womb

of the Mother’s wild Love

 

could shed the unstoppable

tears, that by some divine alchemy

transform

from grief into bliss

 

could abide again

in the Garden of Grace

regardless of life’s sorrows

and confusion and pain

 

you will say thank you

once your cruci-fiction is over

 


Image: Bill ViolaThe Crossing, 1996
Video/sound installation

Source


we are all waiting for you

Today, a guest post from Vicki Woodyard.

This piece is a perfect fit for a follow-on to my last post – one day you finally knew

Worku Goshu: Birth of Light, oil on canvas

One’s Own Truth

To own one’s own truth is what life is about. To reach the place where all of the bells ring … to heal the godforsaken stretches of your inner desertions ….

Yesterday I heard Gavin de Becker say that if someone cannot accept your “no,” then they are trying to control you. After my husband died, I said three noes that first year. Two led to a desertion by the ones to whom I said no. And they each led to a deepening resolve to continue the practice of “no.”

“No” to the outer world is a yes to your inner world. And the inner determines the outer. It is daunting to go so deep into your own spirit that you understand that you are one with everything. It doesn’t necessarily make you any happier.

This morning as I entered the grocery store, one of the employees said a clear “I love you” into her cell phone. I told her it was so nice to hear her say that. She was speaking to her soulmate, she said, her husband of three years. I told her I was widowed…

Being alone is not the end of the world. For me, it is a time for going deeper into what I have chosen. I want to be with myself from now on. In a way that heals inner division, in a way that comforts and stretches me. For this I must say “no” to things that do not nourish me. I am facing myself directly, which is a difficult thing to do. I often prefer to nibble at the cheesy things of this world. Like a rat, I sample American Idol, and that makes me want more. The world is like that… making you want more of what can never sustain you.

So I sit here at the computer, wanting you to love me. But that is just another bite of cheese in the trap. What I really want is to love myself so clearly that I never say “yes” when I feel “no.” That is a big, big thing. The bigger the truth, the more it can change and heal you.

We are all waiting for you
to strike that one chord
in your own heart.
You know, the one you haven’t
strummed in so long.
The one that will make us all
stop for a moment and sigh…

For we have enough false notes
stored up in our music benches.
We need to see your single finger
pluck the harmony and sorrow chord
so we will remember who we are.

- Vicki Woodyard


After regularly publishing on Facebook for some time, Vicki is now re-energising her blog as the premier place to access her writing. You can find it at http://www.vickiwoodyard.com/


Painting by Worku GoshuBirth of Light


one day you finally knew

When tempted to deviate from one’s own authenticity, to parrot the songs of other souls – however exalted, to stay over-long attempting to fix heal or recover that which no longer serves the fledgling understanding of inter being, to succumb (yet again) to the programmed imperative to “be good”, it’s helpful to revisit Mary Oliver’s poem The Journey. Let it reorient the inner compass to heart-point central, where the myth of separation finds no foothold. Let it whisper a reminder that we have a unique voice – however timid and hidden away it may be – and that allowing it to sing out will not only save our own life, but also the life of the world. For truly, there is no separation. Let us do this for each other. Please.

- – -

Still from Steven Spielberg's film: The Color Purple

 

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice -
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do -
determined to save
the only life you could save.

- Mary Oliver

 


Image:  Movie still from the Steven Spielberg classic – The Color Purple


this lucid light of livingness

Photo: Andrew Cottam

 

sitting.
my cells singing their delight
in the pre-dawn hush.

awareing my breath’s ebb and flow
on shores that cool by the day
with winter’s arrival.

still velvety dark.
Venus is huge
and wearing a faint pearly corona.

I marvel that the light
which makes her visible to these eyes
began its journey so inconceivably long ago.*

yet I marvel even more
at this bright unknowable knowing we call awareness
which allows her luminous appearance
to be perceivable, along with all her cosmic neighbours
– this lucid light of livingness
which, unlike the intrepid photon,
has never endured a journey through matter, time and space
to arrive here

contentedly

gazing

at itself

 

- miriam louisa


* Although rays from our sun’s surface take around eight minutes to reach Earth’s surface, the actual photons can take a million years to make it out of the Sun owing to the density of the material and hence being scattered internally so many times. See The Naked Scientists


Photo by Andrew Cottam


a deeper prayer

I love this profound and beautiful expression of radical surrender from Fred LaMotte:

No Affirmation

To make affirmations of abundance expresses lack.
To pray for strength confesses weakness.
To ask for healing is to be sick.
But simply to embrace what is
may be a deeper prayer….

FLaMotte-fb

I embrace ‘poverty,’
I expand into emptiness,
I don’t ask for ‘more.’
Is the universe not born from a boundless vacuum?
Not fearing the void, I ripple with wealth.

I confess that I am powerless
in utter surrender.
I abandon striving, and discover
pre-existent fullness,
the immoveable strength that is nearer
than the next breath…

I accept my dis-ease,
I welcome brokenness,
I hug this body.
In non-resistance, unity.
In unity, healing.

This very moment I refuse
to generate conflict
by changing the suchness
into the ‘should.’

I nestle into wholeness
and little things begin to happen
majestically…

All that greens with nectar,
all that buzzes with life,
emerges from
what Is…

- Fred LaMotte

 

Image credit – Fred’s Facebook page.