the altar of this moment

A beautiful poem for a Sunday: The Altar of this Moment by Dorothy Hunt.

 
For Simone, who was gratefulness and generosity embodied. And who left us seven days ago.

Reblogged with gratitude from the wondrous science and nonduality website


Photograph by Juliana Nan

 

Place everything you can perceive—
everything you can
see,
hear,
smell,
taste,
or touch,
upon the altar of this moment
and give thanks.

It is over so soon—
this expression,
this single moment of your precious life,
this one heart
pounding itself open
with fear or wild joy,

this one breath rising
in the cold winter air
smoothly and gently
or coughing and sputtering.

Bow, while you can, before
this one taste
of afternoon tea
warming its way to your belly,
or the fragrant orange
exploding its sweet juice
in your grateful mouth.

You have to love
the antics of your mind,
imagining life should only be sweet.
The bitter makes the sweet; and life is both.
It is whole, like you,
before you think yourself to pieces.

Place this moment’s pain and confusion on the altar, too,
and give special thanks for such grace
that wakes you up from sleeping through your life.
Pain is greatly under-rated as a pointer to Unknowing,
yet greatly over-rated when taken as identity.

In this one moment,
your eyes meet mine and there is
a single looking.
What is peering from behind our masks?
Can it touch itself across the room?

Place your palms together;
touch your holy skin.
In another moment it will shed itself.
What will you be then?
What were you before you had two hands?
What are you now?

You cannot capture That
and place It on the altar of this moment.
It is the altar,
and this moment’s infinite expressions,
and the Seeing,
and its own devotion to itself.

You are That.

Dorothy Hunt

 


Image credit – Juliana Nan


Also by Dorothy Hunt:
when God comes in your house


you are the sun in drag

It’s April Fools’ Day – a good day to awaken from a huge hoax. Hafiz spells it out.

The Great Sun, by William Blake

– – –

You are the sun in drag.

You are God hiding from yourself.

 

Remove all the “mine”— that is the veil.

 

Why ever worry about

anything?

 

Listen to what your friend Hafiz

knows for certain:

the appearance of this world

is a Magi’s brilliant trick, though its affairs are

nothing into nothing.

 

You are a divine elephant with amnesia

trying to live in an ant

hole.

 

Sweetheart, O sweetheart

you are God in

drag!

 


The Sun in Drag, by Hafiz, from The Gift: Poems of Hafiz, the Great Sufi Master
Purported to be translated from the original Persian (Farsi) by Daniel Ladinsky.


Image: The Great Sun, by William Blake


 

when you know yourself

Rajasthan, India, Tantric Painting

 

when you know yourself

you know that there is nothing that is not God

you know that the face of God
is the Face of faces
you know It as both He and She
and neither: nada
you know It as the Beloved
whose embrace you can’t escape
you know Its Presence as your
absence, or rather,
your secret sensuous melting
into the ever-nowness of your aliveness

when you know yourself

you know that there is nothing
that is not this immeasurable immensity,
always hiding in plain view

you know It as the Nameless One
wearing any nametag with equal delight,
quivering like a child’s smile
simply to be noticed

Beloved
when you know yourself

you know that there is nothing that is not yourself

 


Image – Hindu Tantric painting, Rajasthan, India. Made using tempera, gouache, and watercolor on salvaged papers, these paintings from Rajasthan form a distinct lexicon dating back to the 17th century. They were/are used to awaken heightened states of consciousness. They are not produced for commercial purposes, but simply pinned up on the wall for use in private meditation.
In the example above, the lingam and the yoni have swapped their traditional colour depictions; the intense black of the lingam has become pink and the pink of the yoni is now black. (Lest we forget that the Dance of Consciousness is infinitely mutable, utterly defying all labels.)
The lingam represents Shiva, the transcendental source of all that exists; the yoni is the creative power of nature and represents the goddess Shakti.  The lingam united with the yoni represents the nonduality of immanent reality and transcendental potentiality.

Tantra Song: Tantric Painting from Rajasthan


 

please take these offerings

They often sneak up on me at this time of the year – a gaggle of words-wanting-shared. Yes, it’s birthday time – not a blog birthday, but another tick in the annual count for she-who-scribbles while her spacecraft steers itself around the sun…

Birthdays are a good time to reflect on one’s blessings, and to offer gratitude to our friends for their kindness and thoughtfulness. I always begin my birthday with a gesture of thanks to my mother, who not only gave me the miraculous opportunity for life, but also fostered, nourished and inspired the flourishing of that life in every way possible.

Now in my eighth decade, and delighting in a life of sweetness and contentment, I feel to share some of the observations that have delivered me to this joy. It’s the best I can offer; may your hands and heart be able to receive.
 

Image source - https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/BoneStructure/

 

Life hurts.
But what you are never feels pain.

Everything changes.
But what you are remains unchanged, eternally.

You’re flat and exhausted and depressed.
But what you are is forever poised as equanimity.

You’re broke, stressed, squeezed dry, homeless and hungry.
But what you are is unaffected and impartial.

You’re smashed by disappointment, betrayal, abandonment.
But what you are is ever calm, accepting and unbroken.

You’re afflicted by physical and mental aberrations, abnormalities, imbalances.
But what you are never suffers for one second.

 

So what you are is clearly something with which you need to become very familiar. And it’s e-a-s-y to do so. You don’t need a formal introduction. You don’t need a manual or a map or a guide book. You don’t need to change your religion or your beliefs (although changes may well occur as a result). You don’t need a 12-step plan or a meditation practice.

What you are is more obvious and closer than the tip of your nose. It’s the one experience you can never escape, 24/7.

What would you call that? Your aliveness? Your awareness? Your presence? All these words come close, but none are ultimately true or exact. Why?

Because they aren’t yours. Or mine. Or anyone’s. Drop the personal pronoun, and there you are – radiant all-knowing alive presence. The Light of Knowingness, self-luminous, always-on, never-needing fuel or flint…

And that is what you are – free, fulfilled and flourishing as all you conceive, perceive and experience. All of it.

How wondrous that this is possible – that this primordial awareness is huge enough to hold the entirety of creation, excluding nothing – yet be unaffected and unmoved by any expression of its handmaiden, consciousness.

It is truly The Beloved, the Godhead of the saints and sages and poets.

And it is what you are.

 


Image source


 

the sight of Thy light

January Swoon

 

Showering Light

 

As I muse on Thee
a thrilling fountain spray lightninglike
spreads from my heart to all cells of my body,
saturating them with divine devotion.
I seek to enter the inmost heaven of Thy presence.

The soul’s secret door suddenly opens;
and, oh, what bliss I feel at the sight of Thy light!

– Paramahansa Yogananda

 


Whispers from Eternity by Paramahansa Yogananda


Source of poetry and image: Poetry Chaikhana on Facebook – thank you Ivan.


 

may life have its way with you

Lisa Rivas: La Vida

 

May Life
have its incomprehensible way with you, and
may you have the courage
to welcome It
to embrace It
as you would your hungry body’s perfect lover

 

May you
be reunited with the innocent awe-full
bright awareing
that is born afresh
in every instant of aliveness
regardless of age or race or belief or religion

 

May Innocence
the eternal holy child
arise in your heart and bless us all
with its unconditional and utterly impartial Love
that we may, in turn
recognize its gaze in the eyes of all we imagined were ‘other’

 


With my deepest love and gratitude to you all, dear readers, for this holiday season and new year.

May blessings shower upon you – whatever moves you in this ever-sacred moment.

– miriam louisa


Artwork: La Vida, by Lisa Rivas


embracing otherness, embracing myself

Let’s not be freaked out by our bountiful nothingness.
It’s more a reality than the ones our selves have created.
Imagine what kind of existence we can have if we honor inevitable death of self,
appreciate the privilege of life
and marvel at what comes next.
Simple awareness is where it begins.

– Thandie Newton

 

 

Transcript:

Embracing otherness. When I first heard this theme, I thought, well, embracing otherness is embracing myself. And the journey to that place of understanding and acceptance has been an interesting one for me, and it’s given me an insight into the whole notion of self, which I think is worth sharing with you today.

We each have a self, but I don’t think that we’re born with one. You know how newborn babies – they’re not separate? Well that fundamental sense of oneness is lost on us very quickly. It’s like that initial stage is over — oneness: infancy, unformed, primitive. It’s no longer valid or real. What is real is separateness, and at some point in early babyhood, the idea of self starts to form. Our little portion of oneness is given a name, is told all kinds of things about itself, and these details, opinions and ideas become facts, which go towards building ourselves, our identity. And that self becomes the vehicle for navigating our social world. But the self is a projection based on other people’s projections. Is it who we really are? Or who we really want to be, or should be?

So this whole interaction with self and identity was a very difficult one for me growing up. The self that I attempted to take out into the world was rejected over and over again. And my panic at not having a self that fit, and the confusion that came from my self being rejected, created anxiety, shame and hopelessness, which kind of defined me for a long time. But in retrospect, the destruction of my self was so repetitive that I started to see a pattern. The self changed, got affected, broken, destroyed, but another one would evolve — sometimes stronger, sometimes hateful, sometimes not wanting to be there at all. The self was not constant. And how many times would my self have to die before I realised that it was never alive in the first place?

I grew up on the coast of England in the ’70s. My dad is white from Cornwall, and my mom is black from Zimbabwe. Even the idea of us as a family was challenging to most people. But nature had its wicked way, and brown babies were born. But from about the age of five, I was aware that I didn’t fit. I was the black atheist kid in the all-white Catholic school run by nuns. I was an anomaly, and my self was rooting around for definition and trying to plug in. Because the self likes to fit, to see itself replicated, to belong. That confirms its existence and its importance. And it is important. It has an extremely important function. Without it, we literally can’t interface with others. We can’t hatch plans and climb that stairway of popularity, of success. But my skin color wasn’t right. My hair wasn’t right. My history wasn’t right. My self became defined by otherness, which meant that, in that social world, I didn’t really exist. And I was “other” before being anything else — even before being a girl. I was a noticeable nobody.
Another world was opening up around this time: performance and dancing. That nagging dread of self-hood didn’t exist when I was dancing. I’d literally lose myself. And I was a really good dancer. I would put all my emotional expression into my dancing. I could be in the movement in a way that I wasn’t able to be in my real life, in myself.

And at 16, I stumbled across another opportunity, and I earned my first acting role in a film. I can hardly find the words to describe the peace I felt when I was acting. My dysfunctional self could actually plug in to another self, not my own, and it felt so good. It was the first time that I existed inside a fully-functioning self — one that I controlled, that I steered, that I gave life to. But the shooting day would end, and I’d return to my gnarly, awkward self.

By 19, I was a fully-fledged movie actor, but still searching for definition. I applied to read anthropology at university. Dr. Phyllis Lee gave me my interview, and she asked me, “How would you define race?” Well, I thought I had the answer to that one, and I said, “Skin colour.” “So biology, genetics?” she said. “Because, Thandie, that’s not accurate. Because there’s actually more genetic difference between a black Kenyan and a black Ugandan than there is between a black Kenyan and, say, a white Norwegian. Because we all stem from Africa. So in Africa, there’s been more time to create genetic diversity.” In other words, race has no basis in biological or scientific fact. On the one hand, result. Right? On the other hand, my definition of self just lost a huge chunk of its credibility. But what was credible, what is biological and scientific fact, is that we all stem from Africa — in fact, from a woman called Mitochondrial Eve who lived 160,000 years ago. And race is an illegitimate concept which our selves have created based on fear and ignorance.

Strangely, these revelations didn’t cure my low self-esteem, that feeling of otherness. My desire to disappear was still very powerful. I had a degree from Cambridge; I had a thriving career, but my self was a car crash, and I wound up with bulimia and on a therapist’s couch. And of course I did. I still believed my self was all I was. I still valued self-worth above all other worth, and what was there to suggest otherwise? We’ve created entire value systems and a physical reality to support the worth of self. Look at the industry for self-image and the jobs it creates, the revenue it turns over. We’d be right in assuming that the self is an actual living thing. But it’s not. It’s a projection which our clever brains create in order to cheat ourselves from the reality of death.

But there is something that can give the self ultimate and infinite connection — and that thing is oneness, our essence. The self’s struggle for authenticity and definition will never end unless it’s connected to its creator — to you and to me. And that can happen with awareness — awareness of the reality of oneness and the projection of self-hood. For a start, we can think about all the times when we do lose ourselves. It happens when I dance, when I’m acting. I’m earthed in my essence, and my self is suspended. In those moments, I’m connected to everything — the ground, the air, the sounds, the energy from the audience. All my senses are alert and alive in much the same way as an infant might feel — that feeling of oneness.

And when I’m acting a role, I inhabit another self, and I give it life for awhile, because when the self is suspended so is divisiveness and judgment. And I’ve played everything from a vengeful ghost in the time of slavery to Secretary of State in 2004. And no matter how other these selves might be, they’re all related in me. And I honestly believe the key to my success as an actor and my progress as a person has been the very lack of self that used to make me feel so anxious and insecure. I always wondered why I could feel others’ pain so deeply, why I could recognise the somebody in the nobody. It’s because I didn’t have a self to get in the way. I thought I lacked substance, and the fact that I could feel others’ meant that I had nothing of myself to feel. The thing that was a source of shame was actually a source of enlightenment.

And when I realised and really understood that my self is a projection and that it has a function, a funny thing happened. I stopped giving it so much authority. I give it its due. I take it to therapy. I’ve become very familiar with its dysfunctional behaviour. But I’m not ashamed of my self. In fact, I respect my self and its function. And over time and with practice, I’ve tried to live more and more from my essence. And if you can do that, incredible things happen.

I was in Congo in February, dancing and celebrating with women who’ve survived the destruction of their selves in literally unthinkable ways — destroyed because other brutalized, psychopathic selves all over that beautiful land are fueling our selves’ addiction to iPods, Pads, and bling, which further disconnect ourselves from ever feeling their pain, their suffering, their death. Because, hey, if we’re all living in ourselves and mistaking it for life, then we’re devaluing and desensitizing life. And in that disconnected state, yeah, we can build factory farms with no windows, destroy marine life and use rape as a weapon of war. So here’s a note to self: The cracks have started to show in our constructed world, and oceans will continue to surge through the cracks, and oil and blood, rivers of it.

Crucially, we haven’t been figuring out how to live in oneness with the Earth and every other living thing. We’ve just been insanely trying to figure out how to live with each other — billions of each other. Only we’re not living with each other; our crazy selves are living with each other and perpetuating an epidemic of disconnection.

Let’s live with each other and take it a breath at a time. If we can get under that heavy self, light a torch of awareness, and find our essence, our connection to the infinite and every other living thing. We knew it from the day we were born. Let’s not be freaked out by our bountiful nothingness. It’s more a reality than the ones our selves have created. Imagine what kind of existence we can have if we honor inevitable death of self, appreciate the privilege of life and marvel at what comes next. Simple awareness is where it begins.

Thank you for listening.

– Thandie Newton


Source: TED.com