how extraordinary! how beautiful!

Please tell me this: how does it profit one to be convinced that everything one takes to be true and real – beliefs, body, belongings – is so, when at the end it all “becomes transparent”? How can we heedlessly march into that Great Transparency without unshakeable awareness of the pure Clear Light? How can we deprive ourselves of the extraordinary beauty it unveils?

Pir Elias Amidon reflects on these questions in the light of his own experience. How beautiful!

The Clear Light and the beauty of the world - Pir Elias Amidon

 

At the moment of our death, when the messages of our senses cease and the contents of our mind become transparent, The Tibetan Book of the Dead offers this instruction:

Remember the Clear Light, the pure Clear Light from which everything in the universe comes, to which everything in the universe returns; the original nature of your own mind….
Let go into the Clear Light, trust it, merge with it.
It is your own true nature, it is home.

When I first read that passage as a young man I was deeply moved and reassured — it assured me that the confusion and loneliness I felt as a twenty-two year-old would vanish one day in that great, final homecoming. I didn’t understand what this “Clear Light” was, but it didn’t matter — the certainty of the voice in the Book of the Dead comforted me. The Clear Light would come.

And meanwhile, I would just have to make the best of it. So in the years that followed — my twenties and thirties — I kept attempting to find or build some kind of substitute, metaphorical home in which I could belong during my exile here on earth.

I realize now that I had succumbed to the old polarity of my species: the sacred hereafter and the profane here, heaven and earth, light and dark. As far as I can understand it, this polarity has its genesis in our need to identify ourselves as individual beings separate from the other beings and objects of the world: me in here and all the rest out there. The dominance of the “me in here” sets up the added polarity of my suffering and incompleteness now versus the promise of redemption and homecoming in the future.

Of course, these kinds of polarities are understandable — we are two-legged organisms walking about, seemingly disconnected from the earth and sky, and anxious about avoiding any dangers that might be lurking on our path. It appears we are separate beings.

It took me a few decades of spiritual practice and inquiry — not to mention the normal sufferings life provides — to realize that the nature of reality only appears to be split into these dualities. As one of my teachers, Murshida Sitara Brutnell, once cryptically said, “There is no other.” This whole show is one magnificent Happening, one awesome Brilliance reflected in the infinite prisms of possibility. Which means that we — you and I right now, every humming atom of us, every thought and feeling, every movement — are inextricably part of this blossoming of spontaneous light.

Sufis call this wahdat-al-wujud, the Oneness of Existence. Nothing stands outside of its Oneness and Suchness — there is no other. The multiplicity of the phenomenal world is sometimes imaged by Sufis as a veil over the Absolute, though the veil and the Absolute are not seen as two different things, rather “the veil is the external epiphany of the Absolute.” Or, as the 14th century Persian Sufi Mahmud Shabastari wrote, “The whole world of Being is the beams of the Absolute Light. The Absolute remains hidden because it is so clearly manifest.”

Which brings us back to the Tibetan notion of the Clear Light, surely the same as Shabastari’s “Absolute Light.” The Clear Light is not, as I had first thought, something waiting out there to welcome me when I die. It is present now, right here, both as perceptible as all the apparent things and thoughts and feelings of this world, and as imperceptible, invisible, and transparent as the awareness in which these words appear to us right now. The “light” of awareness, the Clear Light, “the original nature of your own mind,” all indicate this same “light” that can’t be seen or located, though it is unmistakably, spontaneously present. “God’s Light is in the heavens and the earth,” says the Bible and the Quran. And the Quran adds, “whichever way you turn, there is its presence.”

When I die I imagine that one of my last feelings will be, “How beautiful!” I won’t be referring to the beauty of where I’m going (I have no idea about that), but how beautiful is where I’ve been, this astonishing earth, sky, and cosmos, this astonishing body and its capacity to know and love. As the mystic-philosopher Francois Cheng remarked, “The universe is not obliged to be beautiful, and yet it is beautiful.” How extraordinary!

The mystery of the Clear Light and the mystery of the beauty of the universe have become the central contemplations of my life. “Beauty” (I’m fond of repeating these words of Ibn ‘Arabi) “is the welcoming openness of the truth toward us.” Somehow the “truth” of the unchanging Clear Light is revealed by ever-changing beauty. “God is beautiful and loves beauty,” a hadith tells us. Spontaneous, ephemeral beauty — the beauty of a song, a kiss, a passing cloud, a glint of sunlight — each one a momentary revelation of the unborn Clear Light, our home.

– Pir Elias Amidon


Text and image sourced from The Open Path


The Tibetan Book of the Dead


 

where the light begins

Peter Zumthor - Bruder Klaus Chapel

 

As we turn towards our yearly habit of ritualising the New Now, let’s pause for a breath or two and be reminded of our sacred mission.
Jan Richardson: Where the Light Begins
 

Perhaps it does not begin.
Perhaps it is always.

Perhaps it takes
a lifetime
to open our eyes,
to learn to see
what has forever
shimmered in front of us

the luminous line
of the map
in the dark

the vigil flame
in the house
of the heart,

the love
so searing
we cannot keep
from singing,

from crying out
in testimony
and praise.

Perhaps this day
will be the mountain
over which
the dawn breaks.

Perhaps we
will turn our face
toward it,
toward what has been
always.

Perhaps
our eyes
will finally open
in ancient recognition,
willingly dazzled,
illuminated at last.

Perhaps this day
the light begins
in us.

 – Jan Richardson, from Circle of Grace, Wanton Gospeller Press


Jan Richardson’s website

Circle of Grace on Amazon

Image and source: Peter Zumthor – Bruder Klaus Field Chapel.
For more information about this extraordinary sacred space see archdaily.com

Gratitude to Claire Beynon for sharing this timely poem on Facebook.


give us light, o light of lights

Arti - Light

 

Jyoti Jyoti Jyoti Swayam
Jyoti Jyoti Jyoti Param
Jyoti Jyoti Jyoti Arul
Jyoti Jyoti Jyoti Sivam
Vaama Jyoti Soma Jyoti
Vaana Jyoti Jnaana Jyoti
Maaha Jyoti Yoga Jyoti
Vaata Jyoti Naada Jyoti
Ema Jyoti Vyoma Jyoti
Eru Jyoti Veeru Jyoti
Eka Jyoti Eka Jyoti
Eka Jyoti Jyotiye

~

Light O Light of Self-Effulgence

Light O Light of Absoluteness

Light O Light of Gracefulness

Light O Light of Auspiciousness

Light of Siva, Light of Moon

Light Divine, Light of Wisdom

Light of Heaven, Light of Yoga

Light of Wind, Light of Sound

Light Delight, Light of Water

Rising Light, Vital Light

The Only Light, The Only Light

Give us Light, O Light of Lights

Arti Chant


The image and chant were posted by Tina Koskelo on her beautiful blog being silently drawn with the title Lighting of the Candle.  (Thank you Tina!)  It’s a perfect fit for this blog, which is an ongoing celebration of The Only Light, The Light of Lights.

The Light of Lights is ever-present and inescapable – it wears your name, sounds as your voice, feels your every feeling, thinks your every thought and performs your every deed. If you doubt this, just experiment with trying to separate any of these self-attributes (identity, speech, feelings, thoughts and deeds) from that which is aware of them. That Which Is Aware of them IS the Light of Lights.

Whatever forms your Yuletide observance take, may they be blessed with peace and harmony. May you turn towards the New Year with courage and unswerving awareness of your luminous immensity.

 

keeping quiet : keeping still

Mark Rothko - s/T, 1969

 

Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still.

 

For once on the face of the earth,

let’s not speak in any language;

let’s stop for one second,

and not move our arms so much.

 

It would be an exotic moment

without rush, without engines;

we would all be together

in a sudden strangeness.

 

Fisherman in the cold sea

would not harm whales

and the man gathering salt

would look at his hurt hands.

 

Those who prepare green wars,

wars with gas, wars with fire,

victories with no survivors,

would put on clean clothes

and walk about with their brothers

in the shade, doing nothing.

 

What I want should not be confused

with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about;

I want no truck with death.

 

If we were not so single-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.

 

Now I’ll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.

 

– Pablo Neruda

 


From Extravagaria, translated by Alastair Reid (pp. 27-29, 1974)


A steadying, thoughtful poem for today and everyday. I’m pairing it with Pico Iyer’s wonderful TED talk, The Art of Stillness. I feel that stillness, silence and solitude – attributes of whatever we take to be sanctity – are seriously endangered experiences. Will they become extinct in our lifetime?

I’m a committed activist in this area of concern. My experience has shown me that these ‘non-activities’ are the bedrock necessary for the unfolding of what matters to me – authenticity, right relationship, unfolding wisdom, and creative expression.

 

 


Painting by Mark Rothko – s/T, 1969


your self-shining magnificence

This beautiful piece of wisdom was written by Michael A. Rodriguez, and published on his new website/blog at boundless awareness.com under the title One Bright Pearl. Please check out Michael’s site – his approach honours “both radical non-duality and the paths that emphasize the evolution of consciousness.” There’s a refreshing inclusivity, authenticity and articulate clarity about his writing. Highly recommended.


One Bright Pearl - http://www.boundlessawareness.org

One Bright Pearl

 
One of my favorite Zen sayings was by Hsuan-sha: “The whole universe is one bright pearl.” Another translation runs like this: “The entire world of the ten directions is a single shining [or ‘luminous’] jewel.” There are other versions, but I like these two variations the best.

I often think the entire dharma – and perhaps drama – is contained in this expression. It speaks to me. That statement could only have arisen from the awakened state, and in fact, most people are asleep precisely to the reality to which this statement points. If you could wake up to this one truth, you would wake up altogether.

Somehow, by the mysterious mechanism of memory, the unknowable self-luminous jewel of awareness seems to become shrouded by what we take to be the known. We essentially come to live in a claustrophobic prison of the known and do not see the absurdly obvious fact that the reality of boundless experience could not possibly be shining more luminously. As the writer Samuel Beckett once wrote, “habit is a great deadener.” Because of habit, which functions by way of the veiling power of memory, we start to live within the narrow confines of our routines and fall asleep to the radiance of Mind. Actually, Mind falls asleep and dreams within itself a limited world made of habit. It’s not personal. This falling asleep happens slowly over many years, and it begins to happen before we are conscious of the fact. Because of conditioning and education from the moment we’re born (and even before that in terms of cell memory), it creeps up on us below the threshold of conscious awareness and solidifies as cognitive structures of experience in exactly the same way that hypnotic suggestion works.

The other main problem is that you, boundless awareness, have been conditioned to dwell with your attention in the human world of limited concepts. To wake up to the fact that you are already limitlessly shining in all directions as one bright pearl, try taking your attention off the human realm and contemplate, instead, the fact that “the universe” literally has no beginning or end. Ever since I was a child, this contemplation has always produced in me a rapturous wonder. Just think about it. Right now, human beings are running around as though they know what this whole thing is, as though we exist in a limited world that has boundaries and borders and edges. But it doesn’t! I’m not speaking mystically or poetically here. It’s literal. How could there possibly be more freedom? The universe (from which your body-mind is not separate) does not begin or end somewhere. It’s immensurable in exactly the same way that a nighttime dream is immeasurable. How much “space” does a nighttime dream take up? I hope you got the point with my rhetorical question!

Now, whatever this is obviously has a self-aware quality that shines as the fact of conscious knowing. I say “self-aware” because since it does not have any limits, there can’t be anything “outside” it to be aware of it. The limitless totality, therefore, is simply self-aware and shining as the limitless totality of experience. In other words, it’s a limitless subjective experience to awareness itself that does not contain a single object. Not one. Why? Because “objects” have to have limits (otherwise they would not be knowable), but objects are inseparable from the limitless environment. “Objects” are illusions of memory.

The fact is that you only ever experience yourself as one bright pearl. You as boundless awareness are the most precious jewel that could ever be. Try contemplating this fact over and over again until you wake up to your self-shining magnificence. To say that “it’s not far from you” is a severe understatement; it is you.

– Michael A. Rodriguez


Image and text from boundlessawareness.org

Gratitude!


 

you are a holy compost pile

Chameli Ardagh’s poetic letter dropped into my inbox a few days ago. Perhaps some of you received it as well. It’s too powerful not to be shared, especially at a time when so many of us are experiencing rumblings in the depths of our own unique [cosmic] compost heap. Let us be nourished and supported by this wisdom as we push again and again, and yet again at the “edge of evolution”.

Remember: whatever may be arising for us – it isn’t our little drama. It’s all for the sake of Creation Itself. She is restless and she is singing our song.

 

Benzaiten - Japanese Saraswati

The new world grows out of this fertile brew made of our outgrown clothes, our errors and awakenings, our dreams and prayers, and the luminous horizon we sense there — in the pause between the breath, in the gap between thoughts, in the softening of the heart. You are a holy compost pile at the very edge of evolution.
 
Brewing on this edge is an alive intelligence beyond anything you can grasp with thoughts and concepts. In your willingness to hang out in the pregnant unknown, you become the poet, the artist, the mother birthing her holy medicine into our world.
 
The thought you never have thought before …
The possibility you have never seen …
The song you have not yet heard …
 
It is uncomfortable to stay in the not knowing. We want so quickly to fill the void, eagerly grasping for the solutions dangling within immediate reach. Like a radio receiver with shortcut buttons to our favourite programs — even if the sounds torture us, distract us and zap our energy — we stubbornly tune into the familiar stations of consciousness, insisting that that’s all there is.
 
Tune into the subtler frequencies: the shadows dancing; the harmonies in music and rain; the silent sounds; the open spaces; the throbbing rhythms of growth; the open landscapes within that only poetry can take you to.
 
Tune into Radio Leela, the frequency of Divine Play and infinite possibilities. Our Goddess of creativity — Saraswati Ma — is the DJ here, and rumor has it that She is playing your song.

– Chameli Ardagh


The image is a portrayal of Benzaiten, the Japanese Saraswati. It comes from here.
The artist writes, “Benzaiten, or sometimes called Benten-sama, is the goddess of everything that flows: water, words, speech, eloquence, music and knowledge. She’s also the goddess of art and beauty. In my drawing she wears a kimono that flows out as a river and holding a biwa, a traditional Japanese lute. I decided to not draw her face, but instead show her from the back. The reason why I didn’t draw her face, is because I didn’t want to portray her with a specific face.”


 

are you on fire?

Sages have often spoken of the necessity of bringing an urgency to our inquiry into the Real – as though we were literally on fire with earnestness. The insinuation is that many inquire from mere intellectual curiosity, or an appetite for philosophical entertainment. Sometimes spiritual seeking becomes a type of insatiable addiction; Trungpa cautioned about that, Krishnamurti too. Dorothy Hunt’s words remind me of the compassionate severity of their words. What drives our inquiry? To what degree are we ready to “get Real”?


This Unlit Light - How serious is your inquiry?

How deeply do you want to go in your spiritual life? Are you satisfied with a glimpse now and then of your true nature? A retreat now and then to remind you of the power of Silence? An intellectual knowing of a path, a teaching, or a memory of a past awakened moment – then it’s back to “life as usual”?

How much do you want to live from truth rather than think about it? How much do you want to open your heart and let its love and compassion flow to yourself and to a suffering world? How much energy do you expend trying to “pull the weeds” of your suspected egoic deficiencies, or holding onto the “flowers” of lovely, desired experiences rather than returning to the Ground from which the seeing and being of all moments spring?

What do we DO to keep alive our remembering?

We stop relying on memory of the known, and return again and again to being awake NOW, opening to the moment as it is now, paying attention to the undivided Ground more than weeds or flowers, and being willing to see more and more deeply the subtle ways our conditioned mind attaches, sometimes with great emotion, to its belief in a separate “self.”

Our home ground, our source, is always available. We do not have to import it. We do not create it, and we cannot hold onto it. It is present in every experience. It is in the smile on your face, the frustration of a mind that cannot “get” what it is seeking. It is here now in the taste of morning tea, the challenging boss at work, the beauty of a sunset. It is here seeing, awaring, loving, being all moments, all experiences. As you no doubt have discovered, it is easy to remain awake in heaven. But what is awake is awake in the hellish moments as well. And beyond any experience, there is our true source, “making everything shine.”

© Dorothy Hunt, 2016

In reality there is only the source, dark in itself, making everything shine.
Unperceived, it causes perception. Unfelt, it causes feeling.
Unthinkable, it causes thought.
Non-being gives birth to being.
It is the immovable background of motion.
Once you are there, you are at home everywhere.
–Nisargadatta Maharaj

 


Also see:

2016 – what I wish for you

continuous awakening – Dorothy Hunt


Dorothy’s words were originally posted at Science and Nonduality – gratitude!

Image source: the incomparable Bob O’Hearn