an extraordinarily elegant way of realising God

What would it be like to be fully, continually aware of all of our senses – and what’s more, to be aware of that very awareness?  What might that full sensory awakening have to do with the irreversible realisation of Reality? Drawing from his personal experiences with Parmenides and Empedocles – foundational figures of Western civilization whose mystical dimensions have been forgotten or ignored – pre-Socratic philosopher Peter Kingsley maintains that to approach the changeless authentically, Western civilization must rediscover its own sacred origins and purpose. He asks, how can Western culture participate in the harmony of oneness if it has forgotten its own note?

In this post, which is a transcript of part of an interview made in connection with the Global Oneness Project, Kingsley outlines the sensory awakening at the root of Empedocles’ writings.

 

Persephone - Greek Goddess of the Underworld; Museum of Ancient Sculpture, Cyrene, Libya

 

You have to find reality, ultimate reality, here, where you are, in this apparent body, surrounded by these apparent colors and movements, and shapes and forms and sounds and noises. And they (the ancient Greek mystics) gave the techniques. They gave the methods for using our senses to find oneness all around us.

Empedocles and Parmenides were very, very up front, as most great mystics are, and at the beginning of their teachings they say, “Everybody is living a totally wasted life.” Everybody’s life is a sham, everybody is living in a dream. We can think we are driving down the road, we can think we’re shopping, we can think we’re in a business meeting. We are asleep. We are never actually using our senses.

Sometimes there can be the brief moment when we look out at a tree, or we’re driving down the road, and just for a brief moment we can say, “Good Lord, I’m holding a steering wheel. I have my foot on the gas pedal!” Or, “Good Lord, I’m looking at a tree!”

Usually we’re just looking at a tree and thinking about something else. Or we’re driving down the road and thinking about the argument we just had with our partner. It’s very, very rare that we simply look and are aware that we are looking.

And that involves being aware of what we’re looking at, and being aware of ourselves looking at the same time. So right now, I can be aware that I’m moving my hand, and that I’m talking, and that you there are in front of me. But it’s actually not a very, very common state at all, to be aware like that.

Empedocles gave very, very specific directions for how to start to become conscious through your senses. How to look and be aware that you’re looking. How to feel your tongue inside your mouth, and be aware of it. Not just rub your tongue on the top of your mouth, but actually be aware that it’s happening. And how to do this with all of the senses at the same time.

And this last stage, about how to do it with all the senses at the same time, this is very, very powerful, it’s very, very esoteric, it is an extraordinarily elegant way of realizing God.

Not by leaving the senses behind, but by consciously using all of your senses at the same time. If you do that, if you actually do that, you start to become aware… there is your sense of sight, there is your sense of hearing, there is the sense of feeling what you feel, your backside on the chair, or you feel your shoes on the floor. The hearing, the seeing, the feeling, the tasting, the touching. And it’s difficult enough even to do one of those consciously, but if you do them all consciously, you become aware of this infinite blackness between them.

There is a void that connects the seeing to the hearing, to the tasting, to the touching.

And that’s ETERNITY.

And that eternity is totally unchanging, but that eternity is also what gives rise to the physical world. And it’s out of that experience of eternity that people like Empedocles or Parmenides, these ancient Greeks, were actually able to bring the germs of a new civilization.

Because that eternity – it never changes, but it contains the seeds of all change.

 


The complete interview – 19:02


A prominent mystic of our time and student of sufi path, Peter Kingsley’s groundbreaking work on the origin of Western spirituality, philosophy, and culture is recognized throughout the world. Through his writings as well as lectures he speaks straight to the heart, and has helped to transform many people’s understanding not only of the past but of who they are. The author of three books, including Reality and In the Dark Places of Wisdom, and recipient of numerous academic awards, he holds honorary positions at universities in England, Canada, the United States.

peterkingsley.org

Peter Kingsley on Wikipedia

About the image:
Persephone, Greek Goddess of the Underworld; Museum of Ancient Sculpture, Cyrene, Libya.
In Greek mythology, Persephone, daughter of the fertility goddess Demeter, was abducted to the underworld by Hades but was allowed to return for part of the year, when the earth became fruitful. She is often depicted, as here, drawing a veil across her face, indicating her time on earth is ending and she is returning to the underworld, when the earth once again becomes barren.
Source

If, however, you read Peter Kingsley’s Reality, you will learn the true role Persephone played in guiding those who journeyed to the underworld – her domain – towards true reality.
And you’ll learn the real significance of the veil…

“… two and a half thousand years ago we were given a gift
– and in our childishness we threw away the instructions for how to use it.
We felt we knew what we were playing with.
And, as a result, western civilisation may soon be nothing but
an experiment that failed.”
– Peter Kingsley

Reality, by Peter Kingsley

Eckhart Tolle says, “This book is a journey back to the source
– not only of western civilisation but, more importantly, to the source within you.
Read it! To understand it is to be transformed.”
I couldn’t agree more.


 

I see you

Particle tracks on film from the Fermilab Bubble Chamber

 

If I should seek to know the thought-free state
all I need do is gaze into your eyes
every being who ever was, is, or will be
gazes back; I am gazing back, even though
I am not a being, not a thought, not conceivable
or perceivable, not even a secret godly whisper
shimmering in the stillness, nor anything
I thought I was, you were, we are.

I cannot see myself except through you,
you who live to share this same silent vision,
this eternal gaze expanding, always becoming
more than sight, more than any kind of knowing —
a fluid wordless epiphany emerging from nowhere,
the same place we inhabit now in our loving, this
exquisite loving without location or circumference,
and even though we never move, yet forever we are
circling in lazy liquid orbits around each other,
never once allowing our gaze to falter,
never even blinking

– Bob O’Hearn


These links open in new tabs:

Source: Bob’s blog feeling into infinity

Image: Particle tracks on film from the Fermilab Bubble Chamber, sourced from the wondrous sagan*sense blog


 

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!