thinking like a mountain

thinking like a mountain;
feeling like the sky

meeting mySelf
in all that displays within the field of awareness

knowing I am ever here, as this,
being lived by the breath
within the Breath

I bow deeply
before my compost heap

ml

 

Frederick Franck, Eye-I

 

Through a genuine experience of identifying with all beings, we may come to see our own interest served by conservation, through genuine self-love, love of a widened and deepened self, an ecological self.

When we plant a tree we are planting ourselves. Releasing dolphins back to the wild, we are ourselves returning home. Composting leftovers, we are being reborn as irises and apples. We can “think like a mountain,” in Aldo Leopold’s words, and we can discover ourselves to be everywhere and in everything, and we can know the activity of the world as not separate from who we are but rather of what we are. The practice of the “nonlocal self” means that when we work for the restoration of the rain forest, we are restoring our “extended self.”

– Joan Halifax Roshi, The Fruitful Darkness

Joan Halifax Roshi and Upaya Zen Center


Sculpture by Frederick Franck at Pacem in Terris


 

trust the vast nobody lying behind you

This Unlit Light - Poetry by Kieran Patrick Riordan

 

The Teacher was asked repeatedly,
‘What is it to live in Awareness?’

Finally, reluctantly she spoke,
For she observed,
Few were willing
To relinquish their cherishing
Of the conditions for suffering.

With a sigh she began.

“Project not Outwardly

Contract not Inwardly

Hold onto nothing

In between.”

How will we speak to others? One asked.

“Back not your opinions,

Let silence move your heart to speak.”

What will I do with my life? Enquired another.

“Rely not on this character,

Trust the vast nobody lying behind you.”

Must my uniqueness die? Asked the cook.

“Be entertained by your ideas,

Let stillness light your way.”
 

She asked for tea and remained silent for another whole year.
 

(Excerpt from Bhutan, 2216….)

– Kieran Patrick Riordan

 


Posted by Kieran on Facebook


 

 

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


 

 

this shines on regardless

Bill Viola - Catherine's Room, Scene 1

 

This shines on

whether I’m in bitch mode or radiating benevolence

whether I’m depressed or enjoying equanimity

whether I’m achingly weary or frolicking tirelessly.

 

This shines on

whether my bookshelves are stacked with scriptures, chick-lit, crime or porn

whether my shoes are microfiber or leather, my coat cotton or mink

whether my fridge is piously vegan or robustly carnivore.

 

This shines on

whether my philosophical tendencies veer towards the scientific and secular

or the mystical and metaphysical

whether I’m a closet optimist disguised as a cynic

or a knee-jerk nay-sayer, jus sayin

 

Don’t be fooled. This shines on

– pristine, incorruptible –

regardless.

 

This shines on

whether you agree with me as you scan these words

or jump to defend your own view

whether you accept me as a flicker of the vast Light we are

or turn your back on our inextricable intimacy.

 

This shines on

and in, and from, and through, every perception,

every experience of every face and fact of World

known by human and non-human Knowingness

(and I exclude nothing, no thing in creation

from that capacity for Knowingness).

 

This shines on.

The sages call it Reality, but beware: it’s not a thing, an object

or even a state. To name it is to turn from it, but it could care less.

It shines on regardless.

 

– miriam louisa


To be continued: The implications…


Image: Bill Viola – Catherine’s Room, Scene 1


the realisation of radiance

A luminous piece today written and illustrated by Chameli Ardagh


This Unlit Light: Painting by Chameli Ardagh - The Queen of Trust

You are the light of awareness
embodied in time and space.

Embodied awareness brings forth
embodied consciousness,
which is radiant light.

Bring your attention to the field of luminous awareness
that illuminates your experience right now.
Without this clear light of awareness
you would be without experience.

You cannot think or imagine your way
to this natural luminosity, although it
illuminates your thoughts and memories
and everything else in your experience,
as it is also illuminating itself.

Light illuminates light.

The primordial Shakti,
the Light of Manifestation,
is this self arising luminosity which permeates:

1~ the object of your awareness
2~ the one who is aware,
3~ and awareness itself.

Becoming aware of awareness
within yourself and others is
Sri Vidya, the realization of radiance.

In your embodiment practice you unclench
the fixation onto the appearances in the mind.

By recognizing and relaxing the automatic
mental and physical and emotional
reactivity towards your experiences,
the energetic knots in your body softens
and more Prana Shakti (breath and life force)
is allowed to flow through.
You open as a translucent and continuously unfolding
embodiment of luminous awareness

Lead me from opacity to clarity.
Lead me from the complicated to the simple.
Lead me from the obscure to the obvious.

Lead me from confrontation to wide openness.
Lead me to the place I never left,
Where there is peace, and peace.

– Upanishads


Practice – the Realization of Radiance

Rest in an open focus of the radiant field of awareness,
hold that which you are experiencing
within the awareness field of light.

Experience the object that the
light of your awareness is illuminating,
and the field of illumination both at the same time.

Thinking and feeling, sensation and memory,
fantasy and desire are all of luminous nature
as is your own awareness.


Art (The Queen of Trust) and words by Chameli Ardagh at Awakening Women


 Also from Chameli Ardagh:

who moves you?


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


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