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


 

no one gets this

A notice from Kalyani Lawry for those in the Melbourne area who are seriously interested in ending the search or radically reassessing their understanding.


Sarrita King, Lightening Dreaming 2012

 

Seeking begins with the individual and
ends with the annihilation of the individual.
– Ramesh Balsekar

We are talking about annihilation, death, the end: nothing.
Not death of the body; nothing dies when the body dies.

We are talking about real death.
The death of the self/the personality package.
That existentially terrifying death of the me.
Facing that dread, that anxiety, the very fear that got us seeking.

While it’s easy to construct a conceptual bypass
“There is no me so I know there is nothing to do and no where to go”
It simply doesn’t cut it.
Repeating non-duality pointers like mantras may reduce and manage the anxiety,
Yet nothing changes.

There is no bypass.
There is no conceptual shortcut.
In the end it’s about facing that fear
Going to the place we don’t want to
Entering into the heart of darkness.

In 1991 in a conversation I had with U.G. Krishnamurti he said,
“If people realised what enlightenment is, no one would want it.”

NO ONE GETS THIS:

there is no awakening,
no attainment,
no getting it,
no seeing through,
no hope,
nothing,
No Thing.

After reading this, if you still would like to join us this Sunday 5th February at 39 Bradleys Lane, Warrandyte North 3113 VIC – 3 pm to 5 pm, you are welcome as we gently and respectfully deconstruct the search, turning the questions back on the questioner.

It’s not that you get answers.
When the questioner ends, there are no questions.
No thing.

Please let us know if you are planning to join us: kalyani@nonduality.com.au


Following the direct lineage of the ancient Navnath masters, and awakened through a direct and simple recognition 
of their actuality, Kalyani and Peter are able to express this to those who are open to it.
Sailor Bob Adamson


Worth revisiting:

why you don’t really want to awaken


Painting by Australian Aboriginal artist Sarrita King, Lightening Dreaming, 2012. I chose Sarrita’s painting to accompany this post because when the actuality of Truth dawns, it can feel as though one has been simultaneously struck and illuminated by lightening.

memento mori

On ageing, awakening and extinction. The title, memento mori, (see note below) prompts us to “remember that we will die” – but not to bring fear of dying to our attention in some morbid manner. Our physical end is inevitable. The prompt is for us to learn how to live while we still have time. When we understand how it is to truly live, we can find no reason to fear death. It’s all about learning to live.

A lifetime is so little time
that we die before we
get ready to live.
– John Muir

Since this blog is dedicated to my mother, Miriam, who would have been 104 years old today, I rally myself to write a post in her honour. She had a longer lifetime than most, and spent a great deal of it coming to the understanding that in order to fully live there needs to be a kind of death in every moment – a dying to the past, the future, and their construct of a solid, separate self.

What does it mean to truly live? These wise words from Joan Tollifson look life and death in the eye and are worth sharing. Being fairly advanced in years myself, I can vouch for their accuracy; the similarities between awakening and ageing are apt. Yet everything is here to remind us of what never awakens or ages, because it’s never been asleep or subject to time.

Some writers point to the likely extinction of our species as we plunder the planet that creates and sustains our life. Perhaps so. Where did we get the idea that anything could ever be permanent in a universe of ceaseless motion? Permanence is an impossibility; but that’s not all. Impermanence is an equally fanciful notion. As Joan points out, “a deep understanding of impermanence reveals that there is no impermanence, because no-thing ever forms or persists to BE impermanent.” Bodies will appear and disappear but never leave – where would they go? Death is a gracious messenger; it comes to alert us to its own illusion.


Fiona Hall: Out of my Tree

I see aging as a spiritual adventure not unlike awakening – you realize in a very visceral way that there is no future. You are beginning to dissolve. Everything is falling away. Growing old involves loss of control, loss of abilities, loss of independence, loss of self-image, loss of loved ones, loss of everything that has defined you. In the end, it is a total letting go. And at the same time, death is actually moment-to-moment. The bodymind is like a wave on the ocean – inseparable from the ocean, and in that sense, eternal, but never eternal as a single consistent form, which never existed to begin with in this ever-changing movement. The same can be said about the human species, planet earth, and the entire universe.

Whether through climate change or a nuclear war, it seems quite possible that the human race may wipe itself out. Many species are disappearing at a rapid rate in what has been called the sixth mass extinction to occur on planet earth, this one largely human-caused. Perhaps humans throughout history have felt “the end was near,” and certainly many people have lived through periods of war, famine and plague where everyone they knew was wiped out – but in some very unique way, we seem to live in a time when the vulnerability and potential death of the human species is in our face. Would this death be a tragedy or simply another change in the endlessly shifting kaleidoscope of infinite (timeless) unicity? How do we meet these threats of extinction?

When loved ones die, alongside the grief and sorrow of loss, there can also be the immense freedom and discovery of what cannot be lost. A loved one is gone forever, and yet they are right here. Everything is right here! No-thing actually begins or ends. As they say in Buddhism, a deep understanding of impermanence reveals that there is no impermanence, because no-thing ever forms or persists to BE impermanent. There is only the ever-changing, ever-present Here / Now from which nothing stands apart. Our fear of death may be very much like the fear people once had about sailing out to sea and falling off the edge of the earth – a fear based on a misconception about how things actually are.

Joan Tollifson


I began this post with a quote from John Muir. It comes from this stunning video, which is both an an ode to wilderness and an invitation to “get ready to live.” It was filmed in the Scottish Highlands.

Wilderness from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.

More information about John Muir at johnmuirtrust.org


In January 1944 Miriam spent her 31st birthday in a New Zealand maternity ward recovering from the delivery of yours truly – just 48 hours earlier. We always celebrated our birthdays in tandem; my birthday poem for this year is posted on echoes from emptiness blog: on turning seventy three


Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as “Remember your mortality”, “Remember you must die”, or “Remember you will die”; taken literally it means [In the future] remember to die, since “memento” is a future imperative of the 2nd person, and “mori” is a deponent infinitive. It names a genre of artistic creations that vary widely from one another, but which all share the same purpose: to remind people of their own mortality. The phrase has a tradition in art that dates back to antiquity.
– Wikipedia

Fiona Hall’s sculpture Out of my Tree, is part of that tradition. Crafted – with her usual meticulousness – from sardine tins, this piece was part of her installation for the 2014 Adelaide Biennial and the 2015 Venice Biennial.

grief is a shower of grace

This Unlit Light - well of grief - image by Smith Eliot

 

On October 23, 2009, I wrote a post called the gift of grief:

Seven months since she spun out of her solar orbit and left my life.  Well, appeared to leave my life.

What a cruel lie it is to believe that those we love have gone; what an ignorant denial of Life’s infinity of guises and disguises; what a limiting perspective on the vastness of Life’s Play.

She is missed, yes.  But I find that if I simply allow ‘missingness’ to be its unadorned energetic self and ignore the siren-call of memory’s stories, she is there, in that movement of energy.  Missingness holds the blessing of mutual gratitude – a two-way appreciation of love known and cherished.

Who would want to miss such a blessing?  Who would want to “move on from it”?  Who would want to heal it, transform it, transmute or transcend it?

Who would want to deny the gift of grief’s solidarity, the diamond sharp sorrow shared with the mother whose child disappeared a decade ago at the school bus stop, the father whose son has just been shot dead practicing maneuvers for a dubious war in a distant land, the lover whose beloved has passed away before she was ready?

Grief is a great gift.  I love the way it keeps my heart soft.  I love the way I see it in your eyes, in the eyes of all ‘I’s walking this Earth.  It is a hallmark of the unclouded Light of human-being-ness.

Please don’t tell me to get over it.


April 3, 2016 – an update.

Only one word to change: “months”, to years.

Seven years since she spun out of her solar orbit and left my life.  Well, appeared to leave my life…

I still slip  – delightedly – beneath the still surface to “the secret water, cold and clear”.  I still marvel that these eyes spill tears of gratitude.  Love blesses me with grief.  I make no movement away, rather, I turn to meet it, gladly.

Grief is – for me – a shower of Grace.


The Well of Grief

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief

turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe

will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else.

~ David Whyte

Where Many Rivers Meet
©2007 Many Rivers Press


The original post was inspired by an email exchange with Vicki Woodyard shortly after my mother’s death and the beginning of this blog.  Thank you dear Vicki.


Image by Smith Eliot


here is where the vista opens

This post is a loving tribute to Joan Ruvinsky, who left us on March 21 in Montreal.

Just prior to Christmas, Joan wrote a newsletter note about the preciousness of the moment. I’m glad I kept it, because it couldn’t be more apt right now.

This Unlit Light: Michael Kenna - Huangshan Mountains, Study 42

You never know if this is going to be the last time, the last holiday season, the last menstrual period, the last trip to the mountains, the last whatever. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if, for instance, it were just the last time you were ever to put gas in the car, except, looking back on it, as a charming ritual. Does its being the last time make it more significant? Will we pay more attention? We don’t even know if it’s the last time when it is happening. We can only know through memory, in retrospect. 

Or we can pretend the future and say, “That was the last time I ever time I’ll ever go to that restaurant!”  This is the past conditioning the future. The food was terrible. Never again. Period.

Oh, how we like to place ourselves in time! It makes us feel situated. Secure. 

But in the moment, the actual moment, we just don’t know. Is it the first? Is it the last? Actually, it’s right now, first time, or last time – however we name it to stay comfortably situated in linear time, to play it safe. In fact, it is only and forever right now. 

So every moment, the smell of this hot cider mulling on the stove, the clacking of the printer, the wind in the pines, this holiday season to celebrate, or not… it’s just right now, whether we are labelling it from anticipation or from memory. This moment is absolutely precious. This moment is out of time, beyond comparison. No sequence. No succession. Just now. Here is where the vista opens. Now is when we are home, home in This, as This, as pure perceiving.

How wonderful.

May whatever you celebrate for the first or last unknown time be joyous. 

Love, Joan

pathlessyoga.com



Joan’s closing comments in a conversation with Grace Bubeck: Death only happens to the body, we are Love. 3:16



The entire conversation: The Radical Joy of Facing Death. 48:41


I treasure Joan’s last succinct email message to me…

Pas d’inscription. Juste de se présenter à 15h45

Amour


The magnificent photograph is by Michael Kenna.


 

kitchen sink epiphany

In her book When Fear Falls Away Jan Frazier gives us a privileged, intimate view of her mundane daily experiences in the light of her awakening. This little extract is from a piece she wrote titled “A Visceral Experience of Immortality: April 22.” In it, she is happily doing the dishes when she suddenly understands something “fundamental about existence”; a long-held idea moves from the concept compartment and becomes an experienced reality.

It brought to mind the words my mother uttered (shortly after she announced she was “going to die now”) as I leaned over her, whispering my thanks for being the perfect mother and friend to me:

But I always will be – it never ends!

kitchen sink epiphany

I was standing at the sink doing the dishes, chanting, looking out the window. The kitchen sink is turning out to be the place where great realisations seem to happen. I love to chant, and I love to look out the window at the green world, where at a moment’s notice a creature might amble into the yard, its feet quick over the new grass, the sniffing nose collecting data, gathering intelligence of possible danger, possible food. I love the window. Do I love washing dishes? Well, I do. It is what gives me an excuse to look out the window and chant.

So I was doing that this morning, happy as could be. Tingly with happiness. (I get like this a lot.) I was feeling a really sustained surge of delight at simply being alive. The world outside the window pouring into my eyes, my nostrils, every possible portal – and I felt myself pouring out into the world. And I thought how great it is to be conscious, to be alive. I said to myself, I’m so glad to be alive. Consciousness is a total gas. I just want this to go on and on.

And that’s when I realised it. Viscerally, I mean, for the first time in my life. Oh my God, it IS going to go on. Forever. THIS is what keeps steady, this very sensation – even past death. I won’t have to do without, ever.

I have believed this for a long time, belief being a thing that lives in the mind. I have had the idea of immortality, of continuity between physical life and post-physical life. But that moment in front of the sink, experiencing the very body of continuity, I realised something: I only thought I got it before, the idea of consciousness being eternal. But I never really got it before, not until right this second.

I couldn’t get over it. I never have to stop! Body or not. This will be my experience, clear past death – which will be a little road bump, if I even notice it.

Jan Frazier

When Fear Falls Away: The Story of a Sudden Awakening


If you enjoy Jan’s writing, you might be interested in another excerpt (on undivided perception) I posted over on the awakened eye:

I’ve lost track of which is which


Photo credit: katherinecollette.com


it never ends!

a dream was born of love

like a flower, budding in the field of time
it swelled, spread its petals
shared its perfume with complete abandon
smiled under the sun’s kisses
was tossed by many a foul storm
surviving almost a century
of spinning orbits around its bright star

“It never ends!” she exclaimed, exuberant,
just a few breaths before her last exhale,
before she abandoned our solar lover
and melted into the arms of
our eternal Beloved

a dream died

yet the love, the love remains,
imperishable, inescapable
and always beyond the reach of memory

~

impermanence


A little memorial piece. It’s been four years today … by the day rather than date.
(How beautiful that this year’s remembrance falls within the Easter weekend.)
I remain amazed and more grateful with every passing year for that final teaching:
IT NEVER ENDS

See also:

nothing ever dies but a dream

what is it that follows me wherever I go?

wideawake women

Image source unknown