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.


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.


 

silence is our real nature

This morning, a beautiful offering from Jean Klein – Silence. It’s another gem from my mother’s folder. You may be familiar with it – it’s somewhat of a classic, but if you’re like me you’ll never tire of its wisdom-blessing.

Since every line is a meditation, I have taken some liberty with the formatting.

 

Rajasthan, India - Tantric painting

 

Silence is our real nature. What we are, fundamentally, is only silence.

Silence is free from beginning and end. It was before the beginning of all things.

It is causeless. Its greatness lies in the fact that it simply is.

In silence all objects have their home ground.

It is the light that gives objects their shape and form.

All movement, all activity is harmonized by silence.

Silence has no opposite in noise.

It is beyond positive and negative.

Silence dissolves all objects.

It is not related to any counterpart which belongs to the mind. Silence has nothing to do with mind.

It cannot be defined but it can be felt directly because it is our nearness.

Silence is freedom without restriction or center.

It is our wholeness, neither inside nor outside the body.

Silence is joyful, not pleasurable. It is not psychological. It is feeling without a feeler.

Silence needs no intermediary.

Silence is holy. It is healing.

There is no fear in silence.

Silence is autonomous like love and beauty. It is untouched by time.

Silence is meditation, free from any intention, free from anyone who meditates.

Silence is the absence of oneself. Or rather, silence is the absence of absence.

Sound which comes from silence is music. All activity is creative when it comes from silence. It is constantly a new beginning.

Silence precedes speech and poetry and music and all art.

Silence is the home ground of all creative activity. What is truly creative is the word, is Truth.

Silence is the Word. Silence is Truth.

The one established in silence lives in constant offering, in prayer without asking, in thankfulness, in continual love.

– Jean Klein


This short biography of Dr Jean Klein by Andrew Rawlinson is an excellent introduction to an extraordinary sage. [pdf]


Image – anonymous 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.

See Franck André Jamme’s stunning book: Tantra Song: Tantric Painting from Rajasthan

when you know yourself

silence stillness simplicity serenity solitude

keep far away


 

cracking open

This is a guest post written by my friend Amrita Skye Blaine. It was first posted, in part, on her blog The Heart of the Matter. I’m sure most readers will find themselves nodding in recognition at her personal description of her path from belief in the myth of separation (from the holy Whole), to the understanding of how we perpetuate this myth via our unexamined thoughts, to the full-blown and embodied apperception of the impossibility of separation.

Which is where the story of our life really begins, in Truth.

 –

Cracking Open - image credit http://uncoverawareness.wordpress.com/

 

When we are born, we are wide open; innocent and vulnerable, we know nothing, and trust everything. From that moment forward, we develop a shell of protection. This may occur quickly if our infancy is traumatic, or incrementally if we are raised in a nurturing and safe environment. But the shell develops, either way—in response to being denied, physically hurt or neglected, snapped at, not understood, or any number of other ways we are shaken into learning that we are separate. Our parents teach us this too, in hundreds of tiny ways. I cannot speak for all countries, but in the western cultures, we do not escape the experience of separation.

We cling to our shell because it is familiar. It is how we have learned to move in the world, based on decisions we made at a very early age. I learned that I needed to protect myself from my older brother’s wrath, and then expanded that world view to include all men. I understood that if I didn’t abide by my mother’s rules, she psychically withdrew her love. My heart contracted; it no longer felt safe or comfortable to remain open.

Later in life, some of us are drawn to unlearning this sense of separation that we have accumulated. This can occur abruptly, but that is rare. For me, it has taken a long time. Perhaps this process begins on our own, but it is more likely that we find a teacher, someone who can point both by the example of their presence, and their teachings, to the deeper truth of who and what we are.

Finally, after many decades, and with the pointers of more than one teacher, a dear and thoughtful husband, and friends, I learned to see the ways that I cut myself off, made myself separate. Later, I saw how believing my thoughts framed my world, and the old patterns and conditioning fell away more quickly. This leaves a softer and more vulnerable heart; this is the process of cracking open. Just like the baby chicken who grows until its shell is so unbearably tight that in desperation it flails and pecks it until it breaks, we too must crack open the shell of our own creation. After the first crack, when a touch of light pours in and we taste a new way, the unlearning may be able to be slowed, but it will not be stopped. We crack open to the truth and to love until we see that they are not two. We were never separate—never were, never can be.

– Amrita Skye Blaine


 The Heart of the Matter

Amrita’s unedited text concluded with a quote from yours truly –
something I’d written in a comment on my last post
imperishable, unnameable, the unknowing

“It is exactly so: the shape of the heart is changed. And there is no way back.”
Thank you dear Amrita.


Image source


imperishable, unnameable, the unknowing

words from my treasured teacher 4

 

J Krishnamurti

 

On July 20, 1961, Krishnamurti wrote an extraordinary account in his journal of the ineffable and unknowable as It was experienced through his body-mind. He struggles to find the appropriate words … the outpouring is, to my mind, pure poetry:

The room became full with that benediction. Now what followed is almost impossible to put down into words; words are such dead things, with definite set meaning and what took place was beyond all words and description. It was the centre of all creation; it was a purifying seriousness that cleansed the brain of every thought and feeling; its seriousness was as lightning which destroys and burns up; the profundity of it was not measurable, it was there immovable, impenetrable, a solidity that was light as the heavens. It was in the eyes, in the breath. It was in the eyes and the eyes could see. The eyes that saw, that looked were wholly different from the eyes of the organ and yet they were the same eyes. There was only seeing, the eyes that saw beyond time-space. There was impenetrable dignity and a peace that was the essence of all movement, action. No virtue touched it for it was beyond all virtue and the sanctions of man. There was love that was utterly perishable and so it had the delicacy of all new things, vulnerable, destructible and yet it was beyond all this. It was there imperishable, unnameable, the unknowing. No thought could ever penetrate it; no action could touch it. It was “pure”, untouched and so ever dyingly beautiful.

All this seemed to affect the brain; it was not as it was before. (Thought is such a trivial thing, necessary but trivial.) Because of it, relationship seems to have changed. As a terrific storm, a destructive earthquake gives a new course to the rivers, changes the landscape, digs deep into the earth, so it has levelled the contours of thought, changed the shape of the heart.

– J Krishnamurti,  Krishnamurti’s Notebook

It was coming upon such clearly authentic writings about the inescapable presence of the Unknowable that led me to Brockwood Park, the school Krishnamurti founded in Hampshire, England. I was a teacher and I found my perfect niche in this unbelievably rich and stimulating environment, where students are guided towards both academic excellence in their studies and deep inquiry into the workings of their thinking.

I revisit these words decades later with delight, and with inexpressible gratitude I can say, “Yes. It is exactly so: the shape of the heart is changed. And there is no way back.”


Other posts featuring Krishnamurti’s writing:

try it, do it

keep far away

words from my treasured teacher 1


Find a comprehensive selection of Krishnamurti’s books at the Krishnamurti Foundation Trust website.


 

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 luscious luminosity

A selection of favourite word-weavings on the theme that underpins this blog, beginning and closing with beloved Rumi.

I drank that wine of which the soul is its vessel.
Its ecstasy has stolen my intellect away.

A light came and kindled a flame
in the depth of my soul.

A light so radiant that
the sun orbits around it
like a butterfly.

– Rumi

 

Light-Moth. Source - Amrita Nadi

 

I, the light of pure Knowing, can never be seen as an object or known as a state,
and yet all objects and states shine with My light alone.

– Rupert Spira


The great, shining light of divinity is not a light you can see;
it’s a light that sees.

– Adyashanti


Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent
and the divine is shining through it all the time.

This is not just a nice story or a fable,
it is true.

– Thomas Merton


Such love does
the sky now pour,
that whenever I stand in a field,

I have to wring out the light
when I get
home.

– St. Francis of Assisi


Meditation is that light in the mind which lights the way for action;
and without that light there is no love.

– J Krishnamurti


You are the light of the world.
You are the consciousness that illuminates the world.
Know yourself as that, and that’s freedom, liberation, awakening,
the end of suffering and madness.

– Eckhart Tolle


Vast is That, and self-luminous, of unthinkable form, and subtler than the atom.
It shines forth, farther than the far, and yet It is very near, for those who see,
residing in the shrine of the heart of every being.

– Mundaka Upanashad


The lamps are different, but the Light is the same.

So many garish lamps in the dying brain’s lamp-shop.
Forget about them.

– Rumi


and this Light does know all other light as its shadow


Image credit and first Rumi poem – Amrita Nadi on Facebook