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


 

the glory and the terror of it

The Path of Love is like a bridge of hair across a Chasm of Fire.

The Realization that every act, every word, every thought of ours not only influences our environment but mysteriously forms an integral part of the Universe, fits into it as if by necessity, in the very moment we do or say or think it, is an overwhelming and even shattering experience.

If we only knew deeply, absolutely, that our smallest act, our smallest thought, has such far-reaching effects; setting forces in motion; reaching out to the galaxy; how carefully we would act and speak and think. How precious life would become in its integral oneness.

It is wonderful and frightening. The responsibility is terrifying and fascinating in its depth and completeness, containing as it does the perplexing insecurity of being unique and the profound consolation of forming part of the Eternal Undivided Whole. And we all have the right to, and can achieve, the realization of this wonderful meaning of life: one is quite simply part of it all; a single vision of Wholeness.

Very acute it became after Guruji’s passing away. And I could not reconcile the torment of the heat, the mangy dogs, the filthy children, the sweat, the smells; for they were THAT too …

 

Himalayan Range from Kausani, Uttarakhand

 

But it was here, in the stillness of the mountains, that it gradually crystallized; distilled itself from a different dimension into the waking consciousness. And now I must live with the Glory and the Terror of it … It is merciless, inescapable; an intensely virile intoxicating Presence, so utterly joyous, boundless and free. It is blasphemy to attempt to put it into words.

I know that the states of Nearness will increase, will become more permanent; but also the state of separation will become more painful, more lonely, the nearer one comes to Reality.

I know that I go back to a life of fire; for you, dear Guruji, told me what to expect. I know that sometimes my health will fail, and that I shall be burned. But I know also that I can never be alone anymore, for you are with me always. I know that God is Silence, and can be reached only in silence; the Nearness to Thee will remain and give me the strength to go on.

Goodbye days of peace; and days of wrestling with myself. Days of incredible beauty with Nature at its best; days of glorious states of consciousness, wherein the divine heart within myself was the Divine Heart within the cosmos. When I knew the meaning of Oneness because I lived it. You did not deceive me, Guruji. You pointed out the Way, and now the Way has taken hold of me … fully … irrevocably.

Irina Tweedie


These are the final paragraphs in Irina Tweedie’s book The Chasm of Fire

They are part of a letter written to her beloved teacher, who had passed away some months before, from her retreat in the Himalayas.

The Chasm of Fire is an extraordinary account of her experience of liberation through the teachings of this Sufi master, in India. It is written in journal form, as instructed by the teacher.

It is an account of the slow grinding down of personality
– a painful process for Man cannot remake himself without suffering.
I had hoped to get instruction in yoga…
but found myself forced to face the darkness within myself…
I was beaten down in every sense till I had come to terms with that in me
which I’d been rejecting all my life.

For an excellent in-depth review of this book see: The Culturium: Irina Tweedie, The Daughter of Fire


Image: The Himalayan Range from Kausani, Uttarakhand, India.
Source


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


 

 

we are all waiting for you

Today, a guest post from Vicki Woodyard.

This piece is a perfect fit for a follow-on to my last post – one day you finally knew

Worku Goshu: Birth of Light, oil on canvas

One’s Own Truth

To own one’s own truth is what life is about. To reach the place where all of the bells ring … to heal the godforsaken stretches of your inner desertions ….

Yesterday I heard Gavin de Becker say that if someone cannot accept your “no,” then they are trying to control you. After my husband died, I said three noes that first year. Two led to a desertion by the ones to whom I said no. And they each led to a deepening resolve to continue the practice of “no.”

“No” to the outer world is a yes to your inner world. And the inner determines the outer. It is daunting to go so deep into your own spirit that you understand that you are one with everything. It doesn’t necessarily make you any happier.

This morning as I entered the grocery store, one of the employees said a clear “I love you” into her cell phone. I told her it was so nice to hear her say that. She was speaking to her soulmate, she said, her husband of three years. I told her I was widowed…

Being alone is not the end of the world. For me, it is a time for going deeper into what I have chosen. I want to be with myself from now on. In a way that heals inner division, in a way that comforts and stretches me. For this I must say “no” to things that do not nourish me. I am facing myself directly, which is a difficult thing to do. I often prefer to nibble at the cheesy things of this world. Like a rat, I sample American Idol, and that makes me want more. The world is like that… making you want more of what can never sustain you.

So I sit here at the computer, wanting you to love me. But that is just another bite of cheese in the trap. What I really want is to love myself so clearly that I never say “yes” when I feel “no.” That is a big, big thing. The bigger the truth, the more it can change and heal you.

We are all waiting for you
to strike that one chord
in your own heart.
You know, the one you haven’t
strummed in so long.
The one that will make us all
stop for a moment and sigh…

For we have enough false notes
stored up in our music benches.
We need to see your single finger
pluck the harmony and sorrow chord
so we will remember who we are.

Vicki Woodyard


After regularly publishing on Facebook for some time, Vicki is now re-energising her blog as the premier place to access her writing. You can find it at http://www.vickiwoodyard.com/


Painting by Worku GoshuBirth of Light


infinite space and light

Vale, sweet, uncompromising Clara.

We are eternally grateful.

~

Awakened awareness without trace of thought
is the triumph of the sole One.

Clara Llum

Be aware that you are. Be aware that you are aware, right now.  At any given moment, rest in that simplicity of being yourself, free from labels or concepts of “myself.”  The very beingness, the very awareness is the constant “you”, the true you, faceless, formless, empty, cognizant, all containing, all inclusive.

Be aware of being…  Aware of being aware.

Meditate, stay with this awareness that you are and that is you.

Worship it, dive in it, make of it your home, and all will unfold.

Self-present awareness – awareness that is present in itself. Watch your watchfulness, be conscious of being conscious right now…

Aware-ing is happening, see it, know it, be with it, that’s all.

The mirror looks in the mirror, infinite space and light.

All enlightenment comes naturally from this. All wisdom, all peace, all realization.

~ Clara Llum

Source:  http://www.youaretrulyloved.com/enlightenment/an-interview-on-awakening-with-clara-llum/

Via:  Jerry Katz  at the Nonduality Highlights

a b i d e … r e s t … m e l t

What if there was a world you could slip into without effort of any kind, a world where you had no name, no status, no history?  A world where you didn’t have to know anything about striving to be richer, healthier, more creative, more attractive, more lovable? Imagine a world where the words enlightenment, awakening, freedom, salvation, were yet to be thought-up.  What if that world was real and ever-available, no conditions ever attached?

And what if that world was the Real World, for it was – unlike the dream world one normally inhabits – ever-present and changeless?  What if that world – which would be more accurately called ‘world-ing’ – was one’s natural home and substance?  What if IT was closer, more intimate than anything one could conceive?

Wouldn’t that change everything?

IT is here, right now, in just this.  Just this everythingness and whateverness.

Abide.  Rest.  Melt.

The Oneness we fondly call Beloved is waiting: bouquets in one hand, a big broom in the other.  You will be taken, you will be loved, you will be cleansed and re-formatted.  And you will eventually  – it might take a while, depending on the extent of your self-delusion – find it impossible to return to the old world.  In fact it ceases to exist for you; it has been absorbed by the new View.

What if all it took was a backing away from beliefs of any kind – even poetic expressions like the previous paragraph?  What if thoughts of any kind were the only obstacle to Truth?

Wouldn’t you want to find out for yourself?

You are warmly invited.  Admittance is free … but costs everything.

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I am your creation, you are my love

Love Waking up to Itself

Essentially, all is Love and what does not yet know itself as love.
As Love meets Love in form, as it recognizes itself, it spreads everywhere waking itself up to its own glory!

It is the difference as it wakes up to its sameness through the play of the poles; as it it is embraced in the rapture of the oneheart, tingling more manyness into oneness, more diversity and multiplicity into unity.
It is one tasting itself through two.

sound loves so much it grew ears so that it may hear itself
beauty loves so much it grew eyes so that it may see itself
the senses are born from the love that we are in its delight to taste itself
you are born from the love that i am so that i may love myself
i am your creation
you are my love
we can see this when there is no one to be yours
and no one to be mine
being breathed sublime
faces of the divine
at play
in the fields of
time

~ Ellen Davis –   2001

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