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


are you on fire?

Sages have often spoken of the necessity of bringing an urgency to our inquiry into the Real – as though we were literally on fire with earnestness. The insinuation is that many inquire from mere intellectual curiosity, or an appetite for philosophical entertainment. Sometimes spiritual seeking becomes a type of insatiable addiction; Trungpa cautioned about that, Krishnamurti too. Dorothy Hunt’s words remind me of the compassionate severity of their words. What drives our inquiry? To what degree are we ready to “get Real”?


This Unlit Light - How serious is your inquiry?

How deeply do you want to go in your spiritual life? Are you satisfied with a glimpse now and then of your true nature? A retreat now and then to remind you of the power of Silence? An intellectual knowing of a path, a teaching, or a memory of a past awakened moment – then it’s back to “life as usual”?

How much do you want to live from truth rather than think about it? How much do you want to open your heart and let its love and compassion flow to yourself and to a suffering world? How much energy do you expend trying to “pull the weeds” of your suspected egoic deficiencies, or holding onto the “flowers” of lovely, desired experiences rather than returning to the Ground from which the seeing and being of all moments spring?

What do we DO to keep alive our remembering?

We stop relying on memory of the known, and return again and again to being awake NOW, opening to the moment as it is now, paying attention to the undivided Ground more than weeds or flowers, and being willing to see more and more deeply the subtle ways our conditioned mind attaches, sometimes with great emotion, to its belief in a separate “self.”

Our home ground, our source, is always available. We do not have to import it. We do not create it, and we cannot hold onto it. It is present in every experience. It is in the smile on your face, the frustration of a mind that cannot “get” what it is seeking. It is here now in the taste of morning tea, the challenging boss at work, the beauty of a sunset. It is here seeing, awaring, loving, being all moments, all experiences. As you no doubt have discovered, it is easy to remain awake in heaven. But what is awake is awake in the hellish moments as well. And beyond any experience, there is our true source, “making everything shine.”

© Dorothy Hunt, 2016

In reality there is only the source, dark in itself, making everything shine.
Unperceived, it causes perception. Unfelt, it causes feeling.
Unthinkable, it causes thought.
Non-being gives birth to being.
It is the immovable background of motion.
Once you are there, you are at home everywhere.
–Nisargadatta Maharaj

 


Also see:

2016 – what I wish for you

continuous awakening – Dorothy Hunt


Dorothy’s words were originally posted at Science and Nonduality – gratitude!

Image source: the incomparable Bob O’Hearn


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


 

 

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


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


 

hold them to your heart

Image credit: Awakening Women on Facebook

 

they will tell you
to never bow down
before anyone

they will tell you
not to give away
your “own” power

they will pour scorn
on your invocations
and your prayers

they will dismiss
your open-hearted ache
for all things wild and abused

they will laugh
at your love affair
with silence

hold them to your heart –
they know not what they do

they do not know
the open secret
too obvious for the intellect,
too close to be grasped

they do not know
the bliss of humility
that bathes the body
and silences the mind
when one has melted into All
and all flows into One

expressing as It wills
(and knowing it, or not)

– miriam louisa

 


Image credit: Awakening Women on Facebook

words from my treasured teacher 1

I wanted to write, “words from my perfect master” – recalling the film by that title.  But Krishnamurti would have balked at the “master” moniker, and thrown out the notion of perfection as well.  Still, there’s no arguing that K was a hugely significant mindshifter for me, and that the years spent working at the schools he founded around the world were the highlight of my career as an educator in art and design.  They are also remembered as incomparably rich, in terms of inquiry into the mechanism of thought and the construct of the “self”, in the company of some of the most brilliant minds on the planet.

We have, if we are lucky, more than one great teacher as we dance along the days of our lives.  Krishnamurti was what Buddhists would call my “root” teacher; he meticulously prepared the ground for the understanding that would come later – the eye-popping brain-bending Knowing that would revisit his words, and smile.  Yes.  Just so.

J Krishnamurti at his desk

August 4, 1961

Woke up very early in the morning; it was still dark but dawn would soon come; towards the east there was in the distance a pale light.  The sky was very clear and the shape of the mountains and hills were just visible.  It was very quiet.

Out of this vast silence suddenly, as one sat up in bed, when thought was quiet and far away, when there wasn’t even a whisper of feeling, there came that which was now the solid inexhaustible being.  It was solid, without weight, without measure; it was there and besides it, there existed nothing.  It was there without another.  The words solid, immovable, imperishable do not in any way convey that quality of timeless stability.  None of these or any other word could communicate that which was there.  It was totally itself and nothing else; it was the totality of all things, the essence.

The purity remained, leaving one without thought, without action.  It’s not possible to be one with it; it is not possible to be one with a swiftly flowing river.  You can never be one with that which has no form, no measure, no quality.  It is; that is all.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Krishnamurti’s Notebook