the joy of dying

Today is the 4th day of the 4th month and 9 years since my mother breathed her last at 4am.

Two Miriams, Hervey Bay QLD

This little blog was created to express my gratitude for her wondrous wideawakeness and wisdom; she was a priceless teacher for me. Her lessons – lived in her everyday life – deepen and mature in me as the years go by.  She gave us 97 years of her presence.  Even on her deathbed she was wide-eyed and full of praise for everyone.

This year I’m moved to share words from two teachers she’d have loved for their open-hearted honesty, warmth, sweetness, and for their radiant wisdom: Joan Ruvinsky and Robert K Hall. Joan was speaking shortly before her death. Robert is still with us, but his departure is immanent.


 

just this… in all its simplicity…
welcoming what is here already…
not coming… not going…
obscured even by seeking…

So we meet in the paradox of apparent teachings, retreats, trainings or gatherings, to celebrate and explore this nameless presence that we are.  At first, there is the tendency to accentuate the myriad of practices the yoga tradition has developed, to focus on concepts like nondual, true nature, awareness, self-inquiry or other-inquiry.

But all this activity eventually leads us to a giving up.  And in this surrender what is revealed is seen to be what has always been here, before the search began, during its full intensity and after its cessation.  The task turns out to be ceding to stillness, and in that stillness the recognition of just this.

Falling back and resting in what is so familiar that it has been overlooked during all the body sensing yoga, during all the pranayama, all the yoga nidra and amidst all the dialogues, amidst life itself, we find our self simply sinking back into just this.

Joan Ruvinsky

 


 

Letting go is not an easy process, especially how much I’m enjoying life, surrounded by so much love and people who take good care of me… I have talked at length about my experience and difficulties about the dying process… today I’d like reflect on the positive side and share my experience about the joy of dying…

Robert K Hall

 

This short talk (8:07) expresses so much warmth, love, joy and presence, it will melt your heart.
For more videos and audio teachings: Robert K Hall Dharma Talks


From the archives:
grief is a shower of grace
the gift of grief

here is where the vista opens
the cosmic chirp


 

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


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


 

 

silence stillness simplicity serenity solitude

How wondrous that the words most intensely meaningful for me at present – in my mountain hermitage – all begin with the letter ‘s’.   Aren’t these words delicious?  Can’t you feel the way each one somehow lifts you by the heart-strings, delivering you into the mystery beyond words?

Longtime readers of this little blog will be familiar with my abiding love of retreats of any kind.  Oh, the sublime depth of noble silence, the absence of encroachment by mind-fueled noise!  In the days of Great Busyness my torpedo-like life needed the balance gifted by formal retreat.  Here on Kiels Mountain I relish each of these words and I smile, recognizing that my appetite for retreat has manifested a full-time “retreat lifestyle”.

Slow motion opens the mind.
Smooth motion opens the heart.
Slow smooth motion
turns on
the inexplicable delight.
– Paul Reps

This post is a smorgasbord of offerings from some favorite writers and sages.

.

Ura-Senke: approach to the Tea House, Kyoto, Japan

Silence and spaciousness go together.
The immensity of silence is the immensity of the mind in which a center does not exist.

– J Krishnamurti

*

Stop talking, stop thinking, and there is nothing will not understand.

Return to the root and you will find the Meaning.

Persue the Light, and you will lose its source.

There is no need to seek Truth: only stop having opinions.

– Seng-ts’an / Sosan

*

Silence is not acoustic.  It is a change of mind, a turning around.

– John Cage

*

Silent and serene, forgetting words
Bright clarity appears before you.

When you reflect it, you become vast.
Where you embody it, you are uplifted.

Solitary and shining, a river of stars,
Snow covered pines,
Clouds enveloping the peak.

In darkness it is most bright,
While hidden all the more manifest.

The crane dreams in the winter mist.
The autumn waters flow far in the distance.
Endless kalpas are totally empty,
All things completely the same.

When wonder exists in serenity,
all achievement is forgotten in illumination.

Only silence is the supreme speech,
Only illumination the universal response.

Responding without falling into achievement,
Speaking without involving listeners,
The ten thousand forms majestically glisten
And expound the dharma.

– Wanshi Shogaku

*

It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them…. Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.

– Thomas Merton

*

In my travels I spent time with a great yogi.
Once he said to me.

“Become so still you hear the blood flowing
through your veins.”

One night as I sat in quiet,
I seemed on the verge of entering a world inside so vast
I know it is the source of
all of
us.

– Mirabi

*

That’s all you have to do – just abide in that stillness.

If you know how to be with that stillness without looking for anything else then that stillness is no longer just a stillness and that stillness is the Buddha Mind, it is the luminous awareness.

In that stillness you are going to discover your true nature.

The discovery of your true nature is the true liberation, is the bodhi, is the great awakening.

– Tulku Thubten Rinpoche

*

I teach silence
in all languages
through intensive examination of:
the starry sky,
the Sinanthropus’ jaws,
a grasshopper’s hop,
an infant’s fingernails,
plankton,
a snowflake.

– Wislawa Szymborska
Classifieds

*

… full understanding can come to you only through an inexpressible mystery.

The approach to it is called the Gateway of the Stillness beyond all Activity.

If you wish to understand, know that a sudden comprehension comes when the mind has been purged of all the clutter of conceptual and discriminatory thought-activity.

Those who seek the truth by means of intellect and learning only get further and further away from it.

Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.

– Huang Po

*

In the end it’s all very simple.
Either we give ourselves to Silence or we don’t.

– Adyashanti

*

This is not magic.  It’s not mysterious.  Sit down in a chair or on your couch and don’t make a decision when to get up, and just feel.  And all of sudden it will become obvious.  Your body will start to move with the feeling and you’ll just be getting up.  Try it sometime.  It’s interesting.

Spend a day like that; just feeling, not moving until you feel.  If your mind is asking you, “is this the right feeling?” you’ll never get it.  It’s like thirst.  When you’re thirsty, you’re thirsty.  That’s knowledge, that’s direct knowing.  What would you say to somebody if they said, “how do I know when I’m thirsty?”  Well, you’ll feel the flow of it.  But if a mind was involved, the mind might even feel thirsty and the mind would go, “how do I know that that’s thirst?  How do I know?”

But on the inside, in quietness, thirst and reaching for the cup would be just one movement.  Thirst and the cup: simple.

– Adyashanti

*

The power of the Divine works in the silence.
People want lectures; I give them silence.

Words you can get anywhere.

In silence one can receive more
because all one’s activities become concentrated at one point.
There is only one real rhythm; in silence you hear it.
When you live to the rhythm of this silence, you become it…

– Mother Meera

*

Life is this simple.  We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent, and God is shining through all the time.

This is not just a fable or a nice story.  It is true.

If we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes, and we see it maybe frequently.

God shows Himself everywhere, in everything – in people and in things and in nature and in events.

It becomes very obvious that God is everywhere and in everything and we cannot be without Him.  It’s impossible.  The only thing is we don’t see it.

– Thomas Merton

*

Immobility and silence are not inactive.
The flower fills the space with perfume, the candle – with light.
They do nothing yet they change everything by their mere presence.

– Nisargadatta Maharaj

*

Above all things, love silence. Out of your silence will arise something that will draw you into deeper silence. If you practice this, inexpressible light will dawn upon you.

– St Gregory of Nyssa

*

Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self.
– Henri J M Nouwen

*

Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

– T S Eliot

*


birthday poem

In this uncreated emptiness

– an unfurling, unfolding
energy-locus trembling with
sensations so varied
they appear to hold
no common currency –

experience swings

from melting tenderness
and wide-eyed wonder
to the creaking pain
of bodybits worn and stressed
(there’s a tutu pirouetting
on satin points in one scene;
stomping across the stage
leaden-hoofed in another)

In this uncreated emptiness

there’s a seeing, a knowing
a luminous awareing of every tonality
and every texture
every nuance of light and shade
shimmer and flicker
conspiring to create an apparent world

there’s an immaculate stillness
unchanging, unmoving, unaffected
by the stories told by
pleasure, pain or perfection

there’s a brilliant beingness
in which every dance
listed in life’s repertoire
is danced by the one

whirling
crazy lover
inexhaustibly romancing its insatiable
self

 

emelle says:

off with the training-wheels,
away with the Zimmer-frame
I raise my glass to Life!

Beloved, let this heart beat long enough
to whirl a few more orbits of the sun
dissolving, giddy and swooning, into your arms
which are
none other
than
my own

 
– ml

sinking back into just this

just this……in all its simplicity……
welcoming what is here already……
not coming……not going……
obscured even by seeking……

So we meet in the paradox of apparent teachings, retreats, trainings or gatherings, to celebrate and explore this nameless presence that we are. At first, there is the tendency to accentuate the myriad of practices the yoga tradition has developed, to focus on concepts like nondual, true nature, awareness, self-inquiry or other-inquiry.

But all this activity eventually leads us to a giving up. And in this surrender what is revealed is seen to be what has always been here, before the search began, during its full intensity and after its cessation. The task turns out to be ceding to stillness, and in that stillness the recognition of just this.

Falling back and resting in what is so familiar that it has been overlooked during all the body sensing yoga, during all the pranayama, all the yoga nidra and amidst all the dialogues, amidst life itself, we find our self simply sinking back into just this.

~ Joan Ruvinsky

.

Gratitude to Kathleen Knipp for introducing me to Joan Ruvisky’s work and recommending her for our wideawake women page. “Her teachings, offered in both prose and poetry, as well as verbally, are yet another beautiful expression of the inexpressible through a woman’s voice.”
~ ml

.

for as long as wanting wants

for as long
as wanting wants
anything – anything
[even
not-wanting]
stillness is abandoned
great silence is silenced
peace is merely a story

 

for as long
as wanting wants
there will be a wanter
an insatiable grasper
an inexhaustible seeker
deaf
to the savage wisdom
that whispers
you are that
which you seek!

 

for as long
as wanting wants
and the wanter
believes
it has more substance
than a thought;
believes
it’s real, with an agenda
[noble, naturally]

Heart
is divorced from its
Beloved

 

– miriam louisa