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 altar of this moment

A beautiful poem for a Sunday: The Altar of this Moment by Dorothy Hunt.

 
For Simone, who was gratefulness and generosity embodied. And who left us seven days ago.

Reblogged with gratitude from the wondrous science and nonduality website


Photograph by Juliana Nan

 

Place everything you can perceive—
everything you can
see,
hear,
smell,
taste,
or touch,
upon the altar of this moment
and give thanks.

It is over so soon—
this expression,
this single moment of your precious life,
this one heart
pounding itself open
with fear or wild joy,

this one breath rising
in the cold winter air
smoothly and gently
or coughing and sputtering.

Bow, while you can, before
this one taste
of afternoon tea
warming its way to your belly,
or the fragrant orange
exploding its sweet juice
in your grateful mouth.

You have to love
the antics of your mind,
imagining life should only be sweet.
The bitter makes the sweet; and life is both.
It is whole, like you,
before you think yourself to pieces.

Place this moment’s pain and confusion on the altar, too,
and give special thanks for such grace
that wakes you up from sleeping through your life.
Pain is greatly under-rated as a pointer to Unknowing,
yet greatly over-rated when taken as identity.

In this one moment,
your eyes meet mine and there is
a single looking.
What is peering from behind our masks?
Can it touch itself across the room?

Place your palms together;
touch your holy skin.
In another moment it will shed itself.
What will you be then?
What were you before you had two hands?
What are you now?

You cannot capture That
and place It on the altar of this moment.
It is the altar,
and this moment’s infinite expressions,
and the Seeing,
and its own devotion to itself.

You are That.

Dorothy Hunt

 


Image credit – Juliana Nan


Also by Dorothy Hunt:
when God comes in your house


a deeper prayer

I love this profound and beautiful expression of radical surrender from Fred LaMotte:

No Affirmation

To make affirmations of abundance expresses lack.
To pray for strength confesses weakness.
To ask for healing is to be sick.
But simply to embrace what is
may be a deeper prayer….

FLaMotte-fb

I embrace ‘poverty,’
I expand into emptiness,
I don’t ask for ‘more.’
Is the universe not born from a boundless vacuum?
Not fearing the void, I ripple with wealth.

I confess that I am powerless
in utter surrender.
I abandon striving, and discover
pre-existent fullness,
the immoveable strength that is nearer
than the next breath…

I accept my dis-ease,
I welcome brokenness,
I hug this body.
In non-resistance, unity.
In unity, healing.

This very moment I refuse
to generate conflict
by changing the suchness
into the ‘should.’

I nestle into wholeness
and little things begin to happen
majestically…

All that greens with nectar,
all that buzzes with life,
emerges from
what Is…

Fred LaMotte

 

Image credit – Fred’s Facebook page.

taking it all to heart

Photograph by Alan Larus

what shall it profit me to know
that the leaf
has no color, shape or form
save those assigned by a bunch of brain cells?

to know that it has no existence
in time or space
aside from the space-time grid in my memory?

to know that it isn’t really anointed with
sparkling diamonds of dew
and it doesn’t really tremble
in the delicate dawn sunlight?

to know that all this appearance
is a figment of imagination?

in other words,
what’s the big deal to know
that form is emptiness?

if I stop there
where does it leave my heart?

I’ll tell you:
high and very very dry

but when I fall
into the suchness of the leaf
and wear its diamonds with delight
on my soft velvet greenness,
when I feel its quiver as my own
and float in its airy spaciousness

then I find, to my astonishment,
that the leaf’s gorgeous, sensuous livingness
and my own
cannot be wrenched apart

that’s when my heart leaps with juicy joy
and tears moisten my cheeks;
that’s when emptiness reveals itself
as none other than form,
and it’s so very clear
that love lies in the looking


It’s odd how outpourings are triggered. This morning this quote from the Bible fluttered across mindspace during a rapturous morning ‘meditation’. The last time I heard – or thought about – this quote was probably more than fifty years ago, when it was thrown, by a seriously strict teacher, at my friend and me for helping each other (cheating!) in a high school exam:

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
– Mark 8:36 King James Bible “Authorized Version”, Cambridge Edition

It’s normally taken to refer to greed, ill-gotten gains and the loss of integrity, but after the poem wrote itself down I realized my take had shifted, or expanded. I think it could also apply thus:
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain intellectual knowledge of the world, and lose his own heart’s intimate intelligence?

The Heart Sutra had to get a word in as well. Mark the Apostle meets Avolokitesvara. You never can tell what/who will turn up on retreat!


Photograph by Alan Larus, who tells me he just “clicks the button”. His modesty is as awesome as his artwork.


wideawakeness is … too easy

 

the sheer simplicity

the utter obviousness

the unavoidability

of

 

T H I S

 

which we ceaselessly chase

as some wild idea

is its greatest

disguise

 

BOO!

– miriam louisa

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

.

think on this, whispered the candlelight

187

folded up on my zafu
venus rising, a brilliance
above the coral horizon
where soon the first
radiance of a new day
will emerge

legions of bats, black
against indigo, are
winging their silent way
back to their favorite
over-day treetops

 

 

but it’s still dark enough
for my candle to be
queen of the shadows
and she whispers to me:

“If the light of your awareing
wasn’t brighter than my own,
how could you see me?

I am but a shadow-play
of the unviewable, unlit
Light that you are!

Think on this.  And when the
sun climbs over the eastern rim
and reaches into this tiny patch
of sacred space, undressing
the dark,
think on this again.”

– miriam louisa

echoes from emptiness