Towards the Silent Heart

kitchen table philosophy


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A deeper significance

By Joseph Raffa

buddha-918073_1920There is a hidden agenda in the world, a deeper significance, not usually noticed as the mind goes about its daily business.  Through surface perception the world is clearly demarcated.  Our surroundings, the things we do, our appearance, all this is familiar and with many this is as far as they go.

It’s the world we live in.  The eyes, the ears, the bodily based senses inform us of this world.  Through the senses we do not receive clear evidence of a deeper significance, of anything different from the usual run of manifest phenomena.

The mind dwells in contact with an ocean of sensations, forged into perceptions that are the basis of the experiences it knows.  Thinking takes its cue from this reservoir of imprints.  It arises in response to the known.  It is from this known base that it seeks to expand, to go wider and deeper and get down to ultimate answers.  Its movement is conditioned by the known and by its measure of understanding.  It seeks solutions and conclusions that its understanding agrees with.  What else can it do?

To go beyond its understanding would leave it in a void of uncertainty.  It would be like a fish out of water, not knowing what, where or how nor itself in the process.  Could the mind come to grips with a deeper significance that is beyond its normal range of understanding, beyond the process of knowing that it is accustomed to, beyond the awareness it has of itself, its surroundings and the interactions that take place?  And where would the evidence come from if not from the mind’s acknowledgement of what this is?

The sensitivity we are (mind) is the basis for living,for knowing ourselves and the world.  Deny this and where are we?  This sensitivity is included in the hidden agenda, the deeper significance mentioned earlier.  It cannot be left out, to stand aside and be a reality in its own right.

The sensitivity we are and its relationship to the Universal is the hidden agenda, the deeper significance not noticed by surface perception.  With the surface mind we are linked to appearance yet in essence we are one with this hidden reality. Thinking deals with the imprint of life, with the footprints left by life’s moment to moment flow.  Thinking cannot go beyond itself and apprehend the unlimited.  In this deeper significance all things are at rest in an unbroken state.  Appearance is not an absolute.  All phenomena is a passing parade.  While it holds the centre stage of attention the hidden significance cannot reveal its nature.

Revelation breaks this impasse, takes the mind beyond.  The known is discarded for a moment.  With this out of the way, there is nothing to prevent the realisation of the deeper significance.  The problem created by the mind is solved, but not by the mind. Mind, in its essence and the deeper significance are One.

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Is it beyond understanding?

 

leaves-1804646_1920.jpgCall it grace, enlightenment, realisation.  It happens, and because of this happening, so individuals set to and in spite of the limitations of language, as much as they can convey to others, they do so.

By Joseph Raffa

There have been imaginative attempts to explain the creation of the universe.  The explanation in the bible is shrouded in difficulty.  The language does not clearly convey the how.

Science comes up with its own explanation – the big bang theory – also very difficult to understand.  Scientists are reasonably satisfied with it but will humans ever clearly understand the way of it?

We are on the wrong side of the process, on the outside as it were, trying to look back with a mind conditioned by sense-based experience.  To such a mind, one thing proceeds from another, known cause to observable effect.  This is how the mind explains phenomena.

For a state of non-existence to precede existence doesn’t make sense.  Religion goes back to the pre-existence of God as the cause of the universe.  Science goes back to a compact ball of dense matter – or is it energy and electrical particles? – suspended in space.  Then, a big bang – expansion – evolution – hey presto! Stars, planets, the universe of appearance forming, reforming, our sun, the earth, life, more evolution. Along came homo sapiens and here we are today, with the kind of mind trying to find absolute answers.

And in the way the mind thinks of it, none of it makes completely satisfying sense so that doubts do not linger. Change there has certainly been – construction and destruction.  But overall the process continues to maintain and sustain itself.  A strange energy, on the move as the universal expression.  What we see via the senses is our side of the universal presentation.

Science expands the senses with its instruments and the scene changes.  Solid matter disappears, gives way to electrical particles and these in turn to energy in motion (whatever that may be ).

Coming to rest in a final reality dances out of reach of the space/time mind.  The more it tries to grasp, the more a tangible reality slips away.  And why?  Is it because the mind tries to project a reality that does not include itself?  The picture it tries to construct is one that appears to a separate observer.  How far can you go in this manner?

Surely the final step is one in which observer and observed merge in the one and same reality or, is the observing mind to be put on a pedestal apart, as something that preceded creation and stays apart?  It is just not possible to observe the state that precedes creation when reality is of one nature without difference or distinction.  Separate points of reference haven’t been set up.  Where then is the dense ball of matter or the observer to know and acknowledge its existence?  For us the universe does not begin until we are aware of it.  How can we question anything we are not aware of?

We not only need a universe we know but we ourselves have to be capable of knowing.  It’s because we separate the two that we compound our trouble in understanding.  We put the self on one side of the fence and the universe on the other.  And we try to fit the evidence of universal existence into the framework of our limited understanding.

Stretch out understanding as much as we will, the reality of it will escape us until separation vanishes and then the unbroken reality of universal existence reigns supreme, just as it now is, as it has always been.  Time, space, separation, life, these emanate out of it.  Such is its nature.

Before the spontaneous arisal of creation – untouched by time, unobserved and unobservable, the Eternal existed.  What we see and know of the universe, the changing face of life, forms and energy, this is the reflection cast in the mirror of space and time – all a reflection of our own state of awareness.

And that in turn is grounded in the universal awareness,  The Eternal is a uniform sensitivity.  No personal sense resides there, neither human or greater God.  No wind blows, nor sun shines.  No bird calls.  The movement of life is still, deeply still.  Starry systems, vast nebulae, the flow of energy, none of these mar the serenity of such repose, nor disrupt the tranquility of Being.

Our language fails to convey this essence.  The mind deals with concepts, ideas, appearance, not with the reality as such for this includes the mind within its nature.  Where all is one and distinction is dead what can be said to make it clear to another?

Yet, when thought is still and sensations cease to rise, when the observer loses distinction, that’s when it becomes clear and not till the mind returns to the world it knows does it realise the wonder of what has happened.

Call it grace, enlightenment, realisation.  It happens, and because of this happening, so individuals set to and in spite of the limitations of language, as much as they can convey to others, they do so.

And they leave it to something deep within those they address to respond in like fashion and discover the way of it.


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Build cities for harmonious living

 

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by Joseph Raffa

In life it is impossible to stand still.  Even if we are very happy with the way things are.  Yet it seems that in the way we build, even though we plan carefully, we are uncertain of the consequences.

Eventually, we are confronted with the results of decisions all along the line and somehow they do not fit, not one hundred percent anyway.  We look at the accumulated developments.  Some we appreciate, others we are not so certain about.  We seem to have lost something along the way and now we are wearing new clothes that do not fit comfortably.  Yet now, it is all we have.

We can’t go back, yet forward leads to what?  If we are not completely happy with what we now have, with the results of past decisions and planning, how can we be sure that present decisions will take us in a direction that will better reflect the kind of people we are and what we want in city living?

Then it could be that we are not very clear on this and that is why we leave it to the experts, to business people, to councillors and people of power.  We put our trust in these people, but if we cannot communicate what we deeply feel, how can those who initiate changes include or consider any part of our unformulated wishes in their programs for change?

Each person may add only a little piece, maybe just a slight suggestion.  It’s up to the planners to listen, to collate, to sift through the accumulated data, then to have the intuitive wisdom to sort out what to proceed with.

Logic is not always enough; majority demand may not always be the best way to go.  Intuitive wisdom adds that touch of inspiration that complements all the other processes put into operation by the mind.  It lifts conclusions out of the ordinary approaches, coordinating logic, experience and expertise but adding something more – an inner certainty that points the way.

As citizens we may not be in a position to see the whole picture. We may just have a deep rooted resistance to various mooted projects.  Yet often, we cannot say with certainty what course of action we would like to see undertaken.

Certainly we know what we are comfortable with.  A city designed to meet our deepest needs for tranquil living, liberally sprinkled with gardens and trees, with appealing architecture, that caters for arts, amusements, music – that treasures the past but does not allow it to control the present.  Above all, one in which people are the main factor and not profit.

Fill a city with bright, happy, vibrant people, sure of their relationship with each other and with nature and they will reflect a sunny disposition in everything they build and do.  And they will build and design accordingly with care, with love, with meticulous attention to detail. They will be alive to present needs, in touch with each other and with a deep understanding of the human process.  These then are the people who will build the city of their dreams and live therein in happy harmony.

 

 


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The Way to Peace

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By Joseph Raffa

The existence of God and the nature of evil have perplexed humans for centuries. Rational reason cannot reconcile a God of love with the behaviour expressed by humans hellbent on a destructive rampage. Especially seeing that God is said to have created man in its image.

Rational reason should look at its own behaviour. Reason, not God, created national and religious divisions. Reason, not God, supports greed, ruthless ambitions, oppression, racial prejudice, economic exploitation.

Reason invented the technology used to create super weapons that destroy at the touch of a button. Reason over-rides the heart, unleashes fear and war and observes without compassion the death of its brothers and sisters.

Just listen to rational reason as it plausibly argues who the enemy is, what the calculated response should be and why war is the way to peace.

So many have suffered and died because of (ir)rational reason. Reason has divided mankind, shattered the God-created unity of the human race, found so many reasons to hate, kill and exploit those who are weaker.

And reason wants a pliable God, one that supports it in what it does. Hence the cry, “God is on our side” when war is raging.

Let reason draw from the inexhaustible spring of Universal Love and watch then the transformation. See how fear flees and the ego loses its force. See divisions fade, illusion and ignorance evaporate when a Universal togetherness takes over.

Then love becomes the master and reason its servant. The reign of evil ends. So too does rational reflection on God end when God and humans are reunited in one omnipresent reality.


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Climb the Spiritual Mountain

by Joseph Raffa
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Image courtesy marcuso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are people who love to climb mountains.  When asked why,

some may say “Because it is there”.  There is another kind of

mountain that others seek to climb – the mountain of Ultimate

Reality.  They do not know why, only that they have to go.

The mountains of time are well defined, the destination sure, the

equipment is available.  Ultimate Reality has no defined pathway

leading to it, the equipment necessary is the nature that we are.

This journey we travel alone.  Gurus can only take us so far,

then we must be left to face our own uncertainty, our weaknesses

and fears, whatever we are.

We move this way, we move that, try this, try that.  When we come

to cul-de-sacs we turn, retrace our steps then start again, over

and over.  Gradually it dawns that we are journeying through

ourselves, that we create the obstacles and the mountain to

climb.  When we’ve exhausted our efforts, when we are at the end

of the line with no more stations to travel to, we pause, and sit

and let go.

Effort falls away – everything is shed – the tiredness, the

struggle, the striving.  We just let go and then suddenly we are

there on top of the mountain.  We have been transported all in

one instant and we are basking in the full sunshine of Being.

Our journey is over, without sense of movement or achievement.

We didn’t do a thing except to be still.  That’s it, just still –

the stillness of a mind not seeking, not striving.  a sudden

unexpected, unexplainable stillness and we are on the top of the

mountain.

We know what we come from and we know where we are going.  Never again will we be

lost in time.  We are home – home where we belong.

 

 


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What is enlightenment?

by Joseph Raffa

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Image by samarttiw FreeDigitalPhotos

What is this enlightenment so many people are seeking? Does it indeed exist and what is its nature?  So much effort is poured into its realisation by the seeking mind.  Meditation along a chosen theme.  Self-discipline – of desire, of the emotions, of thoughts – much of it extremely difficult.

The seeking mind projecting itself into various postures, assuming roles that are expected to help on the way to enlightenment. Always backed up by belief in the outcome.  This supplies the energy to keep the mind focused on the eventual discovery.

Projecting an image while the reality is absent. And what of the image?  Where does this come from?  From the dreams of a mind that must have a target to aim at.  So, it creates effort and travel.  Avenues created by the mind to fashion and sustain the illusion of self-development towards achievement.

Mind goes from here to a problematical there for that is the way of travel that it knows.  Can it travel in this way to enlightenment, to something it doesn’t know?   Mind is so confident that with the means it puts into motion it can build a bridge from darkness to the light.  It fashions the bridges from the words passed down from the masters of long ago, from the prophets, from those considered gurus.

But surely the bridges are built from the ignorance reflected by the mind.  The cement that links the actions is that of illusion. What can come of the mind’s actions but postures cast in a timeful mould, nurtured and placed in the mind’s vision as something of greater value.  They keep the mind embedded in its own playground. They are playthings created to amuse the mind, to pad out its emptiness and offer foundational supports of psychological substance because mind needs something to lean on before it can proceed with assurance.

What will the mind discover while its vision is controlled in this way, while its attention is idea tuned, discipline tuned, focused in on its complex maze of effort?   Will it not stay amidst its postures and projections?  Where then is there enlightenment amongst all this?

All we have is the discordant music of the mind, the shadowy images, the objectives, the disciplinary endeavours that weave and twist in the forefront of the mind, covering all else. And from all this it hopes to give birth to enlightenment, to that strange arisal that surges crystal clear, like a lightning flash, sudden and surprising.

This is not born, nor ever can be from the mind’s persistent efforts to coax it out of the unknown into the perceptive net of the mind.  It arises in moments of deep stillness not fashioned by thought or reason, nor from disciplinary endeavour. This kind of stillness is its own happening.

Its offspring is the enlightenment, the insights that pour into the mind bringing new vistas, new perceptions that expose the illusions created by the mind’s desires to discover something it can relate to – use as a stepping stone of support in its day to day living.

The new comes, not over the roadways of thought or desire but over the timeless bridge.  This brings to an end the movement of time and the sense of separation involved in timeful living.   When this is dissolved enlightenment happens as a natural consequence.  All mind could do was be still.  That’s all – just be still and what enlightenment is, comes through.

 


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The Christ walked this way

An Easter contemplation
by Joseph Raffa

 

Out of the silence He came,

Out of that great love

that knows not beginning or end,

On a mission of mercy.

 

He walked amongst evil,

A shining star of truth,

Radiant with the lustre of the Strangeness.

And oh, how He talked in parables of matchless beauty.

 

In simplicity He walked, unaided by human hands.

His trust lay, not in the social tides of the day,

Nor in the traditional dogmas of the church of his time,

But in that Timeless Tide that dwells

where humans cannot go and remain human.

 

With the God of Love he supped in timeless splendour.

And when the cross reared its stark

and threatening shape across the troubled landscape,

Unflinching and unyielding

He hung there, naked and crucified.

 

Held there, not only by iron nails

hammered deep through feeble flesh

but by the tremendous strength of an immeasurable love.

A human symbol, of a love

that defied the ravages and evil grasp

of a particularly brutal time.

 

And then came the unbelievable –

The mysterious resurrection

When the Sunshine of Truth

briefly walked and talked again in that very same body

that had lain so deathly still.

Pierced by a spear thrust through and through

and finally left for dead

in a cold and lonely cave nearby.

 

But the power of a Great Love moved to reclaim

its blessed son in fulfilment of a promise made –

Arose He,

Walked He,

Talked He,

And those who saw marveled in wonder.

 

Then, like a phantom will-o-the wisp, He was gone,

physically gone, perhaps for good,

Leaving a mystery for people to talk and to think about,

And a lesson in love for all to learn from

and to reach out for,

If they too,

could only leave this home in the vale of time

and travel the timeless way

to that Strangeness that possessed him so.

 

  • From Beyond the Cross, Joseph’s moving collection of inspired pieces about Christ.

Cross coverAvailable from Amazon.com in paperback and e-book formats.