Towards the Silent Heart

kitchen table philosophy


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His message of love

  by Joseph Raffa

It is almost Christmas and the thoughts of devout Christians turn back to the events that unfolded more than 2,000 years ago. They will not only celebrate the birth of a man, a prophet, a messiah and a religious leader of outstanding qualities but also the remarkable texture of his life. His birth gave little indication of the extraordinary nature of what was to follow nor of how he was to develop into such a spiritual colossus.

From its seeds in this birth, a flowering of incredible beauty came to full bloom in an example of love, wisdom and understanding unparalleled in its expression. He wandered sandy pathways in that barren, desert land giving out his inspired message of love. Such a contrast to the aggressive displays of the time.

His offering was one of peace to a strife-torn area. Peace and love. Not carnal love but spiritual love, that rare quality that flows from the meeting between God and humans. But few there were who could respond to such a high calling and fewer still who could understand. The forces of ignorance, fear and concern for established traditions and authority rallied to crush the living flame of truth that brightly burned whenever he spoke. There was no way though that this spiritual outpouring could be checked by the acts of desperate men. Neither torture nor the cross could halt or obliterate this man’s destiny or his offering to a blighted mankind.

We celebrate in recognition of those qualities and the values he represented. Not yet is the world how he would have it. Much of the behaviour that existed then still stalks the land. Corruption, indifference, violence, brutal suppression, crime – you name it, it happens somewhere, sometime.

And humans still seem powerless, in spite of great technological strides, a knowledge explosion and skill in organisation to halt the flood of all that is ugly in human nature.

It would seem then that his mission was in vain, that his words fell on deaf ears and his example lacked the power to inspire humans to greater endeavours of goodness. Yet still he lingers in the minds and imaginations of this present time, just as he has done in the past, just as he will do in the future.

He stands as an example in living, as the solution to the problems, the difficulties and the irrational behaviour that plague us today.

Not in his fleshly body. That went the way of all flesh – something to be discarded eventually. Not even in his words, though these carried a message of great importance, but in the living nature, the God he was integrated with. This was his source, his inspiration, his sustenance. This was what he was calling the human race back to – its spiritual homeland where they could join in holy union with the creative power.

Although rejected by many in the land of his birth, over the years his influence has spread and gained considerable attention worldwide.

In their hour of need, in times of tribulation, of sorrow and great suffering, people turn to that silent figure, transfixed on the cross, call his name and pray for his help and guidance.

And in many, a response comes from within, touching the heart, uplifting the mind and giving encouragement and strength to carry on, even spreading gladness and joy where formerly darkness reigned.

Because of this his mission was a worthy one of the utmost value to mankind and its success is not to be measured by those who fail to respond, but by those who come to that very same peace and love that he expressed in such a beautiful fashion while he was here.

Cross coverBeyond the Cross, A collection of Joseph’s moving, inspired writing about Jesus is available in ebook and paperback formats from Amazon.com. Click here.

 

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Look behind racial labels

With racism in all its ugliness creating fear and mistrust on an ever widening scale, Joseph Raffa highlights the need for us to see ourselves as humans first and foremost.

Stamping out racism is surely something that must begin in the home and in the schools. Legislation can make it a punishable crime to utter racist remarks but will it stop its expression?

Societies are enclosed conditioning chambers of variable influences – of language, race, history and traditions. A subtle sense of being different and maybe better than others flows in at an early age.

We are not encouraged to see ourselves as humans first but as nationals with an exclusive background. Distinction takes over and settles in.

So, I am Australian, or Aboriginal or whatever becomes the catchword that identifies humans.

Look under the label – the outer variations for what lies beneath. There you’ll meet the essential human, not only in others but also in yourself.

One and the same life-force flows through all. The conditioned mind divides, creating separation where none exists. It projects the attitude of racial superiority and acts accordingly. This mind needs to step aside and let the heart shine through.

Love, the kind that sees the One Universal Nature in all is what is needed.

Then racism will die a natural death.

 

 


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Choose gentleness – not violence

Joseph Raffa reminds us there is a gentle side to human nature behind the darkness being expressed so widely in our world today.

 

The atmosphere of killing fields, of charnel houses, of cities devastated by bombs is something we can do without. The odour of violent death is not a pleasant one. There is something deeply repulsive about it.

Animals being led to slaughter show the fear in their eyes and in the frenzied behaviour of their bodies. Hasn’t this planet had enough yet? Must we go on living with such behaviour, reflecting the violence, the aggressiveness, the selfishness that has been part of our makeup for so long?

We don’t have to be like this. There is a gentle side to human nature waiting its chance to show what it can do. It doesn’t need the protection of force, of security screens and protective devices, of alliances and other means devised by minds riddled by fear and uncertainty.

Behind the darkness of human living, behind the aggressive mask there is indeed another face – gentle, sensitive, caring. All it needs is a chance to come out and, when humans experience it for themselves, when they dwell in its nature and know it for what it is, never will they choose to dwell in the darkness of human living ever again.

denmark2

In the silence of being we discover that which stills every

sound – the sound of breathing, the heart beating, even the

sound of thinking.


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Right understanding

by Joseph Raffa
Understanding flows effortlessly out of enlightened beings. It is not intellectual but it uses this as a means of conveyance.

Truth is always truth – always consistent. The means of expression changes but not truth.

As the early means of mechanical conveyance and flight were one thing in the early stages, only to be superceded by later models, so the means of intellectual conveyance change to keep in tune with changing concepts of language.

The nature of what is being conveyed is eternal. It is not of the mind, not of concepts.

Encouragement is given through thought, through written and spoken expression. The intention? To awaken desire and give a focus to those who aspire.

The seeker creates the approach. Understanding guides the approach. As understanding develops and deepens so the approach changes.

When understanding is what it should be the approach ends. It is not needed any more.

The journey undertaken is created by thought, continues while given impetus by thought and ends when thought ends. It is a journey through the maze created by thought in its desire to come to a culminating point.

Thought projects a mental Mt Everest to give its movement a greater emphasis. The mountain withdraws only when thinking withdraws.

Thought and what it sets out to do go hand in hand. There is not one without the other.

Lodged in explanations, ways and means, thought stays there. It exercises itself at will, admires its own movement and reassures itself as to the importance of effort and endeavour.

Right understanding deals with all of this and cleans out the confusion thought creates.

Thought then abides in right understanding, becomes its willing servant, a pliant extension of that understanding.

teena candle softRight understanding is natural, spontaneous. It flows from moment to moment. There is no explanation for it. It is. When thought abdicates its role as master, right understanding naturally arises.

It’s like the rising of the sun. When the world of thought turns and sinks out of sight, the sun of right understanding shines through and lights up the way to clearer, saner, enlightened living.

 


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Must we live in fear?

By Joseph Raffa

IT’S the 21st century and still the human race lives in fear. Fear of economic loss, of molestation, violent intrusion and disruption; of diseases and sicknesses difficult or impossible to cure; of a host of dangers, seen and imagined.

Fear stalks the corners of the mind ever ready to surface. Is this the devil in our midst with its insidious infiltration of the mind – this destroyer of confidence and equanimity? How it spreads like a forest fire, spark igniting spark until a conflagration of fear burns its way through the human psyche.

Is fear then to be the emperor of the human race? Must it sit on the throne of human endeavour and direct the course of human actions? Alarm bells ringing all the time – over political intentions, environmental changes, economic changes, disturbing events worldwide – anything that disrupts the self from its state of sleepy acceptance.

Which way to go to avoid the devilish intrusion of fear? Some will say, “Head for God. Turn to religion.” Others say, “Rely on reason.” It’s all been tried. Intellectual endeavour in the forefront of the battle but still fear lurks in the recesses of the human mind refusing to be eradicated by the intentions and efforts of the mind.

What to do? Give up the fight? Acknowledge defeat? Live with the devil? Make some kind of accommodation? No way. We would be slaves forever, never free, never in control of our lives. Fear would rule the human roost and we would do its bidding.

Why then does it rise, unbidden, unwanted, to torment the human race? Seek the answer to this in the nature of the self, in the drive for self protection of all the things that pertain to the self.

The solution lies in understanding the self. Fear cannot live in the light of a clear understanding nor take root and flourish well. What brings this understanding, this surging light into our lives? Is it born of a mind afflicted by fear – riddled with its effects? Such a mind is incapable of clear-view seeing and must act from a basis of being fear controlled.

Influenced by fear, the mind cannot deal with fear – not completely. It can try to over-ride, overlay with its own conception of not fear – explain, analyse, but this is not the same as a fear-free state.

This comes only when the mind realises that it is the fear, the creation of it and the expression of it; that it is born of the mind’s misunderstanding of its own nature and the nature of experience. Not only realising this but standing aside in a sense and not interfering.

This allows an underlying “deepness” to come through – something other than the mind – to absorb and banish the fear. And, as long as this “deepness” is active with its power to integrate the human expression into its own nature, fear has little opportunity of claiming a major foothold in the mind, ever again.

 


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The choice to change

by Joseph Raffa

In every human field change is inevitable. The old established attitudes are constantly being modified or rejected and new ones take their places.

The mind has a tendency to become fixed in traditional or habitual ways and resists change that appears too radical.

But change will not be denied its opportunity. Through new generations comes the support to take society in a different direction.

What people fully support will prevail. New arrangements may have little of this in the beginning. But if the changes are seen to have value, slowly the support comes.

It may seem that leaders, whatever their role in life, initiate change. But it is the readiness of people to embrace a new direction that determines the success or otherwise of the initiatives that leaders put into motion.

So, whatever issue surfaces into public awareness, the individual role is the final arbiter of what, for a time, holds centre stage in human affairs.


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A Gull Returns to the Silence

by Joseph Raffa

The struggles of the dying gull were sad to see. Borne helplessly towards the shore by a gentle breeze and the flowing motion of the water, it drifted, wings outstretched, head hanging limply backwards, beak open.  Now and again it made a desperate attempt to flutter its limp wings but the effort was beyond it.
It floated almost lifeless, rising and falling with the gentle swells, eyes closed, waiting, waiting for the peace of death to claim it and take it back to where it belonged – back to the great unknown.
I sensed a resignation about the gull, a subdued acceptance of the inevitable as if the force drawing it away from the world it knew was too powerful to be resisted.
With the patience engendered by the Eternal it awaited the end while its brother and sister gulls wheeled above or floated nearby, slightly agitated, knowing in the way that birds do that death was at hand.
The universal, knowing no death but only Eternal life enfolded the feeble gull into its all-embracing silence, absorbing it deep into the being from whence it first arose with wings of joy, eager to be active.  It lived fully as a bird does, sharing with its kind the feel of sun and wind, the sight of wave following wave, floating on the crests or flying high, wheeling and turning, diving arrow-like into the water, rising with a fish in its beak.
Surely life has consequence even for a bird if it has tasted all this even for only long point_522a short time. Is there need for deep sadness at its going?  Nature prepared all for it, fashioned its wings, its body, supplied the seafood it hunted, air to fly in, the sea to rest on and the seashore to forage along.  That which has given so much surely cannot be condemned for taking it all back if that is the way things are.
So, my children, put away your sadness.  The gull has gone but others remain to delight us with their ways. All things are lonely in death if one gazes only on the outer face of nature’s handiwork but to those who are blessed with awareness of her inner being there is the conviction of a deep togetherness even in death.
(Written after our young children were distressed at the sight of a gull dying slowly on an almost placid river.  It was too far out to retrieve so we had to let it be.)