We spend much of our time building our material houses.
What then of our spiritual house? Which gives the greater
protection from the storms and tempests of the mind?
Category Archives: Everyday life
The heart whispers
Kitchen Table Philosopher Joseph Raffa asks if you will listen to the whispers of the heart or stay anchored in mind misery.
Ever got to a stage in life where you feel jaded, drained of energy, without any enjoyment to lighten up your life? Then face it friend, you are on a treadmill where the daily grind has taken over. And who or what is responsible? You are. You’ve allowed the mind to take over with its demands and desires, its over-riding ideas to do this and that, its drive for more and more – security, comfort, nicknacks, gadgets. Oh, there is no end to the demands of the mind.
So, we listen to the mind, going where it tells us, doing what it demands. We ignore how we feel deep down, ignore the need for rest and relaxation, to be lighthearted. There comes a time where we get to the end of the line, when we’ve had enough, when we are so saturated with the mind and its persistent endeavours to completely control the course of our life that we want to throw it all away and feel fresh and brand new again.
Some opt for an outer change, a holiday, change jobs or homes, rearrange routines to try to unload some of the burden. You may have tried some or all of this. But take a look at what is going on. It’s the same old tired troublemaker in charge, in control, trying to jazz up a life that has gone stale. The wear and tear mind, fed up with the results of what it has created, is off in a different direction in the search for a pick me up, for a return to the fun it had long ago when life was young and new and a great adventure.
Outer change serves for a while. We feel somewhat rested and interest is renewed. Then that same old bugbear takes over again, the wear and tear mind, the know-all mind, the source and cause of all our troubles is back to lead us down the same weary pathway. And why? Because it doesn’t know any better. Concern drives the mind. Self protection drives the mind. It’s always busy looking after all the demands of the self. There is no peace, no joy and little rest while little mind is in charge. Mind is the ruthless overseer, cracking the whip of pressure, driving the body onwards, subduing any feelings to be otherwise than on the go, go, go.
Until from within, the cry goes out, “Enough of this.” Tears that act as a temporary release may flow, then a tug of war may follow. The inner insists on a change of direction but old man mind, knowing nothing else urges onwards in the usual way and clings to everything it is familiar with in spite of the pain. There must come a time when we tire of mind, of the thinking, the doing, the acting, all the busy stuff the mind does in defence of and to expand the self. This is an indication that the heart is beginning to stir, that it wants to be listened to. The heart speaks not in the language of thoughts and words but with feelings, with longings for an expansive life uncluttered by the rubbish left by the mind.
Will we listen then, to the whispers of the heart or, will we stay anchored in the mind and the misery it creates? In life we need both mind as the doer, the action side and the heart as the source of renewal. From the heart comes gentle, caring living, the appreciation of the wonder, the beauty of life, of all the magic moments that unfold from day to day. It’s not that the mind means to mess things up. It’s just lost its way. Like a child lost in the wonderland of time, it runs here, there, everywhere, eager to have everything, to taste what it can – quickly. The heart acts as a counterbalance to all this driving action. It’s like a rider who pulls on the reins to check the erratic breakaway gallop of a horse.
The trouble is, the mind has been in control for so long. It gets itself into trouble then when it has had enough it wants to get itself out. Fair enough. But the mind is the troublemaker. Wherever it applies itself, sooner or later it comes to a situation where it is confronted with the results of its own actions. When it acts from a deep understanding of its own behaviour, all is well. Understanding then, is the key to right living. This follows from listening, from paying attention to the ways of the mind, to the flow of thinking and feeling, to everything thrown up by the mind.
Not from constant thinking about it, reading and memorising which keeps the mind endlessly preoccupied. The listening that yields understanding cannot be described. It happens when there is natural interest. That is what is so beautiful about it. Mind with its thinking, its pressure and pushing for results doesn’t bring it about. It’s a response from within, when the heart stirs to give a helping hand to a mind caught up in turmoil, torment and confusion.
When the mind has truly had enough, when it sees that it cannot continue along the same channels that lead nowhere special, it yields and comes to a complete standstill. Not even a thought interferes – then in that moment the heart has a chance to act and help the mind understand. Should this happen, you’ll know what it is to feel new again, to be young and carefree, lighthearted – all the qualities we long for that somehow we have denied in our intensive efforts to look after the self according to self disposition.
Joseph’s spiritual writing is now available from Amazon.com and other online retailers.
What is wrong with us?
Joseph Raffa, the Kitchen Table Philosopher, asks “Where is love?”
Isn’t it remarkable how quickly humans can change their environment. Need housing or industrial estates, harbours constructed, dams built, cities and towns refashioned, forests cleared, whatever it is, mind and technology will do it. Out with the old or the natural order, in with the new. Often this is done regardless of how citizens feel. Rarely is there unanimous consent. People are divided according to how they are affected. But change marches on: the energy in mankind surges onwards, ever onwards.
Not always is it used for useful purposes. Destruction too, runs riot – cities destroyed, people massacred as technology geared to war and death dealing is unleashed. What a mixture mankind is, capable of love and caring and also of hate, prejudice and cruelty. And always there is controversy on who is right, who is wrong, even on how best to constructively develop and meet human needs in an orderly way.
It makes you wonder, what is wrong with us? We argue and fight, abuse other races and nature, treat others with little regard or respect. Where people differ or there is deep resistance to change, bring in the bulldozers, the police, the army, enforce political will nevertheless. What’s it matter that people are hurt, maimed, killed or jailed in the process.
Troubles erupt here and there, refugees flee, the bombers fly on their deadly missions, the military mind takes over and mayhem shatters the former fragile peace.
Haven’t they heard of “Love they neighbour” or, “Do to others what you would prefer done to yourself?” No way, just ride roughshod over deep human feelings for gentle and peaceful living. Justify yourselves in any way you will for what you do but it’s wrong, wrong, wrong. How can we be living rightly when so much agony, contention and controversy surges like a raging river in flood?
Sincerely I ask, “Where is love, that wonderful quality that lifts humans out of their misery, banishes conflict and indifference to another’s pain and brings about harmony in human relationships?”
Where indeed, as force, coercion and political power continue to be used to settle human differences.
- The Kitchen Table philosophy series of Joseph’s spiritual writing is available now from Amazon.com and other online retailers.
The way it is
Joseph Raffa, the Kitchen Table Philosopher, contemplates the routines of everyday life.
Our lives are a ritual of prearranged patterns. Every morning it begins anew. We rise, wash and go through our routines. Blinds are raised, windows are opened to let in fresh air. We dress according to taste – light and colourful for the summer, warm clothing for the winter.
Every season has its chores but overall, some things do not change. Breakfast, dinner, tea, washing up and shopping. Reading the daily paper if that is your preference.
Monday to Friday has its own tempo. Work for many, except for the unemployed, the retired – whose time is their own – and the children. Some are cradled in their mothers’ arms or pushed about in prams and strollers. Those old enough head for school on foot, bike, bus or car.
The seasons dictate their own patterns in dress, food, entertainment and behaviour. Sometimes the ritual is broken by sickness, accident, or an unexpected change. But, whatever it is that disrupts the orderly flow of our lives, once it’s over, we return to the patterns we are comfortable with, if we can.
Being human, we love the complex patterns of our lives. And we like guidelines to direct our travel. We have our web of relationships – our home, which is the centre of our living and our refuge – family connections and a host of gadgets to make life comfortable.And that’s the way it goes, a mixture of happy and sad, until death drags us away.
Rituals then, don’t mean a thing any more.
by Joseph Raffa
Living a spiritual life does not have to mean retreating from the everyday world to a place of solitude to devote every waking hour to quiet contemplation of the mystery of existence.
Anyone can begin the search for a higher meaning to life while immersed in the many activities of daily living.
Shift attention from the outer world and venture inwards to seek the source of what we are rather than what we believe ourselves to be, for true spirituality comes about from self-understanding.
Transformation takes place when we discover our true nature and all it takes is an eager heart to start on a journey of self-discovery that will change your life from the inside out.
The Kindle edition is available here.
Build cities for harmonious living
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.
What is enlightenment?
by Joseph Raffa
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.
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.
In the silence of being we discover that which stills every
sound – the sound of breathing, the heart beating, even the
sound of thinking.
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.
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.
A perfect expression
by Joseph Raffa
Old eyes, bored and tired, look out on the changing world and see only what old eyes can see. They see the shadow of death just around the corner and the constant surge of decay.
New eyes look at the world in a new way and see magic. There is magic in every precious moment of living. Strange magic!
The magic is in the birth of a new life. In the baby that lies, sleeping so sweetly in its mother’s arms. In time, the magic takes wings and the first smile breaks across a tiny face.
The mother smiles back and the magic brightens. They talk, these two, the language of a new love. The baby’s lips searchingly nuzzle at the mother’s well rounded breast. She bares the breast and teases the nipple along those tiny lips. Soft skin to even softer lips. She talks soothingly, gently.
The baby’s lips open and close around the nipple. Rounded breast and the face of a babe, contented together. A perfect expression of the magic.
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