Towards the Silent Heart

kitchen table philosophy


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Enchanting Moments Alone

Kitchen Table Philosopher Joseph Raffa contemplates the still moments that arise to embrace the heart when we seek out quiet times in nature.

Where the surging water ripples and flows

Over the scattered mass of boulders

Spread across the earth

In jumbled disarray

 

Here, far away from the grasping hands

Of a time ridden civilisation,

Sheltered by a surround of tree-covered hills

The placid beat of a loving nature

Softly swirls over the landscape.

 

Soft winds warmed by the sun

Drift in and out of shadowy cover

Caressing gently into movement

Massed branches of green coloured leaves.

 

‘Tis enchantment indeed how the sound of the wind

Blends in with bird calls

And with the incessant chirps

Of a busy insect chorus.

 

Perfume, set adrift by love

Flows from brightly coloured flowers.

A heady, sweet scented aroma

An irresistible lure

Inviting fertilisation.

 

The delightful sounds of water in a hurry

Bubbling, swirling, gurgling

Its watery way

Over, around and between

Trees and upthrust boulders.

 

Where the dampness

Spreads its moistured carpet,

There, the mosses thrive and grow

Softly yielding beneath the naked feet.

 

To sit on a boulder and listen

To the play

Of nature’s musical instruments

Is sheer delight.

 

 

Memories of crowded cities fade

The discordant sounds of production machines

Do not intrude

And the competitive world

Of striving humans

Is temporarily forgotten.

 

The spirit of a loving nature

Advances slowly, into the heart,

Bypassing the mind

And its urgent need to reason.

 

The vista of growing plants,

The surround of unspoilt nature

Stirs a latent sensitivity, deep within.

Silenced by the wonder

The mind is deeply stilled.

 

And out of the heart

A great love comes a-creeping

Caressing, soothing, all embracing

 

The sights and sounds of nature

Vanish mysteriously

Into the depths of love

For a fleeting, delicate moment

Of sheer enchantment.

 

Joseph’s collected spiritual writing is now available in a series of books from Amazon.com and other online retailers.

You might like to try Beside Still Waters. This beautiful collection of essays touches on the universal search for meaning and inspires readers to reach out for the still waters of the spirit.

The human heart longs for peace and harmony. It seeks a restful haven from the relentless busyness of everyday life, drawing us to spend tranquil moments in natural surrounds that offer a brief respite from the hustle and bustle. There is a state of inner stillness, when the endless chatter of the mind has ceased, that a deeper understanding arises. These are the ‘still waters’ that bring new life to mankind, that lay claim to the heart and redirect the mind. These are the waters of peace, love and true togetherness that lift us up to divine heights of being and living.

 


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Seeking the great river of life

Kitchen Table Philosopher Joseph Raffa muses on the search for the mainstream that feeds all life.

I have wandered many tributaries in my search for the Great River of Life. But so many of the streams I travelled led only into marshes and swamps. Oh, how I searched for this mainstream,this Great River that feeds all of life.

I have journeyed forwards and backwards, moved in circles that go round and around; wandered the highways and byways, endlessly asking the what fors and whys. Questions – always unanswered – reasons – on the tip of my mind. But the Great River remains elusive, refuses to make itself known.

Demarcation is not for the River, its movement is not for the mind. No sun shines on its surface, no wind ripples in waves. Its course is not watery motion, its silence like that of the grave.Why then does the search continue and the questions continue to fall like leaves from the trees in Autumn, that litter the ground but to die?

In our journey are we then like a river, lost and out on its own, seeking to flow into Greatness, but doomed to wander alone? Why then do we urge for the Greatness, yet wander the streams of the mind; these streams that lead only to deserts – where they dry out, wither and die?

  • Joseph’s Kitchen Table Philosopher series of spiritual writing is available from Amazon.com and other online retailers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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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.

 

 


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What is enlightenment?

by Joseph Raffa

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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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Natural tranquility

By Joseph Raffa

ONE morning, I sat quietly in our garden on the dry sandy earth.  A fresh sea breeze stirred the leaves of the trees.  Where I sat, with my back to a background of ivy leaves I was somewhat sheltered from the wind by an apple tree and a large rosemary bush. I dwelt in the quietness, in the peaceful presence of leafy greenness.
The wind, filtering through the backdrop of tree and shrubs, flowed around my body, gently playing tug-of-war with my hair.  The fresh feel of the wind was part of the surrounding tranquility.  I gazed around at each part of the garden in turn – just looked, asking no what or whys of the plants or the doves walking nearby, foraging for food.
So many questions asked of life, so many explanations offered.  Life goes on unaffected by the quLeaf2esting mind.  The green world is untroubled by questions nor does it seek answers.  It is what it is, responding to the changing seasons, going through the cycle of seed, growth, fruiting, producing seed, then decay.  All without complaint.  Seemingly mute, it responds to sun, water and earth – acted upon by natural conditions and in turn leaving its mark on the environment.
The plant world goes its way without protest, without reaching out to be bigger or better by deliberate intent.  Self consciousness is not the way of plants.  This is the world of man and with it goes dissatisfaction, torment, the desire to expand, to be more – uncertainty and problems.
Would that we could not only be self conscious but also have the tranquility of a tree.  To be calm whatever storms come one’s way would be a considerable asset.  To take the buffeting then restore and repair the damage without inner loss would be commendable.  This is the inner poise reflected by the sages, by those whose hearts are anchored in sublime stillness.
This is a strength of a different kind.  Natural in its expression yet arising after years of selfless development.   The weakness of ego expression has been eradicated to be replaced by spiritual strength, by what issues forth from the Eternal.
Physical strength, outstanding success on the field of sport, in various walks of life are not its immediate purpose.  This may come to pass or may not.  It is considered irrelevant.  The sages are inwardly fixed on spiritual flowering, on indwelling in the universal.  Ego is banished, not permitted to hold centre stage of the human expression.
They live a strange life.  Outwardly similar, inwardly so different.  Serenely still, they stay anchored beyond thought, though outwardly active in time.  The tempests of time do not rage to disturb the inner equanimity.  The incoming tide is muted by love and turned away.  They have a rock-like stability untouched by the fracases of time.  Timeless their refuge – where they dwell.  They are the timeless ones, co-joined in a loving unity with the universal
Written by Joseph on December 10, 1995


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Why ask why?

by Joseph Raffa

ID-10066300What use is it to ask the why and wherefore?
Birds fly, grasses grow without fuss or bother.
Only man torments himself with questions. Life goes on regardless.
Does life, the universe need reasons for its existence? Or is this the invention of the human mind, bent on understanding in this way?
Apart from man, life does not reason why. There is birth, growth, decay and death but the system goes on and on.
Only man suffers the torment of an inquisitive reason. So, everything is wrapped in reason and man is satisfied.
Sometimes I wonder if modern man belongs to the natural order of things – or is he an aberration? Long ago, before his present state of displacement he was close to the earth and the sky, to the seasons, to the green world and the sea.
Then he broke away and became civilized with all its attendant problems and deep sense of separation. Now technologically competent and reason wise he seems lost in an alien world, divorced from the wonder that surrounds him.
More’s the pity. His mind is ever busy and overflowing with movement.
But what of the heart, of that inner need to return to the magic that once he knew? When the Springtime of Life was ablaze with wonder and he walked in kinship with all that surrounded him and asked not questions of why and what?
For there was no need for this. He was at one with the All that Is and that was all that mattered. All else was secondary and of lesser consequence to the expanded state of his exalted Being.


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Immerse yourself in still waters

Boats on Loch“The human heart longs for peace and harmony. It seeks a restful haven from the relentless busyness of everyday life, drawing us to spend tranquil moments in natural surrounds that offer a brief respite from the hustle and bustle. There is a state of inner stillness, when the endless chatter of the mind has ceased, that a deeper understanding arises. These are the ‘still waters’ that bring new life to mankind, that lay claim to the heart and redirect the mind. These are the waters of peace, love and true togetherness that lift us up to divine heights of being and living.

The still waters of the spirit are the deepest stillness of all. Those who go there lose touch with the senses, their surrounds, with the self they know, even with thinking and feeling.”

So writes Joseph Raffa in the foreword to Beside Still Waters, a beautiful collection of essays that touches on the universal search for meaning. His words inspire readers to reach out for the still waters of the spirit.

Beside_Still_Waters_Cover_for_KindleBeside Still Waters is available from Amazon.com in paperback and e-book formats.