Towards the Silent Heart

kitchen table philosophy


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Am I or am I not?

 

Kitchen table philosopher JOSEPH RAFFA urges us to question our ideas of what we are.

Love brings the fresh, vibrant growth, the joyous outpouring of springtime. Love also brings the decay, the fading colours, the dying leaves of autumn. Without death there is no renewal.  Yet mind holds to the past, fearful of letting go and surrounds itself with images.

Look back and you can see.  A long trail of familiar memories rises to greet you. “This is me,” you say, “the core of what I am, myself, my journey.”

I was the child playing here and there – fresh as new spring growth, eager to break out and grow. Absorbed, I grew into every phase that opened out.  Small child into older child.  Older child into adolescent teenager, teenager into adult. I took all this to be what I am.

I see, I feel, I taste.  Life’s experiences are my playing field. What am I without what I see, without this long trail of memories? Am I nothing?  Look back, look now.  And what of tomorrow should I still be here? My friend, my body will still be with me, greeting me as usual.

How the idea of what I am haunts me.  Am I flesh, memories interlinked, accepted and acknowledged? Self here, self there, myself, me – what a torment. What is it in me that holds to substance, to form, to flowing experience? Am I nothing without all this.  Or do I still exist? What do I hold to?  Why do I hold on?  Is it another of thought’s creations, an urgent desire driven by a fear of coming to an end as substance, as form? So that something of what I am continues in some way?

And when I say “I am part of the All, of a Universal Oneness.”  Is this not thought reaching out to establish continuity in the Absolute? There is no home for thought in this – none whatsoever.  It abides in silent contemplation.  There is no establishment in this of thought created separation or conceived existence. Thought is a lesser state, beginning and ending.  A projection from a secret source – itself unknown, its creations known.

How then can one speak of it?  Draw back into the depths of what you are.  Be the unknown for a moment. Then, you will understand.

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

 

 

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When words no longer matter

Kitchen table philosopher Joseph Raffa asks if we can set words aside and let the heart lead.

Do people ever tire of words and complex descriptions?  Listen to the flow, to the accumulation, as it issues forth.  We draw on it to explain, to communicate, to support our actions and standing in life.  It pours out, an energetic stream of words, expertly put together in convincing and logical sequence.  Very impressive, depending on the eloquence and education of the person expounding on issues of interest. Every person has learnt something of the art of verbal expression, has passed a period of apprenticeship in which the use of language has been mastered.  Then, when the need arises or a challenge, so the outpouring begins.

The Christian is programmed with the Bible and all else that is relevant to such a background.  Buddhism comes in with its own particular influences.  The Chinese with opposing yin and yang concepts.  Science adds to the score with increasingly complex symbols and explanations.  A wide variety of contributions, many intricate and difficult to understand.

What has happened to simplicity and directness?  Why do humans travel a tortuous pathway of expression abounding in verbal complexities that surge into action like a dazzling fireworks display? Every social establishment has its collected lore, its authoritative reference library.  This, the mind absorbs, every word digested then filed away as a basis for action when the need arises.

Plants grow, seasons change, the universe goes through its movements without a word being involved. 

How did life ever manage to be what it is – plants grow, seasons change, the universe go through its movements without a word being involved?  Yet humans can’t seem to do without them. Fascinating, the movement of words out of the human expression. And often very wearing, whether its talk-talk or thought-thought.   So much so, that when we’ve had enough of chatter talk, of the mind and its intellectual expression, we head for quiet places of natural beauty, maybe down to the beach to let a fresh breeze offer some relief, or into the quiet of meditation to escape from the buzz bee of chattering talk.

And even there, although we may be quiet outwardly, inwardly, so accustomed is the medium of language, that thinking stirs, regardless of need and we chatter to ourselves, verbalising what we observe.  It functions like breathing, has become second nature, this business of language and thinking.  We rely on it for communication, to make things clear, as guidelines for ideas and actions.  Without it we would be lost, unable to function as we do.  Not only without words but also without the special techniques the mind invents to regulate its approach to life.

Much of learning is the learning of technique.  So now we have the how mind, the what, where, why and when mind, the cause and effect mind.  Not the mind of love, of simplicity and directness, but the complicated mind, the problem mind. Through the mind, we take care, explore the options, exercise choice to advantage, count the cost before we proceed in matters considered important.  We are more concerned with the ways and the means, with the outer show and organisation, with preparation, methods and techniques, with protection before we move.  We want maps detailing the dangers ahead, the obstacles, the possible returns.  Not for the mind an expression that does not take care of the self in every way – that does not meet with self-approval or accord with the self’s inclinations and desires.

Trust, to the mind, needs help; faith needs its support.  So the mind sets to and provides its own protection, its own support base.  And words and reasons are the background basis of this support.   Blithely we move along a trail of words, reassuring ourselves with the accumulated knowledge that we are doing very well, thank you.  The mind knows it all, about life, the universe, how to do this and that.  Complex modern living reduced to learnable techniques.  No need to be crippled.  We can learn to be masters of ourselves, of our surroundings and fashion our lives as we will.

In the process, we’ve created experts for every social activity. Our accumulated background of techniques, of information and know-how goes back a long, long way and is now very complex.  So too, is the spin off in relationship problems and behaviour – the dark side of the human expression that will not fade away in spite of our expanding intellectual development.

And, when we move to consider the disturbing aspects, of what disrupts harmony, so we collect the available data, bring the experts in, determine conclusions, directives and future courses of action to resolve the unwanted situations.   And somehow miss out, for difficulties follow us wherever we go, whatever we do and not yet do we blithely move down life’s highway without disturbing and distressing things happening.  Or without feeling threatened by events or other people at times.

Could it be that mind is too overloaded with complicated ways now so that it cannot clearly see how to proceed – too concerned with looking  after the self, with the how and the preparation which have become more important than spontaneous, integrated action? Should we bypass the mind in our deliberations because it is too busy looking after its own little concerns, too busy protecting its standpoint and is not aware how to proceed from a universal standing?

Do we have to move slowly, a step at a time, each carefully considered while the mind determines how its position will be affected?  Will we ever break free of the restraints, imposed by the mind from its background accumulation, and head in a new direction, making a completely new beginning and forge a new approach to life in the process?  We have the means within.  This is natural, not acquired, not gained through experience.  It is something that has always been there within the human expression.

Call it what you will, the spiritual, God, the Universal, but please, put names and words aside and also the complicated mind of time and discover directly what it is we are writing about. Just be with it.  Let the Sunshine of Life come through.  Don’t worry about the how, nor ask for the way.  Let the heart lead. Move as one with the heart.  Don’t be seduced by the mind into staying with the ways, means and explanations.

Move – fellow humans – move.  The Sunshine is waiting.

* Joseph’s collected spiritual writings are now available in the Kitchen Table Philosopher series. Available in print and digital versions from Amazon.com and other online retailers.

 


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In listening, we learn

 

by Joseph Raffa

Weaving its way through history is an inspirational thread of human endeavour.  A story of humans who have reached out for the spiritual stars and touched the Divine.  They have returned, afire and astir to urge their fellow humans to do likewise and come back to the land of the spiritually alive.

They have not always been greeted with open arms.  They have been scorned, ridiculed, tortured, even murdered.  Yet, they have not yielded in their missions.  Such was the support, the strength, the love and understanding that came their way.  They were truly people of steel – spiritual steel.  Resilient and bright, like polished metal cast from a special mould – a universal One.

Corrosion and corruption are not part of their expression.  Not a trace of the self marrs the inner serenity of what they are. They are beyond all that.  They are the happy people, stirred by a great love for mankind.  Not for them the ways of a mind estranged from its source.  They live in the heart, the Silent Heart of mankind – the Universal Heart, true home of all that lives and breathes, of everything that is.

Should they pass your door, either in human form or in the writings they have left, pause from your busy work or play schedule, listen deeply to what they have to offer and in the silence that follows, join them in a holy communion.  You will be surprised at what opens out, at what you have within you.  Yet, you knew it not.  Not only surprised, but joyful too, oh so joyful.  How your spirit will lift and dance.  Like a child who delights in the world about, so you will take off, young and full of bounce.

The old will be brushed aside – dissolved.  The ways of thought, encrusted attitudes, the scales of time – out of the old skin you will step, resplendent in shining Being.  You will glow with the Sunshine of Love and marvel at the magic of it.  The methods, the ways, the preparations, the rituals and traditions of the mind do not come into it.  Mind is out.  Heart is in.  The Sunshine of Love is beyond explanations.  It IS.  You hear.  It IS.   Just BE and you will discover for yourselves.  Do not ask why, what or wherefore.  That is the mind wanting to come into it, wanting to get into the act.

Little mind with its thoughts, body, face, appearance, parading as the self in time, the knower, the troublemaker of time.  It wants to continue.  If you listen with this mind, you will stay anchored in mind, in time.  The Sunshine will pass you by.   Rather listen with your whole being, not with the ears of time.  This kind of listening cannot be practised, imagined or thought. It just happens when there is deep interest and you are deeply absorbed – just deeply absorbed.

Everything you appear to be, every known aspect, fades.  It is a delightful moment of discovery.  Of what?  Do not ask.  Mind cannot know.  All that matters is, that it happens.  Then you’ll see what it’s all about.  Your song will join the universal song.  The refrain will go out and out, without end.  You will be one of the happy people without a care.  Your heart will be full and overflowing.  What you have, you will give out for others to share with you.

For love is uncontainable and reaches out to embrace all.  That is the way of it.  It cannot be otherwise.  Such is its nature – to share with – to bless all until all are happy.

Love’s blessings on you.

To read more of Joseph’s spiritual writing, visit his Amazon author page. https://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Raffa/

Image by Aaron Cabrera from Pixabay

 

 


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An Easter interlude

 

by Joseph Raffa

Image: Gerd Altman, Pixabay

Good Friday – the day the body of Christ was crucified. Little did the perpetrators know what they were setting in motion.  They believed they were protecting their positions of

power and authority.  Were they not the religious trustees of the day – the guardians of religious traditions?

And wasn’t all this threatened by this Galilean, this supposed performer of miracles, this healer of the sick?  Why, it was even said that he raised a man from the dead, brought him back to life

before his grieving family and friends.

My, how silly can you be.  It’s just not possible.  The dead are dead.  Or they were in those days without the techniques of modern medicine.  Now-a-days, with injections of drugs, heart

massage, artificial resuscitation and maybe even an electrical charge, it sometimes happens that the seemingly dead are brought

back to life.

Still, in those days it was some feat.  So the Galilean became quite a centre of interest wherever he walked, talked and performed his miracles.

What a nuisance he became to the religious authorities of the day.  Not intentionally of course.  He just went about doing his Father’s business, (as he so simply put it) dispensing love and

truth regardless of the consequences.

Perhaps it wouldn’t have been so bad if he didn’t mention in an offhand way that he and the Father were one.  In the eyes of the guardians of the day, this was blasphemy of the highest order.

So, off with his head or, as was the delightful custom in this particular place and time – off to the cross with him.  But wait – a whipping first, just to add injury to insult – mock the man

and what he represented, then leave him there, high in the air, exposed to the elements till nature took its course.

The trouble was, after it was all over, he stubbornly refused to stay dead.  No – he had to compound the situation by coming back to life, (just as he had forecast, mind you).  And everything

about the man, his life, his words, his actions, the miracles, the crucifixion, refused to die away too.

In fact, what the priests tried to destroy took on a new lease of life, spread from that centre of a beginning, to travel around the world.  Much like a tiny seed grows into a mighty Oak tree.

Which just goes to show that Divine love and truth are irrepressible elements in human nature and in the universe – that they will persist as long as the universe and life persists.

And even beyond that for they have their source in that which is imperishable, in that which is sacred and unprofaned.

Christ came from that source, was one with it as indeed all things and all life are one with it.  All he did was speak the truth and for that he was crucified, by the blind, the arrogant

and the ignorant.

But the spark that took off then is with us still.  It burns like a flame in the hearts of those who travel inwards, who rediscover the Cosmic Christ within.

That’s what it was all about – to bring mankind together with truth, love and the Universal Nature.  So the cross, instead of signifying the end became a guiding beacon, a signpost for

mankind to rediscover itself, to disentangle itself from its home in time and find its true home in that strange nature beyond

space and time.

From Beyond the Cross, The Christ Collection by Joseph Raffa

Available in various links from

books2read.com/u/3yZA8p

 

 


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Spiritual learning is difficult

Joseph Raffa, the Kitchen Table Philosopher, contemplates the difficulty of spiritual learning

What is disturbing about some of the New Age publications is that they are overflowing with bright, confident ads suggesting how easy a spiritual awakening is. Even the articles tend to glow likewise but these rarely deal with the ugly, the disturbing, the self-acquisitive features and mediocrity of the mind.

With the intention of improving the quality of their lives many build their homes close to nature, or surround themselves with green-filled gardens. New approaches are tried to awaken the latent spirituality but until the human expression is anchored in spiritual stillness, it will not draw on what it needs to keep the darkness of the mind at bay.

The journey to our spiritual heartland is the most difficult of all. It is not always smooth sailing, all sweetness and light, joy and sunshine. The mind throws up too many obstacles for that, is too prone to create difficulties through its self-centred obstinacy. Often, the journey turns out to be a travel through much that is disturbing, dark and certainly self-centred, taking the self through all the shades of darkness the mind is capable of.

For sure, the light breaks through strongly at times and irradiates the mind with its own brand of sunshine. If this didn’t happen we would never see our way clear at any time. But the self is persistent in its return. It has so much capacity to disrupt, to re-establish itself in its own right and this is not quickly diminished regardless of expectations or intentions.

Spiritual learning is a long, slow hike through difficult country, through rough mental and emotional stretches with wonderful splashes of sunshine in between. In no way do we dodge the ugly, distressing side of human nature. If we do not face and understand the disturbing features we reflect, they will always surface and hinder the free-flowing expression of our spiritual nature.

Be prepared then, those who would travel the spiritual path. The way is lined with pitfalls, with rough travel over difficult terrain. Inevitably, because we are creatures of the Sunshine, the brightness will come through and triumph over the dark overtones cast by the mind in its individual journey through life. Just do not expect to escape scot free, without a severe mauling from time to time. A mauling thrown up by the mind’s persistence to dominate its own movement in its own way in defiance of the higher spiritual directive, which decrees otherwise.

If you are interested in reading more of Joseph’s spiritual writing, visit his Amazon author page: https://amzn.to/2Abk9w6


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A call to home

 

by Joseph Raffa

Green pastures. Mankind’s dream of a vision splendid. Fields, lush with greenness. Crops ripening with the promise of a rich harvest. Water holes, pools, lakes, full of crystal clear water. Mountain streams gushing merrily downhill. Horses, cows, sheep, fat on winter pastures. Peace and wellbeing everywhere. Mankind dreams in the sunshine, nature resplendent in her seasonal offering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wake up mankind. The green pastures are not in time. They are timeless. Everywhere, the forces of the spiritual are gathering, converging on the earth. Mankind is ripe for a spiritual harvest, for a spiritual vision splendid. Generations of living in the arid deserts of the mind are coming to an end.

The universal heart is stirring, calling its human children back home, blossoming from within, touching those who are inwardly ready. Like a forest fire, burning from heart to heart, the spiritual awakening is spreading. Mankind is pregnant with wondrous possibilities. Ready to give birth to the new – to allow love an open passageway. The spiritual bulldozer is poised to clear away the old – the poisons of the past. The spiritual springtime of Mankind is dawning.

The call is going out – growing stronger. Stirred, humans hear the call. They are leaving their homes in time, eagerly moving to embrace the timeless. And what a meeting it will be. The celebration – in joy, in smiling faces, in spiritual radiance, will be wondrous to behold. The urgency within is growing, growing, growing.

Come back home. Come back home. Come back home to the timeless pastures of the great unknown.

If you’d like to read more of Joseph’s spiritual writing, visit his author page at the following link:

https://amzn.to/2Abk9w6

 


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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.