Towards the Silent Heart

kitchen table philosophy


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As the early means of mechanical conveyance and flight were one thing in the early stages, only to be superceded by later models, so the means of intellectual conveyance change to keep in tune with changing concepts of language.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


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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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A perfect expression

by Joseph Raffa

ID-10029114Old 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.