Towards the Silent Heart

kitchen table philosophy


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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.

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Is it beyond understanding?

 

leaves-1804646_1920.jpgCall it grace, enlightenment, realisation.  It happens, and because of this happening, so individuals set to and in spite of the limitations of language, as much as they can convey to others, they do so.

By Joseph Raffa

There have been imaginative attempts to explain the creation of the universe.  The explanation in the bible is shrouded in difficulty.  The language does not clearly convey the how.

Science comes up with its own explanation – the big bang theory – also very difficult to understand.  Scientists are reasonably satisfied with it but will humans ever clearly understand the way of it?

We are on the wrong side of the process, on the outside as it were, trying to look back with a mind conditioned by sense-based experience.  To such a mind, one thing proceeds from another, known cause to observable effect.  This is how the mind explains phenomena.

For a state of non-existence to precede existence doesn’t make sense.  Religion goes back to the pre-existence of God as the cause of the universe.  Science goes back to a compact ball of dense matter – or is it energy and electrical particles? – suspended in space.  Then, a big bang – expansion – evolution – hey presto! Stars, planets, the universe of appearance forming, reforming, our sun, the earth, life, more evolution. Along came homo sapiens and here we are today, with the kind of mind trying to find absolute answers.

And in the way the mind thinks of it, none of it makes completely satisfying sense so that doubts do not linger. Change there has certainly been – construction and destruction.  But overall the process continues to maintain and sustain itself.  A strange energy, on the move as the universal expression.  What we see via the senses is our side of the universal presentation.

Science expands the senses with its instruments and the scene changes.  Solid matter disappears, gives way to electrical particles and these in turn to energy in motion (whatever that may be ).

Coming to rest in a final reality dances out of reach of the space/time mind.  The more it tries to grasp, the more a tangible reality slips away.  And why?  Is it because the mind tries to project a reality that does not include itself?  The picture it tries to construct is one that appears to a separate observer.  How far can you go in this manner?

Surely the final step is one in which observer and observed merge in the one and same reality or, is the observing mind to be put on a pedestal apart, as something that preceded creation and stays apart?  It is just not possible to observe the state that precedes creation when reality is of one nature without difference or distinction.  Separate points of reference haven’t been set up.  Where then is the dense ball of matter or the observer to know and acknowledge its existence?  For us the universe does not begin until we are aware of it.  How can we question anything we are not aware of?

We not only need a universe we know but we ourselves have to be capable of knowing.  It’s because we separate the two that we compound our trouble in understanding.  We put the self on one side of the fence and the universe on the other.  And we try to fit the evidence of universal existence into the framework of our limited understanding.

Stretch out understanding as much as we will, the reality of it will escape us until separation vanishes and then the unbroken reality of universal existence reigns supreme, just as it now is, as it has always been.  Time, space, separation, life, these emanate out of it.  Such is its nature.

Before the spontaneous arisal of creation – untouched by time, unobserved and unobservable, the Eternal existed.  What we see and know of the universe, the changing face of life, forms and energy, this is the reflection cast in the mirror of space and time – all a reflection of our own state of awareness.

And that in turn is grounded in the universal awareness,  The Eternal is a uniform sensitivity.  No personal sense resides there, neither human or greater God.  No wind blows, nor sun shines.  No bird calls.  The movement of life is still, deeply still.  Starry systems, vast nebulae, the flow of energy, none of these mar the serenity of such repose, nor disrupt the tranquility of Being.

Our language fails to convey this essence.  The mind deals with concepts, ideas, appearance, not with the reality as such for this includes the mind within its nature.  Where all is one and distinction is dead what can be said to make it clear to another?

Yet, when thought is still and sensations cease to rise, when the observer loses distinction, that’s when it becomes clear and not till the mind returns to the world it knows does it realise the wonder of what has happened.

Call it grace, enlightenment, realisation.  It happens, and because of this happening, so individuals set to and in spite of the limitations of language, as much as they can convey to others, they do so.

And they leave it to something deep within those they address to respond in like fashion and discover the way of it.


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Climb the Spiritual Mountain

by Joseph Raffa
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Image courtesy marcuso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are people who love to climb mountains.  When asked why,

some may say “Because it is there”.  There is another kind of

mountain that others seek to climb – the mountain of Ultimate

Reality.  They do not know why, only that they have to go.

The mountains of time are well defined, the destination sure, the

equipment is available.  Ultimate Reality has no defined pathway

leading to it, the equipment necessary is the nature that we are.

This journey we travel alone.  Gurus can only take us so far,

then we must be left to face our own uncertainty, our weaknesses

and fears, whatever we are.

We move this way, we move that, try this, try that.  When we come

to cul-de-sacs we turn, retrace our steps then start again, over

and over.  Gradually it dawns that we are journeying through

ourselves, that we create the obstacles and the mountain to

climb.  When we’ve exhausted our efforts, when we are at the end

of the line with no more stations to travel to, we pause, and sit

and let go.

Effort falls away – everything is shed – the tiredness, the

struggle, the striving.  We just let go and then suddenly we are

there on top of the mountain.  We have been transported all in

one instant and we are basking in the full sunshine of Being.

Our journey is over, without sense of movement or achievement.

We didn’t do a thing except to be still.  That’s it, just still –

the stillness of a mind not seeking, not striving.  a sudden

unexpected, unexplainable stillness and we are on the top of the

mountain.

We know what we come from and we know where we are going.  Never again will we be

lost in time.  We are home – home where we belong.

 

 


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What is enlightenment?

by Joseph Raffa

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Image by samarttiw FreeDigitalPhotos

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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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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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.