Towards the Silent Heart

kitchen table philosophy


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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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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.

Everyday Spirituality
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.

 


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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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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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The Christ walked this way

An Easter contemplation
by Joseph Raffa

 

Out of the silence He came,

Out of that great love

that knows not beginning or end,

On a mission of mercy.

 

He walked amongst evil,

A shining star of truth,

Radiant with the lustre of the Strangeness.

And oh, how He talked in parables of matchless beauty.

 

In simplicity He walked, unaided by human hands.

His trust lay, not in the social tides of the day,

Nor in the traditional dogmas of the church of his time,

But in that Timeless Tide that dwells

where humans cannot go and remain human.

 

With the God of Love he supped in timeless splendour.

And when the cross reared its stark

and threatening shape across the troubled landscape,

Unflinching and unyielding

He hung there, naked and crucified.

 

Held there, not only by iron nails

hammered deep through feeble flesh

but by the tremendous strength of an immeasurable love.

A human symbol, of a love

that defied the ravages and evil grasp

of a particularly brutal time.

 

And then came the unbelievable –

The mysterious resurrection

When the Sunshine of Truth

briefly walked and talked again in that very same body

that had lain so deathly still.

Pierced by a spear thrust through and through

and finally left for dead

in a cold and lonely cave nearby.

 

But the power of a Great Love moved to reclaim

its blessed son in fulfilment of a promise made –

Arose He,

Walked He,

Talked He,

And those who saw marveled in wonder.

 

Then, like a phantom will-o-the wisp, He was gone,

physically gone, perhaps for good,

Leaving a mystery for people to talk and to think about,

And a lesson in love for all to learn from

and to reach out for,

If they too,

could only leave this home in the vale of time

and travel the timeless way

to that Strangeness that possessed him so.

 

  • From Beyond the Cross, Joseph’s moving collection of inspired pieces about Christ.

Cross coverAvailable from Amazon.com in paperback and e-book formats.