Towards the Silent Heart

kitchen table philosophy


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The wind and the wave

Kitchen Table Philosopher Joseph Raffa says there can only be harmony of movement when wind and wave are in unison.

Self is not easy to deal with. It is not an enemy to be vanquished in battle. It is a motion like a wave on an ocean.

We are the wind that stirs the wave into being. If we like the wave, the way of it, what it does – all is well.  There is no problem.

But if it displeases us, why then, we turn away, or rearrange, discipline or try to change till in our eyes we approve of what we see.

Strange is it not, that the wind that stirs the wave loses touch and lets the wave run free to do what it will, then disapproves of its own creation.

We produce many wavelets of moods, actions, thoughts and feelings that displease us.

Are we then so helpless – we, the wind that stirs the waves into being that we have to cry help to deal with our own waves?

Why does the wave become such a problem when it laps on the shores of time, flowing where it will? Has the wind lost control?

Such agitation transmitted from wind to wave. Surely the wave is the outcome of the variable force of the wind.

Work on the wave if you will;  ignore the wind and the part it plays. Instability will continue to surface.

The wind too must come to order. Only when wind and wave are in unison is there harmony of movement.

Then the wave sparkles in the sunshine, reflecting the light that shines from within.

And the wind?  Well, it’s happy with the outcome.

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

Kitchen table philosopher JOSEPH RAFFA contemplates the ways of the mind.

Life has its demands.  These cannot be ignored.  The body has its needs.  These must be met. In living the human expression many pathways beckon.  People do their best to travel those that seemingly offer the best returns. The mind is the determinant, the decider of where to go and what to do.

If the mind is happy, at ease with what is done, all is well and life moves smoothly.  But if uncertainty, resistance and compulsion settle in then the results are not very pleasant at all.

Not many live from moment to moment with a happy heart. Contradiction and choice are the bugbears that unsettle our movement through life, particularly when inner and outer security control the choices we make.  The mind urges for self protection. The self is a complex mix of arising desires and demands.  So many influences and attitudes have lodged in the mind.  The past clouds its judgement.

The expression of choice is influenced by the past, by thinking, which is an attempt to lock the unknown of what to do for the best into a present frame of reference that is agreeable to the mind.  The constant exercise of choice, to do what pleases, what is agreeable or profitable, is what makes living so difficult. Life refuses to be put 100 percent into a personal framework of this kind.

There are always challenges arising that we shy away from and, if face them we must, there is anxiety at the outcome.  So, we venture through life with confidence at times, like timid mice at others.  This cannot change while the self with its complex background is at the helm of human affairs.  The insistence for the demands of the self to be met in every way leads to conflict. To have them denied by others also leads to conflict.

Life has become a push/pull affair, a constant attempt to satisfy and please the self.  There is a persistence in this that is powerful.  It can be held back for a time by discipline, channelled into organised courses for mutual benefit, welded into states, nations or movements to serve greater self interests, but unless every vestige is dug out of the human expression by a faultless understanding, trouble will follow in almost every human endeavour that the mind sets into motion.

The pressures within the self are like a ball held deep under the water.  Relax the hold and it rushes to the surface and goes on its merry way creating mischief wherever it travels.  Mind you,it has a high opinion of its own value.  And it tenaciously clings to everything it has inwardly accumulated – agreeable memories, so many influences that have been absorbed in its journey through life.  These shape its progress and its choices. Accustomed to being how it is, the self is very difficult to deal with.  Being in control of its life, certainly having little understanding of its inner content, of what motivates its actions, it is not in a position to objectively investigate and evaluate its own behaviour.  Nor can it easily clarify its relationship to others, to the outer world, to the society it lives in.

This does not matter if it is not interested in an exploration of the self.  But it sometimes happens that the self sets to and decides to undertake an inner journey through its own nature.  Itwants to understand what is going on beyond its surface extent, beyond the reasons, beyond the beliefs it holds.  And, if it is stubbornly inclined in this direction it begins a learning that continues for as long as it functions in time in the way it knows.  This journey, if it comes to fruition, takes it step by step from the outer it knows, from what it appears to be, through unknown levels that it was not aware of until it lodges without form, substance or illusion, in the heart of the strange Universal nature that is the essence of all things.

In this, it abides with the Eternal.  The little self has come to rest in something vaster and grander.  Now, a new rhythm controls its movement through life.  Choice is exercised in little things, but in living the things that matter choice doesn’t come into it at all.

And the way of it is locked in the hearts and minds of those who travel this way – who make it to the Silent Strangeness.  They are the happy, go lightly people who know what it is to sing thesong of the real and dance in time to heavenly music.  What happens in time merely ruffles the surface.  Their inner serenity remains undisturbed.

The little self that began the journey has come to the end of the line.  And the end of the line is home.

  • Joseph’s collected spiritual writing is now available as The Kitchen Table Philosopher series. It is available in print and digital formats from Amazon.com and other online retailers.

 


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Women exalted

Kitchen table philosopher JOSEPH RAFFA pays tribute to women.

Women are the beautiful people.  They are the tenderness, the warmth, the love of life – even the light of life. They are the music that life plays in the female form.  Life flows into woman in the softest of curves, ever so gently flowing from one part to another.

The spirit of life dances brightly out of sparkling eyes. Its remarkable depth expresses itself in the tears that slowly fall down a rounded cheek, in little drops of water stirred by the deepest of feelings.

Such exquisite features has life moulded in the female face. Such a blending of softness – a delight to behold – framed by a woman’s crowning glory – hair that dances in the wind and shinesin the sunlight. Music the sound of her voice – her walk a rhapsody of movement.

Man, you should be so lucky that God created woman. Your life is as barren as the desert when she is not near, yet ripe, like the sweetest fruit when she shares her love.

She is the mother that carried the seed of life in her womb. She nourished you then, suckled your body at her rounded breast, nursed you in sickness, wiped away your childish tears and comforted you in time of need.

‘She is the music of the universe in female form’

Love’s song echoes like a never ending refrain from everything she is.  She is indeed the music of the universe manifest in female form.  She can be as gentle as a dove yet show the fury of a wounded tiger.  She has a gentle touch yet claws like a cat when aroused.

And, when she finds fullfilment in the highest nature of all, she is love personified, understanding in motion, poetic in expression, wisdom in action.  Naught can match her in tenderness, in softness of nature nor in the capacity to give out beautiful human qualities.

Woman, you stand on the pedestal of my admiration.  With these words I pay you homage as an extension of the mystery and the wonder of life. You delight man in so many ways.

Inspired by the sweetest woman of all – my wife, lover and companion. Always in love with you. Joseph. 3rd March 1992.


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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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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.