Towards the Silent Heart

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The heart whispers

Kitchen Table Philosopher Joseph Raffa asks if you will listen to the whispers of the heart or stay anchored in mind misery.

Ever got to a stage in life where you feel jaded, drained of energy, without any enjoyment to lighten up your life?  Then face it friend, you are on a treadmill where the daily grind has taken over.  And who or what is responsible?  You are.  You’ve allowed the mind to take over with its demands and desires, its over-riding ideas to do this and that, its drive for more and more – security, comfort, nicknacks, gadgets.  Oh, there is no end to the demands of the mind.

So, we listen to the mind, going where it tells us, doing what it demands.  We ignore how we feel deep down, ignore the need for rest and relaxation, to be lighthearted.  There comes a time where we get to the end of the line, when we’ve had enough, when we are so saturated with the mind and its persistent endeavours to completely control the course of our life that we want to throw it all away and feel fresh and brand new again.

Some opt for an outer change, a holiday, change jobs or homes, rearrange routines to try to unload some of the burden.  You may have tried some or all of this.  But take a look at what is going on.  It’s the same old tired troublemaker in charge, in control, trying to jazz up a life that has gone stale.  The wear and tear mind, fed up with the results of what it has created, is off in a different direction in the search for a pick me up, for a return to the fun it had long ago when life was young and new and a great adventure.

Outer change serves for a while.  We feel somewhat rested and interest is renewed.  Then that same old bugbear takes over again, the wear and tear mind, the know-all mind, the source and cause of all our troubles is back to lead us down the same weary pathway.  And why?  Because it doesn’t know any better.  Concern drives the mind.  Self protection drives the mind.  It’s always busy looking after all the demands of the self.  There is no peace, no joy and little rest while little mind is in charge.  Mind is the ruthless overseer, cracking the whip of pressure, driving the body onwards, subduing any feelings to be otherwise than on the go, go, go.

Until from within, the cry goes out, “Enough of this.”  Tears that act as a temporary release may flow,  then a tug of war may follow. The inner insists on a change of direction but old man mind, knowing nothing else urges onwards in the usual way and clings to everything it is familiar with in spite of the pain. There must come a time when we tire of mind, of the thinking, the doing, the acting, all the busy stuff the mind does in defence of and to expand the self. This is an indication that the heart is beginning to stir, that it wants to be listened to.  The heart speaks not in the language of thoughts and words but with feelings, with longings for an expansive life uncluttered  by the rubbish left by the mind.

Will we listen then, to the whispers of the heart or, will we stay anchored in the mind and the misery it creates?  In life we need both mind as the doer, the action side and the heart as the source of renewal. From the heart comes gentle, caring living, the appreciation of the wonder, the beauty of life, of all the magic moments that unfold from day to day. It’s not that the mind means to mess things up. It’s just lost its way. Like a child lost in the wonderland of time, it runs here, there, everywhere, eager to have everything, to taste what it can – quickly. The heart acts as a counterbalance to all this driving action.  It’s like a rider who pulls on the reins to check the erratic breakaway gallop of a horse.

The trouble is, the mind has been in control for so long.  It gets itself into trouble then when it has had enough it wants to get itself out. Fair enough. But the mind is the troublemaker. Wherever it applies itself, sooner or later it comes to a situation where it is confronted with the results of its own actions.  When it acts from a deep understanding of its own behaviour, all is well.  Understanding then, is the key to right living. This follows from listening, from paying attention to the ways of the mind, to the flow of thinking and feeling, to everything thrown up by the mind.

Not from constant thinking about it, reading and memorising which keeps the mind endlessly preoccupied. The listening that yields understanding cannot be described. It happens when there is natural interest. That is what is so beautiful about it. Mind with its thinking, its pressure and pushing for results doesn’t bring it about. It’s a response from within, when the heart stirs to give a helping hand to a mind caught up in turmoil, torment and confusion.

When the mind has truly had enough, when it sees that it cannot continue along the same channels that lead nowhere special, it yields and comes to a complete standstill.  Not even a thought interferes – then in that moment the heart has a chance to act and help the mind understand.  Should this happen, you’ll know what it is to feel new again, to be young and carefree, lighthearted – all the qualities we long for that somehow we have denied in our intensive efforts to look after the self according to self disposition.

Joseph’s spiritual writing is now available from Amazon.com and other online retailers.

 


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There is another side

Kitchen Table Philosopher Joseph Raffa reminds us there is a gentle side of human nature behind the darkness being reflected in today’s world.

 

In the silence of being we discover that which stills every sound –  the sound of breathing, of the heart beating, even the sound of thinking.

The atmosphere of killing fields, of charnel houses, of cities devastated by bombs is something we can do without.  The odour of violent death is not a pleasant one.  There is something

deeply repulsive about it.

Animals being led to slaughter show the fear in their eyes and in the frenzied behaviour of their bodies.  Hasn’t this planet had enough yet?  Must we go on living with such behaviour, reflecting

the violence, the aggressiveness, the selfishness that has been part of our makeup for so long?

We don’t have to be like this.  There is a gentle side to human nature waiting its chance to show what it can do.  It doesn’t need the protection of force, of security screens and protective

devices, of alliances and other means devised by minds riddled by fear and uncertainty.

Behind the darkness of human living, behind the aggressive mask there is indeed another face – gentle, sensitive, caring.  All it needs is a chance to come out and, when humans experience it for

themselves, when they dwell in its nature and know it for what it is, never will they choose to dwell in the darkness of human living ever again.

 

To read more of Joseph’s spiritual writing, visit his Amazon author page.

 


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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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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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Build cities for harmonious living

 

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by Joseph Raffa

In life it is impossible to stand still.  Even if we are very happy with the way things are.  Yet it seems that in the way we build, even though we plan carefully, we are uncertain of the consequences.

Eventually, we are confronted with the results of decisions all along the line and somehow they do not fit, not one hundred percent anyway.  We look at the accumulated developments.  Some we appreciate, others we are not so certain about.  We seem to have lost something along the way and now we are wearing new clothes that do not fit comfortably.  Yet now, it is all we have.

We can’t go back, yet forward leads to what?  If we are not completely happy with what we now have, with the results of past decisions and planning, how can we be sure that present decisions will take us in a direction that will better reflect the kind of people we are and what we want in city living?

Then it could be that we are not very clear on this and that is why we leave it to the experts, to business people, to councillors and people of power.  We put our trust in these people, but if we cannot communicate what we deeply feel, how can those who initiate changes include or consider any part of our unformulated wishes in their programs for change?

Each person may add only a little piece, maybe just a slight suggestion.  It’s up to the planners to listen, to collate, to sift through the accumulated data, then to have the intuitive wisdom to sort out what to proceed with.

Logic is not always enough; majority demand may not always be the best way to go.  Intuitive wisdom adds that touch of inspiration that complements all the other processes put into operation by the mind.  It lifts conclusions out of the ordinary approaches, coordinating logic, experience and expertise but adding something more – an inner certainty that points the way.

As citizens we may not be in a position to see the whole picture. We may just have a deep rooted resistance to various mooted projects.  Yet often, we cannot say with certainty what course of action we would like to see undertaken.

Certainly we know what we are comfortable with.  A city designed to meet our deepest needs for tranquil living, liberally sprinkled with gardens and trees, with appealing architecture, that caters for arts, amusements, music – that treasures the past but does not allow it to control the present.  Above all, one in which people are the main factor and not profit.

Fill a city with bright, happy, vibrant people, sure of their relationship with each other and with nature and they will reflect a sunny disposition in everything they build and do.  And they will build and design accordingly with care, with love, with meticulous attention to detail. They will be alive to present needs, in touch with each other and with a deep understanding of the human process.  These then are the people who will build the city of their dreams and live therein in happy harmony.

 

 


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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