Towards the Silent Heart

kitchen table philosophy


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The Way to Peace

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By Joseph Raffa

The existence of God and the nature of evil have perplexed humans for centuries. Rational reason cannot reconcile a God of love with the behaviour expressed by humans hellbent on a destructive rampage. Especially seeing that God is said to have created man in its image.

Rational reason should look at its own behaviour. Reason, not God, created national and religious divisions. Reason, not God, supports greed, ruthless ambitions, oppression, racial prejudice, economic exploitation.

Reason invented the technology used to create super weapons that destroy at the touch of a button. Reason over-rides the heart, unleashes fear and war and observes without compassion the death of its brothers and sisters.

Just listen to rational reason as it plausibly argues who the enemy is, what the calculated response should be and why war is the way to peace.

So many have suffered and died because of (ir)rational reason. Reason has divided mankind, shattered the God-created unity of the human race, found so many reasons to hate, kill and exploit those who are weaker.

And reason wants a pliable God, one that supports it in what it does. Hence the cry, “God is on our side” when war is raging.

Let reason draw from the inexhaustible spring of Universal Love and watch then the transformation. See how fear flees and the ego loses its force. See divisions fade, illusion and ignorance evaporate when a Universal togetherness takes over.

Then love becomes the master and reason its servant. The reign of evil ends. So too does rational reflection on God end when God and humans are reunited in one omnipresent reality.

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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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Immerse yourself in still waters

Boats on Loch“The human heart longs for peace and harmony. It seeks a restful haven from the relentless busyness of everyday life, drawing us to spend tranquil moments in natural surrounds that offer a brief respite from the hustle and bustle. There is a state of inner stillness, when the endless chatter of the mind has ceased, that a deeper understanding arises. These are the ‘still waters’ that bring new life to mankind, that lay claim to the heart and redirect the mind. These are the waters of peace, love and true togetherness that lift us up to divine heights of being and living.

The still waters of the spirit are the deepest stillness of all. Those who go there lose touch with the senses, their surrounds, with the self they know, even with thinking and feeling.”

So writes Joseph Raffa in the foreword to Beside Still Waters, a beautiful collection of essays that touches on the universal search for meaning. His words inspire readers to reach out for the still waters of the spirit.

Beside_Still_Waters_Cover_for_KindleBeside Still Waters is available from Amazon.com in paperback and e-book formats.


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The desire for peace

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Photo: Neil Mulligan

 

 by Joseph Raffa

 

There is something deeply touching about the human longing for peace and cause for sadness in the different ways we go about realising it. This signifies a lack of understanding of the nature of the mind, of the worth of ideas, of the nature of reality and how it expresses its nature through the individual.

Those who live in the prison of the mind and do not know they do are content to stay within its confines and live accordingly. Not for them the sudden surprise of open prison gates, of the wide expanse of the Sunshine of Being beyond the prison – the sparkle of a springtime mood and the fresh stirrings of the winds of understanding from beyond the vale of time.

They live in time’s beleaguered field, assailed from all directions, disturbed inwardly and outwardly by demand and response, by tempest and movement. Not for them the calmness of Silent Being – of that stillness that calms the restless mind and brings peace, where formerly conflict reigned supreme.

The glimmer of an idea stirs on the horizon of the mind. It takes up the thought, the name of peace. From within its prison darkness, it projects a ray of light to travel along. It will follow this self-created light till it comes to the journey’s end of peace, then blissfully bask in its presence and enjoy the blessing that it brings.

But the light way is created by the mind. It will not lead to peace in spite of the mind’s good intentions. How can it when the mind has failed to understand the causes within itself that deny peace its chance to be? Peace does not lie at the end of a long trail of human initiatives like a prize to be won in return for effort expended. The reality of what brings peace is here and now. It lies beyond the mind, beyond its concepts and ideas, beyond the scope of its imagination.

When mind is still, like a day devoid of breeze and not even a leaf of mind-created movement stirs to disrupt the tranquility of Being, then that strange nature that is the basis of the universal expression arises to bless the human expression with its presence. And it brings with its coming that sought after longing referred to as peace. Nothing else makes true peace possible.

The tracks of the mind lead only to the illusion of peace. They have no enduring basis. The foundations are riddled with weaknesses and the formulated structures will collapse at the slightest stress. Whereas, the peace that grows from within – that flows from the deepening of understanding – will endure as long as the true measure of understanding endures. For these go hand in hand in the human nature. There is not the one without the other. And both flow, as a consequence, from that strange meeting between the Divine Universal and that within the human that is of the very same nature.

When these meet in a timeless union that defies human understanding, a fresh inspiration arises and begins a new expression in time. One that sensitively reflects amongst its qualities that which is acknowledged as peace.


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A new pilgrimage

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by Joseph Raffa

We’ve made our national pilgrimage to Gallipoli, scene of slaughter, carnage and courage; now, why not a national pilgrimage to our spiritual heartland, source of peace, love, inspiration and gentler living? People do not want war.  Reluctantly they go.  But, once committed, every nation does its utmost on the battlefield and on the civil front to ensure the ultimate objective – unconditional victory. Would that we could dedicate ourselves in like fashion towards a new objective – the realisation of the Divine in human nature and persist in this direction until this and the qualities it engenders, rules the human expression unchallenged. We would then discover that the peace we seek comes, not through force of arms and courage on the battlefield but through this beautiful blending of the human with the Divine nature.