Towards the Silent Heart

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The end of dreaming

 

 

Kitchen Table Philosopher Joseph Raffa asks what is left of the knowing mind when the dream is ended…

Every concept shattered beyond recall. You, me, God, Void, Ultimate Reality. All projected by the mind as stepping stones to feed its urge for knowledge, its need to relate to something.

What is left now the dream has ended? The creative flow of experience, crystalising through the senses as forms, colours, shapes. Feeling to the touch.  Sight for the eyes. Sound for the ears.  Smells for the nose. A world for the mind.  This is our life.

When all this ceases, what is left for the mind to know? What is left of the knowing mind?

We say “God is left, or the Ultimate, or a Strangeness”. We speak with such certitude of the unmentionable, the unseeable, the unknowable, the unthinkable.

How did we get into this?  What lure is cast our way? We drift along life’s highway, singing or sorrowing as we go.

Then suddenly, a voice speaks out: “Man – you have a spiritual nature.”

We pack our bags and go.  Where? Away from space and time.  Away from mind.

To land where?  Into uncertainty.  Into a vast unknown.

How can we say this?  Because it happens.  Because it is so.

Don’t ask for explanations.  Just go and see what follows.

And if perchance you find the words to express the wonder of that strange unknown, well, good luck to you.  For those before you who dwelt there for a moment, were silenced by its nature, all they would say was “It is”. That’s all.  “It is” or “That I am”.  And perhaps, even this is far too much to say.

If you would like to read more of Joseph’s spiritual writing, it is now 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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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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In listening, we learn

 

by Joseph Raffa

Weaving its way through history is an inspirational thread of human endeavour.  A story of humans who have reached out for the spiritual stars and touched the Divine.  They have returned, afire and astir to urge their fellow humans to do likewise and come back to the land of the spiritually alive.

They have not always been greeted with open arms.  They have been scorned, ridiculed, tortured, even murdered.  Yet, they have not yielded in their missions.  Such was the support, the strength, the love and understanding that came their way.  They were truly people of steel – spiritual steel.  Resilient and bright, like polished metal cast from a special mould – a universal One.

Corrosion and corruption are not part of their expression.  Not a trace of the self marrs the inner serenity of what they are. They are beyond all that.  They are the happy people, stirred by a great love for mankind.  Not for them the ways of a mind estranged from its source.  They live in the heart, the Silent Heart of mankind – the Universal Heart, true home of all that lives and breathes, of everything that is.

Should they pass your door, either in human form or in the writings they have left, pause from your busy work or play schedule, listen deeply to what they have to offer and in the silence that follows, join them in a holy communion.  You will be surprised at what opens out, at what you have within you.  Yet, you knew it not.  Not only surprised, but joyful too, oh so joyful.  How your spirit will lift and dance.  Like a child who delights in the world about, so you will take off, young and full of bounce.

The old will be brushed aside – dissolved.  The ways of thought, encrusted attitudes, the scales of time – out of the old skin you will step, resplendent in shining Being.  You will glow with the Sunshine of Love and marvel at the magic of it.  The methods, the ways, the preparations, the rituals and traditions of the mind do not come into it.  Mind is out.  Heart is in.  The Sunshine of Love is beyond explanations.  It IS.  You hear.  It IS.   Just BE and you will discover for yourselves.  Do not ask why, what or wherefore.  That is the mind wanting to come into it, wanting to get into the act.

Little mind with its thoughts, body, face, appearance, parading as the self in time, the knower, the troublemaker of time.  It wants to continue.  If you listen with this mind, you will stay anchored in mind, in time.  The Sunshine will pass you by.   Rather listen with your whole being, not with the ears of time.  This kind of listening cannot be practised, imagined or thought. It just happens when there is deep interest and you are deeply absorbed – just deeply absorbed.

Everything you appear to be, every known aspect, fades.  It is a delightful moment of discovery.  Of what?  Do not ask.  Mind cannot know.  All that matters is, that it happens.  Then you’ll see what it’s all about.  Your song will join the universal song.  The refrain will go out and out, without end.  You will be one of the happy people without a care.  Your heart will be full and overflowing.  What you have, you will give out for others to share with you.

For love is uncontainable and reaches out to embrace all.  That is the way of it.  It cannot be otherwise.  Such is its nature – to share with – to bless all until all are happy.

Love’s blessings on you.

To read more of Joseph’s spiritual writing, visit his Amazon author page. https://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Raffa/

Image by Aaron Cabrera from Pixabay

 

 


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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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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.