Towards the Silent Heart

kitchen table philosophy


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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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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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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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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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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 deeper significance

By Joseph Raffa

buddha-918073_1920There is a hidden agenda in the world, a deeper significance, not usually noticed as the mind goes about its daily business.  Through surface perception the world is clearly demarcated.  Our surroundings, the things we do, our appearance, all this is familiar and with many this is as far as they go.

It’s the world we live in.  The eyes, the ears, the bodily based senses inform us of this world.  Through the senses we do not receive clear evidence of a deeper significance, of anything different from the usual run of manifest phenomena.

The mind dwells in contact with an ocean of sensations, forged into perceptions that are the basis of the experiences it knows.  Thinking takes its cue from this reservoir of imprints.  It arises in response to the known.  It is from this known base that it seeks to expand, to go wider and deeper and get down to ultimate answers.  Its movement is conditioned by the known and by its measure of understanding.  It seeks solutions and conclusions that its understanding agrees with.  What else can it do?

To go beyond its understanding would leave it in a void of uncertainty.  It would be like a fish out of water, not knowing what, where or how nor itself in the process.  Could the mind come to grips with a deeper significance that is beyond its normal range of understanding, beyond the process of knowing that it is accustomed to, beyond the awareness it has of itself, its surroundings and the interactions that take place?  And where would the evidence come from if not from the mind’s acknowledgement of what this is?

The sensitivity we are (mind) is the basis for living,for knowing ourselves and the world.  Deny this and where are we?  This sensitivity is included in the hidden agenda, the deeper significance mentioned earlier.  It cannot be left out, to stand aside and be a reality in its own right.

The sensitivity we are and its relationship to the Universal is the hidden agenda, the deeper significance not noticed by surface perception.  With the surface mind we are linked to appearance yet in essence we are one with this hidden reality. Thinking deals with the imprint of life, with the footprints left by life’s moment to moment flow.  Thinking cannot go beyond itself and apprehend the unlimited.  In this deeper significance all things are at rest in an unbroken state.  Appearance is not an absolute.  All phenomena is a passing parade.  While it holds the centre stage of attention the hidden significance cannot reveal its nature.

Revelation breaks this impasse, takes the mind beyond.  The known is discarded for a moment.  With this out of the way, there is nothing to prevent the realisation of the deeper significance.  The problem created by the mind is solved, but not by the mind. Mind, in its essence and the deeper significance are One.