Towards the Silent Heart

kitchen table philosophy


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Right understanding

by Joseph Raffa
Understanding flows effortlessly out of enlightened beings. It is not intellectual but it uses this as a means of conveyance.

Truth is always truth – always consistent. The means of expression changes but not truth.

As the early means of mechanical conveyance and flight were one thing in the early stages, only to be superceded by later models, so the means of intellectual conveyance change to keep in tune with changing concepts of language.

The nature of what is being conveyed is eternal. It is not of the mind, not of concepts.

Encouragement is given through thought, through written and spoken expression. The intention? To awaken desire and give a focus to those who aspire.

The seeker creates the approach. Understanding guides the approach. As understanding develops and deepens so the approach changes.

When understanding is what it should be the approach ends. It is not needed any more.

The journey undertaken is created by thought, continues while given impetus by thought and ends when thought ends. It is a journey through the maze created by thought in its desire to come to a culminating point.

Thought projects a mental Mt Everest to give its movement a greater emphasis. The mountain withdraws only when thinking withdraws.

Thought and what it sets out to do go hand in hand. There is not one without the other.

Lodged in explanations, ways and means, thought stays there. It exercises itself at will, admires its own movement and reassures itself as to the importance of effort and endeavour.

Right understanding deals with all of this and cleans out the confusion thought creates.

Thought then abides in right understanding, becomes its willing servant, a pliant extension of that understanding.

teena candle softRight understanding is natural, spontaneous. It flows from moment to moment. There is no explanation for it. It is. When thought abdicates its role as master, right understanding naturally arises.

It’s like the rising of the sun. When the world of thought turns and sinks out of sight, the sun of right understanding shines through and lights up the way to clearer, saner, enlightened living.

 

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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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Why ask why?

by Joseph Raffa

ID-10066300What use is it to ask the why and wherefore?
Birds fly, grasses grow without fuss or bother.
Only man torments himself with questions. Life goes on regardless.
Does life, the universe need reasons for its existence? Or is this the invention of the human mind, bent on understanding in this way?
Apart from man, life does not reason why. There is birth, growth, decay and death but the system goes on and on.
Only man suffers the torment of an inquisitive reason. So, everything is wrapped in reason and man is satisfied.
Sometimes I wonder if modern man belongs to the natural order of things – or is he an aberration? Long ago, before his present state of displacement he was close to the earth and the sky, to the seasons, to the green world and the sea.
Then he broke away and became civilized with all its attendant problems and deep sense of separation. Now technologically competent and reason wise he seems lost in an alien world, divorced from the wonder that surrounds him.
More’s the pity. His mind is ever busy and overflowing with movement.
But what of the heart, of that inner need to return to the magic that once he knew? When the Springtime of Life was ablaze with wonder and he walked in kinship with all that surrounded him and asked not questions of why and what?
For there was no need for this. He was at one with the All that Is and that was all that mattered. All else was secondary and of lesser consequence to the expanded state of his exalted Being.


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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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Awaken the self

Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Joseph Raffa

Every human undertaking has its Hall of Fame. Science, medicine, sport, war –  you name it, all have their heroes, the greats who have left a distinguished mark in the social mainstream.

Religion, too, has its heroes – men who walked in harmony with God, enlightened men, moral supermen and women. They too left an indelible mark and their influence lingers long after they have gone.

The greats have become inspirational stepping stones. Their lives and deeds are held up to lesser mortals as worthy of emulation. “Look up to them,” we are told. “See what can be accomplished by dedicated people. Do likewise and lift your living.”

So, tradition settles in and carves its own channel of supportive endeavour; indeed, it becomes an authority rarely to be questioned, something to be accepted as the cornerstone on which to base human living. Being lost and uncertain, feeling perhaps entities of little value, we listen and lodge ourselves in the traditional byways offered to us. We enclose ourselves in traditional cocoons and outlooks and these become the shrouds of security that we are reluctant to cast aside.

The greats speak with such authority. The legacy they have left us in all walks of life makes it difficult for us not to turn to them in our time of need as a source of certainty, reassurance and inspiration. Why then should we divest ourselves of these influences? And what would we replace them with, we who are empty, confused, even lost in time’s seductive embrace?

If the words and experiences of the greats are wisely used, they will not become a crutch that we hold on to forever. Rather they should be seen as an encouragement to explore the human content, to investigate the human relationship with everything going on within and without.

Intelligence that relies on another is not intelligence. To awaken is the only worthwhile purpose in life. To awaken to what we are, to what is going on around us, in our hearts and minds. It is little use to worship at the shrine of past endeavours if we continue to sleep in time, in ignorance of our true nature.

Understanding demands self-reliance, a looking inwards and learning without intellectual restraints. The guidelines of the past are not for the young and adventurous in spirit, for those eager to travel to the timeless heart of human nature.

Whatever we learn in life, whatever teachers we have, there comes a time, if we are to mature, to let go of all the hands we have held for support. Otherwise we will never know the joy of walking alone. Love, truth, demand that we walk inwardly alone. Self-discovery can only take place when we are alone, when all else that prevents discovery – the barriers raised by the mind, the accumulation of timeful experience – have been discarded.

In that great aloneness that is there when authority and self-protection have been put aside, we join the essence that raised the spiritual greats onto the highest pedestal of human acclaim. We see then that there is only Oneness, not great and small; that distinction and divisions belong to the mind, not to the essence. And what is to be worshiped is “that” which comes when the mind is still.

Out of this stillness comes love, respect and maybe service, but that belongs to time where these are effective, each in their way. Essence is complete in what it is and that which joins the essence sees itself in the same light.

That’s the way of it.


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A spiritual impulse is abroad

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Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

by Joseph Raffa

There is an ocean of spirituality pouring over this planet – irresistible, invincible, all powerful. Undercurrents are flowing from within. Boosted by enlightened avenues, its magnetic power is crystalised in time. The enlightened ones are its voice – the eyes and ears of the Spiritual Strangeness. This is moving to reclaim the human race, to save it from the darkness of spiritual ignorance, from domination by the aggressive and selfish nature of the self – of the mind acting in isolation from the mainstream of life.

Like an electric spark, spiritual awareness is leaping from person to person, spark igniting spark. Its purpose? A great awakening – the extension of its nature, in full awareness into the hearts and minds of the human inhabitants of this planet. For too long the darkness of the mind has reigned. The suffering, the starvation, the violence, the endless torment has been too much. At times the human race has teetered on the edge of a psychological breakdown, almost on the edge of inner and outer destruction. The tensions have been well nigh unbearable.

From the Spiritual Heartland the call has gone forth: Save the Earth. Save the people. And so, from their timeless sleep, deep in the safety of an undisturbed mystery, there arose to venture forth in human form amidst the blight on this planet, creatures of the light. Those who are of its essence. Their mission, one of service, their role, agents of love.

Inspired by the nature they belong to, they walk this earth amidst alien surrounds, seeking to plant the seeds of enquiry, urging an investigation that is not controlled by the mind’s background of conditioning. They meet resistance from established attitudes wherever they go. Only those who are beginning to awaken are receptive to what is offered. Only they have the perception to realise its exceptional value.

In this meeting, between enlightened expression and earnest seeker, the seeds are set for a new kind of harvest. Sometime, when all the conditions are right, a blossoming burgeons into time, irresistibly flowering into the fullness of discovery. And so, another human expression takes wings, uplifted and inspired and a little more momentum is given to the spiritual enlightenment of the human race on this planet.

May you all join, each of you in your turn in this grand awakening.


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The silent solution

Photo: Neil Mulligan

Photo: Neil Mulligan

by Joseph Raffa

“Don’t speak to me with words,” said the sage as I approached him with my questions on life’s meaning.

“Rather, speak to me as does the sky, with white clouds floating high. See the blueness. Can words describe it – convey the wonder that is there? Words are such feeble things – cast gossamer-like on wings of thought. Life is too grand to be explained.

“Rather than speak, open up, let awareness flow, silent and wordless. Cast not the self as an ‘I’ wrapped in finite form. In this you dwell while all around the grandeur of Nature’s presence calls to thee.

“Join the wonder that you are with the wonder that you see. Discard the chains you fashion, thought-woven and spoken. Be silent as a graven image. Stir not in thought or movement.

“And, in that silence, deeper than any you have yet to be, the answer, not in words, comes to thee of what thou art.”