Towards the Silent Heart

kitchen table philosophy


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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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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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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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Climb the Spiritual Mountain

by Joseph Raffa
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Image courtesy marcuso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are people who love to climb mountains.  When asked why,

some may say “Because it is there”.  There is another kind of

mountain that others seek to climb – the mountain of Ultimate

Reality.  They do not know why, only that they have to go.

The mountains of time are well defined, the destination sure, the

equipment is available.  Ultimate Reality has no defined pathway

leading to it, the equipment necessary is the nature that we are.

This journey we travel alone.  Gurus can only take us so far,

then we must be left to face our own uncertainty, our weaknesses

and fears, whatever we are.

We move this way, we move that, try this, try that.  When we come

to cul-de-sacs we turn, retrace our steps then start again, over

and over.  Gradually it dawns that we are journeying through

ourselves, that we create the obstacles and the mountain to

climb.  When we’ve exhausted our efforts, when we are at the end

of the line with no more stations to travel to, we pause, and sit

and let go.

Effort falls away – everything is shed – the tiredness, the

struggle, the striving.  We just let go and then suddenly we are

there on top of the mountain.  We have been transported all in

one instant and we are basking in the full sunshine of Being.

Our journey is over, without sense of movement or achievement.

We didn’t do a thing except to be still.  That’s it, just still –

the stillness of a mind not seeking, not striving.  a sudden

unexpected, unexplainable stillness and we are on the top of the

mountain.

We know what we come from and we know where we are going.  Never again will we be

lost in time.  We are home – home where we belong.

 

 


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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.