Towards the Silent Heart

kitchen table philosophy


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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.

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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.


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Build cities for harmonious living

 

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by Joseph Raffa

In life it is impossible to stand still.  Even if we are very happy with the way things are.  Yet it seems that in the way we build, even though we plan carefully, we are uncertain of the consequences.

Eventually, we are confronted with the results of decisions all along the line and somehow they do not fit, not one hundred percent anyway.  We look at the accumulated developments.  Some we appreciate, others we are not so certain about.  We seem to have lost something along the way and now we are wearing new clothes that do not fit comfortably.  Yet now, it is all we have.

We can’t go back, yet forward leads to what?  If we are not completely happy with what we now have, with the results of past decisions and planning, how can we be sure that present decisions will take us in a direction that will better reflect the kind of people we are and what we want in city living?

Then it could be that we are not very clear on this and that is why we leave it to the experts, to business people, to councillors and people of power.  We put our trust in these people, but if we cannot communicate what we deeply feel, how can those who initiate changes include or consider any part of our unformulated wishes in their programs for change?

Each person may add only a little piece, maybe just a slight suggestion.  It’s up to the planners to listen, to collate, to sift through the accumulated data, then to have the intuitive wisdom to sort out what to proceed with.

Logic is not always enough; majority demand may not always be the best way to go.  Intuitive wisdom adds that touch of inspiration that complements all the other processes put into operation by the mind.  It lifts conclusions out of the ordinary approaches, coordinating logic, experience and expertise but adding something more – an inner certainty that points the way.

As citizens we may not be in a position to see the whole picture. We may just have a deep rooted resistance to various mooted projects.  Yet often, we cannot say with certainty what course of action we would like to see undertaken.

Certainly we know what we are comfortable with.  A city designed to meet our deepest needs for tranquil living, liberally sprinkled with gardens and trees, with appealing architecture, that caters for arts, amusements, music – that treasures the past but does not allow it to control the present.  Above all, one in which people are the main factor and not profit.

Fill a city with bright, happy, vibrant people, sure of their relationship with each other and with nature and they will reflect a sunny disposition in everything they build and do.  And they will build and design accordingly with care, with love, with meticulous attention to detail. They will be alive to present needs, in touch with each other and with a deep understanding of the human process.  These then are the people who will build the city of their dreams and live therein in happy harmony.

 

 


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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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What is enlightenment?

by Joseph Raffa

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Image by samarttiw FreeDigitalPhotos

What is this enlightenment so many people are seeking? Does it indeed exist and what is its nature?  So much effort is poured into its realisation by the seeking mind.  Meditation along a chosen theme.  Self-discipline – of desire, of the emotions, of thoughts – much of it extremely difficult.

The seeking mind projecting itself into various postures, assuming roles that are expected to help on the way to enlightenment. Always backed up by belief in the outcome.  This supplies the energy to keep the mind focused on the eventual discovery.

Projecting an image while the reality is absent. And what of the image?  Where does this come from?  From the dreams of a mind that must have a target to aim at.  So, it creates effort and travel.  Avenues created by the mind to fashion and sustain the illusion of self-development towards achievement.

Mind goes from here to a problematical there for that is the way of travel that it knows.  Can it travel in this way to enlightenment, to something it doesn’t know?   Mind is so confident that with the means it puts into motion it can build a bridge from darkness to the light.  It fashions the bridges from the words passed down from the masters of long ago, from the prophets, from those considered gurus.

But surely the bridges are built from the ignorance reflected by the mind.  The cement that links the actions is that of illusion. What can come of the mind’s actions but postures cast in a timeful mould, nurtured and placed in the mind’s vision as something of greater value.  They keep the mind embedded in its own playground. They are playthings created to amuse the mind, to pad out its emptiness and offer foundational supports of psychological substance because mind needs something to lean on before it can proceed with assurance.

What will the mind discover while its vision is controlled in this way, while its attention is idea tuned, discipline tuned, focused in on its complex maze of effort?   Will it not stay amidst its postures and projections?  Where then is there enlightenment amongst all this?

All we have is the discordant music of the mind, the shadowy images, the objectives, the disciplinary endeavours that weave and twist in the forefront of the mind, covering all else. And from all this it hopes to give birth to enlightenment, to that strange arisal that surges crystal clear, like a lightning flash, sudden and surprising.

This is not born, nor ever can be from the mind’s persistent efforts to coax it out of the unknown into the perceptive net of the mind.  It arises in moments of deep stillness not fashioned by thought or reason, nor from disciplinary endeavour. This kind of stillness is its own happening.

Its offspring is the enlightenment, the insights that pour into the mind bringing new vistas, new perceptions that expose the illusions created by the mind’s desires to discover something it can relate to – use as a stepping stone of support in its day to day living.

The new comes, not over the roadways of thought or desire but over the timeless bridge.  This brings to an end the movement of time and the sense of separation involved in timeful living.   When this is dissolved enlightenment happens as a natural consequence.  All mind could do was be still.  That’s all – just be still and what enlightenment is, comes through.

 


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His message of love

  by Joseph Raffa

It is almost Christmas and the thoughts of devout Christians turn back to the events that unfolded more than 2,000 years ago. They will not only celebrate the birth of a man, a prophet, a messiah and a religious leader of outstanding qualities but also the remarkable texture of his life. His birth gave little indication of the extraordinary nature of what was to follow nor of how he was to develop into such a spiritual colossus.

From its seeds in this birth, a flowering of incredible beauty came to full bloom in an example of love, wisdom and understanding unparalleled in its expression. He wandered sandy pathways in that barren, desert land giving out his inspired message of love. Such a contrast to the aggressive displays of the time.

His offering was one of peace to a strife-torn area. Peace and love. Not carnal love but spiritual love, that rare quality that flows from the meeting between God and humans. But few there were who could respond to such a high calling and fewer still who could understand. The forces of ignorance, fear and concern for established traditions and authority rallied to crush the living flame of truth that brightly burned whenever he spoke. There was no way though that this spiritual outpouring could be checked by the acts of desperate men. Neither torture nor the cross could halt or obliterate this man’s destiny or his offering to a blighted mankind.

We celebrate in recognition of those qualities and the values he represented. Not yet is the world how he would have it. Much of the behaviour that existed then still stalks the land. Corruption, indifference, violence, brutal suppression, crime – you name it, it happens somewhere, sometime.

And humans still seem powerless, in spite of great technological strides, a knowledge explosion and skill in organisation to halt the flood of all that is ugly in human nature.

It would seem then that his mission was in vain, that his words fell on deaf ears and his example lacked the power to inspire humans to greater endeavours of goodness. Yet still he lingers in the minds and imaginations of this present time, just as he has done in the past, just as he will do in the future.

He stands as an example in living, as the solution to the problems, the difficulties and the irrational behaviour that plague us today.

Not in his fleshly body. That went the way of all flesh – something to be discarded eventually. Not even in his words, though these carried a message of great importance, but in the living nature, the God he was integrated with. This was his source, his inspiration, his sustenance. This was what he was calling the human race back to – its spiritual homeland where they could join in holy union with the creative power.

Although rejected by many in the land of his birth, over the years his influence has spread and gained considerable attention worldwide.

In their hour of need, in times of tribulation, of sorrow and great suffering, people turn to that silent figure, transfixed on the cross, call his name and pray for his help and guidance.

And in many, a response comes from within, touching the heart, uplifting the mind and giving encouragement and strength to carry on, even spreading gladness and joy where formerly darkness reigned.

Because of this his mission was a worthy one of the utmost value to mankind and its success is not to be measured by those who fail to respond, but by those who come to that very same peace and love that he expressed in such a beautiful fashion while he was here.

Cross coverBeyond the Cross, A collection of Joseph’s moving, inspired writing about Jesus is available in ebook and paperback formats from Amazon.com. Click here.

 


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Choose gentleness – not violence

Joseph Raffa reminds us there is a gentle side to human nature behind the darkness being expressed so widely in our world today.

 

The atmosphere of killing fields, of charnel houses, of cities devastated by bombs is something we can do without. The odour of violent death is not a pleasant one. There is something deeply repulsive about it.

Animals being led to slaughter show the fear in their eyes and in the frenzied behaviour of their bodies. Hasn’t this planet had enough yet? Must we go on living with such behaviour, reflecting the violence, the aggressiveness, the selfishness that has been part of our makeup for so long?

We don’t have to be like this. There is a gentle side to human nature waiting its chance to show what it can do. It doesn’t need the protection of force, of security screens and protective devices, of alliances and other means devised by minds riddled by fear and uncertainty.

Behind the darkness of human living, behind the aggressive mask there is indeed another face – gentle, sensitive, caring. All it needs is a chance to come out and, when humans experience it for themselves, when they dwell in its nature and know it for what it is, never will they choose to dwell in the darkness of human living ever again.

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In the silence of being we discover that which stills every

sound – the sound of breathing, the heart beating, even the

sound of thinking.