Towards the Silent Heart

kitchen table philosophy


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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.