Browsing Category "Mystery"
21 Jan
2020
Posted in: Books, Mystery, Practice, Tuesday Night Insight
By    Comments Off on It Signals Your Willingness to be Transformed

It Signals Your Willingness to be Transformed

Here is the excerpt from Dancing with Life by Phillip Moffitt, which I’ll be referencing at tonight’s Tuesday Night Insight:

“If you try to deny the truth of dukkha [suffering] or run from it, you will be consumed by your desires, dislikes, and fears. The sole solution is to open to the fires created by the discomfort of your mind and body in such a way that you are transformed by the heat, softened, and made stronger by it.

“Being present with your dukkha is a daunting task because it means that you must abandon many of your mental defenses (including denial, rationalization, blaming, and judging) against life’s assaults. Essentially, the Buddha is asking you to embrace your own unease, to submit to the undeniable reality of your vulnerability in this human form, and to open your heart to the truth of life just as it is. In Buddhism, this recognition of ‘the way things are’ is referred to as tathata or the ‘suchness’ of the moment.

“At first, being with the suchness of your own suffering may seem a pointless, uncomfortable, indulgent, or self-pitying practice. But you’ll be surprised to discover that rather than being morose or unpleasant as most people anticipate, it is actually calming, relieving, and empowering. Long before you find final liberation from the cause of your suffering, just learning to be with it brings enhanced peace and meaning to your life.

“By simply choosing to be present with your pain, you signal your willingness to be transformed, to allow the purification process to begin. When you embrace life just as it is and just as you are, it ignites a mysterious process of inner development. You are voluntarily submitting to the purging fire of the felt experience. You will feel more authentic and be aware of a fuller, richer, more vital presence in yourself; others will notice as well.”

***

Photo by Reno Laithienne on Unsplash

16 Jan
2020
Posted in: Books, Mystery
By    Comments Off on Both Known and Deeply Unfamiliar

Both Known and Deeply Unfamiliar

I’m reading a lot of books right now, but before I move on, I just have to post a little bit more from Hisham Matar’s lovely (and mysterious) meditation on memory and place in A Month in Siena:

“Back in the early 1960s Siena became the first Italian metropolis to restrict access to motor vehicles. The bus deposited us at the edge of the city. We pulled our suitcases into the dimly lit web of alleyways…

“The sharp turns of the passageways and the closeness of the buildings gave me the sense that I was entering a living organism. With every step I pressed deeper into it and, as though in response, it made room. I was inside a place both known and deeply unfamiliar.

“The flat I had rented turned out to be part of an old palazzo. It had frescoed ceilings and perfectly proportioned rooms. The modest exterior of the building made the beauty of these private spaces even more acute. Over the coming days, and whenever I left the house, I was often conscious, even without looking back, of the sober facade. It was like an ally to whom I wanted to unburden all sorts of secrets.

“The place reminded me how the buildings we encounter, like new people we may meet, can excite passions that had up to then laid dormant. Most of the time we are not even aware of such adjustments. They happen mid-stride, and are often mutual, for, just as we influence and are influenced by others, the atmosphere of a room too is marked by what we do in it. And most of what we do vanishes, but a slight and shadowy remnant remains.

“How else then to account for why we can perceive awfulness where awful things have occurred, or be quietly inspired by a room where for a long time attention had been given to what is beautiful and kind.

“Every time I returned to the flat I felt my anticipation grow. And over the coming days, everywhere I went in Sienna, I did, in effect, carry with me, like a private song, the pleasure of those rooms.”

***

Photo by Charlie on Unsplash

6 Jan
2020
Posted in: Books, Mystery
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Not Entirely Certain

Note: There’s a recall for my computer, so I have to take it in tomorrow to get the battery replaced — which they say will require 3 to 5 days (!!!) — so I guess I won’t be posting again until next week. Unless I get my computer back sooner. Stay tuned.

In the mean time, I leave you with another excerpt from my new, favorite “dharma” book: A Month in Siena, by Hisham Matar.

“It was late spring. The Roman sun was out. Around noon we looked for shade. Diana spotted a green beside the Sant’Andrea al Quirinale. We lay under the canopy of a high pine. The grass was cool and accepting against my back. My head was now lower than my chest and I could feel the blood gather between the temples. Diana lay beside me, resting her head on my chest.

“I remember getting that odd feeling, a sort of mystery toward my own anatomy, not entirely certain of what was contained beneath my ribcage. I felt then what I felt now standing in the Sala dei Nove: that an independent will operated these secret clocks inside of me, that the operations and very texture of my organs and the blood that ran through them belonged to some other order of existence that stood apart from my sense of my self, from my ideas and emotions.”

***

Photo by David Matos on Unsplash

5 Jan
2020
Posted in: Art, Books, Mystery
By    Comments Off on What It Might Mean to Truly See

What It Might Mean to Truly See

Yesterday I started reading A Month in Siena, by Hisham Matar, and I’m already loving it so much that I’m feeling a little giddy! Not just because there was a time when I spent quite a lot of time in Siena, but also because he writes about looking at the same piece of art, over and over, for an hour or more each time, which is what I do when I really want to “see” a piece of art.

Matar says, “A picture changes as you look at it and changes in ways that are unexpected. I have discovered that a painting requires time. Now it takes me several months and more often than not a year before I can move on. During that period the picture becomes a mental as well as a physical location in my life.”

It’s like that for me too!

Matar is fascinated is with certain works from the Sienese School of painting. He writes, “I cannot say that they gave me pleasure. Yet I kept, almost against my own intentions, returning to them. I would often look and quickly pass. They left me feeling unprepared and in need of translation. They stood alone, neither Byzantine nor of the Renaissance, an anomaly between chapters, like the orchestra tuning its strings in the interval.

“This curiosity has deepened over the past two and a half decades. The colors, delicate patterns and suspended drama of these pictures gradually became necessary to me. Every few months I go to the National Gallery in order to look once more at Duccio di Buoninsegna’s The Annunciation or The Healing of the Man Born Blind.

“The seeing, who include Jesus, his audience and the version of the blind man now healed, sedately occupy the lower half of the painting. They are contrasted by the playful and brightly crisp activity in the upper half of the picture, where a hopscotch of arches and windows, peering into empty spaces, stare openly. They seem to be deliberately leading one’s gaze away from the human activity below.

“It is in that direction, upward, that the second representation of the blind man, the one still visually impaired, is facing. It is a painting that is questioning and ironic about what it might mean to truly see. It is not definite about the answer. It has always, and throughout all the many years that I have been returning to The Healing of the Man Born Blind, seemed to be a space of doubt.

“If I am away from London for any significant period of time, there inevitably comes the moment when I must search in the local museums for something from the Sienese School…

“To look closely at their work is to eavesdrop on one of the most captivating conversations in the history of art, one concerned with what a painting might be, what it might be for, and what it could do and accomplish within the intimate drama of a private engagement with a stranger.”

Ah, another mystery!

***

The Healing of the Man Born Blind, by Duccio di Buoninsegna, courtesy of The National Gallery, London.

2 Jan
2020
Posted in: Mystery, Teachers
By    Comments Off on Home is Not Somewhere Else

Home is Not Somewhere Else

In the most recent newsletter from Spirit Rock, Jack Kornfield writes:
“After I got the call that Ram Dass had died, I closed my eyes. He is still here.

“I could feel the vast field of love that was shining from Ram Dass when Trudy and I taught with him just a couple of weeks ago. And I always will. On the final day of this last retreat, called Open Your Heart in Paradise, Ram Dass was frail and didn’t have access to many words. But he was there in the most powerful way. He swam delightedly with the group in the ocean, chanting ‘Oh Joy, Oh Joy.’

“And on the retreat’s last morning, he put his hands on a basket of 350 wrist malas, each tied with a thread of his gurus blanket, to tenderly bless them. Then, as participants came by slowly to receive their malas, he silently looked into each face, offering to all what is sometimes called “the glance of mercy”, a gaze so full of love that it left many of us speechless and weeping, drunk with blessing…

“For me he is family and Sangha, even now still spreading his playful tough delicious love everywhere, connecting with our hearts, “yum, yum” as he would say. He was so ready to leave the wheelchair and his skinny and broken body, to go home.

“Home is not somewhere else. It is here, in life and death, in the eternal dance of consciousness, weaving together form and the formless mystery from which it all comes.”

***

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash