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1862#1862 - Sunday, July 18, 2004

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  • Gloria Lee
    Jul 20, 2004
      The Faces at Braga -- David Whyte
      The Faces at Braga
      In monastery darkness
      by the light of one flashlight
      the old shrine room waits in silence
      While above the door
      we see the terrible figure,
      fierce eyes demanding, "Will you step through?"
      And the old monk leads us,
      bent back nudging blackness
      prayer beads in the hand that beckons.
      We light the butter lamps
      and bow, eyes blinking in the
      pungent smoke, look up without a word,
      see faces in meditation,
      a hundred faces carved above,
      eye lines wrinkled in the hand held light.
      Such love in solid wood!
      Taken from the hillsides and carved in silence
      they have the vibrant stillness of those who made them.
      Engulfed by the past
      they have been neglected, but through
      smoke and darkness they are like the flowers
      we have seen growing
      through the dust of eroded slopes,
      then slowly opening faces turned toward the mountain.
      Carved in devotion
      their eyes have softened through age
      and their mouths curve through delight of the carvers hand.
      If only our own faces
      would allow the invisible carver's hand
      to bring the deep grain of love to the surface.
      If only we knew
      as the carver knew, how the flaws
      in the wood led his searching chisel to the very core,
      we would smile, too
      and not need faces immobilized
      by fear and the weight of things undone.
      When we fight with our failing
      we ignore the entrance to the shrine itself
      and wrestle with the guardian, fierce figure on the side of good.
      And as we fight
      our eyes are hooded with grief
      and our mouths are dry with pain.
      If only we could give ourselves
      to the blows of the carvers hands,
      the lines in our faces would be the trace lines of rivers
      feeding the sea
      where voices meet, praising the features
      of the mountain and the cloud and the sky.
      Our faces would fall away
      until we, growing younger toward death
      every day, would gather all our flaws in celebration
      to merge with them perfectly,
      impossibly, wedded to our essence,
      full of silence from the carver's hands.
       ~ David Whyte ~

      (Where Many Rivers Meet)

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      #1862 - Sunday, July 18, 2004 - Editor: Gloria
      Since the seed does not contain anything other than the
      seed, even  the flowers and the fruits are of the same
      nature as the seed: the  substance of the seed is the
      substance of subsequent effects, too.  Even so, the
      homogenous mass of cosmic consciousness does not 
      give rise to anything other than what it is in essence.
      When this  truth is realized, duality ceases.

      Yoga Vasishtha

      From "Teachings of the Hindu Mystics," © 2001 by Andrew Harvey. Shambhala Publications, Boston, www.shambhala.com


      Allspirit Inspiration

      Presence and unpretentiousness

      "Presence can be described as Being aware of Itself. Its effects are
      contagious. When we are in the Presence of an individual who has
      awakened from the dream of "me", we can sense an unpretentiousness,
      lucidity, transparency, joy and ease of being. Those same qualities
      are elicited within ourselves. What is normally background may
      temporarily be called into the foreground of attention. When Presence
      is particularly strong and we are particularly open, it may feel as if
      a fire has been ignited."
      John J. Prendergast
      The Sacred Mirror

      "What to look for in a teacher.
      ... 3. Can you have a regular, how's the weather conversation with
      her? Look for a teacher who practices the "open secret," who enjoys
      the fact we're all in this together. If she is too busy with her own
      messianic complex, she probably won't have time to attend to your
      education. She can be noble, grand, detached, and powerful while also
      being down to earth and personal."
      Elizabeth Lesser

      "When Bishop Desmond Tutu introduced Nelson Mandela at his
      inauguration as the new president of south Africa, he described him as
      being a man who had Obuntubotho. Obuntubotho, he said, is the essence
      of being human. You know when it is there and when it is absent. It
      speaks about humanness, gentleness, putting yourself out on behalf of
      others, being vulnerable. It embraces compassion, and toughness. It
      recognizes my humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human
      Elizabeth Lesser

      "Obuntubotho is a sign of progress on the spiritual adventure. As you
      journey onward - with or without a teacher, in a group or alone, in
      virgin territory or on a well-worn path - you will be given signs and
      messages wherever you turn. The world will become a bank of messages.
      The more you travel onward, the more finely tuned you will become."
      Elizabeth Lesser

      "The Yiddish word for Obuntubotho is mensch. Spirituality makes you a
      mensch. A mensch is someone others want to be around because of a
      certain something - a kindness, a warmth, a quality of genuineness. A
      sign of progress on the path is the trust of other people."
      Elizabeth Lesser
      The Seeker's Guide
      (Cofounder of the Omega Institute)

      Viorica Weissman ~ MillionPaths

      If I am eternal and perfect, why am I ignorant?
      Who is ignorant? The real Self does not complain of ignorance. It is the ego in you that so complains. It is that which also asks questions. The Self does not ask any question. And this ego is neither the body, nor the real Self, but something arising between the two. In sleep there was no ego, and you had no sense of imperfection or ignorance then. Thus the ego is itself imperfection and ignorance. If you seek the truth of the ego and thus find the real Self, you will find that there is no ignorance.  
      ~ Thus Spake Ramana

      A dialogue between David Godman and Maalok, #9

      Maalok: A curious thing happened the other day during my visit to Delhi. I accompanied my niece to a famous bookstore in Delhi. They had a big section on spirituality. I scanned the section carefully only to find not a single book on Ramana Maharshi. On inquiring, the bookstore manager told me that books on Ramana Maharshi are simply not popular and don't sell easily. Being the editor and author of significant books on Ramana Maharshi and his disciples, I was wondering if this has been your experience as well? If so, in your opinion, why?


      David: They are not as popular as books by modern teachers such as Osho, nor do they have the appeal of the kind of self-help or new-age titles that seem to fill the 'spirituality' shelves in most bookstores. However, they do have steady, enduring sales. The standard texts that record Sri Ramana's dialogues tend to sell almost a thousand copies a year, every year, year after year. That means that a book such as Talks with Ramana Maharshi, which was first published in the mid-1950s, has probably sold well over 40,000 copies by now, and it continues to sell. I should mention that this is a 650-page hardback, and it's not an easy read unless you have a good knowledge of Sanskrit spiritual terms. New people discover Sri Ramana and his teachings every year, and every year the basic titles keep on selling. 

           Sri Ramanasramam, the publisher of most of the books on Sri Ramana, takes a rather passive approach to distribution. Its publishing and sales department fulfils orders that come in, but they don't advertise, and they don't lobby bookstores or distributors to take their books. That may be one reason why books on Sri Ramana don't often appear on bookstore shelves. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that most bookstore managers, even in India, don't know that good books on Ramana Maharshi exist. 

           Having said that, I will also concede that books that attempt to codify or explain his teachings will never be very popular. I think they will always be restricted to a small market of discriminating people who have a hunger for spiritual liberation. In any generation that group will not be very large. Sri Ramana's teachings are not a 'feel-good' philosophy, nor do they offer quick fixes or instant experiences. They, instead, offer a tried and tested roadmap to those who want to pursue spiritual practice seriously. That kind of traditional approach is not so popular nowadays. People want instant results, not a prescription for hard work. 

           About twenty years ago I attended a talk in which an enthusiastic speaker said that he wanted to bring Sri Ramana's teachings to millions of people all over the world. The next man who stood up commented on this proposal by saying: 'I think this idea is misguided. The more accurately you explain Ramana Maharshi's teachings, the fewer people you will find are interested in them. If you succeed in finding millions of new devotees for Sri Ramana, that will only be a measure of the extent to which you have diluted his teachings.' 

           I think that I agree with this. Ramana Maharshi was an exemplary saint who transformed the lives of countless people. Books about the transforming effect he had on people who came to see him will probably always find a good market, but if you publish a book about his teachings, few people will be interested in buying it, and even fewer in putting into practice the teachings that it contains.



      Skydancer ~ Dzogchen

      "I often meet people who hold no
      particular religious or philosophical
      views but who, in a quiet and simple way,
      take refuge in wisdom.

      They are sensitive to their own and others'
      needs and try to give their lives meaning
      by developing themselves and helping others.

      In my opinion, such people are Buddhists,
      although they may never have heard
      of Shakyamuni Buddha or his Dharma."

      from 'Refuge' by Lama Yeshe


      ~  ~  ~

      "The True Dzogchen yogis have an open accomodating heart and mind
      excluding nothing from their perfect mandala of pure perception.
      Brimming over with Wisdom, unconditional love, and empathy, they do
      not need to adopt any particular way of looking or acting. They do
      not need to abandon or reject anything either.

      This is called the spontaneous activity, or carefree ease of Dzogpa
      Chenpo. It is not something we can easily imitate. Yet to whatever
      extent we can recognize and participate in it, great benefit ensues
      for oneself and others. "

      From Nyoshul Khenpo's book:
      'Natural Great Perfection' (pp 115-116)
      TRANSLATED and edited by Lama Surya Das


      Let others probe the mystery if they can.
      Time-harried prisoners of Shall and Will-
      The right thing happens to the happy man.

      The bird flies out, the bird flies back again;
      The hill becomes the valley, and is still;
      Let others delve that mystery if they can.

      God bless the roots! -Body and soul are one
      The small become the great, the great the small;
      The right thing happens to the happy man.

      Child of the dark, he can out leap the sun,
      His being single, and that being all:
      The right thing happens to the happy man.

      Or he sits still, a solid figure when
      The self-destructive shake the common wall;
      Takes to himself what mystery he can,

      And, praising change as the slow night comes on,
      Wills what he would, surrendering his will
      Till mystery is no more: No more he can.
      The right thing happens to the happy man.

      - Theodore Roethke, The Far Field