#1878 - Tuesday, August 3, 2004
Nondual Highlights Issue #1878 Tuesday, August 6, 2004 Editor: Mark
if your beloved
has the life of a fire
step in now and burn along
in a night full of
suffering and darkness
be a candle spreading light till dawn
stop this useless
argument and disharmony
show your sweetness and accord
even if you feel
torn to pieces
sew yourself new clothes
your body and soul
will surely feel the joy
when you simply go along
learn this lesson from
lute tambourine and trumpet
learn the harmony of the musicians
if one is playing a wrong note
even among twenty
others will stray out of tune
don't say what is the use
of me alone being peaceful
when everyone is fighting
you're not one
you're a thousand
just light your lantern
since one live flame
is better than
a thousand dead souls
- Ghazal 1197
Translation by Nader Khalili
Rumi, Fountain of Fire
Cal-Earth Press, 1994
- posted to Sunlight
- NASA image - moon and Leonid meteor
Holy sir, you said that Prahlada attained enlightenment by the grace of lord Vishnu. If everything is achieved by self-effort, why was he not able to attain enlightenment without Vishnu's grace?
Surely, whatever Prahlada attained was through self-effort, O Rama, not otherwise. Vishnu is the self and the self is Vishnu: the distinction is verbal. It was the self of Prahlada that generated in itself devotion to Vishnu. Prahlada obtained from Vishnu, who was his own self, the boon of self-enquiry; and through such enquiry attained self-knowledge. At times one attains self-knowledge through self-enquiry undertaken through self-effort; at times this self-effort manifests as devotion to Vishnu who is also the self, and thus one attains enlightenment.
- excerpt from Vasistha's Yoga
You may try thousands of times, but nothing can be achieved without God's grace. One cannot see God without His grace. Is it an easy thing to receive grace? One must altogether renounce egotism; one cannot see God as long as one feels, 'I am the doer.'
God doesn't easily appear in the heart of a man who feels himself to be his own master. But God can be seen the moment His grace descends.
Understand this if nothing else: spiritual freedom and oneness with the Tao are not randomly bestowed gifts, but the rewards of conscious self-transformation and self-evolution.
- excerpt from The Hua Hu Ching
The Self reveals himself to the one who longs for the Self. Those who long for the Self with all their heart are chosen by the Self as his own.
- Mundaka Upanishad
The Heart's Awakening
The spiritual path begins when the heart is awakened to His eternal presence. The Beloved looks into the heart of His lover and in that instant the lover knows the secret of divine union, that the lover and Beloved are one. The glance of the Beloved carries the consciousness of His eternal presence.
The Sufis call this glance the moment of tawba, the turning of the heart. The inner awareness of His presence turns the heart away from the world and back to God. He calls us back to Him with a momentary glimpse of His face. This glimpse is love's most potent poison that begins our dying to the world, our journey back to God, for "How can I look at the world around me, how can I see it, if it hides the face of my Lover?" (Tweedie 1987, p. 87)
The inner awareness of union awakens us to the pain of separation. When the heart knows that in its innermost essence it is united with God, we arc confronted with our own isolation, with the knowledge that we are separate from God. It is only because we have been given a glimpse of union, had a sip of this divine wine, that we are made conscious of separation. Without the knowledge of union, how could we know that we are separate? Without having experienced the bliss of His presence, how could we know the agony of our own isolation? The pain of longing is born from the glance of God.
From the beginning of the path, the opposing states of separation and union are engraved into the heart and psyche of the spiritual wayfarer. The consciousness of union becomes the pain of separation that reminds us of our real Home. The heart's remembrance of its Beloved is kept awake by the fire of longing. We long for Him whom we love, and the greater the love, the greater the pain of longing. Love and sadness become the substance of our inner existence. In the words of 'Attar,
The Polarities of Love
Union and separation, love and longing, sweetness and despair, the polarities of the mystical path leave us bewildered and confused. Why are we left here behind the veils of separation when we know that separation is an illusion? Why are we caught in the prison of duality when our heart knows the deeper truth that 'everything is one'? The more we meditate and pray, the more we remember Him Whom our heart loves, the more alienated we feel in a world that appears to have forgotten Him. Somewhere we know what it is like to be loved beyond measure, and here we are left in a world where love is too often equated with demands and co-dependency. The eternal question of "Why are we here?" has an added poignancy when we have felt the infinite nearness of our real Home.
He Whom we love has abandoned us and only the pain of separation reminds us that somewhere He is 'closer to us than our very neck vein.' We carry the pain of remembrance in honor of our love, yet only too often we feel betrayed. How can such a Beloved desert us? How can such a Beauty veil Her face? Doubts bombard us as the mind tries to convince us of the stupidity of our quest: to look for what you cannot find... to long for an invisible Beloved who has only brought you pain... In many ways consciousness crucifies us on our search. The subtleties of torture with which the mind can torment are known to most travellers on the path of love.
Underlying these difficulties is the fact that while the nature of love is to draw us to union, the nature of the ego is separation. Love comes from the heart, the innermost core of our being which is our connection to the Absolute. Love is "the essence of the divine essence" (Massignon 1982, III, p. 104), and so dynamically pulls us towards oneness. But the ego is born out of separation. The ego's existence is defined by being different: "I am different from you." The path towards union with God takes us away from the ego with its sense of separate existence and individual identity. This is why the Sufi says that the first step towards God is the step away from oneself. Love calls us to come away from ourselves and enter the state of oneness where only the Beloved exists.
The ego and the mind belong to a dimension of separation and duality. The ego exists through its sense of individuality and separation; the mind only functions through duality: through comparison and differentiation. The power of love lifts the veils of duality, threatening the ego and confusing the mind. The ancient path of the mystics takes us back to the source where distinctions and differences dissolve just as "sugar dissolves in water." On this journey the ego and mind rebel as their identity and function are attacked. Love draws us into the gladiatorial arena in which we fight our own liberation and resist the pull towards oneness. But those whose hearts are committed know, like the gladiators of old, that death awaits them. They know that "When Truth has taken hold of a heart, she empties it of all but herself (Massignon 1982, I, p. 285).
We hide from the love which alone can heal us. We run from the Truth which torments us. But like the encroaching tide, the tremendous power of love gradually smooths away the ego's paltry marks in the sand. Slowly we come to recognize the infinite ocean as our real Home, an ocean where, in the words of Rumi, "swimming ends always in drowning" (Liebert 1981, p. 30).
The Axis of Love
Paradoxically, we need the experience of separation to draw us to union. The state of union is the natural state of the soul. The experience of union is the "wine that made us drunk before the creation of the vine." But this secret, hidden within the heart, requires the pain of separation to bring it into consciousness. The pain of love is the effect of the magnetic attraction between the soul and its source. When we feel the heart's pull, we feel the desire of the Beloved to become conscious within the heart of the lover:
Separation and union are woven together to form the very fabric of the journey. While the heart knows the secret of union, the ego is stranded in separation. The inner world haunts us with this promise of oneness and the outer world tempts us with so many reflections. These are the twin poles of our existence, what is hidden and what is manifest, the Creator and His creation. The mystical journey leads us along this axis of love, the path from the creation back to the Creator. On this journey we bring the seed of our own consciousness and lay it at the feet of our Beloved. We bring an awareness of separation into the arena of union.
"I was a hidden treasure and I wanted to be known, so I created the world" (Hadith qudsi, Sacred Tradition). From His solitary aloneness He created the world and brought into play the opposites of day and night, positive and negative, masculine and feminine. In this world He manifested His attributes, His divine Names, the names of majesty (jalal) and the names of beauty (jamal) or the names of severity (qahr) and the names of gentleness (lutf). These pairs of opposites create the dance of life, the unending dance that comes from the unmanifest, inner world, onto the stage of manifestation. A human being, born onto this stage, is a part of the dynamic interplay of opposites, but at the same time we carry the unmanifest oneness as a memory imprinted into the innermost chamber of the heart, the 'heart of hearts.'
Man is My secret and I am his secret. The inner knowledge of the spiritual essence is a secret of My secrets. Only I put this into the heart of My good servant, and none may know his state other than Me (Prophetic tradition, quoted in Jilani 1992, p. 15). In His world of duality we carry the essence of His oneness. The work of the mystic is to make conscious His oneness and offer it back in devotion. Thus we make Himself known to Himself. Without the stage of separation this journey would not be possible. It is the interplay of opposites that reflects His divine Oneness back to Himself. Without the mirror of creation He could not see His own face.
- excerpt from Separation and Union by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
Some Western psychologists say that we should not repress our anger but express it - that we should practice anger! However, we must make an important distinction here between mental problems that should be expressed and those that should not.
Sometimes you may be truly wronged and it is right for you to express your grievance instead of letting it fester inside you. But you should not express it with anger. If you foster disturbing negative minds such as anger they will become a part of your personality; each time you express anger it becomes easier to express it again.
Progress in mental development... depends on controlling the mind.
- The Dalai Lama, from His Holiness' Commentary on "The Eight Verses Of Thought Transformation,", translated by Alex Berzin, published by Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre.
- posted to DailyDharma