Author Archives: Shantideva

Song of the Open Road

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Truth Is A Pathless Land

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Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)


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You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here,
I believe that much unseen is also here.

Here the profound lesson of reception, nor preference nor denial,
The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseas’d, the illiterate person, are not denied;
The birth, the hasting after the physician, the beggar’s tramp, the drunkard’s stagger, the laughing party of mechanics,
The escaped youth, the rich person’s carriage, the fop, the eloping couple,

The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of furniture into the town, the return back from the town,
They pass, I also pass, any thing passes, none can be interdicted,
None but are accepted, none but shall be dear to me.


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You air that serves me with breath to speak!
You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and give them shape!
You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers!
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides!
I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.

You flagg’d walks of the cities! you strong curbs at the edges!
You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you timber-lined sides! you distant ships!

You rows of houses! you window-pierc’d façades! you roofs!
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards!
You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much!
You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings!
From all that has touch’d you I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me,
From the living and the dead you have peopled your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and amicable with me.


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The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road, the gay fresh sentiment of the road.

O highway I travel, do you say to me Do not leave me?
Do you say Venture not—if you leave me you are lost?
Do you say I am already prepared, I am well-beaten and undenied, adhere to me?

O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I love you,
You express me better than I can express myself,
You shall be more to me than my poem.

I think heroic deeds were all conceiv’d in the open air, and all free poems also,
I think I could stop here myself and do miracles,
I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, and whoever beholds me shall like me,
I think whoever I see must be happy.


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From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently,but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me,
I can repeat over to men and women You have done such good to me I would do the same to you,
I will recruit for myself and you as I go,
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,
I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them,
Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me,
Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.


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Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear it would not amaze me,
Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appear’d it would not astonish me.

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.

Here a great personal deed has room,
(Such a deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race of men,
Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law and mocks all authority and all argument against it.)

Here is the test of wisdom,
Wisdom is not finally tested in schools,
Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it to another not having it,
Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content,
Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things;
Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.

Now I re-examine philosophies and religions,
They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds and along the landscape and flowing currents.

Here is realization,
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in him,
The past, the future, majesty, love—if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them.

Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?
Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for you and me?

Here is adhesiveness, it is not previously fashion’d, it is apropos;
Do you know what it is as you pass to be loved by strangers?
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?


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Here is the efflux of the soul,
The efflux of the soul comes from within through embower’d gates, ever provoking questions,
These yearnings why are they? these thoughts in the darkness why are they?
Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me the sunlight expands my blood?
Why when they leave me do my pennants of joy sink flat and lank?
Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
(I think they hang there winter and summer on those trees and always drop fruit as I pass;)
What is it I interchange so suddenly with strangers?
What with some driver as I ride on the seat by his side?
What with some fisherman drawing his seine by the shore as I walk by and pause?
What gives me to be free to a woman’s and man’s good-will? what gives them to be free to mine?


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The efflux of the soul is happiness, here is happiness,
I think it pervades the open air, waiting at all times,
Now it flows unto us, we are rightly charged.

Here rises the fluid and attaching character,
The fluid and attaching character is the freshness and sweetness of man and woman,
(The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and sweeter every day out of the roots of themselves, than it sprouts fresh and sweet continually out of itself.)

Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes the sweat of the love of young and old,
From it falls distill’d the charm that mocks beauty and attainments,
Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of contact.


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Allons! whoever you are come travel with me!
Traveling with me you find what never tires.

The earth never tires,
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first,
Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d,
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.

Allons! we must not stop here,
However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here,
However shelter’d this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here,
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.


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Allons! the inducements shall be greater,
We will sail pathless and wild seas,
We will go where winds blow, waves dash, and the Yankee clipper speeds by under full sail.

Allons! with power, liberty, the earth, the elements,
Health, defiance, gayety, self-esteem, curiosity;
Allons! from all formules!
From your formules, O bat-eyed and materialistic priests.

The stale cadaver blocks up the passage—the burial waits no longer.

Allons! yet take warning!
He traveling with me needs the best blood, thews, endurance,
None may come to the trial till he or she bring courage and health,
Come not here if you have already spent the best of yourself,
Only those may come who come in sweet and determin’d bodies,
No diseas’d person, no rum-drinker or venereal taint is permitted here.

(I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes, rhymes,
We convince by our presence.)


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Listen! I will be honest with you,
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes,
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is call’d riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve,
You but arrive at the city to which you were destin’d, you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction before you are call’d by an irresistible call to depart,
You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those who remain behind you,
What beckonings of love you receive you shall only answer with passionate kisses of parting,
You shall not allow the hold of those who spread their reach’d hands toward you.

.

.


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Allons! after the great Companions, and to belong to them!
They too are on the road—they are the swift and majestic men—they are the greatest women,
Enjoyers of calms of seas and storms of seas,
Sailors of many a ship, walkers of many a mile of land,
Habituès of many distant countries, habituès of far-distant dwellings,
Trusters of men and women, observers of cities, solitary toilers,
Pausers and contemplators of tufts, blossoms, shells of the shore,
Dancers at wedding-dances, kissers of brides, tender helpers of children, bearers of children,
Soldiers of revolts, standers by gaping graves, lowerers-down of coffins,
Journeyers over consecutive seasons, over the years, the curious years each emerging from that which preceded it,
Journeyers as with companions, namely their own diverse phases,
Forth-steppers from the latent unrealized baby-days,
Journeyers gayly with their own youth, journeyers with their bearded and well-grain’d manhood,
Journeyers with their womanhood, ample, unsurpass’d, content,
Journeyers with their own sublime old age of manhood or womanhood,
Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the universe,
Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom of death.


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Allons! to that which is endless as it was beginningless,
To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights,
To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and nights they tend to,
Again to merge them in the start of superior journeys,
To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it,
To conceive no time, however distant, but what you may reach it and pass it,
To look up or down no road but it stretches and waits for you, however long but it stretches and waits for you,
To see no being, not God’s or any, but you also go thither,
To see no possession but you may possess it, enjoying all without labor or purchase, abstracting the feast yet not abstracting one particle of it,
To take the best of the farmer’s farm and the rich man’s elegant villa, and the chaste blessings of the well-married couple, and the fruits of orchards and flowers of gardens,
To take to your use out of the compact cities as you pass through,
To carry buildings and streets with you afterward wherever you go,
To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter them, to gather the love out of their hearts,
To take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you leave them behind you,
To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls.

All parts away for the progress of souls,
All religion, all solid things, arts, governments—all that was or is apparent upon this globe or any globe, falls into niches and corners before the procession of souls along the grand roads of the universe.

Of the progress of the souls of men and women along the grand roads of the universe, all other progress is the needed emblem and sustenance.

Forever alive, forever forward,
Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbulent, feeble, dissatisfied,
Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, rejected by men,
They go! they go! I know that they go, but I know not where they go,
But I know that they go toward the best—toward something great.

Whoever you are, come forth! or man or woman come forth!
You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though it has been built for you.

Out of the dark confinement! out from behind the screen!
It is useless to protest, I know all and expose it.

Behold through you as bad as the rest,
Through the laughter, dancing, dining, supping, of people,
Inside of dresses and ornaments, inside of those wash’d and trimm’d faces,
Behold a secret silent loathing and despair.

No husband, no wife, no friend, trusted to hear the confession,
Another self, a duplicate of every one, skulking and hiding it goes,
Formless and wordless through the streets of the cities, polite and bland in the parlors,
In the cars of railroads, in steamboats, in the public assembly,
Home to the houses of men and women, at the table, in the bedroom, everywhere,
Smartly attired, countenance smiling, form upright, death under the breast-bones, hell under the skull-bones,
Under the broadcloth and gloves, under the ribbons and artificial flowers,
Keeping fair with the customs, speaking not a syllable of itself,
Speaking of any thing else but never of itself.


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Allons! through struggles and wars!
The goal that was named cannot be countermanded.

Have the past struggles succeeded?
What has succeeded? yourself? your nation? Nature?
Now understand me well—it is provided in the essence of things that from any fruition of success, no matter what, shall come forth something to make a greater struggle necessary.

My call is the call of battle, I nourish active rebellion,
He going with me must go well arm’d,
He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty, angry enemies, desertions.


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Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain’d!

Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.

Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?


Krishna and Arjuna

Krishna and Arjuna

by Walt Whitman

When you really don’t know…

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‘That what I want, basically, what I really want, is what you want. And I don’t know what you want.
Surprise me.
But that’s the kinship between “I” and “thou”. So when I ask, I go right down to the question, which we started with: “What do I want?”
The answer is “I don’t know”.
When Bodhidharma was asked, “Who are you?” which is another form of the same question, he said “I don’t know”.

‘ Planting flowers to which the butterflies come, Bodhidharma says “I know not” ‘

I don’t know what I want.
And when you don’t know what you want, you reach the state of desirelessness. When you *really* don’t know… you see, there’s a beginning stage of not knowing, and there’s an ending stage of not knowing.
In the beginning stage, you don’t know what you want because you haven’t thought about it, or you’ve only thought superficially.
Then when somebody forces you to think about it and go through it, you say, “Yeah, I think I’d like this, I think I’d like that, I think I’d like the other”. That’s the middle stage.
Then you get beyond that, and say “Is that what I really want?” In the end you say, “No, I don’t think that’s it… I might be satisfied with it for a while, and I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it, but it’s not really what I want”.
Why don’t you really know what you want?
Two reasons, that you don’t really know what you want.
Number 1: You have it.
Number 2: You don’t know yourself. Because you never can. The godhead is never the object of its own knowledge, just as a knife doesn’t cut itself, fire doesn’t burn itself, life doesn’t illumine itself. It’s always an endless mystery to itself. “I don’t know”.
And this “I don’t know”, uttered in the infinite interior of the spirit, this “I don’t know”, is the same thing as “I love”, “I let go”, “I don’t try to force or control”. It’s the same thing as humility.
And so the Upanishads say, “If you think that you understand Brahman, you do not understand. You have yet to be instructed further. If you know that you do not understand, then you truly understand, for the Brahman is unknown to those who know it, and known to those who know it not”.
And the principle is that any time you, as it were, voluntarily let up control, in other words, cease to cling to yourself, you have an access to power. Because you’re wasting energy all the time in self-defense, trying to manage things, trying to force things to conform to your will.
The moment you stop doing that, that wasted energy is available. And therefore you are, in that sense, having that energy available, you are one with the divine principle. You have the energy! When you’re trying, however, to act as if you are god, that is to say, you don’t trust anybody and you’re the dictator and you have to keep everybody in line, you lose the divine energy, because what you’re doing is simply defending yourself.
So then the principle is: the more you give it away, the more it comes back.
Now you say, “I don’t have the courage to give it away. I’m afraid”.
And you can only overcome that by realizing, you better give it away, because there’s no way of holding on to it. The meaning of the fact that everything is dissolving constantly, that we’re all falling apart, we’re all in the process of constant death, and that -
“The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon / Turns Ashes—or it prospers; and / Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face / Lighting a little Hour or two—is gone” all that Omar Khayyam jazz. You know, “The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, the great globe itself, I, all which it inherit — shall dissolve, and like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind.”….
All falling apart. Everything is. That’s the great assistance to you. That fact that everything is in decay is your helper. That is allowing you that you don’t have to let go, because there’s nothing to hold on to.
It’s achieved for you, in other words, by the process of nature. So once you see that you just don’t have a prayer, and it’s all washed up, and that you will vanish and “leave not a rack behind”, and you really get with that, suddenly you find that you have the power, this enormous access of energy.
But it’s not power that came to you because you grabbed it; it came in entirely the opposite way. The power that comes to you in that opposite way is power with which you can be trusted.’

To Forget the Self

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The Storyteller

What is the Self? Countless people have asked themselves this question and there have been numberless answers. But as these answers have all been observations expressed in words. What does that mean? All answers on the question “What is the Self?”, when formulated in words can only be from the relative point of view, from a dualistic point of view. It can only describe an object from the point of view of the subject. It is not by an intellectual, empirical and dual approach that the Self can be revealed. But the Self is that through which all is known. It is similar to the eye that can see the manyfold appearances but it cannot see itself. It can see itself as a reflection in a mirror but it can never see itself directly.

This example can be found in the story about the tenth man. Although this story might seem very simple with nothing really interesting to tell us, it is really quiet profound when put into the good context with some understanding.

There were ten men travelling to a very distant village. On their way they encountered a river they were obliged to cross. As the river had a strong current, they decided to join their hands to cross it. But on their way they lost their footing and they had to swim on the other side. Later, on the opposite bank they reassembled and decided to check if everybody had crossed the water. Each started to count the number of men who have arrived and they could only find nine. They concluded that one of them must have drowned and they were bemoaning their loss. Meanwhile a monk passed by and asked them what had happened. They explained their story to the monk, who quickly recognized their mistake. He asked them to line up and count aloud their number as he passed by and hit each of them with a stick on the shoulder. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9… At the end, as he hits the last man and this one calls aloud ‘ten’, they thus realized that they were ten. What had happened is that each man had counted the others and forgot to count himself.

This story illustrates well how the Self is always there but it happens to be overlooked. We cannot see it as the eye cannot see itself. Every attempt to see it will fail as the mind will try to grasp the Self as an object. It is only by turning inward and resting on the thought “I am” that the thoughts, the mind, will be dissolved and eventually our essential Nature, the Self, pure Awareness could be revealed.

Love,

Shanti

Empathy

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The Observer

Tempus Fugit… Time flies… When I watch the date of my latest post I must admit that my writing becomes very rare these times. Being too much involved into mundane concerns I find my blog standing still. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi once said “God never forsakes one who has surrendered.” These days I work very hard to acquire some knowledge to help people in most difficult mental situations. We are the world that we have created and we are the only ones that can change ourselves and hence, change the world. The change is not out there. It is not in time or in space. It is in this present moment, in this precious moment… Have you ever found a solution in the future or in the past? Where is the solution to our problems? If you go deep into it you might say that the solution is always in the present now. But what is the size of this present NOW? Can we measure it? Is it a second, or a fraction of a second, or may be a fraction of a fraction of a second? We can continue like that endlessly, dividing this fraction into new fractions and still we will find a lapse of “time” with a beginning and an end. How tiny is then NOW? Is it measurable? If you really go very deep into that question you might discover that NOW is beyond time, immeasurable… infinity. It is the gate to love, compassion and empathy as it destroys all distance. In NOW there is no space anymore. Time and space always come together. Empathy occurs only if we listen with our whole being. It is not listening that is in the ears, neither the understanding of listening that is in the mind. It is the direct reflection of what is here right now in our awareness. There is not the tiniest amount of space possible between awareness and its content. We create that space in time with our preconceived ideas and judgments. Empathy and compassion occurs when there is no space and hence no time; in this precious, vast, infinite present moment that is the NOW.

— Personal reflections

The three dualities

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Greetings from Sankhu

Dear readers,

As I am currently reading a truly amazing commentary about the Gospel of Thomas, I would like to quote some paragraphs of that book. The book is called “The Nondual Teachings of Christ”. I will give further details about that (partly finished) book at the end of the quoted text. As spirituality, when it comes to teachings about nonduality or oneness, goes beyond religions, creeds, beliefs or rituals, and brings us to the highest commonalities shared by all mystics from all traditions, it does not really matter if teachings in this subject matter are originally from Jesus Christ or from the Upanishads. Here is a part of the commentary on the forty eighth saying:

There are different  dualities which exist that need to be penetrated, and they are often penetrated in sequence.

The first is the duality of value or aspect to things. We conceive of phenomena as good or evil, pure or impure, pleasant or painful. However, when we apply the principle of being a mere “passerby” to them, and do not make any conceptual elaborations about them, then comes the realization that there is no real purity or impurity, good or evil, etc. in phenomena at all, and they are of one taste and characteristic. Our thoughts of them do not define them or characterize them, and, as such, our thoughts are baseless and without merit. As this is seen, then all phenomena become clear in the sense that what they are is precisely unfathomable. When we do not think of things, or picture them to ourselves, then we see them as they are in terms of our experience. This is the first duality that is surmounted.

The second is the duality of subject and object. Paradoxically, one surmounts this by seeing a new, different “subject” behind the commonly perceived subject. Normally we perceive our sense of self to be identified with our mind, our wishes, our thoughts, etc. but these are all objects which occur in a more fundamental awareness. When we negate our mind and all its attendant phenomena, then we break through to the awareness in which this mind occurs. It is as if the former subject becomes an object of a new, deeper subject. This new “subject” has no sense of “I” or “mine” at all, but is like a clear, vast and empty presence in which all things live, move and have their being. Here we know ourselves to be the soul, and not the mind or body, and from this realization comes the first real breakthrough into the kingdom of God. We see that there can be a way out of ignorance, because we are not ignorance, inherently. We are awareness and awareness is the very definition of existence. The calm that comes from this truth is deep and joyful, but it is not the end, however.

The third is the duality between essential, nondual awareness and phenomena. Once the witnessing awareness is realized, we often begin to reify or solidify its difference and distinction from phenomena. Awareness is empty while phenomena are full; awareness is still while phenomena are in motion. By resting in this awareness more and more, however, such distinctions also begin to fall away and one realizes an unbroken unity to all things. It is not the same as conceiving of all things as consisting of primordial matter – as materialists and secularists do – nor is it like viewing all things as God’s creation. It is something inconceivable.

I think that the author has done a great job in skating around a subject matter that is beyond words. One should always remember that such texts are only pointers. Everybody has to inquire on his own in this subject matter to realize what has been described here.

About the Gospel of Thomas: “The Gospel of Thomas is perhaps one of the most enigmatic of religious scriptures. Yet it is also very likely that it is the earliest account of the teachings of Jesus, and therefore the most authentic record we have today as to what he truly taught. Therefore, to understand this Gospel is to get at the heart of what the historical Jesus said far beyond how he has been (mis)interpreted through the centuries and by later followers.”

The quote is from the e-Book “The Nondual Teachings of the Christ” from Charles Limcango. Please note that this book is still not finished and new volumes are published regularly. The latest (9th) has been published this month. He releases sets of 4 volumes in one book as the work gets done. So, books with volumes from 1-4 and 5-8 are already available.