Our Spirit, our breath: 21 pointings on the journey to realizing our true Self

Our Spirit, our breath: 21 pointings on the journey to realizing our true Self

NB Enjoy 3 breaths * after each line is read.

1 In most languages spirit means breath. With each breath we murmur Yah – wehhhhhh….. Listen to the breath of a sleeping baby.

  • 2 Breath is life. The difference between you, or me, alive or dead is the presence or absence of the life-force, or chi.
  • 3 We don’t have life we are life – in the form of the human spirit. Life flows through us and flowers in our individuation, our being, & our doing.
  • 4 At birth the human spirit is undifferentiated. Almost immediately the process of socialization into modes of being begins.
  • 5 Socialization, in addition to physical expression, enables us to form a self, an identity formed out of selfing & ‘me not-me’ boundaries.
  • 6 Gradually we learn to read the world & our self with greater sophistication via language & subtler modes such as body-language & intuition.
  • 7 At the same time we learn to express our self in three states or modes of being; the Caring the Creative, and the Critical.
  • 8 Although home & local community based the three correspond to the Humanities, the Arts and the Sciences.
  • 9 They are three forms of truth & knowledge acquisition & expressions; moral, subjective, & objective.
  • 10 Over and above the three modes there is the no-self mode, in which we rest as awareness.
  • 11 When we return from resting as awareness we re-enter the dual ‘normal’ realm & engagement via the 3 Cs.
  • 12 The fourth C then is Contemplation but only at the level of unicity – the state of no-self, transcending our self.
  • 13 As we mature in no-self, or no-selfing we bring that resonance to our Caring, Creativity & Criticality.
  • 14 Our participation i the dual world becomes imbued with the Spirit of our true Self awareness.
  • 15 We are citizens of two realms the contingent dual ‘normal’ world and the nondual transcendent world.
  • 16 The three Cs are sub-divisions of the dual realm and the ‘normal’ world.
  • 17 But every separate thing in the dual world is enhanced as we realize our true Self as being awareness.
  • 18 Another view of the singleness dividing is in this explanation of the singleness behind soul, mind & body;
  • ‘Human Reality is the same reality which is given different names, according to the different conditions wherein it becomes manifest. A) Because of its attachment to matter and the phenomenal world, when it governs the physical functions of the body, it is called the human soul. B) When it manifests itself as the thinker, the comprehender, it is called the mind. C.) And when it soars into the atmosphere of God, and travels in the spiritual world, it becomes designated as spirit.’
  • 19 Conscious, circular breathing is the primary portal to enable us to step into, and expand consolidation of our true Self; & rest as awareness
  • 20 We heal & reduce our ‘me-me-itis’, clearing out our inner rubbish of ‘selfing’ you might say, by conscious, circular breathing as we practice unitive meditation – “moment-to-moment presence that excludes nothing & sticks to nothing”. Joan Tollifson in her ‘Bare-Bones Meditation’.
  • 21 God is as available as the breath, the air we breathe. God is breathing us. In our last breath, as in our first, we murmur the name of God – Yah-wehhhhh….. Listen to the breath of a sleeping baby. Yah-wehhhhh….. Yah-wehhhhh…. Yah-wehhhhh…. * * *

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EXPLANATION of Yahweh as the ultimate breath-mantra

Yahweh = the ultimate breath-mantra – because it is something we do automatically from birth to death, regardless of our beliefs.

“In Hebrew, all you write are the consonants and what it means to be an educated Jew, is that your eye automatically fills in the appropriate vowels and there are four consonants in the sacred name Yahweh, and he, the rabbi, said, “Did you know that those consonants if correctly pronounced do not allow you to close your lips or use your tongue”.
In fact the reason the name could not be spoken is it could only be breathed, in fact the sacred name Yahweh was an attempt to imitate and replicate the sound of inhalation and exhalation.”
(on the recording Fr Richard Rohr slowly breathes in and out several times with a whispering sound.)

“He did it about 30 times in this crowd of PhDs and I’m not exaggerating. But at the end of it I heard sobbing in the room, that people got it. God is as available as the breath, the air, the wind and the words are the same in many languages.”

SOURCE: https://tsvceo-web.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/Richard%20Rohr.pdf

Re Heschel’s “Concepts are delicious snacks with which we try to alleviate our amazement.” (1971:7) “If amazement is a good thing why would we want to alleviate it?”

Some comments re Heschel’s,
“Concepts are delicious snacks with which we try to alleviate our amazement.” (1971:7)

A member of our One Garden group asked for comments on; “Assuming amazement as something good I want to enhance or amplify it not alleviate it.” (?)

As a question I’m reading that as, “If amazement is a good thing why would we want to alleviate it?”

COMMENTS:
It’s not the amazement that needs alleviating it is our spiritual hunger that needs alleviating – the hunger to be at-one – and to be free of the burden, and suffering, of egoic self.

Concepts, like food snacks, won’t satisfy us compared to the real thing, a proper spiritual meal – which is to rest as our Nondual self – to rest as awareness (substantially ) free of self.

The ‘snacks quotation’ relates to the ‘Citizens of two realms’ quotation. Here is a slightly longer version of the ‘Citizens of Two Realms’ extract’;

“The Search for reason ends at the known; on the immense expanse beyond it only the sense of the ineffable can glide. It alone knows the route to that which is remote from experience and understanding.

Neither of them is amphibious: reason cannot go beyond the shore, and the sense of the ineffable is out of place where we measure, where we weigh.

We do not leave the shore of the known in search of adventure or suspense or because of the failure of reason to answer our questions. We sail because our mind is like a fantastic seashell, and when applying our ear to its lips we hear a perpetual murmur from the waves beyond the shore.

Citizens of two realms, we all must sustain a dual allegiance: we sense the ineffable in one realm, we name and exploit reality in another.

Between the two we set up a system of references, but we can never fill the gap.

They are as far and as close to each other as time and calendar, as violin and melody, as life and what lies beyond the last breath.”
― Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion.

A saying not by Heschel is helpful “The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.” – (source unknown though many have used it e.g.Huston Smith)

My reading of Heschel is that he is describing the dual world as the ‘island of knowledge’ and the nondual as ‘wonder’ – the ineffable experience of the Whole, of Mystery – that another great mystic, Einstein, wrote about so beautifully;

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. This insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms— this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of devoutly religious men.” http://sciphilos.info/docs_pages/docs_Einstein_fulltext_css.html

Wonderment is the state we are in when, with selfing subdued, we enter the mystical, Nondual, state – the home of our true Self.

Wondering is the head process of philosophizing – and belongs to the dual realm.

Here is Heschel seeming to say that ‘wonder’ is ‘radical amazement’-l http://www.awakin.org/read/view.php?tid=1080

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Miriam Louisa – Zen saying: painted cakes do not satisfy hunger

This incisive observation from Miriam Louisa helps in the issue of understanding no-self as self obliteration!

DOGEN ON PAINTED CAKES AND HUNGER. AGAIN. – Miriam Louisa http://wonderingmindstudio.com/blog/

FEBRUARY 12, 2016

Miriam says;
“A recent online conversation with a friend brought up our observations of the way so many folk in the ‘spiritual field’ feel that it’s somehow wrong to have a passion to create, or be interested in, art. He commented, “They’ve internalized teachings that say that artistic expression is a lie, that it is too sensuous, too rajasic, too much of a distraction from “higher” things. I’m reminded of Plato wanting to expel poets and musicians from his Republic!”

The mainstream art world is a minefield for artists and artisans whose practice is fuelled by the impulse to express from the wonderment and awe that is their authentic experience. On the one hand we have the denial by its curators and critics of anything that whiffs of ‘the spiritual’ in contemporary art (see the daylighting has begun), and on the other we are rebuked by the high priests, teachers and purveyors of (so-called) “higher” things themselves! I have had first-hand experience of this on my journey – I was associated for a while with teachings that regarded all creative expression as potential ego-reinforcement. It was a liberation for me to abandon such a separative misconception and embrace the full monty of the creative life; to meet and work with new teachers who themselves were artists and who considered creative practice to be an essential aspect of awakening to the Real.

My friend finished by saying that many of these people have “suppressed creative, esthetic, blissful, sensitive, compassionate and divinely universal parts of themselves by rejecting the aesthetic aspect of life.”

Miriam Louisa says;
“It made me think back to this post – originally written and published in 2009 – and prompted me to put it up again. Lest we forget.

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Zen saying: painted cakes do not satisfy hunger

Meaning: painted cakes aren’t the real thing, they only describe the real thing. Implying that for the serious seeker of Truth, creative work is a vanity, a distraction, a pointless pursuit.

It is true that the tendency to identify with one’s creative expressions can cause the ego to inflate, with all the suffering that comes by default. But identification with any human activity carries this danger.

The question: What is the self that expresses in self-expression? is our lifeboat in these dangerous waters.

The monk Dogen saw the bigger picture.
He said: Painted cakes do satisfy hunger.

Aside from painted cakes, there is no way to satisfy hunger.
Aside from the painted cakes we make,
artists and writers and educators and web builders
have no way to express their ideas and inspirations.

Aside from the process of making painted cakes
we have no insight into our creativity
and what fosters it or sabotages it.

Aside from the painted cakes we perceive,
what so-called Reality is there?

If Reality is REAL, it must be whole and undivided. Our painted cakes are therefore nondual expressions of the truth – whether we know it or not, and whether we like it or not. The ten thousand things are painted cakes awaiting the glance of an awakened wondering mind. This vast and all-embracing perspective lifts our creative work into the realm of sacred practice, something many artisans – including this one – are very conscious of and deeply committed to. Our works are ‘painted cakes’ and amazingly, they do satisfy hunger.”

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Homage to John Daido Loori, Sensei, for inspiration and teachings.

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Painting by Wayne Thiebaud – Boston Cremes, 1962

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If this topic interests you, do pop over toMiriam Louisa’s other website theawakenedeye.com and have a look around. Thanks.

Zen master Hakuin: his comment on ‘the sound of one hand clapping’

What is the Sound of a Single Hand?

When you clap together both hands a sharp sound is heard; when you raise the one hand there is neither sound nor smell…

If conceptions and discriminations are not mixed within it and it is quite apart from seeing, hearing, perceiving, and knowing, and if while walking, standing, sitting, and reclining, you proceed straightforwardly without interruption in the study of this koan, then in the place where reason is exhausted and words are ended, you will suddenly pluck out the karmic root of birth and death and break down the cave of ignorance.

Hakuin’s own explanation, as translated by Phillip Yampolksy in The Zen Master Hakuin: Selected Writings, pg. 164

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RP I particularly like the phrase ‘breakdown of the cave of ignorance’. Of course we are inevitably reminded of Plato’s allegory of the Cave – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave

I recall that in one of his early books Guy Claxton refers to a Zen teacher who asked why Westerners go East in their spiritual search when what is to be found lies in our ancient teachers, such as Plato.

Of course it is delicious and delightful to juxtapose teachings from East and West!

SEE – http://oook.info/easia/onehand.html

Christian and Zen quotations

“When one side is revealed, the other is concealed.”
~Dogen

A monk asked Joshu, “All things return to the One. Where does the One return to?”

Joshu said, “When I was in the province of Sai, I made a cloth shirt. It weighed seven pounds.”
~Blue Cliff Record, Case 45

“Light has no front or back.”
~Traditional Zen Saying

“What is the sound of a single hand?”
~Hakuin

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Psalms 36:9).

ZEN SAYING: “At first, I saw mountains as mountains and rivers as rivers. Then, I saw mountains were not mountains and rivers were not rivers. Finally, I see mountains again as mountains, and rivers again as rivers.”

RYOKAN: poem ‘You stop to point at the moon in the sky’

‘You stop to point at the moon in the sky’ – by Ryokan English version by Sam Hamill

You stop to point at the moon in the sky,
but the finger’s blind unless the moon is shining.

One moon, one careless finger pointing —
are these two things or one?

The question is a pointer guiding
a novice from ignorance thick as fog.

Look deeper. The mystery calls and calls:
No moon, no finger — nothing there at all.

— from The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhalla Library), Edited by Sam Hamill / Edited by J. P. Seaton

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Another version;

You stop to point at the moon in the sky,
But the finger is blind, unless the moon is shining.
One moon, one careless finger pointing, Are these two things or one?
Look deeper, the mystery calls and calls,
No moon, no finger, Nothing there at all.

(Ryokan 1758-1831)