|Dr. Robert Puff|
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Issue #1363 - Friday, February 28, 2003 - Editor: Gloria
The British artist Charles
Hardaker, A.R.C.A. N.E.A.C. R.B.A.
has created a series of paintings inspired by Gospel of Thomas logia
that are housed in Townley Hall, near Drogheda, and Newgrange, thirty
miles from Dublin, Ireland. See them all at:
Extensive resources also are on the Gospel of Thomas homepage, with many links to other sites, including a discussion of the movie Stigmata.
Thanks to Clarence on Allspirit ~~~~~~~~~~
|Directed, Photographed and Edited by
Andy Goldsworthy builds elaborate installation
pieces out of Mother Natures flotsam and jetsam in
its own natural habitat (open fields, seashores,
riverbanks). Goldsworthy spends hours altering the
landscape or working his elemental materials into
man-made paths and patterns of harmonious grace. A
finished work can last for as long as a few days or as
short as a minute before a light breeze or an eddying
tide picks it apart like carrion... German documentarian
Thomas Riedelshiemers affectionate, awestruck look
at the man and his mission to tap into a frequency of
symmetrical order in terra firmas chaos is as
hypnotically dazzling as his subjects abstract
A gorgeous, wide-screen,
35mm time capsule.
|Thanks to Mary Bianco on NDSNews|
Thanks to Mary Bianco on NDSNews
just this! just
First days of spring-the sky
is bright blue, the sun huge and warm.
Everything's turning green.
Carrying my monk's bowl, I walk to the village
to beg for my daily meal.
The children spot me at the temple gate
and happily crowd around,
dragging at my arms till I stop.
I put my bowl on a white rock,
hang my bag on a branch.
First we braid grasses and play tug-of-war,
then we take turns singing and keeping a kick-ball in the air:
I kick the ball and they sing,
they kick and I sing.
Time is forgotten, the hours fly.
People passing by point at me and laugh:
"Why are you acting like such a fool?"
I nod my head and don't answer.
I could say something, but why?
Do you want to know what's in my heart?
From the beginning of time: just this! just this!
From: 'The Enlightened Heart' Ed. Stephen Mitchell
Thanks to Gill Eardley on Allspirit
Recently, Steven Seagal was proclaimed the reincarnation of a 17th-century high Lama. A huge controversy sprang up; many people thought that the religion was selling itself out. I think that a mistake has been made. Steven Seagal is...well... unenlightened, to say the least. I, for one, would not be in the least surprised if the Dalai Lama apologized profusely, and informed Fred Rogers that he, in fact, was the Supremely Enlightened one.
When the Zen Master Gutei was asked a question, he would
reply by lifting an index finger. Another Master kicked a ball.
Another slapped the questioner. Mr. Rogers smiles beatifically
and answers the question.
Rogers spreads his wisdom to children by asking subtle koans; the more traditional Zen koans--What is the sound of one hand clapping, What did your face look like before your parents were born, Does a dog have Buddha-nature-- these are echoed by Rogers, who asks more laid-back questions: How would you listen to a fish, Can anyone else ever be you, Isn't it a good feeling to be alive?
Think about the similarities of his words to those of Zen students; one Western Zen student was asked, after training for seven years, what Zen training leads to. He replies: "No paranormal experiences that I can detect. But you wake up in the morning and the world seems so beautiful that you can hardly stand it." Compare that to Rogers: "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood...wake up in the morning and say: I think I'll make a snappy new day ...won't you be my neighbor?" This is a man who is one with his surroundings, be they the Potala in Lhasa or suburban Pittsburgh.
Think about Mr. Rogers' childlike delight in even
the most simple of tasks: whether it is tying his shoes, feeding
his goldfish, or getting his mail. Mr. Rogers seems to genuinely
enjoy everyday life. When one watches his show, one is reminded
of the Zen poem,
My daily activities are not different
Only I am naturally in harmony with them.
Taking nothing, renouncing nothing,
In every circumstance no hindrance, no conflict
Drawing water, carrying firewood,
This is supernatural power, this the marvelous activity.
Note, if you will, how the vast bulk of sufi literature is
and poems which celebrate mysticism, and say nothing about joining groups
and doing practices; and even where they do, the practices are general,
the groups and their leaders are metaphorical. Everyone has a Way,
everyone has a Sheikh. The 'sufi' path is for everyone, it is the whole
point of life. Those who want to keep it separate for an elite are going
against the scriptures, not carrying them out as they believe.
Perhaps the greatest of all sufi scripures (written 1177 and thus
predating Rumi and most of the others) is "The Conference of the Birds," by
Attar. In this book, the Hoopoe, one of the birds, is encouraging his
fellows to come with him on a great mystical quest to find the king, the
Simurgh (which translates as 'thirty birds,' the ultimate number of birds
who finally succeed in the quest - so the birds themselves are the object
of their quest). From p13 of the deTassy/Nott version:
*First Manifestation of the Simurgh*
'An astonishing thing! The first manifestation of the Simurgh took place
in China in the middle of the night. One of his feathers fell on China and
his reputation filled the world. [this, btw, is probably a reference to the
I Ching, hex 53 top nine] Everyone made a picture of this feather, and
from it formed his own system of ideas, and so fell into a turmoil. This
feather is still in the picture-gallery of that country; hence the saying,
"Seek knowledge, even in China."
'But for this manifestation there would not have been so much noise in
the world concerning this mysterious Being. This sign of his existence is
a token of his glory. All souls carry an impression of the image of his
feather. Since the description of it has neither a head not a tail,
beginning or end [the tai-chi], it is not necessary to say more about
it. Now, any of you who are for this road, prepare yourselves, and put
your feet on the Way.
from "The Conference of the Birds" by Farid ud-Din Attar (Afkham Darbandi
and Dick Davis, trans., p180-181)
*The Stone Man*
A man in China has become a stone;
He sits and mourns, and at each muffled groan
Weeps melancholy tears, which then are found
congealed as pebbles scattered on the ground
(What misery the world would know, what pain,
If clouds should shed such adamantine rain!).
This man is Knowledge (sensible, devout;
If you should go to China seek him out),
But he has turned to stone from secret grief,
From lack of zeal, indifference, unbelief.
The world is dark, and Knowledge is a light,
A sparkling jewel to lead you through the night -
Without it you would wander mystified,
Like Alexander lost without a guide;
But if you trust its light too much, despair
Will be the sequel of pedantic care,
And if you underestimate this jewel
Despair will mark you as a righteous fool
(Ignore or overvalue this bright stone,
And wretchedness will claim you for her own).
If you can step outside the stage we know,
The dark confusions of our life below,
And reach man's proper state you will possess
Wisdom at which the world can never guess.
The path brings sorrow and bewildered fear,
But venture on until the Way is clear,
And neither sleep by night or drink by day,
But give your life - completely - to the Way.
The statement, "Seek knowledge, even unto China" has been a phrase
associated with the sufis from before the origins of even this
material. It has always meant that it is important for the individual to
seek Truth *outside* of any cultural norms imposed from within or from
without. It refers to the broadmindedness of sufism, the openheartedness
of sufism. The universal acceptance of Truth wherever it may be
found. The Oneness of mysticism, regardless of source. ..
So, friend marcos, Junayd's adopting of sufism from the choices
presented to him was unlikely to have been a denial of buddhism or taoism,
both of which were probably available to him. In Junayd's time, the box
just said, "cereal," and that was it; now you have people arguing the
merits of alphabits over count chocula. The streams of mysticism coming
from the east were no doubt what enlivened Islam sufficiently to have
created sufism in the first place. Those liberated souls willing to "seek
knowledge, even unto China" then called themselves sufis, and were
eclectic, not exclusive. The True Men among them adopted, adapted and
transformed methods as they saw fit.
Thanks to Terry Murphy on SufiMystic
End of Analysis
I want to give you a taste of the difference between analysis and awareness, or information on the one hand and insight on the other. Information is not insight, analysis is not awareness, knowledge is not awareness. Suppose I walked in here with a snake crawling up my arm, and I said to you, "Do you see the snake crawling up my arm? I've just checked in an encyclopedia before coming to this session and I found out that this snake is known as a Russell's viper. If it bit me, I would die inside half a minute. Would you kindly suggest ways and means by which I could get rid of this creature that is crawling up my arm?" Who talks like this? I have information, but I've got no awareness.
Or say I'm destroying myself with alcohol. "Kindly describe ways and means by which I could get rid of this addiction." A person who would say that has no awareness. He knows he's destroying himself, but he is not aware of it. If he were aware of it, the addiction would drop that minute. If I were aware of what the snake was, I wouldn't brush it off my arm; it would get brushed off through me. That's what I'm talking about, that's the change I'm talking about. You don't change yourself; it's not me changing me. Change takes place through you, in you. That's about the most adequate way I can express it. You see change take place in you, through you; in your awareness, it happens. You don't do it. When you're doing it, it's a bad sign; it won't last. And if it does last, God have mercy on the people you're living with, because you're going to be very rigid. People who are converted on the basis of self-hatred and self-dissatisfaction are impossible to live with. Somebody said, "If you want to be a martyr, marry a saint." But in awareness, you keep your softness, your subtleness, your gentleness, your openness, your flexibility, and you don't push, change occurs.
I remember a priest in Chicago when I was studying psychology there telling us, "You know, I had all the information I needed; I knew that alcohol was killing me, and, believe me, nothing changes an alcoholic -- not even the love of his wife or his kids. He does love them but it doesn't change him. I discovered one thing that changed me. I was lying in a gutter one day under a slight drizzle. I opened my eyes and I saw that this was killing me. I saw it and I never had the desire to touch a drop after that. As a matter of fact, I've even drunk a bit since then, but never enough to damage me. I couldn't do it and still cannot do it." That's what I'm talking about: awareness. Not information, but awareness.
A friend of mine who was given to excessive smoking said, "You know, there are all kinds of jokes about smoking. They tell us that tobacco kills people, but look at the ancient Egyptians; they're all dead and none of them smoked." Well, one day he was having trouble with his lungs, so he went to our cancer research institute in Bombay. The doctor said, "Father, you've got two patches on your lungs. It could be cancer, so you'll have to come back next month." He never touched another cigarette after that. Before, he knew it would kill him; now, he was aware it could kill him. That's the difference.
The founder of my religious order, St. Ignatius, has a nice expression for that. He calls it tasting and feeling the truth -- not knowing it, but tasting and feeling it, getting a feel for it. When you get a feel for it you change. When you know it in your head, you don't.
Anthony de Mello, SJ
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|Dr. Robert Puff|