Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

Search over 5000 pages on Nonduality:


Click here to go to the next issue

Highlights Home Page | Receive the Nondual Highlights each day

Highlights # 1411  - Friday, April 25, 2003 -  Editor: Gloria Lee


Alone in the darkness that is

birthing the morning,
I feel vulnerable, a mere dot
spinning on a planet
that is itself a mere dot spinning
around a sun that is a larger dot
spinning in a  galaxy we have named
and this continues beyond the edges
of knowledge or imagination,

I sit here in the dark filled silence,
let the blackness bathe my eyes,
taste the java brewed from beans
grown on vines in places
I've never been and will
probably never see,

I feel like a mirage in an upended
universe, a shimmering film
dancing on the skin of reality,
a mere confluence of light
and earth curves
in a random moment of
time and space,
temporarily at home
on this breathing, wiggling,
singing, grunting, shouting
green sphere we call

Zen Oleary
April 24, 2003                                                                                                               

photo by Al Larus


Terry Murphy  SufiMystic  

 *Gott spricht zu jedem nur, eh er ihn macht
 God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
 then walks with us silently out of the night.
 These are words we dimly hear:
 You, sent out beyond your recall,
 go to the limits of your longing.
 Embody me.
 Flare up like flame
 and make big shadows I can move in.
 Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
 Just keep going.  No feeling is final.
 Don't let yourself lose me.
 Nearby is the country they call life.
 You will know it by its seriousnes.
 Give me your hand.

  Viorica Weissman  MillionPaths  

There is the beauty of love, beauty of compassion. And also there is the beauty of a clean street, of good architectural form of a building; there is beauty of a tree, a lovely leaf, the great big branches. To see all that is beauty; not merely to go to museums and talk everlastingly about beauty. The silence of a quiet mind is the essence of that beauty. Because it is silent and because it is not the plaything of thought, then in that silence there comes that which is indestructible, which is sacred. In the coming of that which is sacred then life becomes sacred, your life becomes sacred, our relationship becomes sacred, everything becomes sacred because you have touched that thing that is sacred.

J. Krishnamurti

Robert Cooper  Daily Dharma

  "There was a poor young woman who dreamed of living in luxury, surrounded by jewels and silks.  Then she met and married a wealthy widower, and her dream came true.  She did not even mind that her husband had not married her for love.  In fact, he married her because she looked exactly like his first wife.  She agreed to dress, act, and speak like his first wife.  At first, it wasn¹t a problem, but gradually it became quite oppressive.  She was herself, yet she had to act like his first wife -- to wear the colors she liked to wear, read the books she liked to read, and eat the foods she liked to eat.  The young woman couldn't continue.  It was suffocating.  She was no more than a mannequin on which her husband hung his first wife's clothes and personality.  But she didn¹t have the courage to give up the luxury she had become accustomed to.  She was trapped by her own desires. Anyone reading this story will want her to muster the strength needed to leave her husband and return to a simple country life where she can reclaim her true self.  We think, "If I were in her place, that is what I would do." But we are only outside observers for whom the solution seems easy.  If we were actually in her place, we would suffer the same confusion and indecision.  Who among us would not?  We already do the same thing.  We feel forced to comply with the dehumanizing demands of society, and we bow our heads and obey.  We eat, speak, think, and act according to society's dictates.  We are not free to be ourselves, just as she was not free to be herself.  We become cogs in the system, merchandise, not human beings.  Our individuality is undermined, yet we comply because we lack the courage to refuse society's demands.  We are no better than the wife of that man.  We, too, have become so accustomed to our way of life with its conveniences and comforts that we allow ourselves to be colonized."
 ~Thich Nhat Hanh
From the book, "Fragrant Palm Leaves."  Published by Riverhead Books.    

Terry Murphy  SufiMystic

*Sometimes a man rises from the supper table*
(Rainer Maria Rilke)

Sometimes a man rises from the supper table
and goes outside.  And he keeps on going
because somewhere to the east there's a church.
His children bless his name as if he were dead.

Another man stays home until he dies,
stays with plates and glasses.
So then it is his children who go out
into the world, seeking the church he forgot.

*Hungry Heart*
(Bruce Springsteen)

Hungry heart
Got a wife and kids in Baltimore Jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back
Like a river that don't know where it's flowing
I took a wrong turn and I just kept going

Everybody's got a hungry heart
Everybody's got a hungry heart
Lay down your money and you play your part
Everybody's got a hungry heart

I met her in a Kingstown bar
We fell in love I knew it had to end
We took what we had and we ripped it apart
Now here I am down in Kingstown again

Everybody's got a hungry heart
Everybody's got a hungry heart
Lay down your money and you play your part
Everybody's got a hungry heart

Everybody needs a place to rest
Everybody wants to have a home
Don't make no difference what nobody says
Ain't nobody like to be alone

Everybody's got a hungry heart
Everybody's got a hungry heart
Lay down your money and you play your part
Everybody's got a hungry heart


"Take a plate containing water and draw a figure of a fish with your finger.. It matters not if you draw a mouse or if you draw an elephant. Why should it matter if you are a Ramana or if you are the village idiot? Or if you are spiritually advanced? It makes no difference ... you are just a figure drawn on water." ~Jan Sultan  

The above words are true, but what do they mean? That is, why say them? There must be some tendency otherwise, for the words to be relevant. Shall we seek to advance our spirituality? To become a Ramana Maharshi, to avoid being the village idiot? I think it depends on the motive. If we want to be spiritually advanced because we have decided that there is some form of profit in it, then we may profitably be told that there is no profit in it, because it doesn't matter what some nonentities think of other nonentities. On the other hand, if we want to advance spiritually because it is a matter of simple growth, as an acorn grows into an oak tree, and volition is required in the process, then an effort toward purification may be worthwhile, natural, wholesome. We cannot avoid making choices. We can decide we want to be good, we can decide we want to be bad, or we can decide that we will make no effort in either regard, but even choosing not to choose is a choice. It's not even a natural choice, because by nature we want to be healthy, and that is good. By nature we are drawn by love, and draw what we love to us. It takes an effort to be neutral, and passive, to resist the pull of our own nature. We are not a figure drawn by a finger in the water, but we are pulled by the current, marked by the flow, rise and fall with the tides (pulled by the moon).

        I'm reminded of a poem, and a song...   *How surely gravity's law*

How surely gravity's law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the strongest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing -
each stone, blossom, child -
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth's intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God's heart;
they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

*The Boxer*
(Paul Simon)

I am just a poor boy, though my story's seldom told.
I have squandered my resistance,
For a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises.
All lies and jest.
Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

When I left my home and my family I was no more than a boy,
In the company of strangers,

In the quiet of a railway station, runnin' scared.
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters,
Where the ragged people go.
Lookin' for the places, only they would know.

Lie-la-lie ...

Asking only workman's wages I come lookin' for a job,
But I get no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue.
I do declare there were times when I was so lonesome,
I took some comfort there.
Oooh la, la, la ...

And the years are rollin' by me.
They are rockin' evenly.
I am older than I once was, and younger than I'll be.
That's not unusual.
It isn't strange,
After changes upon changes, we are more or less the same.
After changes, we are more or less the same.

Lie-la-lie ...

Then I'm laying out my winter clothes and wishing I was gone,
Going home, where the New York City winters aren't bleedin' me.
Leadin' me, to goin' home.

In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade,
And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down,
Or cut him 'til he cried out in his anger and his shame,
"I am leaving, I am leaving."
But the fighter still remains.

Lie-la-lie ...

*painting by Jessica Gandolf "Cassius Clay at 12," 2001

Joyce  Allspirit

  "Life itself is hazardous. . . . There are sharp rocks everywhere.
What changes from years of practice is coming to know something you
didn't know before: that there are no sharp rocks — the road is
covered with diamonds."

~ Charlotte Joko Beck ~

From: "Nothing Special"; Charlotte Joko Beck

Mary Bianco  NDSNews  

Vuillard’s mysteries
by Roger Kimball

No artist has ever so suggested the soul of an interior—the sense of habitation.
—Julius Meier-Graefe, on Vuillard

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

—Wallace Stevens

… peindre non la chose, mais l’effet qu’elle produit.
—Stéphane Mallarmé

There are few artists whose signature work is as immediately likable but at the same time as difficult to plumb as that of Edouard Vuillard. His best work is both supremely fetching and quietly unfathomable: as easy, familiar, and welcome as dinnertime yet fraught with—what? Aldous Huxley was a great admirer of Vuillard’s work. In an unpropitious moment, he declared that the painter was “the Dharma-Body manifested in the bourgeois bedroom.” How that would have alarmed Vuillard! Quite right, too.

see slideshow of his paintings at:

Jerry Katz  NDSNews


Ram Dass at 72: still showing the way


No question seems deep enough to ask someone like the spiritual teacher Ram Dass. So I when I talked with him this week, I went with something simple, but maybe big enough in its own way. How are you?

"I'm pretty well," he said in a call from his home in northern California. "My speech is improving. My limbs aren't improving. I'm still in a wheelchair. I can't drive - that was a loss. The hard thing is converting concepts into words. It's like the word closet in my brain has been bombed out, and then I can't find the right word."

Most of the time, actually, he seems to find the perfect word. It might follow a pause, but he never loses his train of thought. He said he has found wisdom in silence, and you are wise to resist the impulse to finish a sentence for him.

Ram Dass was stroked, as he puts it, a little more than six years ago at age 65. A massive cerebral hemorrhage almost killed him, took most movement from his right side and damaged his brain's language center.

Initially, he said, the experience shattered his self-image. He remembers neither panic nor thoughts of the soul, only feeling a sense of curious and observant detachment. "Here I am, Mr. Spiritual, and in my own death I didn't orient toward the spirit," he recalled in the documentary film "Ram Dass Fierce Grace." "It showed me I have some work to do. I flunked the test."

At the same time, he learned his body needed attention, after an adult life in which he "ignored it as much as possible" and saw it as "merely a vehicle for the soul."

Now he believes he has found wisdom and peace. "Having accepted my predicament, I'm much happier than I was before," said Ram Dass, now 72.

Life must be experienced in the present. It has been his message since his book "Be Here Now" won a cult following 30 years ago. When he had the stroke, he was working on "Still Here: Embracing Changing, Aging and Dying." Completed with the help of an editor and wonderfully lucid and funny, it uses the stroke as a beginning, not an ending. "I feel like an advance guard that calls back to the baby boomers," he said. "Now I call back about aging."

Mention the name Ram Dass to a group of boomers and you'll inevitably get the description "hippie guru." It's as inadequate as dismissing George Bush as a cheerleader.

Born Richard Alpert to a prosperous and prominent Boston family, he earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University. He became one of the youngest professors at Harvard University and then the first in a century to be fired, 40 years ago, because of his experiments with another professor, Timothy Leary, using psychedelic drugs to reach higher states of consciousness.

Leary went deeper into psychedelics. Alpert left them for India and became a devotee of the Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba, who renamed him Ram Dass, or "servant of God." He went on to write, lecture around the world and build foundations dedicated to serving and relieving suffering. His aim is to approach life with humor, faith and compassion.

Able to resume traveling and teaching after his stroke, he made his first trip to Cleveland in nearly a decade last year for a workshop on grieving at MetroHealth Medical Center. Because of a meeting there with Joan Gattuso of Unity of Greater Cleveland, he will return to town Sunday, ready to meet "soul to soul" with anyone looking to "deal positively with life's dramas."

I wondered how things have changed from the 1960s of the baby boomers.

"I see that the spirit of the '60s is in all of us who experienced it, and that continues in our hearts," he said. "Things like truth, wisdom and surrender come out of that time. And justice. The people are all over the country - it's like an underground gathering.

"I guess," he chuckled, "it always was."

Ram Dass will speak on "Karma Yoga: Living Our Lives as a Path to God" at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Masonic Auditorium, 3615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. His presentation will include chanting by Krishna Das. Tickets are $25 reserved, $20 general admission and $15 for students and seniors. Call 216-751-1198 or 1-800- 468-8012.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

[email protected], 216-999-5433

© 2003 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.

Copyright 2003 All Rights Reserved.

top of page

Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

Search over 5000 pages on Nonduality: