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Issue #1431 - Thursday, May 15, 2003 - Editor: Jerry  

Ron Whenary
Living Advaita  

Dear Steve,  

Thanks for your last reply and apologies for not replying
sooner. I would just like to make a further comment in
response to something you said in the last post ....

"some believe that when you wake up, you have a still mind or
are always in peace and bliss, and this is not true, thoughts,
feelings, anger, emotions still come but you do not react to
them in the same way as before. You do not get caught up in it
as if it were real".

My own experience of this is that there is a profound change.
The fact that one does not get caught up as one used to, does
have a positive effect on how one feels in terms of stillness,
peace and bliss. The pre-awakened mind usually gets involved
so much that there is no stillness, no peace, no pure
enjoyment. The mind gets in the way of all this, with its
endless grasping, reacting and busy-ness. When the mind is no
longer chasing it's own tail like this it finds a resting
place in simply Being. Then one can still be very busy in
one's life, but there is always a standing back from 'personal
involvement' - there is a detachment. With this detachment,
the stillness and peace are not ruffled, and one is still open
to enjoy the unexpected in life. And one can also be effective
in one's actions. Anger, fear and all the other emotions may
arise, but if one is really grounded in the awakening, they do
not take hold in the way they did before - and they may not
even arise at all.
  Having said all this, I don't think it is helpful to
distinguish who is awakened and who is not. I am always aware
that using terms like "awakened" and "awakening" does give the
impression that one is awakened. The reader, listener or
correspondent may therefore assume something that may not be. 
Jean Klein used to be very clear on this matter. When the
teacher takes himself to be a teacher and the student takes
himself to be a student, they are playing some sort of game
with each other - but the game is in duality. The teacher
needs the student and the student needs the teacher.

But, in my view, an awakened teacher does not have any such
pretense about him or herself, and with such a teacher you
never have the feeling that you have lost your own autonomy.
Not only do they offer you awakening - they also give you
freedom, which is your birthright.
  Kind regards

Soul on the silver screen

An international film festival comes to the Midcoast next
week, as the 2003 Cinema of the Spirit festival premieres in
Rockland and Rockport Wednesday through Sunday, May 21-25,
before moving on to Edinburgh, Scotland in June and
Sacramento, Calif. in December.

The Cinema of the Spirit festival is intended to honor,
celebrate and illuminate the global range of spiritual
experience. Documentaries, dramatic features, classics and
animated shorts, as well as live spoken and musical
performance, all have a part in this annual festival.

When Invention Paves a Path to Truth


"To advance spiritually, artistically,
intellectually, emotionally, often the best thing to do is
absolutely nothing. To allow in stillness, silence, even
boredom. To make a space for non-doing."

The Portion Leviticus

But in the seventh year shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for
the land, a Sabbath unto the Lord; thou shalt neither sow thy
field, nor prune thy vineyard.
— Leviticus 25:4  


As a fiction writer, most often I get the germ
of a story from a first line. But once in a while I find a
story from a title. This happened in 1998. I was on a plane
coming back from a conference in Tulsa, Okla., where my first
published story, about some unexpected visitors at a Boston
minyan, had won a prize. It had been a thrilling experience.
Might readers, including non-Jewish readers, want more of
these kinds of stories? Hopeful, buoyant, I furiously
scribbled down potential titles on the back of the conference
brochure. Somewhere over Ohio, sandwiched between "The Lament
of the Rabbi's Daughters" and "The Sabbath Guest," came "The
Shmitta Year."
  "The Shmitta Year"? A short story about the biblical
commandment to let the land of Israel lie untouched every
seventh year? It didn't seem promising. Yet about a year later
a story began to assemble itself. Within two paragraphs I had
my subject — the seventh year (now the title) — and my
character, Boaz Deri, a 70-year-old secular Jerusalemite with
an inexplicable attachment to the shmitta concept. My task was
to figure out why. I believed, of course, that I was just
writing the story of my invented Mr. Deri; in fact, I was also
trying to puzzle this out for myself. What deeper meanings
could anyone, real or imagined, Jewish or not, in Israel or
the Diaspora, find within the enigmatic notions of the seventh
  Fortunately, I wasn't entirely at the mercy of Leviticus for
background. In 1979-1980, a shmitta year, I was living in
Jerusalem for the second of what would become a three-year
stay. As part of a newly observant community, I bought only
imported produce or produce grown on Arab-owned lands, because
those were safely outside the prohibitions of the shmitta,
despite the fact that there was a heter, a rabbinic
dispensation (issued every shmitta year since 1910), that
bypassed the prohibitions and permitted Jews to cultivate
their own land and eat its fruits. Oblivious of the heter, I
cheerfully bought peaches from Spain and tomatoes from
Jericho, largely unaware that all across the country kibbutzim
and moshavim, with a few exceptions, continued to plant and
harvest their crops. It was, in short, relatively
business-as-usual in my real-time seventh year.

Not so in my character's. Thanks to that age-old literary
dispensation for lying, poetic license, the Israel in which
Boaz Deri lived observed the shmitta prohibitions countrywide.
Tractors rested like sleeping dinosaurs in the fields, and
grapes rotted fragrantly on the vines. Orchards burst with
unpicked apples not far from where olive trees stood naked
without their little sacks to catch the fruit. My fictional
shmitta year was one of abundant excess and the constant
heavenly reminder: Do not touch, but look what the earth can
do. It's not that I set out to distort the truth; it just
seemed the only way. How was I going to find out why my
character loved the seventh year unless I put him smack inside
a fully enacted one and watched for what emerged?

What emerged was nothing short of radical. For the shmitta
rules tell us: let go. Stop all the striving. Declare your
fields and holdings ownerless. Risk starving, and have faith
that all will be well anyway. Don't think beyond tomorrow. If
you're worried about what to do all year if you don't work,
says the Mishna, study Torah. Be free of the yoke of labor.
Take spiritual sustenance.

Dangerous, risky —if we stop engineering, even for a moment,
maybe all will collapse — but there is a crucial upside. Rav
Kook, in "Shabbat Ha'aretz," his treatise on the seventh year,
wrote, "The great drive of life for growth and improvement
needs to be realized by having a breathing space... a release
from the general tumult of living." The poet John Keats
referred to the poet's "diligent indolence," a state of
suspended activity necessary for creativity. The writer
Jonathan Rosen quotes Keats in an essay about his own writing
life, and quips, "On days when I'm really diligent, I might
even take a nap." To advance spiritually, artistically,
intellectually, emotionally, often the best thing to do is
absolutely nothing. To allow in stillness, silence, even
boredom. To make a space for non-doing.

It seems more Buddhist than Jewish, more Eastern than Western,
for we are, most of us, anxiously arranging our lives every
day. How can we afford to simply stop and let go? we ask. How
can we afford to exist in that space of un-planting, of
non-striving, of simply being and allowing whatever comes to

Through Boaz Deri I discovered that shmitta radically turns
that question on its head: how, shmitta asks us, can we afford
not to?

oan Leegant teaches writing at Hebrew College and Harvard
University. "The Seventh Year" will appear in her collection
of stories, "An Hour in Paradise," to be published by W.W.
Norton in August.

A Familiar World
The Other Syntax

"When you see there are no longer familiar features in the world. Everything is new. Everything has never happened before. The world is incredible! Nothing is any longer familiar. Everything you gaze at becomes nothing! Things simply become nothing and yet they are still there." [A Separate Reality]

Daily Dharma  

"Go back to sleep.

   Yes, you are allowed.

You have no Love in you heart,

   Go back to sleep.

His Love and his sorrow

   Are exclusive to us,

   You go back to sleep.

I have been burnt

   By the sun of the sorrow of Love.

   You have no such yearning in your heart,

   Go back to sleep.

The path of Love,

   Has seventy-two folds and countless facets.

   Your love and religion

   Is all about deceit and hypocrisy,

   Go back to sleep.

We put ourselves in Love’s hands,

   And will wait for her bidding.

   Since you are in your own hands,

   You can go back to sleep.

I consume nothing but pain and blood,

   And you the finest delicacies.

   And of course after each feast,

   You may want to take a nap.

   So just go back to sleep.

I have torn to pieces my robe of speech,

   And have let go of the desire to converse.

   You who are not naked yet,

   Go back to sleep."


 ~~ Rumi

R.K. Shankar
I Am

evvadai viRpiRi dhedhumadai dhaRkinRO
vevvinbi niRpiRi dhinbinRO - vevvarivu
thanniR piRidhaRivu thAninRA mOvadhu
thannaip piramamenach chAr


" 1)   In which attainment, is not any other to attain,
   2)  In which bliss, is not another bliss,
   3)  In which awareness-Self, other-awareness alone becomes (!)
   4)  That Self adjoin as Brahman."

Translation of Sri Bhagawan's Tamil Atma Bodha verse 54

Yours in Sri Bhagawan
RK Shankar  

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Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
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The wind carves shapes into the beach sand

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