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#1862 - Sunday, July 18, 2004 - Editor: Gloria Lee

The Faces at Braga  

In monastery darkness
by the light of one flashlight
the old shrine room waits in silence

While above the door
we see the terrible figure,
fierce eyes demanding, "Will you step through?"

And the old monk leads us,
bent back nudging blackness
prayer beads in the hand that beckons.

We light the butter lamps
and bow, eyes blinking in the
pungent smoke, look up without a word,

see faces in meditation,
a hundred faces carved above,
eye lines wrinkled in the hand held light.

Such love in solid wood!
Taken from the hillsides and carved in silence
they have the vibrant stillness of those who made them.

Engulfed by the past
they have been neglected, but through
smoke and darkness they are like the flowers

we have seen growing
through the dust of eroded slopes,
then slowly opening faces turned toward the mountain.

Carved in devotion
their eyes have softened through age
and their mouths curve through delight of the carvers hand.

If only our own faces
would allow the invisible carver's hand
to bring the deep grain of love to the surface.

If only we knew
as the carver knew, how the flaws
in the wood led his searching chisel to the very core,

we would smile, too
and not need faces immobilized
by fear and the weight of things undone.

When we fight with our failing
we ignore the entrance to the shrine itself
and wrestle with the guardian, fierce figure on the side of good.

And as we fight
our eyes are hooded with grief
and our mouths are dry with pain.

If only we could give ourselves
to the blows of the carvers hands,
the lines in our faces would be the trace lines of rivers

feeding the sea
where voices meet, praising the features
of the mountain and the cloud and the sky.

Our faces would fall away
until we, growing younger toward death
every day, would gather all our flaws in celebration

to merge with them perfectly,
impossibly, wedded to our essence,
full of silence from the carver's hands.

~ David Whyte ~
(Where Many Rivers Meet)  

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Since the seed does not contain anything other than the
seed, even  the flowers and the fruits are of the same
nature as the seed: the  substance of the seed is the
substance of subsequent effects, too.  Even so, the
homogenous mass of cosmic consciousness does not 
give rise to anything other than what it is in essence.
When this  truth is realized, duality ceases.

Yoga Vasishtha

From "Teachings of the Hindu Mystics," 2001 by Andrew Harvey. Shambhala Publications, Boston,


  Allspirit Inspiration  

Presence and unpretentiousness

"Presence can be described as Being aware of Itself. Its effects are
contagious. When we are in the Presence of an individual who has
awakened from the dream of "me", we can sense an unpretentiousness,
lucidity, transparency, joy and ease of being. Those same qualities
are elicited within ourselves. What is normally background may
temporarily be called into the foreground of attention. When Presence
is particularly strong and we are particularly open, it may feel as if
a fire has been ignited."
John J. Prendergast
The Sacred Mirror

"What to look for in a teacher.
... 3. Can you have a regular, how's the weather conversation with
her? Look for a teacher who practices the "open secret," who enjoys
the fact we're all in this together. If she is too busy with her own
messianic complex, she probably won't have time to attend to your
education. She can be noble, grand, detached, and powerful while also
being down to earth and personal."
Elizabeth Lesser

"When Bishop Desmond Tutu introduced Nelson Mandela at his
inauguration as the new president of south Africa, he described him as
being a man who had Obuntubotho. Obuntubotho, he said, is the essence
of being human. You know when it is there and when it is absent. It
speaks about humanness, gentleness, putting yourself out on behalf of
others, being vulnerable. It embraces compassion, and toughness. It
recognizes my humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human
Elizabeth Lesser

"Obuntubotho is a sign of progress on the spiritual adventure. As you
journey onward - with or without a teacher, in a group or alone, in
virgin territory or on a well-worn path - you will be given signs and
messages wherever you turn. The world will become a bank of messages.
The more you travel onward, the more finely tuned you will become."
Elizabeth Lesser

"The Yiddish word for Obuntubotho is mensch. Spirituality makes you a
mensch. A mensch is someone others want to be around because of a
certain something - a kindness, a warmth, a quality of genuineness. A
sign of progress on the path is the trust of other people."
Elizabeth Lesser
The Seeker's Guide
(Cofounder of the Omega Institute)

Viorica Weissman ~ MillionPaths

21.   If I am eternal and perfect, why am I ignorant?   Answer: Who is ignorant? The real Self does not complain of ignorance. It is the ego in you that so complains. It is that which also asks questions. The Self does not ask any question. And this ego is neither the body, nor the real Self, but something arising between the two. In sleep there was no ego, and you had no sense of imperfection or ignorance then. Thus the ego is itself imperfection and ignorance. If you seek the truth of the ego and thus find the real Self, you will find that there is no ignorance.     ~ Thus Spake Ramana  

A dialogue between David Godman and Maalok, #9

Maalok: A curious thing happened the other day during my visit to Delhi. I accompanied my niece to a famous bookstore in Delhi. They had a big section on spirituality. I scanned the section carefully only to find not a single book on Ramana Maharshi. On inquiring, the bookstore manager told me that books on Ramana Maharshi are simply not popular and don't sell easily. Being the editor and author of significant books on Ramana Maharshi and his disciples, I was wondering if this has been your experience as well? If so, in your opinion, why?


David: They are not as popular as books by modern teachers such as Osho, nor do they have the appeal of the kind of self-help or new-age titles that seem to fill the 'spirituality' shelves in most bookstores. However, they do have steady, enduring sales. The standard texts that record Sri Ramana's dialogues tend to sell almost a thousand copies a year, every year, year after year. That means that a book such as Talks with Ramana Maharshi, which was first published in the mid-1950s, has probably sold well over 40,000 copies by now, and it continues to sell. I should mention that this is a 650-page hardback, and it's not an easy read unless you have a good knowledge of Sanskrit spiritual terms. New people discover Sri Ramana and his teachings every year, and every year the basic titles keep on selling. 

     Sri Ramanasramam, the publisher of most of the books on Sri Ramana, takes a rather passive approach to distribution. Its publishing and sales department fulfils orders that come in, but they don't advertise, and they don't lobby bookstores or distributors to take their books. That may be one reason why books on Sri Ramana don't often appear on bookstore shelves. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that most bookstore managers, even in India, don't know that good books on Ramana Maharshi exist. 

     Having said that, I will also concede that books that attempt to codify or explain his teachings will never be very popular. I think they will always be restricted to a small market of discriminating people who have a hunger for spiritual liberation. In any generation that group will not be very large. Sri Ramana's teachings are not a 'feel-good' philosophy, nor do they offer quick fixes or instant experiences. They, instead, offer a tried and tested roadmap to those who want to pursue spiritual practice seriously. That kind of traditional approach is not so popular nowadays. People want instant results, not a prescription for hard work. 

     About twenty years ago I attended a talk in which an enthusiastic speaker said that he wanted to bring Sri Ramana's teachings to millions of people all over the world. The next man who stood up commented on this proposal by saying: 'I think this idea is misguided. The more accurately you explain Ramana Maharshi's teachings, the fewer people you will find are interested in them. If you succeed in finding millions of new devotees for Sri Ramana, that will only be a measure of the extent to which you have diluted his teachings.' 

     I think that I agree with this. Ramana Maharshi was an exemplary saint who transformed the lives of countless people. Books about the transforming effect he had on people who came to see him will probably always find a good market, but if you publish a book about his teachings, few people will be interested in buying it, and even fewer in putting into practice the teachings that it contains.

Skydancer ~ Dzogchen

"I often meet people who hold no
particular religious or philosophical
views but who, in a quiet and simple way,
take refuge in wisdom.

They are sensitive to their own and others'
needs and try to give their lives meaning
by developing themselves and helping others.

In my opinion, such people are Buddhists,
although they may never have heard
of Shakyamuni Buddha or his Dharma."

from 'Refuge' by Lama Yeshe

~  ~  ~

"The True Dzogchen yogis have an open accomodating heart and mind
excluding nothing from their perfect mandala of pure perception.
Brimming over with Wisdom, unconditional love, and empathy, they do
not need to adopt any particular way of looking or acting. They do
not need to abandon or reject anything either.

This is called the spontaneous activity, or carefree ease of Dzogpa
Chenpo. It is not something we can easily imitate. Yet to whatever
extent we can recognize and participate in it, great benefit ensues
for oneself and others. "

From Nyoshul Khenpo's book:
'Natural Great Perfection' (pp 115-116)
TRANSLATED and edited by Lama Surya Das


Let others probe the mystery if they can.
Time-harried prisoners of Shall and Will-
The right thing happens to the happy man.

The bird flies out, the bird flies back again;
The hill becomes the valley, and is still;
Let others delve that mystery if they can.

God bless the roots! -Body and soul are one
The small become the great, the great the small;
The right thing happens to the happy man.

Child of the dark, he can out leap the sun,
His being single, and that being all:
The right thing happens to the happy man.

Or he sits still, a solid figure when
The self-destructive shake the common wall;
Takes to himself what mystery he can,

And, praising change as the slow night comes on,
Wills what he would, surrendering his will
Till mystery is no more: No more he can.
The right thing happens to the happy man.

  - Theodore Roethke, The Far Field  

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