monad


Just in case there are those who refuse to be caught forever by ugliness and seek some alternative, the evil of cruelty makes its claims. Cruelty is something we recognize so easily as a physical activity, yet find so hard to identify in its finer but no less dangerous forms. It is essentially an intentional misuse of power by a strong entity toward a weaker one on the same plant’ of action. For instance, a helpless cripple could scarcely be physically cruel to a strong and healthy person, yet could very well be diabolically cruel mentally to the same person if he were intellectually vulnerable. Cruelty is only possible as a calculated discharge of destructive energy directed at feebler creature unlikely to retaliate effectively. Thus cruelty automatically implies cowardice as well.The motivation of cruelty is commonly again the artificial ego-enlargement resultant from its practice. It makes the little boy feel bigger when he kicks his baby brother. If we can make others frightened of us we seem larger by comparison to their shrinking. That is the secret of cruelty. A false sense of boost because of aggressive action which appears to avoid injurious reprisals. To hurt and kill some helpless and defenseless creature makes cruel people feel enormously powerful by contrast. They may even delude themselves for an instant that they are acting like gods. Taking their pathetic little share of life energy, they are willing to expend this on damaging the lives of weaker beings for the sake of supposing themselves more powerful than they truly are. None cry louder than such cowardly criminals when justified retribution rebounds on them. Nobody hates being hurt more than those who hurt with hate.

We need not always look for evident violence in order to recognize cruelty. It is possible to be extremely cruel in the “nicest and sweetest” ways. Staging little scenes deliberately to humiliate and hurt someone’s feelings while remaining righteously on the side of conventional virtue meanwhile. With the aid of a little intelligence people can contrive all sorts of cruelties yet themselves keep in the clear so far as rule books apply. Attendants in mental hospitals, for instance, have ample opportunity on these lines. So has anyone in charge of children or animals, or whoever is unable to hit back where it hurts most. Let those who think they could not be cruel examine what conscience they have within their own life-frameworks If we are still in human bodies then we are yet capable of cruelty in some degree or another. It is well to see this and convert our energies otherwise as we can.

–William G. Gray (Exorcizing the Tree of Evil)

tree-of-evilmkni2

Lord, who made the lion and the lamb,
You decreed I should be what I am;
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan,
If I were a wealthy man?

……..

Permission is given to every human being. If one chooses to incline himself to a path of goodness and be righteous, the right is in his hands. If one chooses to incline himself to a path of evil and be wicked, the right is in his hands.

Mishneh Torah by Moses Maimonides

The gift of giving this holiday is to give. When we give, we give of ourselves, we give our very selves. Money is ultimately not that important it is the thought behind it. When loved ones around you… repeatedly give for the sake of reward, they are brown nosing. Giving is about intention, consideration. To give is to seek no reward, you are telling another that you love them. Brown nosing is for the spiteful, shallow and contemptible.
It’s a real shame when loved ones act like brown nosers, they only show their own inner lack, their inner childishness and perhaps their inner ugliness. Brown nosers are often totally oblivious that life exists or can happen any other way. Be glad if you know only one or two brown nosers. Much better to surround yourself with people that actually consider each other….. You know? That silly thing, called love….
……………………………………………………………………….
Life is a journey in consciousness. In truth, God is always one and we are always one with God and with each other. The problem is that we don’t know that truth. This is a critical point. We are always one with the ultimate—our work is to achieve an awareness of that truth. This awareness is the ecstatic experience of ultimate love.
This helps us understand the true meaning of the command¬ment “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).
How can we be commanded to have feelings of love toward another person? What if we simply have nothing in common? What if we seriously disagree over many political and social is¬sues? How can we be expected to love people who are so different from ourselves?
The commandment is actually telling us that in reality we are already one, and we can definitely experience that to be true and feel the love. However, to achieve this realization we must act in ways that express and reveal that truth. This is the theme of all the commandments dealing with interpersonal relationships.
This is the same dynamic behind the commandment to love God. We are already one with God. But we need to acknowledge that in what we think, say, and do. Then we will feel it. This is the theme of all the commandments dealing with our relationship to God.

David Aaron (The Secret Life of God: Discovering the Divine within You)

brownnose

If this metaphysical space is to be known,

such knowledge can be attained only by faith and grace,

not by ‘entering’ but by ‘being entered’

-this is so because the greater must reveal itself to the lesser.

Put differently, that which is immanently ‘Spirit’ can only be known receptively,

through its own intellective vision, and not any derivative faculty such as reason,

feeling or sensation. Reason can only discern conceptually,

at best reducing reality to a dualism of subject and object

(as in the case of Descartes) or catagorical postulate

(as in the case of Kant) or dialectic process

(as in the case of Hegel) – its ‘telos’ will tend to be utopian(as in the case of Marx),

fundamentalist( as in the cases of religious, political or secular dogmatism)

or anthropocentrically consencual (as in the case of Rousseau’s social contract);

while sensation or feeling even where elevated to

the level of empirical ‘science,’ can only discern reality as matter or as psyche,

quantitatively, thereby cutting it off from its transcendent

and qualitative roots, leading to an emphasis on hypertrophic subjectivism

(as in the case of Nietzsche), Psychologism(as in the case of Freud),

or reductive positivism(as in the cases of philosophical positivism and of scientism).

That which transcends us cannot be known reductively

but only by that transcendent faculty which is immanent in us-which in

Tradition is termed the ‘Intellect’

or the Self-knowing Spirit. To know is to discern BEING.

We must empty ourselves or our ‘self’ in order to know who we ARE.

We must return to the sacred emptiness of the space that is our

ontological core in order to know that which truly IS.

–M Ali Lakhani (the Distance between us, found in Sacred Web issue 31)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewton_Mendip Church of St Mary Magdalene, Chewton Mendip

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewton_Mendip
Church of St Mary Magdalene, Chewton Mendip

In the Western world, a strong belief in the objective truths of religion, which are viewed as incontrovertible, demonstrable facts, is regarded as essential to the life of faith. When asking if somebody is religious, peo- ple often inquire: “Does he or she believe?” as though accepting certain credal propositions was the prime religious activity. Indeed, faith is equated with belief, but this equation is of recent provenance. Origi- nally the meaning of the word faith was akin to trust, as when we say that we have faith in a friend or an ideal. Faith was not an intellectual position but a virtue: it was the careful cultivation, by means of the ritu- als and myths of religion, of the conviction that, despite all the dispirit- ing evidence to the contrary, life had some ultimate meaning and value. The Latin word credo (translated now as “I believe”) seems to have de- rived from the phrase cor dare: to give one’s heart. The Middle English word beleven meant to love. When Christians proclaimed: credo in unum Deum , they were not so much affirming their belief in the existence of a single deity as committing their lives to God. When St. Anselm of Can- terbury prayed in the eleventh century: credo ut intellagam (“I have faith in order that I may understand”), he was not blindly submitting to the doctrines of religion in the hope that one day these incredible asser- tions would make sense today, if he abdicated his critical intelligence. His prayer should really be translated: “I commit myself in order that I may understand.” The meaning of dogma would only be revealed when he lived a fully Christian life, embracing its mythology and rituals whole- heartedly. This attitude is foreign to modernity. Today people feel that before they live a religious life, they must first satisfy themselves intel- lectually of its metaphysical claims. This is sound scientific practice: first you must establish a principle before you can apply it. But it is not the way that religion has traditionally worked.

http://www.sacredweb.com/online_articles/sw4_armstrong.pdf
Karen ARmstrong (Faith an Modernity)

It is precisely the challenge involved

in using inadequate words

that drives the mind

beyond all words…

At the borders of speech

we open ourselves

to the positive value of silence….

Literary reading,

through its complexity, its music,

its suggestiveness, points to a fuller realm of being.

–Edward k Kaplan (citing Abraham Joshua Heschel)

The Western mind focuses on substance; the Eastern mind focuses on the interrelationship between everything. Nothing has independant being in of itself. That’s the basic insight of sunyata, whereas in Western mysticism, nothingness is still the ultimate essence. It may be pure Divine being, but it is also something. The East would criticize even this ultimate substance or essence and try to see through the illusion that there is any existent thing in and of itself.

You could say that there are two ways of describing an underlying reality that, presumably, is one and the same. But whereas sunyata is central to Buddhism, most Jews have never heard of Ayin. Even in Kabbalah, it’s talked about very rarely. In Hasidism, it’s further developed, but of all the Hasidic teachers, maybe one percent is devoted to ayin.

Yet, ayin is central because it represents the moment of transition from infinity (Ein Sof) to the sefirot. Ayin is how God unfolds. Creation is rooted in nothingness. There are roots for this postive sense of nothingness within Judaism. The Talmud, for example states, “The words of Torah do not become real except for one who makes himself as if he is not.” Job asked rhetorically, “Where is wisdom to be found?” The word ayin in this verse is in question: “where?” But already in the Talmud, ayin is interpreted as a noun: “Wisdom is found in nothingness.” In Kabbalah, it becomes Divine nothingness. Its roots lie in rabbinical literature, but Kabbalah expands this.

–“Why meditate?” by Daniel C Matt

 Meditation from the Heart of Judaism: Today’s Teachers Share Their Practices, Techniques and Faith

In all change and growth, say the masters, the mysterious ayin is present. There is an ungraspable instant in the midst of all transformation when that which is about to be transformed is no longer that which it had been until that moment, but has not yet emerged as its transformed self; that moment belongs to the ayin within God. Since change and transformation are constant, however, in fact all moments are moments of contact with the ayin, a contact that man is usually too blind to acknowledge. The height of contemplative prayer is seen as such a transforming moment, but one that is marked by awareness. The worshiper is no longer himself, for he is fully absorbed, in that moment, in the Nothingness of divinity. In that moment of absorption the worshiper is transformed: as he continues his verbal prayer, it is no longer he who speaks, but rather the Presence who speaks through him. In that prayerful return to the source, the human being has reached his highest state, becoming nought but the passive instrument for the ever self-proclaiming praise of God. Through his lips the divine word is spoken.

–Arthur Green, Your Word Is Fire: The Hasidic Masters on Contemplative Prayer (A Jewish Lights Classic Reprint)

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-” with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, “inter-be.” If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. Without sunshine, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see wheat. We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. The logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist. Looking even more deeply, we can see ourselves in this sheet of paper too. This is not difficult to see because when we look at a sheet of paper, it is part of our perception. Your mind is here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. We cannot point out one thing that is not here–time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists within this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word “inter-be” should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to inter-be. We cannot just be by ourselves alone. We have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.

Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. Suppose we return the sunshine to the sun. Do you think this sheet of paper will be possible? No, without sunshine nothing else can be. And if we return the logger to his mother, then we have no sheet of paper either. The fact is that this sheet of paper is made up only of “non-paper” elements. And if we return these non-paper elements to their sources, then there can be no paper at all. Without non-paper elements–like mind, logger, sunshine and so on–there will be no paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.

–Thich Nhat Hanh, Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Zhungzi and Huizi roamed on the bridge over River Hao. Zhuangzi said, “The tiao fish come out roaming, free and at ease (chuyou congrong). This is the joy of fish!.”

 

Huizi said, “You are not a fish, how can you know the joy of fish?”

 

Zhuangzi said, “You are not me, how can you know that I do not know the joy of fish?”

Huizi said, “I am not you, indeed I do not know you. You, indeed, are not a fish, that you do not know the joy of fish is completely clear.”

Zhuangzi said, “I beg to seek the beginning. For you have to have said ‘How can you know the joy of fish,’ it is as if you already knew that I know it and thus asked me. I know it by standing on the river Hao.”

Two modes of knowledge and reasoning are juxtaposed here. Huizi’s certainty is based on the logic of difference: analogous distinctions or disjunctions between man and fish, and between himself and Zhuangzi. Zhuangzi, by contrast, plays on the logic of fluid boundaries and claims to overcome the division of self and other. Instead of meeting Huizi’s logical argument on its own terms, he radically redefines it and affirms intuitive communion: he knows the joy of fish by standing on River Hao. Huizi concedes to not knowing Zhuangzi; Zhuangzi for his part must presume to know Huizi’s mind, even as he knows the fish. He attributes motives and emotions to Huizi’s question: implicit recognition of Zhuangzi’s own knowledge, possibly envy and irritation. The key word is you (roam, wander, play), which describes the movement of both Zhuangzi and Huizi, as well as that of the fish: the repetition here marks empathic continuity. Roaming is associated with the state of being free, at ease, and disinterested, whereby the mind can be most creative and best apprehend the world. To roam, wander, or play is also to overcome boundaries, to move from one state of being to another, to achieve the self –transformation in Daoist transcendence of the opposites of self and other, dreaming and waking, life and death.

Wai-Yee Li (On Becoming a fish, Paradoxes of immortality and enlightenment in Chinese literature)

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