”The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion…. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness….one cannot help but be in awe when (one) contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.
Sorrow is suffering brought about by myself alone good Buddha?” asked Kassapa.
“Then by another?”
“Then both together, myself and another?”
“Then is it brought about by chance?”
“Then is there no suffering?”
“No, Kassapa, it is not that there is no suffering. For there is suffering.”
“Well then, perhaps you neither know nor see it, Buddha.”
“It is not that I don’t know suffering or don’t see it. I know it well and see it.”
“But to all my questions, good Buddha, you have answered no—and yet you say you know suffering and see it. Please teach me about it.”
“Kassapa, there are two wrong views. One says that oneself is the entire author of a deed and all consequent suffering one brings upon oneself and this is so from the beginning of time. The other says that it is deeds by other people that bring about one’s own suffering.
You should avoid both these views, Kassapa. Here we teach another way. All deeds, wether your own or another’s are conditionned by ignorance and that is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. By ending that ignorance in youself, and by way of yourself in others, wisdom comes into being and the suffering ceases. »
from : The Bouddha speaks (edited by Anne Bancroft)
Jacques Lusseyran (1924-1971) was a french author and a blind hero of the French Resistance.. He became totally blind in a school accident at the age of 8.
“At all times, I know of the world only what I deserve to know. The amount of knowledge I have is proportional to my desire to acquire it and my attention…
Attention alone holds sway: it is that which creates the universe.
A completely attentive human being will know the universe completely. Wise men who make serenity a condition for acquiring any knowledge are indeed right, because inner peace puts us in an attentive mood.
Nothing is more dissipating than worry and doubt unless the doubt is methodical, thereby merely consisting of prudence within the mind (…) In the perception of an attentive human, reality is rendered: complete sections peel away with the mere pressure of the hand, or a mere look. However, the hand and the look themselves are then only instruments. It is always within us that knowledge is realized; that is to say, in that place where we are connected to all created things. (…) Inner peace, it is that; and that is also what attention is: it is a state of universal communication, a state of coming together…
Yet, we spend the best part of our lives tearing things apart. We are estranged, in dissent with all things, and above all with ourselves. It is not only a vain revolt but a damaging folly.”
The soul that is clouded by the desires is darkened in the understanding and allows neither the sun of natural reason nor that of the supernatural Wisdom of God to shine upon it and illumine it clearly. (…)
The annihilation of the memory in regard to all forms (including the five senses) is an absolute requirement for union with God. This union cannot be wrought without a complete separation of the memory from all forms that are not God. In great forgetfulness it is absorbed in a supreme good. (…)
If the memory is annihilated, the devil is powerless, and it liberates us from a lot of sorrow, affliction and sadness.
John of The Cross 1542-1591 The Ascent of Mt Carmel
Pablo Casals was regarded as one of the greatest cello players and composers (writers of music) of the twentieth century. He made many recordings throughout his career, of solo, chamber, and orchestral music.
Casals came to understand the suffering of the poor as he walked the streets of Barcelona. He vowed to use his music to help his fellow people.
Casals often wrote letters and organized concerts on behalf of the oppressed, and he refused to perform in countries, such as the Soviet Union, Germany, and Italy, whose governments mistreated their citizens. After the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), when General Francisco Franco took power, Casals announced he would never return to Spain while Franco was in charge. He settled in Prades, France, and gave occasional concerts until 1946, when, to take a stand against tyrants such as Franco, Casals vowed never to perform again.
However, encouraged by friends, Casals resumed playing in 1950, participating in the Prades Festival organized to honor Bach. At the end of the festival and every concert he gave after that, Casals played “Song of the Birds,” a Catalonian folk song, to protest the continued oppression in Spain. In 1956 he settled in Puerto Rico and started the Casals Festival, which led to the creation of a symphony orchestra and a music school on the island. Casals never returned to Spain.
Casals also continued to refuse to perform in countries that officially recognized the Franco government. Until his death in 1973, Casals made only one exception—in 1961 he performed at the White House for U.S. President John F. Kennedy (1917–1963), a man he greatly admired. In 1971, at the age of ninety-five, he performed his “Hymn of the United Nations” before the United Nations General Assembly. Casals sought to inspire harmony among people, with both his cello and his silence.
It is not by taking refuge in a hermitage that a seeker will learn to recognize and establish within herself true compassion, but rather in her relationships with her fellows and in her contact with the existential world, however hard and pitiless it may be.
Human beings learn courage by confronting the dangers of the phenomenal world. They learn through the very difficulties existential life inflicts upon them. Ironically, this is because it is only in situations of insecurity, that push them to make the effort to survive, that their intelligence and intellect develop.
Constant consideration of the fragility of the other’s life must arouse in the aspirant not only a feeling of continual compassion, but also, and this is of crucial importance for her emancipation, the beginning of a spiritual awakening. /…/
Is it possible to love another without feeling compassion for her? Without being conscious of it, did one, at the beginning, “love” the other only because one had sexual needs to satisfy? Can one accept and love the person with whom one shares one’s life despite the differences in thought and temperament that must inevitably exist in her? All men and all women are incomplete, divided internally and victims of themselves and, without them realizing it, the thoughtless way they act towards others is only, deep down, the manifestation of the dissatisfaction and inner solitude that inhabit them.
Has one ever really looked at another from an inner silence, without expecting anything from him or her? And, even if one has lived one hundred years with a partner, is it ever possible to know that person? For that matter, is it ever possible to know another?
The Supreme Quest chap 16
According to our resolution so is the rate of our progress, and much diligence is needful for him who would make good progress. For if he who resolveth bravely oftentimes falleth short, how shall it be with him who resolveth rarely or feebly? But manifold causes bring about abandonment of our resolution, yet a trivial omission of holy exercises can hardly be made ithout some loss to us.
Strive as earnestly as we may, we shall still fall short in manythings. Always should some distinct resolution be made by us; and, most of all, we must strive against those sins which most easily beset us.
If thou canst not be always examining thyself, thou canst atcertain seasons, and at least twice in the day, at evening and at morning. In the morning make thy resolves, and in the evening inquire into thy life, how thou hast sped to-day in word, deed, and thought;
All cannot have one exercise, but one suiteth better to this man and another to that. Even for the diversity of season different exercises are needed.
Imitation of Christ – by Thomas a Kempis (Book I chap XIX)
Metta is greatly helped by meditative insights that show us that our separation from one another is an illusion. When we discover that all of us are parts of the same whole, and when we actually feel that in meditation, it becomes so much easier to have the same love for ourselves and for others. It is not a passionate emotion, but a harmonious, friendly, accepting, and peaceful feeling for oneself and other people. The Buddha’s path leads away from passion toward dispassion.
Metta is to be extended toward all beings and all manifestations, yet most of our difficulties lie with people. It is much easier to love birds, dogs, cats, and trees than it is to love people. Trees and animals don’t answer back, but people do, so this is where our training commences. We should consider practicing metta as part of our spiritual growth project. You will find guided metta meditations throughout this book; they are a means of directing the mind toward this aspect of our emotional purification.
Sometimes people find they don’t feel anything while practicing metta meditation. That is nothing to worry about; thoughts aimed often enough in the right direction eventually produce the right feelings. All our sense contacts produce feelings. Thoughts are the sixth sense, and even if we are only thinking metta, eventually the feeling will arise. Thinking is one means of helping us to gain this heart quality, but certainly not the only one.
In our daily activities all of us are confronted with other people and often with those whom we would rather avoid. These are our challenges, lessons, and tests. If we consider them in that manner, we won’t be so irritated by these experiences, nor will we be so apt to think, “I wish this wasn’t happening,” or “I wish he’d go away,” or “I wish he would never say another word,” thereby creating dukkha for ourselves. When we realize that such a confrontation is exactly what we need at that moment in order to overcome resistance and negativity and to substitute metta (or those emotions, then we will be grateful for the opportunity. Eventually we will find (mostly in retrospect, of course) that we can be very grateful to those people who have made life most difficult for us.
In overcoming that hurdle we took a big step ahead. If we keep on remembering the wrongs we have suffered, then our growth is retarded. Overcoming resistance, aversion, and negative reactions is the path of purification, the spiritual path, which can happen nowhere else except in our own heart and mind. It can never happen outside of us, and only works with mindfulness and introspection. When we see clearly, we can change.
We will not succeed each time when our heart and mind are negatively involved, but such occasions will certainly remind us of what we are actually trying to do. When we completely forget, we are not practicing at all. Half the spiritual life consists of remembering what we are up against and where we are going. Metta, unconditional love, is not an easy thing to develop, but it is essential. (…)
A person with a great deal of metta acts like a magnet. People are always drawn to that. However, if one wants to experience metta, one has to have it oneself. There is no other way, because another person’s metta, while pleasant, immediately disappears when that person goes away. We can’t hang on to another person, no matter who they are; it would create dependency on someone else, while the path we have chosen teaches independence. Moreover another’s metta demonstrates their purification and does not encourage our own growth. We have to generate the feeling of metta within ourselves. Everyone can do it, though some people find it easier than others. It is a matter of working at it.
All of us suffer from ego delusion, which brings hate and greed in its wake. Those people who have more greed find metta easier than those who have more hate. The latter have other advantages, though. They are more likely to stick to the practice because they feel so much more uncomfortable. A great meditation master in Thailand once said that he would prefer that all his monks had more hate than greed. People with hate are harder to live with, but they practice with enthusiasm because they are so keen to change.
An important part of our spiritual growth, one for which no special occasion is needed, is to practice metta toward people at all times, whether while shopping, going to the post office, meeting somebody on the street, or answering the phone.
There is always an opportunity to practice. So many opportunities facilitate our growth, but can also make it more difficult because we may often forget. Hearing and remembering are two main aspects of the teaching. Only when we remember can we eventually make the Dhamma our own. Otherwise we have nothing to work with.
Metta is a beautiful word—just five letters signifying the purity of our own heart, the heart essence, often obscured, yet always available.
from : WHEN THE IRON EAGLE FLIES – THE HEART ESSENCE
O nobly-born, thou art departing from this world, but thou art not the only one ; death cometh to all. Do not cling, in fondness and weakness, to this life. Even though thou clingest out of weakness, thou hast not the power to remain here. Thou wilt gain nothing more than wandering in this Sangsara. Be not be attached to this world ; be not weak. p. 103
To those who have meditated much, the real Truth dawned as soon as the body and consciousness-principle part. The acquiring of experience while living is important : they who have (then) recognized (the true nature of their own being), and thus have had some experience, obtain great power during the Bardo of the Moment of Death, when the Clear Light dawneth. p. 151
Now, if thou art to hold fast to the real Truth, thou must allow thy mind to rest undistractedly in the nothing-to-do, nothing-to-hold condition of the unobscured, primordial, bright, void state of thy intellect, to which thou hast been introduced by thy guru. (..), p. 157
The Tibetan Book of The Dead translated by Dr WY Evans Wentz