Tag Archives: varanasi

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Is it possible to hear criticism, even insult, and find deep acceptance in any response that emerges in the moment – grounded in the unshakeable knowing that what you really are doesn’t need defending? And then, being radically open, is it possible to find a nugget of truth in what they are saying, even if it results in momentary humiliation, and destruction of the image of the one you thought you were? This doesn’t mean you become passive and weak. Quite the opposite. You stop identifying as ‘victim’ or ‘hurt one’, and stop seeing the other as ‘enemy’, and you remain open and vast, the infinite capacity for all life, for all thought and sensation and feeling. And here, in the midst of conflict, you discover the place where conflict ceases to be conflict at all – and wake up to a love beyond reason. Yes, every human relationship is a constant invitation to let go. Your mother, your father, your friends, your lovers, your co-workers, everyone you meet – here are your final gurus, your ultimate teachers. Listen to them.

— Jeff Foster

Listen!

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Q: Is self-realization so important?

M: Without it, you will be consumed by desires and fears, repeating themselves meaninglessly in endless suffering. Most of the people do not know that there can be an end to pain. But once they have heard the good news, obviously going beyond all strife and struggle is the most urgent task that can be. You know that you can be free and now it is up to you. Either you remain forever hungry and thirsty, longing, searching, grabbing, holding, ever losing and and sorrowing, or go out wholeheartedly in search of the state of timeless perfection to which nothing can be added, from which nothing taken away. In it all desires and fears are absent, not because they were given up, but because they have lost their meaning.

— Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj – I Am That – Chapter 69 – p. 315-316

Is self-realization important?

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Allãh-Rãma,
I live by Your Name:
show me Your mercy,
my Lord.

If Allãh resides
inside a mosque,
then whose is the rest of the land?
Hindus claim His Name
inhabits an idol:
but God can’t be found
in either place.

The southern country
is Hari’s home,
the west is Allãh’s camping ground.
Search your heart,
your heart of hearts:
that’s His abode,
that’s His camp.

The brahmin fasts
once a fortnight,
the qãzĩ fasts for Ramadãn.
Each devotes
eleven months to himself,
then looks for rewards
in a month of fasts.

Why go off to Orissa
for ritual immersions?
Why bow your head in a mosque?
You’re a crook at heart,
you pretend to pray:
why go all the way
on a hajj to the Ka’aba?

These men and women,
The whole lot of them,
are nothing but Your forms.
I’m a child
of Allãh-and-Rãma,
everyone’s my guru-and-pĩr.

Kabir says, listen,
O men and women:
seek shelter with the One and Only.
Repeat His singular Name,
you creatures: for only then
will you be able
to cross life’s ocean.

Note from the translator:

The poem opens by compounding ‘Allãh’ and ‘Rãma’ into a single name, and addressing that compound God directly as a unified divinity. This pada attacks the ‘externalized’ rituals and institutions of both Hinduism and Islam. Its main strategy is to question the reasonableness of central Hindu and Muslim beliefs as well as practices; to point to the unacceptable contradictions within the two religions; to highlight the pretension and hypocrisy embedded in their actual practices; and to expose the absurdity of their practices in relation to their professed principles. The poem then rejects the actuality of Hinduism and Islam by proposing an alternative to both, which claims that God ‘exists’ in the human heart of Self; that all human beings therefore are ‘forms’ of God; that any human is hence God’s ‘child’; that we should therefore seek shelter with that one and only true God; and that we should repeat His divine Name as the sole mantra of mukti. ‘Allãh-Rãma’ is an instance of the ‘theological secularism’ characteristic of the Kabir poets.

— Kabir – Allãh-Rãma – The Weaver’s Songs (transl. Vinay Dharwadker)

Allãh-Rãma by Kabir the Weaver

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Moths gathered in a fluttering throng one night
To learn the truth about the candle light,
And they decided one of them should go
To gather news of the elusive glow.
One flew till in the distance he discerned
A palace window where a candle burned —
And went no nearer: back again he flew
To tell the others what he thought he knew.
The mentor of the moths dismissed his claim,
Remarking: “He knows nothing of the flame.”
A moth more eager than the one before
Set out and passed beyond the palace door.
He hovered in the aura of the fire,
A trembling blur of timorous desire,
Then headed back to say how far he’d been,
And how much he had undergone and seen.
The mentor said: “You do not bear the signs
Of one who’s fathomed how the candle shines.”
Another moth flew out — his dizzy flight
Turned to an ardent wooing of the light;
He dipped and soared, and in his frenzied trance
Both self and fire were mingled by his dance —
The flame engulfed his wing-tips, body, head,
His being glowed a fierce translucent red;
And when the mentor saw that sudden blaze,
The moth’s form lost within the glowing rays,
He said: “He knows, he knows the truth we seek,
That hidden truth of which we cannot speak.”
To go beyond all knowledge is to find
That comprehension which eludes the mind,
And you can never gain the longed-for goal
Until you first outsoar both flesh and soul;
But should one part remain, a single hair
Will drag you back and plunge you in despair —
No creature’s self can be admitted here,
Where all identity must disappear.

— Farid ud-Din Attar – The Conference of Birds (transl. Afkham Darbandi, Dick Davis)

The Moths and the Flame

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Be ye lamps unto yourselves,
be a refuge to yourselves.

Hold fast to Truth as a lamp;
hold fast to the Truth as a refuge.

Look not for a refuge in anyone beside yourselves.

And those, who shall be a lamp unto themselves,
shall betake themselves to no external refuge,

but holding fast to the Truth as their lamp,
and holding fast to the Truth as their refuge,
they shall reach the topmost height.

— Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha) – Buddha’s last words to Ananda

Be a light unto yourself

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Outward beauty, loveliness of form, charm of personality, whether it is yours or possessed by another, is of no lasting worth. Be not allured by this false show. Be not deluded by these transitory qualities. Handsome or ugly, fair or dark, delicate or coarse, exquisite or plain in appearance, all the forms that you behold are born of dust. They are dolls of clay. They are fleeting forms that will soon vanish and be no more. They are exactly like garments that we have purchased at the vanity-fair of this world, but which have to be discarded before we depart. Your aim in life should be to transcend them.

— Baba Sawan Singh

Do not let false delights of a deceptive world deceive you

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Lamps burn in every house, O blind
one! and you cannot see them.
One day your eyes shall suddenly be
opened, and you shall see: and
the fetters of death will fall from
you.
There is nothing to say or to hear,
there is nothing to do : it is he who
is living, yet dead, who shall never
die again.

Because he lives in solitude, therefore
the Yogi says that his home is far
away.
Your Lord is near : yet you are climb-
ing the palm-tree to seek Him.
The Brahman priest goes from house
to house and initiates people into
faith:
Alas! the true fountain of life is
beside you, and you have set up a
stone to worship.
Kabir says: “I may never express
how sweet my Lord is. Yoga and
the telling of beads, virtue and
vice – these are naught to Him.”

— Kabir – One Hundred Poems of Kabir (translated by Rabindranath Tagore) – XXI

Lamps burn in every house