The Flag


Two friends were watching on as a flag flapped around in the wind.  “It’s the flag that’s moving”, said one of them.  “No, it’s the wind that’s moving”, said the other.  They could not decide amongst themselves who was right, so they decided to consult a Zen master who lived in their region.  They went to the master and explained the story, saying, “please tell us, is it the flag or the wind that moves”?  “It is neither the wind nor the flag that moves”, said the master, “it is the mind.”

Ramana Maharshi refers to the mind (ego) as a “phantom” that rises up from the Self during waking state, and disappears back into the Self during deep, dreamless sleep.  It is also that which is completely obliterated on the attainment of Self-realisation.  In consciousness (Self) there is no form; just pure being.  All objectification is a product of mind, and all movement takes place in mind, which is a projection of the Self.  Consciousness is constantly in motion, therefore objects rise up and fall away again.  Like the millions of waves that take form and then become immersed once again in the oceans.  When you gaze upon the beauty of a landscape, all you are actually looking at is consciousness (energy) existing at various levels of vibration.  It is the mind that  interprets and objectifies these vibrations, and projects the form perceived as landscape, which is seen by the eyes.

 

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The Mustard Seed


The disciples said to the master, “tell us what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.”  He said to them, “it is like a mustard seed; smaller than all seeds, but when it falls on the tilled earth, it produces a large tree and becomes shelter for all the birds of Heaven.

This parable demonstrates a great paradox.  The tiny mustard seed contains the mustard tree, which can grow up to about 25′ high.  The shell of the seed represents the line between the unmanifest (consciousness) and the manifest (the world or universe).  If the seed falls onto a concrete path it will simply die away, but in the correct (tilled) ground it will develop and grow into a magnificent tree.  This aptly describes the human journey.  We all start off as seeds in the womb, and as we go through all the stages of life we seek the relevant tilled earth (guru, mentor, teacher etc.) in order that we may grow.

The mother is the first nurturer of the seed; the first bigger tree in which we take shelter.  At this stage the seed disappears and dies and is reborn as a sprouting plant.  Then there are various stages, where as the plant steadily grows, teachers come and go.  These teachers can be in the form of school teachers, peers, partners, friends and even enemies.  Then in the same way that the seed must die in order to know itself as the tree, we ourselves have to die (eradicate the ego) in order to be reborn in all our glory (realise the Self)

At some stage the growing plant might decide that it wants to delve deeper and gain greater meaning to its existence, and it will seek shelter in the form of a guru; a Buddha tree, a Jesus tree, a Lao Tzu tree or a Krishna tree.  The master, in the form of whichever tree the seeker has chosen to take shelter in, will then nurture the growing plant until it becomes a magnificent tree in its own right.

At this point the newly emerged magnificent tree realises that all along it was itself the very Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu or Krishna tree in which it sought shelter, that all the time the tiny mustard seed and the magnificent, fully grown tree were One and the same.

This is the great paradox that is the parable of the mustard seed.

Left Or Right? Does It Matter?


Those of you who followed my story of personal evolution, will know that I come from a working-class background; and indeed, you may have deduced that I am proud of my roots and would not swap my life for anything.  My politics have always been very left; simply because I have always detested bigotry and prejudice of any kind.  In the UK (I can’t speak for any other country) we still have a ridiculous class-system that should have been confined to the rubbish bin centuries ago.  Indeed, the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” seems to be growing wider by the second.  Also, unless you have been living in your own bubble this last few weeks, you will be aware that the UK had a visit from a certain POTUS recently, that caused a stir, to say the least.

These days I try very hard to look at things from the bigger spiritual perspective, although I must admit, that if I see something on social media that appeals greatly to the old me, I can’t resist the odd retweet or repost here and there.  So, what is the bigger spiritual perspective when it comes to the murky world of politics?

Well, I’m sure it may mean different things to different people, but what it means to me is this.  Everything in this illusory world only exists in relationship to its relative opposite; in fact, if it ain’t got a relative opposite it don’t exist!  To take that a step further, you can only experience or express something in this world if it has a relative opposite.  Without grief there would be no joy, without the bitter there would be no sweet; the list is endless.  So, the implications are that when you express something, a political view for example, you are actually helping to endorse its polar opposite.  The left can only exist because of the right, and vice-versa.

We must also remember that old chestnut, “as without, so within”.  So, when the circus comes to town, as it recently did in the UK, what we are seeing, and in our case what the majority of people ridiculed, was only a reflection of what is going on within ourselves at some level of our being.  Making that statement doesn’t mean that I agree with the person in question’s views.  But, what I am saying is that right and wrong are only relative in relationship to each other, and are concepts constructed by the mind about a certain thing.  It is also worth bearing in mind that nothing can happen unless the collective consciousness of our species wills it so.

So, what’s the answer?  Once again, this is just my personal point of view.  First of all, scroll up and read my opening paragraph again.  Did it seem quite negative in parts?  My use of the word “detest”, for example?  Even though I only wrote that paragraph from the perspective of my actual experiences in my own country, there was a hint of aggression in there; and the left are supposed to be the good guys! (There I go again).  I honestly believe that the answer to this conundrum is in my good friend, Zen.  Zen is a state of Being; or pure Consciousness.

There is no relativity in Consciousness, and Consciousness is our true nature; therefore there is ultimately no left or right, no right and wrong etc. So, whoever you are and wherever you find yourself at any given time, simply act from the perspective of Consciousness, to the best of your ability, and be an example; a shining light, to others.  That is all any of us can do really.  Once we understand that the world and all its shenanigans are simply the crazy construction of our own minds, we can go about helping to reduce its craziness.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record I want to finish by using an old Zen saying that I’ve used many times before.  “Be as a hollow bamboo”.  In other words, don’t “do”, don’t be left or right, right or wrong; just be as a hollow bamboo and allow the higher power to work through you.  Allow magic to work through you; indeed, allow yourself and the example you set to those around you to be magical.

Another Arrow To My Bow


I have some news dear friends! I’m going to branch out in a new direction. It’s been in the pipeline for some time, but due to unavoidable circumstances it has not been able to come to fruition until now. On Sunday February 18 I am being ordained as a Spiritualist minister. Ah! I know what you are thinking… You are thinking that, “He’s only just announced that he won’t be working as a medium anymore, and now he’s being ordained”! Well I can understand how this looks on the surface of things. However, this is something I’ve had in the pipeline for over three years, and even though I have to do around half and hour’s mediumship as part of my ordination, I have no intention of going back on the circuit. No, there are other reasons for me taking this step.

I have no intention of retiring. But I’m realistic enough to understand that I’m not getting any younger. So being ordained as a minister will enable me to carry out weddings, funerals and naming ceremonies. I will be offering spiritual (non-religious) and non-spiritual ceremonies, tailor-made for the client. Being a minister will allow me to continue working in a capacity that will add value to people’s lives; which for me is what it is all about.

For the ordination, apart from having to do the mediumship, I will have to make a declaration (which is a kind of pledge or promise), I will have to give an address and I will have to do three readings. Originally, I chose my readings from Conversations With God – Book One by Neale Donald Walsch (2 passages) and one passage from The Yoga Of Jesus by Paramahansa Yogananda. But having given it a bit of thought, I decided to write my own readings, which I am going to share with you here. I have tried to cover as many angles as possible without making it too complicated, so I hope the following will do the trick. Comments are appreciated!

Reading One

Nothing exists except Consciousness; Consciousness is all there is. All experience, all-knowing, takes place within Consciousness. Indeed, even our physical bodies, which are incorrectly believed to be a housing for the spirit, are contained within Consciousness.
There are many names for Consciousness; spirit, the Self, bliss, knowing, awareness, God; to name but a few. However, the truth is that Consciousness has neither name nor form, neither birth nor death; it transcends pleasure and pain, joy and grief and it is what we are. There is never a single moment that each and every one of us does not exist in eternal bliss as infinite Consciousness. In truth there is nothing to do and nowhere to go, all we ever need is to Be.
So, what then is the point of this physical life; what purpose does it serve. The answer is very simple; the physical life exists so that Consciousness may know itself in its own experience.
Consciousness simply existed as itself in all-knowing infinity. It had no way of experiencing this infinite knowledge, so, using the power of its will, it created the illusion of the three-dimensional physical world, which is subject to relativity, cause and effect and other natural laws. It modulated itself into billions of seemingly separate pockets of intensified energy, thus creating the illusion of the individual soul, existing independently of everything else. Consciousness created certain conditions that went hand in hand with this, which meant that the super-conscious mind was temporarily suppressed and apparently replaced by a finite mind, limited by logic.
Another name for the logical mind is the ego; the bane of the human race, which prevents the individual soul from realising its true nature. The ego causes the individual soul to identify with the body as the reality, thus rendering it oblivious to its underlying truth.

Reading Two

The cause of most of the pain and misery suffered by human beings whilst experiencing a physical existence, is the lack of understanding of what constitutes the ego and how it tricks us into believing we are something that we are not. The easiest way to explain it is as follows:
At any given time here in the physical we are experiencing one of three states of being. The waking state, the dream state and deep sleep state. It is during deep sleep state that we return to source in order to replenish our energies. Upon awakening from deep sleep state, the first thing that happens, quite often even before we open our eyes, is that thoughts start to rise up in the mind. However, it is necessary to elaborate on this in order that we may gain a complete understanding of the process.
Firstly, what is known as the “I” thought, or ego, rises up. This is the thought that says, “I am this body”, “I am this mind”, “I have got limitations”, “I am going to die”. And it is from the “I” thought that all other thoughts rise up. The ego wants us to focus on objects in the world, because it wants us to believe that the world is the source of lasting happiness. The five senses also play their part, in that they pick up information externally and feed it back to the mind. The information is then reviewed. It is this review by the mind, of information received from the senses, that determines whether we experience happiness, sadness or indifference. What the ego does not tell us is that the world is subject to relativity, so any happiness that we find in the world cannot last; indeed, we realise in time that the source of our greatest joy is also the source of our greatest pain.
When we succumb to the tricks of the ego, we get sucked in and taken on a roller coaster ride; often a ride of pain and suffering. Having said all this, it is not wrong, neither is it a mistake to lose sight of who we are.

Reading Three

The great adventure of life is the experience of awakening and realising the truth of our being. We may go through many trials and tribulations en route, but this is exactly how it is meant to be. Life as we know it is nothing more than an elaborate game, played out in a theatre, a theatre of dreams; literally! Everything in the entire universe and beyond is never not in Divine and perfect order; and the play of life too is acted out in a state of absolute perfection. So how does it work?
Well, there has already been mention of the three-dimensional nature of the world; and this is how it has to be in order for experience to be whole and complete. Here are two examples. Firstly, the example of forgiveness. There is the one doing the forgiving, the one being forgiven and the actual process of forgiveness. Secondly, the example of joy. There is the subject (i.e. the joyous person), there is the object or the cause of joy (possibly receiving some good news) and there is the process of joyousness. Everywhere you look in the world you will see the three-dimensional nature of subject/object/process.
Paradoxically, it is by having these three-dimensional experiences that we eventually awaken to our true nature of Consciousness. Until we do, we look at the world from a dualistic perspective; dualism is the illusion that objects and people exist separately and independently of each other. The Indian sage, Ramana Maharshi was once asked the question by a devotee, “should I care for the needs of others”, to which he replied, “there are no others”. Of course it goes without saying that our true nature is also that of Love, and we should always be ready to give a helping hand where it is needed. The Maharshi simply answered the question from the perspective of absolute truth. In Consciousness there is no dualistic or three-dimensional nature and therefore, there are no others; there is only One.
What we can see in the world is Consciousness projecting itself into form, but all form is transient and will eventually sink back into its source. When we look out of the window and we see a tree, the tree does not exist as a tree; it actually exists as vibration. What we see as the tree is nothing more than our mind’s interpretation of that vibration.
Consciousness is that in which all experience appears, all experience is known and out of which all experience is made. When we eventually awaken, we realise that there was nothing to awaken from, that all the time we were awake; we just couldn’t see it. Rather like the sun being obscured by clouds. When the clouds eventually move away we say that the sun has come back, but it didn’t go anywhere, we simply couldn’t see it. We are Divine, we have always been Divine and we will always be Divine.
There is a Zen saying that is thousands of years old. “Be as a hollow bamboo”. That is all we need, to allow ourselves to simply Be (as a hollow bamboo), in order that the higher power may work through us. When we give up all ideas of having to “Do”, and simply allow ourselves to Be, then magic happens and life becomes Heaven on earth!

© Richard F Holmes 2018

The World Of Rumi

Quote


Jacket art from the back cover of “The Glance: Songs of Soul Meeting by Rumi,” translated by Coleman Barks; published by Viking in October 1999. Original Filename: RUMI2.JPG ORG XMIT: ; 11

There can’t be anyone, anywhere, who, having come across the writings of Rumi for the first time, does not immediately fall in love with the sheer beauty of it. Whether you refer to his works as poetry, philosophy, or simply a soul expressing itself from the depths of its being, his writing is truly incredible.

A colleague of mine told me about the piece below a couple of years back. I originally thought that it contained only the first verse. It is apparently, a much longer piece, however, when I found this two-verse version recently I felt quite pleased with myself for finding an extra verse. I haven’t seen the complete version yet; that will be something for me to look up on the good old internet in the near future. But I was really struck by these two verses together and it inspired me to reach within my own soul and retrieve this interpretation. I hope it does the great man justice!

Out beyond ideas of wrong doing
and right doing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

Rumi

Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing (beyond relativity and human logic) There is a field (the inner wilderness of bliss, or Consciousness) I’ll meet you there (in Consciousness there is no duality; there are no others, we will be as the One and only)

When the soul lies down in that grass (when we finally realise that all there is, is realisation) The world is too full to talk about (in the All That Is, we will abide in the Silence; the eternal language of the soul)

Do Nothing To Achieve Nothing


It is said that at the final stage of Self-realisation the ego merges into the Self and disappears. However, this would imply that the ego actually exists in the first place. The ultimate reality is that nothing exists except consciousness in its blissful infinite state of pure being; therefore the separate self (ego) only exists from the standpoint of duality, which is an illusion.

The concept of a single, infinite and indivisible whole is not easy for everyone to grasp, so it is perfectly acceptable to approach spiritual practice from a dualistic perspective. However, all of our spiritual practices; meditation, yoga, chanting and the study of spiritual texts, to name but a few, are nothing more than stepping-stones to finding what is already there. I have come to the conclusion that the simplest way to spiritual evolution is to do nothing in order to achieve nothing.

There is a Zen saying that says, “allow yourself to be as a hollow bamboo”, or words to that effect. What it means is to simply allow that higher power, which is your true nature, to operate through you. It is only the ego, the small “I” that needs to “do”. It knows that it ultimately does not exist and is on borrowed time, so it will do all it can to trick us into believing that we are the separate self. The individual soul was formed out of the nothing of the silent and blissful wilderness of Self, but there is never a time when it is not the Self. The trick, for want of a better word, is to understand that it is the individual soul as an ego/body/mind that is the illusion, the individual soul as Self is very real.

So allow yourself to be as a hollow bamboo and let your true nature work through you(do nothing), in order to experience your true nature of nothingness (achieve nothing). Rupert Spira explains this beautifully as, “being aware of being aware”.

The Flawed Concept Of Western Religion


The existence of the God of Western Religion is not only scientifically impossible; it is also spiritually impossible. Even the name “God”, is a term created by humans for the purpose of communicating with a deity. Does it not stand to reason? In accordance with that human habit of wanting to name and label everything, the same must surely apply to the deity. Otherwise, how would we address a nameless deity? How would the church threaten the masses with eternal damnation? But I digress…

It is generally accepted by all religions that God exists in a state of eternal bliss as Infinite Cosmic Consciousness. Even the Christian Church’s view of God bears some resemblance to this. However, the Christian Church also objectifies God as a deity that exists separately from the rest of creation; including the human race. If this was the case, that God exists as a deity, independently from the rest of creation, it would mean that Infinite Cosmic Consciousness would have to displace a piece of itself. If Consciousness displaced a piece of itself it would no longer be infinite, as by definition, infinity has no limitations or boundaries. You cannot have a cut-off point within infinity where something else exists separately. Therefore, the whole concept of Western Religion is flawed.