Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hounded By Heaven 3: Total Freedom

Lately, I've been aware of my pettiness and anxieties. I get to thinking I've arrived at a secure base camp and I start ascending to a loftier life, then something happens and I'm thrown back down the mountain. I know this is part of the process and as standing reminds me, I just need to breathe.

Part of that breathing always leads me to reading material that lifts me up again. This is from J. Krishnamurti's Total Freedom:

How do you come upon that which is sacred? Is there anything sacred? Man has sought throughout the ages something beyond. From the times of the ancient Sumerians, the Egyptians, Romans, people have sought. And they worshiped light, worshiped the sun, worshiped the tree, worshiped the mother, never finding anything. So can we together discover or rather, come upon, that thing which is most holy?

That can only take place when there is absolute silence, when the brain is absolutely quiet. You can discover for yourself - if you are attentive, watchful, watchful of your words, the meaning of the words, never saying one thing and doing another, if you are watchful all the time - that the brain has its own natural rhythm. But upon that natural rhythm thought has placed all kinds of things. For us, knowledge is tremendously important. To do anything physical requires knowledge, but psychological knowledge, that knowledge you have accumulated about your hurts, about your vanity, your arrogance, your ambition, all that knowledge is you. And with that knowledge we try to find out if there is anything most holy. You can never find out through knowledge, because knowledge is limited, and it will always be - physically, technologically, and psychologically.

So the brain must be absolutely quiet, not through control, not through following some method, system, not by cultivating silence. Silence implies space. Have you noticed how little space we have in our brain? It is cluttered up, full with so many thousands of things; it has very little space. And for silence there must be space because that which is immeasurable, that which is unnameable, cannot exist or be perceived or seen by a narrow little brain. If you take a journey into yourself, empty all the content that you have collected and go very, very deeply, then there is that vast space, that so-called emptiness, that is full of energy.

And in that state alone there is that which is most sacred, most holy.

New Delhi, November 13, 1983

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hounded by Heaven 2

Rumi, the Islamic poet, said that everything in the universe is a rhythmic drumbeat - only love is a melody. According to Rumi, anyone who does not love is like a fish without water or a bird without wings. There are three arduous requirements for attaining the state of perfect love - to be free from greed, to disdain the intellect, and to transcend all social roles and find one's true Self. Love, says Rumi, is the creative essence of the universe. Through love, thorns are turned to roses, sickness is transformed into health, and anger softens into gentleness; good fortune is seen in the bad, and the ugliest prison becomes a rose garden.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hounded by Heaven; the first in a series of retold transcendent experiences

Lorraine V. Murray, in her book Confessions of An Ex-Feminist  recounts a memorable experience she had while spending time with her husband in Cedar Key, Florida.  Anchored out in the gulf on a small boat, they suddenly heard a loud splash and saw the heads of two manatees pop out of the water.  The manatees peered at them before disappearing underwater again.  "The atheist in the boat," Murray writes, "stunned by their eyes, which seemed so deeply innocent and mysterious, now uttered a rather strange statement: 'It was like looking into the face of God!'"  Later she would write in her journal that she believed she'd gotten a glimpse of God's face here on earth.

Friday, January 22, 2010

God Through A Microscope

At 1/500 the thickness of a human hair, ordinary detergent bubbles are one of the thinnest substances visible to the naked eye.

Ordinary fungus, common on bread or cheese, magnified 560 times

A ripe strawberry.

These tiny specimens are helping scientists at Amgueddfa Cymru research climate change that took place 34 million years ago.  When Antarctica went into the deep freeze.

Household dust: nutritiously rich in hairs, skin flakes, clothing fibers, and even - at the center - the intact fragment of an insect's compound eye.

Sweat droplets on a hand, produced after an hour's exercise.


Perfect diatoms. 
Chunks of these marine algae help give face powder its distinctive smooth feel.



Sperm on the surface of a human egg.

6-day old human embryo implanted.


Red blood cells

Sondra Barrett found God through a microscope

March 07, 2005|By David Ian Miller, Special to SF Gate
Are spirituality and science incompatible? It's an age-old question with no easy answers. To some the acrimonious debate over whether to teach about the Bible in America's biology classrooms is reason enough to believe these two sides are mutually exclusive.
Yet science can also be a doorway to the spiritual realm. Take Sondra Barrett a self-described "hardcore scientist" who had no interest in spirituality but became convinced of a higher power while examining human blood cells as a UCSF cancer researcher in the 1970s.

Since then Barrett 64 has used her microscope to photograph everything from caffeine molecules to chicken soup to pinot noir. As a scientist and an artist she sees these images as evidence of the sacred revealing the invisible forms and forces at work in everyday life. Tell me about your religious background. Did you grow up with a particular faith?
I was raised Jewish but basically rejected organized religion as a young adult because it seemed hypocritical to me. At that time [the early 1960s] women couldn't become rabbis and we weren't counted as part of a minyan (a prayer group). I turned instead to the religion of medical science. Only what was provable was real to me. Life was cells and molecules -- it was purely physical. I wouldn't define myself as an atheist but I had no spiritual leanings at that time.
But eventually after completing your Ph.D. in biochemistry and beginning your work as a cancer researcher you became a spiritual person. What changed for you?
Two things altered my deeper view of the world. One was the microscope. I always find it surprising that a tool of science would lead to my ever growing spirituality but that's what happened. Seeing living cells up close I was captivated by their intelligence energy and order. It opened a window for me to the sacred world. The other factor in my spiritual development at this point was working with children whose disease leukemia I studied as a research scientist. Through this work I was forced to see human beings as more than just physical and spending time with one of those children when he died made me look at life and death in much larger terms. I began asking myself about why disease happens. What purpose did it serve in these children? This pushed me to investigating alternative ways of looking at life including Buddhism, shamanism Taoism and other mystical traditions.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tao Te Ching 63

Act without doing:
work without effort.
Think of the small as large
and the few as many.
Confront the difficult
while it is still easy;
accomplish the great task
by a series of small acts.
The Master never reaches for the great;
thus she achieves greatness.
When she runs into a difficulty,
she stops and gives herself to it.
She doesn't cling to her own comfort;
thus problems are no problem for her.
Tao Te Ching  63, translation by Stephen Mitchell