Saturday, 13 November 2010

Talking to Corpses

Tashi, on the left above, with Steve a good friend and a fellow Chela.

The following piece is a brief extract from Karma Tashi Thundrup's unpublished work, 'Talking to Corpes.'  Perhaps one day we will get it all published.

"Some reflection upon the nature of our thoughts reveals that much of our conscious reasoning is devoted to the well being and importance of ourselves, our possessions, our desires and aversions. The average mentality is awash with reasonings, the conditioned i.e. prejudiced rationalisations of social, cultural, political and ethical opinions, the important property of an equally important 'ME'.

For many years now Britain and most Westem societies have been effectively secularised where religion and scriptural morality are no longer an essential part of school's curriculum. Everyone is now free to believe or disbelieve whatever they choose and act according to their own reasoned judgement, and yet, we appear to be falling apart at the seams, with burgeoning family collapse, homelessness, street violence, drugs of oblivion and a pervasive amoral culture of cynicism and doubt elevated to a consensual quasi virtue. The public at large have no faith in their elected politicians, their laws, police, public servants and religious and charitable institutions. Modem man has cut himself adrift, stoutly defending his precarious ego from the stealthy approach of wisdom with a smoke screen of smart doubt. The situation however is not quite as gloomy as it appears, for believe it or not, we do it all in our sleep.

G.I.Gurdjieff a mystic joker of the 1920’s used to say that everyone was sleep walking.
Most people are, some almost zombies, perpetually shunting the sidings of hope and disillusionment, others virtual corpses. Anyone who is Awake can observe this. The popular media, designed by somnambulists to keep us slumbering, pumps millions into Universal Sandman Television. Tabloid newssheets tout malicious vicarious gossip, whilst broadsheet supplements are stuffed with gossip of the cultured kind; trivia about trifles for wanabee sophisticates. One literally guts these obese publications to find a page or two pertinent to the needs of suffering humanity.

"The primary conditions for engaging in the struggle, are compassion for all sentient creatures and unalloyed devotion."

Religion means to me the consummative goal of yearning, the human yearning, rooted in wonder, to somehow unite one's being with the great Uncreated, Godhead or Buddha Mind. To discover within and without oneself a Kingdom of God where action and inaction merge, and all acts are blessed in the light of Reality. Religion is from the Latin Re-Ugio, to re-tie or re-fasten something, which has come adrift from its moorings, in the original authentic Mind. It denotes the solitary struggle to unite the souI, whatever that is, with the source, the ground of all creation. The primary conditions for engaging in the struggle, are compassion for all sentient creatures and unalloyed devotion. Any belief system lacking these basics of universal compassion and devotion to a supreme "Good" is not a religion to my mind but a cultural superstition best studied by alienists and anthropologists.

Aquaintance with the current church going public, would demonstrate that very few of the congregation are truly religious in the sense that I have broadly outined, but most however derive considerable mutual comfort in the companionship of fellow believers, the gathering of church alms and parish centred social activities: For one, maybe two days a week they will pray together and together sing songs of worship. They will listen to sermons and readings from the Holy Book, where The Law is proclaimed to all and the congregation transfused by righteous assent will be assured of a post mortem residence in Heaven.

All this of course is completely irrational, A rational agnostic could well ask; 'Who and where is this God to whom you pray and sing? and your Holy book, the work of many years and various writers, why is this presented as the literal words of your imaginary God in the sky?"
Regular church goers are, like ourselves, suffering fellow humans and can find themselves confused and doubtful even within the organised empathy of the congregation. "As stranded fish" Chuang Tsu once said, "Keeping each other moist with their own slime". Chuang Tsu was a born Taoist contemplative. "When the springs dry up", he said, "the fish are all together on dry land. They then moisten each other with their dampness and keep each other wet with their slime. But this is not to be compared with forgetting each other in a river or a lake.

In most congregational assemblies each individual has his or her burden of hopes and fears, variously obscuring the essential practice, and therefore blind faith in doctrine and repeated affirmation become grounds for an assumption of mutual 'Salvation.'But tucked away in the intesticies of these bastions of mass worship are a few, pitifully few, whom seeking first the Kingdom of God actually find it. However isolated from the congregational mainstream these solitary men and women may be they are in fact the spiritual lifeblood of their church.

Swami Sri Yukteswar of Puri once wrote 'Whatever brings tranquillty must be considered Sat (Saviour)." Churches are usually pretty tranquil places where people in need of some peace and calm fellowship can freely go and to judge from a recent visit of mine to a nearby Catholic congregation, experience a warm, humorous sense of family

The Swami's disciple Paramahansa Yogananda taught that we are like naughty children, full" of mischief and malice and with a short attention span. Meanwhile Mother Church must endeavour to keep a protective eye on her aberrant kids until such time as one or two of them yearn to come of age and get down to the single minded devotional and compassionate business of religion which the crowd dub mysticism.

The foregoing is highly critical of the general view of religion: An overall consummate view is naturally quite different.

I have been reading a good translation of "The Muscat aI Anwar"' or "Niche for Lamps" by the great 11th century Sufi teacher AI Ghazzali. To quote; "For no man shall approach near unto Allah unless his feet stand at the very centre of The Fold of the Divine Holiness" .... "Again this fold contains lesser folds sorne of which penetrate more deeply than others into the ideas of the Divine Holiness. But the term fold embraces all the gradations of the lesser ones."

There is much mystic mud evident here, yet I, neither a scholar nor a Sufi have no trouble with the essential message. AI GhazzaJi insists that the lesser folds have their appropriate lesser wisdoms which point the way to the "Transcendental Wisdom of the Divine Fold" itself, and furthermore in his complete non duality they cannot be considered less of a whole than the Whole.

There is nothing that I can add to AI GhazzaJi's brilliant overview; it is enough right now that you should be aware of what the word religion means in my mouth.

We can now approach a mind numbing paradox in that the goal of dedicated religious endeavour once realised is at the same time the end of religion for the pilgrim. Consider a brief run down on how this comes about. The essential teaching of any worthwhile deist gospel is simply to 'let go' in surrender to the Beloved: To slowly and by degrees jettison the armour of projection and conditioned ideas which binds us with rivets of discrimination to the obsolescent task of defending, deluded ideas of self, which stand squarely blocking our own intuitive light, the light of intuitive being and a consummate understanding of Reality.

The carapace of self has to drop off along the journey and with it all the burden of craving and aversion which hitherto enslaved the pilgrim to delusion. Anally all that remains to bolster the persistent clinging to a self are the beliefs, doctrines and practices, however sublime, which have led him this far. Even these must be surrendered in the last leap to realisation and our Man has no further use for them except where in the service of compassion, some teaching may be conveyed with appropriate wisdom to those with ears to hear. "

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