Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hearing Secret Harmonies

All existence is energy, and all energy emits vibrations. If we attune ourselves we become aware of these vibrations, perhaps very subtly or in a more obvious way. But to which of these ‘transmissions’ do we choose to attune ourselves?

We live in restless times, with distractions on every side. Even when on vacation in some far-from-home place, we probably have checked the booking brochure beforehand (online, of course!) to make sure that wifi is available for our laptop, tablet, smartphone or whatever mobile device we might take with us. These are the energies of the technology with which we have chosen to surround ourselves: energies which we ourselves have created, and which we tune in to. They might be the energies of our contemporary material existence - but these are not the energies to which our soul listens.

The explorer Marco Polo travelled along the Silk Road far from his native Venice to reach China and discover foreign wonders then unknown to the West. We ourselves might not travel to the court of Kubla Khan, but we can be ‘far from home’ even when we are sitting at home in our own familiar surroundings. It is our soul that seeks for and recognizes something beyond these things: a song which radiates on a higher, more pure frequency, a resonance which, when we hear it, tugs our being towards it, perhaps subtly but always very surely. This resonance awakens a longing: the longing of the soul for home, for its original state.

We in our turn transmit what we receive, what we are open for. If we only attune ourselves to the unrest around us, then unrest is what we ourselves transmit – and that just creates even more unrest, both in ourselves and in our surroundings. It is when with our being we sing the song of the soul that a harmony is created: a harmony that is both new and as old as the earth. The song might be silent, even secretive, but it is still heard on many different levels in many different ways: a harmonic chord to which all that hears it responds and vibrates in sympathy, an ever-growing song of the soul that draws us towards our true home.

Silk Road by Tang Wei Ming

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Church of Love

The following text is a fragment from a Cathar text from 1148.

It does not exist in a fixed form,
but only by the mutual agreement of persons.
It has no members except for those who feel that they belong to it.
It has no rivals because it does not nourish the spirit of competition.
It has no ambition because it only wishes to serve.
It does not have any national boundaries because love does not act this way.
It does not close itself off, as it tries to enrich all groups and religions.
It respects all the great teachers of all times who revealed the truth of love.

All who belong to it, practice the truth of love with their whole being.
He, who belongs to it, knows that.

It does not try to teach other; but only tries to be and by being to give.
It lives in the knowledge that the whole earth is a living being and that we are part of it.
It knows that the time of the last return has arrived; the way of self-surrender, in free will to return to unity.
It does not make itself known by loud words, but works in the free domain of being.
It salutes all those who have enlightened the path of love and gave their lives for it.
It does not create any ranks in its midst and no elevation of anybody, because the one is no greater than the other.
It does not promise reward neither in this or in another life, yet only the joy of being in that love.

Its members recognise each other by their behaviour, their way of being, by the look in their eyes and by no other external act than to embrace each other in a brotherly and sisterly way.
They know neither fear nor shame
and their witness will always be truthful in good as in bad times.

The church of love has no secret,
has neither mystery nor initiation except for the deep knowledge of the power of love, 
as the world must change, if we as persons wish it so;
but only if firstly we change ourselves.

All those who feel that they belong to it do indeed belong.
They belong to the church of love.

Top image by Victoria Pettella

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Dream of Birds

I wander over the ways, while all around me people turn the rich ochre soil, planting row upon row of new young trees with the greatest care and attention. I walk on, leaving the silently-absorbed people behind me still busy with their devoted task. Now I notice something lying on the ground ahead of me: a large and apparently lifeless young female bird with its neck bent in a strange, unnatural curve.

Next to this creature is a second bird, evidently a larger female, for she is giving birth while standing, splaying her legs as a giraffe does – and also like a giraffe, but certainly not like a bird, she is giving birth, not to an egg, but to a live young one. The new-born baby bird drops to the ground next to the first, who until now has remained unmoving. As if sensing the presence of the new-born next to her, the first bird now suddenly comes to life. She shakes her head, shakes her feathers, straightens her neck, rises up to stand on her two legs, and begins to prod the baby with her beak, encouraging it to do the same.

Seeing this, and apparently aware that her own task is now fulfilled, the mother trots away, the splendid radiance of her iridescent feathers leaving a trail of rainbows in her wake. The new-born and the one now standing over it, who seems to be barely older, also have this same radiant plumage. Lapis blues, turquoises, even raven-blacks: all are shining with the brilliance of butterflies’ wings. 

My feet carry me onwards, as if I am forbidden to linger for too long at any one place. Perhaps that is so, for footsteps are always footsteps in time, and the way we see things now is not as they will appear to us tomorrow, or as they seemed yesterday. And so I leave the two birds behind me, with the new-born still being encouraged to stand by her companion, her identical other.

Did the new-born also manage to struggle to her feet? I am sure that she did. The struggle to stand up is inherent, instinctual. We make the effort even though it is so much easier simply to stay lying on the ground. Farther behind me, new trees are already growing. And I who must walk on, follow the path which the mother has taken, walking in the trail of rainbows which she has left for me to follow. 

  Search for the Soul by Kamil Vojnar

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Firebird

A beautiful sash, a shirt worked with fine patterns, a shawl, a headscarf: miracles of perfect embroidery that always seem to have the effect of making their wearers feel that in some way they are special. All these items and many others flow from the hands of a modest and gentle orphan named Maryushka. But there is more. Coloured silks and glass beads combine in intricate and constantly-varying designs as if to tell their own different and unique stories, and each story seems subtly to change with each retelling. The young girl could earn a comfortable living with her remarkable embroidery work, but always she is content with the money that others are prepared to give, however small the sum.

Inevitably, some of those who buy and wear Maryushka’s work go on their own travels, and so her work travels with them. Merchants far beyond her own small village notice her handiwork, and so her fame spreads. Some of the more enterprising merchants, eager in their turn to possess more of these miraculous items to resell at a tidy profit, undertake the journey to her village. Each has a similar message: that if she will work exclusively for them she will receive in her turn riches and fame. Maryushka’s response is always the same: that she will never leave her own village, for there her dear parents are buried, and she wishes always to be able to visit and to tend the place where they rest. And in any case, she has no need of riches and fame – although she will continue to sell her work to any who find it beautiful.

Each merchant in his turn leaves disappointed, resuming his own trading and travels. And in such a way Maryushka’s reputation spreads even farther afield: far enough eventually to reach the attention of the evil sorcerer Kaschei the Immortal. Evil abhors beauty, especially the true beauty which flows from the pure of heart. Kaschei rages. The sight of her beautiful work on those who wear it revolts him, and in those terrible moments a dark shadow seems to spread across his face, as if a heavy cloud were passing overhead. Such beauty, he decides, could not be allowed to exist, could not be allowed to cast its light on the world.

Darkness can change its form to become something other than itself. Kaschei’s cracked features, distorted by evil, become those of a handsome and radiant youth. In magical and unseen flight the youth journeys over towering mountains and impenetrable dark forests, arriving at last as an ordinary traveller at Maryushka’s cottage door. An obsequious bow is enough to gain him admittance, and shirts, scarves and other items are set out for his inspection, each more beautiful than the last. "Kind sir," says she, "whatever pleases you, you may take. If you have no money with you, you may pay me later, when you have money to spare. And if my work should not find favour in your eyes, please counsel me and tell me what to do, and I shall try my best to improve upon what I have made."

Surrounded by so much beauty and grace of spirit, Kaschei must now struggle to contain his revulsion. But resolute of purpose, and oiling his most radiant charm, he feigns admiration. “Come away with me, dear one, and I will give you a palace built of precious jewels.” assures the sorcerer in his most unctuous tones. “You will eat from golden plates and sleep on the softest eiderdown. You will walk in an orchard where birds sing sweet songs, and where golden apples may be plucked.”

"Please do not speak of such things," answers Maryushka "for I wish neither for your riches nor for your strange marvels. For me there is nothing sweeter than the woods and fields where I was born. Never shall I leave this village where my parents lie buried and where those kind folks live to whom my needlework brings joy. I shall never embroider for you alone."

At the young girl’s answer a shadow as dark as a thundercloud seems to pass across the face of the youth. “Since you spurn the freedoms which I offer you perhaps you will enjoy another sort of freedom: the freedom of the skies…”  The words of the furious sorcerer have no sooner been uttered than Maryushka hunches forward in the agony of transformation. Her mouth becomes a bird’s beak, her arms reshape themselves into wings, and her whole body covers itself in glowing iridescent feathers: the feathers of a firebird.

Kaschei sweeps the beautiful creature up in his arms, bursts outside, and transforms himself into a great falcon, as black as the pocked dark face of a new moon. His cruel talons grip the firebird and carry her high into the clouds above. But Maryushka’s human soul resolves, even now, to do what she has always wished to do, and what she knows that she is intended to do: to give her beauty to the world, in whatever form that it is hers to give.

A single brilliantly-coloured feather flutters downward to the woods and fields far below. And then another, and yet more, as the wind above the world carries them over the surrounding villages and countryside, meadows and forests. There they come to rest, shining like iridescent jewels among the leaves and grasses: gifts for those below who love true beauty to discover, to wonder at, and to treasure. And with the shedding of her very last feather Maryushka dies, her fragile bird body still gripped in the talons of the great falcon.

But Maryushka’s wondrous feathers continue even now to be discovered where they have fallen: an inspiration to unknown others to create something of beauty of their own, and to bring that beauty into the world. And it is said by those who are fortunate to have discovered one of Maryushka’s feathers, and who recognise – perhaps intuitively – something of her essence in the wondrous plumage, that the works which they have inspired seem more beautiful even than her remarkable embroidery, perhaps because it was the precious feathers which demanded the greater sacrifice.

Retold from a Russian Folktale

Artwork Bird of Light by Marina Forbes