What a great place G+ is for sharing our ideas, our art, and the stuff that tickles us or perhaps disturbs us too. All rich fertile soil for the mind.
But for me, the real magic of this place is how border-less it is. We can connect and explore with friends we perhaps would have never met before... and so I imagine that for many here, G+ is a little oasis in the desert – a place of refuge, nourishment and succour beyond our common-place situation.
As G+ expands I come across more and more who don't find it so easy to connect. I know that some -- I'm thinking particularly of those whose mother tongue isn't English -- find it hard to express just what they want to say. Others are just taking the first tentative steps in exploring cultures and ideas that are very different from their own; and others still who have simply never considered sharing in an open place before.
I sometimes forget this... and miss the little signals and cues that are so much a part of the G+ 'experience'. I still have the remnants of an old habit of getting lost in my busy-ness, and getting so caught up in something I'm on with, that I don't see all that is happening around me. Luckily I have met some good friends here who nudge me and remind me, by example, to keep it real. ;)
Sooo... if you have ever tried to connect here in this little corner of the G+ woods, and not felt heard, then please know that it is never intentional. There is no-one unwelcome here.
What would life be like if we could see each as we really are instead of what appears on the surface? ♥
P.S.. I have not forgotten this place. Your comments and shares have not gone unnoticed! I'm deep into a piece of work at the moment but will be back here soon. In the meantime have a wonderful weekend. Ofa atu. :)
I know there are many who would call Banksy's work vandalism, not art... but I think that we (I mean my fellow Englishmen) ought to make him a national treasure... just for the joy of being able to laugh at our own insanity as we drive to work in the morning. In fact, while we're at it let's give him the freedom of the streets... and kudos to him for not getting caught for so long. Thank you Banksy.
When we meet someone today we meet our Self – someone who wants exactly the same as us. But what we'll see in them is what we choose to see instead.
Because what we see wrong in them we keep hidden from ourself – what it is that troubles us, the very nature of our angst. But behind the door we fear to enter lies the treasure that we seek.
So everyone we meet or think of today, offers us both this mirror and a Gift – to look beyond perception, and find the happiness we both want most. So be kind to your Self today, there's no-one not deserving of our gratitude for this! .
Reshared text: One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.
He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.
A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.
As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!
MORAL : Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.
Self healing communities In spite of its troubles, Britain has a couple of endearing qualities that seem to get it through most things. The first is that we not only tolerate eccentricity, but we actively welcome it. Silliness and absurdity are good here, and we have plenty of it (witness the drop-down box for 'Title' on the Royal Opera House registration here -> http://goo.gl/cWdlr ... How posh are we!). We even have a political party founded upon it (http://goo.gl/WfnMq).
But to understand why it so revered, you need to understand the second quality -- a rather peculiar form of humour that uses silliness, pompousness and any other form of posturing as raw material for good natured exposure. You find this in healthy families and workplaces, but it's in traditional English pubs that it's most visible. There you see little groups engaging in a form of mockery and character assassination that anywhere else in the world would be classed as mental abuse.
A lot of this is quite subtle, and difficult to at first detect. A pompous, self-righteous or boastful person will often be encouraged ("Oh, did you really?" "Do tell us about it!") purely to harvest material that can then be carefully laid out, in all its mis-glory, for everyone to laugh at. If you have a tendency to take yourself a little too seriously or enjoy the sound of your own voice - beware! Any attempt to impress will have the exact opposite effect. And nothing is sacred. Don't be surprised if you walk into your 'local' with a new girlfriend and -- after the initial pleasantries -- your sexual prowess is immediately brought into question!
Most foreigners just don't know what to make of this, and tend to give these groups a wide birth in case they their own persona becomes fodder for their teasing too.
But look close and you'll see there's nothing at all sinister here. Even though insulting or even heated words may be used, the relaxed postures and quick smiles reveal something else is going on. Teasing is a sign that you are liked, in spite of the mask you wear -- your faults and follies are amusing, not distressing. Watch carefully and you'll see there are as many perpetrators as 'victims' - everyone and everything is fair game... and even though nothing is off limits, everyone ends up laughing.
It's laughter therapy of the most brutal kind, but by God it works. No matter what kind of day you're having, you cannot leave without feeling humbled, yet closer and better. (BTW, my kids are all experts at this. They know just how to keep each other -- and me -- real. They are masters of irony, and can keep such a straight face that it's often hard to tell whether they are joking and teasing, or not).
Look closer still, and you can actually see a well-defined structure to all this: The unwritten 'constitution’ prescribes reciprocity, equality, the pursuit of intimacy and a tacit non-aggression pact. There's also two unspoken commandments enshrined in this ritual, knowledge of which is mandatory for effective participation. The first is: 'Thou shalt not take anything, especially yourself, too seriously.' And the second: 'Be prepared to laugh at yourself, because you most surely will be teased." These unwritten rules are not at all restrictive or inhibiting -- quite the opposite -- they are designed to crack the toughest shells, opening to more communication and to places we would normally never dare to go. And finally, the golden-rule that ties this all together is, 'don't forget to laugh!'
But here's the beautiful paradox of this ritual: It is both social-bonding on steroids AND it gives you permission to go and express your Self without holding back (regardless of the outcome of that Self expression and no matter what fears or foibles come to the surface in the process). You are free to be as eccentric as you like when 'eccentricity' is cherished... and fear of failure or ridicule disappears completely when the idea of 'everyone laughing' includes you! It's the perfect environment to learn and grow.
It also allows for arguments that are incredibly joyful affairs, where real meaning is created.
Steve Jobs was aware of the effect of this (although I'm not so sure he fully understood the 'why' and the 'how' of it). He told Tim Cook, "My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts." What actually happened was throughout the massive changes and pressures from suddenly being shot to stardom, they engaged in this same good natured barracking that kept them grounded, kept them cheerful and kept them creative. You saw this every time they were together, in interviews and in private, 'on screen' and off.
This is a great model for business, but it also a great model for any community.
There are many 'serious professional types' who would scoff at the frivolity of this simple approach and question its relevance to the big issues we face today, but I would disagree. Restoring and maintaining the happiness and wellbeing of your people as 'job 1', is to put the horse back in front of the cart... and it's only from this place that we are truly creative. And that's all we need do. The resulting inspiration and new found creativity takes care of the rest. When you have the ability to create what we really want, you no longer have to worry about what you don't.
So... don't forget to laugh! :)
DEDICATION: I dedicate this post to my four children -- Jedi Masters in the art of persona dissection and playful teasing, and to my partner and step daughter who had such a shock walking into this... but are now appear more real, more radiant and more lovely because of it. PHOTO CREDIT: +Chung Huynh #Glia
”Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage”… Anais Nin
It takes courage to trust... but for budding artists, entrepreneurs and seekers of truth alike, these same rules apply:
• 100% commitment is effortless, 99% can be as hard as hell… because wherever there is less than total commitment there is conflict, and wherever conflict, a battle to be fought and won.
• The less the courage, the greater the conflict, the greater the battle. In any battle all cover is temporary... so you can never truly relax, you constantly have to keep moving.
• Trust trumps good intention and willfulness every time, because trust negates fear... which unwinds conflict, which strengthens commitment.
Something in you knows that without Self trust (capital 'S'), the fullness of life that is waiting for you will remain a mystery, and you will never know that it is you who moves the clouds and makes the phone ring and reveals how ridiculous it is to mistrust that which can never fail you even as it snatches your crutches from under you to show that you always could walk free.
You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-- over and over announcing your place in the family of things.
”If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is - infinite.”..… William Blake
First Observation: The only way that we experience what we call 'time' is to let our attention slip away from the reality around us, and enter the realm of thought instead. We access what we call ‘the past’ through memory, and what we call ‘the future’ through imagination. ‘Past’ and ‘future’ are both mental constructs -- concepts in our mind.
This is how it is for you, me and everyone else. No one has ever experienced time except in thought, nor will they ever do so.
Second Observation: As Einstein pointed out in his theory of special relativity, time and space are inextricably linked. First principles that apply to time must also apply to space. Without this knowledge the GPS system in your car or phone would not be accurate.
By extension: If you take these two observations together, the only reasonable conclusion is that what we experience as time and space is in fact an illusion - an outer reflection of our past/future orientated way of thinking… and what is actually real must be, by definition, both changeless and infinite. Hmmmm :-\
But we need 'time' to be real.
Because without it none of the paradoxes in this video would be possible. And what would be the fun in that! ;)
A question for the 100%: What kind of governance do we need now to enable the future that we really want?
In the previous post (http://goo.gl/drJLi) I mentioned that I believed that our existing political and organisational systems are broken, that we could with something completely different going forward, and that I agree with the Bucky Fuller philosophy, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
+ed connell then replied: “ I've been pretty much saying the same thing myself for the past few months. So far I've been drawing a blank on what the new model might be, however. Any ideas?”
I posted a comment in reply, but then realised just what an excellent question Ed asks. So I’ve cut and pasted my comment below (unedited because I’m going to bed now) and invite the thoughts and ideas of my G+ friends. I’ll catch up in the morning. Sleep well everyone. :)
Here's my pasted comment:
+ed connell "Any ideas?".... Yes I have, but hardly enough space to respond adequately within a comment Ed (but I will post on this topic). I think the first hurdle we need to get over is the idea that democracy is the be-all and end-all off enlightened governance. Here’s an alternative idea:
Perhaps an ‘open-sourced meritocracy’ would serve us far better. ‘Open sourced’ in that the structure of governance itself be an ever evolving process in which anyone who cared could contribute (thinking on-line public forum here). ‘Meritocracy’ being a meritocracy of ideas, as opposed to people. Nothing is set in stone, everything a work in progress.
[Edit: The responsibility for 'great ideas' would no longer rest with an elected few but would come from anyone, anywhere, at any time. By organising around ideas instead of people we get the additional benefit of removing the personal politics and power plays that have tended to eventually infest most organisational systems, and you remove the need for separate competing parties.]
Leadership could be fluid and flow to whoever would benefit the most in each particular time and situation (as happens in a healthy family with children) i.e. to those who are most ‘ready’ and willing (who coincidentally would probably be the most effective). Such a system would favour consent over consensus, allowing those who have been granted consent to have the responsibility to make their own decisions, to act free of the bureaucracy that comes with centralised control (I believe the need for consensus is a relic of our fear based past -- needing a majority to agree on everything reflects a lack of trust. Consensus on the other is granted based on trust, and comes from fear’s opposite!)
Instead of a system of checks and control, decisions would be subject to ‘show and tell’ (again, the on-line public forum) where people can see what is happening and why, and can offer feedback.
‘Government’ itself in such a system could be minimal -- probably a council of elected 'wise elders' (probably unpaid, working for the love of it) to safe guard the ‘sacred scrolls’ (as mentioned above ‘open sourced’, debated and co-created publicly) but who had the power of veto to check any self-destructive tendencies of the young bloods who are actually running the show.
I love it when people have the balls to just stand up say how they really feel. Not only do they make themselves real but it cuts through everyone's bullshit, wakes everyone up, helps us all come alive.
Many of us have difficulty being on the recieving end of truthiness and don't like it when someone points out that we (the Emporer) are naked. But waking up to our own blindness often is painful. I'd take this any day -- it's such a small price to pay. And many object when the language or delivery is a bit extreme... but sometimes we have to call a spade a f**king shovel to show what a spade really is. As always, it's the place we are coming from not the words we use that makes the difference.
A fine example here from my fellow countryman Nigel Farage... courtesy +Stacie Florer( who I'm hoping will forgive me for not posting this as a 'reshare' of her original: http://goo.gl/6duAC )
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- P.S. Just for the record, I hold no particular political affiliations or points of view. I'm not really concerned about the the whys and wherefores of what has gone before — I just know that the old systems are broken and we now need something completely different. So I’ve kinda adopted the Bucky Fuller philosophy, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
What I’m gradually learning is that creating organisations where serendipitous 'flow', open communication and mutual support are the norm is far easier than I (for one) ever imagined it could be... I suspect because these traits align with our true nature.
Since meeting all my U.S. friends here on G+, it's been a constant source of amusement to me just how many words we spell differently. I had never appreciated this before.
Well heaven forbid, earlier today I caught my little finger heading for the 'z' key, and the only time it ever goes there is when I'm going to the zoo! But I do not criticize criticise! And now suddenly, the inbuilt spell-checker here appears to be conspiring with my American compatriots to take me over to the dark side. ;)
I'm starting to get mi wuking murds fudled already, and that is not good. So friends -- wherever you may be -- here's a short animation that gives a little context to our rich common language. :) .
RESHARE: I came across this quotation just now and had to take a moment of pause. These words speak so powerfully to me. (never been into the star-sign 'thang', but I'm a Libran too!). Thank you +Yvette Bonilla-Leach
Reshared text: I'm proud to be a Libra with Gandhi and John Lennon. :)
"The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes"... Goethe
Somewhere hidden between the religious Christmas (the bible stories, nativities and carols) and the festive Christmas (the parties, feasting and commercial stuff), there’s another Christmas that gets lost in all the hustle and bustle and planning that goes off at this time of year. This the spirit of Christmas.
This 'hidden' Christmas is the one I feel when I hear Wizzard's Christmas song 'I wish it could be Christmas every day'. It's the Christmas of easy smiles and infectious laughter and enjoying what is so real and alive and lovely right now. It's the Christmas of renewal and grace and the seeing of what Jack Kerouac spoke of in ‘On the Road’, "Life is Holy, and each moment is precious."
You don't have to be a Christian, or in anyway religious, to enjoy this. It's a universal Christmas that can permeate all others, one that everyone can feel and understand on a personal level, and can love and celebrate in their own quiet way. This Christmas touches something we’ve kept hidden… and can also be, if we choose, a time of opening to this Light that shines in all of us.
We call this light by different names, and may think of it differently…. but it makes no difference, because it is there. It exists regardless of the name or thought we give it. We could say it is the rebirth of our Buddha nature, the awakening of our Christ consciousness, the recognition of our essence as Spirit, the restoration of our natural unlimited Self, the rebirth of unconditional Love. The language varies but what it points to is the same.
It's probably no coincidence that the symbol of Christmas is a star - a light in the darkness. My wish is that we remember this Christmas and come to never doubt the power of our simple, undivided intention to allow this -- our Light -- to shine, regardless of 'present circumstances'. I wish you the very best in 2012.
"Two men look through prison bars, one sees the mud the other the stars"
There are two entirely different ways for us to think and see. Both are motivated by what we expect to find… and want to be true. One looks for what is wrong and finds a world made to meet its expectations. The other looks for a light it vaguely remembers, but cannot find with eyes that see the world through the darkness ‘our world’ is meant to hide. But it persists, because the light in us isn’t satisfied with anything less than what is true. It looks for the goodness and love within itself that embraces all it sees, recognising everything like itself and part of what it is.
Wishing everyone a truly grateful 11.11.11 and a peaceful, magical weekend! :)
+Bruce Hunt asked about the difference between 'intention' and 'effort' in the previous post (http://goo.gl/dxKmV), so I thought I'd take a shot at responding to that question here rather than in the comments.
In one sentence: Intention is willfulness to move towards what you think you want, effort is the exertion needed to get there.
The relationship between the two is this: the greater the clarity of intent the less the need for effort. And of course, the opposite holds true: the more conflicted we are in what we want, the greater the effort required to attain that.
If you take this principle to its extremes you could say that if we are totally conflicted then nothing happens at all, because we are simultaneously being pulled in different directions. Our life then reflects that conflict, stress and stagnation its hallmarks.
At the other extreme, where there is no conflict there is no effort required. Anyone without conflict would appear to us to live a truly blessed and miraculous life. In practice our lives fall somewhere between these two end points.
Let’s look at the source of conflict.
We imagine ourselves as living separate lives – like icebergs floating in a big sea, bumping into each other here and there. We see life (the Sea) as something that exists outside of us, with a will that appears apart from our own as it flows its own sweet way oblivious to our feelings, aspirations and needs.
The iceberg is who we believe we are. Some call it ‘ego’, but really it’s the whole world within our mind. This iceberg embodies this idea we are separate from each other. Instead of having a body and mind, we think we are a body and mind... more than that, we believe we are a mind trapped within a body and therefore the body’s limits define and constrain the limits of our powers and influence.
But it is also our whole world as we commonly experience it, because this primary belief provides the context for the content of our experience. The thoughts, feelings and perceptions that make up the content of our moment by moment experience serve to validate for the iceberg (the distinction 'me’) that we think we are. In effect, our everyday experiences are a self-belief fulfilling prophecy.
The 10% of the iceberg above the water we can liken our conscious mind – the thoughts and feelings we are aware of. Here is all that we like and dislike, want and don’t want, ought and ought-not to do. We say we have free will because we make choices between these things. But this ‘free will’ is illusory because what occurs in the 10% above the water is just the effect of what occurs in 90% below. We choose what we like over what we dislike, but what we are attracted to, repulsed by or indifferent to... is already handed to us. Our intentions just conform to these triggers. As Chuck Palahnniuk puts it, "We're so trapped that any way we could imagine to escape would be just another part of the trap. Anything we want, we're trained to want."
The 90% of the iceberg that appears underwater we can liken to our subconscious mind. Although this is how it appears to us, again this is not really true. Everything in our mind is easily available to be seen. What we think of us as subconscious is simply what we have chosen at some point to hide from awareness instead of look at and re-experience.
At the base of the iceberg are the voices from the past (our parents, peers and early mentors) whose voices were in turn the expression of their own experience of living within their own iceberg (see how recursive this is? – the voices from the past may be millennia old!).
Above this -- filling the whole mass that lies below the surface of awareness -- are those feelings we don’t what to experience again. Guided by past voices we end up in all sorts of trouble, and when that is too painful to handle we bury those feelings along with the associated thoughts and memories, in our resolve never to revisit them. From here on, anything that could triggers those feelings (and what they hide) is unattractive to us. 
Maslow did a great job of mapping our needs as they appear in the 'conscious' part of our mind with his ‘Hierarchy of Needs’. It is easy to see how this is fertile ground for conflict, but just to add this conflict there’s the ever present voice of the Sea itself whispering to us that all this conflict, stress and dis-ease is totally unnecessary... and if we would only listen and follow all this mess would be gently undone forever.
What Maslow’s model didn’t show is that ‘neediness’ itself is a product of the belief we are the iceberg, separate and adrift in an unfriendly sea. In a mind that is open and unconflicted all needs are naturally and easily met, as the path-of-least-resistance now has no resistance. It’s the flow of Life itself that moves us and fulfils us. As Lau Tzu said…
The Tao abides in non-action, Yet nothing is left undone. If kings and lords observed this, The ten thousand things would develop naturally.
So the choice of intent is really only between these two: To follow the guidance of our true Self (the Sea) or the urging of our everyday thinking mind (the iceberg)? If we choose the later there then appears to be a million other choices, but this is just an illusion because we are already lost and adrift as that iceberg!
The intention to Love
When our intentions are motivated by some idea of what we need, then the effort required depends on the degree of conflict with very other idea about we need. The more our intentions are motivated by Love the easier, freer and universally supported our actions become.
To hold the intention to love without holding any idea of how to do that, is to allow Love to be expressed through us and take the Se's purpose as our own. To the iceberg this idea is worse that hell – the demise of who we believe ourselves to be, because the Sea carries us to warmer waters where our frosty exterior melts to discover we are this same imperturbable Ocean. As Marianne Williamson described, ”Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.”
We are learning not to be afraid of Love, because it’s Love that gently wakens us from our dream of pain to our unlimited nature and resolves all problems. We are learning to trust our loving intentions. The iceberg will take those loving intentions and twist them to its own ends, by favouring one above another to create a sense of specialness which only maintains our illusion of separateness, powerlessness and loss.
But if we take the slightest loving feeling we have for someone or something, and gently allow it to expand to include everyone and everything, then on a deep level it touches everyone and everything. And when it does, it quietly brings everyone and everything together. This, if you like, is Love’s purpose – to join. In this joining everything feels this Love. And without knowing why, or even even knowing that this is happening, everything bends towards us in encouragement and support.
Thank you Bruce for a great question. :)
… How conflict plays-out in practice is that we are first motivated by fear. Something is wrong in our life that we are eventually motivated to do something about it. The change requires discipline and effort because there is conflict with the ‘secret intention’ that gave rise to the problem in the first place. Progress is made however, because this new path is now the path of least resistance in our life. But after some success the fear that motivated diminishes and the pull of the original need now greater, so on-balance the path of least resistance is back to where we were before. In this manner, our life yo-yos back and forth as our mind attempts the impossible balancing act of attending to all our intentions (in order of whichever shouts loudest) no matter how perverse, destructive and unrecognised they may be. You see this pattern at play most clearly in addictive behaviour.
… Most of the feelings that we do feel are medicinal. They act as a cover to protect us from the feelings we have decided against experiencing. The knot that ties them around the buried feeling is a judgement made in a moment of fear to never experience that feeling again… either because the experience was too painful or because we believed it was ‘wrong’ to do so. In this way, feelings get layered on top of each other and hide the ancient troubled feelings, judgements and interpretations we have made about ourselves and events in our world at large. Unseen they remain unresolved, yet constantly move us. And so our present is a recreation of our past, and our future an extension of that.
Defence and attack are two sides of the same coin, both fearful reactions to seeing life as enemy instead of friend (http://goo.gl/Kj4lq).
But it would be useless for someone to try to convince us that safety, security and wellbeing lies in defencelessness. We would never believe them. And besides... our nest eggs, our pension plans, our health schemes and our alarmed and panic bolted little boxes have become such familiar and comfortable friends... to even consider taking them seriously.
And yet, in spite of all our elaborate defences, it seems we keep getting bitten. Hmmm... could I be playing some part in this?
WD-Poetry I used to think of poetry as one of the little pleasantries of life that -- like Parmesan sprinkled on Spaghetti Bolognese -- is a nice little distraction but does nothing to help you tackle the complex tangle of life that still lies on your plate. Not any more. I know now that a good poem can penetrate the crevices of our carefully constructed belief system, pointing us towards our own blindness, in a way that normal prose cannot. It is WD-40 for the mind, reaching parts that other words can't reach.
Tucked away in a back room of the place I stayed this week (http://goo.gl/W8Bts) I found a fine example of this: an old battered print of a Wordsworth's poem, 'The Tables Turned'. It speaks to me in so many ways I could almost write a book about it, but I'll try to keep this brief... ish! But first, the poem:
Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books; Or surely you'll grow double: Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks; Why all this toil and trouble?
The sun above the mountain's head, A freshening lustre mellow Through all the long green fields has spread, His first sweet evening yellow.
Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife: Come, hear the woodland linnet, How sweet his music! on my life, There's more of wisdom in it.
And hark! how blithe the throstle sings! He, too, is no mean preacher: Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher.
She has a world of ready wealth, Our minds and hearts to bless— Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health, Truth breathed by cheerfulness.
One impulse from a vernal wood May teach you more of man, Of moral evil and of good, Than all the sages can.
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings; Our meddling intellect Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things: We murder to dissect.
Enough of Science and of Art; Close up those barren leaves; Come forth, and bring with you a heart That watches and receives.
Written over 200 years ago, I bet the wisdom here is more appropriate now than ever before. As always, these things speak to us in our own way but, in no particular order, this is what came to me:
"Quit the books.." .... urges us to embrace the visceral experience of our own life because it's here that we grow. It's in the place where the rubber meets the road of our own experiences (whether they be 'sweet' or 'sour') that we learn -- through contrast -- what gives us joy and what distress, what flows with ease and what is a struggle, what is clearly true and what pretence. How can life reveal itself to us unless we are willing to be in an intimate relationship with it? And can we do that when we live so defensively - distracting ourselves with entertainment or planning for an easier tomorrow!
"Sweet is the lore which Nature brings; our meddling intellect mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things: We murder to dissect." .... speaks of the folly of the scientific approach and analytical thinking (which we so highly regard) that focuses on the objects of perception and tries to understand the whole from parts... or labels the whole thing 'complex' and looks no further. A mind focused like this is no longer open to recognise the canvas on which all objects appear, or the means by which they appear. It has already made the assumption that we stand at 'effect', and not 'cause', in our experience.
"She has a world of ready wealth, our minds and hearts to bless ... As Marianne Williamson puts it, "It is our light more than our darkness which scares us". And so we never really look deep within, we never really allow ourselves to fully present or meet each other without our masks. We are shit scared of reality! But reality is nothing like what we imagine it to be - perception is projection, not fact. As William Wordsworth tells here, when we open our minds to experience it exactly as it is, there is nothing about reality that does not shine in loveliness... and we are inseparable from that.
"Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,Truth breathed by cheerfulness" ... calls me to get clear about the distinction between intellect and inspiration ("Spontaneous wisdom", "Truth") and between their offspring - intuition and insight.
Intuition brings us what we think we want, insight reveals what is. Intuition comes from the mind that tries to figure things out, insight from the place that already knows. The intellect tries to make sense of the changing objects of perception, insight points us to the broken lens through which separate things appear, and then the unchanging nature of This that sees this. Intuition tries to give us answers to the questions we pose, while insight sits quietly in the background waiting an opportunity to reveal what we refuse to question but really need to know.
"...Come forth, and bring with you a heart that watches and receives." ... this tells me that freedom is a simple choice to come from a different place -- outside the thinking mind -- from our own Being, the place that needs no fixing up because it is already perfect and free. Change the inner script and the outer play must follow. Listen to life's agenda instead of our own, and we are already Home.
Ever noticed that when you determine to follow some '10 tips to boost your creativity', '5 ways to overcome procrastination' or perhaps 'how to find peace through meditation' there's this little tug-of-love inside that whispers that you don't really need to do that? Love flows through us as we listen to this Source, but we ride roughshod over that whisper because we don't believe it could ever be so simple.
And this, to me, is where the full force of Wordsworth's slams head-on with present day understanding.
If Wordsworth words are true and we can, in any moment or situation, simply choose to let our true Genius shine -- "Come forth into the light of things, let Nature be your teacher" and experience "Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health, Truth breathed by cheerfulness" -- then we don't need 10,000 hours of practice for that to happen. And any other form of program, practice or journey that attracts us must be, by definition, a distraction that obfuscates the simplicity of this choice. 'Do battle resistance' and 'tame the lizard mind" is itself resistance, not Flow. It is the language of fear, not Love. The only 'dip' we need cross is the belief that there is something fundamentally wrong with us, because it is only this belief that keeps us 'seeking' and recreating the impression we are held fast within an experience marked by limitation and suffering.
"... a heart that watchesand receives." ... This is the kicker for me: Truth knows its own way into our concious awareness. Allow me to be a pain in the ass and repeat that for my own benefit: The truth of who you really Are is already free and knows its own way into our concious awareness. We need do nothing but choose to let it come. As Will Wordsworth points out, it's a choice to listen and receive instead of plan; the choice to relax and allow the feeling of this that we are all apart of to expressed through you in everything you do.
NOTE: This has ended up a lot longer and more 'preachy' than I care for, but I have no mind to edit this right now.
Every now and again we read something that rudely lifts us from our slumber and dumps us in the here and now, stopping our mind dead in its tracks... leaving us open, still and raw. Without understanding why, we just know, intimately, that the message the words carry is true -- as if it were written just for us.
I love stumbling across this sort of stuff, so I was just curious… what words have inspired you? And would you like to share them?
If you are up for it, post them in the comments below and perhaps tell us why they wiggle yer giggle button. Or, if it suits better, post a link to something you’ve posted in your own stream  or on your own blog, so that we can go and read it there instead. And if it is your own words that have impressed you, don’t be falsely modest or mean, let us see ‘em. These gems gain value as we share them.
I’ll set the ball rolling (1st comment) with a passage that does it for me. I used in a piece I wrote (http://goo.gl/6b9nK) about my eldest daughter setting off on a 18 month back-packing trip 4 years ago. It’s from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s ‘Gift from the Sea’. It’s the last paragraph that’s the heart of it... and the last sentence, in particular, that captured for me the essence of living an open and inspired life, at a time when I was struggling and needed to hear this.
For the sake of ease, here's a link back to this post for anyone who shares it and needs to return to the comments here: http://goo.gl/KgOJq
... In case you’re not sure how to do this, just click on the date at the top of the post you want to share. The post now stands in its own page. Simply copy the URL for this page. If you want to shorten the URL to make it more manageable use the Google URL shortener here: http://goo.gl/
I know this letter is a touch sterner that you’d expect, but I love you, and for once in your life I want you to listen.
You think you’ve had a shit childhood, you’ve run away from home, you believe you’ve finally put your troubles behind you, and now you see the world as your oyster. Well sorry to burst your bubble sunshine, but it’s not quite as simple as that.
There's so much you've yet to learn, and that learning is going to get you into a hell of a lot of trouble. This may sound cruel, but I’m not going to tell you how to avoid any of that… because one day you’ll see it’s all part of the process of getting to the place you really want to be — and that, my friend, will be more wonderful than anything appearing in your wildest dreams.
The hardest thing for you to learn is to stop running away from the feelings that haunt you. And when I say ‘feelings’ I’m talking about you - YOUR feelings. This has nothing to do with any of the bullshit 'reasons' you use to justify your hurt (and by doing so avoid taking responsibility for it) - your dad, your past, your lack of education, your broken heart and shitty relationships, ‘bad people’, ‘bad luck’, 'life'… I could go on, couldn’t I?
The thing is Nick, your feelings are going to be your greatest ally, but you’ll never know that while ever you’re trying to escape from the way you feel. Just as thoughts are the way your mind communicates with you, so it is through feelings that your real Self speaks to you. It's only when we ignore them that they grow painful, and only then to get our attention. What do I mean by 'real Self'? I mean that part of you that is already free, the part that wills you only perfect happiness, the part that already has the answers to anything you could ever ask. You think I’ve gone all woo-woo on you, don’t you? We’ll see!
Moving on… you know that crazy ‘water into wine’ idea you carry around in your head? You know the one: ‘if one person can do something then so can anyone else — it’s just a case of finding out how’. Well, in your darkest days you’re going to be tempted to give up on that idea, but just stick with it anyway Nick. Don’t get me wrong, where it takes you will not to be an easy ride, but you'll discover that it's well worth it in the end.
For the sake of honesty, here’s three things that in odd moments of reflection I’ve wished I’d know at your age. And which I also know that you’ll ignore, because of your strange need to learn things the hard way. ;)
>> Sex is good. No cause for shame when you are coming from the right place. >> It matters not a jot what others think of you, or expect of you. This is your life we are talking about, not there's. Just tell yourself the truth as you find it, and make no apologies for following that. It is true, people close to you are going to struggle with that. Just let them… that struggle is an essential part of their journey too. >> Don’t take yourself so seriously. It is meant to be fun. If you remember to laugh ever time you fall down, picking yourself up again is so much easier (and forget what you've been told about 'forgiveness', this is it's real meaning... do this and you'll forgive everyone else automatically). Remember, ‘Joy is your compass’.
You're more loved, and capable of loving, that you could ever imagine. And just because you won’t recognise that for another 30 years doesn’t mean to say it is isn’t true.
All the great discoveries, once discovered, are seen as incredibly obvious and simple… and tend to make everyone, including the discoverer, appear foolish for not having seen them before. ‘Foolishness’ or 'ignorance' then, is simply the state that exists prior to knowing.
Unfortunately, we learnt that these states are to be avoided. Our society and education system teaches us to take pride in what we know, and to be ashamed of ignorance.
Ashamed-of-ignorance now creates a fear of exploring those paths where we imagine we could be open to ridicule. But more sinister still, pride-in-knowledge ring fences our ability to learn, as we now avoid everything that could contradict our core beliefs rendering us ‘ignorant’... in favour of pursuing only the learning that extends our carefully constructed and prized models of reality.
It's not that we do this consciously, we just don't see what we turn away from – the knowledge that contradicts what we stand for. So we explore that which we know we don’t know but rarely venture into the domain of what is not seen – the stuff we don’t know that we don’t know.
For those brave souls willing to cross this threshold of indoctrinated shame, laugh at ourselves, and move on into the outer reaches of our vast universal ignorance, life’s ‘secrets’ slowly unfold. But in the face of the strong internal and social pressures against this, there are few as yet who are willing to practice or even advocate such a simple and satisfying course towards sanity.
Those who do have the courage to tread this path to real discovery find little practical guidance on how to do so. But you do find them even in established institutions – mostly working away in secret, pretending to be busy following accepted policies, talking the talk as if agreeing with the deadening personal opinions they hear around them… but all the while walking in the other direction. Paradoxically, in embracing their ignorance they re-discover the joy of learning, and their un-knowingness clears a space in mind for insight beyond anything imagined.
To arrive at first principles doesn’t requires years of study or great calculation or an intellectual thought process of any kind. No prior research is needed, in fact no effort at all. Thinking creates belief. Knowing is not a product of thinking. It unfolds -- as if a gift -- when we hold in mind what we want to know and then pay attention to (and share) our experience as it unfolds in following the trail of insights. To borrow Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s words, “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea."
To learn together with our peers like this is nothing but fun. In exploring together in openness we start to see the connectedness of everything, we feel a part of each other and feel a part of this that is animating the whole show, instead of perceiving only the complexity appearing on the surface… and as this background becomes more distinct, it begins to all make sense as the unity and simplicity of this bigger picture becomes clear.
And so learning and joy are two sides of the same coin. One cannot come without the other. And this, to me, is the essence of Joseph Campbell’s plea, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls”. Notice that J.C. never said ‘Find a vocation that gives you bliss’, or ‘Find something that gives you bliss and do that’, or ‘Follow your path to bliss’. He just said, ‘Follow your bliss’.
We all have this experience of joy when we are on track and learning what we need to know. Bliss is not something we do, not a vocation, not a path... it is our compass needle. Our art, vocation * and gift to the world are all just effects – what shows up for us along the way, when we commit to following our inner knowing (and feeling of ‘bliss’) that knows the way to our freedom and happiness. Our 'path' is simply what we see if we happen to pause and look back while ‘following our bliss’.
Anyone here feel a similar way about this? . * ‘Vocation’ is a very fluid thing for me. What-gives-me-joy tends to change pretty much as soon I learn what each new venture has to teach me. This is probable more a rule than an exception. ;)
"If the path before you is clear, you are probably on someone else's.".... Joseph Campbell.
Many who attempt to follow Joseph Campbell's advice of "follow your bliss" get frustrated when they get no clear sense of direction, and it doesn't help when everywhere we turn there's another book or 'guru' espousing 'find and follow your passion'.
The thing is, the quiet 'voice for bliss' is more likely to encourage us to get rid of the clutter in our lives than tell us where to go or what to do, urging us to to get rid of the unnecessary -- stuff, commitments, grievances, self-centered concerns -- in order to truly appreciate what remains. It knows that it is only as we get in touch with ourselves that we touch the lives of others.
The problem is we don't want to pointed back to where we are now, or told that the path we are looking for is the one we are on. Hell, that is what we are trying escape from isn't it! So we ignore it because it's not the answer we want.
The idea that we must go on some kind of journey to experience the fullness of well-being has ancient roots, planted in a mistaken belief in our unworthiness. And so our mind will do anything except allow our attention to settle into this present moment and discover what is true and present now.
But still... behind every feeling of hurt, distress, anger or guilt there is this unwavering little voice that whispers, 'Let this go, because behind this here it is.....
I've been Christmas shopping this past week and bought a wonderful little book for my youngest daughter. It's a book of letters from well known people written to there 16 year old self -- excerpts (http://www.dearme.org/excerpt/) and video clips (http://www.dearme.org/video/) here from the later edition. The images below are just a few of the letters. (click thumbnails to see full size)
Care to share the message you'd send to your 16 year old self? .
In one of his last interviews, when asked by a reporter, 'what is the most important question facing humanity today?" Albert Einstein looked up at the sky, pondered for a moment, then answered, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’
‘Is the universe a friendly place?’, is a great question to ask... for two reasons:
First, because it is a question that has already been answered by every one of us. We are not really aware of this because our interpretation of the world is so close and familiar and part of our moment by moment experience, that it doesn't feel like an interpretation (or ‘answer’) at all.
So this then presents a great opportunity: If we were to ask ourselves this question again, and consciously consider it’s implications, there’s a possibility of opening our eyes to something that has remained hidden from conscious awareness. By recreating the distinction, chances are we'd get to see the unseen.
Secondly, it’s a great question because our answer must determine how our world occurs to us… and therefore the whole orientation and direction of our lives. Depending on our answer, we either approach our world lovingly – as a place for fun and growth and Self expression, or we live defensively (’attack’ being the flip side of defence) – with a low-level anxiety so common-place we'd think it normal and accept it unquestioningly. What would be revealed then, is this unseen context that governs our experience of life.
There’s no doubt that the pace of change on this little blue rock we call home is speeding up. and for those caught in the headlights of a fast approaching AFGO, it’s not easy to see any larger context to the mêlée we see all around us. And in any case, why should we look for such a thing? What could there be outside of experience?
The problem is, by taking our experience as true, we never consider the possibility that it could be our answer to Albert’s question that is actually shaping our experience in the first place. Could it be our answer is the context within which the content of our experience (how we think and feel and perceive) unfolds… which in turn determines the direction of our attention, how we interpret what our attention shows us, and how we act upon that… which in turn determines the response our attitude and behaviour elicits… which in turn just reinforces our original answer? And round and round we go.
There something bigger still that can be revealed from this self inquiry. It’s this: our answer follows automatically from how we see ourselves. In any moment, on any day, the world appears friendly or unfriendly according to how we see about ourselves. If we experience our connection, we feel good about ourselves and see ourselves as standing at cause in our experience – as Artists standing in front of the blank canvas of Life. It's us that brings the meaning to Life!
On the other hand, if we feel disconnected we feel bad and see ourselves as standing at effect in our experience – at the mercy of what we see as a fickle, precarious and often cruel universe.
If you can see this, then you can also see that perception is projection, not fact. But of course, only one of these perspectives can be true. And this, I feel, is what is happening now. We are beginning to make the distinction between perception and reality.
We are waking from the spell of our addiction to independence, in which we lost touch with the our common ground of Beigness. We are beginning to doubt the mind-set that pictures a universe where Life is divisible, each of us with a separate part ring-fenced by the events we call ‘birth’ and ‘death’, where Nature is an object outside ourselves and we the controlling subject.
We are waking up, stretching and feeling the warmth as we begin to know what it is to feel fully alive. No longer at the mercy of genetic code, nor the beck-and-call of a bunch of chemicals coursing through our veins, nor hostage to past thoughts, we are turning around and walking, as it were, out of Plato’s cave into the sunshine outside. We are getting out of our heads and into Reality.
By peeling away our defencive layers and opening to our connection, we are beginning to recognise there's no such thing as 'my presence' or 'your presence', there is undivided Presence apparent everywhere there is defencelessness… not different minds each trapped inside a body, but one Mind with a common purpose and dancing to the same tune.
For those of us who sense this, there's a unity and consensus building in our vision now. We are no longer alone. And as I look around, the lines from Louis Armstrong’s song ring true….
"The colours of a rainbow so pretty in the sky Are also on the faces of those going by I see friends shaking hands Saying, 'How do you do' They’re really saying, 'I love you' "
YES!!.. They are really saying, “I love you”… and I think to myself 'what a wonderful world'.
So yes Albert, the universe is a friendly place. In fact, it is more friendly and beautifully that anyone has ever dared to imagine…. because WE ARE!! .
I saw the bars behind his eyes and immediately reached for my pliers but he threw his hands before his face. Those bars are permanently in place, he cried, to keep out thieves and liars... John Wareham
We're very pretty well versed now in the mechanics of change (evolutionary processes, Maslow's hierarchy of need, complex systems and emergence etc etc) but the awareness of an alternative dynamic -- transformation, usually only appears on our horizon after an epochal event in our lives.
Now and again something happens -- often unannounced in the midst of going about our everyday living -- which totally confounds everything we, and virtually everyone else, believes to be true. These experiences make no sense whatsoever... and, try as we might, there is no way and nowhere for us to attach it to our existing model of reality and the web of beliefs that we have spent a lifetime carefully nurturing and protecting.
This is the quintessential 'red-pill / blue-pill' moment... because deep inside we know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that if we allow this experience to remain centre stage in our life, it will systematically dismantle everything that we have held as true, and shake to its foundations everything that we cling to that is subject to change... in order for THIS that we have glimpsed to stand unchangeably, incorruptibly, all powerfully, brilliantly and radiantly true in our lives.
These 'burning bush' experiences, though they carry the potential for transformation, are not the important thing (in fact they are probably only necessary for people who, like me, are so hell bent on another path that we unable to see an alternative). They are merely illustrative of what could be. It's what we do with them afterwards that make all the difference.
We allow them to drift away into memory because there is no middle ground. If one perspective is true then the other is completely false and visa versa. Each one is the denial of the other... and that is way way too much for us to handle (yet!). As Churchill put it, "Most people stumble across the truth at some time in their lives. Most jump up, brush themselves off and hurry about their business as if nothing had happened."
Let me tell you about one such experience from a while back:
I started my first business in my late teens after leaving home at 15 with just a basic schooling. I was determined to make my own way in the world but in my early twenties, with the business growing a lot faster than my capabilities, I thought it best I got myself a modicum of business education. And so one day I found myself sat at the back of a room full of corporate types listening to a lecture by John Wareham on the 'Secrets of a Corporate Head Hunter'.
I listened intently not because the material was so interesting (it was), but because I had to. You see, the lecturer was afflicted by the worst stutter I had ever heard. As I listened, I was willing that his words come out more easily for him, and as I did I began to really admire this man who had the balls to talk at a lectern for 3 hours -- in front of mostly seasoned leaders and industry captains -- with such an impediment. Anyway, on some level he must have sensed my empathy and in the break he came over to chat.
He had seemed to be far older and wiser than his years (he later told me he deliberately groomed himself to appear this way), but close up I realised he couldn't have been that much older than I was. As we chatted and made friends I think we both sensed that, although we were from totally different backgrounds, we connected as two young men striding out into the world of business on nothing more than a wing, a prayer and a few good ideas. 'Bottle' and 'bare-faced cheek' were our weapons of choice.
Later that year, just after Christmas, John sent me a piece he'd written telling me about something that had just happened to him. This is what it said:
It was five o'clock on the Friday before Christmas and he was standing in the Grand Central Station at the bottom of the escalators that cascaded a slow motion cargo of jaded executives down and out of the Pan Am building. He'd been there all week and I'd seen him every night. He faced the descending throng and, catching any eye that would look, he would softly intone "Merry Christmas" or "Hello". Only that. He wasn't soliciting or proselytising or selling records. Just saying "Hello" or "Merry Christmas".
"He's crazy", explained a woman behind me to a friend.
"Crazy", I said, turning. "Is it crazy to say 'Hello'?"
"It is in New York", she answered.
He was in his early 30's, had shoulder length blond hair and a modest beard. He stood about five-ten, was neatly dressed, in corduroy trousers, a shirt and a jacket. He might have had some beads around his neck but I didn't think he was from California. It was his voice, however, that caught my attention. It made a beautiful, soft, mellifluous sound as he said "Hello" and "Merry Christmas". Sometimes both.
I was leaving work and my wife had met me. "He's there again", I said.
"Just a fellow saying 'Hello'"
Riding the escalators down on that Friday before Christmas, I was both fascinated and sad on his behalf. Almost everybody avoided his eye and darted off. One or two people looked at him warily. Nobody said 'hello ' or 'Merry Christmas'.
I decided to say "Hello" but was past him with the Christmas crowd before I could stop. "I'll just go back and say hello to him", I said to my wife.
"Don't look into his eyes", she cautioned. "These cult people can get you if you don't watch out." I laughed at her naivete.
I walked to him from behind. "You're not Father Christmas?", I said.
He turned, caught by surprise. "I beg your pardon?"
"You're not Father Christmas?", I said again. The joke falling a little flat and me with it.
"No no", he said.
"And you're not a Moonie, or a Hare Krishna, or anything like that?"
"No", he said. "I'm the son of God".
It was a matter-of-fact statement; not pompous; not strange; not, the way he said it, odd at all. But still I was vaguely disappointed at the prospect of a conversation with just another Grand Central cultist.
"Not really", he said; as if seeing my thoughts, "no more than you are; we're all the son of God, aren't we?"
"Ah yes", I replied, slightly relieved by his non jealous tone. "That we are"_
Then I looked into his eyes, and from that moment I just haven't been able to get him out of my head.
It was as if time ceased in those eyes. They were like two deep black pools. Deep black pools that I was swimming into. "Can this be real?" I thought, as I stood there transfixed by two infinitely deep dark shimmering lakes.
It was like looking into my own unconscious, or catching sight of a million darkening reflections in two barbershop mirrors. I was suddenly quite lost as his soft mellifluous voice masked all the sounds of Grand Central Station. At that moment there seemed to be only the two of us standing in the middle of nowhere. Everything, everyone had disappeared. I heard his voice but didn't see him.
"All religions have there truth", said the soft mellifluous voice; then he grasped my hand with both of his and held it a moment. "Merry Christmas, my friend, Merry Christmas"
Gradually I became aware of the people about me again. Receding from the darkness of his eyes I held his gaze for a long moment, now able to focus on his whole face. It was gentle, friendly, alive, sympathetic.
In that instance I sensed his own awareness and delight of having made contact with a face from the descending throng. More than that, he saw that I recognised his gratification. It was one of those rare, fleeting, curiously magical moments: a fluttering candle in the dark caverns of Grand Central Station, that daily crossroads of a million lives where no one ever meets.
"And to you", I said, now drawing away, trapped once more within the catatonic tempo of the city that never wakes; conscious that I must hurry to my wife, dinner and a Broadway show.
"That fellow had the strangest eyes", I said to her.
"Told you not to look", she laughed. We both laughed.
But that night, in the theater, I just couldn't get him out of my head.
Immediately after the holiday break, I took the escalator down from the Pan Am building to Grand Central, as indeed I do every night.
He wasn't there and he hasn't been back since.
But I just haven't been able to get him out of my head.
John went on to build an international executive search and management consultancy and later still, to set up the Eagles Foundation of America that's having amazing results in helping some of America's most hardened and institutionalised prisoners overcome the legacy of their past and go on to live powerful and productive lives on the 'outside'. As for me, I had my own epiphany a little later -- a meeting of minds that I guess led me to be sat here now writing this. But that's a story for another day.
The point I'm trying to make in recounting this, is that connecting with each other changes us profoundly, whether with strangers or those we regard as close to us. We cannot truly connect with each other without being more aware of who really Are, without our egos cracking just a little, and without feeling the warmth of our true nature. And it's this warmth that melts our mask to reveal an ease and clarity of mind where our truly creative Self is able to shine clear and free.
So maybe we don't have to sit crossed legged in an Ashram or on a mountain for years of quiet contemplation to curb our wayward thoughts and overactive monkey-minds; don't need to become an ego archaeologist, go through therapy or re-examine the crime scenes of our life to find our peace and power. I know for sure we don't need to look for someone claiming to be the son of God, pour over some sacred texts or spend our days looking for a 'soul mate' to have a truly happy and creative life.
That old saw 'the treasure we seek is within us' is true enough, but isn't its meaning lost to us when we try to find it on our own? If our real nature really is Love then how can that be known unless we find it in our connection -- as we allow it be expressed! And do we need anyone's permission, or any preparation, in order to let that happen?
I believe all it takes is the willingness to be defenseless, to let our masks slip just a little so we can recognise each other as we really are. To me, this is the short cut -- the simple, easy stepping out of Plato's cave into the sunlight of our own genius to where the real fun begins.
I also believe this is the potential of what is happening for many of us here on Google+ -- a place not constrained by time or space that we can use for the meeting and opening of our minds. These connections we are making, when we appreciate them, can be miracles... don't you think?
"The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are”...."The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.".... Joseph Campbell
If you follow the gist of the last post ('Time, Space and the Infinite' http://goo.gl/xt66g) the lines between the scientific and the spiritual start to get a bit blurry... and some may, as William Blake did, begin to sense that it’s all spiritual.
Instead of a seeing ourselves as a physical entity trying to understand a Universe appearing outside ourself, we can open to be this Beingness that is aware of -- and within which -- all thoughts, feelings and sense experiences arise in this ever unfolding moment of Now, which is itself the awakening from the 'dream state' - where our concepts of 'past' and 'future' cloud and totally dominate our present moment experience and play havoc with our life.
In choosing to open, the differences we perceive become merely superficial, and underlying all this superficiality is this unbroken sameness: we are all sharing the same dream of separateness, limitation and suffering… and we all share the same intent to wake from this dream, whether we now recognise it as a dream or not.
Although it appears on the surface that we are engaged in many different activities, there is no one here who is not on a mission to find the safety, happiness and love they believe is missing. And if we see each other in this light we begin to look totally different to each other. There is no evil, there is just error in perception. In this reflection the dream of being separate, powerless and fearful loses all the legitimacy we have give it.
To allow this to happen is to lose our religion... no longer are we beholden to some power we believe exists beyond our Self (whether we call that God, Gaia, Science, Karma, Nature or Mr. President). It's here that we recognise that life has no divisions and no start or end points... and when we know that, and know our Self as that, then dogma no longer has a hold on us. We no longer need belief, because we have experience... and we are free.
When you’re creating your own shit, man, even the sky ain’t the limit... Miles Davis
A genius is the one most like himself... Thelonious Monk
You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation... Billie Holiday
My creed for art in general is that it should enrich the soul; it should teach spirituality by showing a person a portion of himself that he would not discover otherwise… a part of yourself you never knew existed... Bill Evans
Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art... Charlie Parker
You can play a shoestring if you’re sincere... John Coltrane
It’s taken me all my life to learn what not to play... Dizzy Gillespie
I don’t do something because I think it will sell 30 million albums. I couldn’t care less. If it sells one, it sells one... Oscar Peterson
There is no art without intention... Duke Ellington
All a musician can do is to get closer to the sources of nature, and so feel that he is in communion with the natural laws... John Coltrane
I’ve found you’ve got to look back at the old things and see them in a new light... John Coltrane
Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple... Charles Mingus
Forgive me if I don’t have the words. Maybe I can sing it and you’ll understand... Ella Fitzgerald
Alice Herz Sommer is an amazing lady. At 108 years old, passers-by still pause outside her apartment in Belize Park (London) to listen as she plays her piano everyday from 10am. She also has quite a remarkable story.
She reminds me of the Marcel Proust line that is often quoted: "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." I've found that to open our eyes to the lessons that are present in all our experiences is to see, as Alice puts it, that 'everything is a present'. I first heard of her from a piece in the Guardian in 2006, which is still on-line: http://goo.gl/4VEu3 .
Beware of false prophets "Most people stumble across the truth at some time in their lives. Most jump up, brush themselves off and hurry about their business as if nothing had happened." -- Sir Winston Churchill
…and most of us that do not hurry-away look for someone to help us stabalise that experience. It’s as though we can’t quite accept that the source of the insight and inspiration we experienced came from within us… which of course, would mean that what we have been looking for is US, perfect already. And we couldn’t possibly have that now, could we?
So in that disbelief we go looking for a ‘teacher’ -- other than the one we just discovered – to help us recapture the experience that for one minute seemed so real but now increasingly remote.
We buy his books and CD’s and watch his videos… all the while refusing to look at the truth of who it is that is doing the seeking – the reality hidden behind our self-belief. And when this teacher doesn’t deliver, we go find another. In this way we continue to hide from our Self by acting-out being lost.
Ultimately, it’s insight that unravels complexity and brings doubt to clarity. And -- although life speaks to us in many different ways -- the insight that reveals what is, arises from within. Accepting that the means and the end are One, we can dispense with false prophets. We don’t have to go looking for Love when that is the place we are coming from.
"The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason." -- John Cage.
Glimmers of light
The first house I owned was on a main road through a town. Although it had a lovely back garden backing onto a river with open country beyond, I couldn’t get used to the noise from the road. Every morning we’d wake to sounds of sirens from the ambulance station diagonally opposite, and the din of commuter traffic in the early morning rush. What a nightmare! I grew to hate it, and couldn’t wait till we could afford a place in the country.
Then one day something extraordinary happened. I’d been working ridiculous hours, been out till the early hours, I was exhausted and fell into a deep sleep. What woke me from my slumber was the sound of a lorry pulling away from the junction just down the road, and now coming towards our house. But this time the sound was like nothing I ever heard before. It was wonderful beyond imagination. It had somehow caught me in the moment as we awaken from sleep, but before we remember just who or where we are.
The engine note started with a deep reverberating bass, rising -- slowly at first -- through the scales as it gathered speed, becoming louder until a wonderful crescendo of engine revs. Then followed by a softly pause, a clatter of misplaced gears, and then once again repeating this stanza from the base line as the truck gathered speed again in a higher gear… but closer and louder now. It sounds silly typing this, but this was unbelievably delightful and enchanting. Two cars then added to this symphony as they overtook — their contrasting speed and engine tones in absolute perfect harmony, as this now three-piece-ensemble burst into full song. Words cannot describe how beautiful this was.
I lay there with eyes now wide open, lost in the sounds and in awe of this moment, until eventually the thought arose of not wanting this music to end. And sure enough, in the instant of wanting, it faded. I loved music, many genres, but I’d never heard anything as mellifluous as this. In retrospect, the sounds were much the same as those I’d always heard, and had grown to despise, but what I had inadvertently fallen open to was the feeling and experience of This that was animating the whole show.
It took many years and many such experiences to grasp that these moments are simply glimpses of into what is always present, and all we need do to experience the reality of this -- as happened accidentally on this morning -- is set aside our resistance to being open in what is plain to see in each moment that we come to defencelessly.
This music is always playing because it’s the sound of our own Self which knows nothing as separate from itself. Our ability to hear it is only a function of our willingness to listen. Fast forward thirty years.
I am writing this piece from the cafe a mile from home. I love it here. A couple of times a week I'll come and use this place as my office for a hour or three. It's full of noisy kids, ladies who lunch gossip, students or business types tapping on laptops, and I sat in a corner by the window listening to the music of life inside and outside as I write — the air brakes on the delivery truck across the street, the clunk of car doors of a Mum and her Mum who just left, the couple by the wall trying to have a discrete argument and failing miserably, the clatter of crockery and gurgling of the coffee machine from behind the counter. I love all of this. This, to me, is the most sublime music of all.
I have nothing against silence, but it’s this stillness in the heart of the storm where I feel at Home, and right here I feel as though I have best the seat to the best show in town. Paradoxically, I find the peace, insight and inspiration oft sought after in meditation overflows in abundance in opening like this to the recognition of our Self as Life itself. As I look around I know I can experience an overwhelming love and connection with anyone who walks through that door, as long as I remember it’s a choice. Love flows through me as I listen to the Truth, as it does with all of us.
Some folk say ‘Hi’, some chat a little, occasionally someone gets curious and comes sit with me. Each of these is a gift that pulls me deeper into this Flow of benevolent, energetic wholeness that we are all a part of and immersed in and that delights in it’s free expression and recognition. Friends have asked me how I can work with so much no noise and so much going on, and yet I am at my most creative and productive here. This ‘noise’ is music to my ears, 'interruption' is no more than a name given to a judgement call that has no basis in reality. I could write a whole book about the serendipitous moments that just come together in this place to help me bring clarity to whatever it is I happen to be working on.
Most of us, most of the time, don’t hear this Music. We are so caught up in our own story, or caught up trying to fix our story, or caught up in trying to resolve the parts of our story that still trouble us... that we have come to believe the story is real, and taken our identity as our story’s lead role. In doing so we forget that this is our fiction — this is our own tape we are listening to running inside our own heads (http://goo.gl/cd6iX) and nothing at all to do with the reality that is here right now, calling us to from every corner of Creation to wake up from our mind-constructed dream-state.
The burden of keeping up the appearance of the protagonist in our own black comedy, is one so huge it is a wonder how we ever cope. Our hospitals and our prisons and our locked bedrooms are full of those that don’t. Yet we perpetuate this in each moment that we choose not listen to this Music, in favour of retelling our story and seeking self-validation (little ‘s’) instead. Perversely, we continuously choose being ‘right’ (regardless of the suffering) over being happy as we shed our mistaken limiting beliefs.
Do you want to hear this Music now?
We don’t believe we can simply call upon this and have it be so, because our ego does not allow us to believe this. It will support our effort to atone for the past, improve ourselves, and even support our spiritual journey, but not this. It takes no time because it is not something 'we' do. Our real Self knows it’s own way into our conscious awareness. What we experience as time is only our letting go of our resistance to the recognition that time plays no part in this.
NOTE: If you are unwilling to do what I suggest in the next few paragraphs, don’t fret about it and just skip ahead. This is something we approach or resist in our own particular way, and that is absolutely perfect. :)
If you are up for it, take a few moment to allow everything you deem unacceptable -- in the past, present or imagined in the future -- to be exactly as it is. This ’everything’ includes not only your list of personal horrors, but also you. This means setting aside your need for self-validation, or enlightenment or fulfilment or your idea of ‘success’ or whatever else it is you seek. Just for a few moments let all hope of getting any of that stuff go. Let everything be just as it is.
Is it absolutely just as it is?
What this little preparation does is leave us sat on the chair exactly as we are, with nowhere to go with who we are right now. We are left face to face with the issue of our own Self-acceptance and nowhere to hide from it.
And now, without second-guessing or assuming you already know, just listen to what is here... trusting that this ‘What Is’ knows it’s own way into your conscious awareness. Trust that in choosing this, your part is done… and so all you need do is relax into the feeling of what is here right now. Nothing more.
Notice how challenging this is. For each of us our prison is right there, at the point where we can't just let it all be. This is our resistance staring back at us. This is the very situation we spend most of our life avoiding.
But here’s the thing: This is also the one place we can exchange resistance -- and the resultant suffering -- for freedom. The tug-of-love in us knows for sure how to handle every spec or boulder of resistance that our mind would have us turn away from. Everything that appears as an impediment to us, our God-Self delights to trance-end.
The challenge I offer, is for you to hand over to your true Self whatever resistance appears for you now. Give these in trust, and see how delightful this can be. It knows how to trance-end any obstacle (mental, emotional or circumstantial) that appears as a limitation or impediment within our experience. From the light of our own Beingness, the secret attraction that any suffering has held for us within in our story can be clearly seen, and in seeing this we naturally let it go.
These miracles are ours for the asking, but we've got to want them. We've got to want the Spirit that jiggles the molecules more than the molecules themselves, and no-one can make this choice for us. The problem we have with it, is that we can’t keep both the story and the Music because only one can be true. It’s impossible to believe a lie once it’s seen for what it is, the awareness of what is true immediately invalidated what is untrue.
This Self-acceptance is the way we come to know that our story -- however attractive or horrendous it may have been -- is just a story. Our Beingness is untouched by anything that appears in nightmares. Self-acceptance gives us the eyes to see this, and also see that everything that shows up for us is perfectly helpful in our overcoming our resistance to consistently choosing this gift. Life delights to lift us free.
I hope you join me in listening to the Music this New Year, to be true to What Is instead of true to our latest idea about what is still needed… and perhaps you’ll also remind me when I forget. :)
I love the whole flash-mob / public-improv thing. Seeing the bemusement and delight on the faces of the 'innocent victims' caught up in them, just does it for me. Here's one that was a little different though.
A year ago, a flashmob of people meditating was cretead in London's Trafalgar Square. The surprising thing was that although everyone there at the start (it lasted 30 minutes) had signed up for it, the numbers soon swelled with on-lookers who just joined in.
Naseem Khan -- who was very sceptical before hand -- wrote this about it in The Guardian:
"Across the square, from all sides, apparently uninvolved idlers strode forward purposefully to the designated area between the two large fountains. It was like Superman suddenly emerging from unobtrusive Clark Kent – or rather, around a hundred or so Supermen.
It was simple to be impelled along on that sudden wave and to just sit down among the throng. And a deep silence immediately arose. I was astonished. There was a sense of naturalness and openness. The steady sound of the water in the two fountains, the grumble of traffic masked behind them, and a light hither and thither breeze. It felt not so much a comment on mad commercial London but more a coexistence with it – unifying in its effect rather than polarising
I think we should do this more often. Have a lovely new week everyOne. :)
I'm just about to take myself off for a few days to Grasmere (Wordsworth's village), where I'll most likely be 'unplugged'. Any writing I do will be with an old-fashioned pen on old-fashioned paper.
'Just taking off' is one of my most favourite things -- going 'off the map', as they say -- on a whim, without need for justification. Some would call it irresponsible, but I call it good for the soul. I highly recommend it.
"Joel, you wanna know something? Every now and then say, 'What the fuck.' 'What the fuck' gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future." ....Miles in the film 'Risky Business'.
Have a wonderful week you lovely sapiosexual Plussers. :) x
If laughter is the language of the Gods (to me, it is) then I must already be in heaven listening to Billy Connolly. Years ago we were ‘seat mates’ at a Cup Final match here in the UK, and I can tell you he is just so real, on stage or off. Although he’d rather suck a dog’s nose dry than spend an hour in church, a more spiritual man (by my definition, at least) I have never met.
Fancy a trip down memory lane? Just enter the address of the place you grew up and let the memories come flooding back. Then maybe follow the prompt to write a letter (or sketch a picture) to the younger you that lived there then, saying what you really want them to now know. :)
Tip: If your computer is on the sluggish side, close your other browser tabs and applications first. Minimising your main browser window works best for me (after you've entered your address and pressed the 'play film' button). BTW, Arcade Fire are a wonderful band to see live if the opportunity arises.
As a not-so-secret voyeur of what lights up our mind, I loved reading the comments in the last post ('What words have inspired you?' http://goo.gl/Uj7GH ). Who would have thought that you could crowd source inspiration! Thank you for sharing those gems. There are a few new books for my reading list too.
Here’s a little tip if you ever want to pry into a book you do not own, to see what treasures others have found. Reading book reviews can be useful, but you can't beat actual passages to get a taste of a book for yourself.
If you’re a Kindle owner you’ll know that you can highlight text and make notes as you read (you can also choose to see the highlighting that other readers have made). If you then go to https://kindle.amazon.com/your_highlights you’ll see all of your highlighting and notes in one place, and from here copy and reuse them as you will.
But what you can also do is access everyone else’s highlighting on any book — not just the ones in your library. Just go to https://kindle.amazon.com/ and use the search box to find the book you want to see highlighting for. For example, here are the highlights for two of the books that +Su Fenner recommended:
It’s easy to be in awe of great writers and creatives as we devour their best work, but it’s also important to know that you don’t have to be a great word-smith to pen words of wisdom, or a great musician to write a great song. Similarly, in any other field. As Arthur Schopenhauer said, "Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.", and we’ve all got access to the later when we’re submissive and open to everything, and listen.
We just need to be bold enough to come from that place.
It is I who must begin. Once I begin, once I try -- here and now, right where I am, not excusing myself by saying things would be easier elsewhere, without grand speeches and ostentatious gestures, but all the more persistently -- to live in harmony with the "voice of Being," as I understand it within myself -- as soon as I begin that, I suddenly discover, to my surprise, that I am neither the only one, nor the first, nor the most important one to have set out upon that road.
Whether all is really lost or not depends entirely on whether or not I am lost.
You may already have seen this letter from Lily Robinson (age 3 1/2) to Sainsbury's asking why her Tiger Bread wasn't called Giraffe bread. It did the the rounds on F/book (sorry!... did I swear?) and was shared here on G+ by +Mike Shaw. Chris King's letter in response is just brilliant!
Well... Sainsburys, in their wisdom, have renamed their best selling bread on Lily's advice. Full story here on the BBC: http://goo.gl/zFnLo
I get the feeling there has to be a lesson here for all the marketing wizzes around these parts, no? :)
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas. .... George Bernard Shaw
There appears to be only two ways to live our lives: We can accept our lot and make the best of what we are given. Or, we can set out to change our world for the better.
As Shaw put it, "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. All progress, therefore, depends upon the unreasonable man."
But actually there's a third choice: Instead of living life in defence or offence (which in truth is 'proactive defence'), we can choose to live defencelessly.
To choose this is to allow life to change us . It is to be submissive and open to everything, to listen and be available to being moved rather than move ourselves.
This choice is the most scary of all, but those brave souls who choose it get to discover the joy, security and limitless influence of being the expression of Life itself.
"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy"..... George Bernard Shaw
An Apocalypse (Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis; "lifting of the veil" or "revelation") is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted.
"Lifting of the veil"... Who would have thought that!
"One does not see anything until one sees its beauty".... Oscar Wilde "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would be seen as it is - infinite.".... William Blake
Like the paper bag scene from American Beauty (http://goo.gl/1Zgb7) this amateur video points to a seeing that goes beyond our normal perception of physical things... to recognise the unbroken wholeness that is animating the whole show, and within which all appearances appear.
Ever notice how life is constantly trying to get our attention? It continuously tries to wake us from our pre-occupation with the story of our life, to recognise that our story is just that - a story... and instead know our life as this flow of energetic intelligence and Love, that we are all immersed in and can identify as.
And yet we manage to keep trampling on this ever present flower of Beingness. While ever we do, we continue to mistake appearances for reality and know nothing, because nothing is separate... and so we remain oblivious to how unbelievably connected and influential we really are.
So here's to enjoying the extraordinary within the ordinary this coming week. I hope it is a wonderful one for you. :)
Chris Hedges told of an interview by a reporter at the Occupy Movement during its first few weeks. The reporter was trying to find the leader to get an interview. He went up to the medical tent and found someone there and asked, “Who is in charge here?” The lady answered, “I am.” He said, “What are you in charge of?” She said, “Everything.” He said, “Do you have a title?” She said, “Yes.” He said, “What is it?” She said, “God.”
"I am" and "Everyone" tend to be one and the same when spoken from the mouths of babes.
Many a true word are spoke in jest, eh! In the same spirit, there's a new film coming out that looks at the occupy movement from this context called, "Occupy Love". It's a community funded film that sets out to capture the global (r)evolution of compassion in action. You can read more here: http://www.indiegogo.com/Occupy-Love
This is the intro paragraph from their fund raising page: "Occupy Love will be a moving, transformative feature documentary that asks the question: how are the economic and ecological crises we are facing today a great love story?"
I read something from +Derek Sivers's book "Anything You Want" (http://goo.gl/qKvX1) at my local café this lunchtime, that reminded me of the meaning of Joseph Campbell's plea to "Follow your Bliss". Here's the passage...
"No “yes.” Either “HELL YEAH!” or “no"...... When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!”— then say “no.” When you say “no” to most things, you leave room in your life to throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say “HELL YEAH!” Every event you get invited to. Every request to start a new project. If you're not saying “HELL YEAH!” about it, say “no.” We're all busy. We've all taken on too much. Saying yes to less is the way out."
This feeling of "Hell Yeah" is the Bliss that Joseph Campbell talks about.
Notice that J.C. didn't say, "Go find your bliss" or, _"Do something that give you bliss". Neither did he say, "Pursue a vocation that gives you bliss". He didn't even say, "Follow your path of bliss".
He simply said, "Follow your Bliss".
It is so hard for our 'little me' minds to accept -- because to do so would mean relinquishing control, something it would agree to -- that 'Follow you Bliss' is not a path, or a vocation, or destination of an kind... it is a Compass!
There is no path: The path is what we see if we happen to look back over our shoulder whilst following our bliss... but we are not going to see that path in front of us. And neither is there a set vocation or creative expression: When we follow you bliss, the things that light our fire are likely to morph into other things, just as quickly as we learn what they have to teach us, and are ready for a new breakthrough.
The feeling of "Hell Yeah", or 'Bliss', is our Compass Needle. And we are free to follow that feeling whenever we choose... trusting that it knows its own perfect way... because that feeling is always present. It's just that we've pretty damn good at suppressing it.
On moving on.. How refreshing to see unbiased, intelligent reporting on the metamovement (http://goo.gl/UJ6ld) as in this video, don't you think?
I believe that when old ways no longer serve us, the wise move is usually to accept that and move on.... walk away from the mess rather than waste more energy trying resolve conflicts that are basically unresolvable. As Carl Jung put it, "The greatest and most important problems of life are all fundamentally insoluble. They can never be solved but only outgrown."
But how to move on? I have no idea, and maybe no-one does... and maybe no-one needs to. Don't you find that when we move forwards with fundamental truths and principles in mind, the next step tends to become clear when we get there, and rarely known in advance. And isn't the next step all we ever need to know?
One thing I feel sure of is that at some point -- if the movement really takes off -- we'll have to let go of the 99%/1%, us/them perspective. That is what got us into this mess, not what will build what is to come. Better, I feel, to let all divisions go and hold out a welcome hand to anyone who is willing to jump.
It’s up to the people. You can’t blame it on the government and say, ‘Oh, they’re doing this, they’re doing that, oh, they’re gonna put us into war.’ We put ‘em there. We allow it. And we can change it. If we really wanna change it, we can change it. ~ John Lennon
Beauty and Truth It's almost this boy's bedtime... but before I turn in I thought I'd share these photos. As you look through them how about holding in your mind this one thought: The beauty I see resides in the mind that beholds it. Sweet dreams everyone.
"Give me a long enough lever and a place to stand and I will move the Earth”…. Archimedes
We’ve all heard the old saw “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. Well, we could also add, “…. teach him how to make good tools and he can make a fishing rods so his friends can feed themselves too… and also make ploughs and lathes and computers and whatever else he needs.”
Like Archimedes lever, good tools allow us to leverage ourselves; they allow us to amplify our creative expression. Great tools builders tend to keep in mind that this the only purpose of a tool. They know it is not about the tool, but what it allows us to do... and everything superfluous needs to get out of the way of that. And so they abstract away all the details needed to make the tool work well, leaving us free to focus solely on our craft — on allowing you to express your awesomeness.
This is what I believe they ‘got’ at Apple. You get a sense of this as Jony Ive speaks about working alongside Steve Jobs ( http://goo.gl/7AfGi ). And in a way, I think this is the redeeming feature and beauty of G+ too. On the surface it appears quite simple, and it’s this simplicity that gives you the flexibility to bend it to your will, so your own unique expression comes through.
Although the attached article by Bret Victor is about the weakness of our present touch screen technologies, it is to me a great piece on the fundamental principles at the heart of great tools. As you read it notice how this writing is in itself an example of what it preaches -- great design. It achieves it’s purpose with clarity and ease, with everything superfluous to its goal removed.
Someone -- I can’t remember who -- said that whatever we give our attention to grows larger in our experience. I find this be true. But I still forget and catch myself falling back into that old worn ‘problem solving’ mentality instead of opening my mind to see and create what it is we really want.
Gratitude then, is a way for us to kindle that fire in our heart that shines away the sorrow and sacrifice that has become an such everyday part of the human condition.
“Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”... Joseph Campbell .
This post is by way of (sheepish) prelude to the post that follows, for those of you with a sensitive disposition, prone to taking offence.
I’m an all or nothing man with regard to profanity… and never touch the ground in-between. It turns me off when people swear every other sentence, as if it was a normal part of everyday language. Better, I feel, to save it for those special occasions when you can add a bit of passion and juiciness to the conversation. If you are going to do it then for f**k sake do it with feeling, with meaning and a sprinkling of gusto. ;)
No-bull business. How refreshing this is! I can't imagine this happening today without 'the suits' walking all over it. Roll on the day when trust, not money, oils the wheels of our world. Hopefully, not too far away. :)
“Going home without my burden, going home behind the curtain, going home without the costume that I wore”... Leonard Cohen from the song 'Going Home' (http://goo.gl/Cw2iV)
Leonard gives a wonderful description of his experience of this from the five years he spent living at Mt. Baldy Zen monastery (video below): "When you get out of the way of your own love it becomes true and.. well it is not fixed, well it's not solidified... and when it's not focused rigidly on another object it broadcasts in front of you and in back of you, to the left of you, to the right of you, above you and beneath you.. and you are in the centre of a forcefield that includes everything - that has no inside and no outside and doesn't look at anything, nor does it need to be looked at. It's like the taste of honey when you are very young, or chocolate when you need something sweet... and every cell of your body says thank you, you know. That's what it's like."
True stoics are a rare breed. The simplicity and clarity of the principles they live by gives them a power that shines through most everything they do... and that light can act as a beacon for all of us.
Steve commenting on the photograph below: “This was a very typical time. I was single. All you needed was a cup of tea, a light, and your stereo, you know, and that’s what I had.”
+Paulo Coelho -- speaking on the subject of where inspiration comes -- describes (http://goo.gl/NpN9T) how there are two types of writer. The first, like Proust and James Joyce, have an imaginary world in their heads so they don’t need much else in order to write. The other group, like Hemingway and Paulo himself, feed off their own life experiences as fuel for their stories. I don’t believe that it’s just writers or writing that this applies to, but to all of us and all creative activity.
As you may have gathered, I fall firmly in the second camp. I get my energy and inspiration from the people, connections and happenings around me… you lovelies especially :).
At the moment I work on my own and from home, with walks and sojourns at the local café to keep me sane… but I can’t see it staying that way for too long. The idea of sharing a work space with others is definitely floating my boat at the moment. Working from a place like this sounds too much like fun…
Anytime we focus on differences, on what is right or wrong, no matter how good our intentions seem to be, we are mentally stepping away from the Light of Love we share. In the same way, when we focus on the need to heal something, we confuse appearances with reality and reinforce the ego’s belief that there is something wrong.
Only as we attend to what is real and unbroken do we know that true happiness exists... and where this is apparent, healing is as well.
This is the follow-up to the last post -- 'When the pot breaks' (http://goo.gl/fcVmu) -- but this part is for me alone. A bit narcissistic I know, but it is a reminder for me to “be my message” and not just talk it, about actually living the only life I really want to live.
When I try to push forward with what I want to learn I struggle (and pushing has become a way of life for me). When I try to explain things I don't yet understand I struggle. When I try to organise all this, I struggle. When I try to keep all the pieces together I struggle. Trying no longer works for me, in any shape or form.
Always with this struggle there is low-level background un-ease which, if I am willing to tolerate it, morphs into feeling unwell. 'Unwell' is my wake up call -- a the tap on the shoulder that tells me to let go of the pieces and surrender in defencelessness to All That Is (all thoughts, all feelings, all circumstances -- exactly as they are). It's a reminder to say ‘fuck that, get real’ -- drop that mask no matter how messy, mundane or unenlightened that may look to the world.
When I do this stuff shifts, life flows, things get creative again... and ohhh, that sweet surrender and Home! So for me, failure works. It seems it's only when I fail that I actually get somewhere.
Why on earth do I choose to learn through pain instead of joy? God only knows! (although writing this now, maybe because I need the contrast). All I know is that I must be the most unwilling student that has ever walked this way.
The line "It was already late enough..." from Mary Oliver's poem 'The Journey' hits home with me now:
One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice- though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. “Mend my life!” each voice cried. But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do– determined to save the only life you could save.
"...you know, where you understand that you abandon your masterpiece and you sink into the real masterpiece."
"Sometimes when you no longer see yourself as the hero of your own drama, you know, expecting victory after victory, and you understand deeply that this is not paradise, ... we somehow embrace the notion that this vale of tears, that it's perfectable, that you're gonna get it all straight.
I found that things became a lot easier when I no longer expected to win. I tried to put this into that song called 'A Thousand Kisses Deep,' you know, where you understand that you abandon your masterpiece and you sink into the real masterpiece." -- Leonard Cohen
Good morning my lovely G+ friends. I'm browsing the posts and comments here and beginning to appreciate just what a wonderful place we are creating. Already we have dinner table conversations, photo studios, kitchen gardens, jewellery workshops, boudoirs, classrooms, rowdy cafés and kids hanging on street corner. Fantastic!
We have people sharing amazing insights and others just creeping up on speaking up... some who delight in sharing their joy, others gaining courage to express how they really feel... and what it is that holds them back. This feels so right, so like Home to me.
As the daytime is stirring Where the speechless unite In a silent accord Using words you will find are strange And mesmerised as they light the flame Feel the new wind of change On the wings of the night No more turning away From the weak and the weary No more turning away From the coldness inside
There is one thing in this world that you must never forget to do. If you forget everything else and not this, there's nothing to worry about; but if you remember everything else and forget this, then you will have done nothing in your life.
It's as if a king has sent you to some country to do a task, and you perform a hundred other services, but not the one he sent you to do. So human beings come to this world to do particular work. That work is the purpose, and each is specific to the person. If you don't do it, it's as though a priceless Indian sword were used to slice rotten meat. It's a golden bowl being used to cook turnips, when one filing from the bowl could buy a hundred suitable pots. It's a knife of the finest tempering nailed into a wall to hang things on.
You say, "But look, I'm using the dagger. It's not lying idle." Do you hear how ludicrous that sounds? For a penny, an iron nail could be bought to serve the purpose. You say, "But I spend my energies on lofty enterprises. I study jurisprudence and philosophy and logic and astronomy and medicine and all the rest." But consider why you do those things. They are all branches of yourself.
Remember the deep root of your being, the presence of your lord. Give your life to the one who already owns your breath and your moments. If you don't, you will be exactly like the man who takes a precious dagger and hammers it into his kitchen wall for a peg to hold his dipper gourd. You'll be wasting valuable keenness and foolishly ignoring your dignity and your purpose.
From 'The Teachings of Rumi' edited by Andrew Harvey
I think every Brit with a heartbeat shed a tear when Derek Redmond came to grief during his Barcelona 400m semi-final. But to me his race was not about determination or grit, but about knowing what is the ONE most important thing in your life... because once you've figured that out, then you know what you can give up on, and what we can't.
A 'one thing' defines a first principle or purpose, and with it comes a deep in-the-moment power and confidence. With a present purpose we are here, now, relaxed, engaged and open to life as it is... not off in our heads wishing things were different or dreaming about some future goal. If Derek's goal had been to win that race, he would have quit there and then. With a purpose of being the best athlete he could be... there was no doubt what he had to do.
And also, with a purpose comes peace of mind. Life becomes far simpler and more beautiful, simply by virtue of the fact that we are no longer deeply attached to all of the stuff that most folk get stuck with. It's so much each easier to let go of something when we see it no longer serves our purpose. 'Winning' and 'losing' we take in our stride – just a measure of the game, because it's the living of it that matters.
We run when you can, walk when we can't run, crawl if we must, but when it comes to first principles – our ONE thing... we never give up!
Sometimes I need a little reminder though, as this post does. ;) Enjoy your week, friends. .
Happy Thursday evening everyone. :) In the spirit of the previous post ('On learning' : http://goo.gl/Uh8Hl) here's a fun little quiz that kinda demonstrates the effect that old-school education has of closing minds, instead of opening them. .
It is my lovely friend +jane mizrahi's 25th wedding anniversary today... and, rather fittingly, in an email newsletter this morning, I came across this sweet little letter sent my Ronald Reagan to his 26-year-old son, Michael, just before he got married, in June 1971.
Happy anniversary to you are your hubs, Jane! :)
Source: Reagan: A Life In Letters (http://goo.gl/8VQQ7) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Michael Reagan Manhattan Beach, California June 1971
Enclosed is the item I mentioned (with which goes a torn up IOU). I could stop here but I won't.
You've heard all the jokes that have been rousted around by all the "unhappy marrieds" and cynics. Now, in case no one has suggested it, there is another viewpoint. You have entered into the most meaningful relationship there is in all human life. It can be whatever you decide to make it.
Some men feel their masculinity can only be proven if they play out in their own life all the locker-room stories, smugly confident that what a wife doesn't know won't hurt her. The truth is, somehow, way down inside, without her ever finding lipstick on the collar or catching a man in the flimsy excuse of where he was till three A.M., a wife does know, and with that knowing, some of the magic of this relationship disappears. There are more men griping about marriage who kicked the whole thing away themselves than there can ever be wives deserving of blame. There is an old law of physics that you can only get out of a thing as much as you put in it. The man who puts into the marriage only half of what he owns will get that out. Sure, there will be moments when you will see someone or think back to an earlier time and you will be challenged to see if you can still make the grade, but let me tell you how really great is the challenge of proving your masculinity and charm with one woman for the rest of your life. Any man can find a twerp here and there who will go along with cheating, and it doesn't take all that much manhood. It does take quite a man to remain attractive and to be loved by a woman who has heard him snore, seen him unshaven, tended him while he was sick and washed his dirty underwear. Do that and keep her still feeling a warm glow and you will know some very beautiful music. If you truly love a girl, you shouldn't ever want her to feel, when she sees you greet a secretary or a girl you both know, that humiliation of wondering if she was someone who caused you to be late coming home, nor should you want any other woman to be able to meet your wife and know she was smiling behind her eyes as she looked at her, the woman you love, remembering this was the woman you rejected even momentarily for her favors.
Mike, you know better than many what an unhappy home is and what it can do to others. Now you have a chance to make it come out the way it should. There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.
This little experiment by Improv Everywhere where they place a wooden lectern with the sign ‘say something nice’ in public spaces around New York, reminds me how small interventions can have such profound effects.
I get the feeling that when our 'greatest minds' finally unravel the mysteries of life -- the strangeness of the observer effect in quantum mechanics and all that -- we'll be faced with the shocking truth that we stand at cause in our life, with the Universe as effect; that perception is projection, not fact; that who really are is this changeless presence of awareness in which all that can be observed, and that is subject to change, appears; that who-we-are is the answer we have been looking for.
Maybe it’s only then that it will dawn on our waking minds that we are the Artist – the script writer -- in the story of our life, and the Universe not a mystery to be solved or problem to be fixed, but the pristine canvas on which we are free to express whatever we choose – that this is simply our playground and our classroom.
The thing is, we don't have to wait for that day to learn just how influential we are. We can choose now to witness how seemingly tiny loving interventions fan out like ripples on a lake, bringing untold release in places we would never have imagined. As Gandhi said, "The pure love of one soul can offset the hatred of millions."
Miracles are expressions of love, but they may not always have observable effects. A miracle is never lost. It may touch many people you have not even met, and produce undreamed of changes in situations of which you are not even aware…. A Course In Miracles
But first, we must learn not be dismayed by appearances. We have to recognise that fear, in whatever form it appears or however it is expressed, is nothing more that the perception of absence of Love. Recognising this allows us to hold a place of peace so we hear the reality of the call being made, and respond naturally in kind.
Miracles honour you because you are lovable. They dispel illusions about yourself and perceive the light in you. They thus atone for your errors by freeing you from your nightmares. By releasing your mind from the imprisonment of your illusions, they restore your sanity…. ACIM
Right where we stand we have the opportunity to heal the world. It is only the ego’s voice that protests we are not ready.
"I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now." This is the video that Apple staffers made as a surprise present for Steve Jobs 30th birthday. The Bob Dylan lyrics seem so appropriate... and (to me) hints at a way to live a fulfilling life -- one that moves others to do the same too -- allow yourself to grow more alive as you grow older.
“We can choose to be audacious enough to take responsibility for the entire human family. We can choose to make our love for the world what our lives are really about. Each of us has the opportunity, the privilege, to make a difference in creating a world that works for all of us. It will require courage, audacity and heart. It is much more radical than a revolution – it is the beginning of a transformation in the quality of life on our planet. What we create together is a relationship in which our work can show up as making a difference in people’s lives. I welcome the unprecedented opportunity for us to work globally on that which concerns us all as human beings.
If not you, who? If not now, when? If not here, where?”..... Werner Erhard
I have never met Werner Erhard, or been involved with his training... but these sentiments very much echo my own.
I've sometimes wondered why we would settle for a purpose less than this, or no purpose at all!
Well, if we are honest, there are many reasons... our commitments, personal and pressing problems, not knowing how or where to start... and so on and so on.
But here's what we don't see: It's in committing that the way is revealed to us (often just one step at a time)... and it's in the decision to commit that serendipity kicks in to handle everything that appears to stand in our way. Jump and then we find our wings.
I'm probably as clueless as anyone about how to go about such a thing, but I'm definitely up for it. .
I received an email this morning from +Nic Askew sharing a lovely reflective video he has composed as a ‘soul biography’ of local girl Scilla Elthworthy (http://goo.gl/5VVWy)
I can’t think of anyone who has done more at a grass roots level to further world peace in our life time than Scilla, and yet the average person in the street would neither recognise her or know her name. Without any great song and dance, she works quietly away in the background showing hostile countries, broken communities and warring factions how to come together to resolve seemingly impossible differences.
This got me thinking about how it is that women seem to lead the way when it comes to matters of the heart and speaking truthfully from that place, and also how their power and influence goes largely unnoticed.
At the Peace Summit in Vancouver, the Dalai Lama made a bold statement: "The world will be saved by the western woman." and Aung San Suu Kyi (http://goo.gl/kE9B), speaking before her house arrest, proclaimed: “Women in their role as mothers have traditionally assumed the responsibility of teaching children values that will guide them throughout their lives. It is time we were given the full opportunity to use our natural teaching skills to contribute towards building a modern world that can withstand the tremendous challenges of the technological revolution which has in turn brought revolutionary changes in social values.”
While the idea of stereotypes and roles (or sorting people into ‘circles’ for that matter ;) ) doesn’t sit well with me, I have a feeling that it’s the fairer sex who are most capable to lead us out the rubble of collapse into a ‘new spring’.
We men have traditionally been the warriors, crusaders and protector of women and the nurturing work they do. Women’s power though, just doesn’t conform to any of our old male-dominated structures. Instead… it is spontaneous, organic, decentralised and impossible to control. In fact, isn’t the nurturing power of Life itself?
Enjoy the video of Scilla…. and I wish you a wonderful new week ahead. :) .
It seems that all the major faiths of the world had an original hardcore set of purists that attempted to stay true to the original teaching. Christianity had the Gnostics, Judaism had the Kabbalists, Islam had the Sufis, and so on. As is our way, we tended to eradicate that original message and those that spoke of it, because what they pointed to rendered meaningless what was previously believed to be true... and that was, and still is, just too threatening for most.
And so it is that these simple, but radical, messages became intellectualised and presented in a way that was non-threatening... but in doing so lost all power to affect any real change now. And so we were left with dogma instead of insight, and those that still followed were left attempting to live true a book, or a doctrine, instead of their authentic Self, as the word of God substituted for the experience of God.
This is how I see the Easter story too. To me it's about transformation and accepting the gift of wings, remembering what we truly Are - what we repress but still remains fully formed. Maybe I am missing something, but I find it quite perverse that we make the symbol of a brother that taught that Christ consciousness lives free in all of us, a cross. Isn't the Easter story about the resurrection, not crucifixion; about joy and life, not suffering and death... and yet we focus on the first part of the story and mostly ignore the second. Surely a pair of wings, would have been a more appropriate symbol. ;)
So I prefer the more hardcore take on the Easter story, and the message from other faiths too. The Kabbalists, the Gnostics, the Sufis and others, all pointed to the essential Unity of Life.. and that all power lies with us, as opposed to some entity 'out there' (BTW, isn't the whole 'being-beholden-to-a-power-out-there idea, the very definition of dogma!). As we start to experience this ourselves, declarations such as "...you will do even greater things than these" , don't seem quite so far fetched anymore.
Reverence, to me, is just as appropriate towards You as any other that has ever walked, or soared, before. The Easter story is a reminder that we can all choose to let our light shine, and that choice transforms everything. So I celebrate This that already lives free in us... and that together we are learning to recognise in our defencelessness, as we open our Self to each other.
Namaste, my friends. (the definition of which says what I want to say more succinctly that I do) :)
Last summer I stumbled on the most wonderful bookshop you could imagine. You perhaps get a feel for the place in this video. Most of the books are old (many very old and very rare) and to meander slowly through the aisles is to take a stroll through the centuries and witness the dreams and adventures, the trials and the progress of our ancestors. It is just a magical place, and a treasure trove of inspiration.
When we arrived, my lady friend turning to me and half-sighing said, "I suppose you're going to be some time. I'll take a walk around town and see you in the tea room in two hours". Six hours and three teas later, she was still walking. Bless her.
If any of you overseas friends are ever over this way and would like to visit, please call me. I'll take you there and buy lunch... but just don't expect to rush. ;)