Wednesday, 16 December 2009
I felt to share them with you.
There is sound and silence together
We are form and formless together
How different am I from the silence?
Where does one end and the other begin?
All problems are imaginary.
The protective mechanisms don't work.
We try to shut out what's happening (which is life).
We imagine we can.
It's already the case.
It's already too late!
You are already free
Everything else is just a misunderstanding
Manifestations of separation (often experienced as discomfort)
come to us to see their true nature.
When they see it they can rest.
It's about what's true just now.
If all there is is resistance
then that's what's true
- "ahhh resistance is happening!"
And as that is made peace with...
then all there is there is whatever was being resisted...
And as that is made peace with...
There's just what's happening.
Which just is.
And then (within what's happening) there is an idea - in mind/body
that it shouldn't be this way
Which is really the idea of separation.
"it shouldn't be this way" is the ultimate lie.
The roles (I am: a man, my name, my job)
are associated with contraction
making us a subset of everything that is.
They are imaginary.
The contraction is palpable.
All we want to know (if we are not at rest) is:
Is everything ok?
When we are at rest - there is no question.
There is just love and wonder.
A flower never wrote a symphony and never will.
Is it any less beautiful?
A flower is a symphony.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
I guess that I haven't had the urge to say anything "long enough" to be worth posting on here, or if I have the urge to write it down has passed before the right moment presented itself.
I did have the feeling to write a piece entitled "I've never met anyone quite like you before", referring of course to meeting my self...and I still might, but it hasn't quite happened yet.
In the meantime I thought you might like to see some of the short things that I've posted into my Twitter stream over the past few months. Being "tweets" they are very short, but some of them are (I think) worth sharing and perhaps preserving.
The unattributed bits are by "me" (whoever that is). The other bits aren't (apparently).
I'd be interested in any reflections or responses.
All is well.
Anything you hear to the contrary
is just an idea.
"Be still and know."
W G Sutherland
Watching a Documentary about Polar Bears Trying to Survive on the Melting Ice Flows
That God had a plan, I do not doubt.
But what if his plan was, that we would do better?
When experience is no longer "mine" it is endlessly amazing, surprising and fresh.
Meaning is seriously overrated!
If you are unable to be touched by your experience, you'll be forced to try to change it.
Can it really be ok for me to want to do so little?
Let me check.
Yes. It's absolutely fine.
I sink, soften and expand.
Sitting on the train at Paddington without a cup of Paul's amazing hot chocolate.
They had sold out.
That's how it is sometimes...
...in fact it is always like this.
It is only the appearance of "this" that changes.
No one is "more advanced" than anyone else.
You were always god.
You are that now.
And so are they.
Sunday, 30 August 2009
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Sunday, 17 May 2009
This isn't Seinfeld ("No sharing, no learning"), so what have I learned?
First the very unsurprising stuff:
* I spend a *lot* of my waking time thinking. It would be fair to say most of it.
* Thinking is addictive, and knowing this is not enough to stop myself getting sucked back into thought. Even though I knew I was doing this experiment I still easily got trapped in long cycles of thought without a break.
* Doing something that is both physically and emotionally engaging is a good way of getting out of thought - in my case dancing works really well.
Now the more interesting stuff:
(Much of this is not new, but it is getting much clearer to me, and this experiment has made it clearer still.)
* The experience of the world when viewed from thought is very thin. Painfully thin. As one of my teachers says "you have the keys to the palace and you are living the shack in the garden".
* Problems only exist in thought.
* The alternative is for me to experience the world directly, not mediated by thought. In this experience of the world there are no problems, only states of affairs.
* The best way for me to do this is to actively engage with it, this will always involve the heart getting touched by experience and will often involve the body moving in order for me to express my response.
* It is really important for me to take time ("Time out of mind"!) to take attention out into the world around - see, hear, touch, taste, smell what is going on around me even though the inertia of thought is pulling me in the opposite direction.
I am genuinely astounded by how narrow my ordinary experience of the world is (that is my experience from the world of thought) and how rich the experience of the world is when experienced directly and felt!
I resolve to spend just a little more of my time each day coming out of thought, into the world, allowing it to touch me and expressing my response.
I can't explain why but it feels like it matters.
As usual Mary Oliver puts it exquisitely:
"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.
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."
Saturday, 16 May 2009
If you place your attention on what is wrong that will be your experience. If you place your attention on what is touching or joyous, that will be your experience.
And much of the time we are not choosing. I am not choosing. I am simply lost in thought. Or to speak more accurately all that is in attention is thoughts chasing each other around with little or no external interest or reference.
So...at the suggestion of one of my teachers (in fact he suggested this to someone else, but it was clearly applicable to me too) I am going to do a 24 hour time and motion study entitled: Where does my attention go?
Of course the fact that I'm paying attention will change the experience (there's no way of getting away from that one) but I'm guessing that what I notice will still be of interest.
I've decided to post some of what I discover on this blog in the hope that you may find it interesting.
I started at 1pm UK Time on 16th May 2009.
Here is my first entry:
* Thinking is the predominant activity and default position. Even if I am meditating (as I was for the last 20 minutes) much of the time is spent thinking. It's spam and chips, spam and peas, spam and spam [This is a Monty Python reference for anyone mystified by this and is the origin of the phrase "spam" in the internet world].
* When I am meditating, much attention is drawn to DISCOMFORT as it the thing that is screaming loudest for attention, as it is also now drawn there.
* As I notice this I am able to put my attention on the dancing trees outside my window, swaying in the wind. I'm immediately touched and my heart is filled with love. My experience is transformed!
And my Second Entry...
Felt a pang of sadness combined with some existential angst! Realised that I'd been lost in thought, worrying. A couple of minutes earlier had been blissfully happy listening to music. There was no problem. Reminded again that problems only exist in thought.
Dancing to the music - getting involved, getting touched! Huge change in experience and so quickly!
Have been lost in thought for the past 5 mintues - so easy to go AWOL without noticing!
What is interesting is not how much time attention is in thought (we knew that already) but how thin the experience is compared to being out and available to be touched by the world! I truly spend most of my time in the shack in the garden, when I have access to a palace!
Dancing 5 Rhythms at Sue Rickards' Class in Tufnell Park. Attention mostly on the music, feelings, the body, the floor, the other dancers, energy. Thoughts occurring but relatively few. Amazing how different this is to the 9 hours preceding!
Out for bagels after dance. Much more in touch with the silence. Many fewer thoughts. Awareness spacious and gently roaming. Nothing needs to happen. No thoughts are needed to fill the void. Perfectly comfortable with the void.
Waking up in thought. Dreamstate thought merging into waking-state thought. No thought free state of grace as I open my eyes!
Meditation. Beautifully relaxing, delightfully still, much emptiness and still lost in thought 1/3 to 1/2 of the time!
Went to buy milk and cheese in the rain, mostly thinking and cut off from the weather. Now inside and touched, excited, opened, by the rain, hard, soft, continuous wet! Love falling from the sky!
Getting excited by the poem and wanting to share it widely...Fall into internet, lost in thought. Feeling a little cut off. I notice that it has stopped raining. When did that happen? I missed it.
Finishing studying Anatomy and Physiology for the morning. Have remained "in thought" for most of the past hour, even when I've been taking breaks - have hardly come up for air! Now starting to see the sunshine, be touched by the dancing trees in the wind. Able to hear and see the cars on the road outside.
*Experiment ends* (at least formally).
Saturday, 2 May 2009
So. This was it. After a week of contemplation and dropping deeply into ourselves on retreat in our secluded valley, this was our first trip back into the big wide world. A world full of many objects, lots of space, sounds and textures, tastes and smells. A world full of people, so very many people, who were conducting themselves by their lights and playing by their rules. But we didn’t need to meet all of them right now. We were starting gently. We had come to the pretty little Portuguese town of Tavira, close to the sea.
I wandered aimlessly and cheerfully around town for about 45 minutes, simply enjoying being wherever I happened to be. In some ways this was a new experience for me, just staying close to myself in the town and with the town. In other ways I realised this was a way of relating to the world that I had occasionally chanced upon before. It felt sweet and easy and simple. I felt sweet and easy and simple.
Eventually my wandering feet led me into a small private gallery space. The walls of the gallery were hung with large long brightly coloured paintings of unhappy looking people. In the centre of the gallery stood a central plinth on which stood small clay sculptures depicting the same unhappy people gathered in dissatisfied clusters.
I didn't much like it - the art. It was well made enough, it had some feeling in it, but it didn't really touch me, I didn't really connect with these people or care about their predicament. After a week of retreat, I was getting good at following my feelings and my feelings told me that I didn’t need to see any more of this. I had spent about 3 minutes glancing around and was about to leave, when it happened.
The woman who had been sat at the end of the gallery space fiddling with some paperwork approached me, smiling. I had half noticed her when I had come in but had avoided making eye contact in case she engaged me in a conversation that I didn’t want to have. I felt slightly sheepish when I noticed this. She was about 55 years old, slightly plump and wearing rather a lot of make up, I noticed a little judgmentally. She seemed earnest and proprietorial. She said something friendly to me in Portuguese. I apologised and told her that I didn't speak that language. She offered me English and Spanish and I chose English. She asked me what I thought of the work. A warning bell rang somewhere inside me. Something told me that there was an important question to ask here before answering her question, especially as I did not care for the art. I asked it.
"So...are you the artist?" I enquired casually. "Yes!" she beamed back at me. "How do you find the art?".
I was left in a quandary. I had spent a week learning the value of being in truth and speaking from truth and that the possibility of real meeting was founded only in complete truth. Yet I really didn't want to hurt her feelings. She was really proud of her art. I didn't like it. What to do?
My patient teacher, the secluded valley and the week of retreat had knocked down many of my usual defences to being myself. I decided to trust. To speak the experience and response of my heart and not the judgment of my mind. None of this was conscious - it's just how it happened. I jumped off the diving board and watched to see what happened - what I would say, how she would respond. Trusting in trust, trusting in Being to take us where it would. It didn’t feel momentous. It felt sweet.
I looked again at the set of clay figures closest to me and felt my way into my response to this set of confused wanderers in the mist. My mind still didn’t like this piece of art but my heart could easily appreciate its qualities, its essential nature. I shared this first response. "There is a lot of feeling and emotion in this work", I ventured, tentively. "Yes!" she replied, “I feel it very deeply”. "These people," I said, looking into her large brown eyes, "they seem very lost". My mind wondered if I had said the wrong thing, whether I’d offended her by speaking so bluntly. The response came immediately. "Yes!" she said with a sense of something close to pride. "Everyone here", she pointed to all the sculptures and paintings, "all of them are lost!". I breathed a sigh of relief – contrary to the stories playing out in my mind, the truth had been trustable. “At least this time” said my mind. Something settled. Something dropped a little.
She asked me what brought me to town. I wondered what to say. Would she be able to get a handle on the somewhat esoteric way that we had spent our past week in the valley? What the heck? I was on a roll. I decided to see where the truth would take us. I told her that I had spent a week on a meditation retreat (not quite accurate but as close as I could get in one sentence).
Her face lit up. She seemed genuinely excited. She motioned me to follow her to one end of the gallery where she pointed proudly to a smallish clay sculpture which seemed to show a man in 3 stages emerging from a swamp. She told me that it depicted the possibility of accessing altered states of consciousness. She said that she thought it was very exciting and important to be able to do so as different things can be seen in different states. She said animatedly that she presumed that this is what we were doing on our retreat, and waited expectantly for my response, looking closely into my face.
I was a little surprised and slightly disappointed. What she had shared with me didn’t seem to have anything to do with what we had been doing. She seemed to be coming from a very different place, a place of ideas not experience. And to make it worse, I wasn't touched in any way by the sculpture. But I felt that we were in genuine communication, that she really wanted to share with me and engage, so I decided to take another risk. To share my truth as it appeared in me in that moment.
I told her that I agreed that different things were visible in different states, but on our retreat we had been much more concerned with discovering what it was that did not change, what was in common between all of these states. It felt bold not to agree, but I felt excited to be seeking to share.
Her eyes lit up again. "There is something that doesn't change!" she said. I felt excited. My heart swelled at the prospect of connection! She continued "I believe that there is one tiny molecule within each human being that goes with them when they die. This is what does not change. Don't you agree?". Her eyes shone. My heart sank a little.
Again, I was in a little of a dilemma, as for me this was completely missing the essence of what I was seeking to share and I really did wish to share it with her. Her eyes were alive and I felt our connection. It opened my heart. I felt warmly towards her and our conversation. Once again, I trusted the ground of our communication and sharing to tell the truth. I gave it my best shot. "What you have just shared with me is lovely", I said, "but it is just an idea about reality, it is not reality itself; the same way that your sculpture of a man (I gestured) is just an image of the man, not the man himself. What I am really interested in is not ideas about reality, but the experience of reality. Seeing reality, living reality".
It was her turn to be puzzled and rather disappointed with my answer, but I could see that she was genuinely curious and very much still engaged. I felt touched. She looked into my eyes like a slightly crestfallen child and said "but this reality is not very special, it’s much more interesting and important to see other things. This is really not very important, those things are much more interesting". Ouch!
I felt a pang of sadness in my heart, a feeling of touchedness and suddenly a rising of passion within me. I could feel the softness and the hardness in her words. It felt at that moment that we had reached the heart of it, that this was really important. I felt her dismissal of reality as a tearing and almost a stamping upon it. It felt sad and painful, but also tender.
Words came out of my mouth, from I don’t know where; they certainly didn't come from my thinking mind. I looked directly into her big brown eyes and was touched by our connection. I heard myself speaking to her fervently saying "don't throw away this moment, this experience! This is your life. This our life. This connection between us is life happening right now! This is it! This is it! Don't dismiss it! Don't throw it away!".
I was a little taken aback by the passion with which I spoke, but it all felt very true. I was speaking to her but also speaking to me. My words were part plea, part prayer, part sharing from the depths of who I am and beyond who I am. It was gently surprising and touching to me.
Something softened in her eyes; they were moist and shining. Something dropped deeper energetically between us. The silence outside and inside was suddenly palpable. Some alchemy had taken place. We had served as transformative substance for each other. No-one had really done anything, yet it had happened nonetheless. It felt like we really had met.
I felt quietly joyful. I continued to look into her eyes as I held her hands in mine and kissed them. It was clear that there was nothing more to say. I beamed a wide smile to her, looking deep into her eyes as she smiled softly back. I bowed to her with my hands in namaste and left the gallery.
Saturday, 18 April 2009
Thursday, 16 April 2009
“all there is…is this”
So, what I’m most interested in, what I’m really really interested in,
what I’m passionate about
Life happening, right now!
You are life happening right now.
Stop reading now
(you can wait until you’ve finished reading the next paragraph).
Look around you. Breathe!
Feel what it feels like to be in your body (whether you like the sensations or not).
Feel their life, feel their texture.
Hear the sounds, especially the quiet ones.
See the colours and shapes – enjoy them, revel in them!
Smell the smells. Reach out and touch something and luxuriate in the experience.
Life is happening full on right now.
This is your life, happening right now.
This is it!
(Not the next "maybe better" moment, but this one!)
“Bit by bit I came back to my own body
…back to this moment,
this constant unfolding miracle of life.
My search ends when I stop looking and remember –
Now is the dance, is love, is pain;
And there is nothing.”
What I am interested in is the mystery and the wonder of this.
It cannot be put into words.
Poetry perhaps gets closest:
“I want to write while crossing the fields that are fresh with daisies
and everlasting and the ordinary grass.
I want to make poems while thinking of the bread of heaven
And the cup of astonishment;
Let them be songs where nothing is neglected…”
So foolishly, whether in poetry or prose I want to try writing touching on this.
Not writing about it, analysing it, dissecting it.
But writing from it - in it...
invoking the fragrance this,
rolling around in this,
Lots of reasons. Obviously.
But mainly for love.
Monday, 13 April 2009
I wandered through the sunshine, under the underpass, up the steps to the bridge and down the slope to the retail park, pausing only briefly to retie one of my shoelaces (I can't remember now if it was my left or right). I was listening to lovely new music that I had downloaded from the internet (www.songsillinois.net) and all was right with the world.
I carefully selected my new shower curtain, opting for a tasteful design with simple silver circles and marvelled at how expensive shower curtains are (relatively speaking) at Homebase. I went to pay. The kindly older asian woman wrestled with my debit card for about 5 minutes before giving up and directing me to another till. I was very puzzled about why she couldn't make my card work and why she insisted on bending it backwards as she put it into the machine. She looked suspiciously at the card and pronounced it "cheap". I was slightly hurt, I was amused to notice. I defended my poor First Direct debit card saying that it usually works and that I was surprised that it wasn't working now. In the end she directed me to the other kindly older asian lady at the next till and the card worked fine. Ha! I was right after all! And it was 20% off shower curtains today at Homebase, so it wasn't quite so expensive after all. I put my Ipod back on, thanked the till operator and left the store.
I wandered absentmindedly home in the sunshine, reaching into my pocket as I neared home to grab my mobile phone from my jacket pocket.
It wasn't there!
My mobile phone was gone! How?
My mind retraced my journey - how could my phone have left my pocket?
Could it have fallen out when I had bent down to retie my shoelace? No. I was far too careful and I would have noticed.
Could someone have picked my pocket in Homebase? No the kindly women on the tills would have noticed. The store was pretty empty.
What if it was a scam and they were in on it?
I checked in with my instincts - my gut feeling. I hadn't felt uncertain about any of these women, I had felt them to be trustworthy. My antennae had not been up at any stage. The clear message I got was that they had nothing to do with it.
But then my mind got hold of the scenario. "It must have been them!" it declared emphatically. "Didn't you think it suspicious all that messing around with your card. You are just naive to trust your instincts. That can be the only explanation. There is no other time when someone can have taken the phone out of your pocket and you know that it didn't fall out!"
I got home and called my phone from my landline. No answer. I left a couple of messages. I tried calling the store. No answer. It's bank holiday monday after all and I couldn't be doing with all the telephone trees anyway.
I decided that I was going to go back to the store and speak to the security manager and ask them to review the tapes. I was convinced that either a pickpocket had taken the phone in the (virtually empty) store or that one of the (seemingly) nice women on the tills had been in on a pickpocketing scam.
I wandered down the road and reached the edge of the parkland that I had walked through on my way to the road bridge. I suddenly had a fond memory of finding an abandoned (slightly broken) football there on my way to the shop earlier today and how I had run through the sunshine joyously kicking the football, running up and down the small hills as the ball flew sweetly through the air glistening wet in the sun, before I had abandoned it after 4 or 5 heartfelt thumps.
Suddenly the thought occurred to me that it was just possible that my phone had fallen out whilst I was chasing the ball. My mind told me that this was a bit ridiculous, as I hadn't really been running that wildly - had I?
I decided to carefully walk the area where I had been chasing the ball just for a few minutes - police search style. I did this for a couple of minutes. Nothing. Then in the distance - could that be my phone? Looks like a stick! On closer inspection - there it was - rather damp nestling in a patch of grass, gleaming wetly in the sunshine, protesting 2 missed calls and some answerphone messages, one SonyEricsson K800i phone. My phone.
I felt happy. I felt grateful. I felt foolish.
Why had I doubted my insticts about the kindly women at the shop?
How had my memory of the trip to the Homebase simply excluded the (joyous) incident of chasing the ball?
I shrugged and realised that this is what we are like. This is what I am like. I am a creature with good instincts who quite often discounts them. I am a creature whose memory like all memories is sometimes a little on the capricious side.
I decided that I would share this story with you in case it was of interest. Feeling a bit sheepish that this is rather a long post for a short pay-off, but hoping that you've enjoyed the journey nonetheless.
Friday, 10 April 2009
I can't say that I actually write them - it seems like an idea comes into my awareness and there is a realisation that there is a poem there. It then seems just a matter of writing and seeing what comes out. Occasionally I change a word. Often I don't.
This seems to me to be a magnificent example of what can happen when I/we just get "out of the way" - out of our own way. There does seem to be a connection to a deeper knowing, a clearer seeing, a more heart-full connection.
This is a place that I would like to spend living much more of my life from and a connection that I am drawn to explore much more deeply. In fact it is probably the thing that most interests me in the world at the moment, though of course it is not a thing at all. It is much more mysterious than that. And at the same time it is really simple and very ordinary. I guess that this is an example of the ordinary mysteries to which the title of this blog relates.
I hope to share these journeys into the unknown within the known with you as they unfold for me (whoever I may be).
In the meantime I felt to share the first of these poems that arrived about 2 years ago.
It came out of a realisation that life although it often seems complicated isn't really complicated - or that it needn't be. There is always (or almost always) an option of relating to it in a simple way and that is usually through the heart. This poem has not had a title before now, but I think that it will get one here:
Can sometimes seem confusing.
At any time,
You don't know what to do
Sunday, 5 April 2009
I felt that I'd like to share it...
Life is simple
"Life is simple,
if you accept that
this is how things are",
"How are things?",
"And then what?"
"And then you live,
Until you die".
Frankly, I've never seen the point in blogging. I guess that I've supposed that I had better things to do than publish my thoughts to the world, or had imagined that the world had better things to do than to read them.
In the last little while though I've had a very few things that I've wanted to be able to share with the world in general, and which were longer than the 140 characters that I'm allowed on Twitter.
The catalyst today, the day on which I've started this blog is that I'd like to share a poem with you dear reader.
I say "dear reader" in the expectation that someone or several someones will stop by to say hello and read these words, at a time when (perforce) no one yet even knows about the existence of this page.
But as you read this, that is, already no longer true. You may well be the first, or one of the first, or perhaps a later welcome visitor browsing the archives to see where it all started (assuming that it will have continued).
I have no idea how often I will post here, but its nice to have a public "wall" on which I can offer anything that I'd like to offer.
I hope that the things that I post here will connect with you, amuse you and touch you in some way.
Welcome to me and welcome to you.