Wednesday 22 October 2014

On earth as it is in heaven

I saw the movie, and read the book. The Bible, that is, quite a few times, as a child. It was terrifying, comforting, alarming, confusing, challenging, And the people who took it as their compass were no better off in respect of intellectual clarity than those who ignored it entirely, although they did have a kind of courage, as they squared up to living and dying, that impressed me.

The idea of heaven is a Christian one, I think. Nirvana, Bliss, the hereafter, there are many names for that other 99.999999999 % of our being which is other than on this planet. There are also those who speak of hell, but I prefer not to go there at all, not even in contemplation.

When you learn to focus, it's wise though difficult to take that huge percentage into account. The awkward truth is that you hav to go through the needle's eye to get some inkling of it, and being the earthbound animals that we are, supper, cash, sex, soccer, image, action and interest - the connecting one as well as the capital-driven one - keep us in our habits of perception, purpose and pain-avoiding tactics.

The pain-avoiding tactics are the most illuminating signals of that huge percentage, which for the purposes of this blog, is my term for heaven. I do not believe in heaven, so to speak. I have no option but to accept that huge percentage and to try to focus my being accordingly.

I don't think it's possible for any thinking person to continue to assume that one's life is a random, meaningless event. Everything that's rational, reasonable and even tested points the other way. Read Lynne McTaggart's The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond to check this out. There's plenty to more to read but this would do for That Huge Percentage 101.

The other thing to do is stop the pain-avoiding tactics and see what happens.

The most prevalent and poignant kind of pain that I know of arises from the fear of separation that death brings. The fear is not only of losing loved ones, but of being cut off , verily, from love and belonging, per se. It's a horrible one, worse than going to the dentist. Whereas you previously managed to pre-occupy yourself with daily business, suddenly, abruptly, frighteningly everything is up close and personal and there's no avoiding the huge and overwhelming emotions. There are no answers, not even questions. It's not like a fierce dog or a dangerous situation that you can understand and fear. Liam Neeson, talking about losing his wife, said it was as though evey now and then, the world goes lop-sided and is no longer a safe place to be. The problem is the total incomprehensibility of it all, not merely conceptually, but to the emotional extremes.

When you learn to focus, it's not as though you control the focus. It's more like learning to go with the energy that focuses you to the extent that you allow.

There's a yin and yang to language, one side being incisive articulation, the other being utterly obtuse and overwhelming emotions. The clarity of language does not express the desperate wail. But if you will accept and even embrace the overwhelmingness of the heart, and that is what I understand the heart to be, the point of contact between the material and the spiritual, human and para-human, the minute and that huge percentage, heaven and earth, you will experience new energy. Coaches like pithy things to remember. Here's one: Here Exists the Art of Reality and Truth. If you can bear to be in that space, you will catch up with focus: emotional, intellectual and volitional.

Immobilisation at the dark end of the tunnel happens when the structures and systems that we have created control us. Cars crash, toilets leak, money is taxable, education is politicized, health policed, criminals victimized, art vandalized, thinking dominated, decision delayed. The heart learns to hesitate.To me, this is the very opposite of heaven. I have a huge wild fig tree. This is the season when it drops hundred of thousands, perhaps millions of little hard, squashy figlets that mess up the garden for a period. To me, the fecundity of nature reflects the generosity of heaven. Out there in space, way beyond our control or grasp, black holes do their thing, and white light re-visits what will ultimately be clear to our fear-dominated minds. I find comfort in the mad number of stars, world within worlds, the unimaginable houses of heaven. I find the love of generosity liberating. The people who taught me to look for heaven and fear hell also taught me to give. I am grateful. I believe that if there is one thing that frees the captive mind it is the magic of learning to give, materially, emotionally, spiritually. One does not give only by giving out, or giving away. One sends out one's own generosity of heart, whatever the gift is, no matter how simple or sophisticated. This is our daily bread.

It's said that we become what we focus on. Strangely, we don't pay enough attention to that on which our hearts focus. Many things move me, yet I realize that one of the ways in which heaven moves things on earth is through generosity.

Succintly, generosity brings heaven to earth. Go the other way towards greed, fear, cruelty and deceit. It's clear enough.

Sunday 29 June 2014

Focusing on stories

When I was a child I loved stories. I was blessed to have an Aunty Carol at home, a kind of Mary Poppins figure who came into my life before I was conscious, and died of cancer when I was twelve. She told me stories, often the same ones again and again because I begged her to do so. They were the best kind: imagined live, well-known, with some new twists every now and then, recurring characters, but enough of them to aborb new ones into the circle, and always the expectation of excitement as well as tension.

I woke up one morning when I was five and found I could read. I was drawn to books almost ferociously: when I was ten, during a cold winter's day at Gordon's Bay I read "Wuthering Heights" and while hardly grasping the deeper layers of narrative, I was instinctively drawn to the atmospheric intensity, and the themes that ran with them.

When I turned thirteen my own story hit me like an express train, right in the solar plexus, and I have been trying to find ways to tell it to myself ever since.
So intrigued was I by the powerful effects of narrative, that when I was about fifteen I made an important career decision. I figured that if I identified with one particular hat for work purposes, that was all I would wear, and that would be severely restricting. So I decided that I would teach literature, and thus be available to experience, vicariously, all the roles available in all the stories possible.

Thus I became a teacher, and learnt quite quickly that the teaching profession itself is a difficult story. You bumped your head against political purpose rather than the joy of open minds, you struggled with bullying hierarchies, mindless admin., distracted students, in short, all the ironies of living that come disguised as education.

I worked hard, learned as much as I could, and made it to university level as professor of English. After some years, the story of my own life interrupted me, and took me on to where I am now.

If you are to coach the mind, your own or any other, narrative is probably the most powerful tool.
I thnk that we always instinctively need to find a vehicle for our words, sentences and paragraphs, and the context that we choose, mostly unconsciously, is the story that pops out, cued by the dramas of and in our lives.

We do not focus consciously on the dramas in and of our lives: they happen on a daily and weekly basis, and the big ones like love and death come unheralded.

We pass dangerous places in our lives, and when these happen to us, we need a myth, a living story to word us past these places.

One of the most helpful books I have read, in this connection, is Rollo May's "The Cry For Myth".
At the core, we require a living story that makes sense of living for us.

Fortunately, a way of objectifying stories, even living stories, has been invented: the book.

A book can be a dangerous thing because it both objectifies and formalises a story, or any other set of ideas, and establishes a weird link between objectivity and subjectivity, just as our bodies do.

We believe our existence because we experience our bodies. We believe books in respect of the claims they make, from recipes to salvation.

However, no story has a neat beginning and a definite ending. From fantasy to history to sensationalism to cosmology, you can always find contextual links and personal fascination.

Stories are not merely personal. They also reflect the ultimacy of human meaning. Applied to business, they can work to great effect. Applied to history, they establish knoiwledge. Aspiring to faith, they create genuine steps.

They begin at beginnings that are not new.

They end at places that enter the greatest story of stories.

It has been my quest to find that story, and to know it when I find it, and that quest has brought me to a place where there are two mats before the entrance. The instruction is not to wipe my shoes but to take them off and read, as if for the first time in my life: humility and love.

The intensity that struck me as a teenager is worded by what these two morphemes convey. Put together, a third quickly arrives: compassion.

If we follow the intent and energy of the stories that want to go somewhere, and aren't just for entertainment, we will progress to the felt meanings of these words.

These are intense matters of the heart, and if you allow it, your feet may stay on the mats, as a welcome, rather than an entrance.

The entrance is better than a thousand welcomes, if you know your host as well as your best friend, your beloved, your Lord. The focus at this point goes through the eye of the needle, but is worth it.

Friday 13 June 2014

Befriending the snake within

It's a remarkable snake. Academics try to touch its tail, hypnotists try to stare it in the eye, preachers rail against it, visionaries look to it for direction, healers know it as strong medicine.

You can try to tame it with words, and it is able to hibernate for aeons, but it knows about the Alpha and the Omega, and stretches the length between these points, undertaking what is for humans, an ultimate mystery.

I considered using the word "serpent" instead of "snake", but that's archaic, and more removed from the dread I'm observing.

Who are we? What are we? And in what kind of universe or universes are we?

I think often of Einstein's remark, that the most salient question is whether or not we live in a friendly universe.

I'm not sure how to answer that. I have read many superficial writings that refer themselves to coaching, about the eight ways of doing this, and the three most important aspects of doing that, and the ten most beautiful things you have learnt this week. There's a difference between tickling the human mind and coaching it, and to do coaching, you have to go for broke, properly.

Coaching will come and go, just as going to your psychologist went. The human mind is there, really there, illusory as the Buddhists would have it, but not really, because when people close to you die, you cry, and when you die, people close to you cry. Feelings feel to be real, and there's no escape from that.

I want to take a closer look at what conscious feeling does:

I find no discontinutity between sensation, feeling, emotion , atttitude, thought and decision.

This is one snake. It's not just inside you, it is you. I picked on the image of snake because it's long, scary, feels different, and brings a sense of dread, which is good for complacent minds.

If you've read Scott Peck's "People of the Lie", you'll have an idea of how the reptilian layers of our physiology are able to make a claim against the later layers. It makes sense to me. My mother is the planet, this dangerous, delicate balance of ecology I am afraid of, would prefer to love, but don't know how to.

If I wish to arise to heaven, I had better know how I arose from this earth. The freedom of one is the the joy of the other: and there is no escape from the bridge between the two.

I often ponder: how did all these life forms emerge? and then the answer comes: it's a dance of the table of elements, which is easy enough to grasp, the reach of physics, which is not easy to grasp, because physics is abstract, the path of logic, which is the strict master of rules, and the romance of reason, which points to an impossible path, and leaves you, the cipher of conscious being, to find the way.

My friend, the snake within, is hungry, indeed starving. Yet I have never felt such a birth waiting,  and I want to know: what will this loop of conscsciousness do when my individual life moves on to the next paragraph?

Better to make friends, rather than pick a fight out of fruitless fear.

If Einstein asked a question, I presume he didn't know the answer.

My answer is:

the universe is not tame, but it's not without friends. "Friendly" is an adjective. Friends are real.

So when you regard that whole scope of feelings, sensations, emotions, and what feels to be real, bursting out from your inwardness, I'd say, make friends with the snake within. "Confusion" means the joining of different streams, and allowing the conjunction, once you have done it, brings peace.

Monday 19 May 2014

Dangerous place

If you're living a real life, you step into dangeous places frequently. Just like animals do.

The closer I get to everlasting life, the less I think heaven is cosy.

I am really challenged: we can pray to Jesus to save us, and
we can do something to save
those who are with us
who need help.

The human condition is such that
help can be

Thank God for those who

I have learnt that contemplation
is not

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Focusing on, from, through your living

Once again I've learnt about a preposition. Through. I claim to teach folk about focusing, I have had to learn some more.  Focusing on I'm still confident about. You pick on a nicely labelled something, and away you go, looking at definitions, factors, specifics, perspectives, arguments, persuasions...language is the tool for the mind, and what a useful tool it is. You can actually get somewhere, and feel you have got somewhere. Academic research is good at this.

Then, focusing from your living. A little more abstruse, but you still have the tool of language: your beliefs, your attitudes, your values, your core, your platform, your family, your spiritual context, your genealogy, your freedom, your peace, your activistic inclinations.

Now, focusing through your living.

That's difficult, and let me expalin why. You go into an experience, maybe out of choice, maybe out of circumstance, and you lose control of the outcome. Yes, you lose control, because you are truly not in charge.

I am a realist. I cant' be a gambler, becaue I only bet on dead certs, which isn't a bet at all.

This year a close friend of mine died, and all my certainties were overthrown.

I can't work out why, it's purely emotional, and the tool of language failed. It didn't help at all. I came to a subjective place of despair, with no help to move forward.

I was reminded of how I fell in love for the first time, which was also about death: a friend's brother died, and I suddenly knew with all my heart I didn't want her to suffer this. People die all the time, so why the connection? I don't know. At any rate, she didn't fall back in love with me, so that was that. But I remember turning to my long-standing friend who died this year, for comfort, and help. He wasn't really aware, I think, but he was there for me, and gave a a whiskey or two, which helped.

When you focus through your living, you'll soon come to a very real place of intellectual failure, emotional intensity, and requirement of commitment.

I went through a rigour of testing my commitments. I discovered that I am totally in love with my wife, that I value family, that I seek community, that my awareness of God, which I won't discuss here is paramount, and that when my spirit is broken, my language is also broken, and that I have to re-learn how to use it.

In short, I have been through an impassably narrow place, am still coming through, will always be coming through, because living and dying are incomplete in each other for the time being, (thanks Brian Weiss) but are summed up, (thank you Jesus, who is not the Jesus of organised religion) in a trustworthy way.

I think that most people are doing the through focus, but keep a distance, because it's severe. They distract themselves, and become a market for whatever distracts attractively, even if short-lived.

There isn't a short-cut or cure for "through". I don't love "through" but I wouldn't evade it, because then you haven't lived. I have learned to look for the Presence that guides you through. You're lost without this.

So, with a greater grasp of focusing through your living, you may be the lens through which a real light shines. It's not fun. Crucifixtion is at the core, so is resuurection. Jesus has taken the brunt, but you won't escape, entirely. All deaths are mine, yours, all resurrections, too. The whole planet, solar system, stellar constellation and beyond will no longer be there, some time way ahead, when time no longer matters.

Squeezing through an impassable place puts pressure on the language-speaking soul.


The time for truth is way overdue. 

Friday 4 April 2014

Focusing and seeking

They're not exactly the same, but related. When you're regarding what's in front of you, and trying to get clarity, moving from a blur to something you can grasp, that's more like focusing. When you're moving around erratically, trying to find a point of contact, something on which to focus, that's more like seeking.

There are those people who are ardent seekers. I used to be. I gave up. I came to my boundaries when my  friend of forty plus years died, and all the stabilities of my life were challenged. I found that nothing stable was left. I realized that all of myself is a collection of emotional and cognitive habits, all challengeable, all a matter of self-response based on nothing more that the moment's need. I was amazed at the trigger: both my parents had died, and I had not experienced this, I had gone through divorce, for which I had never been primed, not my register at all, and had not experienced this. 

Quite abruptly, I was utterly humbled by the terminality of my life.

I claim to be able to teach people how to focus, but the fact that I had not yet found what I sought made me re-think.

For me, it now works like this: if you have a question, you have words, if it's a quest, it's an evocative and emotional reaching out.

If you seek, you may have found something, and are still seeking, but why?

If you have sought, and have declared a choice, a finding, a finality, no doubt your experience holds, although your words may be premature, as is the case when you allow formal religion to word your deepest experiences for you.

When you seek, your attention moves perpetually, maybe erratically, maybe looking for something in particular to recognise.

When you focus, your seeking comes to rest, and you move towards clarity in respect of something in particular.

A spiritual coach may be able to help with seeking, a life coach more with focusing.

The more intense your seeking is, the less likely are you to able to focus on daily practicalia.

Intense seekers are likely to be emotionally distraught people who have been dislodged from stable experience.

They can often be helped through narratives that have appeal, and resonate with their sense of reality. They need to find a personal myth. The story and meaning of Jesus Christ goes all the way to the uttermost limits of human emotions: few grasp the freedom rather than the lessons that are learnt along the way. Eatern approaches use story less, depending more on the koan of enlightenment.

However, truth is humilty, and focusing on ultimate truth in contrast to daily truth is daunting. I have stopped. Ultimate truth is shattering. Humans aren't designed to grasp, fully. Daily truth is about responsiveness, competence, communicativeness, carefulness and cheerfulness.

Scott Fitzgerald's story about Gatsby had for many years been a sort of Bible to me: an immensity of a dream that you sought, without finding, it eluded, most enigmatically and poignantly. I felt it deeply.

Today I am on the threshold (time is short) of the real dream, and I am keen to translate it into a curious mixture of money and meaning. I am confused by the fact that some offer meaning, but want money for it, and others, more viciously honest, demand money without meaning.

My view is this:

You will always find yourself travelling on rough terrain.

You have to move towards your destination. You have to survey and negotiate the ground you traverse.

The combination of these is the curious mixture of focusing and seeking. You have to choose the appropriate balance between focusing on what you seek, and how to get there.

My friend's death has helped me to get to this balance. The most baffling experience of my life has also been the sense of the keen wind that offers the no small comfort of daily direction. God is not only the biggest picture, but also the the crucial details, as subtle as they can possibly be.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Focusing on the Holy Spirit

This is slightly easier than focusing on God, because there'a an actual, active, immediate, real point of contact. No-one is going to find a ready jargon, and if you read through as many books as I have trying to find words that stick, stop when you get the feeling that the Holy Spirit is not a system of anything, but a very individual and intense relationship that touches you in your personal, historical, biological and committed places.

Once more, the Holy Spirit isn't an "out there" reaching in kind of dynamic, as I understand. Just as stitches create a woven fabric, the human condition is darted through with the presence of God, the immediacy of which is encounter with God's Holy Spirit.

These words sound very grand, but the reality is quite ordinary: everybody experiences happiness, joy, disappointment, disillusionment, despair, gratefulness, anger, hope, love and loneliness.

In any of these, take one step back, create a space and ask: I dont know what words you should use: merely ask for spiritual truth and presence.

I have learnt not to use words, but to use the breath given to my body, and not to quest too deeply, but to receive.

I have learnt to become quiet, which is not the way I used to be when I was intense about spiritual movement.

When you focus on the Holy Spirit you're going beyond mere Christianity. The Holy Spirit is no respecter of anything man-made. You're going past the boundaries of formal religion, fervent tribalism, family feuds, cultural bias, financial priorities, belief systems, even physical realities.

You're also going beyond your very own, real needs.

The place where you encounter the Holy Spirit is the place you dare to step out onto the tottering platform of your truth and feel how insecure that place is. I like what Steve Jobs said, that heaven is a good place to be but no-one wants to die to get there.

The older I get the more I realise that for me, dying is not about a fear of getting to heaven, but a badly entangled experience of emotional involvement with this planet and humans. I just don't want it to have been like this. I really want to have done more. "So much to do, so little done," said Cecil John Rhodes, the empire builder.

I ponder my six decades of living, and realise that my place in history is poised at a significant juncture. This is true for everybody. I like what one of my facebook friends says is her occupation: "activist".

I recognise that the human world is what it is because not enough people have responded to the activity of the Holy Spirit. The startling power of life that grows each blade of grass, plant and tree in your garden is the same power that maintains your body on an hourly basis.Electricity is a discovery more than an invention, yet what it does has become, so to speak, irreversible.

One's faith, in the same way, is irreversible. You can never undo what God's Holy Spirit does in your life.

But how do you focus on this? Humility, openness, respect, reciprocity and worship. How does it happen? Very individually and personallly: a matter of personal narrative opening up from the indulgent paragraph to the dispassionate epic, viewing the vista of relationship impinging on relationship as well as recognising the anguish of individual aspiration.

What's it like?

Blinding, baffling, bewildering, because the tamed, domestic world we've become used to is not directly related to the wildness of spirit. As humans, we get old, tired, sick, sad, disillusioned and we want to go. It's kind of normal although it's not what it's supposed to be. We feel our hearts filling with longing for family, friends, memories, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, homes everywhere. We believe but we aren't sure. We know on the basis of hope.

Well, my experience is different. Everyone is psychic, and I've tested this, and found it to be startlingly true. I don't particuarly want to be psychic, but if you're going to talk spirit, don't be domineering about it, because you never will be. You're a product of spirit not an engendering agent. No one walks alone. If you're a person of truth, prepare to be surprised. The more you kick against the goads because of your imagined integrity, the greater will be the fall from your horse of purpose.
The more firmly you hold your rod, the more it will writhe. Disobey paradise, and wander in the desert for a long time. Test your own story to know it for what it is.

Spiritual living is not discontinuous. This is a complicated way of saying that you are always surrounded by the holiness of spiritual company. Some people are querulous about evil spirits waiting to jump on you. Superstition is of two kinds: the better kind and the worse kind. Choose the one that excites you most and learn the difference.

As a youngster I was taught that it was a bad idea to focus on the Holy Spirit, because you had to focus on Jesus first, in a special kind of way I couldn't figure out, and then all the rest would fall into place. Today I know that you can ask whatever you want, and you will always be answered. The Holy Spirit is really about truth, not conceptual truth but living truth. You need to square up, not be in control of. You will always be humbled, never humiliated. And if you have anything to give, it will be asked of you.

If you focus on the Holy Spirit, you will soon lose concepts and gain energy. If you spend this energy dancing and singing you may lose weight, and gain nothing. If you pursue this energy determinedly, you will find ways of bringing heaven to earth, perhaps by re-inventing electricity, perhaps by bringing much-needed relief in one form or another to a corner of humankind. Perhaps by rescuing one more animal, or human.

Perhaps by reducing the stress in your body little by little to find the peace that is given to you.

Saturday 22 March 2014

Focusing on God

It's not difficult, it's actually impossible but you find people who are intent on doing this. I think it's a compulsion born of a too urgent requirement arising from slightly crazy circumstances or totally crazy parents or families. I never met my paternal grandfather, but I know he was intent on converting the Catholics to being Protestants. When you encounter zeal, take care. Sometimes a zealot claims the course is love, and then you have to duck.

The first thing to recognise is that God is not a noun. God is more like a present continuous verb, the action of which is creative being, an overwhelming, enigmatic, ontic, essential presence, in respect of which the human mind has to learn rather than command.

Humility becomes necessary when you focus on God.

Do religions matter? I think not really, at the end of the day, as much of formal religion is man-made. Respond to the part that's God-made.

I grew up in a fervent and committed Christian context, where the Bible was God, because that was how God was communicated. I learnt to fear the Bible much as a pupil in a nineteenth century school learnt to fear the strap, belt, ruler and cane because that's how God ruled, according to the teachers of God's word. That wasn't true, of course, but I had to learn the very difficult lessons in respect of truth being different to that message. I still learn.

When I focused on God, I read the theologians, mystics, mediums, prophets and poets.Some of these were helpful. But I found that the actual focus was on words. The grander they became, the less I understood. Yet every now and then, there was a current of energy and drama that entranced and motivated me to grow towards a real yet unnameable dream.

I became aware of participating in an eternal drama, representing something hardly born in my guessing consciousness.

I don't want to go into personal narrative, in respect of focusing on God; that's just that: personal narrative. What I want to declare is that if you really focus on God, things will change in your life. This focus requires a move from concept to commitment, from casual enquiry to care, from obsservation to action.

God is no gendered, ultra-human in a separate heaven: God is more like a holy Presence who will visit you if you make yourself open. I understand God's presence to be usually subtle in a one's personal life, utterly obvious in social and economic dynamics, and more often than not absent in formal religion.

We're blessed when God shows us something of divine Presence in our daily joys and domestic affections. Home cooked curry, the cat and rain on the roof are much of God's love. Humans and hobbits are closely related. 

Conversely, pogroms, ethnic cleansings and cullings end our naive innocence.

I have never managed to forget the heaps of personal belongings and photos lying in abandoned warehouses filled with empty and futile nostalgia that Schindler's List showed us.

In my heart I rail against empty and futile nostalgia. I sense this is not how God works.

God is never about separation, but rather total engagement.

The terms of such engagement might be in the table of elements, human intentionaltiy, Divine grace: pick the words and terms you want: they don't matter other than that they open your mind and awareness rather than close and limit your focus: and that's your business: to focus.

When you choose to focus, your choice is assisted, I believe. Mind is never merely yours; consciousness is not merely solitary, awareness is never limited. You're working out your salvation, perhaps in fear and trembling, because it's God working in you.

Thursday 20 March 2014

Don't tell, show

Okay, follow the logic if you will. Grand schemes come from grand agendas, like academic disciplines, scientific programmes, motivational business, anything that wants to put your mind in a spell for purposes you might want or not want.

Check the spell you want, because most of living is about living under a spell.

Your desires and your needs overlap. You put yourself in a place of power and vulnerability.

There's a scalpel of truth that knows how to cut between these.

The simplicity is that each day, I'll walk, do, breathe, think, breathe, and it will make no difference to the day that I wasa born or the day I'll die.

Then again, if I'm obedient to the sensitivity of G-d acting in m,y life, there will be a difference.

I have learnt once and for all that my mind, my awareness, my sense of self, my sense of me is an utter vulnerability, a folly, a mere wish.

Truly, I have never existed in the way that faith prompts, the way I am called, the path that the tree of life expects.

My heart is like my dog's ears: waiting for a call to movement.

There are two kinds of voices I hear:

the comforting one, the challenging one.

At last I know I can choose which one to listen to.

I have stepped out on a path between these, a jetty into the estuary, lagoon and sea into which I have committed myself.

All the stories I know about truth that arrives as affection, I recognise.

No more than that. Human affection is what they set as love.

What a huge scope is left: there is much to hear, see, sense and smell, and the the close corners that come your way are the entire secret.

Friday 31 January 2014

Mindfulness and courageous consciousness

For the first time ever, a few minutes ago, I thought of being born as an act of courage in contrast to a passive event. Since living after being born is anything but passive, if the experience is to be worthwhile, let's take the logic the whole way back.

I am quite convinced that my living began long before I was born or even conceived. Animals, with thier limited ability to think, don't wast time with endless loops of pseudo-learning. They get on with living ASAP.

Humans are not so direct. Formality, finance and fickleness are merely some of the fiends that dent the possibility of mindful consciousness from the word go.

What's mindful consciousness? My answer is that it's full awareness intact from the distractions of everyday disruption and interruption. It's a happy meeting point where thought, emotion and decision come to rest in a balance of peace. I think that Louis MacNeice worded this place in his poem "Meeting Point".

Peace is not something you sink into. Peace is something you create with courage, by steering your own living beyond the boundaries of fear, like fear of losing your loved ones, fear of poverty, fear of being wrong in your faith, fear of God, fear of being punished for not being obedient or compliant enough, fear of isolation, fear of defeat.

To experience losing fear all you have to do is take the first step and act, to move beyond that fearful boundary. The first step is the worst.

You just do it, and the next timeit's not as bad. Gradually, step by step, you learn to manage to get quite far. You learn to think as far as you want to. You learn to feel beyond given boundaries. You learn that your decisions can be as valid as anybody's. You learn the difference between courage and recklessness. If you want to find a way, you should learn the difference between your way, my way, our way and the only way. It's always a matter of balance.

I understand that the more you develop mindfulness, the more your capacity for courageous consciousness grows. Everyone has an own calling to courage, and whether it's a public demonstration or a private perseverance, following that calling to courage is an intense honour.

The journey is unpredictable, and the calling comes spontaneoulsy. Developing mindfulness is the preparation required to act when the need arises. One of the tests of whether the time has come to respond courageously is the sense that if you do something that's right, you will stand out and be noticed with disapproval.

Discretion and mindfulness work differently: discretion is when it's wise not to do something, and mindfulness is when it's wise to do something that should be done when no-one else is prepared to act.

Once you embark on that journey, there's no telling where you will go.

You will, however, learn the real learning: that each hour it's possible to inspire as well as mystify yourself and others.

And if the experience isn't humbling, it was never courageous.