Thursday 24 December 2009

Best wishes for the season

I am reading 'You have to say something' by Dainin Katagiri. A line in this moved me tonight;

Dharma- Oneness, Totality, Wholeness- needs you, whoever you are.

Quite so.

May peace prevail on earth.

Best wishes for the season. May the new year be good for us all.

Friday 18 December 2009

Beautiful Movie

DC and I have just returned from the cinema. We saw Departures. A very beautiful movie. Very moving. Life shown; immanent and transcendent.

In gassho.

Thursday 17 December 2009

The Ridiculous

After an other training session to be a citizen advocate I had lunch with Ian B today. Ian and I talked about being, the unknowable nature of 'reality', the things we can know, the way the universe presents its self in our experience, psychology, individuation, ones 'stuff' / psychological baggage, meaning, purpose, all that stuff. And it came around to me saying that I feel responsible for choosing to choose AND making my life as meaningful and happy as possible. And Ian pointed out to me that there is no reason I should feel responsible for that. At which point I saw just how my inner critic never misses a chance. That said no one can eat for us; we each must do our own 'work'. But Ian has a point and as he said, not very many people really take a good look at the meaning of (their) life AND try to live authentically as a result, so I might go easy with myself for finding it tough at times. Which is much what my friend Graeme was saying yesterday to me after we finished installing the last of his new windows.

We covered quite a bit of ground in short time pulling various bits of philosophy, psychology and spirituality into the mix and I felt the need to bring it back to two points; we need to DO and we need to SHARE. And I talked a little about creating sacred space in a sharing circle and how there is almost no space where this happens in Western society at this time and how I think that people are afraid of such sharing as it involves moving to look inward and to dismantle defenses. This prompted Ian to say that in flamenco the coming together of people is recognised and given a name, I can't recall the details, but the recognition is I feel, important.

After lunch I did a few odd jobs and found myself in B&Q warehouse to get some screws etc. where I saw for sale electric fires that include an LCD display screen showing a recording of a real fire! It was not obvious where the heat came out; the screen was the main part of the fire AND it had sound, the sound of a crackling fire! Price; just under £700. Talk about from the sublime to the ridiculous! This is no way for human beings to live, people have got to wake up!

Rant, rant... Ah well... I seem to be keeping occupied...

It has been good sharing these past few days.

And in closing I recall that even though the mirror has no stand, no place for dust to settle, we still need to wipe the dust away.

Sunday 13 December 2009


Yesterday my friend Graeme and I replaced the window and backdoor to the kitchen of his home. His partner made cake and helped a bit too. Later I picked up DC and the four of us had dinner at theirs. I really enjoyed the work and the company; purpose and connection and being in my body, my mind on the work. Removing frames from rubble walls and replacing with new needs care and a bit of strength together with skill. The dance of working with someone on a physical project like that is something I've not done for a while and it made me remember just how much is involved and how good it is to share that way. Graeme and I worked well together and we mixed in some banter and theatre too! The theatre playing in the construction of masculinities area; two middle aged middle class gay men playing with straight working class lad masks; 'ahll reet pet, well wiv got the old one oot so will be off, see ya tha mora, ah no, wa gannin tu tony's will seeya Thursda... And she was all upset coz wid left the winda oot...'

I have recently had three sessions of psychotherapy. I sort of stumbled into this after a bit of a freebie chat with my old CBT therapist and to be honest I am not sure about how much time and money to spend on it. Things have been tough lately (with relationship and work issues) and I am in a bit of an existential crisis but I can see that crisis as coming out of and giving rise to opportunity and really I feel fairly ok about me. So what issue might seem salient? Well, the thing that always comes up for me whenever I look at my psychological baggage is my relation to my past. To be specific, accepting that I was twenty four before I came out. And I have this tendency to let my inner critic beat me up about this and tell me that I must have just been 'asleep' and wasting my life. And when I see creative lively young people my inner critic beats me up saying that they are doing so much yet when I was their age I was just shut down and wasting life. And then there is the thing about feeling a bit of a misfit / being on the outside of things. That said I am often right in the middle!

So, my therapist was putting forward last time that my childhood may have lacked rough and tumble and that this led to my being isolated from the other boys. Well, I really don't think that I wanted it and that wasn't the reason for the isolation. Anyway, yesterday made me remember that throughout a lot of my teens I was involved in some quite sizeable DIY projects; plumbing, tiling, heating, woodwork, windows, electrics etc. And I learned all this fairly much on my own. I was the driving force behind a lot of projects at a young age. Ok, so I have this grief for not spending that time enjoying exploring sex with other boys of my age but I was not wasting the time. And all of those projects were in a way a continuation from the childhood years spent taking things to bits and not paying rough and tumble etc with the other boys. And I joked about this with Graeme yesterday and said something to the effect of '...and just how capable is my therapist when it comes to this sort of practical work... rough and tumble... machismo... sensitive to the needs of this sort of job etc...?' In other words, happiness, constructions of self (including masculinities), purpose and connection, past and present form a complex and varied mix and I am ok. And the pain and the suffering and the developmental path is a result of complex karma and it's important not to see things just in classical psycho therapeutic terms. Even if those terms do push a few buttons and leave me wondering... Which brings me round to other things that came out of the session not the last of which is, as DC pointed out, that I don't like incomplete gestalt! And my next session is not until the end of January!

And practice, where does all this sit with practice? No enlightenment outside of daily life. Variety is the spice of life, and I think we need it; the void desires to be and to know, to experience in a human life a full and rich aliveness. I agree with those that recommend a spiritual path that expands one's life in the dualistic realm as well as the non-dual realm. In other words take a bit of individuation with your meditation. Expand and explore as many aspects of being as seems viable, share in lots of ways. I sort of brought the conversation around to this point last night and the fact that in the West at this time we have so few areas where we come together to share deeply in open acceptance. I talked about creating sacred space and sharing in the way which is so easy in the Findhorn community and Graeme talked of his experience in circle sharings but somehow I felt it was falling on stony ground. Why is this? I think our society lacks meaningful ritual in this regard and we fear creating such space for two reasons; first because we often live defended and anaesthetised lives and the idea of going to a place of authenticity is thus a challenge and secondly because we also recognise the dangers of self indulgence, that sharing might move us not away from ego but further into it. This second fear is I think a misconception based upon a the idea that in sharing one keeps to a fixed notion of self. Yet my experience is that forming sacred space by sharing helps in moving from I to me; it helps in owning shadow and disidentification. And key to all this is what I suspect I don't write much or well of but sometimes hint at in this blog; emotion. I often talk and write 'I think...' but all the time I am feeling. I do feel that I am in touch with my feelings I don't think that I am particularly repressing them but I am also analysing. And in expressing 'where I (or in a more wholesome sense me) is at' it is my habit to analyse probably too much. Whereas, replacing windows and doors like yesterday I was fairly much just being doing; as close as I probably get to positive samadhi. Working with others I felt with not separate. Thanks Graeme.

Thursday 10 December 2009


It has not been an easy year for me and thus not for those who love me. But I've much to be thankful for.

I recall:

‘Grayness could not fill us with despair if our minds did not harbor the concept of different colors, scattered traces of which are not absent from the negative whole.’
(Adorno, Negative Dialectics, 377–8.)

Thanks to DC for giving me access to the language.

Sunday 22 November 2009


To follow on from the last posting (Flight), the other side of the coin so to speak is the stillness of home, for we are already home in the spiritual sense, the journey to see that, to return to where we never left. Recent postings on Jade Mountains and got me to thinking about the stream of consciousness, the river of life. Becoming the watcher, the stillness, acceptance.

The river analogy can be pushed a bit too before the imagery fails. As we age, like the river, we broaden, run slower but deeper. The journey down river valley from mountain spring to the ocean does seem to resonate with the shape of the ageing our lives to some extent. But the watcher stands still in the stream and the stream ages.

The day to day practice of the journey home is I suppose, at the intersection of watching and action. The Jade Mountains post pointing for me to deep connection with what one is doing. Deeper than one might be aware. Knowing at some level that this or that action is an honest expression of life. The thinkingBuddha post looking at the nature of perception is a reminder that we don't in ordinary awareness get the whole picture. We move the center and size of our awareness and in the process co-create ourselves and the world. I am thinking here of my experience in zazen. And then there is time to consider and the gap between where my awareness seems to have just been and now, except now always seems to have just moved on ahead of me... This gap (and) the interplay between watcher and watched, stillness and movement.

(Is it that) somehow as we 'watch' the lark's flight and feel a gap (the gap?) we become aware of both this side of the the gap and the other, for we are already home and yet not(?) Who watches and from where?

Monday 16 November 2009


When I hear the lark ascend in Vaughan Williams' The lark ascending I feel a just out of reachness, like the lark can't quite get there, like we (or should I say I) can't quite get there. Where ever there is. Does the music point to that feeling of wanting to go home in the spiritual sense? Am I just confusing this with some existential feeling of being out of kilter? And in (an adult's) crying this same out of reachness, like the tears try to fill the gap. Such crying could be over any loss and not closely connected to spiritual home sickness. Yet there is I suppose, at the root of all pain, a gap between where we feel we want or need to be and where the universe appears to have placed us. A gap born of our illusion of separation, our incarnation in the physical body in the material world.

(Setting aside yet sparing a thought for those with terrible physical pain and) thinking of emotional suffering, the pain of impeded heart connection can't be so far from our spiritual home sickness. The desire for unity flavored by attachments, form desiring form. This way of taking an interest, that way of reacting to events etc. mirrored and projected in each individual's awareness as personalities interact. And in the mirroring and projections how much authenticity? How close the less adapted selves? And how close the path of adaption of each self? What is the complexity of our interactions with each other? How big the gap in each exchange? What is it that draws one into various forms of intimacy with others? How many aspects of ourselves can we connect with in an other? Such complex chemistry, each preference moving us from unconditional love to romantic attachment. Our aloneness reaching out.

Intellectualising it doesn't take away the feelings. Fly high dear lark.

Saturday 14 November 2009


What is the relationship of the evolutionary biology model of life on earth to the perennial philosophy? No, I am not thinking about why Richard Dawkins is wrong, or rather why is it that he misses the key to the whole does God exist argument? Namely that there is no Archimedian point, it's all interdependently originated and he doesn't seem to get the point about the definition of God. If you want to debate first define your terms and all that. But let's not get into that argument, Voltaire is attributed with 'God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere.

Evolutionary biology sits comfortably for me within interdependent origination. There seems to be in the void a desire to be, to give rise to as many forms as we see, and there are lots of forms, lots of creatures and lots of things. None of this sheds much light on the ground of being, the nature of the void, the unanswerable question 'is it divine?' It's not just about the mechanism by which forms emerge, the nature of the observer needs to be considered.

Anyway, the question I was thinking about is the relationship between desire and enlightenment. Now, as I understand it, most spiritual traditions can be summed up by the perennial philosophy, which broadly speaking, tels us to practice non-attachment, see the emptiness in things and aim to stop being dragged around by desire. With this approach acceptance or compassion arises and we become an expression of the source, charitable love. Bingo, enlightenment. Would that it were that quick and simple! But, to return to the question, 'what's this got to do with desire, and what's that got to do with evolutionary biology?'. Well, desire to survive is the basis of evolution and evolution seems to have given the universe human beings, the most aware creatures in the material world. You see that I acknowledge the problem of not having an Archimedian point; reality is bounded by our experience, so we can't limit it just to the material, so we can't rule out more aware beings. Indeed, from a spiritual point of view we assume that there are more aware beings, but at this point we move out of the limits of the material world away from form is form. Yet it is in a human life that we have the chance to practice a spiritual tradition, to seek enlightenment. And so the void in generating forms, in generating evolution (including desire) gives rise to the opportunity for enlightenment. Desire being an interesting link, an interesting way to look at things, a frame (which I think of as a device by which we might understand the way the void forms by folding forms over each other), is the driving force behind all this including the opportunity for enlightenment. Unless I've got something very wrong in my thinking. But then I recall, from my post in January on Vitality;

...that in his book 'Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist' DT Suzuki writes about trisna (tanha) as:...more deeply rooted than we imagine, as it grows straight out of the root of karuna.

So I've had this sort of thought running around in my head for a bit it would seem. And why is it of interest? Because, I think it points to a very important question; what is it that one should desire? What is a life well lived?

Wednesday 11 November 2009


I've just watched BBC4's Timeshift program about the Clyde shipyards and the men who worked there. The series has been looking at the great ocean liners and hence this program about the yards. It's the same old British industrial story; men like lions working in appalling conditions demonstrating some of the very best of human nature who were let down by under investment. There were some very moving moments in the program when determination, inventiveness, skill, comradeship and fantastic good will shone through. Most British heavy industry has gone now. No one wants to see the appalling conditions revisited but that we have not reshaped those industries into their modern equivalents forming part of a 'sustainable' future is I think, regrettable.

A thought for those who suffered in those yards.

Friday 6 November 2009


I was going to do the introductory retreat at Throsell this weekend but have just cancelled. This is the second time I have planned to go and then cancelled. This time it became apparent that I am at present in no fit state to do it. I am distraught. And that is no way to be at the start of a potentially fairly demanding retreat.

Why am I distraught? Can't say in public. But the big life shaping items are under pressure. And practice, is it the foundation of my copping? To be honest, it helps but it is clear to me that I am nowhere near the type for whom non-attachment and a relaxed view of life comes naturally. But then who is? To care, to really care in the widest way available to me, to try to be true to what I sense is before me, is f***ing hard. And I, like others have many attachments and when time takes things away I need to grieve. And that is painful, too painful I feel to cope with in retreat, I'd rather be in my usual surroundings with my usual degree of notional control; home. May the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas help me see the right way home, because the way has been unclear for me, let alone The Way. And I point here to one more loss; I will always let mySelf down because I am (only?) a self and that self can't at this point commit wholeheartedly to Self. At times I can't even separate out the conflicting demands of my head, heart and intuition. And I feel that I've not done well in recent years finding joy and purpose and integrating those in a playful way with practice.

But not all is maelstrom, no, a stillness is present.

Friday 30 October 2009

Everything and Love

I want to write about everything. So I have labeled this post Form. And that is where we start; form. In outline, all forms are interconnected and thus not knowable in themselves. For example, the mug to my left on the desk came from clay and is glazed. There will be a hole where the clay was removed, ditto the glaze. The energy used in transporting and making the mug will have resulted in CO2 in the atmosphere etc. etc. And I can only see it with my vision and only then in the way that I look at it. I don't get all the details,even if I look closely at it. And the colours are not the same to me as for a bee. And I can't help but see a mug, which a bee would not see. The world that a bee or a dog knows is not the world that I know. And we as humans don't have the last word on what is, we just think we do, that's just a habit we have. Every thing is connected including our perception of things. What is, is the unknowable void, empty and folded upon its self to give rise to form and in so doing making manifest its desire to be, to know. And some unknowable aspect of this desires an amazing variety of forms. Just think how many types of grass there are, let alone all the other forms, chairs, trees etc. And then the sentient beings including human beings with our amazing minds. And at mind we see that all we have is our own experience. Sit in meditation and see thoughts and sensations come and go. But who sits? Where to focus attention, inside or out, is there a difference, who is focusing, what is the will? Thinking, thinking, just sit with open awareness. Deep inside, in the body-mind a sense of stillness embracing all, refusing not a thing. Only our thoughts judge. Being accepts and is, all there is in any moment.

Each contains the other, yin and yang, no dark without light. And everywhere is change, yang flowing to yin which gives birth to yang. Without change there would be no life. The breath would not enter and leave, the oxygen would not flow in the blood. And in meditation this is seen, the constant flow of change. And my awareness always just behind time, just behind where the universe is. I hear a noise, I think bird and picture it in the tree outside. But I have not seen this it is just imagination. And beside, the sound is gone, when did I hear it? We live in the gap between what was and what is, always just behind. The void's desire to be, present in us, we attach to things we like. Yet change tends to take them away and so we suffer. Yet deep within us the stillness remains unmoved, accepting all. At this point I could move to talk of compassion and reducing the ego's demands so as to be more free, to accept more of life and be more there for others. But it is other that I want to explore.

Our situation is a paradox; we are all connected yet separate. We can't survive alone, the mug does not exist without the hole in the ground and the CO2 and is not a mug without human culture to so define it. I am defined by my relation to other. Yet I must face my own death. The void seeks to know by coming into form and in human being we derive the existence of the void. It is my understanding though not experience that some apprehend this not just by intellect but by direct perception. But it is my direct perception that I seek unity. In love in all its complex forms I seek to be one with other. And it seems that the desire to generate more form and more unity is without end. Is this the point about which spirituality turns; samsara, nirvana, desire, acceptance, form, void, meaning and purpose, meaningless and purposeless? I am no Bodhidharma. I need meaning. And I need to be needed. And to return to love, I have with my partner of almost eighteen years achieved a sort of selfless unity. Each of us through a process of sharing, giving and taking, has woven the three cloths I have spoken of elsewhere; his (self), my (self) our relationship, all three one as all is one. Family, friends, our society, animals, desks, chairs, the air, all one. Yet perceived as joined and separate at different levels. It is the closeness, the proximity, the intimacy of the connection that we crave. And having reached high levels of intimacy with an other human being, desire for more connection arises, and so in form the desire for unity returns. At the 'lower' levels, in erotic desire the mind seeks the new, the constant chase for excitement. This not what I am writing about. There is the desire for unity in it, but the emphasis is more in the expansion of form, the desire to know more forms. But in love as apposed to lust, we see the desire for unity, to return to the void. In lust the head long chase for the abandonment to be found in the little death of orgasm. In making love the partial death of self as each flows into the other, heart to heart and only then the temporary slip in to the almost selfless abandonment of orgasm. Yet we do not die, we pull back from our connection with our lover and into our own experience of orgasm, however much we desire to unite. Then gradually we return to the world.

Is it possible for me to live in the world with an aliveness of deep connection as my experience? My aloneness healed, forms all changing but the stillness of the void present, is this the place to be? Part of me can remain at the eye of the storm, watching. But I am not playful, I am attached to things, I feel the gap between the way the universe appears and what I want. The void generates both of course. And where am I? I am not alive with deep connection, not as I write. This is generally taken to be the spiritual work, to be present and playful without attachment. How far down that road can I make it? I am not a monastic, meaning and complex love are deep in my needs, not desires, needs, it seems. And the desire expressed above for more unity is moving me to a polyamory I can see is just not practical. Here we see the juxtaposition of form's desire for unity and the incompatibility of forms. Or is there a way? And would it be in harmony with The Way? This question, which has arisen out of the unfolding of things, together with my desperate need to feel useful, and the two are not unrelated, is burning in me. I've written about vitality and meaning before and included a reference to Pan. (Please follow this link now, before returning.) But not just Pan, the post also looks at the relation of desire and compassion. I feel now that there is some deep wisdom in the need for us to be united in form; the void knowing its own oneness. Is there more than one type of spiritual experience pointed at here? Or am I just too attached, and if so to what? Love and attachment; loving someone and wanting something from the situation. How can we love and how can we be with?

The 'Red thread' koan it would seem, has come right up in front of me. Here I am having tried to go for Gold, to be like Bodhidharma, without attachment to meaning, responding to life as it comes, holding and letting go of the boughs, and this comes up; I need to be needed and I need closeness with more than one man. It might well only be my mind's projection, issues of co-dependency and the different forms of love are there but the feelings remain. We relate to each other through our feelings, by being in the body part of the body-mind. Thoughts and feelings are not separate and it is possible to get great feelings of joy by talking about ideas, but about is not the thing its self. Again I am not just talking about the erotic, in fact that's the least of it.

In passing I would add that DC and I saw 'The imaginarium of doctor parnassus' at the cinema last night. I enjoyed it. To me it plays with ideas from the mind only school of reality and the battle of good and evil. Interestingly, or so I thought, the devil doesn't want to win, he just wants to keep playing the game, what would be the point in wining, there would be no more game, no more fun for him. Where does this sit with form and void? This is complex, why must the devil take his fun at the expense of others? Is this because he represents a separatist, selfish view of being? Where is the desire for unity, the pain of separation? I've not thought too much about this. It's so unrewarding to view the world from the view point of a tormentor. Anyway, good triumphs and love flowers. It's a good movie, I was touched by parts of it. On leaving the cinema and walking to the car park DC pointed out that 'the great thing about art is how it shows up the madeness of things'. After the fantasy world of the movie, the almost pantomime of punters queuing to get into night clubs in town seemed very made.

And I think back to last week at Cluny, the joy of connection with caring and interesting people. The journey people make from head to heart as they say in the Findhorn community. And I recall the way the community seems in part to be about 'probing the field' again to use the language of the community. It can be challenging, there are some ideas that I find interesting but I also hear my alarm bell ringing; take care, not all views of reality lead to enlightenment. And it all comes back to this; rub along together, take care of your self AND each other. The pots need washed, the people fed and sheltered, in all of this love each other. And they have many ways to help people start to take off the armour of their adapted self, to move towards authenticity, self and other acceptance. The Findhorn community is complex. It is a shame that I was not in a more relaxed space, when at Cluny, my body-mind too full of emotions. I did however, find periods of joy living in community. But it is in the world that I need to find a place to be. I have always been a bit of misfit and probably never quite sure where to place my power. In the past, career wise there was a sort of path though, but now I just don't know.

I have no idea what I am going to do. But in me is a sense of still strength, my power. And I do my best to be good.

Sunday 25 October 2009


I plan to return home tomorrow. There are questions that seem only to have their answer there now. Being here seems to have raised the possibility of the their answer there.

I'll miss the sharing here and the sometimes strange and the sometimes wonderful people here but what I need to do now is reconnect with the truth of what is at the place I call home. The time here (which has been intense) seems to have clarified the questions. Which is good.

It's not time to be clever about 'home'. Spiritually it is about being 'at home' wherever. But few of us are wandering mendicants and so the question of rooted-ness comes up. And when they come under question it is very hard.

Thursday 22 October 2009

Still Hot

I am still in this hot place. It's scary. And it's be about more than just the next couple of weeks here. Wanting to escape is be about the thoughts I have brought with me not what is here. This feeling of isolation is terrible. I know it's not rooted in anything other than my thoughts, but I still feel it.

And part of me watches and knows the deep, deep connection and love, not just deep in the philosophical sense, but the direct practical every day; those who are thinking of me and love me.

I need to get out in the world and do something of use. Something I can believe in and that will help with fruitful connection.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Moving meditation

After breakfast and zazen I went to the ballroom and spent just under an hour dancing to T-Rex as a moving meditation; feeling into the emotions, the tight spaces, the needs and pains, the softening and the opening. I must remember to do this more as I find it a very grounding, very rounding, emptying and warming activity.

Lying on the floor, still wriggling a bit to the music, fingers dancing, arms and legs slowing, torso softening to the floor, head wondering if this is the end of the energy for now or would an other wave come through, and then remembering a conversation about the sort of things that Findhorn et al has one doing; 'what would people make of it?' What looks strange on the outside, makes more sense on the inside.

Tuesday 20 October 2009


I was just signing into my e-mail account and had a spontaneous bark; ruff. Most cathartic, not done that for quite some time. Is it my inner dog? It was prompted by some of the more 'challenging' fliers on the notice board. Or so it seemed.

Monday 19 October 2009

Hot place

I am in a 'hot place'. I need to remember Manjusri Bodhisattva. I can't post the details; it's not fair to those involved, but it isn't an easy time for me now. I knew this would come. But it is finding the way that is hard, let alone the Way. Pain and fear with the associated grasping. There are limits to any non-attachment I might practice; big limits. And even with acceptance, non-attachment, how to then have meaning? For some such a position might open one up to the raw vitality of life and be in tune with the Way. (Riding the Ox home playing ones flute?) But how to avoid slipping into boredom and thus depression? I guess that risk comes when one still has attachments to comfort. Comforts which keep one from living. And I am not that advanced on the path; I have many needs, many attachments too strong it seems for me to let go. And sifting it all out, working out what might be the best action, the action which looks to give the maximum happiness for the maximum number of people, or the minimum suffering, that is the challenge. Truly opening to life with a compassionate heart is one heck of a challenge.

And here in Cluny, helping out and connecting and people seeing each other and their suffering and hugging, the open hearts, the listening as well as the being alone, it all comes up.

Saturday 17 October 2009


I've got some resistance to staying on for an other three weeks. I was fine this morning and paid the invoice for the LCG. I've done the attunement, got my shift rota, etc. So what changed and when? Well, I went out with a friend 'into the world' for a walk. It's so fresh. It's a beautiful day today. And the contrast with the slightly claustrophobic nature of community was quite stark. This is a good thing; I like being out and about. Nothing like a bit of contrast to help stop things turning invisible. Returning here I had quite a longing just to go home. It will settle. I've put my laundry in (I am not being metaphorical) and there will be new people around starting programmes today. It's such a mix here. One can feel exhausted by the contact and isolated at the same time. Which was one of my fears traveling up on the train last week, which seems a like month ago!

Wednesday 14 October 2009


I am starting to feel a growing sense of opportunity and with that a gratitude for it. How good to be able to take time out and take stock. And the warmth and connection here in the Findhorn Community is such a blessing. It is a complex environment and that yields the rich opportunity for connections and thus discovery.

I remain open about what to 'do' after LCG and no doubt I'll be ready for the freshness of my own space by the end of four weeks here, but I feel it needs to be something creative.

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Thought for the day

I was half heartedly thinking whilst bathing after exercise this morning, which is to say that my monkey mind was babbling away to its self as it does, that one can hear lots of ideas around the Findhorn Community about the way reality is. And, musing on some of my own fantasies I had a brief thought about how the interconnectivity of everything might make for all sorts of possibilities. Yes I thought, but you can't make the toaster work by trying to connect it to the hot tap. Which is a nice way of reminding one's self about relative and absolute truths.

Sex is an interesting area when it comes to connection and creativity. We are all connected but not in all ways. The universe's desire to be, to create, seems to be evident in the drive to connect sexually with, in the case of heterosexuality or birds, bees and flowers, the concomitant procreative function.

So it's the different types and levels of connection that, as form folds over form, creates reality as we experience it in everyday life, i.e. at the relative level. Relative; from Wiktionary:

'Preposition: relative. Relating to, being relevant towards. Adjective - : not absolute ; connected to or depending on something else ...'

After that sojourn in a warm bath I headed off to the ball room and did some Tai Chi. Too fast, too fast, not enough meditation in it. So I went and got my MP3 player and used a bit of new age type music to help me slow it down a bit, which was helpful. Then a bit of free form dancing before tea. Which all goes to show inter dependant arising.

Monday 12 October 2009


I arrived at Cluny on Friday and took the bus to Park where I stayed B&B for the night. Saturday I returned ready for Exploring Community Life (ECL). Only three sleeps (as kids say) and it has had time to feel like a month. So many connections and so many emotions to process. But today thankfully, I 'landed' sufficiently to be in a reasonably comfortable space for my Living in Community as a Guest (LCG) attunement which took place at 2-30PM today. I attuned to three weeks of LCG post ECL and to Cluny kitchen work dept. (which is where my ELC work dept. attunement placed me). So, feeling lighter for having the 'will I stay or will I go' over with I returned to the kitchen to continue my shift.

Separating 60 eggs, the whites into a bowl large enough to have a deep ring when struck with an egg, the gong perfect to help recall mindfulness. So, 'Instructions for Zen Cook'?

I'd like to past a link to an other site so those not familiar with Dogens work would understand the reference to 'Instructions for Zen Cook' but this iMac thing is too clunky, so google it if you want.

Monday 5 October 2009

Getting it right / wrong

It seems that my writing is too telegraphic, too condensed. I am not completely unaware of this and on Sunday at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey, in conversation it came up. But in a short while it was understood why; I try to look at things on lots of different levels and remain mindful that to even attempt to say anything on some of the stuff I am writing about is to risk getting it all wrong. Here we go... getting it all wrong. At the deep level there is the whole non-dual, not right not wrong; important, but none the less a smack in the face is painful. At the more relative levels... oh, well look, you either know all that stuff or not. This sort of links up with an other conversation about everyone doing their best. That works at different levels too. No, I am not being clear here am I? Forget it. I am probably being far too presumptuous anyway.

Tuesday now. Spent the morning tidying the wood shed and raking leaves at Harnham Buddist Monastery before having lunch there. Helped with the post lunch tidying then used their hall to sit in meditation. The monks are happy for the public to use the hall to meditate. I'd checked that they were ok about forms of meditation related to traditions 'other' than theirs.

Just started reading Tao Te Ching / Lao Tzu; translated by David Hinton. The introduction to this is, I think, marvelous. Wu-wei: Nothing's own doing, etc. (from the author's list of key terms). To live in harmony with the depth of this philosophy, well, for me it's an aspiration (when I remember) that could be one way to put it. To write of the day to day reality as it seems to me of the unfolding, well I am not being clear am I?

In each moment, choices, nominally right, nominally wrong.

Saturday 3 October 2009


DC and I had a lovely simple dinner last night with our friends Ann and John at their home.

Ann had bought herself a nifty new notebook computer for work and a lovely new paper notebook as a present for me to take to Findhorn. The gift came with a card:

I wonder if Ann was aware of the symbolism of the Robin; new beginnings, growth, joy, warmth etc. What a lovely start to this period of exploration.
The conversation at table was as ever, fast, wide ranging and generally dynamic. Such fun.
Thank you Ann and John and to DC for an other joy filled evening.

Thursday 1 October 2009


Just returned from the Star and Shadow cinema where we saw 'Ramchand Pakastani', well worth going to see. It tells the tale of a father and son held prisoner in India for crossing (inadvertently) the border from Pakistan. As ever, the charm of the Star is the fact of it being amateur. It took a bit of getting the film running due to technical problems with the aspect ratio, subtitles and sound. They were all set to give us our money back as the subtitles were not present and so they thought they had the wrong print. But I'd seen some subtitles at the beginning and something told me this was a technical problem. 'Are you sure it's not something to do with how it's set up' I ventured. The projectionist was consulted and sure enough, with a bit of time he should be able to get it to work. So, after a false start and a bit of a delay we were able to see and hear all. Well done the projectionist and such fun to be closer to the technology behind the experience. It came to me that since so much technology just invisibly does its stuff now, we take it for granted and end up with a strange disconnect from the world. Anyway, I was prompted to check up on the marvel that is Wikipedia just how the sound recording is done. I'd an idea it was by light modulation on the edge of the film and yes this is how it is done. In that link following way so fostered by the web I came across the Optigan. What? And so I did a quick google search and found this on Youtube. What a wacky world.

A much better night than last night when I felt really rather down and disconnected, wondering where I am going. I've sort of thrown quite bit bit of my life up in the air recently in an attempt to be authentic, to strive for what might be called individuation, to take spirit seriously, to try to see just what the rice is that's there to be eaten; acceptance. And at times it is hard. Which sort of reminds me of this which points to purpose and connection as well as other things. And last night I was far from accepting. I'll not go into details but I was lost in the middle of too much emotion. And it is all too easy to compound the situation by developing attachments to being in a state of wisdom and equanimity at all times. That old chestnut about keeping on trying and not letting ones failings get one down. But enough, that was then, this is now.

Through the course of the evening I returned again to that thought of just how ingenious human beings are and yet also so mixed up. Purpose, connection, creativity, belonging, love, how come we keep falling into chaos and confusion? I recall 'The Way is wide and straight yet men love the byways'. Which I sort of feel brings us back in a rambling way to this. It's past bed time now so that will have to do for now, but I guess that the quote I left on Jade Mountains sums it up;

'I think all this points to some very deep spiritual 'truths'. Practice for me is about acceptance, acceptance of what is and thus compassion. And for this I need equanimity. Meditation helps develop that spacious mind which is essential in all this. But the challenge has come for me with meaning and purpose. Just to see what it is that is calling to be accepted, ie what is it that is calling to be done and thus to have purpose in the exquisite gift of life, that seems to require much wisdom, even if what has to be done is just to be.'

Wednesday 30 September 2009


The real challenge I think is getting a balance between things. Yin and Yang in harmony in ones life. And upon reflection the most salient for me recently is the balance between acceptance and goal. Of course given sufficient wisdom one would see and accept what needs to be done and the goals would form and dissolve as part of the flow. But I've not seen them clearly for quite some time now and the desire to be involved in something which both takes and thus gives me energy is pressing. Hence the plan to spend time exploring community life.

The universe desires to be, to express multiple forms all shifting. The ultimate of its being, beyond knowing, the formless, might be deduced by reason and even glimpsed by the very few but 'life as we know it Jim' is in the interaction of forms. Chop wood carry water.

I wonder just what it is I should be doing. Ouch, there's the S word; should.

Monday 28 September 2009


Well, first day of 'not working' today. And it feels quite good. Gym, meditation, bread making, off to take part in a rehearsal for an installation this evening and I realise that I do indeed need to 'come down' before going up to Scotland. As my dad said at the weekend, 'Just the start of an other phase'.

I've still got a head full of stuff, but that's to be expected.

Started writing this Monday, and now it's Tuesday. Time passes.

Sunday 27 September 2009

Last day and all that

Friday 25th was my last day at Carillion. I'd enjoyed a fun and love filled leaving meal out on Thursday night and Friday brought a card and generous leaving gift. No bridges were burnt with 'the management' and the time was a strange mix of emotions. What shone out for me was the warmth, the Buddha nature of people radiating through the layers of karmic dust. All viewed of course through my own karmic dust. And if the corporate culture helped foster rather than stifle that then I might have stayed. But the shinning light so evident during my leaving night out and goodbye is being far too heavily obscured by the that culture.

Then in the afternoon a call from my parents needing help. I in turn called upon others and by close of play on Saturday all was just about sorted. And the asking and receiving, the giving and taking as ever brought opportunity for purpose and connection. Yet whilst I felt more warmth in my dealings with those others I asked for help, with my parents I am afraid that I let slip the opportunity for warmth and just felt myself slip into anger at being drawn into a parenting roll just when I needed to withdraw and reflect on the day. And so my inner critic had a great time throwing his weight around in every direction. Complex stuff, too many emotions to deal with at a time. And of course the main 'back ground noise' to daily life at the moment is full of emotion. Having been feeling stuck, motionless, I've loosened the ties and now know not what motion and where it will lead. Hence mixed emotion. You can imagine the raw feeling by bed time. Called my parents this morning; all seems well. But they are tired, they have had too much on their plates over the years. I try to do my best for them.

I feel more relaxed today. I will soon be starting Exploring Community Life (ECL) and after that probably Living in Community as a Guest (LCG). So that's a plan for the next couple of months, after that I don't have a plan.

Wednesday 16 September 2009


My mother was telling DC and I about a little boy who had just started school. He's not happy and keeps asking why he is being punished by being sent to school. 'I am too small to go, why are you punishing me?' He is, apparently very upset. My mother had consoled the boy's mother saying that she knew all about it, I'd been just the same, it took the fist two years until I stopped being extremely distressed. I felt for him. And of course it's likely that he has a rocky road ahead. He would probably be better off in a Steiner school, but that's no doubt off radar for his family... I hope he finds a way to be himself and be happy and before too long, may the road be kind.

Talking this morning with DC he recalled the conversation with my mother. He said that upon hearing of my distress in those early school years he realised that most of the time we've been together I've been trying to find a way to individuation in the Jungian sense. A rocky road it has been in that respect at times. And where is the road now taking me? Any way, a thought for the boy, may he find his way soon, may he grow to express the universe's desire to be in the fullest way he can and in adulthood may his inner child be happy.

Thursday 3 September 2009


Well, I could write all sorts of stuff about how I feel and the various interactions with people at work and where do I think I am going and blah blah but anyway...

We went to the Star and Shadow cinema this evening and saw Sita Sings the Blues. Follow the link / arrange to see it; it's good.

Tuesday 1 September 2009


I resigned from my job today. I just felt that I was wasting my time and that it was not doing me any good. So, the plan is to spend some time living in community as a guest at Findhorn. Time will tell if this is wise. I am looking forward to spending time in a work department being of service. It should be enjoyable and good for me. I want to take the time to consider my life. It's both scary and exciting and yes, I feel a mixture of relief and 'what the f*** have I done'. But to be honest the choice was starting to make its self; I just could not go on being so unproductive.

And in the long run, what then? Well, I have a rough plan to be back in employment in the construction industry is about six months. But we'll just have to see. Just for today, I'll stick with this day.

I have four weeks notice to work.

Saturday 29 August 2009


Last week was the first back at work after our week on Iona staying at the Findhorn retreat house Traigh Bhan. Both DC and I had a peaceful and very enjoyable time. The house is lovely and in a wonderful location and it was good to share it with the other guests and of course to spend time with Niels who I know from his Gay Man's Inner Journey workshop which I did in May. We also visited Tina a friend I made back in February on the essentials of psychosynthesis course. Tina has just had a baby and lives on Erraid. DC and I very much enjoyed our visit and it was good to catch up with Tina and meet her husband Paul, his son and the new baby.

I did a few odd jobs at Traigh Bhan; a bit of plumbing to a water filter, new WC seats (which were bought by Niels during GMIJ) and replacement of a door bolt. It was also fun to clear the path of sheep poo so we would tread in less on our return in the dark from the céilidh on the Monday night. The house is located in a farmer's field and not served by a paved surface once the road from the village to the farm is left. Visitor's luggage is transported on a hand cart which everyone helps pull. There are two carts at the house but one was broken as it had lost the retaining screw and nylon bush to one of the wheels. Unable to resist such a challenge I inspected the wheels; a replacement bush was required to replace the lost one. I brought the one from the other side home and checked on the net. No luck; all the wrong size. Found that the place I was thinking of which sold such things has closed. I went to see my dad; did he still know anyone that could make one and a thrust washer, I asked and gave him the bush I'd brought back. 'Leave it with me'. That was Monday, Tuesday morning he called. 'The lad's just dropped the bush in.' It and the washer were spot on and I posted all the parts back to Neils. Took a call on Thursday from Niels to say that he received them on Iona on Wednesday! The whole thing seems such a delight.

I went out with dad on Wednessday night and met a lad that has had a tough time and been helped by dad and his mates in the pub. Again, so good that caring help has been given just because that is what is required. Buddha nature.

DC enjoyed Iona and I could see the 'Findhorn thing' working on him...

So, having sat with the way things have been and the need to move out of the rut I seem to have fallen into I have decided that I really do want to spend a bit more time at Findhorn in a work department doing something and not just sleep walking through life at my current job. So, I plan to delay starting the foundation year in psychosynthesis and arranging a little sabbatical. It's both scary and exciting but I feel I must do something...

Wednesday 12 August 2009


The truth is that I've not been blogging much of late because my head has been a bit mashed. Yes it is good to put it down in words to clear the thoughts and to have it out in the public realm is a good check on feelings of authenticity. But a lot of the stuff isn't just mine to write about, others form a part (no this is not the time to be clever about oneness) and they must be respected. So have I kept a private journal of this stuff? I did a bit, but in truth I've been lost to the stuff. And separating inner voice that intuitive knowing from the twists and turns of the ego has been oh so hard. It continues but less so; and this too will pass... So, the koan reminds me that it can't be 'solved' by logic.

Last week we went to see the outdoor theatre event Beautiful journey. I really enjoyed it, very creative, very atmospheric. Set in a disused industrial area by the river, a magical world was brought to life as the audience followed the players around the yards and buildings and even to the river. I found my inner critic having a go at me for not being as creative as those involved in the production when I was in my youth. Of course it completely forgets that my creativity was in fact sizable even by its own standards should it remember just what I was doing. All stories, all stories. Just what play am I watching? DC and Paul A' did a bit of a critique afterwards walking back to the car, Bethany and I looked side ways at each other... Yeh, just what play did we each see? But we all had a good time and went back to Paul A's for tea and a bit of nosh. A late night for a 'school night'.

Tonight Bethany came to dinner with DC and I. Playing various music, some of it described as a bit 'New Age', prompted me to consider what the 'shlockiness' that DC describes is all about. I suppose that the question is about the journey from head to heart, the return to more childlike being. The danger, the shlockiness, could be the risk of turning not to playful child but indulged infant; ego not peeled away but pampered. But is it such a terrible thing to take the risk?

Sunday 2 August 2009


Just returned from the cinema having seen Coco before Channel.
Thoroughly enjoyed this. Clearly she was ahead of her time and with a sense of purpose, a need for meaning as well as security. And we see our belief in creativity in the joy we have in watching the movie, with its creativity.

Anyway, time for bed.


One way or an other I keep coming back to what I was thinking when I posted in January on Vitality.

The title of this blog refers to Mumonkan Case 5 Kyogen's "Man up in a Tree"

Kyogen Osho said, "It is like a man up in a tree hanging from a branch with his mouth; his hands grasp no bough, his feet rest on no limb. Someone appears under the tree and asks him. 'What is the meaning of Bodhidharma's coming from the West?' If he does not answer, he fails to respond to the question. If he does answer, he will lose his life. What would you do in such a situation?"

In his commentary Katsuki Sekida explains that there is no meaning but that this means emptiness, not nihilistic emptiness, but the ancient Way. He goes on to explain 'Bodhidharma came from the West, but he came without being attached to a single purpose'.

This koan spoke to me at a time when I just could not see how to proceed. Recently for different reasons I've struggled to see how to proceed. However, what the situation seems to be showing me is my need for meaning. And I think there is some deep wisdom in all this which his beyond my ken. The answer seems to be in the falling. Acceptance whilst trying to do the 'right' thing. Sounds simple. Why then is it so difficult?

Wednesday 22 July 2009


The professional body of which I am a member regularly sends me journals/magazines and whilst the content is a mixed bag there are some interesting snippets. A short item featuring an exhibit at the Imperial War Museum Manchester is one such. Prisoners of war built a radio from scrounged bits and pieces using great ingenuity to construct the electrical components from card tubes, tins, toothbrushes, ashtrays and the like together with a film projector. The radio was hidden under the floorboards, powered from the lighting circuit, operated using knitting needles and remained undiscovered. Upon liberation the set was recovered still working and had kept the men well informed about the state of the war. I've checked the War Museum website and can't find any information to which I could make a link, but you will get a picture of the ingenuity of the prisoners from the above and will no doubt be aware of their suffering.

There it is, that great human inventiveness! Like I said in Monday's post, it's what we are, we went to the moon. Such a shame that we don't always use our talents in the pursuit of noble aims. We don't always create the best forms but there is a beauty in the creativeness described above that made me want to share it with you.

Monday 20 July 2009

Going to the Moon

There has been much in the news about the 40th anniversary of man's visits to the moon.
Surely no one can fail to see the significance of mankind travelling to and returning from an other celestial body. We are the only sentient life form to have done this (so far as we know). The fact that it was done apparently with less computing power than I have here now to write this and probably less than most mobile phones have now, makes it all the more amazing. Our kind got off the planet, travelled to the moon, strolled around a bit and came home! And this says something about what we are. We are the kind that expands its capability, its know how, its experience. Trisna (see tanha from post on Vitality) certainly seems to lead us to some amazing creations. And I think that points to some interesting aspects of what it means to be human. Much of the desire to get to the moon was connected with the cold war but even behind that, as a species we had the desire to go there, it's the sort of thing we do, like exploring the earth we want to explore the heavens. Interestingly we want to explore the 'heavens' of both the material and mystical worlds. The former about leaving 'home' and the later returning. But I digress, or do I? What I am driving at is that vexed issue so often pondered; how do we cope with being such driven creatures and how is one to evaluate the outcome of our efforts?

I've heard myself say more than once, 'we went to the moon; it's in our nature' when talking about desire in the context of spirituality. Even though poking into things and taking control with our (Western?) scientific mind seems to reduce the poetic view I wonder if we shift our view point a little to look at the wonder of our endeavours if the poetic does not reappear. The moon, which is often used in spiritual imagery, might not appear quite so charismatic, so yin, so poetic for knowing that it came to be at least in part within our reach, yet in considering when in better frame of mind than Hamlet 'what a piece of work man is', do we not once more return to the poetic? We are amazing, complex, contradictory creatures. I take exception to the view expressed in Western religious frameworks which places man above the animals and created in God's image etc. (that whole set of values is, I think tied up in the above quote) but that we are able to be so creative and also able to contemplate getting beyond our own ego is surely a measure of what we are. We have this ego and we need it to get across the road and even go to the moon and it keeps us from our spiritual 'home' yet we can somehow still see 'home' and realise the challenge of living in the realm of form, the material world as physically incarnated beings whilst contemplating our (true) nature. We see the moon in more ways than one.

Sunday 12 July 2009


I've not been posting much of late. If I could get it clear enough to post it would probably be a good way to being resolved, that's how it has been. A period of transition is underway but I've no idea what the outcome will be.

Anyway, a colleague and I taught a class of eleven year olds last Friday morning. It was industry day and so we headed off to one of the schools we are rebuilding with some demonstration eco / green energy kits; a wind generator, a photovoltaic panel and a solar water heater. I had no idea I was to do this until just before we left the office to go to the school. I busked it quite well, had them lining up to be electrons, jumped off a bench to illustrate potential and kinetic energy, got them playing with the kits etc. My colleague runs scouts so he was well used with rousing them. Hopefully they got something from it, I know I did. Talking about it with friends over the weekend I saw just how much it seemed many of the kids may have got from it. And it is sad to think of the shut down kids, jaded at such a young age, let's hope they meet good teachers who can overcome the odds and help them see their own worth.

We all need to use our creative energies in the pursuit of valuable forms. Form in emptiness.

Wednesday 1 July 2009

Funny things

When I was little I used to think that the trees made the wind and imagined that there was a room somewhere where they switched all the street lights on and off from.

Saturday 27 June 2009


How many of us recognise the tribes of which we are a part? Or for that matter apart? Gay men are often aware of tribe initially from the not fitting point of view; those childhood years. Then coming out we associate with the tribe of gay men in all its shapes, sizes and styles. The need to belong is strong in humans; we want to be rid of our aloneness however illusory it may be. We are all connected but it isn't always clear to us, or available in the ways we seem to want or need. The more life is to be lived, expanded, the more connection is needed and the possible range of tribes extend. This all points to formation of self and thus to Self. Even the monastic in searching for Self, paring away at self, is identified with a tribe and thus part of an identity formation. It must take some paring that one way. Our lives are made by the tribes to which we relate either as insiders or outsiders; the co-creation of selves.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Happy Birthday

It's my birthday today. I am forty two. It seems like yesterday it was new year and now it's June! And how did it get to be my forty second birthday so soon?! And with the feeling of the sands of time running ever faster through the glass and the realisation of the years spent asleep or feeling that 'this is not what I should be making of my life' and visions of what might be, comes anxiety. All thoughts of course and a counter call might be to seek out and empty the attachments causing the anxiety and to become fully present in the moment. A period of transition is underway that is all. But there is still the call to act, to live. The basic desire. All life a process of transition.

And having dismantled certain defenses (or so it seems) which have become redundant, become more a prison than a fortress, having let back in the life, comes life's contradictions. It's a mixed bag life. Which of course is why we build those defenses in the first place. So in some ways this birthday I am more open, relaxed and balanced than ever, in other ways I am scared, lonely, anxious, unsure which way to turn and desperate to get a move on. A move on? Where does that sit with practice? Form in emptiness I guess.

Alertness, awareness, freedom; scary stuff! And it isn't possible to have one's cake and eat it, choices have to be made. I recall 'The road not taken'. Yet I remain convinced that everyone is doing their best to square the circle of their own life at a deep level. Nothing has been or is wrong, all is well.

Sunday 14 June 2009

Sewing with care

The past few months
Depths of interconnection and sanctity
Yet isolation, spread all ways and no way
In the garden today in DC's shoes
I note a spot of green paint on them
More than ten years since we left the house where that paint was applied
Our efforts woven through each other's these seventeen years
Three fabrics we have woven in to all those others
One each and a shared
And each one shared again
And where now is the loom taking our threads
All the threads not just ours
What warp and weft
As we each look to the threads of our own life
And those of others

Sunday 7 June 2009


Yesterday I was chatting to our new next door but one neighbour, a single woman about my age with a four year old daughter. I'd previously offered my help if she needed any furniture moving and the offer was taken up. She has just been updating the house having just moved in. Nothing to drastic just replacing the 1960's wood wallboard and tiled ceilings with plasterboard, rewiring and making the ground floor study area into an open plan kitchen family room together with redecoration. Generally keeping the 1960's feel but bringing a new fresh air to the place. I really liked the energy as we walked around; the original 1960's concept brought back to life. Fresh young energy in the place is good.

I guess it is in part the four year old that brings the young energy but her mother also has this quality. I am aware of my own mixed aged sub-personalities and think it's good to keep a youthful outlook; I have been too old too soon in the past.

Our conversation turned to sub-personalities and I was granted the complement of seeming to be very calm! I am however, fairly duck like at present; under the surface there is turbulence. I need to find a creative purposeful direction to move into; I need to be much more yang, I feel I am wasting my life just now and I am torn between some difficult choices. I'll just have to keep listening out for what I already know to become more clear. The calmer the water the easier it should be but it's difficult when one feels stuck in a back water and wanting to move with the tide.

Some interesting posts on and
relating to mind. I think Dan Dennett misses the point that we only have our own phenomenal experience; we can't access an Archimedean point. The argument that consciousness is an illusion arising out of material substance misses the point that the only experience any of us have of the material is through our phenomenal experience, our conscious mind. And there is a lot more meaning to be found looking at the mind as it appears to one's self (or should that be the other way around) than might be found by trying to reduce experience down to an emergent property of mater. Certainly our need to relate to each other is at the level of our experience, the flow of energy that forms our world(s).

Each life a manifestation of the one life, the Tao flows on, the changing forms of emptiness.

Monday 1 June 2009


It comes down to this, I must have meaning. It is the will to meaning. I acknowledge that we poor humans are deluded but I believe I am right to insist on meaning. Form in emptiness. A day without work is a day without food as they say. And I must have the company of like minded people. The second point leads to the question of intimacy of all kinds and is very complex; my needs for connection at various levels and depths. These seem to be at the root of spirituality for me; I need to be living in tune with the life force that flows though me, I must not dam this up, pervert it or deny it. I need to share, to feel the interconnectedness that we are. And we share in a space of doing. And all this with compassion not tight ego shell. To work towards being a transcending self actualiser. Is this to go with the flow, the way to follow the Way? This is the stuff of the form one feels one's life should take. What bigger question is there? The meaning of life is that which we give it. It is a huge responsibility, we hold our own salvation. Well, it seems that way today... Life throws up issues for us to deal with. Rooting through the thoughts and emotions to find the attachments, to work out what is the 'right' thing to do, even if that is just to do nothing, is not so simple. And that's probably much to do with knowing that there are many attachments that I just ain't ready to give up, and they are in conflict.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Still sitting with it

Even though challenges present themselves and I can't find answers, life provides it's own answer. The old choosing not to choose reality is enacted. Even if my monkey mind is jumping through hoops I am just sitting with it, it is as it is. I must try to remember this and not get dragged through the hoops. I see that I must try to remain the watcher if I am to make wise decisions. Some hope!

Thursday 21 May 2009


A loose strings plays no note
I feel the red thread tighten
Ah, where is the sound of my flute

Again when this came to me I pondered with some equanimity the relation between meaning, desire, vitality, compassion, non-attachment, enlightenment, what seems authentic for me, the whole koan in a way, but I've much less equanimity now. And worse, when I was happy to search for the ox and to try to see all before me as just so much not to get attached to, then there was a way to peace of mind. Oh yes, I saw the danger of attaching to emptiness but I though I'd got a balance. But I had expected trouble to come in the form of loss of some thing in my frame of meaning, not a loss of meaning. Oh, this is dangerous water, this is for the experienced practitioner. I can't accept my koan, I can't accept a no answer. I seem to have broken one set of chains only to tie myself with the tools that broke them. It is that thorny point; I am always approaching from some where. Right now it is painful, so painful.

I am no doubt mixing metaphors in a dreadful way, but that fits my confusion. I am giving myself permission to be upset.

Monday 18 May 2009

Not posting

Traveling up to Forres last week the view from the train was emotive:

A beautiful yellow moon
Hangs in a pale Blue sky
Over dark water

I have not been posting. I have too much in my mind. It is very difficult stuff to sit with. I do not belong only to myself. I do not have as much equanimity just now as when the poem above came to me. The last line seems somehow troubling whereas when I composed it I was not thinking so.

Friday 15 May 2009

At Cluny

It is just after lunch here in Cluny. It is almost the end of the workshop; we have our completion this afternoon and there will be a ceilidh this evening. I am tired, quite drained. The re-entry into the world at large will be painful I suspect.

I have had ideas for posting and next week I'll see how my thoughts and emotions stir. But for now I want to keep it all inside, keep with deeper process, to write would be to dissipate.

Tuesday 5 May 2009


DC bought me a Sony MP3 player for Christmas. His plan to get me to take more interest in the music I like seems to have worked and having up loaded CD's on to it I've started down loading stuff from the net too. Having it plugged into the HiFi I find I play more music in the house too. It's something to do with the availability of the music in one compact handheld sliver of a thing. And it has an 'intelligent' shuffle which lets one pick tracks by mood, that certainly makes me listen to more stuff.

Anyway, listening to the radio the other day I heard a track by the Eagles. I recalled that I'd always liked that music and so decided to download some from the net. Playing the albums 'One of these nights' and 'Hotel California' I recalled the 70's. I must have had a slight sense of the 70's that was generating such tracks- California and the watered down version that reached the English perhaps left leaning middle classes, as a kid, but that was not my world. No, it was just a hint of something I sort of liked the look of but did not know and could not have; my 70's did not come as an extension to the 60's people think of as the 60's. My 70's were of the Northern working class and short of cash. The left was of tabloids and trade unions not of the broad sheets and the party either political or dinner...

I can enjoy the music and there is no visceral wrenching of the past. It's of a time when I was a sensitive loner but not yet in adolescence. So the innocence is sweet. It's music of the 80's that can generate the wrenching feeling. But the pattern started sooner...

But, the Eagles music left me in good spirits and feeling quite alive. Interesting to muse how I liked that music both sides of sexual awakening.

And, a copy of 'I Heart Huckabees' arrived today in the post. DC and I have just watched it and it's GREAT! So many of the metaphors match my own! Thanks to Jenny (who I met on a course last year) for the recommendation. The movie is based around a couple of existential detectives... Funny and heart warming.

Thoughts, emotions, our stories, our aloneness our interconnection, the triggers or cues that set us off spinning our webs...

I didn't have the childhood or the adolescence that I as an adult fancy I would have liked then or is it now? But that past did lead me to the present and a probably deeper understanding of the meaning of the desires around all this than I might have had. After all, the electrical and electronic engineering books are replaced on the shelves by titles by Huxley, both Suzuki's, Sekida, Kapleau, etc. I practice TaiChi and dance to music feeling the energy in ways I would describe with reference to chakras, have explored the Red thread koan, sit zazen each day and try to practice throughout the day, write like this, live in a very pleasant 60's townhouse with my partner, I have been out as a gay man at work since a time when that was an issue, DC and I were at a Wesak festival at a local Zen Buddhist abbey at the weekend and I am back off to Findhorn at the end of the week. How close I am in many ways to that other world I might have had as a kid. And looking back, is it not the same koan now as then?

Sunday 3 May 2009


I got my hair cut yesterday; number two back and sides, top short, chip the fringe away, leave the side burns at the ear lobe. I've had this cut for years and I am not sure how long my hair would get if I left it to get past the needing a hair cut stage so that I could consider something else. I don't think it would get much longer than the needing a hair cut stage and I suspect that it would not lend its self to to a longer style. I just go to a 'clip joint' but I once went to a more expensive place and I did enquire about alternatives; the response was not optimistic...'well with your hair...' he said. The cut took ages there and confirmed for me the great benefit of the 'clip joint'.

Anyway, sat in the chair I looked up and looking through the mirror and out through the large glass window I struggled to make sense of the view. More glass? Some people, was there further reflection? What? Some movement. What? Reflection from the other side of the street? No; the building there is solid. What? Bouncing back and forward trying to find the object and the reflection. Ah, it's a bus stuck in traffic! All in little more than an instant, but long enough to feel the mind searching for 'reality'. Umm, a bit like sitting zazen that was, I thought.

The guy in the adjacent chair was offered his usual; quick description followed by what seemed a slightly nervous acknowledgement and some small talk. I started piecing together a picture of the customer from the exchange. My mind building realities for its self...

Clothes shopping followed, not my favorite activity. Shall I reinvent my look? Is that an option? If I was somehow able to expand my consciousness to consider more options could I reinvent my self? I try to give it a bit of a go but always seem to end up looking much the same; it's part the choice open to the shape I am and part sensibilities. Still mostly I would say that upon reflection I'd 'do' me.

A colleague at work asked me what the purpose of my blog was last week. Umm I thought, now there is a question David, just why do you post? I responded that I consider what I seem to be with and try to be authentic with myself by posting in public. And that is part of it as well as the opportunity to try to be creative in this form. I thought the better of going into ideas of goallessness in response to the question. But that is relevant of course to the koan. This constant interplay of forms shaping and reflecting each other, but just who is it that is looking? Can I get get beyond this infinite regression of appearances? I seem to have a faith in non-duality.

Wednesday 29 April 2009

Can we find it?

I've just watched Grand designs revisited. Kevin McCloud revisits the Sussex woodsman's cottage. It's a beautiful building housing what looks like a beautiful family. I think it possible to really see the care and love put in here. A man in tune with the Tao I would guess.

And it seems to me that the task before us is to take this and expand it into the global scale needed in the face of impending environmental crisis, economic problems and the arguably impoverished state of many peoples existence. In the face of rampant capitalism consuming all before it, can we find a real sustainability? Can the people of the world look at each nation and find a way to be in harmony with the earth, the Tao, the Way?

India and China with their great philosophical and spiritual traditions of the Way are following in the way of the West, of separation, consumerism. Could we all East and West find a way to move towards the Way?

We can't all be woodsmen. And we can't go on consuming resources and generating pollution. There is not the resource available for each of us on the planet to live the way we have selfishly done in the the developed world. What is to be done?

Sunday 26 April 2009


DC and I went to see In the loop last night. It was funny and sort of awful at the same time; egos gone quite mad. And if it were not all too close to the truth and that one can always see one's own craziness in the outrageous theatrical rantings of others if one chooses to look, then it would be just a jolly good farcical romp. But they really did go to war and we do all get a bit like those crazy people at times and of course that's how we are as we are.

And those awful politicians we have chosen for ourselves by default of not demanding better have in the past and continue now to dismantle the very fabric of society as fast as people try to create it. I think that if any of them had the balls to stand up and say 'Enough is enough, we're going to move away from pandering to the greed of the city financiers, stop this out sourcing, dismembering of systems and go back to rational forms. We are going to take an honest look at what it would really mean to have sustainable lives across all spheres- social, community, environment and finance at national and international levels. We are going to consider our existential position in a truly open way and not just restrict our view to the traditional rules of the political game.' then apart from the fact that the party machines and Whitehall would spin their spins people would take an interest and consider their own positions. But right now we just have talk of getting back to economic growth. Mad fools! Oh, and anyone who promised to ban those dreadful telephone systems - listen to the following options, if you want to listen to more of this press 1, if you want to listen to some other blather press 2, if you want to speak to a real person dream on...- well they would get every one's vote!

Last night I dreamt of a houseboat tied with a rope to stop it floating away. No prizes for analyzing that one. Today I listened to a Madness album from the 80's. Great stuff; such energy, such sanity.

Friday 24 April 2009

What is it?

To set the scene; I was at work today and a colleague mentioned his proposed parachute jump, I commented that I was far too aware of the void to do that, I didn't need that to feel death nearby. He commented that it might light something in me. He thinks I am disappointed with the world. I don't think he has me right. It's not that I said, it is alight. What is it? he said. I'd tossed a few ideas about sub-personalities about (they have seen the inner terrier a few times) and I listed the classic inner child etc. 'What about the disappointed child?' he said.

What is it? Indeed! Does he have any idea of the size of the question? And the disappointed child? That's not the word I'd use. Frightened, sensitive, feeling that others were very different. Probably deeply in tune with many aspects of his world but not the presentation of his cultural surroundings. And to locate all that and find the child in question here in the now? And yes what about it? What comfort? The ego shell connected with all this is still tight. It's probably the subtle tension I can feel and can't let go of in zazen.

I've just finished reading what I thought a good book by David Guy on the Red thread koan. His thoughts match many of my own on this one. The little death of orgasm, the death of aspects of the ego in love and making love. The tension in the body how this is related to being closed, pain, loneliness and temporary release in orgasm. The need for softening and more lasting freeing up from ones ego shell. Big subject lots of related items-

sex(ual), spirit, (pre)sexual, nakedness, innocence, ego, death, orgasm, desire, life force, creativity, energy, void, form, emotion, communication, feeling, bonding, thought, head, heart, self, Self, love (four fold model), body, visual, attraction, evolutionary biology, yin, yang, gay, straight, bi, intimacy, same, other, power, control, personal, impersonal.

And I recall a post I made on vitality which attempts to start to look at desire, form, void, creativity, the Tao.

And my own ideas about part ego death whilst making love before orgasm so that the little death is less important than when that is not the case and one is just locked in the excitement of the head long race to the oblivion of pointed release. And to thoughts of those post orgasmic laughs that accompany the breaking of a modality, the absurdity of it (all).

And that all this flashes through my monkey mind with the thoughts of recent dabbles with colleagues talking about the hopelessness of continued economic growth, awareness practice, and other things that make them all think I am just strange, and the knowledge that I always fail to present stuff in an open relaxed manner and slip into ranting, which is no good and I tell myself it's all just fingers pointing at the moon...

All this, and my own recollected history, the struggle with the fear stemming from the all too evident fragility of each life in the face of life, not mention the ever nagging grief from the imagined loss of in particular the adolescence that never was. And he asks what about the disappointed child?! What the **** do you think you are looking at?

And I am supposed to give an answer? I told him - I picked my koan and I'm sticking with it, I am hanging in the tree, what more answer can I give?

And that will be just part of it and that's before getting any where near ideas about there not being any it, let alone any experience of no it, just being. I am still far too caught up in it for that.

Monday 20 April 2009


I was musing earlier that I often think of things and the self as an array of axes, sort of at varying planes to each other sort of like the straws in the KerPlunk game my brother and I had when we were kids. Various dialectical relationships and interconnectedness, a sort cloud of points connected by... well you get the idea; a sort of visualisation of Buddhist interdependent arising with a bit of Taoism I suppose. And more importantly that if I could get sufficient spaciousness of mind that it would all fall into place and like pulling out the straws in the game - KerPlunk, it all makes perfect sense and I am liberated. (Gosh, might even be a sort of enlightenment.) What a trap, how cunning the mind is at finding ways to have control, some thing to grasp on to. But it does sort of help, the trick is probably to recognise that expectation of the marbles dropping and drop it.

It was a lovely sunny day today.

Sunday 19 April 2009

Developing form

Back from a weeks holiday with DC in Devon. I kept a few very short notes while away as a summary of what I seemed to be with, in summary it boils down a sense that I have been and remain negligent in expanding my life to be all that is possible and all this tied tightly with my OCD, which I see is not quite as residual as I have for years assumed.

Looking back at my past I am aware that I have all sorts of emotions about who I recall that I was. Now unpicking this is difficult; not only is it a question of sub-personalities and dis-identification in the present, but this as a rolling development through time. Where to find the position to stand? Can I be compassionate with myself now for struggling with my recollected self(s), can I find a way to locate each of the selfs I recall and give the vestige (is that the word) that I now have in this self the support laking (as I perceive it now) at the time of that self? Standing back, dis-identifying with all this, becoming the watcher I see as ever, that I still approach from a position. It's no easy thing to give a 'no answer' to the koan, so my patterns continue and some aspect of me watches.

Of course the koan is answered, life flows on, I was/am and will be at each moment all that is possible for me; I like everyone else am always doing my best. Star dust made conscious looks back at its self and in its limited view defined by the forms available finds gaps. Gaps between what it can imagine might have been, might be, was, is, might be. Life flows into gaps, the constant out of balance giving rise to our experience else there would be no change and thus no life.

Developing form, sex, life force, spirit, time and death. The missing one from the list, the one that summarises the others in a way; OCD, which is, I think just the great grasping for control, the denial of our ultimate loss of form, the accepting and denial of death.

And for the most part the weather was fine and I caught the sun and so did DC. The leaves are coming out and the spring is springing. Late now; time for bed, work tomorrow. If I had more time to write this I'd unpick through the emotions and try to be more honest.

Thursday 9 April 2009


I have a feeling that things are shifting a bit. Just the odd conversation, seeing links, options, that sort of thing. I feel lighter with it. But I am also aware that things are messy and even though I have tried to be sensitive to avoid causing suffering, I can see that I've not managed this. And there seems to be a natural flow of in and out, retreating and engaging , yin and yang to this. Maybe one way to look at authenticity is that one tries to be with this flow (as they say), not to get stuck in either yin or yang phases, and to remember whilst in each that it will pass and to try to avoid building walls or clinging to things against the tide. Emptiness in form. But as so often seems to be the case, the universe moves on at a pace slightly ahead of our keeping up and forms then seem to jar. And, to push the metaphor, it is not easy to see what is tide and what is just local turbulence that we do indeed need to protect our self from. So the waves can be battering but then that's to be expected; samsara, it's all fuel for practice I guess.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

As it is

On the one hand: arrgghhhh, and on the other: umm, interesting.

Monday 6 April 2009

At the wheel

Pushing the sub-personality bus idea I notice that there is a tussle at the wheel; the playful child is bored and wants to drive, the parent is clearly most concerned about that, the copious and far to tricky to see but definitely felt crowd are still clinging on (and know they are at the root of most plans anyway) and the pragmatist applies correction as required. Of course this is par for the course but the driving is rough just now and the ride as seen by the self is less than it might be. Trouble is, the will is not clear. All this would be no problem if it wasn't for the feeling that the journey is at or past the average halfway mark and a more productive second half is hoped for. Mid-life stuff.

DC and I had a nice time in London over the weekend and met up with someone from my Essentials of Psychosynthesis week in Scotland. We also checked out the constructivist exhibition at Tate Modern. I found the work hollow, soulless. I thought of Japanese calligraphy attempting to portray emptiness and giving a rich sense of humanity so lacking in much of this exhibit.

We all need a language (in the broadest sense) with which to make our world. We need forms. I am not happy with the ones I have I guess, or at least what I am doing with them. I am trying to be so careful not to fall into grass is greener whilst balancing to avoid falling into complacency. This I reckon is the best way I can attempt authenticity.

DC has just had back copies of a consciousness journal delivered, our home is full of interesting things to read and there is so little time to read. DC pointed out an article the title of which includes 'the doors of perception', I guess it asks that question about religious experience as either seeing our true nature or states of mind in the material world. I've sort of found that one merging into two sides of the same coin and fading away... And I consider, just what do I hold as my yard stick when considering questions that lead to using phrases including words like; the unborn, karma, connection, intimacy... Intimacy brings up all sorts of practical questions about the form of ones life and the meaning and complexity of the term. The forms and depths of connection barley explored by the word seem manifold... Not just the (simple) erotic aspect of the red thread, but the much more subtle interplay of meaning and connection. We are all connected but the more immediate connection and direct communication...

Can I look at the depth of my existence and be the most without making awful mistakes and threatening immensely valuable parts of my and other people's life?

Thursday 2 April 2009

Right action

Lovely night last night with two friends from work. To be open, soften ego shells and extend compassion is as much of an answer to the koan as I could ask.

With choice before me, and the (inevitable) waxing and waning of meaning(s) I have been if not lost then struggling to read the compass of my emotions this past month. Lining up with the true north of compassion should help me get better bearings. But I am not yet out of the woods.

Wednesday 1 April 2009


I am finding this a tough post to write. I am reviewing how I came to have chosen this koan. (By this I suppose I mean life as I see it now.) Choice is not the word.

I have come back to the search for meaning. For a while it was a search for emptiness. An emptiness so full that it would rid me of the fear of impermanence. But from the start I knew this was a dangerous attachment and loosened its grip. Anyway, it's all too obvious that I have far too many attachments to travel without purpose and meaning. So I review my values and my belief system, my world view. And this brings me to my connection with the Findhorn Foundation, my understanding and practice of Zen Buddhism and... And what? The relationship between the existential and the spiritual axis of being? Between self and Self? That might be one way to put it. But maybe I am being too dramatic.

Doing is an inseparable part of our being. I always approach my sitting place from a physical and what is more an intellectual / philosophical position. My intellectual understanding that 'I' is empty is only of partial value. But what to do? Do 'devil's eyes sprout...'? They have in the past, then less so (thankfully) and a few more again now.

I have freinds coming to dinner tonight.

Sunday 29 March 2009

Room for one more on top

DC and I were out to dinner at the home of friends on Friday. What an intriguing two pairs we are, RB&AK and DR&DC. A by now formulaic comparison of each others partner takes place along the lines of the carer and the cared for (in the medical/social needs model) with the various combinations each taken throughout the evening. 'Oh do you find yours needs...' that sort of thing, as if we all kept each other as a sort of pet. And it came to me that this is sort of like the familiar of myth. Who I asked is who's familiar. Not that I am in any way suggesting witchery. I checked this line out a bit on Wiki and note a reference to Imps, who apparently are so lonely that they will do anything, even be turned to good to have a committed friend. Funny how these resonances or archetypes pop up.

I saw Paul A. yesterday and we prodded at each others plans in an attempt to test for thin ice both in our selves and each other.

We're all bonkers, mad as a box of frogs. DC is, as ever, steady at his helm.

Sub-personalities and co-dependencies having an outing or what? How many are on the sub-personality bus and how are the buses relating out there on the road? Man on a Clapham omnibus indeed. Who does he have on his sub-personality bus?

Thursday 26 March 2009



Brief casual discussion with a couple of the guys from one of the firms of consulting engineers we work with regarding my proposed three day week; first response was a bit incredulous. Then, as the wheels go around the penny starts to drop, but I came away feeling like I was somehow in the wrong! Which upon reflection was a shame, because had I been less in the I am not ok position, (defending my ego) I would have been able to be more compassionate and supportive of those expressing dismay and thus coax them to seeing a wider view. But that's probably to be a bit egotistical too. That said towards the end of the discussion I think a view of getting off the tread mill was gained, who knows.

We went to see Rambert Dance Company in the evening; an excellent evening. First dance together with the music was very moving, a spiritual piece. It came to me early in the performance that my young nephew, who is eight and is interested in dance and theatre could one day be a professional dancer. I was quite moved by that thought. Not because of some kind of pride but because the thought that he might flow smoothly from bud to flower without that constricted tight unopened time that so many of us face, is moving. Nice to see DC moved by the piece too. And our friend also expressing his enjoyment.

Second dance (or was it third? I forget the order) was more playful, a delightful child like quality which resonated gently with the spirituality of the first piece. My own inner child is frustrated at present and I need to take some action to route out the attachments keeping me feeling low.

I enjoyed last night but I became aware that I had drifted off several times; monkey mind, it's so unproductive, but then...

I am not so lustful over the beautiful male dancers as in the past. But it is nice to see them in animation. And I see just what energy there is in that attraction. Even though I some times wonder if I might ever explore some heterosexual side I never find that raw energy with women that is elicited for me by the sight of a beautiful man. However, these days I do see the yin in women and that's nice.

I recall Gregory's Girl; 'keep dancing or you'll fall off the world' one of them said, or something like that.

Sunday 22 March 2009

Sitting where?

Posts have been a bit erratic in both frequency and meaning lately. And this is because I have lost to some extent the voice of ...bough (oh I like that, the voice of ...bough, very Dr Who). Well not lost exactly, it's more that two aspects need to be considered; first how much and in what way should be said, ie how frank, and second behind whatever I might say I need to have seen myself first, ie what is my objectivity. So how frank and where is my objectivity? And (being hopefully objective) they are both out of whack!

So, I could drop back, be reflective, find the still point and observe. Which I do, but not obviously all the time, the rest of the time I am gone; lost in the drama. Which points to the whole question; who exactly is running the show here! And what show out of how many options shall I (add in huge loop back around which I) chose (add in huge loop about choice, nature of the will etc.).

At the physical level I have been feeling a bit rough and my neck, shoulder and back are painful. This will be partly mechanical and substantially a further manifestation of what is being said above. Added to this my perception of physical vulnerability / robustness is also shifted towards the vulnerable end of the spectrum. This is a much more complex symptom and it can't be unpacked here.

So, can I drop out of the thinking (or ruminating) head space and into the emotional body space? Answer; it ain't easy. But yes I can, and that's why the voice is erratic, because the felt meaning in the emotional body space is still churning it around and the head (where the voice is) is babbling it's own tale. The two are probably not yet in harmony.

And no, I can't be specific about the details here; they are too personal.