Friday, 23 December 2011


Some months ago in a (heart circle) sharing I noticed that I had some resistance to sharing 'what was up for me'. Ah, so why would I not want this known? If I accept myself and my intention is to work for the highest motive then what am I trying to hide? Why am I ashamed to still be struggling with aspect of my experience. And if others judge me then are they holding me in compassion? And if not then why should I fear what they think? Because if they can't hold me in compassion then what basis to the sharing? How much of this feeling of shame is my projection on to others? Which is to acknowledge that they may not have the thoughts and feelings about what I might share that I imagine they will; that I am judging that they will judge me. This of course is the great thing about sharing in a heart circle; we come in to authenticity, or as close to it as we feel we can. And we have a chance to see our stuck points. And what better to do with this resistance than to share it! The opening which comes from this is in my experience very nourishing, very cathartic and collectively humbling and of beauty. And the more we share the more we see that we all have a fried egg on our head, and that's all right. And gradually things come into perspective, growth is made and I move on; more open, in deeper communion with others, my self and with life. So it has been illuminating for me to see my response to people who have rejected open communication in favour of 'keeping up appearances'; anger. And that's an other opportunity for me to grow, to acknowledge my response, soften in to it, try to remain mindful, humble and compassionate. Even when my response is to judge and condemn. For that it to miss the opportunity to grow.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Love And Will 3

Just finished reading Love and Will. Well, what a book! And searching for Rollo May's details on the net I see that this book is referred to as influential. I am not surprised, I suspect it pulls together a lot of man's thinking from diverse cultures, times and locations in pursuit of an explanation of May's approach to psychology. And whilst the word 'spiritual' is used in the book (as I recall) only once or twice, this is clearly the implication. And perhaps the word was avoided since it defies definition.

The later chapters prompted me to make the following jottings for this post:
  • We re-enact the (original) fall - however much we might work towards and attain union we must return back to our individual experience of life. We move in and out of the garden (of Eden).

(recalled WOODSTOCK
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
by Joni Mitchel-

We are stardust, we are golden
We are 2 billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden)

We attempt this getting back to the garden when we (re)connect with our self and when we connect with others. At a deep level beyond the psychological is the direct realisation of our true nature.

  • May on care notes 'Heidegger quotes the ancient parable of care, which Goethe also used at the end of Faust:' Care crossing a river fashioned some clay into a form, Jupiter came by and she asked him to give it spirit, which he did but he would not let her name be bestowed upon it. Earth arose and desired her name be conferred upon the creature since it was part of her body. They asked Saturn to arbitrate and his decision was as follows: 'Since you, Jupiter gave it spirit, you shall receive that spirit at its death; and since you Earth have given its body, you shall receive its body. But since 'Care' first shaped this creature, she shall posses it as long as it lives. And because there is now a dispute among you as to its name, let it be called 'homo', for it is made out of humus (earth)'

Nice parable, I'd not come across it before. And May goes on to make the point that care is so often missing in our day. Even more true I suspect in 2011 than 1969. He also notes the protests of young people who demonstrate that they do care. Again we should take note in 2011! And care is important with respect to love for it sets apart ongoing relationship from that 'Hippie love' referred to in the previous post.

  • May touches on the Hellenistic period and refers to the Stoics, Epicureans, Hedonists etc. and I note from his descriptions that the search for meaning at the realisation in one way or an other of the void has indeed been going on within various cultural ways of seeing for a very long time over the globe. The danger of nihilism in the appreciation of emptiness being wrestled with I guess.

I can't recall what prompted me to note this section and what I wanted to expand but I guess it is that this territory, for me is nicely navigated in the Buddhist and Taoist way. May continues: we only ever have some myth, never truth. And also notes that we don't (as often believed by so many) have fully rational thoughts and decisions. Indeed! A bit of anxious depression can make that all too clear in my own experience. We make tiny little turns of thought and decisions all day long assuming we have assessed the facts. In my experience it is a feeling that is being juggled.

  • In the closing pages of the his book May returns to love between man and woman.

I find his assumption that the flow of yin and yang energies in sex requires a heterosexual couple tedious. But I guess his writing reflects the date of the book. His point about care and active receiving is however, well made. Giving is to receive and receiving (actively) is giving. This is so evident in sexual acts. It is fitting I think that at the end of the book having come to talk of giving and receiving that 'Communion of Conciousness' is the title of the final chapter. In this chapter May talks of climax in sexual intercourse and notes union with nature when 'the awareness of separateness lost, blotted out'. Interestingly though he does not expand on this. And the point he might have made is that we loose not just our separateness but our lover and the connection as we disappear into our own orgasm. From my post Everything and Love:

'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.'

  • May goes on to remind us that Cezanne and Van Gogh have left works which indicate that they saw the world in what seems to be a very direct way. And I guess that this is Tennyson seeing the wild flower in the crannied wall and that these are ways of seeing I do not directly know but that they may well be those spiritual  awakenings referred to by others in other terms.

However we see the world (and there are as many as there are beings) we are left with daily reality. 'Before enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water.' It seems to me that May drawing from the ancients asks us to engage in authentic communion with life, with each other. But I am rolling a few ideas up together here... It's late and I am tired!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Love And Will 2

It was in reading the chapters from part I of Rollo May's Love And Will titled as follows;

Paradoxes of Sex and Love,
Eros in Conflict with Sex,
Love and Death,
Love and the Daimonic,

that I recalled my post Everything and Love, in which in my own way I was trying to express some of the themes which I feel come through in those chapters. And I had intended to explore those themes in greater detail here. However, as the days have gone past I find the matrix of thoughts and feelings which held the vestige of a post has slipped by, passed into that which was. Perhaps in holding the chapter titles in mind and reading the post referred to readers might glimpse something of their own truth.

In part II of the book May looks at the will and explores wish, will and intentionality. For me his thesis brings to mind interdependent origination, the question of to what extent we ever choose and exercise 'free will' and aspects of desire; that leading to growth (Eros) and that leading to enslavement (lust in all its forms). And out of that little pot; vitality. And when I look around I see a great number of people who seem to be asleep; their vitality gone. May seems to be saying something similar and as ever the root of it goes back to fear.

Discussing intentionality in therapy, May under the heading From Wish to Will makes the point that the raw experience of a beautiful day and the fact that one can increase the pleasure by sharing it with a friend 'has profound implications for life, love, death and the ultimate problem of human existence'. He refers to Tennyson looking at the flower in the crannied wall; '...I could understand what God and man is.' I can't claim to have had that experience of God (Buddha nature, the Source...) although I have experienced beauty and the feeling that it is but only half a thing when not shared. But I do feel this need for the awake vital raw experience of authentic living. Might it be stated as Eros the divine life force seeing its own expression?

May goes on to make a point about indiscriminate love or 'Hippie love' as he terms it. It is important here I think to remember the date of the book; 1969. And I would agree with him that a here today gone tomorrow in the moment love lacks commitment and begs the question just how deep such feelings run. I think it important to hold in mind non-attachment, acceptance and that an enlightened being loves all. But this love is outside the scope of everyone I know. Aspects of it are present but we are human and preference always creeps in; the resonance when like parts of the unity come close. Something bigger comes out of giving over time and choosing to keep giving requires selection of who to give to and accept from.

Opening the third part of the book is a chapter titled The Relation of Love and Will and it opens with a quote from Schopenhauer;

'Sexual passion is the cause of war and the end of peace, the basis of what is serious, and the aim of the jest, the inexhaustible source of wit, the key to all allusions, and the meaning of all mysterious hints... just because the profoundest seriousness lies at its foundation.... But all this agrees with the fact that the sexual passion is the kernal of the will to live, and consequently the concentration of all desire; therefore in the text I have called the genital organs the focus of will.'

Yep, 'The Red thread koan'! And how often we talk of people having guts and/or balls. Having, being had, making and bonding; the desire to create and the desire to merge. I'll post later on subsequent chapters.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Love And Will 1

I have been reading Love And Will by the psychoanalyst Rollo May. It was published in 1969 although I have a 1989 edition. In some parts it is dated and rather heterocentric but generally I find it rather 'good stuff' and along the lines of my own thoughts about the nature of the human condition. I have been thinking of writing about some of the ideas in this book related to Eros, the life force which drives everything on to express ever new and changing forms and in so doing shows the void's pregnant possibility. And also the whole question of apparent separateness and the desire for unity. Many of the concepts in the first few chapters of the book are explored with the aid of classical mythology and I think that it is fair to say that what are being perceived are Jungian Archetypes. Anyway, when I feel so inclined, for whilst the excitement of juggling ideas and seeing connections and possible 'truths' might stir the muse, the distillation of the flavours in my mind into some coherent blog post requires her full charm, I will post on all that. But for now, what stirred me to post as well as just getting going with the ideas to be posted, was a paragraph of William James' on getting out of bed! I laughed at this and in so doing had the thought 'ah yes, what is the tension between which incompatible elements (in the mind) which gives rise to the need for its release through the shuddering in the body and the attendant light in the bodymind?' Although the words in my head weren't quite so articulated as that when the basic idea first popped in. James describes lying in bed on a cold morning knowing that one must get up and get on with 'the duties of the day'  yet being disinclined due to the contrast between the warmth and comfort of bed and the cold of the room and goes on;

'Now how do we ever get up under such circumstances? If I may generalise from my own experience, we more often than not get up without any struggle or decision at all. We suddenly find that we have got up. A fortunate lapse of consciousness occurs; we forget both the warmth and the cold and; we fall into some revery connected with the day's life, in the course of which the idea flashes across us, 'Hollo! I must lie here no longer'- an idea which at that lucky instant awakens no contradictory or paralyzing suggestions, and consequently produces immediately its appropriate motor effects.

I am sure we have all been there.

Monday, 3 October 2011


An unexpected sequence of events led to me being offered a job last Friday. And by the end of the day I'd bought a used car! Today I spent the morning on the phone sorting insurance. After getting through the automated answering systems (if you want to .... press.... if you want ...), arhhhhh, my ears glaze over... I drifted off and have to go around again... Then when eventually speaking to a real person they start giving me all the standard buff; fine print in verbal, arhhhh, my ears are glazing over. Eventually it is sorted. Improved communications systems and competition in 'the market' seem to have combined to result in a kind of non-communication where one feels cast adrift in a sea of confusion created by the very system which should be helping. Then I read on Jade Mountains in the comments to a post a link to an article about Google. I sort of knew all this was going on but it's both amazing and a bit frighting when one stops to consider it. At least Google seem to be getting the information to us, which is more than might be said of many telephone calls these days!

I am feeling ambivalent about  my smartphone - I almost ended up with it by mistake and it is confirming in many ways my prejudice against them.  I wonder where all this is going. The world has changed so much.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Newcastle Civic Centre

I walked down to the station today to pick up some rail tickets. It is a bright autumn day with not a cloud in the sky, hazy and calm; full of 'mellow fruitfulness'. I decided to see if a friend was in on the way back and taking that route decided to cut through Newcastle Civic Centre. My earliest memory of this building and its grounds dates back to childhood when I was struck by the way the quadrangle made me feel. I still get the same feeling when I pass that way now. (Or so it seems at least.) The quadrangle is a modernist rectilinear design with a reflecting pool, grass lawn and  a sculpture of swans in flight. The enclosed yet open space is filled with calm yet holds the promise of something exciting; it is some how pregnant with the future. I now have sufficient visual literacy to see that this space is a reasonably successful example of the modern architectural movement of the 1960's and that the form has been designed to elicit this calm yet exciting feeling. To me it is a spiritually informed  space and it is possible to trace a line back to the aesthetic of Japanese temples and gardens. Or as people casually say; zen.  As a child I just liked it. The route from the quadrangle passes across a glazed link corridor; in one door across the link and out the other side. The feel in this link corridor with its limestone and glass is one of soft gravitas, again the place holds a spiritual ambiance. All this not in a church but a civic building for the administration of such matters as the rates and taxes. How joyous to have such architecture. I was tempted to try to capture all this photographically, but I knew that I'd  not quite get it. It probably takes a skilled photographer and the right lens to do that.

Considering matters of the aesthetic I have just changed the look of this blog. It was not my plan, I just followed the option which came up when I signed in. Before I knew it I could not work out how to get back the old look! Ah well, no attachment there and it's probably worth refreshing the look and maybe my interest in posting. There is a quite a range of templates and colours to choose from. I was quite excited by some of the looks but somehow they didn't feel right. Colour Blue, straight forward, no undue extraneous elements but a bit of a background image to lift it, yer, that's about right. Interesting to see how the different styles affect the way each post might be perceived and thus written.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011


I like the radio but I am also quite happy with a room in silence and more often than not I'll leave it that way - radio off. But today making bread in the kitchen I decided to put on Radio 4. The news of events in Libya came to a close and a program called Soul Music commenced. The programme is described as 'Exploring the impact that Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's piece for piano and violin Spiegel im Spiegel has had on people's lives'. As the program began I was almost immediately moved, not just by the story being told but by the triggering of my own stories by the music, I began to wonder about a whole different set of feelings which the piece might trigger. But this soon passed as the meditative quality of the piece expanded. Dave C came in and I asked him for a comment on the music. Yes, he liked it. I offered that 'for me it evokeds unfolding stillness, and that is the paradox'. How is it that stillness unfolds? Dave C then explained that Spiegel im Spiegel means mirror in the mirror. I did not know this and was taken to my own experience sitting zazen, which I have described as 'like two mirrors facing each other'. Yet some thing else is present in the piece; a sense of loss or of a gap between where we seem to be and where we might like to be. For me this can capture the losses I've experienced in life but also a sort of yearning to return home. The same yearning evoked for me by Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending. And I do see this as a spiritual yearning to return home, to the source. And yet at the same time there is this wanting to be in form, in the world, and this seems part of a paradox; a kind of gap. My friend and 'spiritual yardstick' RM Mugo has told me 'there are no gaps'. I am sure she is right but at my level of experience it seems that there are, but they get filled by the falling into them. This falling, for everything is to some extent falling or changing, seems to be the world, experience unfolding; life. Listening to the comments and stories of people in the program it seemed that a common spiritual understanding was somehow held by all who spoke.

Last night an acquittance said in passing that he loved silence. I thought 'yes, and however much noise there is, it is always silent'. I seem to recall a post on RM Mugo's blog Jade Mountains, pointing for me, to the way everything is cut through with silence. Searching for the post I find, as might be expected many references to silenceArvo Pärt's piece for piano and violin Spiegel im Spiegel, seems to take people beyond the stories and into the unfolding silence holding the stories, and in that holding to compassion.

Friday, 26 August 2011


For some time now my simple mobile phone as been 'dying'; the navigator key is almost worn out and the other keys are probably going the same way. I have been reluctant to change it as it does everything I need from a mobile - keeps me in touch by a relatively small number of calls and texts. If it has one failing it is that it only has a low resolution camera. More than once I've thought 'if the camera on my phone were better I take a photo of that. Ah well..'. So, on Wednesday morning I started to do some internet research about replacing the handset to use a rather quaint term. Needles to say hours go by and I come no nearer to knowing what to get. All I wanted was the same again but with a better camera. And thereby is the rub; getting a phone with a good camera moves one in to territory I've ranted on against; the dreaded smartphone!
Now these things are very impressive bits of kit, a phone is the least of it. They do that and email and internet and sat. nav. / GPS and goodness knows what else and on and on with more 'apps' than you can shake a stick at. And they have a camera. So a thing like that, which is basically a palm held computer has the potential to be very addictive. And they do seem to be so; everywhere I see people solipsistically fiddling with them. They are the perfect commodity fetish item- shiny and with untold promise of who knows what; a veritable Aladdin's cave of delight. And my objection to all this is that a device which is nominally about communication causes fragmentation. Users aimlessly chasing they do not know what, internally and externally disconnected. It's a kind of pornography. The other side of the coin is of course the connection. Sociability by sharing pass times that others share (when they do share), the communication by all types of digital social network and the acquisition of useful information. Umm. So, when I come across the information that I could upgrade to this 'bright new world' and get effectively cheaper calls I was hooked! Ah how the mighty have fallen. I txted my friend - 'I have gone over to the dark side my new smartphone arrives tomo' Reply - 'I will pray for you brother'. The phone provider sent me an e-mail advising that I could track the delivery of my 'shiny new phone' (their words not mine!) on line. And I could- picked, loaded to truck, various depots, etc... And within about 24 hours of having taken the bait and placed the order it was in my hand! It took a lot of yesterday setting it up and getting used to it. And the addictive qualities soon came out; it seemed to hold such power over me. I knew it! I was right; they are dangerous! Fortunately I can see the funny side and hopefully I'll move into greater connection without the less helpful side of it all.

Last night's TV had us watching 'The Great Estate: The Rise & Fall of the Council House'. The salient point for me in this was the importance of community and how we have failed to put that at the heart of so many political and financial decisions. An interview with some residents made it so clear - people so want to build local community and take a wholesome pride (not an avaricious pride) in their environment. And yet policy is so often against them. As my partner DC said 'ah, these people could teach this government a thing or two'. Quite so. And the move to make council tenants re-apply for their tenancy, making all contracts short term is bound to undermine community.

And in the community linked by RM Mugo's blog we are reminded how fleeting it all is.

In gassho,

Saturday, 13 August 2011

And when?!

I don't write here now. I think about it from time to time - thoughts pass through the old monkey mind and some times it's less monkey and more rational- but on balance I doubt anyone is reading and since it is all too easy to just bleat and with no real benefit, silence seems to be as well. HOWEVER, after an exasperating time this last few days listening to the sheer garbage spewed out of our appalling government in the light of the riots (they have now arrested over eleven hundred people) and with a sense of frustration that those who patiently try to explain that the problem is due to the fragmentation caused by commercialism, throwing everything to 'the market' and the full out working of late capitalism, simply will not be listened to, I am now, hopefully without ranting, throwing in my (predictable) two peneth worth. The problem is thirty odd years of what has come to be known as Thatcherism! Major and Blair just followed the same path. Now the full scale loony right are in full swing, the world economic system is in a complete mess, bankers are a protected elite - we don't see them rounded up and the justice system running overtime to bring them to book- we are facing huge environmental issues and still we are told we need to grow the economy! It's the economy stupid. Yes, but it needs managed contraction and humanity not money put at the centre. Money has become the end and not the means. Purpose, connection, validation through being part of something bigger than ones self and stability have all been swept away in an crazy chase for economic growth. A growth based upon debt. And a debt not just financial but more importantly environmental, psychological and spiritual. Bored, alienated, disenfranchised groups with no experience of what it is to be a part of something and put in creative effort to build something of real value ie use not monetary value have once again flared up. It is no surprise.

Reading the connections and inspiration page from the Findhorn foundation website today I see this:

Eileen Caddy's Daily Guidance

Guidance for 13 August

Learn to think and feel for others, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Learn to understand and enter fully into their lives and hearts, pouring out love and understanding to them, thereby banishing all criticism, judgement and condemnation. Realise that love transforms and transmutes all bitterness and hatred and that understanding opens up hearts that have been closed and have remained cold and unresponsive. Put into practice in your life those words, "Resist not evil but overcome evil with good." It is easier said than done, but until it is done and lived, there cannot be peace and goodwill to all humanity. These words have been heard, read and preached down the ages, but they have not been lived; that is why there are wars, destruction, evil and hatred in the world. It will go on until humanity learns to live a life and not just talk about it, learns to make these wonderful words live and vibrate in everyday life.

It's not easy to be expansive enough to hold Cameron et al in my heart. And just as the most compassionate response to someone trying to beat you up is often a self defensive strike back, it's time we all took time to reflect upon just who is beating up whom.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Good night, sleep well.

I've well got out of the blog habit but the following seemed worth a post.

I've been back at Cluny as well as Iona, Newcastle, Cambridge and back here at Cluny again. Tonight I found out that the last thing the night porter does is to meditate for a short time in the sanctuary; a blessing on the house. H0w lovely, a bit like being tucked up in bed by a parent, prays said.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Good TV

I've got completely out of the habit of blogging, but after watching Human Planet I was inspired to post - such spirit in the peoples shown in this program. Then I watched Outnumbered; once again such spirit and great humour! TV at its best.

In gassho.