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.