Sunday 15 December 2019

Election Result

I find the landslide win at the recent UK general election by the Conservative Party depressing not just because of the direction they will take and the things they will do but because it says a great deal about both the political system we have and the people of the nation. Without going into reams of detail what I think we are witnessing is a huge failure by all of us to address the very issues which brought this government to power. Disenfranchised communities who backed Brexit and then voted for the Conservatives are those that have been hurt the most by the neoliberal processes which this government will now supercharge. Our political system is failing to address the need for detail, clarity, fairness and transparency. At a time when it is clear that as a species we are killing life on this planet at a frightening rate; loss of flora and fauna and changes to the atmosphere and climate are now well established facts, we are heading further and further down a separatist road. In a time when we need holistic global analysis and action to deal with the problems we face we are isolating ourselves and perpetrating the very economic folly which has fuelled this awful mess. On the world stage similar stories are playing out and international climate summits fail to make effective inroads as the world's politicians lack the statesmanship and vision to see that a paradigm shift is needed let alone to know what that shift is. Economists continue to talk about technology solving the problems while they talk of continued economic growth. Nowhere is there serious talk of what it is we as a species actually need to be happy let alone to even consider for one moment spiritual questions around the very nature of our being. This is the real darkness in all of this; we are going to go further and further down a selfish, narrow minded, me first road where the basic delusion of a separate self that can have whatever it wants with no care for the consequences is hailed as the only truth. When we could have come together in recognition of the basic human paradox; that we are both separate and absolutely one with everyone and everything, we have instead decided to take more of the same fruitless steps that have brought us to the edge of the precipice.

Across the ages and around the globe various cultures have understood that we are part of nature and have looked into the nature of man. The various philosophical, psychological, and religious traditions have taught ways to know and control the self. The mystics have pointed to experience between the individual and the unknowable ground of being. The arts have revealed windows and vistas through prose, poetry, music, painting, dance, theatre etc. etc. through which we expand our consciousness and come to know our nature. I suppose that I'm essentially working here with the belief that The Unborn (The Source, God, Oneness) through the illusion of separation gives rise to form that it may come to know its self. What I think the depressing feeling prompted by recent political events is about is a feeling that the majesty of the human experience, the warmth of compassion and the joy of creativity is diminished and that we may even run out of time and cease as a life form to exist within the very near future. And yet I must recognise my own projections in all this; the sense of my own mortality colouring my understanding. I simply don't know where we as a nation and indeed as a species are going. All I have is this moment. And it is good; I am very fortunate. All there is to do as ever, is take each step with as much integrity as possible. Joy is not precluded, nothing is certain, there is meaning and purpose. And I am reminded once more:

‘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.)

‘Peace is the state of distinctness without domination, with the distinct participating in each other.’
(Adorno, ‘Subject and object’, in The Essential Frankfurt School Reader, ed. Andrew Arato 
and Eike Gebhardt (Oxford: Blackwell, 1978), 497–511 (p. 500).)

That I have the above quotes is due to my wonderful partner DC. That we have each other is so amazing and rich that nothing in these apparently dark times should make us abandon the colours and the peace, the warmth and the culture of the best of all of us.

As we find ourselves surrounded by the festivities of Christmas may we all connect with the Christ energy, the awareness of our true (Buddha) nature, the beauty of our paradox, the warmth of our humanity. And in the coming term of this government's office may we remember our true (Buddha) nature.

Monday 2 December 2019

Dead Tooth

Long story short - I've cracked a back tooth, not that there's much at all to see, it's died and I'm in the process of consulting with specialist dental surgeons to see if it can be saved or will need to come out. I'm finding the whole business rather frustrating and upsetting. So much for non-attachment!

After a meeting a work colleague asked me 'why are you so bothered about them taking a tooth out?' Well, I could answer in all sorts of ways about why anyone wouldn't want to loose a tooth and all that would be true. And I'm also aware that I've been particularly careful with my teeth and really want to get through to death at a reasonable age still with them in good condition. And now at 52 having spent most of my life looking young for my age (oh how that would make me uncomfortable in my youth) I now look middle aged. The tooth thing feeds into this and says MORTALITY! Even though anyone could crack a tooth at any age it feels like an age thing. Somehow the conversation got round to sex. (And of course this tooth issue feels like a loss of erotic capital...) I found myself discussing the different intentions behind sex and the places sex can come from, its relationship with where we're 'at' as individuals; head (mind / idea) sex, heart (emotional) sex, power dynamics in sex, awareness in sex, fetish, tantra, the nature of the little death of orgasm etc. etc... there were some confused looks... Driving to my next meeting after the above meeting I was struck by how glorious the day was. It was bright and after a period of intense cloud and gloom it felt alive and vital. Some music on the radio also felt alive and vital. The joint effect was to create in me a sense of the alive, creative natural desire to be which I feel to be at the very root of all there is; the void's fecundity, the erotic in its widest sense. And for a moment the feeling of the sun lit countryside, the music, the road passing beneath the car all seemed part of a continuum of erotic experience not so different from the sexual expression of the erotic. The prospect of loosing a tooth seems to say all this will collapse; it's back to the void, the bubbles dissipate, the dream passes... And with that arises a flicker of anxiety that as the dream passes perhaps there's only been very limited spiritual awakening, that the void barley saw anything and may even fail to glimpse its self.

Later in the evening I watched a YouTube video of an interview with one of DC's colleagues called Paul. The interview was in connection with Paul's work as a Jungian analyst looking at death and HIV. I was impressed (as I almost always am when listening to Paul) at the breadth and depth of his purview and subsequently it came to me in a txt exchange with Paul how death is at least as big as life and since life is potentially limitless and therefore unknowable in its extreme, death is unknowable not just because as Shakespeare's Hamlet asked 'what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil?' but because we don't fully know what it is that ceases at death's commencement. All of which brought me back to the erotic and the desire both to be and to return home to the Source or at least to know Source.

Last night DC and I went to see the movie 'The Two Popes'. We both enjoyed it and found it moving in parts. A line said by Anthony Hopkins as pope Benedict: 'I first sinned against God as a child when I hid away from his world and sought safety in books' struck a chord with me. Not that I hid in books but I knew the point; life seemed a dangerous and unpredictable affair. Peter Pan's comment that 'to die will be an awfully big adventure' is a reflection of a view of life as much as death. And whilst I dislike the word sin there is a wounding betrayal of the self  in not opening to life. Life and death are inseparable. And I couldn't but think as I watched parts of the movie, that even though I can see how it might be possible to experience the full vitality of the erotic (as perhaps glimpsed above) as a continuum between the obviously sexual and the non-sexual that it's few who might get to such a place.

And so I find my tooth seems to trigger the whole question of vitality.