Saturday, 10 May 2008

Dancing with the Guru

This was written eighteen months ago at a time when I was relatively free of cancer symptoms.

A recent article I came across denouncing Andrew Cohen took me back to one or two meetings I’ve had with dodgy gurus. There are plenty of them about and there seems to be a large mutually backslapping band of them in the USA, endorsing each other’s books and courses, praising each other to all those willing to listen. As always this kind of indiscriminate behaviour makes me scent a poorly buried rat.

That said, dodgy gurus are very helpful if one wants to develop one’s powers of discernment and discrimination. Unfailingly, they reveal the truth about their dodgy side by what they say and how they respond when challenged. Most of them seem to love talking a lot. They invariably have the gift of the gab. They really like to be asked questions that show deference to their greater wisdom. The more powerfully they defend their position and seek to dominate, the deeper and sadder the root cause of the problem.

I do relish the challenge they present, though. If I find areas that are dodgy and seek to explore them at meetings, it’s not only the guru that I take on, it’s the baying tribe of followers who can’t hear a word said against their idol. I love the challenge because it really tests my mettle. There’s no better way of finding out whether I’m full of shit than facing a barrage of abuse and attempts at humiliation.

The first thing I’ve noticed about dodgy gurus and their followers is that they are all fervently blind to the bleeding obvious. Those who see through the façade may well attempt to highlight it but soon get seen off by the sheer brute force of peer pressure. Dodgy gurus need adoration and draw to them those who long to adore. No need for them to worry or even think any more. Guru can do it for me.

Unfortunately guru dictates the agenda. His or her no-go areas are imposed upon the flock. Thus the unwritten rules slowly become agreed. The teaching becomes enshrined as the truth rather than one person’s slightly or sometimes highly warped version of it. The warp is always some deep-seated fear or need in the guru so the failure to address it makes it ever more outrageous in its attempts to be heard.

There is much truth in the old adage that the truth will out. Where gurus are concerned all denial seems to end up in excess. The greater the crowd is that panders to the illusion of perfection, the greater the debacle and recriminations when it unravels. Women in particular love to be made to feel sexually special by the daddy figure but hate it when he turns out to be making so many others special too.

I’m pretty sure most gurus are unconsciously longing for someone to come along who has the perception to rumble them and is strong enough to call their bluff, get to the root of the problem and put them out of their misery. That’s why their behaviour often becomes more and more outrageous a la Osho in Oregon.

This latest news about Andrew Cohen comes as no surprise. I’ve been to listen to him talk two or three times over the years with a view to seeing if he has learned anything. I’ve never noticed much change. The first time I went to see him there were people queuing up for ages to get into the venue. Then we had to sit there for nearly an hour past the starting time till he deigned to turn up. He came in like some kind of royalty and gave not one word of apology for being late. This alerted me immediately to his deep lack of respect for others and the deep lack of self-respect that pointed to. All his problems result from the self-hatred he has in him that he won’t face and come clean about. To protect that inner wound he has to puff himself up. He can’t come clean about it because he has had a major enlightenment experience, which I do not doubt, and come to the false conclusion that as a result he must be perfect.

I came upon a similar situation when I crossed swords with Barry Long some ten years ago. In his early years he had some massive and, no doubt, genuine shift of awareness in the foothills of the Himalayas and then came back convinced he was enlightened and knew all the answers. He produced one brilliant book but unfortunately failed to notice that he had a deeply buried resentment probably towards his mother. The result of that was that he ended up proclaiming to be the great guru of sexuality, proudly boasting of having seven sexual partners on the go at the same time and trying to get everyone to buy in to his way of doing sex. A lot of what he taught made great sense but not the dollops of authoritarian droppings along the way.

As it turned out, at the gathering I attended he proved to be quite nasty in replying to one or two women who questioned him and was obviously very angry and probably controlling of those in his life. There certainly wasn’t much evidence of the love he banged on about.

Like a gallant if naïve knight I leapt to the defence of one lady only to be hit with the full blast of his ire. When I asked for further clarification I got hit with another blast that drew forth baying from the devotees and cries that they hadn’t come there to listen to me. He told me if I wanted to spread my ideas on life I should get my own stool and start spouting like him and see if anyone would listen. At no stage was there any sign that he was interested in me as a person, whether I was talking sense or not. He made no effort to engage in discussion or find out what was motivating my efforts to communicate. His ideas were not up for discussion. You agreed or you shut up.

Despite the barrage, which, in my younger days, would have rattled me into aggressive posturing or into slinking away crushed, I remained calm and intrigued by the reaction in the room. I asked him whether he’d prefer it if I left and he immediately calmed down and said of course he wouldn’t. Since I’d paid my money and we were early in day two of a five day “retreat” I thought it would be interesting to get to the bottom of the man.

This initial clash made for an interesting few days. I found it both highly stimulating and very hard work. I appeared to be the only person there willing openly to question the absolute truth of what he was saying. There were others who silently supported me and sometimes chatted to me in breaks but no one dared speak up publicly. I found the information they gave me and their agreement with my thoughts helpful in my one-man attempt but didn’t want to set up a splinter group.

I continued to question him about things like his thoughts on enlightenment. Rather like Cohen he never baldly claimed to be enlightened but allowed it to be known that he was and spoke about himself in the same breath as the enlightened ones. I love that one because it’s the surest sign of a fool or a fraud. I wanted to know whether he thought enlightenment happened in a flash or slowly. On day two he seemed to favour the sudden approach. By the end of day five when I checked with him again this had changed to a more gradual journey.

As time went by I noticed he would seek me out in the packed lecture theatre when I chose to sit in a different place. Whether I spoke or not he was checking on where I was. I focused on him with greater and greater clarity and found myself engaging with him at all times whether I was physically with him or not. Oddly enough, it was never his face that I found myself contemplating but always his genital area. But more of that later.

His challenge was really serving me well and helping me to break through to a higher understanding of him. I needed all the help I could get because, though I can pay attention powerfully I don’t have the greatest powers of insight. I sought him out in a lunch break and told him a bit about myself. I never showed him any animosity and never felt any. He was just very defensive and prickly.

This approach encouraged one or two other people to come up to me with words of support that convinced me that the problem did not lie only with me. Others also gave me information about his earlier days that enabled me to understand him better. It appeared that in his early career as a guru he had often become angry when challenged and thrown dissenters out. So obviously he’d mellowed with time but the anger was still there. Getting to the root of it, though, proved to be a major effort. I am not naturally gifted with psychic abilities but those few I had were certainly needed here. It took a couple of sleepless nights deep in conversation with my inner version of him before I finally managed simply to contemplate him without being challenged or alarmed by his aggression.

What I finally saw in my mind’s eye on the last lunch break was a hazy picture of someone very young touching their genitals. Though not sure about it, I sensed it was Barry as a child. I wondered if he’d been shouted at or hit by his mum when caught touching himself or perhaps masturbating. I decided the only thing I could do to check out my intuition was to ask him if, in principle, he was against masturbation. I knew from reading his book on relationships that he felt the practice was not the right thing to do. In fact he regarded himself as the fount of all wisdom on matters sexual. He was the one who did it the right way.

By this stage he’d resigned himself to hearing me out and may even have developed a grudging respect as I failed to crumple under his assault and remained friendly. So I managed to ask my question. “Are you in principle against masturbation?” There was a most interesting pause before he replied. I could sense that every deepest fear in him was crying out for him to reject masturbation. You could feel the battle raging in him and the anticipation building in the auditorium. Somehow he overcame his revulsion and replied that in principle he was not against anything. Good answer. Anything else would have shown him to be ruled by fear.

In an extraordinary acknowledgement at last that I might have a valid point of view, he enquired as to why I’d asked the question. Encouraged by this I told the assembled gathering, not the deeper, rather bizarre reason but one that involved me describing how the previous Sunday morning I’d been sitting on the end of the bed with a hard on, as you do sometimes, when my friend Sarah had come back in having made us a cup of tea. I described how I’d felt the urge to masturbate for her to see. She had felt this was a blessing and had knelt in front of me and watched in awe as I masturbated and then held out her cupped hands to catch the sperm.

As I spoke I sensed that the whole room was enthralled either by the beauty or the horror of this revelation. You could have heard the proverbial pin dropping. I somehow knew it was going right to the heart of the problem of guilt and shame that lay at the root of Barry’s sexual capers. Was what I was saying crude or inspiring? Had my behaviour been disgusting or wonderful? What on earth would he make of this level of unashamed honesty?

I finished the tale by describing how the sperm when it finally shot out had gone everywhere but into Sarah’s hands. This had made us shake with laughter and it amused the assembled group as well. There was a burst of laughter that broke the spell and accentuated the sense of joy and fundamental innocence in the story.

Barry didn’t say much but said it was time to have a five-minute meditation, as he did from time to time. This gave me the perfect opportunity to scan him in my mind and look for the effects of my story. Immediately I saw him as a little baby crying alone in the sky and reached up to hold him. He was unwilling to be held but I persisted and drew him down into my arms. My left breast swelled up and I put him to it like a mother and felt a few drops of milk go into him. The lengths I have to go to before I can understand what is going on!

When the meditation ended Barry seemed a changed man in his approach to me. With some concern he asked whether I would do that kind of thing frequently. For the first time he seemed genuinely interested in hearing my answer. I said of course not. It had been as if the whole thing had lifted a deep fear in me, lifted a burden of shame and been a blessing to both Sarah and myself. He seemed very happy with this and we moved to other matters.

One of the other people in the auditorium managed to explain that what I had been saying all along had also been the message of Krishnamurti. He didn’t get shouted down or attacked by Barry. I have little idea what Krishnamurti advocated but it was reassuring to have a big name on my side as it were. So things ended very peacefully for me. I felt it had been worth the effort and that I’d got to somewhere near the bottom of Mr. Long.

Some of his supporters even came up to me at the end of the retreat to say that, though they couldn’t agree with what I was saying, they welcomed my input. I felt free of the challenge I’d faced and that I had acquitted myself not too badly given the inadequate tools at my disposal, not least of these being the fact that Barry never thought it necessary to give his questioners the benefit of a microphone similar to the one that amplified his voice. He just seemed to want people to ask questions so that he could pontificate. Discussion was not really to his liking. Thus, initially, I had had to speak up very clearly to make myself heard above the hubbub of abuse.

My main source of strength though, was that I too had had a major enlightenment experience some years before. I had experienced the peace that passeth all understanding that comes from knowing who one really is and seen the light face to face. So I knew where Barry was coming from but I also knew that where women were concerned I was still a rank amateur if not a total novice. My sexual wounding and vulnerability was obvious to me though I had little idea how to remedy it other than to try to relate honestly to women and ask for help. His response to similar ignorance seems to have been to set himself up as the one who knew it all and was therefore in charge.

Interestingly enough, I heard a few months later that Barry had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and I wondered whether his childhood parental denial of sexual expression had anything to do with that. This was brought back to me when I too succumbed to the disease a couple of years ago. I wondered if I had similar childhood programming to Barry.

It has been an interesting couple of years of close investigation of my inner world to try to find the root cause. I don’t think it was the sexual denial Barry appears to have been the victim of but I have discovered deep rooted wounding to the sexual area going back perhaps further that my lifetime. Having dealt with this and benefited from some excellent natural therapies I now seem to be back to health. Time will tell on that one. I am also continuing to explore the wounding that most probably remains.

My final observation is that it is no wonder people get taken in by dodgy gurus. The gurus them selves get taken in by the awakenings they experience. The deep issues that remain unresolved rarely get addressed because it requires careful and enduring personal investigation and self-questioning to address them. This is incompatible with being the image of the all-knowing guru these chaps feel obliged to project. Anyone who attempts to give them honest feedback and a clear reflection of who they really are has to run the gauntlet of anger and abuse that both the guru and his coterie use to keep the terrifying truth at bay.

It is my simple assumption that the whole of Barry Long’s teaching is underpinned by an unresolved and denied fear and shame around his own sexuality. He wanted so much to be free of it that he built a whole philosophy of correct sexual practice upon it in order to make it right. You do indeed teach what you need to learn. And all the time there was a little baby in there crying out for his mother’s unconditional love. On such little things do wars, empires and even whole religions hang.

It will be a few years yet before I get myself a stool and set up in business as a guru. Given that I’m nearly 63, it may not happen in this lifetime. In the meantime life goes on, the leaves fall and winter draws on. It’s wonderful to be alive.

Prostates and gurus

As I mentioned in my previous blog, my latest bout of illness has given me the opportunity to spend some time each morning in a form of relaxed focusing. Since my illness is caused, as I understand it, by a malfunctioning prostate gland it is small wonder that prostates and their meaning and purpose have arisen regularly in my musings.

The prostate is at the heart of a man’s manhood. It is full of nerves and sensors that activate male arousal. It also delivers, via the miracle of ejaculation, the package of sperm and other nutrients into the awaiting female vagina. In my experience there is some kind of subtle communication between the prostate and the vagina that human attraction relies on to get the job of procreation and enjoyable, not to say ecstatic, coupling done.

What an organ! How wonderful and amazing it is!

And yet, when it goes wrong it is as destructive as it is creative when functioning well. The medical answer to its malfunction is to chop it out or remove its lifeblood, testosterone. That approach alarms me. There must be other ways of sorting out the malfunction that don’t destroy such a wonderful organ in the process.

At any rate, be that as it may, my ponderings on prostates led me to remember an encounter I had some years ago with a guru called Barry Long. He was known as the guru of sex and spent a great deal of time explaining to his doting followers how to do it properly. I’ll post what I wrote about that encounter once I’ve finished this entry as it contains what I feel are some valid clues as to what may be behind some prostate trouble, including my own. It is worth noting that Barry died from prostate cancer a short while ago.

But that isn’t where my musings stopped. I was wondering why gurus so often end up in conflict with some of their most loyal followers and why guru led cults often collapse in chaos, recrimination and sometimes actual gunfire.

The big question is, what’s in it for the guru?
From the ones I’ve had dealings with and those I’ve read about, it seems that a common thread is that the guru needs something and that something usually turns out to be love and devotion. This is not to say that love and devotion is what he or she really needs, but it’s what they end up with. People who attach to gurus seem to have a tendency to leave discernment and insight at the door with their shoes when they sit at the feet of the guru. Those who don't rarely have the strength to take on the boss and simply get up and leave. What you are left with is the blind believers, a dangerous following for the well being of the main man.

A common pattern at gatherings is for the devotee to present a problem, which the guru proceeds to resolve. It isn’t welcome if someone questions the solution or basic tenets of the guru. Barry Long used to throw dissenters out and he certainly gave me a thorough examination of my motives. Andrew Cohen is another one who has ended up emotionally and physically abusing some of his loyal followers. The story of Rajneesh and the chaos that resulted at his compound in Oregon also comes to mind.

How does this come about? It has occurred to me that the guru definitely needs something but it really isn’t blind devotion. As children many of us find it hard to be seen or truly appreciated by our parents. It’s our birthright but it just doesn’t happen. So we seek ways to earn that appreciation when what we really need is just to be seen and enjoyed for who we simply are. In childhood we learn to put on an act that wins approval. The longer that act remains in place and the bluff isn’t called, the worse the explosion when it finally is. It is this act that becomes the apparent self of the guru. It is not the true self. That remains hidden and guarded in some cases with angry force. The more brilliant the insights of the guru, the greater the inflation of the apparent self and the bigger the bang if or when the bubble bursts.

It may well be that the hidden part of the guru is crying out to be heard but its cry is blocked by the protective force of the blind adoration of the devotees. Could this be why some gurus cannot help but allow the hurt inside to come out as an attack on or humiliation of their devotees?

The guru is unconsciously crying out to be unmasked. And yet anyone who tries to draw attention to or see the hurt and highly vulnerable child behind the mask is met with a hail of abuse from the devotees and, most probably a scathing attack from the guru too. The former do not wish to be awoken from their comfortable childhood dream of safety and the guru is terrified of the hurt child within that has become nothing short of a monster having been blocked and ignored for so long.

Having said all that I’ll post the piece I wrote on Barry Long.

Health Update

I haven’t been able to post anything on this blog for some time because I’ve been struck down with further prostate cancer outbreaks. This has left me exhausted and needing to focus solely on survival. Things have abated somewhat in the last week or so such that I have the energy to participate in external life once more.

This has come about because I’m back on a regime of nutrients plus a couple of pharmaceutical drugs to try to get my testosterone levels down to the point where I’m no longer killing myself with my own male hormones.

All has not been bleak, however, as I’ve discovered how much love and kindness there is for me among friends and family despite my being able to do nothing in return except moan and wail. This has been of major importance to someone brought up in a family where love and praise had to be deserved via good work at school or in the home. Nothing came as a birthright. It is hard for me to comprehend how wearing that must have been for the little chap I used to be and still am in the depths of my acquired self.

One of the bonuses of my strict regime has been that I spend about an hour a day every morning lying on my bed with a coffee enema up my bum. Despite the fact that this sometimes requires a distinct degree of attention so as not to have a mishap, I find these times highly rewarding. They seem to reduce my sense of self to the barest essentials such that I lie there as if there is nothing and no one here but being itself. Here seems to be all that is and from here the rest of the self I have accumulated over time floats away like islands I can visit if I want to but which distract me and seduce me very little. It may be that brushing with death helps to clear the illusions, the memories, the ambitions and hopes that normally occupy my mental time and space. It could also be that focusing peacefully on the lower bowel and prostate area encourages a very simple, pre-childhood level of awareness.

Whatever the reason, it all boils down to the greater clarity I always see as the fruit of attentive living. And I owe my cancer a debt of gratitude for helping me to become more aware despite my lack of childhood training and skills in that area.

Apart from dwelling in a state of uncluttered consciousness for several minutes a day, I have been focusing a great deal on my prostate and wondering why it continues to malfunction and cause havoc to my system. Is it caused by a chemical imbalance? Is it caused by some exposure to noxious food additives or hormones in the water I drink? Is it the result of some decision taken unconsciously in infancy that still controls how my endocrine system works?

All of these are possibilities and I’m taking steps to address them. Some of the steps are logical, other require a leap of faith that my family sometimes find hard to make. However, I am no longer willing to let conscious, scientific reason rule the roost all the time as it seems to do in our world and more especially in the world of mainstream medicine, where I am still regarded as a bit of a freak despite having survived for nearly four and a half years with advanced prostate cancer and very little conventional intervention.

So that’s the current state of play in as much detail as I want to go into it. I’m still alive and not as dying as I was a few weeks ago. Not out of the wood but able to distinguish individual trees rather that be lost in the density of the deepest forest.

To be continued……

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

How Healing Works - A Personal View

As far as I know, every person has healing gifts, whether they acknowledge it or not. So the initially interesting topic is really what inhibits or suppresses those gifts.

From my own perspective, ignorance, disbelief and dismissiveness were the key factors. If a person doesn’t grow up in a family where such things are acknowledged or discussed, where indeed they are ridiculed, as was the case in my family, then the chances of discovering a gift for healing are slight.

It took me till middle age to overcome my distaste for the whole idea. Even when presented with clear proof, I needed many years to erase old habits of mockery. Despite the passage of nearly twenty years, I am still not above dismissing my role in the healing process.

This might seem a sign of foolishness on my part but, as with many things, there are other sides to the issue. Over time I have come across people with huge gifts and equally glaring faults. I have a tendency to want to see thoroughgoing clarity and integrity in anyone who claims to be a healer. Often it is the faults that strike me more forcibly than the gifts.

I would claim that a job done without integrity is scarcely worth doing. From the highest perspective, I might well be right in that but, when applied to my own gifts, this approach has the effect of stopping me doing anything until I am absolutely clear. Since this state of perfection is elusive I tend to do nothing unless a situation cries out for action. Am I therefore not making the most of my gift?

Once again, I would claim that to be no bad thing but there is another factor that has to be reckoned with. It is encapsulated in the question, “Who am I to know?” which neatly balances the challenging of the over confident with the question, “Who do you think you are?”

When all is said and done I know what I know but it boils down to very little in the grand scheme of things. And so I am reluctant to make any claims about healing. But there is no denying that I know something. This something is what I intend to discuss here.

My Personal Experience

Everything I mention here comes from personal experience and as such cannot be proven scientifically. Nevertheless, it may be useful information to those willing to suspend their disbelief and take a chance.

It has long puzzled me what I should call what I do. Back at the start, when I had the most striking insights into the nature of human reality, I understood from inner awareness that I needed to do nothing; not nothing in a passive sense, but positively nothing. What I know from direct experience enables me, if I let it, to do nothing in a very present and confident way.

A second understanding was that I was here to give people “a helping hand”. This leaves space for many interpretations but the most obvious one is to be present with someone and put my hand on them, usually on the upper back.

When I do this several things happen. Firstly I feel an extremely peaceful sense of focus and clarity. It is as if my hand becomes and extension of my heart and inner eye. I then find myself staring into inner space and as it were letting the light shine from my hand into the heart of the other person.

Obviously this light is very simple. It doesn’t know anything, contain any thoughts or intentions, beliefs or judgements. Its purpose seems to be to allow greater clarity to be shed on whatever is troubling or blocking the other person.

I do not feel that the light heals though in some cases it might have a dramatic effect. What happens is that the light reveals what has hitherto been hidden. Any healing that takes place depends upon what the other person chooses to do with that revelation.

It is at this stage that my conscious mind may feel the need to reassure the other person so that they can accept what is revealed. Often this may be information that runs counter to their conscious beliefs and understandings.

What we are dealing with is indeed the deeper truth that has been blocked or denied often since early childhood. What the revelation has the potential to do is clear up the confusion of ages.

It is not by chance that the truth can be as threatening as it is freeing. The whole edifice of who a person thinks they are can be swept away by the truth of who they really are. For this is the level of truth we are dealing with. And this is why I am almost reluctant to sit with people on a regular basis.

Most are simply not prepared for the revolution that is the whole truth and, as I see it, should not be exposed to even a hint of it without some explanation and preparation. Exploring the truth sometimes needs to be a process that lasts years so that it can be integrated bit by bit into daily life. The so-called healer needs therefore to be a teacher of truth so as to prepare the way for the revelation.

In my own case there were many years of mature life lived in fairly open minded darkness, a couple of years of more focused insight and then a big bang. Within a couple of months of that bang I had left the family home, wife and children and taken up the life of a semi student in a shared house in a nearby street.

By some miracle I managed to keep the freelance work I was doing and earn a living, but I gradually lost touch with most of the people I was acquainted with and slowly found a few new ones with whom I could speak more freely. The fact was that the truth that I had become terrified my wife and she wanted nothing to do with it. Not only that but the truth that guided me meant that I was not able to be open with many people at all except in a friendly, day-to-day way.

Fortunately, two factors saved my sanity. The first was that I had had many years practice at playing the game of workaday life and could do it without compromising my new sense of purpose. The work I did was to do with training people to be confident in their own abilities and, since that is an essential part of being at peace with oneself, I felt able to continue doing it.

The second saving factor was that my meeting with the truth had given me such inner certainty that I could be alone without feeling isolated or lonely. This meant that I could be eternally patient while the turmoil in my family played itself out. I was never in doubt about the outcome and never even considered eternal ostracism as a possibility.

For me, healing requires a willingness on the part of the other person to explore possibilities and be open to change. It is not simply a matter of removing symptoms. Symptoms represent the way in which the truth of the person seeks to be noticed and accepted.

Attitudes to symptoms reveal how much work needs to be done if any real change in awareness is to be achieved. Symptoms need to be accepted as the point of departure on the journey to understanding. The process of unfolding and unravelling of the truth is the path to freedom. Those who find life in prison too comfortable to give up will find healing threatening. Hell can be a very familiar and reassuring place for those who know of no other possibilities.

This brings me to the last piece in the puzzle. In order to have the courage to let go of the old and fall into the new, people need inspiration. What I try to do if people are interested is describe what paradise is like and that it is possible on earth once we find freedom.

We have been brought up in a culture where heaven is seen as a reward for spending a lifetime of dutiful service in prison. This state of affairs suits organised religions and political systems very nicely. It allows their leaders to live lives of very comfortable ignorance. The big fear all leaders have is of public revolt or disorder. It is a legitimate fear because very few people are able to handle freedom after the upbringing they’ve had. Revolutions often involve a great deal of brutality and bloodshed as a consequence of this.

Nevertheless, this culture is unnatural. If human beings are treated with kindness and clarity from birth and then gradually taught how to handle freedom with care and awareness from an early age, they develop the skills to balance self-interest and mutual benefit. This leads to an open-minded and openhearted approach to life where kindness, compassion and care are the key attributes. These, coupled with the strength and resilience that come from a deep inner security and confidence are the prerequisites for experiencing true liberation while still alive and incarnate.

In my experience, therefore, there is much more to healing than just the laying on of hands. For this reason I am quite circumspect in talking about it and even more so in sharing the gift.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Akhenaton, the Essenes, John the Baptist and Jesus. The Story of the Inner Light

Last night I went to a very interesting talk on the lost years of Jesus by Robert Feather. I didn't buy the book he has written on the subject but, having heard him speak so knowledgeably, would suggest that it's well worth a read for those interested in such matters.

In the past I've read other books on the topic. Much of the message of Christianity seems to have been subverted by later power structures to promote their agenda. It makes me suspicious of anything regarded as the written truth. Whether Jesus even existed or not is a matter of some doubt. Recent scholarship appears to support my sense that the truth has been obscured and distorted by subsequent generations. Material power is always seductive where humans are concerned and priests are no different from anyone else in their weaknesses.

There is however no doubting the power of the message that Jesus is supposed to have delivered. Nor is it in question that the message wasn't too popular with the religious powers of his time. So what was new about the message? According to Feather not much. It all appeared to hark back to the brief 17 year reign of the extraordinary Pharaoh Akhenaton around 1300 BC. He was remarkable for being the man who swept away all the idols and gods of the previous pharaohs and initiated a pure form of monotheism. It appears that he did this with the help of some of the Jews living in exile in Egypt at the time.

He built a brand new capitol Tell-el-Amarna with a huge temple to the one and only god Aton, took all the power away from the priests and encouraged a flowering of the creative arts that was all but obliterated after his death when the priestly powers took back control. All very interesting and I suggest you read the book if you want more information.

What struck me most forcibly were the images of the Aton which were simply rays of the sun pouring down on the heads of the Pharaoh and his wife. These rays seemed to be a development of sun worship such that the physical sun took on a spiritual form. This all rings true with me.

I received no religious or spiritual guidance as a child apart from the usual Bible story stuff fed to me at school. This didn't scar me because I felt no fear or awe. The authority figure in my life, my father, made it quite clear that he didn't accept any of it so I was spared the spiritual abuse so prevalent in our society.

As a result of this lack of guidance or indoctrination I must have drawn my own conclusions and become a sun worshipper. I clearly remember as an infant, longing for the sun and watching it set over the gardens to what must have been the west. From my bedroom window I could look out over the rooftops towards the sunrise and would stare at that too. I loved looking at the sun at those times when it wasn't too bright. My mother told me it would make me go blind but I still did it until the green disc of it remained throbbing in my head when I looked away.

With hindsight this seems to me to be the root of all human sun worship. What could be more striking to a child than the sun and, as I grew up and understood more, what could be more essential to life than the sun. So there was the foundation of what was to follow.

My first experiences of inner sunlight pouring down on me weren't very striking. When they occurred in my twenties I assumed that I was having a flashback to babyhood. It appeared that I was being wheeled about in a pram with bright lights shining down on me from the top of my head. It was only in 1992 when I was at the workshop I went to with Frank Alper in Phoenix that I became aware of something much more obvious. It was as if the top of my head was throbbing and a sun shining down from the roof of my head. Each day the sensation grew more pronounced.

As I understand it now this resulted from my spending hours sitting in the group focusing on what Frank was saying and on how I was feeling. I was in a particularly relaxed state because I had no sense of having to prove or do anything. I was simply sitting there paying attention both internally and externally. Part of the reason for feeling so relaxed was that I spent a good deal of the break time being with and hugging some of the female Japanese members of the group who were extremely warm and friendly.

If I had to give the main ingredients for anyone wishing to experience inner sunshine they would be to sit and focus with a group of like minded people for hours over several days, to feel at home and relaxed, to be in search of or simply open to the truth and to be hugged on a regular basis. I did not do any meditative practice, visualising or imagining things. I just contemplated and mulled over what was said and done. In other terms, I paid attention with a warm, open heart.

What resulted was a gradual increase in awareness until there was a massive explosion of light in my head and the angelic aspect of myself appeared. All very dramatic and not something I intend to go into at length in this piece. Suffice to say that from then on the whole experience took on biblical overtones.

Put simply, it seems that when your angelic aspect turns up, for the first time in your life, you know who you really are. All doubt vanishes. You are no longer an agglomeration of memories, hopes and fears blundering through life in a dream. Who you think you are remains a part you can play in worldly life but it ceases to be of paramount importance. This sudden and total removal of all doubt reveals to you just how much you had been burdened by doubt until that moment of total conscious arrival into incarnate form. A huge sigh of relief sweeps through you in a wave of bliss. It is no wonder then that the only term that comes close to describing the sensation is the biblical one, "the peace that passeth all understanding". I cannot stress enough the ramifications of this.

Another sense is of rock solid certainty and completion. It also soon became apparent that everything I needed to know became known to me at the moment I needed to know it. It was as if all knowledge was streaming down to me from the light that filled me. Again, a biblical concept. If you add to this an ability to read minds, see into people's hearts, understand their hidden suffering and relieve it simply by seeing it, you begin to get a sense of what the state of mind entailed.

Well, I was a simple soul with no particular frame of reference or backup team to support me but you can imagine if this kind of revelation and knowledge came down to a chap who was already or about to become a pharaoh. Last night I had the sense that this was the case with Akhenaton. He was suddenly shown a new level of awareness that removed all doubt and with it the need for the idols and images that help assuage fickle or angry gods. It was a way of being that was based on the kindness and service that a fearless heart emanates so naturally; a way that called for equality between the sexes and between all people.

One of the key aspects of the angelic order is that service is the very essence of it. Angels don't boss people about. Even though they have inestimable powers, they live only to serve. They only act if invited. Given his new power and insight, it appears that Akhenaton set about dismantling the old power-driven priestly order and empowering everyone to be creative and work to the benefit of all. He did this by moving to a new city and leaving the old ways behind.

At least that's my take on it after hearing what Robert Feather had to say.

Now we come to the Essenes and the times of John the Baptist and Jesus.

It seems that when Akhenaton died and his paradise was swept away, the Hebrew exiles who remained kept the knowledge of that period alive in their secret practices. Not only that but they took them back to Palestine with them and became a separate sect that didn't go to the temple or follow the lunar calendar. They were not called Essenes in the Bible but were referred to as the scribes or the meek. They remained true to the sun and the inner light rather than the outer ritual. They studied the law but interpreted it with thoughtful insight rather than blind adherence. This was the training that John the Baptist and Jesus (if he existed) were exposed to.

Interestingly, the biblical sensations I was experiencing during my time of exposure to the light also included a strong sense that I was back in the time of Jesus even though the person uppermost in my mind wasn't Jesus but rather, John the Baptist. I felt an unmistakable affinity with him. Why this should be cannot be explained by any prior fascination with him because there was none.

The other striking similarity between my experience and that of the time of Akhenaton was that the angelic force that exploded into me was clearly akin to the sun itself. The nature of the event was of an omnipotent, blinding sun appearing in my head and causing everything to burst into flames. After several steps down in power it announced itself as Michael.

Obviously I wondered about this in subsequent years and came upon a document that stated that Michael was derived from the name Ma Ha El. This apparently means great sun god. Thus it would seem possible to me that Akhenaton had experienced the arrival of the great sun god into human consciousness. No doubt this had happened before but never to someone in a position to do so much to increase awareness of it in society at large. This, in turn, may have led to Jesus coming to be called the son of god - the similarity in the words is not, I feel, a coincidence.

So where does this get us in the grand scheme of things. I'm not a pharaoh and not about to lead a new awakening of humanity but I would like to do my bit to chivvy things along if at all possible. To this end I would like to move on to another remark by Robert Feather that made my ears prick up.

As part of the ongoing consequences of being hit in the head by a ball of light, I had a revelation at the airport in Phoenix on my journey home from the workshop. The full account of it comes up first in the list if you google "period of justification" but here I simply want to say thanks again to Robert Feather for being the first person to offer me any clue that the term justification has a meaning in biblical texts.

It's very rare for me to hear a word in my head let alone one that has no obvious meaning. When I heard the term "a period of justification" I needed more information. The ideas that then flowed into my head concerned the heart. Put quite simply, our hearts are full of emotions that block its essential function as an engine for compassion and kindness. Until we acknowledge, examine and let go of old resentments, grievances, hatreds and prejudices we are incapable feeling those noble emotions and denied entry into the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is only open to those who are filled with kindness and compassion. According to Robert Feather the biblical concept of justification had a similar sense to it. People who behaved with kindness and followed the spirit of the law did not need to stick to the rules as laid down by the scriptures. By behaving kindly and with compassion they entered the kingdom. Having experienced it all I can say is that it is a state of mind and perception that makes every worldly pleasure seem trivial.

According to the information that flooded into me when I sought clarification on what the period of justification entailed, the human race has been since 1992 in a twenty year period of justification that requires us to let go of all the junk in our hearts in order to allow the increased frequencies of compassion to channel through us.

Given the portentous sense of biblical meaning, it appeared that this was not just a message to me but one that was meant for a wider audience. A failure to prepare for an increase in true heart energy could make life more painful as the heightened energy begins to flow in. To use another rather old fashioned term, it behoves us all to pay attention to this possibility and take steps to get our hearts in order.

It therefore seems to be important for me to use this avenue of communication to make this message available for anyone who chances upon it. If anyone requires any more information feel free to leave a comment and I'll be most happy to expand on the topic.

Needless to say, I'm most indebted to Robert Feather for enabling me to revisit the experiences described here with greater insight. I must also make it quite clear that any misinterpretation of the facts in his talk is a result of my shortcomings not his. The surest way to greater clarity is to read his book.

That's all for now but I may return to the topic again at some stage.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Getting to sleep at night

It's a hell of a wet December day out there so no chance of interesting walks for the foreseeable. But never fear, I just had an email from Craig, a friend in Australia who reminded me of something I wrote a few weeks ago when he asked me how to deal with being wakeful on going to bed.

My first attempt to reply to him got a bit out of hand so I sent him a few quick ideas. However I persevered with the mind clearing exercise he set off in me and sent him the long answer some weeks later.

I've no idea if I answered his question but I got something off my chest and thank him for providing the impetus.

You get the long answer I'm afraid.

Hi Craig

It may surprise you but receiving an email such as yours excites me.
I’ll tell you why. It suggests that there is someone out there who might be responding to what life offers.

This may seem obscure to you but it is my understanding that life is always dropping hints to us. Not many people respond to them other than to bat them away or complain so I’d like to do what I can to encourage you to explore the clues offered. Hints about what you might ask?

Well it is also my understanding that we are here to make the most of ourselves and yet most of us don’t. We get stuck in the troubled and ignorant patterns of childhood and never manage to free ourselves.

That poses another question. What is freedom?

All this and I haven’t got anywhere near addressing your question about getting to sleep at night. That’s the nature of the challenge we have I’m afraid. Getting through all the apparent junk to the heart of the matter. And we all have it. So much so that we don’t even know it’s a problem.

It has never occurred to most people to consider that freedom might be something to aspire to or indeed that they aren’t free. So the first step is to entertain the idea that they might not be.

Not being able to switch off and go to sleep at night is a clear sign of being in the grip of something. It might be indigestion of course but I doubt it☺ Exploring what the real issue might be is the first step towards finding out what is controlling us. Do that with a little determination and a whole new view of life opens up. My whole approach to life is based on wanting to get to the truth of things.

So let’s start with the concept of freedom as I understand it so far.
It seems to me that freedom happens, if it happens at all, bit by bit. You turn a lifelong prisoner out of his habitual jail and he freaks out. Stay in a darkened room for a few hours and run into sunlight and you’re blinded. No, the best option is to be let out for brief trips into the dangerous world of freedom with some kind of easy guidebook. I’ve been assembling my own for years mostly through a process of trial and error.

The first step if you want to be free might well be to begin by examining the nature of the walls and bars surrounding you. At present the indications are that your prison walls emerge most clearly when you lie down at night and try to go to sleep. If you think about it, they appear to be made of thoughts, probably, if they are anything like mine, repeated and never ending. They may turn up as worries about things you feel can’t do much about while lying in bed or plans that grab your imagination. You try to stop them and they wriggle out of your control. I’m only imagining this of course. The experience for you may be different. That’s for you to know and explore.

Let’s leave that thought there for a minute and jump to another idea.

Where do thoughts come from? Somewhere in my mind, seems an obvious answer. But where is that mind? In my head? I wonder about that. But more on that later, perhaps.

Here I can only speak from my own experience of exploring this issue. For me thoughts appear as a narrative accompanying images or scenes. Does that ring true with you? So where do these images come from? What triggers them? I did a lot of wondering about that in my early adult life. When I was unable to stop thinking in my twenties I had a hell of a time getting to sleep and used to ponder a great deal.

There were two factors that I identified as important for me. One was that in my childhood my mother wasn’t very tactile. She never cuddled me to sleep, never read me bedtime stories (she was too busy with my older brothers, the ironing, the washing up etc.) I don’t ever recall having a kiss goodnight when I was tucked up in bed. She never used terms of endearment. I’m sure she loved me but it was never overtly expressed. They say you don’t miss what you don’t know but I know my own kids really enjoyed a story and a goodnight kiss and wouldn’t go to sleep without one. I think my childhood experience left me with emotional heart damage and numbness. I explored all this when I was in my twenties. I'm sure my stuff is totally different from your stuff but you can bet your life you have stuff to explore about your mum. We all do and will never be free until we face it.

The second factor was my dad’s expectations. He was a very reassuring chap to have around and made me feel safe but there were conditions, big conditions and they were never overtly mentioned. The main one was that I knew I had to do well at school. I never questioned this at the time. It seemed like common sense because I went to schools where that kind of hard studying attitude was assumed by all. But when I had achieved all my goals academically, good A levels, the best university, a good degree, after the euphoria, I was left with a total emptiness. I soon realised I’d more or less done it for my dad.

After being confused and without direction or ambition for a while I ended up in a terrible marriage that soon broke up and left me with a baby daughter that I had to leave with a mum I didn’t trust to bring her up. You see how life gets you in the nuts. I felt such an impotent failure and so depressed I could hardly get out of bed let alone get a proper job. I was so burdened it felt like the end.

So what has all this got to do with my dad you may be wondering? Well, one thing just leads to another in that fascinating way life has.

In desperation and needing somehow to support my kid and her mum, I ended up as a bus driver. You could say life drove me to it because it was certainly the last thing on my mind. The bus depot just happened to be less than a hundred yards from the little room I had rented when we split up. I turned up feeling pretty unemployable and wondering if I could get a job as a bus conductor. The guy behind the glass partition took one look at me and said, “You look the sort who’d make a good driver. Come back on Monday morning and we’ll try you out”.

He turned out to be a chap called Fred. Everyday angels like Fred seem to appear in my life from time to time. You may think I’m barmy but it seems to me there are times when we’re invited or directed to do things it would never occur to us to do normally. It was almost as if he’d been expecting me. I could give you further examples but it would take too long. Angels appear when most needed and least expected. People turn up in unlikely places with rather forthright messages and we do well to notice what they say.

At any rate a long stint as a bus driver turned out to be the greatest blessing I could have wished for. Bus drivers have to pay attention but they don’t have to think. It occupies some restless part of the brain and releases energy for other things that are on the mind. At last, after years of studying and striving to pass exams I was suddenly free of all that. I could earn a living in a simple thought free way.

Freedom I hear you say!! Yes it was freedom but freedom of the most circumscribed kind. I certainly never saw it as up to much to start with though, made to work odd hours on different shifts. Unable to do any regular sports. Given the plainest, old maid as a conductress when other blokes seemed to get the dolly birds. Grumble, grumble. But there was a sense of power in driving an old fashioned double-decker and it was so obviously a useful service to the community. It was novel and not unpleasant. An outdoor job in a cosy indoor environment. Oddly satisfying.

However, the real benefit was that I was given the chance to spend time on my own safely enclosed in a bus cab. Unwittingly I’d let life inveigle me into getting to know the content and workings of my mind. Very few people get this chance and no one tells us at school that it’s vitally important if you want to be free. Essential, it seems to me now. In my ignorance I was truly blessed.

Driving a bus became second nature after a few weeks. I enjoyed it. My mind, however, was a revelation. It became a tyrant and there was no escape. I just couldn’t stop the inner dialogue. It was a nightmare, an inescapable nightmare of semi-logical jabbering and argument, philosophising and self-justification, pontificating and imagining. But there was nowhere to hide so eventually I gave up the struggle to control it and went at it with a will. It took a while to make any sense of it because I felt so guilty about my daughter and such a failure.

When that subsided, I started writing thoughts down at the terminus or on breaks, even at traffic lights or when stuck in traffic. I filled several small spiral notebooks. It soon became an amazing adventure, full of discoveries and creation, poetry and memories. There was a darker side to it as well but more of that later.

First I want to mention one book I was reading. This was a book on Zen by D.T.Suzuki. The ideas in Zen fascinated me. They were all about no thing or nothing. What is the nature of reality? What is the mind? What happens when the mind is still? All very theoretical when my mind was whizzing about all over the place, with me feeling euphoric one moment, depressed the next. But it was important to add this new element of possibility. Zen Koans did seem to interrupt the thinking and leave gaps. The gaps were fleeting and soon flooded with thinking but they were there.

Gradually I became aware that a part of me was not completely caught up in this merry go round. That part was just observing. The still point at the centre of the Catherine wheel isn’t the bit that gets all the attention. It didn’t strike me as very important at the time because the rest of me was having fun feeling momentous or anguished and generally making such a din. I think this awareness of an observer was helped, though, by the fact that there was yet another part of me that was driving the bus. After a year the bus driver often did the job without the thinker even noticing him.

So the observer was just one more bit of me. It was just the bit that didn’t seem to do anything at all. It didn’t think, it just noticed. An odd discovery really for someone trained to think for England if not the world. How was it possible to exist without thinking? There’s a question that bears contemplating. Who’s there when the thinking stops? All very Zen. The answer vanishes the moment it appears. Like trying to grab at an eel.

It is often the case that we don’t notice something important in our minds because we are so caught up in old habits. Also the quiet bits tend to attract very little attention. It happens in life everywhere. We get drawn to where the action is, where the crowds are. A key lesson to learn is that the witness only gets caught up in the action when you think about it. It is free until you become conscious of it. Becoming aware of the witness is a massive step. So massive I still get shocked when I notice it and jump into thought.

The mere fact of identifying and describing the witness state tends to limit it and diminish it. It is so much more alive and immediate than thought. Whole philosophies are based on it. Here I just want to brush up against it in passing so to speak and then retreat to the safety of thought before I spoil it. But rest assured it’s there like some huge living presence. By comparison thoughts and even imaginings are pretty secondary.

I clearly remember how a kabbalah teacher I knew before my marriage collapsed used to start his meetings. He would ask us to sit there quietly and feel the presence. I had no idea what he was on about or how to feel such a bizarre thing and plenty of ideas rattling around my head to clutter up the silence. I'd come to hear words and argue the toss not sit about feeling presences. But there was something about the man that drew me back

Well, to return to the topic of thinking, as time passed I grew pretty used to the thoughts in my head and began to identify frequent visitors and sort them out. After a few months I could sort out the confusion and boot them all off into space within an hour or so of beginning my shift. This eventually became so easy that I only had to get in the cab and switch into driving mode for them to dissolve. Except for some core feelings that would go quiet but not go away.

These took centre stage when I finished work, went home and lay down on my bed to rest. Then the deep stuff would eat into me.

What I understood to be happening was that my driving was a bit like the Buddhist concept of sweeping the temple. It gave me a peaceful routine to get my head clear but once that stopped I was faced with deeper stuff. Which brings me again to the second element that was at play, my dad and his expectations.

In all this mental kerfuffle I hadn’t understood just how important my parents still were in my inner world. I was 26 for God’s sake and assumed I’d grown up and left home. I even lived 100 miles away and rarely saw them. I hadn’t lived at home since the age of 19. But while I drove there they were in my head the whole time, indeed, occupying large areas of it.

My mum wasn’t so much a problem as someone I felt sad for. I seemed to want her to love me but it always ended up with me comforting her. A part of me resented that but I couldn’t bear her a grudge because she’d so obviously done her best given the knowledge and upbringing she had. So I just noticed her there.

Slowly I became aware of the image of her that was triggering my thoughts and feelings of her. She was a baby crying for attention, crying her eyes out. I ended up holding her in my arms and singing songs to her. It made me feel better, more relaxed. I didn’t see my real mother during this time nor did I ever tell her any of this. I have no idea whether the nature of my thoughts affected her or not.

What I did gradually come to understand was that the parents we deal with inside our minds are not the people we see on show out there in the "real" world. They may be, to some extent, a product of our childhood suffering and imagining. More perceptively, they may be indicative of our subconscious awareness of their subconscious workings. Our adult discoveries about them may change our view of them and thereby change our reactions to them and theirs to us. All of this may be beneficial in improving peaceful communication but the point of it all is not to change them but to be free of their control.

When push comes to shove, though, not many people want to be totally free of their parents. They want to remain in the child state to some degree because the prospect of freedom is so frightening. Often, of course, they do this by creating a substitute parent out of their life partner. But that’s another very interesting can of worms I don’t want to open here. Suffice to say, it worth a look at some stage.

When exploring the mind it’s important to make this distinction between inner and outer because one is then free to allow feelings to arise that have been suppressed by society’s moral codes. One does not become free by applying moral rules to one’s feelings. In the inner world one has to be free to let the imagination loose. It is my experience that people who bear great resentment of their parents become free once they are allowed to imagine inflicting some very satisfying kind of punishment on them. Having empowered themselves by imagining bashing their brains out they can then see them much more clearly as damaged individuals rather than the tyrants they were when seen through the eyes of a frightened or needy child. Any trip down memory lane is of great value as long as we take our mature self with us and give people and events a new assessment with more mature eyes. It can help us let go of highly debilitating grievances.

Which brings me to my dad. In his quiet way he was a powerful chap for a little lad to grow up with. I used to hear him yelling at my older brothers when they didn’t get their music practice right. I took the hint and never showed any interest in playing a musical instrument. I also must have decided at a very young age that it was best to be a good boy and obey the rules. Only until such time as I could get away from home, of course, but childhood habits die hard.

It never occurred to me to picture him as I drove but he was there all right. I used to spend ages trying to justify myself to him. Trying to get him to approve of all the brilliant ideas I was having about the nature of the mind and the problems of the world. The man in my head never said a word but didn’t seem to accept my explanations however hard I tried.

He just never seemed to get the fact that someone with a Cambridge degree could be leading a useful and even important life as a bus driver. I rationalised and argued the toss with him until I was exhausted. Needless to say the man himself knew nothing of this as he worried about me in his workplace a hundred miles away. While I was at work the driving brought a kind of relaxing counterbalance to the vigorous but one-sided arguing but once I lay on my bed at home I just felt sick and desperate.

At certain times while driving and trying to explain things like the Zen concept of no mind to my dad I would make mental connections and discoveries that seemed positively earth shattering. He was the most challenging and fruitful stumbling block because he never said anything and was impossible to please. Perhaps this is how some people are driven to create whole systems of philosophy, simply to get some dominant parent off their backs. It was all very exciting and gave me a greater sense of self worth I’m sure, but this sense of euphoria collapsed the moment I lay on my bed. The foundations were non-existent. I’d let my dad down.

And this brings me back to a previous question. If thoughts are triggered by images, as I suspect they are, where do images arise? Well, I can only tell you what I experienced regarding my dad.

One afternoon, after work, I sank even more deeply into the depths of despair that awaited me every day. I could almost see it as a black tarry swamp somewhere in my solar plexus. This time instead of fighting to get out some fascination took over and I just sank down and looked into this black, black pit. Looking back now with the benefit of greater experience, I think what happened, and this is the true crux of the matter, was that I simply gave up trying to escape it. I surrendered and finally witnessed the sensation.

What then happened is an indication that there is more to witnessing than just doing nothing. At the time I didn’t understand this but witnessing is more than just looking. It causes something to shift and release the emotion locked up in what is seen. This is the crucial part for me. When we do nothing with full attention we become very powerful but in such a subtle way that we dismiss it as nothing at all. In reality we become life givers or creators of life. Pure attention or pure consciousness is the essence of life.

What happened was that it suddenly occurred to me to look up into my mind and see what was there. This occurring was in some way different from a usual thought. It was a sudden connection from my solar plexus to the front of my brain where the picture show is. There on the screen, right in the middle of my mind was my dad’s face. It was just looking at me with a stony, judgemental look. I knew it had always been there whether I’d noticed it or not. That was why I felt so desperate.

As always the face said nothing but just seeing it caused something to stir in the pit below. They were inextricably connected, the pit and the image. In my whole body there was like the roar of something waking up at last. A pair of hands, my hands rose out of the pit. Reaching up, they took hold of my dad’s head one hand on each side of his face and heaved it out of the way. Their power was irresistible.

Behind the face was a very pale disk of light.

At the time the significance of this was lost on me but I now regard it as one of the most important steps I took on the path to freedom. I shoved my dad out of the way. I had been arguing the toss with him because, as a child, I had unwittingly, though highly understandably, set him up on the throne as my judge. He was blocking my view and interfering with all my thoughts. Up until then, I could do nothing without reference to him for his approval.

From this it has become my understanding that as long as any person or any god image occupies the throne in my mind, I cannot be free. If I detect any person trying to set them selves up as my judge, I have to challenge them and push them aside. No one has the right to judge me.

Of course I still argued the toss with my dad for ages afterwards because you don’t kick a lifelong habit overnight, but now I knew what lay behind it and found myself laughing when it happened. Whenever I saw the judge appear, I took to swiping his head off with an imaginary samurai sword. I never told my dad anything about this because it wasn't about him but about what I'd made of him.

Gradually the chatter in my head diminished and I could think more clearly and concisely rather than rattling around on a treadmill. As far as I know none of this aggression did my dad the least harm and, as time went on his trust in me grew and my freedom to mess up my life as I saw fit was no longer subject to his interference. I had become a man. Dadadaaaaaaa!

As with all such revelations, I spent plenty of time reviewing this inner event and absorbing the message it contained. Even writing about it again now has given me further insight into its ramifications. I’m not a particularly quick learner or dedicated practitioner of meditation techniques. I just mull things over and pay attention as best I can.

So now I’m going to pause and read this lot through after a while and see if it makes sense. Then I’ll answer your question and you’ll know why I’m suggesting what I do. You can then decide whether it has any relevance to your life and if not work out your own solution and approach. That way I won’t feel like a bully.

Back in a bit….

And there the letter ends just as breaks begin to appear in the clouds outside. I'll take the hint and try to deliver some Christmas cards and parcels that have been wrongly addressed. Life goes on....

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Something a little different from 25 years ago

On a dank December night I thought I'd warm myself up by looking again at stuff I wrote back in the early eighties while working thousands of miles away from my family in the Saudi port of Yanbu . Hot sunshine, dust, warm nights, scruffy surroundings and Arab culture. Glorious empty beaches. I thought I'd change the colour of the text to match the sky.

On the road from Jeddah to Yanbu

Police car flashing ahead
Guarding a dead
Body lying across the middle
Of the village street
Covered in a white sheet
Except for one bare foot

Around the ankle a cut
Red but no blood coming out
The heel of the foot looks cracked and old

Under such burning sun
How can the body grow cold?

A few robed figures look on
No sound of rage or lamentation

I ease by
Then accelerate to full speed
Remembering mostly
The whiteness of the shroud
Holding the stillness
Of the brown foot on the ground

My first evening in Yanbu al Bahar

In downtown Yanbu
We sat in the square
Drinking coke from the bottle
On rickety chairs

We sat in the square
With rubbish all around
Rubble and reinforcing rods
Mangled on the ground
The reek of the hookah pipes
Fouling the air
Reducing the smokers
To a vacant stare

Downtown Yanbu was
Where it's all at

You bent down and greeted
An elegant stray cat

As wild eyed waiters
In Yemeni skirts
Plied the tables
And trampled the dirt
Yelling out orders
In raucous voice

I would think I was crazy
If I had a choice
To be facing such squalor
In the balmy night air

Only the well paid
Stay in Yanbu Sur Mer


First sunlight shatters gold across the sky
Warm mists enfold the crumples
Of giant Radwan's fists
Rough knuckles rapping softly on the town
Tall at our backs he stands
Black glacier in a lake of sand
A crenellated block blown from a sea
Whose silver treasures scintillate the eye
Conceal the teeth that tear intruders down


How cool this air of autumn seems
Compared to molten summer
The breezes balmy now
That stifled breath and violated skin
No longer haste to shrink back into shade
Closed doors and windows, dead conditioned state

Now we can live, now
Gentle loitering hours
Hold charm in this neap season
Restful sleep with windows wide at night
Release for those
Imprisoned by the heat

All alone in the shallows at the Creek

Turning in shallow waters
Not watching, not waiting
Weightless undulating

An end is beginning

Now, unthinking
The sea bird calls

Sun's hand deepening
Under skin

Wonder full mind
Smoothed through sleep

From here
A hundred thousand miles
In only a moment's
Reflection of light
The shore extends

I am the water, the waves, the wind
Intoning a music
No other voice can sing

Local life

Closed shuffling world
Shuttered houses
Keep out the light

Black shapes
Furtive eyes
Keep out of sight

I am the lord and master
Of this house
Pride puffs me up
Like a rotting cat
Inside the maggots
Ignorance and fear
Gorge in darkness

My wife, a simple soul
A slave
Accepts all that
Ashamed to show
Her honest face
In the back
Of my brand new
Air conditioned


There's nothing beautiful in Yanbu al Bahar
That I can tell
Except for the neat horizon of the sea
Between there and me
A jumble of half finished buildings and rubble strewn gaps
A jaggle of concrete and reinforcing rods
Rooftops bristling with uneven crew-cuts
Finished blocks with no windows in
Gardens of dirt

Today is Friday and a sparrow chirps above my balcony
An evening breeze strolls over the scruffy city
Lifting a lazy polythene bag or two
Effortlessly to the skies

Away they sail like liberated souls
Till suddenly over the tarmaced acres of the port
They die, never to reach the sea
Except, with luck, on all fours crawling
At last gasp
Like all the other bits of plastic and paper
And even the odd tin can, blessed with a fortuitous throw and unhindered roll
They drop
Down into the living coral brine

In Yanbu al Bahar the magic of evening time
Billows warm breezes through open doors
Onto sunstained skin
From pale and naked skies
Ruffling the only trees
Huddled in protective frames
At intervals between the cars
Watered once a week, if they don't forget
By two men and the water truck

With luck they may survive a year or two
And then become the victims of some accident
Between a Chevy and a Datsun pick up truck
The trees, I mean
Or perhaps not

Thinking of home

In a room completely mine
Eyes curve
Cascading on the sudden fountain leaves
Of spider plants so full with months of care
Soft breaths slip by the sunlit dreams of home

A lovely woman with our children there
And memories of here today
Alone beside a clear blue pool
Tired limbs remember swimming
And relax

Around these shades of mind a peace enfolds
Like fine net curtains swelling
In the summer evening breeze
About the vase and ornamental boxes on a writing desk

The air subsides
And curtains fall to rest
And through the veil a world
With all that happens there
Alive, unchangeable by me
Spectator, child and yet creator
At the dawn of our long dream

Down deep in time original
I grow with love and pride
And knowledge of the right
Attending like a servant
Near the crucible of light


Who will remember
Yanbu al Bahar
When I have left
And the dream is ended?

Can a dead Mercedes
Or a rusting air conditioner
Lolling in the dirt?

The people will all be gone
Back to Manila, Sri Lanka, Houston or London

The few who remain
Will load up their air conditioned world
Into a truck
And mindlessly move on

How long will it take
For eternity to return
To Yanbu al Bahar?

Flight Home

Dawn's distant lullabies
Soften the dark
And gradually night
Floats down to sleep the day

Under the paling black
Somewhere the sun seeks
The perfect spot in time
To crack the ragged blur
Of sea and sky

I watch

Dull glowing deltas
Seep across
And finally a red blob pops
Much smaller than I'd wanted
Just a spot
Not much to worship
For a waiting heart
Not much at all....

The roundness fills
A clear edged dome of fire
But still just red

The sun all right
But somehow not yet quite....

And breakfast comes at thirty thousand feet
A plastic box of croissant, jam and cheese
Not bad.... I'm hungry and it's good to eat

The window to my right flares up
A blast of yellow to the limit of my sight
Then incandescent white around a pulsing core
The universal might
Perpetual exploding of a nuclear device
Onto the infinite trillion particles
In our molecule of night

The crowning light