Monday, 9 January 2017

Descent Into Mind

          In my previous-but-one post, "To Travel One's Own Path," I said that there are meditative experiences that are not appropriate to talk about. Yet the outcomes of such experiences may be shared without damaging the essential tissue of the experience. Today's post is one such example. I must describe this experience in religious language because that is how it comes. To describe it in any other form simply introduces an artificial element where none is needed.

".........The outer world can be sensed but only through the agencies of my senses, my brain and mind. In that sense everything is 'out there.' When I travel into my very depths, everything I visualise and record in my memory is still 'out there' insofar as it is outside a Mind beyond the veil of consciousness. I can never consciously contact God, or that totally otherness, directly. Yet there is that which responds to my seeking that feeds those responses through the veil in forms which I can 'see', even if not understand.
  In my most recent journey inwards, I passed beyond the animal [me], the bird, the insect and my botanical connections to my most fundamental elements. Yet even in that place [not I suspect a journey back in time but one down to my deepest connections] there was a sense of presence which intimated a knowledge of what I already was, before I acquired physical form, and what I would yet be. That implies an earlier involvement with life. That earlier involvement lies 'beyond', in a place or realm where my logic, reason and rationality has no place, because they are products of my mind. And I say again that in that beyond is Mind which has its own system of reason to which I am not privy. Can anyone know the mind of God, the Mind? I think not. Yet I am aware of its presence........."

          As a footnote, I should perhaps say that probing ever deeper into the mind is not unlike probing ever deeper into the universe. The further we see, the further back in time we travel, because it takes time for light to reach us from the depths of space. Similarly, to descend into one's inner depths can be an experience of travelling back through evolutionary time. It can also simply be a descent through the various parts of the brain to its earliest and, therefore, most fundamental elements.

Monday, 26 December 2016

There Is No Time to Lose

          Over these last few days a current has been flowing through me with which I have been feeling less than comfortable. I know that in part it stems from news both from near and from afar, some about friends, that is saddening. However, I am also aware that although events around the world have been shocking, brutal, and cruel there have also been many that fall into the category of "you're-too-sensitive-but-that's-life." Compared with the heavy stuff these latter are light-weight, small events, that seem not to impinge on one's life too much. Yet they too, drip by drip, add to the unloving malaise that seems to be a necessary accompaniment to life.
          At the very heart of life, at the very ground of our being, there is a place beyond flesh and blood, beyond muscle and sinew, a place that is wholly spirit. Push open the door to her realm and she shines out like white, unconsuming fire. She is Wisdom/Discernment. If I try to close the door behind me and still remain in her presence, I discover that I am returned to a place outside, shut off and waiting to enter. The door must remain open. So once again I push open the door to her realm and wait on the threshold. And it seems to me that all my life has been spent at this point, waiting on the threshold, in some liminal space that exists between what was before this life and what will come after. Now is the time to prepare, with all my strength, for I may not pass this way again.
           This year has seen some horrendous events take place, as well as some that seem to shut the door on hope. I would suggest that many of the latter seem to have opened the way for some people to pour out their racist bile, their intolerance of anything that does not fall within their restricted, limited view of life. Yet that stuff has always been there. It is that now, buoyed up and seemingly justified by others who feel and think in the same way, that there has been a reported outpouring of abuse that shows up a world that is far less than it could be.
          But perhaps there is value in the surfacing of all that we might like to ignore and keep hidden. In a sense, many have "come out" and shown the world how truly uncaring, unkind and contemptuous they are; how each of us could be - if we are honest with ourselves. For my part, I must at all times keep the door to Sapientia open. I must remain aware. Every little unkindness, every little slur, every negative little act or thought dwelled upon, simply adds to the steady drip that will lessen me from what I can be.
          But there is yet hope. Not all is doom and gloom. People can rise to tremendous heights of loving-kindness and ego-denial. All too often those beacons become dimmed to our eyes under the welter of bad news that some enjoy making, and the media determined to peddle. We are in the habit of dividing our lives into discrete blocks, when in fact we are passing through a continuum with no breaks. So now is the time to do what must be done; not in six days time. Now is the time to begin again and yet again. The time is coming when the threshold must be crossed, and I will move on. There is no time to lose.

Friday, 16 December 2016

To Travel One's Own Path

          I find myself caught between a place of wanting, and a place of forbidding. Perhaps the word 'forbidding' is too strong. Yet there is a sense of 'it-isn't-appropriate-to-talk-about-it.' How can I even begin to talk about this current experience? Whatever is happening now has its roots in earlier experiences, as perhaps is inevitably the case. There is no clear and obvious event to which I can point and say that that is where this current phase of my journey began. Therefore, I will jump in at random, and that point happens to be my reading of Karen Armstrong's, "The Spiral Staircase." [For my introduction to this book I must thank dear Susan of "phantsythat."]
          For those who may not have heard of Miss Armstrong, she is an ex-nun. Whilst living in her convent she discovered that she had a real problem with God in that no communication developed between them. I have to say that there were moments when reading her account of her search for herself, when my heart bled for her. In saying that, I realise that I was also bleeding for myself, for my own early experiences of living in a 'born again', Victorian household. As I have indicated elsewhere, I never stopped believing that there had to be some experience or process [but never a some-thing or some-one] in this vast universe that could be called God. I simply turned away from what seemed in those earlier years to be an irrelevance in my life.
          For some time now I feel as if I have been living in a spiritual desert. These are difficult times to live through even though they are also times when something profound is taking place at a deep level. All sorts of experiential clues arise to nudge one towards a course of action that needs to be undertaken. "The Spiral Staircase," and even a television series of space fantasy, were two such clues that I discovered. But pride of place has to be given to the book, the television series playing a secondary, but strong, supporting role.
          As I have already said, I find myself in a place of wanting. I want to continue to write here about matters that are of prime interest to me; matters of the psycho-spiritual. I also find myself in a place of forbidding. Deeply spiritual experience needs to be guarded and explored most gently in secret and silence. I have in the past tried to share much that I have experienced, because behind those experiences I have felt a new reality far beyond the realism of the material world. Now I need to move on from that approach. Where this new phase of my inner journey will lead I know not. I only know that lonely and fearsome though the way may be, it must be attempted. The process of renewal allows for nothing less.

          As it is unlikely that I will post again before Christmas, may I wish for the very best to all my readers for the coming festivities, whether they be a celebration of a Christian festival, any other religious festival of which I am unaware, or simply a pagan celebration of midwinter.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Look Up to the Future

          The time of Advent is with us again. I am finding that it brings with it a sense of relief, an end to what at times has been something of a growing psycho-spiritual slog since that last major event of the Christian year, Pentecost. This current period is, I think a period of renewal, a period of great magic, but one to which one needs to open oneself.
          Although my experience tells me that life experience is cyclic, that I am continually heading into a new beginning which necessarily contains within itself an ending, I often sense this feeling of, "been there; done that!" To submit to that feeling can result in great loss of fresh experience, and it is in that experience that a new truth, or a new way of seeing truth, can emerge. As a young man I was perhaps more prone to see the beginnings of things. As a man well past his prime, I suppose I am more prone to see the endings of things. And perhaps that is all right and proper. But I must never forget that both endings and beginnings are always here, that the one cannot be divorced from the other, that in a future final ending is necessarily a final beginning. What a truly wonderful paradox: two diametrically opposed and coexisting phenomena.
          There are a number of places in the Bible where one is warned to "...stay awake!..." "...the time is at hand!..." It is to be noted that the admonition is not to wake up, but to stay awake, to keep one's lamp fuelled and ready. As a child being raised in a Christian family, none of this caused me any concern. After all, my spiritual future was assured...wasn't it? What did cause me more than a little concern was such messages as,
          "For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept them all away. It will be like this when the Son of Man comes. [And here's the crunch line] Then of two men in the fields one is taken, one left; of two women at the millstone grinding, one is taken, one left."
          Yet as is so often the case when one reads scripture sensibly and non-literally, that is, by refusing to sink into fundamentalism, there is tremendous hope and reassurance in these lines. These lines tell far more about being taken into a place of fresh understanding, of enlightenment if you will, than being removed [literally] from the face of the Earth whilst all those naughty sinners and backsliders get their come-uppance. That in turn leads one to look up to the future, to enjoy fresh beginnings with all the joy one has, and the exercise of the imagination one can muster. For no cycle repeats itself exactly as before, and in that truth there is always hope.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Let Life Shine Through

          There come occasions when I sense a longing, an urge, a need to return to some point of experience in my life. It may mean revisiting a particular location, rereading a book by a particular author, or looking again at a painting by a particular artist. These longings are not so frequent that they are a cause for concern, nor so rare that I can easily ignore them. But they do act as goads, or perhaps prompts, for reasons of which I am not clearly aware. This has happened on a couple of occasions of late. The particular incident that I am writing about here refers to the paintings of a particular watercolourist,  Ray Campbell Smith [RCS].
          This artist, I discovered, died in January of this year, a week before his one hundredth birthday. There appears to be no announcement of his death at the time, although it must be probable that there was a local announcement where he lived in Sevenoaks, Kent, UK. ["A last chance to view the renowned artist’s watercolour paintings for the benefit of Barnardo’s, in accordance with his wishes. The exhibition will take place at St Julians Club, Underriver, Sevenoaks, TN15 0RX from Thursday 13th October to Thursday 24th November 2016. Open daily until late. Telephone 01732 458261 for more information."] This bracketed information was taken from the website of SAA - the Society for All Artists.
          I find RSC's paintings symbolic of a deeply, and healthy, psycho-spiritual nature. But why is this so? I will try to answer my own question in the following way. RSC adhered to certain principles in his work. Firstly, keep to a limited palette. Often he used only three colours; raw sienna, light red and Winsor blue, for example. In English landscapes he rarely if ever used more than five or six colours. Secondly, keep detail to a minimum, and use only such detail as is necessary. For example, a picture of a dock would lose much if it failed to show some presence of human activity. Thirdly, paint with quick, clean washes to avoid muddiness, and to allow the paper to shine through.
          This year has shown me the need to "let go" of a great deal in my life. Some material possessions were lost as a result of the house fire; others were deemed to be no longer of such value that they needed to be retained. It was not difficult to see what had been discarded, or what remained. In the case of inner "letting go", what I have dispensed with has been fairly obvious. What remains is far less so. Yet the inner search and questioning must go on. There are details that seem to be important, but which are not. There are ways of behaving, ways of dealing with situations, that must be corrected or eradicated altogether. The problem with clutter, and much of what is retained in life as important can be regarded as such, is that it tends to define us in a particular and inappropriate way.
          Thus by stripping life of unnecessary detail, and reducing one's activities and interests to those which are genuinely important, and not of a pseudo-reality nature, allows one's inner life to shine through into one's consciousness. For this, RSC's paintings are for me so symbolic of right living.
          I will close this script with a taster of his work. I believe he will long be remembered in the field of watercolour painting, and not a little missed as well.


Ray Campbell Smith  1916 - 2016

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

All Things Come to an End

          The end is in sight. Well actually, a number of ends are in sight. This morning I had my second piece of maintenance laser surgery on my eyes. I am pleased to report that everything said in the comments to my previous post has, in the main, been confirmed. I now await a check-up to confirm that all has gone to the surgeon's plan, a confirmation that should come in six weeks' time or thereabouts. So the end of treatment is in sight, with [one hopes] the loss of a particularly annoying floater in my left eye.
          We now have a beautiful, oak staircase to grace our hall, built as part of the ongoing restoration work on the house, after the fire in June of this year. The electrical work has been completed, well sort of. Some changes have not been carried out, because the artisan ran out of time. But these are minor matters which, strictly speaking, did not need to be part of his current contract. We now await the arrival of the painting and decorating team, with their coterie of carpenters, to replace damaged floors, and to spruce up the decor. Appropriate materials have been chosen. In the meantime I am carrying out what work I can complete in the intervening two weeks before the arrival of the latest batch of artisans. So the end of the restoration is in sight.
          We had hoped to place the house on the market this year with [fingers crossed] the possibility of a quick sale and a move to pastures new, or at least newer. Unfortunately, as a result of the Brexit decision to the EU Referendum campaign, the pound has plummeted, and our much needed reserves for a newer house has similarly fallen. However, I hope that what falls down must also rise up - and in not too distant a future. So, although the forecast is not good at present, I do hope that opening stages of house purchase planning are coming to an end. We must wait and see.
          It has been an eventful year. Not only have we been "enjoying" a peripatetic life style for a few months, and a revamping of my eyesight, but have also been adopted by a truly lovely dog. I refer of course to our much loved "Elfie." We continue to grow ever closer both in feelings and understanding. There is now doubt whatsoever who are her adopted carers. So the end of a very changeful year is coming to an end.
          Of course, one usually waits to the actual end of a year before writing in this fashion. There may yet be more to come! On the other hand, a rest would be most welcome, and a girding-up-of-loins period in preparation for whatever fun lies ahead. So, through a still blurry right eye, and a "floaty" [grrrr] left eye, I wish you all a fond au revoir.  

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Is the Universe Beginning to Split?

          I see a vast flock of birds sweeping and swirling; I see downward flashes of lightning; I see a bedraggled spider floating by me; I see sharply etched spots of black, jagged pressure waves, and I see the universe beginning to split to reveal a vast blackness beyond.
          Now in the world of the spiritual, detachment is good but, by way of a corollary, attachment is not good. Of course detachment does not mean lack of caring and loving. Often it means a non-self-identifying intensification of loving. However, before I get drawn into that subject too far, let me say that there is one case which springs to mind where detachment is not good and attachment is good, even highly desirable. I'm talking here of one's retinas. (Or should that be retinae?)
          Thus it was that when being entertained by the viewings mentioned above, I began to feel a modicum of concern about my eyesight. A quick call to the "polyclinic" and an appointment was made for the same afternoon. I learned from the specialist that I was not about to have retinal detachment (and I assumed that I was not about to fall into the Divine Abyss, which was something of a relief as we are moving back into our home at present!)
          I am developing sacs behind my implanted lenses which are causing (apparently) the strange effects I am observing. So, it's laser surgery next week on one eye, to be followed by similar treatment on the other, a week later. This development is not unusual about eighteen months to two years after cataract surgery. I just hope this kind of maintenance surgery doesn't get to be a habit. I know I can be a driven person on occasion, but if I cannot see properly Lucy gets to be the driving force. As it happens, I am permitted to drive, so long as I take care.
          I think I am beginning to witter on. Must be the relief of moving back into our home, now vacated by the electrical artisan. Yes, he finished with mere hours to spare! And I also must finish.