Minimalism and how to value things…

After what seems like decades of being submersed and trapped inside the capitalist / commercialist paradigm, I came up for air this weekend and it smelled good.

I was flicking through Netflix on Friday and as usual found little substance in the movie section, so I headed on over to the documentary section and found a programme which caught my attention called “Everything That Remains” fronted by a pair of Amercican hipsters who go by the name of The Minimalists.

Although a little self-centred at times, a lot of what they said (not neccessarily in the manner in which they said it) made total sense. Less is most definitely more. However, minimalism it seems, is not without a sense of irony as our hipsters friends try to sell us their library of written materials in an effort to “unminimalise” our bookshelves. 

I read “Faithlessly Religionless” by Timber Hawkeye on the long haul to Cape Town recently and whilst I was somewhat disappointed by the way in which the book was written (again rather self-centred for a modern Buddhist and the overuse of exclamation marks also grated after a while), one thing I did take away was his sound approach towards simple living or minimalism.

Here we had a man who worked in corporate America, a man trapped inside a machine who wanted to get out, a man surrounded by things he did not need. Whilst his next steps were admirable in leaving his life and possessions behind on the mainland, heading out to a gregarious lifestyle of sorts in Hawaii, as a single man with no committments it was a relatively easy thing to do, not much hope of a man with a wife and three children in following those footsteps quite as easily (not that I would want to either, well not just yet).

My main take away however was simplicity. He left behind his gizmos, gadgets and wardrobes full of clothes and reduced the amount of things he owned and travelled with to a more manageable and mobile level.

I have over the past seven months lived out of a suitcase (and a very large suitcase at that), travelling to several exciting and exotic locations for both business and pleasure. It was after getting back on the bathroom scales which displayed a particularly woeful number that I realised that entropy was back with a vengeance. There was no structure in my diet, there was no structure in the things I owned, there was no structure in my wardrobe. Chaos was once again reigning supreme but at least I had been able to stand back this time and acknowledge that disorder had made an unsavory reappearance.

I was both willing and able to change, starting off with the diet. My eldest offspring treats his body like a machine, his motto is “calories in vs calories out, try not to think about how good the food tastes, know that you can pretty much eat what you want as long as you have a set calorie limit”. Whilst no doubt that is flawless logic, knowing in advance what and when to eat requires thought process and planning so I began to adopt a minimalistic approach to breakfast and lunch. Every morning I eat low fat yoghurt with granola, every lunch time I eat a bowl of bran plus a banana, and my evening meal can have the variety the mind seeks to satisfy the wants of the needy limbic system.

My minimalistic meal approach very quickly reaped rewards and the seven kilograms I had gained during the previous seven months of travelling were literally flushed down the pan (very literally in Cape Town after suffering a particularly nasty bout of seasonal gastritis). 

It does become easy after a while, removing the noise from within for craving something different to eat helps to free up time for other activities, there is no pondering at the fridge as the majority of the food is predetermined, there is no anxiety over cravings after a while as the mindset towards food changes. What we give away in terms of palatte pleasure we take back in calorie reduction and more importantly time saved.

Still, there was more to do, a lot more. I opened both of my wardrobes and saw yet more disorder, not only were the clothes spewing from all angles, half of the clothes I did have I never wore. So again taking the minimalist approach, I took a scythe to the lot. I decided that five was a good number (it seemed to work well for the Jacksons and Enid Blyton) and that everything I owned should be reduced to five. Two large refuse sacks later, the law of five reigned supreme; five casual shirts, five formal shirts, five ties, five white t-shirts, five black t-shirts, five jumpers, five jackets, five jeans, five shorts, five (times two) socks, five (times two) pants and five shoes. I followed this up with five gizmos (Kindle, iPhone, SmartWatch, Wireless Headphones and Wired Headphones) and five (times three) books, so I now only possess ninety things. Ninety things sounds like a lot but from where I started from it is a big improvement. Not only has the local charity shop benefitted from the cathartic clothes purge, but I now get back the decison time back to do other things; when in work choose one of the five shirts, when not in work choose a black or white t-shirt with jeans.

Once again the noise of choice has gone, and with it comes real value. I am already starting to really cherish the few items I have in my possession. Going forward, I no longer need to buy anything new, anything which will break that rule of five simply will not be purchased, except to simply cycle out the items I have with replicas when the old ones become dysfunctional.

There is a lot to be said for minimalist living, it gives back time, it gives back money and gives a sense of real value in those things we do possess…

The Ego and the Tree…

Consider the lily, I mean sycamore tree. Today I sat parked under a sycamore tree reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, a title which was passed on to me by a dear and like-minded friend as something he thought I’d be interested in. He wasn’t wrong.

the-tree

Within the space of one and a half earth hours, I had read sixty-eight pages, quite a feat for someone with a tortoise-like pace when it comes to reading. It is both a riveting and “revelationary” read, scribing that we appear to be living in the dawn of an age which is starting to redefine consciousness, awareness and inner essence.

Noetics, mysticism and new age thinking intrigues me to the point that I want to find out a lot more on how the Cosmos truly works, but sometimes I struggle with scientific descriptors and technical theories as to how the Universe works (at the quantum level for example) and how this maps into the collective consciousness or The Source.

Reading on, I came to the chapter about the ego. I’ve never really understood the true meaning of ego until now, my take was that ego was purely personality, and in particular arrogance (e.g. “M’s” ego is huge, what a tool). Not so. The internet defines the ego thusly:

  • Ego – A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance, or
  • Ego – In philosophy (metaphysics), a conscious thinking subject, or
  • Ego – In psychoanalysis, the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.

My present understanding of the ego was bullet point one above, bullet point two got me thinking and bullet point three set me off on a quest for more information and with that came Freud’s concept of the human psyche:

human-psyche

A picture normally sets things straight for me and although the above image helped, I still wasn’t clear about what the Id , Ego and the Super-Ego are. In terms of simplistic definitions, I found the following really helped:

  • Id – Is the primitive and instinctive component of personality, consisting of inherited biological (genetic) components of personality present at birth. Id is unconscious and has no direct connection with external reality. When a child is born it is all Id, only over time does it develop an Ego and Super-Ego (sometimes not if genetics / defects prevent it). The Id engages in primary process thinking, which is primitive, illogical and irrational, reality is purely objective and selfish.
  • Ego – Is that part of the psyche that develops in order to mediate between the objective and selfish Id and external reality. Ego is the decision making component and works by reason (using social situations, etiquette and rules in deciding how to behave), working out realistic ways of satisfying the Id’s demands, often compromising to avoid negative consequences of external reality (society), sometimes at the detriment and annoyance of the Id. Ego has no concept of right or wrong, something is good if it achieves goals of satisfying itself and Id. The ego engages in secondary process thinking, which is rational, realistic, and orientated towards problem solving.
  • Super-Ego – Is that part of the psyche that acts as a moral compass, incorporating the values and morals of society learned from parents and/or others. Super-Ego develops around the age of five and its function is to control the Id’s impulses, especially those which forbids, such as sex and aggression. It also has the function of persuading the Ego to turn to moralistic goals rather than simply realistic ones and to strive for perfection. Super-Ego consists of two systems: Conscience and Ideal Self; Conscience can punish the Ego through guilt; Ideal Self is an imaginary picture of how you ought to be, and represents aspirations, how to treat other people, and how to behave in external reality. Falling short of the Ideal Self goals may be punished by the Super-Ego through guilt, or rewarded through a sense of pride.

With that in mind and reading on in Tolle’s book, the present human condition becomes more understandable, leaving one with the observation that only with complete balance (at an individual and communal level) can humanity survive.

We have been through the evolutionary chain of events (if one is to believe that) when only the Id existed, our monkey-to-man era; the missing link being that light bulb moment where consciousness / ego was “created” for the first time.

A society devoid of Super-Ego would I guess only would result in destruction, a society without a moral compass would I’m sure only lead to the end of civilisation as we know it, and it sure fells like we are on that path just now.

As I sat there looking out of the car window, “helicopter” pods and sycamore leaves heralding the start of Autumn by periodically hitting the roof and windscreen and at that point I meditated and became the tree. I was a self-replicating organic construct who had grown in this field for perhaps over two-hundred years, without Ego, without Super-Ego, just there, just being. Although this tree was a living thing, made up of exactly the same building blocks as man, we are different. I am conscious and it is not. We both posses an Id of sorts (impulses, instincts and a primal need to survive) but I have an Ego and Super-ego, it does not.

Freud’s work falls short for me. Whilst it describes the very nature of how the “mind” works very well, consciousness he states is purely an epiphenomenon of the brain and nothing more, and collective consciousness does not and cannot exist (the materialistic reductionist paradigm right there in a nutshell – mind and body exists but not the soul).

Deep meditation and dabbling’s with esoteric means has opened my door of perception to an alternative and deeper reality, a reality beyond physics and metaphysics.

For me, people confuse the definition of spirituality. As Tolle defines, spirituality is a connection with inner essence, with the collective consciousness; it is not a belief system, a belief that one is spiritual by perhaps believing in God without adherence to an organised religion with associated doctrines and dogmas.

After spending one of the most curious one-and-a-half hours of my life with a book, a tree and an inquisitive mind (there’s another problem right there – if trees didn’t exist then neither would I (oxygen starvation), yet because they do exist then I do too, and in turn man turns trees into books so that we can share information about the mind!), I close the book as my son approaches from his latest casting workshop, and as I do so, I “see” for the first time that the front cover of A New Earth has on it, a wire-frame image of a sycamore tree leaf similar to those I could see on the windscreen…

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If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is…

In darkness, look to the light…

We can guarantee that as each day dawns, the darkness of the night will inevitably give in to the light of the day, and with it the opportunity to refresh. Photosynthesis would simply not exist if the intergalactic “F5 button” wasn’t pressed every twelve hours and as a result nor would we (on the basis that life is not an illusion of course).

Conclusion: We need light.

I have recently started to re-watch the nineteen-eighties cartoon Dungeons & Dragons with my daughter as it was a personal favourite of mine many decades ago, and the first sitting saw us take in three episodes:

  • The Night of No Tomorrow
  • Eye of the Beholder
  • The Hall of Bones

As a child I looked forward to coming home from school (can’t remember which day of the week it was) knowing that a new episode was on. I would later go on to develop a love affair for Gary Gygax (his creative outputs rather than his physical form) and took up pencil, paper, maps, dice and lead figures – all accompanied by his trusty Dungeon Masters Guide and Monster Manual. Days would go by where my friends and I would get lost in Forgotten Realms, setting forth upon quest after quest, gaining experience points and magical items at speed, all suffering real-life bouts of depression if any of our party was killed by a gnarly beast.

As we sat on the sofa, her eyes were fixed on the TV (enjoying Uni the Unicorn’s air play time when he (or she) bounded joyfully on to the screen), my crusade to bring “K” along with me on my trip down memory lane an easy and triumphant one. As each episode played out, I couldn’t help but thinking that Dungeon Master (DM) was an on screen majestic, medieval and magical Buddha (albeit with a red cloak, not orange).

DD-DM-screenshot

It appeared that DM’s long list of quotes were resonating with me on a different level now; quotes taking on new purpose, new meanings, such as:

  • The right road is not the left…
  • Evil energy is like evil force. Change its direction, and it changes to good…
  • In darkness, look to the light…

As we watched The Hall of Bones, it was the last one that grabbed me. There I was sat on the sofa next a true beacon of light, an innocent beautiful creature whose caring and sharing nature was guiding me through a rather difficult time (not that she was aware of course). Earlier in the day, I had been to the hospital for a rather uncomfortable MRI scan on my brain, as the headaches I’ve been suffering from the last four weeks had not subsided; my ENT consultant had booked me in to get a scan to see if there was an underlying issue that needed immediate attention (my current tinnitus spike possibly acting as an energetic cranial early warning system).

“K” is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met and she is only eight, and I am lucky to recall having similar thoughts of my two boys when they were younger before taking their own paths to maturity. She really is a positivity magnet, who also possesses what they called in the film industry a “Paul Newman Smile”. It is pretty impossible to spend any time with her without being uplifted and forgetting about the troubles of the self or the world. I guess I am lucky to have someone in my life so special, but concur that good parenting probably has a part to play in that too. I get the results of the scan tomorrow and no doubt “K” will be close by whatever the outcome.

We all live with the subjective reality of our own existence (shared or otherwise) each day and I have of late often questioned the true nature of reality itself.

In describing what reality was, Einstein once said:

  • What is reality? What we have called matter is energy (light), whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter. Matter is Energy. Energy is Light. We are all Beings of Light…

So here we have one of the most brilliant minds of our time confirming from a scientific perspective that we are all beings of light not darkness, no more so than my daughter.

We went walking with the whole family yesterday, during which my wife and I were having a conversation about her complementary therapy business, which she said gave her a lack of confidence in succeeding this time around as her two previous opportunities crashed and burned rather disappointingly through no fault of her own. I consoled her by saying that she was doing great in her new venture and told her not to worry as everything would turn out just fine.

As we made the bed this morning, we found this:

IMG_9041

Without knowing, two little ears were listening in attentively to our conversation and took it upon herself to place her Guatemalan Worry Dolls underneath mum’s pillow before she retired for the evening. It’s not surprising that my wife wept, almost as much as I did. “K” really is does banish the darkness.

In darkness, look to the light…

Music of the Spheres…

Plato wrote that the Cosmos is constructed according to musical intervals and proportions. Pythagoras called this sound the “Music of the Spheres” and believed that the sound of the Cosmos fills our inner ears and we are constantly in contact with it from the moment of birth. Native Americans called it the “Song of the Creator”, whilst ancient Hindus called it “Akash Bani” translated as “Voice from the Heavens”.

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One thing is clear, one thing is common. Great philosophers, mathematicians, sages, religions and cultures across time have all identified that the Cosmos emits a sound, a frequency, an energy. Scientists today would no doubt attribute this sound to the dawn of the Universe creation, an intergalactic hum born from the Big Bang, any other description of Cosmic sound being fantasy or folly.

There are others that believe that the Cosmic sound is energetic evidence of the one consciousness, and that everybody has the ability to tune into this sound. This sound is not externally generated (as the drone of the Cosmic Background Radiation is) and one cannot simply listen more attentively or hold ones head to the stars to hear this noise, this frequency is internally generated and can only be heard via esoteric means.

All too quickly do we take the word of science as Gospel; there are materialistic explanations for everything in this World and we are educated and trained to believe everything that the intelligentsia tell us to. Where there is materialism, there is also non-materialism, which lends itself to suggest that there is always at least two explanations for everything and Occam’s Razor is in fact a creation of materialism because it suits scientific theory.

Since the age of nineteen, I have suffered from tinnitus, which was born via esoteric means. My teenage years were not proliferated with abuse as such, more eras and episodes of sadness and misdirection. I attempted several times to educate myself through college but dropped out year-on-year to the point where I gave up completely and became a statistic and sought solace in early afternoon rises, video games and Class B substance abuse.

Anyone who has had a psychedelic experience under the influence can confirm that what ones sees, hears, smells, touches and tastes are distorted. I recall one fateful night that visually, distances and depths were altered and the dimensions of the room changed and warped to contradict our intra-day visions and the laws of physics. The sound too was broken, instead of a being a constant stream it came in waves.

The dream I had that night will stick with me forever. I was sat alone on a beach, with nothing else or no one else around. There I sat for what seemed like an eternity as wave after powerful wave hit me full on in the face without dislodging me from my seated position on the sands.

beach

Without knowing it I was unconsciously tripping in the world of dreams, wave after wave of energy hitting me. When I woke the next day something had changed, I could hear a strange noise in my ears which I thought was odd and slightly disturbing, and I tried to ignore it without success. I retired early that night and woke the next day fully expecting business as usual to return but sadly it not and I freaked. What was this internally generated noise and where was it coming from? I tried to mask the sound by turning up my music (to eleven) and taking headache tablets, but to no avail so I booked myself in at the local surgery.

The only advice my doctor gave me the next day was to get used to it, it was called tinnitus, there was nothing he could do for me and could I invite the next patient in on my way out. As I left the room, my heart sank and as I walked home, half way back to the house I had what I called my first “fell over inside my own head” moment. At random, the tinnitus sound wave crescendoed and hit me like a bolt of lightning with my visual perception also being distorted for a few seconds, falling outside of time and space albeit briefly, shaking me to the core.

One thing was for sure, I had to change my lifestyle with immediate effect, as the substance abuse was having a direct influence on my physical and perhaps metaphysical self. At that time, I didn’t really believe in much; Life, the Universe or Everything. There was no God, no central consciousness, religion sucked, science made complete and utter sense and everything was WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get).

So I did just that. I changed. I remember looking at myself in the bathroom mirror one morning shortly after acquiring my new debilitating affliction, and whilst having yet another “fell over inside my own head” moment (albeit within a familiar and safe environment) something quite profound happened (although I didn’t realise it until many years later). As I gazed into the mirror a wave of energy and sound came over me and once again the door of perception was open. For a time (seemed longer than it probably was), I could not work out whether I was me or I was the mirror, reality warping once again but this time without being under the influence. Looking back, that was the first conscious connection with my other self if indeed such a thing existed, it was first-hand and direct experience, albeit a very subjective one.

After I came to the realisation that my tinnitus was here to stay, it was time to crack on with this thing they called life, and get my act together I did. I quickly found myself a temporary job as Chief Envelope Filler for a local pensions firm, which was even more quickly followed up by permanent job in the Civil Service (which lasted thirteen years), which was, even more quickly than the first quickly, followed up by a job in the oil and gas industry (which has lasted ten years so far). In between I managed to find time to get married twice (to the same person) and have three amazing children which make me very proud each and every day.

Hard to believe that all of the above was just preamble for this blog, I guess sometimes context for revelation is required.

It was almost three years ago when the doors of perception where once again flung open. I had been going to yoga for around six months with “P”, a seventy-six year old Western guru in every sense of the word. After the dark times the wife and I went through in twenty-twelve, I needed someone and something to focus on to keep me on track and that was “P” and yoga. I had to put in place, a routine which kept me on track as I was doing a rather crap job at that. “P” helped me and yoga helped me, they helped me from a mind, body and soul perspective. For the first time in my life I knew that all three actually existed and keeping these three things in balance was the key to life.

pam

“P” was inspiring and put me on a path of health, well-being as well as a personal quest for answers. She sorted out the first two and my good friend ”M” helped me on my search for the third one, tipping me off with books from noetic authors which may be of interest. It was whilst on the path for information that I received a random request to take part in a free reiki workshop, run by a friend of my wife. The old me would have laughed it off and ignored the call, but here I was on a personal crusade to find answers and this opportunity presented itself timeously.

As this “blogalogue” has well documented over the years, that workshop had a profound influence at the time and continues to resonate with me today. What I experienced that day cannot be effectively described in words, subjective experiences rarely can I guess. What was very clear though was that there was an invisible energy field that can be tapped into, and when it is, the attuned can experience things which the layman cannot, and experience it I did to balance the mind, the body and the soul.

Deep in meditation, “L” and I were ethereally connected via hidden energies, the waves entered my head and radiated downwards until my whole body was amok with a frequency I had not felt before. It was powerful, very powerful, parts of my body were contorting and my eyes streamed with water (not tears). Here we had a situation where invisible forces were affecting the physical and metaphysical self, for me proof that there was more to what our five senses could perceive and experience.

I left the workshop with my head was spinning, I felt awake but not enlightened, fully aware that this shit just got real.

A year later, I asked “L” for a one-to-one reiki session, and we both agreed that I was ready to make the next step up to level two. I asked her if we could do it on the beach near to where we lived, and as avid Stand Up Paddleboarders it was impossible to resist. The attunement took place as the sun started to descend towards the horizon and once again the Universal energy took hold and mixed with the warmth and the light of the Sun making it a truly magical experience. The significance of the beach and the energy waves hitting not lost on me.

Over the years I have continued with yoga, meditation, reiki and consciousness studies (off and on it has to be said – work and family commitments taking priority, the latter without question, the former less so).

The last few months have been quite stressful at work (both the project and I being “out of kilter”), so I contacted “L” for a reiki session to refocus. I had not seen her for quite some time as we have both been very busy doing our own thing so I was keen to hear that she had created a yoga studio at her house and her attention had turned to kundalini (which coincidentally I had started reading about after a good tip off from author Ellis Nelson).

After chatting for too long, I hopped up on the bed and she gave me kundalini reiki for the first time. After reading half of JJ Semple’s “The Biology of Consciousness: Case Studies in Kundalini” at break-neck speed before the session, I at least had some rudimental understanding of kundalini and how via various processes (Shaktipat, Psychedelics, Meditation and Intercourse) can activate hidden internal energies connected to esoteric forces. Kundalini reiki is the process of connecting the yin and the yang, the male and the female, the root and the head via energy transfer.

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I have always been quite kinaesthetic when it comes to meditation and reiki, feeling the energy flow quite easily between the “attuner” and ”attunee” (sometimes subtle, more often intense) and today was no exception. Maybe it was because I had a willingness and an eagerness to activate the kundalini that it wasn’t too long before I seemingly left the physical realm temporarily and joined up with the other side.

As mentioned, describing such an experience is difficult to put into words, but in an attempt to try, the reiki energy began to rise in my head and instead of the usual subtle energy transfer down the meridian points, the wave headed straight down my core and headed for the root where the two points connected. I could no longer feel the bed under me, I could no longer feel any presence in the room and everything turned a brilliant white light yet it did not hurt to look at it (as I was not using my eyes to see) or be a part of it.

It sounds very far-fetched and perhaps clichéd but for a brief moment in time (or outside of it) I was the light, I was pure energy. Quite exactly what “I” was and where “I” was during those moments remains a mystery. Was I alive and dreaming or dead and remembering? Was I connected to the Source, was I connected to God? Was this all a figment of an imagination which was getting carried away with wanting open questions answered? Was I realising that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we are the imagination of ourselves (and where was Tom with the weather?).

After a while I was woken from this altered state by “L” and we chatted a while to discuss what I had just experienced. My intention for the session when I had booked it weeks earlier was to re-focus my priorities to the family, to health and to wellbeing, picking up yoga, meditation and reiki where I left it in an effort to combat the stresses of working for “The Man”. One thing was certain, the kundalini appeared to have been activated (I felt the male and female connections within me embracing – as well as the tantric chemistry of the two), and that was something that I was not expecting.

One thing was for certain, there was something out there (or more appropriately in there) which the current laws of physics, chemistry and biology could not explain. I had experienced this Universal energy first hand on several occasions was convinced that the never-after truly existed.

However, my story does not end there. After the initial revelations of my kundalini experience had been realised and allowed to subside (I’m not afraid to say I was a little shaken by the whole thing) a week later the kundalini came back, and then some.

I have of late been drinking a fair bit, due to an increase in the social calendar (both at work and at home), coupled with the fact that prior to the reiki session I had chosen to find company in Jack, Jim and Paddy (Daniels, Bean and McGuinness) to de-stress from the toils of work (another reason I had scheduled the session).

Two weeks ago my neighbour was 50 and we had a party in his house, drinking to excess until the sun had started to rise. Needless to say the next day was a right off but as the kids were all out, I spent the day on the sofa rehydrating, recovering and reading. As I retired for the evening, I began to drift off but tonight was different, instead of a gradual process of giving in to the melatonin, my waking state was ripped from me violently and I was plunged into what can only be described as a raw energy stream, a brilliant white light again but the sensation was too much, the sound and energy was so intense I kicked and screamed my way out of it. I was riding the lightning, literally.

After a time I shot up in bed and the wife had to calm the hypnogogic me down, quite delirious about what had just occurred. Was this a dream or was it something else? Was this an extreme bout of tinnitus mixed with a rotten hangover? Was it the Universe (God?) telling me to back off, giving me a message to take things easy as I was not yet ready to find out potential truths? It sure felt that way.

When I woke up the next day, my tinnitus was roaring and I was not happy about it. I continued to focus on work and concentrate on the mundane activities of the day, hoping that I was just on “Day Two” of the hangover. As Rhett Butler famously once said, tomorrow was just another day, except that it turned out it wasn’t, the heightened ringing inside my head had not subsided but instead grew louder as each day passed, and I was plunged back to where I was at nineteen, this time really annoyed with myself for getting back in this position.

That afternoon my neighbour called with a bag of goodies leftover from the beer fridge from the weekend before. I opened the bag and found a collection of soft drinks and 0.0% beer, all useless space wasters in the inebriates drinking den across the road, all which I of course welcomed with open arms as the Cosmos was once again giving me a sign to change my ways, which I have already, wagons roll.

Tinnitus is a odd thing, it ranges from hardly noticeable and quite a grounding noise through rather annoying to absolute debilitation and despair and today I’m at the wrong end of the line. I am having to take each day as it comes just now hoping that the “fall over inside my own head” moments don’t reoccur (too much). I have faith that these bouts return every twelve to eighteen months for a variety of reasons and fade over time, I guess (and hope) this current bout will too.

Tinnitus may be my enemy today, but who knows what path I would be on right now if it didn’t set me right all those years ago…

Love is…

Love is the metaphysical gravity between two souls

Love is not commercialism, no trinkets, presents or things should ever be associated with love.

Love is not materialism. Gifts given on this day mask the true meaning of love.

A word, a smile, a glance, a connection with someone close is truly the only gift that should be shared on Valentine’s Day which represents love.

2015: A year in pictures…

January: New year, new arrival…

January 2015

What better way to start the New Year than with a new nephew! Another “J” to add to the collection which means that I am now the proud uncle of five nephews and one niece, well on the way to making a football team when I add my three in…

February: Summit to be proud about…

February 2015

“Brace yourself, winter is coming”. Thankfully we never got much of a winter this year so the highest peak in Wales (Snowdon – the first location of my 3 Peaks / 24 Hour Challenge success in 2011)  was easy pickings, especially with my two boys egging me onwards and upwards…

March: Solar eclipse of the heart…

March 2015

As celestial events go, this is the nearest Liverpool may get to a full solar eclipse in my lifetime. Thankfully it was cloudy and allowed those that viewed our life giver a chance to glimpse and snap away without retina burn out…

April: New frontiers, New Quay…

April 2015

Who would have thought West Wales would be so amazing in Spring. A trip through the April fog revealed a hidden gem in New Quay, where ice creams, fish ‘n’ chips and dogfish fishing were the order of the day. Even managed to get a boss tan too…

May: Break a leg, Dave…

May 2015

Foo Fighters have been on my band bucket list for quite some time now and boy did they not disappoint. Team “B” turned up and rocked out in the rain at Lancashire County Cricket Ground, just in time as Dave Grohl went on to break his leg a few days later in Sweden. For all that he does and all that he contributes in terms of albums, projects and connections to the common man, there is none better in music today \m/…

June: Home by the sea…

June 2015

Our tour of the US of A took a year out and instead we spent twelve amazing day in Lagos, Portugal where sun, sea, SUP, sea-kayaking, swimming and snorkelling were the order of the day. The other letters of the alphabet never got a look in…

July: A rambling man…

July 2015

It may have taken a while to get to and from Maidstone, but me and my chums enjoyed an awesome weekend in the sun and rain of the Ramblin Man Festival. Highlights for me were the pictured Messenger, Marillion and Riverside. From what I can remember of the boozy weekend other bands played through the haze of the drizzle and my eyes…

August: Passing out, chilling out…

August 2015

A very proud moment of the year when the wife passed her Complementary Therapy NVQ Level Three, meaning that she was free to take up employment once again in a job she adores and helping to heal folks materialistically and non-materialistically. Her motto is “healing starts on the inside”, I love that…

September: Pink moon…

September 2015

The second major celestial event of the year saw a supermoon rise of the fair city of Liverpool, completing a yin-yang moment for all to see…

October: A padawan learner…

October 2015

My angelic daughter proved once again that she has what it takes to represent the views and wishes of her seven year old comrades by being elected School Councillor for the second year running. I’d like to think that my wife and I have acted as moral guardians for our children and awards like this do fill us with some personal pride too…

November: From master to masterclass…

November 2015

Although it’s only a start, my son was selected to take part in a master class for acting at Sir Paul McCartneys LIPA, and he is very excited about that as Woody Harleson gave a seminar to last years class. He has his sights set on a goal of achieving something very special on stage, seems to be a very common theme in this town…

December: Making the inanimate intimate…

December 2015

My good friend and incredible photographer “D” has finished his INTIMATE:INANIMATE project, which focused on individuals who have in their possession an object of personal or private significance. Each object has a special meaning or importance to the bearer and says something about the person behind it, something that relates to them as an individual. A truly awesome piece of art, all of which will soon to be displayed on the walls of Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool. Inspiring…

The Search for the Quantum Soul…

Invisible things. Unseeable things. There are plenty of things in this Universe that we cannot perceive due to the limited senses that we have, even with the advent of technology and instrumentation. Granted we can see a lot more than we used to be able to, but we are still limited to perceiving the macro-world and not the immaterial world.

We cannot see feeling, yet we can feel or detect it. We cannot see emotion, yet we can feel or detect it. We cannot see consciousness, yet we know that it exists (whether local or non-local, science or God is still up for grabs).

Reality is both self-perpetuating and internally generated. What I perceive, what I see, what I experience is personal to me, very personal to me. We may see an object in the same way from a materialistic perspective, but how we feel about it will invariably be very different. That said, if reality is both self-perpetuating and internally generated, then you may not actually exist (“there is no us, there is only I”).

Metaphysics has and will always be a hard nut to crack. To prove one’s own subjective experience difficult if not impossible, and not very scientific.

Spirituality and noetics has a problem, a hard problem. Science is easy. You take a thing you can perceive, you run a test, you see the results, you have the evidence to suggest the way a thing is. How do you do that with a thing you cannot perceive a thing you cannot see? Science sees consciousness as an epiphenomenon of the most complex organism in the known Universe (the human brain), and as such it is the responsibility of non-science to prove otherwise.

I have read evidence to suggest that consciousness exists outside of the brain and although I lack any real direct experience thus far of knowing that, I lean more towards that way of thinking. Mainstream science conveniently bundles up all mystic experience under confusion and delusion, rather than tackling the hard problem head on.

That said, there are people out there who are in search of scientific evidence that the soul exists and it does so at a quantum level (and by quantum I mean quintessence – the fifth element, Akasha). Dr Penny Sartori and Professor Stuart Hameroff are both experts in the field of anaesthetics and suggest that conscious awareness and experience occurs even when the brain is flat-lining (be it a near death experience or under anaesthetics).

The study of quantum mechanics (what Einstein called spooky action at a distance) and the progression towards a unified theory of everything may prove one way or another that consciousness exists in a dimension outside the material world.

Science, religion, philosophy and spirituality can co-exist. Science, religion, philosophy and spirituality does exist and it resides in me.

I may have near death experiences, I may have out of body or psychedelic experiences and I may be able to hear communications from realms beyond but how do I prove that to the outside world?

The answer is I don’t have to. What I see, what I experience, what I know is personal to me and only me.

I witness synchronicities on a regular basis and see them as markers for the bigger picture, evidence to suggest that all is not what it seems and in fact the quantum soul may in fact exist…

“Ists” and “Isms”…

Soul mate. Betrothed. Life partner. Wife. She’d be the first one to admit she is not very philosophical, nor is she scientific, nor religious.

As we lay next to each other last night before hypnogogia set in, I was reading an interesting piece on HuffPost relating to the belief scale, from materialist science to fundamentalist religion and all points in between, she was checking what was going on in the “real world” over at Facebook.

As I read on, stroking my everlong beard and grunting in approval to what was being presented by the author, she turned to me and said something quite profound:

“What are you actually looking for? Why do you spend so much time trying to fit yourself into a certain category, why can’t you just be you? I don’t fit into any category and I’m not concerned by that, I live in the here and now and don’t care too much of the past and the future, living in the now is what’s importantly surely?”

Well knock me over with a set of meditation beads. I’ve read a lot recently (mostly of Buddhist orientation) but here was a statement which summed it all up in one breath. She is of course right (as wives always are of course) and living in the now is the most important thing, having supporting Buddhist principles (the Four Noble Truths) can also help in dealing with the now situation so it has not been wasted time by any means.

Living in synchronicity with everyone and everything in the Universe is something “we” should all aspire to (on the basis the “we” are all one anyway).

Snippets from the article in question below:

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It’s time to use the power of the Internet to confront the two great strands of the modern world, the “two cultures”: the scientific, and the humanistic. Must these two cultures run on separate tracks? Must they be at war with each other? Or could conflict shift to comprehension?

We are not talking about making science into a religion, or religion into a science. We are talking about finding the unity in diversity that’s basic for a healthy community.

Both religion and science are key factors of life in our communities. There is no question that religion plays a crucial role in how humans make meaning, create community, act politically, and find mandates for how to live a good life. We can say the same thing about science. It, too, plays a crucial role in our life already because of all the science-based technologies we use. They shape how we live, what we consume, and what we want to, and can achieve.

Both religion and science shape the way we see the world, and for that reason they shape how we act in the world. We all carry a view of the world in our head and act in light of it whether we know it or not. The trouble is that religion and science create different, and in some respects opposing, views. The time has come to look at these views and see whether their contrasts really are a chronic, irremediable cause for conflict. Conflict between religion and science is dangerous, for it rends asunder the fabric of society and can degenerate into violence.

Of course, there is not just one science worldview and one religion worldview but as many as there are science-minded and religion-minded people in the world. Yet there are some typical features of the individual worldviews, and these are useful when we try to compare them and seek to understand their agreements and disagreements.

Take, for example, the typical worldviews of the following people:

The Classical Scientist
The world, including all things and all people, is but a collection of bits of matter that move about in space, impacting each other. There is no meaning or intention behind this, it’s just the way things are. If you think differently, you only project your own subjective values and feelings into the objective, and objectively meaningless, world. The worldview of the classical scientist is that of Newtonian physics: the universe is a giant mechanism that runs harmoniously, if meaninglessly, through all eternity. It’s the view of most of the people who consider themselves scientific. The classical scientist is on the science end of the scale. He is in direct opposition to the orthodox religionist, who, particularly if he is a fundamentalist, is on the other end.

The Orthodox Religionist
The world we experience is the work of a divine Creator. It’s not the entire world or even the highest world; it’s only the temporary world below, the precursor of the eternal world above. The earthly world derives its meaning from the will of its Creator, and human beings achieve their personal worth and ultimately gain their salvation by obeying His commands. The worldview of the orthodox religionist is shared by the devout Christian, Jew, and Muslim. The world is the creation of a transcendent God and testifies to His omnipotent will and spirit.

The Mystic
The entire world, with all things in it, is infused with spirit and consciousness. We are who we are, and everything is what it is, because of the divine spark we all embody. The entire cosmos is a whole and is holy in its entirety. The world of the mystic is the world of traditional peoples and Eastern religions. It’s a world infused by spirit and consciousness; all things are alive and everything that happens to them has deeper meaning. The mystic is on the religion side, but he is not at its end, for he is generally less explicit and dogmatic than either the classical scientist or the fundamentalist religionist.

The Atheist
The only things that are real in the world are the kind of things that we see with our own eye and grasp with our own hand. The rest is just talk, illusion or wishful thinking. The atheist’s worldview is clear-cut: only what we can see and touch is real, everything else is imagination or wishful thinking. The modern atheist is dogmatic on what he claims to be the side of science. He is opposed to all views that claim that reality has a higher dimension.

The New Scientist
We can know the world by following the scientific method: codifying and quantifying the data of human experience and applying the laws of reason to them. This gives us a complex world furnished not only by what we can touch and see, but also by quarks, black holes, and quantum fields, things too small, too large, or too subtle to perceive. The new scientist should be open to all ways of thinking about the world but tends to disregard or dismiss ways that don’t measure up to his concept of sound knowledge. The new scientist’s worldview is in principle open to everything we can experience and to everything we can rationally derive from experience, as long as it’s verified by repeatable observation and controlled experiment.

These are the prototypes of the principal kinds of world views people espouse today, even if they don’t espouse them as cleanly and starkly as this. They line up along a scale with science on the one end and religion on the other.

What about you and me, what kind of worldview do we hold? Only you can answer the question regarding your own view. Entering this “worldview café” doesn’t need to make you collapse your differences or become dominated by just one kind of view. Instead, it can create a better appreciation of your differences and a greater willingness to live with them.

After all, we all share the same planet and would best share it without ignoring, dismissing, or denigrating each other. A little more understanding could produce a good deal more tolerance and a greater will to live together in peace. This would be a good thing indeed in a world rent by incomprehension and miscommunication and rocked by occasional violence.

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Based on the above, I would say that I was primarily a Mystic with New Scientist tendencies, but perhaps as my wife has said, I should focus on being me…

We are equal. We are One….

When one possesses the wisdom of the Buddha (in part of course, not in whole), it is easier to empathise with others, especially when confronted by aggression and anger.

When one truly understands that aggression and anger in others is merely a by-product of suffering, anxiety and disorder (dukkha), then the path to forgiveness is but a small step.

It is easy to sound self-righteous when when one is in a position of wisdom, so it is wise to choose ones words carefully when suggesting potential paths for others to take to potentially overcome what pains them; sensitively is required (and perhaps explaining to others that your are free from suffering is best kept to oneself).

Boldly sharing our own negative experiences and explaining how we obtained serenity and peace can often help in such situations.

We all learn by our mistakes and there are always solutions to resolve the root causes of such pain, one just needs to open ones eyes and see the reality of the situation and understand that the solution lies within. Nothing external can fix root cause problems; no pill, no drink, no drug, no advice can eradicate the suffering. Understanding our internal landscape is the key to peace and the gateway to a better life.

A situation happened in work yesterday which made me put in practice what I had learned from the Buddha (via the sage words of Steve Hagen). I had scheduled a meeting in a room at work, but when I arrived there were three occupants in the room. I very politely asked them to leave as I had booked the room in advance and the male turned around and started verbally abusing me, followed up by an aggressive confrontation whereby marched right up to be, putting his face in mine, staring deep into my eyes with such venom. I was in shock at first that such a thing had happened in a global corporation such as mine, promptly apologised to my guest (new customer) and advised that his actions were not representative of the attitude or principles of the company.

Initially I was livid, angry that someone had tried to use their authority / loftier position in the organisation to intimidate me and gain advantage (and my meeting room). After a moment of calm, I soon realised that the confrontation was a reflection on him and of his evident dukkha, so forgiveness was instant. Whether I seek out an escalation to make sure he is aware that his behaviour in our organisation is totally unacceptable is yet to be determined.

I could have given him confrontation back (and a previous version of me probably would have done that and then some) but instead chose not to. I am not a better man than him and he is not a better man the I. We are equal. The difference between us is that I am awake, I understand that it is dukkha that creates such situations, I am understand that dukkha exists and I am aware and in control of mine and he is not. Just because someone has received a better education (him being a privately educated attorney (so I found out) and me being comprehensively educated IT geek), just because someone is further up the chain of command (he being several grades above me (so I found out) in the organisation), just because someone is paid a significant amount extra (a + b = c) does not make him a better person. We are equal.

We. Are. All. Equal.

We. Are. All. One…

A New Hope…

The fact that Jeremy Corbyn has already been part of the “rebel alliance” (albeit within the Labour Party) for the last 40 years means that his transition to Obi Wan Kenobi status tomorrow as “Leader of the Opposition” should on paper be pretty seamless. He really is to coin Star Wars phrase, “A New Hope”, his deep routed socialist views in tune with the greater good and fairer distribution of health and wealth in today’s most complex society.

He will have his work cut out from the beginning should be be successful though, as many New Labour / ex Tony Blair sympathisers will no doubt convene secret meetings on the “dark side” of Westminster to oust him from the very off.

Many people are saying that Corbyn is simply not electable but I do not believe that this is the case. For decades now, there has been very little difference between the Labour and Conservative manifestos and as a result whether the Blues or the Reds win means very little when it comes to governmental policy in the end. I guess the rise of the Greens at the last election was an indication that people are beginning to change their views and vote for change. Real change.

Real change. Real change is what we could have under Jeremy. Given the fact that we will not be able to live out pre-Neolithic Revolution / Nomadic existences or move to Venus Project communes any time soon, we should turn to progressive politicians who see the bigger picture, who see the global picture, rather than focusing in on the self like all Conservatives and Republicans seem to do these days.

For those who seek out a change to Western politics and ideals, Corbyn could be the answer and if enough of us see that (here in the UK at least), then on that basis he is electable as Prime Minister of these green and pleasant lands. This could in turn lead to a political paradigm shift and steer us away from the zombie apocalypse.

Only 66% of the population voted at the last general election and I’m of the belief that the disenfranchised 34% could well be persuaded to vote, and that vote would be a vote for socialism. 34% in itself would almost be enough to get in out right, nevermind the safe Labour seats of Wallasey and other red flag bearing wards and boroughs. If Corbyn can bring that belief back, then he does stand a real chance of getting the keys to 10 Downing Street. 

For those who still do not see him as “A New Hope”, let’s compare our rebel alliance leader with one in a galaxy far, far away (coincidence or an odd case of synchronicty)?

Obi Wan Kenobi:


jeremy-corbyn-labour-leadership-election

Jeremy Corbyn:

Let’s take a look at Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto in brief:

Economy

  • An end to austerity, higher taxes for the rich and more protection for people on welfare.
  • A crackdown on tax avoidance and tax evasion, tax breaks for companies, and a Corporation Tax increase to reduce the deficit.
  • Introduce a “maximum wage” to cap the pay of top executives.
  • Quantitative easing for new large scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects, creating skilled jobs and genuine apprenticeships, knock-on effects for the supply chain.

Education & Health

  • Introduce a National Education Service, following the NHS model, with state-funded academies and free returning to to local authority control.
  • Tuition fees scrapped and replaced with grants.
  • Introduce universal childcare.
  • Eradicate PFI deals from the NHS by using government money to buy them out.

Foreign Policy & Defence

  • An International policy based on political negotiations not military solutions to secure peace.
  • Withdraw from NATO and opposition to air strikes against so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
  • The UK would not spend 2% of GDP on defence, as pledged by the current government.
  • The Trident nuclear missile system would be scrapped.

Housing

  • Introduce rent controls to help families on benefits to pay their rent.
  • Improved right-to-buy scheme, allowing tenants in council and social housing to purchase their homes at a discount.

Transport & Energy

  • Renationalise Britain’s railway network and opposition to the High Speed Rail Network.
  • Renationalise energy companies, regulating publicly run services which deliver energy supplies.
  • Introduce a moratorium on fracking which is dangerous to the environment.

European Union

  • UK to remain in the EU, but with a vision for a better Europe through a change programme.
  • Opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

I am hoping that by midday tomorrow that Jeremy Corbyn is the new leader of the Labour Party and if he is, I will sign up immediately and become an active member, only under the leadership and direction of a true socialist would I ever even consider doing that.

#JezWeCan