doG | God

Undeniably, dogs are intelligent creatures and my own is no exception. He may not be as advanced as some of the other pooches in terms of parlor tricks (when comparing his abilities to those on YouTube), but nonetheless even his basic functions intrigue me.

It’s safe to say that “C” and I have had a chequered history. After we returned from living in Malaysia, the family decided to get a dog and after much deliberation and cogitation, we landed on a springer spaniel. I’d never owned a pedigree dog (and I still think don’t think I do), plumping instead for “portmanteau pooches”, more commonly known in the UK as mongrels. As with all puppies, the joy of the spending time with these energetic bundles of fun to some may be impossible to beat, the smell of puppy breath having the same knock-out punch of an attractively lady wearing Chanel No 5 or the aroma of a freshly baked loaf of bread. The cuteness factor of them makes them desirable beasts, for a time. The hard work kicks in after about 6 months when the honeymoon period is over, when my own millennial’s turned their attention back to technology and the dogs energy is transferred from play to destruction.

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And so it was with “C”. He ate most beds we bought him, munched through a kitchen worktop and curled more slippers than the Ottoman empire. I was working away in London during the week and typically came back with fatigue and stressed finding it difficult to settle into a challenging role. He was obviously pleased to see me when I returned, but that soon turned sour when it was clear that I had no time for him at the weekends, with my tiredness boiling over to slipper-whacks when he ruined something else. Over the coming months, every time I returned he would approach me at the door, lower his head and ears waiting for me to pet him, which sometimes I never did. Needless to say my treatment of an innocent and lovable canine was shocking and I still feel guilty now looking back (as well I should).

Things came to a head one week when I told the wife I had found a new home for him over a hundred miles away and that he was going at the weekend. At first she reluctantly agreed and I was all set for the trip. The night before I left, we discussed the matter in the living room, both of us in tears. They say a dog is for life and not just for Christmas and how right they are. As he sat there looking up at us from death row (he did have an orange coat but that’s not important right now), we agreed at the eleventh hour a stay of execution and a plan for my wife to properly train him whilst I was away. She bought a book, took some advice and cracked on and within months, he had taken his rightful place at the bottom of the family ziggurath (with the exception of one of my sons who has never really liked him) but at the top of our hearts.

I noticed the change and over the years, our bond has grown from strength to strength and he is by far the best dog I have ever had. I look forward to seeing him every Thursday night when I return from the City, and even at the age of Nine, he always jumps up, wags his tail, lolls his tongue out of his mouth and does a little wee in excitement. The next five minutes are usually spent with me and him of the floor having cuddles and eventually a little play fight before bed (I’m the only one who does – it’s “our thing”).

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Whilst away this week, I watched several episodes of “The Ascent of Man” by Jacob Bronowski, the content of which has made me think more about the evolution of all living things, which in turn reminds me of my very first post on Infinity Beckons, Do Amoebas Have Souls and of course my dog.

My wife thinks I think too much and live in the realm of fantasy and she is probably right (wives always are of course!). Whilst I appreciated the output from Dr Bronowski and his thirteen-episode series from 1973, we diverge when it comes to consciousness and the spirit. I knew he was a materialist reductionist before launching into the box set (like his post-modern contemporary Prof Brian Cox is – who’s “Human Universe” series is blatant rip-off of “The Ascent of Man” – which I reminded him one day when I was very drunk and trolling, which was in those days was a “harmless bit of fun”), who believed that consciousness only exists in humans and that it is merely an epiphenomenon of their evolved brain. The venom he used against Eastern philosophy / belief systems and the unexplained (he cites ESP amongst other woo -woo theories) shocked me, it was like Richard Dawkins had written the script (no surprise that Dawkins has written the foreword in a re-released version of the book that accompanied the series recently).

I have read many noetic volumes over the years, studied in part Eastern belief systems and as a part-millennial listened to various podcasts on alternative therories regarding life the universe and everything. Based on examples and data points, I am very open to the idea that there are two forms of consciousness (local [lower] and non-local [higher]). Local consciousness is our present awake state, the state we exist in between birth and death, with non-local consciousness existing beyond that which our senses can perceive (and this site has over the years cited personal examples of why I think that way).

But what has that got to do with my dog. Well…

Using Bronowski’s evolutionary theory (and my next post will be a long read about “The Ascent of Man”), dogs have also evolved over the last few millions of years, originally being nomads themselves, wild animals travelling in packs and hunting to survive. They too found themselves within a domesticated environment (albeit domesticated themselves), living side by side with humans for at least the last twelve thousand years (predating the agricultural revolution in the Middle East / Jericho)

Like early man, they too have a rudimentary communication system (whimper = pain, bark = warning/danger, growl = anger) as well as other metaphysical identifiers (sighs = boredom; tongue out/tail wag = happiness). Something I’ve noticed about my dog though goes beyond canine norms, precognition. It sounds very odd but in the moments before I take him for a walk he is already aware of it. I don’t even have to talk about it, he is there, knowing what is about to happen. I can even be in a different room and when a silent decision is made inside my head, he typically comes in, lolls his tongue and wags his tail in advance of me making my way to the kitchen door to grab the lead.

Dogs reaction times are so much faster than humans, throwing scraps of food easily shows that human time and dog time are not the same. It’s like me throwing him some food on earth with the moons gravity, he has time to watch the flight path and adjust his position to catch the morsel each time (well mostly, he’s getting old now).

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So do dogs operate within different space-time, do dogs have a consciousness that is intrinsically somehow linked to our own and is there such thing as a doggy heaven? Maybe, just maybe there is…

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Pendulum…

Looking back at the output timeline on this blog reveals many things. Intense periods of writing where creative juices are flowing sees posts flying in from all directions, powered by conscious experience and time to document, catalog and share. At other times, relative epochs go by where pen never touches paper (or fingers strike on back-lit keys as it is nowadays).

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The one-directional arrow of time (if there is such a thing), never appears to change, seconds, minutes, hours and days when objectively measured will confirm that. Subjectively however our perception of time periods can change, periods of joy may render time to be fleeting whereas pain appears to elongate time.

The pendulum of the human experience seems to swing between two points (order and disorder; low entropy and high entropy). I only have to review this site’s content to realise that extended periods away from the keyboard herald high entropy, disorder and chaos. Twenty Twelve (my original annus horribilis) was equally as light as Twenty Eighteen in terms of posts, both years extremely challenging for different reasons and I’m glad to see the back of them.

Twenty Twelve was the year that I did everything for myself and forgot who I was, Twenty Eighteen was the year that I did everything for everyone else and forgot who I was.

We all strive for a life of balance, a physical and metaphysical equilibrium so in-sync with each other that we function at optimum levels. When things slip beyond the median point, they slip so very quickly and migrate away from harmony and onto discord, more often than not due to the ineffectiveness of our metaphysical state.

Change does not help and although change is constant and inevitable, too much change can turn a shoreline wave lapping peacefully on the turning of the tide to a mega-tsunami heading straight towards us with no obvious means of escape. Avoid it we must and avoid it we do, learning lessons from it to review where things have gone wrong and what we need to do to move the needle back to the centre point (until the next time).

I’ve pledged to my other half (for the second time in the lifetime of this blog – things really do seem to go around in seven year cycles as the Buddhists say…) that Twenty Nineteen will be one of adventure and positive experience, only today we sat down and soaked up all Thirty days annual leave that I have, planning to explore places old and new, ancient and modern, with and without our children.

So in the immortal words of John and Yoko “… Happy New Year, Let’s hope it’s a good one, Without any fear …

Choose Life…

“Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a Samsung television with cinema sound. Choose a range cooker and integrated appliances, a Mazda CX-5 Sport, iPhones One through X and Sauvignon Blanc wine chillers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and a manageable Body Mass Index. Choose a tracker mortgage. Choose a timeshare. Choose a move to the capital and an affordable pied-a-terre. Choose a minimalist wardrobe in fifty shades of grey. Choose three different waistcoats in a range of fabrics. Choose listening to Radiohead on your meditation chair. Choose watching thought-provoking Netflix documentaries about Di-Methyl-Tryptamine. Choose Lego building days. Choose retiring from the rat race at the end of it all, enjoying your last years without listening to the demands of shareholders. Choose your future. Choose your friends. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? Actually, I do choose life. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got love…”

We are all, to some extent, subsumed and consumed by capitalism and consumerism, seemingly perma-fixed into the cyclical behaviours society deems necessary for us to function properly. Life it seems, continues to devolve on a daily basis as we move away from marvelling at the wonders of Life, the Universe and Everything to being preoccupied with treading a path of materialism and the possession of things.

There comes a time during most white collar careers (being it fleeting or perennial) when the daily slog around the corporate treadmill becomes too much to bear and the dream of quitting the “rat race” becomes a desired outcome, a desire in fact over everything else.

We define the concept of “rat race” as a way of life in which people are caught up in a fiercely competitive struggle for wealth or power in an endless, self-defeating and pointless pursuit. This exhausting, repetitive lifestyle leaves little quality time for enjoyment or spiritual fulfilment and ultimately leads to stress, anxiety and eyes fixed on the nearest exit sign (via any means of escape).

I’ve been there many, many times over the last twenty five years of employment. On several occasions, I have come to the conclusion that a life less hectic away from the corporate ziggurat and into a new career would bring the required level of happiness and satisfaction (whatever that level is), yet each time I have chosen to stay on the same path as I have to consider not only myself in each decision, but those around me who rely on my support.

As time goes by, responsibility diminishes and with that the realm of creative opportunity opens up so that alternative careers and lifestyles become achievable.

A retrospective look over the last two and a half decades has seen that things have worked out for the better each time a major life decision was to be made based on informed and sound choices and taking chances that bring about positive change.

From experience, there are two key questions that need answering before any major life decisions are made:

1. What realistic and alternative choices are there?
2. What are the chances that changes can bring about positive outcomes?

Those who believe in free will or self-determination will concede that there are seemingly infinite possibilities in life and the choices that we make (to paraphrase quantum physics parlance) collapse all other available pathways so that outcome of such decisions produces what we know as consensual reality (created without external influence).

Then there is chance and probability. If there are seemingly infinite possibilities in life, then there is a certain probability attached to each choice we make, which although subjective, determines whether the decisions we make will bring about a better (or worse) experience for us.

Change occurs only once we have committed to making a choice based on the best chance of likely positive outcome.

Ultimately, each and every choice we make is ours and ours alone to make as we act out those decisions both physically and meta-physically, but a significant amount of decisions are influenced by third parties. Family, friends, colleagues, organisations and legislation help and/or hinder those choices and our life-journey is shaped accordingly.

The choice to surround ourselves with those who have positive influence in our lives is also ours.

When I look back at my life thus far, I have removed those who exerted a negative influence (fear) on my choices and instead surrounded myself with positive people (love), and whilst certain decisions have brought about shock and horror to some, my life and the life of those I care for is richer and better for it.

Life is an adventure, a joyous adventure and if we do only get one crack at it (well one that we can remember) then we must always make the right choices and with chance on our side we can change ourselves, those within our immediate vicinity and eventually the wider world for the better.

Choose love and not fear…

Choose life and live it…

The Eternal Return…

Ouroboros. Kundalini. Eliade. Reincarnation. Cyclical time. All of these are antiquus terms to describe the eternal return, in that Life, the Universe and Everything recurs until the point at which the soul (or self depending on your outlook) has matured enough to understand the true meaning of existence and no further lessons need learning.

And so it is with me. This year was always going to involve significant decisons and marked change. My position and the physical office I was attatched both became obsolete due to a strategic change in policy, meaning that staff had to relocate to London, Bengaluru, Den Hague or Houston or face redundancy (albeit with a golden handshake).

Earlier this year (as this blog advised) I had resigned myself to moving on to pastures new, paying off a significant portion of my commercial and financial committments and finding a new position in a new company. That decision in itself came with the stark realisation that our long term plan (the wife and I) of retiring at fifty-five and leaving behind the conglomerates and corporations to venture out across the globe in search of peace, love and understanding was dead in the water.

Not only was that a rather depressing thought after making abitious plans, but also was the actual reality of finding alternative employment at a significantly reduced rate of pay (due to the fact that this country is still very much London-centric and the concept of a “Northern Powerhouse” is simply a hollow promise from a woeful and totally inept government).

So too was the realisation that I would most likely have to go contracting again until another permanent position came up, which in itself would mean that I would have to travel again and with that the uncertainty and insecurity a life of short term job hopping brings.

The alternative was of course to change career and lifestyle completely, giving up on the broken capaitalist system we all find ourselves in today by downscaling our operations; selling the family home and car to something more affordable and green, reducing the monthly overheads and finding a job with less pay and a spiritual uplift but that “hippy path” would bring with it so much change and resistance that I had no doubt that the family unit as a whole would not entertain that, not even for one second (and perhaps I’m not even ready for that, yet).

Then something changed. My manager left the company mid-year and was replaced by one of the most inspiring leaders I have come across in a long time, who managed to convince me that I was a valued member of staff and would continue to be so should I change my mind and relocate to London.

After some serious contemplation and family discussion, we decided that I would move. From a personal perspective, the decision was arguably the most difficult one I have ever had to make. Here we had a carbon copy of the position we found ourselves in when we came back from Malaysia; the family in the North and the father farther South, two hundred miles away from his spiritual epicentre. Geographical displacement is one thing, spiritual disconnection is something quite more significant.

As I have scribed on many occasions, my wife and I drifted apart last time, almost to the point where we were no more. Only the finest and brittle of filaments existed and it took months if not years to turn that thin strand to a bond of steel once again as it is today (I hope). In project parlance, the change we now face introduces a significant risk which we are trying to mitigate by putting firm actions in place to make sure the same thing does not reoccur.

If that was not enough, our situation has now become identical, an exact facsimile of time gone by. When we returned from living aboard we tore down the walls of our house, stripping everything back to the bare brick and starting over, whilst at the same time I had to work in London every week. Last week a sink hole appeared in our kitchen and once I peeled back the layers of flooring, a great many things were revealed. First was the stench of old things, rotten to core. Then it was the darkness I was staring into, a deep and vacuous void that exists underneath. Then it was the stress and chaos of putting all of the broken things right.

So here I am, a Scouse version of Phil Connors, staring directly at the groundhog pleading for guidance and moral support, pleading that I did learn the lessons from last time so I don’t repeat the exact same self-centred mistakes of yesterday today…

The Game Of Life…

The Human. The Man/Woman. The Husband/Wife. The Father/Mother. The Son/Daughter. The Brother/Sister. The Uncle/Aunt. The Friend. The Citizen. The Worker. These are but a few of the roles we act out on the world stage but are they a true reflection of who we really are? Have we been coerced into such archetypes by others, too afraid to change and reveal who we really are? If we were to strip all of the roles away until only the basic elements of existence was left, bound by no rules or expectations, what would be revealed?

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The more roles we adopt (choice or otherwise) the more complex our game of life becomes. With added complexity comes conflict and conformity; conflict in terms of competing requests from others and conformity in terms of abiding by the rules that come with the roles we play. Gluing all of our roles and rules together presents the outward facing “I” to others; an amalgam of all of the various parts that make up our personality.

However, what we present on the outside is invariably not what we are at the core, our true self often remains hidden because at times it is easier to play by the rules of the game of life and adopt a path of least resistance. If we were to truly function from our inner self rather than the multi-faceted ego we have created over time, it would reveal who we really are.

I recently questioned my role of “The Worker”. I have been forced to change roles recently and whilst I have always welcomed change in the workplace, this temporary downwards step has revealed a certain unhappiness in me which has brought into question (not for the first time) my “being” within the company. It’s safe to say my journey over the last thirteen years has been somewhat bi-polar in that my one-hundred-and-fifty-seven month tenure thus far has seen incredible highs and ridiculous lows. I know that in all likelihood I will be leaving the company at the end of this year yet felt somewhat reluctant to tread water presently as the role is bringing boredom and value-less activities to a whole new level.

Here’s is where the “roles rules” kick in. Do I speak up now declaring a vocational epiphany and risk being kicked out of the company earlier than I would have liked? Do I pretend to like the job I’m doing on the off chance I may get a stay of execution beyond the planned leaving date? Do I tread water until the end of the year and take the money and go and find something beyond which may enrich my game?

Here’s is where the “roles complexity” kicks in. Do I do what the inner self is guiding me to do or do I let the influence of characters within the game of life (some of which listed above) dictate and influence what should happen next?

So last week I made that decision and told my manager to release me as soon as possible. I have grown very tired of life within this fractured organisation satisfying the needs of a few people with tasks that have no benefit to me or my “career”. People tread water and put up with things for far too long in life, too afraid that change may be bad and maintaining the status quo is the right thing to do. The right thing to do, those words when put together are seldom subjective, they always seem loaded in favour of external influence. What is truly the right thing to do, only we can decide that for ourselves and we should not follow blindly what society has programmed us to believe in its version of the right thing to do.

So I have taken a leap of faith that will change my situation for the better or worse. Financially I will owe “the man” a lot less after paying off a major chunk of my mortgage and with that comes a freedom to explore opportunities which may not pay as well, but may be far more enjoyable than what I am currently doing.

Remember folks, it’s just a ride:

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“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while.

Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we kill those people. “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family.

This has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride.

And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.

Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride.

Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.” – R.I.P Bill Hicks…

Synchronicity vs Probability…

Post-Modern materialists live within the safe confines of probability and believe that seemingly random events occurring at the same time are merely coincidence, irrespective of the odds. Post-Modern mystics believe that seemingly impossible synchronicities present direct evidence to suggest that there is “something” hidden from view which is pushing such things to those who have come to understand how to look (whether that “something” is a Grand Designer [God] or Post-Human to-be descendants [simulation theory] is yet to be revealed).

How likely is it that everything in the Universe as we know it has been created by chance through a series of incredibly fortuitous conditions (the anthropic principle) leading back from the Big Bang until the dawn of humanity and beyond?

Materialists who support the anthropic principle believe that it is unremarkable that the Universe has developed via a series of fundamental constants (Universal laws) that happen to fall within an incredibly narrow range of conditions thought to be compatible with life, and with that a system capable of supporting living, sentient, conscious beings capable of observing and reflecting upon its creation and continued existence is more than probable given the vastness of space and time.

If one tries to even attempt to come up with a probability ratio of human existence going all the way back to the Big Bang (or at least to the physical conditions within the Universe that makes life possible), the chances would most likely be all but zero. We are not talking chances of winning the lottery here; we are talking of a probability with more “O’s” than a Cheerios factory.

So with that in mind, and with the advances of technology and the journey towards artificial intelligence and virtual reality, is it not entirely possible that there is a Grand Designer (be it God or Geek) and 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” to quote Bill Hicks.

Is it not also entirely possible that we are living a Matrix-type existence and the synchronicities we experience are in fact akin to game hints, and that should we follow them down the rabbit hole, then we can play the game at a deeper level (Westworld in a nut shell)?

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I coined the phrase “Breadcrumb Theory” around the time of my spiritual awakening four years ago, a label created specifically for this blog at the time to identify and track such synchronicities, which in my opinion are markers laid down by someone or something to remind awakened ones that reality does have meaning and does have a purpose to be.

This blog has catalogued many synchronicities and will continue to do so but I’d have to say there are so many happening to me on a daily basis that it would be impossible to document them all (given life’s other priorities).

That said, significance again presented itself yesterday and it was somewhat biblical. My sole purpose of being in Cape Town just now is to release our new product to the office here and yesterday was the Go-Live of the new system.

As the team were busy testing some final things, out Project Lead was summoned into a room. At exactly 11:11 (which has a mystical synchronous significance itself), I opened a Whats App message from my wife back in the UK, and with it was an image of the bleak weather, a massive hailstorm had turned the street white within a matter of seconds. A short while later, the Project Lead came out of the room to advise the Go-Live had been cancelled due to some issues that had not been resolved.

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Whilst a little disappointed that we were not able to satisfy the requirement of us being here, I was not totally shocked by the message given the sign I had received at exactly the same time the decision was made.

Over the last four years I’ve often thought how unromantic it would be to live out a materialist existence without having a true purpose or meaning, other than to just be and satisfy the needs of the self (mostly with things).

One thing is for sure, those romantics who seek out meaning, those who seek out the true nature of reality are kept on track by synchronicities…

The digital self…

Many see the human brain as an organic equivalent of a computer’s hard drive. When a computer boots up for the very first time its memory is empty and as time goes by more and more programs are installed, increasing the functionality of the system and eventually over time giving an understanding to the self of how the whole thing works.

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If we are lucky, our computer lasts for its intended (albeit finite) lifespan, with only a few minor problems which have no major impact on how it operates, how it runs.

In those early days, some people will come along and install good programs, programs which enrich the computing experience which in time teaches us how best to fine tune the system so that we can harmonise all working parts, guiding us to make the right decisions on which programs are best.

However, some people come along and install bad programs, sometimes for their own pleasure or selfish misguided ends, resulting in our computer not working as it should, crashing constantly and in certain cases to the point where the only solution appears to be to power off one last time never to be booted up again.

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There is a solution before such terminal measures are taken. As long as we are aware that our computer has a problem and that we are willing to fix it, then there is hope. There are those that have the knowledge of how to find the bad programs (the malware and viruses) and these people can show us the way to erase or partition those bad sectors to a place which does not affect the main running of the system.

Once we possess the knowledge of what is good and what is bad for the computer, we then have ultimate control of what gets loaded and what does not, having the experience and understanding to know what happens when bad programs are installed and how well the system functions when not.

When we are imbued with this knowledge, we can then educate others on what is good and what is not good; wisdom we did not have in those early days and when we do that, we have the ability to break the previous chain(s) of bad programming, forever.

Talking to professionals, talking to those who have reformatted their hard drives, talking to those who have experienced the good programs and the bad can help all of us who seek the path to optimisation…

The Consciousness Within…

God can be (and has been and will continue to be) defined as a great many things, including:

  • The Creator of the Universe and the Source of all moral authority.
  • A perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshipped.
  • The One who has power over nature and human fortunes.

I’ve never proactively gone to church, but I have over the last two weekends, not only as an opportunity to see parts of a location not usually frequented but also as a way to remove myself from a heavy workload, tourist schedule and external factors, even if just for one hour.

St Georges Cathedral in Cape Town is steeped in history and is renowned for the political stance it took during apartheid and is recognised as a strong symbol for democracy in South Africa. It’s significance lies not just with the building itself but also by the actions of different clergymen, including Desmond Tutu, the first black archbishop of South Africa who led numerous marches and campaigns for the formal end of apartheid from the front steps. It was a common meeting point for all activists of all races as well as woman’s rights groups who were part of the resistance to apartheid laws and the struggle for social justice, equality and human rights.

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As I sat there listening to the gospels and hymns, one thing struck me. When I started to strip back things within this place, a certainty revealed itself to me at least, hidden for those who choose not to, or know not how to, peel back the layers.

Take away the church building itself. Take away the religious symbols and iconography. Take away the ceremony. Take away the physicality of the congregation. What is left is connection; oneness of being in the same place, a spiritual and aggregated consciousness tuning in to the same frequency.

Whilst in quiet contemplation or prayer during certain times of the service, external reality closes off its influence on the mind and allows one to go beyond the physical to get closer to the core, to inner essence (call it Heaven, call it Nirvana or call it Consciousness – for me it is the same thing).

On the topic of the resurrection, we were reminded by the Bishop that we ourselves should not fear death as life is eternal, and when we leave our mortal bonds we become one with God and join him in Heaven. It was at this point that I was also reminded of a lyric in a song I hold dear, “Presence” by Anathema:

“One has to come to term us with one’s own mortality, and you can’t really help people who are having problems with mortality if you’ve got problems of your own. So you have to begin to sort things out and I thought I had sorted things out until I saw this excerpt from this book, of certainty I shall remember what it said:

“Life is not the opposite of death. Death is the opposite of birth. Life is eternal.”

And I thought that it’s the most profound words I have ever heard and it really put me at peace. And that’s it, what else is there to say? Life is eternal. Surely the opposite of life is not the death, but life is eternal. There is no opposite. It is a state of pure consciousness, stillness and silence. What we are looking for now, we are searching for and we have been searching for is already there; there for ever to seek. It is there and it’s going be there, all the time, forevermore”…

Leaving church left me with a great many things to contemplate. Without the offertory, the amount of churches would diminish and with that those who rely on buildings and ceremony as symbols for hope and peace would be lost. Churches, synagogues, temples and mosques are bricks and mortar, but true spirituality lies within its patrons and not itself, yet if by going to them reminds one to be more spiritual and less materialistic, then one should go.

So it was no shock to me that soon after my return from the cathedral, that flicking through the channels on the afternoon TV I found one of my favourite films Groundhog Day, an ontological orgasm of a film, whereby Bill Murray plays out the Buddhist eternal return (resurrections included) until he gains enough knowledge and wisdom to move on.

After the film had finished, I phoned home and asked the wife how things were going three weeks in to my six week stint in South Africa, the first words from her mouth were “It’s like Groundhog Day”.

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As if that was not odd enough, I was in work this morning when my colleague and friend shared with me the last two chocolates from the UK, namely two boxes of Mini-Smarties. He turned to me and said “What’s the answer to life, ‘maybe Smarties has the answer’ eh?” the jingle/phrase that accompanied the product on a UK TV advertisement. I turned to him and said “Well you know the answer to the ultimate question is 42 (according to Douglas Adams and his Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) and if there are 42 Smarties inside that box then that is proof that there is something else beyond physical death and life is eternal”.

So there he sat, next to me counting out the Smarties in the small cardboard box into piles of ten. The look of shock on his face and mine when, after four piles were laid out on the desk, he showed me the open box to reveal two left inside.

An extraordinary synchronicity, could that have really been just a coincidence or was it a message from the other side?

Life is experience not knowledge…

What better way to share knowledge than through the written word. Since we picked up the first quill, we have over the ages scribed masterpieces from ancient texts, through Shakespeare and the Classics and on to modern theories of Life, the Universe and Everything via the internet.

Whilst it is just to read to expand the mind and become more knowledgeable, just reading is simply a data transfer between paper/screen and the hippocampus. Life is not simply about reading, understanding and sharing the words of others, life is about taking in knowledge to better experience. Quoting Freud or Nietzsche whilst in dialogue with friends and colleagues only shows that you have retained the knowledge once shared by great thinkers and writers, living and experiencing theories is however something very different.

I have not read a great many books cover-to-cover in my life, I have a tendency to read about fifty to sixty pages of a book, ponder over its content and existential relevance and put it down again perhaps for months, even years, taking in such nuggets and using that knowledge to enhance my experience on Planet Earth.

I was fortunate enough today (for now as this is my last project with my current employer) to be sat in a Business Class seat on-route to Cape Town where I will spend the next six weeks working (and being a culture vulture at weekends). I’m not the greatest of flyers so struggle a little on long haul flights so try to find things to do to keep me occupied for eleven hours fifteen in this case, as sleep as rarely an option. Armed with three books (A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig and The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley), a fully loaded iTunes/Spotify and the in-flight entertainment system, I felt that I had enough to keep the turbulence palm sweats at bay.

Apropos the in-flight entertainment system, I guess like most others I headed straight on to the documentary section and quickly settled on my selections for the flight. The documentary picks where quite easy; Cosmos narrated Neil De Grasse Tyson, Through the Wormhole narrated by Morgan Freeman (materialism vs mysticism checklist complete) and Robin Williams Remembered (a look-back at the life and works of one the modern-day greats).

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I recall the days after he had died as not one of my finest moments. News had reached the UK that he had taken his own life which was a tragic event but what I could not understand at the time was why people where literally crying in the streets, and everybody seemed to share their own grief on social media. My point (wrong as it transpired) was that just because someone a famous person takes their own life, doesn’t make it any more or less tragic than someone who is not, a life is a life. There is some truth in that I guess but this stance got me into some sticky conversations until I rightly rescinded my comments once the views of others had been taken in.

The in-flight fifty-five minute documentary showed a true genius at work, from small beginnings to an Oscar winning performance, from a loner to a global megastar and back again, leaving gaping voids in the people that knew and worked with him.

After I had watch the three documentaries, I cycled through the three-hundred plus films on offer, hopefully taking the opportunity to watch an ontological/existential flick as I rarely get chance at home. Sadly there was nothing there.

Coincidentally though, Good Will Hunting starring Mr Williams was there. It’s a film I watched a long time ago and I recalled it was quite good so on it went. Having read a little Freud recently, I remembered that Williams played a shrink so quite a relevant film (a visual experience to go with the transfer of knowledge). Needless to say and in my opinion (at last!) the film is an absolute classic, with Williams a genius and humbling watch. His performance rightly won him the Oscar, arguably one of the best pieces of acting I’ve ever seen on film.

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There is a scene in the film where doctor (Robin Williams) and patient (Matt Damon) are sitting on a park bench. Here on display, in Technicolor at 37,000ft is a monologue to end all monologues, which describes in majestic detail that life is about practice and not about theory. I just have to share this verbatim as no analysis or opinion is required (SPOILER ALERT!):

“I thought about what you said to me the other day, about my painting. I stayed up half the night thinking about it. Something occurred to me. I fell into a deep peaceful sleep and I haven’t thought about you since. You know what occurred to me, you’re just a kid and you don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about. You’ve never been out of Boston.

If I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny about every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him; life’s work, political aspirations, him and the Pope, sexual orientation the whole works, but I bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel? You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at the beautiful ceiling, I’ve seen that.

If I ask you about women, you could give me a salver of all your personal favourites, you may have even been laid a few times, but you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy.

If I ask you about war, you will probably throw Shakespeare at me right: “Once more into the breach dear friends”, but you’ve never been near one. You’ve never had your best friends head in your lap and watch him gasp his last breath looking at you for help,

If I ask you about love, you’d quote me a sonnet, but you’ve never looked at a woman and felt totally vulnerable knowing someone who could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an Angel on earth just for you, who could rescue you from the depths of hell and you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her Angel to have that love for her that will be there forever through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping up in a hospital room for two months holding her hand because the doctors could see that in your eyes the term “visiting hours” don’t apply to you.

You don’t know about real loss, because that only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself. I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.

I look at you I don’t see an intelligent confident man, I see a cocky, scared shitless kid, but you’re a genius Will no one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you but you presumed to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine and ripped my fucking life apart. You’re an orphan right. Do you think I’d know the first thing about how hard you’re life has been, how you feel, who you are because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you?

Personally I don’t give a shit about all that because you know what, because I can’t learn anything from you that I can’t read from some fucking book, unless you want to talk about you, and who are you – then I’m fascinated. I’m in. But you don’t want do that do you sport. You’re terrified on what you might say”.

Calmly and expertly delivered, Williams is sharing a part of himself with the viewer, both fragile and moving.

In the final scene, Damon opens up and sobs after Williams (who himself reveals his historic abuse story) repeats time and time again “It’s not your fault; it’s not your fault”. I guess I was kind of glad all of the blinds were down on the airplanes windows and most of the folks were asleep as the tears were rolling down my face like the Victoria Falls I was flying over at the time.

We would do well to remember what William’s said on that bench, life is about experience and not knowledge. If we have had bad experiences thrust upon us, then we can and must try to lose that historical knowledge and live life in the present moment…

To err is to human…

One is never too far away from chaos, from disorder, from entropy. Conjure up if you will an image of a person who appears to be in perfect harmony with the Universe, a person who has a decent understanding of the human condition and who operates a nicely balanced mind, body and soul.

Take that very same person and inject them into a situation where that balance is completely and utterly destroyed by substances they imbibe to the point where everything that they truly believe and everything they actually possess teeters to the point of non-existence.

Whilst it is commonplace (not obligatory) to take alcohol in social situations, excess is a very dark and dangerous path to Freud’s Ego and Id, a solitary and lonely path to disorder.

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Advanced states of inebriation dissolve the Super-Ego like the inevitable next day Berocca; something solid which melts away to reveal churning and cloudiness. Introducing alcohol in large quantities into the system temporarily removes conscience and pride, the staple diet of the Super Ego and without it, all that is left is the bloated Ego and the selfish Id, and with that all reason is lost.

And so it was on Saturday, where I took it upon myself to smash myself out of the park for no real apparent reason, or perhaps one that my external self chooses not to reveal under normal circumstances.

I have of late likened my time living in the corporate world to that of a marionette; an executive order controlling my every move telling me what to do and when to do it, much to the annoyance and disappointment of my inner self. There are times (and that is becoming increasingly regular) that I loathe capitalism, commercialism and coin-based economics, such things never truly bring real happiness. Sometimes it’s seems an easy option to turn to drink to banish those thoughts even if only temporarily, yet invariably things turn out very ugly indeed.

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I do have a grand plan, a plan one day to leave behind all of the pandering to bosses and reliance on money, but for now (with having three children) my Super Ego keeps things in check and perspective (and rightly so) and puts that plan ten years hence, which ordinarily I’m ok with.

However, when the balance is knocked severely off kilter with such force and aggression (mental not physical), egotistic and selfish needs and desires come out to the front of class and exhibit a rather loathsome and disrespectful show and tell, leaving strangers bewildered and confused and loved ones bemused and upset.

The cold light of the next day brings back the conscience ten-fold (leaving pride to scuttle off under the bed), as if its absence the night before needs to take centre stage for every waking moment for days to come, deliberating, cogitating and judging the self’s embarrassing stage show the night before.

We are never too far away from chaos and should do everything to avoid entropy at all costs; we must be reminded that a life of moderation and not excess brings balance.

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him” – Buddha