Friday, 31 August 2007

Friday blog continued.....

After I finished writing the last blog entry I got myself ready to go out. I have a habit when I go into my bedroom to turn on the radio. I did this and immediately heard some church music and wondered what it was. Then I remembered. Today was the memorial service for Princess Diana whose soul left her body 10 years ago.

I rushed back into the sitting room and turned on the TV. The first reading by Prince William was being given. I sat there with my eyes transfixed to the screen hand full of compassion for the young man who had lost his mother at such a vulnerable age. Then the younger son Harry gave a tribute to his mother that moved me to tears with its sincerity and simplicity. There were lots of well-wishers outside listening to the service. Wherever lots of people are gathered, united in thought and intention and with stillness and silence there is power and connection. It is difficult to understand the reasons why young lives are taken in their prime. But there is something powerful and connecting when people come together united in grief. There really is then only one Soul and I see it very powefully in these times. At these times more than any others the veil of separation is thin.

While I was watching the service my intuition kept reminding me to 'go to the centre'. I wasn't going to. After the service was over I was going to visit my work colleague in hospital. This blog is about honesty (well as honest as I can be, because there are always going to be things and motives hidden from my view). The insistent either loud thought or voice to 'go to the centre' was beginning to irritate and I found myself in a dialogue with it which went something like this:-

'why do I have to go the centre, I've seen the way it is and have cancelled the workshop, what else is left? I got no answer just those insistent three words 'go to the centre'. Exasperated I set off. When I got to the centre the building work was still ongoing. There was a man and a woman standing outside of the building looking up at it. I thought that maybe the woman was Martina the owner. We locked eyes and I said 'Martina' . She said 'no I'm Jane and this is Paul, we are the new owners'. I was totally shocked. They explained that Martina had gone into receivership and had now left the country. They had bought the centre yesterday! I explained about the workshop that I was to have done there tomorrow and how I had cancelled it and explained that I had paid the full amount for hiring the room upfront.

I explained that I had done this in good faith in return for their willingness to help with marketing. They looked sympathetic. Paul said 'how did you pay'. I replied 'cheque'. He said 'if you had paid with a credit card you would have been able to get the money back. I said 'I'll know for next time'. They explained that they were not liable for any debts of the previous owner. I didn't get angry. I acknowledged that it wasn't their problem and wished them every success for the future. They shook my hand and I walked away.

It didn't take long for the mind with its criticising thoughts to start. Thoughts like 'why didn't you ask them for a refund as a gesture of goodwill, you never did any negotiating, nothing to see if you could salvage anything from this shambles'. On and on these thoughts went...harsh, unforgiving, unrelenting. I watched them come and go like a witness which was good for creating space but did nothing to calm the torrent of confusing feelings I had. Was I truly not ready to give this workshop or was the workshop never meant to be?

I went into a shop to buy some chocolates for my colleague in hospital. While I was choosing the chocolates my phone rang. It was Jane the lady I had spoken to a few minutes earlier at the centre. She said 'I've looked through all the bookings that were made for the centre with Martina and yours is not there! I've spoken with Paul and we are both really sorry for the situation which has arisen. We would like you to do your workshop here and as a gesture of goodwill we are willing to offer you the space at a later date in the future for free. When you come into book explain that you have spoken to Jane and Paul and they have agreed this'.

I really didn't know what to say. I was so overcome and deep feelings of gratitude welled up from deep within me. I established that the offer was not time-limited and that there would be help with marketing, accepted the offer, thanked her and said 'goodbye''. Words just don't do justice to how I felt. I paid for my chocolates with such a huge smile on my face that the cashier laughed and I walked out. The first thing I saw was a man selling the Big Issue. This is a magazine which is usually sold by homeless people. I walked up to him gave him some money and said 'here, take this and keep your magazine'. He was delighted and that feeling that comes when you give to others without any thought for yourself is something that money cannot buy.

I recognise the importance of giving back. I had been shown kindness therefore I must willingly and spontaneously give back. This is the spiritual training. It is also the workings of the law of attraction. Give and gain more. Not give TO gain, but give AND gain. Generosity must be given away. It doesn't have to be material generosity. Generosity of spirit is just as important. I remember when my God-mother died. At her funeral (she was catholic) the priest explained how Betty was a person who always left a person feeling happier when she left them than before she spoke to them. This is true generosity of spirit and resonated with me when I heard it. To have the intention to always leave a person happier than they were when you came to speak to them is the ultimate in generosity of spirit. This can be done by a kind word, generous listening, an open heart. Whatever form it takes the person who is on the receiving end will feel it. I am the first to acknowledge that this is not easy. But the important thing is to have the intention and willingness to try.

Now...I really am going to the hospital....

Give me a fish and I eat for a day....teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime..(ancient proverb)

While I was running this morning in the gym the words of what I have titled this post came to me. It got me thinking about how to teach people how to fish through the understanding and manipulation of natural and universal laws. To bring about a life which is lived from an enlightened state. My sole concern is that on the spiritual journey that people should know how to fish so so that there's no dependency or reliance on the fisherman. The question then arises as to how to do this.

For me there is a definite difference between the wisdom that emerges from the mystical path via the mystic and the wisdom that emerges via the occult. I want to make it clear that by the occult I do not mean tarot cards or ouiji boards. By occult I mean the study of the laws of the universe and the sheaths that veil the soul. The end outcome of the mystic and of the person that studies and practices the occult is the same i.e. union with the formless. I also believe that the degree to which people can acquire the tools to learn to fish is different in both.

The path of the mystic is that of transcendence whereby the world of form falls away to reveal the formless. This path tends to happen spontaneously. The consciousness shifts raidly from form to no form or formlessness. In the formless state there is no consciousness just awareness. However the mystic has no idea what the trigger for this. It is most often brought about by a state of deep devotion where the mystic experiences the union with the Beloved. The path of devotion by-passes the mind. It is a state of deep and passionate devotion which can and often does open into the transcendent. The mystical path of Islam called Sufism produces mystical devotees through this path of devotion or Bakti. The person entering into this state has often no idea of how it happened and the person listening to a recount of the experience is left in a state of longing and yearning for a similar experience but without having the tools to make it possible.

The path for someone who chooses to experience the transcendent via the occult is slower. It involves a bedrock of devotion but this is not overt or dominant. On top of this bedrock is the faculty of reasoning and alertness. It involves much reading and pondering (more important than reading) listening to classical music which has a spiritual foundation like I am doing now as I write this. I am listening to the music of Sir John Tavener. And as I do the words are just pouring out onto the screen. I am conscious of everything so I do not think I am being used as a channel but each time I reach the end of a sentence more words come so maybe I am.

Reaching the transcendent through the occult path involves identifying how the design of Human is put together. If you accept that 'Human' is a design then like any design the component parts can be identified, deconstructed and then re-constructed. It is like if I understand how a law works and I have all the components necessary for making that law work, then I can take apart the components and put them back together and the law will work in a different way.

This seemed to be something I should write but my rational mind has got involved in the writing and is saying 'are you sure that is really how it would work by the laws of physics? - the truth is that I don't know because I am not a physicist but the initial train of thought came from my intuition so I am going to honour it and leave it in. I will say again that everything I write in this blog are just opinions or views. I don't claim any of what I write to be the truth, only ideas to be considered. What I can state as truth and fact is the power that lies latent in man. These powers or the fires of matter are real. These I can vouch for not from my mind and ideas/thoughts but from experience. The path of the occult is about bringing back from the formless realm forms (insights, intuitions, hypotheses) to aid understanding and increase wisdom.

The path of the occult is the path of gradually developing consciousness and awareness. It is a drip by drip method instead of a big cosmic bang. It involves taking certain ideas as truth and making them real in our lives. From reading the first Conversations with God book I really took on that the Divine that created cannot also experience. To experience, the Divine requires a Human form, so the Divine incarnated in the human form. I really took this on and so I would consciously think of the Divine during all of my experiences and inwardly say to the Divine 'experience this through me'. This went for both pleasant and unpleasant experiences. I can remember a particularly unpleasant work situation where I was being made redundant. In the middle of all the pain and confusion of the situation I took a moment of reflection and said 'experience this through me'.

I am aware that this kind of thinking may sound and read bizarre but the spiritual journey is not like any other journey. It involves you taking a stand for an idea and working with it. For me it was the idea of the Divine experiencing the life it created through me. This meant for me remembering the Divine in every situation I was in. I must stress that this remembering never took the form of a visual hallucination. I have never seen a deity. It is more of a feeling thing. I guess that over time it took the form of a habit to always take a couple of minutes out from whatever it was I was doing to enable the Divine to experience. Like I say it can sound a bit weird and far out but these are the kinds of risks that are necessary at least from my understanding of this path. It seems to be a path that requires constant mindfulness whatever form that may take.

Even before I read this book I had a close association with a Presence. When I was younger I turned to it for comfort. It was only when I got older that I have treated the relationship more symbiotically. I need the Divine to return home and the Divine needs me to experience. It's a relationship of mutual love and respect.

The strangest thing has just happened. I had an insight about the next kingdom that the consciousness is going to enter into - the kingdom of the soul and I had written a little about it. Then suddenly my laptop crashed. Totally dead! It didn't matter what key I pressed, nothing brought it back to life. I turned if off manually and when I turned it back on, everything I had written about this next kingdom was gone. I take from that that I must only write about things I know and have experience of. To do anything else is in danger of inviting ego inflation which is always only sleeping with one eye open.......ever alert for an opportunity to sabotage.

It's my last day of holiday from work so now I have to do the ordinary mundane things of life. I have a strong intuition to visit the centre again which I will do. I heard yesterday from a work colleague that another work colleague has broken both of her ankles. I know it's not very compassionate of me but I was reminded of the famous words by Oscar Wilde in the Importance of being Earnest which I have adapted. He says 'to break one ankle could be seen as unfortunate, to break both, somewhat careless'. I find it hard to get my head around how it's possible to break both ankles. Anyway, I shall go to visit her in hospital.....there may be more for this blog entry later on.......

Thursday, 30 August 2007

The wave and the sea.....

I was off on holiday from work again today and walking among the tall trees I was thinking about that state of expanded consciousness which I can achieve in the early morning and at no other time. I was pondering this walking home. When I got home I remembered that I still had the second DVD of Eckhart Tolle's retreat in Findhorn in Scotland.

I settled down to watch it and he spoke about entering into a Presence or Stillness. I understand this state to arise when there is perception without thought. He gave a very good example that I will use here. He spoke about seeing say a flower for the first time. The first second is a direct seeing. This is a seeing without any thoughts and is the opening to what he calls Presence or Stillness. Then what happens is that the mind gets involved usually with a thought like 'Oh that's a rose..daffodil...etc and the second that label is put on the form the stillness is gone. The task for all of us on this spiritual journey is to make the time from direct seeing to labelling what we are looking at longer. This will increase our experience of stillness and free the consciousness from the form. Why not try this out. Practice looking at something without having any thoughts, or the next best thing become aware of how quickly the mind becomes involved when you do look at something. This in itself will free some consciousness and increase awareness.

It is the act of labelling that kills direct perception and keeps the consciousness trapped in the form. I can remember once a long time ago when I was at some art exhibition with a friend feeling frustrated when at every picture she had an opinion or view on what it was saying. I can remember shouting inwardly 'why can't you just look, why do you have to analyse it'. I never said this to her because I wasn't clear about why I was feeling irritated that she was giving what could have been reasonable explanations. Now I understand that these views and opinions were killing direct experience and the associated Stillness.

Eckhart Tolle has a clarity and simplicity and a resonance for me which is unmatched by any other spiritual teacher I have come across to-date. When he speaks he oozes humility and also he has the humour which characterizes someone who has seen beyond the form and as a result has directly realised the formless. I can use the analogy of the wave and the sea to make this clearer. On a stormy day it can seem like the waves are separate to the sea. For a short time a wave seems to have its own individuality. It has a certain time length of existence but it always falls back into the formless. The form always falls back into the formless out of which it came.

We humans are like waves except we have forgotten the natural formless state out of which we arose. Our minds with their thoughts have assumed dominance and have caused us to forget our natural state. The spiritual journey is the journey back to remembering and experiencing this natural state of being. Waves and the sea has always held a strong fascination for me.....

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

The amazing result of being hard on yourself.....

Writing this blog last night I was in a mini-depression which I conveyed by my inability to write anything of quality with regard to spiritual transformation. Depression has been defined as aggression which is turned inwards towards oneself. Last night I was in the grip of self-hatred. I went to bed and luckily fell asleep immediately.

This morning I woke up before my mobile alarm. I was in that great state between sleeping and waking and I felt incredibly relaxed. Lying in bed looking out of my window at the early morning dawn I felt my consciousness expand, growing bigger. It seemed like either my consciousness was going out to meet the trees or the trees were coming into meet my consciousness. Either way for those few moments there was no separation between my consciousness and the trees. I have had this type of experience before but never as profound as this. What is it that makes possible this experience? For starters, I had a mind which had no thoughts, when I looked at the trees there were no thoughts in my mind. Without thoughts there is nothing for the consciousness to get hold of. Consciousness gets bound up with thoughts to prevent an experience of spiritual/mystical one-ness. Perceiving without thinking is the key to entering this state of consciousness.

The process I went through last night where I blamed myself for not handling a certain situation in a different way bore fruit by giving me more freedom of consciousness. This freedom of consciousness enabled the experience this morning. Being hard on yourself diminishes the ego so the consciousness can be freed. I hope this makes sense. It feels so clumsy which is always what happens when you use form (which words are) to describe and explain the formless. This distinction between form and formless I have taken from the talks of Eckhart Tolle. When I heard this I suddenly thought that Eckhart is saying the same thing as Alice Bailey when she speaks about the ego and the soul. The ego is the form wrapped up in the personality and the soul is the formless. Consciousness is also a form because it can be grasped but beyond consciousness is awareness which is what the consciousness becomes when it escapes from form. When consciousness is freed from thoughts and emotions it becomes awareness. Awareness is the end of duality. The end of the subject/object split.

I felt so renewed and refreshed after this experience and I feel strongly that it was influenced by the process I went through of being hard on myself the night before. I know that this is subjective and is only my surmising but given what I remember from the 1st cycle this seems to be the way it operates. I am loathe to be definite because experience has taught me that when I am definite I get shown quite clearly how changing and impermanent everything to do with form which thoughts and emotions are, is.

I went for my usual cycling session at the gym. I realised from the few people that were there that the chances for me to lose myself in meditation like I usually did were likely to be slim. This was on the back of the last week where everytime I closed my eyes to meditate the instructor interrupted it with some comment about my form!(no pun intended!meant here in the sense of my physical body on the bike). I decided not to even try and when I chose to do this I found that I enjoyed the class immensely. The irritation came last time when I was interrupted. This morning I just accepted that this was the way it was going to be. I think I was also so nourished by the experience in the early morning that it was enough.

Came home from the gym and I was mooching around my flat when my intuition said 'go to the centre'. That's the vocabulary of my intuition. Instruction, short and sweet. I couldn't think why because I had everything sorted for the workshop I was running on Saturday. I had seen and paid for the room. I couldn't think of why I would need to go there again before Saturday. I hadn't received any phone calls of interest for the workshop which I thought was strange because I had gone there with a poster which they had put up in a visible position in the reception area. I had also sent an email flyer which they said they would circulate to their mailing list. I was confused at why my intuition was so strong to 'go to the centre'.

I always trust my intuition no matter how much it goes against my mind and intellect. It is our inner teacher and I have rarely found it to be wrong. There is a difference though between higher and lower intuitions. Lower intuitions are those which have some kind of personality involvement, the involvement of 'me'. Higher intuitions are not concerned with the personal, only the universal. This distinction is important. When an intuition which will always start as a higher intuition becomes tainted with a quality of the personality say for instance desire then it becomes a lower intuition and cannot be relied upon.

I set off for the centre. When I got there I realised that all kinds of building works were being done. It looked like a building site. Suddenly I knew why there had been no phone-calls of interest for the workshop. The centre had been closed for the last week and a half. The staff hadn't told me that any of this was planned when I booked the use of the room. I walked up the stairs but nobody was there only the builders. I spoke to one of the builders and explained that I had booked the use of the meditation room for a workshop on Saturday. He gave me a look which said 'you'll be lucky' and then said 'we're aiming to have the work finished for Saturday' but then gave a shrug and said 'who knows, that's the aim'. Watching the feelings of anger that rose in me I thanked him and wished him luck and walked out.

I was so grateful to my intuition which brought me to see this before Saturday. Had it been Saturday when I realised how awful the place was I would have been a lot less calm. As it was I came home and immediately sent an email to the manager explaining quite calmly that the centre was not fit for the workshop on Saturday and that I had cancelled it and asking for a full refund for the money I paid to hire the room. I was careful when I wrote the email to come from soul and not personality. When you complain and it comes from the personality there will always be ego involved and the ego of the person to whom the complaint is directed to will feel it and come out to defend itself. When you complain from soul there is no threat to the ego and the response of the other person will be markedly different. But don't take my word for it, try it for yourself. This probably begs the question 'how do you complain from soul' my answer is to be polite and courteous. Ego and politeness never go together!

When I returned home I watched some the DVD of the talks given by Eckhart Tolle. He reminds me so much of the Dalai Lama. He has a childlikeness and a simple humour which is similar to the Dalai Lama. So much of what he said resonated. I would like to speak about the what he says about the form and the formless. He was speaking about the formless being the essence of who we are. He talked about the old consciousness which is a consciousness that is wrapped up in form and has been dominant losing its grip. As we move to the new consciousness there is going to be more of a balance between the form and the formless. There is going to be more experience of the formless as the consciousness releases itself from the form. I find this to be so exciting and is exactly in keeping with what I am experiencing. The fifth kingdom which we are all transitioning to is going to be the kingdom of the soul - the formless kingdom. More and more people will directly realize THAT which the form has hidden.

Isn't that an exciting way to end this blog entry for this evening......I am so grateful and happy to be is truly a wondrous gift, the gift of life and consciousness.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

I'm so not spiritual today.....

I've done irreparable damage to the relationship between my brother and me today. Last night my parents called me and in spite of all my bravado I was really hurt by the way my brother had dealt with things with me. I couldn't bring myself to call him and so I was very abrupt with my parents. They were understandably bewildered by me acting so out of character.

I had been feeling bad for being the way I was with them and I called them to say I was sorry. I ended up telling them the way in which Pat asked for the money from me. They were so shocked. They knew nothing about it. It seems that Pat wasn't going to tell mum that I had put up a third of the money for the car. It also turns out that Dad had said that because I wasn't living at home that I wasn't going to have to pay for the building work to the house. Pat knew this so why he involved me with quotes and rough estimates is beyond me. I'm not proud of what I have done. I could make excuses and say that 'it just came out' but to do this would be to take the coward's way out and that I won't do.

It's all very well saying that now but where was my mindfulness when I was speaking with my parents. I reverted back to the complaining child who always ran to my parents when Pat hurt me. As I write this I feel ashamed but there is nothing I can do. The damage is done. I must accept that as a result of this that it is likely that any reconciliation with my brother is now out of the question. He will see what I did out of malice and spite to get him into trouble. This is not what I meant to do. I wanted some answers about the building work. I know that this explanation or justification is not good enough to justify me not having had the courage to pick up the phone and speak to him about it. In hindsight the conversation couldn't have been any worse than how he is probably going to be with me in the future as a result of my action.

My barometer for how much I am living in the flow of life comes with how many things go wrong. When things begin to go wrong. I stop and ask myself where am I going off track. Driving home from work I kept waiting for something terrible to happen, someone to run into me but nothing. The journey was smooth, I even got a car parking space. So while I think I've behaved abominably and should be punished, the universe is still its kind benevolent self...or is this the calm before the family storm.....

It's scary how easy it is for life to turn from being easy to being so uncertain. I woke up early this morning and got up immediately. I had no desire to go to the gym. Instead I had an overpowering urge to meditate and write which is what I did. I had bought a DVD of talks which Eckhart Tolle had given on a retreat in Findhorn when I was in Bath and I had a strong urge to begin to watch some of this. It's strange I want to write something about what he says but my mind is giving me a hard time with thoughts like 'how can you have the nerve to write anything spiritual given what you have done to your brother' In every case actions speak louder than words and this evening I don't feel spiritual so I'm not going to be a hypocrite and pretend to be. It's going to be a short blog this evening...I guess makes up for some of the more lengthier entries.

Monday, 27 August 2007

The low which is never far away....

Returning to London after the conference was strange. I had hoped to go to the gym and do a good work-out in thanks for me finding a natural end to my search. Instead I ignored the mobile alarm clock and didn't get out of bed until almost 11am which is unheard of for me. Once awake and up I didn't have the energy to do anything. I completed the blog for the conference and then sat on my sofa and read the paper for the entire day. The thoughts of meditating or reading any spiritual literature just left me cold so I didn't do any of it for most of the day.

I could be very hard on myself for this but what I have realised is that the spiritual journey consists of periods of activity and then periods of non-activity whilst the body and mind gears up for the next phase. As I said in my profile I have been on this journey since I was 11. In 1997 I was made redundant from work and decided to use the redundancy money to go to India and track the life of the Buddha. I had recently left the Buddhist sect I had been involved with and thought it was a good way to thank Buddhism and the Buddha for all that the philosophy had given to me. I travelled around India and Nepal for three months. During that time I did a ten days silent meditation retreat in Bodhgaya which is where the Buddha become enlightened.

I returned to London and wondered what spiritual practice I would do. I was in my bedroom one Saturday pondering on this when I heard either a loud thought or an inner voice which said three words 'give it up'. That was it, no more. I knew immediately that what I was being asked to give up was all of the spiritual reading, study, involvement that I had been doing since I was 11. With a sinking heart I agreed to do this. I stopped reading all spiritual literature, attending talks/workshops. It is hard to describe the emptiness and hollowness I felt when I did this. One thing which made it a little easier was that I had met a guy and I felt that this instruction was given to me so I could work on my emotional development.

I gave up everything and worked on this relationship with this guy. But the men guards I spoke about were in full force and it didn't last long. Some months later I had an experience in an ordinary office environment which involved a rapid shaking of the body. I didn't have a clue what had gone on. I know that at that time I was in a state of high emotional tension brought about by this guy who I also worked with. After the episode I had a peace and calm that I had never had before. I noticed that communication with myself and others was more harmonious and that I had a lightness about everything.

I didn't relate this to anything spiritual because I had given up doing anything of that kind. One day I was running to catch a bus and I grabbed one of the books from my bookshelf. My heart sank when I saw it was a spiritual book which I had vowed not to get back into. Slowly I opened the pages and was amazed to discover that I had a new understanding of what was written on the pages. Before I would be intuitively drawn to writing but never really understood the meaning. Now the meanings jumped out at me with a clarity and understanding that was new. I also had a closeness to the literature which was not there before. Amazed, I was so absorbed in my reading that I missed my stop.

When I got home I took out many books from the bookshelf and it didn't matter which one it was the clarity and understanding was there in all of them where it hadn't been before. I realised then that the shaking event in the office was a spiritual event. The shaking cleared energy blockages from my body to enable a deeper level of spiritual undertanding. It was after this that I returned to the spiritual path. I felt that it was an invitation to do so. When I gave up I gave up because I thought I had come to the end of the line that to go further was just for good spiritual people like saints not for ordinary people like me. I didn't feel worthy to be on this path. Understanding the meaning of the experience gave me the confidence to return.

I recount this story to illustrate the importance of periods of study but then the need to leave it for it to deepen and develop without any interference. The decision to listen to my inner voice and give up everything was hard. It was hard because I was attached and didn't know it. Non-attachment is essential for spiritual development. Much has been written and said about the dangers of material attachment, for me attachment to the spiritual is far more dangerous because of its subtle nature. This experience taught me a valuable lesson about spiritual attachment. Yet this is the paradox of the spiritual journey to be attached, yet not-attached. To want a state of consciousness so badly, yet to not want it. Walking this tight-rope is the journey of spiritual tranformation.

When one is aware it is possible to see the spiritual journey unfolding. I see it now in what is unfolding with my brother. He had asked me for money as my share of payment for a new car for my mother. When this request first came via text message I was upset and documented this in an earlier blog entry. Last week I hadn't heard from him about whether or not he had received the cheque. I sent him a text asking him if he had received it. He text back saying that he had received it a couple of days before and saying that there was building work needed to be done on the house which was going to cost roughly 3,500 Euros and he would be in touch when the work started!

In contrast to my reaction to the last text I immediately saw that this was just a text which in itself has no impact. I didn't go through all the self-pity that I went through last time. I watched the heartache go on within me but I didn't feel any of the hurt, anger that I felt the last time. Seeing this I could see my spiritual progression. On this occasion I was like a rock stable in the sea whilst a wave came crashing on top of me and I was not tipped off balance like I had been the time before. I calmly thought about the different ways I could handle this and the level of emotional involvement that was there the last time was absent. This is growth.

This kind of awareness is what the spiritual journey is all about. I can see just how much my awareness and my ability to deal calmly and compassionately with the situation has shifted. What has enabled this shift?....nothing but my own awareness.

Hungover after one lager....lightweight!

Woke up on Sunday morning to the alarm clock but turned it off, turned over in my bed and went back to sleep. I was vaguely aware of a headache. Bad mistake because when I woke up an hour later I was annoyed with myself. We had to have everything packed and out of our room by 10am. There was another early morning meditation in the lecture hall. I had the thought 'you're not going to make it to the meditation this morning' and then I remembered how my discipline had let me down once this morning and I resolved that it wasn't going to happen again. What I was amazed at was even though I had got up late that I still had enough time to do everything without being stressed and I arrived at the lecture theatre for the meditation session early.

For some reason which I can't explain my consciousness is in a state where everything flows no matter what the external circumstances. Lately I am relaxing and enjoying this and have the confidence that this is the way it is for me and there is nothing expected of me in return. Words can't describe the gratitude I feel. But there is also a frustration. The frustration that I don't have the key that will unlock this state for others. I can only trust that the energy of this state transmits itself to others through my writing or when I meet people that they feel something of this state for themselves without me having to spell it out.

The meditation this morning was being led by two sufi masters. Sufism is the mystical path of Islam and is called the path of the heart. My blog entries which speak about the writing of Irwina Tweedie is from the Sufi tradition. I found this mornings meditation easier because the periods of silence were not so long. My mind would get distracted but on hearing a voice would be brought back to attending to the breath. After the meditation there was breakfast. It is truly fascinating to talk to people and to hear their stories of their spiritual journey. I was speaking with more people who are practicing in the Sufi tradition. This appeals to me because from my experience spiritual awakening happens in the heart. It is when the heart awakens that the connection with everything and to everything is seen. The path of the heart is the path to spiritual awakening. Clarity and connection come when the heart is opened.

After breakrast Dr Camille Adams gave a lecture called 'Women and Sufism: Love and unity of being' It was her voice and presentation more than what she said which made this lecture such a moving lecture. She quoted from Rumi in a calm, loving voice and the depth of her devotion was obvious and evident. I put her lecture in the same category as the interview of Sir John. She has reached a depth of experience. The questions to her afterwards were telling in that they were about what is Sufism doing to reclaim Islam from the fundamentalists. Her reply was compassionate and telling in that she said that Islam has no centre like Catholicism has in the Vatican. Each devotee will be accountable to God.

The next lecture was given by Professor Les Lancaster: The Brain above the Brain. He suggested the idea of a higher brain above the brain of our normal brain which in some way stimulates our brain. The presentation was interesting and useful in that he linked various paragraphs of Kabbalah teachings to the possibiliity of another brain beyond the brain.

The rest of the conference was a mixture of questions, answers, discussions. How do I feel now that it is over and am back in my own flat. I know that I won't be at another one of these conferences. What was interesting is that this conference was the 7th Beyond the Brain conference. All the times I looked at the flyer I never really saw '7' maybe because it was roman numerals VII. Had I really taken that on I don't think I would have gone because I would have assumed prior knowledge from the previous six. I am really glad I went. I won't be going again. Even though my own search is over there is something about the establishment whereby I feel I wouldn't get the support from there anyway.

I am going to plod on with this blog and trust in the benevolence of the universe to show me my next step on my spiritual journey.....

Saturday dawned bright and sunny....

I woke up before my alarm on Saturday morning and had a couple of those 'where am I moments. Then I remembered. My attitude also seemed to have changed. All the irritation I had the evening before had gone. I understood everything to be a battle between the personality and the soul which everyone is going through. Those late-comers and irritating people are in the same battle with their personality and their soul as I am. The personality does not want this conference, the soul does. For some the soul is more dominant which is why they will be there on time, for others the personality is more dominant and takes the form of 'I won't be told what to do and it rebels, by coming late if at all'. I saw a lot of this over the weekend and as a result I had deep compassion for the human condition. It truly is a battle.

I got dressed and made my way to the early morning meditation which was being held in the lecture theatre before breakast. This is the first point where the personality rebells. For me it took the form of a thought, 'why do you want to go into a dark lecture room and meditate when you can walk out in the misty morning sunshine' This is a first test of discipline. Essential to the spiritual path is discipline. To notice what it is the mind wants and to say 'no, this is the programme and I will do it'. So it was with a heavy heart because it truly was a beautiful misty morning. The quallity of mist was such that I had never seen before and I knew that what I would experience in terms of depth of feeling and closeness if I remained walking around the lakes would be powerful. Yet the discipline was to say 'no' and go to the group meditation in the lecture theatre.

I arrived and sat down. All was quiet. I stole a quick look around and noticed that not very many of the what seemed to be over 100 delegates attending the conference were there. I noticed the irrtation in my mind and the berating of myself for leaving outside to come in. I sat there, accepting all this, not easy at times. I willed for the meditation to begin because then maybe my mind might give me some rest. I didn't have long to wait. The person who was leading it got up and lit a candle and then explained that he was going to play some music, then there would be silence and he would end with a reading. The music began to play and I immediately noticed a shift in the mind, gone were the berating thoughts, there was a real connection with the music and with this came a contentment and peace. Then the music stopped and the meditation began. I tried one technique and then another but nothing seemed to work. I felt pain in my back, an itchy nose, all mind things trying to stop me from meditating. In the middle of it someone came in late dragging his shoes along the ground and immediately there was irritation but then compassion as I realised that it was probably his personlity which was being dragged there under duress like mine was earlier. I spent the rest of the meditation thinking about this inherent conflict of the human condition that of the ego-personality and the soul.

After meditation was breakfast. I lined up and took my tray of a lovely fried egg, beans, quorn sausage and hash brown outside into the warm sunshine. I can't remember if anybody joined me for breakfast or not. I was aware of feeling quite separate and I wondered if that had anything to do with me earning my living from working in a left brained world - to do with figures and many there doing work which I consider right brained like healing, psychotherapy. I was aware that many of them were therapists and 'what do you do' is always the first question which seeemed to come up and I hated it. I found myself getting all flustered and embarassed as I tried to fit standards and standards development with pschology and wholisic therapies. What I was amazed at was how many seemed to have their own practice which got me thinking...but more of that anon.

The first lecture was on the paths of mystical activism. The speaker who was American gathered together quotes from some great women mystics most notably St Catherine of Genoa. She also spoke about another mystic called Etty Hllisum who I had never heard of. The lecturer explained how Etty had kept a diary of her spiritual development which has documented all of her crises and conflicts. I know that I am definitely going to read it. Here's the link for what Wikipedia has to say on her It is strange that I haven't come across her because I've read extensively about the lives of mystics and saints. This is the beauty of a conference like this in that it's a great opportunity to learn something new and to have insights and intuitions confirmed.

Afterwards there was coffee. I walked into the room and immediately saw Dr Andrew Powell standing by the water machine on his own. Dr Powell was founder chair of the spirituality and psychiatry special interest group in the Royal College of Psychiatrists. I had written to him before and he had responded. I thought that it would be a good chance to re-open the conversation about the connection between the eye and the brain. I wandered over to him. He caught my eye and I said 'Hello Dr Powell, I wrote to you some time ago'. He looked keenly at my name badge and said 'did I reply to you, I usually do' I said 'to be honest I don't honestly remember, I think you did but I think that seeing someeone face to face is better and there is something I want to discuss with you' He poured himself some water and asked me if I wanted some. I said 'yes' and he poured me some. We made our way outside to where there were two vacant chairs and sat down. He looked at me and said 'what is it you want to speak about'. Taking a huge plunge 'I launched into the story of my experience on the meditation retreat in 1999 and its links with the right brain and finally my request to have an MRI scan. When I finished, he was silent. Then he said 'I have two thoughts on what you have just told me firstly, I don't think that you would get any answers from having an MRI scan. It is a hugely complicated procedure and the results would probably be inconclusive. Second is the issue of your uncorrected lazy right eye and even what you say about Gordon Brown having a glass eye in his left eye. It could be that the loss of his eye spurred him on to work even harder to achieve what he has today and has nothing to do with the glass eye in his left eye' I had to concede this because I do not know.

He then shared something personal about himself and whether or not it has anything to do with expeirences he had. By the end of the conversation I was feeling much more reassured and the drive to do more digging to prove a link had gone. He advised me just to be me and to use the energy which the experience has given to me to serve others in whatever capacity that might be. He then said 'goodbye and good luck Margaret' and left me sitting alone. How did I feel?....grateful to have had the conversation with him. He told me that I wouldn't be able to have an MRI on clincial grounds (this was reassuring because it told me that he he didn't think I was mad!) I resolved after speaking with Andrew not to speak about this experience to anybody else but this wasn't to be.....

The second speaker was Dr Andrew Newberg. His presentation was called Neuroscience and the Mystical Mind; why do we believe what we believe' Andrew had a series of powerpoint slides showing the areas of the brain that light up when monks and nuns were meditating. What was interesting to me was how one nun took the news that it was areas in the brain that were lighting up when they were meditating. She said 'thank you so much for showing me how God is working in my brain'. This resonated with me. According to occult literature there is a Rod of Initiation which comes down from a higher power at the moment of spiritual awakening. This may correspond to that point at which the areas of the brain light up. The neuoscientist cannot determine this and so just seeing certain areas of the brain light up when meditating does not tell the entire story. I think it was seeing this at the conference that convinced me that I don't need to search for an explanation anymore. It was interesting that having waited so long for this presentation that I found it quite staid and boring. I realised that I would much rather have the mystery and see how far it takes me in insights and intuitions which I can share with others. I saw then why I had to come to this conference. To be honest in a search and to realize its utter futility.

After lunch Bishop Kallistos of Diokleaia gave a lecture Entering the Heart: Contemplation in the Orthodox Church. His voice was quite droning and I had eaten too much for lunch so found myself nodding off. This is really bad but I can't remember anything much of what he said. I know that he spoke about three kinds of contemplation - Inner contemplation, Contemplation of Nature, Contemplation of God. He explained that inner contemplation is about contemplating our desire nature, wants, all things of the personality. Contemplation of nature is about seeing the Divine in everything, the smallest blade of grass. Contemplation of God is all about contemplating the transcendence which he admitted was difficult. He recommended that a good route into the spiriutal is contemplation on nature. I liked this simple way of explaining the place of contemplation.

After the lecture I went to to the bar to buy a bottle of water to wake me up and who walked in only the Bishop. He bought a glass of wine and began counting out the £2.50 from change which he produced from deeep within his robes. I thought about buying it for him out of some misplaced respect for clergy (a throw back from my catholic respect for clergy days) but then thought 'no'. I was going to speak to him and I didn't want him to feel under obligation in his answers because I had bought him a drink. I asked him in all of his experiences if he had ever come across a phenomenon of energy rising from the base of the spain. Not looking at me he said 'no I have had not come across such a thing in the orthodox religion' There was silence then he said 'but, I have come across something similar in eastern religions'. All I said was 'right'.

Then he said 'let's walk outside, it is warm here'. I thought 'no wonder you're warm, being a pleasantly plump man and covered by heavy black robes and bejewelled by a heavy gold chain but I obviously said none of this!. We made our way to a vacant seat. He pulled a chair over so that he was sitting beside me not looking at me. It reminded me of confession where I would speak to the side of the priest. I felt a twinge of discomfort at this memory but pushed it down and waited for him to say something. He said 'you have had something like this, in his deep droning voice. I replied 'yes' and told him all about the experience in Devon in 1999. Once or twice he gave me a searching look and then he looked away. He then said to me 'this has never happened to you again' and I said 'no'. He then said 'what has happened to you is powerful. I know it is not your imagination because if it was you would have had it a number of times'. I asked him 'what am I do with it' and he said 'be yourself' There was something about that answer and the acceptance of what had happened as something special which brought tears to my eyes and I found it difficult to speak. Then he too said goodybe and walked away.

The next event on the programme was a violin recital in a local church by one of the delegates. I had mixed feelings about this event. I have a tendancy never to pack the right clothes or shoes for conferences. This one was no exception. I had packed totally unsuitable shoes and the church was a 10 minute trek cross-country on a dirt track. There were some cars going but I couldn't put my name down along with those over 60's -something about it wasn't right! My second reservation is that I am not overly keen on the violin. My brother played it when he was little and even though he ended up being a good violinist the memory of the days of scraping screeching notes stayed with me.

Anyway, as a lesson in disicpline I set off with the some others walking to the country church. It was such a beautiful afternoon and I extricated myself from the others to walk alone. Words just don't do justice to the depth of contentment it is possible to feel by connecting with nature. In spite of having sore feet. To look at the trees and leaves without anything being in the mind, a space of emptiness, to be empty yet so full. I was filled with the deepest gratitude to the universe for allowing me to have this experience. I believe in being grateful because gratitude is the quickest way of opening the heart. When we're grateful it causes a softening which is necessary for spiritual development. And it's not about being grateful for big things but to be grateful for the little things and then the big things will come.

I arrived at the church and found a seat and looked around. It was a typical quaint old English church. Everyone piled in and the rector gave a history of the church. I'm afraid history is not my strong point so I don't remember much. Then the violinist was introduced and he put a context around the music he was going to play which was a piece from Bach. Then he started to play. It was beautiful, the strains of the violin resonated and the yearning of the piece was really moving. I noticed though that my mind kept trying to figure out how many pages were left to play in the script. I was horrified at this and tried to put thoughts of this kind out of my mind and focus on what was a moving performance. I don't attend classical concerts when I'm at home so it was a new experience for me. When I forgot about the number of pages left to play and closed my eyes and entered into it I found that I got lost. The mind shut up and the soul took over and I allowed myself to be moved by the experience. You can always tell when you are moved by something if it is difficult to come back into everyday life. If things are a bit slower than they were before then you know you have been moved.

This brought us up to dinner. On the walk back to the university I was speaking with yet another therapist and she said how much she was looking foward to the next lecture which was going to be an interview with Sir John Tavener. I had never heard of this musical composer. He composed the music which was played at Princess Diana's funeral. I had also missed this. At the recital I had seen a tall figure all dressed in white listening intently to the music and so I assumed that this must be him.

For dinner I sat outside and the lady that I had met the first evening came and joined me which I was delighted about. We were sitting comfortably chatting when I saw this man making a bee-line for our table. I had an uneasy feeling which I couldn't explain. He asked if he could join us and what could we say but 'yes'. He immediately launched into asking 'where we lived and what work we did' and I could feel irritation rise up within me. When I said what I did he got all excited and started to talk about products he was developing and how to get some financial assistance. He turned out to be a free-lance consultant. I was angry that he would use a conference like this to tout for business. I explained that I wasn't the right person for him to speak to and tried to steer the conversation back to the topic under discussion for the weekend. To be fair he did talk about other conferences he had gone to but I got the feeling that his main aim was to look for business which left a nasty taste in my mouth. To make matters worse my companion just took her tray and left leaving me alone with him. Luckily it was soon time for the next lecture which was the interveiw with Sir John.

This lecture turned out for me to be the most moving one. He spoke about the creative process and how close he feels to God when he is composing and how separate and in hell he is when he is not composing. He was refreshing in his honesty about his own journey. The years he spent being wedded to following traditional musical methods and how he came to move on to try different things. He spoke about the support he had from a grandfather who used to applaud him when he was banging out the sound of the rain and the wind on the piano when he was a young boy. The essence of what he said has stayed with me long after the man and his physical presence has gone. It seems to be true that great talent comes with great torment. He explained the background to the music he composed for Diana's funeral, it was based on the death of a young girl and he adapted it for Diana. Some more of his music was played and once again my soul responded and the mind was quiet. The soul was at needed nothing else.

I decided to be socialable as it was Saturday night and went into the bar to get a drink. I got chatting to a man who was in front about the interview. He offered to buy me a drink and immediately my mind got into 'if I allow this, how am I going to buy one back, there won't be time so I said 'no, it's OK' but he insisted so I said OK. We had a lager each and went to a table. We had a pleasant discussion about the interview and creativity in general. Another lady joined us which was great. I tried to finish my lager quickly so I could buy the next round but when I asked he didn't want any, the woman had left some moments earlier. I thought 'at least I tried'. We finished up our lagers and said goodnight and I set off for Hungerford in the dark. As I said before I have no sense of direction. It was dark, I had no map, there didn't seem to be anyone around. Feeling a little light-headed from the lager I tried to identify familiar landmarks. I thought it was around a blue box like thing but when I walked around the blue-box like thing there was no Hungerford. Beginning to panic a bit and aware that my not suitable shoes were beginning to blister my toes I looked around and saw a couple of the delegates coming. With relief I asked them if they knew where Hungerford was. They looked blank but then produced a map which is bloody useless to me because I can't read it. I don't think he can either because he turned it this way and that, walked over to a lamp to see and then waved an arm in the general direction of upwards. I thanked him and set off only to arrive back at the lecture theatre where some of the delegates were still drinking outside.

Setting off again I ended up back where I started. Now I was really beginning to panic. I had been in orbit for almost 20 minutes and seen every bloody accommodaton block except Hungerford. Then I spotted a group of people and I said in this tiny frantic voice. I don't suppose any of you are in Hungerford. To my absolute delight one woman said 'yes, that's where I'm staying, come on'. I gave such thanks to the universe and trotted up quite happily beside her bewildering her with the tales of my orbit around the university campus. I got into my room tired but very grateful. The irony is that all the time I was walking I was never far from it. If I had trusted my intuition which was taking me there and not pannicked I would have been OK. It is times like this that show me just how easy it if for me to slip back into mind and lose my trust in my soul and intuition. But this awareness and insight is not to beat myself up with but to learn from. The universe is kindness and benevolence and once there is this awareness and repentance of having slipped from the path the guidance and support is always there.

This completes all of the events of Saturday. I am sorry if there is not enough about the content of the lectures. It is quite ego dominated to remember only in great detail what concerned me and that primarily was my search. That is over now which may improve my recollection of what others said. Although in hindsight one of my observations of the content of the speakers of the conference with the exception of Sir John was that much was an extraction and rehash of everything that has gone before there was very little original material. Just my humble opinion. The conference was run by the Scientific and Medical Network and so if there was a particular presentation you would like to have a CD of then you could join and order the CD.

Now I will write about events on Sunday, apologies for the long entry for this blog....

Sunday, 26 August 2007

I survived but am exhausted....

I returned to London at ease with my spiritual experiences and free from the need to explain them from the point of view of any link between my eye and the brain. This is a huge relief for me....let me unfold how all of this happened.....

I arrived in Bath on Friday afternoon. Bath Spa university is three miles out of Bath I took a taxi to the conference. I tried to engage the taxi driver in chat but his answers were monosyllabic so I gave up and gazed out of the window. We turned up the drive to the university and the view of the landscape in the brilliant sunshine just took my breath away. I felt a little sad when I leaned over to the taxi driver and said 'isn't the view just beautiful' , his answer was a noise which resembled a grunt. I understand that he probably drives there everyday but for me there is something about allowing yourself to be moved by the beauty of nature no matter how familiar the scene might be. To allow oneself to be moved by nature opens the heart preparing the way for spiritual awakening. For me, nature is the form of the Divine and so when I spend time in nature I feel close to the form of a Presence that I really don't want to name. This absorption in nature is free from thoughts. The most powerful experience I had of this was surprisingly not of nature but was the building dedicated to love which is the Taj Mahal in India. When I rounded the corner and saw this building I felt something well up from deep within me. I think the principle is that if we allow it our souls will respond to beauty of whatever character.

The taxi driver dropped me off at the reception area. The woman asked me my name and then looked for my badge. This was an anxious moment because if there's no name badge then this says all sorts. But to my relief my badge was produced with a flourish and a smile. I signed in and was given the key for my room. I had to smile when the woman handed me the key and said 'you're in Hungerford'! My memory is not that vivid but I understand that Hungerford was put on the map with the Hungerford massacre. I wondered whether this was an omen for a possible mental massacre which I would be involved in before the conference was over. I have absolutely no sense of direction. With some trepidation I set off in the general direction of where she had vaguely pointed. I was pleasantly suprised when I managed to find it without too much trouble. Went up to the room and it brought back so many memories of my cubicle when I was in the boarding school in Ireland. I unpacked a few things and then made my way back up to the registration area where there was going to be a wine reception at 6pm and then dinner.

The beginning of a conference is a very interesting time. At this time it is important to talk to someone interesting because it is likely that it is this person you end up speaking to and having meals with for the weekend. I walked up the path and immediately saw lots of people sitting outside at tables. I noticed that there didn't seem to be anyone under 60! I sat down at a vacant table and looked around. It was a balmy summer like evening and I thought how easy it is in a beautiful setting like this to be relaxed and connect with that Presence which is immanent in nature. Alas my peace was soon to be shattered when a man and his wife ambled over and joined me. I always find the beginning of conversations a strain because I normally have to wait until the end of a sentence before I can understand what someone is talking about and then I have to compose some kind of response. This time wasn't too bad because they had had a nightmare of a journey to get here so I listened to that. After a few minutes they left to unpack their bags with a cheery 'see you later' to me. I settled back and looked at the green trees silhouetted against the blue sky and felt this strong wave of contentment and some of then apprehension which I wrote about in an earlier blog entry seemed to fade.

A woman who was also on her own at the table next to me asked me if I would watch her bag while she went into get a coffee. I agreed. When she came out she suggested joining me. I said OK and we got chatting. She was a teacher for young people with dyslexia. She had given up her job as secondary school teacher and I could see the passion in her voice as she spoke about it and the children she teaches. We had an interesting conversation about the connection if any between the right brain and dyslexia. I ended up telling her about the spiritual experience I had had and my conviction that it had something to do with the right side of the brain being stimulated. I explained that the reason I was at the conference was to speak to a neuroscientist and see about the possibility of having an MRI scan done of my brain.
She was supportive and interested and wished me luck. I thought to myself 'I'm going to need it'. I was under no illusion to go down the path I was going to go would take huge courage. This was a conference called 'Beyond the Brain' and I was going to say that my experiences tell me that there is NOTHING beyond the brain, this really was like going into a lion's den. Most of the participants were there because of their belief that there was everything beyond the brain. The sub-theme of the conversation was 'Contemplation in Action'.

At 6pm we went into the restaurant to reclaim our complimentary glass of wine. I felt in desperate need of a cold glass of white wine. Took a sip and to my delight it wasn't too bad. We returned to our table. Shortly another two women joined us and that is when my irritation began in earnest. Both were psychotherapists and it was their attitude which began to grate. One woman was talking about her cleaner and she said 'I don't want my cleaner to cook my food anymore, she doesn't cook the food with love'...really...I wonder if that has anything to do with your attitude towards her'. For some reason I felt really irritated and wanted desperately go get away on my own. I once again experienced the apprehension and thought, gosh if they are all like her, I'm going to find meal times and social events a struggle.

At 8pm we had the first lecture of the conference. This was called 'Being and Doing'. The basic message was that we live in a world which emphasises DOING, where we gauge our value by how busy we are. We need to shift the emphasis to BEING. The lecturer gave the example that when he puts all the emphasis on DOING that he never seems to have enough time to do everything. When he catches himself and shifts into BEING that suddenly there is enough time. This resonated with me because I find that my state of BEING which has arisen from a profound spiritual experience I had in 1999 means that I always have enough time. I don't have any stress as is proved by the slow heart-rate I wrote about in an earlier blog and is proved by medical records. Everything flows and is in harmony. All of this is available if one shifts their focus from DOING to BEING. This is not easy in the beginning because to be still and perceive and engage with life from a point of stillness seems to be counter-intuitive. We seem to equate BEING with non-doing. But this is a false distinction. In a state of BEING there is space created and actions which result from BEING are harmonious, appropriate for the event and deep. I equate the DOING state with being like a hamster going around and around on a wheel. Very busy but achieving very little.

This is a common theme in spiritual writings. The shift from DOING TO BEING, the shift of the consciousness from outer/doing to inner/being. It is scary for the mind this shift because the mind needs activity and is threatened by non-activity and will do all in its power not to let it happen.

After the lecture a bar was opened for delegates to buy a drink. I was tired so decided to call it a night. Walking back to Hungerford I was aware that my mind was agitated and irritated. I was irritated at the lecture because I hadn't learn't anything that I didn't know already. I recognise that this irritation is of the mind. The mind wanted something else to have to think about, it did not want me to go into contemplation about it. I noticed that while the lecture was being given I was totally absorbed and the mind was quiet. It was interesting that the irritation started again when I wanted to contemplate and be quiet - the mind detests quiet. But don't just take my word for it. Stop whatever you are doing NOW and be still...what if anything happens?

I found 'Hungerford' easily enough and let myself into my room. Got washed and lying in bed I reflected on what the next day would bring.......

I could put everything into this one blog entry but that will make it very long and tiring to read. I'll finish this entry at the end of Friday and wite separate blogs for Saturday and Sunday to ease reading....

Friday, 24 August 2007

I'm a mixture of apprehension and excitement....

I'm almost ready to leave to catch my train to Bath for this 'Beyond the brain' conference. Sometimes I have no idea why I end up doing some of the things I do. What is this force that is going to take me into a lions den of neuroscientists, mystics. It is amazing how separate I can feel in a room surrounded by people. I was at a similar conference to this three years ago in Wales. I remember being frustrated, talking to people trying to get somebody to see where I was coming from. I had a strange experience with one Consultant. I was explaining about the lack of sight in my right eye and my conviction that this is resulting in the insights and intuitions I have. He held up a finger and asked me to follow it. I did this. I don't know what he saw because he suddenly saw someone he wanted to speak to across the other side of the room and legged it leaving me standing alone. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, I was just so shocked. I caught his eye a couple of times during the conference but he quickly looked away. This kind of reaction to me was unsettling then and to be honest it still is when I recollect it to write about it now.

I realise that at that time I was very intense. I had had an out of the ordinary experience. I was desperate for a rationale explanation. I am ordinary. I don't consider myself particularly spiritual. I haven't spent years meditating, there had to be another explanation. That is why I latched onto the fact of me not having equal sight in both eyes which could mean that one half of my brain is being more stimulated than the other. I also consider myself to grounded. I find that sometimes when I am speaking to spiritual people that I don't have a lot in common. I don't sign off my emails with 'love and light' and all of that kind of thing. I seem to be much more I don't want to say real, because that makes me sound like I am putting myself above others.

Gosh I'm stuggling writing this. Let's see if there's anything in the work of Alice Bailey which says it better than I can.... Ah yes, here on page 145 is what I am trying to say ' Human beings are apt to be primarily concerned with their higher group relations, with their return to their father's home, and with the trend which we call 'upwards' and away from the phenomenal world. They are principally occupied with finding of the centre within the form aspect we call the soul, and having found it, with the work then of acquanting themselves with the soul and thus finding peace. This is right and in line with Divine intention, but it is NOT ALL of the plan for man, and when this remains the prime objective, a man is dangerously near falling into the snare of spiritual selfishness and separateness' - Alice Bailey - Quality of Soul. I feel so reassured when I have a thought like this, which are strange, out of the ordinary and then I find something which confirms it. I am happy when my insights and intuitions confirm and build on ancient wisdom. I would worry if they were to contradict it because then there is something else at work. There is only one Truth but a myriad of ways to get to it.

I think part of my fear about this conference is that it is going to be full of mystics who are ungrounded and I'm going to end up feeling frustrated. I fear I am going to be the only voice of reason and as a result I am afraid that I am going to be exhausted at the end of the conference. Maybe this is too harsh on my part....only time will tell. I think I understand how Richard Dawkins must feel when he goes in among mystics and those who have abandoned reason in favour of experiences. I'm not saying realizations. These are different. To abandon reason because of a powerful experience is not very clever.

The driver for me to attend this conference is integrity. I feel like a spiritual fraud because I haven't done all the things that monks and nuns do. I haven't cut myself off from the world. I guess I am looking for an answer as to would I have these insights, intuitions and the life of expanded awareness which I have if I had two properly functioning eyes - this is what this search is about. The search for the Truth. It would also be great if I could have a brain scan to see whether or not there is more (or less)activity in the right side of the brain than the left. This would give me some answers. Unfortunately my GP won't refer me for a brain scan!

Almost time to leave.....what is this sickening feeling in my stomach...

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Something unfinished

I had a nagging feeling when I woke up this morning that I had missed something important from what I wrote in my blog yesterday. The words 'vortex of energy' came to me and then I knew what it was. In the Power of Now Eckhart Tolle also speaks about being drawn into a 'vortex of energy' immediately after his mind was shocked by the 'I' 'me' distinction. It is the shock to the mind which resulted in the body being drawn into this vortex of energy. I remain convinced that living life from the point of view of expanded awareness involves and requires a movement of energy from deep within the body, rising upwards to the brain and coming to rest in the heart. It is the shock to the mind in combination with a movement of energy that results in spiritual awakening. This memory is amazing because it is a long time since I read this book. I always remembered the power of the 'I' 'me' distinction but never remembered the bit about the energy. This morning it seemed important to go back and add it. It is episodes like this that if I didn't accept them as part and parcel of my spiritual journey that I would seriously question my sanity.

I was thinking about how to discern those spiritual teachers that come from mind from those that come from experience. For me, it would have to be an experience of this rising energy. Before I had this experience I had a mind that was like most that I heard speak on the 'spiritual illuminaries' DVD yesterday. I had studied Buddhism for nine years and had read lots of literature. But it was only when I experienced this rising of energy that I truly realized what I had been reading about. It was only then that I knew (gosh this is so difficult to write) with a certainty what it was I had been doing all these years. Before this experience I only had concepts. Well developed, well articulated but ultimately only concepts.

For me, someone who is 'awake', has to have experienced this rise of energy. If they haven't then I remain sceptical. Something has to happen in the brain which shifts the consciousness to another level where more is seen and understood. This does not happen in normal everyday life, it takes an event. What Alice Bailey would call 'an initiation'.

Another way to discern whether a teacher is coming from the mind or soul (if your own intuition does not tell you) is to study how fast or slow he/she speaks. Fast speakers tend to come from the mind, slow, measured speakers are accessing the information from a place which is no-mind. The Dalai Lama speaks slowly. You could argue that he does this because his first language is not English and there may be some truth in this. But think about those people who you feel inspired by, is their speech, slow, mindful, measured or is it quite hectic with lots of ideas. These are just thoughts of mine, the reader is absolutely free to take them on or throw them out. They are simply words on a page, their only significance is what the reader gives to them. It is important to consider all of these. The spiritual journey is strewn with human wrecks because of a lack of discernment which is not the same as judgement.

I am going tomorrow to a conference in Bath called 'Beyond the Brain'. It is a conference which is being run by the Scientific and Medical Network. Some of the speakers who will be there I have spoken to or written to. I feel so certain that there is a link between my uncorrected lazy right eye and the kind of spiritual/mystical experiences I have had. I consider my case to be strengthened by the fact that Gordon Brown who is now Prime Minister has a glass eye in his left eye. As a result he has restricted stimulation going to his right brain. This is why his style is so different to his predecessor Tony Blair. There is so little spin and concern for image. He is a man who is totally about substance. It is no co-incidence that he was also chancellor of the exchequer which you could argue is the most left brained job in the country.

I will be bringing this theory with me to the conference tomorrow. It won't be the first time I have tried to get the world of science interested in this. Reactions to me have been mixed. One psychologist said to me 'you say these things yet you're not mad!...very reassuring. Most have told me that the energy through the eyes reaches both sides of the brain. For me it is too much of a co-incidence. I am no saint, I haven't spent years in a Buddhist monastery. The only thing that makes me different is that I have an uncorrected lazy right eye. I am positive that there is a connection, I just need someone to be able to see where I am coming wish me luck.

I will try to continue this blog when I'm in Bath but as I am staying in University accommodation without any students, I'm not sure what internet facilities will be available. So if there's no blog update until Monday then you know why.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Call me paranoid.....

I remember when I had my first profound experience of energy rising up through the body that I had episodes of what seemed like mania. All these thoughts were rushing around in my head. Now I understand that the energy when it rose to the crown of the head awakened normally dormant areas of the brain. One of my thoughts was that 'this rising energy and its effects is a secret that has been kept from the masses'. It is what secret societies go to huge lengths to protect'. I don't know where this thought came from or what it was based on. At this time which was a long time ago I was hit by episodes where I had really way out thoughts. It was the Buddhist practice of being the witness of it all which has ensured that I am grounded. I also remember feelings not so much of paranoia but of feeling that I have stumbled onto something that is not common knowledge and that I would have to be careful.

Today some of those thoughts crowded in on me today when I was unable to access the blog. It kept saying 'server error'. My first thought was 'someone doesn't like what I am writing and has taken it off'. I felt the cold clammy hand of fear go around my heart and I was at a loss at what to do. I tried other blogs and had no trouble accessing them, it was only mine. I am aware that some of what I write is controversial but is it so controversial as to warrant the site being taken down...I don't think so. What was interesting was how quickly the thoughts were one's of negativity. I could have thought 'it's down because so many people are reading it! instead the mind created a disempowering context for the event. Why does the mind do this? I am pleased to say that within 15 minutes I could once again access the blog and continue my daily musings. Buddhists see the mind as a seventh sense organ and like the eye as a sense organ has what it sees as its sense object, and ears as the sense organ has what it hears as a sense object, the mind as a sense organ has what we think as a sense object. Thoughts are just products thrown up by the mind. They are not true, but the irony of the human condition is that we are convinced they are.

I was denied the chance to meditate at my group cycling session this morning. There weren't very many of us there and the instructor decided to take an individual approach to the class. This meant for me that everytime I closed my eyes ready to meditate, I was unceremoniously hit on the back and told 'LOOK IN THE MIRROR TO SEE YOUR POSTURE'. Pushing down mounting irritation I said to myself 'inner calm in the face of all of this, inner calm girl'. I'm sure as a result of the thorough tuition I had a better cycling class and my technique was better, but I left it feeling like I had been cheated in some way. This was quite a strange experience.

I am a member of the spiritual cinema circle and have been since the circle started. Every month they send a DVD of films. This month there was a documentary called 'Living Luminaries (on the serious business of happiness). It is a collection of well known writers in the field of spirituality who give their take on how to be happy. Of all of them it was the interviews with Eckhart Tolle which resonated the strongest with me. When I worked as a volunteer for Alternatives I had the privilege of hearing Eckhart speak. He spoke with such calmness and peace that my soul automatically responded. For me, he is a true master. I say this because he had a powerful experience whereby he lost consciousness due to a thought which shocked the mind and jolted it out of its habitual way of being. He had a thought 'I cannot live with myself any longer', then came 'who is I, and who is myself' this revelation produced the shock to the mind without which there is no expansion of consciousness. It is the power of this experience which he tells simply in his book 'The Power of Now' which makes him for me an authentic teacher.

I am wary of teachers who use too many words. The soul is simple. The words it uses are simple and the sentences it speaks short. These sentences come through intuition. For me they come largely as instructions which do not have anything personal associated with them. Many of the so called luminaries on this DVD had lots to say. But it was my own reaction I noticed when I listened to what Eckhart said and my reaction when I listened to the others. To the others it was mind meeting mind and I understood it on this level, for Eckhart, it was soul meeting soul and there was a definite and qualitative difference.

Truth is truth and all teachers have an aspect. I was struck by one man who said the spiritual journey is not about success but significance. It's not about the success of material things but achieving significance so that you become important to someone. Significance is the goal, not success. This really resonated with me and on that note I will end the blog for tonight.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Well....I did it...

I re-told the story of Beauty and the Beast as my first speech in the advanced storytelling manual and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Standing at the top of the room and looking at 20 people who are listening intently to every word is such an exhilarating experience. There is nothing like it. All of the people there are given slips of paper to write some comments on for the speaker and what was written on the slips of paper which people gave to me has brought tears to my eyes. It is so humbling to think that for nine minutes tonight I gave enjoyment to people. This to me is soul service and I love it.

There was a ribbon for the best speech and even though I didn't win it, it didn't matter in the slightest. If the speech had come from my personality and ego I would have been very upset. I am completely OK with not winning best speaker. This is a great achievement for me. I can say that I am truly OK because there was no bodily reaction when the name of the best speaker was called out for the evening and it wasn't me. I was delighted at how much I had enjoyed giving it and knowing that so many people had enjoyed it has meant everything.

I have such a lot to be grateful for at my early morning spinning class tomorrow so will finish this blog for tonight.

I can't believe it....

I can't believe that I fell asleep on my sofa at 8pm and missed the television programme 'Enemies of reason' last night. I turned down an offer to go to hear a jazz band because I wanted to see this programme. And what happens my consciousness let's me down by checking out and I fall asleep.

This morning I had to have some blood tests which meant fasting from 8pm last night. I didn't like to fast. I'm used to having little snacks (well I think they are little) throughout the evening so to have to fast was alien to my system. I think maybe that is why I crashed on my was a sure way of not eating!...strange but true. I had the blood test and while my arm was being prepared, I remembered something the Dalai Lama had said when he gave a talk at Wembley some years ago. He was talking about the importance of keeping the mind calm and stable especially at the time of death. He told the story of how when he went to have a blood test that the nurse couldn't find a vein. She went from one arm to another, he said 'then my mind became agitated, if I was to die then, that would not be good' I thought this was such an apt example of having knowledge but it being difficult to apply when in a specific situation.

I'm giving my speech on Beauty and the Beast tonight at Toastmasters. Because I was so tired I haven't rehearsed it so will have to judge how much to include when I see how fast the lights are going. The speech is going to be evaluated by another member who will tell me what was good, what I could improve on and what made it interesting to listen to. He's just called me and asked me do I have my beauty costume and my beast mask....aagh...mind becomes agitated....where am I going to get all this stuff at short notice....then it goes on the defensive which sounds something like 'it doesn't say in the manual that to pass this speech I have to dress up' Something in me felt threatened which is why I reacted so defensively to him. There was no need for it. I could have laughed it off. I know that this reaction of mine came from my ego and personality and not from the soul. If it came from the soul there would not have been any defensiveness.

Alice Bailey in her books speaks about passing through three halls on the spiritual journey. The first is the hall of ignorance. This is where the material largely dominates. Then there is the hall of learning where the path begins and finally is the hall of wisdom where everything comes together. Sometimes like today I feel firmly in the hall of ignorance. Then I read something and it resonates and I think 'I'm in the hall of learning' and then on those times when I touch a presence or feel close to something that is bigger than me I think 'this is the hall of wisdom' The confusion comes when the consciousness gets shunted back and forth between these halls. It happens to me most often when I think I have figured something out - a big boot - kicks my consciousness firmly back into the hall of ignorance. It can feel like going three steps forward and two steps back. Lately my mantra seems to be 'I'm confused'.

I should take heart by this because it is only in confusion and uncertainty that there is any growth. As I write this I am reminded of the words of a hymn I used to think a lot about when I was a young girl. The words are 'be glad the day you have sorrow, be glad cos then you live' I used to wonder for hours about this thinking 'how does being sad make you live'. There was always something intriguing about this for me, something hidden waiting to be discovered....

I will write how the speech went later on this evening.....

Sunday, 19 August 2007

The danger of being definite....

My fantasy together with my turbulent mind followed me into bed last night. I should know better than to write such things 'I won't' 'I never'. When I write in this definite fashion I am shown that this is not the way. In my last post I wrote that I don't feel desire. In bed last night I was consumed with such desire that I did not know what to do with myself, such sexual thoughts and feelings so agonising. I couldn't sleep for absolutely ages. Why is it always like this. I think that I have worked something out to find that I really haven't a clue and am once again thrown into confusion.

In spite of the troubled night I woke up early and felt refreshed. I felt an urge to meditate. I sat down with some apprehension because I have been here many times before. I feel the urge to meditate, I sit down and immediately the mind drives me mad with thoughts. I try one technique, then decide that's no good, and then I try another. The time crawls by. I don't seem to be getting anywhere and then I give up. In that way I am not a good spiritual student. Maybe it's a cop out but I consider the most effective meditation is when I am cycling or walking through nature. This morning though was different. I didn't feel the time pass and I seemed to reach a depth although I don't know if that was just me daydreaming or sleeping on my stool! When I finished I didn't feel an immediate urge to move. I was content to sit with nothing in my mind. It was a beautiful moment. I often have these moments in that stage between sleeping and waking but this is the first time I have had such an experience through meditation.

I went to work early because I had a dentist appointment. Before going to the dentist I left the IT department with my computer. I had brought my computer home on Friday for the weekend to make sure that everything was working. When I am out sick for 8 weeks I will use it at home. Wouldn't you just know it. I bring it home, plug it in, put in the relevant cables and look at the screen expectantly..NOTHING...I hiss and grunt, pull out cables here, put them in there, get a couple of drop down menus and click something. I realise I have no idea what it is I am supposed to be doing. Still nothing. Totally frustrated and fed up with technology that seems to make a laughing stock of me. I turn on my own trusty home computer and gradually my hatred of things with plugs subsides.

I left my laptop to IT while I went to the dentist. Came back, reclaimed my laptop. The IT guy reassured me now that everything was working. I bring it back to my desk, snap it into the box which is behind it, put in my usual password; up comes 'INCORRECT PASSWORD' aagh...this is my usual password. I am so like monkey see, monkey do, when it comes to the computer. If I see it done once then this is what I do. I never thought to look at what was in the username box. So used have I been to just putting in my password that when that didn't work, I had exhausted both my training and my powers of thinking laterally which are lamentable at the best of times. Almost crying with frustration at this point, my work colleague takes pity and calls up the IT department and explains in a slow and patronising fashion what had happened when the laptop was in IT. Through a complicated process which resulted in me returning to my original password (because all I had to really do was change the username...duh...) I once again had a working computer.

But the cost to me is massive. I am sitting here now with a blinding headache, feeling stupid and all around me the technology talk is so deafening that I am going to scream if they don't shut up. It's an alien language at odds with the Queen's English and shouldn't be allowed. I was going to work late here tonight but I'm so tired that I can hardly keep my eyes open. I know tiredness is a form of resistance but what is it that I am resisting....I wish I knew.

I'm looking forward to the 2nd programme of 'Enemies of reason' with Richard Dawkins later this evening. He is having a go at faith healing tonight. I don't doubt that people have mystical/spiritual experiences, I have them myself. The important thing is not to get lost in them. To always think is this something that I can use to the benefit of others. I don't believe in going to lofty states without being able to bring some of it back to transform life. I am not intersted in expanded or altered states of consciousness just for the sake of having them. My sole interest in having them is to bring about a happier and transformed world. They are of no use to me if nothing changes in the world.

To give an example. If for some reason I was able to move a glass with my mind from one side of a table to another, and word got out that I could do this, then every hall in the country would be filled with people wanting to hear what I had to say. But in truth what does it mean? Yes, it demonstrates some kind of mind power but in terms of bringing about world peace or ridding the world of all the tension and conflict it is useless in doing this. As I write Uri Geller comes to mind and how he can pack any venue he is speaking at. And why...because he can bend metal spoons by a combination of light stroking of the spoon and his mind. Because he can do this people come from far and near to hear him speak. This kind of response can lead quickly to ego inflation and also to getting pidgeon-holed and unable to move on. The last time I heard him speak, he was trying to speak about the where of his powers. Unfortunately all the people wanted to see him do was to bend a spoon. This to me is sad.

But it is common to feel sort of 'special' or 'chosen' after an experience of this kind. I wear a contact lens in my left eye, my right eye doesn't respond to any lens. I remember once going swimming soon after one of these profound experiences and seeing everything so clear. I was convinced that the experience had cured my blurred vision. It was only later I realised that I had forgotten to take out my contact lens the night before. So one has to be so careful with profound experiences to remain grounded and centered. I have found humility and adopting a witness attitude so that you don't get absorbed in to be the greatest protection.

I fell asleep on my sofa at 8pm so missed the programme, didn't wake up until unlike me....what is going on?

It's been such a struggle today....

Today my mind has been very turbulent and so critical about everything I have done. Frustration is such a common part of this path. Frustration keeps the mind in a high state of tension. My mind at the moment has created this fantasy about a guy who I meet every Sunday. When I don't see him I'm missing him and fantasing what I will say when we meet again. Then we meet and nothing goes the way I planned. I want to say one thing and something else comes out of my mouth, and I think 'shit, where did that come from' and it throws me into such confusion. I have written before about the men guards that are sleeping in front of me until this guy comes on the scene and then they overwork themselves distorting the communication so the whole thing is fraught. Then I have to take myself out of the situation and am then lonely and then the fantasy kicks in again only stronger. This is wearing me out.

I am so looking forward to working for this organisation because the focus won't be on me, it will be on others. I think if I had a strong enough desire I wouldn't be in this position. That is the confusing thing is that I don't seem to have any desire so there's no fire in the communication, no flirting, nothing when I am in the company of this guy. Then when I'm on my own. I keep thinking and fantasising. Sometimes I feel like I am going mad. I think I am a late developer because I didn't know what it was to fancy someone until I was in my mid-30's. I used to hear friends saying 'I fancy x' and I used to think 'what is fancy'. Then someone came along who was a lot younger than me and then I was in no doubt what it meant to fancy someone, I didn't know what had hit me. When it ended I was devastated and since then haven't experienced the same attraction for anyone else.

What I think I am experiencing is the result of stunted emotional development due to the overemphasis on the spiritual which I took on consciously when I was 11. I'm lucky that the other lines of development have not been stunted. If the physical line was stunted I would be a dwarf - which I'm not, I'm not that tall but am in line with normal physical development. My social development has also been OK, my intellectual development - debatable because of an uncorrected lazy right eye which I am convinced has resulted in my inability to do mathematics and other left brain tasks. It seems to be the emotional line of development which has been the slowest and most effected. Which as I write this I have seen for the first time the link - that spiritual and emotional cannot occupy the same space. The spiritual is all about transcending the emotional. It is not about transcending feelings. Feelings and emotions are different for me. The spiritual uses feelings it doesn't transcend them.

Feelings have a low charge and are what I call slow in that one can see them when they arise. They are what are responsible for our growth and when allowed to be expressed enhance spiritual development. What often happens though is that feelings are not allowed to be expressed. When this happens the feeling gets a strong energetic charge which changes it to an emotion. Anger is a natural feeling, it is there for growth. When it is not allowed natural expression it becomes suppressed and charged and then is expressed as the emotion of rage. Love is a natural feeling. If it is not allowed free expression, it becomes energetically charged and becomes possession or jealousy. These are what I call fast emotions. Fast in the sense that they explode without the person being aware of them until after the event. I often hear 'I don't know what happened to me, I just got so angry'. This is the natural anger which has been suppressed and pent up so that when it is expressed, it is so fast that while it is happening it is outside the persons awareness.

Yesterday I was thinking about the whole area of desire. I was amazed to come across a paragraph in The Quality of the Soul book about desire. It said that desire was of the personality. The urge to serve is of the soul. I quote from page 138 'Service is a life demonstration. It is the outstanding characteristic of the soul, just as desire is the outstanding characteristic of the lower nature' Is this what is happening to me? I have no desire in terms of wants and needs for myself but I have such a strong urge to serve. This is meant to be the path - the transcendence of the personality to the soul. Then the transcendence of the soul to the spirit. With this last stage comes the end of duality.

Before one begins the spiritual path it is the material world which dominates. The ego works to satisfy all the needs and wants of the personality. But this satisfying is only temporary. No sooner has the personality got one thing it wants, it then wants another. This desire comes about as a result of the senses. We see something nice, then we want it. At some point there will come a realization that this endless craving and wanting does not bring contentment. This is the first shift on the spiritual path. Then instead of the ego indulging the personality it works to discipline it. It does this by allowing the desire to be experienced without satisfying it. After some time doing this the personality will be sufficiently controlled by the ego that the soul can then touch the ego.

Once the ego experiences the touch of the soul it works to serve the soul. This is the point where insight and intuition which is the language of the soul begins to make its presence felt. The first initation which is done energetically is where the consciousness shifts its attention from the ego personality to the soul. After this first initiation there is a definite sense of a path being walked. When the ego merges into the soul one becomes the path. I can use yoga as an example. At the beginning of the path one chooses a form of yoga whether this is Hatha, Raja, Tantra and they appear to be different. After a time they become one. All yoga is aimed at the one thing which is the union of body and mind. What I understand that to mean is the union of the three elements of the personality, the physical (body), emotional (emotions) and mental(thoughts, ideas). When these are in harmony there is more energy available to contact the soul. While the various elements of the personality are in tension and conflict no contact of the soul is possible or if there is, it is fleeting, a glimpse. Soul contact can only be made when the personality is calm, controlled and disciplined. At this point the glimpse becomes stable and enduring.

So today has been a struggle. I have learned though not to resist this but to accept that this is what is there. It's not right or wrong, it is just what is there. Why it's like this today and it wasn't yesterday is of no importance. The spiritual path is totally concerned with surrender, at every moment to surrender what one wants to what IS. This is not an easy thing to do. And I am no saint.....