Wednesday, 18 December 2013
What do you want for Xmas?
'Tis the season to be jolly, and Christmas is almost upon us. Saint Nicholas will be getting ready for his miracle marathon yearly journey to every house and fireside in the world, and children everywhere are gleeful in expectations that their dreams will be met.
Or at least this is what we have been telling ourselves for many decades....!
Now I'm certainly not about to rubbish Christmas. No indeed, as it's one of the few remaining great fables that infuse joy and goodwill into peoples hearts, (especially children's) that have no really awful side affects. The spirit of giving that is evident in people is in itself almost miracle like. But for a few short days this spirit sadly is all but forgotten as the January sales start again in earnest, and people become trampled to death for more material things, in shops ran by people with little care for generosity of spirit. The celebrations of festive seasonal gaiety are actually wonderful for bringing about a small but evident change in peoples reasoning as they communally work towards a few days of peace and kindness between people they care for and maybe a few strangers too. Smiling is more common and people actually holding doors for each other, noticing the bag laden people behind them. Ok, so this is a bit tongue in cheek, we all know it is often not quite this convivial and that people are so stressed with getting more things and more presents, hardly notice even the carol singers doing their bit for peace on earth, and goodwill to men, fala la la, la la la la...
Without doubt, Christmas is a time to reflect upon what good and deserving things have been bestowed upon each and every one of us during the year. It is a time to consider our part and place in the world and how well we have served others in that pursuit. We can look back fondly at the mistakes we have made and decide to make better and more informed choices in the coming year, and seal that with our resolutions on the turn of the clock at midnight, new years eve.
So what are you wanting for Xmas this year?
It would be my hope that peace fed into the hearts of everyone on the planet to such a degree that suffering and plight became words we could remove from the dictionary of common language forever. I'd like to see poverty given the heave ho, and greed made into a footstool for the feet of the poor, to rest and refresh. I would also like to see war become redundant as a way to settle our differences, and true democracy give peace a chance to get a hold upon the earth and into the hearts of the populace. YES, it is a long shot. YES it is a long way from the hearts of many people, who would say it is impossible. BUT I disagree, and strongly, for I have seen generosity and love being shown to me and to the people of my fair city, Lincoln over the past year or so. I have seen the glimmering signs for a change to sweep the county, the country, and the whole world. Love is evident and active here, a driven desire for peace and sharing and an expression of fairness to benefit everyone. Yes, with a change of heart, a clearer vision of the rewards of community living and sharing, people are preparing to be the change we wish to see in the world.
The Abundant Earth Community are the ever growing group of people in Lincolnshire, who are looking to serve not just themselves, but the wider community too, with new initiatives in sustainable living practices. Please have a look at our project ideas and become involved. This is a very practical way that we the collective can have what we really want for Xmas. A chance to know the love of giving and of sharing our earth and our spirit with one another and with goodness.
Strangely enough, I don't believe too many of us really desire much more than this ourselves. To have things to share and enjoy with our loved ones. To avoid the neediness and suffering of lack that comes from fear of not having enough. The Dalai Lama and many clearly less materialistic people the world over, say that the two defining principles we as mankind live for are; to be happy and to avoid suffering. This does make very good sense, and can be actively seen in all our dealings, both communally and individually. We try whatever is within our power to avoid the suffering that life seems to throw at us from time to time, in the pursuit of happiness.
Please have a rethink, recap the many blessings we have and look at why we have received them in abundance. When we lack, is it not because we were ourselves holding back from sharing the greatest gift of all? Love...
May we all have a thought for someone less fortunate than ourselves this Xmas, and make the difference to them and ourselves by being bolder and more giving. In doing this we will be the change we wish to see in the world and co-create a wave of hope that will be able to move mountains. We as human beings have done so many amazing things with our time over the recent centuries, that used effectively could give us the courage to be daring too.
So please let me know your thoughts about this and what you wanted for Xmas this year.....
I pray that we all may know Peace, Love and Happiness this year.
Saturday, 30 November 2013
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less travelled by".
Why does he say this? Why is it important for him to offer an idea of choice in where he was going? Does life exist at all, outside of choices and actions and outcomes? And how can what he said have any bearing at all upon you and I?
It may do well for us to consider what the poet thought, but even more productive I believe, is to look at what we think that he meant. My belief is that the two are one and the same in the end. Life is all about choices. And as far as anyone alive can say factually, that is pretty much it. Death doesn't offer us any clear or obvious choice. What we have is life, what we have are choices and what we do, well that has the power to make us happy or sad.
What do you think it means to seize the day? Carpe diem is Latin, and best translations consider that it affectively indicates seizing the day. Taking hold of the day with a positive and firm grip. Maybe not to throttle to death, but perhaps to go as far as squeezing all of the life out of the day, for its enrichment and nourishment value. Another poet (Thoreau) suggested that we suck all the marrow out of life, and if anyone knows anything about bones and bone marrow you'll know how hard this is to achieve. (Dogs are much better at it) Sucking the goodness out of life, (the marrow) is a term often forgotten or merely misplaced I would say. In todays world we are often 'too busy' rushing between one thing and another to do this, or even to consider the true value of doing this simple but effective act, that would free us from panic and from distress and any concerns at all over outcomes. Sucking the marrow out of life doesn't mean choking on the bone as my mentor, Mr Keeting once told me in his role as English teacher at Welton Academy for boys.
Many of my thoughts about this topic often come back to this powerfully illustrated film, Dead Poets Society. If you've never watched it, I suggest that you do at the first opportunity you can find. In a very subtle yet incredibly intriguing use of language and imagery it creates a forum for reconsidering the basic values for life as we have come to know and understand them. And it reveals how we can admire and come to love the beauty of life itself, in all its wonderful magic.
What would give you a belief that life had been enjoyed, that you had made the very best of it, that you had made it worthwhile? Sitting in front of a television screen day after day? Watching other peoples troubles and arguments in arenas of constant tribulation? Being immersed in woeful acts of violence and degrading human behaviour? Watching unprofessional sportsmen ruthlessly tackle one another running around a field for a living? I think not. Nay I hope and pray that is not the case, how sad that would be. Wouldn't we be better served by knowing truth? By seeing what real beauty exists in human connections, and by being an active participant in this pursuit don't we get the feelings of serving ourselves with a purpose? And by making the best out of the possibilities coming towards us, do we not manifest all that is great in our observance of life?
Believe it or not, death comes to us all. Death may not be the end of our lives as many people have discovered, merely a doorway into another part life. Life is a constant experience and to honour it I determinedly try to avoid missing the point of what it is for. Experience. Whether we do something or not we are learning immeasurable truths. But with choice, we can be actively selecting the best of the experiences, the ones that give us the feelings of more joy and live in such a way as to show that we have gained some wisdom. Who are we showing this wisdom to? Ourselves more importantly than others. If we go to bed each night happy that we did the best we could, that we squeezed the marrow out of life, that we seized the day, I believe we can rest easily. If on the other hand there are self doubts as to, could we have done more? then maybe we will rest more fitfully. I'm not about to preach to anyone as to what is good or bad, what is right or wrong, all I know are my own definitions. Ones that have come from my own feelings of having made mistakes, and failures to have lived life to the full. We talk about things in hypothetical terminology saying; “I'm going to kick ass today”. Then going to bed seeing that we did not in fact do this at all, but gave in to mediocrity and other pressures of life that seemed to force our hand.
There is a wonderful book by Ekhart Tolle; The Power of NOW...If you've not had the chance to read it then maybe would be a good opportunity to do so. NOW, the moment in which you and I are here, present, thinking and breathing, reading (and in my case writing) is all that there is. The past has gone, technically it no longer IS. As a memory it can live on for as long as we remember it, but it will not come back again. The future doesn't yet exist. Only theoretically does it belong in the space following NOW, and we cannot accurately predict what that might be or look like when it arrives. All we can do, is guess and problematicize what may or may not occur and how that may or will affect us at that time based upon memories of how it affected us in the past. But the NOW, this is an ever present and permanent feature of our experience. And one that sadly we often forget about and ignore as it passes us by swiftly, whilst we plan for a future that may or may not come and hold memories of a life that has already gone. Please take a few minutes to let this fact sink in, only in the here and now, in this very moment can you have any real power at all. What you decide to do now, will lead to the outcomes of the future.
So to conclude. If you have any doubts at all about what you are planning to do, then don't. If you can only spare a few minutes of your time for life, then it's already over, believe me I KNOW. (As one resurrected from that proverbial death)
As the poets says; “make your lives extraordinary”.
"Don't be a sayer, be a doer".
"Don't miss the chance to live by looking at the dead".
I hope this helps everyone to see, the point of life is living it...!
Love, Peace, Light and Harmony.
In the end its all about choice.
I did this for you. x
Tuesday, 12 November 2013
I recently enrolled on a course of free cooperative higher education. The Social Science Centre Lincoln is a group of academics and scholars who get together to share their individual knowledge with one another and run courses designed to get higher education into the reach of ordinary folk. I am grateful to be amongst this group and learning new and very exciting things, mainly theories of other renowned authors. The course is called Social Science Imagination and we are presently reading the book called Sociological Imagination by C. Wright Mills.
After last weeks session where we studied this Imagination through the topic of work and a reading by a Feminist/Marxist Kathi Weeks, we got into a debate about work and its value. Or more importantly the value of waged work. The world system of capitalism seems to have a strong hold over us all and work is very commonly understood to be the focus of our lives. It is the hub around which all of our social, family life and identity revolves. Marx described waged work as the central mechanism of capitalism and its lifeblood. Indeed it can be seen in our modern societies that waged work is the principle feature around which everything else moves. At present without this we are not able to provide the necessities of life for ourselves and our families. There are those of us that have the benefit of a system in place for being unemployed, but it is hardly a great substitute and can be barely survived on. At the same time waged work seems to be losing its value in real terms as prices rise and wages don't. Over several decades many political economists have been studying this trend and the consensus seems to be now, that human labour is the single most critical commodity of value. This is described as the one thing that machines cannot produce, even if they can replicate work that they have been programmed to do, they cannot determine their own.
During our discussions we saw how Weeks' attempted to undo the ethos of her own beliefs, by suggesting that the current model be seriously challenged as a focus for human life. She offers a thought that reduced working hours and the creating of a basic wage for everyone may provide some of the answers to current world issues with regards economic sustainability and work/life balance, even health issues and well-being.
But if we don't have this system, what would we replace it with?
Of course we may need to know what is wrong with the current system first, or what we feel is wrong with it, before offering suggestions about its replacement. Weeks' herself acknowledges the limits of conjecture as did bell hooks, but it is certainly well understood that workers don't hate work, they hate the tyranny of the system. It is oppressive in the main, perhaps more observable in the manufacturing and transport sectors, but in subtle ways in all of them. Hierarchy leaves us in no doubt that there is domination and subjugation and who takes which place. Workers contracts are under scrutiny at the moment again because they are always in favour of the management/owner of their labours. And if you stand up to complain as was done in the days of strong trade unions, you will be put down quickly and told to put up or shut up. If you don't like this, then they'll fire you and replace you with another person keen to take your place. And so, the system wins continually.
During our discussions we talked about alternatives, but as you can imagine, a subject like waged work cannot be easily replaced whilst people are expected to continually observe the other capitalist ideal of consumerism. If no-one has any money nothing can be bought, so manufacture needs its buyers as factories need their workers. Its a vicious circle and not one easily understood, by terms of value. Oddly some physical items are deemed far more valuable than many people, even human life itself. OIL, DIAMONDS, GOLD, MONEY and TECHNOLOGY which often are at the center of problems where human life is decided as less worthy. So if the economists of our world say that human labour is the most valuable of all commodities, why is it not the most respected?
Could we ever consider an alternative to this? Is there anything that could take the place of this valuable resource and bring true freedom to human beings? I believe there is one thing. Something that other desired outcomes forget easily. Sadly it is not at the top of the list when considering change either. But it is at the top of my list and I shall tell you now what it is.
In determining true value I consider:
Of what is truth? Of what is the spirit made?
What is worth living for? And what is worth dying for?
The answer to each is always the same. LOVE, only Love.
Enjoy the Journey...! Peaceful Warrior. 'Peoples Poet'.
Sunday, 3 November 2013
A delusion of fear.
Someone says your name, their eyes dart away and immediately you are aware that they are talking about you. They carry on talking but don't look at you again. Do you care what they are saying, what they might be revealing about you to another? Does the dread grip you? Do you start to sweat, become enraged as the conversation becomes quieter, as if you aren't meant to hear any more?
Yes this is one of those old habits hard to break free of. Suspicion attached to what others say about you, both in your presence and behind your back. Of course anyone with nothing to hide would have nothing to fear, would they? BUT, what if you do have something to hide, something you would rather people didn't know about you? Then it could conceivably be a worry and cause you angst. Why does it matter what was/is being said anyway? Why do you care if people see you in a good light or not? What is driving the suspicion about another's motives?
Again, so many damned questions....
I want to focus on the suspicion of our minds that can and does seem to lead to much stress and anxiety about such things. I feel sure that if we took ego out of the equation and saw the reality of the dialogues, much of the fear would dissipate. If we were able to reason clearly upon what other peoples speculations and chatter was pertaining to, we quite possibly could live free of such potentially harmful practices as suspicion, particularly those of the mind. Where in fact they are and can remain, without harming us at all.
Judging another persons motives stems from what ability do you think? Sound reason? Intuition? Direct insights from god? What if I were to imply that what sparks our ability to judge others, is nothing more than our own observed patterns of thought. We see in others, that which we fail to recognise in ourselves...! What I mean is that what we evaluate others are thinking, we too have been thinking, if we were able to be totally honest with ourselves. Failing to recognise it in ourselves is directed by fear of accepting the thought that we could be not as good and as clean and as virtuous as we would like others to think we are. It could simply be a trick of our egos, being trapped into a corner and trying desperately to escape without harm.
Ego can do this to us. It tries to project an image of wholeness and of righteousness and clarity of action in all we do. It does this by plotting to big itself up by putting others down, or by sabotaging our attempts to live free of its control. If we simply acted more truthfully, and spoke with more actual clarity it could not take over. And we would have no reason to fear the views of others. They would surely see the truth for themselves and know it as such.
It could also be that our suspicions are related to our non-acceptance of our own misjudged view of the world and the actions of people. I believe that if we could accept the mistakes we make and try harder to avoid making them again, with a gentleness towards our doubts then we could be free of suspicions. No one is perfectly equipped to deal with every situation. The ego wants a better place in others eyes and demands that we act to do that. Don't do it, be true to yourself and feel the love of forgiveness and generosity towards your attempts, no matter how awful they are on reflection. Hindsight is a thing that can be as useful as a chocolate fire-guard if we let it get close to the fire. But we can see in using it, how stupid or negative our actions were to all concerned, especially ourselves.
So, what is it that you are hiding? What do you fear other people finding out about you?
We have all had bad experiences happen to us. Few people really would say that they had had no negative or shocking things happen to them. In terms of how we as human beings evaluate the 'seriousness' of those events and how the society in which we live commonly views those things, we might conclude that some events aren't relevant to the way we feel about ourselves. I would argue the case for the defence. My own life revelations have taught me that during my upbringing, several events took place, that I wasn't even consciously aware of. The scars ran much deeper than I could have imagined, but none the less they affected the way I felt about myself and how I looked at how others perceived me. In a way that is not classically, historically considered abuse, I was neglected to a degree during the formative years of my development. I am not even blaming the responsible adults here, they are not entirely at fault either. But abuses of the kind that cause long term damage are easily overlooked, unless they are spotted and corrected.
Painful as it might be, I feel we should quickly look at some forms of abuse that can and have obviously left deep scars in many adult people, potentially the responsible factors for the current feelings of suspicion. Of course abuse more often happens to children, and that is where we start, for it leads to damaged perceptions as we grow up.
(General note: I am not a recognised Psychologist or Councillor and what I say here in no way expresses whole stock the views of trained professionals. They are merely my own researched observations)
Childabuse. This can take many forms of course, the more recognised forms are sexual, physical and emotional abuse. But the lesser considered one is neglect (abandonment). In the professional opinion child (abuse) mistreatments can be by both commission or by omission and can take place in many varied environments. Child abuse can occur in a child's home, or in the organizations, schools or communities the child interacts with. There are four major categories of child abuse: neglect, physical abuse, psychological or emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. (wikipedia)
The reason I mentioned the first three as being obvious is that for a long time many people didn't believe in child abuse. That is to say that they hadn't actually recognised the affects that events happening in childhood as potentially having such detrimental affects as they indeed have had. Later experts in the field began to determine, that of course pre-pubescent sexual activity with a minor however serious (penetrative or otherwise)(resisted (rape) or consensual) and performed by both adults or other minors, were in fact harmful to a child's development. Next came the physical events, beatings, chastisement of a more serious nature, even tortures that had brought about much suffering in children. And again the direct causes of this then became more apparent as to breeding emotional abuse. Equally so these types of abuse, can and have had physical ramifications, harm done both temporary and permanent to a body. Emotional abuse by definition is not physical, but it can and was discovered to have been the connected outcome to the first two mentioned as well as an abuse in its own right. What is being used to create this type of abuse is mainly fear. A child being told they aren't good enough, clever enough and worthy to be loved are the more common and recognisable forms. But for a long time I would guess the next form went somewhat unnoticed. Neglect is something harder to determine, and far harder to conceive of. Why on earth a parent would have a child for example and then fail to nurture and care for it and show it the love and tenderness that it craves is less obvious to determine. Many factors of course come into it, such as the parent also having been a victim of abuse, either directly or indirectly connected with their own child. Or maybe the parent/s were not ready for this invasion of another mouth to feed and person to care for. Whatever the circumstances, the damage is as equally damaging to a child as the physical abuse. My feelings and beliefs are that abuse has to stop! However slight and however well intentioned discipline is, it needs to be measured out with caution and balance, or the ramifications could be life changing for the child.
So in conclusion, I truly understand why it may be difficult for anyone to want to revisit their particular pasts and demons. But I believe that from my own personal experiences, this was absolutely necessary for me to let go of them. To be free of the troubles that have caused me untold sleepless night and breakdowns in communications with loved ones in relationships, it was completely justified. As a result I feel far more whole as a person and much less suspicious of others idle chatter. Sadly there is still one side affect to having opened my eyes to this issue of society. I can see in others that which I previously failed to recognise in myself. Personal troubles. And that is not an easy gift to carry by any means. It often makes me choose differently, and determine to avoid certain people. Not because I don't care, but because sometimes the best way to help another person, is to not help at all. I've tried many times and it came across as interfering and less than compassionate to the person I had tried to assist. Be careful what you do, and the reasons for your doing it is all I offer as advice here.
There were many other troubles that could have been discussed here relevant to the topic, cheating, lying, jealousy and greed for example, however I shall save that for another day.
Phew....that was a heavy one to let out. I sincerely pray it offers a help to you, as it has done for me.
Love, peace, light and harmony.