Saturday, 27 August 2011

Death


Death...

… it’s been around for quite some time, now, but we still haven’t really come to terms with it, have we?

It’s the bleakest and most traumatic example of resistance against what is - that mental non-acceptance of the moment - yet it’s inevitable and inescapable that, from birth, we move towards it.

This human life is short, even at its longest… but although there are medical and scientific advances in preventing and curing disease, disablement and all other ailments, would we really want to stop the process of death entirely?

It freaks most people out when they hit 40.

I see centenarians on the TV that look like they want to sleep… but they’re bothered by nurses and carers and forced to blow out candles for the cameras.

I watch their faces and think of stretched days of hard toil when all you long for at the end of them is to rest your head and slide away into nothingness.

But, unless you’re really into fashion, death is seen as the ultimate tragedy…

I’m not about to say it doesn’t matter; that staying in the moment is all you need to remember, and the passing of a loved one is just the same psychological mismatch between the reality of life and what your mind wants life to be like, as it would be if you were stuck in traffic on the way to a gig when you knew that Kylie had already taken to the stage in one of her little outfits.

If death wasn’t such an inconceivable enigma… if it wasn’t regarded with such finality, or if we could see past the veil to what comes after, life wouldn’t be so valued.

You can argue - if you withdraw your perspective to a global, governmental level - there’s little value put on a human life, or on life at all, but zoom back in to a personal, family or community view, and life becomes the most precious thing there is.

Where governments rubber stamp a ‘shocked and saddened’ response to disasters and are ‘regretful’ of the loss of life in war, get in close and there are hearts breaking… every death tears the world apart for someone.

(On a tangent, if our communities led the government – as it should be - rather than the other way around, World War II would have been Churchill and Hitler having a punch-up in a field, surrounded by a handful of men in suits egging them on. The other 120 million people from their respective countries would have told them to take a hike when called to arms. We’d have come up with a beer brewing competition, instead.)

We are here to live… on this planet to experience life… and death gives a focus to remind us of how important our time here is.

If there was no perceived ‘final curtain’ and we knew we moved on after physical death to somewhere better, there’d be mass suicides in traffic jams and at Morrissey concerts; stressed-out teachers would deal out capital punishment in schools; death would be the answer to and through almost every really tough challenge we faced.

If there was no respect for life, there would be no impulse to make the best we can of it.  

Death affects the living. Death has never troubled the dead.

As catastrophic as the experience of close death is, and however weak and powerless it may make us feel, we generally carry on living as best we can… reminded that our time is precious and, before very long – in the grand scheme of things – our own death will arrive.

All that comes to being in this Universe is subject to the same fate. People die. Mountains crumble into sand. Continents collide or are ripped asunder and their form is destroyed. Planets are obliterated in the death throes of stars. Galaxies are torn apart.

Yet there is one thing that defies that rule…

Energy.

Energy doesn’t die and nor is it born. It’s just there. Look around your room and you’ll see some of it, in various manifestations – whether it be in the shape of a cat, a flower pot, some wallpaper, your own hand, or if you’re very lucky indeed, in the form of Keira Knightley… and she’s maybe beckoning you to bed, with a wink and a cheeky glint in her eyes.

Without that energy flowing through your body, you would have no perceivable consciousness or life right now, and if that energy was entirely absent from the Universe, there would be no body at all… no ground for it not to lay on… no Earth… no Sun… no other sparkly stars in the sky… nothing.

But it is there… and… therefore… you are immortal.

All that you’re made from is eternal.

You are life.

Earlier this week, I was stomping up the mountain in Lochgoilhead and stopped for a moment, wiping a sheen of sweat from my forehead with the back of my hand… looking up at the clouds forming and trailing from the peak.

The sweat on my body was my internal cooling system kicking in, and the fingers of mist at the summit of the hill was the planet’s own cooling system in action.

The Earth rotates around the Sun in just the right way to allow a changing of the seasons, to cool and warm the hemispheres at just the right time so as not to completely fry or freeze life, here.

We’re part of something so extraordinarily, mind-bogglingly complicated, subject to countless chaotic rules, yet there’s a perfection to it all.

An atheist could dismiss it all as nature… but then, like an ocean is made from drops of water, we are a microcosm of the whole, which makes us, by nature, that nature.

A devout religious-type could argue that God makes it all work like that, and we’re inferior, but that infers separation. I don’t buy it… and nor do I buy angry-sky-god that would have the power of this entire Universe at his disposal and be so petty as to judge people on their actions within a flicker of a lifetime, and condemn them to the rest of eternity in pain and anguish.

Your energy is inextricably connected to this whole, ancient, Universal energy, that defies the process of birth and death… billions of years old, and then infinity before and after.

You always were, you are, now, and you always will be that energy.

So… um… we’re all a fragment of what could be regarded as God – the Universal power.

That’s pretty much fact.

We know that energy can have consciousness, because we are experiencing it right now, in this life, and we see it in so many different forms on this planet alone…

The thing is, we don’t need to know everything there is to know to live and learn from this lifetime.

And perhaps that’s why our time is short and these bodies are so fragile.

Death is to be respected, but it frames lifetimes rather than steals life.


You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

- Desiderata, Max Erhmann

Friday, 26 August 2011

A Spiritual Homecoming

Scout Rock - looking a bit Easter Islandy
“I want to see mountains again, mountains Gandalf! And then find somewhere quiet where I can finish my book.” – Bilbo Baggins

On Monday, after some sixteen months absence, I returned to my spiritual home of Lochgoilhead – a small village located deep into the Arrochar Alps, at the head of the tidal Loch Goil, surrounded by arguably the most breathtaking and picturesque scenery in all of the Highlands of Scotland.

This was the area I travelled to live and work in not long after my awakening, in February last year, and it will always be a very special, magical place to me, both in my heart and in my mind.

I woke up that morning with an impulse for mountains and, initially, planned to go through to Borrowdale, in the English Lake District, but balancing up travel times, Lochgoilhead was only an extra hour away… and my return had been a long time coming.

I looked online and booked a cheap room for a couple of nights, did some hasty packing, then set off on my Bagginsesque adventure.

After a relaxed train ride up to Glasgow, then another to reach Helensburgh, I boarded the bus that would take me into the mountains… and what a journey that is. The route skirts the banks of the immense Loch Lomond – the largest lake in all of Great Britain - where I worked from February to April of this year, and that stretch alone had me grinning like a child on Christmas morning.

Passing the mighty Ben Lomond, I looked up at the 3,196ft summit that I hiked to in the Spring, and it was almost as though I could feel myself staring back down. I remembered standing there, gazing at the road far off in the distance, across the loch… the same road I was travelling on… and there not being a sound. Almost a kilometre up in the sky, the bustle of the busy world is silenced.

Ben Lomond

Approaching Lochgoilhead itself – after travelling six miles along a twisting single-track mountain pass – I was filled with a supreme sense of euphoria. I had a huge smile on my face as the bus pulled up outside the village post office and I stepped down, planting my feet on that sacred ground once more.

It was surreal to be there again after so long, while at the same time feeling like I’d never left – as though those sixteen months had passed in a heartbeat.

After booking in to my room at the pub on the edge of the loch, dropping off my bag, I went for a wander around the village, then back to the scout centre I’d worked at last year. My old boss, Mike, had a big smile and a man-hug for me, and I saw a few more friendly faces before heading up to my meditation post on the mountain, the wonderful Scout Rock.

Scout Rock is a place of such immense peace. Though only around 400ft above the village, it offers a tranquil viewpoint on the world, and without moving my head, I could see all of my old haunts… from the building I used to live in, the post office and the pub, to the hotel across the loch where I’d go to the gym.

I sat there, meditating and smiling, just soaking up the view, filled with joy.

One tragic change I learnt was that one of the women I used to work with, Anne, had died this May from pancreatic cancer. She’d been a support to me when I went through my own cancer scare, up there, last year, so it was particularly poignant. It seems there was only a space of weeks between her diagnosis and death – she’d declined treatment because there was nothing they could do to save her…

In such surroundings, though, we’re reminded just how fleeting our time is in this world, and that even mountains crumble and fall. None of us know how long we have here, so it’s important to remember to make the best of each moment… and life is filled with beauty, if you choose to look at it the right way.

As far as I can be, I’m sure that it wasn’t my last visit to Lochgoilhead. I hope someday to return there to stay. It’s a writer’s paradise, with scenery that inspires and nurtures creativity. Until then, it will always be my spiritual home, always calling me back.

Here are a selection of photos... click on them to see the full-size images:

Lochgoilhead, under The Steeple - Scout Rock at the centre

Friday, 19 August 2011

Living in the Moment



You’re third in line in the supermarket queue, and the person directly in front – a woman in her late twenties with slicked-back, oily hair, a screaming child and a look of near-psychosis in her eyes  - has a trolley piled high with groceries.

Looking down at your own hand basket, you have only a few items. It would take just a minute for the checkout assistant to serve you. A quick glance to your left and right and you see the other queues are longer, so there’s no point swapping. You consider asking the woman with the heaving trolley if you can just nip in front of her. It seems a reasonable request, especially since you’re in a hurry to be somewhere else.

Just as you open your mouth to speak, she glares at her child with unblinking eyes and whispers, with a clenched jaw: “The power of Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you!

You decide not to ask.

So you stand there… your new enemy and her demon offspring in front of you… and you’re getting increasingly frustrated by the unfairness of it all. I mean, what on earth is she doing, coming to a supermarket and buying so much stuff? And look at the processed crap she’s got in her basket! No wonder the child is hyperactive.

If you’d just got to the till faster… if that old woman with the limp and the curled-down lip hadn’t dawdled in front of you when you were marching down the vegetable aisle, you’d have now been standing IN FRONT of this monstrous woman ahead of you, rather than behind her.

She couldn’t even be bothered to wash her hair.

You purse your lips and exhale. The agitation is rising.

A glance at your watch reveals it’s 2:33pm, and you think, what are all these idiots doing clogging up the supermarket at 2:33pm on a Wednesday? What sort of moron does their shopping at this time of day, on this day of the week?

Then you see that two checkouts at the other side of the store are closed and you shake your head, thinking ‘bastards’ as you curse the supermarket for their inefficiency, their inability to provide anything close to even a basic standard of good service and you also call into question their human rights record.

As your nemesis finishes piling the absurd amount of crappy, non-nutritious foodstuffs onto the checkout console’s conveyor belt, and you notice that she’s readied a fistful of time consuming money-off coupons; and as her child wails in such a high pitch you expect the storefront windows to shatter, your brain begins to swell and your heart creaks in your chest.

Then… horror of horrors… there’s that buzz, and the checkout assistant (who you’ve now decided is both gormless and fat, and the other way around) lifts a pack of tampons above her head and shouts: “Can I have a price check on these?”

You don’t know whether to throw your basket on the floor and storm out or start yelling at everyone in the store about how they must be doing this deliberately.

Sound familiar?

It’s perhaps a slightly exaggerated example, but I’m sure it will strike a chord with most.

Resistance to what is - that mismatch between what is real, in the living moment, and what your mind wants, through its synaptic reflections or projections – is the greatest cause of stress, anxiety, frustration, sadness, anger, misery and general negativity there is for our species.

If you’re in that supermarket queue, wanting to be and thinking about being somewhere else, and getting annoyed about not being there, where are you?

You’re still in the supermarket queue.

At that moment… and in any given moment… you can’t be anywhere else but where you are, so why resist it?

Amongst that swell of life, surrounded by thousands of years of stories and experience, you reduce your perception of it all to near-nothing by retreating into a critical, grumpy state of mind.

Yet, by recognising and letting go of that negativity, you could immediately immerse yourself in the same state of peace you’d find and feel in yourself if you were sitting on a mountain, or on the shore of a lake…

Life is what is. Life is right now. Life is always and will only ever be in the living moment.

If your mind tells you you should be somewhere else, when you’re not, and that’s causing you stress, then recognise that your mind is at fault and reject its flawed thinking.

This extends to every situation and circumstance in your life…

If you’re overweight, you’re overweight and no matter how much your mind castigates you about being so, you will still be overweight in that moment.

If you’re in debt, then you’re in debt and unless you can pay that debt in that exact moment of realisation, you’re still going to be in debt.

If you’re locked up in prison, that is where you are, and no matter how much your mind protests and aches for you to be free, those are your circumstances of the moment.

And so on…

Acceptance of the moment allows you to shed the anxiety and negativity which your mind may wish to attach to and label that moment with. It allows you to move from a mentally constructed fabrication of virtual reality into actual reality… from thought into form.

Life is an ongoing process of change, so accepting the moment doesn’t mean that things won’t change… it just means you won’t be beating yourself up, psychologically, while you’re moving through that change.

And you can make plans, in the moment, to drive that change. In that space where negativity once lay, creativity and positivity pour in.

If you’re overweight and you’re uncomfortable with it, make plans to get fit.

If you’re in debt, make plans to repay it. If you can’t possibly repay it, make plans to tell the companies you owe to that you can’t possibly repay it. If you can’t possibly repay it to ‘Evil Steven’ the loan shark, make plans to move to a different area of the country and change your name.

If you’re in prison, make it the place you want to be, right now – not with such enthusiasm that you punch the prison governor in the eye to get a few extra years, but by recognising that, whatever the circumstances, that is your life and every moment of your time on this Earth is precious to you. Use the time as wisely as you can, in whichever way you can.

If those plans don’t work out right away, keep adjusting them. If you stumble or falter, get back up and start again. Never give up.

In time, you’ll be in the moment where you’re slim, out of debt or at your liberty again, and what certainly wouldn’t have got you there was all that needless worry or frustration.

Life is now and this human incarnation has a limited and unpredictable timespan, which is true for every single person on the planet… so why waste a moment of it?

Next time you’re in the supermarket, let go and live.

“A wizard is never late, nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.”Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Rings

***

P.S. If you like this blog, perhaps you could consider adding to my fighting fund, through my PayPal account, at:

Lesism@btinternet.com

Anything would be greatly appreciated!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Justice & Compassion


It’s a tumultuous time for England, for the United Kingdom and the planet as a whole. Globally, we’ve had protests and full-on riots, uprisings and rebellions, unemployment levels are very dodgy indeed, people are starving to death, caught up in a civil war nobody seems to care about, and we’re on the verge of that feared double-dip recession, because if you look beyond the rhetoric of politicians, you’ll find every country on Earth is essentially bankrupt.

Let’s face facts… things are going to get worse before they get better.

What is not going to help make things better is Western countries being transformed (or perhaps further transformed) into police states in order to deal with the inevitable increase in protests against our governments, or our courts of law handing out knee-jerk sentences in order to quell dissent.

So, the topic of today’s blog is ‘Justice and Compassion’ and why the problems we are facing today will never be solved when the two are separated.

Charlie Gilmour, aged 21, was sentenced to 16-months imprisonment in July for taking part in protests - in London, last December - against the colossal rise in student fees… and convicted of kicking a window and throwing a bin ‘in the direction’ of a Royal convoy.

He was ‘intoxicated by drink and drugs’ on the day and although things got a bit out of hand, it’s hardly crime of the century, is it?

Much was made of the fact he was seen swinging from a Union Flag at the Cenotaph, but as much as it was mentioned - and even though he wrote a very humble apology admitting it was him photographed - it wasn’t something he was charged for… though he appears to have been judged for it by the courts, by the media and by the general public.

I would argue that it’s a disgrace to the memory of those people that the Cenotaph represents, that it could be used so cynically by the media to rouse the emotions of the general public.

The Fallen died for our freedom.

At the time of Charlie’s run-around, there were tens of thousands of peaceful protesters – many of them children – being charged by police on horseback and ‘kettled’ into areas which were then cordoned-off. They were kept there in the freezing cold, in the middle of Winter, for hours.

The freedom that The Fallen died for includes the right to peaceful protest, and that’s what was happening, until the police decided to scare the living daylights out of children and adults alike, risking crushes and trampling as the crowds were forced into smaller and smaller areas.

This is an account, published on the BBC News website a day later (December 10th, 2010), from a 17-year-old girl called Rachel Bergen:

"We were right at the front. There was a huge crowd behind us so we were pushed forward. There was nothing we could do about it.

"They [the police] saw us coming towards them, these teenage girls who wanted to go home.

"They didn't show any mercy whatsoever. They threw around my friends who were just 17 year old slim girls. They were beating my friends with batons.

"They didn't show any sympathy in their voice and I didn't see anything in their eyes.

"It was awful. I've never experienced anything like it."

No wonder tensions were high.

Twitter lit up with outrage, watching the live footage of this happening on the TV and Internet. If everyone in the UK had a teleportation device in their house, there would have been ten million of us on the streets of London that night.

Charlie’s 16-month sentence isn’t justice. It’s revenge. They threw the book at him and made him a scapegoat.

If he’d committed those same crimes on the streets of Carlisle, while ‘socially confused’ on a Saturday night, he’d have got a caution, or maybe a criminal damage charge and a fine.

It’s not as if he had a long string of previous convictions and - exasperated at his continuance to show disregard for the law - the judge decided, finally, to give him a bit of prison time. He was of previously good character. He’d just finished second year of degree studies.

Charlie, with his Mum and Dad
How could any judge handing out this sentence possibly argue that it was for the public good to keep this guy incarcerated - at the cost to the tax payer of over £100 per day - when he was clearly repentant and embarrassed by his behaviour, admitted his guilt, and there were a whole host of other, non-custodial options available to deal with him?

Charlie threw a bin and ‘alarmed’ a few people. Okay, so those alarmed people may have included ‘Big Charlie’ (aka the future King of England) and his wife, but my binman alarms me every second Thursday at stupid o’clock in the morning, throwing bins around. Will I press charges? No.

Why should the public status of the person alarmed affect in any way at all the process of justice? Aren’t we all the same in the eyes of the law?

Likewise, why are judges bowing to media and political pressure when applying such ludicrous sentencing? Even now, in the aftermath of the riots in England over the past week, judges are being told to jail those convicted of involvement.

There are also plans in the pipeline to evict these people from any council properties, and even the suggestion that they could lose benefit payments.

That is, surely, just making a bad situation worse?

When you take compassion out of the justice system,  it becomes a machine without a heart… it processes people like a computer would, rather than applying humanity, in which case the bigger picture would be looked at, with empathy, and a solution that benefits everyone would be pursued.

Justice without compassion is simply revenge, and that’s not the sort of foundation that a society should be built upon.

What also gets my goat (not literally, as I don’t have one) is that Charlie’s father wrote to his local Member of Parliament, Francis Maude MP, but it was reported that Maude was ‘not minded to take a stance’.

MPs are not masters over their constituents… they are servants. They are voted for and elected by the people, to represent the people, and not just the people who voted for them, not just the people they agree with or like… but everyone in their constituency.

Charlie has clearly been given an inflated prison sentence, and – in the interests of true justice, human rights and freedom – his MP should be straight on the case… not cow-towing to his party or the papers.

Charlie Gilmour should be taken back before the courts, given an appropriate, sensible, community sentence and you bet, he’ll never be standing in front of a magistrate or judge again for the rest of his life.

Behind every great man...
I’ve written about Gary McKinnon before on my blog, but again, compassion seems to be absent from his treatment, both by the government and the courts.

To remind you, Gary hacked in to various US government computer systems in 2001/2002… systems without passwords… and he left a few messages. He didn’t trash or rob anything. He was curious, looking for repressed clean energy technology and information on UFOs.

Gary has Asperger’s Syndrome, and this sort of obsessive behaviour is common in people with such a condition.

His crime is akin to him looking around for ATMs that haven’t been locked, then, finding one, leaving a note saying: “I can see your money!”

He didn’t actually steal anything, yet he’s facing a sentence as harsh as if he’d walked into a branch of his local bank, opened up on the customers with a shotgun, then emptied and ran off with the contents of the safe.

To put it in perspective, Anders Breivik – who committed the atrocities in Norway in July – faces a maximum sentence of 21 years for murdering 76 people. That’s a little over three months for each person he killed.

If extradited, Gary faces 70 years in prison for accessing ‘top secret’ computer networks… which were connected to the Internet with entry gateways left wide open. Not that ‘top secret’, then?

At the time of Gary’s poking around, it was clear that the US government’s cyber security was woefully lacking, and that embarrassed them… so, again, they are using a mask of justice to hide the fact that they want revenge. They want to save face, to make an example of him… and they still want to do this, nearly ten years later.

Like when the doctor told me he suspected I had cancer, the waiting must be the worst thing; an almost unbearable strain on Gary, his mother, Janis Sharp, and all their family.

I don’t know how Janis does it each day, and after every knock-back in her tireless campaign to have her son’s extradition stopped… she just gets back up, hides the tears and the heartache and marches on. She’s powered by a limitless fuel of love.

If rehabilitation, rather than vengeance, were at the heart of justice (and it should be), this would have been sorted out years ago in the UK courts – again, most likely with a fine or a community sentence – and Gary would have been at liberty to get his life in order and make a contribution to society, rather than being trapped in the limbo his life is right now.

The governmental and media stance that all of the people involved in the recent rioting should be jailed is ludicrous, short sighted and – if the courts are bowing to politics and the flame-fanning of the newspapers – an aberration of justice.

It would cost in excess of £300,000 ($488,000) to jail ten people for a year, yet if you gave all of them community orders and invested that same amount of money in community projects that encourage positive change, you could help hundreds of people – you could give them opportunities and hope to transform their lives, which in turn could change the fortunes of generations to come.

Compassion. Empathy. Humanity. Separate those qualities from justice, and what example does that set for the rest of society? Isn’t that exactly what was lacking from the rioters last week?

An eye for an eye and the whole world becomes blind.

Let’s open our eyes and hearts wide, and let’s be part of the solution.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

London's Burning - Guest Blog

I was hugely honoured to be asked to write a guest blog for Eden Baylee – one of the greatest writers and most vibrant souls I’ve had the pleasure to meet through Twitter.

The spec for to blog was that it should be on the subject of ‘Passion and Compassion’ and I had a few ideas up my sleeve (term of phrase, since I don’t have any sleeves… I usually blog wearing just a top hat), but the shocking events in London, over the weekend – and, now, further around England – had me change track at the last minute.

Passions are flying high… both with the looters, and also in the general public… but what will become of the world if we always fight violence with violence, hate with hate and negativity with negativity?

Compassion is needed, now, more than ever.

You can read my blog – “London’s Burning” – by clicking HERE.

And please follow the amazing Eden on Twitter: @EdenBaylee


Monday, 8 August 2011

The Spiritual Garden - A Guide to Safe Awakening

I wrote in a previous blog that I didn’t feel I was walking a Spiritual Path, but, rather, sitting in a Spiritual Garden. It was an off-the-cuff remark that I later realised was such an accurate description of my life, in the moment, and expanding on the concept may be helpful to others who are awakening.

Although it would be a lie to say that I’m happy 100% of the time, it’s very definitely true I’m 100% most of the time. I have my challenges, both internal and external, but I get through them like I never did in the past. If I have a bad day, it’s not the crashing end of the inner-peace I have, it’s an opportunity to recognise the issue, let it go, learn and become even stronger than before.

My cup is refillable…

I used to say that my cup was half full… of wasps… so there’s a marked improvement there!

I think that most other ‘Awakeners’ will identify here, in that, when you awaken, there is a sense of “What do I do now?”

From, seemingly, out of nowhere, you are gifted the most exquisite peace and clarity, and of course it feels amazing. Your senses are heightened, your appreciation and perception of the world becomes so acute that even the Sun shining on your face feels like a miracle… four and a half billion years old, and there it is, each day, lighting your way, radiating light and life.

So, suddenly, you’re liberated from all of the agitation and suffering of mind… you’ve been removed from the dysfunctional collective consciousness that, for thousands of years, has betrayed our species…

“What do I do now?”

The question contains a contradiction that can draw us back into the betrayal of the unconscious mind – otherwise known as the ego.

While appearing to recognise the present moment, the ego is scheming to find a way out of it. Rather than accepting what is, there’s an urge for more, and – if left unchecked – the ego will always want more… and more… and more…

A reminder…

When you are completely present in the living moment, all of your negative thoughts will be silenced. If you are totally immersed in your senses - such as while mountain walking, dancing, listening intently to music or playing it, stroking a cat, painting, making love, or a whole host of other things – all of your worries will fall away.

This is the state of true consciousness.

If you are entirely in your mind, with your physical reactions on auto-pilot, you can still do all of these things, but you’ll be thinking about something else. You’ll reflect on the past and project yourself to the future, with fear, sadness, pain and uncertainty being the primary emotions.

This is the unconscious state… and this is the only place ego can survive. This is where fear is fermented, anger and hatred is stoked, jealousy is fuelled, battles are plotted, prejudices exacted and judgements forged.

It’s a phantom, in that it doesn’t exist, but at the same time dominates our world, because for millennia we have been conditioned to believe it’s who we are… but we are so much greater than this illusion.

So, meandering back…

Through awakening, you find yourself living without the constraint of ego… but if you had no concept of ego in the first place, you’ll likely have no idea on how to defend yourself against its inevitable attempt to claim you back as its own.

Most spontaneous awakenings seem to be sparked by traumatic events or come as a snapping point after long periods of emotional pain, so though it’s a truly beautiful, miraculous experience, without awareness of ego, we can still be very vulnerable to relapse and a return to the darker places of the mind.

Many people, it seems, go immediately from awakening to assuming they must become some sort of activist, or join their local church, or read dozens of books on dozens of different theories, or seek help from others…

I tried the latter…

I had a curious ‘friendship’ with a former celebrity who told me I had a ‘Divine Number’ of 33, which she called ‘Christ Energy’. She wrote, in an email: “You do realise the implications of that?” Of course I didn’t, and when I read about it online, it was a bit disturbing, and not the sort of thing I wanted to consider, fresh out of two decades of ‘mental health’ problems.

She also said she believed I was an ‘Architect of the Fifth Dimension – one of the people who will build the Golden Cities after Armageddon’ and, later, that she felt I’d had an ‘angelic walk-in’ – basically that my body had been taken over by an angel, and I had died gone to heaven. Really!

Our friendship broke down twice, and each time, she unleashed a tirade of abuse, questioning my mental health and calling me, amongst other things, ‘bonkers’ and ‘a psycho’.

Now, she’s ‘rebranding’ herself as a ‘heart-centred thought leader’. She’s going to build on her media presence to give possibly the same sort of advice she gave to me, to the masses… which I find very chilling indeed.

Um… when you want to learn to spin plates, make sure you go to a teacher who isn’t standing knee-deep in a pile of broken crockery, amidst shuddering poles that have no plates spinning on them. Of course, it’s okay if they smash a few now and again, but when all they have is theory and no practice, you’re best to look elsewhere for training.

So here’s my advice, from experience… from practice, not theory… on what Spiritual Path you should follow after awakening…

None.

Just sit in your Spiritual Garden. Let it grow around you. Nurture it with peace. Enjoy the tranquillity of your new space and the freedom in your heart.

Meditate, simply by letting go of your thoughts. Sit comfortably, close your eyes and stare out into that inky void. Listen. Feel the energy in your body and move your awareness around it. If you are distracted by noise, make that noise part of your meditation… because it is part of your moment and your experience of life. If a dog is barking, listen to the dog. If a truck roars by, listen to the truck. Don’t let your mind make excuses that you’re being distracted, when it’s just the annoyance of the ego that you’ll be reacting to.

Don’t rush yourself. Let go of any sense of urgency to be somewhere else.

If you make mistakes, recognise them, learn from them  and let go. To beat yourself up about them would be to feed the ego’s strength. To forgive yourself diminishes its power all the more.

Don’t set yourself on a new journey when you’ve already arrived…

Just sit, in peace, enjoy the Sunshine and watch your garden bloom.

It may appear - to those with just a theoretical understanding of spirituality and awakening - that you are wasting time, but this period of growth and self-nurturing, hidden from them, leads to a far greater strength within.

When you are ready… and only when you are ready… then you can decide what to bring in to your garden… what you plant, build and create, what new knowledge you take in or new skills you learn, and you can even lay a path, if you choose.