No fear in the familiar

P1080796

Sunset from Llyn Peninsula

Mysterious wisdom,
The hovering art,
The ‘all seeing eye!’

Beating the game through
A pack of propaganda.
Where are the super heroes we seek?

The infinite in the ordinary,
The wisdom of the ages
Ensnared by the daily grind,

In bodies, in minds.

Where is the siddhi of truth?
Lost in the foothills of the insane
Desire spirals in a consuming charade.

Have we thought it through?
You; the master who rules.
The mantle of a god is a curse.

No alarms, no surprises,
No shock and joy.
Will relates to the extraordinary.

True affection
In the humanity of petty existence;
Brilliant existence,
Existence for the sake of it.

Do not be disappointed
By the magical mornings
Of grey skies and cold toast.

No white robes or
Beatific folly can ease
The darkness drawn to your gaze.

Do not fear the familiar,
For the tired lines on your face
Are the brushstrokes of true grace.

Leave a comment »

‘In the brief dust and light’ – P.B. Shelley

“Man is of soul and body, formed for deeds Of high resolve;

on fancy’s boldest wings.”

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

Here is a very small excerpt taken from the lyrical drama ‘Hellas’ by Shelley, which he dedicated to the Prince Alexander Mavrocordato of Wallachia. This drama is rich in historic imagery, taking influence from a fascinating period in humanities great adventure; when God kings waged wars, blood, wine and romance were thick on the ground; Greek, Persian, Arab and Oriental imagery and characters all merge and mingle on the page.

Shelley is certainly a western seer, a sage with fabulous gifts of insight into the mystic and most of all, a brilliant story teller, renegade poet, political thinker and bizarrely, devout atheist (or someone who opposed organised religion and its norms at the time). Shelley died at the tender age of 29, he led what you could call ‘a full life’ (which seems a distinct underestimation).  He was outrageously talented and fearless, a true free spirit who embraced the burgeoning ‘free love’ movement (which only seemed to influence a handful of poets and artists at the time!)  Shelley attacked monarchy, war, commercial practices and religion whilst championing republicanism, vegetarianism, free love and atheism.

“Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number – 

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you – 

Ye are many – they are few.”

Every poet of the romantic persuasion should have a bit of Shelley in them.  Its the part that wishes to stay up all night long, lamenting the open, pale moon, sipping wine with Dionysus and making love with Sirens and Faeries.  The hopeless (and ever hopeful) romantic.  We all need a little genuine, joy based debauchery, carefree expressions of exuberance, if in word and image alone.  As Shelley once said ‘the poet is both a Creator and a Destroyer’ surely insinuating that the poet rides the waves of spontaneous creation which rise and fall of their own accord.  This poet wishes only to be with that which speaks through them in formless, uninhibited and timeless love.  Poets feel an unspeakable obligation to transmit the ethereal, the otherwordly, the unimagined beauty of existence via ball point, quill or keyboard.  Like divine spokespeople, they have an essential role in any civilised society and Shelley’s words speak as vibrantly and as intensely as they did all those years ago. He creates great vistas in our minds which cannot be washed away; conjures unknown emotions, challenges and soothes with tenderness and guile.  Shelley wished to be remembered in such a way:

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe

Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!….

Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth

Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!……

Here is a flavour of Hellas, one of the choruses that inspired this post:

Worlds on worlds are rolling ever

From creation to decay,

Like the bubbles of a river,

Sparkling, bursting, borne away.

But they are still immortal

Who, thought birth’s orient 

Portal,

And death’s dark chasm hurrying to

and fro,

Clothe their unceasing flight

In the brief dust and light

Gathered around their chariots as

They go;

New shapes they still may

Weave,

New gods, new laws receive,

Bright or dim are they, as the robes

They last

On Death’s bare ribs had cast. 

This is an incredible passage and is a succinct description of what some would call a very ‘spiritual’ description or insight into our conscious state of being.  There seems some esoteric understanding being exhibited here and it is fascinating for me to think of what influenced Shelley to write such words or how he came about such realisations.  Such fertile inspiration and eloquence is awe inspiring!  They certainly don’t make atheist like they used to!!!!

Leave a comment »

The Taste Of Morning – Rumi

Times knife slides from the sheath,
As a fish from where it swims.

Being closer and closer is the desire
Of the body. Don’t wish for union!

There’s a closeness beyond that. Why
Would God want a second God? Fall in

Love in such a way that it frees you from
Any connectivity. Love is the soul’s

Light, the taste of morning, no me, no
‘we’, no claim to ‘being’. These words

Are the smoke the fire gives off as it
Absolves its defects, as eyes in silence,

Tears, face, love cannot be said.

Rumi

Comments (3) »

‘The Western Guru’ – Albert Einstein and Tenzin Palmo

I have heard people in the East refer to Albert Einstein as one of the great Western gurus of the modern age and have had the pleasure of reading more into his life of late. The more that I learn about the man, the more I realise what a shining light of spiritual wisdom he was, especially when considering the cultural and social backdrop that he was living amongst.

‘A human being is part of a whole called by us the universe, a part limited in time and space.  He (or she) experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal selves and to affection for a few people nearest us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.’  Albert Einstein 

I think the picture and words above show a man at ease with the nature of existence and possibly operating on a different level of awareness to most of us, behaviour certianly befitting that of a ‘guru’ (who traditionally takes seekers us from the dark and into the light).  Most of these spiritually charged quotes come from later in his life, when his science seemed to go a little awry.  I guess you can’t have the best of both worlds!

Milarepa

As the great Tibetan Buddhist saint Milarepa said:

‘Accustomed long to meditating on the whispered chosen truths. I have forgot all that is said and written and is printed in books.

Accustomed long to application of each new experience to my own spiritual growth, I have forgot all creeds and dogmas.

Accustomed long to know the meaning of the word-less, I have forgot the way to trace the roots of verbs, and source of words and phrases.’ 

The greater the level of spiritual inclination or exploration, the greater the intention to free ourselves from the bonds and restrictions of a purely ‘mind and material’ based existence; this in turn leads to a dissolution of concepts that once seemed to define our existence and ‘ourselves’.  We see a higher path to be tread.  We are free to perceive life for what it truly is, undistracted and pure.  Our focused consciousness encompasses all and is clearly immersed in the glory of the all pervading present; radiant in its simplicity and luminosity.  To exist in such a state, life can be equated to:

‘Music heard so deeply that it is not heard at all, but you are the music while the music lasts.’  T.S. Eliot   

If we can make this our life’s work, make this quest, this great disrobing, one of our priorities in life; then we may for once, collectively, unearth a remedy for human kinds many woes and unearth the route of all temporal suffering.

‘The whole of the worlds troubles are due to mans inability to sit alone in a room.’  Pascal      

Quotes and inspiration taken from the book ‘Cave in the Snow’ based on the life story of Tenzin Palmo. 

Tenzin Palmo

Loving kindness is spontaneous.  Obstacles the teacher, develop patience.  The way we die will be the way we lived.’  

‘We need to wake up, but the desire to keep sleeping is so strong.  We like dreaming.’

Tenzin Palmo

Leave a comment »

‘O Traveller! Listen!’ – Swami Sivananda

 

Swami Sivananda

All quotes here taken from the book ‘Voice of the Himalayas’ by Swami Sivananda, a true yogi, who was consumed for much of his life by ‘vairagya’, desirelessness born of love for the eternal.  His path was Karma Yoga, the yoga of selfless service.

LOVE AND KINDNESS GOES WITHOUT SAYING.

‘Make others happy and joyful, your own happiness will, multiply one thousand fold.’

‘Awaken thy heart.  O Man!  Happiness is here and now.  Become a friend of humanity.  Become a radiant yogi.  Strive.  Endeavour.’

‘Life is a play, play well thy part in the drama.’

‘You can elevate others only if you can elevate yourself.  A prisoner cannot liberate other prisoners.’

‘Absolute is free.  Know this and be free, free, free,,,,,,,,!’

‘Man needs sympathy, kindness and brotherhood.’

‘The mind will grow calmer and calmer, you will be able to see your defects.’

‘Think correctly.  Decide carefully.  Work diligently.’

‘Life a war between opposing forces, they are to be pacified in a high expansive consciousness.  They dissolve inner truth that melt into the bosom of the Reality with a paternal embrace.’

‘Senses given to be utilized consciously and deliberately for the attainment of something altogether above and beyond the farthest reaches of the senses.’

‘Thought is a shadow of truth, the shadow gives an idea of substance.  Illusion has to be pierced by illusion itself.’

‘The world is a product of your mind which is a product of ignorance.  You cannot expect lasting bliss here.  Look within and enjoy the eternal bliss of the soul.’

‘We live in our emotions, in the lower mind, no idea of intuition.’

‘Drive this body car intelligently.  Relax perfectly.  Breathe rythmically.  Meditate regularly.  You will enjoy happiness, health and long life.’

‘Disharmony of word, thought and deed is the cause for all troubles, miseries and quarrels in this world.’

‘Do not bother about spiritual experience, go ahead with sadhana (service), knowledge dawns of its own accord.’

‘Do not tell anybody of your spiritual experience that you gain.’

‘Of what use is a sensuous life/ momentary enjoyment.  Seek the bliss eternal in your Atman (soul).’

‘Sensual pleasure is never complete or full.’

‘Crave for a thing, you’ll get it.  Renounce the craving, the object will follow you by itself.’

‘True selflessness is a constant meditation on reality, an intense and continuous affirmation of indivisible existence.’

‘The only way to progress is ethical perfection and selfless service, not to connect with the limited pleasures of asceticism.’

‘The Divine Life – a life in the centre, limitless, bliss and brilliance of the heart of Infinity.’

‘Tread the path of truth.  Meditate, hear the voice of silence.  Enter the silence.’

‘Comrade!  March fearlessly.  Be patient.  Success is sure!’

‘Come!  Learn the lesson in Yoga practice.  Meditate.  Tear the veil. Go.  Dwell in peace!’

BE GOOD, DO GOOD, SERVE, LOVE, GIVE, PURIFY, MEDITATE, REALISE…….

Leave a comment »

Comets, Ghosts and Sunburned Hands

Over dried creeks flowing 51 States (of mind) in a submerged desert……

Comets, ghosts and sunburned hands, uncut outlaws of the far lands,
Poisonous pastures line the Mexicola border, malignant, circling the desert with crippled thorns,
Amongst vulture and Mezcal flesh, come night time galaxy cloaking lonesome urinations.

Each fading town aflame with howlin’ rains and wolves, a guilt-less crew,
Only two choices in black and white, bible belt bonanza, heaven or the long gone,
Wings or warts, tumbleweed intention brought us here, a fireball with coffee stained lips,
To superhero cemeteries in dead meadows.

The wicked wand, a wooden fist, the flashing lights of the wrong sided,
The neon bible, the fakir void, the portal of adult clouds mean no joy zippers,
Selling sex for seashells,
all imitations,
simulations,
mutilations.

Sunburnt hands, out in the desert motel, facing the powder pink skies,
A fearless wreck of contradictions and tattered Coleridge and poisonous Wilde snakes,
All art melts beneath the perfect sun, the king knelt in saccharine ice cream pools,
The ocean,
the drumming,
the depth.

Not fearing the ticking, metallic rains, corrugated dreams line hanging hovel,
The highway is open season for curious rattlers, voodoo born to strange eggs
In this ashtray of existence, far from flowers or wreaths, fit only
For dancing over Indian bones in flashland. Mr Holy! Are you freedom?
Otherwise, you cannot light up the sky.

Yes strangers, I am ready! Some celestial boogie-woogie rearranging the burial stones
In dive bars serving guilt with sweet cherries straight up, parched wayward at the devils fork in the road,
Manic tongues babble and drawl crude incantations, unfathomable fears, crocodile skins
And rocking chair hobble, all tangle and trapped in the cattle wire, savage mutts and fenced off
Wilderness expanse.

Incomprehensible lazy lizard shoots the breeze, new outlaws hatch reaping sour smokes,
Light a match, gather sticks for warmth, plant a cactus whole, don’t drop out, without kicking on, without laying some roots.

Barn doors creak in the storms, asleep on fresh hay, beautiful people in burning man child melodies,
Make no trouble, lay low, skin crawling with potent deviations, judgement day has passed on by, warped
And wakeful in Santa Fe.

Dead ahead,
Sunset over barren expanse and bullet holes.

In the reverb of no man’s land,
The killer wakes, loose in crimson vision.

Feel a rising, higher,
No one is watching this cosmic romance,
Blood thirsty no more.

 

Leave a comment »

Bardsey Island – The Island of 20,000 Saints

Yesterday we walked around the northern coasts of the Llyn Penisula (North Wales), braving the high winds and feral seagulls.  There is something quite dramatic about  the Llyn, with the trio of mountains (known as ‘The Rivals’) forming a gateway to a landscape dotted with remnants of ancient settlements and worship.  It seems that each time I visit the Llyn I am drawn deeper into its story.

At the tip of the Llyn Penisula we find Bardsey Island and there is definitely something about Bardsey.  In English its name refers to an island of bards, in Welsh (Yns Enlli) it suggests an island in the currents.  It sits like a small jewel off the tip of the jagged coast line and has been inhabited since neolithic times.  Bardsey has been a pilgrimage site for many years, three trips to Bardsey was the equal of a trip to Rome.  A hermitage has stood here since the earliest days of Christianity in Britain, although it has been knocked down a few times along the way.  Brave and devout souls floated over from France and Ireland on rudimentary rafts to preach the words they regarded to be true and lead this wild and untamed island nation away from sin, towards redemption.  These remarkable old saints, hermits and pilgrims were very wise, putting a little ocean between themselves and their rabid flock (although that didn’t help when the vikings showed up!).

The history of this isolated retreat is fascinating, its location stunning, but as usual, the myths and legends are what sets it apart and fuels the imagination to imbued a large rock with magical properties and some intangible, mystical allure.  20,000 saints are said to be buried on the island, making the soil rich and fertile.  It has even been claimed that Prince Arthur is buried in a cave there.  To get there, you still need to call a local chap in a small fishing boat to take you there and hopefully back.  If the weather flares up, you can be stranded on the island, where there is still no electricity.  It suggested that you draw up a will before visiting Bardsey, it is said that the Llyn extends into the ocean just as life extends into the unknown emptiness and once we have reached Bardsey, we are relieved of earthly cares (meaning we are now number 20,001).

What can be said about the allure of Bardsey, it seems so close from the shore, we feel that we could touch it, except it is far enough away for us to fall and perish in the fierce waves of the Irish Sea.  I see Bardsey Island as a metaphor for our spiritual journey through life, as we build a bastion from rocks and earth to hide us from the endless waves and commotion, deep inside our soul is ever drawing us deeper towards harmony, as we venture out into the raging oceans of calm and set sail into the blissful unknown.  One pilgrim wrote that Bardsey is “the land of indulgences, absolution and pardon, the road to Heaven, and the gate to Paradise” and on a day like yesterday, I can see why.

I have included some photographs and poetry that I hope captures something of these sentiments:

 

Bardsey Island in the distance

Bardsey Island in the distance

Gorse and Heather

Gorse and Heather

There is an island there is no going
to but in a small boat, the way
the saints went, travelling the gallery
of the frightened faces of
the long-drowned, munching the gravel
of its beaches. So I have gone
up the salt lane to the building
with the stone altar, and the candles
gone out, and kneeled and lifted
my eyes to the furious gargoyle
of the owl that is like a god
gone small and resentful. There
is no body in the stained window
of the sky now. Am I too late?
Were they too late also, those
first pilgrims? He is such a fast
God, always before us, and
leaving as we arrive.

There are those here
not given to prayer, whose office
is the blank sea that they say daily.
What they listen to is not
hymns, but the slow chemistry of the soil,
that turns saints’ bones into dust,
dust to an irritant of the nostril.

There is no time on this island.
The swinging pendulum of the tide
has no clock; the events
are dateless. These people are not
late or soon; they are just
here, with only the one question
to ask, which life answers
by being in them. It is I
who ask. Was the pilgrimage
I made to come to my own
self, to learn that, in times
like these, and for one like me,
God will never be plain and
out there, but dark rather, and
inexplicable, as though he were in here?

“Pilgrimages” by R. S. Thomas

P1060794

P1060950

And that’s why I have to go back
to so many places in the future,
there to find myself
and constantly examine myself
with no witness but the moon
and then whistle with joy.
ambling over rocks and clods of earth,
with no task but to live,
with no family but the road.

Pablo Neruda

P1060782

P1060817

We passed the ice of pain,

And came to a dark ravine,

And there we sang with the sea:

The wide, the bleak abyss

Shifted with our slow kiss.

Space struggled with time;

The gong of midnight struck

The naked absolute.

Sound, silence sang as one.

All flowed: without, within;

Body met body, we

Created what’s to be.

What else to say?

We end in joy.

The Moment – Theodore Roethke

P1060730

P1070004

Comments (2) »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 810 other followers

%d bloggers like this: