Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017

Another New Year's Eve and the regular early night planned ... the lure of alcohol fuelled revelries resisted and new neighbours hopefully quiet ... the holiday cottage next door but one is occupied, so a wild party is yet possible ...

The year has an interim feel ... mostly spent in Stanhope as the long running inheritance saga finally bears fruit with attendant paperwork ... proposed Camino postponed as cottage purchase dragged on, though a month in the sun with Susie, sandwiched with The Barn retreat and the wonderful work week at Brockwood Park, extended by ten days, provided nourishment for mind, body and soul ... next year's work week already booked and a Camino or two anticipated as the status of the cottage on Railway Terrace resolves into the Retreat House previously planned on Front Street and the first retreatant booked for Tuesday ... meanwhile the library is growing, new shelves a priority ...

Since walking with the pack curtails study, this house based year has enabled plenty of reading and a spacious routine, including occasional minibus driving with the elders ... service in the community being an essential element of life, alongside fresh air, good food, exercise and the always seductive solitude ... if a resolution is needed for next year, maybe more interaction with fellow human beings is it ... and maybe the Retreat House is a step in that direction ...

The occasional reminder from FB of thoughts and events over the past five years suggests that most of the time has been deepening rather than expanding ... maybe old encrusted brain cells are content with the current version of reality ... maybe the formless philosophy, integrated into a life embodying compassion, simplicity and patience is the pathless path to the truth or even the Truth ... and whether that's right or not, what is clear is that FB recalls more about me than the conventional memory bank does ...

Happy New Year, dear reader(s), and thanks for your attention!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Boxing Day ...

Boxing Day dawns brighter after yesterday's rather drizzly weather and a long walk over the fells inspires a festive edition of Wear and Dao for any readers still hoping for inspiration or entertainment after a patchy period ... it is the pilgrimages that provide the juiciest material and it is the next pilgrimage that is a current focus ... the Via de la Plata calling ...

As for the Christmas season, it is passed pleasantly enough with a combination of visits with daughters and friends, and  trips with the elders, including a Nativity performed by the local junior school children, 9 Lessons and Carols at the cathedral in Durham, assisted shopping and several Christmas lunches, including the rather special one on Christmas Day in the church hall yesterday, inspired by a local teenager who wondered what folks wanting company were doing ... Ruth and her family are still organising the event three years on ...

Special thanks to Jennie for a wonderful linguistic addition with "vague 'un" to describe folks aspiring to a plant based diet though without taking it too seriously ... sounds familiar, though mammal flesh has been avoided for nearly thirty years without noticeable negative effects ... dairy products currently reduced due to the interesting discovery that official regulations specify how much blood and pus is permitted ... ethical concerns on animal welfare add weight, though maybe as a secondary layer to be truthful ... the initial impulse to avoid corpse eating was due to the routine use of antibiotics in animal husbandry ...

Reading material, possibly perversely, is the Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda and the weightier Introduction to Buddhism by Peter Harvey, sometime Reader in Buddhist Studies at the University of Sunderland ... the more familiar Christian story no longer resonating, though Yogananda, having decamped to California in 1920, includes many biblical references in his work ... neither Hinduism nor Buddhism calling strongly, though both offer interesting insights ... current thinking maintains the formless path or non-path, the very attempt to organise systems around religious insight identified as problematical ... 

The conclusion to recent musings on the purpose of the newly acquired cottage on the edge of Stanhope seems to be to try to transcend the perils of property by offering it as a Retreat through the "A Place to Be" network and see what transpires ... the more sensible AirBnB option remains, and of course family and friends are always welcome ...

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Anchor or Base?

The editor writes to enquire about the lack of blogging, musing on whether the settled life has turned into Groundhog Day... prompting a report on progress as the mind wrestles with the consequences of property ownership ... the mundane details of furnishing from scratch, the slightly more interesting designing of the necessary upgrades ... the insight gleaned from managing a never extinguished coal fire to maintain the cosiness, which is an experience to be learned from though not necessarily every winter ... bearing in mind that winter in Stanhope is longer than in the Algarve (the focus of occasional thoughts for the New Year) ...

On a philosophical level it is noted that the concept of property ownership has made little impression, since "mine" infers a "me", an entity fundamentally non-existent, as described in several previous posts and a great liberation as the concept is embodied in daily life ...

The metaphors employed to tell the story to interested friends and neighbours include anchor holding "me" in place, versus base for exploration ... anchor in boat terminology is, of course, a temporary feature anyway ... and having a base to return to, whilst limiting the freedom experienced in the past three years, need not be a constraint to more wandering ... the cottage is being set up anyway with two bedrooms for guests (via AirBnB or whatever) and a micro bedroom for returning explorers ... all managed by a friend in the village, who is also taking care of the renovations ... symptoms of vitamin D3 deficiency have been noted and sunshine is prescribed, along with walking and talking with pilgrims ... Seville to Santiago over six weeks sounds appealing...

Meanwhile, regular readers may have noted the big idea for a Retreat House in Stanhope has fallen away ... though the house is still for sale and the vision lurking in the field of possibility, the collective energy has not yet gathered ... let's see ... anyway, the cottage may be a mini-retreat ... the library is growing ... 

Daily life, not yet Groundhog Day, passes peacefully, with occasional driving with Wheels to Meals, lots of walking the fells, plenty of reading (mostly Daniel Borstin's wonderful "The Discoverers, A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself"... man, his and himself, of course, clumsily including the other gender, although women are thin on the ground, whether through bias or a feature of roles throughout these ages territory dodged by this blogger, conditioned by feminist views in relationships professional and domestic ...) ... the mid-winter light festival approaches, celebrated here with a paradoxical partnership of Christian mythology and Mammon indulgence ... all observed wryly ... the solstice and the return to longer days more important for me, whoever that is ...

Thursday, 23 November 2017

early Christmas lunch ...

Since the ladies of Edmundbyers W.I. , led by the remarkable Flora Hodgson, take a break in December from their monthly community lunch at Blanchland Social Club, yesterday was Christmas dinner for 60, plus raffle and entertainment from a dubious duo, one from Newcastle the other from North Northumberland, running through well worn jokes and songs, to the general amusement of the audience not conditioned to political correctness ... three busloads were collected door to door in Weardale for the occasion on a damp and blustery day ...heatwarming work and demonstrating the value of spending some time being useful to others ... though there may be room for debate on whether it is being useful or just feeling useful that works ... ah well no need to overthink such things, the overall response was wonderful ...

Current reading material includes Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, with some gruesome detail on the fate of heretics in the days of Henry V111 ... not a time to explore unconventional spiritual views, at least not in public ... more interesting is the convoluted justifications for carnal drives within rigid moral codes ... and a more compassionate drawing of Henry than expected ... next up, a book discovered in the Durham Oxfam Bookshop on the Albigensian Heresy and how that turned out a few centuries before our randy and murderous Henry ... the joys of life without a television ... the joys of life without torture and immolation for heretics!

On the subject of the TV free life, still a minority pursuit in 21st Century UK, the time and space created by eschewing it is only one of the benefits, perhaps the greatest boon is removing the hypnotic method and the brain rotting material ... the constant drip of fear fomenting rolling "news" along screens ... trailers for more in depth treatment of spurious debates on politics, "celebrity" antics, scary weather and so on, stitched together to keep our focus on the banal and inviting us to take up emotionally driven opinions on issues we have no control over .... like the nicotine habit kicked ten years ago, the TV habit has no attraction these days ...

Local drama plays on in the background .... though very much in the foreground for the main characters ... the victim of bullying and injustice and the perpetrator ... both of whom are worthy of compassion, though it is the victim who is a friend .... the philosophical question, a luxury for the non-combatant, is how to maintain non-judgement without abandoning the friend ... perhaps the key, and one with general application, is to differentiate between the actor and the action, to discern the merits of the action without judging the actor, who, after all, is playing a script and maybe an old one. Let's see how that plays out!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Annual attention ...

Our virtual world ramps up the opportunity for special attention once a year, by alerting our FB friends and others when our birthday arrives ... though, like most of our online life, we do have a role to play in supplying the information ... of course there are lots of ways to garner attention, with all the different emoticons with which to respond ... this often entails expressing an opinion on subjects we propose or by commenting on other folks' starters ...

This need for attention has been discussed before on here and indeed my recent birthday supplied some welcome greetings, though the exercise was met with equanimity ... my main concern was to acknowledge each greeting, being brought up to be polite .... interesting also to note comments from virtual and actual friends asking where I was currently wandering, indicating previous engagement with the blog, maybe the chapters boosted with FB posts ... or perhaps picking up telepathically current thoughts of wandering again and feeling rather trapped in the details of houses, like how to unlock the back door, how to pin down tradesmen to do the desired conversion work to make the place attractive for Airbnb guests or tenants ... how to summon up the enthusiasm for this project ...

The promised review of Rupert Sheldrake's new book "Science and Spiritual Practices" is underway ... nothing very deep to share, some reworking of his general themes about the limits of scientism and a moot point (if I may be so bold) on the merits of pilgrimages. Sheldrake is a patron of the British Pilgrimage Trust and proposes the principal point is the destination or destinations en route ... the holy places ... he is signed up to the Anglican version of Christianity, which may inform his view. Regular readers may recall I never saw any destination as key ... just the joy of the journey, whether on recognised pilgrim trails or other routes. Anyway, the book is light reading and with an engaging style ... if any local friends want to borrow it, just ask ...

Arriving at the ripe old age of 67 concentrates the mind somewhat ... elder daughter now at the age her mother bore her and ready for breeding herself ... younger one not interested at all in such a thing ... each to their own ... maybe a Grandfather role will suit sometime ... meanwhile the pilgrim role still calls ... Via de la Plata early Spring perhaps ... but first the mundane issues of the house, somewhat offset by persuading a local friend to play a project and property management role ... let's see!

Monday, 6 November 2017

Moon

This month's full moon, appearing ten days earlier than the November one reported in Finisterre last year, was obscured on its debut, but the two subsequent dawn walks have been wonderful, with Moon hanging in the West as Sun slowly rises in the East ... beautiful features in the spectacular frosty, Weardale landscape ...pre-dawn FB friend reports sinister association of Moon with Saturn, though he is rather predisposed to wild conspiracy theories and rather ranty too ... maybe gathering energy from his gullible audience as well as his more sceptical viewers ... so many theories, so many realities; inevitable in a thought created universe(s) ... after finishing The Illuminatus Trilogy with all its fantastic and lightly held speculation, the mind relaxes a little and normal service resumes, which is an early sit with candle lit, dawn walking before breakfast, some reading or writing ... including a rare Sunday newspaper yesterday, to check what liberal minded folks are currently programmed with ... Social Media, of course, is infiltrated by mainstream mind manipulators with paid content to lure back the refuseniks ... and whilst the more respectable outlets are almost credible, mass circulation comics are beyond parody ... more polarised positions set out for our limiting opinions, laced with lasciviousness to degrade perceptions and divert attention from issues the powers that be (whoever they are) wish left alone ... HM the Queen comes under scrutiny for dodgy investments, though avoids further investigation of the Diana case ... not to mention other skeletons in other cupboards ...

Meanwhile, the annual outing  of the poppy police is upon us, as the symbol from the blood drenched battlefields of Flanders is brandished not so much to say "Never Again" as a badge to glorify and justify war and ongoing violence in the century since the First World War (but not the last) ... white poppies as a pacifist alternative, but this is only playing the game of polarisation and likely identified with the infamous white feathers handed out to non-combatants then, by the very patriotic people pushing the bloody poppy now ...best not engage in pointless arguments ... "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is clear enough and practiced less than preached ... on a personal note, my father, who never spoke about the war of his youth, served in the medical corps, suggesting a pacifist outlook and indeed he was mostly peaceful except when provoked and even then the occasional smack for the children was not considered violence in those times ... the good old days according to some and indeed it was a golden era in many ways, at least as far as economic conditions of the majority of the population went ... history is suspect, since the narrative is dominated by a small section of society ... these days of social media and citizen journalists and historians open things up considerably, whether to truth or crazy conspiracy theories, who knows?

The latest addition to the library arrives, thanks to Hive Books and the Royal Mail ... Rupert Sheldrake's "Science and Spiritual Practices" ... reports to follow ...

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

the occult ...

Following a rather scary depiction of Kali, destroyer of demons, liberator of souls, at the Dances of Universal Peace, the goddess lingered a day or two longer to burst out spectacularly in a long running workplace drama ... who knows how that will play out ... and whether there was indeed a causal link between the invocation of Kali and the subsequent slaying of perceived demons ...

Halloween is as good a time as any to explore the occult a little, and recent study material coincidentally conspires .... mainly Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's (oc)cult classic "The Illuminatus Trilogy" ... impossible to summarise or describe here ... this version arrived brand new via Hive Books (your opportunity to shop online ethically and support the local independent bookshop of your choice) .... the first time I saw the book it was some years ago during a stint at a local residential college for folks seeking to bolster their employment prospects, many with assorted diagnosed divergent abilities ... I was there earning a crust as a Residential Officer on night shifts during one of the periodic financial crises ensuing due to a lack of focus on security ... staying awake was one challenge, though there was usually a chance to sleep a few hours once the residents had settled down ... otherwise it was chatting to insomniacs or other students, one of whom thought I would find the book of interest after a long conversation around topics esoteric ... he managed to escape before it could be returned, though it did not really resonate at that time ...

Other occult items include a look at the Rosicrucians, a masonic order faintly on the radar since learning that inspirational folks like Peter Caddy, co-founder of the Findhorn Foundation, and Rudolf Steiner were members ... an aversion to masonry in general kept the interest at bay .... recent investigation of the aversion reveals that my father was strongly against masonry for reasons never fully explained, but possibly connected to suspected corruption, whilst my own experience with local government endorsed such suspicions ... also the requirement to cede personal authority to a hierarchy of humans with no expectation of explanation never sat well with this anarchistic soul ...

So, whilst a mild interest is explored, a full on dabble is not ... in student days a craze for ouija boards was also eschewed ... the paradox accepted here being that one can only know from one's own
experience (and even then there may be delusion) ... so, for now, the occult, like heroin, LSD, Las Vegas, Dubai, murder and other undesirable things, remains at the periphery of consciousness ... perhaps best left there until such time as the psyche is fully prepared for the inherent dangers ... meanwhile, focusing on gentler explorations of the hidden realms, perhaps one may bypass the demons, or bring them into the light and Universal Peace!

As house buying limps along endlessly, observation of the mind reveals occasional thoughts about stuff discarded during the extreme de-cluttering of recent years ... watching those thoughts without judgement dissolves them and gathering stuff to stock the base continues, including, of course a library ... hence, sitting alongside the bulky Illuminatus Trilogy is an elegant version of the Tao Te Ching ... teaching that the Tao which can be described is not the immortal Tao and proposing three Treasures: Simplicity, Patience, Compassion ... later development of Daoism discovered its own occult systems, of course ...



Sunday, 22 October 2017

other lives ...

Reincarnation is a topic fairly frequently considered, since anecdotes abound and allowing the possibility opens the mind to explanations of otherwise inexplicable phenomena ... as well as offering comfort to those of us entering the third phase, though thought may disturb equanimity if an entity entertains memories of evildoing and fears the coming karma... Roman Catholics officially reject the concept these days, though they do have an arrangement for adherents to confess their sins and wipe the slate clean ... hasty research suggests many folks signed up to the "one true faith" don't bother so much with the confessing but do believe in reincarnation .... kind of pick and mix so common these days ... our sceptical times undermining orthodoxy, along with the behaviour of so many of the clergy, finding the rules of celibacy too challenging and allowing the blocked sexual energy to manifest in ways not only immoral but often cruel and abusive ...

Anyway, this Sunday posting is not meant as yet another attack on organised religion, which, after all, does bring solace and companionship to so many ... and if folks are prepared to sacrifice their freedom for some hope of salvation, then that's their business ... if it turns out their version was correct, good luck ... if it turns out reincarnation is a thing and each entity needs to sort out their own understanding of what's going on, there are plenty of lives available, after all eternity is beyond a very long time ... if it turns out the Atheists are right, nothing is lost in the end and believers can meet their demise happily deluded ... renouncing sin and evildoing is always worthwhile, whether to mitigate karma and dodge rebirth in hell realms, as described in some Buddhist texts, or just because of the intrinsic benefit of living an ethical life this time round ...

Recent reading material enriches the concept of reincarnation ... Claire Sylvia's 1997 description of her experiences after a heart and lung transplant ... the donor being a young man ... her uncanny knowledge of details from the deceased boy's life and her meetings with the family ... suggesting, as well as reincarnation, memories held not only in the brain ... in fiction, David Mitchell's wonderful debut novel, Ghostwritten, tells the stories with reincarnation (and transmigration) implicit throughout ...

Such are the joys of synchronicity and confirmation bias ...

Meanwhile, sunny, Sunday, Stanhope offers Dances of Universal Peace with Nicola in the Church Hall .... always a joy ...

Sunday, 15 October 2017

seeking sangha of the formless ...

Well, here's a conundrum: recognising the desire for connection with like minded folks .... in Buddhism the Sangha, Christianity the Congregation ... and declining the labels, naming being the first step on the road to perdition (perhaps) ... how to attract the lovers of the formless?

Wandering the pilgrim trails solves the problem temporarily, since amongst the many different seekers on the caminos rarely a day passes without connecting with a lover of the formless (which has no name and maybe better stay that way!) .... first clues are non-verbal .... the eyes, the smile .... key words and references like Love, non-duality, Krishnamurti ... the K centre at Brockwood, of course, a place to find folks as well as Findhorn, The Barn at Sharpham and others to be discovered ... and at these places, folks speaking of second hand truths sometimes neglecting to live them, whilst out in random mainstream places people living their truth without speaking much about it at all ...

Maybe time to pay attention to the Angel Card reading from Susie several years ago: Your relationships are a reflection of you .... relevant to pretty much everyone ... and since the default mode here is solitude, hardly surprising that maintaining a Sangha of the formless is so elusive ...

Meanwhile, in the community of Stanhope, energy grows for a return to service design and community development, specifically building on the success of Wheels to Meals, and the clear need for new models of housing for seniors .... maybe including juniors in a multi-generational project ... anyway Social Care is struggling, what with budget constraints, raised expectations, increasing numbers of elders ... hospitals desperate for safe places to send recovering patients ...

So, all that excites and balances with ongoing attraction to the moving sanghas on the pilgrim ways ... but first the new base, which is taking longer than expected, on the back road on the edge of the village ... and interesting to observe the mind musing on the objects needed to furnish it ... maintaining freedom amidst home-owning the next challenge ... the hopefully ironic message at the temple of Mammon that is the MetroCentre mildly amuses momentarily, though many mesmerised shoppers suggest the irony missed the mark ...

Revisiting the recent RAW reading and a reference to Wilhelm Reich, the psychotherapist whose groundbreaking work on orgone energy attracting the attention of the Powers That Be (or were) in the Land of the Free back in the 1950s, found himself out of the frying pan of Nazi Germany and into the prison of the US of A ... the FBI smashing his equipment and burning his books ... as RAW remarked, this guy must have been onto something to elicit such an extreme reaction ... Reich died in prison and his work was suppressed ... though still available in the UK ... remarkably, two friends with degrees in psychology from UK institutions have never heard of him ... brief research (as always) shows those practicing his methods in the USA to this day are flying under the radar of the AMA ...


Monday, 2 October 2017

Reality tunnels

Remaining with Robert Anton Wilson, another legacy was his borrowing of his friend Timothy Leary's expression - reality tunnel ... suggesting that each of us experiences reality uniquely through our filtering of incoming data through previous memories .... the creation of new memories being built on existing foundations, or fitted into existing patterns and itself a participatory exercise .... maybe ... maybe being another favourite of RAW, who wisely eschewed certainty after accepting the evidence of experiments in quantum mechanics ... he also proposed a new word "sombanall" made up from four words in current usage "some but not all" as a device to avoid over-generalisation ...

Consensus reality, sometimes called common sense, is just an agreement in any given culture and era of the key components of acceptable versions of what's going on ... which is why an open mind and a variety of life situations tends to lead to wider tunnels ... perhaps the ability to hold more than one tunnel as true at a time .... another name for this game is frame ... where our frame of reference may widen as we learn more, but at some stage the frame itself cannot contain the data ... hence the expression "reframing" reality ... psychologically necessary when old frames frustrate and cause brain pain ... leading to a question of what reality might look like without any tunnel or frame .... possibly impossible to cope with except for the most highly advanced practitioners ....

Alongside RAW, HHDL's book Advice on Dying provides a very broad perspective .... Tibetan Buddhism being a very big frame indeed ... HHDL himself, of course, is currently famous for his simple message of kindness across all faiths and none, making the depth of this book all the more compelling with its implicit acceptance of many lives .... making the cause and effect or karmic chains quite challenging, especially for those of us unable to remember all the events of this life, let alone all the others ...

...bringing us to the pressing question of how to lead a good life, given the cool, clear insight that this mainstream world is becoming crazier by the day allied with the heat of compassion for all those suffering and stuck in this round of existence ... Buddhism offers its eightfold path: Right Insight (understanding or view), Right Intent, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration ... leading the end of suffering and the need for rebirth .... for those spotting a cop-out there is the option to return enlightened and work in the suffering world until all beings are enlightened ...

Dear reader(s), please note that there is a lot more in Buddhism worth studying, but at this stage the topic goes off piste and enters the exciting realm of parallel universes and reality tunnels ... which may just possibly be the same thing ... in this hypothesis/delusion each of us has the potential to polish up our realities and align them into a lovely wide tunnel, which attracts folks away from the world they don't want (but energise nevertheless through their attention) and the new tunnel/frame or maybe holon subsumes the old and decrepit one ...

Moving along and still off piste, the question of an integrous and integral life seeks examination ... this time in the context of illness, sometimes contrasted with wellness and the strange interchangeability of the "I" and the "We" ... stranger still is the use of the word "complaint" to stand for ailment as well as criticism ... the switching of the i and the a to produce compliant may need further investigation .... but on with the story .... which is going downhill fast ... a proposition that failing to act upon a thought which felt right and when spoken aloud also felt right, may lead to mental and physical dis-ease ... that a consistent complaining attitude may lead to complaints ... and that human entities, seeking attention energy, may develop victim roles if nicer roles are denied, any kind of attention being better than none at at all ...

Fitting all this speculation into karma is dangerous ground ... karma so often being conflated with revenge ... ironically an action akin to shooting oneself in the foot ...

Meanwhile, the weather in Stanhope's early morning walks has ranged from clear and sunny, misty and mystical to today's  sunshine and blustery showers, producing a wonderful rainbow ... though no photo to share ... sorry!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

RAW reflections ...

After a break from writing, though not from reading, inspiration resurfaces with a rereading of Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger (volume 2) ... a battered copy which somehow survived the wandering and renunciation of stuff, including all books ... and books have been, perhaps, the objects hardest to release ... some of them ... once upon a time, various lodgings in London had shelves with Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Enver Hoxha ... and The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, of course ... the next library, coming together for the new base, on the edge of the village, is unlikely to hold any of those ... J. Krishnamurti, Alan Watts, HHDL will feature ... and RAW, whose style and content manages to inspire, educate, entertain and amuse, whilst leaving space for the reader to interact with the writing ...

RAW is a polymath, who draws from a range of subjects of which he has quite deep knowledge, along with varied life experience and a close relationship with hallucinogenic substances ... and the courage to create crazy narratives from facts and factoids usually found in the basket marked "doesn't fit currently accepted versions of normality" ... wonderful!

Having embraced and embodied the essentially playful nature of the universe, and displaying the sense of humour characteristic of those lucky enough to avoid taking themselves too seriously, RAW proposes, and practises in places, eschewing the "is" and its relations, due to the inevitable danger of language leading to conflating the word with the thing described ...

Perceptive readers may have spotted the inspiration for the attempt to write the blog without reference to "me" and its relations ... a possibly pretentious ploy to decondition the receiving/transmitting apparatus from its tendency to take life personally ... advanced practitioners like HHDL and Jeff Foster are happy to refer to me, my, mine and I, comfortable in the illusion of the separate self as an illusion with roles to play in this round/act/chapter of the Great Story of the Universe ... maybe ...

Polymaths are under ever increasing pressure, of course, since information is expanding exponentially ... subjects sub-divide and specialisms become deeper and narrower ... all fine but tending to separation unless regular attempts are made to re-unite the parts into the whole ... the question posed here some years ago was: "Is there a person alive today who knows everything about everything?" The short answer is no, probably ... the response received suggested the question itself was more typical of a small child than an adult ... which was taken as a compliment, of course ... and such people almost certainly did exist centuries ago between the times of the extinction of the advanced civilisation of Atlantis and the so called Enlightenment of the Middle Ages ...

Education systems, meanwhile, morph from the beneficial banishing of ignorance to the malign cramming of facts and officially sanctioned factoids and the conflation of knowledge and wisdom. Inevitably following the cramming is the testing, to ensure that sufficient has been retained and regurgitated to enable a certificate .... and following the testing, the gaming, since, as wittily observed by Craig Larman, what gets measured gets gamed ... and not only in education systems ... and if we are to be blunt, in this context gaming is synonymous with cheating ...

And cheating is where we may go, when all the incentives point there and the heart has been ripped out of whatever it is we are engaged in ... education, health, social care ... has this writer ever engaged in such scurrilous behaviour? Where shall we start?!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

window shopping ...

Having emerged from the simple delights of the decluttered life experiment, with a small cottage almost bought, the need to consider what stuff to assemble in the space arises ... the editor teases about trips to IKEA and suchlike ... so a trip to Durham on the bus(es) takes in the Library for a new membership card and a wander round the Retail Park with cursory glances at cars, for which there is no enthusiasm, though such a thing would extend the range for social activities, Stanhope being well served with buses Monday to Saturday day times, evenings and Sundays not so much ... next stop is the fridge, freezer, cooker and washing machine shop and sensory overload from so much choice ... a quick trip to view beds, especially sofa beds for flexibility, then a whistlestop tour of B&Q for no particular reason ... so much stuff, so little desire for it ...

Enthusiasm revives in the Oxfam Bookshop as the library expands with some novels and a copy of Anam Cara, featured at the very beginning of this blog as the light but profound choice as the only book in the rucksack ... given away en route as weight reduction become more and more obsessive ... the ascent of the Pyrenees concentrating the mind wonderfully ...

Meanwhile HHDL addresses the question of no-self, discovered last summer in the Casa ... subtly explaining that while commonsense suggests the existence of a separate self, deeper investigation reveals that an object arises dependent on causes and conditions, on its parts and on thought ... and has no inherent existence ... however the trap of nihilism is avoided by seeing things in their context, including the individual self with all its cooperating cells and mind created roles ... and opens the possibilities of each life immeasurably ... personal insight storied it differently, with the great paradox presented thus: You are the centre of the Universe; at the same time almost nothing on the cosmic scale ... playing with the paradox the opportunity for all of us .... and everything connected to everything else somehow!

World events are observed, political and meteorological ... hurricanes in Florida somehow more newsworthy than those decimating Caribbean islands ... the anniversary of the alleged attack on the World Trade Centre passes with fewer and fewer folks buying into the frankly ludicrous official version ... and declining to buy in wholesale to all the conspiracy theories ... Joanna Macy offers a more subtle story of changing times from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition ... suggesting the fault lines lie not so much cosmically, theologically, politically or economically but through the hearts of each one of the six billion humans, harbouring hate to some degree or other and projecting it onto the world ... relating back to previous explorations of the holographic nature of reality ... interesting times! Especially as the potential for each of us is to project love instead ... bringing us to HHDL and his simple religion of kindness ... worth a try ...

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Show

Three trips out with the elders last week feels almost like full time work, though very satisfying ... and voluntary ... maybe one reason for the lack of blogging, which prompts another nudge from the editor, still languishing in the Correze in temperatures rather higher than Stanhope in Autumn ...

This weekend is showtime in the village and the street is taken over by the fair, whilst the showfield by the river hosts all sorts of entertainment and not only of an agricultural nature. An early visit to browse and mingle has only one firm objective - good bread ... as it turns out, though sweets, cakes and pies are abundant, craft bread is absent ... more than compensated with spiritual nourishment from Ben, a regular stallholder with his Aloe Vera products and currently into Sufi wisdom ... an invitation ensues, a good connection ... next a stall raising funds for vulnerable women in India and another warm connection, a prayer bell and an invitation ... two consecutive philosophical discussions plenty and time to return to the cottage before the rain.

The Dalai Lama is current teacher and great value ... though some of the philosophy is questioned, mainly around his staunch defence of organised religions as helpful for spiritual development ... making him very liberal and open and a champion for the simple practice of kindness ... other readings of the history of organised religion suggest corruption and abuse ... a topic much mused upon along the Camino to Santiago, with its locked churches and murky past ... a blog thread on Ivar's Camino Group investigates the spiritual and religious nature of the phenomenon, with general agreement that the traditional Catholic Camino is by no means followed by the majority of pilgrims.
Facebook provides daily commentary from a group of women, including the friend of a friend (hence the link) walking from Porto to Santiago ... tempting to do that route and call on the folks at the Quinta Estrada Romana Albergue ...

Meanwhile, Buddhists in Burma (now known as Myanmar) commit atrocities against their Muslim compatriots ... drawing criticism from HHDL, though previously sainted Aung San Suu Kyi declines to step into the fray publicly ....

Krishnamurti, consistent critic of organised religion, told a story of the Devil and his friend walking along the street and seeing a man in front bend down and pick something up ... What has he found? asks the friend ... Just a fragment of the Truth, replies the Devil ... Bad news for you my lord says the friend ... Not really, says the Devil, I'll help him organise it!

So, Life unfolds leisurely, summer limps damply towards autumn, though optimistic forecasters predict a possible return of warmer weather ... and October in Spain and Portugal are mostly warm and sunny ... November too ... let's see ...

Sunday, 3 September 2017

luck ...

Following further fellside philosophy, the subject of luck arises ... how some folks appear "born lucky", others not so ... whether our attitude affects these ostensibly random outcomes ... whether our perspective simply stories them differently ...

Leading to an exploration of the word itself and how useful in scrabble ... how many consonants adhere to the stem of uck, not itself a word in the English language, apart from a covert smuggling of its censored friend into conversation ... buck, duck, huck, muck, puck, ruck, suck, tuck, yuck ...

Life resumes its flow as house buying proceeds, along with minibus driving, reading, writing, musing ... Retreat House, having itself retreated, is left to mature whilst energy rearranges around the vision ... meanwhile information arrives indicating a holographic universe as frame for otherwise unrelated phenomena ... if a frame is possible in an ever moving reality ... Gregg Braden proposes holographic consciousness in a computer metaphor, where feelings and emotions are the software programme, consciousness the operating system and reality the central processing unit, screen, printer ... while the Dalai Lama reports on conversations with scientists, who suggest mood is generated chemically and struggling to accept that maybe it's the other way round ... maybe both, but denying the possibility that mind is the driver is hardly scientific ... perhaps the current orthodoxy is unduly influenced by the purveyors of pharmaceuticals ...

In other conspiracies, the last day of August was widely commemorated as the 20th anniversary of the murder of the Queen who never was, the lovely Diana ... maybe in a parallel universe ... and in another the idea of royalty in a mature democracy dissolves ... as far as history goes, this was a tale of power, emotionally absent princes, racism and cynical, sinister shenanigans to preserve the Anglo-Saxon (maybe just Saxon) purity of the bloodline ... herstory tells it different, as the wronged and vulnerable princess, hooked on love and blind to consequences ... anyway the drama goes on and one day maybe a rounded version, ourstory, will be told ...

Stories, it seems, are a major theme in collective consciousness, and wallowing in them via newspapers, television and the daily discourse which so often echos them ... the removal of these sources of stories no longer serving soul needs seems prerequisite to receiving and transmitting new and more wholesome tales ... engaging with concerned friends sometimes attracts criticism for ignoring the daily dramas and declining to have an opinion ... for this fragment of the whole consciousness right now, the new stories of compassion, added to millions of others around the world(s), eventually, immediately, create a more convivial reality ... in a holographic universe(s) it can be no other ... with luck ...

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

suicide and other ways to die ...

This morning's early walk produced fellow walkers for brief philosophical interlude, and this quote from Robert Webb:

"Life is a struggle between Love and Death ... Death always wins, but because of Love it is a hollow victory ..."

One to ponder on and timely after Monday's conversation on Death, specifically Richard's ... still seems strange that we will not meet again in this life ...

Another local person and sometime visitor to APtB in its brief manifestation at number 7 was in mind recently ... a beautiful and suffering soul with a background in the military and as an adherent of the Osho cult and its orgiastic practices ... though whether either or both of these led to the psychosis is unclear ... anyway, after much ideation and many rehearsals, she succeeded in exiting this incarnation a few weeks ago ... who knows whether to be happy or sad for her? A friend who has seriously considered the final option reported that she was told that suicide would not relieve the suffering ... that she would reincarnate with the very issues she had not addressed ... whether that's true or not, who knows? She is still alive and still suffering it seems ... as for personal experience, suffering is not recalled as so intense as to prompt such radical action ... a half-hearted attempt many years ago after the premature end of a love affair ... a brief moment, in a stressful period, driving along a motorway, seeing the approaching bridge as a possible ending of the problem ...

The topic entails a little research and leads to some interesting results ... a general preponderance of males as expected, due to emotional repression (as examined by Robert Webb in his recent book), but also a high rate in supposedly happy nations, such as Sri Lanka and Bhutan ... poverty and war play a part of course and existentially maybe the increasing atomisation of society ... statistics skewed by cultural and legal  influences too ... and the thought that there are slower ways to kill oneself which are not defined as suicide yet might as well be ... excessive eating, smoking, drinking of alcohol, drug taking ... less obviously, life denying existences, negative thinking and so on ...

In the context of eternity, which is infinity of time, or a dimension beyond time, life and death take on another perspective altogether ... our mechanistic world view producing an illusion of beginning and ending ... our wonderful National Health Service (having morphed into a National Illness Service) blurring the edges of living and dying ... increasing longevity as if prolonging the dying period was a good thing ... ongoing consciousness a topic hard to comprehend, but worth exploring nevertheless ...


Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Debunking debunking ...

One of the perils of walking the precipitous path between all possibility and all delusion is the occasional skirmish with fellow Facebookers ... and being quite eclectic in the choice of "friends" opportunities often appear to share contentious content ... "friends" on FB, of course, having a different meaning than friends in real life (whatever that may be) ... amusingly, FB has coined a new and rather clumsy word to remind us about FB friends we may have known virtually for a while - Friendversary as in Happy Friendversary ... such reminders sometimes unwelcome, in the case of deserting lovers for example ... still, FB only knows what we tell it, though its memory is superior in many ways ... possibly useful when dementia sets in ... albums packaged as Christmas presents ... or Friendversary gifts, if the concept catches on ...

Venturing into heretical positions in territory such as Climate Change, leads to swift responses from orthodox champions and the introduction of the "debunking" word ... apparently used to denote distaste for the proposition along with a superior style refutation ... and whilst mostly eschewing opinions and invitations to spurious debates, it is sometimes fun to explore uncharted territory, or the road less travelled ... and if friends or "friends" are moved to engage in dialogue, whether refuting or asserting, then this may be helpful ... though assuming a superior air is probably not ... hence the need to debunk debunking as a method of furthering knowledge ... and the word itself has such a firm resonance, so why not employ it twice in a row?

Meanwhile, Autumn in Weardale means heavenly heather purpling on the fell, hiding grouse, anxiously awaiting murderous sportsmen in plus fours, armed with guns and legalised to fire them at defenceless birds ... fungi shrooming, offering a more peaceful pastime and tastier healthy alternative (as long as you know which ones won't kill you, of course) ... some varieties even offering glimpses of other dimensions of reality, a trip yet to be taken ... blackberries abundant after July's rain and August's sun, themselves an exercise in patience, avoiding pricks from bramble bushes and stings from nearby nettles, working together to upset the unwary ...

So, after an unusually dry Bank Holiday weekend spent walking, musing, reading, writing and visiting neighbours and friends for deep conversation on death and other topics ... today's trip with the elders for lunch reinforces the pleasure of feeling useful in the community ... which, combined with occasional adventures in the parallel universe of pilgrimming feels like some kind of recipe for living ...  wholesome anyway, maybe time to spice it up a bit ...

Sunday, 27 August 2017

role adjustment ...

After neglecting the writer role while reflecting on incoming information as well as changing circumstances, the editor requests resumption .... somehow validating the illusory entity "writer" and encouraging an effort to arrange words in a more or less coherent pattern which may communicate notions worth sharing, whilst avoiding too traditional linguistic forms and thus challenging reader(s) to participate in the exercise ...

The editor, meanwhile, having made a guest contribution, resumes his summer sojourn in Ciblat, leaving the writer to unmangle recent ramblings on infinity, parallel universes and other topics ... speaking of which, the recently mentioned book "Infinity" points out that the three dot punctuation style practised from the beginning of the blog as an attempt to indicate the lack of full stops in Life, is used in mathematics to indicate ... Infinity! Mathematically literate (numerate?) readers will already know that, though none shared the fact on here ... though who knows whether mathematicians read this blog ... sometimes it feels as if the readership is a handful of friends and family .... google metrics report on page views and even location, though it is of little interest to the writer, who plods on regardless ... the exercise helpful in its own write (sic) to develop thoughts and record for future forgetfulness ...

The role adjustment in the title refers to the arrival of resources, presenting a problem to the nomad persona carefully cultivated over the past few years ... the Retreat House project planned for the windfall languishing for want of energy and co-creators is replaced with an investment in a small cottage nearby ... an idea encouraged by sensible and caring friends and embraced without much investigation, after two chats and tours ... asking price offered and accepted ... subject to contract, as they say ... though, being handily located on the Weardale Way, on the outskirts of the village, it looks like a handy bolt hole in the place which seems more like home than anywhere at present, and well set up for holiday letting, AirBnB and so on ... a few weeks to complete then maybe a pilgrimage to celebrate ...

Daughters, sharing in the windfall, are of a better age to enjoy the benefits ... to be honest, it's more of a bother than a blessing in many ways and the adjustment is taking a while, since simplicity and lightness was aligned with slim, albeit adequate, resources ... anyway, equanimity is maintained ... and the Retreat House is still waiting ... being useful noted as key to Life and there is enough energy for a big project as well as a few thousand miles of walking ...

Being house based for a while means the library grows again (and a new home for it soon) ... Kate Atkinson's novel A God in Ruins inspires a search for its prequel Life After Life ... both taking full advantage of their fiction status to stretch readers' minds with notions of parallel universes ... yesterday's trip to Durham turning up a good quality hardback version along with two books from the Dalai Lama and a timely find in the science section by Gregg Braden - The Divine Matrix ... where it has more validity than Dawkins, still sneaking into the spirituality section ...

Facebook provides another piece of the jigsaw with a video from Robert Lanza on Bio-Centrism  ... another scientist sticking his neck out and challenging the orthodoxies of scientism  ... who knows who's right or wrong? Certainly not your scientifically and mathematically illiterate writer ... though experience, albeit processed through a still conditioned brain, points to everything being connected, consciousness being participatory in reality and the universe(s) being benign somehow ...

Of course, none of this is new ... yet somehow the insights of the ancient philosophers, often corrupted by organisations formed around their ideas, are not convincing enough ... indeed any conceptual understanding of someone else's truth is suspect ... this stuff has to be integrated and embodied and that is perhaps the work of all of us in some parallel universe ... certainly a joy for your blogger in this one (which may, or may not, be the one inhabited by any reader ...)

Time for lunch!



Thursday, 17 August 2017

energy trading ...

Yesterday's heartwarming trip with the Wheels to Meals crew involved thirty folks, most, but not all, elders (the definition is slippery) riding along to Witton le Wear, boarding the heritage train for the trip to Stanhope and lunch at the station cafe ... logistically interesting with mobility challenges to be addressed at each stage .... fine weather helped and feedback, as always, generates more energy than expended in the operation ... Love being the purest form of energy ...

Time to reflect once more on this topic of energy and its various manifestations ..............

The motivation arises from various dramas observed and participated in along the way ... as perceived through currently conditioned brain ... hopefully becoming clearer as the self-brainwashing proceeds, though new illusions may be clogging up the works, of course ...

Setting out a few parameters for today's exploration (feel free to question them too!):

A. Words are never the thing they try to describe ...
2. Energy is fundamental - form is energy condensed at lower frequencies ...
X. Energy and Power are closely related ...
67. Energy flows through everything - everything comes from and returns to energy ...
&. Humans are not exempt from this ...
!! Humans and other entities have power generation potential as well as conductivity ..
~ Some humans share power/energy, some lack the capacity and seek to secure it from others (Dracula effect)
£. Money, as previously explored in Wear and Dao, is a peculiar form of energy, with the power to boost creative process, corrupt humans, engender fear, greed etc.
[that's enough parameters, get on with the dramas ...]

In a typical workplace drama, the actors vie for status and power ... it may be argued that a typical workplace is, in any case, contemporary slavery ... dear reader, please reflect on situations in your own life ... the folks who drain your energy, those who energise you ... some of that is perhaps to do with frequency alignment, maybe an energy thief in one relationship can be an energy donor in another? In any workplace, the tendency is for the more fearful to stick around, seeking security, rising up the status ladder and gathering power along the way (but there is never enough) ... sometimes the energy gathering strategies are ritualised, though best to dodge the freemason topic for now, since it often leads to uncomfortable places ...
So, out of these energy games arise specific casualties ... bullying may manifest ... energy deficit disorders showing up in sickness absence ...

Sexual energy comes into play in the domestic drama (and the workplace and other dramas too), where sex may be traded for security (this is known as prostitution in its clearest, transparent form) ...this and other energy trading leads to a range of relationship types ... loving interaction, co-dependency, slavery ... symptoms show up transparently in energy deficit disorders ... and perhaps less obviously in all sorts of ailments ....

Attention is a form of energy too, as previously observed ... the energy deficient employ all sorts of strategies to gain energy in this way ... often demonised as "energy seeking behaviour" ... better to understand it as a symptom of psychological blockage, which needs ... attention ...

Scaling down, these energy blockages must affect the constituent parts of the entity called human ... it is of course an evolved complex assemblage of specialised cells in symbiotic relationship with other micro-organisms, held together by a central operating system where consciousness contrived a sense of self ... an illusion as discovered and described in many previous posts ...

Scaling up, co-operating and competing humans bring their bundle of neuroses to community, society, nation and species ... and where evolution has produced a surfeit of deficit thinking and acting, this particular parallel universe called mainstream consensus reality, paralysed by fear, is reaching its nadir ...

The beautiful and bountiful parallel universe under construction stands waiting for co-creators ... it is infinitely close ... indeed folks still flit between the two (or more) ... Fear or Love the choice ... and once awareness operates without fear then Love is there ...

Monday, 14 August 2017

more infinity ...

Today dawns dismal in Grey Britain, after yesterday's exceptionally sunny Sunday and a delightful trip out with the elders for afternoon tea at Thornley Village Hall ... and the result of the damp summer on the landscape is green ... so, no complaints, but ... a little more vitamin D is needed ...

Saturday's outing to Durham meant a visit to the Oxfam bookshop and, after years of charity shop book buying, the first Krishnamurti book ... seems they are rarely gifted ... maybe the last attachment, being so full of wisdom ... this is the 2nd Krishnamurti Reader, edited by Mary Lutyens ... discovered on the spirituality shelf ... meanwhile, over on the philosophy shelf, lies Infinity by Brian Clegg ... though it could equally well have been on the science shelf, since it has lots of numbers and algebraic symbols in it ... along with the more helpful (for this discalculic reader) quotes from the mystics:

Plutarch: Alexander wept when he heard from Anaxarchus that there was an infinite number of worlds; and his friends asking him if any accident had befallen him, he returns this answer: "Do you not think it a matter worthy of lamentation that when there is such a vast multitude of them, we have not yet conquered one?"

Blake: If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.

Einstein: Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.

Clegg makes no mention of Hugh Everett's work on infinite parallel universes, later developed into the Many Worlds Theory, nor David Bohm's Implicate Order, nor this insightful poem from ee cummings:

“Love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of yes live
(skillfully curled)
all worlds”

... pointing to not only infinity but also the ground of being, the ultimate, that which cannot be described ... from which all arises and returns ... perhaps ...

As for the shelves and classification, it is often rather random which book belongs where ... supporters of the humourless atheist Richard Dawkins delight in inserting his "The God Delusion" among the religious or spiritual titles ... fellow scientist and Dawkins nemesis, Rupert Sheldrake, wrote "The Science Delusion" for balance ... though on which shelf one may find it requires further investigation ... the APtB library, in its first version, addressed the category question by colour coding the covers ... from light to dark ... why not?

Back in the mainstream consensus reality, where the President of the "United" States of America is temporarily distracted from continuing the conquest of the Middle East with an attack on Iran, by rather recklessly opening two fronts, first in traditional territory southwards ... the oil-rich Venezuela, then revisiting old adversary North Korea, which is reputed to be rich in useful minerals ... either way, all three allegedly reject the Money Delusion of the Almighty Dollar ... 

Having been asked by a concerned friend about the ongoing obsession with infinity and other unanswerable questions ... and unconcerned with necessarily providing answers to anything too quickly ... the parallel universe possibilities are tempting, if they offer a way out of consensus realities which are so bizarre as to be beyond belief ... yet if consensus reality is thought constructed through the attention energy of millions (please note the "if"), then we had better focus on less dangerous delusions ... a tricky conundrum, since it makes more "common" sense to oppose that which appears evil ... and sometimes battles may be necessary .... a paradox perhaps ... anyway, until faced with a clear and pressing situation to act otherwise, the awareness stays in all round view, attention and its energy is focused firmly on finer frequencies ... 


Sunday, 13 August 2017

the editor writes ...

After Friday's "F" fest and invitation for feedback, the editor writes from deepest France ... happy to share on here ... another perspective for the blog ...

"I see from your blog that the idea of a retreat in Stanhope is not catching on as you would like it. Maybe it is something about the location and a position on a Camino in sunnier & warmer Spain or Portugal might be a better bet. Cold, wet Brexitland is not a welcoming place and given the price of property being hugely expensive, then I'm not surprised that you have had not had a lot of interest when it comes down to cash. I see it here more and more with people buying places wanting to do them up to live here then being faced with the reality of spending cash and time to fix up a place that they then realise is just a romantic notion. It is different living in a place that was great on holiday but much less enjoyable on an ongoing basis. The choices are stark: try and flog the gaff to another expat romantic or become an alcoholic. The third way is to have a bunch of things to do to keep you occupied and make life more interesting - but you would have to do that wherever you choose to live. A lot of people choose to do the first option but discover that flogging houses to people over here is hard outside of the popular areas as a glut of broken dreams is unloaded onto a crowded market that turns over very slowly.

"As for the second option, that too is visible in villages across the country with the bars being composed a clientele of expats getting steadily pissed in the absence of local people wanting to listen to their woes.
My option has a few takers but largely they are refugees from a country that they feel has no opportunities for them to lead a civilised life but merely an existence of dull boring work that is increasingly poorly paid and a 'social' life revolving around a circuit of watering holes with a cast of hundreds if not thousands of souls terminally drunk. With the attendant threat of violence being visited upon them by alienated others then I would tend to agree with their strategy of getting as far away from Brexitland as possible. This was always going to be the end-game in the Neocon plan of creating a mass of alienated individuals who could be manipulated into attacking whoever was deemed the target group. Today it's Muslims, tomorrow it's one-legged trans people, after that another bunch of people. You know how it is."

Thanks!



Friday, 11 August 2017

flip-flopping, fake news, future ...

Alliteration being one of the favourite games of this blog, today's sound is "F" ... also written as "Ph" of course, opening up many more opportunities for philological fun ...

Flip-flopping refers to the current mind state of the blogger, feeling simultaneously free and focusing on the serious task of co-creating the Retreat Centre ... and since the clear intention is co-creation, attracting co-creators is proving a stumbling block .... and not being attached to stumbling or any outcome, alternative opportunities divert the attention (and yes, this may be the problem!) ... the wandering life keeps calling along with an allied idea from the walk to Porto last year ... since the Quinta Estrada Romana, on the Caminho de Santiago, a few hours walk from Valenca, on the border between Portugal and Spain, is for sale ... like the Stanhope House, the asking price is beyond the means of the blogger, but resources are available and co-creative funding models lend themselves to the Quinta even more than the Stanhope House, since it is fully operational as a pilgrim albergue right on the path of Santiago and Fatima ... the picture below shows Geoff, Canadian current co-owner ...

All this speculation brings into question the blocks to finding the co-creators ... and happy to own the question, since solitude has taught that seeking truth outside is futile ... that humans are a social species and only exist in relationship with others ... hmmm, whilst solitude is seductive sometimes, breaking out of the bind is essential for progress .... patience and perseverance perhaps ...

Fake news arose after a provocative re-post from a friend, questioning the causes of climate change ... followed by swift debunking from another friend along with an admonition about fake news ... itself a rather recent phrase, though the concept has been around for as long as news itself ... though retired Telegraph journalist friend says standards of accuracy have slipped since the good old days of Fleet Street ... nevertheless, it seems clear that freedom of the press is indeed for those who own one and the fake news furore may be due to the demise of confidence in plutocrat press barons as social media makes journalists of all of us ... potentially ... and news agendas are as significant for what is not published as for what is - fake or not ... better leave climate change for another day, since it is a touchy subject and rather polarised, as well as appearing part of scientific dogmatism ... of course your correspondent has neither scientific credentials nor the need for an opinion on the subject ...

The final "F" for today's offering is Future and has been partially covered already... meanwhile, feel free to feedback facts, fantasies or any other "F" or "Ph" related thoughts ... thanks!


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

practicalities and possibilities

Good old FB has offered a £30 coupon to incentivise the first advert ... limiting the cost to just that proved more difficult ... let's see if the reach and targeting works ... and perhaps best to explore some practical issues here, since the blog is linked to FB APtB page and group ...

The Retreat concept is well enough understood and this one attempts to be broad, eclectic, simple and accessible ... encouraging an integral approach ... incorporating meditation, exercise, good food and group process ... cellars seem to lend themselves to some chanting as well as silent sitting ...

The legal form is flexible ... the previous Community Benefit Society having proven premature and disbanded a while ago ... some kind of charitable trust seems likely ... all to be investigated and the best form for the purposes adopted ... the purchase price of the property is £375,000, which looks good value for six bedrooms, good size kitchen, dining room, lounge, cellars and garden ... whilst folks with interest and skills are needed, the immediate requirement is investors to fund the balance of the £400k start-up budget ... £100k already pledged ... ways to invest are fluid: maybe pay it forward, by buying a week long retreat at £400 times as many years as you want (like a time share); maybe a philanthropic gift or loan ... maybe a shared equity purchase of the house ...

You can see it here ... and arrange your own viewing or get in touch for a group tour.


Monday, 7 August 2017

unfolding ...

Feeling at home, once more in Wear Terrace, this time lightly ... a week by week arrangement and holding the possibilities lightly too ... the Retreat House still available and some promotion on FB to stimulate interest .... quite clear that this project requires team energy ... alternatives like walking to Santiago, visiting the K Retreat Centre in the Himalayas and other things yet to arise, all possible ...

Coffee mornings in the Church Hall help reconnect with the elders ... the usual question being "how long are you staying this time?" ... who knows? .... settling awhile and sitting in silence perhaps one way to find the flow again ...

Daughters arrive for lunch and walk ... the ostensible reason for return at this time ... both living their lives authentically in their different ways ... lightly connected here too, since heart connection is in the non-local field, beyond space and time ...

August not the month for European wandering and this year temperatures appear excessive along with the volume of holidaymakers ... so, settling awhile and imagining the rather ambitious Retreat House ... the ambition is not daunting, but it is clear to this lover of solitude that such a project, promoting interbeing, has to have co-creators, which is not just cheering from the sidelines ... let's see ... FB a helpful tool and kindly offering to boost the relevant posts for a reasonable price ... well. it is a business after all, despite a common delusion that it is a social service ...

The vision of A Place to Be has been enduring over the past six years or so ... its formlessness somehow not a barrier ... though sometimes an opening to the further reaches of esoterica ... and if judgement is eschewed, then discernment surely must be practised ... simplicity of form and ritual as a temporary container, along with compassion two of the treasures ... patience the third and hardest to play with ... since concentrated effort is occasionally required in creative process ...

Connecting with tribe at this time maybe key ... setting out some framework for funding, since a quarter of the initial costs are now freely available and six bedrooms (large enough for more than one or two occupants if necessary) make co-housing an alternative or transitional use, along with Airbnb or just security for business loans ... the core idea of a residential and day retreat place, with elegant rooms and resonant vaulted cellars surely is of its time ... focusing on the tribe connection, the marketing skills and effort now the test ...

The setting, in the middle of the pretty market town of Stanhope, nestling in the foothills of the North Pennines, perfect for local access and easy enough from the great conurbations of Tyneside, Wearside and Teesside. .. inspirational walking on the doorstep ...

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Home to Home ....

North again ... North-East to be more precise ... Durham today, Stanhope tomorrow ... and having found Brockwood homely, welcoming and full of folks vibrating at similar frequencies ... tribe perhaps ... letting it go lightly was fine ... Durham also feeling home-like (and was for a while) ... Stanhope more mystically so and friends' cottage available for a month ... by the river again ...

Having booked the train and shared the news, various folks step forward for fond farewells ... some deeper conversations and musing whether the deepening develops once the break is imminent ... fear of intimacy from either or both perhaps playing a part ... interesting to observe and allow anyway ... connections established in the virtual world too, so let's see where they go ... and this morning, out of the blue, Chantal appears, here for 9 days ... the third random meeting and time for coffee connection at the Centre ... before wandering across the ridge and down the lane to Bramdean ... some exercise before the long cross country train journey ....

Late running bus further delayed by meeting lorry on narrow lane, meaning much reversing to create passing space, shrinks the comfortable 25 minutes transfer time to a slim 5 ... a run rather than walk and train caught with minutes to spare, having spent much of the trip swinging between trusting the Universe and rehearsing alternative scenarios ... Universe clearly not only trustworthy but also forgiving of doubters ...

Breakfast discussion found some resonance with parallel universe story, whilst last evening chat with Stephanie, who was watering indoor plants, touched on plant consciousness ... or sentience anyway ... long practised at Findhorn ... and previous story from Emiko spoke of her experiment with three glasses of water, each containing a grain of rice ... the first was spoken to kindly, the second, rudely, the third ignored ... with remarkable effects ... as discovered in similar experiments by her countryman, Emoto ...

Train uneventful to Birmingham, then a companion for lively conversation all the way to Durham ... Jonathan, a strategy manager with the National Lottery ... heading home to Newcastle ...

At the station, a dear friend ... a lift to her home, a good catch-up and shared meal ... perfect ...

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Petersfield ...

Weekend off and more document downloading, signing, witnessing and posting needed to liberate the long awaited proceeds from the relentless expansion that is bungalowville, childhood home, long abandoned in favour of foreign wandering, City lights, rugged northern landscapes ... even the nearby market town just over the county border for a while ...

Three choices of Post Office, none very close (though research was patchy) ... Winchester too big and busy, Alresford already explored a little, leaving Petersfield and a bus ride through the narrow lanes of West and East Meon ... in the Square the Post Office, with Kyle, young Californian, greeting customers wearing a Polynesian style neck ornament (photo-op missed) and there to train customers in using the new machines, ready to displace human employees ... in this case easing the task of sending the documents safely on their trip to Taunton ... almost in time to run for the return bus, though Petersfield wanted more exploration ... and three hours was more than enough until the next bus ...

The Physic Garden right in town is a little jewel and a wander through reveals a philosopher advertising his availability with a sweatshirt logo declaring Atheism ... an open goal for the blogger and indeed philosophy ensues... Colin claims the logo is a riposte to the Square Jehova Witness folks who appear to have offended him by their public proselytising ... after the philosophy, a wander round the mix of small chain stores, arty crafty organic independents, the very helpful Library, complete with WiFi and toilet, not to mention books and information. .. a cafe for a coffee and cakey lunch ( neither much in evidence at the School, for health reasons) ... a little light rain after the sunshine ... the return bus with the same characters as the inbound trip ... an early alighting at West Meon and a walk through the woods and fields ... to find more cake to go with afternoon tea ... a good  connection with Giordano ... an internet session linking up again with Irene who has taken on the task of connecting work party folks through e-mail and Facebook ...

Tomorrow perhaps a bit brighter ... summer has turned rather damp in recent days ...

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Deeper Brockwood ...

Things quiet down after the busyness of work week ... a week mostly spent in the kitchen, feeding the gardeners, room cleaners, fence painters and whatever else the international brigade was doing ... a change of pace midway to swap shift with Bob meant some fresh air and sunshine in the garden and the Grove, clearing brambles ... and speaking of sunshine, a highlight one evening was a very powerful talk from Paco, a doctor from Leon, erstwhile teacher at Brockwood and sometime researcher into vitamin D, specifically D3 ... with compelling evidence about the effects of D3 deficit, caused by limited body exposure to direct sunlight ... his success with treatment with very high doses of D3 supplements on a range of diseases ...

The week was celebrated Saturday evening with a DIY cabaret, including sketches, songs, piano performance and the OHM choir well known to visitors to Stanhope circles over the years ... interesting not least for the return to national groups, or language groups anyway, after the week transcending such old fashioned behaviours ... Spanish being the second most spoken language here at the school at present, what with folks from Mexico and Argentina as well as Spain itself ... and all Anglophile, not so common on the Costas ... Paulo spoke of our casual arrogance in his insightful blog last year ...

Guest Helper is the new designation, though the chef role continues along with learning life in the kitchen ... and observing teams and their dynamics as personnel vary ... fascinating to see the usual dramas playing out at a more sensitive level ... certainly less shouting and cursing than other commercial kitchens experienced as a waiter, though maybe times have changed too ... that was some time ago ...

A day off Thursday and a lovely visit from a dear friend from the past and maybe eternally ... a nice change of pace, lunch at the Centre and a long walk through the woods and fields with sunshine and showers ... the typical British Summer and a metaphor also for the relationship! 

Reflecting on the question of Tribe and is this mine, as Wednesday is booked for the train trip north ... where other parts of tribe lie ... daughters, of course, though geography is not crucial to maintaining that connection, since heart connection is of the non-local field ... Place and whoever is around there maybe? Anyway, Stanhope has been that place for a while and calls quietly again ... whether the Retreat House is still for sale, who knows? Let's see next week ...

Monday, 17 July 2017

At the School ...

The second part of the Brockwood stay is a work week at the school ... the students are on holiday and there are jobs to be done ... which we will find out about tomorrow ... today is arrival day and the short walk from the Centre means an early look round .... the simple single en suite room in the courtyard, usually student shelter, is less luxurious than the one at the Centre, but quite adequate and peaceful ... depending on the neighbours, of course ...

There is also WiFi, which will enable the blog ... with luck and some technical advice ... somehow these things are not always as easy as one might hope ...

At lunch, Ernesto and Vanessa from Madrid (she is French), Danielle from London (also French), Alfonso, avid Peregrino, from Spain and Cesar from Mexico ... conversation mostly in English ...

Other folks turn up, from Andorra, France, Argentina, Germany ... even Newcastle. ..

Next day ...

To work and a new role ... chef ... well third assistant anyway ... the team is led by two Japanese women and a very tasty lunch for over 50 people is produced in time ... looking set for the week in the kitchen and appreciating the opportunity to learn how to  cater for large numbers  ... before that is a ten minute silent meeting at 7 am ... following the rhythm of the students, who sometimes need persuading of the benefits of the early start ... after breakfast we all spend half an hour cleaning the house ... as do the students when they are here ...

In the afternoon a dialogue on the question of violence. .. then a long walk ... much needed after spending the morning indoors on such a splendid summer day ... and still musing on the best course of action between cooking responsibilities here and the chance of another week with the K tribe and dear Richard's funeral in Stanhope on Friday ... initial enquiries on travel and accommodation not propitious ... though a trip north is next, since daughters need visiting ...

Monday, 10 July 2017

Transcending polarities ...

As human beings are invited to line up with increasingly polarised positions ... left and right, rich and poor, and the middle ground becomes a wasteland, reflection and refusal to play the game may offer a new and transcendent reality to explore ... not necessarily an ultimate reality or even the ultimate reality, but one less palpably preposterous ... this blogger is decreasingly convinced that consensus reality as promoted in the mainstream is worthy of attention ... especially as energy flows where attention goes ... best hold it in sceptical awareness ...

These weeks in Spain have been another kind of reality, sharing metaphysical speculation with Susie and Russ ... the trip to the DUK  (for new readers the D has stood for Dis but feel free to read it as Damp, Drizzly and so on) was a day long lesson in the madness of mainstream reality, with visits to various hell realms en route ....

The Estepona to La Linea bus stops right outside the house and the trip to Gib airport is seamless, as is check-in at the modern and small airport ... the other benefit of using Gib is the free bus trip to Malaga Airport, along with free food and drink, when the Rock alongside the runway is invisible due to mist ... which happens ...

Malaga has a very modern and large airport, which is tricky to navigate in normal circumstances, let alone the abnormal ones prevailing with the transfer and rescheduling ... wandering around the bowels of B zone in search of Gate B39, with little human assistance, was a kind of nightmare ... preceded by a long queue to re-check in, another to be body searched, shoe-less ... eventually relieved by discovering Gate C39 was hosting our assortment of mostly Brit expats and tourists ... though a Slovene couple were facing onward journey complications worse than most ... and finally flying north 6 hours late, with a very modern and friendly crew (female captain, two male cabin crew) doing their best to placate the discontented passengers, many looking for compensation claims along with the goody bags ... Gatwick arrival is its own dystopia, with long queues, black uniformed border guards looking sinister alongside the logo balancing threat with insincerity ... "Welcome to the UK Border" ... automated passport control rather questions the ethos, but this Luddite heads instead for a stern human, who kindly permits re-entry to the country of birth ...

Two trains later and the last bus from Petersfield to Brockwood Park long gone, it's a taxi and the first philosophy of the journey with Joe, intrigued by his regular trips to the Krishnamurti Centre and the School ... arriving just in time to gain entry before bedtime and an hour after the front door was locked ...

Breakfast breaks also the philosophy fast with lively conversation ... Brockwood again feeling like home ...

Internet limited to one terminal and blog downloading postponed until wifi found ... maybe at the School ...

Fascinating conversations ensue ... Vijay and Briggite, Delhi residents and active in the revival of a retreat centre in the Himalayas. .. an invitation too ... Steve, chased out of Belfast 30 or more years ago by homophobic gunmen, now a Multi-faith Minister, still mourning the passing, two years ago, of his husband ... Adiba,  founder of a meditation drop-in for busy City types at London Bridge ... Ducica, guest-helper from Slovenia and translator of K into Slovene and Croat ...

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Home alone ...

Into the last week in sunny Spain, exploring practical and theoretical aspects of mutuality ... much discussed in Stanhope as a way forward as the state withdraws from provision of social care and isolation amongst the elders increases along with their numbers ... Brit and other expats not immune to these trends ...

So, in Life School, these weeks in Torreguadiaro have been a great opportunity ... today the practical lesson for your blogger: to free the retired home  owner and carer for six rescue dogs to have an outing to Marbella ... and whilst the dogs are quite self-sufficient, with access to their own well fenced run, this is fire season and extra vigilance is required ... especially since the house is surrounded by scrubland ...

Whilst social media has the potential to broker these opportunities, more targeted platforms are required ... maybe built on DAPPs from Blockchain to escape the corporate capture of current peer to peer products ....

Meanwhile, being home alone (albeit with six four-legged friends) means some exploration of morphic resonance and the habits of Nature ... Rupert Sheldrake develops the theory tentatively but persuasively. .. resonating with an insight some years ago, which went thus: If a Thought is Something and not Nothing; if Energy cannot be created nor destroyed; maybe each thought throughout time is out there, in a non-local field, ready to be re-assembled in  contemporary forms as a New Idea ...

Sharing such ideas on FB reaches a wider and more responsive audience, which is also offered the mutuality holiday opportunity in Spain ... with some interest already .... and, after FB posting fast, validates the illusion of a self known as Steve, who mostly holds it lightly, though still grateful for friends and family responses ...

And since it is commonly observed that pictures of cute dogs and cats attract more attention in this virtual world than philosophical speculation .... here are some pics of today's companions ...

Monday, 3 July 2017

Surprise at Sotogrande ...

Having finished Alan James' brilliant book on Buddhism (one of the more resonant isms if one has to choose) an hour's  stroll through the shallow housing estate in the sun, an alternative route to escape the car dominated local infrastructure, is rewarded in the shady Centro Comercial with Rupert Sheldrake's "The Presence of the Past" nestling innocently amongst the €4 potboilers ... maybe the second reading will reveal more understanding ... the first felt right, but, like Bohm, the scientists, albeit radical ones, can be challenging for an untrained brain ...

Anyway, the cool, quiet, courtyard cafe inspires a little writing along with the Sheldrake gift ... and slipping the tablet into the rucksack enables it ...

The rhythm of these days in Torreguadiaro varies little in the warm sunshine that is the norm for July ... well, hot sun as it rises, but cooling breezes make it pleasant and seeking shade from time to time helps too ... the holidaying slaves, starved of Sun and determined to maximise exposure in the short time available, have a different rhythm, slathering sunblock on pale skin and laying out to toast themselves ... rather risky from both the chemical and direct sun, perhaps?

Early walk along the beach to Laila's 8 am opening cafe, for caffeine boost ( the lack of which at the Barn Retreat was accepted but not continued) ... to the house for conversation, then longer walk ... some shopping ... maybe a call to Russ in his bus along at San Enrique ... more conversation, a dip in the pool, a short stroll to keep the legs happy ... and reading, of course, generally abandoned on the pilgrimages, whether for the sake of weight and volume reduction or to leave the mind free to wander, who knows?

These optimistic "urbanizations" around coastlines worldwide appear unconcerned about inundations, maybe short-term thinking, maybe seeing rising sea levels as gradual and sometime in the distant future ... certainly not anticipating the tsunamis anyway ...

As far as the local urban encroachments are concerned, it seems the illegal developments are in the firing line from the regional government ... one rather drastic way to reduce the over supply of housing hereabouts ... and another worry for ageing expats, already suffering from declining health, drooping pound and Spanish officialdom not always willing to learn English ... not to mention rumours of DUK breaking away from the EU sometime soon ...