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A Wonderful Place

Vishen Lakhiani, the man who founded Mindvalley came up with a great word to describe rules that can be bent, changed or even completely discarded. That word is Brules and defined as B*** S*** rules. So, with that in mind, I make no apologies for not editing this story and ignoring some basic grammatical Brules. Hope that doesn’t stop you from reading 🙂 S

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Looking out across the savanna, the young man could see giraffes and marveled at their incredible grace and beauty. Far away to his left, the trail of dust left by a herd of wildebeest and zebra drifted and settled in new places. A pair of warthogs splashed in the ever-decreasing water hole after several elephants enjoyed an evening shower before going back to graze in the nearby bush. A flock of starlings appeared to fly into the setting sun.

“You’ve discovered a wonderful place to share a few moments my young friend. What brought you here?”

Before sitting, the older man tested the dead tree by the waterside. Satisfied it would take his weight, he made himself comfortable and indicated a place for his friend.

“Giraffes are on the endangered list for the first time. At least that’s what I read somewhere. But look at them; they seem blissfully unaware of any danger.”

“Humankind is their only real enemy; but I sense you aren’t here to discuss the possible extinction of another beautiful species.”

“You’re right, though concerned, I simply chose this as a place to think and reflect on the day I stepped into the sun.”

“Not literally I hope.”

The young man laughed.

“No, far from it. I suppose I should’ve said, stepped into the light. Yes, that’s a better fit.

Back in the summer of 1995 I was working and living far from the land of my birth. Married with no children, few friends and no life to speak of outside work.

When my workday finished at 10.00 pm on Friday 11 August, I was excited because the car was loaded for a road-trip and two weeks of Psychology seminars at a university in England. After five minutes at the wheel, I crossed from Germany into The Netherlands and noticed a subtle shift in my mood. Difficult to describe except to say that I started feeling light.

The further away from base I drove, the lighter I felt. Interesting too that although I’d given myself more time than I needed for the trip; I had very few breaks, no sleep and didn’t once review the information I had about the Psychology seminars; despite my intention. Whatever had me, made everything seem irrelevant. The feeling was wonderful.

It was early morning, a little after dawn when I decided to take the scenic coastal route from Dover to Brighton. I knew most of the route but had forgotten how beautiful it was. I felt like a child seeing the ocean for the first time.

Still before 8.00 a.m. I turned off the route to an area of dunes and a traffic free space to park, lay out my sleeping bag and take in the clean air. The feeling of light didn’t leave me for an instant; it was so persistent that as tired as my body should’ve been, the thought of sleeping didn’t occur.

Even after arriving at the university, I couldn’t sleep despite having until 6.00 pm to do as I pleased. So, I walked, got to know the block world that was to be my home for the next two weeks and completely forgot to find out where the campus restaurant was.

Fortunately, the man in distress was rescued by a beautiful woman who escorted me to the restaurant and although she had eaten, she offered to keep me company. It was like sitting in a very bright room with the sun in my eyes. I could see her but everybody else was shadowlike.

We found a bench outside afterwards and shared the trivia of our lives before she dug deeper for the things that mattered. I went along happily and not one pause to wonder why until the sides of our hands touched and a dynamic spark exploded through my body.

Not sexual at first but incredibly lustful. Something took hold of me and it wasn’t ever going to let me drift back to the darkness I came from. Somehow, I knew that.

Later that evening, we sat on a hill between the concrete blocks watching the stars and were gifted with the most amazing display of shooting stars either of us had ever seen. Our vibrations were up there with the stars and stayed there throughout the following week.

Something deep inside of me awoke and there was no way I was going to turn my back on it.

Eight months later, she and her amazing one-year old daughter were living with me. Shooting stars never stopped and five-months later, she was pregnant, and our son was born in the following summer, five days after my birthday. What an amazing gift.

I gave up the free accommodation that came with my job and we moved to the nearby Netherlands where we made so many true friends it still brings a tear when I think about their outstanding generosity and friendship.

In March 1999 I crashed. Quite literally; I didn’t notice a small dent on the cycle track as I headed home on my rollerblades at dusk. Falling backwards, I kicked my left knee with my right skate and fractured the top of my tibia.

I’d had a few sporting injuries before that and I was slightly happy with this one because my work paid me to recover at home with my partner and our two amazing children.

Then darkness began to fall. I didn’t recover as expected and by the time our second son was born seventeen months later, I was sitting in a wheelchair. A doctor told us to expect that I wouldn’t recover, and only strong opiates would manage the pain.

My family shared their unconditional love our friends rallied, and I knew the doctor was not going to be right on this occasion. Nevertheless, many dark days followed, my pay went to half and after twelve months down to zero and we were forced back to the UK. The most painful decision we ever had to make and even though we also had a second daughter by this time, the world felt like a very dark place.

I loved my partner and our children but had no love whatsoever for myself. On the scale of 0 to 1000, I think I vibrated below 100.

Positive distractions fell into our laps and learning took place. I recognised fifteen years ago where I need to be today, but minor health setbacks kept popping up. Each time they did, new learning took place and I grew. The light beckoned once more; it had only asked that I consider a few things; including what it felt like to be told that I had MS which was later disproved.

I have always been drawn to writing, speaking, enabling and today, the light is very, very bright and I am drawn and guided to the place I am meant to be.

In his book *Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships, a psychotherapist called John Welwood summed up where I am today,

“Spiritual work focuses more on what is intrinsically right: how we have infinite resources at the core of our nature that we can cultivate to live more expansively. If psychological work thins the clouds, spiritual work invokes the sun.”

I was in darkness was shown the light and despite clouds cast over my life, that light never leaves. It’s where I and all of us are meant to be. The learning didn’t follow a curve, rather a series of vertical leaps and the hands of the universe never left my back.

So, if I am to sum up three things you might take away from my beautiful and continuing journey; they are these:

As dark as it may get, the light is always there. The Universe has your back

If you can’t love yourself, you can’t love anybody. Reach out for love or above.

Trust your intuition (Divine Wise-Self); it knows what you need. Be patient and listen.”

The young man took a breath and absently wiped away a tear as he turned to his friend; who had gone. He left with the sunset which reminded the young man that the sun would rise again the next day.

Unconditional

Following a dry-stone wall on a beautiful spring day, the old man took a sharp right turn into an enclosure. On first impressions, the young man thought they had stepped into a cemetery until the old man directed his friend toward one of many standing stones. Out of respect for the dead, the young man was careful not to stand on the area in front of each stone. The old man laughed gently.

“There are no corpses beneath this earth my friend.”

“Is this not a cemetery?”

“Look closely.”

The young man glanced around. It was a peaceful, rural location with a few trees showing young leaves. Bluebells covered most of the ground and where they left space, tulips and fresh green grass thrived. A storybook scene; blue sky, comfortable sunshine and a hint of a breeze. A perfect place to meditate or spend time with a friend.

At last, the young mans’ eyes fell upon the closest stone. “It reads like a reminiscence of a particular event.”

“Exactly that. Do you recognize the event described on this stone?”

The young man read the words. Silently at first and then again out-loud.

“She handed him the baby,” the young man hesitated and took a deep breath. “He accepted her carefully and with difficulty. The oxygen tube got in the way, she moved it. Even the weight of a baby not two months old was difficult to hold.”

He swallowed, tearfully and looked at his old friend.

“It reminds me of a life-event. I was in a hospital and spent two months there.”

“Now you are well my young friend. Why does it hurt so much? It’s in the past.”

“Five children under the age of ten and we lived in a house two long bus journeys away from the hospital. Getting them to school and nursery involved four miles of walking, twice each day. The shops were another three miles round trip in the opposite direction. Nobody offered help, not really. So, she gave everything and didn’t give up on ‘us,’ not for a moment.”

Resting a hand on the old mans’ shoulder, he looked into his eyes.

“Why do you punish me with a reminder of this?”

“We all have a space where memories, good, bad and seemingly indifferent reside. This is yours and it was your choice to come here.”

“I wasn’t aware of any choice.”

“They are your memories. It’s up to you to dwell upon them or, take what you can and move on with your life.”

“I felt so guilty and useless laying there.”

“Regardless, she gave you her unconditional love. Accept that, it’s all you need.”

The young man smiled like it might eclipse the sun and faded away into the glow.

A Cliché

“Never give up.” It’s probably one of  the most cliché phrases we see on The Internet, family, friends and colleagues repeat it too. It might be argued that for many, it’s a heavily ‘drummed in’ mantra. Sadly though, people do give up and often rising stars disappear into the back of our memories before they achieved their full ‘stardom.’ Maybe they were never meant to in the first place.

I often remind myself never to give up but the question is; never give up on what? For me, it is the path I am following during this life and it is the only thing I will never give up on. At any time, there are a number of projects that I might be involved with and some of those will eventually be shelved or completely thrown away.

There are things I will never discard, they are simple. I believe in peace and will do whatever I can to promote it. I respect people regardless of their beliefs because we are all universal beings and we have love at our cores. Good or bad, the rest is life.

Wow, there are four sentences in that last paragraph and they are fraught with possibilities of so many interpretations. The third in particular raises a few issues and that’s putting it mildly.

Do I respect terrorists? Pedophiles? Rapists? Donald Trump?

No, I do not. But while some of their behaviors aren’t consistent with my ideas of positive humanity, I still recognize that they are universal beings, albeit with a problem or two. The main one being ‘fear.’

There is no point in delving deeply into the fear of each individual. I can’t do that anyway, I don’t know their circumstances. But I will ask you to spend a few moments considering this idea of ‘fear’ as a motivator for particular behaviors. Like, never giving up.

The fear of failure makes people give up. The fear of putting self in the spotlight. Fear of the unknown. Fear of jumping into the mix with people who one perceives as being highly successful. I could go on all day and not run out of fears. So what motivates fear?

A simple answer to that question is experience. Our ego reminds us of something from our past and we respond to the urges of the ego by giving up. This is why we need to listen to the voice of our intuition, soul, whatever you wish to call it. It knows peace and love, hope, charity, understanding and most of all, it knows the path you need to follow.

The ego does its level best to protect you but all it has is experience and some of that may not be so good. Take racism for example. It’s something that has to be learned from some sort of experience. You may have read that racism is a very negative and hurtful response to people yet experience tells you otherwise.

So, where does the “Never Give Up” mantra fit into this? Simple really. If you have found the quiet yet self-assured voice of your soul, intuition . . . keep listening. If not, listen harder, the voice is there, you can trust it. Never give up on yourself but sometimes you have to let go of people or things that don’t sit comfortably on your path.

Lost in our own stories

Greetings from here, a stunning autumnal day in the south of France.

In my last post, I talked about freeing ourselves from the need of regular selfish desires and transforming our thoughts and desires to the needs of others.

I didn’t expect those comments to raise such a wonderful rush of chatter on various social media forums and I am pleased they did.

One person said, “Thank you so much Steve for bringing up that which stops us from experiencing constant, intrinsic and unconditional love – the illusion of individual needs and desires. The illusion of individuals.”

While another said, “When we get out of our own head our attention immediately turns to others (or donuts). The question to ask is “how can I help?”

I love that reference to donuts (even though it should be doughnuts! Ha ha) but it is rather sad, like, ‘my works’ done for the day so that person who seems lonely, lost . . . can wait until another day, I don’t have time for that right now.’

Not a day goes by without a tag being added; today (10 October 2017) is World Mental Health Day. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with ‘depression’ a label that was difficult to come to terms with, and then add the other odd things that kept surfacing. Thank heavens’ for the person who noticed, she pulled me out of the mire.

How often do we take the time to look around at our fellow humans? Sometimes they can’t reach out when they need to because they don’t have the capacity or, nobody is listening.

“Is seeking pleasure what is hindering us from realizing who we are, or is it just a matter of mistaking transient pleasure (TP) for authentic pleasure (AP), which is inherent in consciousness?”

I wonder if seeking pleasure through the various aspects of our lives can be a hindrance, especially if an element of risk or fear is involved. Consider the confidence it takes to ask somebody you don’t know too well if they are okay. The ego steps in and raises doubts while our intuition gently asks for attention when it tells us it’s a good idea to say hello or offer a coffee to someone within our radar.

We have to love the ego, it can lead us astray, it often protects us but we must also listen to our intuition. The TP, such has having the latest phones aren’t AP.

TP = Ego, AP = Intuition, soul . . . If we only know authentic pleasure, we have stepped into the light and whilst still there, our ego and intuition are as one, looking after and guiding us as we travel along our paths.

Here’s what another commentator had to say,

“Good Morning varying versions of shared Self:

Sitting here observing and experiencing the miracle that is the freely gifted daily morning waves, sunrise, birds, dolphins and all…all thought seems superfluous to optimal being.

I am intrigued and guided by the latest neuro science from the Max Planck Institute where by connecting individuals to a new type of brain scanner and giving them a series of multiple choice questions…they could accurately forecast each thought 6-7 seconds before the thinker had it.

What they were unable to do is to say accurately where each thought originates yet the tests do point to the strong possibility that there is something invisible at play.

From this human perspective the only way is to view life as one ‘qualia program’ being directed, written, produced, experienced and ongoingly informed by the Only One Formless Being – and holding the knowing that I am that Being….feels all that is needed to be known.

It feels that we confuse & reduce via distractive thought when there are birdsongs, waves, breezes through the trees, children’s laughter, Mozart, Bach, sharing, caring, tender, playful, creative, inclusive, compassionate & wondrous other unlimited experiences to be lived and felt.”

Each day I learn and grow, through life, meditation other studies and leisure activities.

Is it through meditation that we can take great strides forward? Can meditation affect the thoughts of people not meditating? There are arguments we are connected in such a way. Put like that it sounds so simple. Of course it’s not but getting people to the same page is part of our journey and to do that, we have to notice them.

Despite the darkness that all too often drifts into the light, we were born in love and our universal love is something to be cherished and shared.

If you would like to join the debate, try one of these forums at Discovering Your Cosmic Self where you can discuss these issues in a supportive and challenging environment.

I will leave you for now (or maybe not) with a poem by David Whyte

The Bell Ringer

Consider the bell
ringer as an image
of the human soul,
he stands foursquare
on the stone flagged
ground, and surrounded
by a circle of communal
concentration
searches in his fixed
aloneness
for a world
beyond straight,
human,
eye to eye
discourse,
in this case
above him,
the collision of metal
worlds chiming
to each bend and lift
of the knees,
letting his weight bear down
on the rope,
creating out of the heave
and upward pull,
a hollowed out
brass utterance,
a resonant
on-going argument
for his continued presence,
independent
of daily mood
or the necessities
for a verbal
proclamation.

***

Let him stand there
then
for the human soul,
let his weight
come true on the rope,
the way we want to lean
into the center of things,
the way we want to
fall with the gravity
of the situation
and then afterwards
laugh and
defy it
with an upward
ultimately untraceable
flight,
a great ungovernable
ringing
announcement
to the world
that something, somewhere,
has changed.

Consider
the bell ringer
as one of us,
attempting some
unachieved,
magnificent
difference in the world,
far above
and far beyond
the stone-closed
space we seem
to occupy.

Below
we’re all
effort, listening
and willful concentration,
above,
like a moving sea,
another power
shoulders
just
for a moment
the whole burden,
lifts us
against our will,
lets us find
in the skyward pull
a needed antidote
to surface noise,
a gravity against gravity,
another way to hear
amid
the clamor of the heavens.

(Everything Is Waiting For You)

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