Tag Archives: God

Life inside a nutshell

I see this crop circle, and the adjacent land-scraping board that was used by its artists. And it reminds me of the deeply meaningful search for those earth energies that seem a little missing from these days. I feel this amazing amount of comfort, like feeling God welcoming me back in life after being away a while. Like receiving a hug that would caress each flap of this heaving heart. Like as if everything’s okay anyway. Like showing me what’s next.

I needed this time at Skanda like I needed my thumbs whilst travelling. It’s a part of me, and in this time in life is central to everything that seems to depict my regeneration.

The winds tickles and rolls across my neck, a gently warm early summer salty breeze. The lobby grasses dance to the breasts played by the tree branches. A fox lives on these downs, sliding along in the direction of the end of land. The sea lit up by small and big boats dotted across, and glistening still from the last of the dusk. I’m overjoyed to be here. This evening, these few minutes, this is my holiday for the year. Alone on this hillside, with all of nature for company, I can feel the bliss of the moment easing off the strains on my tired heart, and everything tingles a little. Time stops still.

I’m days from leaving on a 2-day road journey with a monk and a dog to a small temple above the alpine line in Romansch Switzerland. We will work tirelessly for 7 weeks on building this temple, getting it ready for its inauguration in October. I’ve just spent almost all of the last year building the extension to the Sri Ranganatha temple at Skanda Vale, in a heavy, forested valley in heartlands north of Carmarthen, Wales. I almost lost an eye, or stability, but through it all have been gradually feeling more and more stable. The last year has been of growth. When you build a temple, the physical structure is not what you’ve built. That’s what the materials and money and energy built. But you build inside, a structure that Milaripa built and moved over and over, committing himself so fully and then so selflessly to it as he had no other choice. He’d developed unfortunate karma, which led him to his very fortunate karma. I’d almost burnt a house down, with myself and two dogs inside, sleeping to my side. And down went the internal structure that had been built. And it needed to be rebuilt. So it’s absolutely no coincidence that I’ve been building temples for the past year.

But I get these signs of the completion approaching soon. Every so often I get a clear feeling that there’s a world waiting for me somewhere.

Back in the crop circle, I half-dream of interacting with God. It doesn’t matter how long or how many times you’re in a temple, it seems, you’re still going to have your deepest experiences at unpredictable yet clearly intuited times. I’d felt guided up to this field, or something up here, so so strongly, for the whole walk upto this point. I talk with God for a while, and it’s like talking with an ultimate kind of caring force, that will always lead me in the right ways no matter what. I share my anxieties, and desires, and generally just what I’m feeling inside. Then I remember clearly asking about love. How would I find someone to be in love with again, to share life with in one way or another, when it feels so much like I go solo with it all and surely girls would be put off by that, or by my absurdities in general. I grow wild long hair that makes a lot of people think I’m a girl anyway, and surely……. And I’m told to just focus on the love that I’m able to give through and in everything, and that love will always attract the right people. And it’s like the most incredible fireworks display is going of in my heart and I am so full of joy.

We get thousands of people coming to Skanda Vale to be close to God. Sure, we’ve got the monastic discipline pretty much sorted. And sure, there’s energy there, it’s a powerful place. But I’ve never found God outside of myself. I don’t know if it’s possible to do so. And I’ve had continuously intimately close experiences of God ever since receiving the heartbreak of a very lonely relationship breakup over 9 years ago. And I wouldn’t give it up for anything. And this is where it gets complicated with my relationship with the ashram. I’ve found myself getting complacent in the ashram life. The building work is strong, but spiritually I’m feeling somehow more and more disconnected from the possibility of the completely random encounters with God.

And yet, I sit here rushing past middle England on a First Great Western to Swansea. My holiday is over, and it’s time to go back to work. Switzerland is calling, but God is unpredictable. God is between the lines of Streetlight Manifesto songs on their new album The Hands That Thieve. God is inside crop circles. God is in the views of glistening sea, and in my sisters voices, and in precious moments just being with myself. And in going along with things that just feel right.

I was taken through the village of my childhood and adolescence. A village where I felt like I really lost myself, and where I felt like I really found myself. And it felt incredibly surreal to be back, after 8 months away, and yet not even stepping a foot out of the car. We went down the same road that I walked up on dark and wet early evenings in December after being with my first girlfriend, lovestruck at fourteen. And the bench that I sat at whilst listening to Rise Against, Dancing In The Rain, frustrated to the point of emotive anger by my second girlfriend on my seventeenth birthday. I’d walked off by myself, leaving her awkwardly with my mum and brother, as desires for freedom broke me down. And I’m and about a pub in a near village that has been closed down for 5 years after a terrible murder there, and am asked details about it and fed intensely graphic information that I feel hurting something inside me to picture, and say that noone actually knows anything about it because everyone chose to keep out of it as much as possible. And I remember running from sounds in the woods with James when we’d have bonfires in the woods, with good reason, finding out later on that the owner suspected that it was us all along having the fires but never quite catching us. A place where dreams were made, but the sleep perpetuated beyond dreams.

And I walk down the hill of the down, and reach the park of Brading, and realise that this was where I was always meant to be based, this would be where I would live for at least some time. They say it’s a haunted old little town, but maybe it’s actually just the strong presence of God in this place.

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edge of life

The Art of Treating the Job Search as Sacred

It’s a new life.

It’s your last chance to make your mother and father proud.

impossibleHidden away, in a field of empty chairs, we close our eyes and think of any way out of this swamp that we’ll sink into as soon as we step off the chair.  We will not see the light of the free world until we become unearthed by wolves, or deer, or the life under the soil.  We cannot see a light anymore.

I, this body, this mind, this sentience, am in a job or career search that I neither understand, nor find a sense of salvation or answers through.  The days can be troubling, with many ideas coming through my mind.  I kid myself at times with it all.  I tell myself that I’ll get a really comfortable life for myself; ya know, the sort with motorised transport and regularity and wearing smart clothes and with a lover and stuff.  Then, I question whether this is actually what I want, at all.  I remember over and over that I told Skanda Vale that I’d be back soon, and 6 weeks later and I’m still not back and probably won’t be back for some months.  I think back to my time at Chateau Anand a huge amount, maybe as it was this time last year that I was first settling in to my 2-month stay there.  I get myself a little confused over not quite understanding what is going on for me right now.  But, all this is leading to something big, something really big.

Almost 18 months ago, I wrote about my dissertation becoming a sacred experience.  It had become a daily meditation, and a daily focus for much of my energy.  Through it, I rekindled a loving relationship with my home area, and found some long-standing roots.  And through it, I found a way to truly love something that was being created by my own creativity.  Now I am sitting here, having been on a computer for much of the last few days looking for jobs and even doing the absolute worst, lowest-paid jobs I can imagine is even possible, and I’m going to tell you all that it is a sacred experience.  Because, well, there’s nothing else but the sacredness of this whole unravelling.

Unlike the Sacred Dissertations writing, this writing has been hugely inspired by quotes that I have read from Henry David Thoreau.  There’ll be four sections, for how I feel, somewhere deep inside this whole existence, that whatever is going on now is to be treated as a temple, as a water droplet landing on the forehead, as a fawn opening its eyes for its first time.  It is all beautiful, it all is boundlessly beautiful.

The Stag who lived forever. Full story here: http://www.storywarren.com/the-stag-who-lived-forever/

The Stag who lived forever. Full story here: http://www.storywarren.com/the-stag-who-lived-forever/

#1 Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.

The work is as much a part of you as the word, the friend, the eyes and the spirit.  It is where the energy of life is going, the prana, creative lifeforce, and it is the deepest connection with the earth beneath and around us that we are communicating in working this energy.

Truth.  What can be truth, when we have to sell ourselves all the time, and pray that we get this or that job because we just need to be able to get some money to pay for the bills for the things that we don’t really need but, really, we do need?

Truth is beyond selling ourselves.  It’s perhaps the biggest, hardest, thing I’ve had to do in a long, long time.  I’m going to have to shave very soon, and wear clothes to conform.  The construction work that I’d hoped for, if all fell through with teaching-related stuff, is out-of-the-question until I get a CSCS card, which I’d have to wait until November for.  So here’s my future.  My beard will be trimmed, hair tidied, and I will play it all on the superficial for a while.  I will sell myself as a commodity, as something that can be looked at and judged by my very cover.  My cover.

Truth is knowing that something deeper is going on here.  Just as in Buddhism it is so important to base oneself around the ‘non-self’ philosophy – we are not really ourselves, there is no permanent ‘self’ there, it’s all a fabrication and illusory and no matter how much we try to claim that we are something in particular we really aren’t – in general truthfulness there is a knowledge that experience is beyond the facade.  We are not this job or that job, or even this body that we are needing to sell for a while.  We are something deeper, beyond appearances or statements.  And that deeper experience of what we are comes different for every single person.  For me, I scream louder than anything around, over and over and over, and that is freedom of what is me.  And I will keep doing this, no matter if I am freshly shaved and in a penguin suit, or not.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, ‘Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth’.  This brings tears down my face, as I remember also in Into The Wild this being uttered, and I remember my brother basing his life some years ago upon words like these….wanting so, so much more than is offered in any way by the society that is around us.  That is what is to be lived for.  Truth.

truth

#2 Be yourself, not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.

When we have to sell ourselves so much, and give up so much of what we have perhaps stood for for quite some time, we can feel like we’ve become an idea of someone else’s creation.
Society’s creation,
The Man,
The bloody illuminati,
The mainstream MTV conformists,
God.

God made us what we are.  God is creation.  And creation is within you.  You are creative, you have the unbelievable, indefinable, and unpredictable nature to be creative.  And so you hold the creation within you.  And so you hold God within you.  And so you are made by what is within you.

In Buddhism, there’s the interesting idea of tṛṣṇā.  Tṛṣṇā is craving.  But it is a craving that exists before any conceptualisation of a body, of a physical essence.  It is through tṛṣṇā that karma is born.  The craving for something that needs to be resolves.  Without tṛṣṇā, nothing ever existed.  It is the tṛṣṇā, the unconditional and boundless craving, that creates the existence of all matter and non-matter.  The craving that led to any form of your existence is what makes you what you are.  There isn’t going to be a boss, or a societal movement, or so-called world leaders, or any form of external figure, that is going to ever have the slightest kind of effect on your ultimate nature.  Your world leader is something that you can’t even understand.  Nobody can understand how the world is led – which leads to all these world mysteries, these questions that we cannot possibly answer.

There is nobody’s idea of yourself.  You project an image out to the world, and they take it in and it fixes their minds in some kind of way.  A week and a half ago, I walked through Bath with no top on and covered in blue body-paint.  I didn’t feel like I was topless, as I had all this paint on and felt like I was still wearing a t-shirt.  People didn’t look at me so much.  I was projecting an image of there being nothing unusual about my appearance.

So be your God, be your tṛṣṇā, and allow the world to be much, much vaster than it can sometimes be made out to be.

into wilderness

#3 Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage.  Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.

The past is going to be with everything that you carry in life.  Things will change, at times, and you’ll remember something from years back and break down crying because it pulls your heart so tightly back to whatever happened, sad or not-so-sad.  No matter what is happening in life, there is still everything that has happened, and we can absolutely thrive off of that.

I meet so many people that refuse any sort of connection with the beauties that they’ve already experienced in life.  So often, one painful moment can block out 10 years, or even longer.  And it’s so sad – because that experience and those memories stay around for the goodness of the world, because once we latch onto them the world around us will tremble with the immensity of the moment.  And it is through that, through connecting with our own existential ancestors (ourselves at different stages in life), that we find a powerful influence and potentially overwhelmingly positive effect on the world.

We are often deceived by what we can gain, in life.  I’ve experienced it myself, a lot.  To buy more stuff, or do more stuff, as to numb that really quite hard-to-deal-with emotional stuff of the past (or of the present, or future) that can come up.  I bought things in France that were mainly for this purpose.  I bought an mp3 player, and a camera, and books, and loads of flour and oil, because all of these were things that could help to numb the troubles of the ‘now’, to stop myself thinking too much into whatever was going on.  The flour and oil was for pancakes, which I’d fill my stomach to the brim with, as a drug.  And since being back in Bath, I’ve had some real issues with just stopping, just really stopping with all the action of doing things all the time and always being busy with stuff, and going into a world of just connecting with myself.  Last week, I realised that I needed to take life independently for a while, and probably not see so many people for a while, as I need to focus on my own stuff a lot.  I feel better alive like this.

Poverty is sacred.  Sage is sacred.  Salvia.  Salvation.
In these times, I am on the very edge of borrowed finances, but it is not through financial loss or gain that one experiences poverty.  Poverty, of small means.  We must conquer ourselves.  Find new means to break all our chains, every cage, to communicate.  Poverty, of small means.  Break every cage.  Make it something great, cultivated.  We are a blob of irresponsible unsustainability, defacing this planet that we call our home.  In poverty, of having small means, we give away all of the excess that we have, and move to a small and minimal way of living.  I remember in Alicante, walking through the old city below the castle, I would encounter the crazy cycles between ultra-rich tourists, and the ganja dealers and cat keepers.  The sun would blaze on us all, though, and great silence was to be found on the westerly walls of the castle grounds at dusk-time.  Wealth does not create silence, but often creates increased chatter, internal and external.  In Eastern Switzerland, I met some of the calmest energies of my life.  It wasn’t such a rich area of Switzerland, and there was something incredibly special there.  There was a huge amount of silence.
silence

#4 Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

Speechless I lay down my head, shaking from this feeling of total emptiness. No bloody dogmas can save me, no bloody higher power can save me. Just myself, and my creativity, all the things I care for, and all the people I just love for being here. And blood ‘ell, this is why it hurts, this is why it hurts. All the things we lived for, are just going to be bloody well nothing. Just like you. Just like me. But these are our catalysts to keep us going on and on.

Truth.  Freedom.  Making life absolutely what it is and was always meant to be.

I’ve been told by so, so many people, people I’ve met on the road and people I’ve met in other situations, that I am so lucky to be living so freely, to be so young and without commitments.  And yet – am I really so lucky, or am I just following what is always true to me?  Is it really luck that creates a life that is what it feels it’s meant to be?  Is it really luck that makes me able to put my thumb out, to sit in a field of Christmas trees chanting at an emanation of Lord Shiva, that has me swinging around myself and, if I’m lucky, a lovely dancing partner, to music that is moving my body in ways that I don’t want to control because it’s so beautiful to just let the body swing around like this and it’d be such a shame to stop such a deep act of freedom?

I can guarantee that I will still be living the life that I’m meant to be living in 20 years time.  This could even be a life of rotting in the ground – who knows what’s going to happen – or it could be a life as a father with kids, or a life as a long-term jailed ‘criminal’, or a life as a hermit, or a life as a monastic.  It’ll be whatever it needs to be, whatever it’s meant to be.  

Not till we are completely lost or turned around… do we begin to find ourselves.
I was not designed to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest…
Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.

I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

~ Henry David Thoreau.

buddha