The true student is drawn to spiritual work because, during her formative years, she has suffered, mildly or severely, and that suffering has been punctuated by a handful of very intense experiences of bliss or epiphany. These experiences – true events – have always occurred because for some reason her mind became momentarily quiet, allowing her to glimpse the world of energy and spirit operating behind the material world. The student realises, with all her being, that these experiences constitute reality and everything else is a superficial mirage. So she takes up a discipline that she hopes will increase the frequency of such events. The events are, on the one hand, yearned for because they are life-giving and life-sustaining but, on the other hand, they are feared and kept at bay because they are too much – too intense. Eventually though, as the years pass by and the work accrues, the student becomes strong and humble enough for the next stage – working for continuity of the event – for which she needs to detach completely from the material world. In my own experience, and that of my teacher and his teacher, these two life changes: taking up spiritual work and then drastically shifting the emphasis of that work to effectuate continuity, occur roughly at the Saturn-returns – the ages of 25-30 and 52-60 ("You don't get much change from thirty years!" he once grumbled to me).
Take good care of your time. Watch how you spend it, for nothing is more precious. In the twinkling of an eye, heaven can be won or lost.

For whosoever exalteth him sylfe shalbe brought lowe. And he that hubleth him sylfe shalbe exalted.
I told my daughter the story of Adam & Eve.
"Wow dad! Is it really true?"
"Well it probably never happened but it's certainly true."
I heard of an ancient Zen exercise. Two low tables a few yards apart. On one table a large rounded stone – a big pebble – heavy but manageable. The monk approaches the stone, bends his legs and embraces it. He then lifts it up by straightening his legs and takes it to the other table where he carefully and gently deposits it by bending his legs. He then straightens up, places his hands together in an attitude of reverent prayer and utters a mantram or invocation. After a second or two he repeats. This goes on for an hour or so. The idea, as with all repetitive simple exercises, is that the mind eventually becomes quiet and the monk becomes possessed by the doing. So much so that the pebble enters his dantien – the stone in the belly – a mood of detached sober involvement, but also an energetic actuality.
What holds us back? Selfishness.


"At a certain point the mind must fall silent and admit its powerlessness."


If you want to upset the bourgeoisie (and who doesn't?) just start talking affectionately about God. It works every time.


For how long should I meditate?
For as long as it takes.
For what takes?
For the mind to settle and become peaceful.
But that would take all day!


"This world of ours is very sick, and only contact with heaven will be able to cure it."


embrace the heretical imperative


it's impossible to predict the welling up of a song


Tell a student to do something and they'll do it but they'll do it wrong because they'll do it the way they've always done everything – carelessly, superficially, habitually. The student, to progress, must really look at where it's all coming from. What is the very nature of free spirit?
Whatever comes easy is unappreciated and so misunderstood and so probably wrong.
at an hower when ye thinke not
Any work that is not repentive is by its nature materialistic.
"Do you think I've an antisocial personality?"
"Sure, who hasn't?"

Success depends upon just how honestly you're willing to look at things.


If Dutch courage allows you to enter the joys of creation then so be it.
Plato admonished us to abandon the confines of our cave and venture out into the world. He meant a move from superstition – from standing over (in fear and awe) – to understanding. Unfortunately, with the corrupting passage of time, this amounts to a move from heart to head, from body to mind, from intuition and gut-feeling to mediation through language and mental formation. So life, which Plato hoped would become more real – more enticing and exciting – actually pales and shrinks away because our understanding makes us proud.
Let's face it, most so called internal work amounts to little more than posturing.
The only difference between getting it right and getting it wrong is the presence of spirit.

From unselfconscious immediacy to selfconscious reflection to compassionate presence – being in self, thinking for self, being for other.
Spiritual work starts – and generally falters – with quietening the mind. Without some success here everything is misunderstood.
A good student is in love with the work, for its own sake.


Purity of heart is to will one thing.
The test of true quietude is a vigilant and alert spirit. Otherwise you've merely fallen into a stupor.

we will find a living well if we reach deep enough under the surface of our complaints
The struggle is the same for all of us: to become good students, but students of the Internal – of our own hearts and minds – rather than students of the external world, and to study ourselves requires not only different methods to those best suited to probing externals, but a completely different methodology – erosive & decrescent rather than creative & accretive – because the quality required to really look objectively & dispassionately at self, in all its revolting glory, is humility.
woorkes and labor that procedeth of love


Quietening the anxious mind doesn't only allow you to hear what's really there – it allows you to become what's really here.
Practise is the only way to get beyond technique – out of words and into energy.


Unhappiness is largely the result of the world not living up to expectation. External work strives to change the world – to increase one's lot, internal work to reduce expectation.
"Let every manne do accordyng as he is disposed in his hearte, not grudgyngly, or of necessitie, for God loveth a cherefull gever."
Compassion starts with a refusal to violence, and the commonest violence is the wrenching of thought from heart to head.


"Confine your mind within the words of prayer," advised John Climacus. Embark upon the Herculean task of bringing the mind to quietude. Only then will energy be diverted from head to heart, from things into Spirit.
Never too late, but certainly never too early. Time is now.

"it is of great importance that we leave the world of measurements be­hind when we speak about the life of the Spirit"
We are human beings, and perhaps the most important fact of that being is our vertical spine. The fact that, as well as scurrying upon the plane of immanence, which spreads all round – tempting and monotonous – (the Internet being the most recent allegory of such), we also abide, during our quiet moments, on a vertical transcendent axis: we aspire as well as transpire.
a gradual conversion from an anxious reaction to a loving response
Ask anyone nowadays where their thoughts are and they'll tap their head. Ask where their feelings are and they'll place hand on heart. But this is a relatively recent development. In Biblical times, and probably pre-Renaissance, the heart would have been the seat of thoughts and the belly a reservoir of feeling. So, we've climbed up a notch, if you like, which has enabled us to master our environment – the externals of life – but which has also cut us off from the internal – from meaning deeper than basic survival and mere acquisition. Humility is required to slip off our secular pedestal of pride and arrogance and regain the heart as centre of life. A radical repentance – a work of contrition that takes us to task and to root.


one sings in order to get away from explanation

"True mysticism is to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary."


a dazzling darkness
"The laying aside of thoughts and images leads not to vacuity but to a plenitude surpassing all that the human mind can conceive or express."


Loneliness is the company of those that can't abide solitude.
Play it by ear.


"God alone is noun; all created things are adjectives."
The whole idea of mindfulness is that with diligent practice it slowly becomes heartfulness: it moves from head, through the portal of the heart, and into the gut, which apparently has more nerve endings than the brain, and which, traditionally, in all cultures, is the seat of sympathetic feeling and intuition. With practice, in time, the work moves from mere attentiveness to love.
Mind is selfed; heart is peopled. Feel it. See it. Admit it.
Not so much what's done as the mind what does it.


"Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter – the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self."

Bourgeois living: where reasoned unfaithfulness and comfortable self-centredness veil despair.
Things are looking up.
If I look within myself
I cannot bear myself.

If I do not look within myself
I do not know myself.
Everyone wants transformation yet no one is willing to change.


useless thoughts spoil all


"A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"


When the mind wanders, bring it back. When it wanders again, bring it back again.


solitude is the furnace in which transformation takes place
"Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behav­iour change, modelled by your new mind."


How to approach something both beyond experience and beyond comprehension? Graciously.


advance from duplicity to simplicity


"He must increase, but I must decrease."
Demand a yardstick – measure – and you'll always be disappointed.
The declining posture of old age is simply a gradual disappearance into heart.
"It is the human vocation to manifest the spiritual in and through the material."


loved, but not thought


Salvation lies in that ever elusive moment of unconditionality which dies as soon as registered.


brought to perfect silence and unknowing


sans savoir, sans avoir, sans voir


"Lord, I believe: help my unbelief."

Believe me, having a mind above average is no advantage when it comes to heart work. In fact, it's a positive hindrance.
"What is most contrary to salvation is not sin but habit."
The path from mind to heart is a downward one; a penitent path – contrite and humbling.
"There is only one tragedy: to fail to become a saint."
Look back and ponder the innumerable mistakes and you'll see that it wasn't for lack of knowing but for lack of listening. We always know what needs to be done, in the deep deep heart – the gut, and then we ignore it and go instead with the head.


"Learning to actually mean, from ever-deepening regions of the heart, is what makes practice so challenging."
When defensiveness falls away then humility flows in.


a passion for trespassing the horizons of possibility
Meaning is in the feeling, feeling in the meaning – the heart invested in action, in movement, in the passage of time. That's what the work, ultimately, is all about: understanding Time – allowing its passage to bring it on as it draws you out.
The presence of mind to practice.


Paradise, Gan Eden, is, quite simply, peace of mind – the place, the state, yearned for, at heart, at least.


What is Reality but the subtle resonance between me and thee or, rather, I and Thou, which, when right, begins to hum, and, when really right, starts to sing. Reality is We.


It is not unfinished. It is unending.


discipline & attention
in the dark
       I sit

in the light
       I am


"There are many paths, but a single path must be chosen."
At the heart of softness is a yearning for a way of communicating that doesn't involve pitting one opinion against another.
Make a break for It.


Trying to encourage my 8 year old to start reading the Bible since she now reads Hebrew. "It's the greatest book ever written," I explained. "Wow! Even better than Enid Blyton?!"
if real, Spirit informs

"A man thinks about universals while on the job, and the sense that comes thru most is no future worth it if the present diminutive."
The Other is mirror through which, and only through which, I achieve true being – truth – rather than self. And not because they stimulate competitive edge but because they demand a heart.
Guard the heart above all else,
for it is the source of life.


Personal God is simply agent allowing possibility of impossible. In particular, for our purposes, the possibility that seemingly ingrained and recalcitrant patterns can be broken; the possibility of real change. The actual existence of such a God is unnecessary, but love for / belief in certainly is, though it can take a multitude of conceptual forms. The energy for change comes from belief rather than being.
Desire the world – increase daily
Desire the Dao – decrease daily.

There will always come a point where such decrease is difficult, painful, awful, impossible, especially when it demands jettisoning habitual support for body and mind.

Take down the body; give up the ghost.


It doesn't get any better than this.
"Sickness becomes the means through which one is cured and empowered or 'permitted' way beyond what one was before the illness."
The work internalizes strength and thereby makes power.
Spirit has a life of its own. Mind does not.

All contradiction, conflict, bad faith, gainsaying, misunderstanding – paradox even – stem from an inability to distinguish mind and spirit.
immanence implies transcendence; they are not opposed to one another


"Wisdom is the environs to which each man relates because each man reflects the other differentially relating, equally participating."
Relax, feel and engage the natural forces operating both without (gravity etc) and within (drives etc). These will then tighten up just enough to bring you to full power.


the murmuring of an intensity that does not abate
Hardness is putting self before other. Softness is putting other before self. It's as simple as that.
"Does art imitate life, or does life imitate TV?"
The big breakthrough comes when you finally accept that this work is not something you do to make normal life bearable but something that makes normal life so unbearable that you cannot possibly go back to it.
my revolt
is not to give in
What is truth? Whatever we're running from. So, to begin the revolutionary turn towards it, something absolutely fundamental in habitual nature must be reversed. I suggest switching the dominant activity of mind from idle thought (worry) to prayer, where prayer is simply the lifting of heart and mind upward – into the void beyond. No need to mention God, if you find the possibility of absolute authority – absolute otherness – disagreeably beneath (rather than agreeably above) you.


we took the path to the desert
"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular."
Whatever it is, get it off the chest. It doesn't belong there, and the longer it sits the more a heavy heart becomes habitual.
Nothing terrifies more than nothing to worry about.
destitute of reference

"My work alludes to eccentric systems, unseen forces of nature, and processes in operation that we cannot always perceive."
Known, unknown, unknowable. These realms exist in everything, including me. I gaze upon the known with my own known, upon unknowables with my own unknowable, into depths with my own depth. In the world of energy, lines always travel both ways. Vision is no exception.
Eschew appearance/s


"Worry is preposterous. We don't know enough to worry."
To want to be a saint to want to be a saint to want to
to want to be a saint to be the snake-tailed one to want to
be snake-tailed with wings to be a snake-tailed saint with wings to
want to be a saint to want to awaken men wake men from nightmare.

Cor ad cor loquitur (Heart speaks unto Heart).
Presence is not for the self but for the other. Support the other, trust the other, in equal measure. This is Central Equilibrium.
Forgive: from for- "completely" + giefan "give"
What you are, really, deep down, beneath the crap, is far far finer, infinitely richer, than any image you could possible hold, desire or create for yourself. Spirit – your energetic signature – which, whether you like it or not, inevitably colours everything you do, is beautiful and unique and deserves to be honoured as such. So, when we say be here now – in the present – we simply mean dwell in your energy rather than in self image.


Language is our palace and our prison.


genuine repetition is recollected forward
"I was looking at the hyacinth, and as I gazed at the form of its petals and the strength of their curve as they open and curl back to reveal the mysterious flower-centres with their anthers and eyelike hearts, abruptly I found that I was no longer looking at it, but was it; a distinct, indescribable, but in no way vague, still less emotional, shift of consciousness into the plant itself. Or rather I and the plant were one and indistinguishable; as if the plant were a part of my consciousness. I dared scarcely breathe, held in a kind of fine attention in which I could sense the very flow of life in the cells. I was not perceiving the flower but living it. I was aware of the life of the plant as a slow flow of circulation of a vital current of liquid light of the utmost purity. I could apprehend as a simple essence formal structure and dynamic process. This dynamic form was, as it seemed, of a spiritual not a material order; or of a finer matter, or of matter itself perceived as spirit. There was nothing emotional about this experience which was, on the contrary, an almost mathematical apprehension of a complex and organized whole, apprehended as a whole. This whole was living; and as such inspired a sense of immaculate holiness."
The lazy student. The student who, for whatever reason, does not practice; the student who gives nothing back. The longer it goes on the less likely they are to ever start. In a class situation they are tolerable, but privately (and it is strange how it's always the lazy students that demand private lessons – as though that privileged exposure compensates somehow for lack of practice) they are, believe me, far more trouble than they are worth (than the money they pay you).
The primary function of the eye is not to see but to carry an intensely participant spirit. The best way to serve the object is not to ob-serve it but to merge with it in an act of spirit.
"Still there is spiritual progress, further impoverishment, ascesis."


"I feel my body defending itself against me."
The difference between joy and depression, between what my teacher called enheartenment and disheartenment, is that between connexion and disconnexion, touch and separation, freeflow and stagnation, communion and selfhood. It's all in the mind – the heartmind – the mood. A matter of spirit.
a vertical severity


"It's that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second. This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up. Others matter more than you do, so don't fuss, dear; get on with it."
Gravity: what comes down must go up.
Grace: what goes up must come down.
Or is it the other way round?

Here, the religious obsess on the word of God, and the nonreligious on their own word – opinion. Much better the former.
"The visionary has two sciences, the science of wrath and the science of pity: the former the explosion of energy, the latter its fruit and incorporation."
Gravity bears down through body, and thymos (life) gushes up, distributed by waist (core strength & turning moment), pooling at heart. A trigger of compassion, vulnerability, hope, and heart opens upward in affective (so effective) prayer. Grace, the answer to prayer, then befalls and blesses. At our best, we are simply machines – transducers – converting gravity to grace.


What kills the body? Vision, eventually. What kills the spirit? Lack of vision. Which one do you want to go first?
We make a world to keep reality out.


"The real lover is the man who can thrill you by kissing your forehead."
It is not enough to have a quiet mind – a self-satisfied mind is quiet. The mind must be empty.
The fundamental fact of us all – more fundamental than the air we breathe, the food we eat – is gravity: the fact that we are fashioned from matter, and so are tugged at by heavy objects, in particular the Earth. The gravitational field of the Earth pulls us directly downward upon its surface, and this surface – the ground – kicks up into us, equal and opposite to gravity itself. We call this upward force thymos because, if the spine is strong, healthy and erect, a steady stream of energy flows up through the body to gather naturally in the thymus gland in the upper chest. In its simplest form Taiji is a sequence of movements designed to distribute this thymic energy through the upper body and into the Other, using mainly turning actions from the core (belly/lumber spine).
"Don't stop when you're tired; stop when you're done."
Spirit is intensely awake and internally gathered.
Our vision is not so much in what we see but in how we move.
Quietening the mind is difficult enough, though it comes in time, with practice. But emptying the mind, where on earth does one start on that? Issues have to be worked through so that they can be let go, otherwise they'll keep coming back.


Dealing with trauma is often more traumatic than the trauma itself, but without it one cannot live a real life.
If you concentrate on qi you will be weak
If you concentrate on spirit you will be strong

This is a famous Taiji adage. My teacher pointed out once that when they say qi (ch'i) they actually mean anything that isn't spirit. So, if you use mind expanding drugs to open up consciousness, which a lot of students seem to do nowadays, be aware that this must go hand in hand with disciplined daily practice on and with spirit otherwise it'll end up weakening you. There's little point in having knowledge you don't have the means to either engage or internalise.


"All young artists must go through a discipline so incessant and grueling that only genuine talent can supply the energy to drive through it and the ambition to emerge from it a master and not a plodder."

We all know that if you give a child more than they deserve then not only do they fail to appreciate what they get but they also quickly develop an overweening sense of entitlement. The same is true of students.
"Repetition and imitation are the beginning of art; they are what we call practice."
If you don't agree with what the teacher says then stop. Either stop your shitty opinionated mind or stop wasting his time and find someone else to pester.
The feeling of perfect completeness that you feel/felt with the teaching/teacher is what motivates and fuels the continuing practice. Each session an opportunity to touch that perfection, to evoke the spirit of the teaching/teacher and keep it alive, without which you know you'd be a mere shadow living a shadow life. It's the very least you/we can do.


Glow quietly yet lambently. Believe in your own light, above all. This is our selflessness – our poverty – to glow for the world rather than for self-aggrandizement.
"Art is always the replacement of indifference by attention."
The educated, liberal middle-class: a placcid ovine herd of self-satisfied mediocrities.
Spirit plus consciousness is what Blake called the Imagination. It is what this work is working towards, though most of us probably don't see it as such. The ability to embody your beliefs, the courage to live your own life and vision, but not selfishly, not for self alone, but to further the Image of Man; to aspire and to inspire; inspire aspiration in others. To teach, basically.
"We conquer knowledge by forced marches, learning more and more as we continually press on. Wisdom, on the other hand, is the unhurried expanding organic health of the powerful and well-knit imagination, and it depends on a combination of practice and relaxation."
If there is just one simple instruction to repeat to yourself regularly through the day then I suggest: Heart Up.

Early in life we make a command decision to take on board a whole array of tensions that force our perceptions to conform to those of the herd we find ourselves amidst. Learning to belong to a family, a society. This is what is known as selling your soul to the devil. Spiritual work is then any attempt to locate and relax these tensions so that vision broadens and heightens, and we start to see what God intended.
"A real miracle is an imaginative effort which meets with an imaginative response."
The lengths we go to to wreck our spine, and our chances of salvation, just to construct a lair in the chest for the self. When the spine is erect and healthy there is no reflective ego as such, no place to go to mull things over, only communication – body with Earth (other bodies), spirit with God (other spirits).
Just enough to bring a little grey into an otherwise gaudy existence.


Whatever's worth saying just cannot be said, not adequately, unambiguously. Language is not a means of communication, it's a means of avoiding communication or, at best, a politely distanced stand-in for communication.

"What matters most is what sort of person you are becoming."
Yielding, and its concomitant quality of softness, is a way of life – our way of life. To draw out the element of unconditionality lurking in everything, an element that cannot be confronted, directly, but must be seduced by the same element in ourselves – by spirit. Then asked to dance.


The whole idea is to create a continuous thread through time. Inevitably such a thread will be composed of moments of various lengths and varying intensities. The difficulty is paying sufficient attention to ends and beginnings so that adjacent moments run together seamlessly.


"I retired from everything except work."


If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger; even if it cripples you.

Meditation is an exercise that extends the attention span.
The task for all of us is exactly the same: to break out of class and into humanity. So, whether you are middle class, working class, rich, poor, black, white, male, female, educated, uneducated, first world, third world, jew, arab, straight, gay, these categories must be left behind so that you can become simply the expression of your own magnificent spirit. Sounds easy but in actual fact it is without doubt the most difficult task you could possibly undertake.
Back in 1998 my teacher suddenly abandoned the British Tai Chi Chuan Association, the organisation he had founded in 1970 and which, at its height, in the mid eighties, was the largest and most vibrant Taiji centre in Europe. Admittedly it had been slowly declining ever since he and his family were evicted from the Upper Wimpole Street premises in 1993 due to neglect. In actual fact the decline had started years before then. For some time John Kells had been bored with the Yang style Taiji he was teaching because he felt it wasn't an adequate vehicle for either his Irish spirit or his Celtic vision (he was a true visionary if nothing else). He was playing around with little technical nicknacks he'd picked up here and there – the figure 8 exercise in Taiwan, Chen style push hands from Nitsan Michaeli, his own no-contact rebound – in the hope of injecting a bit of spirit into his complacent students, and maybe developing a new and fresh style of Taiji. And then suddenly he just stopped showing up – leaving it up to me to keep things ticking over. I asked him why and he just said, "I'm tired of being a crutch."
It always seems a miracle, don't you think, to see such joyful carefree children with such depressed mediocre parents. The parents' pain seems to run off them like water off a ducks back. But just wait until those children are their parents age. They'll be carbon copies.
willing the event as such

Pain is the work that needs to be done. The choice that faces us all is whether to buckle down to it or avoid it. Most, of course, chose avoidance. We engineer an anodyne life that backgrounds pain in the hope that pleasure will come forward. But, to the soul, such a life is clearly false because painkillers reduce our ability to feel anything – they dampen the spirit. Hence depression – an inability to grasp the bull by the horns because letting go, walking away and becoming busy with something else is always presented as such a tempting option.
What motivates? Fundamentally, for me, a deep deep desire for justice. So deep, so fundamental, that the word hasn't formed yet. A wordless world. An egoless world. Paradise.


"As soon as we stop paying attention to a particular moment it falls into the past and no longer forms part of our present. Thus the distinction between past and present is fluid and dependent upon one's level of attention."
When solitude is disturbed, loneliness sneaks in.
Genteel poverty.

Every model is provisional – waiting to be displaced by the next instance of brain chemistry alteration. Reality is in relationships, not in things, per se. Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone.
What motivates? At least once a month this should be pondered.
I met Rupert Sheldrake a few times back in the mid 80's. His wife Jill Purce was a friend of a friend. He was terribly Oxbridge (probably still is). On one occasion he asked me what I did.
"That's all?"
"But Taiji's just something you do for ten minutes in the morning isn't it?"
Despite his sensitivity and his remarkable ability to think creatively, he couldn't step out of his class conditioning for the life of him.
Challenge reality with the intensity of your spirit, and it willingly responds with the gift of an event. Disgust reality with selfish demands and it will treat you with the contempt you deserve (by either giving you what you want or not giving you what you want, it matters little).


The present moment is not simply richer but enlivened by full spirited participation. This is what we mean by giving – nothing to do with being nice or helpful.

Meditation strives to use spirit to create time. This is its paradox. Even though sitting still, seemingly passive, your heightened awareness becomes pure activity in its intensity and presence – what Blake called Imagination – and this activity ignites the ever elusive present moment into presence. Such moments then endure as long as there is spirit to fuel them.
The only way to access the present moment is through spirit. In a sense this defines spirit – spirit is the energy of the ever unfolding yet infinitesimally thin present moment.
If you receive the grace of great teaching and yet refuse to give it due respect by taking it into regular practice, then it will, in all likelihood, end up doing more harm than good, if only because you'll have the external experience – so will think you know – and yet nothing has been internalised.
If we were to experience the full glory of the present moment then the shock would consume and as likely kill us. This is the sense in which spirit makes life by bringing to death.
It's not only the words that need to stop – the voices – but the images too. Being awake means entering the realm of pure perception.


Generally what needs to change is not what you do but how you do it.


Time starts now.
Whilst busy thinking, chattering, worrying, you cannot be aware of the flows and forces operating upon you, externally or internally. Every now and then one of these messages is strong enough to dredge you from your stupor and for a short time you marvel at the richness of reality, only to succumb yet again to the seduction of self absorption. This is the way – bouncing ever to and fro – until something in you breaks and you no longer expect the best of both worlds.
"I care not where my body may take me as long as my soul is embarked on a meaningful journey."
Rational thought, we are told, developed in Greece, amongst the idle rich, pampered by fledgling democracies which functioned because over half the population were slaves. Little did they know that they were unleashing upon the world the means of their own enslavement.

All or nothing.
Consider a tall man – his relations with the world. To partake, his head bows forward, eyes look down, heart drops, groin pulls back: all of which have a terrible effect on spirit, and so, on life. A warrior, on the other hand, is short, relatively: small but central, centred, in the midst of giants and ogres. Head pulled back, eyes wide open, heart cast up, groin thrust forward: leading with purple glans through the cosmic vagina (Castaneda's phrase) of time, and ever into living presence.
The rational mind operates from above by looking down upon a world and making judgements. It's use demands the sacrifice of root, the source not only of physical power but also creative power – heart and intention (true mind).


"The heavens call to you, and circle about you, displaying to you their eternal splendors, and your eye gazes only to earth."

all the antitheses with which timid mediocrity attempts to split the world
The trouble with learning to quieten the mind is that then the company of those with undue internal noise, which of course is the vast majority of humanity, becomes tiresome and tiring in the extreme. This is your burden – to bear the other's suffering with compassion and impeccability – to maintain peace of mind in the midst of their disturbance – to swallow them whole with a heart that cannot do otherwise.
The mind quietens so heart can take centre stage. But ego always waits in the wings, ready to throw in its critical tuppence worth.


"There are not only two worlds, but three: the world of vision, the world of sight and the world of memory: the world we create, the world we live in and the world we run away to. The world of memory is an unreal world of reflection and abstract ideas; the world of sight is a potentially real world of subjects and objects; the world of vision is a world of creators and creatures."
Tense hips (repression) and tense shoulders (anxiety) indicate one far more embedded in their own world (internal or social) than the real external world of flows and forces. A teacher kick-starts the long, slow process of relaxation so that reality can get inside and erode these tensions.

"Without unceasing Practice nothing can be done: Practice is Art. If you leave off you are lost."
Spiritual work amounts to training spirit and body to move naturally in opposite directions.
Careful not to believe your own publicity – you'll appear both full of yourself and foolish.
I have a student here who also takes rowing lessons with the top rowing instructor in Israel. Apparently, one particularly grueling lesson, she exclaimed, "Good God, why am I doing this!" to which he replied, "To make your lungs and your heart strong. And when they are strong everything in your life changes."
"The imagination is not a state: it is the human existence itself."

to the eye of a man with jaundice all things appear yellow
One little secret I've discovered along the Way is the use of yerba mate tea to stimulate the correct sort of elastic tension in mind and body, a tension – intention – without which spirit can be neither gathered internally nor directed externally. Coffee doesn't have the elasticity, without which there is no fluidity to directed movement; no energy, only force.
Body is the instrument with which to develop and project spirit.
Without a heart ever lifting to God, the heavy, relaxed shoulders of Taiji will bow you down and, eventually, under.
The most treasured moments are those of simple solitude. Richly attended by ancestors and angels. That's when infinity gets close.


"Francine, let's never let a silly thing like love come between us again!"
Working hard to get stronger is a straightforward if not easy matter. But working so hard that you get weaker takes a certain type of crazy courage, without which softness – that rarest of qualities – forever eludes.
"At the dawn of history we lost something precious, the absence of which has made us ill with narcissism."
The master, above all else, offers a path with heart, a path into heart. To take the path requires a transmission of energy, and a mountain of work. Poignantly, there is no room for passengers, despite the depth of your affections. Gradually all ties to the world are severed, and it passes you by, rather than vice versa.


And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love

Every thing possible
to be believed is an
image of truth.
Problems arise when you fail to go all the way. As well as letting yourself down, you miss the natural return – the inevitable bounce back.
A creature of habit really appreciates an event.


Fraught, frayed, frightened, frazzled. Spirit always leaves at least one of these. Inevitable residue, similar to muscle ache the day after exercise. Par for the course.
Where on Earth is all this going? Wish I knew. Actually glad I don't. Sure I'd chicken out.

Reflective thought is only bad if it distances you from life, if it packages and discards – consumes – like the professional tourist ticking off destinations. Reflection can be creative – it can create an event of foresight – but then this must be worked with like a Trojan – or Spartan – before transformation is effected.
Make rather than take. This is a principle that operates on the level of perception.
Much better to talk with spirit than about spirit.
Conversation with my teacher about 30 years ago:
"How are you feeling?"
"Not too good – think I'm coming down with the flu."
"Ah, sign of progress!"
"Well you have to think that otherwise it wont be."
Strictly Speaking All Knowledge is Particular.

Meditation brings you to a place of peace so that you can let yourself fall apart.
"The sources of art are enthusiasm and inspiration: if society mocks and derides these, it is society that is mad, not the artist, no matter what excesses the latter may commit."


Millennia ago we sold our soul to the devil – traded it for an ego, a sense of self. Now we must go through hell to trade it back. And that journey is a becoming porous if not transparent; allowing energy to flow through each and every pore; holding on to nothing; becoming light.
A real teaching has two parts: an external form which the student struggles to internalize, and an internal transmission that slowly – as the decades roll by and the practice accrues – externalizes. But don't expect many to notice.
Talking, writing, teaching – all a struggle to understand. Once it's understood you know to keep quiet.

"These days a regular guy can't afford to be regular."
Instead of going into therapy to talk about your problems, in the vain and vague hope that they'll quietly go away, work with them: grapple with them, wrestle them, fashion them into a machine, a weapon, with which to burrow through the veil of crass convention that envelops everything nowadays, and into the heart of reality.


"If you ever manage to quieten your mind then the shit will really hit the fan."
John Kells

Something my teacher growled at me many years ago. And it's because there is absolute dissonance between reality as is, revealed only when the mind stops, and the world constructed by that mind, which is basically a fabric of social and personal neuroses.


"From wretch to warrior, love gives a man his strength, often at the cost of his mind."
The courage to walk into battle knowing it's your last. A tall order.

No matter
what it is
I’m doing

I’ve never yet
got over the

I’m pretending
to do what
I am.

John Phillips


Courage is finding the will to overcome your fear.


"It is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought."
Mind must be dislodged from its rational perch, dismantled piece by piece, then reassembled with a natural inclination for energy rather than thought. This is basically a descent into madness followed by an ascent into sainthood.
In moving be conscious of what you displace. Swimming in air.