25.7.17

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.

24.7.17

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

22.7.17

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

21.7.17

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!
Amen.

20.7.17

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

19.7.17

embrace the heretical imperative

18.7.17

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

17.7.17


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.

16.7.17

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.

15.7.17

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

14.7.17

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.

13.7.17


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.

12.7.17

"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.

11.7.17

one sings in order to get away from explanation

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

10.7.17

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."

8.7.17

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

7.7.17


"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.

6.7.17

"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.

5.7.17

useless thoughts spoil all

4.7.17

"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.'"

3.7.17

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

2.7.17

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."

1.7.17

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