Nature Is Senseless And Straight

Nature hears not the crackle of microphones nor the static they produce

It hears just the crackle of burning trees and the fire in our hearts

Nature is blind to pictures we paint in numbers and words

It sees not if it’s a suit, sari or school uniform that plants trees and tends on growth

Nature feels not the anger and injustice as we trade insults, fairy tales and need to be right

It feels, rather, the harmony of caring, the beauty in hearts and results of straight action

Nature smells not the stench of deceit nor the odour of obfuscation

It smells only the spade in earth, the hand-held hose and the smile of gathered people

Nature cannot taste the barren dust of a sponsored lie nor the salty phlegm of a guilt-sown promise

It tastes but the soft-sweet balm of community action, the tongue-tingling smile of unfettered love

We have no lies to tell Nature for they but bounce and echo in our cavernous guts

They harden our veins, divide our trust and steal our spirit

To Nature there is but straight action, grass-roots community and the flourishing love of growth

All else, two leggeds, is clouds of empty ash floating by verdant streams and forests

You may crackle your microphones and bend your rotting throats, vainly imagining It believes you

You may stomp and wail your pretty proofs, you’re I’m-right-and-they’re-wrong protestations

Nature, though, takes no heed of speeches nor hopes, white coats nor suits

It heeds but hand-held spades, watering hoses and the scorch of straight-hearted action

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Where The Moddle Hawkes Fly

Where the wind meets the sun, in a flat-sea horizon, there flies the majestic moddle hawk. They are not rare, these moddle hawks, but they’re seldom seen.

The few who have seen these swooping flysters, red feathered paint brushes swiping the sky with invisible ink … yes, the few who have seen them have not the courage to tell of this for unbelievers can be brutal in word and deed.

Indeed, some seers of the moddle hawk have been harshly ridiculed and, even, shunned by life-long friends who only see what they expect to see.

Seers, on the other hand, have limitless possibilities in their pockets and expect nothing … or, should we say, expect something from the nothing from which they’re birthed. They expect to be surprised, to be proved wrong and to be uplifted by that which they didn’t know existed.

Where the moddle hawks scorch their lazy wings on a burnished sky is where the sparkles fly, the fireworks glisten.

On the second Tuesday of a week-long week there’ll be those who know, those with patient eyes and naïve hearts will see the sparks of a thousand exotic colours and the odours of dandelion soup and garlic custard or hear a giant’s chuckle and an angel’s whisper.

Not for the cynics or the geniuses, these soft-felt caresses of the soul. ‘Tis only for the childish, the dreamer, the meek and mild will inherit the craving for silence of a thousand waves. For the poets, singers and carers …

Not for the punishers and controllers, the contrivers and pamperers, do these softly hinting tongues of God speak. No, ‘tis not for the faint hearted obeyers of avarice and laws. No, ‘tis only in defenceless anarchy do the misty soldiers of peace belong.

Yes, we say, put away your white coats, black suits and throttling ties. Just for a moment, we say, just for a moment. Put away your lounge’s box of programming, your rules of engagement and emerge as if from your mother’s loins – awake, aware and awestruck. Silent, serious then silly. Turn down your duties, diaries and demands. Go shake your friend, take their hand and walk barefoot in the tantalising grass and look where you’ve never looked before.

Up.

Up where the moddle hawks paint the sky you’ll see their words as the invisible ink dribbles down the cloud-free page and washes the sinking sun. You’ll see the thousand unseen colours. You’ll smell the dandelion soup and garlic custard and know – for just this moment – the breath of God is with you.

Is you.

This story is from My Whispering Teachers, available here.

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Life Snuck Up When I Least Expected Her

I wasn’t paying attention. No, not really. Just taking one day at a time, alternatively planning and worrying about the next step. Then giving up and just living. Just doing it.

And then She snuck up on me. Unbidden. Unhidden.

Lying on my yoga mat in a class of eleven others and the teacher – ooh, already it’s sounding weirdly sacred – and I started to chuckle … quietly chuckle inwardly as we were in complete silence. In shivasana, the pose of Shiva, the god of destruction and renewal, the coffin pose, on our backs, relaxed and with closed eyes, I felt Life move into me. She smiled. I smiled. Then I chuckled. I still chuckle, a week later.

You see, I had done several personal development workshops as both participant and as facilitator. Often, in these, we are asked (or ask) to write down our perfect day. The step-by-step, minute-by-minute activities and feelings we would have in our perfect day.

Mine usually started at 5.30 am, rising in peace and curiosity, yoga from 6.00 to 7.00, my favourite breakfast, writing for an hour or more, coffee and chat with friend(s) from 10.00 to 11.00ish, lunch with my partner, an open afternoon in which I can choose work or play … and on it goes, with all the juicy, positive feelings in each moment.

When I wrote those perfect days, way back when, I hungered and thirsted for perfect days and they never happened. Then I got on with life, daily life, life with its ups and downs, trials and triumphs. Meaningless life, dutiful life, that served the purpose of filling the time between The Entrance and The Exit. It was joyful, sad, funny, stressful, calm, panicked and everything in between … just life, ordinary life for an ordinary person.

Then, as I lay in that coffin pose, emptying my mind of its ordinariness, an extraordinary little thing happened. I realised I was living my perfect day, every day. I didn’t always have coffee with a friend but I could have. I didn’t always have my favourite breakfast but I could have. I had slipped into my perfect day, unknowingly.

Life delivered my perfect day to me long before I realised She’d done it. She’d snuck up, handed me the perfect day and I’d gone on living, oblivious to the magic I’d eased into.

So, thanks for the day, Life. Thanks for it every day. My greatest act of gratitude, I imagine, is a heart-felt, belly-felt chuckle. How entirely unaware can we be? How grateful can I be? As chuckly grateful as I am every day. Perfect!

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My Inappropriate PTSD

“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry,” she said between convulsions of laughter, trying to hold retain professional pose. I kept assuring her it was okay and the laughter grabbed her again and she rocked and chortled and apologised between gasps and eye wiping. I kept assuring her it was fine, I was fine, laughter was okay. In fact, it was so good to have laughter around me, bouncing off the walls, as I’d had so little over the last few years.

Of course, one doesn’t expect to have one’s psychologist laughing uproariously at you but, well, it was damned good therapy for us both.

I was seeing her because I’d had to give up work. I just couldn’t cope with it any more. Years of abusive and callous bosses, heaped on top of sustained childhood abuse, and my cold, hard iceberg had finally melted.

She’d diagnosed me as “on the edge of Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder (PTSD)”, something that those in war zones suffer from. Mine was less intense than a soldier’s but lengthy – 50 years on and off. The childhood trauma went until I left home at eleven but it was still in my psyche. It was then added to with every visit home and with later actions from afar. The employers in New Zealand and England seemed to be a caring lot and it was a shock to come to Australia and to be treated so dismissively, so untrustingly, so inhumanly – so like I was as a child. I was back in my four-year-old body.

It all just rose up as one congealed lump of trauma around the same time I found out about the effects and treatments of PTSD, and when Anna, my wife, found a local psychologist who used a particular treatment for it – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

You see, trauma goes into our bodies and stays there, building up till we release it. Animals do it naturally – when they’ve had a fright, they will quiver till the trauma goes. They will then, typically, take three deep breaths and return to normal.

So, EMDR, developed by Francine Shapiro from 1987, helps the client to release the trauma through body movement … quite bizarre body movement at times, I discovered!

Humans are the same but appear to be unable to release the trauma with the quivering. We seem to need help with that or else hold on to the trauma, infecting every aspect of our lives – relationships, work, finances, sense of self worth, confidence, peace, happiness and so on.

There were pains in my stomach (upper and lower), burps, heavy breathing, shooting pains in the head, shivers up my spine, little men in my shoulders, pushing them apart, phlegm and coughing, air trying to escape but restricted by something in my throat – all manner of painful, weird and shivery feelings.

To the onlooker – my psychologist – I was undergoing immense pain, along with the most grotesque and comical facial expressions and bodily flailings. Though she’d treated many patients – ex-servicemen, prisoners and others – this was just the second time she’d been hit with uncontrolled fits of laughter.

It may be inappropriate in the psychology manuals for a psychologist to laugh at her patient but, for me, it was fine. In fact, it was great. My life had been a flat-line grey for the last six years, in Australia, and joy was a more than welcome intrusion in that pallid greyness.

What I learned – apart from releasing trauma and feeling better – is that we cannot prescribe appropriate and inappropriate responses. If we let ourselves go, without prescription, our natural responses are always appropriate and healing.

On fact, if we let ourselves go – as animals do when traumatised – and let the body shake out the trauma, we just might have more healthy humans and communities.

I quiver at the thought of the possibilities …

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The Meaning Is Not 42. It’s … 0

The question was, “What is the meaning of life?” The answer to the question is not 42. The answer is 0. The answer is zero. Nada. Zilch. Not anything. Nothing.

Life has no meaning, no reason whatsoever.

Life is an empty crystal bowl – empty and waiting for your input.

You invite friends around for coffee and need something to put the sugar in. You choose your crystal bowl and your friends exclaim, “What a beautiful sugar bowl!” Then it’s your child’s birthday and you fill your beautiful crystal bowl with sweets and people exclaim, “What a beautiful sweets bowl!” Then you’re entertaining guests for dinner and you use your crystal bowl for the dessert strawberries and your guests exclaim, “What a beautiful fruit bowl!”

The bowl, of itself, is simply a bowl full of nothing. Nada. Zilch. Not anything. Nothing. But you and your visitors define it by what you’ve popped in it. Like your beautiful crystal bowl, life is simply life, simply an emptiness into which you pop your meaning. Today your meaning is happiness, tomorrow it’s sadness, the next day it’s … well, it’s whatever you decide to pop in it.

  • If you think life is unsafe, it is unsafety that you have filled your bowl of life with.
  • If you think life is joyful, it is joy that you have filled your bowl of life with.
  • If you think the meaning of life is to be a good Christian or Buddhist then Christianity or Buddhism is what you have filled your bowl of life with.
  • If you think the meaning of life is to avenge your race’s or your culture’s persecutors, it is revenge that you have filled your bowl of life with.
  • If the meaning of your life is to rid the world of homosexuals, tyrants or skate-boarders, then it is that which you have filled your bowl of life with.
  • If the meaning of your life is to give compassion and love to underdogs, then it is love and compassion that you have filled your bowl of life with.

Some people are confronted, depressed and/or angry at finding that life is meaningless. However, a smile returns to their faces when they realise that their life is what they popped in there … and, therefore, they can change it! They are not stuck with a bowl of mud when they want a sugar bowl.

We’re all in the same empty bowl, a bowl called life. Our bowls just look different for we’ve each popped different things in them … some have pooped in their bowl and some have popped in it!

You can tell me the meaning you’ve popped into your bowl of life but I cannot see, touch, smell or taste that meaning. It has little impact on me. However, the meaning I’ve put into the bowl of life is important for me as I can sense it in every way and it’s with me every moment of my life. Yours is only before me when you tell me and when you go away, so does your meaning, to me.

So, like a previous blog – The Problem With The World … – we live in different worlds. The same empty, meaningless life but different worlds, depending on what meaning we’ve popped (or pooped) into our empty bowls.

So, our exercise – yes, I must take my own advice – is to simply observe what we have popped into our bowl of life. We don’t need to change it. We just observe. We’re disinterested onlookers, watching a pair of birds squabbling. We watch, smile, grimace and let what we see be there. Do nothing. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Not anything. Nothing.

Try it. It’s fun!

Life Rejuvenated is available by clicking here.

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Yoga, Tea and Conversations with All

“It’s like a conversation with bodies,” Mabel explained when I asked her how she planned and remembered the full sequence of a yoga session. “I have practised it, over and over, and know how it feels for me. Then I must be present to you and your bodies. I observe how they’re moving and what these movements are saying to me. I might adjust my plan for there will be a group conversation, a group body request, to do this a little more, that a some less. Maybe add something I hadn’t planned.”

She started with practise, practise and more practise. It was so ingrained it became her. She became it. Then she let it go so, in a sense, it wasn’t about yoga. It wasn’t about the individual asanas (poses). It then became about the group’s silent and subtle request, a request she would not have heard had she not practised, had she not taken it past memory and into her very essence.

Without the strain and focus on memory, she could let herself be fully with us. She was beyond thinking. She was having a conversation just as you and I do with close friends over a coffee. No words are contrived or planned. They fall as the moment arises, as the conversation rises and falls, changes and loops back on itself.

Later in the session, Mabel told us about a tea ceremony she attended in Japan, this time last year. The older woman entered the room with a strong, gentle presence. She was there without fanfare yet fully the master of the room, quietly obedient to everyone. It was not so much that it was done in slow motion but that it was done in flow motion, as if the ladle directed her to pick it up, the leaves directed her to scoop and pour them, the water directed her to release it into the pot. It wasn’t about the tea any more. It wasn’t about the individual movements. It became a conversation with the implements, ingredients and the people in the room.

The true master, it seems, has practised, practised and practised and, having gone beyond memory, is no longer aware of their own actions. Through the complete mastery of the art, the art itself then takes us to the presence of others, to the wishes of others, to the conversations of others.

The master becomes so much the master that she is now the servant of all. The circle is complete.

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The Guilty Rest

“You need to move out of your comfort zone,” he said and I wondered why. “Because you can’t just stay where you are.” I wondered again. “Well, what’s the purpose if we’re not here to evolve?”

“So, the label on the box when you were born said he must evolve, did it?” I asked, curious.

“Well, not really …”

“So, is it etched in the sky or the soles of your feet that you must eternally change and move out of whatever comfort zone you’re in?”

“No, but you can’t stay where you are, can you?”

“Why not?”

“Well, you just can’t.”

We can’t just stay in our comfort zones and yet, when we do, there’s no bolt of lightening through our heart, the earth doesn’t stop spinning and the sun comes up tomorrow.

In yoga – as in life – there are yang sessions and there are yin sessions.

Yang sessions are about extending ourselves, pushing ourselves beyond present limits. Yang sessions can be sweaty, aerobic (lots of panting) and we generally move from asana (pose) to asana to asana in quick succession, constantly on the move.

Yin sessions are about accepting ourselves as we are, about discovering where we’re at and acknowledging that. In an hour we might do six to ten asanas, holding each for a longer time, being with the extent of our bodies, being present to our limits and melting into the peace that comes with that.

And, yes, there is this current fad of getting out of our comfort zones and, if we’re not, there’s something wrong with us. Like all fads, though, it will fade.

There’s value in extending ourselves, learning new talents, discovering new lands, overcoming fears. Huge value.

However, if we’re constantly doing that, we’re always on edge, always at tipping point, always slightly off balance. It’s exciting, intoxicating and it can be addictive.

Remember, though, the reason for addictions is to avoid the inner (and illusory) fears and guilts that we carry everywhere with us. We can run but we can’t hide – they follow us from womb to tomb.

We need the excitement at times and we need to come back to balance – yin and yang.

The most fearful thing for a human is to be placed in solitary confinement with no sensory input – a dark and soundproof room.

And yes, deprived of outer input, we can still and own our inner fears. We can befriend and release them.

The way of stillness gives us balance, acceptance and maturity and a greater strength with which to slay all those dragons out there.

You see, even God had a rest on the seventh day. Why not us?

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