This is the front cover of the first book I ever bought with my own money (Rider & Co, 1969)
This is the front cover of the first book I ever bought with my own money (Rider & Co, 1969)
This extract from the Facebook page of Mani Ridgley shows how the reality of people’s suffering may be artistically represented through words accompanied by a few visual images.
Even amongst the wild beauty of rural Guatemala, the magnificence of La Ceiba has captivated human imagination for thousands of years. It was the tree of life for ancient Maya, their axis mundi that connected earthly beings with the spiritual realms. Its mystical significance has been passed down through generations of Maya, preserved in narratives that emphasise profound affinities between all elements in the natural world.
Today, these sacred trees stand in the heartlands of extractive capitalism, rooted in the plantations of rich landowners of European descent. The privatisation of land swept Guatemala during the late-1800s coffee boom when the state sold swathes of traditionally Maya territory to wealthy immigrants, many German and British, for coffee production.
Attempts at land redistribution in the 1950s by a democratically elected government were thwarted by a CIA-backed military coup. Today, 65% of land is owned by 2.5% of commercial producers.
The Ceiba trees pictured above stand tall within a vast palm oil plantation in the Polochic Valley. Out of fear or respect for local Maya, plantation owners often leave Ceiba trees standing whilst decimating the surrounding ecosystem.
These palm plantations notoriously suck water away from local villages whilst wrecking the natural equilibrium that once evolved in harmony with indigenous groups. Ironically, private property signs dotted around the plantations remind the local Maya to care for their environment.
The signs also prohibit the impoverished locals from hunting or fishing. To feed their families, they are dependent on employment from the plantation owners. Those ‘lucky’ enough to have a full-time job work 50 hours a week for a minimal wage. In a month, Guatemala will hold national elections, but there is little optimism that government will effect change. Exploiting land and people is common sense for Guatemalan elites.
The future of our planet may depend upon the ancestral Maya understanding of humans being in nature, but for now, at least, it is business as usual.
Below is a wonderful presentation regarding the fact that suffering is a universal condition of the human race until such time as it is realised that the answer to our quandary lies in our own hands.
This is why I write.
This post is an addition to the earlier LOVE post to try and clarify a few points regarding the Key of LOVE and how its deeper meaning may be revealed to the enquirer.
Arguably, like a Rorschach test, it reveals as much about the observer as it does about the universe. After all, one cannot immediately transcend one’s own understanding (except at certain key moments along the way). It takes time and effort to analyse certain circumstances – especially when they are encountered for the first time – and the internal powers of comprehension often judder, even grind to a halt, when an original paradigm is presented in an unusual form.
A common misunderstanding about the KoL arises when someone remarks that it is only applicable to the English language, since the word ‘love’ is written differently in other languages. The ‘written’ point is important. Not only is the word a different one, but quite possibly so will be the alphabet (if there is one, since some other symbol may be used, for example the Chinese pictogram 愛). प्यार is the Hindi, and любовь is the same word written in Russian.
But, letters are of course symbols more than anything else, more so even than whole words.
So, L may stand for other things, like 100 as a Roman numeral, or it could stand for ‘litre’ or so forth.
That is the first thing: LOVE is a symbol of the entire universe, in this instance.
Next, there is nothing new in having a word stand in for a whole different concept of meaning.
Actually, a word like ‘love’ has many different and nuanced meanings even in common discourse.
Let’s look at Gematria, the system used to elucidate further and more profound meaning from words written in the Greek and Hebrew alphabets. Dating from Babylonian times, letters are ascribed numbers and when these numbers are put together they take on a particular meaning, with correlating number systems then being associated with other words and sentences. LOVE in Jewish Gematria comes out as 775, a number which correlates with the phrase Holy Father of All. But that’s only one example and has no actual bearing on any understanding imbued by the Key of Love. It is simply to show how people sometimes invent meaning.
Another aspect of gaining deeper understanding through alphabetic symbols is demonstrated in the study of Kabbala, where Hebrew letters create increasingly profound layers of meaning and comprehension. Because in this system Hebrew is considered to be a sacred language a great many rabbinical exegeses have been compiled concerning the words and sentences that go to make up the Jewish religious texts. Again, this manner of trying to gain deeper comprehension [of God, in their ancient realisation] is not directly applicable to the KoL because there is no religious purpose associated with LOVE here. Only mystical reasoning.
However, the Key of Love may be viewed as a kind of condensed cabbalistic diagram greatly distilled from the seraphic Tree of Life.
And many people are familiar with the figure of Christ being referred to the ‘Alpha and Omega’ – which is to say the Α and Ω.
Also, there is a lot of playfulness incorporated in the Key of Love, along with the notion of using the letters as pictograms. Understanding doesn’t have to be dour and tedious; plus the idea of suffering may be particularly enhanced in the Jesus Christ figure and experience of the last two thousand years, and may not be so applicable to other eras and cultures. Think Krishna – a precursor to the Christ – and his joy of life as he wanders through ancient India playing his pipe, dancing and generally having a great time with all the gopis who find him so attractive.
So, L is in E (which is to say, the Logos is found – or manifests – in Earth). This is true, and is truly profound because it means that on earth it is possible to comprehend the very origin of existence. Look again at the written statement and you can see clearly that L is indeed found (contained) in the letter E. Just remove the top two cross-hatches.
Similarly L is in V…just tilt the letter L…and see!
Just as E contains all three levels: spiritual, mental, material, again with its cross-hatches interlinked with the vertical… Which may be compared to the human spine and from there the seven chakras and the raising of the kundalini which is itself both a material, mental and material manifestation of mystical enlightenment…
The soul, after sufficient incarnations, begins to understand the reason for its cyclic return to the earthly realm and in preparation for its next conscious life considers where the best possible opportunities for development and learning will occur – and chooses accordingly.
Sometimes it’s not obvious and only extended periods of contemplation and meditation bring about this wakening.
So that in my twenties I was trying to work out what it was about being born and raised in south Bucks that could make my present – and, now I know – final incarnation occur in this region. There is more to say about this, but for now…
I mean, there’s nothing obviously remarkable about the area whatsoever.
But then again –
John Hampden – after whom my abhorrent secondary school was named – was an English Civil War hero, on the side of the Parliamentarians against Charles I, born in Great Hampden, a village where my nan used to walk to, after hitching up with my Bucks born grandad, from her house in Widmer End to work in a big property there. Maybe one of John Hampden’s descendants. Times change, after all.
Our little family often went to Hampden woods on Sunday afternoons for a picnic on the grass beside the beeches, where we’d play badminton and take long walks amongst the trees and honey-suckle.
We’ve got the best music-makers in Bucks, otherwise known as – birds!
To walk through a summer meadow in the hot Bucks sunshine and listen to a skylark singing three-hundred feet up in the air is to be transcended into another realm, as Percy Bysshe Shelley discovered…
Waking or asleep
Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep
Than we mortals dream,
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?
… while trudging through Bucks farmland on the edge of some woods on a freezing cold sleety day in winter and hearing the cawing of the crows is to experience an inner desolation you would hardly think imaginable. Such is Bucks music. Along with the silences.
Poet and political writer, John Milton, was also a staunch Parliamentarian during the Civil War and, in particular, a real champion concerning FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Anne and I visited the cottage where he lived one rainy afternoon a couple of years ago when I wasn’t feeling too good because of blocked Chi energy resulting from an enervating lifestyle and subsequent iron overload in my liver (after stopping at the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden High St, above which we had lived for a while when it had been a shop). Milton’s Paradise Lost is probably the best known poetic composition in the entire English language canon.
All the more odd then, that for as long as I’ve known the area it has always voted in the blue anti-proletarian Tory Party.
Actually, conservatism and affluence generally go hand in hand, it seems.
If I head north from Naphill Common towards High Wycombe I pass through Benjamin Disraeli’s old pile in Hughgenden – the Manor, NT owned, where I worked on a ridiculous government-funded Manpower scheme for the unemployed back in the eighties – now rebranded to reflect its use by the UK Air Ministry during WW2 (and in whose grounds stands St Michael’s and All Saints church where my mum’s funeral service was held at the start of this year); if I go in the other direction, walking through Lord Dashwood’s property and more NT land, then I quickly come upon Strike Command – previously Bomber Command from where Sir Arthur Harris, 1st Baronet (no less) launched the RAF’s campaign against German civilians during the same war, most notoriously in Dresden. Go east through the woods down to the dene and pretty soon there is Flowers Bottom where my great-aunt Ishbel – daughter of the UK’s first Labour PM Ramsay MacDonald – ran the Plow Inn with my great-uncle Norman before his death; while going westerly leads eventually to the start of the Vale of Aylesbury road, West Wycombe village with its Hellfire caves and up to St Lawrence church with its golden ball atop the spire, and an amazing view of the Chiltern Hundreds.
Stanley Spencer and his Cookham paintings depicting the Resurrection are nearby; not to mention the notorious Eric Gill up at Piggot’s Hill where my grandad worked in the pigsty, and his forbears sawed logs in the local forest after gravitating from Stokenchurch/Radnage/West Wycombe, and where our family reunion takes place every year now. In the woods hangs a carving of the crucified Christ made in Gill’s workshop there.
Right now there’s a plaque recovered from the local museum hung on the exterior wall of the old Methodist church building at the bottom of the slope where an annual commemoration concerning old Uncle Charlie from Bryants Bottom in the dene below is to become an annual event.
Our family is making its mark in the area once again. In favour of yet more war imperialism, now twenty-first century British-style, unfortunately. The exaltation of a dead man in the shade of a dead empire might appear somewhat necrophilic to some.
When my mum used to take me in with her occasionally to her job in Beaconsfield we’d drive past Enid Blyton’s old place and I’d always look out for hobgoblins, elves and the like prancing on the large front garden. Didn’t see them often, though.
Or, at least, not often enough.
Another house we drove past belonged to Karl Popper, the philosopher of science and my favourite writer from the twentieth-century, but I didn’t realise he was living and working there at the time; I was more interested in the pond where we’d skate when it froze over in the wintertime, or the strangely hollowed-out trees that we’d climb in summer. Not to mention John Ives’ bike shop along the connecting road.
Bicycles and trees and the overhead sky were – and still are – big parts of my life, as the various injuries, scars and memories testify to the present day.
My home village dates back at least to Anglo-Saxon times and has the meaning of ‘hazel by the pond’ – Hazlemere.
Trees, water, sky, bird-song, agriculture, philosophy, art, politics, war, peace, mysticism – FREEDOM TO THINK, is what the Bucks area immediately conjures up for me.
When I ran out of puff and grey matter in London in my twenties – a casualty of post-punk excesses – south Bucks and its woods was the place I turned to for my complete rehabilitation.
Over the undulating Chiltern Hills covered in ancient beech forest and under the big Vale of Aylesbury skies I walked and wrote and pondered – inspired by the names and places mentioned above. While doing so I saw a whole world emerging in my mind, one of common people living out their lives in dignity and freedom and mystical union…which had to be arranged on paper so that others could share in this vision also.
Until, at last, I had all the ideas put in order…and further…in one joyous upsurge felt the innermost whole of the harmonious universe mingle and merge finally as one full-on spout of experience inside the centre of my being before exploding out again to encompass existence in its love-filled entirety…
All under a south Bucks sky.
So, for me at least, my beloved tree-concealed corner of this 13-billion year old universe residing in south Bucks…is, obviously, special.
Love is the force emanating from eternity which creates the entire universe.
We can show how this force is in fact all universal reality thus:
If we then add
It can be revealed how perfect knowledge of the universe is possible to the human being.
L is the Logos – or origination – which contains the essential seed of everything and from which all being grows and develops.
O is the symbol for eternity out of which all being is originally created and back into which all being must return.
V is the vortex – vortices – which form all the different possible facets from mind to mineral inherent in the Logos.
E is this Earth where all the vortices of the universe are manifested or can be known within the limits of extended human perception.
R is the Reflector, the purified human being which reflects the entire cosmos contained within the key of LOVE, inwardly and outwardly.
It is important to know that the universe loves you and cares for your being: that all existence is based on love, that the universal consciousness exists prior to the earth (see above), that the universal consciousness responds to thoughts and acts of love, that the universe cannot carry or reproduce harmful thoughts or acts that may be produced by any individual mind or minds (which are retained by the self-same minds and processed through the law of Karma).
At any time of the day – although on waking or before sleeping is best – meditate and send out thoughts of love to those you already love, associates, perceived enemies, and abstractedly: start with your own circle and gradually spread these thoughts to encompass the whole world. You will quickly see the beneficial results, as will the rest of the world through evolution.
By returning thoughts of love to the universal mind you are setting up a positive feedback loop that will grow in power, developing creative thoughts and attracting beneficent outcomes to your actions; not only will you be changing yourself, but your thinking will be changing earthly conditions within the universe for the good.
This is something the Roerich family understood when they set up their institute halfway up the Kullu Valley in the Himalayas.
Their ideas and beliefs will be explored in a further post, as will those held by others.
There were some really nice moments in Naggar, as I had intuited there would be. Situated halfway up the Kullu valley in the foothills of the Himalayas, the air is perfectly clean and the views predictably spectacular. And then there are the people who live and come to stay there.
I’m not sure if you’d explain what happened to us there as ‘synchronicity’, or simply the logical outcome of deliberately fetching up in such a fabulous location – with the Roerich cultural centre just a few hundred metres up the road.
You can judge because this is how it was.
First, the yoga-teaching French Canadian guy Anton in his mid-twenties who I discovered reading Alice Bailey, even though he knew nothing about her, but whose Theosophical writings were clearly an inspiration to the Roerich’s at the time of their travels through Asia and settling down to maintain the Agni Yoga society in the village.
Not to mention the fact that the previous evening I’d been listening to a poorly-known and rarely-played piece by Todd Rundgren, ‘A Treatise on Cosmic Fire ‘, also based on the Englishwoman’s work. Admittedly, I was thoroughly aware of the connections and had deliberately chosen it to accompany the setting of the evening sun behind the distant snow-capped mountains…
Then there was Jean-Claude, travelling with his partner through India for the umpteenth time, who I got talking to over a bowl of porridge at the guesthouse next morning and discovered had a been a member of the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis at the very same time I had been actively involved. He informed us of his continuing belief in the appearance of Maitreya, the reincarnated Buddha and spiritual master spoken of by the Agni Yoga society, Theosophists and Rosicrucians. He provided us with photographs and literature concerning the imminent event which will augur peace and harmony on our Earth.
Two days earlier we had gone up to a rooftop restaurant in the village centre to place an order for fresh trout from the Beas river which flows through the valley to be prepared for our twenty-eighth wedding anniversary the coming weekend, and met a couple who were staying at the guesthouse. We promised to meet up and maybe visit the local Hindu temple. In the meantime, we teamed up with the restaurant-owner and his friend, who suggested we get together the following morning and take a day-long walk through the surrounding countryside. This invitation was extended to the couple we’d just met.
On the walk, we got talking and Ignaty – who is Russian and whose voice I thought perhaps I recognised – explained how he had left his job as a linguist at the prestigious St Petersburg university following the insertion of new academics by Putin and made his way to the UK in an attempt to try and make a living there. I really admired the manner in which he had overcome various adversities in order to do so. Among his many schemes was an original idea to write a set of mildly comical stories in everyday Russian that would help learners develop their language skills. In addition, he provided downloadable audio readings of the works.
Which was why I recognised his voice.
I had bought his books a couple of years earlier in an attempt to revive my languishing Russian language skills, would have brought one of them along for the journey if we had not had to be so insanely limited with our packing, but at least had the audio-scripts loaded on my laptop.
So now Ignat is moi russkii brat – my Russian brother, at least that’s how I think of him.*
Gilbert is a Frenchman who came to the village as a curious hippy some forty years earlier, married a local woman after winning over her family, and made a precarious living selling local handcrafts in Delhi, a twelve hour bus journey away, before setting up the guesthouse which has grown to accommodate his extended family, and which he now runs mainly with his daughter Eva.
Quite by chance, when the horrible news came through concerning Anne’s mother’s death and arrangements had to be made for our immediate return, Gilbert informed us that he was making his way to Delhi to meet a group of guests and so organised our Volvo bus seats and a place to stay until our flight was due.
The people we met in Naggar who lived there or were closely connected with the place were absolutely wonderful – the only reason that I won’t go into any more detail here (especially concerning both Manojes and Svetlana) is because I am certain we will all meet up again in the not-too-distant future and that will then be the cause of another, particular blogpost. I promise to make it special.
Travelling through India as a European you frequently come into contact with other Westerners seeking the state of ‘bliss’, a mental state they hope will come from performing yoga exercises, chanting and meditation.
Bliss-seeking might seem a very self-indulgent and typically 21st century pursuit. Nor does it come cheap.
£400 per day (+ travel expenses) is about the price you would pay for the privilege of attending an Eckhart Tolle 5-day retreat near New York in 2019. This is approximately £100 more than anyone earns in a whole week on the UK Minimum Wage rate. [£1=$0.77]
A typical 5/6-day retreat at an ashram in Rishikesh will cost you around £150, or about half the UK minimum weekly wage. Bear in mind, accommodation will be rudimentary and the food, while wholesome, costs the host very little to bring to the table. For example, an orange costs around 5 pence even from a market stall, while £1 buys a huge bag of rice or lentils. Plus, you may be expected to take on cleaning duties as part of your ‘karma yoga’! Also be aware that groups of around 50 people are typical, which amounts to £7500 going to the ashram, itself staffed in part by unpaid volunteers. Again, the attendee will have paid several hundred – if not thousands – of pounds in air flights and other fares simply getting to the place.
That anyone – let alone whole troupes of people – might think ‘bliss’ is a psychological condition there to be purchased seems quite amazing. And yet, in return for a financial transaction, there really is no shortage of individuals prepared to indulge you in your wish.
What kind of a world does a person inhabit whereby they pursue this mental state of ‘bliss’ as a goal?
Since when did any grouping of – already over-privileged – human beings ever believe they deserved anything of the kind?
Future posts will consider such questions.
Three framed photographs of different sizes and various hues stand on a shelf in the bungalow living room. All contain images of females. There is one of a pre-pubescent girl with ribbons in her hair holding a bag of sweets while standing in a wooded glade; another of a woman in her early fifties sitting classically at an angle on the edge of an armchair with clasped hands and face to camera; the third shows a woman in her eighties looking fresh in the obviously cold atmosphere around her donned in matching white woollen hat and scarf with dangling golden earrings. They all smile.
They are all dead, frozen in a pictured moment shortly before their passing.
They are my two sisters and mum.
Or, my dad’s two daughters and wife.
The females in our family, gone.
Which means of course that only Dad and I remain.
I arrived early back to the bungalow from a trip to India last week owing to another death, that of my mother-in-law.
In a strangely apposite manner you could stand another set of photographs in a mirror-like arrangement in the living room with my mother-in-law, wife and daughter complementing those already placed on the shelf.
So, back to my dad and me.
My first memory of him is as he runs down a beach in naked panic and I am sat beneath a candy-striped umbrella which is stuck in the sand. A day later I see him from the backseat of the Vauxhall car turning into our road with one family member less.
Then he goes a little bit AWOL, always working at the factory or out in the shed or all-night fishing in the river Thames with his brothers and workmates.
He disappears completely for long stretches, always returning with presents, until with a minute to spare – apparently – he narrowly avoids hauling us all north where I would have become something of a Scouser.
Instead, he takes me to watch midweek football games under the floodlights at Loakes Park where Wycombe Wanderers play their Isthmian League home ties against the likes of Slough Town, Walthamstow and Wealdstone, winning, losing and drawing in about equal measure. I can recall what must have been a cup game against Brentford, a professional team from nearby west London, who wore a strip of red-and-white striped shirts with black shorts and all eleven of them looked about a foot taller than our lot. We lost, I think, 1-4.
Brentford was where my grandad was serving as a policeman at the time he met my nan (who already had four children) and following some mysterious fire and an insurance claim they were able to buy the first ever family-owned property in Widmer End, where dad was brought up alongside eleven other assorted siblings. Having narrowly avoided the permanent trip north, he remains a south Bucks lad through and through. Like me, really.
During my teens we kind of lost touch with one other in some ways, although early on he always took me down to Cosy Corner on Friday evenings to buy paper-wrapped fish and chips to eat back at the house while mum visited one of her many Irish sisters. After this routine was discontinued – other than a pummelling he gave me for not cleaning my football boots – we didn’t re-connect until he imposed another bout of violence on me following a shop-lifting incident, this time using his fists and later claiming to mum that I had howled like a pig – which was pretty much true since I didn’t want to punch back because I knew that would be the end of our relationship forever and yet I wanted the violence to stop also.
We managed to stay friends and when my mates came over to the bungalow purchased not far from the house he never complained when we made a lot of noise and doused each other with cold water from the garden hose on hot summer days, or smoked drugs or…
Actually, the violence was always at his wife’s instigation.
Next up, I left home and we had some more argy-bargy when I returned briefly – again with my mother centre-ground – and that was pretty much it until I married and had a son of my own. Since dad was semi-retired by now we’d go up to the bungalow and the three of us play together in the garden until mum returned from her waitressing job at the nearby D’Israeli manor house.
Several years and one daughter later we moved to a place on Dartmoor and when Dad suffered his annual mental breakdown he’d come down to stay and he and I would take walks across the moor and on the coast until he was well enough and patched up and ready to go back for another round of normality at the south Bucks bungalow. Really, we were the best of pals.
Shared holidays were taken in Normandy and Kerala and then my remaining sister was diagnosed with cancer and things changed for the worse. Trying to help with her alternative treatments he wore himself out until the inevitable occurred, and his second daughter was prematurely laid to rest while he looked on in deep sadness.
A fissure arose and it wasn’t easy to understand why, although the usual suspects were always watching on from the background.
Mum’s illness, diagnosed after a fall during a trip to Switzerland, meant that he devoted himself entirely to her well-being and as he became immersed in her life so did his moods fluctuate accordingly.
We stayed in touch and of course I helped out where possible – but then…last Boxing Day mum passed away in hospital, so that dad and I rode back home in the car together; with this time just the two of us remaining.
So now, here we are in the bungalow for a while, Dad and me.
ONE-WAY TICKET TO NIRVANA
No Return Ticket Available on Arrival
Normal Terms and Conditions Apply
Listened to a podcast with Tony Robbins and an extremely fawning Russell Brand while flying back from Delhi yesterday, following the unexpected news of the death of my mother-in-law.
OMG, what a load of tosh, all this ‘success’ business.
Listen, all anyone has to do is follow their own inclination and be good to others. Everything else is baloney.
To hear these guys going at it with all their swear words and bonhomie and back-slapping was extremely nauseating. All that ‘taking control’ and ‘unleashing the power within’…to do what: make excessive amounts of money and be adored? Please!
For Nirvana departure details click below:
Reincarnation must be understood if human conditions are not to remain incomprehensible. By recognising the transitional process of reincarnation which occurs throughout the universe the individual realises how and why they exist as they do.
Each human life-cycle covers an average period of 144 years, during which time various changes can and do occur, depending on which the starting potential of the next earthly cycle begins. In theory, living a perfected life the human being would not physically transition before this time. In practice, each person self-destructs and has occasion to dwell on a non-physical plane of existence before being returned to earthly life once more, thereby creating further possibilities for attaining perfection according to universal law.
Which is precisely where karma comes into play.
There is no ‘good’ and ‘evil’. There are kind acts and there are harmful acts. The former benefit at least one other person while the latter harms at least one other person, either by omission or intent. Then there are multiples thereof. This is not difficult to understand or put into practice, since common sense examples abound from personal to national and international acts.
Karma is predicated on these principles. There is no universal revenge involved, only a desire for harmony based on a cause and effect scenario which continues until the perpetrator of acts carried out knowingly or otherwise accepts there are certain outcomes which follow.
Of course, a knowledge of what comprises the universe enables the individual participant to make informed choices.
For a start, the universe is created by a force called Love, which emerges from Eternity and sub-divides into positive and negative elements which then manifest and are maintained on various levels of existence until destruction occurs. Or perfection ensues and a fully developed harmonious entity reunites in Eternity. With regard to the human soul, this outcome is experienced on earth as Peace Profound, and is the ultimate state sought by the knowing mystic. No other state or method is comparable. And when this condition is attained there is no further need for another earthly reincarnation to occur.