Wisdom tells me i’m nothing. Love tells me i’m everything.

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I haven’t written a post in a while as so many things have been going on. I actually started to write this a few weeks ago and stopped because quite honestly it was too difficult. Someone I know and respect had some tragic news; his brother had committed suicide. I’m not going to discuss this very private story and the circumstances, I just wanted to somehow contemplate the complex notion of suicide.

I hope this doesn’t appear crass or insensitive and academic but it’s a challenging subject isn’t it? On the one hand some people and cultures would absolutely say it is the right of everyone to take their own life…I think of days of antiquity or feudal Japan for examples of people taking their lives with what can only be described as honour and dignity. It was indeed a respected form of atonement (Seppoku). I can relate to this.

“They tell us that suicide is the greatest piece of cowardice… that suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.”

ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER

On the other hand others would see it as a sacred violation. A ‘sin’ for want of a better way to describe it due to the sanctity if life. I can relate to this as well. Perhaps that’s why suicide is such a heartbreaking experience for anyone who is close to someone who has succeeded or even tried to assert some control in their lives by this method. In some countries (mainly Islamic I believe) it is still criminalised…surely a way of making sure any one attempts suicide will be more committed to making it work?

No-one can truly understand the suffering and despair of an individual who has been driven to this point except that individual. I say driven as I don’t believe anyone would choose to end their lives if they felt they could really change or end their suffering. I might be wrong of course but it seems clear it stems from a sense of futility and lack of power to change their suffering. They are trapped and the terror of death is less than the terror of living. One can only try with compassion to imagine what a life lived with a feeling of endless hopelessness and despair must be like. It’s more than just a bad day.

I’m lucky. Like all of us I have had some bad times and some thoughts and romantic notions of ending it all, statistically more men than women are successful. It didn’t get further than this, perhaps it’s just as simple as being able to have a sense of humour about life.

“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.” 
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

There is no conclusion to my thoughts at this point except to offer my sympathy to anyone reading this who is thinking about suicide and simply to say there is hope and lastly to anyone suffering the loss of a loved one you will get through it.

“But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself”

ALBERT CAMUS

Peace.

5 Inspirational Quotes about Death

Okay so many of us will have woken today feeling like ‘death’, so here’s some inspirational words on the topic to help us live more happy, free and fun filled lives beyond the fear of it’s grip…

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1)  I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.

MARK TWAIN

2)  A useless life is an early death.

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE

3)  The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.

MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO

4)  They tell us that suicide is the greatest piece of cowardice… that suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.

ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER

5) I had seen birth and death but had thought they were different.

T. S. ELIOT

The Wall

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“By the way which one’s pink?”

As someone who practises Buddhism (which to me means studying and having faith in Buddhist philosophy and teachings) I am transforming my life and therefore my death, everyday. I don’t like to call myself Buddhist too much as that automatically separates me from everyone who is not a Buddhist (whatever being ‘Buddhist’ means). As J Krishnamurthi was always at pains to point out this can be an ‘aggressive’ act as it has the potential to separates one from another. Isn’t that where all the trouble started from; A wall? Think about it, at some point in human history land was cultivated and animals were fed and reared on that land and somehow that land was shared. Then someone (probably with a stick) built a wall. He/she said this is mine and that’s yours. The wall created difference. I am not you and you are not me. I have this label and identity and stuff and you have yours.

Obviously it may not have been quite this simple and I am not an anthropologist but if you think about it something very similar must have occurred and now here we are all divided with a million labels to prevent us from seeing the universal truth or our existences together.

“Unless you have a new mind, eyes that see what is true there is this question as to how the mind, deeply conditioned as it is, can change radically. I hope you are putting this question to yourself because, unless there is morality which is not social morality, unless there is austerity which is not the austerity of the priest with his harshness and violence, unless there is order deeply within, this search for truth, for reality, for God -or for whatever name you like to give- it has no meaning at all. Because, unless you have a new mind, a fresh mind, eyes that see what is true, you cannot possibly understand the immeasurable, the nameless, that which is”. 

J KRISHNAMURTHI

No one can prove what happens after death, but how we view death will have a huge impact on how we live. The perspective of Buddhism is that the life state or condition that we develop in life is what is carried forward in death and this of course emphasises the importance of the way we live each moment.

Often the analogy or symbol of waves in an ocean is used to describe this ebb and flow of life and death, waves like our lives occur momentarily and return to the mass of the ocean only to occur again somewhere else. The Ocean can represent ‘Myoho’ or Mystic Law ( this expresses the relationship between the life inherent in the universe and the many different ways this life expresses itself) and  the wave an individual life or phenomenon. The pattern of waves corresponds to the cycle of birth and death.

If we consider that there are various currents flowing through the ocean that are not visible from the surface, the difference between life and death could be said to be like the waves appearing on the surface and the undulating currents within the ocean’s depths. The life essence of an individual is certainly not extinguished on death. Life and death are simply the undulations of the Mystic Law itself. Undulations within the ocean’s depths appear on the surface as waves and then submerge again, once more become invisible undulations. – Then, when the conditions are right, that life essence will appear again as a new wave“.

DAISAKU IKEDA – “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life and Death”

It’s interesting to note perhaps, that an ocean has no walls.

5 Inspirational Quotes about Death

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1) “Live your own life, for you die your own death.” Latin Proverb

2) “As long as you are not aware of the continual law of Die and Be Again, you are merely a vague guest on a dark Earth” – JOHANN GOETHE

3) “When we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings” – SOGYAL RINPOCHE 

4)” As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence. I have formed during the last few years such close relations with this best and truest friend of mankind, that his image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is very soothing and consoling! I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness” – WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART 

5) “Life is a great surprise. I do not see why death should not be an even grater one” – VLADIMIR NABOKOV 

The Crossroads

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Tunes from the devil, suite from Saville Row…

I suppose it’s an indication of my age that recently a few good friends have all independently of each other confided in me that they feel at a crossroads in their lives. This came as no surprise as I too have been feeling the same way recently. It seems the universe was showing me that I wasn’t alone. This blog is in fact part of that change; a way for me to explore my interest in Buddhism, and spiritual practise(s) in general and I’m also using it as a basis for a book I have started writing about happiness and a film project that will explore death as a visual meditation…so where were we….ahh yes standing at the Crossroads.

Now when someone talks about crossroads I immediately think of two things. The first is a character called Benny from a terrible British soap opera based depressingly in a Motel called the Crossroads Motel. Imaginative. Amazingly the show ran for over 20 years from 1964-1988! I don’t remember much about it at all (I wasn’t a fan) except for this character Benny who always wore a beenie hat whatever the weather (mainly raining). He was a likeable character always getting into trouble and being manipulated by others as he was slightly mentally retarded. (I have just checked this and according to Wikipedia the character was “a simple-minded bumbling semi-rustic handyman”). Well I thought the show may be dealing with cutting edge mental health issues but then I have never lived in Birmingham. Apparently the show did  in fact deal with some story lines that were considered controversial for the times: A single parent working at the motel (hugely controversial in the mid-1960s); And the first paraplegic regular character in British soap opera, ever. So I’m not sure whether the Crossroads writing team were in fact tackling the important issue of mental health in UK’s road side businesses with the character of Benny or whether it’s just my imagination enhancing the experience of the character – either way, he was quite memorable.

The other thing I think of is Robert Johnson the legendary Blues musician. Johnson is widely considered to be the best blues musician who ever picked a guitar. Robert Johnson the “King of the Delta Blues”grew up dirt poor in Mississippi over 100 years ago. He left home and learned to play the guitar and sing the blues; an African-American in the deep South and all that meant… never had the sorrow and hardship of the world been transformed into such poetry never had a voice conveyed in such an accessible way the loneliness and suffering of an entire people. Not much detail is known about his life, as Martin Scorsese pointed out “he only existed on his records” and it’s perhaps because of this that one of the most enduring legends surrounding his story came into being; Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads for fame and the ability to play the blues.

According to legend, as a young man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi, “Robert Johnson was branded with a burning desire to become a great blues musician. He was “instructed” to take his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery Plantation at midnight. There he was met by a large black man (the Devil) who took the guitar and tuned it. The “Devil” played a few songs and then returned the guitar to Johnson, giving him mastery of the instrument. This was in effect, a deal with the devil mirroring the legend of Faust. In exchange for his soul, Robert Johnson was able to create the blues for which he became famous”…after the deal was done Johnson was apparently able to play the guitar like never before and like no-one else and simply plucked songs out of thin air. He also disappeared for about 18 months. According to Doktor Snake (a UK Voodoo Priest) during this time Johnson who was pretty shaken up  by what he had done and took a passage to London in the hope that the devil wouldn’t find him there (!) This by the way, is apparently where he picked up his natty dress sense for which he was also famous.

I could talk more about Johnson because his life was so fascinating…about how he supposedly practised in a grave yard and how the devil may refer to the voodoo God, Papa Legba but you can find all this on Wikipedia if you want to. What is widely accepted is that without Johnson there would be no Rock and Roll. For me though what’s more interesting (apart from this) is the symbolism at work here…

So to me the crossroads really symbolise a time of profound change in life and the choices available, inevitably this comes with a healthy dose of fear; fear of the unknown and fear of making the wrong ‘choice’ (or of not being enough in Johnson’s case), if only we could be certain that our choice of path would lead to what we want and that there would be no unpleasant feelings or outcomes. The devil may let you have it (certainty) but only if your soul is his….by the way there are a number of versions of Johnson’s tragic death but what is known is that he was poisoned near the Three Forks juke joint outside Greenwold MS where he was playing….so called because of the crossroads (here we go again) it stood near  and not the limitation of its cutlery drawer…apparently when they looked inside the suit on Johnson’s lifeless body, the good folk of Greenwold were all amazed to see the label “Saville Row”….

So the devil could be seen as the ego which needs to be fed and bargained with and offers the illusion of security and permanence and will perhaps get you what you want in the end but only at the cost of your soul…your own eternal and divine spirit.

Which way now?

The thing is in life the crossroads are really nothing but an illusion, or rather what is promised along each path is really only an illusion; It’s really only the intention that matters. In its simplest form, happiness is the attitude we travel with not the destination, therefore it should not matter which turn we take as it’s not a matter of right or wrong but rather of cause and effect. Nothing in life is certain or ‘promised’ even if it was what would the price paid have to be for this ‘knowledge’?

Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of things than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the rise and fall of things“.

SHAKYAMUNI BUDDHA – DHAMMAPADA

Johnson spent his whole life running from the devil in fear….in order to be truly happy we need to be able to move forward and accept the challenges and struggles we face and indeed turn them to our advantage somehow…for me that somehow is encapsulated in the Lotus Sutra. Without that faith in the mystic truth…a perception of the true aspect of all phenomena…I would really only have (like Johnson) a reliance on self-will and the doubt that brings and the fear of the devil.

This may make me a great musician but the as the saying goes “the devil will always get his due”.

Here Comes the Sun…

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“I hope Doreen remembered the sandwiches”

Today is, or more accurately was, the Summer Solstice (in the Northern hemisphere). This is the day when the angle of the earth is tilted at its maximum (towards the Sun) therefore increasing the amount of daylight received. This moment occurred at about 05:00 in the UK. (In the southern hemisphere, the summer solstice is celebrated in December, also when the daytime is at a maximum). It’s all academic when you wake up at 06:00 and the sky is just an impenetrable bank of semen coloured cloud.

I know. I was looking for another word but it seemed kind of apt. We’re all adults here. I hope I didn’t offend anyone.

The word “Solstice” is derived from the Latin words: “sol” meaning sun, and “sistere,” to cause to stand still. This is because, as the summer solstice approaches, the sun rises higher and higher in the sky on each successive day. On the day of the solstice however, it rises only an imperceptible amount, compared to the day before thus creating a sense that it is “standing still.”

As the sun spirals its longest dance,
Cleanse us
As nature shows bounty and fertility
Bless us
Let all things live with loving intent
And to fulfill their truest destiny

Wiccan blessing for Summer

This is a time to celebrate growth and life for Pagans. For them this spoke in the wheel of life is very significant because the Goddess takes over from the horned God who has been taking us through Spring. She is now at the height of her fertility and power, in fact for some pagans the Summer solstice marks the marriage of the God and Goddess (Heaven & Earth) who see their union as the force that creates the harvests fruits. It’s all about balance in the world and the natural environment and they like animals and possibly our forbears are deeply aware of the ongoing shifting of the seasons and that it is also time to acknowledge that the sun will now begin to decline once more towards winter. Yes I know. All is impermanence after all.

The impact of the sun’s journey is one that traverses all the world’s population throughout all time. People around the world have observed spiritual and religious seasonal days of celebration in June. Most are linked in some way to the summer solstice. The Celts & Slavs celebrated the first day of summer with dancing & bonfires to help increase the sun’s energy. The Chinese marked the day by honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light and Christians placed the feast of St John the Baptist towards the end of June.

In fact all ancient cultures knew that the sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of the sunrise and sunset all shifted in a regular way throughout the year. They built monuments, such as Stonehenge, to follow the sun’s yearly progress. Around the same time Stonehenge was being constructed in England, two great pyramids and then the Sphinx were built on Egyptian sands. If you stood at the Sphinx on the summer solstice and gazed toward the two pyramids, you’d see the sun set exactly between them.

Today we know the solstice as an astronomical event, it’s hard to understand just how powerful the connection with the Sun would have been for these earlier cultures. Life was intrinsically and instinctively linked. It was a natural and spiritual connection.

So what would happen if the Sun disappeared? Well if you are in daylight at the time then it would go dark but only after eight and half minutes because of the speed of light. What you would see during that time would effectively be a ghost sun; it would appear the same, it just wouldn’t exist! At that point the earth would also be free from the gravitational pull of the sun and start to move off in a straight line (probably) travelling at 18 mph into the eternal darkness. If you were in night-time and there was a full moon this would disappear and then the whole planet would be plunged into total night and the temperature would start to fall…the Sun is the glue keeping our solar system together.

Despite our distance from this spiritual reliance on the environment in our highly industrialised and technologically advanced society, we are still totally dependant on the Sun for life, yet we have nothing of the same reverence or celebration of its power today. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why to this day, it’s still so special to some: It communicates something deeply profound about the nature and fragility of human existence. The celebration of the solstice is one way of acknowledging this and perhaps on a more subconscious level, offers an opportunity to remove the mask of humanity’s global constructs and break through the ego-fuelled illusions and boundaries of race, culture, religion and nationality.

After all, without the sun all of humanity would simply be alone in the darkness.

The Fear 1.0

I’ve been pondering what to write over the last few days. This feeling of not knowing what to do is one I’m used to. It seems to get more powerful the older and further into recovery I get which is strange. In fact I haven’t been pondering at all, the real word is procrastination. However, it has taken some time to understand what it truly is; Fear. We possibly over-complicate fear so a simple and useful definition is:

An anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation
of some imagined event or experience.

For as long as I can remember this feeling has reared up when an opportunity comes up or I have stopped doing something for a while (social stuff, running, writing, working) etc. Even with personal projects, if I manage to start them, I can work up a great head of steam and then half way through lose motivation. I could list hundreds of examples from training, to running, to business plans and trips abroad.

Now I realise that sheer laziness may also play a part, however the thing with laziness is eventually I get around to doing it and the feeling is different. When I haven’t been to a Yoga studio for a while I am actually anxious about going back. I don’t think I’m alone in this hell of procrastination. It certainly hasn’t improved as I’ve grown older. I wanted to say matured but that sounded, well, a bit cheesy.

So what is this inertia and this half finishing things or losing focus about? Yes, I’ve read hundreds of self-help essays and books, a fair few inspirational tomes and more than my fair share of ‘Top 10’ motivational tips or ‘easy steps to achieve your goals’ type manuals. They have all been helpful in their own way, however none of them helped me with the root of the condition and quite frankly they were all (of course) simply further distractions from getting on with the real job in hand…doh!

‘Small steps’. Next. ‘Simple goals’. Next. ‘One goal at a time’. Next. ‘Get inspired’. Next. Almost there..by jove I think I’ve got it! Oh no, here we go, here comes that feeling again…I know maybe I’ll read that article on self-improvement instead or look on e-bay for sneakers.

Anyway most offer really useful practical advice and perhaps that’s all you need, unless like me you have a pathological desire to look under every stone and deconstruct every crime scene…

I haven’t been for a run for a few weeks (I’ve been ill) but it’s exactly the same feeling. I know it’s good for me, I know it’s as easy as putting on the sneakers (trainers is a dull word don’t you think?) and opening the door, but…BUT. Something gets in the way. The procrastination – and I think I know it’s fear now.

So what am I afraid of exactly?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s about death, or more precisely ego-death. Defined neatly as ‘Fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; fear of the shattering or disintegration of one’s constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness”. Yep you read it correctly.

I’m laughing as I write that because it sounds so ridiculously grandiose and dramatic (unlike me of course). However the more I think about it the more I see there is real truth in it. Bear with me.

I had this kind of minor revelation last year when considering whether to commit to practicing Nichiren Buddhism. There was no money involved, no heavy responsibility as such, no serious infringement of my time or liberty, just a decision to be made that would impact on precisely no-one but me. And what was this terrible decision exactly? An undertaking to being happy in my life, and to revealing my full potential as a human being.

I didn’t want to do it.

I didn’t. That’s when it hit me I wasn’t afraid of the result just the idea of commitment. Luckily I was in a good place to discuss this very private feeling and guess what, I wasn’t alone.

I described how I felt to the bodhisattvas present like this: There are twenty doors in front of me and I know I need to go through one of them (like put on the sneaks and hit the road) but I don’t because from where I am sitting I can still see ALL the doors and that means I’m free. If I go through the door I’m not sure what’s behind it, it may just be a big drop into some endless ocean. PLUS, I never get to see what’s behind the other doors. You get the picture.

Now I said this in front of a bunch of (mostly) females who practice Nichiren Buddhism. No psychiatrists, no specialists but when I revealed this dark secret one of the group said she had always had a crippling fear of dying ever since she was a child, (Terror Management Theory?) She would get hysterical at the sight or mention of anything remotely associated with it. So she therefore embarked on a course of self-help therapy in later life which included a stint in a funeral parlour to overcome her terror (I’m not making this up). She also said she had read more than a few books (most of which were crap) but that in one book there was a chapter about the fear of death relating to a fear of commitment. This was interesting.

In my mind I thought that it was the fear of annihilation initially, in the sense that committing to a door would mean moving forwards inexorably to the ultimate conclusion of life. This makes sense, however the conclusion is the same whether I’m moving through a door or not. Then it occurred to me that the real difference is surprise.

It’s the not knowing. In all of these situations my greatest fear was really of experiencing some unpleasant feelings. This was beginning to make sense from a psychological perspective and from a spiritual one…

TBC

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‘In delay there lies no plenty’
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Proof of Heaven

I spent Saturday evening with a friend at the Alchemy Center in Camden. I’d been meaning to go for months and this particular event was ‘a night of sacred sounds and meditation’. What’s more it was free. Smashing. Now I’m used to a bit of chanting as I practise Nichiren Buddhism (I’ll talk more about this in due course) but I’ve never been to something like this before. Interestingly this was not a passive type of event but a ‘kirtan’ (call and response chanting) our ‘kirtankar’ was to be  someone called Sarab Deva Kaur who was launching an album called ‘Uplifting Mantras for You’ sarabdeva.bandcamp.com/album/uplifting-mantras-for-you

Most of the mantras originated directly or indirectly from Sanskrit (spoken as Tibetan, Hindi and Gurmukhi) although some were Arabic (Sufism) and one was Japanese. I really enjoyed the evening and was able to join in with most of them. The one I remember specially is ‘Om Sri Rama Jaya Rama, Jaya Jaya Rama” which Ghandi apparently used to chant and was chanting when he liberated India. There was a really great energy and I’m sure everyone present (and not present) benefited greatly from these seeds of higher consciousness. After each mantra was sung by Sarab (beautifully I must add) we sat in silence. No clapping.  This was strange at first but then I enjoyed the space it left; freedom from the normal addiction of praise and reward we are so used to in daily life. Just sitting in the healing power of the mantra was enough. Mantra literally means ‘to liberate the mind’ after all.

Another amazing thing that happened was I saw on the desk of the receptionist a book called ‘Proof of Heaven’. The title of the book was ringing some vague bells and speaking to the owner it turns out that the book tells the true story of a neurosurgeon who fell into a deep coma after a serious illness and was effectively pronounced dead by all the doctors and specialists. Somehow though he made a recovery but upon awakening things had changed, this once rational scientist was now completely certain of the infinite reach of the soul, and certain of a life beyond death. The book had popped up on my radar when I was doing some research into a project previously.

Okay so what, there are lot’s of these near death stories right? Well, what makes this story so interesting is that as a neurosurgeon, the author is able to explain in depth why his brain was incapable of fabricating the journey he experienced…

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was an eminent Swiss American Psychiatrist who spent her life studying near death experiences like this. She wrote the book ‘On Death and Dying’ in which she theorised for the first time the five stages of grief as a pattern of adjustment for the dying and the survivor that we have become familiar with (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance).

Kubler-Ross believed that after one’s death, we continue to live on because consciousness doesn’t die.  She reached that conclusion after studying 20,000 cases of dying experiences from all over the world, her work is still being published. What was her conclusion?

“Once people understand that they have to be responsible for what they have done when they are alive, people will change their lifestyles.”

So what has this got to do with chanting? Well the First Law of Thermodynamics states that all energy is conserved. It is neither created or destroyed. Interesting isn’t it?

So something that has always puzzled me is where do songs and music go when they have been sung? Do the sound waves just fade away? Where do the sonically charged atoms bounce off too? Probably they get surrounded by heavier atoms of oxygen or hydrogen? I’m sure the scientists can tell me. I like to think though that somewhere in the universe they still exist, like the mantras I chanted on Saturday night. Yes the effect of these sacred sounds is internal, creating psychological transformation, but the mind and the environment are one. This world is simply a product of our conscious minds after all. I like the idea that these little parts of my liberated mind are still out there somewhere floating melodically in the infinite consciousness. Little proofs of heaven.

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Ice Cream…Ice Cream…a favourite mantra for me

After the chanting we went to one of my favourite Ice Cream parlours, Marine Ices, which has been around since the 40’s for waffles and gelato for some further proof of heaven.

Pavement Universe

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The famous ‘Mini Roundabout’ Galaxy

Although I can’t remember the title, I remember a book I was told to read once at junior school in which the heroine (a young girl) would see worlds and cities and even universes in the walls and the flowers that she saw in her daily life. It was a simple book and I don’t remember paying too much attention to it at the time. That’s nice for her, I thought. If you recognise the book please let me know what it’s called, i’d be interested to re-read it. Years later I would connect the story with the following verse by William Blake, it’s too good to edit so here it is in all it’s mystic and symbolic glory:

Auguries of Innocence

To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.

A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dovehouse fill’d with doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.
A dog starv’d at his Master’s Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus’d upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fibre from the Brain does tear.
A Skylark wounded in the wing,
A Cherubim does cease to sing.
The Game Cock clip’t & arm’d for fight
Does the Rising Sun affright.

Every Wolf’s & Lion’s howl
Raises from Hell a Human Soul.
The wild deer, wand’ring here & there,
Keeps the Human Soul from Care.
The Lamb misus’d breeds Public strife,
And yet forgives the Butcher’s Knife.
The Bat that flits at close of Eve
Has left the Brain that won’t Believe.
The Owl that calls upon the Night
Speaks the Unbeliever’s fright.
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be belov’d by Men.
He who the Ox to wrath has mov’d
Shall never be by woman lov’d.
The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
Shall feel the Spider’s enmity.
He who torments the Chafer’s sprite
Weaves a Bower in endless Night.
The Caterpiller on the Leaf
Repeats to thee thy Mother’s grief.
Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly,
For the Last Judgement draweth nigh.

WILLIAM BLAKE

‘Auguries’ are signs or omens and in the poem Blake basically describes a natural world that is a gateway to a lost vision of innocence…here the word innocence refers to the unfallen state. As I mentioned in a previous post this would have been a state in which human beings perhaps had no fear of death and saw themselves less as material or physical beings but part of the greater infinite spirit consciousness. That’s one theory anyway. The poem was written in about 1803 and was apparently a collection of couplets that were later grouped together for printing. The theme, clearly, is one of universal interdependence – the idea that all things are connected, even if they exist on different planes.

Blake wasn’t called Mystic for nothing and like the Buddha and spirit guides from other cultures and civilisations thousands of years before him, he too was able to instinctively comprehend what scientists are now beginning to understand about the universe at the Quantum level; everything is connected. It’s also a principle concept in Buddhism known as dependent origination.

For me the imagery of the verse is haunting and almost cinematic in it’s intensity and clarity.

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The Heineken Nebula

For a while now i’ve taken the odd photo of the street and the pavement with my phone. Normally I don’t see much; just the usual shit, litter and  tarmac, vomit if I happen to be anywhere near Dalston. Here and there however I get a view of something else. It’s not exactly Blake but it puts a smile on my face as I stroll on down the road.

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Tarmac Star System