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Movements 3

Political And Religious Movements

“Religious and political movements promise much, but ultimately fail to deliver.

History sadly teaches us this tragic lesson.

There’s most certainly a buzz to be had from joining up and riding its euphoric wave of momentum, though at journey’s end we tend to end up beached and somewhat disillusioned.

We movement junkies eagerly scan the charismatic horizon, looking for the chosen one, the leader who’ll lead us into our particular version of the promised land.

Sadly, all we discover is their all too human feet of clay, once we’ve lower our gaze from their beguiling beatific smile.

No, the only real change for humanity lies within.

Outside we tend to take one step forward and two steps back.”

Dylan Morrison

I don’t know about you but I’ve joined a few movements in my time, albeit mainly religious ones. Some of us prefer the political variety, jumping on board to change the world in the blink of an eye. For others both brands are almost inseperable, with the cause being heavily sponsored by the Divine.

Today I watch movements arise and fall from the sidelines. Why?

Well, simply after years of involvement I’ve no longer any faith in them. Some might say that’s a cynical approach to take but I’d have to disagree. I reckon that it’s a realist’s approach to these outbreaks of utopian fervour and optimism.

So why do we join movements in our search for meaning and a better world?

Well, they seem to strike a chord with our deepest longings for an Edenic innocence and wholeness. The desire to return to a primeval default setting I guess. Whether political or religious promises to return us to the way things ought to be. A place where suffering is no more and we all share the bliss of our common humanity. A worthy goal undoubtedly, but one that I reckon can’t be achieved by signing up to the last popular mass movement.

In a nutshell, the movement is humanity’s shortcut attempt at getting back to an ideal world. The trouble is that it can divide the world even further into two opposing camps: those who get it and those who don’t. I’d better explain.

All movements have defining characteristics. If they don’t they don’t stand out from the crowd. A movement must be different, a challenge to the prevailing status quo. In setting itself up as reformist, it must differentiate itself from the rest of the crowd. In my own case I was part of the early Christian Charismatic scene, which burst onto the religious world stage of the late 60s and 780s. Suddenly, all types of denominational Christians were having ecstatic experiences and discovering the ‘heartbeat’ of early Christianity. Speaking in tongues, or glossolalia to give it its posh name, quickly became the mark of a Spirit-filled believer. In Ireland, the land of so much staid, dour religious observance, the Charismatic movement quickly became the best show in town, especailly for idealistic young followers of the Nazarene like myself.

They were certainly heady days as we travelled the length and breadth of Ireland laying hands on anyone willing to receive the claimed ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit’ with accompanying tongues speaking. Catholic nuns, Presbterian elders, Anglican priests all piled in as momentum grew and new forms of being Christians materialised. We really believed that we were on the cutting edge of a new revival, where the dregs of legalistic religion would be exorcised forever.

Of course, not all were convinced and in hindsight, rightly so. As non-Charismatics looked aghast at out outpouring of religious enthusiasm, some hit back, causing the movement to begin to look at setting up its own organisational structures. The us and them of Christian history took on a new form, with New Churches perceiving themselves as the inheritors of the Early Church mantle. The trouble is that such an establishing of boundaries for the sake of identity only repeated the historical mistakes of all reformist-revivalist movemnts, viz. the sectarianism of religious belief.

Yet, the particular group that I was involved with wanted more, so collectively we joined the American Shepherding movement, an authoritarian hierarchical organisation that placed each member in a structural pyramid of power. Beguiling international leaders, with charisma dripping off their every word, led their movement into a self-destructive cul-de-sac, where many once sincere believers gave up the Ghost for good. The gory details of my ecstatic journey through the minefielf of both movements have been recounted at length in my wee book, ‘The Prodigal Prophet’ for those who have travelled a similar path. One thing that I’ve painfully learned over the years is that the greater the zeal, the more dangerous the movement, especially if its led by those of compelling charm and a hint of ego.

But what of political causes and crusades? Well, may I suggest that these too have a touch of the religious about them, claiming the moral high ground as their raison d’être. All political movements, whether Right, Centrist or Left, have a Utopian carrot dangled in front of their members, one that can be achieved if only they can get into power. The politican and the anti-politican are both playing the same game. A beatific vision that draws the restlessness of their supporters into a pliable conformity, one that can lead them into office. Sadly, like their preacher prototypes, the frontmen for social change will either join the status quo bandwagon, or retreat from the battle, broken and disillusioned.

So then, that doesn’t augur too well for the human family. Well, yes and no, for there is another way. Once our crusading spirit is set aside, the authentic agent of change comes looking for us as we mope under our Jonah-like Juniper tree. But more of that next week.

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Singing Icons

Icons 2

Singing Icons

When you stand back and think about it, singing is a pretty weird practice. The mixture of lyrics and melody transmitted by the human voice can have a most profound effect on us, especially if the singer oozes charisma. In this wee blog I want to share a few thoughts on why we’ve all got our favourite singers, and what their role is in our lives.

Before we get started I guess I’d better list my own favourite singing icons, at least the ones that I can remember. Van Morrison, Bobby Dylan, Freddie Mercury, Florence Welsh (fledgling icon), are the minstrels that presently get under my skin. Why? Well I guess they all sing about the inner life in one way or another. Deep resonates with deep and all that. They also aren’t afraid to expose ego, the mask that we wear in our space-time dance. Being a prophetically wired kind of guy I love their courage in addressing issues that modern pop or rock tend to shy away from. In other words they seem to be asking the big questions in life not the secondary ones.

Of course you’ll have your own singing heroes or heroines, yet the one thing that strikes me is that is that none of them appear to have their life ‘all together’. In fact many of them appear to live, or have lived in a permanent state of inner angst. The more angst-ridden, the more profound the song and the performance, the more we are drawn into their inner world.

So what is this urge we have to tap into music and in particular a particular artist? Well, I reckon it’s simply that we are picking up echoes of the Transcendent within the lyrical and melodic mix of their songs. Something deep within us resonates with the mysterious energies being sent in our direction. We are, I reckon, receiving messages from beyond, from the realm of other. In other words, the iconic singers of our age, and indeed every age, each transmit something well beyond their abilities and personalities. Within the heady mix of honest lyrics and musical magic we are coming face to face with an invitation to step out of our ego world and search for Source.

Of course, the filters of religious or philosophical belief will have an effect on who we tune into. In my fiery Christian youth, I loaded up on stacks of Jesus Rock, with Larry Norman being my icon of choice. When Mr Dylan entered his born again phase via the fledgling Vineyard movement I was rapturous. Now I could listen to the greatest singer songwriter in total safety, for Bobby had now found Jesus and salvation. I guess, the paranoia of religious belief made me shy away from the more secular artists, those living the hedonistic life of the rock and roll stars, mixed with occultist overtones.

How wrong I was. The voice of the seeker is often more authentic than that of the lost sheep who claims to be home. This was highlighted to me back in 1986, when I attended my first Van Morrison gig in Belfast. I walked out shocked and somewhat shaken up, for I’d experienced Presence in the most secular of settings. The hairs on my neck had stood up for most of the concert as I was bathed with the most authentic music that I’d previously encountered. The clichés of my old Christian rock faded into obscurity as I tuned into what or Who was touching me through the notoriously grump Ulsterman. From that day I say my singer-songwriters in a different light, often broken human beings who shared their search for meaning and Source via the poetic marriage of word and melody.

The old shamans of ancients religion understood the role of song, the minstrel incantations that reach beyond the conscious mind, leading us inward to the realm of Self and Source. I guess nothing has really changed. The desire transmitted by a singer on fire and in the zone draws us to another world. An opportunity to check out the great Singer Source, the Lord of the Dance and Lover of All.

Happy listening my friends.

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Unknown Currents

currents

Unknown Currents

 

Boy how we love our free will and self-perceived autonomy. Nobody makes decisions for us. We do. And most certainly, we alone are in command of our lives. Strangely both religious fundamentaists and militant humanists buy into the same script, viz. that we are masters of decision.

The zealous believer reckons that it was their choice to follow Jesus that saved them. That little prayer of acceptance that allowed him to sneak through the door of their ego stronghold. Their ‘decision’ for Jesus has saved them and off they go. It’s been their choice that has persuaded God to activate their ‘salvation’ from ‘hell’ and beyond. Their wise ‘choice’ has done the job, with God only too gtrateful to have another lost sheep see the error of their ways.

The humanist may have a perceived sense of community, though underneath it all lies their perception of being autonomous creatures, kings of their own castle with nobody pulling the strings. Education and clear thinking is all one requires to plough their furrow through life. A strong will can get one far in the rat race of choice. Many motivational speakers tap into this perceived secret of life – choice and its engine of will.

Now let me say, that I’m glad that I appear to have a will – a rudder that appears to be under my control. It has played an important role in my own departure from organised religion and belief. It has helped me recover from the effects of tragic storms that have battered my life. And yet, it is not really in control. I’d better explain.

We sail along on the Ocean of Life, where observe, albeit with limited vision, what appears to be taking place on the surface. We take stock and adjust our will in accordance with perceived dangers etc. Yet, below the surface of our consciousness lies a realm that we prefer not to visit – our subconscious where powerful forces are at work. Here currents built up by past trauma, lead on their path of choosing with our will at their mercy. We are swept along while stoically believing that we are still in control, with our hand on the tiller. Nothing could be further from the truth. For, below the surface of our conscious understanding, little shoals of subpersonalities spin this way and that, carrying us in their wake. There is more to us than first meets the eye. Looking below, or rather within, will shock our will into a state of paralysis, when it discovers that it is not the pilot of our course.

Another subliminal set of currents are the desires of others that tug at our rudder and set the direction for much of our inter-personal life. We transmit will as an infectious energy that steers others into conformity with our will. Often, we only wake up to how we’ve been mesmerised when we end up on the rocks of despair and disillusionment. We have allowed the whipped up currents of transmitted desire to steer our ship, whilst believing ourselves to be making good choices.

So what’s the deal? What are you saying? Well. I reckon there is a way to sail into Destiny and Purpose, one that acknowledges the tides of desire that lie below; one that fully acknowledges that pull of others that operates under our conscious radar; one that restores will to its designated role. A Tide that overcomes all and carries us Home.

But more of that in next week’s post!

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Stress Season

Stress

Stress Season

Not long to go now. The stress season is in full swing and we’re speedily heading towards the year’s big anti-climax. Now call me Scrooge if you will, but I just can’t help it. Why? Well, my body is telling me that we’re well and truly in lemming mode and basking in the groundswell of seasonal Santa stress. On second thoughts I’d better not blame it all on Santa, for afterall the real, St. Nicholas is well and truly gone.

No, lets just pin it on the groundswell of acquisitive desire that the marketing men conjur up in the dark depths of Winter. Of course, if I’m brutally honest, there’s another toxic ingredient in the heady potion that we drink so willingly during the festive period, viz. the desire for human acceptance. Now during normal times this desire to be liked, perhaps even loved, is firmly tucked away in the bed of general acceptance. If we don’t bother folk, then generally they won’t bother us. Such an emotional standoff is usually enough to get by. However, during the Yuletide season, our deep-seated insecurities are well and truly flushed out.

How come? Well, the gathering of the clan tends to reveal all our relational doubts and fears. How do our nearest and dearest perceive us? What do they really think of us? Behind the pseudo-smiles of meeting what, if truth be told, is bubbling up in the hearts of our hosts and guests?

Of course, ego finds its own way of getting over the doubts and fears. It does so by showering those we might bump into over the turkey with generous gifts, those trinkets of love that ought to calm the unconscious troubled waters. The trouble is that we stress ourselves up to high heaven wondering if our gift is really up to scratch, one that will pacify the receipients perception of us, in our angst-ridden storm of doubt. That’s where the marketing men come in. They act as our financial shrinks, pointing out the perfect gift, the present guaranteed to buy approval, at least for another year.

Unsurprisingly, none of us want to be rejected and we’ll splash the cash if it delivers the covering over of relational cracks, those that threaten our very sense of Self worth. Yet, even when the deed is done and the fake smile of appreciation beamed in our direction, we still wonder. Has the sacrifice of our hard earned dollars calmed the savage breast, or further lowered us in their valued estimation.

No, Christmas isn’t an easy time, not easy at all. They say that most divorces occur in early January. No longer can the faked marital game continue, having been finally exposed by the saintly happiness of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’. Sadly, it’s time for reality, no matter how painful and devastating. Estrangement within families also bursts into focus during the festive dance. For some the phoniness of family bliss is just too much to take. Time to break free and leave the party for good.

Thankfully though, when all that’s left is the memory of Christmas past, we may actually be ready for something real, something that delivers genuine authentication. A relationship that asks nothing in return for it’s dying yet timeless Love. An Other who can’t be manipulated by the fear-scripted sacrifices of our giving. One Who justs wants us to be and be known. Now that’s a gift worth receiving and passing on to our fellow man, especially our loved ones.

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Where Is The Light

Where On Earth Is The Light?

November tends to freak me out. The lack of sunshine attempts to pull me down into a hopeless state, like some giant squid wrapping its powerful tentacles around my human fraility. Fake light doesn’t do it for me I’m afraid. The glitz of stores with their frenzy of piped Christmas music and shiny come ons don’t do it either. In the seasonal gloom, my old ego tends to raise its semi-mournful head, demanding to be reinstated as the only effective leader of my being.

What I need is some Light, so where on Earth is it to be found? On some distant, sun drenched shore, or somewhere closer to hand? Well, it’s certainly not to be found in the powers that be, those who reassure us that all will be well if we just let them them get on with their dubious tasks. “We’ll make you safe by bombing the hell out of terrorists and the unavoidable collateral damage (innocent folk) in a foreign land.” I’m afraid that, “Let’s loosen the dogs of war on those who dare to terrorise us!” just doesn’t invoke the Light for me. Rather, it sends me further into a dark belief that mankind is totally screwed but just won’t admit it.

No, the Light will have to come from somewhere other than the bastions of power, whether political or religious, for it looks like they operate in a permanent dark room, one where only negatives are developed.

Thankfully, there is some hope, the hope of a reassuring Light, one that dispels our darkness when given half the chance. The trouble is we’re not too keen on letting it loose, for it cuts across our sense of ego identity. For It is the Light of Source, the One who dispels our sense of pseudo-independence. Strangely though, It isn’t an aggressive external invader, one with an angry, violent streak, but a Compassionate Presence that has already planted Itself deep behind our dark, defensive lines. A benign Sleeper, that patiently awaits the go ahead from our ever resistant Will.

I guess it’s no surprise then, that when the penny finally drops we’re usually at the end of our rope, viz. when physical, psychological and spiritual exhaustion have flattened our inert sense of being. As they stand over us, a crack appears in our hardened ego shell that reveals a most shocking, yet ultimately comforting Truth. The One from whom we’ve been hiding all our restless years, has been planted in the deepest recesses of our psyche-soul since we burst forth from our mother’s womb.

If we allow It, this benign Light will turn our lives upside down. Its Power, Wisdom and above all Unconditional Love is peerless. It’s in a healing league of Its own. Letting go and bathing in Its welcoming rays will change our spiritual focus forever. No longer will we permanently dwell in a Valley of Shadows, the place of the living dead. Rather, we are freed to dance for joy, even when surrounded by the outside gloom of all things Winter.

A gift of overwhelming authenticity, one that surpasses all the temporary thrills of acquistive Christmas desire. So, may the Divine spark explode into all Its glorious Fire within each of our love-starved psyches during this winter period.

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Under Fire!

Under Fire 2

Under Fire!

Have you been under attack today? Not by some lone-wolf gunman  from a distant shore, but by a friend, possibly even your nearest and dearest? I guess I’d better explain.

Have you experienced a quick shot across your bows in the form of a Will grenade. A short sharp attack of someone’s Will, exploding as a repremand or an unexpected withdrawal of love. Of course, Will is a great psychological gift, one that we’ve been equipped with to get ourselves out of tricky situations with one great leap. It’s a powerful escape hatch that we can open when under pressure. Yet, when under the control of ego, our wounded psyche-soul, it can be a vicacious and somewhat hyper-senstive weapon.

Will automatically kicks in when we feel endangered, and generally that’s a good thing. However, if our psychological settings are somewhat skewed it can become a trigger happy canon, one that regularly send blasts in the direction of those who sail close to us.

Those of us who are HSP’s or ‘highly sensitive persons’ are prone to to fire off more of these broadsides than the average guy or gal. Most of us have pretty thick skins, after years of bumping into all sorts of folk who threaten our inner equilibrium. HSPs on the otherhand, appear to have an extremely thin membrane separating them from the transmitted energies of passing psyches. This heightened sense of awareness is a great tool in interpersonal relationships as long as we’re tuned into our Core Self. Tuned into ego it’s highly dysfunctional, like some sort of  over-excited fire alarm that goes off when there not even a whiff of smoke in sight.

Being an HSP isn’t easy. Yes, it’s usually a great blessing but at times it can also a millstone around our necks. It helps us to feel a great empathy with those who suffer alongside us, but it can also launch vicious attacks on those whom we love. The reason? Well, because the HSP is processing so much external and internal data at any given moment, their perception of what’s going on can be a little faulty. They see problems where none exist and take immediate action. Once the Will grenade is lobbed in the direction of another, the fog often lifts with the HSP seeing the error of their reactive ways. This can lead to much breast-beating and an immediate apology, though over time it can eat away at both the heart of the HSP and their unfortunate victim.

The key, I guess is to avoid the rush and pressure of life injected by ego into our inner world. Space and quiet reflection are the tools that keep our Will grenades under wraps until they are really required. Under the guidance and Presence of Spirit, Will can be the switch that removes us from genuine abuse via an energised escape rather than a violent first strike.

If you’re close to an HSP it can certainly feel like walking on eggshells. The trick is to give them an exaggerated amount of space, one bathed in reassurance and compassion. When attacked, don’t assume the worst and don’t strike back. To respond like for like only sends the HSP into a further tailspin of misperception. Rather, it’s usually best to see beyond the injustice of the immediate psycho-spiritual assault and take a few steps back into our pain free core Self where All is well. The HSP by their very nature will soon see the situation more clearly and return to a state of normal equilibrium, a place of safety where normal relations can be resumed.

Now, if we’re an HSP, it’s not easy, not easy at all. We are a microcosm of the Cosmos, for the potential to heal and the potential to wound both lie close at hand. Keeping ourselves out of pressured situations as much as possible definitely helps. Also realising that many of our perceived threats are merely products of our inner ego chatter, rather than objective realities can help us step back from the brink. Personally I’ve found walking in Nature is a great orderer of inner reality. Ego doesn’t seem to like a stroll in the woods. It much prefers to save the world with a crusading zeal that ultimately saves no one.

To sum up, compassion to Self and others is the great deactivator of our first strike policy. That and the Presence of Divine Love in the cauldron of our inner world.

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Tuning In

Tuning In

Tuning In

In the midst of our noisy, ego-fuelled world it seems like God is a million miles from all of us. As we look out on the upsurge of religious and nationalistic violence, we wonder where on Earth could the Divine be holed-out. Are we locked into a virtual reality game of kill or be killed or is there really a place of calm and authentic peace? Politicians come and go promising us utopia and letting us down. Multi-nationals pillage the planet and its treasures to make a faster buck and sex has become an obsession rather than a joy. Image is everything, as we strive to be cooler than the next guy or gal. Some of us just give up and let ourselves go, with obesity and varying addictions only too happy to fill the angst-ridden void.

No wonder it’s only when we’re at the end of our rope that Divine Love comes calling. It’s the only chance that the Light has of penetrating the crazy body-armour of ego, our rampant little defender. When we lie there, burnt out and wanting it all to end, comes a flicker of Other, something authentic in the fake world of human existence. At first a spark, the invasive One comes flooding in, as we totter on the brink of insanity and despair. It’s here, in our zero hour that two worlds meet; the consciousness of ego, our wounded psyche-soul, and that realm beyond consciousness, the ground of Ultimate Reality upon which all else hangs. Such an encounter is life changing, for it can’t be manipulated nor requisitioned by our semi-stunned ego. No, something internal has taken place, a Divine rewire of our central nervous system and a previously domineering mind. Order has returned as we once more walk in Eden for a profound communion, albeit a temporary one.

Heading back into the foothills of existence we are different though not immune to the rivaling energies of our fellow-man. Though this time around we can step back and observe the craziness that would have previously sucked us into the fray. Now we have a choice, one backed up by a new Power-Source. The ability to see the subliminal with the eyes of God, help us on our Way, a Way of tenderness and compassion though not one of naivety. Wisdom walks with us, whispering when we are to touch a broken world and when to hold back. Gentle as doves and wily as serpents seems the name of the game.

It’s tempting to run back into the ghettos of religious or esoteric beliefs where safety in numbers promises to keep us from harm. Yet, here in the pietistic and mystical language of belief we can once more be tricked by ego into restoring its influence and rule over our days. Ego loves labels and the more spiritual the better. No, best to tune within without becoming a signed up member under the mind constructs of mankind. Here, secure in our Aloneness, we shall be a fountain of Life to those we  meet. The dire warnings of selfishness prove to be ego’s last defence to our new Way of living, though Self-compassion and respect will nail that lie, once and for all. We have been linked to a Love beyond the morality of man. Guilt and shame no longer have sway in the new Eden, as we stand before a rampant Fire of Love that consumes them once and for all.

So today, in the ordinariness of it all, why not take a moment of reflection, a letting go that invokes the waiting Presence to come. A coming that will empower and refresh, a Touch that will awaken us from ego’s deep sleep.

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