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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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Needing A Chat?

Needing A Chat?

Needing A Chat?

Times come along when we desperately need to chat to another human being about the big issues in life. It’s usually best to find someone with a limp who doesn’t dispatch ego wisdom from a great height. For, without mutual empathy and brokenness exchange we are only walking into a co-dependency trap.

Of course, we tend to only learn this lesson after many wrong turns on the search for ‘advice’. Nowhere is it on offer more than within the Christian or Self-Help subcultures. Most of the Christian counselling is free, though at a hidden cost, while the Self-Help brand is usually focused on big bucks and lots of them. Counselling has been reduced to a recruitment drive for religious devotees, or a product to be dispensed on the production of a credit card. What would Jesus say?????

My own formative life was filled with regular ‘pastoral’ chats or check ups when I was involved in a hierarchical Shepherding group back in the 70s and early 80s. Taking the late Mr Wesley’s accountability structures within early Methodism we turned it into our own Frankenstein version of pastoral care. Every few weeks or so I’d be piously summed for a wee chat, during which I’d spill my guts about all the issues that were at boiling point in my young psyche-soul. With a beatific smile and bedside manner, my chosen Shepherd would listen carefully before dispensing a few home truths to take with me to ponder over. In our hierarchical set-up, I’m embarrassed to admit that I too played the counselling game, calling up my own wee unfortunate sheep friends for a concerned chat. Now, it was usually over coffee and biscuits but nevertheless it was a co-dependency situation where we marched into others’ personal lives in the guise of a God-given guide.

Looking back I’m amazed at how much info I both passed on and received during my years within the dysfunctional group. It was only years later that I discovered that most other folk just faked it, wearing masks of conformity whilst keeping their maverick nature closely under wraps. Eventually of course the whole thing went belly up, but at the great cost of those involved. Counsellor pastors were eventually revealed to have more internal problems than the folk that they counselled. My own particular counsellor fell into a long adulterous affair long after I had jumped ship. And to think that he had dispensed marital counselling to me and many others during our Shepherding sojourn, as a Model of a good Christian husband.

What I’m really saying is that it is difficult to know what goes on in the deep inner realms of any counsellor. So what are we to do? Well, as initially stated, it’s best to find someone detached from your religious involvement to bounce things off. Sadly many pastors have a vested interest in our continual committment and involvement in their organisations. Of course not all pastoral professionals operate like this but is difficult for them not to project the man/woman of God expertise of their ecclesiastical position. The best counsellors are those who rarely see us and have no association with our particular faith group. At least that’s my take on it.

Though many of us dispense with the bathwater of religious involvement our hurting psyches still yearn for advice. We turn to the Self-Help guru who appears to have it all together with their spirituality-only version of the beatific smile. Successful living is the new product on offer to those of us only too aware of our human frailty. Advice here usually costs and costs big, the justification pedalled is that everyone has to eat. I can understand that angle coming from a fully qualified psychiatrist, but not, I’m afraid for the supposed enlighten of heart. When cash is involved a co-dependency can be developed well by the counselling sell by date. The longer the spiritual input, the bigger the cheque. Frankly I’m appalled at some of the rates that leading spiritual teachers charge their clients for special one-to-one Skype sessions. We can be very gullible while in pain, and open to the smooth seductions of the professional spiritual charlatan. Of course, free material is often available from such spiritual counsellors, though it usually ends abruptly with an appeal for funds. Wisdom is needed in such matters. Best not to believe that all that glitters is gold in the marketplace of spiritual entrepreneurs.

So what do we do? Well, I believe that Divine Love brings along the right people for us to meet at the right time. All the Wisdom that we require already dwells within us. We just need a little encouragement to fine tune our inner hearing and listen to its startling revelations and counsel. Those sent are usually broken or semi-broken folk like ourselves. Those who have managed to limp just a little further along the Path of Life. Usually their input is for free, a gift of Love of which they may not even be aware. The greatest contribution that they can towards our spiritual welfare is to authenticate our own Journey of Self. We usually know in any present situation what we have to do. We only lack courage and the ‘go for it’ reinforcement of our fellow travellers. Generally such relationships are short-lived and for a specific temporal purpose. Divine Love will move us both on before things can turn dysfunctional.

At the end of the day, we are left with a most wonderous Self within, the masterpiece of Source, the One who walks with us in reassuring Presence.

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Who Am I ?

Who Am I ?

Who Am I ?

Boy are we complex beings, wired as we are into these bodies of matter and electrical impulses. Don’t believe a neuroscientist if he tells you he fully understands our CPU, the human brain. The simple truth is they don’t. One of the top guts in the field told me so a while back. Some research is now suggesting that we have a second ‘brain’ in the gut, with more serotonin there than anywhere else. Yes, we are a pretty elaborate living organism drifting in the Cosmic Ocean of space-time.

As I write, the heavy rains outside have brought their accompanying gloom as folk around me as they drink their coffees, staring zombie-like into space, or more accurately the enveloping greyness. I wonder what they’re thinking as the caffeine shoots its way to their central nervous system? Personally, I’m thinking about my Self – who I really am? Am I just a biological machine that ticks along until its irreplaceable parts blow up? Am I only a highly developed animal who just happens to have developed the mysterious facility of consciousness. Scientific reductionism of the old order tells me that’s exactly what I am, yet the new science hints at something else.

We tend to think that we’re the first generation to contemplate these things, yet we aren’t. Man has been at it for multi-millennia, ever since awareness lifted our ancestor’s eyes to the starry heavens. I prefer to look to the sages of past times to find answers to my present predicament.

The ancients came up with the idea of the psyche or soul. The supposed ‘ghost’ that dwells within our material home called body. Others suggested that we are not only bipartite creatures, but tripartite, comprising body, soul AND spirit. After 60 years on planet Earth I’m plumping for the latter – my human experiences thus far appear to validate it. I best explain.

I’m most definitely a body, at least as far as I can tell. Maybe the Zen Masters are correct in claiming that it’s illusory. Perhaps ultimately it is, though when I accidentally bump into a hard object, it painfully seems real enough. It certainly is temporary, as like all flesh, it will eventually pack it in and return to dust.

So then, what about the psyche-soul? Well, I tend to see it as the interface that we require while living in the world of form. A permeable membrane that lies between the material realm and ultimate Reality. It’s the grand sum of all our central nervous system wiring and the memories of past experiences. The slate, where our space-time perceptions are recorded to form our Earthly I. The only trouble is that it quickly fragments and competes with itself as unconditional love is withdrawn in our formative years. Trauma also skews it’s take on who we really are. It absorbs rejection and pain, as well as acceptance and join. A neutral recorder of all that comes our way. No wonder our psyche-soul needs salvation or a Divine reboot. It is the store where we suppress our angst, a splintered self that most definitely requires the restorative balm of Divine Love.

And so we come to spirit, or breath, to be more accurate. The Transcendence within, the spark of the Divine Fire which has burned within since our conception in the heart of God. It’s not only ours, but ultimately it is who we are. It’s the irreducible core, upon which all other aspects of our being hang their temporary presence. It has never been separate from its Divine Source, no matter what the state of our restless psyche-soul. As we suffer the earthly ride of emotional and physical disturbance, there lies a pearl of great peace under its heavy load. A part of us wired for wholeness and union with the One without angst. Unfortunately, most of us only reckon on the psyche-soul for our identity; an extremely risky game at best. It’s what the old religious divines referred to as soulish. A self-imposed limitation that ignores through ignorance the very Life source within.

To be ‘born from above’ by the windswept Presence of Divine Love, is to awaken to Self and all its buried treasures. To merely focus on the daily ups and downs of psyche soul, is to be religious at best and despairing at worst. No, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, a tripartite traveller in this Virtual Reality of life. Looking out on the grey damp skies of Lincoln city, I think I’ll reckon on who I really am today; a fragile human being who homes a timeless spark within, one that portals the Presence that I long for.

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Jesus, Junkies & Abuse ~ Why?

Jesus, Junkies & Abuse ~ Why?

Well, that’s it. My latest wee book baby has just been dispatched into the big, wide world of religious/spiritual literature.

Frankly, it’s a bit of a relief to have it finally fly free into the hearts and minds of its present and future readers?

Really? How come?

Well, I much prefer to write of Divine Love and its compassionate Otherness, rather than tackle the painful issues of religious addiction and spiritual abuse. I’m a bit of a mystic at heart, happy to spend my days walking in the solitude of Silence, drinking in the vibes of both Self and Source. I’m much happier penning a wee poem, than delving into the dysfunctional world of religious group dynamics and control.

And yet, these topics must be considered and brought into the Light of day. Many thousands have travelled the same path as myself, and it mainly for those that I write. Those who gave their early life energy to a particular take on the Christian faith, one that ultimately proved to be delusional and debilitating. In the idealism of youth, we are prone to follow Christian gurus and their packaged theologies. Sometimes, we grow out of it without any signs of inner angst, sometimes not. It is for this later band of the walking wounded that I’ve written ‘Jesus, Junkies & Abuse’; the burnt-out ex-devotees of the Christian world.

Recently, an old Christian friend of mine got in touch with me, a little upset that I keep writing about these difficult issues. Encouraging me to ‘get over it’, as he himself had done through years of psychological counselling, he admonished me to move on. A still dedicated, albeit more open-minded member, of a large Belfast Charismatic church, he just can’t understand why I keep going over ‘old ground’. Now, I can understand where he’s coming from, and yet I reckon that the topics concerned aren’t merely personal, but ones that must be aired and regularly discussed by the Christian community at large.

On a personal level, I have moved on, although the scars of my past religious zealotry will remain with me till the day I die. My somewhat sensitive heart will always be toward my fellow pilgrims, those who have ditched Jesus and his God along with the abusive religious bath water. If my wee writings can encourage those damaged by dysfunctional religious belief and practice to somehow re-engage with the Nazarene and his Source Divinity, then my literary efforts will not have been in vain.

For those who have to ‘put up’ with the evangelising, somewhat targeted zeal of friends, family and work colleagues, I’ve tried to explain the religious adherent’s mindset, so as to better understand them, and find a way of ‘coping’ with their constant  salvation nagging. Let’s be honest, it’s not easy, sharing the same psychological space with a religious junkie. Not easy at all. The protection of Self and its inner space must be paramount, as we’re bombarded by guilt and shame, the dual conversion tools lobbed towards us in a frenzy of evangelistic concern. May JJ&A help such targets of Christian love maintain their sense of psychological equilibrium in the face of such constant manipulative pressure.

So now it’s back to walking among the forests and hedgerows of rural England. For it’s there that I pick up the faint whisperings of Glory, the One outside the minefield of metaphysical rivalry and religious warfare. Hopefully there, among the leafy shades of early Autumn, I can recharge my batteries and find the inspiration for what comes next!

With much love

Your friend

Dylan

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Time

Time

Time

I guess most of us were brought up to think of time as linear. Today is before tomorrow but after yesterday etc! Yet, isn’t it weird how the past keeps creeping up on us, particularly in our dreams and day dreams. It’s like the mud on our boots, that we can’t quite shake off. Both good and bad memories tend to haunt us like some spectre, refusing to let go and head into oblivion. We’re told by the neuroscientists that everything’s recorded in the brain. The Psychologists inform us that it’s absorbed by the psyche and with us for good. The mystics tell us that there is only the Eternal Now and that all is happening, or rather being simultaneously. Some days it seems like the seers are correct. I’d better explain.

Like the shutter of a camera momentarily opening to catch a frozen shot of time, so we occasionally experience an unexpected showing, when Reality passes through the aperture of soul to imprint its Presence on our spirit Self. This brief awareness is sent to give us hope, that the world of space-time doesn’t ultimately exist. It’s sent as a beacon of hope as we struggle against the impending doom of death and all its associated struggles and fears.

No, once awareness has done her thing, we can’t take this ego caricature of life, as seriously as we once did. We really don’t move from one stage of life to another; we just are and we just are Now. The future appears to be an open book, one in which we can choose which line to follow towards our seemingly inevitable demise. I’m not so sure though. Perhaps the future is already stored within our spiritual DNA, ready for our psyche-perception to catch up. What we are Now is what we shall be. There is a timeless seed lying within the light/darkness womb of our space-time reality. This seed is really what it’s all about, not the ego endeavours of survival, our desperate attempts to hang onto the cliff face of safety.

The secret of happiness, and indeed of peace, is knowing that space-time is merely a games arcade, one in which we play the games of ego, before waking up to who we really are and more importantly where we really are. The old mystics claimed that we dwell within the bosom of God. I can go along with that, for the more we discover about the Cosmos and its rationale, the more we don’t know.

So, if today a wee problem is niggling away at you, not to worry, for as Jewel sings, ‘Worry is wasteful, and useless in times like this’, The big picture deactivates both worry and anxiety. We are birthed and exist for the Divine pleasure; like energy we cannot not be. We only change form. So, let space-time throw all it can at us for we belong to another place, indeed, to another Presence, the Alpha & Omega, the One in whom we dwell.

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Speed King

speed king

Speed King

Ego loves speed. The faster the better it reasons in its frantic dervish dash to get things done. Having said that I’ve only an hour to write this wee blog so I’d better get moving! Yes, ego is a speed king, the psycho-spiritual element of our space-time perception that loves to live on the edge and make deadlines. The trouble is though that it rarely makes it, leaving us burnt out and crashed in some kind of circumstantial ditch with the wheels spinning.

You see, ego dashes around, trying to take control of the Tao River that gently flows through our central core of being. Why the crazy need for speed. Well, ego is primarily motivated by fear, the illegitimate child of the mythical, Edenic Fall. For ego is always trying to impress Source, the one that it foolishly believes it has to please. An angry God gives birth to a restless ego; one that frantically notices the clock ticking away towards judgement day.

The fear of rejection, and the need for security make ego plunge headlong into its salvation tasks, usually without any regard for the consequences. When we feel the psychic revs hitting red on the dial of our inner life, we know that ego is in play. It promises much in its dash for control as our psycho-spiritual project manager. Scampering from solution to solution ego tries every trick in the book to get the right results, and yet, it usually fails. Moving at speed the potential for creative solutions is left far behind in the dust of delirium.

When we’re under pressure, another misconceived hallucination of the multi-talented ego, fear kicks in and we head off on the road to frustration and defeat. There’s got to be another way, otherwise ego will lead us to an early grave. So what’s the alternative? Well, thankfully we have another helper within, one who isn’t fazed by fear or its portrayal of ominous consequences. It’s our spirit spark, that little portal to Divine Wisdom. It’s the path which the prodigal took on his way home, the lightened way that leads to Love and validation. What’s more, when spirit is involved things happen that ego could never imagine. Spirit and its sponsor work with poise and elegance, the confidence that comes from being rather than striving. In the midst of our ego storm lies a peace awaiting our engagement, the answer to the illusory pressures that we face. For beyond our perceived reality lies a greater Reality, the stress free Mind of God. Tapping into spirit, that still small voice, we tap into Spirit Source itself with its all-knowing perception and ability to create out of nothing.

Slowing down, is the first step to wisdom and the disengagement of our personal speed king. It’s a choice that’s achievable, no matter what ego says in it huff and puff manic state. Stepping out of ego can be instantaneous as we tune into another voice, a voice of firm serenity, one bursting with solutions and the creativity of serenity. Now, it takes trust, but that’s what the whole scenario is about, learning to trust that we are more than a bunch of atoms tossed to and fro by the chaos of chance. In another Reality we are the conscious co-creators of Source and invited to try out our powers.

Well, that’s it for today! Must dash! Things to do and people to see! 🙂

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Spark

Spark

What on earth keeps us going? What is it that gets us to the end of this, our roller-coaster ride that we call life. Of course ego claims the rights to our existence. We live in a dangerous world and ego has carried us over the line, like some Saving Private Ryan Marine type figure, exhausted but mission accomplished. I’m afraid that I can’t agree and here’s why.

Suffering is only in the eye of the beholder, and that eye is our fragmented psyche-soul, the one known as ego. The psyche is here to help us ‘experience’ what appears to be reality, this space-time simulation of existence. It’s the software that helps us feel every up and down on the wave of life. Its settings are either winning or losing, exhilaration or pain. All relational battles that cause us dismay are felt here. All circumstances are interpreted by psyche as a high or a low.

And so we travel along the illusion of time, picking up little victories here and there, along with the painful defeats that edge us ever closer to rock bottom. Now, the power of positive thinking or its New Age equivalent will get us so far. Shiny faced successful gurus point us in the direction of their secret, one usually packaged for the self-help marketplace. Now of course things seem to go better when we’re positive, the power of attraction and all that. Yet, a downer usually lurks around the bend, as we sail along reckoning we’ve got this life thing cracked. The downer in question may be a result of our presumption, but often it’s sent along for our own good. For there’s nothing worse than an ego in full flight, gliding on the winds of its own achievement. No, the downers are needed for us to reach our ultimate but unknown destination.

Now some of us feed ego with all the ammunition that it craves. Paranoia, sees defeats lying along both past and future timelines of our lives. If the sun shines it’s too hot. If everything is freezing over, it’s hell in reverse. The little interpreter within our heads is skewed, leading us into the wilderness of depression and despair. Ego, loves it, feeding our darkness to justify its role as saviour.

Religious belief, particularly the Charismatic/Pentecostal brand that predominates much of Western Christianity, gives us a measure of relief, albeit temporarily. For to be involved, is often not to think, and that definitely nullifies the contradictory ups and downs for a while. Cleverly interpreting the highs as God’s blessing and the lows as Satanic attack, we ride the Christian life, quoting the relevant Bible verses until the big one blocks our path. The Transpersonal Crisis shakes up everything, dislodging our stoical belief in the protection of God, the One who looks out for us. No wonder, such a crisis leaves us disillusioned and broken, for we later discover that ego was the sponsor of our religious ride, an ardent ‘Amener’ who backed our every move.

So then what are we to do. Well, I reckon that we need to turn our attention away from the psyche-soul, our sensor of life, and turn to another hidden participator in the human experience, the real power behind our being, viz. our spirit. Now before you think I’m getting a wee bit too esoteric, please let me explain. When I make something, I leave something of myself in the work concerned. Hopefully in my own writings, there is something of me transmitting itself to you, an inexplicable touch that is received within. Similarly I believe that Source has deposited something of its own Being within us, a spark from the Divine Fire of Creativity. An altogether other that lies deep within our consciousness, waiting for our day of awakening. A pin-hole of Cosmic Consciousness that lets in the Light, that we call God.

Such a spirit is altogether different form our wounded psyche-soul, not having a trace of defensiveness in its essence, for it has been birthed in the Divine. When all around is a high or low, spirit sits quietly, confident in its own Being, waiting for its time of appearing, waiting for ego to burn itself out in the pursuit of happiness and security. And burn itself out it most surely will. So, let’s step back from the spin of ego, smiling as it attempts to recruit us in its dervish dance of salvation. No, rather embrace the Queendom within, the portal of Divine Love, where all is well and shall be well.

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Growing A Church?

Growing A Church?

Now I’d better own up before I proceed. I used to be a church junkie, albeit a slightly reticent one in my somewhat zealous youth. You see, I believed the evangelistic take on God and his kids. God is working in the world and His agency is the institution belovedly known as church. Back in my Irish homeland, as soon as one came into an experience of the risen Nazarene, one was instantly ushered into a sheep fold under the name of a ‘sound’ church. I was never really sure what a sound church was, for those who embraced the standard orthodoxy seemed to be asleep to me, the only sound being my snoring during the pastor’s sermon. No, for me it was a more radical version of Jesus community, or so I thought. I was a founding member of a Charismatic, (yes, speaking in tongues etc) fellowship that attempted to do things differently. I should have known better though, for all life-giving religious or spiritual movements eventually conservatise, becoming clones of their older predecessors. Northern Ireland was, and still is, peppered with man’s attempt to get Divinity into a box, much like any other Bible Belt area of God’s good Earth.

That being said, I want to look at our fixation at growing a church, to use a trendy but ineffective term that’s doing the religious rounds. If one has a church, a group bang in the centre of Divine Will, then why not grow it – the bigger the better right! Well no, at least in my experience. Here are a few reasons for small is beautiful.

1) God isn’t obsessed by church like most of His/Her kids.

Jesus groups were to be transient expressions of God realignment, not the be all and end all. Packed buildings of Jesus people on Sunday mornings aren’t on God’s agenda.

2) Spiritual life is best shared through conversation and friendship.

The Nazarene hinted at this when talking about the two or three gathered into His name. When a few folk, with open and respectful hearts tune into the Divine in conversation, there is an opportunity for Presence to manifest and flow between those present.

3) Growing churches was never a Divine suggestion.

Growing things is frankly more to do with market share than the Way of the Kingdom/Queendom.

Institutionalised faith needs institutions and institutions need cash to survive. Once established, rigid faith groups frankly need bums on seats to keep going, and of course as we all know failure is never on the agenda for those believing God is with them.

3) Growth is an organic experience and one that is deeply personal.

The numbers game in religious circles, patronisingly disguised as a concern for the lost, is nothing to do with true growth.

Spiritual growth is the growing awareness of who we are, and our place in the Divine Heart. Such growth often follows times of great personal darkness. It cannot be manufactured on the assembly line of programmed religion. Rather it takes place in the desert of aloneness, when Light invades our Darkness.

4) Growth of our group encourages religious competition.

I’m afraid I have to smile when a new church opens up here in Lincoln. The pastor priest will always claim to be in total harmony with the existing churches in the city. Their targets for membership are always the ‘unchurched’, especially the young unchurched who are susceptible to subtle, or not so subtle, love bombing. What often happens though is a case of sheep transference. When the shiny new religious stall is set out, Jesus people sniff out a better pastureland and hop the church fence to enter the new field of fellowship. And so it continues, throughout the ages. Like competing supermarkets, religious groups are in the marketplace of desire. the subliminal message is always this: ‘Our take on Jesus is more authentic than that of other groups, so come aboard!’. The merry-go-round world of church membership falsely feeds the growth dreams of model pastors/priests. We are getting new people so we must be fulfilling God’s agenda.

5) Big numbers inflate ego’s group identity.

When we get high on our numbers, ego is lurking, willing to elevate us to a special status, that of God’s chosen.

Growth is put down to God adding to our numbers rather than our clever marketing or manipulation of broken folk looking for answers. Ego, looks over its sacred empire and gives itself a pat on the back, while giving God all the glory, at least publicly.

It’s empowering to be a member of a large and cutting edge group, though in time the ride will end in disillusionment and tears. It’s at this stage that God may get a chance to have a wee chat with us and bind up our self-administered wounds.

6) Church and its size is irrelevant in the great scheme of things

While caught up in the church growth delusion we tend to see life as a life-saving operation. It’s a case of getting as many folk as possible into the Jesus lifeboat as possible before they check out of space-time. And as most of us know who’ve sailed the seven seas in such a craft, it’s really a delusion, for the boat of salvation is merely a church expansion programme. Divine Love has birthed all and will embrace all, church membership or not. To limit a spiritual coming home to joining a church is a big mistake. For often we leave the integrity of our God encounter at the door to play a different game, one driven by the need to belong and be accepted; a shinier version of the game that we played in our wilder days.

So there you have it. Some wee thoughts why it’s best not to get involved with your church’s expansion drive known as evangelism. Since the days of my evangelistic zeal I’ve discovered that God is big, very big indeed. Faith groups are only part of a world that is loved, a Love without restraints that waits at the city gate for those with ears to hear to listen and respond. The Voice is everywhere, even, dare I say it, in the back pew of my old hemorrhaging church.

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Glass Half Full - Glass Half Empty

Glass Half Full – Glass Half Empty

Life is strange, no doubt about it. We are either up or down most of the time. Sometimes just hanging on in the middle before setting off again on our space-time big dipper. I reckon that it’s all to do with our psyche-soul and the programming that been laid down in it during the formative years of our life.

Some folk are natural optimists. They are infectious to be around, always seeing the glass half-full. They appear to be thankful for the smallest of things and ride the wave of life without a care in the world. Others among us, whilst recognising that we have some water in our glass, worry that it is draining away, as we approach the inevitable empty glass – death. For us, life seems a great big tragic joke. For the half-full brigade it appears like a never-ending Disney ride.

I guess we inherit our psyche settings from our parents, at least to some extent. Watching from our buggies and cribs, we took note of how the big two-handled life’s affairs. Tone of voice, facial expressions, number of swear words, all swept into our fledgling soul. Armed with this data we headed into childhood and our own encounters with the twists and turns of life. Copying our parents was the automatic wiring that kicked in when both the good times and the bad times rolled. Admittedly, over the course of time, we added a few strategies of our own, but as a rule we were glass observers in the mould of our significant two.

And then along came God, to shake up the mix. Either the glass half empty God of legalistic religion, or the overflowing God of the Nazarene, Yeshua bar Yosef. Now I reckon our taste in faith has much to do with the early programming of our god-like parents. Those raised by glass half empty folk head straight for the certainties of black and white legal religion, while the half-fullers head for the overflowing ecstasy of glass-filled faith.

Of course things can change. One dose of Divine intervention and yesterday’s half full devotee is transformed into today’s overflowing aficionado. One dose of tragedy and the ecstatic, running over follower crashes to Earth with a bump, seeing a cracked empty glass lying before them.

So what is to become of us? Well, I reckon that life must be lived in balance. Doom and denial have no place in the spiritual Journey. For wisdom, is holding both glass views in tension. We live in a world of decay and one of new birth. Both play their role in the cycle of life. Like the ocean tide, life comes and goes. ecstasy embraces us, only to withdraw back into the waters of memory. Fear grips us, only to release its hold as the surge of Spirit breaks upon the shores of consciousness. We ebb and flow. We drink of both cups in the party of life.

And yet, it won’t always be so. For, in the fulness of time, we move on to another Reality, one where weeping is no more and fear is obsolete. Not the teasing touches of eternity, that come our way in life, but the real thing. The consummation of all that timelessly springs from Source. The place where the human spirit bursts into fulness, no longer needing the ups and downs of glass illusions. For here Reality has replaced reality, the Prototype the Shadow.

Meanwhile, lets not get too upset or thrilled with the state of our glass. Rather, lets watch and wait as the tides of Life take us where they will.

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