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wasted-energy

Wasted Energy

When all is said and done, rivalry and inter-personal warfare are a tragic case of wasted energy and wasted lives. Following ego’s diktats to show the other what we’re made of is a descent into the abyss, that dark spiral of reciprocal attacks and character assassination. The demonisation of the other in an attempt to protect our sense of personal integrity and personhood promises much but is a psycho-spiritual cul-de-sac. For as we launch our first or second strikes of verbal or physical animosity our true Self only retreats back into the mists of ego, as we await the expected counter-attack.

 Such games of destructive ping-pong only exhaust the limited supplies of energy that lie within our fragile psyche. At the end of it all we both lie exhausted in the wastelands of our our making. Two insecure and deeply unhappy souls who have nothing left to give. The reciprocal antagonism has taken its toll as darkness appears to win the day.

 Thankfully though there is another way. We can protect our Selves from damage in three simple steps.

 Firstly, we can realise that we are not our ego’s. There is much more to us than our shadow self, who masquerades as our be all and end all. No, we have a Self that flows from Source, the child of God within us that is fashioned for freedom and Divine connection. A timeless jewel, that lies behind the conscious mind, one that defines our very being and is beyond the reach of other. All wounding in inter-personal scuffles takes place on the sensitive plains of psyche, our space-time self. That’s where we feel the pain. But in spirit never.

 Secondly, we can walk away. There is no need to wage war on the battlefields of ego. By detaching from the fight and simply withdrawing from the frenzied fury of other, we give ourselves space to refocus and reconnect with what’s really important, namely our core Self. In the heightened energies of the fray it’s almost impossible to stay free from ego’s reflex response. It’s part of our animal wiring. No, best to disconnect with all that being flung at us and find our Self in the depths Solitude, for it is there that we are loved unconditionally by Source. For some of us that may mean withdrawing physically from the scene of battle, or the ever-increasing acrimonious conversation that has ensued. Communication usually needs to be temporarily put on hold, if not permanently. In doing so we are doing our ‘opponent’ a favour by breaking the cycle of vicious engagement. They too, on our departure, will have the opportunity to reconnect with who they really are.

 Thirdly, once we have settled into the calm of spirit Self, we can take the Divine option, namely to forgive our fellow combatant. To forgive is not to deny the hurt that their ego has caused us, but to supersede it by speaking words of release to their Higher Self, the divine spark within. For we are all dysfunctional, one no better than the other, yet ones with the same Spark within. To hold forgiveness back is to keep ourselves chained to the realm of ego and its deep angst, the pain of words spoken and actions received. In forgiving we are not letting the other off the hook, but letting our Self off the hook of victimhood, the moral high-ground that only results in continuing pain. No. in forgiving the other we are detaching at the level of wounded psyche and showing our Self great compassion. Once done, the Divine healing powers can begin to seal the cuts and bruises of our past piercings.

 Knowing and living with other folk isn’t easy, particularly when we attempt to relate on the level of ego. It’s well nigh impossible. It’s on the heights of spirit that we can give and receive love, that therapeutic energy that flows from Source.

So let’s give up the fighting, no matter what the cause.

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models-and-ideologies

When, as individuals, communities or nations, we come under great pressure ,we often enter what I term ‘the Silly Season’. As cracks begin to show within our psyche/soul or within the collective of humanity, we tend to go into a tailspin, looking for an anchor to hold us in the storm, the more solid looking the better.

In times like this we tend to choose a charismatic Model to show us the way and impart some of their perceived strength into our shaky self-belief. Unfortunately this only makes things worse for as we swop something of our individuality for a piece of their action, we are entering a volatile world of transmitted desire, one that promises much but will eventually end in tears. For those we worship today we disdain tomorrow, once the imitative enchantment is broken. In the meantime we set our rational thinking aside as we receive the spin of our Model with quasi-religious devotion, basking in their glory and their public stance on issues dear to our heart.

 Now don’t get me wrong. Leaders, particularly charismatic ones have a role to play as we search for answers. It’s just that they themselves are not the answer. A leader worth their salt, no matter how appealing will always send us back into our inner world, one stripped of all but Self and Source.

 At other times, in our semi-fragile state, we seek solace in an ideology or belief system, a way of thinking that claims truth, one apart from all the other mind-game perceptions on offer. Like a hungry dog we gobble it up it like a piece of discarded meat, in an attempt to satisfy our pangs of inner turmoil. Again, it tends to be a case of all or nothing as we adopt the political, religious or philosophical creed with great gusto, elevating it to the dizzy heights of Truth.

As an ideological convert we crusade for the cause with blind devotion and disregard for those of the ‘other’ camp. But let’s be honest though – thought systems can never unite us, not even the ones that proclaim our inherent unity. For in adopting an ideology we automatically disregard others, most of which will contain a slither of truth. As soon as the shutters come up and the others demonized, we have only entered into a mirage of freedom, one based on rivalry and a falsely perceived purity. No, in attempting to heal our inner angst with the unquestioning adoption of an established thought system we are only entering the us-and-them contagion of the mob, albeit one dressed in the deceptive garments of morality.

 Ideologies tend to the heightened caricatures of valid perceptions that tend to separate rather than unite. Even the no-ideology tribe, those of us who adopt supposedly free thinking trains of thought aren’t really that free, for in adopting such a belief we tend to demonise those who do not, looking down upon them with a smug superiority.

 So where does that leave us? Is there no solution to our internal our outer insecurities? No Model or Ideological crutch upon which to lay our restless angst? Well there is an answer and thankfully It’s not a crutch – a Light which only dwells in the Darkness of our brokenness and brutal honesty. A place where ego and its frantic search for justification finally surrender to pure Being. Burnt up in the Fires of Divine Love the addictive desire for Model heroes and/or one-size-fits-all belief systems no longer haunts our waking hours. We have come Home and all is well.

The Silly Season is over.

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mind-control

Mind Control

Who’s really in control of our minds? Most of us are programmed into thinking that we are, that we’re autonomous creatures will a cast iron free will. Yet, I’ve never really subscribed to this somewhat naive take on who really pulls our strings.

Nowhere is this more clear than in the field of advertising, where zillions of dollars are spent on bombarding us with the latest must-have product. If we our minds were rock solid fortresses then the cash is splashed to no avail No, it works, even if it takes time. I’m living proof of it as I sit here typing on my MacBook Pro. Capitalism, if you think about it, is built on the practice of mind control. We are convinced that we need something when we really do not, thus making a big buck for the manufacturer and cents for the Chinese worker.

But how does this mind control work? Well, it’s all about association and desire. We have an internal craving to be the best that we can be and this is mistakenly channeled in the direction of a Model, one who oozes coolness and a form of transcendence. The root problem of course is that we don’t see ourselves as images of the Divine, for if we did we’d detach from the magnetic field of the other and just enjoy being ourselves. The Divine spark within is smothered by ego’s desire to absorb another’s essence, especially one who appears to have it all together, way beyond our own tawdry limits.

Models, those transmitting desire and availability are all around us. Entertainment, Sport, Politics, Religion and dare I say it, even Spirituality, have their iconic individuals who shine the light of their Being into our inadequacy-packed darkness. The flow of desire and its subtle nuances operates under the radar of the conscious mind. We don’t pick up on what’s really happening. Our rationality is superceded by deeper forces at work. Once hooked though, the conscious mind reboots, creating a phony narrative to cover over our entrapment. It assures us that we are still individuals, ones with mere preferences. Yet, our actions reveal otherwise, revealing a control that emanates from another in the guise of influence.

So here we are sitting in a swirling matrix of desire transmissions, with all and sundry selling their selves to our starving psyches that seek to recover their sense of divinity. What can we do to escape this mesmeric contagion that so easily infects our sense of self. Well, thankfully our Models tend to eventually burn out, like some distant Dark Star that’s had its day. When the light of their self-projection fades we tend to see them as they really are, broken folk like ourselves. Their promised empowerment runs dry like a well that been visited once too often. The blinkers fall away giving us a chance to recover a glance of our own being, albeit often a momentary one. For on the conveyor belt of desire a new shining, all-singing dancing Model quickly appears to replace their predecessor, promising us an ever closer experience of our long sought personal utopia.

After a number of Model infatuations and disillusionments, we finally get the message. Recognising the sea of seductive desire transmissions in which we swim, we finally look within. Past the hook marks of previous fixations, to the very core of our Being, where desire finally finds its true Home: our spirit Self and the One who gives it birth. A realignment that only has eyes for the Wonder that lies both within and without.

So let’s not judge the cynics among us, those who may be closer to Divine Source than we imagine, those who through bitter experience have seen the desire game for what it truly is. These doubting Thomases may be only one step away from the resurrected Other and personal enlightenment. Minds that awaken must first walk through the valley of disillusionment. Darkness followed by Light seems to be the order of the day.

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Black & White

As a young man growing up in Northern Ireland, I believed the world to be black & white. Not the physical world of course, though with our old 50’s TV sets everything jumped out of the screen in depressing shades of monotonous grey. Oh, what a joy it was when my Aunt Marie got the first colour TV in our family circle. Nothing was ever the same again!

Anyway, those zealous, heady days of youth saw me living and moving in a world of evil black and an extremely holy white. I’d better explain. My dour Irish culture was a tribal construct of ‘us’ and ‘them’, viz. Protestants and Catholics. The infamous troubles only highlighted this predominant world view. Of course, the goodies were us, the besieged loyal defenders of all things British and the baddies, the Catholic rebels who wanted the Pope of Rome and all his Jesuit troops to replace our hard-earned Protestant heritage.

Thankfully, somewhere along the line, Jesus appeared to step in and I soon switched my allegiance to evangelical Christianity, albeit a radical Charismatic brand. The black morphed into all those existing faith traditions who didn’t dance in the aisles or speak in mesmeric tongues, while the white became an authoritarian stream of revivalism that sucked me into its beguiling mission.

Of course, such black and white takes on life can only last for a while. For the Light eventually dawns that there are more hues than we first imagined in the multifarious Mind of God. The Divine is a Transcendence of Colour; a pure Light yes, but One that refracts into a bounteous spectrum of tantalising tints. Our black &white mindsets are only meant to be temporary guides through the early days of our time on planet Earth. Fairy story settings that keep us safe until we find our psycho-spiritual bearings in the great, but often confusing Dance that we call life.

Thankfully, we don’t have to go searching for the colour that our hearts were born to reflect and enjoy. For the Divine Artist, will find us with a stoke of their internal brush, a splash of unexpected pigmentation that will change our perception for good. The time of the Masterpiece is of Its choosing, a decision to begin on the chequered canvas of our black & white programming. The time for conversion, from ego’s dualistic paradigm, to a spontaneous and uncontrollable frenzy of colour. A foretaste of the limitless sweep of tints known as the Glory of God.

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Safety

Is Life Safe?

 

Let’s face it: most of us Jesus followers don’t believe that life is safe. The reason? Well, we unquestioningly believe that we’re living in enemy territory, a realm where someone other than the Divine is boss. This dualistic form of thinking has always been around, starting with extreme Gnostic beliefs and certain brands of Greek philosophy  which influenced the early Jesus movement. In contrast, traditional Jewish thought tended to see God saturating the whole of life and taking full responsibility for it. A God who didn’t hold back in enveloping  both the darkness and light of human experience. Added to the early Christian mix were the fallen angel myths of late Jewish Apocalyptic writings, those heady tales that had a decisive bearing on the embryonic faith. Soon after ‘the Satan’ was enthroned as ‘the god of this world’.

So how does such a take on life and the world we find ourslves in  influence our personal spirituality. Well, let me suggest that those of us hooked on the anti-Satan Resistence Movement brand of Christianity have greatly underestimeated the length of the Divine Reach. Many Christians, particularly those of the evangelistic persuasion, tend to see the dark hand of the enemy in the minutae of life. So much so that they find it hard to enjoy anything and chill out in the knowledge that Love wins; indeed that Love has been in control all along.

The result of this dualistic war-footing approach is that one can never afford to take one’s eye of the psycho-spiritual ball. For, to do so is to court disaster. That’s the reason that many Christian believers are so into rigid self-discipline, disguised as the victorious life. Their stoical attempt at remaing kitted out in the ‘whole armour of God’ in case a fiery dart manages to penetrate their spiritual defenses. It’s a tough way to live. I know for I’ve been there, having played the spiritual warfare card for the early decades of my faith walk.

The key suggestion that I’m making is that our only ‘real’ enemy is our egoic-self, the one who projects fear for fun and conjurs up Don Quixote-like windmill foes to justify its driven existence. It’s a truly dastardly plot, one that much religious falls victim to. Ego loves an enemy without, for it diverts our attention from our own dysfunctional psycho-spiritual malaise, viz. internally skewed vision. For where there is Light we often see Darkness and where Darkness hides we perceive a holy religious Light. It’s all a matter of perspective, a case of which specs we have been indoctrinated to wear.

Thankfully, when we jack it all in due to burnout, leaving the stoical ranks of the Christian Army , we’re shocked to discover that Divine Love has been marinating life with its Presence all along. Life is much easier than we first imagined. Ego’s straw men go up in flames as we see the Light in places and people that we previously viewed as off limits to the Divine and Its Love. Of course you might conclude that I’ve become all wishy-washy and lovey-dovey, a utopian dreamer in a dangerous and threatening world. Not so, for all too clearly I realise the suffering that takes place all around us and our heightened natural instinct to avoid it and demonise it. Yet, I reckon that the Divine, the One who paradoxically resides above all and in our midst, has never yielded ground to our ego projections. In Reality there is only Source. The mock battles of our fervent minds are just that – mind games birthed by a wounded ego, one that hurts like hell.

To step back and lay down our arms is surely the sign of ultimate trust. That Obi-Wan Kenobi moment when we finally realise that we can’t be annihilated nor destroyed. An overriding knowing that flows from Divine Love Itself. An awareness that outside our ego’s virtual-world all is well and shall be well, world without end.

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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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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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