As the Russian hackers and others devoted to this site have noticed, it has been rather dormant for some time. To say the last two years have been rough would be like saying that World War Two was a slight disagreement. Those who know why know, those who don’t don’t.
The poem IF, by Rudyard Kipling, has been a favourite of mine since I first read it as a teenager, and it pretty much describes my sense of things. Along with the parts of the samurai poem I know by heart, they have, at difficult times, been a source of some comfort. This time they fell far short. So much so I didn’t even think of them. And instead, something else happened. After a week of no sleep, I went to see a film.
One at random pretty much, and which I knew nothing about other than the picture on the poster. I was just hoping for a mild distraction from the mental anguish I was undergoing, and I walked in, with a friend, to see Cloud Atlas.
The combination of lack of sleep, stress, anguish and the underlying message of that film (and I have since read the book, and trust me, the film is, for once, far better!) had an effect on me that was life changing. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that film saved my life.
It also changed me permanently. Something happened inside me that I suppose secularists and psychologists, maybe even neurologists would attribute to some chemical imbalance or what have you, but that I am absolutely certain was nothing other than a much more grounded view of reality than I have ever had in my life up to that point.
Suddenly, my almost life-long agnosticism was washed away. The first impact was stunning and marvellous. What I realised without any shred of doubt was that another reality exists, both intertwined and superior to the material one we inhabit every day, yet so subtle and undemanding upon us, that we ignore its very existence, even if, it is the true root of all existence. Some call this reality God. I called it the love-world, which is about as hippy a name as I could come up with, but the reality of it was undeniable. There is an underlying love that permeats everything. That is what I knew.
The other thing I knew is that for all my success at navigating the material world, I was a neophyte here. A Bambi that could not even walk in this world. Luckily at the time I was not working and I could stay home. I did not leave the house for a week, because other people, the television, the smallest interactions, made me most dramatically and painfully aware of how EVERY SINGLE EVENT in our secular life is DESIGNED to keep you from this truth, which is natural, resides in every one of us and underlies and underpins all of creation. Watching even a simple film on television was excruciatingly difficult. Adverts were like war zones that would produce the effect of being a shell-shocked PTSD human wreck.
When I first stepped out of the house I walked silently along the river front and when I saw a woman about a hundred metres ahead of me by the rail of the river I could instantly tell she was crying, had broken up with her boyfriend or husband and was terribly sad. I could not even see her face at the time as she had her back to me and was too far for me to be able to see the features of her face.
For a time, talking or dealing with other human beings was very tough. I had to literally try and shut my own heart off from the noise and to not get blasted by the daily inanities they seemed to give an importance to that was (and is) utterly absurd.
TV adverts were the worst. I skip them regularly anyway but now even the first few seconds of one would be enough to send me into a kind of anxiety attack. Now…just in case you are thinking I am a pussyfied little flower-waving hippie, and in case you are new here, it needs to be explained that I have faced real-life life and death situations with less nervousness than these situations caused me now.
The problem was that at home, alone, I let my guard down. I existed in silence and tried to relax from the daily horror of seeing how far from truth every single aspect of our life here on Earth has drifted.
A TV advert had the power to send me into despair because every single one of them has such force at pushing you out from yourself, out from truth, away from light and love and straight into the most banal, most ephemeral, most illusionary, deluded and ultimately perverse trivial ugliness that it made me feel in my whole mind, body and soul, how desperate and hopeless the situation is.
In these months I read from a book I found called The Cloud of Unknowing, which was the only place I found that described this alternate reality in any way that I could recognise it without a doubt. And it was also a manual. A survival manual really, for someone like me who having had no knowledge of it whatever was suddenly flung into this new realm, where none of my life-long and hard-earned skills counted for anything.
Daily I prayed to rather have to face dozens of armed crazy persons intent on torturing me to death than the spiritual, emotional and mental attacks I had to deal with. And I swear, I would always prefer such a direct and physical confrontation, even at very bad odds, than the internal tearing I had to go through.
Nevertheless, after a time, I began to learn a few of the rules of how things worked in this new realm. The rules of the material world held no power here, in fact the opposite, they rendered you less capable, less able and sank you into despair and failure.
When trying to achieve something in the material world the mechanics of it are well-known to me and I generally do not fail at it.
But when trying to achieve something in this love-world, the rules of the material world are counter-productive. It operates by other rules. Rules that no one has really managed to codify or explain too well (though the Cloud of Unknowing does a very good job, and…if you begin to understand it, so does parts of the Bible, the New Testament more than the Old Testament, though sometimes, once you penetrate the rather dense metaphors of the Old Testament, they are also clear lessons), yet which are as real and have as real an effect on the material world as the most simple and well-known principle of engineering and the application of force to say move an object.
I began to understand faith. And it is not a dead thing. Nor a blind belief in unseen things. Faith is an active, doing thing. It is a force that moves creation and in fact creates it, however, your own ego, your own selfish desire (which are born of fear) cannot be included in the process for faith to truly work. This is hard to grasp in words and hard to do in practice, but it is, I assure you, doable.
It is invariably easier to do this process of changing material reality with faith with things you care least about. If your faith is strong and your concern regarding say your work is low, generally, you will do well in your work. Considering the how I found work after about a month from the pivotal viewing of Cloud Atlas, I am sure of this. When I was ready to resume work, I had a fleeting thought I should probably get in touch with some agencies, but in reality I got my next job without doing a damn thing other than looking out the window and seeing the sunlight on the water and sensing that I need do nothing but have faith.
Not a half hour later I got a call from an agent, which had set up an interview for me scheduled for two days later. I thanked him and asked where he had got my number from. He told me my CV. I mentioned that I didn’t recall sending it to him. Long story short, this guy had arranged an interview for me based on a CV he had from 6 years earlier. Which had not been updated. I had not spoken to him for 6 years. I didn’t even remember ever speaking to him. Now, once might be a coincidence, but I continued to find work pretty much this way. I never worked at it, never did anything other than occasionally send out an updated CV to an agent that contacted me on their own steam out of the blue. When I left one firm after working there for six months and not enjoying too much, in the hour since I left their office and my walk home, I received calls that lined up 5 different interviews for me for the next two days. As soon as I needed it and as soon as I began to act with faith towards it, I had work, and that this process has yet to fail me a single time in this field. There are others, but the point is that I think I have proved to myself the efficacy of faith. I also believe it applies in all other endeavours. Unfortunately, the things we care the most about have the most fear associated with it, and as soon as you poison faith with ego, with fear, with human desire, you screw it up.
Faith is kind of like an active observation. Say you wish to be in spot X but are in spot A. In the material world you plan, you strategise, you equip yourself and you move towards your objective, and if need be you surmount or go through obstacles until you are at location X.
In the love-world you instead stand where you are and calmly but with full awareness keep observing spot X. And you exude love and faith and trust, utter, complete trust in love (which some people call God, and I don’t disagree with the name per se, it’s just that when you lived as an Atheist and Agnostic, the word itself may have some negative connotations). As you do, if your observation is honest and free of fear or desire, you will note that object or situation of X begins to come closer. If you adjust your observation accordingly it will in time come to you. If however you rush it, or panic, or doubt, it will gravitate away again.
Furthermore, you may not get the exact X you wish. I read somewhere something that kind of summarises how this works quite nicely in a simple little aphorism:
God has only three answers to our prayers:
I have something better in mind.
As far as my experience of it goes so far, it’s accurate. And of course, I have problems with all but the clear and emphatic Yes. Mostly because I am not a patient man. I struggle to see patience as anything other than an excuse for the witless. The only place I have learnt what patience really is, is in hunting and in fighting. Patience, essentially, is one of the ways that faith demonstrates itself in the material world. Absent the knowledge of the love-world reality, there is little seeming need for patience other than as an excuse for the lazy, the dull-witted or the congenitally stupid. A fighter however, like a hunter, instinctively knows that sometimes rushing in is pointless and in fact counter-productive. One must be able to wait an indeterminate time and spring into action without notice and at full speed and as easily also stop dead-still and wait again if needed. But this I did by instinct and experience, and a natural inclination in those endeavours and in tactics. I did it still well, but less so, in overall strategy, and little or not at all in day-to-day life.
In this fashion of trial-and-error, of testing my faith and new reality by noticing effects in the material world, I continued to learn and study.
I found the exact experience and transformation I underwent in a book written by professor Alan Watts, which I purchased in an old bookshop. As it happens my copy of this book has pencilled in footnotes written by the creator of Mary Poppins who happened to own the book before me. Strange but true. The book is called Myth and Ritual in Christianity, and at about page 98 it describes in detail the exact event I underwent. I knew as soon as I had the experience, that it could not be unique and that others must have experienced it, because it is rooted in the most real of realities, and in round-about ways, all religions discuss these seemingly miraculous events. In fact, Paul of the New Testament was one such who underwent a spontaneous experience which changed him drastically in one moment.
Keep in mind that for me to discuss reading the Bible or in fact studying it, is, and was, as strange and absurd as if you had told me that one day I might become totally enthralled with the life-cycle of small tree mushrooms found in the Gobi desert and that I would move there to study them. In fact…to a certain extent, the study of the mushrooms would have been more plausible to me before I had the experience I had after seeing Cloud Atlas.
And yet, over time, I began to discover more rules. More ways of how to protect myself from the normal existence of living on Earth today and at the same time retain my internal knowledge of God. Which, as I see it, is love. The saying God is love is, in my opinion, absolutely true. It is a factual thing. I can’t prove it to you, but I have experienced it as an undeniable reality. The underlying and underpinning of all creation is love. A living love. A true love, that forces nothing upon you and patiently awaits that you may discover it and see it and of your own free will, gravitate towards it.
One of the first things that became obvious to me was the incongruence of a loving God (power/force/reality, use the name you best wish and most suits you) being real, and the shit-infested evil that we are mired in at every level on this planet.
Another thing was that I had experiences in my past that absolutely convinced me that reincarnation is not only true for me, but for several others at the very least, and may in fact be how it works for all of us. Yet, the stories and explanations of the religious who believe in reincarnation were and remain, for the most part, tragic over-simplifications of a reality that is not so complex or rigid as the religionists would have you believe. Similarly, the Christian religion is fraught with human perversions of the really quite simple message that Jesus, as a certainly divinely inspired and filled human being tried to pass on here.
It was only in noticing these discrepancies and the unavoidable logical conclusion that this place is most definitely NOT run by this loving force that I had to conclude that the Christian mythos/religion, undoubtedly had more than a few things in common with observable reality.
Luckily I have always had a tendency to go my own way, or as I wrote some 20 years ago, while it is true that no man is an Island, I am probably at the very least a Peninsula. This has allowed me to search in the New Testament (less so in the Old Testament because I had a little background research in reading that one already a while ago), in the general reality we inhabit, and in my every day experiences to try and discover more of not only how this higher reality relates to us here, without concerning myself too much with what anyone says is or is not the truth about any of it. The only way a man can really take and accept truth is by experiencing it for himself, as a noted Methodist minister, Leslie Weatherhead, wrote in his excellent The Christian Agnostic.
Because I am a practical man in the end, I try and discover how to apply the rules of this loving and superior reality so that they produce effects here in the duller, lower, material reality. Or, I suppose, as it says in the Bible somewhere, “Be in the World, not of it”.
The rules of the love-world are very different, but no less efficient, in fact, I would say they are far superior in most cases, in producing results that affect this lower reality we more commonly inhabit and are all familiar with, the material world.
In this I have made some progress. In lose terms, the fact is that Faith remains the main tool, the main weapon to defend yourself against the corruption of the lower reality as well as way to reach towards your aims and goals.
In bullet-point form then, here is what I know so far (and please keep in mind that because of how we use words, because of their limitation, because of how you have been raised and depending on how much brainwashing of a specific type you have been subjected to over another (we all have been subjected to too much of it even if like me you are a misanthropic individualist of extreme nature) you will probably misinterpret, not understand and be disappointed by my list below).
Keep in mind also that a whole book could be devoted to each of these bullet points:
- There are different levels of reality and several of them are between us and the plane of love
- There are different types of entities that inhabit different realms. Some are “good” some are neutral, some may be very good and angelic, and some are most definitely Evil. This sounds absurd and insane and for an engineer and a true scientist to say this out loud (or write it!) is difficult. It is particularly difficult because this reality (of non-physical entities that affect us on this material plane existing) is one that can only be deduced by inference, or direct experience. Inference is always going to be suspect to a hard-core empiricist and direct personal experience cannot ever be properly accepted as evidence of anything really. At least not for anyone who is not the one having the experience. Despite this, a true scientist interested in honestly researching this will have a very interesting journey and I am sure that even after a brief trip on this path will have to conclude that we are very far from knowing all we would like to know about reality.
- This Earthly realm, is NOT the province of the loving power I am certain underpins all reality. In fact, the Christian religion is the only one that quite clearly explains and defines the fact that this reality we commonly inhabit is in fact the Principality of the Prince of Lies. Yes I know. It sounds absurd to say there is such a thing as the Devil. And I don’t necessarily believe he has hooves and a pitchfork, etc. but, again, the evidence is pretty overwhelming once you begin to look with an objective eye. It is a little akin to living in a world where people sort of disappear, die by accident and so on. You accept it as normal until a freak accident exposes a little shred of the reality behind the truth and before you know it, like a good investigator following a thread, you quickly find yourself faced with the horrific truth about Soylent Green. Or the fact that the dozens of bankers that have suicided themselves over the last couple of years haven’t actually suicided themselves so much as have been “suicided” by others. Or the fact that the unmentionable building 7 fell at free-fall speed for NO REASON, but for SOME reason, no one is allowed to say “controlled demolition”. You know…like that…you don’t WANT to believe it. You reject the very IDEA. How primitive, how medieval, how superstitious, what absurd nonsense…and DAMN IT! There it is again nevertheless.
- The basic outline in the book Messages from Michael, something I read more than 20 years ago, seems pretty solid, and I have not been able to falsify it on any level in over 20 years.
- Faith is the way to truth. It is also, both metaphorically and practically, your best weapon, best armour and best method, skill and tool. Faith is an ACTIVE doing thing. It is not a passive and blind belief in absurd things. It also produces very real, tangible results in the material world. The only obstacle to it working is Fear.
- Reincarnation is true.
- So is the overall, big picture idea of Christianity but not in the narrow-minded dogmatic ways that many preach it. There is truth in Christianity and what is true is and has absolute concepts attached to it (for example the existence of a loving force behind all creation necessarily implies that Justice is not only a thing, but it needs to exist and be acted on) but overall, the petty dogmas of particular sects of Christianity are pointless and unhelpful. Keep in mind that in the NT itself it clearly states no human priest is unflawed. It also says that “where two of you gather to speak of me, there I will be”. Make of that what you will, but to me that means that no priest has any specific claim to holiness any more than any other human does. Nor do I require a special building to go into to pray or feel closer to the divine. It can help and if it does so, good, go ahead and use it, but for me it does not seem to require that I subscribe to any specific denomination of Christianity over another.
- Any doubt, fear, ego, human desire, vanity etc is NOT part of the good.
- Because we are fallen, you cannot help but screw up (see point above).
- Despite the two points above, GUILT is NOT what you should feel. You should instead, and this is the important point:
- FOLLOW YOUR CONSCIENCE.
Your conscience is NOT the loving power directing you, but rather it is the element of the loving power that you are currently able to process naturally, that flows through you and that may influence you.
As you exercise it, it grows. Never go against your own conscience and your conscience will grow and you will become a better person without fail. The change may be slow or fast, but it will take place.
There will be times to atone. When you suddenly make shifts and you recognise things you did as being wrong and misguided. Go back and make amends as best you can. Atone. Honestly ask for forgiveness. From God, from those you have wronged, from yourself, or all of the above as the case may be, and try to, from that day on, act more in line with your conscience.
You will fail regularly. This is normal. But to relent in improving is not. To stop trying is not. To make amends and be better today than you were yesterday is the path. Do not wallow in guilt, for this too is a sin. One, actually, of pride. Feeling guilty is a way to assume we are supposed to be more than we are. Accept instead what you really are and make strides to bettering it. As soon as you do, feeling sorry for yourself will crop up. Ignore it. This too is a lie, a deception, the Green Man Georgie (from Cloud Atlas) whispering in your ear.
Feeling sorry for yourself is the belief that you deserve more than you do. Given that you are what you are, you get what you get. Sometimes, of course, what you get can, in fact, be truly unjust.
It may indeed be unjust, this can be true. But feeling sorry for yourself will not get you out of the hole, so arise. Walk. Stumble. Crawl if you have to, but by God Soldier, MOVE!
Lastly, remember that there are only two true forces, two true powers, two true emotions:
Love and Fear
Everything else is just a colouring or a shadow of one of those two.
Justice. Honour. Loyalty. Faith. Kindness. Compassion. Empathy. Following your conscience – These are the qualities of love
Self-deception, dishonesty, cowardice, arrogance, pride, ego, desire, greed, jealousy a million others and generally following the crowd – These are the qualities of fear
This has been a long post, and I will refer to it in the future, as a brief overview of changes that I have had, that I hope you may have and that this blog should, at some point, begin showing too.
This blog needs a bit of an overhaul and I don’t really have the time to do it, but this date marks the point at which I am consciously saying that some changes here will begin to take place. Regardless of how long they may take to actually get put in place.
I have only just realised that I have written this on Easter Sunday, 2015, and it’s going up just a little past midnight. It is one of those small “coincidences” that keep informing me, and for which I am very grateful.
Happy Easter to you all.