Painting the Universe (1)

There are some ‘big blocks of colour’ in an understanding of the mystical perspective – which is the inner truth of our lives. Even a cursory examination of these brings insight. Let’s consider them…

Foremost of these is that there is a more powerful Life behind life; that the life we see is seen through a lens that distorts, and that our belonging, our real identity, is with that which is beyond the distorted lens. The basis of this is quite simple, but let’s approach it carefully.

The Sufi philosopher and poet, Rumi, wrote:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

What did he mean? Was he simply talking about love between two people – that we should devote our lives to ordinary love as we know it? Clearly this is insufficient. We can sense something vast in what he was trying to import, something that used the passion of love as a metaphor.

The Sufi poets used both ‘love’ and ‘wine’ to convey the experience of what lies beyond the clouded lens we use to look at the world. They also had a special meaning for the word ‘Beloved’. We will examine all of these in this series of posts.

True teachers of the ‘mystical life’ see – by direct experience – that there is a deeper life centred in the human consciousness. Our ordinary consciousness is a product of a ‘self’ developed from birth onwards. This self sees and feels objects around it. Some of them are pleasant and some aren’t. Because the newborn has no sense of itself – it simply is – it hungers to know more, and so adopts these reactions to the objects around it.

It’s a tasty world, and the child is hungry to understand it… and even more hungry to understand it-self, since this is where all the impressions of its world come to reside and stay. Even at this stage, the brain is busy recording the history of the person, generating a vast store of experiential data that will be added to all its life – as the primary filter (memory) against which all experience will be judged.

The adoption of these vivid early impressions becomes its first identity. We all have a primal hunger to know who we are. These patterns of identity, like and dislike, become the foundation of its character, its self. As the child grows, we say it develops a personality, more accurately, an egoic self.

We all have one… we were all once children experiencing this, hopefully under the loving eyes of our parents, who could do no more than guide the child to be what they were…

The word ego was bestowed on the developing self by the pioneering psychologist Sigmund Freud, whose work showed that the egoic-self had three divisions: id, superego and ego. As the child developed, it suppressed – under guidance from the parents – some of the wilder instincts in its nature (the id) – in order to fit in with the expectations of the parents, and, later on, society. This pattern of censure became the superego. Between id and superego, the child developed an identity of ‘acceptable me who gets praise’ and this is viewed as the ego, though really it’s part of a three-fold psychological structure.

From this early stage, the child colours everything that happens to it with the lens of its egoic-self. As the growing human becomes more capable, it fortifies its self. By adulthood, it is a suit of armour, which, initially, is wonderful… but gradually is seen to progressively dull the experience of life. This ‘dulling’ invites a question: If the suit of armour of the egoic self is all there is, then how does it know that fresh expereince has become ‘dull’?

Wordsworth famously wrote:

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting: The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting, And cometh from afar: Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home: Heaven lies about us in our infancy!”

It is a profound re-telling of what I’ve written above but written in the 1790s. It illustrates the depth of perception that great poetic and emotionally sensitive minds have always found, in ages that did not possess the idea that truth had to be numbers…

We shall have more to say about these ‘clouds of glory’ and – without trying to upset anyone, God, in future posts of this series.

For now, let’s close Part One, with the idea of ‘Object Relations’, an understanding of which, in the context of the truly spiritual, is the basis of these blogs.

The different experiences that colour the infant’s perception, and eventually becomes adopted or ‘imprinted’ on the child’s consciousness as building blocks of its identity, are referred to in developmental psychology as ‘Objects’ – that is, they are recognisable as separate things, capable of being labelled by the consciousness. In others words, they have repeatable properties. The field of Object Relations is one of the backbones of modern psychology. But this series of blogs is not intended to focus on psychology, beyond borrowing some of its words. Our purpose is to pursue Wordsworth’s ‘clouds of glory’ to see if the nature of the early ‘objects’ in our consciousness actually contain signposts back to the Greater Life from which we came…

And whether we can, in our modern world, remove the many barriers to Rumi’s ‘love’.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being. and

Shaping the Unshapeable

We had a lively discussion the other night; ten of us linked at 8:00 pm, English time, across the planet…

On these occasions, it’s hard not to be moved by the sheer wonder of technology in making the impossible possible. The ten of us – the number varies from month to month – are part of what we call SE-Explorations; ‘SE’ for Silent Eye, our mystical school.

The ‘tech’, in this case, was Zoom – that universal enabler of ‘real-ish’ contact during the Covid pandemic. In our case, learning to operate Zoom also allowed us to keep in touch with my son’s family – including our grandchildren in Australia. As an aside, a new grandson is fast approaching via my other son and his wife who live in Yorkshire… Watch this space…

Some of those attending these talks are connected with the Silent Eye school, but most are not; they are from assorted backgrounds, each with a deep interest in the power of consciousness and emotion to take us deeper into our ‘lives’ than we thought possible.

Before Sue Vincent and Stuart France joined me in establishing the Silent Eye School, back in 2012, I worked with an organisation known as The Servants of the Light, SOL for short. Many of the people who join us for the monthly SE-Explorations meetings are from that background. They are a wonderful bunch, full of warmth and wisdom. To connect across the planet once a month, using the Zoom video signal, is a joy.

There is no sense that this is an ‘elite’ group. It’s not. We work hard to ensure that the conversation topic is generalised and applicable to all: beginner and seasoned practitioner.

Our topic last Thursday followed on from my Thursday blog, here: ‘Alignment’. By this, we mean the power of certain symbols to fine-tune our consciousness to a certain purpose, to take us on a journey, or alter our orientation to a goal, renewing that spark of attraction that we glimpsed when we began an endeavour. The purpose of our meeting in cyber-space was to discuss this, and share our views on what really works… and makes a difference. Diagrams can be one of the most wonderful teaching aids. Say I asked you to consider the image below:

If this were our first such discussion, you’d rightly be horrified…

Realising my mistake, I might apologise and offer you another:

(Above: an image that quickly makes sense, even though the details may be unstated)

Suddenly, there is a difference – the human being superimposed on the geometrical figure inserts the idea of a relationship into what is being discussed. Here we have a dual image that invites discussion – and that is the key. Diagrams are all well and good but the best ones are those that invite discussion and even suggest the questions:

What is happening to the figure in the diagram? Why is he (or she) surrounded by two sets of coloured spheres? Is there a third column of spheres running up the middle of the figure? The sphere at the top appears to be brighter than all the others; is that because it’s representing God or is there an elevated state available to mankind, too?

Immediately, through a combination of clear diagram and something that can easily be related to our experience, we have a starting point for what could become an important discussion.

Some time later, we might return to the first diagram – the complex one – and be shown, now that we were familiar with the core meaning of this ‘tree of life’, how the findings of psychology were mapped onto this story of spiritual evolution of the individual consciousness.

The SE-Explorations group decided that the really important thing was that whatever the image used, or even the system of teaching, it should be designed to promote and provoke discussion. Only in the comfort and familiarity of spoken language do we get the necessary dialogue of question and resulting understanding.

The spiritual journey is within, but that gives the impression that it is entirely about the interior of our lives, whereas nothing could be farther from the truth. This journey deals only with realities and the test of those is how much they have the power to change our worlds…

That moment of beginning such a mental and emotional journey has great power, and we can often look back and know with certainty, that many benign ‘forces’ were at work to bring to a beginning something that may subsequently have changed our lives for the better. The attraction of a symbol or glyph is part of its magic.

(Above: the spiritual journey is one of going home)

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being. and

Aligning with Gods

When we encounter the word ‘Gods’, we think of entities related to ancient views of the world; of ages before science threw the ‘definitive light’ of repeatable and numeric method onto our subjective experience of the world. In other words, we think of an outdated symbol system; one that describes natural events, and which seemingly lost its relevance to modern man a long time ago. Mankind came to define itself by reflections of the ‘without’ – such as wealth, and stability, rather than what was ‘within’.

Until the advent of modern psychology, we lived in a world that was fixated on the fruit of the senses, with no thought to how we as ‘selves’ experienced and related to it.

After the pioneering psychologists, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, we began to have a picture of the inner landscape that had some significance, instead of the random and meaningless flow of sensory impressions – plus the mysterious things called dreams. The psychologists recognised that this sense of ‘me’ had some validity; moreover, it had a structure, one shared by us all. Our inner architecture had rooms… Together, these rooms made up a mental and emotional construct we called ‘self’. When we act, we act from within this self. It has likes and dislikes, fears and triumphs,

(Above: The Silent Eye’s mystical enneagram; a map of the ego’s potential to take us home)

In Freud’s model, which is often used as a foundation by those studying the interior paths to a ‘deeper self’, the regular ‘daytime’ self is divided into the (1) the lower passions – unruly and energy filled; (2) the image of perfection, such as a child might inherit from a stern church; and (3) the daily self (ego), whose impossible job was to mediate between the two, managing excitement and guilt while maturing a strong sense of being the ‘captain of the ship’.

Superimposed upon this were the elements of character, variously indicated and interpreted by systems such as astrology and, latterly, the findings of developmental psychology expressed in the mysterious figure of the enneagram; and historically related to the esoteric Christian work of the Desert Fathers, who mapped mankind’s highest ‘Christ’ potential to the lowly state of the average personality, and showed the latter’s weaknesses, yet linkage with the original nine deadly sins. These included acidia: the turning away from spiritual purpose, perhaps the most deadly in the face of much-need alignment.

All of these encouraged us to examine our inner lives, where we find not only psychology’s broader ‘containers’ but also encounters with certain archetypal figures – first pointed out by Jung – that appeared to correspond closely with the cast of ancient mythology – the Gods, heroes and heroines.

Those interested in the esoteric ‘mystery traditions’ were the first to point out that this was no coincidence; that the visualisation of such Gods were, in fact, examples of early teachings designed to take us on active imaginative journeys of ‘inner workings’ – landscapes loosened from the grip of the material in such a way that our consciousness is free to explore other realms of our interior, and literally ‘meet up’ with that which was trying to reach us from ‘within’.

(Above: the hour-glass, two worlds and a narrow channel. Image Pixabay)

We can envisage two worlds, set in an upper/lower relationship like an hour-glass, in which the sand grains glide through, vertically. To change the relationship of the worlds, we turn the glass over… a similar state to that of the Hanged Man in Tarot, who, though apparently sacrificed, is smiling…

(Above: The Hanged Man Tarot card)

These symbolic systems are reference maps to states of consciousness. For example, the Tarot card of the Hanged Man corresponds to one of the paths connecting the spheres on the Tree of Life (see below). On one level, it’s just a cleverly painted and striking image. On another it’s a place we live in when we are on a particular journey.

(Above: The Kabbalistic Tree of Life – a truly cosmic symbol)

To be on that journey, we need to have a longing for reality…

This may seem a strange notion. Surely, we already live, firmly, in a reality? Well, yes and no. We do appear to live in a physical reality, but what of our interior one? Does that offer us the same stability of existence and purpose? And what about those ‘rooms’ that divide the ‘self’ into id, superego and ego? We may find we need to understand ourselves at the level of the everyday self, or psyche, before we can use that as a start-point for a journey into the beautiful interior world that appears to be much bigger and real than we had thought. This doesn’t mean we need to be psychologists; just that we need to borrow a few of their well-worked notions to help us on our way.

The mystical enneagram will give us the rigour to work with our psyche, showing us how our outer characteristics are closely related to deeper and more spiritual layers of ‘us’, and requiring us to strip away ideas and attitudes that are detrimental to that journey.

(Above: The Silent Eye’s mystical enneagram; a map of the ego’s potential to take us home)

Once we have a clean foundation, the Tree of Life is there to show us a journey to a different Self, one that lives with the Gods and has always done so.

The Sufis would simply say that our one task is to look for love and the bestower of that love – the Beloved. In this task, no map is necessary, since we can always determine if we are closer this day than we were the day before, by how we feel. The work of that path, as with the enneagram, is to remove the obstacles to love.

Each of these systems, and many more, are the ways to align ourselves with something higher within us, and to make that a way of life rather than an idea which will soon fade. The intellect of the modern age is a wonderful thing… but it won’t take us to the Gods.

Only the whole of you can do that.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being. and

Petals of the Rose


Close your eyes, relax and prepare for an inner journey, breathing deeply and easily.

You stand on a green mound by a sunlit sea. Far below you is a pristine shore of white sand. You hear the echoes as the waves wash gently, rhythmically, against the base of the cliff. The soft, rushing sound of water in the shingle whispers in the clear air of morning.

The sky is a pure blue, the colour of the Lady’s robe. Forget-me-not blue, and at its heart, as in the flower, the golden circle of the sun. The cry of a distant gull touches your heart with an unfathomable yearning, yet you are here, now, in this time and in this place. There is no other thought in your mind, only here, only this moment.

You close your eyes and with sight absent, other senses seem to come to the fore. The salt tang of the air touches your lips and tongue, warm rays caress your face, the soft thrumming of the waves seems to reach through the very earth beneath your feet, finding its way within and dancing with your breath.

The air smells fresh and clean, like the first morning of the world. You stand, simply drinking in the moment, the world around you, feeling yourself at its heart, feeling it within your body.

In the distance you can hear music playing, the delicate tones of a harp, beautiful in its simplicity, as if played by a gifted child, a wise child, one who sees clearly beyond the veils of Light.

The purity of the simple song draws you.

You listen, silent, barely daring to move.

You are afraid to move and break the spell, yet almost against your will you are drawn to the music.

Like a sleepwalker, you move towards the edge of the cliff.

There is a path, narrow and steep, tufts of sea thrift grow beside it, nodding their bright pink heads in the breeze.

You begin to descend.

The way is steep. Small stones roll at your feet, bouncing down the cliff face as you walk. Tiny fragments of rock are dislodged with every step. Your shoes, black and shiny, are covered in the white dust of chalk. You stop and sit on the flower-covered bank. The perfume of crushed thyme fills the air and you notice the tiny, lilac flowers all around you.     Removing your shoes, leaving them there, you stretch your bare feet, wiggle your toes… you feel like a child. You do not need them. You recline against the fragrant green and rest for a while, perfectly happy, as the sun warms your skin.

Still, the music haunts you. It is very soft, so soft you had almost forgotten it was there, calling you onwards. You rise and continue down the steep path. Looking up you can see the towering white cliffs, sparkling in the clear light. You think of the shores of Albion and wonder if that is where you are… or only where you think you might be? It doesn’t matter. You are here. It is all you need to know.

Beside a turn in the path, a stream bubbles crystal clear from the rock face, gathering in a small pool. In the bottom of the pool you can see many offerings, small gifts, coins, tablets etched with words. Beside the stream is an ancient cup. You fill it from the stream and drink from it. The water is cold and sweet, you can feel on your tongue, in your throat, rich and fragrant, a nourishing draught, quite unlike any water you have tasted before.

It is a draught of liquid Light. You feel it flowing through you, feel lit up from the inside as if you shine softly like a star.

You replace the cup. You feel you should leave a gift and feel in your pockets, not knowing what is there.

It must be something that holds meaning to you, something of value, not in payment, but in gratitude for what you have received.

Your fingers find an object, feeling its lines and edges. You draw it from your pocket and look at it as it rests in your hands. You had forgotten it was there… yet it has always been there. You always carry it. You smile, knowing what it represents; knowing what it means to you… then cast it in the pool. The ripples spread out across the surface, obscuring the bottom. Small streams of light wash over the edges of the pool, spilling onto the grassy bank and where they touch flowers spring up.

You continue down the path, following it to the beach following the song that seems to hold an echo of the music of the spring.

The dry sand is white and soft underfoot, sun-warmed and pleasant. A little way ahead the cliff reaches out towards the sea and you see the dark mouth of a small cave. You walk towards it, leaving footprints in the sand, following the song.

Outside the cave there seem to be large boulders, yet as you draw closer you see that they are piles of clothes. Whole suits and dresses, smocks and ball gowns, judges robes, uniforms… every imaginable type of clothing that bears the mark of position or office… like heaped skins divested by their owners.

The music takes on an insistent note and you feel you understand.

Stripping off your clothes you add them to the pile, feeling as if you have erased a deeper layer of your identity, you stand naked in the sunlight.

Once more you hear the cry of the gulls and look up.

From above a crown of petals, purest white is falling towards you, shed by the wings of the birds.

It settles about your brow, crowning you with beauty.

You walk forward towards the cave. A sheet of water veils the entrance, so clear it is almost invisible except for the captured fire of the sunlight. You stand in the shallow stream that cuts a channel like a pathway, your feet sinking slightly in the wet sand, as if you are part of the earth, the earth takes you into itself.

The music calls you onward and you walk, crowned and naked through the sparkling veil. As you do so, the water clothes you in a robe of the finest rainbow silk, the shifting hues almost impossible to follow with the eye.

The floor of the cave is strewn with polished stones, cool and smooth.

You feel light and free in the robes, unconstricted.

You move easily, noticing for the first time that with your clothing you seem to have left behind the stresses and strains of daily life, with your shoes you left the aches and pains, when you left the cliff top you left the cares and worries behind… you realise that with every step the descent into this cavern has been one of giving up the things you are so used to that you didn’t even know they were there.

You follow the music still, deeper into the darkness of the cavern, sure-footed even in the shadows.

You are at home here, in the heart of the earth.

Gradually a light fills the space, a shaft of Light that reaches through the whole height of the cliff… a straight path to the sky.

It is from this that the music emanates. Above the shaft the golden orb of the sun sits high in the heavens, a single ray directed and held within the narrow shaft, focused so bright you can barely see.

Drawn still by the whispering song, you step into the Light. All fear seems to dissolve, all pain dissipates… the weight of worlds seems to lift from you and you are as a babe again, bathed in the purity of golden Light.

Stay… stay as long as you wish… feel the shadows gilded, and the hurts healed…

And know that this Light fills you always.



Petals of the Rose

Guided Journeys

Sue Vincent

A collection of guided meditations, designed to open aspects of the personality in as gentle and natural way as the petals of the rose open at the touch of the sun. Each inner journey will carry you to a haven within your own psyche from which to explore layers of your own being, learning their meaning and purpose.

From mystical and silent castles, to the song of the unicorn… each journey takes you deeper into your inner being and carries you out beyond the stars.

Stories stir the imagination, casting images upon the screen of mind that allow us to explore, in safety, aspects of our lives and being that we might otherwise avoid or overlook. There is a rich vein of experience in memory that can be mined for its treasures. One of the simplest and best ways of exploring the labyrinths of the mind is to do so through a guided journey.

Meditation and visualisation are not arcane practices in which a few indulge… we all use these tools every day, to navigate our way around the world and our lives. We ask ourselves ‘what if?’, creating imaginary scenarios before we act. We visualise the route we walk to work, or what the basket full of ingredients will look like, once assembled and cooked, on a dinner plate.

There is no mystery in meditation… but when you give time and attention to the practice, it can open the door to many mysteries… including those of our own being…

Available via, Amazon UK and worldwide in Paperback and for Kindle

The preparation of Magical Landscapes (2)

You begin with an idea; in this case an entire workshop held outdoors, in the vivid landscape of the English Lake District. It’s vast and wild… and you have no control over the weather, not even in May.

The goal is for those attending to experience themselves in a new way. In these dramatic surroundings, and in the midst of warm companionship, we can become inspired and intrigued by a new kind of physical and emotional quest.

The inner goal, experienced by many on these weekends in the past, is to SEE differently. We consider that we see, accurately, all the time. But the brain is subtle in its power to replace the real act of seeing with ‘recognition’ of what it has already viewed and processed. Situations that are ‘different’ provide a split-second of potential to break through this. It is the intention of our workshops to enable amplified moments that have this ‘magical’ quality.

The content needs to be fascinating. People will join for many reasons:

  • You’ve run workshops before, and that joyous bunch of people who support the Silent Eye team know you will, once again, put your heart and soul into making it special.
  • They trust you to make ‘outdoors’ work. No-one wants to spend the day sodden, so you need to have thought through what it’s like to be in their minds on hour three of a rainstorm…
  • But providence has seemed to move when you’ve done this before, so you trust…and have that Plan B tucked in your pocket.

The lakes, hills, and rivers of the Lake District are your best friends. People would come just to see a well-organised visit to them – but if you can add some additional and real magic into this experience, they will never forget it. But you are not in the comfort and ease of a village hall or retreat in the Peak District… It’s just you, the landscape, the people… and the plan.

That magic is already in that landscape – especially for an event beginning and ending at Castlerigg Stone Circle. The skill is in how you bring it out of the ‘ground’ and into the hearts of the players in this dramatic setting.

(Above: the mysterious ring of Castlerigg and its many energies…photo as taken and unretouched. The ‘green fire’ was not visible to the naked eye at the time, but showed up subsequently on the photo)

There needs to be a central theme to the whole event, one that faithfully follows – and to some degree dictates – the participant’s experience. This time, the theme is ‘The Journey of the Hero’, and is based upon the work of Joseph Campbell, whose book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces proposed that all myths followed a similar pattern. Campbell extracted this pattern into a standard form, which he called ‘The Monomyth’.

The ‘Monomyth’ describes a number of key stages in the hero’s journey:

1. The hero’s adventure begins in the ordinary world.

2. He/she must leave the ordinary world when they receive a call to adventure.

3. With the help of a mentor, the hero will cross a guarded threshold, leading them to a supernatural world, where familiar laws and order do not apply.

4. There, the hero will embark on a road of trials.

5. Other-worldly allies sometimes assist.

6. As the hero faces the ordeal, they encounter the greatest challenge of the journey.

7. Upon rising to this challenge, the hero receives a reward or boon.

8. They return to the ordinary world, empowered to act in a higher way.

(Above: the Cumbrian lakes and mountains are the perfect backdrop to this kind of adventure )

It’s a potent formula which invites us all to pay careful attention, particularly when the word ‘ordeal’ is noticed. This has to be real. It won’t be life-threatening, but it will demand a kind of sacrifice… In return, what is found at the destination will be both unexpected and greater than the expended effort.

By gesture, the landscape will be asked to serve the heroes, as they travel from unknowing to knowing; each new location adding to their intimate knowledge of an inner process that belongs only to them….

(Above: the tracks and paths may be high or low…)

The final element is something new: gesture. Being an outdoor event, we are limited in how we express the inherent truths of ‘being’, personality and self-development. Everyone attending will be shown a new set of gestures at each site.

By the end of the weekend, each will possess a compact but comprehensive vocabulary of gestures by which they can review and describe their own hero’s journey. We can confidently predict that each person will have experienced at least one extraordinary experience.

Waterproofs and sturdy, walking boots are strongly recommended. Regular walkers will be used to such things, but these events are also for the casual walker.

Our meeting at Castlerigg Stone Circle on Friday, 6th May will be an introduction to the weekend, and local to the site. Saturday 7th May will see the most active day, about which we can reveal no details. Dinner is booked in the early evening at a country pub local to our final walking destination. Sunday will see us walking locally to Keswick, followed by our closing gathering once again at Castlerigg Circle.

The Journey of the Hero, May 6-8th, 2022. A few places are available.

Contact us for details:

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being. and

Reaching Realisation

(Above: Realisation: more than meets the eye)

The purpose of language is to convey meaning. We cannot convey meaning directly because it exists in an invisible mental realm unique to the individual. We all live in slightly different worlds, based on our experience. As a tribe, society or country, we each agree to subscribe to the inherent values present in that shared group.

We use language to pass meaning to others – such as our children, which is why the child’s brain is hard-wired to rapidly absorb language in infancy; an ability that is reduced as we grow older.

If we can teach our children to understand our meanings, then we have a hope of passing onto them our values – sets of meanings that assemble into patterns of behaviour; differences between selfish and selfless, the latter for the good of the ‘tribe’: a quality that seems to be abandoned, cyclically, in our common history. 

Language changes. It can be likened to the sand patterns left on a beach. The water comes in and re-maps the sand (language) emphasising certain popular meanings but partly or wholly erasing the original, deeper meaning.  The time-tides will always be there, but their effects on the beach will not always be positive, from any given perspective. It is up to us as a society to protect the deepest meanings if we value what they are. These are often considered to be spiritual; meaning representative of a higher order of consideration than those we are concerned with in our daily work.

Classical teaching protected the language, allowing the deeper, historical meanings to survive. But it may move too slowly to prosper in an ‘internet age’ of rapid changes. Modern society is both fickle and casual in its populist allowing of ‘meaning-slip’, allowing deeper meanings to be devalued or lost altogether. One look at the Internet shows the alarming erosion of what were considered essential meanings not long ago. 

For ordinary meanings, this is frustrating, but the ‘next generation’ have always had the freedom to create their own idioms. For deeper meanings, we sometimes need reminding that they are there, and a review of their possibly timeless value.

One such word is ‘realisation’. It’s a word at the heart of true spirituality. Why is the act of realisation so important?

It is rare that a single word contains two states: one, the ‘before’; the other the ‘after’ – mirroring a quite definite process of growth within the human mind and heart.

That growth is in the understanding of something, and that something is nothing less than the nature of reality. To make this post into a journey of deeper understanding, we need to step back and define our terms…

An example of the common use of ‘realisation’, might be this:

‘Suddenly, James Strange realised the key to Mariella’s guilt was the colour of her hair!’

It could be a line from a detective story, which is not a bad way to describe the human ascent that moves from ‘world’ to ‘self’ as the mystic strives to comprehend their place in that world. In the above line of fiction, the word realisation means the dawning of a new level of understanding. It’s that moment when the inner comprehension goes ‘click’ and something more than the sum of the parts comes into existence.

The word has an ancient origin. We can approach the literal meaning of it by dividing it into ‘real’ and ‘ise’ (or ‘ize’), both of the latter implying to ‘be’.

We encounter the living act of realisation when we try to learn a new language as an adult. This may be in support of a longed-for trip, for example. Initially, we may struggle, but when, at the end of the term, our teacher invites us all out to a (say) French restaurant where we will be expected to speak a little of the language we have been learning, we have our chance to use this new way to convey meaning.

Initially fearful, we might find ourselves at a moment where – through living it – we come to a feeling of what can only be described as ‘belonging’. Suddenly, French is ours, and we will work so much harder to build on that foundation of inner growth.

We’ve all had such moments. They may be found in the acquisition of any new skill that requires work. In our trivial ‘detective’ example, the hero – by having that light-bulb moment – is able to connect everything he knows about his suspect.

A realisation has that power. It’s far more than the assembly of facts; rather it is a deeply personal involvement in the transformation of what we know into a new type of knowing. The ancients even had a word for it: they called it Gnosis – an increase of understanding that changes the person experiencing the ‘inner expansion’.

The mystical journey may be undertaken by anyone. Schools such as the Silent Eye are founded upon the development of a ‘path’ comprising stages of understanding marked by specific gateways. These gateways are often called initiations – a word that implies a beginning, or more accurately, a new beginning. In that new beginning, we understand the hidden meaning of realisation: to make real…

In that new beginning, a new world is born…

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being. and

The Ejector-Seat of Self

Do we really understand mindfulness? It’s become one of those ‘must do more of that’ sentiments, as though we could press a button on the side of the head.

Perhaps the reason for our chagrin is not that we lack diligence, but that we think it’s a chore… Possibly that we don’t feel pulled or compelled from within to practice it? After all, we don’t need telling to breathe. It just happens because we need it.

Could we build an internal process that mirrors that life-affirming need for air? Could every thought be automatically checked for its origin and purpose, so that our real existence wasn’t diluted in an exhausting maze of events?

The world practice is key. Like (say) piano practice, we know we need self-discipline to reach the results we want – in the piano’s case the ability to make beautiful music. This generally gets agreement, but the word ‘reach’ is telling. Reach suggests that this mindfulness is not a native state to us; is not part of our intrinsic self… It has to be added with effort.

This expectation of effort may be entirely incorrect, and may provide the key to a more intelligent attention beyond ‘duty or practice’.

We don’t need a formal method to investigate mindfulness. We simply need to let our ‘self’ be the teacher. We are learning about that self every time we turn out attention inwards to watch how we work, how we think, why we wander in our thoughts and end up being frustrated and annoyed.

We could wipe clean our mental idea of the mind and investigate it – right now, reading this! The dialogue you are having, reading these lines on a screen, is the mind. It’s not the act of perception – that operates at a lower, unconscious level. It’s the act of interpretation that is the first part of how the mind (me) reacts to the continuous stream of events.

We can listen to this process of registration by seeing how we turn practically everything we experience into language. Reading this – if you are engaged with it – you will be forming the letters into words spoken by your own voice. Did you hear it, then? It’s quiet, but it’s definitely you.

One interesting technique to make this startlingly conscious is to change that voice – literally change it to another person: say, your wife, or your sister, brother, boss, or even your mother… as though they were reading you a story. It’s not difficult but can be shocking when it reveals how adept this language-based part of the mind is at narrating our everyday experience.

Try changing between two or three voices as though you are all taking turns to read aloud…

Now lets make it different. Drive your car, or take a short walk. Note how the inner narrative is created in language as the external events arrive. We may think that there’s just ‘silent me’ in here, but that’s not the case. The ‘me’ is anything but silent and constantly verbalises your experience, based upon the information of the senses and the automation of the pleasure-pain complexes of the past.

Walk this verbalisation carefully and you will notice that it is all based on what’s happening to you. You may think of others, as in a driver saying, “That young fool is driving like an idiot!”. But the observation is based upon a relationship of ‘I’ and ‘he-she’it’, and neither can exist without the other. To have an external ‘it’ we have to have an ‘I’ to which the ‘it’ is external. In a very short time, this gives vast power to the sense of ‘I’ within. Yet, in reality, it may not be there at all… just a very clever nexus of thoughts.

In other words, our mind – our consciousness of our experience – is based upon a subject-object relationship that divides our entire existence into the ‘me’ at the centre of things and the encircling world experienced as flavours of ‘it’.

From this, we can work backwards… and this is where it gets really interesting.

The Hindu philosopher and teacher Sr Ramana Mahararj made this the nucleus of a lifetime’s teachings.

He taught that the beginning of our physical, brain-led lives was the establishment of an ‘I-thought’. As infants, we move from a state of pure consciousness which has no sense of ‘I and it’, to an awareness of and apparent duality of ‘me and that’. This duality gradually separates us, in large part due to our subject-object language, from the vivid purity of our experience, Gradually, but necessarily, we get pushed away from ‘home’ in order that we survive and mature in the world.

In the next part of the story, we will examine how we can build a new state of consciousness simply by asking two questions of the world as its events flows ‘at us’.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being. and

Dictators’ Way

Devoid of real feeling, the Dictator treads a lonely way along his chosen, barren path. 

All around him is life – in its shared love and simplicity, but he stays true to the vastness of his egoic channel, long baked by hate into clay-like fixed responses that will not sustain growing things. 

Behind him, the memory of the mountains of ambition keep him focussed on the goal, which he thinks is glory. But really, the Spring meltwaters will wash him into the ocean, where the parts of his body will be rolled, crushed and broken, before Nature recycles him into dusty history to which we may point, but from which few learn… and even fewer remember.

Dictators are everywhere. They are part of the human condition. Our task is to face them with collective courage, cry, “Enough!” And watch their petty coin turn to reveal the inner coward. It does not begin with someone else… It begins here. Here and now are two pristine states we all share, and they are connected to everything and everywhere else.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being. and