SEE: January Zoom Cyber Room…

No photo description available.
***
Having considered the physical, psychological and spiritual structures of the human being,
we now examine how these interact with our ability to ACT…
Not something that should be taken for granted!
***
The teaching:
Open up…
Get out of the way…
Follow the magic…
***
The meeting was divided into two parts:
Part 1: Action of the level of the Personality
Part 2: Action at the level of Self
Steve began by introducing Part 1 and comparing the life of a tree with that of a human. We discussed the lifecycle of a tree from seed to full-grown, mature tree, reflecting the cycle of life for all beings on Earth, touching on the idea of the necessity for immense quantities of seeds to overcome the degree of chance that affects a tree’s ability to mature. Elements that affect this growth include environment and individual differences. All trees need light, soil, and water and their growth is in two directions – roots into the ground and trunk/canopy into the sky towards the Sun. Once the ‘baby stage’ has passed, saplings need to be flexible and adaptable to the environment and other trees in order to survive. The collective consciousness of trees uses environmental factors to ‘travel’ farther afield. Once matured, the ‘adult’ tree is still connected to the ground and its origins which began in the seed. These are natural laws that flow through the beingness of the tree – does this include consciousness of any kind?
Trees have a different timetable than humans – they are pre-programmed into action but do not seem to have free will or self-awareness, but appear more reactive than proactive. Is this true? In comparison, humans can conceived of a higher awareness and sense of self.
Stuart continued with Part 2 asking what we can do with the Self. He suggested that the process included ‘opening up and then getting out of the way’ which dissolves the ego to the Higher and creates a channel for energies to express themselves through the individual. When we respond in kind to the ‘magic presented, we are acting from the Higher Will of the Planetary Being; High Magic, therefore, is the Will of the Planetary Being or Magician.
This evolved into a discussion about Magic as a conscious transformation of Will, an inner oblation to connect with the Divine, and a ‘connection’ with something ‘else’. Each of these involve a change in consciousness and/or a change in reality – are these the same?
From here, ensued a discussion of Higher states, how to reach them and how to describe, including being fully immersed in the moment of Now and remaining, at the same time, 100% oneself.
Describing this state can be challenging and demands that all the senses being tuned in, adapting itself well to be described through poetry and, perhaps, song. This is the state from which we would like to act.
Robert’s words closed the meeting: ‘The Divine is just waiting for us to open and then the Divine acts through us. It starts small and grows with experience. This shift begins with opening up’.
Recorder, Caroline Ormerod
***

see what you’re seeing!

It sounds odd, doesn’t it? See what you’re seeing…

But we don’t. We do see, but we don’t see what we’re seeing.

I’d better explain my terms, here, before it becomes an exercise in Zen paradox – which I want to avoid. There are not only two, but three phases in our act of seeing. The first is the actual biological receiving of the light waves/particles by our eye’s receptors. The second is the rapid conversion into ‘object of interest’ by our brains – based entirely on what we have seen before.

The third is the intervention of our own consciousness to examine what we are looking at; and it’s that last one that make the difference when we are trying live more ‘mindful’ lives.

Habit makes us see superficially. The brain is programmed to cut down the volume, so, essentially, we see what we’ve always seen, and in particular what we saw the last time we were in ‘this situation’. This situation may be an event, such as a confrontation or it may simply be a something seen along a footpath or road,

Nothing illustrates this better than the process of writing a blog post. You start with an idea, then maybe create an outline of what you want to say – particularly how you want to end. You then have to shift mindset from that high-level exercise to one of beginning the detail, usually with a line that will generate enough interest to carry the reader through the post. The length of the blog is critical; people lead busy lives and you can help those who support you by being succinct.

You use this stage to flesh out the post, ensuring that you include all the notes you made before beginning to write the draft.

Then a different phase begins: you begin to turn the piece into a ‘whole’ by reading it back as a single entity, noticing that the flow between certain paragraphs feels good or not so good – usually because the latter feels ‘forced’. You may be able to modify this, or may have to delete the whole paragraph… sometimes because you’ve spotted that a neighbouring one can be expanded in an economic way to include that key idea.

And so on… Until you reach the finished post and can press ‘Schedule’.

But many wise bloggers have noticed that another review, some time later – or possibly the following morning, just before publication time – can throw up a whole field of errors you must have read twenty or more times… but not seen.

That last act of checking with a different head on removes us from the initial process of ‘constructing and seeing’ together. It forces us to focus on an entirely different aspect of our written piece: its structure rather than its content…or, to use a metaphysical concept, its form rather than its force.

If you have a trade or hobby in which ‘critical seeing’ is essential, then you are likely to have developed the skill of deconstructing the image of what’s in front of you. Photographers have to do this all the time. To use our terms above, their minds have been trained, usually over many years, to see good force; knowing that it will take accumulated skill to employ the techniques of composition and image finishing to deliver that forceful form to the viewer of the image. The force gives it life; the form lets it endure.

Our minds work in similar ways, and vision is the dominant component of the input to consciousness. We can approach the mindful – the spiritual – by a simple act of deconstructing the act of seeing.

When we encounter a natural scene that affects us, emotionally, we should stop the normal process of intellectual perception by refusing to let the mind think. Thinking contains all the value judgements: the likes and dislikes that distort what we see and shroud it (an appropriate word!) in our history. We don’t want the accumulated history of seeing similar objects, we want to see the now, expressed in the beauty of nature.

Having stopped the constant voice of habitual thought )and this is not trivial, but the struggle, itself, is so instructive) we then sense a different kind of seeing, one that usually contains a degree of calm emotion. If the emotion begins to contain value judgements, such as like or dislike, then we should gently nudge it back to simply seeing and not reacting. We are aiming to get a sense of presence, with a calm and sweet quality to it. You will know it when it happens… and never want to lose it, again.

©Stephen Tanham 2021

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

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

the size of life

What size is our life?

It’s an odd question, but the kind of challenge that gets us thinking… Does our life have a ‘size’? We can measure it in years elapsed, of course, and that may have a lot to do with how we think we got ‘here’. But that continuity is entirely in our head, and, has little to do with the real world of now, out there. It’s curious that we allocate more reality to the solid stuff beyond our eyes than we do to the supposed ‘supercomputer’ that is busy assembling all this into reality.

Eyes, it is always said, are the ‘gateway to the soul’. But they are also the gateway to what we are taught is the world. The eyes detect a vast part of what we assemble into that world – which exists only in the mind. And yet, when we look out with those eyes, we see a world with which we are totally involved, with no sense of distance or division, and no real distinction between the in-here and the out-there – that is only added when someone invites us to consider that there may be a duality at work. Even then, the duality may be false.

There are eyes, and then there is seeing. How big is our seeing? There’s another odd question. I know that science says that what sees is in my head, but how much of my head does it take up? Is it, symbolically, like a vast cinema screen that I watch all the time, except when I’m sleeping, and maybe even then – in the form of dreams; which may explain why they make so little sense. Perhaps the part of the supercomputer that makes things make sense sleeps, leaving the connected feed to the outside world intact… But that seems not to be the case. The senses shut down the second we fall asleep, which is why we drop that teacup onto the carpet when we fall asleep in our armchair. The dream, then, seems to deal only with what we already have inside us.

The ‘me’ seems to return with wakefulness, which shows how interlinked with ‘the world’ it is. It makes us wonder what the other, dreaming self, really is? Perhaps that dream awareness is more machine-like than we think? Or maybe it’s just connected to the universe in a different way…

Back to size. In my waking ‘self’, I don’t feel any size at all. I have been taught by the world that I’m a certain size, so I behave according to that and perhaps look to bolster my medium height with other strategies that make me important, which makes my-self feel good.

But really the ‘point’ of me has no size at all. It’s simply the act of watching. When my mind is not watching the world, it is usually in that dream state, because the constant change of sensual stimuli is not present. If there are changing things out-there, my mind is busy watching and interpreting them. There is even a kind of voice that narrates the watching, giving each thing its name, like in the Bible book of Genesis. We are not only close-coupled with the world, we are also habituated to narrating its stream of existence.

Why is our existence so complicated? Mystically speaking we have two answers: It may not really be so complicated at all; and, secondly, finding the answer is what makes the whole journey so worthwhile.

In order to get out of our habitual way of being locked into the world and give our deeper ‘self’ its rightful place, we need techniques that ‘shake’ the questionable foundations of our perception. One of these, handed down from the spiritual wisdom of old, is related our opening focus on size.

Place a candle in front of you. Lean forward to light it. Be conscious of the distance. Sit back in your chair and focus only on the very centre of the flame. Notice its twin nature, with intense brightness forming a ring around a sometimes black centre where the flame begins.

Now imagine that your world is the bright ring. See its constantly changing nature and watch how it commands your attention. Then gaze into the middle – the point of origination of the flame – and let your whole attention be drawn into the central dark area within the light. Feel the unity of both aspects of the flame but know that your own ‘point’ of true self is at the centre, and that the rest is a process of reflection. Imagine you are nothing (no-thing) in that central point, yet completely present to everything.

©Stephen Tanham 2021

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

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Curried garlic

diana nick ashridge 090

I recoiled as I opened the door. There had, quite apparently, been garlic the night before. Lots of garlic. Evidently in curry. And there can be few things worse than second-hand garlic, except, perhaps, walking, all unsuspecting, into a small, hermetically sealed room where the stuff has been exuded from every pore overnight. My tormentor laughed at the groans that escaped me, in spite of my attempts to hold my breath, as I beat a hasty retreat after diving for the window and throwing it wide open. I wasn’t going back till the miasma had cleared.

Those who say that garlic is good for you have evidently never encountered the phenomenon of the exudation of the stuff overnight. It may indeed have many health benefits, including as an antibacterial. Certainly nothing, even as virulent as a virus, could have survived in that room.

He, of course, had enjoyed the meal and was so habituated to the gradual garlic infestation of his environs that he was unaware of it. I had detected vague precursors to the pollution of his airspace as soon as I had opened the front door to let myself in, of course; but the sheer scale and venomous stench of the stuff was overpowering. Especially so early in the morning. Though I was fairly glad I’d only gulped down a coffee before the taxi arrived to take me to his home. Breakfast and I would otherwise have undoubtedly parted company.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like garlic. Properly used as a condiment it is rather like salt…barely noticeable; enhancing, rather than adding, flavour in a dish. As an ingredient, it adds a wonderful freshness and distinctive character. As a curried-morning-after-the-night-before, it is, however, vile.

The stench, for I cannot call it by a lesser name, holds memories for me. Vague wafts of the Parisian Metro at rush hour, coupled with its own distinctive smell of sulphur, as if the underground train runs through the bowels of Hell instead of beneath the steps of heaven. The doctor whose face was, for hours, inches from mine as he stitched it back together again. The desperation of mint and fresh parsley when a first date came immediately after a garlic and green bean salad… I have memories of garlic. And those that sprang to mind, elicited from the depths, were, it has to be said, none of them good.

My tormentor, however, having thoroughly enjoyed the meal the night before, was blithely unconscious of the effects of his allium indulgence. Until those effects were made abundantly apparent by my reactions to the olfactory assault. His hilarity was not, however, consummate with own state of mind and body by this point, as said body went into flight mode and headed for the open door…

A little garlic, I can cope with. It is easy to simply ignore and you become so accustomed to it, in small quantities, that you soon barely notice its presence. It becomes part of the atmosphere. It is easy too, to fail to notice another person’s memorial garlic, when you have shared the platter with them, or eaten a similar one of your own creation. One’s own level of exudation, however, remains often undetected.

I could, however, see an analogy in that as I breathed the fresh, clean air on his doorstep; wondering how often we can all create situations whose chain-reactions ripple through the lives of those around us, while we ourselves remain unconscious, like the toxic exhalation of curried garlic previously enjoyed… until something snaps, bends or breaks… and metaphorical fresh air is not always so easy to find. We do what we do, without malice, without any intention of causing potential harm or indeed discomfort to others, yet we cannot always foresee the effects of our behaviour until it becomes a cause of regret.

Rather like eating too much curried garlic.

Childhood’s end?

Some experiences are tiny and subtle; you don’t expect to remember them. But, days after, I was still thinking about that line of writing on the wall, in the last of the summer sunshine…

I’m a north-west lad; deeply Lancashire in my roots, though well-travelled from a business perspective. But one of my favourite parts of the UK is the North-East coast, from Whitby all the way up to Scotland, most of it in Northumberland.

This land of history and mystery used to be its own kingdom. To my mind, there is still a sense of the otherness in its hills and perfect beaches – and the people are friendly and usually welcoming.

(Above: the iconic houses and dunes of Alnmouth’s headland)
(Above and below: Alnmouth,, and Tess’ favourite beach in the whole world…)

We were spending a few days in Almmouth, that harmonic delight of estuary village meeting sea; en-route to a reunion in Edinburgh.

(Above: one of Alnmouth’s famous bridges and the River Aln)

The oldest of the Alnmouth bridges crosses the River Aln to give the village its main access to the mainline East Coast railway station (Edinburgh in 60 mins), and the beautiful ancient town of Alnwick, ancestral home of the Percy family, who kept out the marauding Scots… Say it quietly, a good number of my cousins are Scottish.

As we often do on these trips, we were catching up with a diverse group of people, dotted along our route, including Cathy, a long-standing friend of my wife, Bernie, from the time they both worked in Bournemouth.

A few years ago, Cathy, now approaching retirement from the NHS, relocated to Whitley Bay, north of Newcastle. She had always wanted to live by the sea, and settled in Weymouth for a while, but found it too far from other places she needed to be.

Then she found her eldest son was planning to move in Teignmouth, just north of Newcastle, where he had been at university. Like his mum, he was attracted to that stretched of what was the Northumberland coast.

Cathy had a limited budget, but was delighted to discover that nearby Whitley Bay was not only affordable, but undergoing a resurgence and considerable ‘gentrification’. Formerly the haunt of the worst kind of drug dealers, facsimiles of whom seemed to feature in the ever-popular Vera detective series, it now teems with individual boutiques, quality cafes and restaurants, and coffee shops.

Locals say Whitley Bay is now safe and prosperous, yet hasn’t lost it’s common touch…

After refreshments in her sea-facing garden, Cathy took us on a guided tour of the promenade and resurgent town – the last stop on the northern leg of the Newcastle Metro line.

(Above: Beach, sea, lighthouse. I had glimpsed a photographic opportunity!)

For a while we alternated descending and climbing back up the various sections of the expansive promenade. The sea is a long way below this section of coast road, and I wondered whether my iPhone camera would do anything useful at that distance?

(Above: Spanish City – the former jewel of the resort)

After about 30 mins of walking, it was obvious that we were approaching the centre of town. Two things were of immediate interest to my photographer’s eye: a giant white building looking like a Moorish palace; and a wonderful view down to the beach, framed by curving stone walls.

(Above: one of the white towers of Spanish City, resplendent in the sunshine, with its ‘Angel of the morning’)

Spanish City – the large white ‘palace’ – used to be the main tourist attraction of Whitley Bay. It was built 108 years ago as a ‘resort within a resort’, and offered cafes, restaurants, entertainment and a set of rides for the young and the young in heart. For the sixteen years prior to 2018, it stood derelict, until being restored and refurbished.

In July, 2021, the listed ‘Dome’ was reborn and re-opened by the local council after a £10million restoration, which included contributions of £3.47m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a £2.5m Coastal Communities grant. It’s never looked back.

Cathy announced it was time for an ice-cream. There was a chorus of approval, especially when she crossed the coast road at speed and installed herself at the back of a short queue outside the famous Di Meo ice cream parlour. When we caught up with her, she explained that the queue was normally fifteen people deep, and she’d rushed to take advantage of this astonishingly smaller one – give it was one of the finest days of the year.

While she was queueing, I strolled quickly back to try the possible photo I’d seen. Two women were talking across a gap on the edge of a set of steep downward steps. Beyond was a panoramic view across the beaches and sea towards the distant St Mary’s lighthouse. Even in the bright sunlight of a pristine September day, it didn’t look as emotionally warm as it felt; so I took the shot with a view to editing it in a new (free) App I’d been recommended called Snapseed, made by Google.

(Above: Bernie outside Di Meo’s)

That done (which was the work of a minute only) I crossed back over the road, just in time to collect my ice cream. We meandered slowly back, with Cathy telling the story of how the original Spanish City was etched into the memories of generations of both locals and visitors. She said there had been a famous quote, but couldn’t remember it.

Later, I remembered that I had taken a few random shots of the promenade’s slope near the ‘Dome’. One of them had Cathy’s quote. It reads:

“Whitley Bay… The Dome! the white Dome. It was the Taj Mahal to us…”

Some would laugh at it, but I thought it was a beautiful sentiment. Bolton didn’t have much in the way of glamour. But I remember the sheer sense of sophistication going into Bolton’s Navada roller skating rink as a child. I was entering a new world; and what the people of the old Whitley Bay felt about their dome must have been the same.

Bolton’s Navada roller rink after the fire that closed it…

Now the people of Whitley Bay had their dome back, renewed and whole. It was a lesson in what we all experience – the familiarity of what we’ve grown used to versus the fading through time of what was once great. The ‘Spanish City’ had been wonderfully conceived, over a century ago, and its original vision had miraculously survived the inevitable physical decline.

The right energy and determination brought it back, justifying the sincere words on the curving wall.

My story ends there… apart from the editing I did that evening on the iPhone, using Snapseed to transform that view.

Above is the result: a picture more in tune with what I felt about the two women, the ornate steps, the sunny beach far below, filled with happy people in what was probably the last really hot day of 2021.

And in the distance the white St Mary’s lighthouse, surely one of the most beautiful symbols we have.

©Stephen Tanham 2021

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

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Gnosis and the Spider

(Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

I realise that spiders might be a difficult subject, so instead of the actual photo of the tiny spider, I’ve used this beautiful image of a web caught in morning sunlight from Pixabay.

I was spraying wood preserver on our fence. Its a big fence, and every three years it needs a wood preserver spraying on its entire wooden surface. The other side is, of course, in the neighbour’s garden, so I’d asked them to move their car to remove any danger of the projected preservative droplets settling on the paintwork.

I had only ever used a large paintbrush in the past. But this time had invested in a hand-pumped power sprayer… and it worked – beautifully. I’d started with the neighbours’ side and worked my way around. By the time I got to what used to be the canal bed – the lower half of our reclaimed garden – I was a bit tired…

I topped up the sprayer with the last five litres of the wood treatment and pumped the device the requisite 25 times. The pressure release made a quick hiss, then stopped. I was good to go. I picked up the spray head and began a careful, horizontal pattern. Nearing the end of the first panel, I pulled my hand back, quickly and let the spray valve go. Then I looked at what had made me stop. Nestled in the 90 degree corner was a spider. The line of the spray had stopped less than a centimetre from it. As we gazed at each other, the spider made a wise decision and ran off – very much alive.

It was only later that I realised the little story had much to teach about intelligence – the planned subject of this blog.

There are many measures of intelligence. Over the years, I’ve used different models to illustrate it with a spiritual twist. My favourite is that intelligence in humans is best understood with what I’ve come to call the ‘preplay’. What’s a preplay? It’s the ability to look at a developing situation and visualise what different things might happen next. That might be hundred of things, so our minds have developed the ability to use probability to tell us what is the most likely outcome from all the things that might happen.

Once decided on, we can then make a plan to encourage or defend against it. Either way, we are preplaying the outcome. How we adjust it depends on the context. If I were a hunter in a tribal family, I might want to kill the beast in front of me so that my family could eat.

If I were a man spraying a fence, I might want to be careful not to kill spiders, knowing them to be smart creatures who do a good job of eating what I like even less. Apart from that, I might not like killing things at all. Some hunt and kill for fun, but I’m not one of them, and I view those that do as lacking in something essential to us as an evolved species.

The concept of time is a big part of intelligence looked at in this way. I have to understand how the object in question will ‘change its state’ in my immediate future. An arrow coming at me is changing its state very quickly. Its terminal state might be within my body if I don’t do something about it. Even better is to foresee the state of the hunter who doesn’t like my attitude on killing… and wants to kill me.

Not being there when he fires the arrow might be the smartest goal I can achieve. This multi-state prediction requires an extraordinary amount of brain power – and yet we do this kind of thing all the time when we, for example, drive a car. Cars plus drivers have an amazing statistical ability not to collide with each other.

The spider has a simple life compared to us driving a car. It spins a web and extends its hunting sensors into the strong fibres. The smallest disturbance will alert it. Its genetic history is full of instinctive intelligence that allows it to differentiate a breeze from the landing of a fly. But when the edge of a high speed spray comes towards it, spewing chemical death, it doesn’t stand much of a chance.

The simple spider caught in the chemical headlights represents instinctive intelligence, with no ability to do anything but run; and not fast enough in this case.

Then we have the human being who was tired and ready for that cup of tea. On full alert he might have used his predictive intelligence to visually comb the panels ahead, but he didn’t… This story is not about his intelligence.

There is another level of response available to the developing human – one in touch with their own true nature at a deeper level of consciousness. The ancients called it Gnosis. We retain the name to contrast it with ordinary knowing. Gnosis is the act of knowing something as though it were already a part of you and being ‘rediscovered’ in ‘real-time’ – or even faster. It is not adding something new to the mind. It bypasses reason. It is the solution to what is happening outside of time, and it is always optimal.

You don’t have to think about it, because, without this small example of it, I would have sprayed the little spider to its death in the next quarter second. But…my arm moved, safely and away; taking the spray head a short distance from the creature below. When I looked at where the spray should have been, I could see the spider. But only then.

I moved to the next fence panel, returning to the place of the spider’s survival a few minutes later. Happily, it had gone. I did not resist the smile. This happens rarely, but when it does, I know what it is…

©Stephen Tanham 2021

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

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

The Gift…

*

It is possible to box almost anything.

Thoughts…

Ideas…

Emotions…

In this way a whole life may be compartmentalised into secure, bounded segments of much more manageable proportions.

Bite sized pieces.

Or even, ‘shots’.

*

As everybody knows it is even possible to box one’s ears,

so that only those things which compute are actually heard.

This is the way Spirit dies.

Blinkers, are boxes for the eyes…

*

In fact, about the only thing which it is not

possible to put into a box…

Is light.

*

This is strange…

But only because light,

is really the gift of a turning-year.

*

First the loss, then the joy…

Unbearable, this song of light
That ends the day before soft night
A gradient of blue to gold
A harmony, exquisite folds
Will live its life in seconds told

Content to live and die, this dome
This perfect bowl of evening’s home
Retains no anguish in the face
Of life as change and death as wrought
By turning Earth in solar thought

So should I rise past ego’s fear
Embracing every moment’s splendour
Content with presence, golden orb
Of Self, embarked on journey’s passing
And to this life let will Surrender

©Stephen Tanham 2021

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

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog