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

A Union of Opposites (2)

(Photo by the author and ©Copyright)

In Part One, we looked at the subtle meaning of the word ‘elements’, and how spiritual paths like Yoga and the Western Mystery Tradition (WMT) view them as essential components of our being.

If these energy states are the foundations of our conscious existence, why do they not arrange themselves in a harmonic way? The answers lie in knowing which part of us has been given control of our daily lives. In terms of Yoga, this ‘decider’ is viewed as a kind of ‘information body’; one that also carries a Karmic burden from our past.

Psychology views it as the personality – an accumulation of responses to the largely survival and emotionally-based challenges by which we learn to protect our ‘selves’ in the world. Both point to the inescapable fact that we need to ‘transcend’ the personality and wrestle with its fears and desires, if we are to make true spiritual progress. Our effort, plus the struggle, creates a third condition, in which we may make real change to our-selves.

This is not to diminish psychology. The ‘ascent of life’ in the form of efficient organic responses, carries forward the potential of more effective and integrative consciousness, by which matter becomes increasingly aware of its environment and itself…

Yoga’s approach is powerful, because it gets to the core of the issue: our everyday selves are based upon accumulated, reactive information. We overlay this with what we believe to be ‘right’. This is not reactive, but is for the good of the greater whole.

As in previous posts, the nature and force of our intention is vital. We hinted, last time, that there is a direct relationship between intention and the elements. This will be explored in the form of a practical exercise, in what follows.

Psychology dedicates itself to the restoration of the stable personality – the ‘self’, allowing those who have been damaged to resume their normal functioning in the world. Generally, psychology is not concerned with the spiritual, though there are notable exceptions, such as the work of Carl Jung, who well understood the elements and their place in the scheme of human consciousness.

Yoga has an intrinsic understanding of the Elements as the key to the foundation of the human. The energy centres that ascend up the spine – much like the WMT’s Middle Pillar on the Tree of Life – include the elements. I’ve appended a diagram of the Chakras to illustrate their positions:

(Table image source link)

Yoga’s temple is the body; with its interpenetrating layers. It is one of the finest conceptions of ‘divinity in matter’. In the West, we are less attuned to these ideas, and seem to respond more readily to a symbolic journey.

The WMT offers the basis of an interesting alternative to the yogic approach. This utilises the directions of space to represent the elements and their ‘signatures’.

We imagine ourselves to be in a cubic glass container (with no ceiling) whose walls are perfectly formed and glowing (within the material of the glass) with the mixed energies of the four elements. As such, they are not arranged in an orderly way, and are less able to serve us.

Designate one of the walls of the glass cube to be the East, the start of our rotation of the elements. Face this direction.

You can choose your own colour or pattern attributions if you wish, or adopt these: Pale yellow for the East; bright gold for the South; dark blue for the West and a rich and fertile earthy-brown for the North.

Extend your hands upwards over your head and and join them so that fingers 2-4 are intertwined and folded. Your first (index) fingers are aligned, raised and pressed together, and the thumbs crossed over each other, as in the photo below.

(Above: using the hands to create a living ‘intention’ symbol)

Your hands in this position form a potent symbol of INTENTION. By moving the balanced and locked fingers together, we are actively harmonising of opposites to produce a new, and higher, creation.

Now bring your raised hands down to point to the glass wall in front of you – the East. Look into the chaotic and swirling colours within the glass wall. Within your mind (or out loud if you can) speak your Intention that they resolve and assume their rightful energy. Then see in your living image the restoration of the pale yellow colour, flowing with peace and loving energy, but, above all, intelligence. At the same time feel a link between this cleansing and the energy within your heart chakra. Feel the same colour developing, there.

With the colour and the intelligence of the symbolic East wall of your cube established, let its light energise you and restore a great peace to your body.

We are now going to take this sense of intelligence, order and rightness around the other three directions of the compass and, at the same time, move vertically along the chakras.

To begin this, take a final look at the restored and orderly East face, with your hands still pointed there. Then raise your joined arms and rotate your body one cube face clockwise to face the South. As you make the rotation, be aware of a descent of the intelligence of the heart (and East) to the level of the navel.

Facing the South, take a breath to establish your Intention, then lower your arms and hands to point at the South face, issuing your command to order and rightness and extending the controlling intelligence and discrimination. See the swirling colours resolve to a beautiful gold, then feel the warmth of the overhead sun burning away any negative emotions you may have. Simply be with the sun, and let it feed you with the warmth of its power and rightness.

When this feeling is established, let the energy of the wall be reflected in your navel, slowly, but be conscious of the control coming from the heart centre, directed downwards. Raise your arms again, and, as you turn, visualise the descent of the sun energy, wrapped in the intelligence of the heart, to the level of the West face, linked with the Water element and centred at the root of the genitals. Feel the cleansing and cooling Water element wash away the disorderly colours of the West face. Feel and see the blue water wrapped in the gold of the sun, and, in turn, the pale yellow Intelligence of the heart.

Make the third turn to face the North in the same way. Link the North face with the basal chakra in the muscles of the anus. Apply an internal tension to this part of the body, seeing the colours of the North resolve into the rich and fertile earth colour, taking its place like a seed, embedded in the other colours.

Now make the final turn, but keep the hands raised while moving the accumulated energies up the spine to a place between the heart centre and the throat. Raise your head to ‘look to the heavens’. Gaze on your joined hands with their living symbol of Intention. Then gaze beyond them and offer the energies to the direction of your Higher Self, only. Feel you whole spine tingling with the harmonious joy of your being, with its elemental energies restored and balanced.

In next week’s final post in this series, we will describe one or two powerful refinements to this exercise of the Elements. If you have been able to practice this, you will gain additional focus and energy from these…

Other posts in this series:

A Union of Opposites (1)

[Recent posts related to intention and attention:

Intention chooses Heaven

Intention chooses Heaven (2)]

©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

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication V…

*

…Cara… ‘I reign over you, saith the God of Justice.

ELEXARPEH

COMANANU

TABITOM.

Move therefore and show yourselves.

Appear unto us; open the mysteries of your Creation, the balance of

Righteousness and Truth.’

*

Bugs: The three names are the Angels who rule over the Tablet of Union in the Enochian System devised by Doctor John Dee and Edward Kelley…

Cara: So, some questions… What are Angels? Anybody… (discuss)

Bugs: Who numbers them? (we do…)

Cara: Who gives them names? (we do…)

Bugs: What is the Angelic function?

Cara: So… Horizonal polarity, the mundane oppositions of the world which as we have seen are interchangeable and are ever flipping, versus… Vertical polarity… World/Otherworld… Heaven/Earth… Human/Divine, we’d like to propose two definitions.

Bugs: Horizontal Polarity encompasses, ‘Everything we know or think we know.’ … which is mutable.

Cara: Vertical Polarity encompasses, ‘Everything we don’t know or don’t think we know.’ … which is immutable.

Bugs: The Angelic function is to mediate between the poles of a vertical polarity.

Cara: From whom to whom? (discuss)

Bugs: From here to where? (discuss)

Cara: Angelos means, ‘messenger’.  In Christian Mysticism where the divine is regarded as the beloved, the angel is the lovers ‘chaperone’

Bugs: In Sufi Mysticism where the divine is spoken of in terms of an intoxicating beverage

The ‘Wine-house dispenser’, or ‘bar-tender’, is the angel.

Cara: Also, in Islamic mysticism we have Al Khidr –  who is Another Green or Verdant Man…

And, somewhat inevitably, an angel.

Bugs: The function of al-Khiḍr as a ‘person-archetype’ is to reveal each companion to

themselves, to lead each companion to their own theophany, because that theophany

corresponds to their own ‘inner heaven,’ to the form of their own being, to their eternal

individuality.

Cara: This latter, then, conforms to the idea of ‘contact’.

Bugs: And in Magical Tradition to, ‘Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel’….

Cara: Where language fails in its attempt to adequately describe this state…

Art… Dance…Music… may succeed…

Intro music…

Bugs: So, we would like to conclude this presentation with a piece of music.

This piece of music, in our opinion, possesses the ability to make the ‘beyond’ tangible.

Before we do that for you we would like to rearrange things slightly as a symbolism and an act of sacrifice

Cara: As you move your intent should be ‘I move, in order, to achieve my vertical polarity.’

(seat swap) S1-N9, N8-S2, S3-N7, N6-S4, (S5-N5, already accomplished) S6-N4, N3-S7, S8-N2, N1-S9)

Bugs: (closes curtains and dims any lights.) Explain meditation… Seed thoughts. ‘Never perfect always changing. Ever changing always perfect.’

Music…O Holy One… by John Tavener…

Cara: reads… (over start of music)

Most subtle of the shifting forms and yet most constant too.

Whose moonlit transformation cannot change the heart that’s true.

It harkens to each season’s turn and reads the twilight air

And listens to the inner song and knows both foul and fair.

Between two worlds It journeys and in both It can be seen

In adoration of the moon yet always clothed in green…

END

Rabbit Excerpt abridged from ‘Watership Down’ – by Richard Adams

Thanks to those Companions who acted as Adjudicators, and all those whose contributions to this presentation helped make it work…

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication III…

*

… Bugs… The small rabbit came closer to his companion, lolloping on long hind legs.

“Let’s go a bit further, Hazel,’ he said. “You know, there’s something strange about the warren this evening, although I can’t tell exactly what it is. Shall we go down to the brook?”

*

Cara… “All right, Fiver,” answered Hazel, “and you can find me a cowslip when we’re there. If you can’t find one, no-one can.”

*

Bugs… Hazel led the way down the slope, his shadow stretching behind him on the grass.

They reached the brook and began nibbling and searching beside the wheel-ruts of the track.

It was not long before Fiver found what they were looking for.

Cowslips are a delicacy among rabbits, and as a rule there are very few left by late May in the neighbourhood of even a small warren.

This one had not bloomed, and its flat spread of leaves was almost hidden under the long grass.

They were just starting on it when two large rabbits came running across from the other side of the near-by cattle-wade.

Fiver had already turned away.

*

Cara… Hazel caught up with him by the culvert, “I tell you what, let’s go across the brook. There’ll be fewer rabbits and we can have a bit of peace, so long as you think it’s safe?”

*

Bugs… “No, it’s safe enough,” answered Fiver. “If I start feeling there’s any danger I’ll tell you. It’s not danger I feel tonight, it’s, oh, I don’t know, something oppressive, like thunder. I’m not sure what, but it worries me. All the same, I’ll come across the brook with you.”

*

Cara… The two rabbits ran over the culvert.

The grass was wet and thick near the stream and they made their way up the opposite slope, looking for drier ground.

Part of the slope was in shadow, for the sun was sinking ahead of them, and Hazel, who wanted a warm, sunny spot, went on until they were quite near the lane.

As they approached the gate he stopped, staring…

“Fiver, what’s that? Look!”

*

Bugs… A little way in front of them, the ground had been freshly disturbed.

Two piles of earth lay on the grass.

Heavy posts reeking of creosote and paint, towered up as high as the holly trees in the hedge, and the board they carried threw a long shadow across the top of the field.

Near one of the posts, a hammer and a few nails had been left behind.

The two rabbits went up to the board at a hopping run and crouched in a patch of nettles on the far side, wrinkling their noses at the smell of a dead cigarette-end somewhere in the grass.

*

Cara… Suddenly Fiver shivered and cowered down. “Oh, Hazel! This it where it comes from! I know now – something very bad! Some terrible thing – coming closer and closer.”

He began to whimper…

*

Bugs… “What sort of thing – what do you mean?  I thought you said there was no danger? “

Cara… “I don’t know what it is,” answered Fiver wretchedly. “There isn’t any danger here, at this moment. But it’s coming – it’s coming. Oh, Hazel, look! The field! It’s covered in blood!”

*

Bugs… “Don’t be silly, it’s only the light of the sunset. Fiver, come on, don’t talk like this, you’re frightening me!”

*

Cara…The sun set behind the opposite slope.

The wind turned colder, with a scatter of rain, and in less than an hour it was dark.

All colour had faded from the sky and although the big board by the gate creaked slightly in the night wind, there was no passer-by to read the sharp, hard letters that cut straight as black knives across its white surface.

They said…

to be continued…

A Union of Opposites

(Photo by the author and ©Copyright)

Anyone having a basic knowledge of the history of philosophical thought will be familiar with the ‘quaint notion’ that the world is made of a mixture of four ‘elements’ – Earth, Air, Fire and Water; with possibly a fifth, the Quintessence.

Given to us by the Greeks, from probably older sources, this idea was seen to be displaced by the advance of science into the composition of matter – specifically the discover of atoms.

From an objective perspective, this is correct; but the ancient minds, lacking our science, built a system to explain the world that relied upon the ‘laboratory of the subjective’ – more specifically the retort of the ‘self’. Sympathetic insight and logic were two of the tools employed.

Modern psychology has given us accurate behavioural maps of the psychological self. Where, then, is the fit between the ‘elements’ and the parts of the ‘me’?

The artful science of Yoga may provide some clues…because, surprisingly, Yoga makes use of the ‘elements’, too.

Yoga means simply union. Yoga’s origins can be traced to northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word yoga was first mentioned in ancient sacred texts called the Rig Veda. In the yogic view of reality, the elements are types of energy that blend, in a divine union of the physical and emotional natures of us all. Surprisingly, yoga devotes little time to what we view as the psychological self, viewing it (to paraphrase in my own terms) as like being in a market full of the freshest fruit and vegetables, yet hearing only the competing voices of the owners of the stalls, as they vie for our attention.

The desired state of attention is one where we are only present to the beauty of the produce, in all its natural splendour; yet capable of switching ‘back on’ a stall-holder or two, in the event we find a new vegetable we don’t know how to prepare, or whose cost we have to ascertain.

I’ve referred to this mixture of intention and attention in previous posts.

So how does this level of intention relate to the four elements that make up our ‘energetic being’?

Yoga views everything real within the human vehicle as a body. These ‘bodies’ are like sheaths of increasingly fine experience. The idea of this is mirrored in the ‘temples of the mysteries’ of the Western Mystery Tradition (WMT), which assigns one of four (compass) quarters to the traditional four elements.

Uniting the two reveals some of the keys to this schema of the human. The East, the place of the officiating priest, is allocated to Air (intellect). The West, the place of the priestess, is allocated to Water (Emotions); the North (Physicality) to Earth; and the South to Fire (the Transformative force, the summer sun at noon).

An intrinsic part of yoga’s teaching is that the four energy types that comprise our real self are responsive to our intention. They are there to respond to our will, and can, with a little consistency on our part, transform our lives.

The basic Hatha Yoga teaching that promotes this is called ‘Bhuta Shuddhi’ – the cleansing of the five elements. It is traditionally taught in small classes, but we can glean some if it’s benefits by combining our knowledge of Yoga with the WMT, making a ‘temple’ of the space around us.

The fifth element is Akasha, translated as space. This needs to be explained, separately, and represents a higher perspective on the whole.

In next week’s post, we will describe one method to create this ‘space of the personal temple’, and describe how you can, using your own words and symbols, make interaction with your four energy bodies a more conscious part of your life.

[Recent posts related to intention and attention:

Intention chooses Heaven

Intention chooses Heaven (2)]

©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

Intention chooses Heaven (2)

(Image by author)

In Part One, we looked at the personal development of equanimity as an important step in attaining an inner state that allows room for new, and deeper, aspects of consciousness.

Equanimity takes us into a ‘new space’ within ourselves. We are aware of the world and its ups and downs, but we don’t react to in the way we used to. Instead, we have a heightened consciousness that is present yet detached from the stream of experience that’s coming at us. By not identifying ourselves with the content of that stream, we awaken something within, something that is calmer and far more out true nature.

This generates a need to understand the inner nature of the stream of events that we experience. We begin to question it in a different way. The idea of ‘accounting for our actions’ is well established in our Western minds in the West. The word ‘Karma’ began to filter into western consciousness in the early years of the last century, fuelled by a perception that the East possessed ancient truths which, combined with the West’s grasp of science, would enhance and enrichen our lives.

There were many interpretations of karma. Some saw it simply as cause and effect, with one’s actions producing a moral response from a ‘greater authority’, rewarding or retarding our perceived journey towards some distant perfection.

The Buddhists interpreted it differently. They perceived that if and understanding of karma was approached from a basis of personal equanimity, it offered the possibility of self-development ‘in the moment’. This was mirrored in the ‘Fourth Way’ philosophy of Gurdjieff, which spoke to the modern men and woman of the first half of the last century, needing to reconcile a society being changed, drastically, in each decade.

Gurdjieff spoke of a ‘third force’ that had the power to resolve seeming paradoxes. Not action and not reaction, this force could only come into being in special circumstances.

Because equanimity is a mental and emotional state detached from the flow of events, we can understand that our ‘now’ inherits the results of past actions but also gives us the potential to exist in a deeper state where karmic inheritance is secondary in power to a deeper consciousness.

I remember an admonition from an old Rosicrucian text read in my teens;

“When the consciousness arrives at this point, all judgement is suspended because we have become part of the unfolding of reality, not a reactive opposition to it…”

Does this detachment mean we don’t care what happens in the world? We do look at the world differently from this vantage. For a start, we realise that we live only in our world. This is not to say that experiences are not shared. They are; but each is different for the soul experiencing them. There is no exact commonality of experience, for it is composed of the product of what is happening plus how we react to it; and those seemingly small differences can result in an entirely different lived episode.

An early business mentor told me I needed to study really successful executives in dynamic corporate environments for I would find they spend the majority of their time listening… Only within a quiet synthesis of the present will they act.

In a belief system where karma operates rigidly, with the past actions determining the present, there is little room for free will. The Buddhists and Gurdjieff saw that actions truly in the now shape in ‘real time’ the present as well as the future. This restores action in the now to the causal level, and to the extent this happens, restores to us a degree of free will. For Buddhists, this is symbolised by flowing water. Too strong a flow and we can do little but secure our footing. But if the flow is gentle, then we may have much greater freedom. The skill would be in knowing the difference…

Both Buddhism, and the Gurdjieff method speak of a new type of action that is only possible at that quiet level of the self, where the egoic nature is silenced, and this new ‘quiet room’, seen previously only from the outside, is entered. Within this deeply peaceful space the greater Self can act in a way that makes it part of the unfolding wave of reality.

It’s easy to begin this journey into the self via the kind of guided meditation presented here:

When you are falling asleep tonight, visualise a fisherman’s net in your mind. See it clearly; feel its texture and colour. Imagine you are running your fingers over the small holes and testing their strength. Let your fingers travel to the point where the material of the net gives way to the stronger ropes that pull the loaded net from the water.

Tell yourself you will awaken with this image in your mind for use on the day that follows.

The morning after, hold in your mind the intention that when you feel yourself getting angry or impatient at any point during the day, you will cast this net around the perceived circumstances. Then imagine dragging the net out of the water and standing over it, look it at the ‘catch’. See the emotions normally generated by such circumstances struggling inside the net, resisting your work in ‘landing it’.

When this happens, see yourself smiling and let your hand slide back over the main ropes and ask yourself this question: “Who is holding this rope?”

©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.