There’s a certain ‘presence’ about kindness. Like the spiritual – or, more likely, as a part of it – the act of unexpected kindness drops into our lives like a messenger from the ‘Gods’.
So it was with our visit to the ancient church of Lythe in the middle of the Friday afternoon of the Keys of Heaven workshop. The village of Lythe lies just north of Whitby and marks the the beginning of the towering cliffs which run northwards as far as Saltburn. Within this landscape, Lythe is set on its own hill and has commanding views all the way to Whitby Abbey in the distance.
When we were creating the Silent Eye’s mentored correspondence course, we envisaged a three-year journey through a mental, emotional and spiritual landscape which would evolve as the Companion’s learning and depth of ‘being’ increased.
This landscape was to be internal – an active, meditative experience, whose presence would extend into the daily life as learning of true cause and effect deepened, and different aspects of modern living were brought into harmony. In the true and ancient meaning of the word, this would become a very magical journey.
Lately, we have begun to re-examine the idea of actual landscapes being used as teaching aides; not passively, but inviting – invoking – them to work with the noble intentions of the workshop in question.
I’ve been to many workshops over the years. Many of them were good. Some of them were very good. Two or three were life-changing…
What’s the difference?
Good ones were well structured; you had a clear idea -going in – of what would be taught and what effort you would have to put in if you wanted to succeed. What was success in this context? Success has to be ‘something added’ to your life; possibly an additional skill, something to be dropped into that ‘kit bag’ that is us; a bit like the tarot Card of the Fool (below), striding, unafraid, into the morning of Life with a little dog nipping at his heels and his few important possessions slung over his/her shoulder…
Very good workshops were those in which you discovered that, whatever you thought in the first few minutes, it deepened way beyond that as the agenda developed. This might have been the appropriateness of the subject matter, or even the approach of the teacher.
A workshop that is life-changing is one in which the attendee immediately feels at home with the event and the inner process of the teaching – generating a hunger. That sense of ‘coming home’ is difficult to pin down, but deepens with each stage of the event.
Why this happens may not be apparent in the early stages; indeed I’ve been to a couple of such weekends where I still don’t know how that sense of sheer magic was created… But I know itwas. And the fact that the memory still generates a sense of wonder, years later, shows the power they had.
‘Let go and get out of the way’…
It’s a deeply mystical insight, and it may have a lot to do with the life-changing workshops. There’s an enigma at work, here: you have prepare the ‘skeleton’ of the event in sufficient detail for it to be viable. At the same time, the structure and keys of the weekend should only be the ‘tinder that lights the greater fire’. When this works, it’s obvious that something is happening beyond the planning and the preparation. It is as though an intervention is taking place that broadens and deepens a kind of group presence…
In the Silent Eye, this is what we aim for; that the landscape, itself, becomes the teacher, gradually aligning and moving forward each person to the degree that they are able to be receptive to it. More blogs will follow as we develop this theme.
Whitby is the location for our next weekend. Above is a taste of the opening day (Friday 6th December, 2019)… a few places are still available. You can click here for our website’s events page.
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.
The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.
He stops in the act of dismantling – the raven directly in line with his left eye. Reluctantly, he climbs onto the chair to unhook the left panel of rubberised black fabric that contains the bird’s image. Then, smiling, he remembers the last minute decision to add the raven panels… such an important part of the Queen’s journey.
Somehow, it seems a sacrilege to take them down…
The stream of consciousness that now belongs to the twenty receivers of the told story opens. It is there, again… and alive…
There is a moment when all the power in the room passes from the artful Marlow, who has lived up to his reputation for skirting the edge of Elizabethan acceptable behaviour, to the Queen. Her regal gaze, a generation older than many in the room, fixes him like a serpent.
“Elizabeth, Queen of England and Ireland…” The playwright bows, backing away and leaving the intricate space of the chequered Court Floor for the sovereign. She rises, the gold dress swirling around her.