Friday 20 October 2017

Today, while walking to meet a friend, I found myself, for no conscious reason, silently singing the Gayatri mantra: "Om Bhur Bhuvah Svaha. Tat Savitur Varenyam, Bhargo, Devasya Dhimahi: Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat". The central part invokes all beings, below on and beyond the earth, and the end praises for their being and fulfillment. It comes from the Chandogya Upanishad, 1st millennium BCE. It recalled to me the spiritual richness that we met in India when Isabel and I stayed there for a while.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Dancing in the street

"Dancing in the street" is the title of a fascinating book by Barbara Ehrenreich. Its sweeps from neolithic cave dwellers to today, via every concealable (and sometimes scarcely
concealable) activities. The basic message is that communal living thrives on, or even requires, ritual common movement. Thus the term "dancing" in her scope includes things like a crowd of football enthusiasts leaping up and waving together when there is a goal.  
As a circle-dance enthusiast, all this really strikes a cord in me! Strongly recommended.   

Sunday 15 October 2017


Yesterday I noticed on my chaotic desk a copy of T.S Eliot's Collected Poems (how did it get there?). I flipped to the start of his most famous work, The Waste Land, that starts with the words of a classical: Greek, Petronius Arbiter. He described a female prophet called "The Sibyl" as follows:  
"I myself with my own eyes saw her hanging in a cage; and when the boys cried at her: 'Sibyl, Sibyl, what do you want?' she used to answer 'I would that I were dead'.
I was reminded of a "spiritual healer" with whom I once discussed, out of interest. He could,  it seemed, connect with another person so deeply that he could, without asking, take into himself their whole situation, in depth, and thereby help them. He was a sort of gentle humanized version of the Sibyl, and with her suffered: in his case, through the pain of taking his clients' difficulties into himself.   

Thursday 12 October 2017

This morning, not accepting the clear fact that I was tired, I set up a ladder and began to dismember a lighting unit that was in need of improvement. There was a struggle, and the lights that I held smashed down, scattering shards of glass all over the floor - and leaving me miserably distraught. Fortunately, Isabel was present and she sorted out my mind, enabling me to sort out my mess!
After this I needed my regular walk on the Common; and in particular I needed, more than usually, the glen of trees. As I moved towards it, my walk seemed more like pilgrimage; and, as used to be the custom, I found myself first circulating the outer path of the ground; before, as usual, holding the central tree and finally prostrating before it.

Monday 9 October 2017

The universe and everything

At this moment I seem to be encountering  people who "Know all the answers",  perhaps including  "life, universe, everything", as it is put in "The Hitchiker's Guide to the universe"). If treated carefully, this quote can be helpful: we toy with the idea of investigating beyond our galaxy to the many other galaxies - or even other universes. The latter seems, at first glance, impossible to observe: but if we could somehow understand the "flaring forth" that initiated our own universe, we might at least get some inkling of other ones.  

Sunday 8 October 2017

I've just returned from 3 days in London, while Isabel was working there (yes, she is the bread-winner and I am the drone!), while a friend greeted us to stay with her.
On Sunday, while Isabel was still working, I went to St James Church, Piccadilly. I silently rejoiced as I sat down: this was the place where I needed to be. At the start a member gave a brief outline of what has been achieved the previous week, and and how this would be taken forward. Then the service itself carries this forward. This is a deeply christian church, fully committed to promoting justice: for the earth and for all that live on it, including we errant humans! (and what's more, it doesn't get wound up about sexuality). If you're in the southern sentre UK, do give it a try. Check

Thursday 5 October 2017

I'm gradually getting used to my Alzheimer's disease, with its frequent random scattering of the words with which I was about to speak. But some times the words they produce for a scattering are lead me to an unexpected place - as in this short poem by Goethe that I loved for many years. Here's my clumsy translation, with the beautiful German original below.

  If our sight could not reach to the Sun,
  Our knowing never could embrace it;
  And if God’s work moved not in us,
  Then how could we delight in it? 
   Wär' nicht das Auge sonnenhaft,
Die Sonne könnt es nie erblicken;
Läg nicht in uns des Gottes eigne Kraft,
Wie könnt uns Göttliches entzücken?  )

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Walking with a friend today I pointed out a pare of buzzards in the distance. I recalled and described the time when I was often aware of connections with beings other than the human. Once, in a "Buzzard period", one of them landed in a tree about 4km from me.
We humans (including myself, most of the time) easily accept other beings as vital in sustaining the living web on which we depend. But only occasionally do we (including myself) engage in its depth consciously.