Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Now a student of A Course in Miracles

"Like vanishing dew,
a passing apparition
or the sudden flash
of lightning -- already gone --
thus should one regard one's self.”

― Ikkyu

It would be great to get rid of some of the pronouns of ACIM, referring to the He and Him and His and Father. Unfortunately we don't have a neutral pronoun in the English Language like they have in Arabic, and probably other languages, other than 'it' which is not suitable.

Nevertheless it would be good to become more sensitive to how defining our relationship to God in terms of gender will inevitably contaminate how we see God, and our relationship. We know that Jesus may have been a man while he had a physical form, 2000 years ago, but as spirit, there is no gender. So Son of God does not apply.

So far in his channelled works Jesus has given no indication of the need to make these adjustments. But there is a growing movement in our societies to claim the right to define our own gender without having it imposed on us according to our biology.

I would welcome hearing the view of others on this controversial topic.


Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Sacred Activists

Heart Sharing Circle "Sacred Activists" Hebden Bridge
NEW: re-start Thu 8 Nov. 2018, 10:30am - 12noon
(probably 2-weekly) morning sharing group 
especially for those of us who like to change the outer world
while trying to maintain inner peace
"Shared sorrow is half sorrow, shared joy is double Joy" (German saying)

- updated: 30 Oct. 2018 - 
Our sharing group "Sacred Activists" (or: "Awakening Consciousness") provides a space to share and listen to each other, bringing to the group whatever we feel is appropriate. 

Our sharing group 'Sacred Activists'
We usually begin standing in a circle in silence, creating a sacred space, connecting with each other. 
We light a candle. One after another we speak, ideally from our heart and being in the present moment.
We each finish by saying "Ho. I have spoken." - then the next person speaks, until each of us has spoken once. 
After this we open to a group sharing / discussion.
This sharing can be very powerful and inspiring.
Everything we hear and say stays confidential.
We probably will meet fourtnightly THURSday from 10:30 - 12 noon [to be discussed and confirmed at the 1st meeting]
Cost: donations are welcome.
You are welcome to come 10 minutes earlier for a tea or a wee. 

Our meeting venue:
Ralph's home, 15 Mason Street
, Hebden Bridge, HX7 6AW
(3rd street left up Hangingroyd Road, opp. the Co-Op, one above Melbourne Street). Ignore any cars you might block and just drive in as far as possible (no parking charge) - web map with arrow on
Please let Ralph know, if you intend to come: tel: 01422 647157 - mobile: 07909 488272

The Sacred Activists - a Hebden Bridge Sharing Group

We start with silence for a few minutes, and light a candle. This is not formal meditation, but time to quiet down and be present. Sharing: We generally speak as concisely as we can about what we are feeling in the present moment. Whoever wants to share begins the round and we follow in a circle. Consideration is shown to the group by speaking in a way that enables everyone to have time to speak and be heard.
What's the group for?
People who attend do so for a variety of personal reasons:
"I have experienced a deep connection to people in the group. For me, this has facilitated personal and spiritual growth, the group is full of grown ups, who can put there own agendas to one side to explore joint healing, sharing honestly from the heart is what I value about the group"
"SA is for me a space where people can express something about the challenges of their personal journey, in an atmosphere of acceptance, without judgement or approval. Giving each a few minutes to be heard also requires that we listen to others with respect, even if we disagree with their viewpoint. Sometimes through this deep listening, we tune in to something universal, and our hearts feel nourished and refreshed."
"I love the power of sharing from the heart and the intensity and surprises, what's coming up and out when we are not interrupted. Initially I wanted to share a feeling of desperately wanting to change the world. I wanted to ?nd out if other people shared this feeling and see how they managed this, what they were doing about it.... It's become a journey of understanding myself and feeling inspired by others. It's not formal therapy, but I feel healed by the journey and able to listen respectfully as well as be heard. I've learned that I need to be able to share from my heart, my truth, occasionally this resonates with others in the group and helps them. For me there's a special energy that's created by the process. It's as a result of the group dynamic, this for me is the blessing of the sacred activists."

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Deeper Darkness

 Thank you Matt for starting this website and giving us the chance to ponder these deeper realities.

Deeper Darkness seems to connect with a theme I have been persuing recently. It starts with a quote from Keats I read in the 1970s which I still remember because it so struck me at the time:

'I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable  reaching after fact and reason.'

The possibility of resting in uncertainty seems to express what is needed to be open to this deeper reality.

This links with something from R.D. Laing:

  'The really decisive moments in psychotherapy, as every patient or therapist who has ever experienced them knows, are unpredictable, unique, unforgettable, always unrepeatable, and often indescribable.'

 I think these guys are pointing to the same thing you are alluding to, approached from another perspective. It seems to me that this perspective, or experience, exists in all aspects of life, if we are open to it. It is not necessarily a comfortable place to be. And because of that we tend to try to avoid it, and stay with what is familiar, and 'known'.

(I put 'known' in inverted commas because this is what has come to be called knowledge in our society, not an inner knowing, but what is socially accepted as true.)

You also link this to the dark night of the soul and I agree with you. Doubting socially acceptable truth can rock your whole world, crash your foundations, and threaten your security, both personally and socially.  Think how whistleblowers are seen as terrorists.

For Bion, a psychoanalyst I came across in the 70s negative capability is 'the ability to tolerate the pain and confusion of not knowing, rather than imposing ready-made or omnipotent certainties upon an ambiguous situation or emotional challenge.'  

These sorts of feelings usually generate embarrassment and shame if exposed socially. We try to keep them hidden. We don't expect our leaders or politicians to express themselves in this way. So we end up with a totally false idea of reality. It is essential for our sanity to allow these aspects of ourselves to be not just tolerated but welcomed.


Responding to a Complimant

As a child we need acknowledgement of our feelings and needs, and we welcome being seen and admired for who we are. Our aim is to please, to stimulate smiles of approval, even applause. When we make mistakes we are dismayed and can freeze or be paralysed with confusion. These sorts of connections with carers have been fundamental to infant survival in past eras, and are essential to developing empathy and connections with others.

All these emotions remain with us as adults, the child is still there hoping for recognition, looking for those who will agree. We carry our ideas like this baby self looking for approval. The demands of this baby self can be very loud and can often blot out our ability to listen to others with their different needs and opinions, different vulnerabilities. We have to learn we are just one of many, each needs a turn to be heard. When we receive praise we bask in the glory and allow ourselves the pleasure of having these infant needs met.

Not understanding these needs can be a source of conflict, focussed on in non violent communication. As an adult we can hold these childhood needs without them becoming overwhelming. Being in touch with these parts of ourselves can help us come into what Buddhists call 'right relationship', responding to the deeper aspect of being human, which includes care for each other and the planet. We are no longer reliant on instant gratification, but have a deeper concern for justice, autonomy, freedom. These ethical concerns arise once our childhood needs have received attention, and we can listen to others without the overwhelming demand to be heard.

As a woman I have learned to accept compliments with a demure 'thank you', even when I wanted to retort "piss off", for the way such compliments tucked me into a category over which I had no control. As an older woman such compliments come less frequently, but now it's for being wise. I guess most of us lap up compliments, but gradually my feeling told me I no longer felt nourished by this praise. It nourishes a younger part of me that needed it then, and the part of me which still craves attention and recognition. But when I can be centred in presence in the Now, it feels irrelevant, a seduction to return to an earlier way of boosting my morale. Is this a question of maturity, or just seeing through the sugary wrapping I fed myself with for so long?

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The difference between conceptual reality and experience

What's lacking in our culture generally is allowing experience to be our teacher. Most of what happens in education or discussion is thinking in concepts, and not understanding the difference between the concept and the experience. Concepts are really useful in enabling us to think while the thing we are thinking about is absent. But for many there is a confusion or conflating of the concept with the 'reality' of something. Of course concepts are real too, as conceptual reality, but when we understand that experience only happens in the 'now', we establish a completely different experience with reality, an embodied experience. 

It is that 'reality' which can reconnect us to ourselves, to each other, and to nature, in a much deeper way, and it is what is missing in our culture generally which is allowing us to march towards destruction of our species, and all other species.

Learning from experience is also linked to feelings. Since concepts are separated from experience, they don't have feelings attached. So we can think and talk dispassionately, which is highly regarded in intellectual circles. Feelings are generally seen to be a nuisance that get in the way of thinking objectively. Ideas are seen as existing separately from people. That is what makes them 'true'. 

The separation of ideas from people or feelings was what science was about, but that has all been thrown up in the air by quantum physics. So we are in the transition of allowing feelings to be listened to as valuable messages. What I have called the validity of subjective experience.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Belonging and Self abandonment

Sometimes we see through the persona we use to hide our real self, and understand that the need to hide comes from childhood traumas of the fear of not belonging. 

As I see it the fear of rejection, of not belonging, arises when we have already abandoned ourselves. That happens very early on, when we don't feel welcomed into the world, when that delight which is there for every parent with the gift of a newborn, is not fully received. Very simply we come with a 'yes', and are met with a 'no'. We have no resources at that time to deal with that rejection, so we take it as legitimate. There must be something wrong with us. And we have to hide it. We abandon ourselves shamelessly in order to receive the affection we crave, and we continue to do so well in to adulthood. 

How to find ourselves again? If we are lucky we discover that we were never lost, that we were there all the time. That realisation comes in as many ways as there are people, when we realise we did it to ourselves, in response to circumstances which were not of our making. Taking responsibility for that puts it firmly back in our court, we are no longer victims but actors. 

Whether we are truly seen by others, or whether we can truly see others, is another way of putting the process which puts the emphasis on external relationships, rather than what goes on inside us. Both are important, but I see being whole in myself has to come first.


Thursday, 19 July 2018

Walk like a Man

"Walk like a Man

This morning, walking to the gym, my left arthritic hip was feeling sore, I was limping along, and trying to balance out my walking. I had seen these two men pass me by, and one in particular was taking up a lot of room in his walking. I began to imitate his walking throwing my shoulders around, using my whole body as we are taught in Feldenkrais, letting all your body respond to your movement as it did when you were a baby. It felt very freeing, and strangely my hip was less sore. 

This ties in with my feeling recently that those qualities which we think of as masculine or feminine come more from our culture and tradition, and are not determined by our biology. Using my whole body I became aware how I usually try to take up as little space as possible. I was taking big strides and flailing my arms. It felt almost aggressive. As a woman when we sit, it's not usually with our legs apart like a man, it's usually with legs crossed, contracting the space we use. I don't think that was ever taught, but it was implied. Of course I am from an older generation. It is changing somewhat, we had no choice in tight skirts and high heels, but kids now can choose big boots and jeans.

All this is also connected I feel with the fact that it is my left hip which is stiff and painful, the left side being more traditionally associated with the feminine, creative, vulnerable, emotional side. I was brought up in that tradition and only recently in the last 5 years -and I'm almost 80 - have I begun to question it. My right hip is fine. The constrictions of growing up as a female in the 40s and 50s have left their mark and I have to think myself into walking like a man in order to throw off those inhibitions. 

Of course I am making the same assumptions as I criticised above, in thinking there is a man's way of walking and a woman's way of walking. There is no such clear distinction. We are in transition from these binary divisions, and something is transitioning inside me too, allowing me to become aware of the ways that thinking of myself as female has constricted me, and encouraging me to claim the space that I imagine men taking. These categories are not so easily discarded. 

So if you see me charging down Main St in Hebden Bridge, taking great strides and flailing my arms, you'll know I'm just discovering me!"