Archive for June, 2012

The rational view of life is enviably simple in its scope. It enables us to rest content in the fact that it’s an accident why we’re here, an accident we’re conscious of our selves and capable of self reflection. Equally it allows us to rest assured that mystical or spiritual enquiry is a delusion, and best left alone by all right minded material beings.

The secret to living in the rational world is very simple. We have to find a way of reconciling our screaming souls to the fact that there is no point to anything, and then to seek our pleasure in pursuit of those things that simply make us feel good: money, sex, material objects and social status. Any reassurances our ego might need can be found reflected in other people, by the degree to which they worship our virtues, a phenomenon no more accurately reflected in these modern times than in the number of  “follows” or “friends” our Facebook, Twitter and WordPress pages we achieve.

However, though we naturally cower in deference before our magnificently – and these days expensively – “educated” materialist gurus, we all know this isn’t the best way of living at all, and that sometimes one’s screaming soul is just too articulate, pointing out to us that the more material objects we have, the more we want, and since there has to be a natural limit to what we can have, we’re never going to be happy, are we? Q.E.D. The same goes for the money and, regrettably, the sex as well. As for the pursuit of social status and Facebook adulation, well that was always going to be a sticky wicket, vulnerable to the transient moods of other people, to say nothing of our own ambivalent tendencies, veering haphazardly between shameless self-inflation and the much dreaded depression. That said, provided we can remain mindful of these cautionary caveats, the rational approach is not without its merits, not least of which is the fact that any other approach to life is even more problematic.

To abandon the rational view and think of life instead from the mystical or spiritual angle requires us to sign up to a belief, or at least a strong suspicion, that our presence in the world is not an accident, that there is a purpose to our consciousness, and our propensity for enquiry into the underlying nature of things. Adopting this approach, we become less enamoured of money, sex and material things – provided we’re not entirely without them in the first place of course – at least to the extent that they have awakened in us the realisation that the happiness they bring is short lived. And we say no! The secret to living the mystical, the spiritual life,  is,… what?

What is it?

Alas, we discover that having abandoned our rational senses, we don’t know. Indeed the more we ponder, the more we doubt we even understand the question.

But whether we understand it or not, in asking the question we become by default adepts on the road to non-material enlightenment, seekers without any clear goal, wanderers of those notoriously treacherous inner highways where we’re vulnerable to being waylaid by delusion, or the persuasive writings of charismatic charlatans, or any number of other metaphorical highwaymen. We shun the world of objects, cast off our collars and ties and dress ourselves instead in homespun rags. Perhaps we even dangle talismans around our necks and our wrists like hippies. Then we take up our staff of dubious awakening and set out along the lesser known paths into the mountainous regions we imagine others fear to tread.

Up here the air is noticeably insubstantial. The mists swirl and glower ominously, and our occasionally clear glimpses of what might be an enticingly mysterious new world are periodically consumed by vagueness, rendering all our fine philosophies – our new found virtues, our dignity, our self-confidence – as nothing,  filling our veins instead with something sour, something that saps our spirit and wraps us in the grey cloak of a cloying listlessness.

With a little luck we might still find our way to the fabled crystal tarn by which there stands the Tree of Life, its noble branches reflected in still waters. And all right, it’s just a mountain tarn, the tree nothing more than a wind-blasted hawthorn, but we’re into symbols now rather than reading the world as literally as we once did, so we can easily tell ourselves we have indeed journeyed to the mythical Tarn of the Tree of Life – and here we settle down to contemplate our navels. But in spite of our reverence, and our fledgling skills in mindfulness meditation, the wind stirs the waters denying us a reflection of anything at all but what we fear might be the twisted shades of our own stupendous delusion. It’s a cold wind too; it makes us shiver, it makes us wish we’d not thrown away that Gortex jacket, swapped it for these pitiful rags that protect nothing – least of all our dignity.

Determined to have our answers, we sit up all night, watching while the ghosts of ideas swirl in wreath-like dance upon the water, sometimes luminous, sometimes dark – but each of them equally mysterious, equally infuriatingly inscrutable. And if we’re really lucky, at some point in the slit-eyed rambling hours before dawn, we fancy we can almost remember a time when we sat here before, a time before even our parents were born, a time when we knew everything there was to know, a time when we understood there would come a time like this, a time of forgetting, when our lives would be reduced to a quest for remembrance, for the reconnection of a lost and insubstantial shard with the memory of its greater self.

And then our telephone rings, so we fish it out of our homespun shorts, and the boss is on the other end, and his grumbling is reminding us we’ll get the sack if we don’t turn up for work on time – which is the same thing as denying us our money to acquire those obligatory, glittery, material things and to maintain the leaky tub of our social status on the treacherous high-seas of a world now seriously upset. And we think: twelve thousand years of  pontificating on the finer things in life,  and here we are, reduced to nothing – indeed to less than nothing, for everywhere we look we see a world not increasingly conscious of its collective, spiritual self but rather the opposite, that we are daily slipping back into the unconscious void where we are daily plagued by demons from our own nightmares.

And we think, well,… since we were born into this material world, should we not assume instead our purpose is better sought within it than in some high falootin’ non-literal realm whose denizens seem capable only of teasing us with their infuriating symbols? So we finish the call with a heavy sigh, then take up our staff and we ram it hard into the earth to mark our presence, like a book mark, by the Tarn of the Tree of Life, and then we head back down the mountain, to the grey city, to the office, to the factory.

We punch the clock, we register our consent, our compliance to a set of values we don’t really believe in – but in the absence of anything surer what choice do we have? And maybe while we sit there clickety clicking at our computers, feeding yet more garbage-data into the materialist paradigm, it’ll come to us, the answer to the way to be, the way to fathom the shy wreaths of a more meaningful way of life.

Now and then, while we toil, we may remember how we once rammed our staff into the earth by the Tarn of the Tree of Life. But the years pass, and we wonder,…

If it could possibly still be there.

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All right, let me be clear here. I don’t mean I actually had tea with the Queen,… well not in person anyway. But when I was a Cub Scout, about eight years old, my Arkaela explained to me that  whenever we saw the flag, the Union Jack, it was the same thing as being in the presence of the Queen. That was what the flag was, you see? And my home village is decked out at the moment with more Union Jacks than on V E day. It is of course The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Sixty years as monarch, and therefore as the spiritual mother of the United Kingdom, and the Commonwealth.

The last Jubilee, I was a young man of seventeen, and I recall spending that sunny weekend in 1977, cleaning my motorbike and being generally oblivious to the fuss and all that Union Jack waving. But now I’m older and admit to raising a glass in my back garden to her majesty. We celebrated with tea and cakes in fact – the tea being served in my good lady’s grandmother’s best China – something that’s normally reserved only for family funerals.

Yesterday the BBC gave us all a first class ticket to a ride down the Thames in the company of Her Majesty, and though the weather was as atrocious over London as it was for us in Lancashire, the day proved to be a magnificent spectacle, though I felt for everyone on the breezy Thames, and shivered for them, but it was a nautical adventure, and true navy types aren’t daunted by a bit of weather.

This evening, the BBC gave me another first class ticket, this time to a musical concert in front of Buckingham Palace, and though the weather here was fine and would normally have tempted me away from the indoors, I remained glued to the goggle box and was absolutely amazed by the spectacle, also that anybody could inspire such a gathering. There were an estimated 200,000 in London tonight, and that’s some concert. And all in sincere celebration of the achievement of an 86 year old lady.

This amazes me.

But it shouldn’t.

The world is in a terrible state. We’re all feeling it. The global materialist, freemarket free-for-all, is in its last gasp death throes. Who else are we to look up to now? Our political leaders? Well,.. no. Frankly they’re not showing themselves at their best, locked in an unholy battle with the gutter press and the big business fat cats –  a nefarious trio, submerged up to their necks in mud and all of them looking a little besmirched, a little tarnished, a little lame, and we, a bemused public, wondering what the hell’s going on, and who we’re supposed to look to for an example. I mean who the hell is left that’s worthy of this symbol of nationhood? Who else do we clean our shoes for? For whom do we straighten our ties every morning?

God help me. I’m fifty one years old, a liberal, a rebel, a mystic, and I discover I’m a royalist.

Unity in Diversity.

God Save the Queen.

Graeme out.

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