Saturday, 23 September 2017

making a meditator out of Grandpa!

Here he is!
He is the best meditator in our house but you might not have picked him out for a meditator from his background: a good old English country background with dogs and guns and fishing rods, cricket-watching, rugby-loving, Church going sort of person, no sign of new-age thinking there and yet something must have stirred in him to take steps to become a meditator.  What I admire about his meditation is that he doesn't meditate because he needs it, he doesn't do it to relieve stress or bring down his blood pressure, he does it because he says it is a most reasonable thing to do and it accords with his philosophy studies.  He says it brings him into line with all the great teachers, helps him to understand his own Christian background  but also explains the same truth lying in all the great teachings.  I think it gives him a flexibility, a way of reading life which marks him out in my mind from other Grandpas from similar backgrounds.  He doesn't wear his wisdom in any sort of ostentatious way, in fact you wouldn't know what hidden depths there were if you just watched him going about his life, log chopping, rubbish burning, telly watching and maybe shouting at drivers (who can't hear him!).  It would only be when you asked him a question about something important in your life that the wisdom which is in there makes itself known in a most reasonable way, somehow the meditation taps him into some universal store of knowledge. Maybe there is a hidden meditator in your Grandpa?  If so, and if it would help him deal with the arrival of old age, the tiresomeness of losing the facility he had in his younger years with a degree of equanimity, then don't be afraid to introduce him to a good meditator somewhere.
You can bring him and yourself along to two events where meditators from different backgrounds will share the good things that have come to them from meditation.  You will see our Grandpa in the audience for one, and he will be chairing the St Martin-in-the-Fields event.  You won't want to miss him!
To find out more go to

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Getting the newsletter with a few mistakes

On and off over the week in Suffolk I have been fiddling the Just this Day newsletter into shape and out it went today.  Despite all my best editing efforts, there are still mistakes.  I think it is because seeing something on a screen isn't the same as seeing it on a piece of paper and somehow things just pass you by.  However I am still glad it is out there and hope it makes sense.  Please take a look at it by clicking on the link and see how many mistakes you find.  I think there are 5 in total. .
You will find out quite a lot about this lady and how you can come and listen to her in November.  You can get your diary out and aim for November 22nd in London or wherever else you are.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

One Liberated Grandmother!

the liberated washing line
I realise that in the days of female liberation, it is unusual to find a really really liberated grandmother. Look no further! I feel free and if that is what liberation is, then I am liberated.  Not in the usual mould of liberated woman maybe because Grandpa isn't in the way of being a liberated male, not at all, he is of the clutch the remote controller, do the driving no matter what type.  He was ahead of his time once when he changed the occasional nappy and helped with the washing up and also has a reputation as very good cook of a few very particular things, steak and kidney pudding, prawn cocktail, moules marinieres and taramasalata are the top of everyone's list.  So despite appearing to be a stereotypical duo of grandparents, this is why I feel free.  I feel free because there are a lot of things I absolutely love doing.  People and some of them in my own family will think I am mad but I love hanging out the washing!  I love being able to hang things out so you can fold them up and they don't need ironing.  I love the way the washing flaps in the wind and gets dry and I love using the pegs in such a way that things look good on the line!  Here is Suffolk we have an old fashioned line which is strung from one apple tree to another and so you get a good view of the washing and what it is doing.  Today when I hung out the towels there was a tiny ladybird teetering along the washing line like a wonderful tiny tight rope walker.  
Free swimming
I love swimming in the brown sea which isn't all that warm at the moment.  I love it when you get in and after you have your breath back, you float over the waves or swim a little way against the current measuring yourself against your pile of clothes on the shingle.  I love putting the house in order after our stay here, putting the clean sheets on, folding the towels and laying them out on each bed waiting for the next person.  Many a person might think that this wasn't freedom but I argue that it is just because I love it.  I know that this isn't everyone's way to freedom but what must be common to all states of freedom is that they make you feel free, make you feel good.  They make you feel that nothing in the world is missing.  

Liberated Grandpa

Monday, 11 September 2017

A meditation club? in Dubai!

Father Laurence click on this link for the lesson
You and some other members of a club
He, the boy on the left of the photograph, went home to Dubai and I thought he had probably forgotten all about our meditation in the summer house, he being just about 10 and life full of other things.   But no! A message from his mother on WhatsApp (I love WhatsApp) says that when offered extra after school curricular activities like football, karate and cross country running he said "I wish there was a meditation club".  Now how about that for 10! And he is not a child you would think wanted to sit still and let his mind quieten, no, he is a back flipping - somersaulting -  swinging on bars - footballing - karate chopping  -cross country runner with a bit of rugby about him.  He isn't quiet and shy and looking for God, he just clearly tuned into the idea of getting still.
So that boy, you can start a meditation club yourself if you have a few mates who might try it.  I will ask my friend Father Laurence Freeman who is a meditator and believes that children love to meditate if he can send someone out to Dubai to start you off properly.  All you have to do is to see if there is anyone else who would like to join you.  I think you need 4 people. Click on the link under his photograph for his first lesson for you.
Butty, the meditating dog says meditation is great.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Protect yourself with that knowledge

My favourite sign but not true by the way!
If we thought that the one reality was our little life, we would be up one moment and down another.  Up with what seems to us to be good, and down when things go wrong.  Even if full blown realisation of the fullness of the Self isn't going to take place this time, we can protect ourselves and others with the knowledge which the wise have brought us over and over again and protect ourselves with better actions rather than worse.  I have read that man stands at a crossroads in this game of lives.  He or she is somewhere between his divine nature and his animal nature but he or she in this case have the opportunity not given in any other life of participating in his own self creation, his own transformation if you like.  He/she can practice good deeds to correct any tendencies to evil.  He/she isn't bound to a mechanical set up and at the very best, can find a teacher who will help complete a release from repeating life times.  It is possible just has to have courage and look out with curiosity and delight and possibly even a measure of cynicism about whatever life might offer,  could find a measure of life which will  give access to detachment from believing the stories he or she is telling him or herself about him or herself and others.  He and she will know that all the parts they are playing or have played are limited but that he or she or whoever is unlimited and free, wasn't born, won't die, doesn't age and doesn't grieve over large or small upset.  Whats not to like about that?

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Finding peace with Mary and Raymond

This picture is painted by my friend Mary.  The photograph doesn't do it justice but it does serve to show a remarkable fact.  There is a huge Suffolk sky, a great expanse of shingle and then you see how tiny the trees and the little building are.  Then on the left hand side there are two tiny people trudging along the beach, maybe going for a swim in the brown North Sea (definitely going for a swim if it is Mary or myself!) or just walking. The contrast between the hugeness of space and the smallness of people and things is reassuring, not just reassuring but it is incredibly attractive, so attractive that the painter must keep painting it to try to capture whatever it is telling her. Touched by the picture we all want to take it and have it for ourselves.  There is the trap!  We sense the infinity, we move towards the stillness, the picture is almost a meditation, could be a meditation if we allowed ourselves to stand in front of it and be informed, we begin to see more and more in it.  Can you see the tiny white sails just to the right of the middle, in a small patch of sea which is showing between the land and the sky?  Can you see the little bit of movement in the sky, just a sense of the mist between the sky and the observer?
When I met my friend, 50 years ago, I was drawn to this quality of stillness in her and visiting her this week and watching her moving around her house, making toast for Ray, going up and down the stairs, quietly setting things in order in a way which is untroubling and attractive, I see the same stillness.  Over the years I have found that the stillness which she makes available is not just hers, rather as the reality of the painting isn't hers.  It shows itself without any particular force.  I could say that this is a lesson, but that is a mistake, it would make finding stillness a mission, make meditation an action with too much force.  The stillness which she has within her and the stillness in the picture is just asking us to notice it and then to join it.  It isn't as difficult as we think.  It helps to meet someone who just easily shows it.  It might even entice the most active and agitated person, the one you have despaired of, the sad and the lonely, the unfriended and the unfriendly to put down their noise and their desperation and just be still.  It was because of Mary and Ray that I put down some of my activity and began to meditate.  Now in the midst of the busyness of life, I crave the stillness.  To stand in front of that picture this week reminded me of its never absent presence and that was most restful.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Not a theme park, but a thought to play with

It is better not to be thinking about other things when you meditate, in fact meditation and thinking are mutually opposed to one another!  However, meditation does help thinking in this respect; it helps to detach you from the feelings the thoughts may be associated with.  So, pleasure at the pleasant thought, the successful thought or the delicious food thought or the putting the world right thought or sad thoughts of the things you would rather not happen, those thoughts are put on hold and then if they reappear after meditation, you are much better equipped to deal with them.  You know you aren't them, they are just your thoughts and some of them are just thoughts which float about in the thoughtmosphere.  
Roger Scruton, philosopher
Jacob Rees Mogg
I wanted to think of a way of replying to my Facebook friend who thought blogging for Mogg showed a desire to return to a themed park world of cap doffing to toffs.  For sure that was not what I wanted to show.  So having searched around for a way of explaining what it is that I want to conserve and  why I am a Mogg fan, here is a link to Roger Scruton the thoughtful philosopher who manages to convey what I am not managing to do.  He speaks on the Sunday Programme on BBC Radio 4 Point of View.  He speaks about what being a Conservative means and why it doesn't just mean being a Tory.  I like the Mogg more than most of the other politicians although I do rate Frank Field (not Tory) and Vince Cable too because they seem to have the same quality of being the same on the inside as the outside, being all of a piece with what they say.  

So, I hope that Mr Rees Mogg is that person I believe him to be and although he doesn't wear jeans and has a geekish look to him, he also appears to me to have a goodness of heart and a quiet self-deprecating humour which would help him to keep steady in the face of difficulties.