Monday, 21 November 2016

Fantastic Beasts make this old Granny cry for joy

Have you seen the new film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them?   If not, go quickly because you will be enthralled and amused and you will gasp a bit here and there and maybe shed the occasional tear and you won't want to miss it.  It was lucky I had 3D glasses on because no-one could see this fairly respectable Granny crying in St Neots new Cineworld over digitally created beasts.  I thought about the cleverness of J K Rowling, the cleverness of the digital artists, the brilliance of the actors, but most of all I thought about the amazing creative power of people who just dig into their selves and produce extraordinary things.  I also thought that most of the brilliant things which are created by people, however marvellous they are, must be based on what we have in nature but have got so used to that we forget to gasp and smile and then feel for them.  It often takes a film or a book or something recreated by creative people to wake us up to what is really around us.  Once we get our eye on the wonder, then we move in a different world.  We move from the world of the dull senses, transcend its dullness and everything becomes bright.  That is why on Wednesday morning at St Martin-in-the-Fields, there won't be fantastical beasts exactly but what you will hear about will make the world which is bright and fresh and wonderful, a little nearer.  Come along and listen to Neville Hodgkinson, Lama Zangmo, Ian Mason and Father Laurence Freeman or tune in via the live stream from  It starts at 9.30 in the morning. 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Can you meditate once you are In the Pipeline

Click and Connect
Once you are in the Pipeline, there is no going back.  Most of the time we don't realise we are in any pipeline, we think we are doing just what we want when we want to but when there is any event lying in the future, it suddenly becomes clear that we are being propelled towards it and turning back isn't an option.  So, here I am 5 days to Just this Day's central event in London with very little idea of how it will go and who will come, who will want sandwiches, where the microphone goes, will the speakers get there and what if one of them is ill.  As well as this, Just this Day in now in the St Martin-in-the-Fields Parish Pipeline, the weekly newsletter so they are clearly expecting US.  Then there are the things which can't be seen like the weather and other things totally out of my control.   I really hope that YOU, whoever you are and wherever you are will click on the sparkly globe on the right and connect with us at 9.30 am BST.  You will be joining Father Laurence Freeman, the other speakers and me in a meditation which he will lead us gently into.  This is the really really big test of faith for an organiser!!! To let go of organising during meditation and just stop.  If I can manage to stop my busy thinking mind then, it may hep you to stop too.  Go on, try it, it may be more well worth while than we know to connect our quiet true selves.  

St Martin-in-the-Fields beautiful interior where you can be wherever you are.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Why this is the perfect prayer

All the children have grown and flown and their world is new.  Grandpa and I look on with a mixture of admiration and alarm.  So many belief systems have changed but we still feel that there is an unchanging source of truth and it can be tapped into.  We have come to the conclusion that the Lord's Prayer is about as perfect as it gets.  It gives the feeling of a benevolent presence in a universal Father when it says Our Father.  It gives a feel of a greater space than the one we live in when it talks about the Father in heaven.  We might hope for heaven to be right now and we ask for it to be right now here as it is in the perfect world.  We accept that everything we eat has a source in the request that God give us our daily bread.  The prayer  goes straight for fairness in the subject of forgiveness.  Forgiving OUR trespass, our falling away from our best selves is only to be found by forgiving people we think might have trespassed against us.  And then we ask to be delivered from evil.  That's an everyday ask, we drive on roads, we travel around the world, we swim in the sea, we fly in the air and all those places have an evil about them.  No one can say that there isn't a possibility of things going wrong in every place.  Finally we say its over to you when we say for THINE is the kingdom, the power and the glory.  So over to the real Director of operations.
This is a prayer that we could all say and teach and repeat.
the Lord's Prayer

Monday, 14 November 2016

owning nothing not even your clothes could make you happy?

A face shining like this is clear evidence that the person inside it is happy!

Most of each day is spent looking after possessions isn't it?  We got that body out of bed, wash it, feed it and then set about thinking about what job it will do today and what it might need not only today but in the days ahead.  It requires a car to get it to the shops of course and a house to put the acquisitions in and a fridge to fill with food before the mouth gets to work on it!  Your life (my life too) is mostly predicated on the idea that my body is the reality and the spirit is an optional extra.  Not so my heroine of today whose example inspires confidence that the spiritual life is worth the effort
I want to introduce you to Lama Zangmo whose focus is on that spiritual life,  She said recently that "when you go deeply on a spiritual path, your values change. You don’t focus your whole life on having a job so you can make money to pay for all your material possessions, that's not your focus in life." 
She is an example of the happiness that can be felt in this way of life, she just exudes a deeply satisfied sense of joy.  The most interesting thing about meeting her is that you wouldn't feel she lacked anything because of her simple approach to life.  For her discipline isn't harsh, it is a way of life which repays what might seem to us to be a sacrifice.
Why don't you meet her too?  She will be a speaker at St Martin-in-the-Fields on November 23rd for Just this Day or click on the sparkly globe on the home page at 9.30 and join many of us there via the live stream.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

My next hero, Neville the writer and meditator.

Neville Hodgkinson
The kitchen for 20,000 people
Here is a handsome hero, his name is Neville Hodgkinson and he is a meditator with special heroic qualities.  He is my friend and he is one of my heroes. He is a hero because he follows a system of meditation which means he gets up early and meditates probably at 4.00 am each day!  We grandparent household meditators manage twice a day most days but it isn't that early. Examples like Neville and Father Laurence and others who rise early and meditate daily do it not just for themselves but for the welfare of the world.  Neville's spiritual family are the Brahma Kumaris, a group formed in the 1930s in Hyderabad.  They formed round a man named Dada Lekhraj, a man who had a vision of the world entering dark and troubled times.  He brought together and inspired a group of young people, teaching them, passing on his received knowledge.  He sent them out into the world rather as Jesus sent his disciples out to hear a message of salvation, a message that the truth of each person was that they really were a pure soul and not a body and that truth could be realised through meditation and discipline.  At that time there were only a few 100 and many were young women.  Now there are many Brahma Kumaris centres round the world and  at their main centre in Abu Road at the foot of Mount Abu, they can feed 20,000 people 3 times a day!  I have seen it with my own eyes.  When the group arrived in England they were very few and met in different people's houses.  Neville, who had a successful career as a journalist with science as his particular subject felt a calling as he walked away from a talk at Westminster Abbey.  
He says: "The catalyst was a vision: a golden-red light that opened out like a flower from the centre of my forehead. It happened during a few minutes of silence, following a chant by devotees of an Indian swami. He and a leading Anglican churchman had been taking part in a press conference in London, speaking about the soul. I was working at the time as medical and science correspondent of a leading UK newspaper, and a doctor friend had invited me. The conversation seemed to trigger some deep memory inside me....(click here to read more). 
He knew from then that he really was a soul, not just a man and a journalist with a good job and a family.  He followed that calling and joined the emerging group of Brahma Kumaris, becoming vegetarian and taking on the disciplines of a surrendered life.  You are lucky if you meet him and you can! Come along to St Martin-in-the-Fields on November 23rd, that's just 10 days away.  His story, which seems so other worldly in some ways, is what has made him such a good example for meditation.  We need these heroic and spiritual qualities to shine out in a person to help us determine that the transcendent reality which they aim to make real for themselves and others really is worth the effort. 

The hall at Abu Road which fits 40,000 followers and meditators all grown from one man's vision 

Friday, 11 November 2016

Father Laurence Freeman OSB. A hero.

Father Laurence Freeman, a hero for meditation
the globe on the home page

I was lucky to have a meeting with Father Laurence Freeman OSB this week. Ever kind and gracious, he appears to have all the time in the world for you although his inner clock is tuned in to his watch for midday prayers and meditation. The mark of this man is his inner immobility which communicates itself to you and invites you to consider the world more still than moving.  And as he travels the world, Venezuela, Ireland, Australia just in the last few weeks, meetings with trustees, with bankers, with doctors and so kindly with me too, he needs to have an inner immobility otherwise he would be walking jet lag!  The World Community of Christian Meditation which he leads has bought a chateau in Bonnevaux, France which will give them a centre to bring the mission of meditation for all, to reality.  I like the fact that its name already has Bonne in it, and then Va ux which means place or spot.  So already this is a good place.  You can read about it from their website and even donate towards its renovation.  If you come to ST Martin-in-the-Fields on November 23rd or you click on the sparkly globe on the just this day website you can meditate with him and then hear him speak about transcendence.  You will experience transcendence of its own kind when you do that.  You will be transcending the normal Wednesday experience, you will be transcending place and time because you might be watching in Australia in the evening and we are there in the morning but most important you will be listening with us to a FREE MAN by name and by calling.  He is calling us to be Free in the name of Christ whose message has always seemed to me to be saying Come to me and be free of all your troubles, be free of concerns for the things of this world, they will look after themselves, be free of the opinions of others, be free of feeling a success or a failure and above all be free to be yourself, just as you are.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Ganesha in OUR summer house

I wouldn't say that he has replaced the Buddha, rather that he is now occupying the place that the Buddha sat when he resided in our summer house before he went to Singapore to keep Grace company.  Once he had gone, we found we rather missed having him in place when we meditated and were surprised when we saw him in Singapore at just how still he is.   You will remember that he was found at a Red Cross bric a brac sale and had probably been consigned to being sold because the family whose father or mother had perhaps owned him, didn't really get his significance.  This happens a lot so we found we didn't need to look any further for a new inspiration than to go to the local auction house where house after house is cleared by relatives who don't want the old stuff which they probably found when they inherited their parents or uncle's house.  You see lots of these beautiful and significant pieces were brought back by men and women who lived in India and China and who understood and loved the culture as well as the actual carvings.  
We found our new carved ivory companion God, Ganesha in Cheffins sale room in Cambridge.  He is quite small and was a bit grubby until I gently cleaned him up with a toothbrush.  In Hindu and Buddhist religion he is worshipped as a top God.   He bestows wisdom and removes obstacles and he is well worth having as a friend.   This is one of the stories of his birth.  The goddess, his mother, Parvati, created him.  They say that she literally made him out of the earth at the bottom of her bath.  Goddesses can do this kind of thing.  I think he must have been fully formed because she immediately gave him the job of guarding her bathroom door.  When her husband, Shiva came back and found a stranger guarding the door, he struck off Ganesha's head.  "Oh" Parvati cried..."that's our boy"!   Siva sent his troops out to find the head of a sleeping being and they found an elephant whose head was summarily removed and brought in to replace the boy's head.  A very early transplant story but nobody knows what happened to the elephant.  Ganesha was restored to life by Siva and made the leader of troops.  He was also given the boon that people would worship him and call on him for help before undertaking any venture.  There are many other stories of him which I will tell you another time but for the moment, we are getting to know him and will be asking him for lots of help in the future.