Monday, 21 April 2014

Lourdes - an outsider's insider view

Lourdes is a place I had never intended to visit, although I had misty notions about miracles, visions and the goddess residing there. I have learned that my intentions rarely combine with what actually happens – indeed, never – and it was to be that I was somewhat forced there sometime in the summer of 2006.

I was on my way home at the time, driving through Spain towards France, then on towards dear old England. I had intended to make a stop at San Sebastian and did not foresee any trouble in finding a room. But it was a weekend Depeche Mode played a gig in Bilbao and, due to this, there were no rooms available in any hotel in the region, as I was told repeatedly at each one I stopped at.

It was getting late and dark, and I was getting tired and fed up. I had just about reached the French border and I made a decision. I will check one more hotel then I will park up and hunker down for the night in the back of the car with my sleeping bag. The last hotel to check was a Mercure in Irun, the last Spanish town before France. I followed the signs to a deserted industrial estate. There must be room here, surely.

At reception, I got the familiar 80s legend story and an apology.

“But”, said the receptionist unexpectedly, “We do have availability at Lourdes.”

At which point, all those vague recollections of Lourdes popped straight into focussed awareness as if they had been waiting patiently for hours for permission to do so, years maybe! Yes, I would go to Lourdes which was totally off my route, and not a short way off either (I decided to believe the receptionist when she told me the journey would take an hour, even though I knew she was probably lying, and she was).

It was very late when I arrived, past eleven. I was sort of high and excited, not desperate to relax and get to bed. OK, I had been driving all day so I was rather wired. The receptionist at the Mercure in Lourdes said,

“Why not visit the grotto now. It is open 24 hours and it is only five minutes away.”

He explained how to get to the cave where a poor, illiterate, sixteen-year-old, Bernadette Soubirous, had seen Holy Mary over the course of eighteen visions in 1858 – not so long ago in the great scheme of things. Excited, I wandered past the busy bars and restaurants and through the gate of the sanctuaries, then down, past the enormous chapel which I made a mental to note to have a look at properly the next day. Then on past the taps where a handful of pilgrims were filling their bottles with the water from the spring that Bernadette had uncovered by digging with her bare hands on instruction from Mary during one of the visions. I reached the grotto. The soft hush of the river Gave and the soft light of thousands of burning candles marked my way in the dark night. Inexplicable tears came to my eyes, and still do any time I tell this story.

Since then, I have done my best to visit Lourdes every year and, each time, I’ve bathed in the holy spring water. Mary told Bernadette to tell the people to come to the waters of the spring she had sourced to drink and bathe and heal. After accepting the visionary lady as the true Virgin Mary, the Catholic Church got organised and eventually built the church that Mary had politely demanded, as well as the bath buildings where pilgrims in their millions come each year to be cleansed and healed by the holy water of Lourdes.

Each time I visited was better than the last. One time I received a whole book idea, all of a sudden, in my head, title and chapter outline, the whole thing. It felt like holy instructions so I went ahead and wrote it and published it. The thing had been in my head for years in any case, I believe I was just given a little nudge and some guidelines. And what else are you gonna do with holy instructions? That book was The Liar. Each time I came for a dunking in the holy water by the women at the baths, I felt like I’d been touched by the divine. It seemed impossible that the next dunking could get any better, but each time it did. I cannot explain how, less why.

The last three times I have been at Lourdes, the notion of volunteering at the baths arose. Now, I’m technically not Catholic, although the first time I arrived at Lourdes my rather pagan spiritual practice was full of Catholic references so I had no problem with it nor was I unfamiliar with it. Technically, I was christened into Church of England which, although breaking all ties with Rome all those centuries ago, did not alter the communion mass any or demote the Saints or do anything close to the Protestant full scale rewrite that was to come. Still, obviously a lot had been cut and I didn’t know the words to the prayers or the songs recited continuously. I always felt somewhat undercover, an interloper, and afraid to be found out. And here I was getting the sign to volunteer, from Upstairs of course, which after three years of deliberating became too loud to put off any longer, particularly when I found myself asked to read a passage on John the Baptist to hundreds of queuing pilgrims.

The call was so intense now that even the requirement of a letter from a priest didn’t put me off. Instead, along with my form, I enclosed a long letter explaining my situation honestly and a criminal record check from the UK police which I’d needed to do voluntary work in London. At least they’d be sure I wasn’t criminally insane.

I’m amazed at how much I doubt, still, after all the miracles I’ve been gifted. But still, I doubt, and I really thought they’d never let me join the gang but after only a few weeks I received a letter saying I had been accepted to work at the Saint John the Baptist service at the sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes. Wow!

When I first went for a dip in 2006 I had been struck by the strange, perhaps antiquated, bathing ceremony. I’m sensitive to any negative connotations concerning the female body – of course, I have one – and the bathing experience I found to be patronising and, perhaps even insulting. Firstly, you are ushered into a bathing cubicle I know now to be called cabins. A lady kindly covers you with a blue gown which smells of bodies and tells you to take everything off. When you are ready you are told to keep your bra in your right hand and you are muscled into a particular crossed-arms position and told to wait. When it’s your turn you are brought into the bathing area. A woman takes your bra from you and tells you to make your intention in your heart to Our Lady and, when you are ready, to make the sign of the cross. You are then wrapped in an extremely cold sheet to keep you modest, the blue gown is whisked away, and you are walked down into the bath and through the water towards a statue of Our Lady. At the statue, you are helped to sit back in the water and then raised up again. Then you are then turned and led out of the bath whilst prayers are recited.

When you are free of the water, the biggest load of nonsense begins. You are helped into your bra. The woman at the front who has been looking after your bra puts your arms through it, and the women at your sides fasten it at the back. Now, if this isn’t patronizing, please tell me what is. I got my bra on quite happily in the morning but now I need help to do it. If I can’t be trusted to get my bra on OK, how they can trust me with my knickers, I don’t know. Well, this business always perplexed me, concerned me and made me feel like a group of unseen, powerful people were still ‘looking down on’ me as a woman because I couldn’t possibly handle all this spirituality myself if I needed three people to help me put my bra on. The bathing instructions were not divinely given to Bernadette – although you might think they had been at times. Moreover, they were probably decided around the same time women were still being sent into slavery by and for the Catholic Church for being too beautiful, amongst other sins!

Yes, this could be insulting. And, imagine you are off to commune directly with God. You have an opportunity to literally spend a moment with God Herself, and you have travelled maybe many miles and spent much money. Perhaps you are sick. Perhaps someone you care very deeply about is suffering. You wait for hours in the line. You have your short moments with God. It is blissful, divine, you feel connected and healed, floating with the angels, you certainly did the right thing coming here…yes…and then BAM you are reminded of your feminine frailty and weakness, worseness – which is always defined by your bodily differences – in the ensuing kafuffle whilst three, yes three, women struggle to get you back into your all-important bra. Yes, that’s insulting.

But anyway, I got over it, and never let the peculiarities of the dressing ritual stop me coming back for more, because whatever I was getting from my one minute with God was way above all of this darned stupidness and I could stomach it, for God’s sake. For God, I’ll do anything. And clearly, God wanted me to come here, again and again, and to eventually volunteer to bath pilgrims, which I did, which I am now doing!

I have just spent one beautiful week with the angels of the Hospitalité de Lourdes on induction and training to learn about the sanctuaries and the job of bathing pilgrims. People do a lot of different types of volunteer service here. There is a hospital with over 900 beds where the sick pilgrims are cared for by health professionals. There is another building, Marie St Frai, where sick pilgrims not needing around-the-clock care may stay and the volunteers there spend the days washing dishes, doing laundry and making up rooms. You might be picking people up from the station or helping the sick around the sanctuaries. The baths is actually a tiny part of what goes on at Lourdes but an important one.

So, I worked in the baths, morning and night, fastened bras, learned the word for bra in a number of languages, did what I was told and was very happy. Blissed out, in fact. I was asked on a number of occasions by women what the whole bra thing was about and explained that it was the most complicated part of the clothing so we help them with that. Yeh, OK. But, BUT, if I can make their experience a little less frightening, a little less intimidating, then a little white lie is not off the menu, cause these faces were frightened, intimidated and a bit annoyed, just like mine used to be.

Non-verbal communication is what I’m up to at the baths because I rarely speak any English there, but I know that words are pretty irrelevant when it comes to Great Spirit and it’s quite clear when someone actually has a problem that needs sorting or is just babbling away like people do. I smile alot and say

“No problem. It’s OK. Don’t worry.”

I feel these words, and the tone they are said in, are universal.

Anyway, let’s see. So yesterday was JC’s debrief day (for all those non-Christian’s, the Saturday before Easter Sunday is a sort of no-man’s-land for the risen Son of God where we’re not sure what he was up to, but I suspect it was great fun). Often, this day is considered the saddest in the Christian calendar as it is when everyone was very tearful and hopeless. Well, it seemed to be the saddest day in the town too.

When I got to work yesterday afternoon, there was a crowd of people waiting to be bathed that went out of the baths and alongside the river until it reached the Grotto. I have never seen anything like it and I was delighted to be part of the fun. There must have been three thousand people lining up, probably more, and we weren’t due to open for half-an-hour. I noticed that the vast majority of these pilgrims were Indian. We got to work and I had a pretty bad day at the office, man (I had to say man there, the day required it). But I’ll tell you about that in a minute.

I had expected to be working for 5/6 hours straight (unlike the usual 2.5) but at around 4 o’clock I noticed the pilgrims coming in were getting sparser and there only seemed to be families with children. I went to the toilet and took a peek out the curtain.

The benches were empty. O my goodness, there’s no-one waiting. Did we do thousands of pilgrims in just a few short hours? Could it be possible? Has a miracle occurred, of the loaves and fishes variety perhaps, i.e. abundance of time in this case? I found out that no, there had been no miracle. Instead, there had been a riot. What? Yes, a riot!! A riot in the queue and a rush at the barriers. A big fight! Well, goodness me no! Not at the baths. It couldn’t be. But then I remembered my Indian pilgrimage experiences and what I know of them and, on balance, a riot seemed less unlikely.

Indians on pilgrimages can get terrifically overexcited. This is a fact and I’ve seen it for myself. There are now organisations in India who attempt to reunite parents with the children they lost in pilgrimages due to the chaos and crushes. These small children are usually too young to remember the name of where they live and end up on the streets. Amazing, but true, because that is what Indians are like when it comes to God. They’re Serious about Him; so serious they become hysterical at times.

Well, I imagine there’ll have been a great deal of negative tut-tutting about those Indians who were just exercising a cultural disposition. I can hear an emphasis in the talk on how we are much better than them, would never behave in such a way, us calm Europeans. And perhaps that’s true, but, but…this talk is hypocrisy coming from self-declared better-thans which no-one could be.

And now I’ll tell you about my bad day. During the induction week at the baths I only met angels working there. Pyrenean mountain women; a rough sort of solid, large lady, living in the area and working at the baths on a regular basis, maybe one shift at the weekend, or only in the winter time. I fell instantaneously in love with them all. They were amazing. There was one woman who looked exactly like an American Indian with the mannerisms you might expect of one. I’m not kidding. Whenever I was not working with her, I could hear her deep, heartfelt chuckling coming from another cabin and I could do nothing but smile. I figured this lady had been an American Indian in a very recent past life, died at war perhaps, fighting for freedom. I imagined at the moment of her/his death, he/she prayed to Great Spirit to take her to wherever she/he could serve Him best. And she ended up at Lourdes. I spend a lot of time dreaming up these sorts of tales about people. He/she’ll have to go in a book somewhere.

My induction group was just as divine, although I saw clearly the tendency for the unexamined female mind to feel comforted when bitching. I understand this and used to do it myself, a lot. It goes along with the low self-esteem territory women live in, not to say men don’t do stuff to make themselves feel less scared too, it just takes a different form. Anyway, after a few short days of getting to know each other, being polite, loving and friendly, I was not all that surprised to hear some of my female classmates start to laugh and jeer and tell mean stories about the pilgrims they had bathed. Not cool guys, not cool at all.

Anyway. That was then. This is yesterday.

There had been a lot of gossip about difficult women working at the baths. I’d heard it during induction week but it had not been my experience: until yesterday. I arrived at work and we said hello, prayers and got ready for the heaving masses outside. There were two completely new, very young American girls on the team who had never done this before (it’s not rocket science btw). We got going and I was asked to explain the left-side bathing technique to one of the girls. I was quietly explaining what to do whilst we bathed the first pilgrim, as was my counterpart on the right.

As I was explaining the intricacies of relieving the pilgrim of the cold, wet sheet whilst being sure to maintain her dignity, the woman on the right started to rage at me.

“If you don’t do it this way…rant…rage…she will fall over…rant rage…”

“Excuse me, I’m explaining what we’re doing. No-one has fallen over. I know what I’m doing.”

“So DO IT!”

WOW. A place of peace, Spirit and miracles had all of a sudden become a trading pit. Holy Spirit, what to do? OK, so I understand that panic can be a reaction to the trillions of pilgrims we have to bathe this afternoon and we have three newbies, two who have never done it before, so this lady is just frightened and crazy and doesn’t know what she does.

OK. So I carry on with my explanations but, in the meantime, I’ve become the pariah. Everything I do now, which is no different from anything I have been doing for a week already without complaint, is wrong. I move my hand, the crazy lady huffs and puffs. I move my eye, the crazy lady huffs and puffs. And she’s saying,

“But this is the way we do it.”

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t taught this way. Please forgive me. PLEASE FORGIVE ME.”

She didn't. (I checked the manual when I got home and her nit-picking was not laid out in there either.) Well, it was painful indeed. The first tranche of pilgrims in our cabin had to contend with this air of rage and frustration. The two new Americans were absolutely terrified and spent the rest of the session red-face and tearful. I was reeling, off balance from the attacks. What to do. Holy Spirit, what to do?

Unfortunately, the boss of the cabin that day was another panic merchant. She had a face you might grind angle with; one of those that laughs and smiles so rarely that whenever it does we're not sure if we're seeing grimace or mirth. She was terrifying everyone as well. Never mind, I’ll do what I do best here in the cabins, even when I’ve no clue what’s going on. I’ll the make nervous pilgrims feel safe. So I smiled and said there was no problem and helped the women undress and dress again and sent love to all my colleagues from my heart and for some reason the very crazy lady disappeared and we managed to calm down a bit and all was not lost. WOW.

So, how to understand this with love?

Crazy-lady is a member of a very special group of people. She feels superior to any newbies to the group, which in terms of knowledge and know-how of course she is. BUT. There is a way to speak to people when someone is making a mistake, or when you think someone is making a mistake. You can become angry or you can say smilingly, joyfully, look, this is a mistake, as had the women from the week before. The angry version of these approaches is the road to murder and comes from prior irrational judgments and a locked-down mind, unable to see solutions to problems.

Christianity has a lot to answer for is a statement we all hear from time to time, and rightly so. The murder that has been committed under the banner of Christ is more than a little disappointing. But all of this came from the belief in better-than-ness, the belief in being right when compared to anyone who was not part of the special group. Or anyone, too, that may have spoken up against the special group from within it. As if right might justify murder. As if anything might justify murder.

Wasn’t this why we murdered Christ?

Anything that is not love is murder, as JC says in A Course In Miracles; from the distorted sigh and roll of the eyes as the fool gets it wrong again, to actual body destruction. But anything that is not love is murder. So any angry, frustrated thought that makes our blood boil and want to punch someone is murder too. And these thoughts can be very subtle and hidden behind a veneer of acceptability at times. Self-destructive thinking is murder; all of it. And how much of our thinking isn’t self-destructive? (We’ll talk about romantic love being murder too at some point, but we’re way off topic here.)

So, to explain violence in religion, just look closely at the behaviour of people who believe they are more powerful than others. There is a total lack of peace because the effort required in supporting an impossible better-than-ness against equals is excessive. There is anger and frustration, which spreads like a virus, particularly when some – apparently – external event causes fear and panic. Take this to extremes and we have someone who, due to this correctable state of mind and in the right circumstances, would be able to justify murder in its truest sense. Hence, violence in religion, and none of us is immune to or above it.

So, statistically speaking (as if these ever had any effect on miracles) I won’t work with another lunatic for a few shifts yet, but I’m grateful that she reiterated something for me. Undoing the liar is an on-going daily affair and, because we are all in the asylum at all times, currently, we may bump into its excesses in the most unlikely of places. And for that lesson, I’m grateful. And if you wanted a full-on, intense, one-to-one, present moment, practical class on undoing the liar in the mind, a few shifts with one of these birds would suffice…but even that’s not the point. There’s more…much more…

The true lesson is that, no matter how insane we are, Love is more powerful; in every situation and in any sense. Wherever we are, in whatever turmoil and pain and suffering, and however insane we have become, Love overrides it all, quietly and softly, and we cannot keep ourselves from It. This is more than comforting. And I shall carry on feeling blessed as I go to bath pilgrims, wondering if this day I will find myself in an environment of peace and love (with a sense of this is how we should always be with each other) or fear and loathing (and learn the important lessons of what we have left to do before we truly get there).


 
 
#Lourdes #miracles #forgivingTheUnforgivable #holyWater #healingTheSick #France #pilgrim #pilgrimage #Mary #JesusChrist #Easter #lifeWithoutTheLiar #ACourseInMiracles #love #peace #unity #LovePeaceUnity

Monday, 31 March 2014

Forgiving The Unforgivable - OUT NOW in paperback

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1497308216
 
  
It is one thing struggling to forgive our nearest and dearest those foolish squabbles that leave us bitter and upset. But what about the big stuff; that which we cannot comprehend?
While we fail to understand why humans behave so atrociously, we must cherish the belief in 'evil' and harbour condemnation in our hearts for our fellows. And while there is any justification for condemnation, we will not know peace.
What if we were sure that every regrettable act any human being has ever committed was utterly unavoidable? What if we knew we would all do exactly the same given the same set of circumstances? What if we could finally see that the cause of all our woes is a simple error in thinking that everyone shares in equal measure?
The liar in the human mind is our one and only problem. When it is clear that 'evil' cannot be real and that every 'unforgivable' act is caused by a mistaken belief in falsity, our eternal innocence will be impossible to deny.

If God were real, we ask, how could He let these terrible things happen to the innocent? Let's find out why God has nothing to do with any of it, regardless of whether He exists or not.
Together, we will discard everything obstructing our awareness of love. Together, we will forgive the unforgivable.
Are you ready for the next perfect step?


 
 
 
#amazon #ebook #paperback #newRelease #kindle #forgivingTheUnforgivable #lifeWithoutTheLiar #savingTheWorld #loveYourEnemies #peaceOnEarth #genocide #abortion #rape #bullies #theNazis #internationalTerrorism #myBestFriend #suicide #peaceOfMind #buyThisBook #readThisBook #publishThisBook

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Forgiving The Unforgivable - OUT NOW on Amazon Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/Forgiving-Unforgivable-Removing-Obstacles-Love-ebook/dp/B00IQAFJPM
 

It is one thing struggling to forgive our nearest and dearest those foolish squabbles that leave us bitter and upset. But what about the big stuff; that which we cannot comprehend?
While we fail to understand why humans behave so atrociously, we must cherish the belief in 'evil' and harbour condemnation in our hearts for our fellows. And while there is any justification for condemnation, we will not know peace.
What if we were sure that every regrettable act any human being has ever committed was utterly unavoidable? What if we knew we would all do exactly the same given the same set of circumstances? What if we could finally see that the cause of all our woes is a simple error in thinking that everyone shares in equal measure?
The liar in the human mind is our one and only problem. When it is clear that 'evil' cannot be real and that every 'unforgivable' act is caused by a mistaken belief in falsity, our eternal innocence will be impossible to deny.
If God were real, we ask, how could He let these terrible things happen to the innocent? Let's find out why God has nothing to do with any of it, regardless of whether He exists or not.
Together, we will discard everything obstructing our awareness of love. Together, we will forgive the unforgivable.
Are you ready for the next perfect step?
  
Forgiving The Unforgivable, out now on Amazon Kindle

The Liar in paperback on Amazon
 
 
#forgivingTheUnforgivable #lifeWithoutTheLiar #theLiar #niramisa #savingTheWorld #forgiveness #acim #undoingTheEgo #kindle #amazon #uk #usa #mexico #Australia #japan #Germany #Canada #india #france #brazil #spain #Italy #ebook #heaven #loveThyEnemy

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Dear Facebook - why I won't be buying any more advertising

Dear Facebook,

Thank you very much dear Facebook for your email suggesting I boost a recent post on my page THE LIAR which I had originally set up to promote my first book.

Your claim is that...

Important posts on your page can do a lot for businesses. Boosted posts get more people to respond to a discount, sales promotion or website link.

...but, in fact, since boosting posts with you from April last year, I have not sold a single book. Your claim is simply not true because no people have ever responded to a sales promotion on this page, even with over 10,000 likes from specifically targeted people, i.e. Amazon Kindle owners and English speaking ebook readers in India.

I realised quite quickly that trying to sell my books via this business page was a waste of time so I refocused the intention for the page. I now share my study of A Course In Miracles with those who like my page. And, of the 10,000+ likes I have generated by paying for advertising, only a handful are seeing my posts these days.

In the beginning, when I was averaging 400 views per post against 3000 total likes, whenever I changed the regular text message to a picture link to my blog, for example, views dwindled to between 10-20. This was odd and I wondered if all my members were using text-only Internet devices.

Anyway. I continued because I believe in the message and I rather liked the idea of 10,000 likes. Occasionally, one of my posts would get 20+ likes and 600+ views. This was rather nice in those early days of 5000 page members.

I paid for more promotion to get more likes, believing that interest would grow similarly. However, quite the opposite has happened, interest has declined steadily, even with promotion going on.

I have never made a book sale from my page, even though I link through to the book's sales page on every post. This is not important to me, although I do feel somewhat scammed. I suspect it might concern others more.

Since October last year, the views per post have been dropping steadily even though I was still actively promoting. I decided to stop paying for promotion because I saw that you are just going to move the goal posts whenever you like. The playing field is not level and the claims you make about what you can do for my business are unfounded.

You are selling us a piece of string and changing the length of it whenever you feel like it. Can this be legal?

Since the last campaign finally ended in December, the views have dwindled to consistently under 100, even though now I have 10,000+ likes on the page. I rarely get any likes on any of my posts at all now, compared to a counted upon 10-15 each time I posted in July.

When I posted this week, and got 138 views instead of the usual 60-70, I suddenly received your mail suggesting I spend more money to promote the post further.

Well, what are you offering Facebook? Your advertising has done nothing for my book selling business at all. However, agreeing to buy some seems to have caught me up inside a scam. When I stop paying for advertising, no-one looks at my page, not even the members that had been engaging with it previously. If I pay for it again, perhaps you will doctor the algorithm for a while. But only for a while, right?

Are all these 10,000 Facebook users even real?

You must think we're fools. And perhaps we are, perhaps we are.



Amazon Kindle

Paperback

 #facebookPromotion #facebookAdvertising #facebook #facebookScam #wasteOfMoney #independentAuthors #facebookIPO #refundPlease #acim #lifeWithoutTheLiar

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Forgiving The Unforgivable - Monsanto

Chapter from upcoming book, Forgiving The Unforgivable, release date March 2014
Our world is really out of control. We don’t have to look too hard to see it. If we don’t end up annihilating everything in an all-out super-war, we might instead weaken our immune systems with endless unnecessary medications and toxic food to the extent that we’re wiped out by a super-bug. Perhaps our tampering with the delicate ecosystems of the world will cause environmental disasters from which few of us emerge unscathed or maybe we will end up starving ourselves for the same reasons.

Does all this sound like a price worth paying for temporary, material and essentially meaningless riches? Of course not; but this is where we stand. Our current situation puts us as close to the liar’s end goal as we have ever been and we’re all doing our bit; by our weekly shop, or filling the car, or believing anything that anyone in a white coat says, or insisting our children’s problems at school are due to chemical imbalances, or supporting conflict and war in regions of the world we cannot even pronounce. The liar has never had it so good. Be clear; every one of the cataclysms that seems to be just about to happen is the liar’s intention and we are its zombie workforce.

In a single, isolated physical body - which we have been told, and believed, is the sole ruler of the universe and thus due unlimited importance - the liar’s business is mainly restricted to personal relationship disharmony. In groups and organisations, the liar has more power at its disposable, and its effects can be more devastating. But if the single body was indeed the sole ruler of the universe - as it tells us repeatedly - why should the liar need to form such collective liar-minds that may act as a single entity in order to do even more damage? This suggests that its tenet on separation is not wholly accepted by the liar itself. The fact is that the liar’s insanity permits it to circumvent even its own beliefs in order to pursue its deranged objective.

Currently, Monsanto is the bad boy of the group formations we have built to do the liar’s dirty work at larger scales. However, Monsanto is far from alone in its devilry and even the most innocuous of companies will be compulsively adding to our problems; as will each and every one of us, whether we like it or not. This ball of confusion and fear got rolling a long, long time ago. We simply did not notice it picking up speed in the last few hundred years and, with momentum gaining, pulling all and sundry along with it.

Monsanto is the current flag flyer for all corporations that seem to be hell bent on the destruction of the natural world. Every time I look at my Facebook news feed I see someone moaning about Monsanto, about how ‘evil’ they are and how they must be stopped immediately. Agreed; if anyone is doing anything that might destroy our home, they should be stopped; at least, we should do what we can, as it is our obligation as caretakers of the Earth and the only sane response to the environmental lunacy we are seeing today. But the idea that Monsanto, and those that work for it, are ‘evil’ is nonsense.

We are quite sure that all those working for Monsanto, and similar organisations, are evil, arrogant and wicked, condemnable human beings. We point the finger, curse them and wish them dead. But, hang on, doesn’t your great aunt Doreen work in a Monsanto factory; surely she’s not evil? Oh, no, actually no, not Doreen. Doreen is one of the poor exploited ones, oppressed by the evil managers. It’s the managers that are evil. Yes, the managers are the devil incarnate. But, wait a minute; my brother-in-law’s cousin is a manager at Monsanto. You know, Dave. He’s a great guy, a loving family man. Ahem, no, not the managers actually, sorry, um, it’s the shareholders, they’re the evil ones. Yes, let’s kill all the shareholders. Um, but hang on a minute, I have shares in Monsanto, I received them years ago as part of a legacy. Ahem, well, OK. Um, no. Um, it’s the owner, yes. He must be the evil one. Yes. That’s it! The owner of Monsanto is the evil one, Satan himself. Um, actually, don’t the shareholders own Monsanto?

It’s not too difficult to see how becoming indignant and irate can only be the liar’s influence again. It loves getting us riled up, persuading us to point the finger and wish slow, lingering deaths on Monsanto workers and shareholders, as if that might solve the underlying problem. The liar is a master at evasion. As with any vengeance reaction, the guilt of our own responsibility is flying around and must be projected. In any case, solutions to difficulties set up by the liar in the human mind will be supplied by the liar in the mind also. If we were to know that our minds are not our own, perhaps we might then seek a better way. There is always a better way and actions decided outside of liar-mind thinking are those that may fix the chaos and get us out of this mess.

Actually, the ‘corporation’ is probably as close as we have gotten to ‘evil’ in many senses. To explain this we must look at the perceptual process of projection, which as we have seen is automatic and constant. We project our guilt away from ourselves in order that we might be free of it. That this doesn’t work and we never find ourselves free of guilt makes no difference, we keep trying. The liar insists that by projecting our guilt we will save ourselves; so we find - or invent - a target and start accusing, becoming irate and aggressive towards it. We point the finger and condemn and, by doing so, we manage to justify the inexcusable; whilst the liar rubs its hands, mission complete. So, whatever we think we see externally, when we are angry, is exactly what we will find within our own mind when we look closely enough.

Ironically, this projecting business of the liar, which insists on the reality of our separateness and isolation, could only be considered viable by a mind that is aware of our true connection. So it is no surprise to see that this projecting business is not limited to guilt. Indeed, anything at all that we are thinking and feeling becomes painted onto the external space around us. Artists reveal their innermost feelings and beliefs through their work. The media reveals the sick human mind in its pathological state. The love that we truly are is also constantly projecting itself, everywhere, but we see it very little, unsurprisingly. It is therefore logical that we might project even the liar itself onto our external canvas.

The liar is a ruthless, conflict-inciting machine with no remorse. It believes it is the sole ruler of the universe and fights tooth and nail to defend this unattainable position. It believes that, as king of all, it should own everything; material things, people, the mind space and knowledge. It believes that profiting in any of these, over all other considerations, is a natural law of the universe. It believes that fear is real and brutally ensures that this belief is never contested. How might we have projected such a mad concept into the world?

Under the liar’s orders we have edged ever closer to building its representation here on earth. In the past, we invented the devil and that sufficed as the liar’s representative, but we don’t really believe in such nonsense anymore, not really. Instead, nowadays we have tangible, examinable and functioning representations of the liar in the world; corporations, which we have accepted as quite normal, as if we were inviting Satan to our homes for tea and a chat.

Corporations are autonomous - supporting the liar’s belief in separateness. They have been constructed in such a way that they cannot be held accountable for their activities or motivations - supporting the liar’s despotic reign over everything. The single aim of a corporation is profit over all other considerations, the liar’s incessant, whispered mantra to our beleaguered ears. This is our world and we champion it endlessly, without realising the lunacy in doing so. It can be a scary moment seeing just where our collective insanity has led us; the production of god-like ‘bodies’ that have every power at their disposal for maintaining, reconfirming and extending the belief in the separateness, inequality and meaninglessness of all life. Corporations are the human race’s Frankenstein monster, given the built-in ability to obliterate their maker.

Corporations may well be the most dastardly projection coming from the liar in our minds and the closest in content to its fuller self; that which, if we were able to witness it in its entirety, would terrify us beyond belief. Worst still, these corporations have an inbuilt function; the ability to destroy their own maker. Like cancer, they murder the hand that feeds them. I give a fuller description of why corporations can only be the liar’s invention in my first book which describes the liar’s functionality in greater detail.

I was going to list a few of the unhelpful practices of Monsanto here, but you can look them up yourselves, they’re no secret. In any event, Monsanto is likely not the worst of corporations, in terms of how destructive they have been towards life on earth; so cataloguing their outrageous actions here serves no real purpose. What is notable - and again not limited to Monsanto - is their chosen practice of protecting their mistakes by not admitting them when they should, just like we all have done at one time. The silence of companies when something goes badly wrong is due to the incessant liar mantra of “profit over all other considerations”; as it is with ourselves, personally, at some level. Corporations notoriously protect profits at the expense of everyone, including every single person that works for them.

But what do they do? Monsanto develops biotechnology and produces chemicals which support enhanced product growth. They offer more profit to farmers and industry and are in it to get rich themselves. That is it. Any of the ‘bad’ things that they have done - and they have been very badly behaved, on more than one occasion - is due to the fear of being poor. Simple. And you and I act exactly the same way due to the same fear, albeit at a level that has no obvious effect on the global environment; but I do, and so do you. So we should stop complaining about what we do ourselves, just because it happens to take a more intense form. In truth, it is the same. When a pebble is dropped into the pond, we don’t know where and how the ripples will end up or look, but the pebble is the only cause. I’m on one ripple, you’re on another, and Monsanto is sat on the corporation ripple that is threatening to become a giant tsunami, ready to engulf everything.

If we ignore our own complicity, point the finger and become indignant, righteous and angry, we are still the liar’s zombie and just being evasively led around the issue. And any solution we might cook up to solve the problem of the runaway corporation train will arise, quite logically, from the same set of values that caused the problem in the first place, the liar-mind. Perhaps we might see activist-types setting up new forms of organisational governance in the future, and perhaps there will be a short period of ‘getting it nearly right’; but if no-one has resolved the liar in the human mind - our species-wide perceptual pathology - it will be not too long before the situation is critical again.

Success, as the liar has it - and who else does have it right now - is successful manipulation of the worse-thans, in all cases; that which we consider utterly reasonable, all of us. The bullying in the school playground is simply our children imitating what they have seen in everyone’s mind. Our disdain for those we hold a grudge against or consider ‘evil’ means we don’t care if they are hurting. We exploit the poorer parts of the world by rampant looting of natural resources, with no concern for anything at all and if anyone does end up suffering or dying because of our actions, they were non-human anyway, worse-than, as worth saving as a fly in the kitchen. As long as our personal needs are met, we don’t care about anything. This is a symptom of the separation psychosis from which we all suffer.

Monsanto is just an extreme example of how we all ‘take advantage’. Because it is a giant corporation, it is able to utilise its power to take as much advantage as it can and this, obviously, has massive effects in the world. All of us take advantage, however. Few of us just like to be; to simply be with others, enjoying communication. More often than not there is an ulterior motive to friendships and connections. We might not speak to each other at all unless we want something for ourselves. Why is it so difficult to see that what is in our own mind personally is reflected in the activities of the external world? When we cease to value the untrue beliefs and ideas we have cherished for eons we start to see. It becomes easier when we realise the glistening truth that none of us are in any way perceptually different from anyone else. Perhaps that’s a terrifying idea. As long as it is, we’re doomed.

“Is Monsanto the world’s most evil corporation?” a headline reads. No, Monsanto is just one of the more successful ‘bodies’ we have set up for doing the liar’s bidding. Monsanto is probably not the most successful corporation playing the liar’s game - success here defined in terms of wanton destruction of life - but it has certainly become the most well-known for its unhelpfulness. Maybe we can utilise this as a clear example for explaining the diseased mind of humanity to humans. Then, one day, we might be able to be grateful that its outrages pushed us towards truth. But, in the meantime, like the problem alcoholic, we will point at the world around us, complaining bitterly about it, yet refusing to become aware of our obvious complicity in the mess of our life which has been, in fact, caused by us alone.

Profit is the human god, assigning dark representatives to govern its minions in the external world. Those that work for these current-day demons are hooked into the corporate way of thinking, just like wobbly-eyed, religious cult members, managing to excuse and overlook the most unhelpful of activities. These workers have talked themselves into believing that the corporation they belong to (work for) and its ways are their personal path to salvation. How easily manipulated is the liar-mind when better-than status and personal profit is assured by speaking the lies we’re told are unquestionable and doing the liar’s bidding. We rarely notice how deeply unhappy we are playing this game, never winning.

We are judged and appraised by fellow members of the corporate cult - those who are a little better-than us - on how much profit we have managed to grab for our god. We talk in cyphers and code which cover up the truth of our destructive activities. We feel better-than those in the starving villages we’ve just left without clean water for a few months by clicking a button on our screen, and we are rewarded for that click which earned the company millions. We are loathed by many of our co-workers, and all our underlings, and those we consider friendly would turn on us in an instant, as we would them. Rampant destruction has become wholly acceptable in the corporate world and we are ready to stand up and vouch for this lunacy; that which is more excessive than the carryings on in any serious psychotic ward at the asylum. This lunacy is our daily bread.

Today, the liar is so out of control, it has found itself in the amazing position of being able to be completely honest. It does not have to hide itself, or be evasive, in the corporate world. The blatant honesty of the corporate world is jaw-dropping at times. Sometimes, when I hear the things that people say, in all seriousness and not expecting anyone to think them strange, I can hardly believe my ears. Recently, I found myself with a group of people who were deeply committed to their jobs, their god-like employers and their corporate lifestyles. The conversations at dinner were based entirely around a continued cataloguing of all the reasons why each one was better-than the others. The things that apparently elevated your better-than status were which school you had gone to, where you lived - and for sure it could not be Chicago or any suburb anywhere (I have no idea what they had against Chicago!), who you knew and, of course, which corporation had taken over your mind and whereabouts on the corporate ladder you found yourself. This chat was boring and predictable. At some point these men and women, showing off to each other, seemed to turn into a group of male apes puffing up their chests, growling and hissing menacingly, bearing their teeth and posing in competition.

One of the top dogs was telling us about recent industrial activities of the Chinese. She detailed the amassing of natural resources from Africa and how they had been rather naughty in many ways. She told us what the Southern African countries were losing in terms of raw materials and revenue, of how much money was being made by the Chinese and of how badly these countries and their people were faring from the deals. It was a pretty bleak picture with the liar all over it of course. She then mentioned that it was just like the European colonialism of old; the fortunes that could be made were astronomical. So, “why wouldn’t you?” she said.

Anyone with a modicum of sanity can see very clearly the million reasons as to why we would not be destructive in order to profit over all other considerations in this way; but most of us don’t have that capacity, and we too ‘would’ take advantage over the less-thans in order to profit. We make and agree with remarks just like this all the time, without knowing the madness of it. This is the liar; a thought construct so tenacious, so precise, so efficient, it has us completely under its control and we have no idea it is there. The liar is well ahead of the game and I know that well enough to avoid confronting it head on. The liar senses any attack on its foundations immediately and, in a mind locked into doing its bidding, becomes irate and aggressive when challenged and liable to who knows what level of conflict. This is the corporate world.

Just like you and I might fight bitterly over a pay rise, even though neither of us is struggling to survive in any real sense, corporations will fight, tooth and nail, over a resource, land or how they appear on TV, regardless of who and what they must destroy. But the process is never ending; we’re all just chasing the same old and tired liar’s promise, yet again. “If you get this thing, you will be happy”, it says. And we get this thing, whatever it is, but we are not happy. Profit cannot satisfy, by the liar’s design, because if it did, we’d stop requiring it. Profit is just another substitute for that which we believe is missing from our lives, making them feel empty and meaningless.

The illegal drug trade we just mentioned is barely distinct from the corporate world. The only obvious difference these days is the legality which, for the drug trade, means it is not tied into hiding and covering up its messy, nefarious activities. The legitimate corporate world gets closer and closer to being as honest as it likes about its conduct too. There seems nothing that it won’t do, no-one it will not step on to get its way. There is also no government which is not deeply entwined in the business of the corporate world, whether they wish to be or not. At this level, even legality is usurped by better-than, worse-than and profit over all other considerations.

The liar invented Monstanto and its cohorts, and we didn’t. The peaceful and content human beings that we truly are, underneath the madness, could not have dreamt up such a nightmare. Utilising its corporate army most efficiently, the liar is now gleefully destroying our abundant paradise, right under our noses; whilst we either join in, flying the flag of profit over all other considerations as if it were a divine edict, or point the finger viciously at the 'evil' ones, not realising we should be pointing the same finger at ourselves first.

We built these devastation machines, fired them up and they got going. The problem is that, now, we cannot stop them. Monsanto leads the way in terms of the focus of our indignation about the mess we are making in the natural world; but all corporations are set up similarly, to profit over all other considerations and not to be held to account. Even ‘green’ corporations will only be doing so much because they will be set up in exactly the same way; organisationally overseen by the liar and peopled by those humans suffering from the same psychosis which causes so much damage.

We really enjoy moaning about corporations but we are all exactly the same as them. The only real difference is in the number of people - aside from ourselves - we may affect detrimentally by our actions. When I take advantage of my friend’s naïve kindness, I hurt myself and her. When I utter megalomaniacal statements at work for fear of what people might think, or losing my job, or because I’m exceptionally insane, I hurt myself and my human family. When I profit over the inability of a nation of people to stop me from plundering their natural resources, I hurt myself and millions of others. But each of these acts is the same in content.

The corporate world is just another logical, inevitable and expected result of the mind problem we all share in equal measure; a symptom of the cause and not the cause itself. When we see that what is outside is simply a reflection of what is going on inside everyone's perception, with no exceptions, we can no longer condemn or point the finger; it just doesn’t make any sense to do so. Assuming that somehow Monsanto and its ilk are 'evil' and different to us is a mistaken interpretation of reality, dished up to us by the liar. How could it be any other way?

And here is another key component of our new forgiveness model. In forgiving Monsanto, and all the corporations that seem to be dead set on destroying the world in their pursuit of profit, we forgive ourselves. As without, so within. Moreover, this is true of all the ‘unforgivables’ we have examined, and will ever examine. We forgive ourselves by understanding that all our troubles come from a species-wide insanity that no-one has been able to avoid. We forgive ourselves because we finally see that our own actions are the same in content as those of the corporations we detest. We forgive ourselves because we know there can be nothing that humans do not share. This new forgiveness holds within it the power to change the world. And it looks like nothing else will be able to do so, permanently.

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Sunday, 5 January 2014

Forgiving The Unforgivable - The drug trade

Little plant and her family have grown wild in this region for many millions of years. They have lived a peaceful and happy existence throughout all this time, nearly.

In the past, little plant’s ancestors would have been picked by a human from the nearest settlement and taken off to be prepared as tea, or some other medicinal substance, by the tribe. The humans would come with a very important question that needed to be answered. Little plant and her family were always happy to help.

Little plant would be celebrated and petitioned during a ritual with drumming, music and song. Little plant and her family would help the tribe with the tricky question they had, providing a solution to the problem and bringing peace to the community.

The Amazon Rainforest
Sequenza21, Judith Sainte Croix, Vine of the Soul

More recently, lonely humans had been coming to little plant to take her off without asking any question. Little plant and her family found this very strange. When they looked at the place of questioning in the human being they saw many, many questions. But the human did not ask a single question or perform any ritual.

Little plant and her family thought about this for a long time, puzzling over what to do. In the end, they decided that it would be better if little plant and her family took control over such chaotic decision makers, rather than let them run loose with their unanswered questions. They reasoned that, eventually, the human would start asking the questions and, when he did, the little plant would help him.

Little plant and her family began to take control of the minds of the humans that asked no questions, in order to protect them from themselves. As well as taking control, little plant would give the human brief glimpses of a better way in the hope that one day he would start asking the questions.

The Sun in the Sky from Wikipedia
The Sun

Even more recently, the numbers of humans that were coming to take little plant away, without asking any questions, began to grow. Little plant and her family noticed that the decision making power of these humans had become very weak indeed and thick, heavy forgetting had taken the place of clarity in their minds.

They saw that the humans had mistaken the out of control feeling they got after smoking the little plant with the human push towards the light. And so the humans had stopped hoping or praying or looking for a better way.

This alarmed little plant and her family and, in a very short time, everything changed and peace was no more.

Child working on drug farm
Child labour from Activist Post

Little plant, growing peacefully and quietly on the land, is now surrounded by armed men, sometimes armed children too. Occasionally, during the endless push towards sunlight, a murdered body falls down in the area close by. Some of little plant’s sisters have been killed by falling human bodies.

Little children, with hands ripped to shreds, come and tend to little plant, but she knows that these children are very sad and very scared. She sees their desperation in the place of questioning and sometimes hears them talking to each other. One little girl’s parents were murdered when she was very young, by the same armed men that are around. She tried to run away but she was caught and beaten. She is very scared. Little plant tries to help by absorbing some of the little girl’s fear.

One day, little plant gets harvested and is taken to a big barn where lots of people wearing masks and white coats are busying about. Little plant can see extreme fearfulness in every human’s place of questioning.

Little plant changes form into dried leaves. She is placed in a holding area. During this time, the barn is raided by another group of armed men who look exactly the same as the previous group, presenting the same levels of fearfulness. The new group shoot and kill every human they can. Little plant sees many people murdered in one day. Little plant and her sisters are very distressed and have absorbed much fear from their experiences.

Armed police at Bristol Airport
Armed police at Bristol Airport from the Bristol Post

Little plant changes form again. She is now white and powdery and is placed inside hollow wooden ornaments and put into bags. A woman with her son drags the bags in which she is placed past uniformed men carrying large guns. The fear oozing from the pores of these two is too much for little plant, so she absorbs some of it in order to help the woman and her child.

The next few months are the most hectic in little plant’s existence and she finds herself here and there, always moving, one day to the next, a different human in a different place. In each new setting she sees money change hands, less and less each time. With each new human she feels weaker and weaker as, oftentimes, a strange lifeless substance is added alongside her.

One day she witnesses the violent stabbing of one of the men looking after her in order that she might be looked after by another one. No money changed hands that day.

* * *

Little plant is tired of this journey; this tour of murder, exploitation, fear and greed. Finally, she reaches the end of her journey; a middle class, bespoke, kitchen surface in Muswell Hill, North London. This is the end of the road for little plant. But she brings every drop of fear she has absorbed, from her beginnings to now, with her.

A beautiful middle-class kitchen
Beautiful kitchen from Pineland Furniture

Excerpt from Forgiving The Unforgivable, Chapter Fourteen - The drug trade by Niramisa Weiss.


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Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Non-violence before asana

How many of us doing yoga in the West have actually read Patanjali's Yoga Sutras?

Come to think of it, when a good proportion of Indian yoga practitioners were studying such texts at school, how did they miss the importance of the foundations of yoga, the moral precepts of social and personal responsibility, the yamas and niyamas, in favour of a predominant focus on the physical yoga asana postures?

I suppose the delusion of "being a body" is so strong, so culturally unbiased, that the beautiful bodies of yoga teachers and the seduction of contortionism and acrobatics diverts our attention from the real practice, the real meaning of yoga, which encompasses infinitely more than a perfect backbend. And if we could manage to get over our preoccupation with the physical structure that houses us, so much is offered by the yoga discipline.

There are only three mentions of asana in the Sutras and one of those is part of a longer list of things to do. There are certainly no detailed descriptions on how to master particular poses. No poses are mentioned at all. The practice of asana is meant to bring the body into a state in which it can sit, comfortably, in meditation for long periods. It is not an end in itself. Yoga is the acquisition of peace or stillness of mind, chitta vritti nirodha. Any health, beauty, sociopolitical or financial benefits asana may give us are side-effects, a bonus. They are not the aim.

So. The very first thing on the yoga TO DO list, as set out by Patanjali, is to observe non-violence, ahimsa. Ahimsa is non-violent thought, word and deed. Thus, if you hate someone for being able to get into scorpion pose, you're out of the game, disqualified. You can return to the game when you get over it. Maybe a silly example, but it's meant to point out the irrational "hates" we all have on a regular basis. Have any one of those and the foundation of your practice is utterly compromised.

These violent thoughts, at a shallow level, are no different from the more serious "hate" thoughts that we have about each other as a species, collectively. These thoughts, these ideas, once shared by enough of us, have justified the most appalling and murderous actions. We don't have a whole lot to be proud of as a species, as past and present is evidence to.

Ahimsa also covers the self-violence we perform in the forms of addictive tendencies, an example here would be pushing one's body too far in a yoga pose and sustaining injury. Fortunately, all these thoughts provoking destruction are not coming from Who we really are, they come from the liar instead.

By starting at the beginning as instructed and taking the practice seriously, yoga promises so much more than an aesthetically pleasing physique, longevity and plenty of sex no strings attached; these being meaningless pursuits in any case, as well as solid obstacles on the path towards peace of mind when they are wished for.

If the perfection of asana brought about enlightenment,
gymnastics would be a religion.

I started practicing yoga in 2000. At that time I was suffering from severe stress at work and I knew, inherently, that attending a yoga class would help. Going to the doctor didn't even cross my mind, thank goodness. I had taken one yoga class before in my life; when I was 3 years old with my mother, who took me along with her to the local yoga class she had joined. Perhaps I subconsciously remembered, from that experience, that there would be some calm generated inside.

At that time I fully believed the illusion that I was a body. Now, I know I'm something other than a physical body. Sometimes I get sucked back into the illusion, but there is a widening fissure in this false belief, which will only get bigger until it eventually brings the whole structure down. But anyway, in 2000 I really thought I was just a wee body; alone, separate from everyone and fighting against the world which was entirely against me, it seemed.

I was so cynical that anything even a tiny bit wacky or way-out filled me with the dread of being hypnotised, out of control and subsequently robbed of something; so it seemed best to do some research before joining a class. I picked a couple of centres in the city to try out. The first one was all “blue light”, chakras and Om. Not for me, these people were nuts; I really couldn't understand them at all. Looking back I realise it was probably a kundalini class, as in the Yogi Bhajan system of yoga practice, still not to my taste. 

Then I found the Iyengar centre and home. No Om-ing, no divine light, nothing weird at all. It was, to me, a fitness class, plus peace. And, after one class, I was calmer inside. Perfect. I continued to go.

I see now that yoga asana certainly has other benefits outside of the physical because the decision to take this class really was the first step in my healing process. The practice of asana is one manner of undoing stress in the human being. Put more simply, going to a yoga class can heal physical and mental illness. And this has been reported, globally, on more than a few occasions.

So, for even the most spiritually ignorant person, going to a yoga class is getting closer to God, whether they are aware of it or not. God clearly has His own momentum and who are we to question His plan. So no matter how confounded I am by the egoism of certain yoga styles, or by the snobbery of others, or by the irresponsible lack of experience of some teachers and by the abominable behaviour of a good number of leading figures in the yoga world, we are all moving towards the same thing, but with seemingly different paths to tread and I probably need to chill out and let God do His thing, which He has always done very well indeed without my input.

Having said that, non-violence is still the best place to start, although it doesn't matter if you don't get to it till later, as long as you get to it. The only thing we can do wrong is waste time.

Note: ahimsa, non-violence, is the first of the yamas given in the Yoga Sutras; yamas being the first limb of the eight limbs, ashtanga, of yoga practice. Yama can be translated as self restraint. The five yamas can also be seen as social precepts as they are concerned with the manner of interaction with others.

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