Peace on Earth

As long as we are at war within ourselves,

How can there be peace on Earth?

As long as we are driven by desires and fears,

How can there be peace on Earth?

As long as we are seduced by the trappings of fame and gain,

How can there be peace on Earth?

As long as we postpone living to pursue some imagined goal,

How can there be peace on Earth?

 

As long as we serve the future as a debt to the past,

As long as we divide ourselves into myriad tribes,

Through jealousy and pride,

We set ourselves above or below and deny the enemy inside.

 

As long as we describe our world only in terms

Of battles won and lost,

And teach our children how to blame and punish,

Without explaining the cost.

 

We will always be at war within ourselves.

There will not be peace on Earth.

Uprising

First you notice the oppression of the state

And its partner, the man-made God;

Then you see the oppression of lovers, friends and family;

Finally you see the oppression of the self;

The crushing censorship of the conscious mind,

Denying the all-encompassing vitality of the Great Unconscious;

The attachment to opinions that makes others your enemy,

And you know that given the space and freedom to express itself,

This being that you once called your self,

Would be nothing less than the Universal dance of Love,

The Anarchy of the true God,

The moment,

                Being

                                In

                                                Time.

 

Conversely, when it all goes wrong,

The mirror tells you,

First to blame others,

Then to blame the world,

And finally to blame yourself,

Until you realise,

That no one is to blame

For the nature of existence.

 

What began as the state of the Universe,

Is manifest as a state of mind,

Until it recognises once again,

Its own birth and the fact that it was never born.

 

On the cliff edge,

I have a sense that if I jump,

I will be pulled up by the sky,

And if I do not jump,

I will be pulled down by the earth.

Reaching out to pick a bilberry,

I know I will fall,

But the sweetness fills my entire being,

And sustains me in rapture,

As my other self walks away from the cliff in fear.

 

And then we merge,

And I know that from now on,

It will not be fear that makes me step back,

But the lingering sweetness of a berry that all have tasted.

Even more on truth

There is a grain of truth in every opinion,

and a bucket of lies in every tiny white lie.

Like a rolling snowball, they accumulate and stick,

and as the ball grows, it becomes distorted.

Unfortunately, truths also grow distorted,

and are soon obscured,

engulfed in the fog of misperception,

which descends upon them.

Though the light may be piercing,

still they fade,

becoming harder and harder to find

and harder still to define.

Cherishing Difference and Diversity.

It is currently very fashionable in our society to celebrate difference and diversity, and most of us genuinely believe we do. However, when it comes down to the hard-hitting realities of our everyday lives, most of us would rather fill our world with people just like us. This thought is distasteful and almost unacceptable today, since its logical conclusion is hate-filled racism and bigoted intolerance, but it struck me when I was thinking about relationships with our nearest and dearest, especially family and spouses or lovers.

Most of us have some kind of fantasy of a perfect partner and often waste years of our lives searching for him or her, often killing off perfectly good relationships in the process. Usually that perfect partner is someone very similar to us, but much sexier! When we think we may have found someone quite close to it, we get together and both tend to go along with each other and agree with each other on most things, really trying to fool ourselves that we are so very well-suited. But after a while, we start to see more and more differences. They just do not act in the way we think they should, and usually that means in the way we would, or like to think we would. At first these differences may be charming, then irritating and as they mount up and accumulate, sometimes maddening and that is when the rows begin. We try to make them think and behave like us and naturally they react badly to this and the differences are exaggerated still further. After all, they think we should behave as they do! Sometimes if the case is really justified, or if one partner is particularly keen to please, one or other partner may make a lot of effort to be accommodating and things may improve, but sooner or later, old ways and differences will come to the fore again. And so they should, because while compromise is often stated as the panacea for relationships, it is usually done grudgingly and is nowhere near as successful as genuine acceptance of difference.

I have struggled like this in many relationships, but now I have learnt to truly embrace difference and accept and love my partner purely for who she is, perfect in every way, as we all are deep down. We could hardly be more different and it has been a struggle, but worth the perseverance, and that is the key to truly celebrating difference and diversity in all its forms. It does not come overnight, or merely by saying the right words. It takes a lot of hard work and a genuine change in attitude with which we recognise that nobody is just like us. Everybody reacts in their own way to the world around them, and if we sometimes find those ways challenging, then we need to challenge them. If we can do this without passing judgement, then so much the better, but it will get us nowhere pretending they do not exist. On the other hand, separatism and messy divorces will only make things worse, with the one exception of a violent, abusive partner or oppressor. The key is maximum, continued exposure, deep listening and compassionate speech. Eventually we will all understand each other, then respect each other and eventually, really cherish our differences. These days, I think it would be quite boring to be together with a partner who thinks and behaves just like me and sees the world as I do. Such a partner would be little more than a mirror to reinforce my own vanity and confirm all my narrow-minded opinions and ideas and vice versa, boosting our collective ego in the battle of us against the world, in exactly the same way as the members of insular, xenophobic and monochrome societies reinforce their collective behaviour; perhaps a cohesive force within the relationship or community, but for the world at large, a definite destructive force. What would I learn from that? How would I grow? Who would challenge my beliefs and patterns of behaviour in my daily life, and who would expose me to such a rich tapestry of delights? No longer a fantasy for me, I can honestly say, with all my heart, difference and diversity really are things worth cherishing.

What is truth?

In everyday reality, there is at least a grain of truth in all opinions.

In the ultimate reality, there can only be one truth, but since this is the ground of everyday reality, in effect we are seeing one truth yielding many opinions, each arising from its own, narrow viewpoint.

In praise of sentimentality

Sentimentality is a simple, obvious, unashamed, direct and unembarrassed expression of basic emotions. It is often viewed by ‘sophisticated’, middle class, educated, rational, stiff upper lip, British people especially, as fake or demonstrative, but perhaps it is just honest, real, uncensored by the rational, conscious mind, in fact more real and less ostentatious than much of our intellectual cleverness. It is innocent and pure like the feelings of a child. We are supposed to grow out of it, and not express those feelings, especially in public, and we find the songs or writings ‘slushy’, ‘sickly’ or embarrassing – the product of an immature, unsophisticated, uneducated mind and aimed at the masses with the same temperament – i.e. uneducated, ‘simple souls’, emotional rather than rational, intelligent people.

And yet, these are often the emotions that ignite the greatest force for good in human beings – compassion, empathy, generosity and charity. Perhaps this is why they are tolerated, often expressed and probably deliberately encouraged in more emotionally driven, Christian (especially American style Christian) communities. The rational, intellectual mind, which frowns on all forms of sentimentality is in danger of becoming cold, unfeeling, self-centred and cynical, perfectly suited to running multi-national companies or political parties perhaps!

However, this distaste for sentimentality runs deeper and wider in our society than the intellectual, sceptical elite. It is also an important element of youth culture, for example in popular and especially alternative music. Perhaps this is simply because the youth are reacting against their former childhood mentality as they carve out their new identities, however this is not so with anger. While sentimentality is often seen as immature or child-like, music with anger at its core is cool. This could also be described as honest, pure, uncensored by the conscious mind, innocent and even child-like, although it is usually a more directed anger, masked by anti-establishment rationality or teenage, sexual frustration – all perfectly acceptable and cool. At its best, it is a call to action to change things for the better using strength in numbers, subversive sabotage, mass protests, movements, occupations etc., but at its worst, it leads to self-obsessed, nihilistic depression and violence.

Anger is as real or fake and positive or negative as sweet sentimentality and it always works most powerfully when guided and tempered by love and compassion. So I say, allow a little sentimentality into your life. You might find your heart opens a little and your anger is a more constructive and powerful force as a result. You may feel more rounded, more generous, more contented and even more mature, because maturity is not denying all things child-like, but rather experiencing our true nature as a child, yet filtered through the knowledge, wisdom and life experience of a still curious and questioning adult.

I recommend the most sentimental song I can think of – Tammy Wynette singing ‘No Charge’. See if you can listen to that song with an open mind and heart, putting yourself right there in the story and not be moved by it!