What happens after the end?

I recently read a review, which I can’t give an exact reference for, in which the writer quoted an AngloSaxon archbishop writing in 1054 saying that the world is over, nothing more is to be expected before the return of Christ. (And we know what happened 12 years later!) I feel this an appropriate response to those today who feel the West is broken beyond repair. It probably is, but the reality is that something else will follow it – whether we like that something or not. So the choice is between embracing the uncertainty of changing times or allowing them to crush us. 

Perhaps our era is not so dissimilar to the era of Charles 1, which saw a late renaissance full of delicate spirituality (George Herbert and the metaphysical poets, Orlando Gibbons etc): yet it was also full of anger at the corruptions of privilege and the indifference of the monarchy to rising tide of proletarian literacy which was to explode as the puritan revolution. The same sensibility existed all over Europe among the intelligentsia (Rilke, Mallarmé, Yeats) before WW1, only to disappear entirely ithereafter. 
I don’t know what’s coming next, but if we want what we value to be part of it we have to throw ourselves into the ‘ungodly’—as it seems—tide. Standing Canute-like on the bank is to be sidelined by the new—perhaps deplorable—history being made and from which gestation a new stasis will sooner or later emerge. 

We don’t know what happens if we try something, but we do know what happens if we don’t. There’s nothing the matter with K’s arguments, but sadly there are no prizes for being right in abstract – or I might’ve won one! The big prize is for weaving a strand of rightness (clear-sightedness) into all the wrongness (which isn’t wrongness so much as stupidity parading its blindness). 
If you can do this job right, like a commando action in enemy territory, and find the sweet spot where the strand will fit and so be absorbed into the main weave – then your only real reward is to return to know that you have been a small organic link in the great chain of those who have carried the silver torch of what I call Yahwism, the inner unmediated wordless encounter with I AM. Like any secret mission, there are only a few people you can tell – to most it wouldn't make sense. But to me that is where dharma and karma meet. 
So: the game is lost: the game is all to play for. In every moment both statements are true. 
Love / truth / joy are words with no meaning unless WE make them true in our own lives. We cannot allow ourselves to be buried by the statistical evidence that change is impossible – or entropy wins :: the forces of hopelessness. 
And perhaps ultimately that is the flaw in K's book,—he limits the capacity of g/God or 'divine otherness' to work within the sprawling mess we have made of (and I would argue were designed to make of) creation because his mind is limited to the imaginable.
But the Powers That Be /Tao aren't – the unimaginable is stock in trade to him/her/it/them. So renewal / rebirth / regrowth is always possible, even if we totally duff up the planet and extinguish our own and other life-forms. 
But on a slightly less apocalyptic note, all that is certain is that when the new thought-forms do emerge they are unlikely to resemble the old. 


Setting Sally Purcell's Songs

Setting poetry to music involves a psychic intimacy which leaves the composer with a sense of a poet’s fragrance similar to the physical memory of a lover. To call the experience erotic is too easy, for it leaps right over that territory to end within a domain of the soul where memories of relationships are stored as a dynamic accretion to one’s own self.

A few years ago I made this journey into Sally Purcell’s poetry, and it was one of the most rewarding of my creative life. There is often a tension as to whether text or music is the senior partner—a clue lying in whether the term poetry or lyric is used—but in my experience of setting Sally’s poetry there was no tension of a hierarchy; just a reciprocal flow of language and music entwining to enhance the emotional meaning.

I feel I can use her Christian name even tho I didn’t ‘meet’ Sally until 14 years after her untimely death. An Oxford contemporary gave me her collected works in 2012, and I was immediately transported to another world. It was like entering a stranger’s house and knowing you were going to fall in love. There was an immediate openness between souls. ‘My friend speaks my mind’ is the phrase used in Quaker circles.

Entranced by her delicate precision of language and the refined awareness it displayed, each night before falling asleep, for a couple of weeks I enjoyed reading a couple of her poems. Immersing myself in the dense and richly mysterious images was like nodding off in a perfumed room.

There seemed to be two main themes in her poetry: erotic love and the spiritual dimension/s of life. Or if you prefer, a single theme: the relationship/s formed by personal and trans-personal love. And what makes her writing so luminous is that, unusually for an educated modern, she saw no a distinction between the two.

Being first attracted to set her Sestina for soprano, tenor and piano that June, I followed it immediately with a themed selection of 11 short poems I titled The Arc of Love. But I could see further diamonds buried within the pages hinting in perfect metaphor at aspects of the perennial mysteries of faith; and in August one of these, Temenos, caught my meditative eye as an ideal text for a poor man’s Spem In Alium.

The poem evokes the magic of sacred space created between humans, and I first thought to emulate the majesty of Tallis’s 40 voices; but as I began I encountered some of the logistical problems that Tallis himself must have faced notating 40 staves of music four centuries ago, the first being to find manuscript paper large enough, compounded by a contemporary consideration now that all scores are computerised, that I would’ve required a 60” screen to be able to read and work on the whole score vertically at any reasonable resolution. As I have only a pair of 27” screens to work on I compromised by using 20 voices as five spatially separated quartets who share and echo canonic exchanges. To be honest noone can actually hear a difference between 20 and 40 parts since there are only seven notes in the scale.


Sally was truly a poet of kairos. She captured jeweled snapshots of rainbow moments where all the mercurial elements that float in the ether of our lives align. Hers was a quantum craft wherein she crystallised the randomness of life into moments of moral coherence, like a great photographer who uses even ambiguities of focus for expressive effect.

Where I feel kinship is that Sally didn’t write for approval or applause, she wrote because she had seen truth. She understood that truth is both eternal and transient, and that kairos lies in the momentary intersection between them; and it was her faith in an ultimate reality, an ultra-reality that transects and interpenetrates terrestrial existence, that gave her the courage to see and to live under the perpetual whiplash of a vulnerability most of us dim by allowing as-it-were a protective moral cataract to form :: which is the world’s lie disguising the nature of the power, privilege and precariousness of existence.

The pieces I’ve referred to setting were all solitary creative experiences as performers have not yet shown interest in them; however my final excavation of Sally’s rich seam of poetry was to make sequence of poems which trace the outlines of the liturgical year, which I called The Quiet Spaces. And I am delighted that six years on these have been brought vividly to life by Greg Skidmore’s Lacock Scholars.

My decisions about how to treat these poems: Eternal Image – First Mystery –Poem for Lent or Advent –Magi – I see them walking in the Air of glory – Rilke: came about this way. I’d had a composition performed in Manchester, whose timing allowed us to take a circuitous route home via a unique concert of William Byrd’s late motets given by The Cardinalls Musick in Stondon Massey, Byrd’s ‘own’ parish church in Essex.** Hearing his five-part motet Beata Viscera exquisitely sung in this resonant space—accompanied by the spectacular aerial display of an excited bat—was to feel the veil of time dissolve.

On my return the music for each poem came to me as fast as I could write out the previous one. My intention was that the first five motets should be performed together as they share a transpersonal dimension, and then after applause, the sixth, Rilke, be offered as a subjective encore featuring solo voices singing ...
    Even if we know love’s landscape
    and the little churchyard with its mourning names,
    and the frighteningly silent ravine for which others are bound,
    time and again we walk together under ancient trees,
    time and again lie down among the flowers opposite the sky.
Lake and Labyrinth 1985

To enjoy The Quiet Spaces I recommend turning captions on to display the text.

What I adore about Sally is how she illuminated the mystical realities of faith real without surrendering an iota of the complexity of a modern viewpoint. Like Olivier Messiaen she retains a naive belief in the ultimate goodness of Life with a kind of intensity that Tallis or Byrd would have recognised. Both modern visionaries offer a way forward for contemporary consciousness which sidesteps the sterility of intellectual art, and in Sally is the more remarkable for sustaining an authentically feminine vision within a life that offered precious few material comforts, and probably an unfair amount of gender discrimination.

Temenos, the 20 part motet, exists only with synth voices. As it makes great demands of the singers, time alone will tell whether I shall hear it with my physical ears or the ears of spirit – but I know that I will eventually because it speaks of the perennial truth that Sally expressed, which cannot be crushed or extinguished because it is Life itself. Whatever my state when it is performed I expect to clasp Sally’s spirit hand, and we shall be like two separated parents acknowledging the graduation of the child they conceived but could not raise together.

**Ironically, as a fierce recusant Byrd was regularly fined for his refusal to attend Anglican services. Notwithstanding which, there is a memorial in the church to him which records the obituary where Byrd was cited as ‘a father of music’.


The Quiet Spaces

The birth fairies give some people things they don’t understand or necessarily even want. Mine was to be given Faith. All my life has been about coming to terms with an experience of confidence in my life’s eventual outcome which many people search for with a life of nighttime tears - and yet I feel I might have been better off without. 

These thoughts are in my mind because I’ve just published the Lacock Scholars’ exceptional recording of my Quiet Spaces on YouTube using subtitles to provide complete clarity. If the business of art is projecting one’s inner world into or onto the outside world, then this could not have been done better than by Greg Skidmore’s committed performance of my choral songcycle to words by the mystical poet Sally Purcell. 

It lifts a burden from my shoulders because I feel this piece at last represents perfectly what I have striven for during so many decades of silence – to project what is not merely a musical voice but a spiritual one. Altho I have always been conscious of what my authentic voice (/meaning) was, I could not make it audible to others because I could not find people to perform what I wrote. Notwithstanding; I remained convinced that my 'children' were as deserving of a fair hearing as anyonelse's; so it was only my faith that 'my redeemer liveth, and at the latter end he shall stand upon the earth' that kept me sane and on track. (Prophetically, this aria from Messiah was my audition piece for choir school.)

People, other than family, who know me would probably not have detected this cognitive dissonance I carried. My family alas probably saw or felt it all too clearly. For there has always been a paradox within the idea of meaning (/voice). For most people, I’m guessing, Meanings are forms of shared communications with families, lovers, friends and the wider world. In a word they are, in the classical sense, eros – the ‘relatingness' dimension of existence. But for me Meaning was always the voice inside me, logos the intellectual antithesis of eros – which I had to find a way to project if I was to have any place or raison d'être in the world. 

Because these issues were not yet clear to me, in my youth I espoused demotic music, and sought to compensate for the isolation which my voice seemed to enforce by seeking work within broadcasting where I could borrow shared musical Meanings, and pretend to belong. But this was not how I experienced authentic inspiration, and eventually in the late eighties it became increasingly clear to me that if I was to reach my potential as a creative and spiritual individual I should have to voyage throu darkness to find where /what /how my true meanings were. The ordeal by fire, where everything is reduced to ash, and only the refined gold remains. By that time I had fashioned a lot of the tools by which to extract meaning from my inchoate interior, namely how to cognise and make imagery of my Inner Otherness – whether or not it held value for others

A central tenet of Jung’s was that our Unconscious always shows us the face (/respect) we show it. My sense of my Unconscious has always been so strong (through dreams and direct inspiration) that I would almost turn the dictum around and say that I have had to learn how to show my Unconscious the respect it has always shown me. And to do that truthfully was something I felt that noonelse could help with—which was why I refused all higher education after running away from school—for instinctively I felt any form of ready-made answer would contaminate the authenticity of the thought-form I sensed taking shape within me, but which as yet was painfully lacking in coherence. 

The nature of this sacred obligation is one that I tried to run away from, like Jonah, because it aroused impossibly conflicted emotions in me. Due to the complete lack of encouragement to express myself from my parents or teachers, composition, to which I was inwardly impelled, was at one and the same time the most acutely painful activity because I had been taught that the end process of engaging with my unconscious was unwanted; and thus to produce a gift for the world was to be brought face to face with my isolation from the Meanings of others. 

Thus I felt as if I had to make my entire creative personality from scratch. The responsibility seemed utterly overwhelming; and I have described the process by which I did so in The Creative Voice. A main event for me has been to determine the nature of this Otherness I experience? Is it my mind? Is it access to a greater collective Mind? And/or is there a transpersonal element, and if so what is its nature? When I first became aware of this concatenated tangle of issues, at the age of 13, it was bound into questions of identity and sexuality and my alienation from almost everybody in the world. The result was an intense depression, from which I thought it impossible to be released. And yet within me was the conviction that it would all make sense one day; and if I could survive the next 40+ years, in old age people would be willing to hear from me what in youth there were unable to. I would therefore describe my life as a crescendo of happiness, which was begun by the intervention of Jane Clark Dodgson in my life, followed by meeting and marrying Clancy in 1975; and the joy that children and grandchildren and other relationship have brought.

Yet the meaning of these eros=relating relationships existed in parallel with the logos=inner-arising Meaning which I felt it my dharma to express; and my karma to overcome the barriers which inhibited its expression – on whatever plane of reality these may (/not) have existed. I knew, in fact, that I could not die until I had accomplished it; and so, in a way, I knew that no lasting harm could come from my hurling myself and those I love into difficult situations because I had to reach (by the blind guidance of the unconscious) the destiny and destination of accomplishing some kind of autonomous authenticity before as-it-were converging with my soul at the point of death.  

Despite writing a setting of Dylan Thomas's There was a Saviour when I was 21, which I believe stands comparison with what anyonelse was doing at the time, I was quite unable to obtain any performances. (I eventually conducted a recording of it myself with a volunteer choir in 1999.) I had not found a way for my Meanings to gain traction in the minds of others, far less in the collective Mind. 

The thing that terrifies us about some forms of (mental) illness and addiction is that they are without periodicity. There does not appear to be an intervention able to bring an end to anguish, which is as painful for observers as for patients. I was in the interesting position of being able to see and chart this experience (which I did in my play The Watcher in the Rain) – since so long as my 'voice' could not be heard, to passing musicians (those whose only meanings are ones they can eat off) I was just another ‘time-waster with a manuscript’. While I could not exhibit what my Meaning/s meant in the real world was because there was no defining output distinguishing intention from accomplishment for others to grasp. 

The music and the ideas behind it did not synchronise with contemporary cultural discourse, for reasons known only to the Ancient of Days. So until this point, at the age of 72, a meniscus of silence around my major works (written after 2003) has been preserved, and it is only now, thanks to Greg and the Lacocks, that the ambrosia can seep out. 


I am not claiming these experiences as unique. I suspect they're perfectly normal for such individuals who—by whatever accident of genetics—have mindsets where there is a strong awareness of Inner Otherness, regardless of the vocabulary or medium in which describe what appears real to them. What has been important to me however, and for which I found the perfect vehicle in Sally Purcell’s pœtry, is that my music embodies a Christian spirituality that moves beyond the straightjacket of formalised religious thought to embrace a world in which all faiths can meet and respect each other. All true Art represents the small nuggets of eros-meaning we refine from the logos-enigma from the privilege of existence.

I would love what I compose to be popular, in the sense that I would love it to be a vehicle for others bringing people together to share its Meaning/s – but this outcome is unlikely for such thoughts that lie outside the general discourse. All I can do is be a witness to a view of humans that acknowledges their 'within-ness' is simultaneously their access to 'outwith-ness'. 

And the role of Faith in this? Well without this ‘delusion’ I wouldnt’ve built what I have, because for one thing I wouldnt’ve had the plan. And now at last, hearing The Quiet Spaces, I feel vindicated – that my redeemer or advocate does indeed stand upon the earth. 


What is great music?

Maybe music falls into two main categories? One that meets our current expectations – the other that takes us beyond them on a journey to a larger space.

Giving people what they’re familiar with is a laudable and honest enterprise – mostly! But to me what is exciting is to lay out a beautiful sound-path that leads listeners to musical experiences  that go beyond their expectations. I believe that the unique feature of all true art is that it allows our own personal ‘meanings’ to engage with the evidence of our senses; and in the merging of the inner and outer to derive a greater sense of Meaning, or, if you prefer, a sense of greater Meaning. 

A matter of the greatest sensitivity therefore is selecting and presenting music that attracts people to join this ’space trip’.  And what we call ‘great' is music which is a proven vehicle for the experience. 

This explains what a Bach violin concerto and the entertainment Façade are doing on the same bill on Saturday 15th September 2018 at Compton Marbling Barn. The Cherubim Chamber Soloists  will perform four complementary concertos in the first half, which give four of our Cherubim Musicians a chance to show what they can do: and they make a super sequence, being linked by a beautiful string orchestral accompaniment. Those who have been to our Festivals before already know flautist Octavia Lamb, violinist Gabriella Jones and cellist Josh Salter. Only vibraphonist Diogo Gomes is new, but what a sonorous instrument the vibraphone is, and the Séjourné concerto shows its range of colours to superb advantage.

So we hope you will come and support them. But those concertos then prepare us to crack open the jack-in-a-box that is Façade, and out jumps a cornucopia of fireworks. There really isn’t another piece like it – witty, sad, flat-out mad and touching all at the same time.

And why? Because it’s held together by William Walton’s wonderful music. Each movement is a little jewel perfectly expressing the mood of the poetry – which the 19 y/o Walton probably didn’t even understand! So what appeared to everyone in 1922 as an ephemeral  jeu d’ésprit has stood the test of time and grown into work of intriguing ‘greatness' that people are still performing and enjoying 100 years later.

I urge you to give it a listen. I can’t guarantee you that inner space journey; but I think it’s safe to say that music-lovers who have come to our events have found the experiences they were looking for as well as being offered intriguing glimpses of the worlds that lie beyond.

Book here for a great night out and a chance to share the magical energy our young performers bring.


Lament for Jo Cox

Nine months from conception to realisation. A group of friends and Cherubim recorded it at the Savile on Guy Fawkes night. Not a bad record given that some of the compositions that mean most to me have languished in limbo for years.

There is a sense of completion when the hypothesis which is composition is validated by proof which is actual sound. Of course the greatest prize is if others come to love it like the one who loved it into existence, but moving it from mind to external form to independent reality is a start. The rest is the gods’ business.


Donald J Trump at the Pearly Gates

Now here’s what you gotta do
To Make Heaven Great once again.
Start selling sin
To get ’em all in:
And guns can do business for you …
You understand what I’m sayin’?
Look around you, who are all these bums –
The poor and the lame and dumb?
Just clear ’em away
And get folks who’ll pay.
Tell God He’s not doing His sums:
Get ’em right, and the Right people come. ;)
And all this stuff on forebearance!
These days who thinks it worth bigging?
When I’m feeling bitter
I take to Twitter
And never lose sight of a chance
When I’m in a hole to keep digging.
Sompnelse that you’re getting all wrong –
the approach road so steep and unsteady.
Just do it my way
And build a broad highway;
Those footpaths to wisdom? Too long!
They’re sad and old-fashioned already.
St Peter was moved to reply
But Trump held up his hand like an oar:
Don’t argue with me:
Here’s how it’ll be
From now on! St Peter just sighed:
This we’ve all heard before.
But now he replies with impatience
To this ignorant comb-over fool
With inherited money
And no sense of funny –
It seems you learnt nothing at school
And considerably less from experience!
Trump, I don’t know how to say this,
But really you haven’t a clue.
Peace demands trust –
Which you never discuss –
While another must is
A desire to see justice.
Would you say that you helped other races?
No. You simply don’t care who you screwed.
Good day to you Mr Trump!
The last thing we want is a dump
Of your nuclear arsenal
Or anything personal
Here. So do us a favour: stomp
Off and return to your swamp.
You think we lack ‘modern amenities’,
So given your taste for obscenity
Not far away
Is a great place to stay –
Where they’re sure to look after you swell –

May I cordially recommend Hell?


Bruce Parry is known to a wide audience from his BBC ethnographic documentaries where he has undergone tribal initiation rituals in many different aboriginal cultures. But now he has moved far beyond this with Tawai - a luminous feature film exploring the states of mind of two hunter-gatherer tribes’ spirituality of place in their respective rain forests in the Amazon and Borneo. The title is untranslatable but covers the ideas of Belonging and the sense of Presence within the harmony of the natural world.

Parry handles all the issues with supreme sensitivity. Both communities are under threat from logging for palmoil or oil pipelines; but Parry compares the balanced consciousness they hold within their environment and unbalanced consciousness held by we Westerners who are driving the destruction not merely of their world but our own. He does this with the aid of psychologist Ian McGilchrist whose book on brain hemispheric function, The Master and his Emissary, is a valuable new model for understanding how perception works and how  consciousness and human cultural behaviour interact.

I hope that doesn’t make it sound dry, because the film is incredibly rich in spiritual insight and most sumptuously shot by Mark OFearghail with stunning drone footage of the rain forests and the Kumbh Mela – where Parry goes in search of further understanding, and receives eloquent guidance from sadhus.

Why does this matter? And what would anyone gain from seeing it? Because I have not seen any other film that so clear demonstrates the word-defying experience that lies at the heart of shared consciousness. In this film Parry goes far beyond the permitted bandwidth of TV discourse and gives two peoples under threat from global capitalism the space to show the authenticity of their hunter-gatherer world and their sense of complete and conscious spiritual identification with their natural environment.

For this alone it would be valuable –  I would say among the best 100’ I’ve spent in a cinema – but what is truly impressive is that in his own search for Meaning Parry not only manages to make 'the subtle voices of magic' heard but to present an extraordinarily compassionate and penetrating picture of how the human race is eating itself, destroying the very infrastructure on which life itself depends. Parry blames noone, hectors noone; he simply joins up a tremendous number of the puzzling dots and dashes that dance before contemporary eyes to show anyone with eyes to see what spirituality means in the 21stC and how it cannot be divorced from the environment we all inhabit and compassion for all lifeforms.

Bruce Parry is touring the film in cinemas at present. I saw it in a packed cinema in Glastonbury. Visit www.Tawai.earth to find where it’s on near you or to consider organising a showing yourself. It is about being present and compassionate in the world.   


How did Music originate?

The view that music evolved from animal calls is psychologically implausible. I would suggest the evolutionary pathway is as follows.

The mechanism that permits human speech is a tiny bone called the hyoid, which anchors the glottis and makes its usage consistent and reliable for the vocal articulation, as opposed to mere vocalisation. Obviously human language evolved from similar survival requirements evident in other animal ‘languages’. But beyond this  an evolutionary byproduct of the earliest bicameral brain would have been the capacity to become aware of and articulate the reflexive sensations of pleasure /pain /attraction /disgust – which might be called proto-aesthetics.

I would hazard that the discovery of Song can be traced to enjoyment of the duality between the speech and calling - and the discovery that sustained vocalisation by its psychological nature induced a heightened awareness which, when used in a ’safe’ context, was amplified by listeners’ inner responses to the emotional vibrations (or intention) encoded onto it by the caller/singer.

Again, bicamerality has to lie behind the other major characteristic of Music: rhythm. No animals have access to continuous metricality, because it is an acquired skill wholly dependent on aesthetic discipline. Animals and children perform ‘musical’ actions by virtue of physical responses to brain impulses, and the nature of these impulses is conditioned by motor response (muscular energy) to the passing mental focus motivating it. It depends entirely on the evolution of bicamerality to be able to conceive of the existence of a right or wrong way of performing an action other than in terms of immediate pain or reward. And without that conception of a beat as existing abstractly from our own gesture/s, rhythmicality is impossible. I think one can see within the difference between single percussive sounds and sustained coherent rhythmic activity a very similar psychological mechanism unlocking the aesthetics of entertainment (or entrainment, if you will).
For further thoughts on the relationship between of timbre & consciousness

Many years ago, in VHS days, St Attenborough made a TV film exploring Animal ‘Music'. Essentially his conclusion, which I paraphrase, was that while animals make sounds for many purposes, there are no real examples in nature that would correspond to the self-reflexive intentionality which lies within human Music. (Well, some of it!)

Some animals, elephants for instance, can be trained to drum a beat just as they can be trained to paint pictures; but it is manifestly impossible for them to understand or attach emotional significance to actions which they would never have performed naturally - since the mental circuitry by which they could have invented them autonomously is not present within their limbic system.
We learnt from Blue Planet II this week that whales appear to be the only non-human species where sustained vocalisation (song) is shared equally between genders, and not an evolutionary trait of males. 

But there’s a further reason why birds or animals can’t be seen as the origins of music; and that is because if they were we’d still be doing it like them. Whereas the near-universal bedrock of evolved musical languages is a version of the stepped scale. 


What happens after death?

Where to start answering such a question?
    Where does knowing come from? How do we know anything? What distinguishes knowing from believing?
    Possibly it comes from the sense of having penetrated to beyond surface experience to an archetypal level that transcends conventional consciousness? In this sense that Jung famously answered John Freeman’s question "Are you a believer?" with “I don’t believe, I know.”
    What then distinguishes such a claimant from a madman? Absolutely nothing. I make that as a personal disclaimer.

My first way into the question is to say that all the highest expressions of religious awareness depict life as a continuum which dips into and out of terrestrial existence for the traction it offers for soul growth. ‘The only planet of choice.’ The literalness of physical existence reduces the limitless fluidity (or airyfairyness) of spirit existence to hard facts which act as quern stones to grind the spiritual flour out of the physical corn. Or to take another analogy, where and how we focus our lifegoal/s represents the tip of the pole a vaulter practices placing in order to leap over the bar.

So what is that bar and its metaphysical implication/s?
    If each human consciousness is in essence a seed kernel, then as Christ said, to germinate its protective enclosure has to ‘die’, ie be broken. If this is in fact one of the objectives of an evolved life perception, then it’s unsurprising that the unevolved fear the loss of ego identity as much as death itself – indeed they fear death for the same reason. Because to those whose consciousness is body-wired there can be no (cap L) Life except throu sensation.
    But for those who use their incarnation to accept soul-(re)wiring there is the opportunity to leap off the earthplane altogether - to be finished with needing a body to process and decode perception.

So as I see it, a post-incarnation existence within the multi-dimensionality of ultra-consciousness is not essentially different to terrestrial life except without the anchor point of bodily or material forms. The difference between discarnate souls is that those who achieved understanding of what is to come by spiritual practice in this life will know where they are, and why they’re there, and be ready to move on - whereas the others don’t. And indeed can’t, for the reasons given.

So what then is moving on?
    The nature of the Source of all Life can barely be glimpsed on /from the earthplane. S/he exists beyond all duality and the capacity of human consciousness to understand, let alone to describe. To be ready to step onto the lowest plane of non-duality requires us to have been purged of all anger, (self-)hate, misery, lust for objects, power, money or even (selfish) love. In fact, I believe, it is like stepping into your most exalted dreamstate where everything makes sense and you are embraced by the love and fulfilment of everyone and everything you have ever wanted.
    It’s my belief (which I hope I’m not called upon to prove!) that martyrdom and mortal sickness are gifts enabling those with the appropriate consciousness to surrender all attachment to their physical form, and so to vault to immense ‘heights’.
    The consciousness with which we pass over is tremendously important to our spiritual trajectory and initial level within the hierarchy of non-duality. We are all immediately embraced, but those who are unprepared for the nature of the embrace will find it as hard to accept there as they do here.
    Nevertheless, to those who can is offered the pathway to whatever intensity of union with the Source of Existence that their ongoing karma (moral perception as defined by multi-life choice/s) and creative imagination are preparing them for.

So, finally, what may we find beyond the veil?
    The same truth Jung articulated: the unconscious always shows us the face we show it. People will find whatever their heart has truly yearned for. Men and women of goodwill are certain to find others of like mind, just as the Trumps of this world will. Each to their own! The difference is, marvellously for the pyramid of Existence, the latter will be utterly impotent; whereas the spiritual power of the former will equip them to full-fill roles as angels and ministers of grace in the great unfolding of evolutionary love which is the story of creation and the emergence of conscious lifeforms.

Two further things come to me to add. 
    I have used height & depth metaphors because it’s easier linguistically, but really the appropriate imagery is a scale or index of density. The spiritual-evolutionary process, I believe, involves relinquishing frivolity, self-interest and disconnectedness from the needs of other life-forms (everything that money is used to buy) and acceptance of becoming a molecule attuned to, embedded within, and vibrating with the mighty cloud or swarm of consciousness whose nuclear epicentre is the Source of Life. 
    Whereas in life we may be attracted by a manifestations or aspects of this cloud, yet we can do little more than glimpse its nature while we are embodied. And only when we are disembodied, naked, and have purified our motivations throu conscious actions (karma) can we begin to understand the organic functioning /breathing /living /instantaneous interaction of this mighty cloud or swarm of like-minds that sustains and supports all life throughout the multiverses. In this matter, words are worse than useless, and can only serve to misrepresent.

Secondly: What is the role of Christ and of ‘salvation’?
    If you discount nearly everything that the church & evangelicals tell you, then I think the figure or persona of Christ does offer is a unique real-isation or vision of a route-map to the noblest ways of being human. The caveats are that the noblest way/s of being are not ‘Christian’ any more than the property of any other sect or religion, even tho each religious thought-form does have a unique ethical timbre. Secondly the realisation does not immediately hand you a free pass to ‘heaven', as Born Agains teach, but gives you a vision to cherish and follow. It’s not that it overrides karma, so much as give guidance on the ethical priorities that enable us to move quickly throu the bewildering range of moral choices that can bog people down.
    There is an interesting psychological factor about the role of a white-robed teacher. I think we all have embedded within us the idea of a pastor bonus, someone who will have compassion on our confusion and lead towards the light. And I think our expectations are broadly that this is a male figure because the incisive use of the logos principle relates to the male end of gender spectrum. But it’s interesting that this image is found in all religions; and this leads me to believe that, as with medieval art, it is not the literal personality of Christ that matters – as if we could ever know who he was – so much as a Christ (or Buddha et al) shaped space of innate inner wisdom which this persona invokes. 
The ethical difficulty for us today is that by objectifying Christ as a both literal and super-human religions have A) ossified that image so that it's no longer dynamic; and B) failed to take into account the culture-driven way in which the ethical ‘shape’ of the subjective space of innate inner wisdom has evolved so that the ancient ‘verities’ are no longer congruent with contemporary folks' moral compass.     



Having spent much of yesterday afternoon editing and uploading this wonderful performance of Brandenburg IV from our Cherubim Youth Music Festival I am once again awed by the musical mind that could have created such a perfect structure. The conception, scale yet intimate intricacy to me expresses the finest achievement of the religious mind's contemplation of the harmonious potential of being alive – similar to the refined abstraction of Islamic art – yet exceeding it because the nature of Bach's musical perfection is dynamic. There can never be a single exclusive interpretation – it is reborn anew in each performance, and that is the privilege we have: by (re)creating a gossamer web of sound we are not merely participants in a miracle but can actually sense the nature and quality of the mind that brought forth this masterpiece from the Great Mind in an intimate and personal way.

To say that Bach is a cosmic singularity is no understatement. I have long believed that his phenomenal intuitive calculating ability indicates that he was a savant. I cannot see any other explanation for his super-natural structural sense; for tho his music is remarkable for its intellectual coherence, its energy (innergy) and dynamic speak clearly of a subconscious or ultra-conscious origin.

And the re-creational power of Bach's music comes precisely from this, to give us mental and emotional access to at-one-ment – an ability to put us in touch with a dynamic metaphysical reality which we sense within us, but which we Westerners have intellectualised ourselves out of sharing as a unifying human experience.

As George Herbert put it:
A man that looks on glass
On it may stay his eye;
But if he pleaseth through it pass
And then the Heaven espy. 


Our Lady of Pew

As to exactly who or what she was see the Westminster Abbey site.

Last Friday I attended a mass venerating Our Lady of Pew in the Abbey. I only knew about the event because my friend Greg Skidmore was directing the choir and mentioned it. I thought I'd go because he always conducts superb performances and it sounded intriguing. I hadn't the slightest idea what to expect, and if I had had it certainly wasn't what I encountered.

My wife and I arrived at 1830 to see a large queue forming to enter the Abbey after it closed. At length we were admitted by super-efficient vergers marshalled by near-invisible earpieces (!) and directed to the choir stalls. The evening sun streaming in throu the west window was a real trip in itself.

I have been present at a great number of indifferent religious ceremonies in my life; but this was quite different. Once the mass started we were conscious of being in the presence of  committed believers, and the sincerely conducted ritual lead by the Dean, accompanied by superb singing of renaissance settings by the Lacock Scholars, caused the whole nature and energy of the ceremony to break open a hyper-reality. Somehow the officiants moving quietly and efficiently around and behind the altar reredos made me think of the sense of wonder GM Hopkins captures  in his visionary poem The Starlight Night.
    This piece-bright paling* shuts the spouse
    Christ home, Christ and his mother and all his hallows.
*the starlit sky

The core perception that I took away from the mass was seeing throu a perfectly aligned wormhole in time into a profound truth: namely, the means by which transcendence is manifested in time, and how such manifestations can only be preserved if they remain as pure transmissions. In other words, the specialness of this occasion could only exist because it was an esoteric ritual of faith preserved from deep time (into which I had interloped) - and which could never have withstood the glare of an exoteric daylight.

This is perhaps why Celts believed that religious truth could only be imparted experientially, and we can only really intuit what their view of the cosmos was?

Afterwards the congregation of 300+ filed out to venerate the statue of Our Lady of Pew in a nearby side chapel. (George Fox would've had conniptions.) This iconic image in alabaster perfectly fits its role of connecting believers to an aspect of the eternal feminine, but is in fact modern and was carved in the 1970s by an Anglican nun (Concordia Scott OSB) who has focused her skills like a medieval sculptor to create an image both deeply personal and wholly transpersonal.

The unified commitment of clergy and congregation created a powerful Presence. It was like encountering the upwelling of an underground river that had apparently been dormant for centuries and was momentarily visible before just as mysteriously disappearing. As we entered the tube afterwards Clancy and I were glad we had each other there to be sure we hadn't dreamt it.


Kabir - Inside Out & The Temple

If God is within the mosque, who is without?
If Ram is the object of your pilgrimage,
who journeys with you? Are the devout
reward only by place and image?
Hari is in the east you claim. To find
Allah go west. Yet if Karim and Ram
exist, don’t seek an answer on the wind,
it’s only in your hearts you'll find that calm.
All men and women living on the earth
are children of Allah & Ram. I, Kabir
am but one of many who have found rebirth:
within my heart the Guru speaks, my Pir.
Bk3:2. #69 in Tagore’s translation MMS 5/12/2010

The Temple
In the temple of this life
Honour your inward focus.
’Twas already late when daylight awoke us,
Don’t wait for the arrival of night.
Your lover has patiently waited for ages,
Alert from the very first light,
Standing outside your door to catch sight
Of you: don’t deny wages
To one who asks only a sign from your heart.
Give ear to the inaudible song
Whose lyrical tune you have known all along
Yet requires your assent for its start.
The melody’s hidden from every ear
That is closed to the feelings of love:
It comes from the highest of heavens above
To bring rapture to all who can hear.
Bk3:96. #86 in Tagore’s translation MMS 13/1/2011

Kabir (1440-1518) was a mystic poet of Islamic origin, who reached enlightenment under Ramananda. the saint of the S Indian bhakti (heart worship) movement. He went to live in the holy city of Benares where he worked as a weaver, arousing hostility from the orthodox Hindu priesthood by teaching his followers to ignore the rituals of temple worship in favour of openness of heart. Kabir was a considerable influence on the emergent Sikh movement.
I became interested in the meanings behind the translations made by Rabindranath Tagore and Kshiti Mohan Sen first published by Evelyn Underhill in 1915. These are, if I may so, distinctly prosaic; and as clarity of rhyme and metre are almost invariably the hallmark of mystical or epic poetry I wanted to rediscover what these poems might originally have felt like.