BGG Ethics/Spirituality/Philosophy Field Resignation

I've come to the conclusion it's time to turn my badge in for reasons
unconnected with the recent turmoil. For the past month I've been trying to
find someone who would be willing to take over the
Ethics/Spirituality/Philosophy Field - so far without success.

My reasons are 1) that this summer I intend to rebuild my studio (with
turf roof & local stone) & only have a two month window in the summer to get
this done, so would not be available if the BGG runs: 2)
http://www.colourmuse.com/index.php is nearly ready to go live - in which
I've invested a lorra money & a lorra lorra time, & I really have to focus
on making this a success because my teaching method is a mission to liberate
children from the horrors of exam-mania (as well as a pension, I wish): 3)
I've embarked on a large-scale composition project which will take me half a
year & mentally is simply not compatible with the amount of fiddly
administrative detail that Area Coordination demands.

Beyond this, I do also have to say that as the serious points I've made
do not appear to have been engaged with, let alone responded to, I have
little confidence that the BGG directors understand the issues of resource
& human management any better than the record shows they did formerly. I
would therefore find it hard to engage in planning a future event with any
faith that further misjudgments would not occur.

I am very torn in making this decision, because the BGG has been a large
part of my life during this decade. I want to pay tribute to EVERYone who
has been involved in making it happen, and happen so beautifully. I cannot
begin to express all that I've learnt from being permitted to be part of it.
Due to my anomalous background, I've never felt I belonged in any other
social grouping. Yet the BGG has felt more like home /family to me, & I've
taken fire from the sparks which I feel other kindling all around me.

Perhaps in the human condition we are all wayfarers huddling together
around a midwinter fire telling each other songs and jokes to keep the
darkness at bay, and therefore in the physical circumstances of each
Gathering we meet together in a uniquely honest way on the ground as human
beings, as well as on the ground of our common humanity?

Yet at the same time we are spirit, and we have the power to be other
than our physical surroundings - we HAVE the power to create the dawn, and
ultimately to BE our own high summer. And the Gathering is a forum where
others can experience that power.

We all know this is what the BGG is about, and it's why I'm sad that -as
so often in the history of the world- a bunch of visionaries have been
caught out by their failure to keep track of the mundane nittygritty. We're
not the first bunch of stargazers to land up to their necks in mud.

The art of successful tightrope walking demands constant readjustment to
keep one's balance. In cosmic terms, the greater the light, the greater the
shadow. This is where we fell down: we luxuriated in the light, and did not
wish to see /engage with the shadow. Having a rather devious scorpionic
mind, to which I owe my survival in a fairly harem-scarem life, I have on
several occasions seen the drop coming, where others have partied on into
oblivion. (Call it e.s.p. if you want!) But my warnings about what was
'unsustainable' here fell on deaf ears.

It's an un/fortunate feature of terrestrial life that that which aspires
to raise the condition of humankind is subjected to higher moral standards &
more arduous testing that that which has no aspiration. All wisdom
traditions agree that anyone who takes this path has to expect it - 'As gold
is tested in the fire, so those who are chosen are tested in the furnace of
humiliation' says the Book of Wisdom in the Bible. Or to put in the
vernacular 'if you aim to raise the common consciousness you can expect to
have the shit kicked out of you.'

Why? Because we cannot change anything effectively in our external
circumstances without first being willing to be changed ourselves, and then
that dynamic imparts itself to those around us - and so the psychic ripple
passes throu the 99 monkeys till it reaches the one who tips the balance.
Much that is ineffective in revolutionary politics stems from people using
campaigning for external change when they have not engaged with their own
inner process & motivation.

My great concern is that we who constitute the core of the BGG had
become lazy about maintaining that central dynamic. Our steering group
meetings tended to be mostly inward about ways & means, with very little
about external vision & strategy.

Maybe that will change, now that minds are focussed on the bullet loaded
in the rifle? I hope so. It's the mother of all wakeup calls.

The hardest thing for me to let go are the relationships, especially that of
the wonderful ESPf crew - a number of whom have been coming from Ireland at
their own expense each year. Not of course that I AM letting go of them
altogether, but my decision means that as the bonds loosen some
relationships will disintegrate.

I think the thing that has been the supreme achevement of the BGG thus
far has been to demonstrate to the world that human beings can and do
collaborate naturally without the need for rules and rigid structures to
force them to do it. From the afar you might think that when you're
collaborating in building a visionary community all would happen according
to some ideal: for me the grounding discovery has been that the personality
traits & communication glitches are as much part of 'paradise' as they are
of the quotidian world. What differs is the motiviation to expand our
psychic awareness of interdependence.

Nowherelse have I experienced a social event where the fertile or green
values of Eros (the intuitive /subjective) so successfully outweigh Logos
(the rational /objective) - which is what makes the BGG such a great
counter-balance to the toxically yang energy in society as a whole. Yet I do
believe that its very success is what has led to a corresponding IMbalance
in the BGG itself. And that is what I have endeavoured to draw attention to.

Here we manifest most clearly the interesting phenomenon that whatever
we do not resolve in our own lives we visit as a shadow on others. [Yes, I
own myself in this.] If we are private individuals this doesn't matter so
much, but when we have positions of governance it matters a hellova lot.
Whatever is unresolved in ourselves becomes the blind spot we manifest in
the judgments we make on behalf of our 'constituency'. [Think Bush /Blair:
war on Muslims]

IMO, what MUST happen now for the sake of the BGG's regeneration is to
find a working balance between a competent professional manager, paid a
respectful wage, and a board led by a chair who has the self-confidence not
try to act the MD as well. It's a tough call, but it's one that's got to be
made. If the flow of meddling and bad /muddled decisions that I've seen
during my involvement with the BGG is not eliminated, I don't see a future.

Knowing that I would resign, trying to find someone to take over, and
working out what to say to enthuse that person at such an uncertain time,
has been a weight on my mind. I do believe that the BGG has a great future
if it can struggle to resolve its collective shadow by engaging with, and
embracing, what it fears.

Accountancy & professional management are NOT the enemy of spontaneity,
if the right accountant and manager are chosen. Everything in the world
changes, and if we want to keep the freedom of the cultural renaissance of
the 1960s alive (& my life & art are dedicated to this) then we have to
accept that different times sometimes demand different means to generate the
former answers. Nothing stays the same. As the zeros get longer the system
of financial management has to come of age.

The quality and longevity of an organisation are best demonstrated in
its capacity to train the next generation to assume leadership, which
requires an exceptional degree of forebearance and generosity. My heartfelt
wish is that we, the BGG, should earn the trust and engagement of our kids.
For the future of our planet depends on passing on to them what we have
learnt in a form that is meaningful to them. Finding the forms which the
rising generation finds meaningful is not a straightforward matter, but we
collectively know more about it than most organisations.

We, the BGG, have a head & shoulders advantage over other 'institutions'
- don't blow it up in smoke. Be real, be grounded - we ARE stardust.

I shall of course collaborate with whatever decisions are made about the
ESP Field to ensure the best outcome for everyone.
Best wishes


The link between the Moslem & Christian worlds

Sometimes you wait for years for an elucidation of certain mysteries. Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum: Book of the Explanation of the Symbols 'Kitab Hall Ar-Rumuz' by Muhammad Ibn Umail with Psychological Commentary by Marie-Louise Von Franz, translated & published by Theodor Abt, is that book.

I had always been convinced that there must be a link between the Sufism, the sacred geometry of the early gothic cathedrals, mediaeval alchemy the troubador movement and the enduring legend of the Holy Grail. The encyclopaedic mind of Marie-Louise von Franz alone had the wisdom & authority to demonstrate where the common factors lie.

I shall write more about this anon, but for now let this extract stand as an example of the link she traces between the pursuit of the alchemical transformation of matter /the self, and the Jungian ideas of the anima/animus as each person's transexual inner otherness.
From 9thC ascetic Ahmad ibn Abu al-Hawari: "In a dream I saw a maiden of the most perfect beauty, whose countenance shone with celestial splendour. To my asking 'whence comes that brilliance on thy face?' she replied 'dost thou remember that night spent in weeping (& devotion)?', I answered, and she said 'I took those tears of thine and with them anointed my face, since then it has shone in brilliance.'


What was I given to do - & did I do it?

This title came to me as I walking my dogs recently. Am I in tune with the profound purposes for which I was given life? Am I clear what they are? To what extent am I accomplishing what it's my role to achieve?
In the daily plod it's hard to be sure whether the steps we take are carrying us towards our goal or away? For the path often twists and when we find ourselves not obviously proceeding in the direction we think we should be, it takes a lot of faith to maintain belief that it is our correct route – but OTOH if we're already lost, maybe better to backtrack immediately ...?
Here's what I think. The key lies in keeping your inner motivation to serve the light within you high and strong. If your heart burns with that love, then the light shines, and provided you ensure the link of faith keeps your inner & outer world real and grounded, you are on the right road, because that is itself the right road, and because it is what all the goals & vicissitudes are designed to teach.
That's where trust comes in. To know intellectually where you should be heading, or to have a plan, is the surest possible way to lose the way &/or the plot. It's that trust between your self and your 'inner otherness' that is itself the 'intunity' which we all seek throu external means. And yet the way to find it was always within, smaller than the eye of the needle, a whole world made small. The very greatest gift of all.
Sometimes we have to accept that we're simply called to walk in the dark, at such times the bible verse 'whatever thy hand findeth to do: do it with all thy might,' is appropriate. This concept is well rendered by John Updike in his poem Midpoint
"Cherish your work, take pleasure in your task,
For doing's the one reward a man dare ask."



Each morning I have to recalibrate my senses and reset my emotional baseline to neutral, that is to some sense of contact with an ultimate reality which allows me to connect with /surrender to it – or else my monkey mind goes busily about its whirling way, progressively confabulating probabilities into a spiral of planning & projections. (This is of course useful in its place.)
It isn't always possible to centre, for a variety of reasons: I may be excited about busyness that lies ahead, I may have had dreams that I have been unable to process – or indeed may not be consciously aware of, yet which are strongly colouring my subconscious mindset – I may have heavy food or alcohol in my digestive system that is governing my mental process and preventing me achieving clarity.
I refer to these circ~s as spiritual weather: sometimes it's sunny: sometimes it's overcast: sometimes it's stormy. During the latter I repeat my mantra: 'Sai Ram', invoking Sai Baba, the figure from whom I have drawn most spiritual empowerment. (I do not see him as an individual, who is separate from or in opposition to other spiritual teachers – but rather as someone whose energies are most present for me, and who thus becomes a lens throu whom I see to the depths of truth at which all traditions converge.) I also find invoking him really works when I am sleepless – it's a great use of what o/wise is 'dead' time.
The joke about meditation that 'the first 20 years are the worst' is absolutely correct – but the real benefit of persisting is that you come to experience your inner world in all sorts of different circ~s, and thus are able to form an overview of the dimensions of that world. Over such a length of time you are pretty certain to have visited some of the more extreme corners of your psyche and meditation gives you a tool with which to observe yourself as you go throu different kinds of 'weather'.
The day on which I wrote this was one on which I found myself led to put forward a contentious proposal within a group – and that too provided fascinating opportunities for self-observation.


What are we?

Humans must be the only animal that can change form –
Fearing impotence we become stamping elephants:
Protecting our young, crouching tigers:
In honest endeavour oxen:
In positions of power, donkeys:
Crazed by vanity we become moths bumping round an artificial globe of glamour,
blinded to that inner light which alone makes us fully human.

It's about time

To adapt to a sick society
is to let the sickness enter
your very soul. And where then
is your budge point? Your alienation
is the only strength you have.
Use it like a lever to jemmy
open closed consciousness.
Challenge the prevailing certainties
with your uncertainty: question
what everyonelse thinks set in stone:
be the fly in the ointment, the ghost
at the banquet, the one who won't keep step
with the march toward the cliff edge.
So long as you don't sell out, the Power
That Is still has one in hir sleeping
army, one awaiting the call
to activation. And when you know
it's time to step outside your door
you'll be amazed to see the neibours
you thought indifferent emerging from theirs.
And so, at last, the revolution ...



The letters tumble off the page,
which becomes a vacuum,
and terror like a beast uncaged
prowls the white & glaring room.

Common meanings, held in place
by shared perception, disintegrate
when someone dies, and so the space
that’s left becomes an anarchic state.

My mother’s house contained her world,
all that she was therein exprest –
emptied of what she once had valued
it’s as if her life’s disperst,

her character obliterated –
surviving now in memory
alone, until we too, as fated,
leave the living family.

As each picture is removed
the dustlines left around the walls
leave only the ghost of love
echoing a deserted hall.

What is it lives within a space
and slowly dies as memory fades?
Where is the energy that can outpace
these implacable engulfing shades?

In music and spirituality
alike, it is the intensity
of creative clarity
that defines longevity.

Truly there is a narrow path
that leads across the formless waste
between the two nights till by the faith
we see the dawning of the day.

Meanings have to fall apart,
words collapse in anarchy,
for this is how we learn by heart
and come to understand the key.

The fusion of brain and heart and will
in service of a greater good
produces a result that still
cannot be linearly understood.

Logic is for human goals.
They who seek to penetrate
the riddle some call ‘god’ are souls
who learn how intimately Fate

appears a dominant force; yet each
by this is given a chance for learning
how to be open to what they search
appearing another way of seeing;

one in which their integration
allows for synchronicity
to demonstrate, in their creation,
how each must own complicity.

Thus this seems to be life’s riddle:
the skill with which we dance our jig
depends on how we hear the fiddle
that the mæstro plays. And that’s the gig!

Studying this phenomenon
the result with which I’m faced
is that coherence alone brings clarity
and clarity alone brings grace.

And grace alone can fly us throu
the dark night of disintegration
when meanings fail, and what seemed true
mocks all hope of a salvation.

This was my mother’s final journey.
We all who witnest her despair
knew the pain of her latter agony
and could only watch with prayer;

yet in that harsh ordeal by fire
in which all hope is burnt to dust
she never lost her heart’s desire
to see God’s love repay her trust.

So may she now be fathered and found,
at home, at rest, at peace; her pain
released, rewarded with the crown
which they who love till death can claim.

We can’t evade the ferryman
who carries all beyond his stream
yet if we travel light we can
o’erfly the Styx as in a dream.

Thus each can clearly look at death
yet not by death be seen. For this
we have to trust the power of breath
to be exactly present: Now is

Always – Eternity is Now.
This is what each sage has taught
to set the spirit free, and how
all may escape when caught.

All these enigmas crowd the rooms
my mother once inhabited;
vacant now, her power perfumes
the lives of all who visited.

Tho her house be empty, bared
for other occupants, she lives
behind my eyes, and I’m prepared
to keep her idealism alive.

A fond farewell and then we part.
All that was familiar gone,
yet each of us within our heart
carrying memories all life long.



In a relationship with a parent
that doesn’t quite work we are constantly like
a mechanism that reaches a point
where another gear should engage …
It's like a design fault we carry around
and reproduce in later life.

The infant impulse is to blame,
to demand our unmet need;
but a mature perspective shows us
that such incongruity
makes a first-class tool for seeing
into the nature of life itself.

I kept Mama at bay because
her wish for a shared love deluged me,
drowning my young awareness in what
could have nurtured my growing life;
so that I became a body
sinking where I should have swum.

Here we see how karma works
over successive generations.
My mother looked for that great love,
that one enduring incandescence
which every woman craves and no man
ever truly understands –

she wanted especially to live throu me.
She did not see how the same boat
could not have rescued both of us.
I lit out and swam to shore.
but I'm not sure she ever did,
marooned at the mercy of the sea.

I've heard of a therapy in my dreams
where parents and children swim together
on the current of their eyes,
borne upstream on natural love
that comes when two are willing to
voyage on this waterless river.

With human eyes we could not do this,
but now I sense a dam of blessings
tower above me. Keeping focus
on her eyes I take a block
and all cascade around me like
heaven-scented butterflies.

The gift: to live within this state.
The challenge: to accept an angel
whose energies I so long rejected.

I find with delightful terror I’m still
alive! The wave broke over me
leaving a covering of stardust and rose petals.



Lord by your mercy
let me be her work.
Bring me to completion
as she would have wished …

throu her grace, a feather
on the breath of god,
yet held by gravity,
let me be spirit on earth.

May I know what you want
by what she inspires.
May my life express
the suddenness of joy.

Time for a new timetable,
created not by logic
but by feeling – a clock
whose hands are moved by love.

The morning after my mother’s funeral














The morning after my mother’s funeral


Sonnet on the morning of her funeral

I have not lost a mother, but gained a guide.
Released from flesh, and all that that implies,
I feel her presence now – a joyful bride
entering the royal mansion of the skies.

What she most desired was to belong.
A simple soul, she wanted love too much
and had to live with loss, but it made her strong:
she felt no shame in making faith her crutch.

Where inspiration comes from noone knows:
it arises from a geology of the heart.
For me, in flesh a soil which blocked my flow
my mother, now in spirit, seems to impart
an upward passage throu which water goes …
and see, above, how all the fountains start!


Ave Maris Stella

And so it's down to this:
from my mother I'd wanted
a sense of place in the world –
but this she couldn't give me,
never finding her own.

Now she's dead, I see
how what she gave me was
a 'bridged uncertainty',
an inchoate knowledge of
that complex emptiness

where arrival is departure,
(quantum meta-physics!)
the world of paradox
where, learning to be empty,
we discover fullness.

I cannot say how far
my mother finally got
along the swaying rope bridge
linking earth and sky
above the foaming rapids.

In one sense she was always
there – for even as her
frail and weary flesh
wavered each step across
the terrifying void

her soul shone, beckoning.
My mother's gift and challenge:
the journey I must complete,
that inner mystical union,
the arrival at my birth.

And so she's with me now.
Never an earthly guide,
yet now the stella polaris
which she sought herself
and so at last becomes.


The cord snaps

We stood around the bed,
some listening,
some full of thought.
Another entered.
Greetings filled the space.

Procedures were uppermost
in people’s minds,
or at least that was
what was spoken.
I wanted to honour the moment

of a passing;
but all I could hear
was the sound of ties
snapping, the clicks
of an era ending.

It was as if
the fruit that had fallen to earth
now broke apart
allowing the seeds to find
their fate alone.


The gift in death

The gift in death
is one of ultimate clarity.
All that obsesses us
in our humdrum lives abruptly
and permanently
reduced to extreme simplicity.

We are here, now,
alive, forever united in death –
that crystaline moment
when flesh & spirit separate:
each discrete path
released from its earthly mold.

The physical, visible:
the meta-physical seen only by
the inner eye.
The path that was trodden in life at last
made manifest:
earth-bound or sky-borne in destination.

A time of uniquely
valuable focus, an aquifer
feeding our well-spring,
tears arising from long-dry ducts,
burning to light
deep-buried truth of hopes and fears.

the bleakness is honouring the dead –
each special feeling
bringing us contact with our own truth.
Every heartbeat
proof that the dead are always with us –

birth & death
just marks on an eternal cycle,
weaving together
the seen & unseen worlds, each as
close to other
as blood to its surrounding tissue.


My mother waits in the great ante-chamber

When I kissed my mother for the last time, she was no longer there.
Her hands still waved, as if seeking to drink,
but her mind had already passed over the great river
and was safe on the other side, beyond the power of hurt.

As she has lain, falling slowly towards death, this year
I have found in her the mother I could not find in life.
All that jammed our mutual radar fell away,
and I could experience the love she always meant, but which,
somehow, got so jangled in transmission.

Towards the end we met on equal terms, she
no longer feeling that ancient need to stand her ground,
her insecurities always on display around me;
and I no longer needing to attack, for now she was beyond
anywhere where I could, at last, have made her hear me.

So, finally, we were together.
Just … together, nothing more.
She told me what she wanted at her funeral – had saved,
not pills, but a stash of service-sheets against her end.
And so, finally, I knew her – as she had always known me. Two angels
unable to recognise each other throu their mortal clothing.

In fact my mother was admitted to the sky a couple of hours more or less as I was writing this.

Quaker Meeting

Here in this space I am made welcome.
There is something which allows me
to enter within some greater mind.

It is here that I first learnt –
to detach my consciousness
and trust others to anchor my soul –

to see the ego’s identity
merely as gatekeeper, aggrandising
its role by masking my inner being.

There is something unique about
this goal-less space, where all contribute
yet which no one person leads.

It is a constant affirmation:
that there exists within the human
spirit a profound capacity

for wholeness: that where there is
goodwill there is spontaneous healing
for all the griefs of humankind –

a world made new and green as spring,
suddenly perfect, like virgin snow,
where all is soft & trembling with love.

This is the route to the maze’s heart,
the secret path that avoids dead ends
synchronising death and birth.

It is an everyday miracle,
an always-to-be-discovered oasis
that cannot be made yet which always is.


Intunity, or 'what makes the heart sing' (?)

Like many artists, I am searching for a universal language, a form of expression which may be instinctively perceived by people from a differing cultural background. My consciousness (the author of these words) is engaged as a translator in negotiating meanings between two clients: my inner reality & the outer (poly-cultural) world we all now inhabit. All art is simply the result of how each individual negotiates this maze.

Part of the issue for me, as for anyone, is first to define myself to myself. Few of us are as sure-footed as Mozart! Ive tried many different styles of clothing, both sartorial & musical, but none has exactly met my inner ideal; tho people have responding by finding some more in tune with the image they have of me than others. For me, the synthesis I achieved in Sonnets to Orpheus expressed everything I wanted, but the result apparently spoke to noonelse(!)

As a classical musician, literacy gives access to all the emotional worlds encoded within the historical record of the last 500 years' music. For instance, I adore the heart-felt simplicity of William Byrd. Each musical epoch has a special quality which encodes the 3-dimensional emotional reality of those who actually lived the music. I enjoy equally: entering the claustrophobic paranoia of Shostakovich: the unihibited joie de vivre of Little Richard: the libertas in carcieri (freedom within restraint) of Bach.

Yet now, for the first time in history, all options are open in our polyvalent polycultural world. Yet there is not total freedom, in the sense that the music has to be paid for in one currency or another, and that currency is provided by listener/s. In essence this proposition isn't different from magic or stand-up comedy - both mean little without an audience. They are a unique concordat between actor & engaged observer/s, wherein it is the 'plausibility' of the actor's vibration that initiates the process.

All of us imagine that communication from heart to heart is incredibly simple. And it is when those hearts are attuned. But anyone has only to think of hir own sexual history to be reminded that success is merely the tip of a fairly large iceberg! Evn tho it's magic when it works.

So what attunes hearts? There are many levels at which communication can occur, from the superficial style-tribes of the emerging personalities to the quiet certainties of the resolved heart. And in between, the cash-rich desert of morally-torpid consumerism. Each attracts a different 'elective affinity' based on the consonance or consanguinity of any given actor's heart vibration. This accords with the saying "beware of what you wish for in youth, for in middle age you may well achieve it."

This energy is, if you like, a god energy. In polytheistic cultures you align yourself with a god who expresses /symbolises the energy you desire. Now we are aware that this power is a heart power latent in each of us, and it therefore matters tremendously (tremendsouly!) that we honour this power by 'offering it back' to the dynamic life-force which defines our life trajectory. (See para Each birth is the firing of an arrow) By so doing we align ourselves with our authentic, un-consciously-knowable soul purpose in incarnating. The problem we face today is that the word God has been completely devalued by unmindful usage. The volcanic reality the first Jews were so terrified of conjuring that they refused to utter the name by which they cognised it, JHVH - I AM, has degenerated into a plaster figurine. No wonder people don't put faith in anything like that which they see, quite accurately, as a projection.

However, the reality that concept embodies, defines all that gives us humans our greatest life-force. I therefore think it more useful to discuss the idea of a 'heart matrix' since everyone knows they have a heart, even if they don't think they have a soul, a god, or a life-purpose! The image I have of the heart-matrix is of a bank of heart-buttons which illuminate when pressed signalling the gamut of software connections within our consciousness. Different buttons /lights all wired to different aspects of our psyche: some to positive (wanted) emotions, some to unconscious shadow-realities arousing negative emotions, some to ambition & the outward journey, some to otherness & the inner journey, some to biological needs, some to in/security.

Thus what we respond to in others is their capacity to press our buttons, for better or worse. There seems to be a mechanism in life like 'Indian' Poker (a variant where 4 cards are dealt in common on the table while the 5th card is held by each player in front of hir head, so that everyone knows what everyonelse's card is but not their own!) where we see all the more clearly in others what we fail to see in ourselves!

My observation of life suggests that the more of other people's positive buttons we press the fuller the life we enjoy; perhaps because the heart mechanism makes it hard to reach our own(?) - thus like herd animals we have to stimulate reciprocal behaviour in others to get what we in fact want ourselves. In other words, the most fulfilled people are those with the largest social networks.

So it doesn't take a vast leap of imagination to see that those who are ablest at pressing other people's buttons are likely to be the most illuminated themselves. And what else is intunity but the multivalent synchrony of hearts?

What feedback does that then give me about the music I should write? Well, I've recently been spending a lot of time organising Nadder Music Café – & for me the payoff that justifies all the hassle is to see a crowd of happy faces. I think the role of musician & magician are essentially synonymous – & therefore in order to 'do' magic you have to find out what (musical) buttons connect other people's shining heart-lights in exactly the same way that you have to find which keys to press as a pianist to generate the music which is the vehicle for that magic.



When the earth turns you don't notice it. It is always turning, yet the movement is only visible by its effect/s. For me, two days ago a similar revolution occurred.
. My parents divorced some 33 years ago, having been separated for around 12 years. This was preceded by 5 years of increasing friction and acrimony. At the time of their separation my father Charles claimed they had not made love since the birth of my younger sister in 1953. They have remained on superficially friendly terms. My mother Elizabeth never ceased to love Charles & never had a relationship with anyonelse. My father had a number of relationships & eventually married again. It was his second wife Trudy who brought him, as Charles would have been unable to travel by himself.
. Both are now 87 and in increasingly frail health. Knowing that my mother is dying, my father decided he must come from the Isle of Man to pay her one last visit earlier this week, despite the fact that he had previously announced his intention not to fly again as his legs are not good. Elizabeth is not always clear of mind these days, but she knew who he was & was delighted to see him. Their simple act of being alone together, all passion spent, was a reconciliation that effected a very profound healing on the 4 of us present, including my wife Clancy. The significant part for me was that I could embrace my father on equal ground. For the first time in my conscious memory he let go of his emotional armour & we all cried as he held onto Elizabeth's hand and we hugged each other, genuinely, & for the very first time.
. It felt very profound, but its deeper significance has only really become apparent to me in the days since. To my surprise I have found myself thinking peaceably of certain authority figures who have hitherto always bugged me. Thus, I can measure the true affect not by my subjective feelings but observing how much my world has turned around, by such a simple act.


To find the point of death is finding the centre of life

I spend a fair amount of time these days mother-sitting. You don't really notice old age until you suddenly realise: you're next!
My mother has been in & out of hospital for a year. Without modern medicine she probably wouldntve survived into this century. (Indeed she wouldntve survived her first brush with cancer 40 years ago.) But I don't know how much kinder the modern way is? The hospital she's spent most time in is collectively so unaware of the first principles of healing that it really is a travesty of language to describe it by that name: it is a place where materialistic medicine is an industrialised set of technical procedures practised by faceless relays of people employed because they possess a paper qualification – for which empathy with patients is evidently not a criterion.

What I've been struck by is the complete loss of any sense that the process of healing requires the reciprocal response from the patient. Medicine, like entertainment, is something that is done by experts to passive consumers. In the days before science decided it knew everything (or rather, that everything it doesn't know doesn't matter) the person seeking healing needed to go on a journey – maybe a physical one to find a healer, maybe a spiritual one to find an inner place of healing. At all events, it seems a very much healthier approach to illness to demand an engaged consciousness, for without the will to decode & transcend the experience what is physical healing actually for?
"Oh I had an illness but I got over it." "Did it change your life?" "No I was determined it wasn't going to." How often do you hear that said? The entire life lesson in the experience has been missed. If the journey into health isn't synonymous with a journey into wholeness what is gained? Will the individual be any more reconciled to their end-point? Will they have completed /uttered their true sentence before the final full stop?

I read recently that there is now a theory that the dolmens of Stonehenge were transported thither from the Pengelly mountains because the latter is a place of springs & geo-logy/-mancy that had a long association with healing among the Goidelic peoples. Thus the purpose behind the epic undertaking of transporting them to the rising cultural capital of Stonehenge was to make it a healing centre in addition to everything else.
But then it would would never have occurred to neolithic tribes that healing was an individualistic function, they would have seen it as part & parcel of collective unity / wholeness. Whatever took place at Stonhenge probably combined ideas we parcel out to Lourdes, Wembley, Westminster, Glastonbury, Findhorn, old Covent Garden & the Hammersmith Palais - with a bit of Minos, Pamplona & Tenochtitlan thrown in for good measure. (Ritual sacrifice that is.)
I had the extraordinary experience recently, driving home from Mother-sitting, of coming along the A303 in the gathering dusk listening to Gergiev's blistering performance of Le Sacre at the end of BBCr3's Tchaik/Strav week. And with absolute synchronicity the tremendous crashing sacrifice was reaching its climax as I drove up the hill from which the stones are first seen, leaving the ghostly final movement drifting in te ether as passed by this age-honoured point of connection with the inner world. (BTW This performance is available on iTunes. It is more completely intune (/aesthetically aligned) with the music than any I've ever heard.)

Is it any wonder, with all these functions spun off into specialist arenas perceived as having little or no interaction, that half the neurotic illnesses today seem to centre on an inability to experience wholeness - or, to centre on an inability to find a centre? Certainly there is a prevalent view (held, I suspect, by my brother the doctor) that there's very little a patient does that affects the progress or outcome of a condition in comparison with the application of scientific treatment.

It seems to me that feelings of belongingness & healing & psychic unity & purpose which we cherish with/in those rare moments of experiential magic speak to us of the clarity of focus which was once our birthright with/in the collective relationship of a tribe. I'm not talking of the anthropologically-discounted Noble Savage myth - yet I certainly have experienced something of it within that strange tribal assembly which is the Big Green Gathering, an 'elective affinity' wherein irritation & affection are as inextricably intermingled as in a birth family but across an infinitely wider social spectrum.

We compose /write /organise for no other purpose (maybe?) than to clarify our own minds, to express what is in them – in the hope that by discharged our obligations we can achieve some equilibrium, & thus gain an unobstructed view inward throu the divine lens in our heart to the infinite goodness & interrelatedness of all created matter.
Each birth is the firing of an arrow. Its natural energy sends that arrow as high into the sky as nature & nurture allow. As it soars into the air its shadow is invisible on the ground. But after reaching its zenith the arrow turns back towards the earth. And as it nears the ground its shadow becomes ever more clearly visible.
That arrow is the physical manifestation of a person's soul. The mind /consciousness is the observer. In early life the process is not usually clear because even if anyone looks in the sky for the arrow they are generally dazzled by the sun. Only later in the day, when the angles are easier to spot & the shadows larger, does the bigger picture become clear. Even then, many people do not see that to complete the process, to fulfil the arc of life, demands that we become present at our own death.
If the ultimate purpose of life is to find union with 'all that is' & by this alignment to transcend metaphysical gravity (the time & space in which death is a reality) then it seems to me - a day after yet another massacre in that most unbalanced of countries, the USA – the only way is by integrating the shadow - by assimilating within ourselves the duality holding us back from our true purpose in life. This involves engagement with all that is distasteful about ourselves.
It may involve some kind of wilderness experience, & that is why the disorientation following a job loss, a breakup or bereavement can be a blessing in disguise. Only by embracing all that is unlovable can we truly discover love, and only in uncovering the endless spring of love that we can discern what lies in the shadow's penumbra.
Thus we learn to pick our way throu the deceptive attractions which the shadow offers (& which so entertained us earlier on the journey) & come to the heart of life, the point where the arrow, striking the turf, opens to us the infinity that lies within material existence.

I pulled these thoughts together (if indeed they can be said to be together) perhaps as a result of an alchemical dream last night, whose full extent I don't recall, but they left me feeling utterly blissed, & calm enough to decode a lot things that usually slip throu my mind like mercury. I've recently had a sequence of very (self-)impressive dreams, which seem to have arisen as a result of the energy raised within me by playing by heart for the first time in my 60 yearold life.
Finding unity within oneself is a necessary precursor to plant it as a seed on the earth. We cannot bring peace, we can only be it. The gift in death /dying is that it boils everything down to a few simple things, reminding us that how we choose to leave life is probably the single most important thing we have to do. And we all have to do it. So where is it in today's televsion schedules?
It is the small persnal steps we take that matter in this process, not the big public events. Great art links these two: it is the abracadabra that unfolds the mystery for a moment or two, the aufklärung that displays the landscape of existence. Death, or its aproach, is the very public performance of a very private ritual. Playing it by ear will not do, it demands nothing less than playing by heart. Our tribal ancestors once had a grasp on this crucial aspect of life. What is left of that now?

In love


Easter Sunday

My wife Clancy suggested the words Easter/Eostre & Oestrus/Oestrogen might be linked by reference to eggs. I looked them up & found they're from quite different sources, neither of which refers to eggs.
> Easter derives from a pagan spring festival named after a goddess whose name, rather opaquely, is simply cognate with east. Maybe there is a symbolism of dawn /spring /new life rising in the east that also links the tradition of Christian churches facing east?
> Oestru-s/-m derives from the graeco-latin word indicating a sting or frenzy. It was apparently first employed 300 years ago to denote female sexual receptivity & the rutting season (sic!).

> But that was not why I sat down to right this. We were talking about a range of subjects, including the fact that Arts Budgets are being cut by a third to fund the 2012 Olympics; & Clancy remarked that it was remarkable how Blair seemed unable to see beyond his obsessions. (Tho why should we expect him not to be human?) It came to me that the power of projection in someone who suffers from delusions, ie someone who has not clarified their karma & thus achieved any significant integration, is naturally bound to contain a tremendous shadow effect - because it represents the unacknowledged elements in the projector's psyche. For someone with the psychic potency of leadership, integration or the inward process is literally the very last thing on their mind since they spend all their lives juggling with the concrete manifestations of other leaders' & nations' psyches. Thus they are deprived from much chance to cultivate inwardness & so will inevitably project both the positive & negative affects of their unacknowledged subconscious.


Depression created by compression

> It came to me in meditation today that we humans experience Life in a way analogous to the way audio processing works. The system is set up to transmit the signal /content /lifeforce at full bandwidth. but the mind works like a volume control (in old language a potentiometer) to restrict /repress the transmission to a level it (the mind) can handle - as a result of natural or nurtural programming. hence depression.
> Not until we've experienced the full amplitude of the reciprocal nature of the not-I ('that of God') present within each of us throu grace entering our lives, be it by meditation /awakening /spiritual practice /love or as a free gift, can we really begin to understand how the social mechanisms of education & the limited language of public discourse act like audio compressors bashing our natural signal down to a predetermined level.
> The answer to depression is de-compression. Allowing the natural signal to emerge. Of course that feels extremely unsafe to the depressed person, because they've been programmed to believe there are all sorts of limits that they'll inevitably overstep, causing distortion – & it's correspondingly hard for such a person to accept that after the initial splurge of their repressed /compressed signal things settle down natural to a reasonably balanced flow.


Playing By Heart

> This weekend I'm playing an entire ragtime program by heart, something I've never done before - & it has been the most profound inner journey, in which I've had to encounter all my self-loathing WRT performance [around the cognitive dissonance between how well I think I play & how well I actually do play] as well as my hitherto-unresolved complex of emotions connected with musical language & the/its consequent cultural assumptions.
> And then there's the process of programming the physical memory without literacy, which has been surprisingly easy in general but also extraordinarily difficult around the 'corners' or junction moments. In the long run this has been a very joyous form of self-embrace.
> I feel that by facing my fears (the nightmare of forgetting onstage) & not losing my grip on this very intimate engagement with my inadequacies some profound resolution is taking place where I can allow myself to be within the music even tho, or perhaps because, ragtime is not the obvious choice for a spiritual encounter(!)
> And within all of this I came to realise this morning -with 2 days to go- that by not relying on the music 'as a cheat' I am in some profound way engaging with my life-purpose. And having the courage to overcome my youthful propensity to cheat on Life itself because Life itself seemed out to get me, to do me down, to barricade the avenues down which I'd planned that my life would progress.


A Letter to parents of my pupils

Colourful ideas
> Some will already know that I resigned from the Junior Royal College of Music in 1991 because I felt the whole structure of conservatoire pedagogy was like an awful medieval inquisitorial system designed to stretch children on a rack of musical abstraction. A lot of well-meaning colleags could see that it was not a particularly effective way of teaching but it was politically impregnable since nobody could fault the underlying theology – or dared to try lest they themselves be thought 'unsound'.
> I made myself unpopular by arguing in favour of a more child-centred development pattern – because the smart money is in the highly pressured music-industry-driven approach demands 'winners' at ever earlier ages, & colleges know they have to produce their share to secure their prestige.
> During the 10 years I've taught in Tisbury my principal aim has been to develop an approach that enables musical children to progress, whilst retaining /growing their love of music. Blindingly obvious as such an objective might seem, my observation is that exam-based music learning does not tend to produce those results. Certainly judging by the disaffect individuals to make it to & throu colleges.
> Whilst fully aware of the standards undergraduate music demands, I believe they can be approached differently. But it takes several decades to produce a sufficient body of pupils to demonstrate convincingly that an alernative approach has coherence & validity. The weight of professional skepticism is oppressive - even to 'a natural-born contrarian'. Thus I am tremendously grateful to a parent for this feedback:
> ... a very big thank you for the work that you have put in with J to get his head (and fingers) around Joze Bluze. As you know, he played in the Spring Concert, (put on rather obviously for the inspectors) and he really did everybody proud, not only because he managed to keep his rhythm but also because it was so different from the tedious graded pieces that the other children played -it really did stand out that he is not taught at school and there were many enquiries as to whom his teacher was- perhaps it is time that your Colourmuse scheme be introduced to schools. I certainly know many parents at [school] who simply want their children to enjoy making music, as opposed to making the grade with the Associated Bored of Music!

Contact Time
> In essence, the whole process of piano learning/teaching is the art of creating a virtuous circle. Pupils need to feel enthused in order to practice – they want to practice if/when they can feel themselves making progress – they will make progress if they can be shown how to practise. All 3 parts are as-it-were simultaneously chickens & eggs ... it’s impossible to say which comes first, & a teacher has to be opportunistic about nudging the components into alignment whenever possible. The lesson time is the only opportunity, and if this is rushed it doesn’t allow the child to begin to feel ownership of the process, & this is a necessary precursor to enthusiasm.
> 5 years ago I was introduced to the idea of offering two lessons a week by a colleag –a real antediluvian dragon who lurks at Wells!– She said she would only take beginners if they agreed to come twice a week. Fearing parents would merely think I was trying to pick their pockets I offered this idea tentatively & was pleasantly surprised when a couple of families enthusiastically adopted the idea.
> If I say that progress in the early years of musical learning is defined by tutor contact time I don't mean to flatter myself. It is simply that where a relationship of trust exists pupils will accept being floated over difficulties by a tutor where, left to themselves, they might flounder & sink. Apart from the obvious benefit of never getting stuck for more than 3 days -as opposed to 6 days- the value of a twice-weekly lesson is that an increased 'musical fitness' leads to a significant increase in enthusiasm and thus promotes the virtuous circle, which ultimately leads to self-motivated musicianship.
> This is not a prelude to a commercial, I haven't any more slots at present! No, it's a reflexion on a situation where someone who had had twice weekly lessons for a couple of years has had to slip back to once weekly for school reasons. Parent, child & myself have all noticed that music has suddenly got 'harder' & small discouragements more mountainous. To my mind this unfortunate experience vindicates the two lesson concept.
> Following on, I should say that I'm always mindful that parents are making a substantial monetary & emotional investment in piano lessons, and have a right to expect some return. In my role as devil's advocate I have argued in professional circles that 'qualifications' should not be awarded to teachers for at least 15 years, because their competence can only really be assessed by the number of people still playing 5 years after they stop lessons. Unsurprisingly such a view was as welcome as a fart in a tightly packed room.

Nadder Music Café
> Moving quickly along I need to tell you how wonderful the Nadder Music Café has been. Last saturday night there was a performance of such grandeur by a 21 year old cellist that one of the audience said to me: 'to hear this in Tisbury – I just can't believe it!' ... & I should say that the mood of the evening was brilliantly established by Johnny Murphy. Clips of this will eventually be viewable at Vision-news.tv where there are clips of the previous concerts.
> The point I sought to make to parents & pupils when announcing the concerts is that musical imagination is only really developed by personal encounters with live music. If you want your kids weaned off trashy television & playstations then open their horizons by putting them in direct emotional contact with that strange psychic alchemy that occurs at live events. Recorded entertainment can never replicate this.
> We even made the concerts free to children – but so far only one child (& none of my pupils) has attended. And I'm not saying this to make anyone feel guilty or because we want more audience. We were bursting at the seams last Saturday & as we know the next one will be fuller we’re having to devise a new seating plan. And we are also extremely grateful to those parents who have come themselves, no doubt glad of a night out unencumbered!
> The glory (& horror) of concert-giving is that noone can predict when magic will strike. We've had 3 where it really has -& that's why people have been returning– so they were 3 occasions when little musical ears could have been pricked up. It's really important for kids to begin to make some connection between what they do at a keyboard & a wider musical environment – that begins to make them aware that is more than just another task like schoolwork.
> I would like to see the formation of an 'intelligent' musical culture in Tisbury, by that I don't mean a backward-looking one, or one that appeals only to one sector of society, or one designed to attract an audience that already 'knows what it likes' – I mean one where people come to listen. Hence the strategy of basing it around a meal, which takes some of the pressure off the music itself, and therefore gives the musicians both greater head-space & elbow-room within which to weave their magic collaboratively: as opposed to the 'confrontational' pressure of a concert situation which seeks to differentiate performers & audience.

Music & life
> I just don't think life is about targets & statistical achievement. More than that I think they're a crap way of educating human beings to perceive their function cooperators in social enterprises of mutual value. (The ultimate one being the survival of life forms on the planet.) The question then is, how can anyone change anything?
> The late avantgarde composer John Cage (who 'wrote' the notorious 3'44" work of silence) published a diary which he called How to improve the World (You will only make Matters worse). Despite that prudent advice I think one can, in a very small & local way, set about promoting virtuous circles calculated to encourage the necessary but difficult balance between excelling and cooperating, where personal excellence (eg, piano) is not seen as competitive or divisive but is encouraged within a holistic social context (eg, concert).
> All my life I've worked with the same vision that led the septuagenarian jazzer (now, Sir) John Dankworth to create Wavendon All-Music 30+ years ago. Why not Tisbury All-Music? Change always comes from the margins (& it doesn't get more marginal than Wavendon or Tisbury!) - the centre can never change, it is the property of the status quo. Inevitably.
> I did not discover how to change myself or anything else until I followed my disenchantment all the way throu its own labyrinth to the middle of nowhere (Tisbury). And since utopia means nowhere, what better place to be utopian?


Going too fast for love?

"You can have speed (excitement) – or you can have love. You can't have both, tho it's easy to mistake one for the other, since love produces an energy which speed merely mimics. Love is being present & allowing your presents to present themselves in their natural form – speed is to do with the race to become, 'career', the pressure to shape things into a predetermined pattern.
"There are two worlds here. The outward journey, the prodigal son's adventure of differentiation, the process that drives someone to the farthest point away from the self, so that by charting their extremities their centre at last becomes clear. The return journey involves the reconciliation of all one has needed to distinguish oneself from in order to achieve clarity.
"Like the firing of an arrow or the throwing of a javelin, the initial phase outward /upward involves the projection of energy & will; but as the projectile reaches its zenith it turns back towards the earth, and in the return the priorities are reversed. You are no longer the doer, the driver, gravity is; and everything that hindered the first part of the arc accelerates the second. Obstacles become friends: friends become obstacles.
"This paradox means that as you return to the earth the essential nature of the inner or return journey is hidden from those blasting off on their life path – but love can imprint markers to guide those who come after, which they will recognise in time & be grateful for."


Fire starters wanted

"Each person on the planet has the capacity to contribute their pin-prick of light. Yet glow as they will no individual is visible from space. However if you spread the light by setting others ablaze & by combining to make common cause – then light clusters can be created that are truly visible in the heavens."



"At each & every moment of your life there is a message both to you & throu you.
The latter you may never see, just as you may never know whom you have really helped, but the former you need to decode to stay in the game. If you get too goal-oriented you'll never see the real point of any stress that arises – namely to help you grow into a perception that you, soul-you, is quite separate from the pressures which ego-you, the body-mind complex, may be enduring.

Where can enjoyment be in being gript by the jaws of disaster?
"Once you can see stressful situations, even potentially fatal ones, as simply a test then you're on your way to discovering the indwelling joy which is the fruit of the spirit, and birthright of every true child of god – the peace that passes all understanding. Literally so, because, rationally, it is inexplicable.
"If you have truly made a relationship with your inner otherness, then the vexations /dangers /losses /disasters /sicknesses that afflict everyone to one degree or other become grist to the mill, not distractions. Just as you can use boring repetitive actions for reciting affirmations, so everything that is a stumbling block for those on the outward journey can be an accelerator for those on the inward journey.
"Enjoyment becomes injoyment. Encouragement becomes incouragemeant. Energy becomes innergy. Entertainment becomes innerattainment. The choice is always yours."



I AM the being I AM:
I allow the process of transformation.