The Reducing Valve

In 1954, Aldous Huxley wrote an autobiographical piece entitled The Doors of Perception, which was (and still is of course) a memoir into the human experience whilst under the influence of psychedelics, in his case mescalin.

It was during this four-hour journey, that he experienced both minor aesthetic distortions to the dimensions of our consensual reality and major sacramental revelations thereof.

As my one of my older posts revealed (Instrumental Communication), our main senses of sight and sound are mapped to frequencies on the electro magnetic spectrum. Within certain ranges, we can see things with our eyes (shapes, forms, colours) and hear things emitted at certain frequencies.

In essence, anything beyond the boundaries of these two critical senses may well be there (for example the sonar capabilities of bats), but the limitations of our biological design restrict what we perceive.

In his book, Huxley introduced his readers to the concept of the reducing valve, a premise that there is a certain brain function that blocks out information in order for the mind to create an external reality and one that allows us to navigate the physical realm as we know it, safely. For if it was not in place, then we would have complete sensory overload, and we would not be able to function properly.

Under the influence of psychedelics, however, it appears on face value that the manipulation of the reducing value allows us to perceive things very differently, perhaps extending the range of the electro magnetic spectrum to see things in a much greater level of detail.

Using mescalin, Huxley saw mundane objects in a totally different way, from chair legs, to the creases in his checked trousers to the inner light/energy flow generated from three flowers in a vase. Imagine if you will a world where you could see not only the flower, but see the life force that flowed through it, what he was seeing was the source of everything, the divine, energy in its purest form and the interconnectivity of everything in the cosmos.

I have waxed lyrical over the year on this blog, but once again the relevance and importance of The Matrix comes up again. Whilst one could concede that only the first movie in the franchise is worth watching, there are snippets from some of the other films that give evidence to the case.

Films are very much like books, poems, song lyrics, art and life itself. We all have a subjective experience of reality, so what a film means to me could radically differ to you, for example, and that is the beauty and the beast right there.

There are many references (I believe) to Huxley’s 1954 missive across The Matrix, one of the opening lines (“Mescalin, the only way to fly”), the many “Doors on the Wall” which lead to a completely different part of reality and of course the end scene in the third movie where Neo who no longer has eyes to see, sees reality for what it is, pure energy.

For Huxley, his internal reality was somewhat of a disappointment, with eyes closed he didn’t fly through the Milky Way on the back of a dragon or astral travel to Carcosa to meet with the King In Yellow, he only witnessed minor distortions to colours and shapes.

I struggle myself with visualisations, much in the same way Huxley did (except for my “trip” to Light Eye Mind in London, whose light salon now sadly extinguished). I can read a poem, a novel, a lyric yet cannot seem to daydream myself a visual representation of what the piece means to me. I wish I could close my eyes and transport myself to the realms of Wordsworth or Rael just to “see” what it is like to “wander lonely as a cloud”. When I have been on mystical retreats over the years (a lot of them), what I experience at times is pure energy, regressions in thought only, but with a blank screen of closed eyelids.

There are occasions (for some) that the reducing valve opens without the use of psychedelics or mystical practices, sometimes the brilliance of nature shines through, very well described in the passage below (from Huxley’s follow up essay Heaven and Hell):

Huxley’s external reality (what we term consensual reality) changed dramatically on mescalin, both living and non-living objects changed, more radiant and energetic than before, more vivid and significant, confirming what Bill Hick’s would later cite, in that “all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather”. OK, maybe not the last bit.

Whilst still under the influence, space and time and everything in it no longer held any real significance for Huxley, any interest in materialism was replaced by the wanting for being in the moment (a perpetual present that exists outside of time as we know it), and the search for meaning in everything.

Simply put, during those four hours he could perceive, and was part of, the very fabric of the universe, the ether that binds and penetrates all things, and it is this very concept that gave him the notion of connectivity with the divine beauty, so far away from the chaos and entropic state of the material world we live in.

And perhaps that is what the reducing valve is, it is a brain function which blocks out the divine so that it is not overloaded with information, information it could not process without errors occurring.

Huxley also found that material world didn’t hold too much of his attention whilst under the influence, it was the inner workings of the mystical world that consumed his attention.

The Tale of Two Amazons…

  • Amazon (Jeff Bezos): Jeff Bezos, chief capitalist and head of the 1%ers. Jeff in all likelihood cares not a jot for spirituality and the inner workings of cosmos (even though he wants to explore more of it using an extension of his penis), Jeff only cares about materialism, the self and the power and the glory he can acquire to the misery of others. For Jeff, the reducing value is permanently set to off, he only exists in the physical realm and is driven by the needs of the self and the ego.
  • Amazon (Asháninka Tribe): Take the mystics and shamans of Peru. They, in all likelihood, care not too much for the physical realm (or when they do, it is in complete symbiosis with it), they care for the community and the inner workings of the cosmos. For them, the reality valve is set to on (especially so when using psychedelics for healing, cleansing and channelling), they see things how they really are and are not driven by the needs of the self and the ego.

So, just where did humanity go wrong? One could argue that it was the dawn of the agricultural revolution when the concepts of power, greed, control, religion and warfare first took hold. One could also argue that it is only through the inauguration of language and concepts that power, greed, control, religion and warfare took hold (and we could look to blame the likes of Plato and Socrates for introspection – as before that, modern consciousness as we know it did not exist, and was that spark from the ergot cups found recently from ancient times, ergot being the source material for LSD). Things were much simpler in the good old days…

I guess if there is a point to this post, it is this. The more we open the reducing valve and experience the cosmos for what it is, by letting in realms currently closed in, the less likely it would be that we threaten our own existence on this planet.

We do not have to take psychedelics to understand the true nature of reality (although no doubt it helps). We just need to understand the root cause of where things are going wrong and get back to nature and tribes, much in the same way the Asháninka tribe of Peru do every single day. So why not experiment and to paraphrase the godfather of LSD Timothy Leary; turn off (the TV), tune in (to inner reality) and drop out (of external reality)…

ADDENDUM: You may be interested in a brand-new series to hit Netflix called “How To Change Your Mind” by Michael Pollan (yes, I’m aware I’m consuming products from capitalist organisation and the hypocrisy therein), which is a four-part miniseries exploring the origins of psychedelics and how their use in clinical environments is helping some to combat mental disorders.

Branch Theory…

Depending on your cosmic-view, there is either one Universe or infinite. The concept of the multiverse is not a new one developed by Stan Lee and those at Marvel Studios, it dates back to 1954 Hugh Everett and his MWI (Many World Interpretation) which postulates that quantum effects constantly cause the Universe to split or branch.

Therefore, every decision we make creates a new universe, so that all possible outcomes are played out, somewhere and somewhen.

If the MWI theory view is correct, then our actions in this Universe, our consensual reality, shapes that of our cosmic doppelgängers in parallel universes, then linking this to the Newtonian thought that every action has a positive and negative reaction, would mean that the inversion of our actions materialise somewhere else.

So the question could be, if we do bad things in this Universe, does that mean good things happen to our counterparts in other universes, and does that effectively mean that there is an evil serial killer version of Mother Theresa?

Clearly we’ll likely never know the answer to that question as our abilities (for the vast majority of us) are confined to three dimensional time and space, but the reason I call this out (very early on a Saturday morning) is that I watched a film twice at the cinema this week, “Everything, Everywhere, All At Once”, which had a profound impact on me (why else would I see I twice in two days).

Whilst I have a rudimentary understanding of scientific concepts, is quite often through the arts that messaging truly resonates with me. A film, a song lyric, a play, a book, a poem, an artwork, all have the ability to poke around inside my head and turn on light bulbs in a way that complicated cosmic or consciousness theory cannot. For me, it’s so important that we keep funding media and arts for the young, failure to do so really would result in a boring and meaningless Universe.

“Everything Everywhere…” could be likened to watching The Matrix on LSD, and director Dan Kwan has said as much.

Without giving too much away for those who have not seen it (yet, a must-see in my opinion), it centres around a character who appears at first glance to be living her worst life possible, a laundromat worker with failed ambitions filing her taxes, totally disconnected from her husband and daughter.

The next two hours is a visual and hilarious journey through time, space and the multiverse, giving insights into the other versions of herself that dwell in parallel universes, one’s that on the face of it are clearly more successful than her. The end scene still makes me tear-up just thinking about it, such a profound message to those who really have been paying attention.

And so to branch theory (if that is a thing). After the second sitting of the movie, I took it upon myself to walk back to my hotel through the magnificent parks of London, and it was during that two hour sun and shirt drenched bimble that I reflected on my own branch theory up until now.

It’s fair to say that we wouldn’t really influence the multiverse (should it exist) at an early age, as most of our decisions are made for us by our elders, whether it be parents, siblings, extended family members or teachers. When choice really kicks in is arguably around puberty where we become the ones that choose what to do, which paths to follow, and for me, that is when we become independent and our actions or inactions are on us (unless we are in very difficult circumstances, being controlled or abused etc).

Clearly most of us have done both good and bad things in our lives, things that we are proud of and things that we regret. Without having the benefit of a time machine to put right the wrongs, I’d argue that we should not, on the basis those inactions and things we should not have done inform who we are today and how we become more worldly and wiser as a consequence, passing these tenets and messages down to our children and comrades, eradicating that type of behaviour or poor decision making.

After cataloguing all of the positives and negatives that have come out of each branch decision that led me up until this morning, I came to the same conclusion that Michelle Yeoh came to in the film, that although nothing is perfect, in this very moment I can safely say that I am happy with the outcome of the first fifty years of my life, and go a step further by saying I’m living life like the best version of me.

Do I have the very best of things, a sports car, a super yacht, a supermodel wife, a rock star status, billions in the bank or a huge schlong, absolutely not (except perhaps for maybe for the last one!).

What I do have is an amazing wife, three incredible children, a small set of great friends and neighbours, a nice house, a modest mode of transport and enough money in the bank not to worry about where my next meal is coming from.

As a result, I can safely say I am happy and that happiness turns into kindness for others, and will do so even more after I retire and can spend more time on community projects.

I would also go on to say that I am truly sorry for anyone that I have hurt or offended in the past, immaturity doesn’t excuse poor choices.

And to all those other “me’s” out there beyond the barriers of my Universe, in the immortal words of Elvis Costello, I send you “peace, love and understanding”…

The Cycle…

Seven years ago, I completed the first draft of my meditation manuscript, entitled “The Power of Se7en”, its central tenet has numerology at the core.

Twenty-Fourteen saw me evolve to the next stage of evolution really, become more aware about what the Universe was and what it wasn’t. What it wasn’t was meaningless, what it was, was becoming clear after forty-two years of human experience.

When one becomes more aware, more awake, synchronicities (or breadcrumbs as I have called them) appear with increasing regularity. It was being more alert that brought about the number seven and its increasing significance and abundance. Seven colours, seven musical notes, seven chakras, seven deadly sins, lucky seven, seven wonders of the world and the Buddhist cycle of seven years, which infers that one goes through seven times seven-year cycles and at the age of forty-nine, we depart our “childhood” phase and mature to the “adult” phase of existence, and with that enter into a period of spiritual growth, focusing on non-material values, gravitating towards the ethereal, the esoteric, the eternal.

With that in mind, I had planned last weekend very carefully, last Friday being my forty-ninth birthday, which, as it turned out, could not have been better.

The most magical place I have ever been to in the UK (probably the world) is Glastonbury, the Isle of Avalon. My friends and I have been going there on and off for the last three decades and over that time, I have connected with the place on a deeper level each time. From campsites to hostels and now AirBnB’s, all have given me a place to rest after tapping in to the towns vibe, a majestic current of consciousness that runs through everything.

And so it was, that the dawn of my forty-ninth year commenced. At four in the morning, slightly tired still from the chaotic travelling the previous day, my eyes opened to commence their second cycle of existence, and with that a dawn jaunt to Glastonbury Tor. My internal GPS system kicked in as I made my way through the dark streets heading north out of the town centre, through the even darker tree-covered lanes which led to the Tor. Thankfully, and as I would have hoped, there was not a cloud in the sky. I bimbled my way over styals and through the greenest of paths until I reached the steps up the concentric and circular hill the Tor sits atop.

The first step gave me another breadcrumb, indicating that my previous two posts of Duhkha and Suhkha were on point, Yin Yang, balance is the key.

I could already see a few people were atop the hill as I ascended, like-minded folks who were also seen the sun rise over the Isle of Avalon, each for their own reasons.

So I took my lotus perch and sat patiently waiting for the sun to rise. The moon was also playing its part, sitting just to the right of the rising sun, in a perfect crescent, plainly clear to all just how it gets its interstellar luminosity.

Then it happened, the first glimpse of the sun as it appeared over the horizon line, the first time I’d ever seen it from this position as most of the time spent at the Tor in years gone by was at night, partying mostly, home in time for bed before our life-giver made an appearance.

Grand Risings…

Clearly all that witnessed this majestic site where in awe of the sheer beauty of the vista before us, and with that a surge of energy hit me hard, energy from the invisible ley lines, that meet at Glastonbury Tor, the Tor acting as one of the major nexus points in the UK.

As the accompanying plant-medicine kicked in, my being became very small in the sheer vastness of time and space, and for the first time in a good while, I felt at one with the Source.

As the sun rose further and the dawn turned into day, I took a few obligatory camera shots, exchanged a few pleasantries with my consciousness comrades and made my way back to town.

When I got back, my wife was waking from her slumber, so we took breakfast and I shared my experience and photos with her. A short while later, we got our things together and headed over to Goddess House, for a treatment I had booked us both into, to celebrate our seventeenth wedding anniversary. What happened during those two hours confirmed just how magical and powerful Glastonbury really is.

We were greeted at the door by our two therapists for the day, who guided us through the many rooms of the old manor house and explained what our treatment consisted of, namely a ninety-minute aromatherapy massage followed by thirty minutes of healing.

The treatment started with a blessing and some words of love and wisdom from the Lady of Avalon, a spirit who still resides over the place and entwines her energy with that of the therapists and on through to the clients. The aromatherapy session was relaxing, and then the hands-on reiki healing took place. I have had reiki many times before, but the surge of energy and warmth was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. Somehow, the energy was going straight to all my “duhkha points” without me having to explain where my grumble zones where, as if guided by invisible hands.

What followed next is difficult, almost impossible, to describe. When we entered the room earlier, we had seen crystal bowls used for sound healing, and neither my wife nor I had ever had a sound treatment before. Even though I have tinnitus, I was keen to give it a go, to see if the frequencies of the singing bowls could give me relief from the constant noise inside my head. Amazingly, the bowls stayed in their position on the other side of the room, but with eyes closed, the therapists played the bowls, at which point the material Universe dissolved (for me at least). There was no body, no thoughts, no time, no space. Just sound, reverberation and pure energy. I was sound, I was energy, and it was good, very good, yet another step closer to the Source.

After the bowls stopped singing (however long that was I couldn’t tell), the therapists then resumed the reiki healing and gave a final blessing from the Lady of Avalon, and it was at this point where all the negative emotion I must have had locked away came out all at once, tears streaming down my face, accompanied by uncontrollable chin-wobbling.

After the treatment finished, I opened my eyes to gaze upon my therapist through waterlogged-peep holes, and there she was, smiling at me, softly saying, that “she is here, she is love, she is healing, she does that”.

Relaxing in a side room after we said goodbye to our goddesses for the day, we sat and drank herbal tea and took red fruits before heading back to town, and when we did, I felt light, so light, due to physical and meta-physical burdens being lifted from me (for a while at least). For the first time in aeons, I felt cleansed, unblocked.

I now start the second cycle of my life, a cycle that will leave behind materialism once and for all, leave behind the broken society and attempt, in my own way, whatever that way becomes once I have acquired the skills, to heal others in the manner I had been healed during what can only be described as a rebirthing ceremony.

Glastonbury, you never fail to disappoint me, I am forever yours, forever connected to you…

Life 1.0…

What is the meaning of life? What happens after we die? Is there an afterlife?

These questions (and many more) continue to remain unanswered and even unasked by the vast majority of the public, even more so given the current state of affairs.

Most people I know are queuing up, begging in some cases to be injected with what is (and will remain, until January 2023) an experimental and synthetic chemical on emergency licence. Whilst I have no view on individuals on whether they take or do not take the vaccine (the decision is entirely theirs to make, I hope), what has come to the fore is the fear of death.

I have looked after myself in more recent years, and as I approach the half century next year, I feel as if I have listened to my mind, body and soul to make the right decisions on my health and well-being of late.

I have already “lived a life’s that’s full” and “regrets I’ve had a few”, but as I near my twilight years, my physical form is in good working order, with an optimal weight / BMI, relatively balanced diet and exercise regime. As a result, I will not be taking the vaccine, on the basis that it is still in the experiment phase and any viral load I take in will not significantly increase my chances of mortality.

I do think that for some, the pandemic is a wake up call to look after themselves more, several conversations I’ve had over recent weeks have highlighted to many that their current condition needs addressing and that if the prediction of future pandemics becomes a reality (perhaps with more deadly strains) then now is the time to act. Of course the talking is easy, the doing is much more difficult, especially after such a long period of isolation mixed with the opportunity for socialising upon us (life opens up again in the UK tomorrow) and the habitual addictions still firmly rooted (sugar, processed foods, alcohol, prescription medicines etc).

One thing has become very apparent however, is the total fear of death from some. Some people I have spoken to our petrified of dying, too afraid to leave their houses still, as if expecting the reaper to be there waiting for them, scythe in hand as they open their front door.

Why is that? Is it because they are too young, because they haven’t done enough yet in life, because they have too many commitments, because of the fear of what comes (or what does not come) next? I suspect it is all of these and more.

As I have shared on this blog over the last decade, my fear of death has diminished to almost zero. Clearly when I do pass, I’d prefer (like everyone else) for it to be pain-free. Also, I’m not done yet, as I want to see my daughter grow up a little more and see her set foot on her own path (much like her two brothers have already done). Anything beyond that really is bonus time, my ikigai remains, and always will remain, my family, and once they are fully independent, my main life’s work is complete.

Bonus time for me is anything beyond fifty five (I do hope there is a lot of it!), which will coincide with the year I leave the corporate world, perhaps sooner. Once that happens, my intent is give back. I realise that I have probably done my fair share of take over the years which has not been counter-balanced by enough give (on the basis that time has been lacking somewhat), but with the distraction of work and bills to pay gone, the thought of what happens next excites me greatly.

I will look for a life polar opposite to what I have today, satisfying the need of my tribe and my community (in whatever form that takes – healing, support, training, wisdom) over the needs of my business and my shareholders.

And when the final day comes, I will embrace it with open arms, as I’m still a firm believer that life is not the opposite of death, death is the opposite of birth, life is eternal…

Days of Futures Past…

Communing with nature. Living off the land. Mind, body and soul cleansing. Community spirit and oneness. Consciousness expansion. Peace and love.

Deep down many of us want the ideals above but are either unable, unwilling or lack the courage to do those things that we know will be better for us and better for the planet.

This week saw my eagerly awaited trip to Lammas Eco-Village in South Wales, an expedition into the uncharted territory of off-grid living., a fact finding mission for our band of neophyte hippies to sequester information from the founders, Mr and Mrs Wimbush, in order for us to gain insights into their ten year journey from a barren greenfield plot of land, to a fully functional and self-sufficient settlement.

As a guy who has worked in and around IT projects for most of his life, I bring to the table my decades of structure, organisation and planning, so I took the responsibility to plan out our trip in advance, including timelines, itineraries and a large set of questions, the output of which would give us enough answers and direction to kick-start the build of our eco-retreat project in North Wales.

This is a work project not one of pleasure (although no doubt the journey and end result will no doubt be a joyous thing), and as such the trip was “allowed” under the strict “essential travel only” guidelines. Even still, I had a bad feeling before setting off that at some point over the four hour journey south, our collars would be felt at least once by the boys in blue, and in preparation for that eventuality I printed off all materials (Covid travel guidelines, agenda, emails etc) as a form of proof to plod that our trip was legitimate. As it turned out, the trip was “copper-free” and we arrived safely at Lammas, collars unfelt.

As we drove into the village, the first thing that struck us was the size. Each of the plots sized between six and seven acres and there were plenty of them (totalling seventy seven acres in all).

Our destination for the day however was Maes Melangell, the home of both the Wimbush family (pioneers of Lammas) and a newly-constructed and yet-to-be completed Lammas Earth Centre.

I had done some research on Lammas over the previous nights (reading the One Planet Life book as well as watching several YouTube videos) to provide at least some background knowledge on what the set up was like and what their journey had been like thus far.

But like a great many things in life, reading about something is one thing, experiencing it is markedly different, the whole day was testament to that.

We were greeted (after a few wrong turns) on the tracks by Hoppi (aka Mrs Wimbush), who welcomed the group warmly and invited us in to the main house for a socially distanced and hand-sanitised chat, so that we could get to know each other a little and our posse could set out its expectations for the day.

One thing that did strike me on the way in was how impressive their homestead looked, it was clear that the well-built dwelling house, the super-impressive Lammas Earth Centre, the animal barn and all of the cultivation areas had taken years to achieve and a ridiculous amount of dedication and hard graft (both physically and meta-physically).

With a hot cup of Bengal Spice Tea in hand, Hoppi walked us through their ambitious journey so far, all of us playing silent witness and in awe in what they had achieved to date and how they had done it. Their home was warm not only in temperature (from the amazing wood-burner and impressively insulated walls), but in feeling too, clearly the house was also wrapped in the warmth of love, of oneness with each other, with nature and the universe at large.

It became apparent early on that what we saw before us had taken an Herculean effort, not only in planning, designing, developing and constructing, but in terms of pressure and stress too. Here we had a small family (children were six and nine at the time) living in a small touring caravan on an empty landscape, with huge plans for off-grid living in their heads and one hell of a journey in front of them.

We shared our own plans for the eco-treat which were met warmly too, but it was becoming apparent (to me at least) that our embryonic project was very different than what was in front of us in terms of components, requirements and end-state.

The five of us involved thus far all have day commitments that we don’t foresee giving up any time soon, and at this point we don’t envision any of us living at the eco-retreat permanently. So it dawned on us that going down the One Planet Development route for our project was likely to be a dead end and overcomplicated from a planning and local authority permission perspective. Ours would be a different path than the one Lammas has taken, but it would have the same ethos are drive for sustainability.

After a warm exchange, Hoppi then took us on a tour of the site, explaining the exact functions of each building and zone, safe to say that we were all in total awe of what we were viewing.

Many hands make light work…

Their plans were not only realised by their own hands, but by those of volunteers too. Through the use of an entire tribe of volunteers (over seventy in total) they were able to morph their barren landscape into something truly remarkable.

And it’s is the essence of that very approach which has left a spiritual and collective resonance around the place, almost like a mycelium layer of positivity and love, woven into the very fabric of every component on site, borne from the many hands of like-minded individuals.

The beating heart of Maes Melangell…
The Owl Sanctuary…
The composting toilets…
The Solar Kiln…
The Eco-Retreat…
The Eco-Shower…
The Innovative Waterproofing…
The Renewable Energy Supply…
The Earth Centre…
The Interstellar Roof…
The Barn…
The Kids…

After the staggeringly impressive show and tell, we had the opportunity to wander the site on our own, I took the time to fly my drone over the site to get a birds eye view whilst my comrades meandered through various muddy pathways on foot, the site as impressive from the air as on the ground.

Bird’s Eye view of Maes Melangell (Lammas Eco-Village)

We finished our trek as the door to the main house opened and for the first time we met Tao (Mr Wimbush) for the first time. Set and setting are always important and the lunch of Pumpkin and Parsnip Soup with home made bread and goats butter transformed a basic meal to the best lunch of all time, ever.

It came across well on the videos I had seen, but in person, Tao’s calming nature juxtaposed against Hoppi’s effervescence made it a perfect partnership, and I saw the deep, loving and spiritual connection they both had for each other on a couple of occasions. Beautiful.

We shared our vision and hope for the eco-retreat with Tao and based on the components we wanted to develop (very different to Lammas), Tao advised that the One Planet Development wasn’t the best way to go for our venture and he suggested an alternative approach to achieve the desired outcome, to which we all agreed.

I was truly blown away by Tao, to be surrounded by such an amazing feat of construction and sustainable cleverness was one thing, but his calming, warming, nurturing, inspiring and guiding words (and well as long hair and beard), felt to me like I was in the presence of a modern day Jesus (affirmed by “L” on the way back home who thought the same).

As the darkness drew in and thoughts turned to the arduous long journey home in poor driving conditions, with a genuine sadness and gratitude, we bade farewell to our hosts for the day and headed back north to on-grid living, resigned and melancholic in the knowledge that workers boots and corporate laptops would called upon within just a few hours of returning.

Like my Robin Williams blog from a few years ago stated (Life Is Experience Not Knowledge – https://infinitybeckons.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/life-is-experience-not-knowledge) there is nothing quite like experiencing things first hand as opposed to reading them in a book.

We had so many take-aways from our trip to Lammas, hints, tips and nudges in the right direction we simply would not have hot had we not visited. We agreed that when we returned home we would double-down on our efforts to get things moving, albeit in a slightly different direction to our initial plans.

After visiting Lammas, Hoppi and Tao, it’s now very clear to me that one can live in the fruitfully in the future like we lived in the past, it just takes courage to detach oneself from what is, quite frankly, a broken and totally meaningless capitalist society.

That courage is within us all, we just need to do, there is no try…

Ishnaan for the soul…

Since the turn of the year, when able I’ve taken to the sea for meditation and contemplation.

Whilst New Years Day brought several hundred to the beach and a communal spirit of togetherness, today marked a different experience.

As the temperatures in the UK starts to plummet, so have the numbers of “dipper”. I got to the beach at eight this morning to find only a few folks milling around the car park, the sea completely barren of near-zero bathers.

-2c on land, no icebergs present…

Undeterred by the cold -2c read-out displayed on the dashboard, I waded into to the duck-pond calm waters of Liverpool Bay, surrounded only by gentle waves and whistling white noise the sea was making as it ascended and receded on the not-so distant shoreline.

Eyes closed, body cooling, the tiniest of crescent moons focused my morning meditation and shut out everything else in the known universe. Meditation allows for breaks in the chaos, the disorder, the high entropy of the broken system we find ourselves in at present.

Quite soon, there is no cold, only stillness, calmness, nothingness, like a dissolution of the lower self as the higher self takes total control, and blocks out all materialism.

Eventually (fifteen minutes in), the lower self returns and the body reawakens to suggest it’s time to get out before hypothermia kicks in.

A wade back to the shore is greeted by winter-wrapped dog walkers with amusing grins, a nod to the crazy person emerging from the icy cold waters.

Back home, as the rest of the house still slumbers, the wood burner heats the frozen body parts on the outside and the warm poached eggs and coffee does likewise inside.

Toe-Toasting-Tastic!
Spinach, poached eggs, salmon and cracked pepper, breakfast of the Gods!

If only all days could start like this…

Serpents Rising…

There is no doubt that energy is shifting daily like the sands on a windy beach.

Getting back to nature last week and living life temporarily outside the chaos has brought new light on dark times. Ignoring the pandemic, turning off the news and revisiting the positivity of the past has of late rekindled introspection and what gives me inner peace.

Experiencing the sensory and physical aspects of reality – the flora, the fauna, the cloud formations, the rush of the sea at high tides, the setting sun, the rising moon, as well experiencing the mystical and metaphysical aspects of reality too on just what it feels like to part of something so incredible, I find myself at times in awe of such beauty and the associated feelings experienced are rekindling forgotten spiritual connections I have with some people that I have lost touch with over the years, giving me such a huge internal boost in these troublesome times.

It is seven years ago to the very month that I took my reiki training, opening the neural pathways to something quite alien, quite astounding, tapping into hidden energies that had been hitherto out of reach for the materialist I once was (and have been again over the last couple of years).

Once again it was my wife that reminded me of just who I was back in 2013 and how of late bits of my old self had returned. My “being” back then was born out of abject negativity and selfishness, with me operating as it were as a mid-week bachelor and weekend dad (replicating the abhorrent behaviour of my own alcoholic father).

Such was the shame at this realisation that I was becoming him if not already, that drastic action was required else my strong-willed wife and children would be gone, something my mother sadly never had the strength to do.

So an awakening took place, and with it a connection to a hidden and healing energy, a cosmic current taped into for the first time, opening my eyes to the fact that there was more to this reality than the five senses could serve up.

Buddhists and New Age folks say that things go around in seven year cycles, and here we are exactly seven years later and I find myself knocking on the door of my old reiki master “L” who has “upgraded” to kundalini yoga, and has her own practice based out of a majestic place in the heart of the Wirral countryside.

Although I had not seen her for many years, it was clear that time doesn’t exist (does it anyway?) when it comes to a rekindling of spirits. A quick non-non-distancing hug and catch-up revealed that we would pick up exactly where we left off and both agreed that paths we have taken across the years seem to be forever intertwined.

The same for my wife too. She has been struggling too over the last six months as a furloughed complimentary therapist with too much time on her hands, consuming the chaos, facts, lies and conspiracies for most of her waking hours, minutes and seconds each day. She too needed to refocus by joining me on this journey.

I decided after our trip to Devon to remove meat from my diet. The previous seven days had seen us consume half a farm, chickens, pigs and cows were all present on our daily calorie count and a return to the homestead made me feeling bloated and like a badly cooked steak, over-done.

I was a vegetarian for around eighteen months when I took my reiki training and with the new outlook, new friends, new energy and new lifestyle, it was only natural a diet forms part of the new me.

We have all consumed too much during the lockdown, grazing from cookie jars and overdosing on Netflix for too long over the last six months and our portly figures provide the evidence of that, so a dietary change was a must. I’ve also been out every morning running, cycling, kayaking and land-boarding before everyone else opens the curtains, and boy what a difference a week makes.

Tuesday saw our first kundalini yoga session with “L”. I like to understand what I’m getting myself into so spent sometime on Tuesday morning researching what kundalini yoga was all about. I had heard and read some negative and sensational reviews of the kundalini experiencing, ranging from mental instability to whole body orgasms and a lot of other stuff in between. Classifying it as fake news (but having an awareness of it in case I experience such – yes to the orgasms!) we joined the class and took part in what was such a different experience to the Hatha / posture-based yoga I have always undertaken.

Relatively easy positions were counter-posed by vigorous breathing techniques (breath of fire) leaving us both exhausted yet conversed completely invigorated and energised by the end. Everyone in the group was lovely, warm and welcoming, leaving us with the opinion that in some way, we had found our way home.

We spoke fondly of our experience on the drive home through the shadowy country lanes and with energy still racing when we got back home, I went for a run with the old and faithful pooch, giving new life to old legs.

Land-boarding on the promenade and looping the local marina in the morning sun as the open-water swimmers raised the mouths for breaths the next morning reminded me what if felt to be alive, a positive feelings I’d not felt in a long, long time.

If the early part of the week blew us away with positive energy, then what we experienced on Thursday made that look like a mere ripple on the sea compared to the the tsunami which was about to take place. When we have good weather and as we live close to the sea, when the conditions and tides are right, then “L” conducts her kundalini yoga class on the beach, which is accompanied by evening swims and paddling (sea kayaks and stand up paddle boarding).

As we approached, the beach car park (usually only partly occupied) we were surprised by how was rammed it was with vehicles. As we decanted our kayak and paddling gear, we looked up to see over 100 yoga mats laid out facing the sun, a welcoming inward tide and our spiritual instructor for the day in the lotus position waiting to begin. Incredible.

The session was the same as the “kriya” as Tuesday so we both knew what as to come, this time it was easier as we had had the practice, the session was more magical than the previous one, given the setting, the sheer volume of people and the communal and positive energy by all, resonating a common frequency of happiness.

Feeling again totally energised, we spent the next hour kayaking on the open and warm waters of the Mersey Estuary, totally at one with the universe and the like-minded souls we were spending time with.

Without sounding like a stuck record in reference (reverence) to Westworld, the words “Some choose to see the ugliness in the world, the disarray, I choose to see the beauty” never rang so true. If you are in the position to commune with nature and seek out opportunities for serenity, there is no better time than now. I’m mindful that we are not all in that position presently, with my friends and colleagues in India under almost full lockdown so I have to tone down my own personal journey at the moment, so not to fan their flames of despair, but they are in my thoughts and non-religious prayers.

I’m not one for taking good photos, but every now and again I hit jackpot. As my wife was paddling in, I stood waist-deep in the sea as the sun was setting and pressed click, the result of which reminded me of the ethereal Pink Floyd album The Endless River (Sea in this case), which sure seemed to be that way with nothing visible on the horizon, almost suggesting that infinity beckons…

Last Words…

Steve Jobs’ last words. He died a billionaire at 56. He may not have inspired me in life [although I respected his outputs as an admirer of Apple products], but he did in his impending death.

I enjoy the relationships and friendships I have forged at work over everything else. The kudos, recognition, monetary awards, appraisals, promotions and company shares mean literally nothing to me. If I leave my company at some point in the future with a little black book of names, full to the brim peoples names and numbers who have declared an interest to keep in touch with me, I will know that I have succeeded…

“I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes my life is an epitome of success.

However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.

At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.

You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you.

Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost – “Life”.

When a person goes into the operating room, he will realize that there is one book that he has yet to finish reading – “Book of Healthy Life”. Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down.

Treasure love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends…

Treat yourself well. Cherish others.

As we grow older, and hence wiser, we slowly realize that wearing a $300 or $30 watch – they both tell the same time…

Whether we carry a $300 or $30 wallet/handbag – the amount of money inside is the same;

Whether we drive a $150,000 car or a $30,000 car, the road and distance is the same, and we get to the same destination.

Whether we drink a bottle of $300 or $10 wine – the hangover is the same;

Whether the house we live in is 300 or 3000 sq ft – loneliness is the same.

You will realize, your true inner happiness does not come from the material things of this world.

Whether you fly first or economy class, if the plane goes down – you go down with it…

Therefore.. I hope you realize, when you have mates, buddies and old friends, brothers and sisters, who you chat with, laugh with, talk with, have sing songs with, talk about north-south-east-west or heaven and earth…. That is true happiness!!

Five Undeniable Facts of Life:

1. Don’t educate your children to be rich. Educate them to be Happy. So when they grow up they will know the value of things not the price.

2. Best awarded words in London … “Eat your food as your medicines. Otherwise you have to eat medicines as your food.”

3. The One who loves you will never leave you for another because even if there are 100 reasons to give up he or she will find one reason to hold on.

4. There is a big difference between a human being and being human. Only FEW really understand it.

5. You are loved when you are born. You will be loved when you die. In between, you have to manage!

NOTE: If you just want to Walk Fast, Walk Alone! But if you want to Walk Far, Walk Together!

Six Best Doctors in the World:

1. Sunlight
2. Rest
3. Exercise
4. Diet
5. Self Confidence and
6. Friends

Maintain them in all stages of Life and enjoy a healthy life.”

doG | God

Undeniably, dogs are intelligent creatures and my own is no exception. He may not be as advanced as some of the other pooches in terms of parlor tricks (when comparing his abilities to those on YouTube), but nonetheless even his basic functions intrigue me.

It’s safe to say that “C” and I have had a chequered history. After we returned from living in Malaysia, the family decided to get a dog and after much deliberation and cogitation, we landed on a springer spaniel. I’d never owned a pedigree dog (and I still think don’t think I do), plumping instead for “portmanteau pooches”, more commonly known in the UK as mongrels. As with all puppies, the joy of the spending time with these energetic bundles of fun to some may be impossible to beat, the smell of puppy breath having the same knock-out punch of an attractively lady wearing Chanel No 5 or the aroma of a freshly baked loaf of bread. The cuteness factor of them makes them desirable beasts, for a time. The hard work kicks in after about 6 months when the honeymoon period is over, when my own millennial’s turned their attention back to technology and the dogs energy is transferred from play to destruction.

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And so it was with “C”. He ate most beds we bought him, munched through a kitchen worktop and curled more slippers than the Ottoman empire. I was working away in London during the week and typically came back with fatigue and stressed finding it difficult to settle into a challenging role. He was obviously pleased to see me when I returned, but that soon turned sour when it was clear that I had no time for him at the weekends, with my tiredness boiling over to slipper-whacks when he ruined something else. Over the coming months, every time I returned he would approach me at the door, lower his head and ears waiting for me to pet him, which sometimes I never did. Needless to say my treatment of an innocent and lovable canine was shocking and I still feel guilty now looking back (as well I should).

Things came to a head one week when I told the wife I had found a new home for him over a hundred miles away and that he was going at the weekend. At first she reluctantly agreed and I was all set for the trip. The night before I left, we discussed the matter in the living room, both of us in tears. They say a dog is for life and not just for Christmas and how right they are. As he sat there looking up at us from death row (he did have an orange coat but that’s not important right now), we agreed at the eleventh hour a stay of execution and a plan for my wife to properly train him whilst I was away. She bought a book, took some advice and cracked on and within months, he had taken his rightful place at the bottom of the family ziggurath (with the exception of one of my sons who has never really liked him) but at the top of our hearts.

I noticed the change and over the years, our bond has grown from strength to strength and he is by far the best dog I have ever had. I look forward to seeing him every Thursday night when I return from the City, and even at the age of Nine, he always jumps up, wags his tail, lolls his tongue out of his mouth and does a little wee in excitement. The next five minutes are usually spent with me and him of the floor having cuddles and eventually a little play fight before bed (I’m the only one who does – it’s “our thing”).

SAMSUNG

Whilst away this week, I watched several episodes of “The Ascent of Man” by Jacob Bronowski, the content of which has made me think more about the evolution of all living things, which in turn reminds me of my very first post on Infinity Beckons, Do Amoebas Have Souls and of course my dog.

My wife thinks I think too much and live in the realm of fantasy and she is probably right (wives always are of course!). Whilst I appreciated the output from Dr Bronowski and his thirteen-episode series from 1973, we diverge when it comes to consciousness and the spirit. I knew he was a materialist reductionist before launching into the box set (like his post-modern contemporary Prof Brian Cox is – who’s “Human Universe” series is blatant rip-off of “The Ascent of Man” – which I reminded him one day when I was very drunk and trolling, which was in those days was a “harmless bit of fun”), who believed that consciousness only exists in humans and that it is merely an epiphenomenon of their evolved brain. The venom he used against Eastern philosophy / belief systems and the unexplained (he cites ESP amongst other woo -woo theories) shocked me, it was like Richard Dawkins had written the script (no surprise that Dawkins has written the foreword in a re-released version of the book that accompanied the series recently).

I have read many noetic volumes over the years, studied in part Eastern belief systems and as a part-millennial listened to various podcasts on alternative therories regarding life the universe and everything. Based on examples and data points, I am very open to the idea that there are two forms of consciousness (local [lower] and non-local [higher]). Local consciousness is our present awake state, the state we exist in between birth and death, with non-local consciousness existing beyond that which our senses can perceive (and this site has over the years cited personal examples of why I think that way).

But what has that got to do with my dog. Well…

Using Bronowski’s evolutionary theory (and my next post will be a long read about “The Ascent of Man”), dogs have also evolved over the last few millions of years, originally being nomads themselves, wild animals travelling in packs and hunting to survive. They too found themselves within a domesticated environment (albeit domesticated themselves), living side by side with humans for at least the last twelve thousand years (predating the agricultural revolution in the Middle East / Jericho)

Like early man, they too have a rudimentary communication system (whimper = pain, bark = warning/danger, growl = anger) as well as other metaphysical identifiers (sighs = boredom; tongue out/tail wag = happiness). Something I’ve noticed about my dog though goes beyond canine norms, precognition. It sounds very odd but in the moments before I take him for a walk he is already aware of it. I don’t even have to talk about it, he is there, knowing what is about to happen. I can even be in a different room and when a silent decision is made inside my head, he typically comes in, lolls his tongue and wags his tail in advance of me making my way to the kitchen door to grab the lead.

Dogs reaction times are so much faster than humans, throwing scraps of food easily shows that human time and dog time are not the same. It’s like me throwing him some food on earth with the moons gravity, he has time to watch the flight path and adjust his position to catch the morsel each time (well mostly, he’s getting old now).

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So do dogs operate within different space-time, do dogs have a consciousness that is intrinsically somehow linked to our own and is there such thing as a doggy heaven? Maybe, just maybe there is…

Pendulum…

Looking back at the output timeline on this blog reveals many things. Intense periods of writing where creative juices are flowing sees posts flying in from all directions, powered by conscious experience and time to document, catalog and share. At other times, relative epochs go by where pen never touches paper (or fingers strike on back-lit keys as it is nowadays).

pendulum

The one-directional arrow of time (if there is such a thing), never appears to change, seconds, minutes, hours and days when objectively measured will confirm that. Subjectively however our perception of time periods can change, periods of joy may render time to be fleeting whereas pain appears to elongate time.

The pendulum of the human experience seems to swing between two points (order and disorder; low entropy and high entropy). I only have to review this site’s content to realise that extended periods away from the keyboard herald high entropy, disorder and chaos. Twenty Twelve (my original annus horribilis) was equally as light as Twenty Eighteen in terms of posts, both years extremely challenging for different reasons and I’m glad to see the back of them.

Twenty Twelve was the year that I did everything for myself and forgot who I was, Twenty Eighteen was the year that I did everything for everyone else and forgot who I was.

We all strive for a life of balance, a physical and metaphysical equilibrium so in-sync with each other that we function at optimum levels. When things slip beyond the median point, they slip so very quickly and migrate away from harmony and onto discord, more often than not due to the ineffectiveness of our metaphysical state.

Change does not help and although change is constant and inevitable, too much change can turn a shoreline wave lapping peacefully on the turning of the tide to a mega-tsunami heading straight towards us with no obvious means of escape. Avoid it we must and avoid it we do, learning lessons from it to review where things have gone wrong and what we need to do to move the needle back to the centre point (until the next time).

I’ve pledged to my other half (for the second time in the lifetime of this blog – things really do seem to go around in seven year cycles as the Buddhists say…) that Twenty Nineteen will be one of adventure and positive experience, only today we sat down and soaked up all Thirty days annual leave that I have, planning to explore places old and new, ancient and modern, with and without our children.

So in the immortal words of John and Yoko “… Happy New Year, Let’s hope it’s a good one, Without any fear …