Contemplation & Spirituality

Mystical Wisdom

Kabbalah
The Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah has always been in my heart and spirit, and one of its metaphors has a particularly strong resonance in my life – when we look at the page of a book, we see black letters, but there is also a white page. From an early age we are programmed to perceive only the black letters. Our whole culture is basically transfixed by the letters. This means we are collectively living in a more or less reduced version of reality, and we have forgotten that this is so.

The widespread adoption of Mindfulness can be seen as a collective move of ‘correction’ of this forgetting.

The ‘white page’ has been experienced and written about in every single culture worldwide, for at least 3000 years. It is often referred to as the core of our consciousness, even our ‘true self’. Anyone who engages  with creativity knows this white page, as do athletes who enter ‘the zone’ of peak performance, as do people in all fields who get new ideas, or who, accidentally or deliberately, enter deeper states of oneness.

The Spacious Interior
I understand now that one essential part of spiritual development is all the practices that enable us to locate ourselves more and more in this spacious interior, from which we can experience having a body, having emotions, having thoughts. This is radically different from the habitual identity of being primarily a thinker.

I have always believed that the real purpose of all arts is to awaken different dimensions of consciousness in us. Art at is best is a state-altering energetic transmission from the white page. The energy that comes from them penetrates our fixed structures and stimulates streams of energy within us.

That is why we are drawn magnetically to music, opera, theatre, painting etc. Great art changes us, at least momentarily.

The awareness of more expanded reality awoke in a instant for me at the age of 16. After that I immersed myself as deeply as I could in different paths that came onto my radar. In my early twenties Zen Buddhism and Carlos Castaneda were beacons, as were physical practices such as yoga. I used to order the Castaneda books as soon as they came out in the US, and my best friend and I loved going to Wales and running down mountainsides as fast as we could in order to activate instinctual, body-led states. We were determined to see the ‘energy lines’ Castaneda spoke of (and managed not to break any limbs in so doing…)

Later I immersed in Sufism, in Jungian literature and in various martial arts. I studied two years with a Zen teacher, two years with a Hawaiian Kahuna, and often came back to the writings of Ken Wilber and  G.I. Gurdjieff. And of course, given my experience at 16, Tibetan Buddhism was always in the background.

TIBET
When my wife and I went to Tibet in 2006 I burst into tears as we landed, just filled with a sense of coming home. While we were there I slept very little because almost every night, as soon as I lay down I saw/heard a whole group of Tibetan monks around my bed, chattering away…

I don’t know how to explain this, nor do I seek to explain it, and really dislike explanations involving ‘past lives’. I very much prefer to take the experience, and allow the not-knowing…

Thomas Hübl
In recent years, and in particular through five years of intensive study with spiritual teacher Thomas Hübl, I have come to embrace a path that is as integrative as possible – daily meditation and contemplation to activate higher levels of consciousness, regular attention to the healing of the unintegrated, wounded parts of ourselves and our culture.

CONTEMPLATION

Nature has always been an essential resource for me. From the gentle Cotswolds, to the rough beauty of the Peak District, to the elemental landscapes of the Shetland Isles. Dorset, Cornwall, the Lake District, Mull, Iona, the UK has an endlessly rich palette.

Further afield I love the deserts of the Negev and Sinai, and my heart is filled by so much of Italy

– the rolling olive-tree hills of Puglia, as well as the breathtaking beauty of the old parts of Bologna, Verona, Lecce, Martina Franca, Matera, Conversano, Ostuni, to name but a few.

In all of these places I walk, often very slowly, often in awe, always with deep gratitude for the nurture to body, heart, soul and spirit.

ETERNAL LOVE - CHELSEA FC

Such deep texts about Spirituality cannot end without mention of one the deepest sources of pleasure and despair in my life. Really, while people do attempt to explain G-d, no-one could ever explain the depth, length and sheer mystery of the loyalty one feels to the entity that is one’s football team.

The fact that I have passed this bond on to my children, if not my wife (though I still try), is a legacy to be quietly (or not so quietly) pleased with…FOR EVER