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Oh long-drawn highway, how excellent you are! How often have I in weariness and despondency set forth upon your length, and found in you salvation and rest! How often, as I followed your leading, have I been visited with wonderful thoughts and poetic dreams and curious, wild impressions!

— Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, ‘Dead Souls’ (1842)

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Do you see what I see?

They say that our thoughts drive our emotions. But there are times when I think that it is very much the other way around.

For me, today was one of those days. I felt unusually powerful emotions throughout the morning; indeed, from the moment of waking from a restless sleep. Being mindful of the identity of these emotions, and, in turn, of the implications of their sudden appearance, long dormant, my mind became increasingly busy with self-examination, and conflicting analysis.

So I went for a long walk.

After about 10km, during which time I had only briefly succeeded in “finding my centre”, my downcast gaze lifted sufficiently, and at just the right moment, to notice something in a nearby field, which sight served as a metaphorical (and necessary) slap on the cheek.

Twin lambs were running eagerly across the field, to meet their approaching mother. The beauty, the majesty of this simple picture was of itself enough to liberate me from the shackles of my cogitations concerning the unimportant; that is to say, concerning myself. As my thoughts (and feelings) turned fully to this vision, leaving self-focussed thoughts and feelings far behind, the remainder of my walk was, despite physical weariness, a spiritual refreshing.

When dancing lambs and graceful ewe met in the middle, I experienced a mixed feeling of mild amusement (bringing a small smile), and empathetic affront (bringing a stab of inner pain), on seeing the forcefulness — I may even say, violence — with which the two lambs attacked their mother’s udder to suckle. It briefly occurred to me that perhaps the second of these responses arises from my upbringing, and the manner in which I was raised to view and treat the fairer sex.

Whether it is nurture, or nature that is responsible, I cannot say with any certainty. One thing of which I am certain, is that it has always felt right, and deeply natural to me, to afford the female of the species — all species, not only my own — with something that would quite appropriately be called reverence.

To treat a female — any female, of any species — with anything other than a reverential gentleness, is a concept that I find to be completely alien. Unnatural. Wrong. Not just in a moral, but in a spiritual, cosmic sense. As in, to me this is a matter of cosmic importance.

No doubt this is one among several reasons why, as mentioned in a recent post (“Before everything got amplified”), I have always felt somewhat “out of place” living in this period of human history, and more particularly, within the increasingly “loud”, aggressive, degenerative, and degrading Western culture.

It seems altogether clear to me that, for all the oft-purported glories and righteousness of the feminist revolution in the West, what has been “achieved” in actuality is almost unspeakably lamentable: a less-than-subtle, real world debauching of women.

In our grossly, crassly over-sexualised society, the marketing gurus, Hollywood celebrity machine, and avaricious bankers, have elevated onto the public pedestal the substitute image of a female “goddess” who, far from being a subject of mystery, awe, and near-divine reverence, is rather an object of thinly veiled, overtly sexual, brazen superficiality.

From every billboard, TV screen and computer monitor, we are subliminally instructed to no longer reverence woman for the uniqueness of her gender, for her femininity, her special qualities of soul, and her priceless difference, but rather, to alternately lust after, and obey her. And that’s just a male perspective; I cannot even begin to imagine the insufferable pressure — both subliminal, and overt — that our women must feel, from the age of about 7, to live up to the many conflicting, unnatural, and impossible “standards” that have been increasingly and relentlessly imposed on them from every social organ.

What for Average Man — or at least, for this average man — may once have been the Divine Feminine to be reverenced, is now portrayed instead as either mistress to be used, or master to be obeyed. For the marketers, movie creators, and money lenders, this same woman, successfully “liberated” from the drudgery of household chores and child-raising, has now been added alongside her now-emasculated male “partner”, as another “free”, “equal” wage-slave. Labouring away, every day, at a bullshit job. Another cow to be milked at the Great Western Household Debt dairy farm, borrowing electronic digits at compound interest from a bank, in order to buy more, more, and ever more “stuff” that she does not need.


You’d think Western women might have learned a thing or two from the experience of millions of women in early “revolutionary” Russia. Initially enamoured of their “liberation”, and especially of their newly-proclaimed, heretofore undreamt of sexual freedoms, only to find that their liberation from traditional home-making roles was merely in order for them to be enslaved anew; a newfound “equality” to daily labour in communist factories. And that, strangely, their menfolk no longer respected them at all, sexual “liberation” bringing only increased promiscuity, STD’s, broken hearts, and single mums. Is there really all that much qualitative difference for women in our “liberated” West? Or are our womenfolk simply too propagandised with ego-stroking “You’re worth it” cosmetics advertisements featuring air-brushed celebrity sex kittens to notice?

But I digress.

After watching the ewe and her lambs for some time, and walking onward a little way, not only my thoughts but my emotions uplifted and transformed, it occurred to me that it might be nice to have a photo or two. I walked back, and here they are:

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I apologise for the poor image quality. Alas, all I had on me was my old, and rather basic mobile phone. I happily confess to being something of a Luddite with regards mobile phones. I have long eschewed buying a so-called “smart” phone. The internet has its place. Ever-present in my pocket it is not.

On resuming my walk, I pondered the memory of mother, and her twin offspring. They brought to mind the symbolic meanings embedded in the logos of this blog, and my recent project.

As I strode lightly onward, my earlier turmoils evaporating, I became acutely aware of my gait.

Have you ever really observed yourself as you walk? Try it sometime.

What came most immediately to my consciousness, was the opposing symmetries of movement, rotating about a centre. Arms and legs contra each other, that is to say, left contra right. And much more significantly to me, upper body contra lower body.

Now this may seem to you to be painfully simple, and unimportant. But I found it quite profound.

Try walking freely, with muscles relaxed. Notice that your left arm swings forward, in concert with your right leg swinging forward. Left arm / Right leg. Right arm / Left leg. Over and over.

Try making your arm motion match your leg motion instead. I did.

Left arm / Left leg together. Right arm / Right leg together.

Awkward, huh?

In experimenting with natural versus unnatural gait, I felt deeply impressed with a sense of the mimicry, the connection that our own motion has, with the greater motions of the planet on which we live. What came to mind was an image from one of the earliest posts on this blog (“180 +/- 180”; well worth reading for its brief and valuable message, unlike this post, whose aimless rambling is rather like the walk that inspired it!). This image depicted the relative motions (notice the direction) of free air above and below the earth’s equator —

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Can you see the connection?

Free relative motions. Those of the “higher” half moving opposite the “lower” half. Rotational motion, around a fixed (yet moving) centre.

As, for the first time, I fully relaxed in my walk — mind cleared, spirit unburdened — it occurred to me that the effect of walking is not unlike that which I experience when riding the Harley. Indeed, I was struck with the impression of how many similarities, how many connections, there are between these two modes of “transport”.

Walking, there is this very evident aspect of opposing symmetries of movement; rotations, about a fixed yet moving centre. My body is the motorcycle, as it were; my sense being that, not some inner part of my body (the solar plexus? Alas, I am no biomechanic!), but rather, my soul, is then the centre about which all this motion occurs.

Riding, it is almost as though my entire Person, body and soul, is at rest; and so it seems that all of “me” is the centre, about which all of the motorcycle’s many individual motions pivot. Within the motorcycle, again, there are manifold rotating, symmetrical, and contra motions. Wheels rotating about their centre. Pistons, rising and falling, pivoting about their centre. Conrods rising and falling, and rotating about their centre. Intake, and exhaust valves, rising and falling in opposite motions. Et cetera et cetera.

In becoming aware of these symmetries, these connections, these similarities of motions in the natural realm, and also in man-made motion machines, my homeward journey became something quite joyous, profound, and uplifting. And this, I cannot help but observe, quite contra to my outward journey.

It seems I have a little ewe, and her twin lambs to thank for that.

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Before everything got amplified

This scene from the TV series Elementary moved me. Strongly.

I watched it several days ago. And yet, my thoughts return to it still.

Like “Sherlock”, I have often wondered … well, wished … if I should have been born in another time. All my life, indeed, I have had occasion to entertain this wish. This feeling, of somehow being … out of place. But it is only recently that my reason for doing so has echoed Sherlock’s.

Distraction.

As a child, and an avid reader of books, I oh so easily imagined myself living in the earliest era of aviation. Being one of those “magnificent men in their flying machines”.

In my early teenage years, a friend introduced me to the novels of Wilbur Smith. Need I say more.

The first decade or so of my adulthood, however, brought no pause for such contemplations, as I busied myself with the trappings of the world.

Witnessing the near-death experience of my older brother changed everything. My “conversion”, my “spiritual awakening”, or “rebirthing”, if you will, ushered me into the dawning of profound change, of most all my previous perspectives.

During those energetic years in pursuit of my piece of all the best the world appeared to offer, I found it very easy, natural, to focus intently on the achievement, the attainment, of many and various desired outcomes. From the immediate, to the somewhat more distant of aspirations.

I have always had a great ability to focus. To exist as in a tunnel, striving, seeing only the chosen object. For the time required, all else completely eclipsed, as though it did not exist.

From my days as a child reading “Reach for the Sky” for the umpteenth time, oblivious to calls to the supper table, to my days as a late teen road running in rain, hail, or shine, oblivious to the blared horns and flailed arms of friends passing by seeking to capture my attention, to my days as a young entrepreneur powering through 19 hour days at the office, it seems that I have always had a great natural ability to completely shut out from mind all but that which I wanted to exist there.

Perhaps the most profound change, one experienced immediately on my conversion, my transcendence to the “new life” of the spiritual world, was a tremendous stillness, or silence, of the activities of mind. To describe that bliss, I have not words even remotely adequate to the attempt.

This may strike you as paradoxical; my claim to natural capacity for focus, contrasted with an expression of joy on being relieved of all thoughts.

Not so, for I have always been a “complex person”, given to much thought. It is of importance to note that my ability to shut out unwanted thought has always been predicated on desire … on my first having chosen a particular some thing that I wished to achieve, or attain.

But on my rebirthing, I suddenly awoke from my former life, to find myself quite bereft of predicates.

Strangely, happily, I wanted nothing.

Absolutely. No thing.

I felt complete contentment.

I no longer felt desire for any thing. That is to say, any other thing. Only that which I was experiencing.

I desired no material thing.

And no intellectual thing.

Intellectualism, the power of rational thought, of ideas, it is a subtle master, and one to whom I had been a perpetual slave. Sifting, sorting, analysing, contextualising, prioritising, debating, arguing; these had long been activities, or better I can now say, exertions, of mind in which I had ceaselessly, remorselessly engaged. Nought did I know then, for I could not see, how vain, how unnecessary, how unimportant were all these exertions , in the greater and true scheme of all things.

(For it has now become clear to me, that we employ our intellectual strivings, almost exclusively, in the service of attaining material, and transient things. Goods. Objects. Status. Recognition. A higher total of electronic digits at a bank. Illusions of Safety, Prosperity, and Security.)

And so it was, oh blessed joy, what peace, a great bliss, to suddenly, effortlessly, find myself in a place relieved of these exertions! Shut out, kept far from me, almost as though with a magical, invisible force field.

Immediately, and only the more clearly in time, I saw the truth of our quest for knowledge, and our pride in acquisition, in attainment of “information” and “facts”. Of the great, transcendent value of Knowing, as compared to merely knowing. And so it came to be that not only the name of my first blog, The Blissful Ignoramus, but also the tagline, encapsulated my new perspective.

“I Don’t Know… the truth that sets me free”

Most of the time, on most topics, I don’t know.

Instead, I only “know” what someone else has said.

I don’t know, if they really know. Often they too, only “know” what they’ve heard or read from someone else.

Most of the time, on most topics, we merely parrot what others have said. And imagine, that we really Know.

I have learned, that this a very important thing to Know.

Recognising what I don’t know, makes me feel humble.

Accepting that I don’t know, makes me feel free.

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Observing when others really don’t know either, makes me feel equal… and forewarned.

Intuiting when no one really knows, makes me feel unity, understanding, and empathy.

We’re all in this world of lies, half-truths (now called ‘spin’)… together. And what a sad and sorry flock of unthinking parrots we all are! In truth, none of us really Knows much about anything.

On looking back over the archives of The Blissful Ignoramus, I can see clearly where my spiritual state has gone awry in recent years. At approximately the same time as I began to turn, in mind and heart, back towards certain problems of the world, desiring to, in some way, contribute to redressing them, commensurate with the rate of turning, my “blissful ignorance” began to fade. The clear, effortless, simple insights expressed there in aphoristic form, became the more infrequent.

I have in consequence found myself in a strange and dry place, perhaps somewhat like that expressed by St. Paul. Seemingly caught between two worlds. Unable to “have”, to “fit” into, or even to truly desire, either one. And in this neither world, that invisible force field, the one formerly shutting out the noise, the cacophony, of worldly things and my own thought processes, it too departed from me, along with my state of blissful “ignorance”.

But happily, over the past week, since those events chronicled in These Present Waters, I have again begun to experience, to Know, albeit sporadically, the experience of blissful ignorance. And in so Knowing, I have become profoundly aware once again of the intrusion, the enormous, dark, and snatching power of distraction, arising from all the noise “out there”.

It seems to me that it is only when one has experienced being set free from all the noise that goes on inside one’s own mind — when one has let go of it all, and fallen back into the deep, quiet, silent well of Living Water — that one can truly see how intrusive, how distracting from what is truly important, is all the noise, amplified, coming from “out there”.

Perhaps too, this is why, over the past week, I have most often Known the experience of that “blissful ignorance” — stillness, silence of mind and heart — while having my earplugs in, wind softly rustling, and V-Twin rhythmically pulsing through my body.

It’s the consistency. The constancy. The blessed monotony.

It’s the sound of a “steady state”, you see.

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Turn around

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And He called a little child to Himself

and put him in the midst of them,

And said,

Truly I say to you,

unless you turn around

and become like little children,

you can never enter the kingdom of heaven.

— Matthew 18:2-3

 

Truly I tell you,

whoever does not receive and accept

and welcome the kingdom of God

like a little child

shall not enter it at all.

— Mark 10:15

 

Image credit: @therealbanksy

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Visit Psalmistice on Flickr for more photos.
 

General

Reflections

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Depart from evil, and do good;
Seek peace, and pursue it.

— Psalm 34:14

 
Over the past 24 hours, the world commemorated the outbreak of “The War To End All Wars”.

I observed a holyday. In the quiet company of nature’s family.

To enjoy all the sacred sounds, you may wish to crank up the volume —

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When thou comest by thyself,
think not before what thou shalt do after,
but forsake as well good thoughts as evil thoughts,
and pray not with thy mouth
but list[en] thee right well.

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And then if thou aught shalt say,
look not how much nor how little that it be,
nor weigh not what it is nor what it bemeaneth …
and look that nothing live in thy working mind
but a naked intent stretching into God,
not clothed in any special thought of God in Himself … .

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This naked intent freely fastened and grounded in very belief
shall be nought else to thy thought and to thy feeling
but a naked thought and a blind feeling of thine own being:
as if thou saidest thus unto God, within in thy meaning,
“That what I am, Lord, I offer unto Thee,
without any looking to any quality of Thy Being,
but only that Thou art as Thou art, without any more.”

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That meek darkness be thy mirror, and thy whole remembrance.
Think no further of thyself than I bid thee do of thy God,
so that thou be one with Him in spirit,
as thus without departing and scattering,
for He is thy being, and in Him thou art that thou art;
not only by cause and by being, but also,
He is in thee both thy cause and thy being.

— Anonymous, Epistle of Privy Counsel.

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For silence is not God, nor speaking is not God;
fasting is not God, nor eating is not God;
loneliness is not God, nor company is not God;
nor yet any of all the other two such contraries.
He is hid between them, and may not be found
by any work of thy soul,
but all only by love of thine heart.

He may not be known by reason,
He may not be gotten by thought,
nor concluded by understanding;
but He may be loved and chosen
with the true lovely will of thine heart … .

— Anonymous, Epistle of Discretion.

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On the art of contemplative prayer; that is, of love meeting love.

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From where comes that light

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My soul weeps with longing,
For the eye of my soul it sees,
Flashes, fleeting moments,
Emanations of that which is Best,
Pure, Virtuous, and wholly Divine.

I see Goodness, Truth, Mercy, Justice,
Twinkling in imperfect man,
How little faith is needed,
The existence of the Perfect implied,
By that which is imperfect.

Oh how I love,
And long to be forever lost in,
What is on other side,
The darkness,
Pierced through with darts of Light.

But a kiss from the lips of God,
Once tasted,
My soul cannot be sated,
By this promise of His Essence,
For I long that all might share in Perfect Bliss.

Come, darkness, draw near, gather all about,
For so much the sooner your time will end,
I pray not that I should pass over into that Light,
But that the Light will move you on,
And dawn over us all.

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If in God’s starry universe there throbbed
No heart but His and mine, I would not plod
With eyes earthbound, hungry of soul, and robbed
Of a sweet sense of nearness to my God.

For mystic notes that issue from His Soul
Would wing their shining way in singing showers
Into my waiting heart, when spared the toll
Of intercourse with men that wastes my powers.

Alone with God! My soul, invite the art,
As One who climbed the heights alone to pray
And in the gentle stillness, heart to heart,
Let Heaven’s dew transform this house of clay.

Oh, God is everywhere. Yes, God is here!
Only my faith is dim … the world too near.

— Edith Alice Bang