Archive for the ‘All things are connected’ Category

The world’s oddest couple

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Dear friends

There’s a glorious story about Orson Welles, who imported a real witch doctor from Haiti to play in a black version of Macbeth. A critic from the Herald Tribune, one Percy Hammond, gave the play a bad review. So the real witch doctor begged Welles for permission to put a ‘beri-beri’ curse on Hammond. Welles, thinking nothing of it, told him to go right ahead. Hammond was in hospital in 24 hours and dead in 48. That much is documented.

Mind or matter? No surprise that medical experts declared the cause to be a long-standing physical ailment. But when a modern audience came to the opening of a play about Welles which contained the story, it was asked for a show of hands with this question: ‘Do we have any critics in tonight?’ Not a single hand was raised.

Traditional science says that original cause is physical matter. The spiritual masters say that original cause is consciousness. At first sight it seems that one must be right and the other wrong; the two could not possibly have anything in common.

But they do.

I imagine the front cover of—say—Time magazine, in the near future. It has a picture of a bride and groom. The groom is spirituality, the bride is science and the bride is wiping away tears, but looks resigned. The headline is: Spirituality and Science: will it be a shotgun marriage?

Yes it will. Science is being dragged at ever-increasing speed towards the altar. And those doing the dragging are scores of courageous scientists whose discoveries are shaking the foundations of traditional science. The universe is not what we thought.

This is nothing short of a revolution that will force much of humanity to re-examine what it means to be human. The old science paradigm says there is an objective universe to be discovered; that it is made of dead, isolated physical matter, with thought as an inexplicable by-product. But the spiritual paradigm says the universe is entirely subjective; that it is made of an infinite ocean of consciousness, with physical matter as a means of creating and expressing itself.

No wonder science feels threatened. ‘Rogue’ scientists have had their careers ruined for daring to research consciousness. Students have been censured by their departments. Scientists with evidence opposing the science paradigm have been labelled as deluded or as frauds. If only to survive such attacks, so-called rogue scientists have carried out some of the most carefully constructed, rigorous experiments of the past 50 years. And their evidence is mounting.

I’ll mention just a few. Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg. And Cleve Baxter who showed that plants are aware of each other and react to human thought. And Masaru Emoto who showed that pure water is sensitive to human thought. And Jacques Benveniste who showed that water has a memory of molecules previously dissolved in it—a concept central to homeopathy.

Then there’s the placebo effect. Doctors have used it successfully for at least 200 years, but the science paradigm doesn’t even begin to explain it. One modern experimenter, Ted Kaptchuk told his ‘placebo’ group that they were getting a placebo which creates mind-body self-healing, and they still did better than the control group.

Perhaps the most spectacular discoveries of all are coming from quantum physicists. They have shown that the universe is a vast web, in which all particles are connected to all other particles; that physical matter constantly pops in and out of existence; that sub-atomic particles appear and behave according to what is going on in the scientist’s mind. Traditional science doesn’t dispute those results, but says they can’t possibly be true at the everyday macroscopic level.

The point is not whether traditional science has been right or wrong; the point is that consciousness creates physical reality, whatever the belief system. And science is a belief system. Science does not discover—it creates, and what it creates is real. It has been arguably the most powerful belief system in human history, giving birth to the technology which has populated and transformed the planet.

Which means that the paradigm of traditional science is, after all, perfectly valid. It’s  just that it fits into one corner of a much bigger paradigm—the one the spiritual masters have been telling us for thousands of years. Aham Brahmasmi: we are both the Creator and the Created. We are powerful beyond measure and we have only to remember the fact.

So, here’s how the forthcoming liaison of science and spirituality affects us all. In the past, science has brought us many comforts. It has also brought us nuclear bombs and germ warfare and experiments on animals as if they were robots with no feeling or awareness. When science does accept that it and we are all part of Consciousness, that it is a creator, not a discoverer, how will that change its behaviour? How then will it affect the technology that shapes the future of the planet?
 
The answer to those questions will affect all of us and all of our descendants for as long as there is such a thing as human life.

Namaste
Michael

Silence and the sea

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Dear friends

This will be my last newsletter for 2010. I’m going to spend a little time beside a lake in the mountains where Finding the Field is set. I’m looking forward to plenty of peace and quiet. Silence.

Not true silence, of course, because even in the still of night, the bush has a thousand conversations.

 There are two kinds of true silence. One of them is so rare it’s almost a curiosity. The other is available to anyone, and can transform your health and well-being. I was lucky because for me, the first led to the second.

The first kind is the complete absence of sound. I experienced it half way between New Zealand and Tonga, over the Marianas trench, where it can take 24 hours for a discarded can to reach the bottom. There’s no point in telling the whole story here, but for about an hour my six-year-old son Sam and I were alone, far from the yacht, in a tiny dinghy. The Pacific was asleep, dreaming long, slow dreams; not a breath or breeze, not a ripple in the glassy water, not even a whale cry from the depths. So, for a few minutes Sam and I experienced life utterly devoid of sound.

At first, my mind objected to the silence and filled it in, making me think I could hear my own breathing and the blood moving in my veins, especially around my temples. Then, after a few minutes, it seemed that silence was itself like a sound: a long vibration. Which is how I glimpsed the second kind of silence.

Profound stillness. It’s been known since ancient times—always in us, waiting for us to notice. It’s the stillness that holds all sound, like an ocean holding a dinghy. In fact it holds everything, including us and all our thoughts and adventures. I call it Consciousness, or the Field. Quantum physics calls it the inseparable web of dynamic activity that brings forth all physical objects.

Hard to get your head around it? Imagine that you are watching a rock. Imagine that you zoom your vision down to the surface of the rock; closer and closer until you can see individual atoms vibrating, and even further in until you can see each sub-atomic particle dancing the Wu Li in empty space. And yet when you zoom out again, you see only the stillness of the rock which you now know contains a trillion moving things.

Like the rock, Consciousness moves within itself. When we find the stillness within us, we find Consciousness.

And we find ourselves. That’s the prize. Many claim it through meditation. No one needs to go to sea, climb a mountain or build a sound-proof bunker. It’s right where you are, right now. Once you’re practiced, you can find it in a second even in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. But, of course, beginners need to start looking in a reasonably  quiet place.

But there’s a catch. Many of us are instinctively afraid of losing our ego identity if we contact this profound stillness within us. Many are even afraid to sit quietly and alone without distractions. We fear the poverty of loneliness, when it is really the richness of solitude. I know, because I’ve had that fear myself, and the breakthrough for me was discovering the difference between thought and awareness.

Want to try it? Find a quiet room and gentle music. Put something in front of you to engage your visual focus; it hardly matters what—for me it’s a candle.

Now, turn off your thought track—but don’t try too hard. When a thought does come, don’t treat it like a nuisance. Instead treat it like an atom in that rock and ‘zoom’ out of it until you are watching it from a distance. It’s like lucid dreaming, where you dream on one floor of your mind and watch the dream from the next. When you’re watching the thought pass by—I think this is working, or I’m hungry, or I wonder when Jack is going to call me—then you have begun. You are in two ‘places’ at once. Now, no matter what the thought is, just be aware of it; don’t form an opinion about it, don’t judge it, and don’t judge yourself for having it. Keep ‘zooming out’ until you can no longer see the individual thoughts, but are simply aware, until you are extended way out into the universe around you.

Do you see the possibilities? What is it that’s aware that you have a body? Is it your thoughts, your mind? And what is it that’s aware that you have a mind? Is it your spirit? And what is it that’s aware that you have a spirit? What, then, is the real you?

The real you is all of that and more. Body, mind and spirit. We are like the legendary child made of salt, marching through the mountains and the valleys of its life until it reaches the ocean. It dissolves into the water, changing itself and changing the ocean that gave it birth.

The complete you is in the all the layers of the ocean, all the way to the bottom. You can wait until you reach the beach, or, through meditation, you can experience the ocean on the way, travelling the mountains and the valleys with an inner current of joy—yes, even the valleys.

Perhaps I’ll find another layer on this summer break. But perhaps not. I’m in no rush. For your own break, summer or winter, mountain or valley, may you take joy with you.

I’ll be back in a few weeks.
Namaste.
Michael

The Mirror

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Dear friends

There were three significant experiences in one evening! I do believe it—I have to, I was there—but as you’ll see, it confused me for a while. Here’s what happened. Do let me know what you think (comments).

Two weeks ago, I noticed a small advertisement in the local newspaper. Someone called Gangaji was speaking in my town, on December first, a week away. I had never heard of Gangaji. I didn’t even know how to pronounce the word. Apart from the vaguely spiritual context of the ad, I had no idea what she represented, let alone what she would say. Also, I don’t rush off to listen to every spiritual speaker who passes by. But I was drawn to the name, and something kept nudging me to go. I marked it in my calendar.

The night before her speech, I had a strange dream. I dreamed that Gangaji looked at me sitting in the audience and invited me up on stage with her, to sit on her right hand side and talk with her in front of the crowd. In the morning, of course, I dismissed it ‘just a crazy dream’.

But before we get there, I need to backtrack.

If you read last week’s newsletter, you’ll know that I’m in the happiest space of my life right now—which I put down to a new realization. Here’s a list of the main points I made in that newsletter: stop chasing enlightenment; you’re already where you want to be; nothing has to be fixed because nothing is broken; look for the silence between your thoughts; your thought of who you are is not who you are. And more. (If you want to read it again, click here.)

I sent that newsletter to you (to subscribers) just two minutes before I left to listen to Gangaji. Then, in the first few minutes of her talk she said all of that. Every main point of my newsletter.

That was significant experience number one.

In those few minutes, I became an admirer—not because she was echoing my new realization, but because of her presence. Gangaji was radiant. I have rarely seen anyone with such love and compassion. Once, when a woman in front of her was fighting tears, she did not try to fill the silence with words, instead she just smiled at the woman. It was a huge smile, wider than a dawn, and it was the right smile.

And then the dream turned into reality.

I tell you I did not force it to happen; in fact, I resisted it. Unlike the woman in tears and the other three who went forward, I did not volunteer. Dream or no dream, I had no desire to be a centre of attention and no burning question. I was there to listen. But Gangaji clearly thought otherwise; when there was no one else on the stage, she looked directly at me and beckoned.
     “You have a question,” she said.
     In spite of the dream, I was startled. I  looked around at my neighbours, back to Gangaji, and said, “Who? Me?” (Okay, call me slow on the uptake.)
     “Yes, you,” she smiled. “Would you like to join me up here.”
     Now I knew that the dream was unfolding.
     “Okay,” I said. I went up there, I sat on her right, I talked with her in front of the crowd. Here was the dream in every detail, except, oddly, that the size of the real audience was smaller than in the dream.

That was number two.

I did think of a question to ask her, which she answered. But that’s not what stayed in my memory. It’s what followed. I was so captivated by her presence that I said, “I know what I want… I want the look in my eye to be like the look in your eye.”
     To my astonishment and the crowd’s amusement, she chuckled, produced a mirror (!!!), and thrust it in front of my face, forcing me to look at myself.
     “But you do have that already,” she said. “See for yourself.”

No, I’m not planning to parade as the next Gangaji. In fact, as I left the stage, I was puzzled. Her manner suggested more than stage playfulness… there was serious intent there. What was she really saying to me? What was the point? Well, now I have to laugh at myself. How could I have missed it? It took my friend Tom Newnam in Philadelphia, to take off my blindfold with an email. His words, summarised: What you saw in Gangaji is not only who she is, but also who you are.

Of course, of course. In admiring Gangaji, I was primed to see—in her—the best in myself. We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are. We don’t see people as they are; we see people as we are. She didn’t say that in words, but it’s what she was telling me. More to the point, she made me feel it.

That was number three.

Could there be a finer illustration of the second universal truth: that your life is your mirror. How extraordinary that she actually held up a mirror. How subtle, how playful, how mischievous. (And how startling… did she have that mirror ready?)

Had you or anyone else expressed the same desire as me, she could have made the same reply.

Turn it around. When 100 people look at you, they each see a different version of you: the version that best reflects them, their beliefs and aspirations. It’s not you that affects them, but their version of you. Not one of those 100 versions is the real you. So who is the real you? You’ll only find the answer by looking into the looking glass that is your life – yes, that life which seems to happen to you, but is really created by you. In this incarnation, your life, and everything and everyone in it, is you. Literally. The universe is not objective, it is subjective.

On the face of it, that stretches credibility. You could, for example, be in a coal mine one day and a cruise ship the next; so you might ask, How could I change so much overnight? But your physical surroundings are only the shallowest reflection of you. Instead, look to your relationships, the events you attract, and the attitudes you take with you from one place to another.

Here’s some Sufi wisdom, repeated from Finding the Field.

Once upon a time, somewhere between the mountain peaks and the shores of the azure sea, there was a village in which there dwelt a Sufi master renowned for his wisdom. One day, a stranger entered the village, and immediately looked for the master to ask advice. He said, “I’m thinking of moving to live in this village. What can you tell me about the people who live here?”
     And the Sufi master replied, “What can you tell me about the people who live where you come from?”
     “Ah,” said the visitor angrily. “They are terrible people. They are robbers, cheats and liars. They stab each other in the back.”
     “Well now,” said the Sufi master. “Isn’t that a coincidence? That’s exactly what they’re like here.”
     So the man departed the village and was never seen there again.
     Soon, another stranger entered the village, and he too sought the Sufi master for advice. He said, “I’m thinking of moving to live in this village. What can you tell me about the people who live here?”
     And the Sufi master replied, “What can you tell me about the people who live where you come from?”
     “Ah,” said the visitor in fond remembrance, “They are wonderful people. They’re kind, gentle and compassionate. They look after each other.”
     “Well now,” said the Sufi master, “Isn’t that a coincidence? That’s exactly what they’re like here.”

You do, most comprehensively, take your mirror with you wherever you go. You want to find yourself? You don’t have to go anywhere. You want happiness? You don’t have to wait. There’s joy to be had, even in the difficult times.

I have Gangaji to thank for the reminder. And also for the moment when she looked around at the audience during a silence, and said softly, “It’s all so very simple.”

Yes, yes, yes.
Joy to you.
Michael
P.S. Next week’s newsletter will be the last for this year.

To find out more about Gangaji, try this link.

Confessions

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Dear friends

This week is different. Something significant has shifted in me and I want to share it, in the hope that it’s useful to you. I especially owe this to you if you have read or listened to Finding The Field.

A little background. I was 10 when I first started to wonder, Why is there pain? Actually, I’m smiling right now, remembering my egocentric outrage that such a thing had dared to enter my life. But even then I sensed that there was more to the cause of pain than the most obvious cause in front of me. (No, no details… I just want to get to the point.) Within another 10 years I was seriously looking for answers to the big questions: What’s it all about? Who am I? Why am I here? What’s my place in the universe? It took another 40 years for the answers to fall into place, and then into Field. In spite of what I’m about to tell you, that has not changed. The answers are satisfying to many, it seems, which is wonderful.

Now, let me try put my recent discovery into words.

I’ve been startled by new understanding of something I’ve heard many times, and so, probably, have you. I wrote it into Field: The journey is the destination; the destination is the journey. I learned that one when I journeyed through the Andes looking for the Truth in the classic way. Ironic, yes? I thought I understood it fully back then; but I didn’t, because I somehow never saw the connection with the first universal truth: You are entirely the creator of your reality. Existence is subjective, not objective—even in the hunt for the Truth. Yes, I know, it’s way too academic. Too much thinking. Which is exactly why I missed the point. Here’s the point…

Stop looking.

I must stop looking for enlightenment, because if I believe it is not here, it is not. If I believe it is elsewhere, it is. My beliefs create it so. And I must stop looking even inside myself, because if I believe it is hidden, it is.

Call off the chase. Stand down. Just remain quietly open, aware, relaxed.

Through intense, anxious decades I chased: answers, truth, enlightenment, awakening, fulfilment, self-realisation, serenity, all of that, chasing a butterfly I couldn’t see. What did it look like? Was I running towards it, or away from it? Would I recognize it if I saw it? I didn’t know.

Now, I must stop and allow it to settle gently on my shoulder.

Some have that butterfly on their shoulders all their lives and never speak about it or even think about it. They just live it. But we can sense it, if we want, when we are very still, aware of the silence that holds all sounds and the light that holds all sights and the invisible ocean that holds all thoughts and all things.

You know, I feel wonderful right now. Butterfly safaris were never this good. Why on earth did it take me so long?

Well, I do know the answer to that. I was like the Buddhist student who wanted to impress his master.
     “I’m going to plant this seed,” he said proudly, “and its growth will be an allegory for my spiritual growth.”
     “Yes it will,” smiled the master.
     And the student planted the seed and watched its growth anxiously. He gave it too much water and too many nutrients and it struggled to grow. So he dug it up and re-planted in different soil, again over-watering and over-feeding. Again it struggled and again he re-planted.  And so it went on.
     The day came when the master arrived to see the results, and there was, of course, little to show. The student hung his head.
     “I’m sorry, master. I wanted it to be an allegory of my spiritual progress, but it hasn’t worked.”
    “Yes it has,” smiled the master.

So, this newsletter is something of a confession. I am certain of what went into Field, but that doesn’t mean that the butterfly was flapping vigorously on my shoulder as I wrote. In some ways I was blinded by my own words, even though there is truth in them. My thought of the truth is not the same as the truth. My thought of who I am is not who I am.

But no one has to worry about such things. Why? Because everything works perfectly anyway. We lose the butterfly when we are separate from Consciousness, we find it again when we re-connect. It just doesn’t matter; one state is no better than the other, because  separation and connection are fundamental to creation. They are fission and fusion in perfect dynamic balance and the one has no meaning without the other. Consciousness does not have accounting columns marked right and wrong, good and bad. Jesus and Judas were two faces of one being.

Which means that there’s simply nothing that has to be fixed. Certainly our efforts to fix things add to the great adventure of life, but our efforts are not a requirement of existence. Nothing has to be proved. No one has to be saved. Nothing has to be done. What liberation!

I think I just dealt myself the get-out-of-jail-free card.

I surely have something in common with the man who said, “When I was young, I prayed to Allah to give me the strength to change the world. When I was middle-aged, I prayed to Allah to give me the strength to change those around me. When I was old, I prayed to Allah to give me the strength to change myself.” Well, I think that’s me. But I would add one thing—when I depart this body, I might pray that I have had the strength to be true to my heart. Which is what I seem to be attempting right now.

So does this new relaxation mean that I will become an aimless, protoplasmic blob?

Of course not. I aim to enjoy myself, including plenty of earthly pleasures in the mix. I aim to live fully and love well and make a difference to the world of people around me. But I don’t have to do anything. How terrific to know that everything is part of the perfection of existence—including that pain I experienced as a 10-year-old. How terrific to know that my individual existence will not be weighed on scales. How terrific is that?

And I will not think too hard. Maybe sometimes I will not even describe the smell of roses—I’ll just smell them, for heaven’s sake.

But I will keep writing these newsletters. Yes, I will, as long as you value them and as long as people keep asking me about Finding the Field. Don’t worry, I won’t always treat this newsletter as a confessional.

A last thought. In my writing I have dipped into compassion. But I realise now that I just had my toe in the ocean. The butterfly whispers to me about how vast that ocean is and I suspect that when I have as much compassion for a scorpion as I do for a puppy, I’ll have this whole thing sorted.

But I’m in no hurry.

Joy to you.
Michael

Happiness now, not later

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Embrace pain? Yes. Here’s a serious method for going beyond pain, taking full control of your actions, and finding peace and happiness at the same time.  But first, a story.

     There was once a man who died and woke up in the afterlife.
     He knew immediately where he was, because the evidence was all around him: luxuriant gardens, marble mansions, tubs with gold taps, grapes and candied artichokes, harps to sleep him, nightingales to wake him, and a giant feather bed for him and all his loving women.
     So, he enjoyed the most perfect pleasure and comfort, day after day… after day… after day… until…
     One morning, he noticed that his plate of brandied truffles was empty. And—as usual in such moments—another full plate appeared before him. Instantly. Always, without fail, his slightest whim was satisfied faster than the blink of his eye. But this time, he just stared at the plate and thought about it, and the more he thought about it, the worse he felt. So he turned to the nearest servant.
     ‘You know,’ he said, ‘Just for once, I wish that perfect food would not appear the moment I think of it. I would like to work up an appetite.’
     ‘Oh no,’ said the servant. ‘You might suffer from hunger. That’s not allowed.’
     The man’s frown became a scowl. He looked out the window at the perfect weather and complained, ‘And just for once, when I go outside, I wish it could be raining.’
     ‘Oh no,’ said the servant, ‘You might suffer from cold. That’s not allowed.’
     The man became angry and pointed rudely at his bed, where seven perfectly gorgeous, naked women were waiting for him with perfect love in their eyes. And he snapped to the servant, ‘And just for once, I wish I could wake up without them.’
     But the servant laughed merrily. ‘Oh no. You might miss them and suffer loss and grief and pain. That’s not allowed.’
     So the man shouted at the servant. ‘Look, this just isn’t working for me. I don’t like it here. I want the other place. I’d rather have hell.’
     ‘Really?’ said the servant, ‘Where do you think you are now?’

Perfection needs to change its publicity agent. The idea that perfect happiness requires a sky free of pain-clouds is simply nonsense.

Do you know how to get the best experience out of eating and drinking? Do without for a day or two. Want the best shower you’ve ever had? Do without for a few days. Likewise, the full experience of hot must contain the experience of cold. Up has no meaning without down. A coin’s value is in both faces. You appreciate light best when it’s been dark, and starlight as the mist melts away. You hold more happiness when sadness has hollowed a cavern inside you. You feel friendship more deeply when your friend has been away and come back. Nothing can be fully experienced, appreciated or understood or have any meaning without its opposite or lack, or contrasting partner.

Yes, partner. The Tao symbol has two halves, black and white intertwining, each holding the seed of its opposite. Taoism understands the intimate, dynamic, oneness of the dualistic universe.

Think of pain and pleasure as partners holding hands as they look at you. Think of them together, because it’s a delusion to think that one must follow the other. Happiness never comes tomorrow, because it is never tomorrow, around the corner, or when the ship comes in. There is only now. Many people pass their lives in a semi-permanent state of anxiety—about past and future—fleeing pain in pursuit of the happiness that stays always beyond reach.

But happiness offers itself to us in every now, even as we experience the bad times. To achieve it we have to turn, not away from pain, but towards it, embracing it as a partner in our journey. I don’t mean that we should deliberately seek pain—that would need a word with the people in white coats—I mean that when pain happens we should accept it like the weeping willow that accepts a gust of wind, bending, straightening, strengthening. Only then can we then fully embrace the other partner, the patient one—happiness.

That’s what I aspire to. And I have found a useful device to help me. It’s called viewing the movie of you. It works for both mental and physical pain.

But let’s stay with mental pain for now. Let’s suppose you’re experiencing the pain of… say… anger. It might help here if you think about someone who makes you angry. You’re about to view the movie of your angry self. One thing before you start: to make this work you must decide not to turn away from your anger. Don’t deny it, block it or fight it. Don’t judge or label it or yourself; to think this anger is wrong, this pain is terrible, or  I must be a bad person for being angry simply nourishes the pain.

 Ready? Okay, here’s how to make viewing the movie work.

 First, Allow. Allow yourself to feel the anger. Accept its existence. Say to yourself, ‘This part of me feels anger.’ Even in this first stage, you will notice a difference, because most suffering comes not from pain, but from resistance to pain. Resistance comes from fear, and fear is what makes pain hurt.
     Second, Observe. Close your eyes. Strongly, vividly, imagine that you get up and stride a few paces away from your angry self then turn to look back at it as if it were playing on a screen. Say to yourself, ‘That part of me feels angry’. Notice the distancing shift from ‘this’ to ‘that’.
     Third, Release. Release the anger-ridden self on the screen. Let it dissipate in its own time. Don’t push it away; it’s not a rejection, just a letting go. Say to yourself, ‘That too will pass.’ Now you are standing back, viewing your full self, with a mind free to control your next thought or action, consciously directing the new scene. And feeling less pain.

Allow, observe, release. Now, now you can feel the happiness which is inherent in all of us, even in the difficult and challenging times. Now you’re in a state where you can master yourself, take command of your next actions, and allow the remaining pain to bid farewell.

It’s more than a state of mind. It’s a state of consciousness, a silent all-inclusive awareness in which you can discover that colours are brighter, sounds sharper, tastes more exotic. You can also discover the exquisite richness of the present moment, with past and future anxieties fading away. And you may well experience a surge in compassion.

Compassion? For whom?

Well, you, for starters. But it’s also possible that you will feel compassion for those who gave you the pain, and understand that they have their own pain and their own seeking of happiness. And what is compassion but oneness? I know that when I view the movie of me, that’s when I feel closest to that One being that has many faces, many adventures, many sorrows and many joys.

When my son Sam was a small boy and stubbed his toe on a rock, he wailed. That’s what children do, they wallow in the pain. Pain and the outrage of pain fills their world. But we found a useful trick. We would talk severely to the rock. “All right, rock, if that’s how you’re going to behave you’re not coming to Sam’s birthday party.” Instantly a smile would beam through the tears on the cheeks and soon the sniffles faded. You see it, don’t you? His awareness shifted from inside pain to outside pain. (Incidentally, it fascinates me that even toddlers understand the joke.)

Well, instead of verbally abusing a rock, try viewing the movie of you. It does work just as well for physical pain—try it at the dentist. Don’t abuse the dentist.

I would love to hear how it goes for you. You can leave a message below, or send me an email directly to michael (…at…) findingthefield (…dot…) com

May you become a talented director of the movie of your life.

Namaste
Michael

Nicola’s pencil

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

In 15 years of television journalism, the interview I remember most was with a five-year-old girl called Nicola.

Here’s what happened. Nicola was dying of muscular dystrophy, but was still well enough to attend school classes in her wheelchair. I was in her classroom, making an item on the mainstreaming of disabled children into normal schools. The children adapted quickly to our presence and got on with a normal day.

Nicola dropped her pencil. She leaned over the edge of the wheelchair and looked for it, frowning. Immediately, half a dozen other youngsters, both genders, dropped what they were doing and cast about under the table, until they found the pencil. Then only two of the helpers returned to schoolwork. The rest stayed as Nicola held court about the birthday party she’d had in the weekend. She waved the pencil about, punctuating her statements in the air.

She was obviously very popular.  Was it because she was in a wheelchair? Were they sorry for her? Had the teacher instructed them to look after her needs… especially today? Was it the presence of a camera, or the unusual attention of adults?

It wasn’t any of those things.

The sequence finished and the camera operator nodded at me. The teacher changed the activity. Now it was posters and group discussion. Video-taping began again. Nicola continued to be a strong presence, her every utterance doted on by other five-year-olds. And beside me, smiles grew on the faces of the cameraman and sound recordist, who, like me, had seen many things that don’t lead to smiles. The teacher said nothing, but her smile was knowing. She saw this every day.

They were entranced by Nicola.

I was fascinated.  This was more than superficial popularity. What was it that gave this five-year-old such magnetic presence? Her physical looks? Well, no, she wasn’t pretty in any conventional way. Was it the way she spoke? I noticed that she never stumbled over her words. So perhaps the secret lay in her words—but I could hear nothing essentially different from those of her friends. And yet, somehow, here was a small child with charisma. The ‘X’ factor. How does that happen?

The explanation didn’t emerge until the interview.

For that, the camera crew set up outside, then Nicola and I wheeled and walked across the playground towards them.  On the way, there were a couple of clues. When talking to me, she did not speak child-to-adult, but person-to-person. Also, a waiting television camera crew can easily be intimidating to a child, but she showed not a shred of self-consciousness.

The red light winked on, the tape rolled. Nicola did not change in any way. She continued to chat with me without self-consciousness, as if there was no camera at all. Somewhere in the middle of the interview—I couldn’t resist it—I nodded in the direction of the classroom and commented on her effect on other people.

“You’re very popular.”

Recognising the question for what it was, she screwed up her face and cocked her head to one side for about five seconds of serious thought. Then her expression cleared and her eyes came back to mine.

“I think it’s because I like them,” she said.

Not they like me, but I like them. That, from a terminally ill five-year-old, was an interesting reply. But it was years before I understood it.

Here’s the second universal truth. Your life is your mirror. It shows you what you’re creating and who you’re choosing to be. In the language of the Maori, our indigenous people, Ko au te taiao, ko te taiao ko au: I am the world, the world is me. What you think, feel and believe is what you get, and every object and event is an external reflection of your internal adventure. It’s the secret language of things and events.

The day we know that is the day we start to place what we want in our mirrors.                

There is no physical universe that exists independently of you and me. Everything is an expression of Consciousness, which includes your mind. And your mind—both conscious and subconscious—expresses itself constantly, creating your own adventure stories around you. But so that our adventures can be real to us, we forget that we are the creators. We forget that our thoughts, feelings and beliefs are potent, casting themselves around us like movie projectors.

As we grow, our challenge is to take conscious control of our thoughts, feelings and beliefs—and conjure our life story deliberately.                                         

I didn’t finish the story about Nicola. Yes, she died shortly afterwards, but not as expected. She died in an accident, sparing her the prolonged death of muscular dystrophy.

You know, even as I write this, I realise that I missed out the essential word in her five year life story: love. Nicola loved everyone around her—and it came back constantly in her mirror. Her love included me, a complete stranger. How about that? I love her for it. I’m about to have a glass of wine, I’ll raise it to her memory.

Namaste
Michael

Take me to all the five universal truths

Prayer and witchcraft

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Hello everyone.

The Christine O’Donnell witchcraft scandal has been hugely entertaining. O’Donnell, a rising star in US tea party politics, is wearing a storm over her admission that she ‘dabbled in witchcraft’ in high school. I’m especially enjoying it because I also dabbled in witchcraft, or ‘wicca’, when I was young.

The Bible puts witches and wizards together with words like ‘evil’ and ‘defiled’ and ‘shall surely be put to death’. The Old Testament God was offended by the craft and so are many modern Christians.

Yet those who seek the common essence of all religions quickly see through that nonsense; it swiftly becomes clear that the essence of Christian prayer is the same as the essence of a witchcraft spell. Let me say that in a different way. Faith-driven passionate prayer to God works, faith-driven passionate summoning of the Goddess works—and both use the same inner or subconscious power available to all of us, a power which knows nothing of right and wrong.

The only difference is in the imagery.

For that difference, thousands of witches were burned at the stake. While the Catholic church was enforcing its orthodoxy, it also took witchcraft very seriously—as a competitor. Some of those put to the torch really did summon power in the unorthodox  ways, including old women who invoked the Goddess and used herbs to heal the sick. Yes, the persecution was partly a cynical exercise in power, but it was also the product of blindness: zealous authorities could not see through their own god to the being that not only creates all things, it is all things and rejects nothing of itself. It’s a being many call Consciousness.

So, all that to tell you a little story, then to ask you a question.

Imagine this. A little boy comes to his mother in the middle of the night, crying, upset by a nightmare. He says, ‘The giant is coming to eat me again.’ So the mother gets him to draw a picture of the giant, then helps him set it alight in the fireplace. As the paper burns she gets the child to ask the Goddess for help, then to chant the incantation: ‘Bad dreams with me do not belong. With this fire, bad dreams be gone.’ The drawing goes up in smoke as the child—with unwavering faith—claps three times and cheers, triumphant that the nightmare has been banished. Witchcraft, of course.

So here’s the question. If the child had asked God for help rather than the Goddess, then chanted the incantation, would that make it prayer or witchcraft?

The answer is that it doesn’t matter; they are just words for arbitrary ritual. And I have successfully used the same process with my sons, without any appeal to a deity. My son’s faith was in me; but that doesn’t matter either. The essence of the process was faith, not the object of the faith. Belief, not the object of belief. And the power that belief generates is inherent in all of us.

I can’t resist another question. If witchcraft really works (and it does) then couldn’t  it be used to do harm as well as good?

Of course. Just like Christianity and Islam.

We are creators within the Creator. We create not only our religions, but also our science. We create our past and future, our right and wrong, our sorrow and joy, our reality and our truth, like a giant flower eternally unfolding. But we are also created to forget that we are the Creator, so that our experience can be real—and so that the Creator can, through us, experience itself in a billion exquisite ways.

Namaste
Michael

Beam me down, Scotty

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Hello again.

We’ve all viewed movie scenes like this: someone throws a switch (in Star Trek it’s Scotty the engineer). There a hum and a flickering light—suggesting a powerful force-field at work—a human appears in the light, vague, then solid. The hum stops, the field dies, and the newly-arrived human sets about exploring the planet.

Why is that idea iconic? Because we instinctively know that there’s something real in it. In fact, to see the reality of our existence, we only have to make a slight adjustment to the scene.

Imagine that the force-field is always everywhere, like the clearest air, invisible to the human eye. Imagine that it concentrates a fraction of its power on one spot – still invisible – and you appear on earth. And, most important, imagine that the process is continuous: the switch is always being thrown and that you are an ever-changing projection of the field.

Who keeps throwing that switch?

You do. No, not you, but You (capital Y): that part of the invisible field you might call your subconscious.

Now, here’s the true, two-way magic, of your personal movie. Yes, You continuously beam your body and adventures on this planet, but You are constantly influenced by you—by your thoughts, feelings and attitudes. You projects you, which in turn changes You, which projects you… and so on to the end of your earthly enterprise. 

One more thing: there is no limit to You. The force-field is our collective, connected subconscious—think of an ocean which, through the sky, gives birth to every brook and stream and river. Yet, no matter how isolated, all brooks must run to the ocean, changing that which continues to give them birth. All brooks, no matter where they wander.

The force-field as a giant Being with many faces. You are that Being and you are your individual self. The illusion is to think that you are contained by your skin. 

Which raises this question. Why don’t we remember our greater Being? Were we beamed down with amnesia so that we would forget the mother ship? Who did that to us, and why?

The answer to that question is contained in a chess game: see last week’s blog, Passion and the condor.

Passion and the condor

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Hello everyone.

I’ve been asked if any one experience led to the novel Finding the Field. And one certainly stands out. This, more than any other, taught me that our passion is the greatest generator of our existence.

I was in the Andes mountains of Peru at the time. Although my training was in science and physics, it was obvious that the incident could not be explained away by science, logic or rational thought.

I was on the altiplano: a frozen desert more than 16,000 feet above sea level. I was alone, exhausted from walking all day in the thin air. Snow was falling through air so deeply cold that stalactites of ice were fattening in my nostrils. I was not yet worried, because the most remote village in the region should be little more than two hours away. I had checked carefully in the previous village, where the chief, el jefe, was delighted to help—perhaps because a gringo was a rare sight in those parts. He assured me enthusiastically that the way was unmistakeable. “No problem, Señor, there is only one path. There is no fork.”

There was a fork.

The implications sank in immediately, infused with fear. I was in serious trouble. With the snow covering everything, I could not tell which path was the most used, nor could I hope to make it all the way back to the previous village. I had to choose one of the paths ahead, but which one? The correct one led to safety and warmth. The incorrect one, I reasoned, must lead to long-abandoned silver mines in desolate wasteland. In this cold, I would be condor breakfast by dawn—that specific, gruesome image flopped into my mind.

At first, I just stood there, with snow building up on my poncho. I wanted to sit down to think about it calmly, but that would lead to lying down, then to the urge to sleep, which would be suicide. So I just stood there, trying to control my thoughts. Which way to life? Which way to death? Life or death? Heads or tails? Life or death? Heads or tails?

Then, for the first time in my life, astonishing to me, I found myself praying—but not to any god, because I had no religious faith at all. My prayer was a wordless, formless reaching out to… something. It was a silent crying-out from my belly, both a plea and a command which meant: Show me the safe path and let me live! Above all it was an upward surge of passion that I did not generate with my mind, and it would be years before I understood the full significance of that passion.

No answer.

Then my mind took back control and sneered,Of course there’s no answer; what did you expect, you idiot! So I made the choice. I convinced myself that the path to the right was marginally more substantial than the path to the left, and began to walk.
In less than half a minute, perhaps only twenty seconds, a condor landed directly in front of me, exactly in the middle of the path.

It folded its wings in slow motion and bobbed its head and moved a couple of paces towards me, turning its head side on, and placing its feet carefully as if sensitive to the snow. I stopped still and watched it blink at me. The condor is a vulture, the world’s largest flying bird—wing span 11 feet. I looked around, but couldn’t see any others circling or waiting anywhere. Thoughts gusted through my mind, each trying to strip the condor of significance, trying to make me continue my travel along that chosen path. But all thoughts were a waste of time, subjugated by a black, leaden dread, dragging down through my gut. My feet simply refused to move one step further.

So I turned and went by the other path. Immediately the blackness changed to certainty, exhilaration and triumph. I felt fantastically, thrillingly alive as never before, and expanded as if I were somehow merged with the world around me. I didn’t hope I was on the right path, I knew I was on the right path. And in two hours I was recovering in the safety and warmth of the last village between the altiplano and the headwaters of the Amazon.

What was that… something I had entreated so passionately? What was the condor about? What was it doing there? And when I chose the other path—where did my utter certainty come from?

When I returned to New Zealand, months later, a Christian friend pronounced judgement immediately and without reservation. The conversation went like this.
     “God saved you. He sent the condor.”
     “Why would He bother? I’m not a believer. Not only that, I’m anti-religion.”
     “Well, in His infinite mercy He wanted to save you anyway.”
     “Oh, really? Then what about a bit of infinite mercy for all other people in strife and danger? And what about the millions of children born into poverty and disease? And what about-”
     “Well, He moves in mysterious ways,” said my friend.
     That’s the Christian Gallic shrug.

The rational and science arguments I heard were even less convincing.
     “It was a fluke that it landed on your path. A coincidence with no inherent meaning. It’s a human characteristic to look for significance where there is none.”
     “In that case the condor must have been blind, deaf, nostril-deficient, and unable to feel the vibrations from my steps.”
     “Maybe it was expecting you to keel over right then.”
     “A lone vulture lands directly in front of a meal that is still walking strongly and that could disable it with a kick? I don’t think so.”
     “Well, just because science can’t explain it yet, doesn’t mean that it won’t in the future.”
     That’s the science Gallic shrug.

So both religion and science required me to have blind faith to paper over the cracks. I couldn’t accept either position. But nor could I let it go. I wanted another alternative: a seamless cosmology, capable of explaining the condor incident without insulting my intelligence.

I had many more experiences (some in the Andes), many more clues, and even wrote a couple of books which laid out my first understandings. Then, very recently, the whole cosmology fell into place.

The condor was actually a distraction from the first real clue. Let’s go back to those vivid feelings: leaden dread, utter certainty, exhilaration, triumph. And a sensation of expansion and connection so vivid that I was the condor, I was the path, I was the snow and the wind sweeping the flakes around me. Now, finally, I do have words for that first clue and for what it meant: passion is the source, not the result, of all that we call reality. All events and all things are passion expressing itself.

The universe is a giant feeling—not, as has been famously said, a giant thought. Descartes was mistaken; he should have written, “I feel therefore I am.”

Passion is our essence. Feelings are the generator of the eternal creation. But thoughts are feelings with the juice squeezed out of them. The more that thoughts reach for passionless objectivity and stand-alone reality, the more they skate across the surface of existence. Undoubtedly, some very fine intellects interpret the great masters. But for spiritual growth—as distinct from spiritual knowledge—those interpretations only have value when they arouse vivid feelings and become a powerful experience in their own right.

Now let me get to the point. There is nothing we have to do to grow spiritually. There’s nothing we have to study. But nor is there any one experience we must have, because all experiences are paths up the same mountain. We are already that …something which creates us and is created by us, on every path on the entire mountain.

Let’s play with Genesis and give that …something a name. Let’s call it Consciousness.

Imagine. In the beginning, there is no universe, no galaxies or stars, nor any material thing.  There is no gravity, no space or time, no contrast and no opposites; which means no up and down, no here and there, no before and after, no hot and cold, light and dark, or black and white. There is only Consciousness, which is a deep longing, and the longing is the question, What Am I?

Now, Consciousness decides to play a game of chess. It uses a portion of itself to create a chessboard, with pieces drawn up ready. Who to play with? No problem. Consciousness places another portion of itself on one side of the board and calls it Mind. Then, in order to make the game real, it gives Mind a gift. It’s the gift of contrast and opposites (black and white), space (forward and back), time (this move, then that move), and gravity (so that the pieces don’t float away). And it makes the first move (pawn to king 4).

But the game still cannot begin, because Mind still knows itself as Consciousness. It knows every passion and stratagem, every move and counter-move in advance.

So Consciousness gives Mind another gift—the gift of forgetting. It forgets that it is Consciousness. It now experiences itself as alone, made of flesh, and contained by a shape with head, arms and legs. Finally, Mind makes its first move (also pawn to king 4) with the question Who Am I? and the eternal game begins.

We humans are the cutting edge of the Creation. Our question is the answer. Our journey is itself the destination because there can never be a final answer to the eternal question. We can choose to be happy now, not tomorrow. We can choose to appreciate the path now, even when it is painful. We are that …something that whispers across the chessboard, you are already home.

Do I sound spiritually complacent? Well, in part I am; there is no need to get out of bed in the morning and seek enlightenment, which is like going out on the horse to look for the horse. But why abandon a perfectly good adventure? Besides, the horse is keen on the exercise and the more passionate a rider you are, the more willingly it responds to the reins.

And I do still have my own spiritual goals. For example, I strive to fully realise, in the most passionate sense of the word, that all is connected; when 10 or 20 or 100 people gather, there is only one being in the room—a being with many faces and many adventures. I strive to fully realise that I am the creator of my life; that before birth I create the highway and during life I choose the lane. I strive to realise that my life is a mirror, constantly showing me what I believe, and what I feel and think, and taste and touch, and smell and hear and see. And I strive to fully realise the end of fear, knowing that the essence of me will live forever, continually changed by me and my journeys.

And who are you? Who is it that is aware that you have a body? Is it your thoughts and feelings? But who is it that is aware that you have thoughts and feelings? Is it your imagination? But who is it that is aware that you are imagining? Is it your soul? But who is it that is aware that you have a soul…?

The higher we climb those rungs, the more we know ourselves as that… something which, when passionately experienced, needs no proof of its own existence. 

Namaste
Michael

For more, read or listen to the novel Finding the Field (buttons at the top of this page) or go to articles on this website about the five universal truths.

Will science kill us?

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Hello everyone

Once upon a time, on a planet far away, there was a scientist who had only one way to measure reality. His ruler. A farmer came to him with sacks of potatoes and asked if he could measure their weight for the town market. The scientist was skeptical of the word weight, but he ran his ruler over the sacks anyway, then shook his head. “No,” he said, “I can find no evidence of weight, so it does not exist. You are either deluded, or a fraud who takes advantage of people’s gullibility.”
 
That planet is Earth. Our traditional science is that confused.

When I travelled in South America, I was the butt of a favourite leg-pull. If I asked, “Señor, which way to the bakery?”, the response was (after thoughtful consideration), “No, señor, it is not possible to get there from here.”
 
Here, to traditional science, means ‘all things arise from physical matter’. There means ‘all things arise from consciousness’. Not only does science say there’s no way there, it says there’s no such destination. Science is trapped in the physical realm. So it cannot see that physical matter is an effect, not a cause. It cannot see that the universe is a vast net of intelligence exploring itself—that humans, animals, birds, plants and minerals are different faces of one being that I call Consciousness.

For humanity, the consequences of the material science paradigm have been terrible indeed. Oh yes, it gave us the comforts of technology, but it also gave us an earth that struggles to survive us. We all know it. It really is time to question why we allowed science – the most powerful religion in history – to create toxic wastelands, poisoned rivers, lakes and seas, and nuclear missiles. And to conduct cruel experiments on animals as if they had no feelings. As if they were made only of complex physical matter. As if all were disconnected from all else.
 
Will science now find the technology to cure the earth?
 
No, not while it turns a blind eye to the steadily mounting evidence that its core belief is simply wrong—evidence, for example, that thought can influence physical matter; that thought is detected by animals and plants; that plants know your intentions, form attachments, have memories and can communicate with each other. Evidence that all things are connected.
 
But there is hope. Einstein began the move away from disconnected (Newtonian) science. He sensed and sought to prove that all the fundamental forces were connected. He showed that matter and energy are connected and interchangeable (E=mc2). When science wakes fully and calls energy Consciousness, perhaps then it can help us save this earth that we have collectively imagined into being.
 
Incidentally, I meet many individual scientists who do feel our connectedness and genuinely strive to improve the quality of our lives—albeit within the crippling traditional paradigm. More often now I’m seeing their eyes light up with discussion just like this. The light comes from a feeling of recognition of something non-physical that was always inside them, like a live ember that must now be brought forward to the front of the cave.
 
Namaste
Michael
 
For more, read or listen to Finding the Field (buttons at the top of this pages) – especially Part II, chapter 6), or go to articles on the same website about the five universal truths.

Punishment from God?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

In this morning’s newspaper, I found a glorious letter to the editor. A classic, straight out of a time warp.

First, you need to know that two weeks ago, my city (Christchurch, New Zealand) was hit by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake. It made streets look like a war zone, with army and police cordons. Thousands fled the city and surrounding towns and they’re only now returning as the number of aftershocks passes 700. I won’t try to describe the fear and trauma involved.

Now along comes this letter to the editor. It’s entitled Repent, Christchurch and here’s the text: Manchester St was the focal point for destruction within the city centre – Manchester St that is the street for prostitution. The den of iniquity is the area of greatest destruction. This is a warning from God to the people of Christchurch to repent and change their ways, as I believe the next time the earthquake comes we will not be so fortunate.

Wait, don’t laugh just yet.

Do you know the ancient game called Chinese whispers? Schoolchildren love it. The first thinks of a phrase and whispers it in the ear of the next, who whispers it to the next, and so on to the last person. When first and last whispers are compared, there’s usually a hilarious difference. Some children deliberately invent on the way, but most don’t—they hear the message, interpret meaning through their own filters, and pass it on in good faith, changed.

The letter writer’s vengeful, bad-tempered God may well have turned up as the result of a sort of Chinese whispers through the ages—nonsense, but still containing a faint echo of the first, inspired whisper.

Here’s the third universal truth. All things are connected. All things – seen and unseen – are different faces of one being, which is a vast, multi-layered web of intelligence. It is an ocean in motion, a river of eddies, an infinite field of creation in which the art is the artist, and the artist is the art. Let’s call this being the One. The One is all there is. It imagines us into existence, out of itself as if growing limbs. Yet we are individualized so that we can interact as if we were separate, so that our adventures can be real. So we are both connected and separate.

The first inspired whisperers knew that; but as the message passed through the centuries, it distorted: whispers of connection faded and whispers of separation grew. Those who craved earthly power deliberately encouraged that distortion. Fear came. The dark ages of religion began. We were no longer limbs of God, but of Satan. Now we were outside God. Now God was capable of being offended, by humans who were born offensive. And we could only appease his wrath by travelling a path prescribed, of course, by the ministers of religions.

So where is the echo of the original truth in this bizarre letter to the editor?

You are both the Created and the Creator. Aham Brahmasmi; the Hindu masters knew it thousands of years ago. The Buddha knew it also, and said, “What you think, you become.” You are the creator of your life. The most frequent thoughts and feelings you entertain turn into beliefs, which build the powerful but subconscious You—which in turn creates your life around you like a movie set.

Call it, if you like, the law of attraction.

Now, do you see where this is going?  If the conscious actions you allow are misaligned with the subconscious You, painful results must show up. Not as punishment—there really is no sin—simply a natural expression of misalignment with your greater being.

Now, think of this. While you are feeding your powerfully creative subconscious, so is your family as a group subconscious; so is your community, your city, your nation, your world, layer upon layer—what Jung would call the collective unconscious—creating individual and mass events in your world.

For a mass event you can’t do much better than a powerful earthquake. God’s punishment for sin? Of course not, but can you hear the far off echo of a universal truth? We made it. The giant collective subconscious We.

A last word about the working girls in Manchester Street. I wonder if the man who wrote the letter realises that many Christian churches (including a cathedral) were significantly damaged by the quake.

Namaste
Michael

For more, read or hear the novel Finding the Field: an adventure of body, mind and spirit.

Who or what created the earthquake?

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

It’s been 10 days since the massive earthquake here in Christchurch, New Zealand. Here’s my take on it – the answer to that strange question.

For me, it was like waking inside a berserk concrete mixer, which has since thrown more than 400 rumbling fits and is still going.  But here’s the first wonderful thing: even though it was the magnitude of the Haiti quake and centred close to our city, even though many streets looked like a deserted war zone with rubble and army cordons –  amongst half a million people there were just two serious injuries and not one direct fatality.

Here’s the second wonderful thing: before the sun cleared the horizon, thousands were out helping others – and the helpers included many who had just lost everything. The connected spirit here has been a heart-warming and life-affirming phenomenon. Hundreds of inspiring stories are emerging; I’ll just sum them up with one quote from a cousin whose house is almost certain to be condemned. He said, “You can’t buy experiences like this.”

To the point. Who or what created the earthquake?

A full explanation needs the combination of the five universal truths, but above all it’s the ultimate test of the first truth: that you are the creator of your reality. For an individual event, the concept is easy to understand, if not to accept. But for a mass event like an earthquake it seems like nonsense—until we deepen our understanding of the words ‘you’,  ‘I’ and ‘we’. 

Traditional science says we are separate from each other. Yet for at least 4 decades, modern science has known better (while resisting the implications).  It has seen abundant evidence that our body cells respond to our thoughts, that plants respond to our thoughts, that inanimate particles respond to the thoughts of the scientist doing the experiment—and that the behaviour of any particle in the universe depends on the behaviour of every other particle in the universe.

If so, then where does ‘I’ end and ‘you’ begin?

Try this: picture ten people as ten bars of light, each a distinct colour. Now picture those colours flowing out and blending into each other, the combination becoming a subtle new colour—our collective subconscious. Picture a hundred, a thousand, half a million people, merged so that ‘we’ is literally a single, powerful, creative being expressing itself in the physical world. Now, knowing the first universal truth, we can see how a mass event like an earthquake might happen—even though such specific destructive thoughts might never crop up in any individual conscious mind.

Hard to picture?

Once upon a time there were three men, walking through the mountains and the valleys, with only a small loaf of bread left between them. The first man grumbled, “I’m hungry, one loaf is not enough.” Just then a crow flew overhead. The second man complained, “I’m famished, we must find more food.” And the crow landed in a nearby tree and watched them. The third man cried out, “I’m starving, we’re all going to die.” And in his distress he dropped the loaf, and the crow swooped down and carried it away.

Why were there no fatalities in our earthquake? The accepted explanation points to timing (most of us were in bed), good building codes, and a great deal of luck. Fair enough. But I point to a unique state of that invisible thing which truly unites us: our powerful collective subconscious.

And now? After the quake?  Of course creation continues, as always, individually and collectively. My cousin’s attitude will lay his own post-quake path; other attitudes will lay other paths—some inspiring, some sad. There will be half a million self-created realities, yet only one.

I want to leave you with a smile. A Christchurch man, noticing one of the smallest tremours, said to his four-year-old son, “Hey, Al, can you feel this aftershock?” So the little boy held his hand up in the air and tried to feel it with his fingertips.

Take care. Hold your loved ones close. If you are shaken, be not stirred.
Namaste
Michael

For more, read Finding the Field: an adventure of body, mind and spirit

Spiritual story of the week

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

 Hello everyone

There was once a man with absolute faith in God. So pure was his faith, he knew that if he was ever in serious trouble, God would save him.

One day, he fell ill.

A neighbour came to his bedside and, filled with compassion, said, “Let me take care of you; I will help you until you are well again.” But the sick man refused, saying, “God will take care of me. ” And he returned to prayer.

But his condition deteriorated and he became dangerously ill.

A doctor came to his bedside and, filled with compassion, said, “Let me take care of you; I will look after you and make you well again.” But the sick man refused, saying, “God will protect me. ” And he returned to prayer.

But his condition deteriorated further until he was close to death.

A surgeon came to his bedside and, filled with compassion, said, “Let me take care of you; I will look after you and make you well again.” But the sick man refused, saying, “God will save me. ” And he returned to prayer.

But soon, the man died.

Immediately after death, he sought and was granted an audience with God. “Why did you not save me?” he demanded.  And God smiled gently and replied, “I tried. I came to you as a neighbour, I came to you as a doctor, I came to you as a surgeon; but you did not recognize me and turned me away.”

Did you like that? Some stories convey the message so well, they need no explanation. So for this week, I’ll just bid you farewell with the Hindi word namaste, which can be translated as I recognise the god in you.

Namaste
Michael Brown

P.S. Stories are a wonderful way to make a point. If you have any that are consistent with the universal truths, and are willing the share them, please send them to me… at michael …at… findingthefield …dot… com

How do I know that ‘God’ exists?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

How do I know that God exists? I’ll let my artist friend Tom Newnam answer for me, because his is the simplest, yet most profound answer to that question I have seen. Just four words:

“That’s all I know.” (If you’re puzzled, put a slight emphasis on the word all.)

Here’s my take on his beautiful answer.

All things—material and non-material—are different faces of one being, which I’ll call Consciousness. I could equally call it God, the Field, the Great Spirit, the Source, the Tao, the One: all are names for the same thing. The universe is Consciousness: it is an ocean in motion, a river of eddies, an infinite field of creative works in which the art is the artist and the artist is the art.

Consciousness, longing to experience itself, imagines us into existence, individualized so that we can interact as if we are separate, so that our adventures can be real. What we create in that experience is also consciousness. Whatever object you might name—a galaxy, a mountain, a mouse, a fish or a fowl, a blade of grass or a puff of air—all is consciousness. Whatever thought you might have—idea, concept, feeling, attitude, belief—all is consciousness. And if you ‘know’ something, that knowledge too is consciousness, waving to you in your life mirror.

All that you know, is God.

Here’s another glance at the same thing through a science window. In recent years, physicists have been mystified by some of their own discoveries. Here’s an example: the behaviour of subatomic particles often reflects what is going on in the mind of the scientist doing the experiment! So the scientist is then compelled to ask the astonishing question, “How can a particle know what I’m thinking?”

All that you know, is God.

For more, read  Finding the Field, Part II Chapter 6. Or you can listen to that chapter of the audio book.

Plant identifies a ‘murderer’

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

When I was a school science teacher, I asked my class to help me conduct what was then a controversial ‘murder’ experiment. Here’s a swift summary:

We put two pot plants side by side in a backroom of the lab and looked after them for weeks so that they could ‘get to know each other’. One of them we called Percy. On the day of the ‘murder’ we attached Percy to a device known as a GSM machine, which would measure minute changes in the electrical conductivity of its leaves. Then the entire class left the lab, all but five going to a remote part of the school.

The five potential ‘suspects’ went to separate, pre-allocated places, each holding a sealed envelope containing instructions. The envelopes had been juggled so that no one (not even me) knew what any particular suspect was going to do. One by one, each suspect was directed to go to the room with the two plants, open and obey the instructions, then return to their pre-allocated place, speaking to no one.

One of them destroyed Percy’s companion plant, leaving it in shreds on the floor.  

All suspects were then paraded in front of Percy (the only witness), which was still attached to the GSM machine. Sure enough, for one suspect, there was an unmistakable jump in electrical conductivity of Percy’s leaves. The results were issued to the class. The suspect was accused, and he confessed in front of a hugely delighted science class. Percy the plant had identified the human ‘murderer’.

The excited class discussed the significance of what we had seen, and of course the interpretations varied hugely.

Here’s mine. Imagine that there is an invisible thread joining your little finger to every other object in the universe. So if you twitched your little finger, some measure of that movement would pass through every material object in existence. Now, imagine that the invisible thread is a form of awareness that permeates all things. Go further: imagine that the universe is a giant awareness, a feeling, expressing itself as all living and non-living things.

We are one Being, with many faces. Percy and Percy’s companion plant and the ‘murderer’ were three of those faces.

For more, read two articles:  The principle of existence and The third universal truth on the Finding the Field website.

Can an intellectually handicapped person be spiritually enlightened?

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

True or false? An intellectually handicapped person can be spiritually enlightened.

As part of my writing research, I was once shown through a hospital for the intellectually handicapped. Before visiting the most severely affected patients, the superintendent warned me that I could find the experience disturbing. He said, “I never enjoy going into this room, because when I look into their eyes I see that whatever’s going on in there, it isn’t nothing.”

One patient in particular (I’ll call her Nancy) had about her what I can only describe as a glow. She could utter no words, but she approached, touched my upper arms, and looked directly into my eyes. Her own eyes were filled with joy and love; and connection, as if she somehow recognized me. It was shocking – wonderfully shocking – from someone I might be expected to pity. She had something priceless that I did not have. She left me to return to the others, but her glow remained with her and all the while I was in that room, it connected with everyone around her.

The superintendent commented dryly, “Everyone loves Nancy.”

So, what do you think? Is the statement at the beginning true or false?  

It’s true. Yes, yes, yes, it’s true. Intelligence possesses no fast track to enlightenment. Nor does knowledge. Nor does even an encyclopedic knowledge of the words of the great masters. None of it says anything of our personal spiritual enlightenment and spiritual growth.

So what does? What is enlightenment? 

You’re enlightened when you know your neighbour as another face in the mirror. You’re enlightened when you know yourself as both the creator and the created.  You’re enlightened when you know a trillion invisible streams as a visible ocean. And you’re enlightened when you know that the question of enlightenment has the same answer as the question, “What am I?” 

My friend Tom in the US has just sent me this koan: “I’ll give you an orange,” the student challenged the master, “if you can tell me where God is.” “I’ll give you two oranges,” replied the master, “if you can tell me where God is not.”

For more, visit my website and read the article, the third universal truth.

Next week, I’ll tell you about an experiment  I conducted with a school science class, using a pot plant to identify a suspect.

Yes, a pot plant.