Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Importance of Being Idle

I awake sometimes with the irresistable urge to be just for the sake of being. I rarely do something so frivolous because I like to flatter myself that I’m a writer, which of course, I am not. After all, writers write. That is their nature. But it is not my nature. My nature is to drink coffee, smoke fags, and pamper myself with the soft furnishings of native raw potential. It has always been this way.

I can paint. I can write. I can compose music, and I can play a mean blues guitar. I can turn my hand to pretty much any kind of job you can conceive of, as long as it doesn’t involve heavy lifting. I just choose not to.

Sometimes I wonder about this. Is it because I am afraid of failure that I don’t indulge my talents? Is it because I fear rejection in the eyes of the world? Or is it because I just can’t be bothered?

I think it’s the last one, if I’m honest. I’m a lazy sod, if you want the truth. I don’t really feel the need to do anything.

Why is this? Most people are driven to make something of themselves, to be a success in the eyes of their peers; to own a house or a car or a business; to write a book or to win the Derby. Why not I?

I think the answer is that I’m happy. Happiness takes away the reason to do all this stuff. Maybe that’s why, in our society, it is frowned upon to be happy with who you are and what you’ve got. The whole economy would break down if everyone was happy. Nobody would buy any weapons. My God, where would we be then? Civilisation as we know it would cease to exist. Nobody would ever get anything done.

But there is virtue in idleness. (That’s idleness, not idolatry.) Racing to and fro and trying to achieve things and earn as much money and status as you can before you die and are forgotten about instantly and forever is doubtless very important for the evolution of the human species as a whole – it must be; we’ve had it drummed into us since the day we were born – but somebody has to sit down now and again, take an objective look at it all and ask: “What are we evolving into? Are we evolving at all? Is there even anything to evolve? Or are we just going round and round on the endless merry-go-round of apparent reality?”

That somebody is me.

“I am happiest when I am idle. I could live for months without performing any kind of labour, and at the expiration of that time I should feel fresh and vigorous enough to go right on in the same way for numerous more months.” – Artemus Ward

“Idleness is not doing nothing. Idleness is being free to do anything.” – Floyd Dell

“The perfect man does nothing. The sage takes no action.” – Chuang Tse

Saturday, 11 December 2010

I’m not Seeking Anything: I’m Just Having a Look

The first true spiritual experience I had (that I remember) came about after an industrial quantity of LSD when I saw and felt for the first time that – to quote Bill W – “a mighty purpose and rhythm underlay all.”

It totally changed my perception of life, the universe, and my place in it, but over time - as so often happens - as the experience faded and different experiences came and went, my habitual delusions about the way things are began to reassert themselves.

And my habitual delusions about the way things are run a bit like this: “Why has this happened to me? This is all wrong. Life shouldn’t be this way. You should be a bit less like you and a bit more like me. Fucking people. This is shit.”

And so on, and so forth.

All that resentment and wrong thinking is a definite block to spiritual awakening, or indeed, to a remotely happy existence. That’s why I don’t have a whole lot of time for uptight hippies, no matter how much mantra they chant, or for religious maniacs who think the rest of the world are dangerous heathens to be converted at all costs.

I’ve learnt since that if I think I know anything, I have effectively closed myself off to reality, which changes faster than I can keep up with it, and if I am blocking myself off from reality I am blocking myself off from God, because they are the same.

My self-righteousness, anger, resentment, and fear drove me through an alcoholic hell to the very doors of death, and thank God they did; it was only when I was completely hopeless and utterly defeated that I was able to surrender, to what is.

William James, in his book “Varieties of Religious Experience” wrote:

"Emotional occasions, especially violent ones, are extremely potent in precipitating mental rearrangements. ... Hope, happiness, security, resolve, emotions characteristic of conversion can be ... explosive. And emotions that come in this explosive way seldom leave things as they found them."

No wonder we see so many “wholesale miracles” through the twelve step program. All of the spiritual prescriptions of other paths (surrender, the realisation that God will be found within, self-enquiry, repentance/renunciation, redress, prayer, meditation and selfless action) are put into practical application almost at once; certainly by the time I had been led through the twelve steps by my sponsor (which took about a month), these things were my established and accepted way of life. Since then it’s just been about continuing.

If I continue to practice these principles, I continue to change, and change* is the essence of awakening. I have gone in a few short years from something that I despised, to someone that I’m very happy being, namely me.

If I’m happy to be me, I’m probably going to be quite happy letting you be you, too.

*Change, also, is something that can only happen within. If you think you need to change the world, you probably need to change yourself. There’s nothing wrong with the world. The world is okay. It’s been doing fine for a few years now, and it will still be doing ok when you’re dead.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Anarchy, the Electric Guitar, and Disgust with Civilisation

Its thirty years to the day that John Lennon was murdered in New York, and I’m thinking: how far have we come?

Not very, seems to be the answer. Not very far at all.

The close of 2010 finds Britain a nation of warmongering xenophobes under the heel of a fascist government. I thought that the point of history was learning from our mistakes. Clearly not.

The elderly have to work until they’re nearly dead and aren’t allowed any central heating, so they queue up to burn in the Tory ovens of the no longer feasible, in the happy knowledge that they are providing power for the production lines and keeping Britain Great.

Education is a privilege reserved for our future leaders; after all, you don’t need a degree to work in factories, slaughter animals, or kill third world civilians, and it costs too much. Not only that, but people might start getting ideas in their heads.

Ideas are dangerous, but they can be castrated with iPhones, X Factor, fear of Muslims and the press. Keep them stupid, that’s the name of the game.

Those that can’t be kept stupid are brutalised by police, imprisoned indefinitely or – for economy and expediency – shot on mass and buried in shallow graves.


As for me, you fat capitalist Tory pig, I will not fight your wars. Nor will I obey your rules or watch your television.

I will govern myself.