Friday, 9 December 2011

The Pearl of Great Price

Well, today is the day that I head off to India to sit around in caves growing a beard and wearing an orange robe in a last ditch attempt to avoid gainful employment. I’ve done well so far, if I do say so myself; it’s not easy to stay “happy, joyous and free” in a country run by the Conservative party, and it’s getting harder by the minute. So it didn’t take a huge leap of imagination to work out that I’d have a much better quality of life as far away from this country as I could possibly get, halfway up a mountain somewhere, herding goats.

Actually, as most of you are probably aware, I’m not going to herd goats. Goats barely come into it. No, I am going to be taught self knowledge by an irritable old redneck from Montana called Jim, who just happens to be a traditional, dyed in the wool Vedanta teacher who took the original Sanskrit teachings of self-inquiry and stuck them in a book, called “How to Attain Enlightenment”. If you’re interested in reading it, it looks like this:


Jim looks like this:



When people have asked me what I’m going to India for, I’ve tried to be reserved in my response. I’ve tried not to use the word “spiritual” too much, because there’s really nothing spiritual about it; self-inquiry is an investigation into the nature of reality using the logic of your own experience, and that’s it. Not only that, but to me the very word conjures up hideous pictures of sanctimonious hippy types running around like neurotic idiots mindlessly chanting mantras, ringing bells, trying to raise the Kundalini and getting up everybody’s arse, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

One guy said to me: “I hope you find yourself.” I thought this was an odd statement, as clearly, I am not lost. I am right here, where I always am.

A friend of mine said: “I hope you find what you’re looking for,” and again, it sounded odd, because I’m not really looking for anything.

Then this morning, when I woke up, it dawned on me. I’m not looking for anything because I’ve already found it. I have found what Jesus called “the pearl of great price”, and now I am off to collect it. And that’s it really. I’d like to close this blog post by saying that I’d better go and pack, but actually, I’ve got no stuff so there is nothing to pack. So I’ll just say so long, and lay off the Krokodil while I’m away. I’d hate to come back and find you all scaly.




"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found, and hid. In his joy, he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field."

"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who is a merchant seeking fine pearls, who having found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it."

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Because

It’s amazing how things change, isn’t it?

Six years ago I was drinking anything I could get, eating out of bins and smoking dog ends off the street. You might say I was “morally and spiritually bankrupt”, a phrase which is bandied about quite indiscriminately in my particular community, along with other such pithy and well-considered epigrams as: “there are only two things you need to know about God: 1) there is one and 2) you’re not him”.

The second one particularly amuses me, because this is a nondual reality which means that 1) there is nothing other than “God”, so it necessarily follows that 2) I am him and so is everybody and everything else.


With this understanding in mind I am about to set sail for India; my destination: the holy mountain of Arunachala. Arunachala is the famous home of India’s most revered modern sage, Ramana Maharishi, who died in the 1950s. I’m going there to be taught the Vedanta – the ancient science of self-inquiry - which is the investigation into the nature of consciousness and the world’s original enlightenment teaching, of which Buddhism is an offshoot.


Of course, I’m very much looking forward to it, but what I’m getting at is this: this was not something I ever imagined I’d be doing when I had my head stuck in the wheelie bins round the back of Waitrose all those years ago.

In spite of the fact that I was a mostly destitute drunk, I still thought I was right, and I clung to my delusions of rightness tooth and nail. These were delusions that I had to surrender if I wanted to stay sober, and when I did let them go, my world got inexplicably lighter. So much so, in fact, that I made a decision to continue the process and to cast off every belief and opinion that I’ve ever had.

It’s been illuminating. Most of the deep rooted and unquestioned beliefs that I had about life weren’t even mine in the first place. I had been indoctrinated by my parents and the society in which I grew up, who in turn had been indoctrinated by those who came before. They were doing it for my benefit, I know. But unfortunately, what passes for wisdom in the world is ignorant of the nature of reality, and if we take the world to be real we will suffer.

All of my beliefs are wrong, and need to be discarded. How do I know this? Because they appear in the mind, and I am not my mind.

I have no idea what will happen to me next. I’ll just follow my nature and leave the results to God. It’s the best way to live, I find. Which reminds me of another pithy statement that I heard an old boy say once, and which I like a lot:


“The answer to your question is: because.”

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Swami’s Underpants

In a cave by a stream lived a swami, who had one pair of underpants. When they got dirty he’d take them off, and wash them in the stream.

One morning, one of his disciples saw him and said, incredulously: “Swami, are you kidding? This is outrageous! You’re standing there naked, in full view of anyone who happens to be passing. You need another pair of underpants. If you have two pairs, you won’t need to stand here stark raving nude in front of the population at large every time you do your laundry.”

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” replied the swami, “nobody cares about whether I’m naked or not; I’m just an old guy, washing his smalls.”

“On the contrary,” his disciple told him, “it’s completely inappropriate. You have to show some respect for other people. Nobody walks around naked these days; you need an extra pair of underpants.”

So the swami relented, and said: “Ok, go and get me an extra pair of underpants.”

A week later the swami was washing his underpants in the stream, when another disciple saw him, and exclaimed: “Swami, you shouldn’t be standing there washing your own underpants; you’re a sannyasin! It’s not your duty!”

“Really?” said the swami. “If it’s not my duty to wash my underpants then whose duty is it?”

“That’s what wives are for,” replied the disciple. “Wives wash underpants. You need a wife, Swami.”

“Ok,” said the swami, who could see where this was going, “go and get me a wife.”

So now the swami had two pairs of underpants, and a wife to wash them for him, because he was not a doer.

One morning his wife came to him, irritable, restless and discontented, and said: “Now you listen to me, Swamiji! Do you think I’m here just to wash your underpants? Well, I’ve got news for you! I’m a woman, and I have needs! I want you to give me a baby!”

“Mother of God,” said the swami, “really? Okay, if you need a baby to be happy, I’ll give you a baby.”

And so he did.

So now the swami had two pairs of underpants, a wife to wash them for him, and a baby. It was no longer feasible for the family to live in his cave by the stream, so the swami had to buy a house in the suburbs and take a high pressured job in the City to pay off the mortgage.

Before too long the swami wasn’t a swami anymore, and had no recollection of ever having been a swami, all because one day, years ago, he’d succumbed to the desire for an extra pair of underpants, and it had been his undoing.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Bike

When I was a kid I had a bike. It was a big, red, shiny bike. It was a Raleigh Grifter, no less, which is probably the heaviest and most cumbersome bike that has ever taken to the road. It was also the 1970s - the era of Evel Knievel, daredevil stunt rider - and like any young boy of the time, I spent all my time building ramps in the street, pulling wheelies, and jumping off whatever high surfaces I could find. I broke a number of bones (my own, and those of my friends), and found myself in a lot of ditches (a habit which was going to repeat itself throughout my adult life), but like a big red shiny stallion, my Raleigh Grifter always stood waiting, silent and ready, for the next bone-shaking stunt.


Recently, at the age of forty, I learned to drive, and bought my first ever car – a Citroën Saxo – and did pretty much the same thing with that. Unfortunately, the Saxo was neither as heavy or as – let’s have it right – HARD as the Grifter, and within a matter of weeks it was a trembling wreck; a mere shadow of its former self.

It occurred to me today that recovery from alcoholism is much like riding a bike. When I first got the bike I had no idea how to ride it, but someone showed me the basics and off I went. After a couple of minor injuries I picked up confidence. Now I could do it with no hands. Confidence was replaced by cockiness, playing chicken with the traffic and pulling wheelies left right and centre. Squares and highway code fanatics would wag their disapproving fingers and mutter: “pulling wheelies is not for the likes of us”, or “I’ve had this bike for thirty years and I still don’t claim to know how to ride it,” or “you think you know all about bike-riding, but one of these days you’re going to come off your bike, and then you’ll be sorry”.

Well, I’ve come off my bike a few times now, but am I sorry? No. No I’m not. I love my bike and can’t wait to get back on it; to go racing off into the distance looking for the next death-defying leap. If you ask me, that’s what bikes are for.


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

L.S.D.

I haven’t written anything much for a month or so, because I’ve had other fish to fry: like putting a rock and roll band together in a desperate attempt to avoid being forced into some mind-numbing back-breaking job in a munitions factory, or having to “volunteer” for paid drug research programs or whatever else the Tory government that nobody voted for decides that I need to do for the fascist machine to justify my existence to my countrymen, who are brainwashed by their newspapers and years upon years of ignorance. So I thought that this morning, while I have a few minutes, I would put finger to keyboard (so to speak) and write just for the sheer sake of it. And – for no particular reason – I decided that I would write about LSD.

Like Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary and their contemporaries, Bill W, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was a big fan of LSD, and – let’s face it – who can blame him? Bill – like Huxley – considered the psychedelic drug a valid means of enlarging his spiritual life, and he wrote about it excitedly, and at length.

Unfortunately for Bill, he wrote about it on the first thing that came to hand – Alcoholics Anonymous headed paper – and it wasn’t too long before the still adolescent fellowship decided that he had to be stopped.

                “Bill,” I like to imagine they said, “it’s all very well and good for you to be enlarging your spiritual experience through voodoo, Ouija boards, ritual magic and animal sacrifice – we have no opinion on what religious bodies our members identify themselves with – but all this lovey-dovey hippy crap is taking it a step too far. Sort yourself out man, before people start to think you’re some kind of goddam drug-addict.”

As for myself, I took a lot of LSD. A lot. I never saw anything that wasn’t there, I never had a “bad trip” and it did me no harm mentally or physically. What it did do was blow my mind so profoundly that all mental activity was suspended and I experienced life as it is: non-dual, spontaneous, surprising, and happening everywhere, all at the same time. It was the first time in life that I realised – to quote Bill W himself – that “a mighty purpose and rhythm underlay all”.

Job done, you might think. But you’d be wrong. No experience, however profound, lasts. And before too long I was back in my usual dualistic, linear mental groove.

I don’t want to take LSD today, in spite of the fact that I am somewhat of an apologist for it. The fact is that I am also living a twelve step program, and trying to influence my experience through the means of any outside objects (be they drugs, relationships or whatever) is in direct opposition to practicing the very principle that keeps me sober: step 3; reliance upon a higher power, or, if you like, accepting life as it is.

And the fact is, that when I accept life as it is, I begin to be curious; to pay more attention to it: and I notice that hey, it is spontaneous, surprising, and happening everywhere, all at the same time.


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The White Light of Morning


As the debris settles around me; as my head becomes clearer like the white light of morning, I find myself in possession of an airline ticket to India.



Ah, now I remember. That’s where the rent money went.

That’s why I started working in a shipyard. To buy a plane ticket to India, so I could go and sit at the feet of an enlightened master for twelve weeks and take instruction in Advaita Vedanta. The problem is – and has always been – that me and work don’t go well together. I’m not cut out for it. It’s not that I don’t like money: it’s just that I don’t like what you have to do to get it.

So obviously, I quit the job, blew the wages on ludicrous trousers, spent the money for the rent on a plane ticket and then got drunk and set fire to the building.


I mean, who wouldn't?



If, like me, you're interested in investigating the nature of Reality, check out Not 2 Likely.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Everything is Alright, Actually.

Isn’t it amazing how we punish ourselves? Isn’t it insane that we have been brought up to believe that we are inherently not worthy of happiness unless we kill ourselves trying to obtain it through security, status, power, relationships or sensations?

This was brought home to me last night when in a sudden flash of the bloody obvious I realised that I have been punishing myself for getting drunk several weeks ago.

There is so much guilt and shame inherent in an alcoholic relapse that I almost subconsciously switched existential positions: from that of a man with a fairly healthy self-image to that of a worm.

It’s not surprising really, given the culture of recovery that I have “grown up” with: if you take a drink/drug your status is instantly reduced to that of a “newcomer”, and anything that you’ve learned in your former period of sobriety (regardless of how long or happy it may have been) must be discarded because “it didn’t work”.

So – true to acceptable form - as soon as I was sober I decided to flagellate myself by putting myself through the tedium of finding a new sponsor to “take me through” the twelve steps. “Must be humble,” my brainwashed subconscious belief system screamed, “must act subservient, must discard all your knowledge and deny all your spiritual experience and pretend that you know nothing.”

The problem is: I am not a newcomer and I know a hell of a lot. I have had many spiritual awakenings over the last three years, as a result of practicing the principles of the program, and the subsequent enlargement of my spiritual life through meditation, investigation and the practice of Self-knowledge. To deny who I am and my experience of “God” would be ludicrous.

I don’t need to wait for somebody to show me how to recover. I know how to recover. I know why I got drunk and I know what I have to do to stay sober, and I choose to recover NOW.

(And listen to Ravi Shankar while I’m at it.)



Thursday, 22 September 2011

Coffee with God

After getting drunk the faith that I’d had in God and the twelve step program evaporated like snow in springtime. I was left with the most barren and awful emptiness. I couldn’t believe that I would ever be happy again. I kept thinking to myself: can I really face going through all this again? But as a friend of mine put it: “Do you have any choice?”

And the answer is no. I don’t have any choice. Not if I want to stay sober and relatively sane.

So, last night – as I did the night before, and the night before that – I dragged myself to a meeting. It turned out to be an astonishingly good meeting; a powerful meeting; a really, really HEAVY meeting, filled with newcomers, chronic relapsers and other alcoholics of the rock-bottom variety. At the end of it, this big black guy who’d seen me pissed in Boscombe three weeks earlier came up to me and said: “I was shocked when I saw that you were drunk, but I knew you’d be ok, because of all the stuff you’ve done in the past. God loves you. God’s got your back.”

I thought about this when I got home; and as snapshots of my life flashed through my memory I realised he was right. I thought about all the desperate and dangerous situations I’ve put myself in, and from which I’ve escaped, relatively unharmed. I thought about the inability that I have consistently demonstrated in regards to managing my own life, and I asked myself: is there any time in my life that God has not had my back?

Once again the answer is no. No there isn’t. God has always had my back. And if God had not had my back all this time, I would be in big big trouble.

Right there and then my ego starts to resurface, telling me I’m special, and I have to remind it: I may be unique, but I am not special. I am nothing but consciousness expressing itself as humanity. I am the same consciousness that is expressing itself as the grass and the trees and the universe; as these words that you are reading and as you that is reading them.

To say that there is “one” consciousness is not quite right, because there is nothing else. It is the only principle operating and we are it.

God’s got all of our backs.





Check out Not 2 Likely.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Dead or Fucked or Worse

Recently – after nearly three years sober – I picked up a drink.

Well: to say “picked up a drink” is putting it somewhat mildly. I actually made a decision to kill myself with a bottle of vodka and a handful of Prozac. I knew I was taking a risk, though; and the risk was this: there was a very good chance that I would just come round again, four hours later, having set off the physical craving for alcohol in my body, and be unable to stop drinking.

And that is exactly what happened.

How had I allowed myself to come to this point of insanity?

Those of you familiar with my blog will know that after my initial “spiritual awakening” through the twelve step program of recovery I became interested in the non-dual nature of reality, and decided to adopt the practice of self-enquiry, with the view of attaining enlightenment. This all seemed like good step 11 stuff to me.

I began to live a more monastic lifestyle: I got rid of the telly, spent most of my time in silence and stopped communicating with people unless absolutely necessary. I fantasized about the moment when I would be free of the body, mind and ego. And yet: every bloody morning I woke up, still in samsara; still identified with the body and mind; still in bondage. Or so it seemed. It was like Groundhog Day. It was like drinking. I became transcendentally bored.

The truth of the matter was: I wasn’t getting what I wanted. And what I wanted – once again, albeit in a subtle “spiritual” disguise – was something that would make me feel better. I was, once again, in resistance to what is.

I was trying to fix myself. I had stopped “relying upon God” and was relying almost entirely on my ego (which as we know, doesn’t even really exist). I had cunningly fooled myself into thinking that I was freeing myself from my mind, when in actual fact I was reinforcing my habitual non-acceptance of everything. I was full of spiritual pride. I was screwed: but I didn’t know it.

Wandering around Boscombe, pissed, I would run into people from the fellowship. None of them – thank God – tried to lecture me. They only asked if I was ready for help yet. But I was defiant. I was going to destroy myself.

And then I got “lucky”. Something happened to me which has never happened before. On the fifth or sixth morning I came round with a couple of beers left in the flat. And it suddenly dawned on me: This is futile. This is going nowhere. You’ve already smashed yourself to pieces. You don’t need to do it again.

There and then I picked up the telephone and called my friend, Wobbly John. Amazingly, he had an alcohol detox which he’d kept in a drawer for the last two years against such an emergency, and he administered it to me. And took me to a meeting. And another meeting. And no-one in those meetings judged or lectured me.

And really what I want to say is this: to all my friends and to our wonderful fellowship, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without you I would be dead or fucked or worse.



*Incidentally, I no longer wish to kill myself; nor do I particularly care about enlightenment.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Just for Today

Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

Just for today I will be happy. Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be.

Just for today I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my ‘luck’ as it comes, and fit myself to it.

Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.

Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out; if anybody knows of it, it will not count. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do – just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not show it.

Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, talk low, act courteously, criticise not one bit, not find fault with anything and not try to improve or regulate anybody except myself.

Just for today I will have a programme. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.

Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all by myself, and relax. During this half hour, sometime, I will try to get a better perspective of my life.

Just for today I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.


Friday, 9 September 2011

The Wise Old Owl of Ordinary Street

There’s a crazy woman who lives down my street. At least, I think she’s a woman, but at times it can be a bit difficult to tell because she takes to wearing pinstriped suits, kipper ties, carrying a briefcase and calling herself Horace.

She calls me Giles.

Recently she’s taken to leaning out of her window and haranguing me as I’m on my way to the shop. Just now, I went out to buy a bag of sugar for my yogi tea, and, lo and behold: there she was; arms waving insanely as she launched herself at me through her open window like something out of a snuff movie.

“Giles,” she screeched, “I see you’re sober today!”

            “Yes, Horace,” I replied, “yes I am.”

           “Well you need to know something. There are only three reasons that you will pick up a drink. One, because you’ve spent all your money on gambling and prostitutes and the pressure of the loan sharks and whatnot has become too much to bear: two, because you’re hanging around with people who are drinking and somehow someone’s convinced you that it’ll be alright: or three, you’re not right in the head. Thus speaks the wise old owl of Ordinary Street.”

            “Wise old owl?” I thought to myself. Mad old bint, more like. 

A

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Meaning of Life


I am trying to find the meaning  of life.

So far, life is the answer.

I wake up.

I am aware of the fact that I wake up.

That is it, so far.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

All you have to do is this:











Who you are, baby.


Recovery from alcoholism wasn’t doing it for me. So I decided to get drunk.

I made a conscious decision to pick up a drink.

The funny thing is that at the point of writing I seem to be ok. For sure, I’ve got no money and no cigarettes and I’m watching my mind like a vulture for the first signs. But this is day 3.

I can tell you that I’m powerless and it seems to be true.

On the other hand I will probably be dead in six days.

But – and it’s a big but – I’m not dead now. I am alive and kicking and in your present experience.

Can you stop thinking for a minute?

Listen.

This is who you are.

The silence isn’t something that happens to you. It is who you are.

What is the one thing that has always been here: that has never changed?


Monday, 29 August 2011

Abandon Your Everything

There is a phrase in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous: it says “abandon yourself”. It’s somewhere around the end of the basic text.


Bill Wilson was right (about turning our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him).
But he was also right about the enlargement of a spiritual experience.

Is “turning my will and my life over to the care of God” judging people who don’t fall into line with my likes and dislikes?

And who am I anyway?

Who’s telling me what’s right and wrong? My family? My friends? This particular moral code which I’ve inherited and think is God?

Everything that you believe is crap. Get used to it.


Because we are all the same.

I don’t have to tell you how I think.

I am you anyway.

What are we doing with the world?

What are we doing with our own consciousness?

Ask yourself.

Who is it that I think I am.

You are not what you think.

You are the awareness of that.

All those beliefs and concepts: disregard them.

I know they keep coming up. They’re habitual. We are programmed. You need to break out of the programming. So you need to keep telling yourself: “I am awareness; not the thoughts and feelings arising in it.”

In fact: these are things that are independent of me: the one who sees.



Sunday, 28 August 2011

You are not this.

If you are like me, there is no getting away from what you are.

You are consciousness, regardless of how drunk you are or how you may feel about it.

This is why you keep waking up all the time.

There is no getting away from who you are.

Even if you were to die, this situation would repeat itself. That’s because you are the only thing in your life that is real.

Think about it.

Who has always been there?

Who was looking out of your eyes when you were five years old?

Is the person who’s looking out of your eyes now any different?

No.

You are what you have always been. Maybe you’ve picked up some new beliefs on the way. We all do. You can safely disregard them: they’re nonsense. They’re conditioned patterns of thought which arise in the mind and nothing more. They are harmless and fruitless. And yet I know that you have built your entire life around them.

You are not this.

You are that which is always here. Like it or not.


Bill and Ebby

One day I decided I was going to kill myself.

The thing was, I had a lot of people relying on me. I wasn’t sure how I could do it, without them all being a bit disillusioned.


The thing is, you’ve got to realize: if someone wants to kill themselves, it’s their business. It doesn’t mean that the things that they believed in were wrong: it doesn’t mean the things they told you were wrong: take Marcel Proust. He had the answer to everything, but couldn’t live that way himself.

Take Ebby Thatcher. He gave Bill W. the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous but couldn’t stay sober himself.

Take Jesus.  He couldn’t let it go. He thought he was responsible for whether we got this or not.

It’s not Jesus’s fault we didn’t get it, nor Ebby Thatcher’s, nor Gandhi’s, nor anybody else’s.  When we’re ready we’re ready. When we’re not, we’re not.

I’m thankful to Jesus, to Gandhi, to Ebby Thatcher and to Bill and Bob who told me that whatever happened, it would be alright. And I’m thankful to the Father of Light who presides over us all, for giving me an opportunity to get my brain back. You’re a star.

Bill W. and Ebby Thatcher

Who are you?

People come up to me in the street and ask me to keep blogging.


God knows why. It’s not like I’ve got anything interesting to say; just an interesting way of saying it.

It’s all crap.

This is what I have to say: nothing. I’m just a poor cunt trying to make sense of everything, like you.

But there is one thing I know: the world is an illusion, and if you take it to be real you will suffer.

You are awareness, I am awareness. We’re the same awareness; we’re the same thing.

In fact there is only one thing and we are it.

To call it “one” is misleading because “one” implies “many” and there is nothing else.

Even if there was something that existed outside of awareness it only exists as an idea in awareness.

We take ourselves to be the body. We are not the body. The body is a something (like the world) that we perceive when our eyes are open. Close your eyes and the body and the world are gone.

If you look honestly and directly into your own experience you will see that when your eyes are closed there is no body, there is no world; there are sensations which thought tells us are the body and the world.

But they are not the body, and they are not the world. They are mental arisings in awareness. Do we believe ourselves to be the mind (thoughts, feelings, sensations, beliefs and ideas) or that which is conscious of them?
Who are you? The mental arising or the awareness in which it takes place?



Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Vanishing Point

For the last few weeks I’ve been suffering from a bad case of transcendental boredom.

Actually, that’s not quite true.

I’ve been witnessing a bad case of transcendental boredom.

No, that’s not true either.

I am aware of certain thoughts and sensations, which my mind interprets as transcendental boredom, even though upon investigation my mind turns out to be nothing but a series of thoughts that arise and subside in awareness.

There is no-one who is bored. There is the awareness of restlessness.

Restlessness comes and goes, but awareness remains.

The one who is aware of restlessness is the one who is aware of excitement, happiness, fear, anger and the whole array of experience.

As soon as a feeling arises, an “I” thought arises too.

It says “I feel this” or “I feel that” or “I am this” or “I am that”.

But when I look into my direct experience the owner of the "I" can’t be found. There is no separate self. The “I” is just a thought. A single thought. A habitual thought. The whole idea of a personal identity is based on nothing but memory, which is also a thought arising and subsiding in awareness.

I am that awareness.


Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Man Who Bottled the Truth


I didn’t go out of my way to be a scientist: it just sort of happened. I’ve never had much interest in things like snails and worms or developing new kinds of rubber, so it’s surprising that I should find myself now, approaching middle age – hair shooting madly from every cavity; eyebrows with an agenda of their own; undergarments in a state of open revolution – standing at my bench in the laboratory, about to discover the meaning of life.

It’s been a long and arduous journey that has taken me from the backstreets of Bombay to the open sewers of Calcutta; from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains. I have been a man obsessed. I have neglected my children – they are nothing but a memory – and my wife is welded to the settee.

You may think me cold and heartless, but it’s not like that, really. When I discovered that the meaning of life lay within my reach I had no option but to pursue it with single-pointed determination. At times I thought I was going quite mad. The police tried to bust into my lab. I disguised myself as a hippopotamus to evade capture. The government and their psychiatrists have spent considerable time and effort trying to keep me incarcerated, but I am a master of escape. The lengths to which I have gone are extreme.

And yet humankind will remember me with fondness, as the man who bottled the Truth.

And the Truth can be yours if you want it, for just $100 plus tax. Grape or blueberry.


Saturday, 9 July 2011

Scooters, Boats, and Paul Weller’s Haircut

I’ve got myself a job, working in a shipyard for a company that makes insanely priced luxury motor yachts for foreign gentlemen with more money than sense.


They’re beautiful things, these boats; white and gleaming: they nose through the blue waters like mythical sea beasts.  They are things of dream and fantasy; the kind of item you probably imagined yourself buying before you resigned yourself to the fact that you were never going to win the lottery. You can get one for between £750,000 (if you have a modest budget) and twenty million quid (if you’re more of an exhibitionist), and it'll be made almost entirely from stuff that you can get at B&Q.

There are several hundred people employed at the shipyard, but providence saw fit to put me on a team of scooter enthusiasts. These guys are far more interested in talking about the latest modifications to their Lambrettas than they are about anything that’s happening on the boat, which is fine by me. They were very pleased, I think, that the newest member of their team was not a freakishly huge eastern European body builder foaming at the mouth from too many steroids (which they were expecting), but a thin white sleepy looking bird with a Paul Weller haircut, rectangular sunglasses and a “Watch the Cloth, Moth” T-shirt.

At the moment the lads are in excited anticipation of the Isle of Wight scooter rally. 

         “We go every year,” Frenchy told me, “why don’t you come with us? I reckon it’s going to be Roger Daltrey headlining. Last year it was Ronnie Lane. The year before it was Madness.”

“I’d love to,” I said, “but I don’t have a scooter.”

“That’s ok. Half the people there don’t have a scooter. It don’t matter. It’s just three days of camping in a field and getting extremely pissed. I drink a bottle of Bacardi every night. You drink Bacardi?”

“No, I don’t drink at all these days.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m allergic to alcohol.”

“Why, what happens? Does it make you break out in a rash?”

“No, it makes me break into your house.”

And so began the discussion about alcoholism. I described the physical craving and mental obsession, and they all decided they had at least one person amongst their acquaintance who was probably alcoholic. The carpet fitter was kneeling in the corner listening intently. I knew he was listening because he is an alcoholic, but it hasn't dawned on him yet. When he does he’ll know who to talk to.


“Anyway,” I said to Frenchy, “I can’t really afford to go to the Isle of Wight, because I’m saving up to go to India for two months at the end of the year.”

“Really? I’ve never been to India. What are you going there for?”

“Well, I’m going to study.”

“Study what?”

“Vedanta.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s the science of self-inquiry. The study of consciousness.”

“No shit. Wow. How cool is that. You know you can pick up a scooter for a couple of hundred quid out there. Hey Arnie! Paul Weller’s going to India!”

“That’s great, Paul Weller!” the voice of Arnie drifted in from the cockpit. “Now we can import some Lambrettas!”