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


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.”