Vis Viva – A Journey to Sirius

Frontispiece

The prophet is not diverted by illusions of past, present and future. The fixity of language determines such linear distinctions. Prophets hold a key to the lock in language. The mechanical image remains only an image to them. This is not a mechanical universe. The linear progression of events is imposed by the observer. Cause and effect? That’s not it at all. The prophet utters fateful words. You glimpse a thing “destined to occur”. But the prophetic instant releases something of infinite portent and power. The universe undergoes a ghostly shift. The wise prophet conceals actuality behind shimmering labels. The uninitiated then believe the prophetic language is ambiguous. The listener distrusts the prophetic messenger. Instinct tells you how the utterance blunts the power of such words. The best prophets lead you up to the curtain and let you peer through it yourself.

– The Stolen Journals [1]

Frank Herbert “God Emperor of Dune” Gollancz,, Orion Publishing, London. Page 297 ISBN 0 575 07506 6

1st May 2008



Preface

As they say, “Every journey begins with a single step!”

I am heretic, a heretic to the church of reason. Though it was there that I began my genesis, there I found nemesis and where, I no longer belong.

This very morning as I mulled over koans and Leibniz, Lao Tzu and Newton, I stepped out of my front door. I looked down at our beautiful garden, now partially tamed and resplendent in the spring-ness of spring. Two beautiful white gulls flew overhead filling me with peace. I, yes I, had to return to the source and for me at least a part of the source of all this, is the second law of thermodynamics and that fate full night on a beach in Negril.

Over the last few days I have been waiting on a image from a lady in Australia to arrive and yesterday it did; a rose of deepest blue touched by the tears of heaven. This rose will adorn the cover of this book; “Vis viva – a journey to Sirius”.

Later, pondering on whether to start today or tomorrow and looking to clear my head, I took a stroll around the block. The wet earth rich in aroma from yesterday’s rain, the sun shining down on the fields nearby raised my spirits. And, as I paused to smoke on the bench, much as my grandfather had done, gazing out across the valley to Clydach, I saw a black crow chasing a red tailed kite into the sun. I followed them by eye until I could not bear it. I looked away and then only a few seconds later they were no where to be seen. The skies around here are big and there is no place to hide. But they were gone and I knew. I had to begin. It was an omen.

This book is not a book of answers. It is a book of beginnings. In these pages I will hope to outline a way of thinking that strays from the concretised thought patterns so prevalent today and in doing so will set myself up, for as we know, heretics are never welcome at the altar. Each church has for itself a bane of some kind and the bane of the church of reason is, proof. This is the catch 22 of a limited philosophical and dare I say “scientific” study of life. Here I mean science in the sense of knowing and knowledge and not in the sense of what has become the extension of technology which currently masquerades as science. How can I prove anything to you in the absence of a shared context? I cannot. It is only in reference to your knowledge and the veil of perception which is both yours and mine that I can attempt to communicate. In any case it is not things per se that I want to talk about, though of course things will be a part of this discourse. Proof itself is a concept. Proof is not really a reality but more often a mental construct within a thought pattern or collection of thoughts. In a sense proof requires a theory. In the absence of theory proof itself is only a potential construct of the mind which has yet to come into being.

Whether we like it or not the great philosophical, scientific, psychological and religious schools of thought have all influenced how we as mankind behave. They, along with the media, our peers and parents condition us to behave in certain ways. For example if lots of people agree on something then it becomes a truth and a lie told often enough becomes the truth.

Je pense donc je suis or cogito ergo sum, has permeated much of our thoughts and whether intentionally or otherwise has raised thought onto the high altar of existence, there perhaps to challenge the Divine for supremacy in the minds of man. If there is not thought then how can there be existence? Yet life itself is way beyond the scope of man’s petty intellect, it is so much more than that.

I feel therefore I am, is perhaps a better way of putting it. After all and once all that analytical thinking is done, life is much more of a feeling than a thought. Isn’t it?

Or even better still, simply, I am. Existence and life do not require logic or proof. There is no need for because, donc or ergo. At one level there just is.

The invention of these reasoning words pre-supposes a thought pattern upon the nature of communication that limits one in the exploration of being-ness. These words themselves hint at a direct and linear causality in life and constrain, implying the social conditioning inherent in the use of should and ought.

As part of this book I am going to attempt to reclaim some language before I use it. Words by their very nature, veil the truth and explicitly so. They take on a meaning or life of their own as they are used again and again. Certain sub cultures, let’s say for example the physical sciences use words in highly specified circumstance and within definitional frameworks, as such they cannot for them, have a meaning other than their context specific usage. Energy is a classic here. Ask any scientist what energy actually is and they will gloss over the subject calling it a capacity to do work. So what is this capacity that is energy? Does it really exist?

Here then is the beginning of the borders of a Kurukshetra, the Chautauqua of a journey into perception. Written by a man, in his mid forties, who has published in the physical science literature, co-founded a successful high technology spin out company and who was until recently a senior lecturer in chemistry at a top university. This means because of my qualifications that I am an initiate of a certain degree within the school of concrete science, the new religion of mankind.

Please, bear with me on this journey and let’s see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Organism

In a very real sense we, as a mankind live in a material world. A world that is made up of matter and most of our consciousness or awareness is directed at surviving within the context of that world. Depending upon where we are in life, the process of living can be a real struggle, just getting the basics to sustain the physical form takes up all our effort. Should we have the good fortune to have a little physical plane wealth we might find ourselves with time on our hands; the time to pursue things not directly aimed at sustenance of being. Yet there are relatively few people who actually use this time to focus on the mystery of being-ness. People choose instead to get caught up in various activities that divert away from this, feeling secure that they are leaving such things to the religious leaders, philosophers, scientists and perhaps the poets of this world. In a strange way doing the ostrich of life and taking expressed overt pleasure in being profoundly superficial. From my position how can anyone not wonder what living is all about? Even the most blasé of us must have wondered a little on this, even if that came about only because of the death of a loved one or having to explain to a child where budgerigars go when they die. Such things are quickly brushed under the carpet as if they didn’t happen as perhaps the TV schedule now beckons and we must not miss the latest episode of East Enders.

Our societies conspire to teach us that life is only as it appears or rather how we conspire with each other to view it. Social conditioning fills us with all sorts of limitations to our perception and our choices of behaviour. It is riddled with expectation and the use of conditional vocabulary. It has a purpose in that it has evolved so that a bunch of human beings can live together in a way that is relatively harmonious, sharing a nearly common contextual interpretation of events and happenings, enabling at least some sharing of resource so that life can be sustained for many. Yet how many choose to operate in this world is rapacious, taking everything from life, the planet and each other. Very few people look at the cost, in real terms, of our behaviours on each other and the world we live in. We have come to the point where we are out of rhythm with flow of life and discordant with the universe. In a sense the song of life we now sing is harsh and dissonant. Because, deep down we all know this, we seek doings to occupy our minds so that we do not have to look at the tragedy of it all. At least a part of this comes from the conurbation of humans into large cities, where to keep the population quiet forms of entertainment have been developed. Out of these do indeed spring the highest that human artistic endeavour can achieve but there is much that isn’t. One only has to look at the role models we are asked to subscribe to, where for example celebrity is perhaps the new God and people willingly submit to the knife to get new boobs or bigger fuller lips, in the bizarre hope that it will cover for their deep insecurity about where they are actually going in life.

As humanity it is now time to change. In a sense this need is more real that you can currently imagine. We must now begin that journey home. That journey is to find what we are really capable of and have, for so very many years now, forgotten.

These last few centuries have seen mankind concretising its thoughts in a way never before experienced, bringing about ever more complex material world constructs. The globalisation of commerce and electronic communications has brought together ideas from the far flung corners of the earth into a melting pot of some considerable tension and the strain has been shown quite markedly in recent months. People wave the banners of their various faiths whether they be based in the religions imposed upon them by the power hungry and the fearful or the rationalist materialistic religions of science and hedonism; they wave them as sacrosanct in a manner verging on absolutism and exclusion. This posturing renders the truths hidden in the basic religious teachings silent and neglects the better aspects of scientific enquiry, banished to perhaps a publish at all costs mentality.

Despite all this the recent world events are evidence enough of the illusion of control man uses to help it sleep at night. The universe does not really care what man plans to do. It just is and does its own thing, whether it is tidal waves, earthquakes or hurricanes. In the scope of the infinite we are pretty small fry, despite all our arrogant pretension to the contrary.

Oh that great God of intellect; the one that so demands proof. It is so badly missing the plot. The thought forms of the mind and its self deceit have tricked us all for so long. How much cure is there for all the sickness in the world? Would it not be better to take a more prophylactic approach to living and flow with, rather than against, life?

Let’s start with physical science to begin to look a little deeper.

On the one hand I perceive my physical being as a solid object that eats, drinks, sleeps, craps, urinates, makes love, gets hot, gets cold etc. I can talk about being wet in the rain. Under certain circumstances outside forces such as sunlight change the physical nature of the form, I can feel pain through sun burn for example. I look at other people and might categorise them as attractive or ugly, fat or thin. I may even notice the elaborate woven dead plant material which they choose to drape upon their bodies so as to enhance their overall appearance for whatever purpose. I engage in complex social rituals and participate in group mind activities whereby we conspire to do something.

On the other hand the twentieth and twenty first century schools of thought known as physics, chemistry and biology, point at an altogether different picture. Apparently I am made up of atoms, held together in molecules which exert attractive forces on each other to form membranes, bones, blood vessels and a small grey thing called a brain. These disciplines tell us that the forces holding together these molecules are actually quite weak. Yet nevertheless this collection of molecules seems to move around and function on the physical plane as if there is some inner thing organising them with something akin to intelligence. Though I question here whether thing is as yet the right word.

This organisation of the organism which is a physical plane construct of molecules seems to go on without a great deal of conscious thought. The vehicle which is the human form is kind of, self organising. At certain times it brings notions into conscious thought; better have some food, water etc. I am pretty sure that most people are not conscious of the extent of hydration at a cellular level, yet something is, and as an organism the learned response is to reach for the Evian or whatever. You have to admit that at this level already, it is quite miraculous.

Hang on a minute. If this form is made of atoms and that tree out there is too, then aren’t we made of the same stuff albeit slightly differently organised? So, I am the same as a tree yet different from it. The form side of my life is shared with the rest of the physical world. Somehow this collection of molecules called Eric, is made of the same stuff yet is animated in a way that it is different to a tree. I have a vehicle that can do stuff and move around consuming other stuff in a way that keeps this counter entropic being functioning…

I, rather my physical form, have boundaries. There are edges to my collection of molecules. I can hit things and move them. I am a collection of molecules that act as a factory taking in supplies and producing waste, actually rather a lot of it. I have a carbon footprint. The existence of this, my form, impacts on the local, global and universal ecosystem. I produce carbon dioxide. I am connected to the universe in so very many ways. I recycle molecules used by other beings. You and I may even have shared the same water molecule. I pissed several this morning, someone or something else may soon incorporate these.

When I touch something, although the details of the molecule / molecule interactions escape my consciousness I perceive a sensation or perception of touch.

Digging a little deeper what then is going on? This collection of molecules, places something it calls a hand on the table and touches it. This table is fairly old, it feels slightly rough to the finger and the individual rings that make up the wood have a rather pleasant texture.

How can a molecule feel?

In touching the table and running my fingers over it I have changed both the table and my fingers for ever. Some of my skin and the molecules which make up this thing I call skin will have rubbed off perhaps never to return. The wood is now slightly moistened by the moisture I exude. Yet did I actually touch the wood? That is penetrate the space of the molecular assembly called a table?

This question, if we choose, might lead us deeper into the thought process of trying to think about molecules, then atoms and then maybe, if we are so bold, sub atomic particles. There is apparent consensus as to what, at least on one level, a molecule is. A collection of atoms held together with reasonably strong forces. Exactly how people envisage molecules will vary. These forces come about because of something called charge and this charge has two polarities; positive and negative. Apparently it is a property of matter. If we cut to the chase the concept of charge is still a hypothesis that is widely held to be true, therefore, if consensus of opinion matters it must be and it must exist. It was, if I understand it correctly, first thought of to explain the properties of a collection of molecules when rubbed, and named specifically for a collection of molecules which make amber. Hence we have an electron which is derived from the ancient Greek word for amber. Chemists love electrons; they are the very basis of their trade. I have to come clean and say that I have never seen one so I can’t really be sure that they exist. Though I have to admit that as postulates go, it is pretty good. It has served the test of time.

So these charges interact to produce forces on each other that can be attractive or repulsive. These electrons (and protons) when collected into a molecule then have a collective charge which maps onto a semi-rigid fluctuating shape, giving rise to something that has electrostatic potential. These things (charges) move around and produce a field. Put another charged thing in this field and it experiences a force. These forces hold stuff together and stop my finger pushing through the table. As my finger gets very close the forces get pretty large and unless I am able to exert truly massive force, my finger will never go through the table. It may make the atoms in the table vibrate. But the nuclei in my finger will never touch the nuclei in the table.

At this level I am a bunch of particles, some charged some not, that whiz around producing fluctuating fields that are bound together in molecules, which in turn are held together through weaker forces into cells tissues and bones; the collection of matter which this thing called Eric lives in. I am pretty sure this thing, this vehicle exists. I seem to remember having it around for more that forty of these other things called years. It has changed shape during this time and as a bunch of molecules it not quite as physically able as it once was.

Going deeper into the realms of maths and quantum mechanics one can explain, pretty well how these charges move and behave within in the context and the constructed thought process of physics and chemistry. Some people have got quite famous doing this. Yet all this doesn’t really answer what is this thing called Eric? The one that thinks he is sure that there is a physical form he inhabits. Is that it then, this physical form?

Well no not really. If through meditation I become silent and stop all the thought processes, the form appears to keep working, without me consciously interfering. I can control my thoughts to an extent and because of my training perhaps more so that many others.

I can only assume that there is something animating this collection of molecules, the vis viva of the title. This vis viva whilst contained, at least in the first instance, within the form is not the entirety of the matter, it is also something else. It organises, that is it turns the collection of molecules, into an organism that can express collective action so as to gather sufficient resource to continue its existence. It has a will to survive. Well at least I think it does.

Do I think? Well I guess so. What the hell is thinking anyway?

There is then an entity which experiences a sense of awareness, separate from the day to day running of the collection of molecules, which thinks it thinks. It, the entity is consciously guiding the collection of molecules into pressing the keys on this laptop and trying to communicate with you through an arcane series of glyphs called letters, brought together in a collection to make words and sentences. These in turn represent a series of noises that other collections of molecules and their indwelling thing have evolved over a number of years as a means of communication. The meaning of these words has some commonality, though I cannot be in anyway sure that you will interpret them in the same way that I do. As I write these keystrokes are being stored on a thing called a computer which, if the hypothesis is correct, is breaking them down into a string of zeros and ones written as different charge states in yet another collection of molecules. They are appearing on a screen which is made up of liquid crystals and my eyes (and maybe my brain) are interpreting them back. This is truly fantastic really.

A lot of people have gotten quite famous talking about this thing that is indwelling. Many theories abound and no one can, if they are honest, say that the have the answer to life the universe and everything let alone all the questions. We have psychology, religion, poetry and neuroscience; we have education and training, yoga and meditation. There are religious ecstasy and scientific and rational reasoning. All of these in a sense attempt to extend understanding a little beyond the identification with the collection of molecules. They attempt to take comprehension beyond the day to day factory approach to life and extend beyond instinctual living. Perhaps then this extension from instinct is the difference in how the vis viva, animates the human being, providing an awareness that allows abstraction from the basic functions of life. To believe that we are only our forms and that our being-ness is confined to a chemical-physical process alone detracts from the wonder of being.

This vis viva then is what animates the form. It produces a variety of different types of humans, with differing capacities and capabilities, yet demonstrating some over arching similarities. These enable us to talk of a humanity rather than several.

If you are strongly identified with your form side you may already have been slightly offended by my calling you a bunch of molecules. This in itself speaks volumes. Yet viewed from the angle of a hungry predator, you are simply a source of meat, of food and not the glamorous social being that you sometimes think you are. Quite simply your form is meat, it is carnate and something is in this meat, it is incarnate.

The vis viva incarnates, it animates and organises the collection of molecules and causes them to function in a manner which tends to sustain the physical plane organism. Or rather isn’t it that the vis viva causes a part of the greater whole to incarnate and eke out an existence in the form. In our species there are two genders, male and female. The functions of these two types of forms are similar yet different and hopefully complementary. The nature of the collection of molecules is also different and the instinctual house keeping of them has differing boundaries and rhythms. The physical forms evolve at their own paces.

What it is that is actually incarnate is subject to discussion, each religious community and their spokespeople can go on about this. Quickly we get into questions of faith whether your faith is atheism or theism. I prefer now to use don’t know mind. I don’t know what it is that has incarnated into the form called Eric. I am kind of interested to find out.

This brings me back to that fate full conversation on a beach in Negril and “The entropy of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium.” Entropy can be thought of as a measure of chaos or disorder. The physical form is ordered and maintaining this order requires energy. The animating indwelling thing marshals the factory and for a while holds the second law at bay, sooner or later it “gives up the ghost” and the entropic process of the decay of form and return to the carbon cycle takes place. I remember quite clearly spouting off to a man on the beach about how life can be explained solely in terms of physics and chemistry, with all the passion of an evangelist. He listened to me as I have done to doorstep preachers with all the patience of someone talking with the insane. As I described that using Occam’s razor there was no need to invoke anything other that physics as nothing else was required to prove the function.

He looked at me and through me.

“You don’t really believe that do you?”

And so began the first phase of a journey part of which I am sharing now.

By this stage Eric was a post doctoral researcher, with some twenty-five published papers to his name. He was going places and an academic career beckoned. Yet all it took was a simple direct comment to demonstrate the sandy nature of the foundations of his evangelism. In a very real sense the outer expression of a world view that was incomplete. Chance would have it that a few days later Eric would climb the Blue Mountain in darkness to see the glory of a dawn, such as he had never seen before; playing witness through majesty and in contrast to the hollowness of his own words. He tried to forget. After that he kind of knew he was going through the motions, though it would be a good many years before he would start to find some answers, but more of that later.

The animating thing within the form had somehow arranged things for him to be there at exactly that point in time, to have that experience and to begin to shatter a mental construct of the world built up over many years in the church of reason and refined through the fixing of attention upon some of the most complex and sometimes mathematical descriptions of the world. My, wasn’t he clever? Study of any doctrine over a period of tens of years invests. Those investments are difficult to let go of and Eric tried ever harder to force them on the world, somehow they would no longer fit.

Without knowing how and in what way Eric had begun to change, he had felt the knock of the spirit. The animating thing, incarnate through the auspices of vis viva had begun to rebel against the construct it was being force fed through constant internalisation and verbalisation shared with his fellow scientists. Something long buried in him was beginning to awaken.

No Man


“No man is an iland intire of it’ selfe:
Every man is a peece of the continent;”


John Donne, Meditation XVII from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions.

So then what happened to this organism called Eric and why is he writing this, his own personal Chautauqua? His motives for this are not clear. Nor yet are his natures for there are many of these. All that he has told me is that there is in him a pressing need to express, to find a way to describe what was and is a most interesting path through life and onwards.

“It all started with Jason Bourne.” He tells me this is as good a point as any, from which to start. When Jason, after he realises the nature of what he has gotten himself into, refuses to submit to the programme he is forced, trained as an assassin and begins his missions. When asked to kill a man in front of his children something of the David Webb in him resurfaces, he botches the mission and is nearly killed as a result. He is then quite literally adrift on the sea of life not knowing who or what he is, with but a few clues to his past and a fog of amnesia surrounding him. He goes back to look at all the places and the people he once knew, trying to piece together what has happened.

Metaphor then is what it says on the tin, it is a transfer by linguistic connivance; a transfer from another reality or world into this one. It presupposes that this one is common. Of course it isn’t, yet it might be. In the use of metaphor Eric reckons that one can get a flavour or a taste of what he is trying to say and hint at the depths of the other worlds’ journey to Annwn in search of Awen, the inspiration of the vis viva. The breath which breathes life into all things, the breath that comes on the four winds and the moods they bear with them upon their shoulders, sometimes lightly and sometimes not. The Chautauqua then, is the search for a personal sense of Jesus, that sense of the divine potential incarnate in us all; where we are our own personal saviour, a sangraal quest for our inner being; the sense of at-one-ment with the world around us and perhaps the non mundane.

Eric came upon something quite by accident when he was a young man, caught up in all the hedonism of student life. It was a series of books starting for him with “The Journey to Ixtlan” written by Carlos Castaneda and so he heard of this thing called “the Warrior’s path”. He was rather taken by this series of books and read them all with a zeal, he was later to become famous for. When he talked about them with his flat mates it was rather clear that he had taken them seriously and they hadn’t. Something funny was going on and that year he was rather ill with many fevers. But he could not pretend he hadn’t heard, because he had. He did not know what he had heard but it was, something.

He got his degree and went on to study for a Ph.D. in chemical physics or “pissing about with lasers” as he liked to call it. The solitude of dark laboratories, expensive toys and the beauty of pure, coherent light, brought him much joy. After a while he twigged that he was pretty good at all this, he understood the theories and could make a laser sing. When he stood up to talk about his work, people listened, they even published his papers in scientific journals, what a hoot!

Later, when Eric went back to his school in Gloucestershire and walked around the sports fields, where he had snuck out during “lock up” to watch the fireworks of Guy Fawke’s night, made dangerous, secret, trips “out of bounds” for walnuts and ran and ran and ran. How many times had he done rounds as punishment? How great was that slip-slap-slip of his feet in rhythm with his breath. This was where it all began; one of his Jason Bourne moments, and it was at the hand of a well meaning man who in one sentence and in one act changed a life.

Eric had not settled in boarding school, his school work was messy and erratic reflecting his inner turmoil and his struggles to survive. Finally now at the age of 12 he sat his common entrance examination, though for him it was really another mock as he was due to be in the scholarship class next year. And there it was, on the English paper; write an essay inspired by any of the following. He chose:

“No man is an iland intire of it’ selfe:
Every man is a peece of the continent;”


John Donne, Meditation XVII from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions.

There it was his first quay off, off from the day to day and into the palace of dreams, it was the febrile stuff of a doorway into his inner world, shimmering, veil like, in the wind of his existence. There is someone else, after all, who had something of him.

Eric for once let it all go; he expressed all his inner loneliness drifting in a coracle from that Cape Town harbour, abandoned under the stars of the Southern Cross and without hope, until there, on the horizon was the first light of day. The master marked his essay and wrote of the poetry in Eric’s soul on his report card and then he did it. He read it out in assembly.

No man would write like that would they? After all the bullying on his sexuality, that was it, proof and in front of the whole school. There it was, never, never, never let it go again. How very attractive the science classes were after that. How easily he gained marks and passed the exams.

Eric says that it was a life that had two potentialities severed by a choice that was not really his, circumstance made it and his parents were now happy. His Nan though, was so proud of that comment, a poet in the family! When Eric saw the report card quite recently he could still smell the ink, a dark vivid blue, Parker’s Quink, written with a sloping italic nib. He experienced the same fear as he had done thirty years before. Eric had been here, here with the musty thin report book, charting his progress. He had held that book many, many times. Now though he could read between the lines, written by the teachers, having written many such things himself.

This was a node in his life, one of many. That world so precious and private to him had been taken out and with the best intentions, thrashed in public. Eric began to blend and here the chameleon was truly born. The twin Gods of should and ought began to take their hold on his psyche and he became the best sportsman he could be and the best scientist. He still did languages but kept them tight on a rein. He needed the marks for his exams.

Still and even on days like today when the rain caresses the ground he can remember the other country where people can be who they are; and all those water bottle windows gazed through; day dreaming in the foothills of that other country; the one that seems so far yet so close. And, again the window ledge is just wide enough to sit on, waiting for his parents who never came to rescue him. They weren’t of that other country so how could they possibly know what it was like. Nor was anyone it would appear.

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.


I Vow to Thee My Country, Sir Cecil A. Spring-Rice, 1918.


And that search for the other country was to continue for many years to come, always resident and poignant in his heart. Ready and fresh in his dreams yet as secret and as encrypted as it was possible to be. Buried deep within the layers of ice, the ice of a thousand tears cried in a silence of a song unsung and unspoken. No one knew what he thought and that gave him a sense of power. There, no one could harm him. There he was safe and he didn’t have to trust anyone.

When they let him read the lessons and the prayers he was very happy. Deep within him then the sense of the sacred was sanctuary and he did not mind that the others had their parents with them and that his were five thousand miles away. He and all the other expat boys got to ring the bells too!


Seigneur, faites de moi un instrument de Votre paix.

Là où il y a de la haine, que je mette l’amour.
Là où il y a l’offense, que je mette le pardon.
Là où il y a la discorde, que je mette l’union.
Là où il y a l’erreur, que je mette la vérité.
Là où il y a le doute, que je mette la foi.
Là où il y a le désespoir, que je mette l’espérance.
Là où il y a les ténèbres, que je mette Votre lumière.
Là où il y a la tristesse, que je mette la joie.

Ô Maître, que je ne cherche pas tant à être consolé qu’à consoler, à être compris qu’à comprendre, à être aimé qu’à aimer, car c’est en donnant qu’on reçoit, c’est en s’oubliant qu’on trouve, c’est en pardonnant qu’on est pardonné, c’est en mourant qu’on ressuscite à l’éternelle vie.


Par Saint François d’Assise


Later in life it was another rose that sneaked into his life and turned partially in the mortice to release the first seeds of an efflorescence that was to take him deep into Annwn and Awen; there again to offer him the proof that he was different and yet ultimately, the same.

Eric tells me that until you have been touched by the fingers of death there is no real concept of life. That you cannot begin to conceive life itself and that living is more of a going through the motions of existence. There is no fecundity in living and the organism which is the vehicle remains only partially awake, until the organising indwelling thing catches the breath of the vis viva and is inspired. Before this can happen the form side of life needs tended. The weeds and brambles that adorn the island of existence are pruned and hacked back; all that is unwanted is bagged up and taken to the re-cycling centre. Only then can the form side of life settle in the sea of floating things and allow creativity to stream forth un-abated. And it is the fingers of death that encourage the danse macabre of transformation, for it is only in the theatre of death that man can see his true script for this, his sojourn on the stage, where he is player for us all.

Eric says that he is lucky in that death has touched him three times now, and that the archetype of le mort should be welcome as it brings with it true change, for only then can man touch the very outer limits of his potential and truly, dance the edge. It is the universe’s way of showing the glory of incarnation and if we chose to see it, the pettiness of our doings and the darkness, which is so very often of our own making.

That island is crammed full with stuff, thoughts, should and ought. Filled with words that are not ours, choc-a-bloc with ideas put there by others, aspirations and ideals that have precious little to do with you; a veritable Shinjuku station at rush hour in time lapse photography where wave after wave of gripes and moans chant the koans of consumerism; the must have and the “if only” of the realms of the hungry ghosts.

“You know that people are rarely truly silent.” He says.

“True silence is what people fear the most. There and then, is the no-thing-ness of existence and it is primordial. It is before and will be after us and that is where the creative power of the void can be found, echoing out the very first sound into the darkness of manifestation; a single word which breaks the silence. It is this connectivity with the in-finite that man fears, insisting that it is only he and his island. He is lost in the sea of life, that he is one and has already separated from the zero.”

Eric likes to call the organising thing that animates the form the power within, as all the other words are now second hand. He distinguishes between the power within and the power without for clarity only. They are all part of the same awareness. He says that this distinction is a hangover from his sense of individuating identity and helps keep him sane, allowing him to tell all the stories that other people like so that they don’t panic or think him odd.

He says we all have a power within and it is the vis viva that animates this potential within us so that it incarnates. The one life chooses an aspect of awareness to materialise into form. This manifestation has an impact, it slows things down so that awareness becomes dream-like and foggy. It is just that so many people like the dream so much they aren’t willing to stop the world and wake up in the dream. The matrix of existence is so full of clamour and glamour that it straps people into a sense of reality that isn’t really there in the sea of the floating things. The folly of permanence and the arrow of time exclude the magic of being; after all we are all counter entropic beings are we not?

The incarnate matrix of existence has its stories and rules, by focusing intent upon their maintenance the world conspires to limit the potentialities to physical plane function whilst the organism and its thoughts keep the power within at bay with the brouhaha of social interaction and the relentless mind numbing noise of mass media and marketing. The voice of the power within remains unheard and talked over by the internal dialogue, often externalised, that convinces itself, at least partially, that the world of illusion is all that there is. This then is the sleight of hand that tells us we should be interested in what Manchester United are doing and whether of not Jennifer Anniston has found Mr Right; a sleight of hand that distracts us from perhaps our true purpose which is maybe, just maybe understanding the meaning behind why the vis viva animated the power within to incarnate so as to gain knowledge through physical plane existence and the challenges inherent in that.

Eric says that the irony is we dreamed this world into being yet most of us don’t even remember doing it and insist that this dream is real. Eric says that people have told him that he is a pretty powerful dreamer and he has no evidence to prove otherwise. He knows that for ten years of his life he did his very best to kill all of his dreams, he numbed them with chemicals and beer so that they would not speak to him at night. He says that coma is a good way to do this. The power within was wise to this and set him up with that visit to Negril, it had been silenced for too long and the sleeper must awaken. Eric didn’t realise it but he was in for a pretty rough ride after that.

The fire image above was recorded below where the washing line is in this image.
The night I took this features later on in Vis Viva…

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