Vis Viva – A Journey to Sirius Chapters 3&4

Chapter 3 Hodie

Many things we do naturally become difficult only when we try to make them intellectual subjects. It is possible to know so much about a subject that you become totally ignorant.

-Mentat Text Two (dicto)


Frank Herbert “Chapter House Dune “, Gollancz,
The Orion Publishing Group, London.
Page 107 ISBN 0 575 07518 X



I had planned to talk today of the darkness within and my exploration of the feelings behind it, somehow it needs a storm to do this for I can then tune into the wildness of nature and revisit those very, very strange days. The beginning of this descent had its roots in the realisation of my own ignorance so eloquently paraphrased above. But Eric says we will sketch over it for now, because today feels like it is a good time to talk about today, though the resonances to 1995 are clear and the merry-go-round of hospital and doctors appointments is the same. This time though I am not seeking death rather, life.

Eric remembers when he first went into the office and said to Dr Depardieu that he was unwell. He remembers the questions about sleep, sex, food and alcohol. He remembers telling him about his plan to get a large amount of heroin and some syringes from work. He remembers telling him that he knew where he could get this and how he felt that this would be the best way. By touching the ephemera of the memory a tinge of sadness creeps into him. How forlorn and lost he felt then and how the temptation to end it all had been playing like a movie re-run in his mind, flickering black and white on the screen; waiting for the final credits to roll, how there was no Technicolor only black and white. He remembers sitting on that tube train and the veins in his arm screaming at him to go and do it. He knows that he has never really said this to anyone before so he is a little nervous. Dr Depardieu gave him some nice green and white pills and these helped him for a while, they bought him some time. The shame of it was a little hard to bear, he had to tell his university that he was ill and the nature of his illness, bringing in those doctors notes every couple of weeks. He felt then the margins of existence, the twilight of the deranged and the futility of the castrated man. Everything he had tried had failed and he began to cling; it was not pretty.

Enough of this then, we will return to the darkness soon, for there is much in there that is lighter than you can imagine and it needs out too. Today, he went to the hospital on his bike; to check for parking spaces and a place to lock it up. For tomorrow he visits the neurologist, later an MRI scan of his neck and brain and then the orthopaedic surgeons will look at the images of the cervical discs pressing on his spinal column. Eric is pleased with his bike, he has ridden it three times now and some of the confidence in him comes back, twenty years is a long time. He guesses it must be true; the idiom about it being just like riding a bike. He is not allowed to drive any more because he lost consciousness a week or so ago. In a strange way cycling takes him back to the carefree days of his late teen years, when he used the bike to escape the noise, to ride for miles and miles around the North Kent countryside. He knows that the medics don’t yet know what is wrong and that they are investigating; they have mentioned stroke and epilepsy. They haven’t mentioned tumour yet and he wonders if he should tell the neurologist about his dream that said he had cervical spine cancer or wait until the images are back. It is difficult to block out these thoughts as there isn’t enough data yet. He wonders if he should mention all the things that he sees and how he understands the nature of consciousness to be. He remembers that these specialists are trained in the church of reason so it might be better not to mention prescience and lucid dreaming.

Today though is fine. The heavy rains of the last few days have passed and the sun shines on the garden. All is well for now and Eric remembers the entreaty to consider every path carefully and to ask yourself only one question; is this for you a path with heart? For if there is no heart then the path will drag you down and suck away your vitality. And he remembers how many times he has asked that question and how many times he has walked away.

It brings him back to one of the things he wanted to talk about, energy. He doesn’t like that word because it has connotations, co-note-tations elsewhere and the use of it hinders. Eric prefers the word vitality. He says that as the power within grows and develops by acquiring knowledge it imbues both upon itself and the form it inhabits, a vitality and vivaciousness. It lends capacity to the form to operate in ways that it never expected and with an awareness that is sharper than before. This vitality gives a sense of time to things that differs. When beings have this, they can choose the speed at which they perceive things, they can literally speed up or slow down the perception and hence time. This speed then is under their control, it gives intensity and focus. People hunt for this vitality, perhaps the elixir of youthfulness, though it is not that. When the power within has it the eyes of the form glow with an iridescence that can be seen by some, or simply as a sparkle of joie de vivre by others. This sense of vitality is a currency for human interactions.

We can build it up in ourselves and others or we can deplete ourselves and others. People try to steal this thing from each other mistakenly thinking they can and that if they have power over another; they have real power. Whereas this vitality is true power, it is limitless and without bound, it grows as we flow in synchronicity with the universe and our fate. In a very real sense it is more extant than the illusions borne of the form and the mind. It comes from life itself and the vis viva expressing outwards from the void.

Eric says that this thing which he calls forceful manipulation is the very bane of humanity and the basis through which the construct of the world is maintained. He says that because most people live in the realms of the hungry ghosts they cannot yet see the impact of this on both themselves and the world. Ultimately this forceful manipulation is based on some form of insecurity or perception of inadequacy whether expressed through self pity or self importance. It is seen in some quarters as standing up for your rights or skill-full negotiation, yet in many of its guises it is actually quite a lot nastier than that. It is linked to dominion and dominance, man in control of his surroundings and his fate. Its detrimental effects can be seem almost everywhere and perhaps it stems from a deep, deep sense of there never being enough, if you like a hole in being-ness that pervades because mankind has in many cases lost touch with his sense of purpose.

Eric seems to remember that a number of years ago now he wrote poetry feverishly doing some three hundred poems in a couple of years. He burned them all along with all his copious note books. He deleted all his emails and all his notes on esoterica in one ceremony of cleansing the past. There was plenty of that force in him back then, he had learned well at the arcane school. He says that he no longer feels the near religious ecstasy that had driven him then. That it was all gone and it had all been folly and that he must dream now.

He has just come back from his afternoon sleep. Since he began doing dreaming practice over eight years ago now, he has practised dreaming, he describes it as a meditative technique used to open up the doorway to the power within, if you like a channel of communication with his inner being. He learned to let this guide him as it appeared there was purpose to this, it seemed to know what it was doing even if it did make for a somewhat non-linear approach to life.

He tells me before he did this formally; he did martial arts as a sort of walking meditation and is reminded how, when he used to run, timing the slip-slap-slip of his running to his breath was a way of bringing the form more consciously under his control. The martial arts opened something else in him and his body began to behave in a way that was much more economical. Later he developed listening to music as a way of doing meditation, he doesn’t know how he knew how to do it, yet he says if you listen very carefully to music and concentrate only on that; it stills the mind. Further if you open your heart to the music it guides you. When he was recovering from the darkness he let the emotions present in music take him to places he had never thought he could go; making it experiential in ways that were quite special.

He first discovered that he really knew how to dream but only in retrospect after he had stumbled across North American Indian shamanism in a school in Hertfordshire of all places. The cynic in him found some considerable hilarity that a bunch of white people would gather, drum and go on shamanic journeys in search of guidance for their lives. He reckoned they were all making it up. He loved the drumming and to drum, the hypnotic rhythm of the drum beat running with the ebb and flow of his inner tuition taking him deeper and away from the noise and clatter of the mind. Being a bit of a rebel though, he didn’t quite do what he was supposed to do. Rather, he sank into the colour which exists in states of pure calm. He let the colour emerge from the black and the formless, taking shape first as a Rorschach ink blot of colour then slowly filling the whole dreamscape. Out of the colour, images would appear and he would follow them and let them unfold, making notes of what he saw there. He learned he could heal, clear spaces and that ritual was a very power full way of focusing intent.

Later he learned to dream by using yellow roses to focus intention before the dreamscape came. Soon all he needed was a few seconds to enter the colour and hold it firm. What came then was dream after dream after dream. This was new and exciting to him he wanted to share these dreams because that is what it seemed he was meant to do. The people around him chastised him for this. He learned to state the intent of dreaming appropriate for his dreaming class. Then somehow many years later he no longer felt that this intent was right and chose another one.

Last year he went again to a dojo, to try his hand at some judo and perhaps regain some fitness. There was something quite strange about the dojo, it was a sports dojo and had none of the reverence and atmosphere of mutual support he had found at the true dojos of his past. On his second visit they practised ippon seonage his favourite throw and perhaps the most effective of all at giving someone a good whack. Something happened to him and he drove home in a haze of dreaming colour knowing that he had changed. He found that he had herniated discs in his cervical spine; there the discs pressed down on the nerves to the left hand side of his body and directly on the spinal column itself. He could see it in the MRI scans himself. His muscles wasted and it took many months to rebuild them and regain function there.

After that his dreaming took another turn. Instead of controlling the entrance into the colour, he shifted very rapidly into another level of trance. His waking dreams had changed. Now again these last few days something has shifted, he experiences a shimmer of consciousness before entering trance. His pulse rate and metabolism slow and within a matter of a few seconds he is dreaming. Now though, the level of lucidity and awareness that he is dreaming is much less detached, the experience is somehow much deeper. His sleep dreams seem much the same as ever.

Which brings us back to paths and there are many of these and it is these that we dream in for ourselves. As ever it brings us back to the heart and the people we share our lives with. It brings us back sharply to the journey and not the destination, there to flow and to do what our inner tuition guides, there not to try to force things unwelcome on the world.

A little under two years ago I wrote that letter in which I resigned from my post as a senior lecturer at a top university. There I was responsible for the pastoral care of the students and there I had given it my all. In this university and the students there I saw many of the worst excesses of man’s impact upon others, there in a moment of clarity I realised that I was in effect cleaning up other people’s messes and putting a sticking plaster on something which was really quite badly damaged. These fine young minds were studying at the church of reason learning the arcane language and practice of concrete science. They invested all their effort towards good grades and the elusive happiness wrapped up and beckoning in the sort of career that a graduate from there might expect. In so doing perhaps attempting to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of “tennis coach” parents trying to live their lives through their children. How strange that self worth for so many was so directly linked to their apparent capacity to achieve recognition through the exam results at this arcane school. I wonder for many of them if this is a path with heart.

For many, previously at the top of the pecking order in their respective schools, it was an epiphany; now the competition was fierce and the curriculum intense, from the old school of we had it tough, so should they. It was there that many lives are to be sacrificed on the altar of academic success and “we must publish first”, so that we can be top of the premier league. There, where the techniques of politics and manipulation coupled with the weight of a famous institution ensured a good slice of research funding to maintain this status quo. Some people were quite nice but I had begun to realise over many a lunch time conversation that I no longer cared which person was getting whatever chair at which university, or who had done the best work on electro-chromism and got that big adventurous chemistry grant. Despite all the wonderful young people many of my colleagues had become to me cardboard cut outs of people playing a stereotypical game called academia, a game of the mind and most definitely not of the heart. It is however hard to imagine just how difficult it is to let something like this go. All of my adult life I had strived to get the position and now to realise it was hollow was quite a blow. The impact on me the day I sent the letter was immense. I knew in that act I was changing my whole world and irrevocably so.

I resigned, with no job to go to, put my flat on the market and looked on the internet for somewhere to live. I had asked myself when was I most happy and it was simple, those days in the Peak District before I met my first wife, before it all got so very complicated and so messy, before once again I let myself be swayed by someone else and caught up in their drama. As luck would have it this beautiful listed cottage was on the market and, as if it was intended, I am now here, in the bucolic shire writing these words. I can step out of my door and into the countryside once more.

Eric still makes me read Physics World from time to time just to keep in touch and he reminds me that the Warrior’s path is not like any other path; that everything along the way has a purpose and a meaning if only we take the care and the time to look for it. He reminds me not to squander anything I have learned; to be like that blotting paper absorbing the ink of life, for each drop of it inscribes the character and adds to the power within.

Here I am then with doubts about my health and ready to embark upon a new marriage with a woman whom I care for more than I could ever have imagined possible. I have no job. I have some money in the bank and I have this Chautauqua that presses and strains to write. I am conscious that I haven’t really let it rip yet and am warming up. I am perhaps adrift in the sea of life, I most certainly am not lost. I know that everything has a purpose. I am waiting for the power within to show the next step, unhurried, secure and ready to respond in whatever way is needed. Tomorrow is another day.

Chapter 4 A Path with Heart

No diagnosis then from Friday’s visit to the hospital, there are a lot of things that have been ruled out and I am feeling a little reassured. This gives me some quiet time to start to elaborate on what I mean by a path with heart. In a sense any path, although we might see it as achieving a goal or ambition, ultimately leads no where, for we all must die and that part of incarnate awareness which is the totality of us, in the words of the Bard, shuffles off the mortal coil. Our form disintegrates or is burned and the atoms of our vehicle are re-cycled and used by the universe for another purpose, our bits might one day end up being a plastic Tesco’s bag; who knows. In any case once the power within has left, it is not that important. The form then becomes the formless. The formless is then reorganised into something else. It is the vis viva that takes the clay of a human being and through the magic of life re-organises it into something else. If the atoms are incorporated in an organic sense then some other consciousness uses them, eventually.

What then is a path with heart? Eric says that this differs for each of us, yet deep down we all know when we are treading a path with heart and when we are not. That is the simplicity of it all. The trouble is that most people lack the honesty and live lives of denial, because they are fearful of change. It takes a great deal of courage and some considerable measure of practice to learn to listen to the heart. The heart is not all fluffy and warm, roses and sentiment. When operating fully it is powerful beyond imagination and can be quite a demanding master. For in one sense the heart, that is an expression of true feeling, is that part of the total being which is most in sync with what the power within has set us up for. In this context the heart is not the muscle which pumps our blood. It is pure feeling.

Eric says that most people get hooked on romance and idealism and use the mind to try to force this romance on the being, to an extent where after compromising the emanations of the heart for so long, it controls. The mind is the master of what he calls the first ring of power whereas the heart transcends this; it operates on the level where true inner tuition takes place. That tuition of the inner being, whether a work in progress or truly listened to, leads one on the path with heart.

Many paths first appear to be a path with heart, the mind hoping above all hope that a given direction in life will be a path with heart. The being then invests a great deal of effort in following these paths, to the point where it will vigorously defend the “fact” that this is a path with heart. Deep down though, everyone knows when they are bullshitting themselves and even those around them. When such a point is finally admitted the reluctance to change can cause all sorts of problems. The heart never lies. It is a shame that human beings do. In a sense many of us get caught up in a trap of our own making.

Consider each path very carefully and ask yourself only this. Is this for me a path with heart? This is really the only question and it is the 64 million dollar one. Everything else is just so much intellectual masturbation. For opening your heart and listening to it renders all else mundane. Eric says that this then is the bottom line. For as we traverse this, the sea of life, whenever we are faced with what appears to be a dilemma, asking this and answering honestly will enable one to gain sufficient clarity to work out what are the next steps that need to be taken.

Like all paths, it leads exactly no where, what it does though is to provide a journey of quite stupendous novelty, variety and excitement. Esoterically the path with heart is linked to the cabalistic glyph of Tiphareth and is associated with choosing between the old and the new. Every day is nascent at dawn, lived to the maximum, dies at the sunset, rests overnight and life starts the next day, fresh. Knowing full well that each day brings change and the being walking the path with heart will not be the same being on the following day. It takes guts to walk such a path.

Eric says that it might be wise to put in another quotation here.

This one is from M.F. Powers

Footprints

One night I dreamed a dream. I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord.

When the last scene of my life shot before me I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at times along the path there was only one set of footprints. I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of my life. This always bothered me and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma.

“Lord, you told me that once I decided to follow You, You would walk with me all the way but I noticed that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed You most, You would leave me.”

He whispered,

“ My precious child, I love you and would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you see only one set of footprints it was then that I carried you. “



This then re-presents a journey through life and in choosing a path with heart, there will be times when the challenges such a choice calls forth can make one feel completely lost and abandoned. If one sticks with it, the power within guides and in a sense carries us, even when the rational mind has packed up, run away and felt very sorry for itself. The power within, leads us to do things which we might not always have the emotional wherewithal to do and makes sure that we make it through to the other side. In doing this it causes us to grow and change. At times we all feel sorry for ourselves and play the martyr.

If we choose to look at our lives for what they really are, hopefully before the last days of our sojourn here, we can always find a purpose for what has happened and if we are lucky the meaning inherent in that purpose. For it is really us, our own power within, which sets up the circumstance for us to learn, blaming others is just stupid and disempowering for everyone concerned.

If we do not take responsibility for ourselves who is going to? Is change then a path with heart?

“Be the change you wish to see in the World.”

Mohandas Gandhi


As far as I can tell most people want some form of change in their lives, yet direct the intention and responsibility for that change towards external sources, hoping that if he (or she) changes, then it would make my life better.

It is a wistful hope that is often forgotten as quickly as it arises, and then so, back to the day to day business of living. Very few people are willing to take responsibility for changing themselves, hoping that someone else will do “it” for them. The changes which they think they seek are perhaps just a tinkering around the edges of life, maybe a better holiday would do the trick…? So here is a question for you are you going to walk this most difficult of paths and see if you can find the extent and wonder of your being-ness by listening to the power within?

True change is not for the fainthearted. It is a matter of bringing the inside out, letting the spirit surface and breathe. The outer form can only present an image of the state of the inner being and true change begins inside. Once a process of change has been initiated it can come at one like a relentless tide, where the sea of change washes before it all that one once held as true.

True change is seldom welcomed with open arms, rather it often comes about because of a moment of clarity when one knows without any doubt that a way of thinking and of being is no longer tenable; that living as one has been, has in some strange way ceased to be an affair of the heart. Such moments can be initiatory of change or alternatively spark a journey of denial in an over expressed need to be right. That over expression of just how great the form side of life is must constantly be verbalised and re-enforced by others to mask the flight which the inner person much deeper down, knows that they are doing. This has consequences.

True change starts slowly as a way of being and behaving is gradually and sometimes painfully eroded. Then the shape and the constituents of a life, are stripped away, allowing a space for a new person to emerge from the chrysalis. What that being is, may bear little or no resemblance to the caterpillar it once thought it was, avariciously feeding on the substance of life and taking from all around.

True change can be said to be transmutative, transformative and perhaps transfigurational. The expense of change is a former life, the gift, a new one, heralding untold wonders of what it is to be alive; bringing with it a new found sense of purpose and meaning. Somehow, setting one apart from the crowd, who may look at you blankly because such a change is beyond the scope of their experience and as such, so very much a part of the unknown and perhaps, because of an unwillingness to change, the unknowable.

In this respect if one really does change, no one may ever notice. Because of the 99% rule which says that 99% of people think only of themselves 99% of the time, many will miss what has been an act of magic, worked at over a great many years.

Eric says that there is only one way to go and that is to walk as gently on the earth as possible, trying to not impose petty wants and desires upon others and taking from the world only what it is that is truly needed. And that life is a journey of learning and of approaching, leaving as few footprints as possible on the rice-paper world whilst having the best impact one can.

This then is a path with a heart, we do not own the world; we can celebrate our incarnation by making our lives an expression of the emanations of our hearts as we dance the pattern of our existence, hand in hand with the power within.

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…