Sunday, 31 January 2010

Some Verses

I have been inspired to write a poem for my Blog today. I hope you like it.

The Butterfly
By Lionel Owen

As I dance from flower to flower,
And feel the sun’s warmth on my wings,
I bless Him who gave this hour,
And show my thanks in many things.

I pause to let the wondering boy,
Gaze in awe at my colours bright,
His sparkling eyes are filled with joy,
His excited cry is my delight.

I float above sun dappled stream,
As the angler throws his line,
The wary trout, his eye agleam,
Ignores the hook; relief is mine.

Lifted high in their gentle arms,
By breezes, to the trees I rise.
There to taste the nectar’s balms,
Of blossom sweet, mid grateful sighs.

A sweet old lady now I see,
Gazing sightless from shady bower,
A book unopened on her knee,
She dreams away this quiet hour.

As I alight gently on her glove,
She opens her eyes and smiles at me,
“Thank you so for your gift of love,
And soon, like you, I will be free.”

There’s a buddleia, blossoms bright,
It’s scent so powerful, sweet and fair,
Its nectar will bring such delight,
So I fly to join my brethren there.

My time of bringing joy and love
To all on Earth who understand,
Is soon to end and I’ll go above
To share my joy in the Summerland.

To you my time on Earth is short,
But just like you, I have my goal,
Time my friends has no import,
If you have touched one other soul.

Humans, animals, birds and bees,
Have not their end on Earth’s dark sod,
But rise like me upon heavenly breeze,
To join their kin in the home of God.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

A World of Opposites?

We have all heard it! Without the dark, we would not appreciate the light; without the clouds, the sunshine would be taken for granted; without evil, how would we recognise good? If there was no ignorance, knowledge would be meaningless. Without corruption, would we understand innocence? Is it true? Can we really not appreciate anything fully without experiencing its opposite? Is contrast essential? If not, why do we find so much contrast in this world of ours? Is our world a world of opposites, or do we just perceive it that way?

Let us examine these questions: If we take the claim about the need for opposites to its logical conclusion, most of the people who live in Brasil and have never journeyed outside its shores, would not appreciate the warmth and the sunshine because snow is unheard of and freezing temperatures only occur in the southern part of the country. This is clearly not the case for few peoples know more about how to make the most of sunshine than do Brasilians. There must be some other reason therefore. I wonder if contrast and conflict are not an integral part of life on earth for good reasons. Might they be an essential means for developing our character while we are here and the principal reason why we choose to come in the first place? After all, we are beings of spirit and a material world must be alien to us and requires us to make many difficult adjustments. Our character is all we take away with us when leaving the earth, so its development is clearly important. It is not difficult to argue therefore that we choose to come here because the conditions on earth are so different from those in our spiritual home that they challenge and therefore strengthen character.

Looked at from this point of view, contrast and conflict are essential to our spiritual growth in some way. To interpret them as being essential only so we can appreciate the one more fully by experiencing the other, is I believe simplistic. There is a clue to be seen here, again in Brasil. There is no shortage of poverty, violence and crime, especially in the cities and those living in shanty towns or favelas are particularly exposed to them. Many are corrupted and become part of this sad and frightening scene themselves but not all. A surprisingly large number seem able to resist the drug gangs etc., and although unable to prevent their pernicious influence, they live their own lives trying to be as supportive and helpful to others as possible. They live comparatively exemplary lives in the midst of hideous inhumanity. To me these people are closer to being angels than most of us. There lies the clue. The apparent opposites may not exist for comparison but as a test; a challenge.

This life on earth is a great adventure that is full of opportunity but also of temptation; temptation that dresses in bright clothes, promising power and happiness but in the end delivers only misery and hopelessness. Some choose to avoid the challenge by shutting themselves away from temptation but this cannot be a satisfactory response. Life is for living, not for running away! The challenge is not I believe an individual one alone. We are all beings of spirit, part of the one Great Spirit and consequently are interdependent and inter-related. A challenge to any one of us is therefore a challenge to us all. Overcoming the darker aspects of earthly life therefore is the responsibility of all. Each one of us is diminished when even a single individual falls foul of negative forces. We come here to share, not merely to take or to experience. If we can only learn this lesson and look upon earthly life as a joint venture in which we share joint and several responsibility in all matters then we can indeed create heaven on earth. The recent events in Haiti show us that challenges are not always man-made. It is easier to see our joint responsibility in the context of such an enormous catastrophe but in my view our collective duty is no less apparent in minor matters. Looked at in this way, it is not difficult to see that what is generally seen as evil, is instead an opportunity for humanity to prove itself divine.

We choose to see our world as a world of opposites but that is merely a perception. Everything that appears to be the opposite of something else depends upon your viewpoint. To the man who has dwelt underground all his life, starlight would be blinding. It is indeed the case that, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Alexander Pope puts it so much more eloquently in his “Essay on Man.”

“All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction which thou canst not see,
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good.”

Friday, 29 January 2010

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth. . .”

Shakespeare was wise as well as being a mammoth amongst writers. He was only too well aware of the frailties of human nature and most of his plays exploit those very things. In this well-known quotation from Hamlet he is explaining to Horatio that it does not do to place artificial limitations upon our knowledge and understanding. Despite the fact that each generation since the beginning of time has produced its share of new discoveries about the natural world for us to marvel at, we nevertheless continue to propound absolutes and limits in so many areas of study and human activity.

Whether it be the absolutes of Euclid, supplanted by Newton and later by Einstein; the absolutes of human athletic performance like the ten second 100 metres or the four minute mile; the assumption that the sound barrier would be insuperable for aircraft or that nothing can move faster than the speed of light; the claim of the ‘flat-earther’s’ that the horizon denoted the edge of the world and if one ventured over it one would be lost; the notion that the sun revolved around the earth, that the earth was the centre of the universe; the claim that the universe began at a precise moment in time and it is possible to re-create that moment in the laboratory; the commonly accepted belief that science has defined exactly the time when human beings first appeared on earth. The list goes on and despite this we are unwilling mostly, to follow Shakespeare’s advice to Horatio.

Human beings have become increasingly adept at examining the natural world of both inner and outer space. We have uncovered untold wonders by those investigations, we have been able to cure previously incurable diseases and have explained much that was previously a complete mystery and in doing so we have grown in intellectual arrogance. Perhaps this is why we are still prone to jump to the wrong conclusions when we use those discoveries to help us explain things that continue to baffle our understanding? I presume that this tendency springs from the fact that we have finite bodies and are living upon a world that is also finite, forgetting that being finite is a relative term. Worlds and bodies come and go but the material of which they consist does not disappear when they do, it changes its form. Because of this wrong-headed thinking, we assume everything to be finite and comprehending the infinite is beyond us.

Just as the ancients needed to see their Gods in the natural world around them; in the sun, the moon, the stars, the wind or the storm, so as to bring the infinite within the compass of their minds, so with modern humanity. We need our materialism, our science, our idols of stone, books, altars and creeds for the same reason. We have travelled a shorter distance along the road of freeing humanity from the shackles of superstition and fear than we think. We have changed the objects of our reverence that’s all. The shibboleths and idols have become more sophisticated, they have not disappeared. Indeed in one particular we have travelled backwards from the understanding possessed by the ancients.

They accepted beyond question for instance, that human life did not end with the death of the physical body and had ample evidence for this and revered their ancestors as a consequence. They knew those same ancestors helped them with difficulties in their own earthly lives and that through the Shaman it was possible to communicate with them. Consequently, the fear of death, as opposed to the fear of how one met it, was none existent. One of the greatest scourges of modern humanity, the fear that produces all manner of psychological and physical illnesses, just was not there. Were it not for the lust for power and the avarice of organised religion, this would still be the case today. Religion has supplanted this inbuilt knowledge from ancient times with fear and ridicule. They talk of the ancients as being ignorant savages and their beliefs as being sacrilege. They themselves seem to fear more than anything, the rediscovery of this truth. Hence, instead of open-mindedly investigating it for themselves, they have persecuted and ridiculed Spiritualism from the very beginning. Perhaps the church leaders, suspecting their teachings are bogus, fear the retribution that could result?

In today’s much more enlightened times I am hopeful that more and more people will cast off the shackles of superstition and ill-thought-out dogma and begin thinking more for themselves. Eternity is within us! Using the untapped resources of the spirit within to learn what was taken as read by the ancients, we can go on to discover the glories and mysteries of the spiritual universe. In doing so we will discover just how right Shakespeare was and learn that “the more we know, the more we learn there is to know.”

Thursday, 28 January 2010

When Skies Are Blue (A nostalgic look at childhood)

“When summer suns are glowing, the world seems bright and gay,” as the old hymn goes and how we love those blue skies. We even take cruises or fly half way around the world in order to follow the sun. We lay out in our gardens and on the beaches in order to soak up as much of its rays as we can. “It’s healthy,” we say. I hope you will forgive an old man for indulging in a bout of nostalgia.

It is fascinating for me to reflect upon the changes in attitude that have been brought about by growing prosperity and greater literacy. When I was a boy living on a farm in the heart of Wales, summer was nice and for us children it was a time for running around out of sight of the adults, who were too busy to bother about us anyway. Nobody, or at least very few were attracted to sunbathing. The winter, with its cold and lack of sun, was seen by all as a blessed relief from the hard work that was a constant daily feature of life on the farm. Like in nature, winter was a time of comparative rest; a time for attending to those repairs and odd jobs that had to be overlooked during summer months; a time when life focussed more around the farm buildings than the fields; a time when work, apart from the milking, ended early as daylight faded and in the cosy warmth of the fire and the oil lamps, whist and draughts and chess could be played, socks could be knitted and needlework enjoyed. It was a time of the year when adults paid more attention to younger members of the family.

These days, more often than not, winter is a time, due to the advent of electric lighting and central heating, when little changes, except that the level of dissatisfaction seems to rise and people complain about the cold and the lack of sunshine. The medical profession has even invented a medical condition called S.A.D. to account for some people being unduly depressed during the darker days of winter! From eagerly anticipating the shorter days and reduced workload of winter; from welcoming the shorter days as an opportunity to draw closer to the family by spending time playing and chatting, it is now looked upon by many as a miserable time that cannot end soon enough. It has almost become the "winter of our discontent”, that Shakespeare talks about in a different context in Richard 111.

I realise what I am saying refers only to countries that experience sharp contrasts between summer and winter but as that is most countries in the world, I offer no apology for doing so. I know it is idle to wish to turn the clock back and new inventions cannot be un-invented. The television or its derivatives are here to stay, as is the motor car; the ubiquitous computer will not suddenly disappear and except during power cuts, the gentle light of candles is a thing of the past. Nevertheless, I do regret the passing of those simpler days when we were more aware of the rhythm of nature; we had to make our own entertainment; when the art of conversation was alive and well and we all welcomed the contrast between winter and summer as an opportunity to bring a measure of variety into our lives and prepare for the coming spring. It was genuinely a time of rest and replenishment which we now deny ourselves in our headlong rush to do, do, do!

For my family, being Spiritualists, the winter was a time for increasing activity on the psychic front. During the summer months there was usually a hiatus in the holding of the home circle, because people were on holiday or it was too warm to sit in comfort – there was no air conditioning! In autumn and winter the activity picked up. We would gather around the living room fire and invite the spirit world to draw close to us. In that wonderful hour or two we would feel so uplifted, would hear such wonderful words spoken and see such marvellous things, that winter outside the home was completely forgotten and we became part of a much larger family for a short while.

There was snow of course and just as today, we children couldn’t wait to go outside and play in it; to have snowball fights, pull each other on sledges, make long slides where it was icy enough and build snowmen. It was a time of magic and somehow adults seemed less concerned then about the inconvenience snow caused to their movements. It may be my imagination but I don’t think so. It was perhaps because adults tended to live closer to their places of work then and if the snow was bad, they could walk there instead of cycling or catching the bus. I remember it as a relatively peaceful time of the year and one when hobbies became the vogue. To me in those days a hobby only meant some indoor pursuit, like stamp collecting, painting, playing table football or reading for pleasure. Outdoor pursuits were not hobbies; gardening for instance was considered a necessity.

I know that time lends a warm glow to the past and we tend not to remember the hard times but I often wonder whether all we have achieved in terms of personal comfort and rising living standards has been bought at too high a cost. Are the higher levels of dissatisfaction and stress, that we have today a mere accident? Is the growth in our acquisitive tendencies a natural consequence of higher levels of civilisation? Is the high number of failed relationships inevitable? Does travel really broaden the mind and are we more empathetic towards our fellow human beings now we fly and sail so much more? With “instant this and instant that” it seems time itself has been telescoped and because we now look at life through the wrong end of this telescope, it seems to many that it stretches ahead of us interminably, especially when we are younger. I know that my childhood was the happier for the slower pace of life.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

“Simple Things Amuse Simple Minds”

Despite this well known axiom, as I grow older I am becoming increasingly aware that simple is best. If we can keep things simple, not only do we reduce the possibility of misunderstanding for ourselves but we do so for others too. Human beings have an almost compulsive desire to complicate matters. It is as though we feel if a thing is too simple there must be some fault with it. As a consequence, we often add such complications to an otherwise simple matter that it becomes almost incomprehensible.

If we examine for a moment the manner in which scientists, for instance, have discovered so much about how things work in nature and in our physical bodies, we will discover that even the most complex function in the human body, has to be reduced to its simplest terms first before it can be fully understood. The intricacies of the human body begin with the fusion of egg and sperm and the subsequent division of cells over and over again until the wonder that is each one of us physically is created. It saddens me therefore, that scientists then try to complicate things for the rest of us, presumably to create a mystique that protects the reverence in which many people hold them.

To find out the meaning of a message in an unknown tongue, it is necessary first to analyse it in detail and reduce it to its simplest form. One needs to discover which symbols are commonly repeated and compare those with languages that we understand and from there gradually build up the meaning of the complete text. It took many years to decipher Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and indeed it only became possible with the unearthing of the Rosetta Stone that contained some information that was known for certain. This enabled the whole meaning of hieroglyphic imagery to be deciphered.

Always, to understand the complex, we must find a way to reduce it to simple terms and build from there. Try to understand the complicated end-product as it appears and we find ourselves baffled. Nowhere has humanity complicated matters and produced more misunderstanding and confusion, than in the matter of religion. Here we began with the greatest simplicity; all the great prophets and teachers stress the vital importance of simplicity and the religions founded in their names all begin as simple belief systems, easily understood by all. It is only later that complications are introduced in the form of dogma and creed. This gives those “in the know” great power and influence over the uninitiated. As it stands, all the leading religions in the world are only understood in part by the majority of their followers. The leaders have built up such a complicated body of theology that only those specially trained at universities can penetrate the inner meanings of it.

The desire to dominate and control other people runs strongly through humanity and one of the most effective means of exercising such control and domination is to create a body of knowledge that is so complex that years of study and training are needed to fully understand what is meant by it. The relatively few people willing to spend the time and effort to become so trained thus become very powerful. If you can add to that a mystique that the rules, far from being invented by power-hungry zealots, were in fact given to some specially chosen acolyte by an all-powerful god, then you have a truly potent mixture. A mixture designed to enable a few initiates to manipulate whole populations. This I believe demonstrates the almost hypnotic attraction of complexity, particularly to science and religion. Ancient races had a much more simple approach to life and its mysteries as Alexander Pope illustrated so clearly in the following extract from his “Essay of Man”:

Lo, the poor Indian! Whose untutored mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears Him in the wind;
His soul, proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk, or milky way;
Yet simple Nature to his hope has given,
Behind the cloud-topped hill, an humbler heaven;
Some safer world in depth of woods embraced,
Some happier island in the watery waste,
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
No fiend torments, no Christians thirst for gold.
To Be, contents his natural desire,
He asks no Angel’s wing, no seraph’s fire;
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.

As Jesus of Nazareth taught in his simple exposition of the spiritual nature of humanity;

“Unless you become as a child, you can never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Surely there is no more articulate way of telling us to keep life simple?

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Are You Too Close to the Problem?

We do not always understand the importance of perspective, particularly when we are faced with problems. There is an old saying that “You can’t see the wood for the trees.” It is very true and is why other people can often suggest a solution to our problem that has just never occurred to us. Because they are not sitting right on top of it, they are able to view it from certain perspectives that are unavailable to us due to our proximity.

However, perspective is not only a matter of physical or mental distance. There are some problems that even our friends are unable to help with and can just offer their love and support. Often these circumstances involve questions of loss or of sickness. If we have lost a loved one whom we adored and on whom we relied far more than we realised, the only comfort a friend can offer is their love, prayers and the assurance, though it may be difficult for us to accept, that time will soften the blow. “Time is a great healer,” they will tell us. It is the same with serious illness; if the doctors say an illness is probably incurable, all our friends can do is to pray, show us their love and talk to us in positive, encouraging ways. The more knowledgeable amongst them will know about Spiritual Healing and will intercede on our behalf with those wonderful healers from the spiritual world. In the final analysis however, we are forced back upon our own resources. Even understanding this, it is impossible to minimise the importance of the love and concern of our friends and more often than is generally realised, Spiritual Healing succeeds where traditional medicine has failed.

What happens in the loneliness we are forced into when we realise others can no longer help us? At first it is a benighted place; we are full of regrets about our future plans that will not now be realised; we may be angry with God and think He is punishing us in some way for some imagined transgression. In this initial phase, we are inconsolable and can become so self-centred and self-pitying that even our friends may be reluctant to visit us. Gradually, with most of us at any rate, the self-pity retreats as we become more accepting of our fate, realise we are driving our friends away and begin to think, what for many of us, was previously unthinkable. What is happening is that our true self, our inner spirit, is reaching out to our conscious mind. As it does so, we begin to understand that much that we considered important both in the past and in those plans we made for the future, is in fact ephemeral. They are things governed by a previously materialistic way of viewing the world and those around us.

Now, in our desperation at our loss or the possibility of passing to the higher life, we are looking at things from a spiritual (I do not mean religious or devout) point of view. We begin to sense with increasing certainty that what seems so solid and important here on Earth is merely appearance. It is in fact insubstantial compared to what we are beginning dimly to perceive. We begin to remember loved ones who passed many years ago and to think about the happy times we shared with them and the lessons we absorbed from them without appearing to do so. In doing this, we trigger the Law of Attraction. Our thoughts, being far more real than we imagine, are received by those loved ones and they draw close to us. We begin to remember even more about them and our relationship with them, realising that we are doing so with pleasure and with love. It dawns upon us that we or others must have felt exactly about them when they passed, as we are doing now about another. The reality of time’s healing properties is confirmed but there is more. We become conscious that what is happening inside us is not just due to memories. Those people whose time with us we are recalling so lovingly are actually present with us. We may not understand the ‘whys and the wherefores’ but we KNOW they are here.

As this realisation comes to us, it is as though a cloud has been lifted. No longer is what we are going through fearful or a matter for anger with the Creator, it is we realise another phase of life. We have become convinced, almost by a process of osmosis that life, individual life, goes on. It does not end when we pass from our earthly home, no matter how familiar and precious that has become to us. Not only that but somehow we know the life awaiting us after our time on Earth is more meaningful and more complete than anything we have known here. It is as though we finally understand that not until we reach our new home in the spiritual world, do we become complete. Part of that completion will be the reunion with all those we once considered lost and whose presence we now feel so close around us. We are no longer alone with our grief and our fears and in that knowledge, both fade away and are accepted as the impostors they truly are.

Monday, 25 January 2010

The Herd Instinct

The human being is a very gregarious creature. He finds it extraordinarily difficult to be alone and in modern times this is reflected I believe in the constant search for noise. When we are surrounded by a cacophony of noise, it is difficult to think and it seems that in that we find comfort. To think is painful. Our own company is often difficult to bear and this warrants examination. Why are we often so fearful of standing out in the crowd? We are individuals and yet seem to fear individuality. Perhaps it is because individuality requires perseverance. In Troilus & Cressida, Shakespeare described perseverance in this way:

“Perseverance keeps honour bright,
To have done is to hang quite out of fashion,
Like a rusty mail in monumental mockery.”

I believe it explains a great deal about the society and the world we have created over the millennia. We seek the company of others instinctively and compulsively except, that is, when we have been shocked or badly hurt. Then it is as though we know that only the inner strength of our own spirit can carry us through and we shun company for a while. It is difficult for many to comprehend this shying away from company and some of them press in on us at such times, feeling it is through their presence only that we will be healed. It is one of the many pressures, most of them more subtle than this, whereby society tries to compel us to be one of the herd. Society finds it difficult to accommodate those individuals who insist on going their own way, the non-conformists, who ignore the established mores.

If we examine human history we find the desire to conform has been almost impossible to resist. We are urged to be loyal to our race or to the colour of our skin; the country of which we are a native applies pressure for us to be nationalistic and support its actions whether they be morally right or not; we create clubs and organisations and, like Masonic Lodges, often swear the members to secrecy by inventing a raft of regulations that are only disclosed to members; we found religions and create creeds and dogmas that are designed to have exactly the same effect as the regulations of secret societies; in religion we add an extra ingredient, we insist that the creeds and dogmas have been handed down from an all powerful, godlike figure. To run contrary to them is to blaspheme. Again, we find comfort in sharing a belief with others and if we are thus relieved of the need to think, to find out whether or not this particular belief is good for us; that is comforting too. However, the ones who control these organisations have enormous power over the lives of others: The love of power is another dominant facet of life that seems almost as compulsive as the herd instinct.

I believe this explains the huge number of different religions we have and the fact that even though there may be just one version of a particular religion when it first starts, it is not long before different sects begin emerge. We join a specific religion often because our parents insist that we do so and in many countries, parental pressure is intensified by the State. The teachings of one religion are taught in schools and consequently, when children become old enough to make up their own minds, they have been so brainwashed by their parents and the State, they no longer have the desire to work out whether the religion they follow is best for them or not and the ostracism which results if they decide not to, invariably decides the matter, even if they only pay lip service to it. Being with other people who believe the same as us is also comforting. There are many subtle pressures to conform through unquestioning references to the teachings of the dominant religion in the media. In some places, Muslim countries for instance, the pressures are not so subtle and it seems the leaders of Fundamentalist Islam in particular, are so insecure in their beliefs that no criticism of any kind is tolerated.

Throughout history however, there have been individuals who have questioned this compulsion to conform, to discourage individuality and thinking for one’s self. As we become more mature as a species, this tendency is growing but mostly it has been channelled in negative ways. Many of the great poets and writers have urged people to think for themselves; to refuse to be led by self-seeking zealots who brook no questioning of their creeds. They have often given wonderful reasons why we should do this but others have adopted a nihilistic approach and have taught that only materialism offers a sensible alternative to unquestioning loyalty to creeds and dogmas. Their teachings are alluring, especially as so many have become accustomed to having their thinking done for them by others. The religious ‘herds’ have not been slow to adapt to this move and increasingly many religions openly support materialistic aims, though wrapping their message up in the language of mysticism. Most religions have always courted the rich and powerful and have been unwilling to offend them by appearing too radical: The reason? The rich, if frightened enough by the priests, will accede temporal power and great wealth to their chosen ‘herd’.

Is there an alternative, or are we destined never to be able, whilst on Earth, to free ourselves from this herd instinct, or the need to exercise power over others? There are alternatives and I believe an increasing number of people are beginning to discover them. More and more people are at last becoming aware of the spirit within; of the inner light which drives us forward to seek understanding and spiritual progress. They recognise the role of love, unconditional love, in raising the level of human understanding and behaviour. They recognise the need to go within – to be still – to listen to that “still small voice” and to try harder to place the interests of others above purely selfish desires. They are becoming more and more aware that life is not merely the short span we spend here on Earth and that, if we listen, those who have passed this way before, can and will help us to change for the better.

There is a wonderful paradox in all this. The more we go within, become conscious of the power of love and the spirit; the more individualistic we are; then the more we come to realise that through “me” we are led inevitably to “us”. Through the power of the individual spirit we are forced to acknowledge our indivisible links to one another and the need to create artificial means to bring us together is unnecessary. We are and always have been, sons and daughters of the Power that created all life. There is no real separation; as Pope observed so perceptively, “All are but parts of one stupendous whole.”

Sunday, 24 January 2010


There is a saying that “variety is the spice of life.” So it is but it can be unsettling. Yet if one looks at the natural world, one finds endless variety; variety in colour, size and form; variety of landscape: From desert to flood plain, from mountainside to meadow, from flood to drought, from tropical lushness to arctic wilderness. Even the seasons, though they come around regularly and summer always follows spring, autumn, summer and then winter; yet are two springs exactly the same? What is all this variety telling us? Surely that change is as much a part of life as is breathing. That unless we understand this we are ill prepared for the ups and downs life has in store. We will constantly be blaming fate when things go wrong, or the even tenor of life to which we have become accustomed is disturbed.

Young people have a fairly low boredom threshold and need plenty of variety if they are to enjoy themselves. As we grow older however, routine takes up a bigger and bigger portion of our time. We become creatures of habit; we are resistant to change. If our routine is disturbed unexpectedly, we become irritable and uncomfortable. Our routine is a comfort zone we have developed, maybe so that we don’t have to think too often about uncertainties that may lie in the future? Or maybe so that we can avoid thinking at all! In most of us, the zest for adventure declines with advancing years and so we replace that with routine. We often don’t realise what we have done until someone else points it out to us. The young however are longing for new adventures, they are still experiencing many facets of life for the first time and find it exciting and stimulating; at least most of it.

Much of what happens to us, good and bad, is of our own making. By our thoughts and actions we create the conditions that lead to the event about which we are overjoyed or devastated. There are those who claim even natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes are in some way created by collective thought and action. One can understand this point of view in relation to many floods especially. When we remove natural vegetation to create arable land, when we build concrete roads that cannot absorb water, when we build dwellings on known flood plains; all these things either cause flooding or place human beings in danger that is periodically inevitable. Earthquakes, I am uncertain about, but building dwellings in known earthquake areas will just as inevitably lead to loss of life as building on flood plains. Some people even think that human exploitation of the earth leads to a kind of retaliation by the Earth, so that even earthquakes and hurricanes could be our own fault.

Thinking about such consequences of human folly or sometimes human greed, leads me to the conclusion that to plan our lives, individually or collectively, without giving full consideration to Mother Nature is asking for unnecessary trouble. In our human arrogance, we have assumed ourselves superior to all other forms of life and most refuse even to entertain the idea that the Earth itself is a living organism. They think it is virtually inert and that only what grows and moves on, above and under its surface is living. Small wonder therefore that little more than lip service is paid to matters of conservation. For instance, we know that to continue to destroy the Amazon Rain Forest, the last remaining such area on earth, is the height of folly. Even so, the logging companies bribe and bully their way through the restrictions so as to continue to make a great deal of money whilst laughing at the conservationists, to say nothing of callously ignoring the native peoples they are displacing.

How much of the phenomenon known as Global warming is the consequence of such human stupidity and how much is due to natural, long term change, is difficult to quantify. What is certain is that greed and stupidity on such a grand scale must have some adverse effects and could well be destroying the Earth as a comfortable, God-given home for humanity. The variety, which is such a wonderful stimulant to us as human beings, even though it can be unsettling, is likely to be the chief casualty of all this arrogant foolishness. In its place we may well find an unrelenting sameness of extreme weather in all parts of the globe with human life becoming precarious at best and impossible at worst. It is high time we reigned in our free will and realised that absolute freedom, without consideration for others, especially future generations, is not freedom at all but self-destructive anarchy.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Never Despair

Although it is difficult sometimes, when life seems to be throwing everything nasty at us and nobody else seems to care, there are very good reasons why we should never despair. Even when all hope seems to have departed and our own resources are clearly insufficient to cope with the problems we are facing, when friends all seem to have deserted us and we feel like ending it all. That is when, at our lowest ebb, the light of the spirit that shines within each one of us, begins to respond to the unfailing encouragement it receives from those in the spiritual world who love us and never desert us. They may have to look on helplessly for a while because in our despair we have become so introverted and self-pitying we have set up a barrier even their love cannot penetrate.

It is almost impossible to be objective when we are being assailed on all sides, when everything seems to be going wrong. We become victims of circumstance. We start to imagine that no-one has ever had to suffer like this, that life has become pointless and all the dreams and hopes we used to have, crumble to dust. What is the point of hope when everything we held precious is about to be or has been, taken away from us? Life is precious, whether it is our own or that of those around us whom we love so much. When it is threatened, either by illness, financial or social disaster and the old certainties we found so comforting are no longer present, we begin to doubt and if we are unable to allow our inner light to shine forth and show us the truth, it quickly turns to despair. What is the truth?

The truth is that you and I are imperishable, eternal beings of light. We are eternal and this earthly life, though seeming all-important as we live it, is no more than one short phase in our adventurous journey from ignorance to knowledge and from darkness to light. Because our five physical senses are so powerful, they obliterate for many this awareness of eternity. They cover our sensitive, higher selves with a shell of materialism and the conviction that only what is physically solid can be real. This leads to a distorted understanding about life on earth, its purpose and how we relate to one another and to the Earth itself. The senses try to persuade us that only physical life matters and that when it ceases, everything ends. Thus, when we are about to lose a loved one who has become the lynchpin of our lives, we are at our wits end; we don’t know where to turn. When the job that has meant so much to us or the fortune we have built up laboriously, look as though it is about to disappear; when our physical mobility, our eyesight or our hearing are removed, we are rocked to our very foundations. Everything that was formerly good and loving about life has turned to ashes.

Throughout our lives, different experiences come our way and from each we learn and thus develop our character but if those experiences are filtered through a merely physical sieve, what we learn is much more superficial than should be the case. To gain the most from every experience, to receive in depth, it needs to touch us in every way, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Cut off any of those and the experience becomes incomplete. Sometimes a lesson is considered so vital by our inner, spiritual self that extreme measures become necessary. This is sometimes the reason for despair. When we reach rock bottom and appear to have nowhere to turn, we begin to feel true humility. In that humility, we cry out for help in desperation and lo and behold it appears. When we are thoroughly stripped of pride and become as children, then no longer is there a barrier between ourselves and those in the spiritual world who love us deeply and want to help us. Then things begin to improve; we find new strength and an understanding that what we formerly regarded as vital in our lives is not important at all. An inner awareness of the eternal nature of life; that we chose to come and live this earthly life; become part of our consciousness, and although loss of a loved one is still painful, it becomes bearable because we know it is temporary. As Robert Frost said so eloquently in his poem “The Trial by Existence,”

‘Tis of the essence of life here,
Though we chose greatly, still to lack
The lasting memory at all clear,
That life has for us on the wrack
Nothing but that we somehow chose;
Thus are we wholly stripped of pride
In the pain that has but one close,
Bearing us crushed and mystified.

In true humility, the scales are removed from our eyes, the truth is revealed and we see ourselves and others as the wondrous creatures we truly are. As Jesus of Nazareth said, “The meek shall inherit the earth.”

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

“A Child is the Repository of Infinite Possibilities”

Thus said Andrew Jackson Davis, that great American Seer, the harbinger of Modern Spiritualism: He was speaking at Dodsworth’s Hall, New York City in 1863, as he invited his audience to form the first Children’s Progressive Lyceum, based on the model he had seen used to educate children in the spirit world.

Children are the future of the human race and of the world we are privileged by God to share with many other forms of life. Davis recognised after his ‘visits’ to the spirit world, that the way children were educated in the Victorian Western World, was wrong. Instead of forcing knowledge into them, a much better balanced adult would emerge if we were to draw out the personality and the inherent abilities of the child. With that encouragement, the accumulation of knowledge would be a minor matter, easily accomplished. As a result children would grow up knowing exactly what their gifts were and would spend their adult lives working with those gifts to the benefit of all and the complete satisfaction of their own inner nature. Gone would be all those neuroses resulting from being forced to follow interests and occupations that were anathema to their true selves.

Modern educational methods have moved some way to accommodate the spiritual model but nowhere near far enough in my opinion. The idealism, which is perfectly natural in the young, is far too often stifled at an early age by ridicule and criticism. Please do not misunderstand me; I am not suggesting that children should be allowed ‘carte blanche’; that would only result in the creation of a real-life world like existed in the “Lord of the Flies”. What I am suggesting is that they be given tolerant guidance and encouraged, at every turn, to develop those abilities which are quite apparent to the enlightened teacher. Most of the stress experienced by adults is, in my opinion, occasioned by the inner conflict created as a result of their interests and energies being erroneously focussed. I believe we are given certain gifts because they will be needed in order to make the most of the earthly life we have chosen to live. If we are coerced into ignoring some of those gifts, how can we possibly achieve the end we set out to achieve when we left the spiritual world to come here?

To return to Andrew Jackson Davis’ comment, the realisation of those infinite possibilities, the most exciting prospect for the true teacher, is dependent upon using the special gifts with which each of us is endowed. Only through fully utilising those gifts can each of us make the real contribution we are intended to do in bringing about love, understanding and peace in our world. I do not believe the world was ever intended to become the funeral pyre of hope and expectations that it has. Oh yes, it is deliberately designed to be a world of conflict but only so that through that same conflict, each of us can become stronger and wiser. Conflict is intended I believe, to bring out the best in us, and indeed in some people, that is exactly what happens. Unfortunately, because we have ignored for generations, the need to as educators, draw out instead of forcing in, many people are not fully equipped to make the most of the conflict inherent in earthly life.
When the individual plan of life is changed to accommodate the materialistic demands and lust for power of megalomania, it becomes twisted and the inner conflict it sets up, leads to bitterness and resentment. Because the individual has no idea why he feels like this, it frequently results in antisocial behaviour. As adults, we bear a much greater responsibility in the upbringing of the young lives entrusted to our care than we generally realise. The care of a young, untutored soul is one of the greatest responsibilities we can be given. We are not merely expected to provide physical protection, food, clothing and housing for our charges. We must try as hard as we can to also provide spiritual food, high ideals and a sense of commitment towards the interests of others that is superior to our own personal interests. It is not easy and, as with all human endeavour, there will be times when we fail and despair, but the prize at the end is a pearl beyond price. The sight of our charges becoming fully adjusted, completely happy individuals, confident in their own gifts and abilities and without any inner resentment due to their being selfishly sidetracked to accommodate the misguided desires of selfish individuals.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A Meditation

Here is a meditation to help you relax and become more aware of the inner you.

Begin by sitting in a comfortable chair but not one so comfortable that you will fall asleep. Close your eyes and breathe deeply three times, pausing between the incoming and outgoing breaths. Now breathe normally but concentrate on your breathing, notice its rhythm and become lost in it so that you begin to feel slightly disconnected with your surroundings. Do not focus on your thoughts only on your breathing, allow thoughts to appear and pass on, you cannot stop your thoughts but you can become free of their control. Gradually you will feel relaxation spreading from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Help it along by consciously relaxing each muscle in turn from the top of your body. Once you feel fully relaxed I want you to use your imagination.

Imagine you are on a plateau in the high hills; it is a glorious summer day but because you are high up, it is just pleasantly warm, not hot. The sky is a perfect blue, with just a scattering of small, fluffy clouds lazily drifting along. The view on all sides is spectacular – the air is so clear you can see for miles. Just pause for a while and look around and see what is revealed to you. You are struck by how much detail you can see and the different shades and tints of green and brown. In the distance a column of smoke drifts upwards from a heath fire. You feel completely free and as you draw the pure, clear air into your lungs, you feel full of vitality and strong enough that you could walk for miles and not feel tired. The turf is springy beneath your feet and somehow this adds zest to your steps.

As you walk along taking in the changing scene and enjoying total freedom, you become conscious of a deep, inner peace enveloping you. It feels good and natural and as the sense of peace deepens, you become more and more aware of everything around you. There are animals and they are no longer nervous in your presence. Sit down for a while and allow them to draw close – get to know them and see if you recognise the different species. Feel their energy as they relax around you and know beyond doubt, you and they are one – children of the same Father. Feel the interchange of love and energy that passes between you and realise you have never been so relaxed or so happy and peaceful before. You are aware that in the presence of His animals, you are made fully conscious of the presence of God.

Allow yourself to relax further, so that you enter a state of day-dreaming. Give yourself over to that feeling and see what you experience there in the pure, clear air of the high hills and in the presence of your loving, animal companions. Allow your spirit to flow with the experience, knowing you are perfectly safe and totally protected. Maybe you will meet people in your day-dream, perhaps some mighty truth will be revealed to you, or you may visit secret places that are normally hidden from human beings. Whatever it is, enjoy it and know that you will return safely and invigorated by the experience. Take your time; there is no need to hurry. Time is only important in the material world and for a while, you have been moved outside that constriction.

When eventually you awake and find yourself on the plateau again, look around and you will notice far more than you did at first. Your awareness has been sharpened; all your senses are more alive and vibrant. Enjoy being there for a few more minutes and then slowly return to the room where you began your meditation and open you eyes. Once you have re-adjusted, try to write down your experience. See how many of the details you can remember and keep that account, for you will find it helpful to read it from time to time.

I do hope you enjoy this meditation. Go with God.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Jesus Today

What follows are the words of Silver Birch, that great teacher from the world of spirit who manifested through the mediumship of British trance medium Maurice Barbanel. He describes what Jesus, who he refers to as the Nazarene, is doing in the spirit world.

Silver Birch always suspended his sittings for a few weeks twice a year so that he could attend conferences of spirit guides in the spirit world that are presided over by the Nazarene. At one sitting he said,

“This is the greatest pleasure of all, to which I look forward with eager anticipation, when I can become my real self just for a short while and enjoy what is my rightful heritage, to mix with those I have known so well, so long, and to taste life as it is understood only in those spheres where reality is known by those who have spiritual discernment from years of progress and evolution. I do not speak egotistically. You who live in the world of matter, you who are restricted to five crude senses, you whose spirits are imprisoned in a physical body, you who are limited, you who know not the boundless joys of a freed spirit, you who only know life through its five prison bars, you do not yet realise what life means. You do not know how the spirit, when it finds itself, has the freedom to enjoy all the beauties of the Great Spirit that belong to the higher self and deeper consciousness.”

“I go back to my own, to those with whom I have been for many centuries, to taste the life that I knew for so long, that I have willingly abandoned to serve you all. I would not be truthful if I did not say that on this occasion I look forward with joy to all that is in store. As you know, this is our greatest festival of all, when a mighty concourse of all beings, of all races, of all nationalities, all the servers and labourers in the many fields and in many lands, meet to compare their progress. I cannot describe it because there is no language. All the beauties that you have imagined in your greatest moments of inspiration pale into unimportant insignificance beside the reality which is ours on these occasions.”

“The greatest joy of all is to make contact again with the Nazarene – not the Nazarene of the Churches, not the being who has been misrepresented and exalted and deified into an inaccessible and remote position, but the great human spirit who only seeks to inspire service, who wishes to share his greatness with all who decide to serve his Father and our Father.”

Sunday, 17 January 2010


I imagine many people berate themselves in their private moments for being happy when there is so much misery being reported on TV and in newspapers. They feel a sense of guilt. “Is it right that things should be going so well for me and that I should feel this happy when so many are suffering from the loss of loved ones and lack of the basic necessities of life?”

It seems to be yet another of the strange paradoxes of life that some can be deliriously happy whilst others are in the depths of despair. Is it right? Should God allow it? These are questions people often ask when faced with their apparent inability to feel as sad as they feel they should, at the misfortunes of others. I do not think it is a matter of right and wrong and certainly the idea that God should forbid this or grant that would mean abandoning human free will.

Happiness and misery are states of mind; admittedly states of mind frequently brought about by external circumstances but nevertheless it is our inner response to these events that makes us happy or miserable. Even in the most dire circumstances, some people are so able to focus on doing everything possible to help themselves and others, that they have no time to feel sadness or despair. They feel compassion for those who have lost loved ones, their homes, or are incapacitated but they know instinctively, that to allow themselves to feel misery would be self-indulgence. There were people in concentration camps during world war two who spent their time being kind and helpful to those suffering even more than they themselves; they appeared to remain cheerful and smiling no matter what was happening; some would even take the blame for certain things in order that others should escape punishment at the hands of the guards. Such people are considered saintly by everyone except themselves and what they are doing is allowing the light of their spirit to shine out instead of hiding it under a bushel of self-pity.

Guilt is a peculiarly human emotion that is always counter-productive. If only we could remember that not one of us is perfect and that mistakes are not only inevitable but are the means by which we learn valuable lessons. To recognise that we have erred and to wish to make it up to those we may have hurt in the process is a positive, character building thing, whereas guilt is negative and because it leads often to self-pity, it saps our will and delays the time when we know we need to make amends. Guilt about one’s own happiness at a time when there is some major catastrophe capturing the headlines, is to deny ourselves the reward for earlier efforts, which are what produced the happiness. It does nothing to assist those in need. Indeed, when we are happy and relaxed, we are in a much better state of mind to be of help to those who are suffering, than if we convince ourselves we are wrong to feel happy at such a time.

Whilst I do not support the view that the object of life is happiness, I do understand what gave rise to the sentiment. The object of life surely, is progress; to be able to move from darkness to light and from ignorance to knowledge. However, such objectives are much easier to achieve if we allow ourselves to be happy. We are back now to the realisation that happiness is a state of mind and is not dependent upon external events. One basic necessity to enable us to understand the concepts of happiness, misery, deprivation and loss is this: Acceptance of the concept that life is of the spirit, is eternal and does not consist merely of life on earth. Once we are able to accept that, then everything, whether it is tragic or delightful, appears in its true light. Loss of loved ones and friends, though heart-wrenching, is temporary and we will all be reunited in the life that continues beyond this one. Loss of material possessions, though inconvenient and frustrating, does not mean the end of our existence. Indeed we may find ourselves becoming infinitely better people without those possessions. Attachment to material things is as dross to the light of our spirit; it makes it difficult for us to be aware that we are spirit and need to release that light in order to become whole.

Please do not feel guilt that you are feeling happy at present while others are in the depths of despair. Instead use your happiness to focus the light of your spirit on how you can help ease the burden of those and others who may be closer to home.

“Walk in the light and you will own,
That fellowship of love,
His spirit only can bestow,
Who dwells in light above”

Friday, 15 January 2010


The tragic loss of life, injuries and destruction in Haiti caused by just a few minutes earth quake should give us all pause for thought. This is especially the case with those politically ambitious people in the world who seem willing to stop at nothing to get their own way: To achieve power over others and impose their own narrow minded bigotry upon everyone, they are willing to corrupt young people with false ideologies and indulge in indiscriminate murder. All because they are so ruled by their overweening egos that they cannot countenance a world in which people agree to differ. However, we all must accept responsibility for creating the conditions in which such people can flourish.

What the tragedy in Haiti should tell us is that there is enough destructive power within nature, without we humans adding to it with our petty squabbles, false assumptions and intolerance. Nature has an uncanny way of forcing us to look closely at ourselves and the world we have created. Here it makes us re-order our priorities so as to provide the wherewithal for the people of this desperately poverty stricken country to receive food, water, clothing, shelter and machinery to help them search for the dead and dying. People in countries all over the world are horror stricken and anxious to do whatever they can to help. Ordinary people know what the priorities should be but one has a sad feeling that once again the help will be too little and too late.

Were we not so preoccupied with ‘defence and security’ and so full of fear we would have arranged for the kind of real help Haiti needed for it’s starving millions long ago and its own leaders over the years would have been prevented from making matters immeasurably worse by their greed and corruption. Then buildings would have been stronger and less susceptible to destruction by earthquakes and people would not have been so crowded together in what were virtually ghettos. We would have so ordered matters that human inventiveness would not have been nullified by the vested interest of, for instance the oil companies. This would have ensured that the internal combustion engine, burning rapidly reducing oil reserves from the earth, was only one of many means of powering individual forms of transportation. Then the wars of recent years, chiefly fought to protect oil supplies, would have been unnecessary.

When those in power throughout our world have little thought except for themselves and their own narrow views; when they are driven entirely by the ego and have buried their spiritual natures under a hard crust of materialism; when established religions pay only lip service to spiritual reality and do all they can to support those in power and obtain temporal advantage for themselves; the world we see and which most right thinking people abhor, is the inevitable result. Once more, nature has given us an opportunity to think again!

When the immediate crisis has been resolved and the thousands of dead have been decently buried; when collapsed and collapsing buildings have been removed and food and water for all is in plentiful supply; when basic communications have been restored and Haitians have hope once more; that is when the real work has to begin. In our present world mind-set, once immediate problems have been resolved, we revert to our old, petty pre-occupations. Take South East Asia for instance, where earthquake and tsunami caused such terrible loss of life and destruction. We are told that hundreds of thousands are still without shelter all this time later. Much of the money provided has been used for anything except what it was intended for. Corruption it seems is rife and takes no account of the human suffering resulting from it. What happens when reports show this to be the case? We shrug our collective shoulders, look the other way and carry on exactly as before.

Mother Nature is once more, this time in Haiti, warning us that unless we change our ways, things will just get worse. If only everyone could see this and spend time discovering their own inner, spiritual, self instead of swelling the numbers in our wasteful, acquisitive societies, what a different world we could create. If instead of fear and mistrust, instead of greed and force, instead of acting as though earth life was all there is, we learned to love one another, to understand that this life is just part of our eternal existence and that we are here to help one another and to ensure the earth will be able to provide as well for future generations as it does for us, everyone’s life could be transformed. We would find that the money spent on armies and armaments could be used to build decent societies everywhere so that no one was without the opportunity to lead a decent life. Personal choice, not the accident of birth, would be the only thing that led to deprivation.

In doing this we would at once automatically open channels between our world and the spiritual world. The spirit people would help us to build and maintain our new way of life and the knowledge of how to use the enormous power of the spirit to further the spiritual and moral advance of people everywhere would be made available to us. What we think of as wonderful in our present societies would appear mundane amid the glories of our new world. The prize is most certainly worth the winning if we just “let go and let God!”

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Spirit Occupations

Here is another extract from the same little booklet as yesterday’s blog:

Spirit occupations might easily be understood. Work is the universal law. The next world must be a sphere of fresh activity.

When George Pelham was asked of what the occupations of spirits consist, he replied that they were like the noblest occupations of men, and consisted in helping others to advance. This contains a profound philosophical truth. If our varied occupations upon earth, says M. Sage, are regarded from a superior point of view, it will be seen that their ultimate end is the perfection of mankind. Those of us who have evolved furthest realise this and the others do not. The world has been compared to a crucible in which souls are purified by pain and work and prepared for higher ends. Willingly or not, consciously or unconsciously, we force one another to advance and to improve in all respects.

Progress is the law of life. Higher spirit intelligences act by intermediaries or inspiration. They find as much difficulty in descending to our atmosphere as the diver in sinking to the depths of the ocean. At times I have been privileged to enjoy their presence. Bands of Indians have been engaged for a long time in preparing the séance room for their descent into our midst. A gauzy screen has been placed to lessen the effect of their effulgent radiance and keep back earth’s impurities. The sitters have been bathed in Arctic coldness but, as the eloquent and uplifting messages and influences have been received, they have felt as if transported to the very gate of heaven. No human language can portray or express the exquisite delight and ecstasy, a foretaste of joys yet to be.

In the inspired words of one writer, “Man makes his own destiny. He rises or falls in accordance with his own works. But a primordial and absolute law governs creation – the law of progress. Everything rises in the Infinite. In the ascension of souls, the moral qualities have no less value then the intellectual qualities. The supreme aim of all beings is the perpetual approach to perfection and divine happiness.”

“The vast strides man has made during the short compass of his present earth-life in his march towards civilisation are a prophecy of the infinite possibilities before him in future, and death is only a stage in man’s evolution upwards, only another name for birth, introducing him into another grander sphere of the eternal process moving on.”

Such are the revelations of Modern Spiritualism.

Let me close with the following beautiful lines from Tennyson’s genius:

(The Question)
Will my tiny spark of being
Wholly vanish in your deeps and heights?
Must my day be dark by reason,
O ye heavens, of your boundless nights,
Rush of suns and roll of systems,
And your fiery clash of meteorites?

(The Answer)

Spirit, nearing yon dark portal
At the limit of thy human state,
Fear not thou the hidden purpose
Of that power which alone is great,
Nor the myriad world, His shadow,
Nor the silent Opener of the Gate!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Spirit Presence

What follows is taken from a little booklet ”The Souls Deepest Questions” by George P. Young and if allowance is made for the rather archaic (to us) use of the English language, Mr Young has some interesting and helpful points to make I think:

An interesting and illuminating spirit communication received and recorded by a near relative revealed much to me of the fact that nothing we experience is ever really forgotten. Like all Spiritualists, I have been misunderstood and misrepresented by relatives and acquaintances who live the narrow and fear-regulated mode of life of conventionality and respectability. Their unkind accusations, their unjust criticism, shrinking horror and cheap ridicule were apt to hurt, repel and disgust one of a sensitive nature. Recollections of their actions and dispositions were not of the pleasantest and were not calculated to make them welcome guests in one’s surroundings, either in the earthly state or after death in the spiritual condition.
One who had misunderstood and occasioned me much keen pain during earth life, had the blinding scales removed from the vision by physical death. Then regret was expressed, and a desire for undoing and recompense was evinced. Although conscious at times of the nearness of the newly deceased, the old antipathies naturally asserted themselves, and the spirit was projected from my surroundings. Regarding this, my relative at a séance had the following message spelled out by the repentant spirit: “When I try to get near those whom on earth I misunderstood, I feel repelled as by a pressure of a volume of water. I cannot get near.” What a light that throws upon spirit presence. No spirit can harm us if we live good lives and assert our wills. They cannot get near. The familiar warning from the mouths of the timid, hysterical and ignorant of “evil” spirits is a mere bogey cry, and cannot stand rational examination.

On the other hand, if we desire to draw to us the lofty intelligences of spirit life our motives must be noble, our ideals high and our lives healthy and pure. Otherwise we cannot provide the congenial atmosphere in which they can incarnate so as to directly influence us. This points out the rationale and naturalness of spirit spheres and spirit bands. On earth we are protected by the armour of flesh, and thought-force is deadened in intensity. Were we all completely and keenly responsive to the thoughts of others, were telepathic percipience developed to a high degree, how many friendships would be severed, how many agonised minds and broken hearts would result!

Even with our best friends we feel at times inharmonious and at disagreement. Suppose, as in spirit life, our inharmonious thoughts could repel them and waft them away, what a desert the earth would be for us all. No, thank God! Having a body, as it were, weights us down, and compels us to enter the atmosphere of those whom we, at first, misunderstand, and from whom we instinctively shrink. We are then compelled to look on matters with their eyes and from their point of view, and they in turn, are similarly influenced. This is mutually educational and beneficial, and leads to a more full and rounded life.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

That Magic Moment

More people than is generally realised, do I think experience at least one moment in their lives when it seems as though they are within touching distance of learning the answers to the great mysteries. There comes a magic moment when we seem to be on the brink of a great discovery; a discovery that will make sense to us of all that previously seemed complex and impenetrable: A moment when the complex is made simple and the hidden is revealed, when we feel more alive than ever before and know in some mysterious way, that we are a vital part of some eternal design.

Sometimes this happens when we are idly wiling time away, our conscious mind is unfocussed and we are thinking of nothing in particular; when we are daydreaming. Sometimes it happens when we are faced with apparent disaster in our lives, when we learn that we have a life threatening illness for instance. Sometimes it comes when we are in the depths of despair; perhaps we have lost or are about to lose the one who is dearest to our heart. Sometimes it comes when we are at the end of our tether, when everything seems to have turned against us and we can think of nothing else to do to change the situation. Then again it may come upon us in a dream, when we are sleeping.

However the experience comes, there can be no doubt that it is life-changing; nobody who has experienced anything like it ever has any fear again of death or destruction. They may not become religious or particularly pious but the certainty that this magic moment bestows upon them remains no matter what befalls in the future. There is a deep-seated awareness of sharing; that everything in creation exists to help and support everything else. Separateness does not exist except in the imagination of egocentric humanity. With the dawn of that realisation, the pain and even the horror of whatever situation drove the individual to the extremities of their understanding, disappears. Life becomes a serene journey from then on and nothing is able to ruffle the feathers of their certainty.

I believe such moments are the Law of Compensation in operation; when the self, the ego, is so stripped of pride that the inner light of the spirit can finally shine through the darkness of pain or despair; when the divine in the individual is able for a short while to assert its ascendancy over the five physical senses. In other cases the Law is compensating the individual for their devotion to discovering more about the mysteries of life and the spirit; for their self-denial in following that course despite the jeers and cat-calls of the ignorant.

That light shines within each one of us and constantly searches for ways of making its presence felt, so that we will lead a more complete and satisfying earthly life; one that devotes time and attention to all parts of our being; body, mind and spirit. It knows that if we fail to devote time and energy to our inner self, when we come to review our time on earth we will be annoyed with ourselves that we missed so many opportunities to make earth life more meaningful.

It is also true I think, that the failure of many to listen to the promptings of their inner self is the reason there is so much conflict, hatred and misunderstanding in our global society. The peace we seek in the outward world can only be achieved if we first find inner peace. This can only come when we make ourselves aware that each of us is special and “important in the eyes of Him who made this scale of beings.” In that knowledge we can order our lives and our society along lines that recognise the presence of the power of the spirit in all forms of life. Then peace will reign throughout the world.

Monday, 11 January 2010


As this is my three hundredth post, I wanted to choose a subject close to my heart:

‘He walked past the couch to the open window, and held up the drooping stalk of a moss-rose, looking down at the dainty blend of crimson and green. It was a new phase of his character to me, for I had never before seen him show any keen interest in natural objects.’

“There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion,” said Holmes, leaning with his back against the shutters. “It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary to our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its colour are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.”

The foregoing comes from the Sherlock Holmes adventure, “The Naval Treaty” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It shows that even in those early days, Doyle was a deep thinker on matters of religion and knew the importance of the natural world in determining the nature of God. The fact that he states deduction can be built up as an exact science by the religious reasoner, shows that even then, long before declaring he was a Spiritualist, he had been greatly influenced by the Spiritualist claims that it is a Science as well as a Religion and a Philosophy.

The rose is such a very special flower and it is small wonder so many great poets and authors have written with eloquence about it often linking it to love:
Robert Frost “Asking for Roses”:
'A word with you, that of the singer recalling--
Old Herrick: a saying that every maid knows is
A flower unplucked is but left to the falling,
And nothing is gained by not gathering roses.'

Roses by George Eliot

You love the roses - so do I. I wish
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valley would be pink and white
And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and like waking, all at once!

The Rose Family - by Louisa May Alcott

O flower at my window
Why blossom you so fair,
With your green and purple cup
Upturned to sun and air?
'I bloom, blithesome Bessie,
To cheer your childish heart;
The world is full of labor,
And this shall be my part.'
Whirl, busy wheel, faster,
Spin, little thread, spin;
The sun shines fair without,
And we are gay within.

The Grave and The Rose by Victor Hugo

The Grave said to the Rose,
"What of the dews of dawn,
Love's flower, what end is theirs?"
"And what of spirits flown,
The souls whereon doth close
The tomb's mouth unawares?"
The Rose said to the Grave.

The Rose said, "In the shade
From the dawn's tears is made
A perfume faint and strange,
Amber and honey sweet."
"And all the spirits fleet
Do suffer a sky-change,
More strangely than the dew,
To God's own angels new,"
The Grave said to the Rose.

A Little Budding Rose by Emily Bronte

It was a little budding rose,
Round like a fairy globe,
And shyly did its leaves unclose
Hid in their mossy robe,
But sweet was the slight and spicy smell
It breathed from its heart invisible.

A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns

O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly played in tune.

The Rose did caper on her cheek by Emily Dickinson

The Rose did caper on her cheek --
Her Bodice rose and fell --
Her pretty speech -- like drunken men --
Did stagger pitiful --

Her fingers fumbled at her work --
Her needle would not go --
What ailed so smart a little Maid --
It puzzled me to know --

Till opposite -- I spied a cheek
That bore another Rose --
Just opposite -- Another speech
That like the Drunkard goes --

A Vest that like her Bodice, danced --
To the immortal tune --
Till those two troubled -- little Clocks
Ticked softly into one.

UPON ROSES by Robert Herrick

Under a lawn, than skies more clear,
Some ruffled Roses nestling were,
And snugging there, they seem'd to lie
As in a flowery nunnery;
They blush'd, and look'd more fresh than flowers
Quickened of late by pearly showers;
And all, because they were possest
But of the heat of Julia's breast,
Which, as a warm and moisten'd spring,
Gave them their ever-flourishing.

To A Friend Who Sent Me Some Roses by John Keats

As late I rambled in the happy fields,
What time the skylark shakes the tremulous dew
From his lush clover covert;—when anew
Adventurous knights take up their dinted shields;
I saw the sweetest flower wild nature yields,
A fresh-blown musk-rose; 'twas the first that threw
Its sweets upon the summer: graceful it grew
As is the wand that Queen Titania wields.
And, as I feasted on its fragrancy,
I thought the garden-rose it far excelled;
But when, O Wells! thy roses came to me,
My sense with their deliciousness was spelled:
Soft voices had they, that with tender plea
Whispered of peace, and truth, and friendliness unquelled.

Without doubt the rose is a special gift for God to us all. No other flower moves us to such outpourings of praise and wonder and no other flower has been so nurtured by humanity so as to produce the amazing range of colours shapes and scents available today to the rose fancier. Although the rose is not mentioned specifically by William Cowper in this poem, I feel it could have been the flower that inspired the lines that return us to the sentiments expressed by Conan Doyle about nature and religion:

Go mark the matchless working of the power,
That shuts within the seed the future flower.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Not a Sparrow Falls . . .

Towards the end of his life, an elderly science lecturer, one of the founders of the secularist movement recalled an interview he held as a young man with the venerable Charles Darwin, whose researches and generalisations completely revolutionised the study of the phenomena of physical life.

Darwin had issued a little treatise on earth-worms, showing their value as agriculturalists, because in their search for vegetable food, they digested or passed the soil through their bodies and deposited a fertile mould one foot deep in every twenty six years. Said the old Doctor: “Wishing to say something smart and pleasing, I looked up into the noble countenance of the venerable scientist and philosopher, and with the cock-sureness of a young man I exclaimed, ‘Why should such a majestic intellect, able to grasp so completely the mighty factors and principles of nature’s working concern itself with the examination of lowly organisms like the earth-worm?’

“Never can I forget the attitude and response of Charles Darwin. Turning to me, with fatherly dignity and reproof, he laid his hands gently on my shoulder and spoke thus with great deliberateness. ‘No fact in nature is too small, too insignificant for observation, for verification, for classification and for generalisation. I spent forty years in the examination of the life history of earth-worms before writing that little treatise.’

As George P. Young, the narrator of this little story says in his little booklet, "The Soul's Deepest Questions," “Only great minds can estimate and apprehend the importance of little things,” or as John Milton so wisely observed in Paradise Lost, “In contemplation of created things, by steps we may ascend to God.”

Saturday, 9 January 2010

More Wisdom from Silver Birch

“You cannot stifle the power of the spirit; it must emerge. It will triumph over cruelty and hatred, it will triumph over bludgeons, concentration camps, dictators, because the spirit of man, must be as free as the air which he breathes. That is his natural, divine, spiritual heritage. All those who have seen the vision splendid, and have beheld the new world that is to be, know that it must be, because it is part of that same purpose which breathed into man and raised him from animal to human – and will raise him again from human to divine. Your task is always to hand on the torch, rekindle its flame, so that the generation which comes after you will have a greater light to illuminate its pathway. The foundations have been laid. They were laid many years ago in our world. And gradually, painfully, laboriously, men and women of all denominations, and of none, were raised up to be witnesses to the eternal spirit, to labour for the quickening of the divine plan. The new world must come.”

“If the new world has got to come by the result of our own effort”, asked one member of the circle, “why should the new world be born in your world?”

“Your world is the shadow; the light is cast in ours,” was the spirit answer. “You are executing plans which you have helped to create and bring to fruition in your own world. All the original work, if you like to use those words, is done in our world, because all the energising, all the dynamics, originate, not with matter, but with spirit. You are all instruments, whether you are conscious of the fact or not. You receive and transmit. And according to the degree that you make yourselves susceptible to spirit influence, so are you successful or not.”

“The new world is to be born through your endeavours, allied to ours, because no one works alone. Wherever an effort is put forth it is always by our effort. We have to find the instruments. You have to attune yourselves to the power which can flow through you. Perfection is never achieved. There is an eternal process at work smoothing away all the difficulties, getting rid of all the obstacles. The new world will only come when you have earned it. I can only say to you, here are things which must be achieved because they are part of the plan. But your co-operation will determine the time it takes. There is a plan, but it is not automatic. It is subject to your free will. You are co-operators, you are not automatons, puppets or marionettes. You are part of the Great Spirit.”

Friday, 8 January 2010

Nature’s Mirror

We read in our newspapers and watch people on the television, struggling to combat the effects of one of the harshest winters in the northern hemisphere for many years. Why is it that after so many mild winters, particularly in England, suddenly Mother Nature has turned nasty and is interfering with everyday existence in such an extreme way? People cannot get to work, schools are closed and newspapers vie with one another to detail the economic cost of the snowstorms. Simple tasks, like posting a letter or running to the local shop, become big decisions requiring planning and forethought. Children are of course delighted and are using their unexpected holiday to enjoy the delights of tobogganing, skating and building snowmen. The photographers too are happy and snap away at the breathtakingly beautiful scenes created by deep snowfalls.

For most adults however and especially those who are homeless, the harsh winter is a bitter and to some, a frightening prospect. We have all been lulled into a false sense of security by a succession of mild winters and have come to expect that to be the norm. Now we have been rudely awoken. How like human life this is! Our lives coast along on an even keel for years, when suddenly something happens and everything begins to fall apart. The security we thought we had is compromised and all the things we prized and took for granted as being solid and dependable become ephemeral, or even unimportant in the light of the challenge thrown our way.

We no longer know what to trust and what not to trust, our priorities are often stood upon their head and it seems at first overwhelming. That is until we begin thinking constructively and accept things have changed and we need to adapt our lives to those changes, for the reverse is impossible. We begin to realise that we had been coasting along so comfortably, as though on automatic pilot and just allowing life to wash around us with little or no input from our selves. It seems very enjoyable at the time but we are not meant to lie back and be passive all the time. We are on earth to learn from all manner of experiences that we undergo. If we have arrived on what appears to be a plateau when we can take it easy and all our basic needs are met, then instead of lying back and taking it easy for a lengthy period, maybe we should be asking what we can do for others who are struggling.

If we take positive action to use the spare time life has given us to help others, then I believe we will continue to progress and grow in strength and experience. We will still be thrown unexpected challenges, but having remained active, we will have the wherewithal to face and overcome them. On the other hand, if we idle our time away, making no effort to help others, sooner or later our own personal snowstorm will arrive. We will be snowed in and because we have been idle and allowed our mental, emotional and spiritual muscles to atrophy, we will find it difficult, indeed well nigh impossible, to even move the snow from our front door, let alone walk to the local shop in order to restock the larder

Extreme weather gives us many challenges, some at a personal level and others at the community level. We have to face the fact that certain arrangements we may have made to do with business or family have to be changed. Appointments cannot be kept perhaps; money due to us is delayed; we have to walk instead of driving and work out if disruption is to be lengthy, how we are to manage to get food and carry it home. Our gas or electricity supplies may be disrupted and we have to face preparing food and keeping warm as our grandparents did. It is all new, challenging, maybe a bit frightening but it certainly brings us to life. We have to learn to cope without the telephone perhaps and certainly without television and the computer.

At a community level there is the obvious challenge faced by those who are employed by the community, to do all they can to minimise the effects locally. There will be some people who are living so close to the breadline that the extreme weather is the final straw for them. There is a community challenge therefore to work out and implement a scheme for helping these people: The youth to be encouraged to check on the well-being of the elderly and infirm perhaps: Efforts made to encourage fit people to visit their older neighbours to offer them help and companionship. Finally there is a need to learn patience and resignation – some things cannot be changed, so we must adapt to the new circumstances, make new plans and not become mired in a morass of self pity.

Mother Nature is truly a caring parent. She knows the need for flexibility, for bending with the wind and for keeping the ‘muscles’ of all our ‘bodies’ exercised. She knows that life is about vigilance and that progress requires change. By keeping ourselves in harmonious contact with her, instead of isolating our selves by burying our heads in the sands of habit and self-satisfaction, we will remain fit and strong to meet all the challenges life throws at us, physical, emotional, mental or spiritual. Oh yes nature’s mirror reflects life – all of it!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

“If you can dream - and not make dreams your master”

This is a line from that wonderful poem “If” by the great Victorian, Rudyard Kipling who spent much of his life in India. The whole poem is full of wise and inspiring advice on how best to live your life on earth.

We all dream and we all have dreams, often secret, which are not always within our grasp but which keep us going when life seems to have turned against us. They are the stuff of imagination; of deep held desires; of heartfelt longing. When they are deeply felt, they help to mould our lives and our actions; everything we do reflects the longing to reach out and change what we can so that the dream may be realised. For some people this longing is so all-consuming that they subordinate everything else to the achievement of their dream. That can be good or bad.

When dreams become our master, often inflexibility in our attitude towards other people and events changes the nature of the dream. It takes over our every waking moment and persuades us to adapt every circumstance to the achievement of that single aim. People who we think are obstructing the road that leads to achieving our dream, are thoughtlessly brushed aside, for the only reality to us, as slaves to the dream, is its achievement, everything else is unimportant. When such dreams are realised, and they are usually dreams based upon the achievement of material wealth, power, or both, they often become nightmares, for the methods by which we have realised our dream invalidate it.

A dream, like so much else in our lives, can be a force for good or ill. It behoves us to think carefully about why we wish to achieve our particular dream, for motive determines whether we attract to us positive or negative forces as we move closer to its achievement. It is safest, for our own spiritual wellbeing, if our dreams are aimed at helping others, rather than just our selves. Sometimes a dream sets out as a selfless desire to help others but as we progress towards its achievement we become sidetracked by visions of power and influence. This leads to the nature of the dream changing; helping others becomes a secondary consideration. We would do well therefore to re-examine our motives as we move towards its achievement. Is it still as altruistic as when we set out? Will I now be the main beneficiary, rather than those others we wanted to help? Many a young politician has set out with a fine, altruistic dream of using his or her influence to benefit others, only for it to become lost in a morass of self serving and corruption.

It is to the dreamers that we owe much that is good in society and in the world. Let us take just two examples; Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. Here were two men who refused to allow themselves to be mastered by their dreams. They kept firmly to their altruistic principles and refused to be side-tracked by violence and the threats of violence and in the case of Mandela by the lure of power.

King, a black man, grew up in the deeply segregated southern states of the USA and watched in horror the violence and unfairness meted out to his brother and sister blacks. He resolved to bend every sinew to right the wrongs of segregation and allow his brothers and sisters to have an equal share in the “American Dream.” He was blessed by God with a talent for oratory and when he became a preacher this gift enabled him to stir people’s hearts and consciences. At first he was preaching to the converted, those of his own racial background but gradually he moved into the public arena and forced all liberal and fair-minded people to think carefully about what they were allowing to happen in their own country. He became an icon for the desegregation movement and a ‘bête noir’ to those bigoted white people who were not afraid to use violence to keep their segregated societies in place. His life was in great danger from such people, yet he did not flinch. Instead he gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech that stirred the consciences of so many decent Americans. Sadly it led to his death at the end of an assassin’s bullet, but because he refused to be cowed by threats, his ‘dream’ is so close to its realisation that his country has elected a black President.

Mandela was a leader of the African National Congress in South Africa and was imprisoned for many years by the Boers, whose government administered the inhuman policy of Apartheid. During all his years in prison he never lost heart or the sight of his dream that one day his country would achieve universal suffrage and be governed fairly and openly in the interests of ALL South Africans. He could have been forgiven had he become so embittered by his incarceration, that when his party eventually came to power, with him as its head, revenge was all that mattered. But no, he sought reconciliation, not only with the previous government, but also with the different factions (mainly tribal) within his own people. As a result, African majority rule that could so easily have led to a bloodbath, was implemented smoothly. Today as the retired President of his country, he must feel a great sense of satisfaction as he sees the preparations for the next Olympic Games in South Africa. The Games are an official, international endorsement of his achievements, of his dream.