Monday, 27 September 2010

The Nature of Spiritualism

These days it seems to me there is much confusion surrounding the true nature of Spiritualism, particularly as its wonderful philosophy has become much overshadowed by two things. First a greater (in my view unjustified) emphasis on what is loosely called ‘clairvoyance” and the ‘messages’ that clairvoyants bring. Secondly the importation into our philosophy of the sometimes rather woolly ideas of the New Age movement, though it can hardly be described as ‘new’ anymore.

I believe it might therefore be helpful to look at what an earlier age felt was the Nature of Spiritualism, which I have copied from the British Spiritualist Lyceum Manual:

Spiritualism is the knowledge of everything pertaining to the spiritual nature of Man; it is a science, a philosophy and a religion, presenting a just view of Man’s duty, destiny and immortal relations. Also, as Spirit is the moving force of the Universe, so Spiritualism, in its widest scope, embraces the whole realm of Nature.

Spiritualism as Science:
Spiritualism is a science because it is based upon well-proven, world-wide facts, which can and have been scientifically classified. It promotes the search for truth in every department of being, and is therefore the science of life.

Spiritualism as a Philosophy:
Spiritualism comprehends Man and the Universe in all their varied relations, physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual.

Spiritualism as a Religion:
Spiritualism gives us a better conception of the Creator and His works, encourages us to act according to our highest sense of duty and stimulates spiritual growth and purity of life, thus preparing us for the immortality it proves.

In its broadest sense, Spiritualists are those who believe in a continued further existence and that departed spirits can and do communicate with us on Earth. However, it is only as they cultivate their noblest faculties, live true lives and forever strive to improve in goodness and wisdom that people are entitled to the name in its highest meaning.

The Nature of Man:

Man is a thinking, reasoning, self-conscious and morally responsible being; the highest type of being that has yet lived on Earth. He is also a threefold being, composed of a physical or earthly body, a spiritual body and an innermost spirit.

The physical body is the temple of the soul, it is the basis on which it rests; by the five bodily senses the soul is brought into contact with the physical world.

The spiritual body is an organised form, evolved by and out of the physical body, having corresponding organs and development, and it resembles the physical body. It outlives the change called death and becomes the external body of the spirit.

The innermost spirit is the intelligent, ethereal and immortal part of Man, his life itself, a spark from the Divine.

The Soul: The term soul is almost synonymous with the term spirit and is often so used. In the Lyceum Movement, and we would prefer if it were so in Spiritualism as a whole, the term soul is never used to refer to the spirit body.

It can thus be seen just how far Spiritualism today is removed from these early ideas about its nature and validity. The pioneers of Spiritualism placed a very high value upon the cultivation of the highest ideals by everyone, whilst it recognised the difficulties inherent in this self-appointed task. How many of us today can put our hand on our hearts and say with conviction that we are Spiritualists in its highest meaning as defined above? Certainly I cannot but until all of us become determined to try harder to live up to these high ideals and less in thrall to what I call phenomenal Spiritualism, so the Movement that bears its name will continue to languish amongst the worlds little known, ignored and largely ridiculed religions.

Saturday, 25 September 2010


Home’s not merely four square walls,
Though with pictures hung and gilded.
Home is where affection calls,
Filled with treasures the heart hath builded.

Charles Swain

Home! When we are away from it the very word conjures up feelings of belonging, feelings of comfort, of familiarity. It can mean a house, apartment, a grand mansion or a hovel. What matters is not the structure but the love and the memories we have built within it. Home is not home unless there are others with whom to share it, for it is with others we have built those precious memories; memories of love and tenderness; memories of joy and happiness; memories of pain and sadness; memories of birth and death, of arrivals and departures, of celebration and commiseration.

To many, home is a country, a city, a town or a village and thinking of this my mind turns to those forcibly separated from their homes and loved ones by war. Those whose love for their country is such that they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and give their lives to protect it and what it stands for. In particular my mind is drawn to the English lyric poet Rupert Brooke, whose longing for his home county of Cambridgeshire and for his beautiful home there is so perfectly described in “The Old Vicarage, Granchester.” It was written while he was travelling in Germany and here are the first two verses:

Just now the lilac is in bloom,
All before my little room;
And in my flower-beds, I think,
Smile the carnation and the pink;
And down the borders, well I know,
The poppy and the pansy blow . . .
Oh! there the chestnuts, summer through,
Beside the river make for you
A tunnel of green gloom, and sleep
Deeply above; and green and deep
The stream mysterious glides beneath,
Green as a dream and deep as death.
— Oh, damn! I know it! and I know
How the May fields all golden show,
And when the day is young and sweet,
Gild gloriously the bare feet
That run to bathe . . .
'Du lieber Gott!'

Here am I, sweating, sick, and hot,
And there the shadowed waters fresh
Lean up to embrace the naked flesh.
Temperamentvoll German Jews
Drink beer around; — and THERE the dews
Are soft beneath a morn of gold.
Here tulips bloom as they are told;
Unkempt about those hedges blows
An English unofficial rose;
And there the unregulated sun
Slopes down to rest when day is done,
And wakes a vague unpunctual star,
A slippered Hesper; and there are
Meads towards Haslingfield and Coton
Where das Betreten's not verboten.

Rupert Brooke fought in World War One and died of septicaemia on board ship in the Aegean in 1915. The following short poem was written by him in late 1914. It is called The Soldier and shows just how deeply this young man cared for his country:

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

The other day I wrote about “Our Home” (Nosso Lar) the film based on the book given to the Brasilian medium Chico Xavier through Automatic Writing. Today, I bring our thoughts nearer to the Earth but with a spiritual understanding of the importance of our home and its surroundings, wherever it may be.

Be happy, thank God for your home and those who share it and have shared it with you.

Friday, 24 September 2010

“IT GOES ON” (Robert Frost)

In my mind Robert Frost is one of the most gifted American poets and the title of this blog is part of a quotation, the full text of which is:

“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned in life: It goes on”

I don’t believe this was from a poem but was something he said. Rarely have I come across a statement that is so full of meaning while at the same time being perfectly succinct. It can be interpreted in different ways, depending upon your own philosophical outlook. The atheist or the person sceptical that life continues beyond death, will interpret the words as meaning that life continues on earth through our descendents after we have passed. They may also use it to illustrate that despite what we as individuals may be experiencing at any given time, life goes on around us and few others are affected by what has perhaps devastated us.

Those who know life is a continuous process with no end, like me, will see it as the perfect statement about eternity and our role within it. In those three simple words “It goes on” is contained the kernel of a philosophy that can transform our world. It can lead us out of the darkness of cant, hypocrisy and selfish materialism into the light of understanding; an understanding of the true nature of life and consciousness that can free us from the fears that constantly haunt the minds of millions in this desperately sad world we have created. Some will say of course, “I thought you claimed God created the world?” Indeed that great power we call God, did create the physical world. He did create the myriad life forms that inhabit it and he did create each individual spirit that energises them on this wonderful globe. He did create the flowers, the gently swaying silver birch, the plants, the grass, the mountains, the lakes and the rivers. However, the conditions that pervade the Earth, the social, political, religious and economic systems are the creation of humanity alone.

It is in devising these systems that create conditions, often so injurious to health and happiness, that humanity has shown, despite the best intentions, that almost everything designed to make the impact of life fairer for all, has been subordinated to the desire to accumulate wealth, power and influence. The charge so often levelled at Communist societies that those at the top are “more equal” than the rest is just as true of so called “free” societies. We constantly show the truth of the words of Paul in his letter to the Corinthians,

“Now we see through a glass darkly . . .”

We see darkly because we use only our physical eyes, which anyone listening to three different witnesses describing an accident, will know are a poor instrument for uncovering truth. Until we begin to exercise our spiritual eyes, guided by our inner and higher selves, we will continue to frustrate the design of God and delay the creation of heaven on earth.

Many a poet and seer have stated that creating heaven on earth is not beyond the ability of humanity. All the basic ingredients are here. The natural beauty that abounds is designed to elicit wonder in the heart of the beholder; it is designed to make us realise that only a mind so great as to be beyond our comprehension could create such magnificence. Were we to follow the advice of William Cowper more frequently, we would start to activate that higher awareness that is within each one of us. His advice was:

“Go, mark the matchless working of the power, that shuts within the seed the future flower,”

Once we come to understand in our hearts the truth and vast import of “It goes on” then and only then will we be able to design social and other systems that create the opportunity for all to enjoy fully the wonder and beauty of this Earth of ours; to enjoy the love and companionship of others, human and animal, without fear and with total respect. Only when we successfully eschew the illusory charms of power and learn to exercise it with love and humility, instead of falling victim to its corruptive influences, will we understand the true beauty of life eternal. We are as children in our understanding of the vast breadth of our everlasting lives. Indeed, it is not going too far to say that modern humanity knows less about this than did the ancients. Having placed the technical exploitation of the resources of the earth above the need to understand our own true nature, we have diverted ourselves into a materialistic cul-de-sac.

It is not too late to retrace our steps but we will need a great deal of help, for the inertia of vested interest will take a huge effort to overcome. Our help lies with those who have passed beyond this life and are now fully aware of the truth. There are millions in that greater spiritual world willing and anxious to help us to escape the continuing consequences of our own past folly. But they cannot act alone. First they need us to ask for their help and once it is forthcoming, we must be willing to accept change, even when such change proves inconvenient or worse.

It is a huge challenge my friends; one that requires courage and trust. Courage to change what in our hearts we know to be wrong and trust in the love and power of the Spirit.

Thursday, 23 September 2010


There is a definite change in the air here in Rio! Not only is it much warmer suddenly but more flowers are coming into bloom and the birds have begun to nest. What a wonderful time of the year is Spring (or Primavera as it is called here), for me one of the most fascinating of the year. Even here in a tropical country when winter is mainly only apparent because of lower temperatures, it is noticeable. The blood seems to move more quickly through the veins and one becomes more energetic. New life appears everywhere and it is little wonder that for so many people, the magic of Spring is so special. Somehow our thoughts take on a brighter, more attractive dressing to match the trees and the flowers. Problems that seemed insoluble in the darker, colder days of winter seem much less intractable now. The hope that one poet described as “springing eternally in the human breast”, seems much more apparent at this uplifting time of the year.

I believe Spring gives us a very small glimpse of what will happen when the time comes to “shuffle off this mortal coil” and move to our true home in the spiritual world. The delight; the surge of love; the growth in energy and hope; all will be experienced once we have passed through the, sometimes daunting, change and left our physical body. We will become aware of brighter light and more brilliant and varied colours than we can remember seeing before and all those friends and loved ones we thought were lost will be lining up to welcome us to our new abode. Spring has come to our soul! No longer does the apparent winter of earthly life hold us in thrall; no longer do the worries about how to make ends meet, or the dread of sickness and pain drag us down and blanket our natural joy. We will finally realise that we truly are eternal beings of light with immense opportunities to realise our spiritual potential and a depth of love within our souls that we scarcely glimpsed whilst on earth.

We will become aware as time in our new home passes, that the experiences we underwent here on earth have changed us; have helped us to grow; have made us more complete as human spirits. Even the mistakes, indeed in a way, especially the mistakes, have strengthened us and taught us more about ourselves and our relationship to one another, to the world at large and to the great Creator that we mostly refer to as God. We will be able to see through the eyes of those whom we touched whilst here, exactly what effect our presence and our actions had upon their lives and their spiritual growth. Inevitably, there will be regrets that we did not do more or try harder but overall we will come to understand that in most instances we did our best and as Edward Young wrote in “Night Thoughts,” “Who does the best his circumstance allows, Does well, Acts nobly, Angels could do no more.”

So as you welcome Spring, in whatever months of the year it occurs in your part of this beautiful world, welcome and treasure it. It is the seasonal confirmation of immortality. It is God’s annual message to struggling humanity that says,

“Hope on, hope ever, you are children of the Great Spirit and can never die. Your life will go through many changes, like the seasons; your light will shine brighter with each change and you will share increasingly in the process of co-creation and the outpouring of love, unconditional love, to the whole of creation.”

Sunday, 19 September 2010

There is no Death

We do not die – we cannot die;
We only change our state of life,
When these Earth temples fall and lie
Unmoving mid the world’s wild strife.

There is no death in God’s wide world;
But one eternal scene of change;
The flag of life is never furled,
In only taketh wider range.

And when the spirit leaves its frame,
Its home in which it hath long kept,
It goes, a life that’s real to claim,
As if in this it had but slept.

Then let us not speak of the “dead,”
For none are dead – all live, all love:
Our friends have only changed, have sped,
From lower homes to homes above.

J.S. Adams

Spiritualism should be the world’s happiest and most uplifting news. In a world where so much is dark and negative, coloured by the fear of death, Spiritualism is a shining light, pointing the way to eternal joy and spiritual fulfilment. This can be misleading though for it sounds as if Spiritualism only concerns itself with the eternal spiritual future of humanity. Nothing is further from the truth. The philosophy of Spiritualism gives clear guidance on the conduct of our lives here and now. Although a key factor in our philosophy is the proof, through mediumship, that life continues and communication between those departed and our selves is a reality, it is not all.

Guided by the words that have come to us through trance mediums and automatic writing over the years, our philosophy is not one just for dreamers and those with their heads in the clouds. We have been given detailed information about the physical universe that has been ignored by scientists and yet has been proved correct by subsequent scientific research years later. The most notable example is the description of Dark Matter and Dark Energy given from spirit in 1914 and only very recently proved and accepted by science. Our knowledge of healing and natural medicines is undoubtedly due to guidance through ancient psychics, called shamen or witchdoctors. I even wonder about the discovery of how to make fire and the invention of the wheel; both of which revolutionised and enriched human physical life.

In the realm of higher sensitivity and spirituality, the guidance from spiritual teachers through various mediums has always eschewed the way of power. It has cautioned us against opening ourselves to the temptations that power brings in its wake. To use Christian metaphor, it has urged upon us the “Sermon on the Mount,” rather than the vengeful philosophy of the Old Testament. Personal responsibility is a corner stone of its philosophy and it absolves none of us from the necessity to try harder to love one another. At the same time it acknowledges the distinction between loving and liking. Above all it emphasises that there are no such things as eternal damnation and a vengeful God. Instead it espouses the doctrine of eternal progress open to every human soul. In other words, not one of us is ever so bad or evil even, that we are deserted by God. There is no limit to the number of opportunities we are given to change and progress. Because of our obsession with time, it is impossible for us to imagine eternity and hence we make hasty judgements of things and people. We talk of those who are “beyond the pale” or irredeemable. No such condition exists and the fact we think this way is due to what I call, the ‘blindness of incarnation,’ that condition which insists nothing can be real that is not measurable by our five, poor, physical senses.

Spiritualism really is the world’s happiest news but unfortunately, the spread of its philosophy is in the physical hands of those who are just as weak and imperfect as the rest of humanity. We have I believe, been lured by the false gods of flattery and adulation, into focussing almost entirely upon its phenomena, its mediumship. One prays for the emergence of a greater sense of humility, particularly amongst mediums, for without it, Spiritualism will continue to be marginalised. I do not deny that the evidence of survival provided by mediums has brought and continues to bring, enormous joy and peace to those who mourn the loss of a loved one. However, the vast majority of the population is not in mourning but is seeking in vain for a teaching that makes sense out of our modern world, so filled with fear and uncertainty; is seeking in vain for a better explanation than that furnished by the leading religions, with their fascination with temporal power which has emasculated their ability to give true spiritual leadership.

I urge all seekers after spiritual truth to look beyond mediumship, without discounting its worthiness. I urge all Spiritualists to search their hearts and consciences to discover where and why we have strayed and continue to stray. Above all I urge them to listen again to the voice of the Spirit. Early Spiritualists never stopped doing this and the body of philosophy they were able to construct as a result offers the best hope for struggling humanity. We Spiritualists have been handed a torch of truth whose flame is at present flickering and spluttering. Let us resolve to turn once more to the pure light of the spiritual world and restore brilliance to our torch so that its flame becomes so bright it cannot be ignored.

Friday, 17 September 2010

What is Our Excuse?

It would be difficult to find any person who disagreed that the world is in a mess, politically, economically, morally and spiritually. Why is this? Is it really much worse than say at the time of the Roman Empire and its collapse? Have human beings really learned nothing, other than how to exploit the Earth, during the millennia we have been here? Could it have been avoided? What are the likely consequences if it continues and can we ‘stop the rot’?

A long list of questions which I will endeavour to answer: I am certainly numbered amongst those who consider the world to be in a mess but I am also convinced that whilst this is true of human world society, most individual human beings are good, kind people. Good people who are desperately confused and frightened by what they see happening all around them. I am firmly of the belief that the vast majority of human beings when they come to review their earthly lives on arrival in the spirit world will be pleasantly surprised. They will discover that their lives in relation to others were much better than they feared and certainly better than many ‘religious extremists’ would have them think. Most people are good and do not deliberately bring harm to others, so morally and spiritually are by no means a lost cause.

If this is the case, surely the world should be a better place than I have claimed? How can people be good but society and its institutions be so corrupt and ineffective? The answer I suppose lies as so much does, in the way in which humanity has progressively divorced itself from the natural world and from one another over the years. We have diminished our spiritual awareness and sensitivity to the point where it is hardly noticeable. Add to this the way we have been increasingly bewitched by the goddess of materialism and I think we have an answer.

Materialism has brought so many creature comforts in its train, it is difficult sometimes to remember at what cost these have been bought. It is natural to want to make our physical lives more comfortable but when it is taken to extremes, as seems to be the case in modern “advanced economies”, we need to examine our priorities with great care. Materialism leads to exploitation of the earth, its resources, animals and people for the ultimate and I feel sole purpose of creating wealth, monetary wealth. To this end cultural, artistic and spiritual wealth receive little or no consideration. This is chiefly because materialism recognises only what is physical and discounts or ignores anything intangible. Conversely, those who are ‘cultured’ choose often not to ‘dirty their hands’ with the sordid world of commerce, whilst happily consuming its products. Not a particularly responsible attitude you may feel.

To this extent, humanity has learned nothing over the centuries and, because of what we have forgotten, our collective journey through time has been in many respects a failure that may yet result in our destruction or at least a dramatic fall in our physical numbers: Speaking of which the continual rise in world population is a not inconsiderable factor in bringing about the separation and its consequences. It is at least a partial excuse for us I believe. To recall what we have forgotten, we need to be reminded more often of those immortal words of Wordsworth,

“Our birth is but a sleeping and a forgetting,
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere it’s setting,
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, which is our home;"

We have certainly slept and forgotten but, “not in entire forgetfulness.” In other words, it is not impossible to recall that home from which we came. If we can do that, we can also discover what we are meant to do with this earthly life in order to fulfil the destiny that made us choose it. By ‘going within’ in quiet contemplation and meditation, our innermost reality is gradually revealed. We begin to wake to the realisation that we are inseparable from all other forms of life, animal, vegetable, mineral and human. With the dawn of this realisation comes understanding of the real meaning of “Personal Responsibility.” That exploitation for our own selfish ends, even when most of us realise little about what is involved, is untenable. Untenable, for it is only achievable at the expense of the interests of the other life that we share our planet and universe with.

What can we do? Is it too late? Those who interpret the Mayan calendar in a certain way believe it is already too late and that the end of 2012 will also see the end of the world. I do not share their pessimism. However, that doesn’t mean sitting back and doing nothing. It means accepting our individual responsibility as living, breathing, eternal human beings within whom shines the pure light of the Creator. It means emerging from our collective cocoon and taking notice of what is being perpetrated in our names by those who have no conception of their own spiritual inheritance. It means standing up and being counted. It means saying, ”NO”. It means asking for help from within and without through earnest prayer, recognising there are millions of past inhabitants of this Earth who are just waiting for us to ask before lending their considerable strength and love to our efforts.

All is not lost my friends but time is short and it is up to us!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Nosso Lar (Our Home)

A Brasilian film company has just released a film called “Nosso Lar” based upon a book written through automatic writing by the great Brasilian medium Chico Xavier. It is a film well worth seeing if it is ever shown in your locality. Because it is Brasilian it will need to be dubbed into English or given sub-titles but I hope some enterprising distributor sees the sense in doing that.

The book was written from spirit by a man, Andre Luiz, who was a medical doctor when he lived on earth and it is the story of his life after he passed to spirit due to a heart attack. During his earthly life he overworked and ate a lot of food that was bad for his health, as well as smoking. He maintains that consequently, it was considered tantamount to suicide, which is a very interesting conception. Because of his ‘suicide’ he passed first of all into a dark, forbidding part of the spiritual world, which he referred to as purgatory. (I guess Brasilian Catholicism influenced this idea!) There was much mud and slime and people were crying out in pain and anguish. Occasionally, a bright figure would appear from nowhere and take one of the suffering people by the arm and lead them away. Andre suffered along with others for a while in this place and was often attacked by gangs. Eventually he summoned up the courage and determination to pray.

Soon after his prayer one of these bright, shining figures came and took him away. He was accompanied by two others carrying a stretcher on which they took Andre with them. They flew in a cloud of light to a brighter land and landed before a huge walled city to which there appeared to be no entrance. The leader of the group, who collected Andre, went up and touched the stones in a certain place and immediately the wall parted to form a magnificent gateway. Andre was carried to a hospital because he was very sick both as a result of the surgery he was subjected to before he died and his sufferings in purgatory.

When he awoke he found a young man standing beside his bed who explained what had happened to him and why he had been sent to purgatory. The young man then proceeded to give him healing by passing his hands over the doctor’s body. A green light spread from the healers hands across the doctor’s body and after two days of such treatment, together with drinking specially prepared water, his terrible surgical wound (that the hospital on earth had not bothered to stitch up) had completely disappeared. He was then able to get up and walk around his new home.

The city was indeed a beautiful place, with lovely gardens and attractive buildings that seemed to emanate light. He spent time listening to music in the company of many others beside a beautiful lake and was taken to the home of the young healer, to meet the family. Andre also met there a young lady who was not willing to accept she had died and longed to return to earth. He was also taken to what was called “The Communication Building” to see how people were taught to communicate with those on earth, which is where he learned how to use automatic writing.

He kept being drawn back to the hospital, presumably because he was a doctor and he begged to be allowed to help. With one patient he tried using earthly medical practice and it didn’t help at all and other members of the hospital staff were called to deal with the case. Eventually he accepted there were other, higher, forms of healing than he had been taught on earth and he learned how to use them, having first of all been employed like an orderly in the hospital, performing menial tasks. After Andre had been working there for a while, they were told by a kind of TV broadcast from a higher sphere that the Second World War had begun. After this they were inundated with patients and the resources of the entire city were stretched to breaking point.

At another point, three of the people Andre had become friendly with in the city decided they wanted to be reincarnated and there was a tender scene where they bade farewell to their friends at the entrance to a building used for the purposes of reincarnation. Next he was allowed to visit his earthly home but of course none of the physical people knew he was there, except for one. This was a servant, who saw him and before he left thanked him for blessing the house with his presence. There were several tender scenes when Andre watched various members of his family going about family duties, including his young daughter, who had been born just before he died. She was trying to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the piano and was stuck at a certain point. He found he was able to help her by focusing his mind and she played the passage she had previously been unable to manage. Her mother came along because she had heard the child playing and congratulated her on learning the difficult part. The little girl said there seemed to be a bright gentleman there who moved her fingers over the right keys.

His wife had remarried since his death and her new husband was seriously ill with a chest or lung condition. Consequently Andre was unaware of the remarriage for a while. When he finally saw the two of them together he was stricken with terrible pangs of jealousy. He dashed out of the house and next minute found him self back in purgatory again! This experience quickly taught him that it was wrong to harbour such negative feelings and after a while he felt composed enough to return to his old house and his family. Immediately he went to the bedroom where the new husband was lying in bed so ill and gave him healing. He also passed his hands over a carafe of water beside the bed and impressed the man to drink it all when he woke up. Next day the man was cured! The doctor’s widow and family were delighted and the new husband described the shining figure that had healed him and told him to drink the water.

On his return to Nosso Lar, Andre’s mother, whom he loved deeply and was living in a different part of the spiritual world, was brought to meet him. There was a touching scene of reunion and they stayed together for quite a while but eventually she had to return to her own spirit home. Before she left there was a scene showing her in the operating theatre on earth before Andre died, trying to help her son during his operation and her sadness when the surgeons had to admit defeat. Then he discovered that the girl who wanted to return to her life on earth, had run away. He searched for her but in vain. After a long time, he was impressed to search again and he found her, covered in mud and wounds, trying to drag herself back to Nosso Lar. It seems that her efforts to return to her old life had instead taken her to purgatory, presumably because such longings are considered sinful (?), where she suffered terribly. Andre carried her back to the city and healed and nursed her until she was recovered.

The film ended with the sight of all these poor people who had been the victims of the war, arriving at Nosso Lar. Whilst I found it difficult to accept all the scenes in the movie, it was a fascinating and moving experience for me to watch it, even when some of the conversations were a little beyond the comprehension of my limited Portuguese! I strongly recommend you go to see it if it ever comes to a cinema near you.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Diversity in Nature (An explanation from spirit)

What follows is an extract from the book “Highlands of Heaven,” one of four books given to Rev George Vale Owen from the spiritual world through automatic writing.

"For instance, there are here such as have charge of the elements which condition the earth and those things which grow upon the earth. Let us take one example which will serve to illustrate the others: Those who have charge of vegetation.

They are under one Mighty Prince and are divided and sub-divided into departments, all in perfect order. Under these again are others of lower estate who carry out their work under direction, and in conformity to certain unalterable laws laid down in the higher spheres. These are what you know as elemental spirits, and are multiple in number and form.

The laws of which I speak are very complex the further we proceed from the sphere of their origin; but if we could trace them upstream and arrive at their origin we should find, I think, that they are few and simple. In the source and spring of their origin, there is also Unity. Of this I, who have only been a little way, can but reason, on what I have observed in my upward progress. This leads me to hazard that the one law, or principle, from which all the lesser laws and principles are radiated, might best be described by the word LOVE. For understood, as we understand things, love and unity cannot be separated, they are identical. We have discovered this much at least that everything which divides in all the regions and estates on this our own level, and in those spheres below us down to the earth sphere, is in one way or another, an abnegation of Love in its most intense and truest meaning.

But this is a most difficult problem to discuss with you here and now; for it would be very difficult to explain to you how all the diversity you see around you is due, as it seems to us, to this same disintegrating action: Yet is all so wonderfully wise and so beautiful. Still, if you substitute for the word ‘negation’ the idea of Unity less one part and then Unity less two parts, and so on, you may perchance get some glimmer of what philosophy is held among us on this subject of Unity radiating into diversity of operation.

Although the activity of these lower orders is all regulated by law, yet a great amount of freedom is found within its bounds. And this is to us a matter of much charm because, as you will agree, there is much beauty in diversity and in the ingenuity displayed by those who energise among plant life.

And now I will tell you something which, I have hinted already, and which you may find difficult to accept. All these main principles, even when diverse in action, are planned in spheres higher than my own by high and powerful Princes who hold their commission secure under others higher still, who hold theirs from others above them.

I use the word “diverse” in preference to antagonistic, for among those ‘High Ones’ antagonism does not find a place. However, diversity of quality in wisdom does and is the cause of the wonderful diversity in nature as it works out in its procession from those Higher Heavens outward through the lower spheres into that of matter which is visible to you on earth. Where antagonism enters is in those spheres where the radiating wisdom has become more attenuated by reason of its journey outward. It travels in every direction through spheres of innumerable myriads of free-willed beings, and is diluted and refracted in its passage.

And yet, consider the stars of different size and complement and the waters of the sea, which are naturally still. By the motion of the earth and the gravitation of bodies at a distance, the latter is allowed to have no rest. Then, in the case of the former, the more rarefied atmosphere which, also responding to the pulls and pushes of the forces which impinge upon the earth, whips into motion the heavier liquid. Next, all the diversity of form and colour of grass and plant and tree and flower and insect life, and life more evolved, like the birds and the animals; and of the continuous movement among them all; and the way in which they are permitted one to prey upon another, and yet not to annihilate wholly. Every species must run its race before it passes away – all this and more; then will you not, my ward and friend, confess that God is indeed most wonderful in the manner of His working, and that the wonder justifies most fully the measures He has permitted His higher servants to adopt and use, and the manner also of their using?"

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

One for the Pot

When I was a boy, my parents always pointed out that in order to make a good cup of tea you needed to put one teaspoon of tea for each person and then add “one for the pot”. In other words, when you are given a job; do it well; rather provide too much than too little. Maybe this would be a good slogan by which to live our lives?

Instead of providing just enough effort to finish a particular task, would it not be better to ‘go that extra yard’ and with a little extra effort perform a great job? People are rarely remembered for just doing enough. When they perform exceptionally well in any field, that is when we remember them and it is something we all can do, once we convince ourselves of its viability. “I can’t do this” or “I can’t do that,” really means “I don’t wish to make the extra effort to do it or to learn how to do it well. “ It is all a matter of attitude. Take a negative approach to any challenge or task in our lives and immediately it assumes mountainous proportions. On the contrary, take a positive attitude, and once we begin the task, it suddenly appears far less challenging than we feared.

When Andrew Jackson Davis, that great nineteenth century American seer, described a child as “the repository of infinite possibilities,” he was saying that we each have such power and love within us that nothing need ever be impossible. There dwells within us, if we are willing to search long and hard enough, all knowledge and the ability to overcome any disadvantage. We only have to look at the disadvantages of birth suffered by many people who became great leaders of their time and in their particular fields, to understand the truth of this. From Napoleon to Mandela; from Ernest Bevin, the coal miner who became Foreign Secretary of Britain, to Albert Einstein, who changed the basis of physics though without traditional scientific training; from Lincoln, the farm boy who became one of the finest Presidents of the USA, to Lech Walensa, the Polish electrician who brought the mighty USSR to its knees. Each in his own way overcame disadvantages that would have daunted lesser people and in doing so realised their dream and changed the face of the world in the process. They had the courage to say “I can do it, no matter what others may think.”

These great men would be the first to admit they did not consider themselves to be particularly special, with the possible exception of Napoleon after declaring himself emperor. Such people are usually possessed of great modesty, as well as enormous determination. Determination has nothing to do with conceit; modesty will achieve far more than bombast. They learned that to realise their dream they needed to tap the hidden powers that lay within them. They were never daunted by others who may have considered them ‘upstarts’ or ‘insignificant’. They held onto their dreams, made enormous efforts to compensate for their lack of training or social position and refused to be cowed. They ‘knew’ they could do it and when any of us adopt that stance and pursues our dream single-mindedly, the universe seems to reorganise itself to come to our aid.

We are not intended to pass through this life in a perpetual fog, being persuaded by others of our inadequacy. On the contrary, we are intended to take advantage of the opportunities presented to us and exploit them using the gifts we have and our inner strengths, but to do this without trespassing on the rights or needs of others. To do so requires us to recognise that each person is different; each person has gifts, not all have the same gifts but no-one has none at all. We need therefore to understand the gifts we have been given and work with them, not spend useless hours complaining we have not been given this or that other gift. As the old adage goes; “If God gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

To really work with the gifts we possess means just that; working! Only by honing our gifts by hard work can we exploit them. In doing this we need also to beware of flattery, for it is a thing that has diverted many a person into self-satisfaction and self-importance. When you wish to know how well you are doing in honing your gifts, go within. You are the only person who can know exactly how much you have progressed and how much effort you have truly given to the task. “One for the pot” demands self-knowledge that is not clouded by conceit or wishful thinking. We as individuals are the only ones who can develop that. “Know thyself” has to be objective and done with a clear head.

Less it be thought all this work sounds deadly dull always remember that the personal satisfaction gained from any job well done is a source of great happiness and contentment. It is only when, inside, we know we have not done our best even when others may think we have, that a sense of dissatisfaction mars our happiness. Why not make sure we stay happy by adding “one for the pot?”

Monday, 13 September 2010


The anniversary of that frightful event in New York City on Saturday last, is an appropriate time to look at this question. Lack of tolerance is something that has bedevilled humanity ever since its earliest days. One could have hoped that experience, stretching over millennia and incorporating immense human suffering and premature death, would by now have led to a world order that was much more tolerant than formerly. Alas, this does not seem to be the case. It is a sad and worrying reflection on human frailty that this should be so.

If, as I firmly believe, we come to this Earth in order to learn spiritual lessons from physical and emotional experiences, here is one area where our failure appears to be total. Even amongst religions, I could almost say, especially amongst religions, where the emphasis is nominally on loving one another, the lack of tolerance is astounding. This intolerance starts within the individual religions themselves. All is sweetness and light at first but then disagreements emerge over the interpretation of this or that dogma or creed. Before long, numerous breakaway sects are formed and often each sect vies with the other in the level of its bigotry. The ghastly act just commemorated was carried out by just such totally bigoted and intolerant people; people whose only desire is to impose through fear and terror, their own narrow, unprincipled view of life. It is not only Muslims who spawn these violent and intolerant offshoots. Speak to any religious minority trying to go about their own way of worship and see what they have to face from the extremist thinkers amongst Christians and others. Buddhists are not immune either; many priests openly support political regimes that are totally corrupt and intolerant.

In politics, industry and commerce it is the same. If a particular group, or often a particular individual, cannot get their or his own way, violence, terror and other forms of ‘persuasion’ are employed to ‘convert’ unbelievers or opponents. There are so many historical figures who fit this description, or small businessmen who have been cheated or harried out of their businesses that to detail them is not necessary. What is it in the human psyche that leads to such high levels of intolerance?

Regrettably, it is fear and the lust for power; power over the minds and wills of other people; power to accumulate a disproportionate amount of this worlds goods; power that measures its success merely in material terms, despite the fact that among religions, the specious argument of saving or converting souls is used to justify extremist, materialistic actions; all this, in spite of the fact that the founders of all the great religions taught the very reverse when they were on Earth. Intolerance is, as Shakespeare would have described it, “a worm I’ the bud”. It is insidious and takes hold of individuals and groups without them appearing at first to notice. It thrives on fear, on creating ‘hate figures’ or groups. In the past these have been minorities of all kinds, from Jews to black- skinned people, to Huguenots, to Native Americans and from Catholics and Spiritualists to Muslims and Christians. All I believe persecuted because their seemingly liberal, or maybe just different, views appeared to pose a threat to the megalomania of particular groups or individuals in power. Vested interest usually stops at nothing to protect itself.

I was impressed with the arguments put forward recently warning against overreaction to terrorist atrocities. It seems to be true that intolerance quickly affects those who have been the subject of persecution and this insidious action is one against which we all need to beware. I will give two examples. The first is modern Israel, the state created as a home for the survivors of Hitler’s holocaust. After what the Jewish people suffered under the Nazis, few would begrudge their desire to have their own state, to as it were, return to the “promised land.” Today, that state is a reality and few open-minded people would deny it is one of the least tolerant of modern states and one that has done little to alleviate suspicion between Muslims and the non-Muslim world. My second example is the United States and its reaction to the events of 9/11. Initially, the response of the American government was measured and aimed solely at those known to have perpetrated the abomination in New York City. It was very successful but then fear grew disproportionately and the USA saw threats to its security from all kinds of sources. As a result it became hugely intolerant and got involved in a succession of needless wars. Its persecution of what it saw as its righteous role has been scarcely less tolerant than that shown by its aggressors. As a result, the terrorist ‘problem’ is now infinitely worse than it was and America has become regarded as a pariah to many countries.

What a far cry is all this from Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth or Mahomet, the founders of today’s leading religions! I often wonder how they must feel in heaven today as they watch their names being used to support violence and suppression; the very things they spent their Earthly lives opposing. Instead of paying lip service to the doctrine of “turning the other cheek,” now is the time we should embrace it earnestly. It is not a sign of weakness; it is a sure sign of spiritual and moral strength. Violence and intolerance are the actions of last resort when the arguments of individuals and groups are no longer convincing. When they resort to killing innocent people, they have already acknowledged the paucity of their philosophy. Our reaction to that is what we need to examine so carefully. React with firmness, yes. Overreact and we become as bad as the perpetrators and because violence creates more violence, the age of reason and tolerance is delayed indefinitely.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Near Death Experiences

A friend of mine today sent me the following URL for a site that contains a most interesting and moving account of a near death experience. I recommend you to read it and will be very surprised if you don't find it fascinating too and the scientific explanation offered is worth thinking about as well!



Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Self Importance

It is surprising how many people in our world consider them selves to be very important people, even those who would not qualify as V.I.P.’s in the normal course of events. Some believe I know that self-importance is synonymous with self-confidence, but is it? I do not believe so for a self-confident person whilst having an almost instinctive belief in his or her ability, usually is also well aware of his limitations. Because of self-confidence, they focus on what they are best at and accept that others will be better able to do other things than they themselves.

On the other hand, the self-important person is usually so puffed up by his own opinion that he or she is second to none, they have no conception of their own inadequacies. Because of this, most sensible people find their attitude comical, as well as uninteresting and certainly do not seek their company. Is it possible do you think that the self-important are really so unsure of themselves they are trying to compensate by appearing to be so ‘important’? Certainly self-knowledge is not their strong point.

Socrates wisely claimed the most important rule for everyone was “Know Thyself.” I am indebted to a person known as Dr Ann of The Infinity Institute for the following observations on this theme:

“Socrates' guiding rule was, "Know Thyself." These words are of eternal significance. No better advice has ever been give to man or woman. When one begins to explore this dictate, it leads to profound understandings about all of creation. It makes unhappiness, fear, sadness, doubt, and all the negative emotions meaningless.

In the scriptures Jesus said, "Love God first and your neighbour as yourself." In doing this we have to come to the conclusion that we are made in the image and likeness of the Divine, therefore we are all sacred beings. If this premise is true then there is no room for those negative emotions. Ah, however we feel them strongly, why is that?

Could it be that we are not recognising the goodness, the god-within-all of creation? When we do not recognise this goodness, the dark side of our nature begins to find excuses for what is happening in our life. It is then that we begin to feel 'other than happiness' feelings. Happiness of course is our birthright.

When we came into existence our soul was pure love. Our first relationships here in this new environment seem to have taught us to forget from whence we came and why we are here. We tried valiantly to let everyone see our virtue, our love, our innocence and this is proven by how many times people came to look at us and smile and say sweet things to us in our stroller or crib. But then what happened? Through our mother we had been hearing and feeling negative, as well as positive emotions from the time of our conception. At birth the negative began to be reinforced over and over again until we became convinced that in order to survive we needed both positive and negative feelings. Our ego now had a directive, defend against those who would hurt us in some way. Do what it takes to live!

As adults we are still suffering from that mistaken decision and as a result live a life that is insane. Our way out of this is to begin to re-do the mental programming in the subconscious. In “A Course of Miracles” it says that the special relationship is one that omits the presence to Heaven. In other words we are blind to the goodness in ourselves and in others. If we will begin to meditate on the goodness within we begin to do as Socrates prescribed.

First and foremost we begin to be thankful for the 'insight' and demand of our self that we only recognise that which is nurturing to our nature. In other words count our blessings and the love that others have given to us; keep reminding ourselves the good that others have shown to us. Step two is to let go of the old insane thoughts and pictures that have brought unhappiness. In their place it is imperative that we put a positive picture and statement to replace the old worn out negative ones. It helps to count all the blessings associated with relationship. When I say relationship I am referring to the relationship to self, to persons, to places and to things.

For instance, if one is letting go of fear, put in its place the opposite picture and declare: "This fear has no power over me. With the Divine all things are possible. I am one with the Divine." Remember that others are also one with the Divine even though they may not recognize it. This is where compassion and faith become great allies to your newfound way of living. You now begin to live in a sane world of your co-creation with the Divine, not the mistaken world that was presented to you at your birth.

What I have suggested will take dedication, determination, discipline and above all a great deal of self-love (but not self-importance! Lionel).

As Kermit says: "It isn't easy being green."

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Looking at Loss

Loss, particularly resulting from death, but also loss by physical separation, can be almost impossible for some of us to bear. The knowledge of two things can make it easier to bear I believe: 1) Knowledge that life is eternal, that the human personality and consciousness survives the change we call death. As one poet said, “We do not die, we cannot die; we only change our state of life.” 2) Knowledge that all life is part of all other life through the connecting silver chord of spirit. As Alexander Pope put it, “All are but parts of one stupendous whole, whose body nature is, and God the soul.”

Thus when we lose a loved one through death, they have not disappeared completely, they have merely moved into the next room. Their love for us is as great as ever and they will be waiting for us when the time comes for us also to take that final transition from earthly life. Where our loved one moves away but remains on Earth, we will continue to be linked together because love knows no boundaries, physical or otherwise. We are always linked through that love, which is of the spirit and not merely of the flesh. To those who love completely, there can never be separation, minds and souls link across the miles.

The verses that follow look at loss and the sadness that follows, in differing ways and I believe, can be a source of great comfort and certainty at times of sadness and inner emptiness. I hope you will find the same and feel able to pass some or all onto friends and loved ones in need.

In love and friendship,


A Thousand Winds

Do not stand by my grave and weep,
for I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond’s glint on snow.

I am sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle Autumn’s rain.
When you awaken
in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush.

Of quiet birds in circle flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.

Always in Your Heart

Hush now, please don’t cry
There comes a time when we all die
Just take heed now that I’m at peace
And from my pain I have release.

I will always be watching over you
Our love will always be held true
Don’t you weep now, don’t you mourn
For my heart will then be torn.

Just remember the good times we shared
Knowing that we always cared
I’ve not gone away, we’ll never part
As I will always be in your heart.

Welcome Home

When I am gone, release me, let me go
I have so many things to see and do.
You mustn’t tie yourselves to me with tears,
just be happy that we had some years.
I gave you my love, you can only guess
how much you gave to me in happiness.
I thank you for the love you each have shown,
but now it’s time I traveled on alone.
Do grieve a while for me if you must
then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It’s only for a while that we must part,
so keep our memories within your hearts.
I won’t be far away, for life goes on.
So if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can’t see or touch me I’ll be near,
and if you listen with your heart you will hear,
All of my love around so soft and dear.
When you must come this way alone,
I’ll greet you with a smile and say
“Welcome Home”.

When I Must Leave You

When I must leave you
for a little while
Please do not grieve
and shed wild tears
And hug your sorrow to you
through the years
But start out bravely
with a gallant smile;
And for my sake and
in my name live on
and do all things the same,
Feed not your loneliness
on empty days,
But fill each waking hour
in useful ways,
Reach out your hand
in comfort and in cheer
And I in turn
will comfort you
and hold you near;
And never,
never be afraid to die,
For I am waiting
for you in the sky!

Monday, 6 September 2010


What image does this word conjure up for you? Is it some place so beautiful that to capture it even in your imagination seems impossible? Is it how you describe a feeling of great, almost overwhelming happiness? Is it the place to which you believe we go to after our death, provided we have lived a good life? Is it a place of idleness, a reward for a good life, where people sit around playing on golden harps and watching the angels and archangels? Is it how you have been brought up to describe the spiritual world where we all pass to on our deaths? Perhaps you are one of those who believe that no such place exists.

Whether any of these descriptions or none describes your idea of heaven, it is a word that is almost as commonly used in the English language as the word love. Popular music abounds with both words and many people describe their feelings of joy or happiness as ‘heavenly’. Why should this be I wonder? Here we have a word with obvious mystic connotations that many use and which means different things to different people. Its use reminds me very much of the way we associate certain colours with certain emotions; red for anger, green for envy, yellow for cowardice, pink for love and good health, etc. All these associations, like those linked to ‘heaven’ go back to the infancy of humanity; a time when we were a great deal more innocent and spiritually aware than we appear to be today. The word itself may have changed with different societies and different religions but for instance, the emotional associations of Nirvana and of Heaven are indistinguishable to those who accept one or the other.

I believe these early associations of words with mystical states are not accidental and should be taken seriously for they are important and it would be misguided of us to assume that because a word’s associations are ancient they are therefore invalid. In the infancy of humanity we needed to use our finer senses much more than we do today, just to ensure survival. Without that ‘sixth sense’ that warned us of impending danger, how would early man have survived living among so many carnivorous animals? More importantly in many ways, are the methods our ancestors used to determine the healing properties of plants and herbs. They did not rely upon a system of ‘trial and error’ but were much more precise than that. They anticipated Dr Bach of the famous ‘Bach Flower Remedies’ by many millennia. If you recall, Dr Bach urged his students to go out in the very early morning and “feel” the energy of the plants and herbs; thus would they be able to determine not only which ones were healing plants but also which illnesses they would be most effective in treating.

There is no accident that among ancient tribes, those skilled in the healing arts became known in our language as ‘witch doctors’. Although the word ‘witch’ has been given dark, even evil meanings by amongst others, Shakespeare, King James 1 of England and the Christian church, it is not one which is wholly deserved. A witch is merely one who possesses psychic abilities beyond the normal and is therefore able to detect those subtle energies used in communications between the spiritual world and those of us here on Earth; and who understand the vital role of the mind in spiritual matters. Unfortunately some practised the darker side of their arts and consequently fear in the minds of ordinary people and some not so ordinary like King James, branded all psychically gifted souls with this stigma, even though many abhor the darker side. Add ‘psychically gifted’ to ‘healer’ and you produce witch doctor! No more; no less.

So it is with ‘heaven’. The early seers and psychics were made aware from the spiritual world of the existence of the world of spirits which welcomed all earthly people when they died and were told what a beautiful, idyllic and loving place it was. They coined the word heaven to describe it and because it seemed way above the mundane world of humanity, they became convinced this place called heaven was high above the Earth. Consequently, the skies became the heavens also. What they were unable to understand from their communications was that heaven was also a world of the mind. We now know the spiritual world, or heaven to some, is exactly that; a mental world, where the mind is king. Therefore when mystics speak of creating heaven on earth they are not suggesting that the earth will one day become a purely spiritual world. What they are saying is that heaven, (and hell if it comes to that) is a state of mind, rather than an actual physical location. The mind is so powerful that such states appear to the individual as physical locations, even though they are not. Therefore if we wish to create heaven on earth, we need to create the right mental and spiritual conditions here, either personally or much more preferably, amongst the entire human community.

This helps to explain why when we are ‘on top of the world,’ feeling totally free, joyful and happy, we describe the feeling as heavenly. That is exactly what heaven is, no matter where you may be located when you experience it. It may be a passage in a wonderful piece of music, finding your true vocation, the achievement of a hard-worked-for ambition or aim, falling in love, the birth of your first baby, a verse in a poem, a wonderful sunset, a rainbow, or other mighty work of nature. Any of these things and others, can give you that feeling of ‘heaven’. Such feelings “often”, to paraphrase Wordsworth, “lie too deep for words,” but what is certain is that once experienced, it is something we never forget. Hold onto that feeling once you have experienced it, for it is very special, though but a pale imitation of the spiritual heavens.

The ‘heavenly spheres,’ for there are many parts of the spiritual world that can be described as heaven, are places of ineffable love and beauty where no evil exists to mar our joy. Be sure they exist and also be sure that creating a heaven here on Earth is up to each one of us.

Friday, 3 September 2010


As I cycled along the sea front here in Rio this morning and experienced the magic of sun and sand and waves – the sea and sky such a perfect blue and the sand gleaming gold in the sunlight - I wondered. I wondered why it is that we human beings are so rarely satisfied with our lot. We inhabit this beautiful world, albeit for a limited time, but all too often we turn our faces away from the beauty in order to focus on what? How best to accumulate more things? How best to arrange things so that we outsmart a competitor – sometimes not in the fairest way either. How best to obtain more power or influence over other people? How best to accumulate more wealth with the least effort? What is going to happen to me tomorrow or next week or next year?

Why is it that only in our moments of relaxation can we seem to appreciate the full beauty of the world around us? Even more so, why do we find it so difficult to appreciate the beauty in the people around us? I cannot help thinking that if we spent a great deal more of our time in appreciating what we have, what God has given us, and less time worrying, envying others or desiring more and more, we would be infinitely happier and more contented. There is so much to appreciate; there is so much to marvel at; there is so much to thank God for.

As I cycled slowly along taking in the beauty of everything around me, I was particularly struck by the happy smiles and laughter of the people on the beach; people of all sorts and sizes, poor, wealthy and everything in between. People who had come to the beach to relax and enjoy themselves and that enjoyment showed in their smiles and their laughter; people who know all that beauty and all that opportunity for clean, innocent fun is provided free. Of course the local council have to keep the beach clean and tidy and we all contribute to the cost of that, but it and the sea and the sunshine are totally free.

In such surroundings we are able to forget all our cares; all those disagreements and differences of opinion with family and colleagues; all the worries about what may or may not happen tomorrow. Somehow they seem to assume a much less important role in our lives. This is as it is supposed to be. Today is what is important, for only today can we actively influence our lives. Yesterday is gone beyond recall and pining for it or wishing we could experience it again so as to avoid certain mistakes we made, won’t bring it back. Tomorrow is yet to be and only by what we do and think today, can we determine the shape and texture of it, at least partially. The Sanskrit scholar, Kalidasa puts it so much better than I can:

"Look to this day, for it is life, the very life of life. For yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow only a vision, but today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and tomorrow a vision of hope”

Our lives and where we live are gifts and whether here or in the spiritual world, we should treasure them always. If we are engaged in the more serious aspects of life or enjoying times of relaxation, it matters not. What is important is to give thanks by making the best possible use of those gifts. George Bernard Shaw had a most inspirational way of looking at this when he wrote:

“Life is no brief candle to me It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment. I want to make it burn as brightly as possible...handing it on to future generations.”
It is interesting that Shaw lived well into his nineties!

What about the people with whom we share this wonderful experience of life? I don’t just mean our families and friends but everyone? Do we really pay enough attention to them? Are we interested enough in them to discover a little about what brought them to the point in life at which they find themselves? This is not being nosy or invading their privacy, I am talking about listening. We are often so full of the implications of what is happening to us, we pay little or no attention to what others are telling us about themselves. We can hardly wait to move the conversation around to ourselves – not always of course but can you honestly say this never happens to you? Unless we really listen to other people it is quite impossible to understand them. The truly incredible thing about individual life is that there are teeming millions of us but each one is different. Each one chose to come to Earth and live this life; each one has undergone trials and joys that have helped make them what they are; each one is a child of God, no matter how far they may have strayed from His light; each one deserves our respect, our love and our understanding.

To give those things does not involve condoning any ill they may have done; it is the one sure way to ease our own passage through life because what we give we also receive and receive one-hundred fold.

Today is special; let us resolve to make every day just as special.

Thursday, 2 September 2010


I suppose one of the most often repeated political utterances is that of Franklyn Roosevelt, who said in his first inaugural address during the great depression, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” What a perceptive statement that is. Of all human emotions, I guess nothing is more paralysing than fear, particularly its more extreme brother, terror.

Many is the tyrant who has blatantly used the weapon of terror, in the form of torture, in order to impose his will upon unwilling people. During the Second World War, Hitler’s blitzkrieg was meant to terrorise the British people into surrender. Today terrorism has become the chosen weapon of all extremists, whose political and religious philosophy and arguments are so unconvincing, few if any are willing to give them credence. The final part of that sentence contains the clue to why terror has become the weapon of choice of these wicked and unscrupulous people. Most people have the good sense to ignore the crazy utterances of these extremists, so they set about making everyone sit up and take notice in other ways. What better than to take advantage of television’s myopic love affair with violence? Any act of violence, the more extreme the better, is guaranteed to be headlines in all the world’s TV stations. As if the violence itself and its effect on the people involved, is not bad enough, TV broadcasters must needs repeat and analyse each act of terror endlessly until people are in danger of becoming inured to violence completely.

I know the arguments used by the media that they are only reporting what happened and they refuse to countenance the fact that undoubtedly they are being blatantly manipulated by terrorists to extend the effect of the terror as widely as possible. If we could find a way to isolate these unscrupulous terrorists from publicity, without which they would cease to recruit followers and or financial backing, we would be doing the cause of ordinary, law abiding people the greatest possible service. If one tenth of the money and effort was put into achieving this aim as is put into reporting each act of terror in lurid detail, a solution would soon be found. This is only one part of the problem however.

Terrorist organisations can only exist where there is a strong feeling of injustice among people at being unable to counteract the actions of others vis a vis their country, religion, philosophy, etc, etc. Of course the terrorist organisations exaggerate the injustice for their own ends but without its existence in the first place there would be nothing to work on. For such conditions to be created, someone or some country must, for its own selfish reasons, have taken action that has created the sense of injustice. It is an unfortunate fact that usually when action is taken that exploits the weakness or defencelessness of another person or people, the aggressors never analyse all the implications of their actions in advance. They only closely examine the immediate impact on themselves and how likely they will be to achieve their main objective, which takes no account of its impact upon others.

Much of the action taken against other countries in the last twenty years unfortunately has its basis in the developed world’s unquenchable thirst for oil.

If we accept this argument, it follows that at least some of the origins of international terrorism are centred on the fact that those of us whose political masters are inclined to take aggressive action have been unwilling or unable to do anything to prevent it. It is a perfect illustration of the working out in practice of John Donne’s claim that “no man is an island, entire unto himself.” It is impossible for any action to be taken in isolation. Everything we do, say or think, as individuals or nations, has an impact upon the rest of humanity.

Vested interest is often behind international action and once again, as I have pointed out in other blogs, the lust for power and money is the trigger. Power is an alluring goddess. She trails the prospect of the enormous benefit power can be to further the betterment of your fellow human beings. She blinds you to the subtle ways in which power corrupts its wielder. Lord Acton in 1887 described this brilliantly: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." No-one has bettered this definition of the dangers inherent in power. It follows therefore that we in democracies should be extremely careful about the power we cede to our rulers. We should also recognise the dangers inherent in secrecy. Those wishing to cause trouble in order to further their own vested interest, never work in the open. Like the housebreaker, they prefer to work in the dark. Controlling such activity has become increasingly difficult with the advent of multi-national companies but we must accept the challenge it poses or things can only get worse.

Returning to our opening theme, how do we protect ourselves from the debilitating effects of fear? By returning to basics. The deepest fear that besets human beings is the fear of death. No loss is considered more terrible than the loss of one’s physical life. Yet, whilst understandable in view of the way modern humanity has developed philosophically and politically, how foolish it is in the light of the knowledge that our real life is of the spirit. Not one of us can ever die as an individual with our own distinct personality and consciousness. We are eternal and indeed some claim that we even return to Earth many times. By accepting this reality as the basis of our lives; by recognising our interdependence upon one another; by accepting that every selfish act and every abuse of power diminishes the whole of humanity; by putting our own individual house in order before criticising the shortcomings of others; by trying harder to follow the Biblical advice, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” we could transform the world.

Such advice is not easy to follow but if we at least try harder each day to love even those we do not like, we could find it becomes a habit and just think of the benefits that could flow from that!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

“I Know I am Right!”

How often have you heard this said? Indeed, how often have you used the same words yourself? And when you look back, were you always right? I doubt it very much. Sometimes yes but more often than you would expect you discover that, at best, you were only partly right. I wonder why this should be. After all we had the facts at our disposal and we felt very strongly at the time that our feelings as a result were right. Are there lessons to be learned from this? What might they be?

If you look back over such incidents in your own life, you will find I am sure that some other person did not agree with your assessment of the situation and became upset and maybe was hurt at your insistence that you were right. Was it worth it? I mean causing an upset to a friend or a loved one merely because you felt so strongly that your point of view was the right one. If your answer, with the benefit of hindsight, is “no it was not worth it,” then the lesson to be learned is opinion is not worth causing pain to another or falling out over. We can only show that lesson has been learned however when we are faced with similar circumstances but on this occasion we keep our own counsel or give advice in a more constructive way.

Secondly, were we in possession of all the facts? At the time I am sure we felt we were but again, hindsight may show differently. We were in possession of such facts as were known to us but at the time it is difficult or impossible to be sure they are all the relevant ones. There may well have been hidden factors or contributory actions by others about which we knew nothing; there may have been provocative action by third parties who thought they stood to gain by stirring things up. So many possibilities occur that any insistence that this or that view is the right one is fraught with the probability of error. Here we come to the nub of the matter. When we utter these words, we are rarely just giving our opinion but in reality expect the person concerned to follow our advice or where we are speaking about ourselves we are trying to justify a decision we may be in doubt about. The tone of voice that usually accompanies the words is evidence of this. It is one thing to give one’s honest opinion when asked for it but quite another to insist gratuitously when no such request has been made. I suspect the words are used more frequently in the latter than the former circumstances.

Next we must ask ourselves, who knows what is right? This applies in every field of human activity and the pages of history are filled with mistakes made by those who were convinced at the time of the rightness of their actions. I refer you to the story of the Chinese farmer and his son who ran their farm with the aid of a single horse and all the consequences that flowed as a result of the horse running away one day. I won’t repeat the entire story as I used it in an earlier blog. Remember, the answer of the farmer whenever anyone commiserated with him on his losses or congratulated him on his good fortune, was always the same? “Who knows what is right, who knows what is wrong?”

No, anytime we seek to influence the actions or thoughts of others by saying “I know I am right,” we must be extremely cautious, for in reality we are trying to exercise control are we not? Control over others is one of the most dangerous tendencies that human beings possess and one we all need to guard against. Many tyrannies have come into being due to the excessive exercise of this tendency. Next time you are in a position to give your opinion on the rightness or wrongness of another’s words, actions or intentions, try to give your opinion in a way that makes it completely clear the decision is theirs to take and you will not be upset if they ignore your point of view. Rather say something like, “Don’t you think it would be best to do this or that”, rather than “I know I am right!”