Sunday, July 26, 2009


The following is a 10 minute excerpt from an interview with Adyashanti, a spiritual teacher from a zen/advaita background, conducted as part of a podcast (the full podcast is available for free on iTunes, under 'Conversations with the masters'). I put it onto youtube and now post it here because it had a profound effect on me. It really sparked something within me and, funnily enough, rather than 'adding' anything to me, it felt more like a subtraction, or a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders, or a massive screen of illusion suddenly dissipating. The point that 'enlightenment' is simply seeing the world as it is, rather than what we think it is, is almost ridiculously simple....and yet it is THE KEY to awakened living, to achieving inner peace and to actually being free from the perpetual pull of ego.

Adyashanti is a gifted teacher with an uncanny knack of cutting to the very heart of what all spiritual teaching attempts to point us to. No dogma, no mysticism or storytelling, just powerful pointers to truth. It really is time for us all to wake up. 'Step it up, step it up, step it up' is the mantra I keep hearing in my head. We've been asleep for so long - and the world has suffered so greatly due to our unconscious actions. We all have to awaken now. Maybe this short clip will help. It certainly helped me.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Advice to myself

Well, there's been no writing happening this week - and very little else, due to a nasty flu virus which has wiped me out. But I'm feeling more human now. And anyway, here's a question I was posed and I posted my response on a forum and I just wanted to copy and paste it here, simply because I liked what I had to say! Try it yourself. You might find it enlightening and inspiring.

The question is: if you could go back in time to when you first arrived on the planet and could give yourself a pep talk, what would you say?? (This is assuming, of course, that the baby 'you' could understand what you were saying!)

Well, upon some reflection, this is what I had to tell my younger self:

Welcome to life, buddy. It's not what you're used to - but it is what it is. It sometimes hurts, but again that's just the way it is. Try not to lose the innocence and openness you came in with, and when the mind starts to develop, just keep an eye on it. It, and its subsidiary, the 'ego' will want to take over the show. It will be desperate to impose its vision of what reality 'should' be and it will cause to to suffer greatly when its efforts are thwarted (and oftentimes even when it succeeds). You are not your thoughts and the world/others/life are not what you 'think' they are. Thought cannot ever encapsulate truth, so just remember to use the mind as the tool it is without being used BY it and thus becoming a tool yourself

Let life unfold around you and enjoy it, without the need to overly control it. By all means change what you want, but don't base your happiness solely upon achieving those changes. Let go more and don't labour under the delusion that you have to work everything out with your head, that you have to judge, label, compartmentalise everything, including yourself and others.

'End the struggle and dance with life'...

Other people will often behave like jerks, but this is no reflection on you (or even, at a deeper level, them - at least not who they truly are. It's just unconscious, conditioned behaviour). So don't take it personally. It's never personal. You will be prone to chronic self doubt, but learn to see through it and follow your heart anyway.

Try to see the good in everyone, no matter how deeply it's buried.

Try to see the good in every situation, cos it's always there.

Try to fear and stress less and laugh and love more.

Try to let go of the past and future (they don't really exist, anyways) and stay fully anchored in the present moment.

Don't be blind to the beauty around you. Listen to great music (there's a fab music project named 'Enigma' that you might want to check out).

Make whatever kind of art and tell whatever stories you want to without any care to what the world might make of it. 'The world' doesn't know half as much as it would have you believe.

Don't eat yellow snow.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Creative unfolding

(One of my new digital art series, the theme being the formless behind the form)

The blogging has slipped a bit to the wayside. But that’s not really a bad thing actually, as I’ve been channelling my creative energies elsewhere. So sometimes no news is good news...and radio silence might simply mean that I’m engaged in some other project. I had the idea of taking some photographs of various flowers and plants in the garden - which is absolutely beautiful right now, and which I’m really enjoying spending time in - and to combine them with fractal images that I have digitally created.

The theme of this series is an attempt to capture or indicate the formless behind the form; the creative life energy which is responsible for the growth and flourishing of all forms of life. I’ve often stopped and wondered what it is that makes the flowers grow, the waters flow, and what it is that even makes my hair or fingernails grow. To me, this ‘life energy’ is what some have termed ‘God’, a term which I copiously dislike due to the endless abuse this term has suffered at the hands of limited minds and distorted understandings. This creative life energy isn’t to be personified as some belligerent old git sitting on a throne amid the clouds casting judgements and behaving like some vindictive old, it is the ever-present force within and around everything, the creative force that unfolds the universe, keeps the planets in orbit, the seas flowing, and every cell of our bodies in perfect functioning. It is the Tao.......and I’ve long wanted to somehow capture this formless essence that interpenetrates and animates all matter. It fascinates and compels me, this in-dwelling creative force. Without some kind of animating spirit, nothing in this universe would have cohesion...

I’ve been greatly enjoying creating this series and I have, for the most part, managed to jettison that critical faculty which previously ran rampant and so often blocked me before I’d even begun (the whole “this isn’t good enough, no one’s gonna want to see this, you’re really not talented enough to do stuff like this”). I’m just having fun and doing it because I feel the urge and inspiration to do it. And I intend to bring this attitude to all future creative endeavours, including my next book which I feel I am going to start writing very soon - maybe even next week.

I’m no longer doing it for some end result; the be published or sold, or to receive praise or adulation. I’m just doing it for the sheer enjoyment of it, and because I feel a strong urge within me to do it - a deep, creative impulse which I know won’t go away and won’t permit me rest until I act upon it and create what it is I feel I must create. Ironically this book is maybe a little more immediately ‘accessible’ than my last, it might be a bit easier to sell as it’s a more straightforward story...but that wasn’t my intention at all. The story, the characters and the entire world and its history and conflicts pretty much came to me, fully formed. I didn’t so much have to create this book or its plot, as simply still my mind and be open to what images and concepts were coming to me. I’ve never experienced a creative unfolding as ‘easy’ as this...and hopefully the book itself will be easy and fun to write and not the all-but crucifixion that my first book was to write. The actual theme of this work didn’t come to me till a bit later - the notion of triangulation, something I won’t go into here - but now I know why I have to write this book, and why it has something important to say instead of simply being another fantasy book written for the sake of being written (or being sold).

I certainly haven’t given up on getting my first book published, and will continue to cast out feelers as I set to writing this other book, but I’m no longer as attached to the outcome. Either it gets published or it doesn’t - if it’s meant to be out there, somehow or other it will be. After I finished my first book it was perhaps akin to having had a hard labour, and it took so long and so much energy and love - and life - out of me that I didn’t think I could ever do it again. I’d written what I wanted to write, said what I wanted to say, and I felt I could die happily knowing that I’d created something special that had been within me for most my life. I really had no interest in writing anything else, and didn’t even think I had it in me to go through the whole process again. ‘The Key of Alanar’ was not an easy book to write, and I constantly had to battle my own chronic self-doubt, fear and lack of belief in myself. The struggle of darkness and light that my central character experienced almost mirrored my own struggles. Which maybe was necessary to make the book feel authentic. So, it’s nice and amazing that I have a new baby waiting to be delivered into the world. Hopefully this time the birth will be an easier one...although sometimes, I’ve learned, a little pain is necessary to a writer’s work. If we all lived ultra-easy, pain-free lives we’d probably all be hollow, shallow people and for an artist that’s tantamount to death...although some artists don’t know that. There’s enough hollow, shallow art out there.

Anyway, enough ramblings. It may be a slow process writing the new book. My energy levels dip very rapidly, in fact I’m tiring just having writing this blog. But if I can get a small amount written each day, the momentum will be built. Prior to starting the project I have immersed myself in some great literature, including works of Albert Camus and Herman Hesse, simply to ignite a certain spark within me. I’ve also been reading a brilliant book which is essential reading to every writer: ‘Becoming a Writer’ by Dorothea Brand, a classic guidebook originally written in the 1930s and one that has inspired writers for generations.

The next step is actually to create complete space for a few days and read absolutely nothing and spend much time immersed in stillness and silence. Then we’ll see how it goes as I put pen to paper and allow the words to come.

I doubt I’ll have much energy left over for blogging, but I may surprise myself. I will definitely write small check-ins and continue to share my own particular musings and perspectives on this remarkable thing we call ‘life’. I will also perhaps transfer some of my favourite old postings from my previous myspace blog which I want to preserve after I delete my myspace account, which I never use anymore. So I’ll still be here, in some capacity. In the meantime here are a couple more of my digital images...