There are times when you know that a particular world is changing. By ‘world’ I mean a specific part of life, not the whole world, though that could be said to be in a state of apparently chaotic change, too…
The ‘world’ I mean is that of spiritual teaching; and the challenges to its present methods come in various forms:
The major one is the worsening economic situation across most of the planet. If you’re not a billionaire, you’re getting poorer, as essential goods, such as sources of energy for heating, cooking and transportation become the subject of international strife.
When many are struggling to pay essential bills, the idea of paying out more for what appears to be a speculative investigation into the inner nature of ourselves may seem a scrambling of priorities. When such considerations are set at the end of a pandemic, and the world is struggling to get back to some sense of normal, we might expect little interest…
But last weekend, a group of dedicated adventurers from a variety of traditions enjoyed the immense beauty of the northern Lake District in all its spring glory, even venturing into the nearby Eden Valley – home of some hidden and mysterious treasures.
This experiment in using the outdoors, rather than a conventional indoor setting of rented hall, was forced upon us by the decline in the ‘old model’ of how such gatherings are conducted. Covid simply stopped such meetings from happening But it’s eventual fading did not automatically trigger a restart of the ‘old world’. No-one knew what would happen when travel was allowed, again. Things whose time has come can often fail to revive in these circumstances.
To compound the problems, there was a ‘new world’ in town, in the shape of Zoom-based meeting (and similar technologies). In order to maintain some contact with those we used to see, often, we too had begun to hold at least monthly meetings over zoom – involving people from across the world and slowly learning how to conduct meaningful dialogue and shared experiences across international video links.
But, although here to stay, most said that video conferencing was no substitute for face to face gatherings. Having said that, the costs of travel and accommodation, post-Covid, mean that Zoom and it’s rivals are here to stay. Although this post is primary to introduce the weekend’s outdoor explorations, the Silent Eye team will be continuing and even expanding their Zoom presence in parallel with pioneering new ways of mystical experience in dramatic landscapes, as in Keswick.
That’s not to say that it was all plain sailing. The weather on the Friday afternoon – our first slot of the weekend – was enough to send anyone home. The ancient stone circle of Castlerigg was the soggy setting for the opening, and it was a challenge to get through, let alone enjoy. But it did begin the event, signaling, possibly rashly, that we were intent on making this happen.
There is always some mischief on these meetings. It would be rash to attribute them to ‘mischevious spirits’ but sometimes it felt like that – especially on the Saturday; that long day of wonderful adventures… and some challenging mishaps.
Yet, enjoy it people did… enough to say so, as we all hugged in the bright sunshine of the final Castlerigg session and resolved to meet again in September.
The photos, here, will provide a taster. The detail – involving much humour and not a little irony – will be presented in what follows over the course of a series of posts. We hope to convey to you a little of what it was like to be there. It’s a wonderful journey and often a triumph over unexpected adversity, but it’s a story that’s never dull…
Part One will be on Thursday, here and on the Silent Eye blog.
©Stephen Tanham 2022
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.