Where are we going? (2) – the vice

Where are we going?2 Sweetheart Abbey2 - 1
It may be that the present compressed and negative feelings that we humans are experiencing is a birthing chamber rather than a vice.

This outrageous idea ties in closely with what was written in last week’s blog. In it, I suggested that just as a body has trillions of cells, so the planet has a vast number of connected parts of its ‘mineral, animal and mammal’ consciousness; each made up from the physical atoms of the Earth, Sun and the ‘debris’ of ancient exploding suns; without which there would not have existed the chemical components of life.

Through our human body passes the dying bodies of life on earth, be they vegetable or animal. We cannot, yet, ‘eat the Sun’ though one wonders if this is where evolution will eventually take life on Earth.

We don’t really question this ‘eating’ of other things – and plants are alive, too, of course; yet our aliveness depends on the absorption of this sacrifice.

The biggest act of sacrifice we know of is the Sun, the ancient symbol of ‘life-giving’ in all cultures. The Sun – our Sun, because we owe it our very lives – literally gives up its energies to feed the lives of its children. Looked at from a mystical perspective, it is slowly dying so that we can live. Something has made a transition from the cosmic level of physics to the vastly organised awareness of the human (and other) organisms, whose eons-long development has resulted in consciousness not only of things, but of ‘self’. This is a pinnacle very different to being top of the food chain.

The star that made this possible – our Sun – is not outside the laws of physics, and the atomic fusion of hydrogen can only last so long before the whole solar system dies to organic life.

Is the Sun conscious? Mystics speculate it has a hyper-consciousness, a vibrational awareness of life in the whole solar system, but over a vast timescale which sees our own lives as a blink. Scientists, quite reasonably, from their training and experimental perspective, say this is emotional nonsense, and that the laws of gravity and nuclear physics take care of the rest. It is wise to be open to both perspectives, and to remember that even science, accurate and marvellous though it is, is conceived and evolved through the window of the human consciousness, though it seldom acknowledges this perspective. A growing number of scientists have observed, wryly, that the ‘mystics got there first’ when it comes to some of the consciousness-related revelations from the quantum world.

Whatever the truth, no-one steps out on that first spring morning of the year, when the power of the sun replaces the long and cold winter chill, and feels physics in their hearts…

As a species, we are rather taken with our ‘specialness’. Educated to be the top of the food chain, the ‘apex predator’, our civilisation has felt free to work its indulgent will on our world… and we wonder at the resulting lack of happiness, and that lack of inner belonging.

The idea of us being organically eaten – as we do, unthinkingly, with our own food, seldom occurs to us, yet it is plain that everything that lives is eaten in its turn – only the fleeting and creative state called consciousness seems to be from a different place than the purely organic… though it would be nothing without that organic basis as a vehicle.

This kind of thought can be both humbling and re-aligning, since it shakes the fluffiness from our life-expectations and also threatens us with some basic reality – a very important aspect of being alive in an age where we increasingly live in our heads and in front of screens that distance us from the vividness of life ‘out there’. When we are disconnected in this way, it is easy for intolerance and prejudice to fester. We meet, on social media, with those of like mind… and Like their actions and opinions. If we don’t like what someone ‘says’, repeatedly, we Unfriend them, leaving us in a potentially sterile pool of self-reinforcing opinion.

The human process of maturing requires that we brush up against often painful experiences that are definitely not what we like… but the digital world is taking us away from this school of maturity that has ensured that our lives are at least broadened rather than narrowed. It is to the credit of the emerging generation that many of them seem to be caring and involved, and, certainly in the UK, politics and social involvement are on the increase. Much of this is a reaction – a very positive one – to years of so called ‘austerity’. Sharing the pain of overspending is a necessary goal, but not if that sharing is a farce…

The most troubling parts of the world are where those in charge are exhibiting the strongest ‘egoic’ characteristics. It is as though we are being shown the inner nature of this negative and tyrannical aspect of the human soul; shown it in a way that bares its ugliness. There are, of course die-hards who thing such fundamentalism is a good thing, and will offer us control of our lives again, making our countries great in the process. But anyone with real maturity in their own lives knows the bitter taste of such egoic self-aggrandisment; and its ultimate cost.

To truly ‘come together’ we need to feel our shared humanity in a way we have not done, before. We need to see the unsurpassed beauty of being part of a life-wave that has been gifted this beautiful planet for our collective and personal evolution; and, within that, to see that we also have the power to destroy it. To ride that edge of the utmost danger can only be part of our collective maturity as we evolve from eating and eaten to something potentially magnificent that is ‘involving’ itself with the star-dust of the Earth.

Our survival as a species is by no means assured. But the large-scale awareness of the present horror shows that fill our screens might just bring us, kicking and certainly screaming, into a new age – one where the true ghoul is seen to be the dark side of human nature and not circumstance or those we can victimise.

Other parts in this series:

Part One

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

Image: Sweetheart Abbey, near Dumfries, Scotland. Taken by the author.

©️Stephen Tanham


#Silenti – A Rose Beyond Violence, part two

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986), photographed in 1929. Picture source, see end of post

In part one, we examined Krishnamurti’s view that the individual could, with considerable effort, ‘unclip’ themselves from their society (though not broadcast it) and begin to separate out the pieces of their world in order to contemplate violence in a new way…

This would begin the process of giving the objective world (what IS) some initial power over the egoic self, which had grown to assume a role as something it was not capable of, being entirely subjective and without true centre.

We may think that anything that purports to address violence would begin by considering aggression. But Krishnamurti took a different route: he said that it must begin with a new way of seeing.

We might reasonably think that having reached adulthood and tested our vision in both physical and intellectual tussles, we were perfectly capable of seeing without further guidance.

Not so, said the teacher..though he suggested we must be our own teacher in this as in so many real things.

Seeing as we knew, it, he maintained, was the result of our personal history. Not history as we generally know it, but an accretion of ‘stuff’ that clouded every attempt to see out of this fog of confusion we called the self. We are, he said, not a single entity. We have a self that arises in family and with loved ones; a self that arises when we face up to the confrontational challenges in our workplace; a self that reacts as it does not want to when we are forced to do something – the imperatives of survival dictating that we preserve this ‘self’ at all costs. There were many more.

To approach violence and fear, we had to come to know a new type of seeing, one that belonged to a new self, a self that examined the flow of itself without judgment in order to place a watcher on she/he who claimed to watch…

What does this second watcher do?

In order for this entity to exist, it must, in a sense, step backwards from a world that is painted on our eyeballs; a world that triggers us to react with every breath, never having the time nor the energy to truly ‘see what to do’ without thought.

And, arriving at that point, Krishnamurti said, we began to glimpse that our history, reaction, time and fear were all secretly knitted into a fabric dominated by the chief villain of the piece… thought.

Continued in Part Three

Previous Parts:

Part 1,

Picture source.


This is the second in a series of postings related to topical issues in mysticism. They will all carry the hashtag #Silenti. Please feel free to reply or join in, using this hashtag.

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2016.

#Silenti – A Rose Beyond Violence, part one

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986), photographed in 1929. Picture source, see end of post

Many people are in a state of shock following a series of electoral surprises that have rocked the political ‘liberal establishment’ on both sides of the Atlantic. Racist attacks are on the increase and long-respected ‘experts’ are frequently mocked. We are in danger of throwing away many of the principles of established civilisation. It’s easy to feel that these uncertain times contain the seeds of extreme violence.

Politics works on the basis that large populations are capable of collective and constructive behaviour. But, there are other perspectives that speak, philosophically, of the effect that a relatively small group of people may have on an era, outside of politics, entirely.

Two figures in this latter mould are G. I. Gurdjieff and Jiddu Krishnamurti. In this series of posts, we look at the radical approach that Krishnamurti took to human freedom, which he said belonged only to the individual who was capable of observing himself/herself to such a level that a process of self-change could be initiated at the levels of mind, emotion and instinct.

Part of this process was to be prepared to completely cast off the conventional ways of thinking about things. Leaving behind beliefs, temperament and conditioning is no simple matter. This was particularly true of the subject of violence, which Krishnamurti viewed as the scourge of modern society, and endemic in our capacity for self-destruction.

Krishnamurti saw violence everywhere around us: outwardly and in our relationships with each other. He saw it in both politics and religion, and may well, had he lived, have seen it in the modern use of technology. All of this, he wrote, produces sorrow, which saps the creativity and coherence of life in society.

How are we to react to violence, which, in this era is even more threatening than in Krishnamurti’s time? Can we look to the experts, the politicians, the priests? His view was that all such respected ‘authorities’ have failed, leaving the individual to find their own answers.

Krishnamurti argued that we are, as human citizens, as fragmented as the societies in which we live, and that there was an unseen and potent relationship in this. He maintained that we were not, individually, in a position to affect society in a religious or political sense, but we did have great potential to turn ourselves into a true individual, in which case there would occur a binding between the actions we subsequently undertook and our effect on the violence we previously abhorred.

In part two, we will look at how the individual may approach violence in themselves, taking apart the pieces so that they can be held up to the inner light of objective consciousness.

Picture source.


This is the second in a series of postings related to topical issues in mysticism. They will all carry the hashtag #Silenti. Please feel free to reply or join in, using this hashtag.

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2016.