Britannia Angel of Britain

Britannia Angel of Britain

I met Britannia – Angel of Britain

20 December 2019

Two days after the Brexit Referendum on 23 June 2016 I met Britannia, Angel of Britain. She came to me in a dream and then a meditation.

I have never shared this experience publicly, but following the recent UK election it might be useful.

During the lead-up to the Referendum I supported the Remain campaign.  I felt that the European Union was a guarantee against another world war triggered by European conflicts and I appreciated being able to travel freely. Also my instincts are globalist. I identify as living in a global village. I am first generation British. My parents’ families were from Czechoslovakia, Germany and Russia via New York, Cape Town and Singapore.

When the Remain campaign was lost I was shocked and saddened.

Then I had a dream, which was echoed in a meditation.

The feeling of the dream was expansive, comfortable and liberating.

I had the impression of meeting a substantial being of light. She identified herself as Britannia, the angel or the folk soul of Britain. She was content.

Why, I enquired, are you content?

I am content, she seemed to respond, because the pendulum had swung too far into globalism. The European project was ignoring the precious and unique identities of the nations’ folk souls. I was forgotten but still here.  Brexit remembers me. Trust that this separation is healthy and lays the foundation for a better form of cooperation.

After the dream I was disoriented. The communication dismantled my strongly held Remain position.

I then did my morning meditation for an hour and allowed the dream to come back to me. I sat with it, open, connected, witnessing and enquiring. The encounter and the message stayed with me. And rang true.

As some of you know, my doctoral research was in identity politics. So after the encounter with Britannia I recalled how Hegel, the 19th -century German philosopher, had described nations and their folk souls, emerging from a marriage of geographical/cultural ecology and the incarnating world spirit.  Local landscapes blend with incarnating spiritual energy to create a nation, a national culture and a folk soul.

During the same period another German philosopher, Johann Gottfried Herder, wrote that folk souls were beautiful and like individual flowers in a lovely garden. Rudolph Steiner also wrote about them. (Later tragically this philosophy of the volksgeist was corrupted by fascism.)

This understanding of folk souls and the meeting with Britannia altered my thinking and feeling about Brexit. I have yielded to its realities and even its wisdom. At the same time I appreciate the concerns particularly of my European friends living in Britain.

*

And now two years on from that Brexit  Referendum we have Boris and his electoral victory.

From a metaphysical perspective, this was surely inevitable because Jeremy Corbyn never made a single statement asserting the dignity or pride of Britannia. If I had ever been able to challenge him personally I would have asked: To whom are you loyal – to the idea of an international working class or to the British people?

Whatever we may think of Boris we can imagine him wearing a Union Jack waistcoat.

And yes of course I acknowledge too those beings who are the Unicorn of Scotland, the Dragon of Wales and the Lion of England.

 

As individuals we all have multiple identities. Politics is complex.

There is a spectrum of activities that will achieve peace on earth, happiness and justice for all beings.

Some meditate alone and radiate into the ecology of humanity.

Others are frontline activists.

Bless you all.

*

As I wrote in my last email my affirmation right now is:

Stay steady.
Stay hopeful.
Maintain right livelihood.
Model good care for people and planet.

 

statue of britannia

Mainstream Statements that Include Spirituality

People who are engaged or interested in spirituality often think that mainstream thinking is hostile to spirituality. But do some research and you will be surprised by the number of authoritative bodies that publicly assert the value of spirituality. They may not be clear on how to put spirituality into action, but they have public statements about spirituality and good practice.

For the students on the Diploma in Practical Spirituality & Wellness  we have a reassuring handout. It is evidence that we do not have to persuade the mainstream that spirituality is beneficial and important. Below is the text of the handout. I hope you find the statements interesting and inspiring. And if you know others, please add them in Comments at the end of this page

 

Royal College of Psychiatrists ‘Spirituality and Mental Health’ 2014

‘Spirituality emphasises the healing of the person, not just the disease. It views life as a journey, where good and bad experiences can help you to learn, develop and mature.’

 

World Health Organisation  May 1984

The Thirty-Seventh World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA37.13, which named the “spiritual dimension” as an integral part of WHO Member States’ strategies for health.

 

United Nations – The Earth Summit Conference 2002

‘Health ultimately depends on the ability to manage successfully the interaction between the physical, spiritual, biological and economic/social environment.’ Agenda 21, 6.2

 

The Nursing and Midwifery Council

‘The Nursing and Midwifery Council expects newly qualified graduate nurses to be able to: In partnership with the person, their carers and their families, makes a holistic, person centred and systematic assessment of physical, emotional, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual needs, including risk, and together, develops a comprehensive personalised plan of nursing care.’ (2011)

 

Scottish Executive Health Department ‘Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy’ 2009

‘Chief Executives are asked to ensure that this guidance is brought to the attention of all appropriate staff and, in particular, to ensure that: They have appointed a senior lead manager for spiritual care.’ ‘Spiritual care is usually given in a one-to-one relationship, is completely person-centred and makes no assumptions about personal conviction or life orientation …. Spiritual care is not necessarily religious. Religious care, at its best, should always be spiritual.’

 

General Medical Council ‘Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice’ 2013, p.1

‘A doctor must adequately assess the patient’s conditions, taking account of their history (including the symptoms and psychological, spiritual, social and cultural factors), their views and values.’

 

Education Reform Act of 1988

The opening sentence ‘The curriculum for a maintained school (must be) a balanced and broadly based curriculum which — promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society.’

 

Education (Schools) Act 1992

‘The Chief Inspector for England shall have the general duty of keeping the Secretary of State informed about … the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils at those schools.’

 

Ofsted School Inspection Handbook, Jan 2015

The word ‘spiritual’ appears 20 times – Para 128: ‘Before making the final judgement on the overall effectiveness, inspectors must also evaluate: the effectiveness and impact of the provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development . . .’

 

British Association of Social Workers ‘Code of Ethics for Social Workers’ 2012

Upholding and promoting human dignity and well-being ‘Social workers should respect, uphold and defend each person’s physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual integrity and well-being.’

 

If you know other authoritative and useful statements, please post them in the Comments below. Thanks.

Share a Moment of Pride

SHARE A MOMENT OF PRIDE

30 January 2019

I want to share a moment of pride.

Listening to BBC Radio 4 this morning, while exercising on my cross-trainer, I felt a swelling of pride.

At 9:30 there was a fifteen-minute programme ‘Hacking Happiness – What if Happiness isn’t about the self at all?’.

This was followed by a fifteen-minute reading from Erling Kagge’s book ‘Silence’.

And then a wonderful segment on Woman’s Hour in which mothers talked openly and poignantly about their experiences of breastfeeding.

And I thought: What if there had been no flower power? No feminism? No new approaches to psychology, spirituality and the arts? These reflective, open-hearted, emotionally intelligent and inclusive programmes might never have been recorded and broadcast.

I often quote the African liberationist, Franz Fanon, who said that the greatest tragedy for any generation is to not fulfil its mission.

Listening to those radio programmes I felt proud because things have changed.

I know that right now national and global politics seem vulgar and dangerous. It is easy to feel pessimistic. But turn your minds back to when men in grey flannel, tweeds, black robes and uniforms seemed to be the sole authorities, with only a few bohemians sparkling colour into the patriarchy.

Things have changed.

Each of us who followed, and still follows, that new way which respects all ages, all genders, all sexualities, all abilities, all spiritualities, all ethnicities – and, as best we can, demonstrate compassion, love in action and a deep instinct for social justice and equality for all beings – we have helped bring about that change.

And the mission continues.

Quietly or loudly be optimistic. Keep on trucking. All will be well.

Sex Scandals and a Buddhist Nun

Some would argue that the purpose of religion and philosophy is to curb man’s baser instincts. So do they have anything useful to say about today’s ongoing sex abuse scandals? My friend the groupie who became a Buddhist nun provides a useful insight.

The world’s religious and spiritual traditions acknowledge the powerful, sometimes overwhelming, biological drives for food, for territory, for status and power, and for sex. We see these same instincts at work throughout the animal kingdom.

Spiritual traditions recognise these biological drives and suggest strategies to manage and contain them.

Monks, nuns and priests of all religions take vows of celibacy.

More extreme, in Christianity there are flagellants who whip their own bodies. There are some Shiite Muslims who also self-flagellate. And Hinduism too has yogis who perform various weird acts of bizarre self-harm.

All of these dramatic strategies are attempts to contain the instincts of the flesh.

Samuel Johnson, our great eighteenth century essayist and also a committed Christian, realistically commented on all this:

‘Mortification is not virtuous in itself, nor has any other use, but that it disengages us from the allurements of sense.’ [The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia]

But it is not realistic, is it, to envision the Houses of Parliament or Hollywood studios as places inhabited by nuns and monks, who authentically practice, abstinence, self-restraint and mortification of the flesh? (Is this what Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey are pretending to do when they go for residential therapy?)

*

Many years ago I had a good friend who was a 1960s Swinging London groupie into sex, drugs and rock and roll. She then disappeared out of my life for a few years. When she reappeared a decade later she had transformed and become a Buddhist nun. By the time I met her she had kept to her vows, including celibacy, for seven years. She was authentic.

Obviously there was a question that I was dying to ask her.

What – I asked her have you done with your libido, with your animal instincts?

She smiled and responded that she had followed the counsel of her Abbess who gave her very simple advice:

Notice the arousal, but do not wallow in it.

Notice the instinct, but give it no energy.

Notice and move swiftly on.

This is useful advice for all of us, isn’t it, when we are aroused and might behave in a dishonourable, inappropriate or bullying way.

Notice the arousal.

Give it no energy.

And move swiftly on.

BBC Radio 2 Moment of Reflection

This is the text of my BBC Radio 2 ‘Moment of Reflection’ broadcast on 8 October 2017

 

BBC RADIO – MOMENT OF REFLECTION

 

The annual season of party political conferences has just ended
And I find myself thinking:
Political parties are a bit like religions.
There are
Strongly held beliefs.
Internal divisions.
Conflicts with those of other faiths.

But both of them – political parties and religions –are fuelled by idealism
– a wish to make life better for everyone.

People who are into religion and spirituality however
Don’t need power.
We influence through personal behaviour,
through modelling
how to live in a way
That serves and cares for others.

We are, I suggest, inspired by a personal connection
With life’s wonder, goodness and beauty –
By whatever name we call it.
And we are inspired too by a knowing that the purpose of human life
Is not
material success and status.
But we are all of us on a journey
Developing
love,
compassion
and wisdom.

So I have a prayer
May our politicians– here and across the world –
be inspired by those same high ideals.
Love
Compassion
Wisdom

Pause

Silence

*

You can listen to the audio of this here on the BBC website:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05jh54q

If you want to listen to the whole interview that precedes the reflection, you can listen to it here on the BBC website. My interview starts at 7:40am
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b096xwzl