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

Your Daily Bath in Paradise

Your Daily Bath in Paradise

Published in Cygnus Review August 2017

Iceland Hot Spring

 

Your Daily Bath in Paradise – Earth and Fire

What kind of spiritual education do children deserve? Or to put it another way what would you have liked when you were a child?

This question was triggered for me when I recently helped develop a personal and social health education programme (PSHE) for a large secondary school. I started to think about what I had received and not received from my parents and schooling. There were some good things but there was also an awful gap.

Starting with the good things, my parents definitely gave me a sense of ethics, of what is right and wrong, of social justice. They gave me a sense of valuing every individual. From school I also learned about fairness and the unacceptability of bullying. There was a general ethic too that our work lives and careers should in some way benefit society. Good guidance.

But then there was the gap. Spiritually there was nothing. We had some Bible study at school, with dismal hymn singing and a shallow look at world religions. At home there was atheism and a suspicion of anything religious.

There was not a single person in my childhood who shared with me their sense of the sheer wonder, energy and beauty of nature and all existence.

And that is the very heart of spirituality, isn’t it? Our natural experience – by whatever name you call it – of the beauty and awesome benevolent wonder of life. Like many children I had a sense of this wonder. Watching clouds changing shape. Standing next to big trees. Sensing there was something deeply special about Jesus beyond the church pomp.

But no adult, parent or teacher ever affirmed this spiritual dimension to me. Like most of us I had to develop it alone.

*

Today many years later I work as a spiritual companion and mentor.

Probably the most important thing I ever do for people is this: I reassure and affirm that the spiritual dimension is real and true.

On top of that I encourage and challenge people to develop a spiritual life style in which day by day they consistently connect with and fully experience the wonder, energy and benevolence of life.

This spiritual connection I advocate is our only truly reliable fuel, support and nurture. One colleague recently called it her ‘daily bath in paradise.’

So thinking again of our childhoods I wonder if it would be useful if parents or teachers said to children:

Look. Feel. Sense. Notice how wonderful and awesome life is.

The spiritual dimension is true, real and good.

Being reassured of that would surely be beneficial. It is the appropriate balance to the crude demands of materialism, isn’t it? It points to what really matters.

There is then a next step.

We then need to take regular time actually to experience our spiritual connection. Don’t just dip your toe in the water. Swim.

Here we meet the challenge.

I have supported many people in starting their daily spiritual practice. It is like a New Year’s resolution. The intention is clear. The fulfilment and self-discipline are unreliable.

People find it difficult to maintain a practice on their own. As a solution some people join a religious group for a group rhythm of worship or meditation. This can be very useful but also has risks such as fundamentalism and emotional harm.

*

So Yes I do want a companion, parent or teacher to point out and affirm the spiritual dimension of life. But I also want a realistic awareness of the self-discipline we need to develop a daily spiritual practice in which we consistently connect with the beauty and wonder of life. It is a balance of beauty and purpose.

I do not want to force spiritual discipline on anyone. But daily practice requires a clear purposeful decision, an act of will.

Some people might bandy back that human beings are already too wilful and we just need to surrender to a divine will greater than ours. To this I respond: look at the spiritual teachers who inspire us — are they weak and without self-discipline and purpose?

Spirituality is not just air and water. It is also earth and fire.

*

(If you want some help developing your spiritual practice my book The Power of Modern Spirituality may help.)

Rewards of Spiritual Practice

DAILY SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

Daily spiritual practice can transform you, calm your brain, integrate your heart and breath, and soothe your gut.

Daily spiritual practice can radiate to support, inspire and fuel your friends, colleagues, family and community.

Daily spiritual practice can transform and heal the world.


CONNECT
Connect with and soak in the wonder and energy of life.
Feel the deep unity of nature and cosmos.

REFLECT
Your soul is on a journey. 
Develop your heart. Expand your consciousness.
Be compassionately mindful of yourself and all around you.

SERVE
Wisely guide your livelihood and behaviour.
Always benefit the 
community of life.
Be benevolent, constructive and loving.


Daily spiritual practice can be done in the circumstances and style that best suit you.

No dogma. No mind trips. Celebrating diversity.

Transform Yourself • Transform the World


 

Spiritual Maturity in Times of Agitation

Spiritual Maturity in Times of Agitation

SPIRITUAL MATURITY IN TIMES OF AGITATION

10 November 2016

When the world is shaking with political upheaval it is easy to become distressed and overexcited. Unfortunately our vibrations of distress and agitation only make the situation worse.

We live in a huge interconnected energy field and people’s emotional and mental vibrations roll through this field like waves in an ocean.
If we are sensitive to these energy waves, then distressing mass events can influence us in a negative way, causing anxiety and depression. Even if you have a strong and upbeat disposition, you can be wobbled into temporary discomfort.

So what is the answer to our discomfort?

There is an aphorism which has arisen recently in spiritual circles which says, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough meditate.’

Yes I agree that is a good call. Centre yourself. Use your breath. Ground. Self-soothe. That will stop us from adding to the psychic pollution.

But I also want to look at it from a different angle and ask: What would serve the community of life? In times of danger and consternation, what can we do to look after others?

In response to that ethical question I suggest that the appropriate response is a commitment to be seen, to confront bullying and to protect minorities and the vulnerable.

There is here another relevant spiritual aphorism: ‘There is no merit in meditation when you can stand up and prevent abuse.’
But this requires courage. Coeur. Rage. Rage of the heart.

This ethical and righteous rage needs to be mindful, intelligent and wise. It also needs to be fuelled and inspired. The ultimate source of fuel and inspiration for our ethics and righteous hearts is our connection with . . . what shall we call it? …. The benevolent life force. God. Spirit. Goddess. Tao. Source. Life itself.

There are over one hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe. The size of our universe is beyond comprehension. It is an immense energy field.  In this context our planet is tiny. Humanity’s energy field is a speck, a blip, in the cosmos.

So when faced with humanity passing through one its regular upheavals, we need to feel the wonder and goodness of life, and not just humanity’s distress.

It is crucial spiritual practice that we expand our sensitivity and our awareness, so that we feel the energy and vibrations of the cosmos. It is crucial that we use our own particular gateways to connection whatever they are: Jesus, angels, Goddess or just an awed sense of the glory of the cosmos. Feel the natural world of earth, moon, the sun, the stars, the vast mystery.

Thus we connect with and are fuelled by the awesome flow and good energies of earth and universe. We are not wobbled by the disturbing vibrations of a disturbed humanity. In the words of Julian of Norwich, ‘All shall be well, all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well … for there is a Force of love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let us go.’

Then, at the very least, in times of social distress – centred and inspired – we radiate a benevolence, calm safety and goodwill that encourages the good in others. We do not add to the distress with more agitation.

And, at best, we have the courage to front off bullies, protect the innocent and continue to build heaven on earth.

Church Times Review of Modern Spirituality

Church Times Review of Modern Spirituality

Bruce Duncan  Church Times February 2012

WILLIAM BLOOM, the back of this book tells us, is the UK’s leading mind, body, and spirit teacher, and a meditation master. He lives in Glastonbury, was for 25 years on the faculty of the Findhorn Foundation, spent a two-year spiritual retreat amongst the Saharan Berbers in the High Atlas mountains, and for ten years directed the Alternatives programme at St James’s, Piccadilly.

Nevertheless, to my surprise, I enjoyed this book. My initial fear that this would be New Age writing at its worst – shallow, syrupy, self-obsessed, and lacking in moral values – was soon dispelled. Modern Spirituality, Bloom assures us, has strong values and respects and draws from every world religion. Bloom’s target audience is surely not those who read the Church Times, most of whom would wish to preface ‘spirituality’ with the word ‘Christian’.

Many people are repelled by religion, and by the Christian Church in particular. One fifth of all Americans say that they are spiritual but not religious. Generation X, the generation born after the post-Second World War baby-boomers, long to be loved (so the polls tell us), to be connected with the wonder and energy of life, to be part of an authentic community, and to become caring, wise, and compassionate. They hunger for God, but are un­satis­fied by traditional ex­pressions of church.

These people will resonate with the three golden key practices of Bloom’s modern spirituality: connection, reflection, and service.

Bloom divides his book into a discussion around those three key practices. The author comes across as a good person with much experience and wisdom to impart, an excellent teacher who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.

He gives many examples and anecdotes to illustrate his points. One struck me especially. During a one-day course that he led for 50 Anglican clergy, he asked them to list all the times when they most easily connected with the beauty and mystery of God. Not one of them listed prayer; and no one listed the eucharist.

For those whose religion has become divorced from their spirituality, and who are prepared to step outside their religious safety zone, this book will provide some helpful and refreshing surprises.

Holy Water – How to Make It

Holy Water – How to Make It

Holy water is often used to cleanse objects and spaces.

What follows is my recipe for making it. This is based on a classical method I learned years ago in an esoteric group – so long ago that I cannot remember which group.

What is most important is the basic structure. Feel free to adapt it in the way that best suits you.

Holy-water_basinIngredients

Half a glass of water

Half a teaspoon of salt.

Their source does not matter, but you may prefer to use ones that come from wells and springs or are natural/organic.

 

Method

(1)

In whatever way works best for you, centre yourself and connect fully with Spirit/Tao/God/dess whatever you call the benevolent flow of the universe.

Allow that connection to come fully through you so that it radiates through your hands.

(2)

Place the palm of your hand (right hand if right-handed, left if left-handed) over the water and sense the benevolent energy flowing into every atom and molecule of the water.

(3)

With slow and calm intention, think or say the following words:

Hello, creature of water. In the name of All That is Benevolent and Good, I bless you. I cleanse you. I exorcise you of all elements of evil and negativity, so that wherever you are scattered all elements of evil and negativity may depart.

As you say these words, you can increase the potency by drawing a symbol in the water using the energy from your palm. If you are Christian, you might use the cross; if Jewish, the Star of David; if Hindu, the OM; if pagan, the equal-armed across; and so on. It is customary to draw it three times.

(4)

Do the same – all of 3 above – with the salt. The only difference is that you address it as ‘creature of salt.’

(5)

Then drop some of the salt into the water. Again it is customary to do this three times. And if you wish, you can drop it into the water at the same time following the pattern of the symbol – eg the cross – that you were using before.

(6)

Then scatter the salt wherever you want to do the cleansing. Children love to do this.

*

In my opinion, the major potency of the blessed water lasts a few hours.

Afterwards whatever is left you can simply pour into the earth somewhere.