Ten Years Ago, St. Mark’s Road

Darkness flowed ten years ago, at 3am on St Mark’s Road, when I walked home from A****’s flat.

Such was the desolation in my heart even the warmest of souls couldn’t provide respite beyond a few hours. Laying in bed, listening to empty nothingness, the torment gripped me – the worst bit, the unpredictable disorder before numbness kicks in. Knowing I’d have to make my exit at daybreak anyway, I grasped the nettle of my aloneness and set off home.

From Dalgarno Gardens, I turned onto St Mark’s Road. With the park in pitch blackness on one side, it was disquieting, with exhaustion and all that negativity putting me on edge for my journey.

Down St Mark’s it was just me, a few foxes, the city and the cosmos beyond.

My nerves were shot. I needed the fresh start of a new day and dragged myself towards it. No people, no cars, silence in London aside from my own footsteps.

I turned right onto Lancaster Road, left through Verity Close. Still no people on street level. Thousands slept.

My final turns were Walmer Road then Bomore Road. The leisure centre that was there then is gone now, but I remember rounding a slight bend on Bomore, which put me in sight of my flat, my bedroom…and onto the highlands of Paranoia, sensing that something wasn’t right.

I saw a figure at the gate, hunched over, rubbing its hands, grunting. My emotions morphed my perception and produced a surge of paranoid fear like I’d never known. I’m short-sighted and it was the dead of night; what I saw when it looked back at me was a half-beast, some kind of golem.

Like I’d unexpectedly interrupted some private business of his, which I guess I had, he did a double-take then went back to his grunting business without acknowledging his fellow being. I was close to him, a few yards and he was emitting not-quite-human sounds. At that moment, I saw my desolation – the disturbance that had been wrecking my days and scattering my sleep had manifested as this man-thing.

I walked around that bend and I was out of his sight – then sprinted to the building and gratefully into my flat.

I rationalised this encounter, weighed all the factors…I’m short-sighted…probably somebody drunken fumbling with their keys in the dark…but still, this was my demon. Down St Mark’s Road, my mind had stayed alert; with home in sight it went off-duty and got caught out, the vision awoke the basest, weirdest, darkest fears to flood my brain.

Unthinking cruelty, the capacity of people to go cold beyond zero, to flick their humanity off, along with their commitment to reality.

In bed, the fear and relief gave way to desolation. Home, but I was being denied my human right to share it with *******. Certain that I would not sleep and not wanting to wake A****, I didn’t text her to let her know I had gone but was safe.

I was awoken at 7am by my Blackberry….”Oh my God, where the fuck are you?”

“Oh shit, sorry, I couldn’t sleep so I walked home.”

“I thought you might have gone and done something stupid…”

This was how serious it was 10 years ago.

A decade on, 305 blog posts, if I said life is very different it wouldn’t be true. Darkness flows on, and that same fear gets triggered by cruelty and hostility. It did today. Same story. Everyone’s mind can create demons. Mine even made me see one.  But it also sees the angels – and round here they seem to outnumber the demons, even in the darkest of times.

Talib @urbandandyldn

Photo by MNT

Stay Fresh

To calm the mind, the ego, to boost my self-esteem. Because low self-esteem is judged to be a hindrance in life.

But part of me doesn’t lack esteem – it is aware of its position, its stature.

Something else – ego – doesn’t accept this stature as real. Ego doesn’t feel that it is justifying its existence unless it is telling me to improve something, or telling me it’s no use, I’m no good, everything is bleak.

This is the constant dance.

During lockdown, ego has been on top, dominant, with Rajas and Tamas. But Sattwa* is always there. All things are always there – relax and experience them.

 

@tomhcharles

*Rajas, Sattwa and Tamas – the three Gunas – Hindi philosophy for understanding human experiences. Rajas = Movement; Sattwa = Lightness; Tamas = Heaviness. More on the Gunas here.

Mooji

“Don’t become addicted to personality or identity” – Mooji

Reading Mooji is not reading an instruction manual. The spirit of the writing is as important as the words taken literally.

Not to be caught up in ‘things’ is one pointer he gives, but there’s nothing wrong with genuinely enjoying material things. Just know that there is more enjoyment in appreciating just being alive.

Each morning I tune into my senses, to know that I exist as a human being. Here, the phenomenal things arise – desire, doubt, thinking-planning-analysing. But above and underneath all of it, I exist.

And above and underneath, within that, I am not separate to everything else that exists. And I am not separate to that which holds all of that within itself.

Pic from YouTube – Moojiji

Tom Charles @tomhcharles

I Sit With My Thoughts…

When the lights are off, the music on, my mind drifts like tumbleweed being blown through a desert

I sit with my thoughts, emotions, memories, dreams – constantly twisting like a psychedelic Rubiks cube – yet not looking to create order, but just being….xxx

by Mark Bolton
@MarkCBolton1

below by @tomhcharles

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Love Lockdown

As I sit in front of this screen my heart feels a longing to hug those I Love – to let them know it’s going to be alright,

Letting our auras entwine, creating colours beyond the spectrum – feeling that bond pull tighter, becoming one with the universe, being made whole and pure for eternity…

by Mark Bolton
@MarkCBolton1

below by @tomhcharles

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Mid-Lockdown

I never post anything just for the sake of it – Been very dry+uninspired last few days…but as in boxing, most fights are won or lost in the middle rounds,

So whatever you’re going through don’t give up. I won’t…It’s never over until the final bell..xxxx

by Mark Bolton
@MarkCBolton1

below by @tomhcharles

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Mindscape

It’s important we know the times we live in – but to do that, we first must truly know ourselves – our true self.

What we think, fear, do when we are on our own. Accepting our own imperfections helps us accept them in others. Wisdom without grace is futile as is knowledge without Love.

by Mark Bolton
@MarkCBolton1

below by @tomhcharles

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9:1 Soul

An uncountable number of books have been written on attaining serenity. Access to this ease of being, our birth right, is offered up in works ranging from the sublime to the quick fix.

The texts aim to end anxiety and promote peace. Some to make money and fame for author and publisher. After all it’s a whole industry, this outward search for meaning.

There are gurus and mentors who have been on their own journeys, seeking peace of mind and they offer up their words to help others.

There are religious sermons, retreats of all kinds, a wide variety of techniques are on offer. But the common factor of all genuine teachings is that they point within. Why?

Jesus said: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21).

A book or speaker might connect you to this teaching for some moments. Faith also plays a part in this and faith brings hope; hope in something greater than this world, beyond our space time dimension…hope brings dopamine and peace.

Lifted by the reminder, the effect wears off and the search begins again – online, elsewhere…The feeling was so freeing, but so fleeting; the search for more is not optional.

So, this 9:1 ratio is a reminder too, that what you seek is not necessarily out there. It would be so convenient if it was consumable like a product, but even the 10% that is consumable is a deceptive figure. This 10% is mainly made up of reminders of the 90% so your outer search will only lead you back inward again.

9:1 is so lopsided a ratio that it means you cannot be in a heavenly, hippy, heightened state all the time – it must incorporate the mundane too. The compartmentalisation of the spiritual from the cerebral and physical is part of the spiritual industry – but, they are all intertwined. Some folk are so heavenly minded they are of no earthly use!  It’s about seeing and doing the mundane and knowing that those acts are on the same path

The 9:1 ratio is not a life of passivity, sitting at home or sleeping for nine hours out of every 10. It is a reminder of what is already known – give up the search for a conveniently packaged messiah and embrace your self. IQ, knowledge and any amount of activity crammed into a lifetime will not save your soul.

The seeking is not confined to what are usually categorised as ‘spiritual’ activities – meditation, chanting, praying, yoga, reading Rumi and so on. Most human activities have peace of mind as the end goal; body building, blogging, gaining knowledge…everyone is seeking peace.

Turn inside to what is constantly available; timeless vastness, where thoughts come and go apparently from nowhere and apparently to nowhere. Who or what is watching the thoughts?

Somebody recently expressed peace this way: “the ever-present flow of love and knowledge within.”

But the 90% experience is beyond words, no matter how eloquent, beautiful and succinct. Expressions of peace are only that, pointers and reminders…

Ponting your attention back at you and reminding you that it is all within.

 

Mark Bolton &

Tom Charles @tomhcharles

 

 

Old School Meditation 4

Blogs inspired by the material taught at the School of Meditation, Holland Park Avenue, London; these notes are taken from the material taught at groups during early 2019…

#1 #2 #3

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Advaita?

“A longing inside the heart to know yourself or to be free of suffering must be there for anyone to realise the truth of what this ancient and practical philosophy is pointing towards” – Mooji

Unlike most popular methods of spiritual exploration, Advaita Vedanta does not proscribe tasks or impose a hierarchy of worthiness. It does not require adherents to attend a sacred building or listen to the sermon of a holy man. Advaita is more direct and places less emphasis on actions that are designed to satisfy the mind.

The mind wants to get things, to fathom things and see linear progression towards a goal, but Advaita is too simple for the mind to grasp. While the mind likes concepts, Advaita likes freedom and spontaneity.

“Freedom kills the conditioned mind” – Mooji

Not Meditation

The material at the School of Meditation seeks to identify potential obstacles to the enjoyment of freedom and spontaneity.

The material, comprised of spiritual and practical teachings, accompanies the practice of meditation. But the material of session four pointed out that sitting in a meditation posture is “not meditation”.

Meditation is when all feelings of separation are gone.

Strange Effort

Reciting the mantra is the “single stimulus” that enables meditators to access deeper, subtler levels in themselves. When thoughts carry us away, the mantra can be listened to. 

It is a conscious effort to decide to be here now and not travel to the past or future. It is not the usual kind of effort, but an effort to be aware of life itself manifesting in us now.

In meditation, we can expand our attention to include everything and everyone, letting go of what we think we are. Meditation is really nothing but this. The material includes a quote from the Shankaracharya that when people let go of what they think they are and expanding their awareness, they are behaving “artistically”.

Artistic Effort

To observe is to become free of being a ‘doer’, a person who is anxious for action. Counter-intuitively, action can then be taken with ease, without the heavy burden of duty. No longer a dour doer, now artistic and efficient.

The mind demands we become the ‘doer’ again but that is because the mind can never be the observer. It cannot comprehend that which is doing the observing.

The mind cannot understand the ungraspable. But we can experience it…

 

 

Next time, part five

Tom Charles @tomhcharles

 

 

The material in this blog was inspired by the teachings at the School of Meditation, Holland Park Avenue, London, W11 4UH. The school opened in 1961 and was taken under the wing of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Beatles’ meditation teacher, who introduced the school’s founders to Shri Shantananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Northern India. In a series of Q & As, the Shankaracharya provided answers to the questions of the visitors from London. These answers formed the basis of the school’s teaching material.

Old School Meditation 3

Blogs inspired by the material taught at the School of Meditation, Holland Park Avenue, London; these notes are taken from the material taught at groups during early 2019…

#1 #2

20190401_165210

The session three material considered technique and tips, warned against unrealistic expectations and delved into the meaning of Advaita:

Sit upright, become restful, breathe easy, close your eyes, and keep your eyes still. When the body is still the mind can follow.

It is not necessary to achieve a particular goal. More important is to approach meditation with innocence and openness. The mantra is not a battering ram, Continue reading