Explore The Magical, Mysterious Amazing World of Dreams Vancouver Nov 27th

October 25, 2016

clooney

Recently George Clooney appeared in a dream. I had no idea why he was there but knew my unconscious had not selected him without a good reason. Our unconscious is profoundly brilliant at selecting precisely the right image – our challenge is to find out why? For more see “Why Did George Clooney Appear in My Dream?”

Dreams tap directly into our unconscious. Learning to work with dreams can prove to be a source of guidance, inspiration and insight. Dreams come in many sizes, shapes and configurations. Not all dreams are created equal. This workshop will help you discern the different types of dreams, identify the dreams that are most significant, explore why some people and symbols show up and provide tools and a process to explore their meaning. Only the dreamer can truly know the meaning of their dreams and a dream unexplored is a letter not opened. (The Talmud)

Workshop Outline

  • Learning to differentiate types of dreams and discern which are likely to be meaningful.
  • How to facilitate remembering dreams and keeping track.
  • To explore the principles of dream analysis and how to tend a dream.
  • Exploration of the relationship between the imagination and dreams and how symbols are created in dreams
  • Introduction to dream partnering
  • Looking at the dream in the context of your life..
  • An exploration of energy, feelings and consciousness in dreams.
  • Learning to understand archetypes and their influence on dreams.

Location and Timing

Kitsilano, Vancouver Sunday November 27th, 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Contact trevor@soulclarity.com if you have any interest. Maximum 8 People

Fee by Donation

What Others Have Said

Thank you SO much for such an interesting, inspiring and fun evening! 
You are such a relaxed, organized and passionate teacher so WELL DONE!

Janie Brown

“I found the sessions I was able to attend to be simply excellent.  I loved the opening meditations, your flow in bringing the content into application, and your style in honouring of individual input.   Thank you for showing us a craft that you have obviously invested time and energy in mastering.” Joyce Gwilliam

Trevor Simpson is a Spiritual Coach, author of Life’s Little Book for Big Decisions and has worked with dreams since 1998. He and Indrus Piche have been dream partners since 2002 and have developed a Dream Partnering process to support others interested in dream interpretation. (www.soulclarity.com)


A Conflict of Complexes

September 21, 2016

vanier-parkAt the conclusion of a workshop I attended this summer, we were asked to prepare a poem summarizing four key elements that had touched us in the program. The workshop was titled, “Embracing the Human and Divine within us.” My poem was based on an experience with a guided visualization.

We were encouraged to begin in a place of beauty with which we were familiar. Mine was a magnificent Vancouver vista encompassing mountains, ocean and city and a pond in the foreground. I sit in this particular spot each summer night just before sunset and engage in a contemplation of the beauty around me.

During the visualization we were encouraged to see a figure walking towards us. I realized that approaching me was a duck, a familiar visitor on the long summer evenings.

A moment of confusion flitted into my mind when we were asked to seek guidance from the figure but I dutifully followed the directions. Of course my guest said only “quack” and I was forced to suppress my secret merriment to avoid breaking the meditative container. My poem evolved naturally from the experience.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-1-08-09-pm

When I shared this with a friend who was also attending, she responded that it only had one element not four. I noticed my resistance to her observation and decided that “the fat lady had sung” and that was all I was going to do.

I set off on my twenty-minute walk to the workshop and immediately noticed there were two distinct voices in my head. There was the rebellious, independent self who was quite content with what he had done. Yet there was also the compliant more apprehensive self who wanted to do what the teacher had asked. I observed the feelings connected with these energies and knew they were both old and familiar. Suddenly, quite unbidden, a new refrain emerged crafted by the compliant self.

‘Heart opening to music

Mind opening to story

Soul opening to Soul

I open to the Beloved”

I felt both fascinated and pleased. If we were asked to share, I had both options covered. It was only after I headed back to Vancouver I began to examine the significance of what happened.

These are both aspects of who I am. They represent two different strategies I adopted as a child to cope with my authoritarian and religious father. They carry both gifts and shadow. The rebellious self has independence, self-determination, innovation, strength of personality and can see outside the dots. The shadow aspects are that it can be abrasive, aggressive and confrontational.

The compliant self has the benefits of sustaining harmony, cooperating and safeguarding the persona from risk and harm. The shadow side is going along for the sake of peace, retreating and running away, not having a voice and becoming like wallpaper in a room.

In a teaching environment these two complexes can be in conflict. Depending on the circumstance I may be controlled by either one. The challenge is not to react to a situation and fall unconsciously into one aspect or the other. The opportunity is to become conscious of the underlying current and respond from the best of both.

As eminent Jungian Therapist James Hollis comments in his remarkable book “Hauntings”, complexes are not good or bad, but they do have a troubling power to “remove a discriminating judgment” from any given situation and impose a view based on our disempowered history.

I have learned the greater the awareness I bring to these complexes, the greater my choice in how I respond and the more empowered I feel. The wisdom can only be achieved in hindsight; in some ways it seems a shame that “life can only be understood backwards; but must be lived forwards.” (Soren Kierkegaard)


My Path to Equanimity – Denial, Victim, Humour and Surrender

June 24, 2016

“You carry all the ingredients to turn your life into a nightmare, don’t mix them”

Hafiz interpreted by Daniel Ladinsky.

How do we avoid reacting to situations that seem designed to press every button. This is a story of what I came to describe as “the hotel room from hell” that had all the makings of a nightmare.

However it led to an insight into one of the effective coping mechanisms I have created to help me deal with life’s obstacles – I seek meaning in the experience. I am still uncertain about whether this is pure delusion on my part however perhaps that doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it helps me avoid the “nightmare” and to shift from anxiety and discomfort into some equanimity.

When I checked in to the Puerto Allegra Hotel; despite my confirmed reservation they had no rooms left and moved me to an adjacent hotel. It was a spartan but clean facility with  a cute balcony.  I enjoyed my stay and the best news was that it waste no charge.

The next day I checked back and they allocated me room 210. It was not the king room I had reserved. It had two queen beds squeezed into a tight space, it was dark with a window out onto what appeared to be a narrow chimney of light between rooms. The diagram behind the door suggested it was by far the smallest room on the floor. However it was nicely appointed and I had already enjoyed an excellent free breakfast so I went to the beach with no inkling of what the night would bring.

The chimney in fact contained all the air conditioning units. It also possessed the quality of an echo chamber so at night I was treated to a symphony of AC units, each chiming in as though they formed an unholy orchestra with a malevolent conductor arranging a score to minimize my sleep.

I began to recognize them – there were the quieter ones that I associated with the strings, the deeper more full throated ones that were the woodwind section and finally the “tuba”. This monstrous instrument was out of tune, a harsh raucous sound that insinuated itself into my nervous system. If I was asleep it would wake me. If I was awake I lay their in awful suspense of its next interruption.

The next morning I tried to get my room changed. Victor at the front desk gazed helplessly at me, scanned his computer screen more out of desperation than hope then pulled out a huge stack of booking.com forms and began to tell me how he had no rooms for any of them.

Now normally I would have gone to find an alternative but I was attending a workshop for the next four days so it was not possible. It seemed as though I would just have to suffer.

I went through four stages of adjustment. In some ways it became my own workshop of dealing with attachment. It began with denial – this can’t really be happening, surely it will diminish as the night goes on? This cannot possibly be normal.” Then I moved into victim. “Why did it have to be me. What had I done to deserve this? This is so unfair.” It was a short step to judgment. “Why do these selfish people need their AC on. How on earth can a hotel dare rent out a room where you can’t sleep?”

By now I was trying ear plugs but they could not blog out Tony the Tuba as I began to refer to him. The third stage was ironic amusement. I was in this hotel because I had decided the place I originally selected at half the price was too small and spartan so I had decided to treat myself to a little comfort. There was obviously a lesson in here for me somewhere as my original was beginning to look like nirvana.The cosmos seemed to be demonstrating its sense of humour at my expense.

Finally I moved into acceptance and surrender and somehow, after three sleepless nights,  slept seven hours without a break. This was obviously due to extreme fatigue because my final night was a repeat of the first except now I was sanguine, calm and relaxed despite being awake and perhaps the thought of my own bed helped.

Regardless I had found meaning – each stages of acceptance helped me move through the one that followed: from denial to victim, then amusement and finally surrender. I worked through each fully allowing full license for expression.

Frankly it was a lesson I would rather not have learned yet the journey into meaning made it palatable. I can see no way I could have avoided it but perhaps next time I may resist the temptation of luxury for my normal spartan accommodations.

Hafiz’s lovely poem finishes with the words, “you have all the ingredients to turn your life into joy, mix them, mix them.” Somehow mixing denial, victim, humour and surrender had just that effect.

There was one final gift. The workshop was being held a half hour walk from the hotel. On the second morning I found a route that took me along the Rio Cuale for about twenty-five minutes. The natural beauty combined with the soothing babble of the creek over rocks completely restored me. Despite sleepless nights I was raring to go.

 


The Soul Journey 3 – Getting Stuck

June 2, 2016

“Midway on Life’s journey I found myself in a dark wood where the right way was wholly lost and gone.”

So begins Dante’s descent into hell. Recently I was considering what subject to select in my series of evenings on the Soul Journey and the idea of getting stuck popped into my mind. We all get stuck at times but often we don’t even realize that we are mired in a slough.

So what are the symptoms that can accompany stuckness? They include:

1) Withdrawal of energy or life force.

2) Ennui – a sense of boredom, listlessness and dissatisfaction.

3) A lack of focus and motivation.

4) Lethargy and inertia.

5) Life becomes dominated by distractions e.g. TV, mindless behaviours, computer games.

Recently I was exploring with a friend her sense of frustration at her life due to a change in her financial circumstances.

I suggested there were three possibilities:

  • “Shit Happens” – sometimes there is no evident rhyme nor reason to our changing circumstances. We just have to accept and move on.
  • We are being asked to live a new state of surrender to the situation, letting go of the old and accepting the new.
  • There is a deeper meaning we are being asked to explore. The circumstances have developed to help us open to something new to which we may be in resistance.

I believe we should always make an attempt to check and explore whether there is meaning as the other two strategies are doomed to failure if we are actually in resistance to our own good.

As I am reflecting on the subject I realize to my chagrin and some amusement that I too am stuck. Recently I had a bladder infection. It was painful, accompanied by fever and blood in my urine, which of course caused me to rush off to the doctor who prescribed a dose of heavy-duty antibiotics.

The next week I was listless, unable to focus, I was lethargic and watched a lot of comfort TV. (In my case hours of British mysteries on Knowledge network)

It never entered my head that there may be more to it. I had assumed it was a small taste of what getting older would feel like when the health one has taken for granted is compromised.

However I notice I am still struggling with some of the symptoms of being stuck even though I have completed the antibiotics. I decide to read my I Ching. (The I Ching is an ancient Chinese divining system that involves throwing three coins six times to form a hexagram that is then interpreted in a guide.)

I draw “Taming of the Power of the Great” The theme is that in the face of rising tension; keep still. Spiritual understanding not practiced under fire is without value. We must apply our knowledge in trying situations.

It is immediately clear to me that I had failed to do draw on my “Soul Rescue Kit”. This kit is a compendium of what feeds me when I am stuck? It includes music, contemplation, beauty, poetry, chanting, contemplation, and a review of my Soul Book. (A journal that contains inspiring stories, quotes and poems.) However once again I had resisted that which would benefit my inner journey by substituting activity. It is a source of constant bewilderment that I fall into the same old patterns.

I suggested a practice to create a specific Soul Rescue Kit. We used the active imagination and working with creating images around the theme “What Feeds Me?” The result was pertinent for each of the group. “Light. Love, Beauty, and Music were the common themes.

We cannot avoid getting stuck at times, what we can do is bring consciousness and practice to the situation as opposed to slipping into old patterns. As Rumi once said, “The real truth of existence is sealed until after many twists and turns of the road. The seeker says had I know the real way it was I would have stopped looking around. But that way of knowing depends on the time spent looking.”


Poems for SoulClarity 2

May 10, 2016

Recently I organized a conference in Assisi where I had the opportunity to share some poems that I have learned. I was asked if I was willing to share them, unfortunately by the time I got home I had quite forgotten which ones I had recited but it reminded me that I had only posted the original twenty-three  on my original post  and since then I have learned sixteen more so here they are:

The Meadow by Kate Knapp Johnson

Half the day lost, staring

at this window. I wanted to know

just one true thing

about the soul, but I left thinking

for thought, and now –

two inches of snow have fallen

over the meadow.

Where did I go,

how long was I out looking

for you?, who would never leave me,

my withness, my here.

Gratitude to Old Teachers by Robert Bly 

When we stride or stroll across the frozen lake,

We place our feet where they have never been.

We walk upon the unwalked. But we are uneasy.

Who is down there but our old teachers?

Water that once could take no human weight-

We were students then-holds up our feet,

And goes on ahead of us for a mile.

Beneath us the teachers, and around us the stillness.

Wildness of God by Donna Crouch

There are no prison bars within the Soul

Nothing can contain the wildness of God

Given freely to every beating heart

Stop and listen, open your arms to the spacious silence and receive

Nothing, no one can take away that freedom

Created to fan the divine spark

Burning invisibly, deep and clean

Within the unlocked and open doors of unfettered liberty.

Extract from Daniel Ladinsky’s Love Poems from God attributed to St. Francis.

Yes I will console any creature before me

Who is not full of laughing and passion for his art and work

For laughing and passion, beauty and joy

They are our heart’s truth

All else is labour and foreign to the Soul.

Extract from Baghdad Dreaming by Rumi

Either this deep desire of mine

will be fond on this journey

or when I get home

It may be that the satisfaction I need

Depends on my going away, so that when I have gone

And come back I will find it at home.

I will search for the Friend with all of my passion

And all my energy until I learn

that I don’t need to search.

The real truth of existence is sealed,

until after too many twists of the road.

The seeker says,

“If I had known the real way it was,

I would have stopped looking around”

But that way of knowing depends

on the time spent looking.

What Can I Say from Swan by Mary Oliver

What can I say that I have not said before?

So I’ll say it again.

The leaf has a song in it.

Stone is the face of patience.

Inside the river there is an unfinishable story

and you are somewhere in it

and it will never end until all ends.

Take your busy heart to the art museum and the

chamber of commerce

but take it also to the forest.

The song you heard singing in the leaf when you

were a child

is singing still.

I am of years lived, so far, seventy-four,

and the leaf is singing still.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,

Over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

The world offers itself to your imagination,

Calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over

Announcing your place
in the family of things.

There Are So Many Gifts Unopened by Hafiz (Daniel Ladinsky)

There are so many gifts

Still unopened from your birthday,

there are so many hand-crafted presents

that have been sent to you by God.

The Beloved does not mind repeating,

“Everything I have is also yours.”

Please forgive Hafiz and the Friend

if we break into a sweet laughter

when your heart complains of being thirsty

when ages ago every cell in your soul

capsized forever into this infinite golden sea…

There are so many gifts, my dear,

still unopened from your birthday.

O, there are so many hand-crafted presents

that have been sent to your life

from God.

Before We Leave – Stephen Dunn.

Just so it’s clear—

no whining on the journey.

If you whine, you’ll get stuck

somewhere with people

like yourself. It’s an unwritten law.

Wear hiking boots. Pack food

and a change of clothes.

We go slowly. Endurance won’t

be enough, though without it

you can’t get to the place

where more of you is asked.

Expect there will be times

when you’ll be afraid.

Hold hands and tremble together

if you must but remember

each of you is alone.

Where are we going?

It’s not an issue of here or there.

And if you ever feel you can’t

take another step imagine

how you might feel to arrive,

if not wiser, a little more aware

how to inhabit the middle ground

between misery and joy.

Trudge on. In the higher regions,

where the footing is unsure,

to trudge is to survive.

Happiness is another journey,

almost over before it starts,

guaranteed to disappoint.

If you’ve come for it, say so,

you’ll get your money back.

I hope you all realize that anytime

is a fine time to laugh. Fake it,

however, and false laughter

will accompany you like a cowbell

for the rest of your days.

You’ll forever lack the seriousness

of a clown. At some point

the rocks will be jagged,

the precipice sheer. That won’t be

the abyss you’ll see looking down.

The abyss, you’ll discover

(if you’ve made it this far),

is usually nearer than that—

at the bottom of something

you’ve yet to resolve,

or posing as your confidante.

Follow me. Don’t follow me. I will

say such things, and mean both.

Waiting by David White from River Flow

…It must be we are waiting for the perfect moment.

It must be under all the struggle we want to go on.

It must be, that deep down, we are creatures getting ready for when we are needed.

It must be that waiting for the listening ear or the appreciative word,

for the right woman or the right man or the right moment just to ourselves,

we are getting ready just to be ready and nothing else.

The way that everything unbeknownst to us is preparing to meet us too.

Just on the other side of the door someone is about to knock

and our life is just about to change

and finally after all these years rehearsing behind the curtain,

we might just be ready to go on.

Break by Doriane Laux

We put the puzzle together piece

by piece, loving how one curved

notch fits so sweetly with another.

A yellow smudge becomes

the brush of a broom, and two blue arms

fill in the last of the sky.

We patch together porch swings and autumn

trees, matching gold to gold. We hold

the eyes of deer in our palms, a pair

of brown shoes. We do this as the child

circles her room, impatient

with her blossoming, tired

of the neat house, the made bed,

the good food. We let her brood

as we shuffle through the pieces,

setting each one into place with a satisfied

tap, our backs turned for a few hours

to a world that is crumbling, a sky

that is falling, the pieces

we are required to return to.

Only One Ruler by Hafiz  

The sky

Is a suspended blue ocean.

The stars are the fish

That swim.

The planets are the white whales

I sometimes hitch a ride on,

And the sun and all light

Have forever fused themselves

Into my heart and upon

My skin.

There is only one rule

On this Wild Playground,

For every sign Hafiz has ever seen

Reads the same.

They all say,

“Have fun, my dear; my dear, have fun,

In the Beloved’s Divine Game

O, in the Beloved’s

Wonderful Game.”

A Grain Of Sand by Robert William Service

If starry space no limit knows

And sun succeeds to sun,

There is no reason to suppose

Our earth the only one.

‘Mid countless constellations cast

A million worlds may be,

With each a God to bless or blast

And steer to destiny.

Just think! A million gods or so

To guide each vital stream,

With over all to boss the show

A Deity supreme.

Such magnitudes oppress my mind;

From cosmic space it swings;

So ultimately glad to find

Relief in little things. j

For look! Within my hollow hand,

While round the earth careens,

I hold a single grain of sand

And wonder what it means.

Ah! If I had the eyes to see,

And brain to understand,

I think Life’s mystery might be

Solved in this grain of sand.

To Build a Swing by Hafiz (Daniel Ladinsky)

You carry

All the ingredients

To turn your life into a nightmare

Don’t mix them!

You have all the genius

To build a swing in your backyard

For God.

That sounds

Like a hell lot more fun.

Let’s start laughing, drawing blueprints,

Gathering our talented friends.

I will help you

With my divine lyre and drum.

Hafiz will sing a thousand words

You can take into your hands,

Like golden saws,

Silver hammers,

Polished teakwood,

Strong silk rope.

You carry all the ingredients

To turn your existence into joy,

Mix them, mix them.

It’s a Beautiful Time to be Alive by Em Claire

It’s a beautiful time to be alive.

And the long walk home is peopled –

We are everywhere.

Yet the struggle to surrender is where we often walk alone.

So the next time you fall

Look to either side where you lie

and take the hand of your dear Brother or Sister

whose own face is muddied.

We can rise together,

even if we fall alone –

for its a beautiful time to be alive

even on this long walk home.

Doors of Perception by William Blake (from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell)

If the doors of perception were cleansed

Every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.

For man has closed himself up,

Till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.

From Auguries of Innocence By William Blake

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour

No man is an Island by John Donne

No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe

is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as

well as any manner of thy friends or of thine

own were; any man’s death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom

the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

 

 


Poems for SoulClarity 1

May 8, 2016

INTRODUCTION

I believe in synchronicity and this piece is a result of a series of coincidences that began recently in Seattle. I was attending the fifth workshop in the series Archetypes of Spiritual Guidance and made the decision to stay at a B &B closer to the venue rather than being held hostage to the ferries that are a consequence of staying with my friend Maryann on Bainbridge Island. To my surprise when arriving at my lodging I found that there was a bed but no breakfast so I decided to frequent a local Starbucks close to the venue.  As it happened my teacher Atum O’Kane would also drop by for coffee and each morning we would meet up and then walk together. Each morning I chose to share a poem as we strolled and his response was that I must do something with them. At first my resistance stepped in but on my return to Vancouver the synchronicity of those encounters was too much to ignore and  I have decided to make a recording. I realized that each of the poems connected with me at a soul level so it made sense to add a personal introduction to each one and perhaps relate them to my work as a spiritual coach so I began an unfolding blog which is now complete. Each of my spiritual coaching sessions starts with a meditation and poem to create the Sacred Space that is essential for the work to begin. These are some of those poems and my reflections.

AT THE END OF THE YEAR. by John O’Donahue

The first poem on the blog is paradoxically the last one on the CD. It is by the Irish poet John O’Donahue who sadly died at the age of only 52. I was not that familiar with his work until a friend gave me his beautiful book To Bless the Space Between Us. He was a priest, philosopher, activist and poet with an amazing gift for the language. The passage I learned is three stanzas from a poem titled At the End of the Year.

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks
for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time
nor tide can touch them.
The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver
caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance
of being here…
We bless this year
for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way
it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.
 

It seems appropriate to be recording these words at a time when 2012 is nearing its finale and of course I am reaching my destination – to complete this journey with poems I have learned and loved. Twenty-three in all, I hope you they feed you as they have inspired me. They truly provide me with that sense of “the veil lifting” and the soul finding delight.

SONG OF A DREAM by Sarojini Naidu

Exploration of dreams has become one of the passions of my life. I believe that some dreams offer a window into the soul’s wisdom yet understanding the language of symbol and metaphor used in dreams is not always easy. I practice a process called Dream Partnering designed not to interpret dreams but rather facilitate a process to allow the dreamer to access their own inner wisdom. (For more see http://www.soulclarity.com/free_taste.html) I am always keeping an eye open for poems on dreams and here are two of my favourites. The first is called Song of a Dream by Sarojini Naidu

Once in the dream of a night I stood
Lone in the light of a magical wood,
Soul-deep in visions that poppy-like sprang;
And spirits of Truth were the birds that sang,
And spirits of Love were the stars that glowed,
And spirits of Peace were the streams that flowed
In that magical wood in the land of sleep.
Lone in the light of that magical grove,
I felt the stars of the spirits of Love
Gather and gleam round my delicate youth,
And I heard the song of the spirits of Truth;
To quench my longing I bent me low
By the streams of the spirits of Peace that flow
In that magical wood in the land of sleep.

A dream full of beautiful imagery that to me connects directly to the world of Soul.

LAST NIGHT AS I WAS SLEEPING  by Anthony Machado

The second poem is titled Last Night as I was Sleeping by Anthony Machado and wonderfully translated by Robert Bly.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?
Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.
Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.
Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!
that it was God I had
here inside my heart. 

Oh to have such a perfect dream, imagine golden bees making white combs and sweet honey from one’s old failures, how beautifully he captures the world of soul in this lovely poem.

WE LOOK WITH UNCERTAINTY by Ann Hillman

The next passages resonated the moment I read it in a monthly newsletter from Banyen Books. It is attributed to Ann Hillman and presents a beautiful perspective on the process of transition that is such an integral part of the Soul journey.

We look with uncertainty
Beyond the old choices for
Clear-cut answers
To a softer, more permeable aliveness
Which is every moment
At the brink of death;
For something new is being born in us
If we but let it.
We stand at a new doorway,
Awaiting that which comes…
Daring to be human creatures.
Vulnerable to the beauty of existence.
Learning to love.
 

 A major change is never easy and this poem captures so delightfully the vulnerability of transition and the need to explore beyond our limitations. Frequently I sense in clients the apprehension of being stuck and simply hearing this poem can cause a major shift in awareness. One client suddenly could see that being stuck was actually standing at a new doorway awaiting that which comes.

A NOISELESS PATIENT SPIDER by Walt Whitman

Simply reading about Walt Whitman’s life is inspiring; he was someone whose ideas were far ahead of his time. He had contemporary, earthy beliefs for someone living in the eighteen hundreds and I find his poem titled the Noiseless Patient Spider so relevant to the nature of the Soul journey.

A noiseless, patient spider, 
I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated; 
Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them—ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d—till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul. 

 I love the sense of space, urgency and insistence. I love the expressive dialogue with the soul as part of himself. I love the suggestion that at times we are awaiting a foundation to form on which we can build. He brings the intoxication of the Soul journey to luminous life.

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN by Robert Frost

This next poem by Robert Frost became renowned for the last few lines; in fact many years ago I had assumed these constituted the whole thing. During my research I found this quote, One stanza of ‘The Road Not Taken’ was written while I was sitting on a sofa in the middle of England: was found three or four years later, and I couldn’t bear not to finish it. I wasn’t thinking about myself there, but about a friend who had gone off to war, a person who, whichever road he went, would be sorry he didn’t go the other. He was hard on himself that way.”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

As we follow our life’s journey there are moments when we make decisions that irrevocably shift every event from that time on. I had such a moment in the dentist’s chair in 1998 when I made a career choice that ultimately resulted in such an improbable series of consequences that some times I wonder where the other road would have led. Today I am more conscious to discern whether the road I am about to select is consistent with my soul’s desire and I think that that makes all the difference.

THE GREAT WAGON by Rumi

The Great Wagon by Rumi is an astonishingly rich construction rendered into ethereal English by Coleman Barks. It contains eight separate stanzas any one of which could provide fodder for intense reflection however I am going to record my three favourites.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let’s buy it.
 

 So many intriguing concepts that seem so relevant to the Soul journey – the suggestion that there is place beyond our ideas of right and wrong, the reminder that we need to stay awake, that inspiration comes on the wind and that it all starts by setting a clear intention for what we really want. Then the last stanza “the price of kissing is your life” reminds me that once we commit our hearts to the soul journey there is indeed no going back.

NOW IS THE TIME  BY Hafiz

My next poem is beautifully rendered by Daniel Ladinsky from the work of Hafiz and embraces the issue of change.

Now is the time to know
That all that you do is sacred
Why not consider
A lasting truce with yourself and God
Now is the time to understand
That all your ideas of right and wrong
Were just training wheels
To be laid aside
When you can finally live
With veracity
And love
Hafiz is the divine envoy
Whom the Beloved
Has written a holy message upon
My dear please tell me
Why do you still
Throw sticks at your heart
And God?
What is it in that sweet voice inside
That incites you to fear?
Now is the time for the world to know
That every thought and action is sacred.
This is the time
For you to compute the impossibility
That there is anything
But grace
Now is the season to know
That everything you do
Is sacred.
 

 This poem reminds me to explore the mystery of the Divine in a number of ways. I grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist household with an authoritarian, patriarchal, punitive God. As a result at the age of thirteen I became an atheist. Thirty years later I began to realize that my atheism was in fact resistance to a God concept espoused by my father  and it was time to “stop throwing sticks at God”. I have realized during this amazing journey that indeed “all my ideas of right and wrong were indeed training wheels”. My soul journey became one of finding the sacred in everything in my life.

IF EACH DAY by Pablo Neruda

Finding light in the darkness is a theme of the next two poems. The first is by Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet who led an amazing and conflicted life. Exiled from Chile for communist beliefs, awarded a Nobel prize for literature, an outspoken critic of American imperialism who finally died a suspicious death after his close friend President Allende was ousted from power in a military coup. This man truly had experienced darkness to a degree most of us can only imagine. The poem is succinct and needs no explanation.

If each day
Falls inside each night
There exists a well
Where clarity is imprisoned.
We need to sit on the rim
Of the well of darkness
And fish for fallen light
 

THERE IS NOTHING I CAN GIVE YOU by Fra Giovanni

The second poem was written almost five hundred years ago as part of a letter and is attributed to Friar Giovanni Giacondo, a Franciscan friar who was also an architect, engineer and archeologist. During my research I realized the version I have learned has been adapted from the original but the integrity of the author’s intent is maintained.

There is nothing I can give you which you have not got; but there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.
No Heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
There is radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see;
and to see, we have only to look.
I beseech you to look.
 

The soul journey consists of many landscapes and one we will all encounter at sometime is commonly known as the dark night of the soul. Each of these poems helps us to remember that eventually light will overcome darkness

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS by Wendell Berry

I am enjoying finding out more about the poets I have grown to love. Wendell Berry is a remarkable long-term activist, a farmer an academic as well as a poet. Recently his poetry has demonstrated both his love of and fear for the environment. The next poem expresses exquisitely the challenges of despair and the power of beauty and nature to support us in holding our centre when we are confronted by thoughts and feelings of hopelessness.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world,
and am free.
 

On my own soul journey I have realized how essential it is to sustain hope in times of despair. I love the line, “the day-blind stars are waiting with their light.” It expresses a faith in the possibility of positive change. I do have to work on building a foundation for my faith. To support me I have created a Soul Journal where I capture stories of the light that appeared when it was most needed. Reflection on these stories help restore me when the affairs of the world create the despair that Wendell Berry describes.

A DIVINE INVITATION by Hafiz

My next poem is short and sweet; an interpretation of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky in his book, “I heard God Laughing” yet it has profound meaning for those committed to exploring the landscape of the Soul.

You have been invited to meet
The Friend.
No one can resist a Divine Invitation.
That narrows down all our choices
To just two:
We can come to God
Dressed for Dancing,
Or,
Be carried on a stretcher
To God’s Ward.
 

There is a quote in the New Testament, The spirit is willing but the flesh is week. All of us when we undertake to explore the journey of the soul will come up against resistance that is often unconscious and prevents us from fully engaging with our spiritual exploration. Accepting the call of the Soul is a bit like taking the red pill in The Matrix, you can never go back. I believe that the soul in its desire for expression will try and support us through a course correction when we go astray. It may start with a nudge then a push that may graduate to a full on cosmic two by four if we don’t as Hafiz says, “Get Dressed for Dancing”.

 BE PATIENT by Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke is a Bohemian-Austrian poet who I had always assumed was female because of his name. He was a renowned German poet who lived at the turn of the twentieth century. The poem I am about to share is best known for the first two lines but there is great depth in the complete passage.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
 

This poem has great relevance for those moments on the soul journey when we seem to be in stasis. I have long believed that the soul treasures experience not outcomes, yet the ego’s satisfaction relies on accomplishment. We live in a paradigm that assumes success is a series of achievements but when we commit to the inner journey we learn to live by a different yardstick. I will frequently quote this poem during spiritual coaching as a reminder that sometimes we need to fully experience the present before the next step opens to us.

 INVICTUS William Ernest Henley

I encountered the poem Invictus in a movie of the same name. There is an extremely emotional scene where Matt Damon standing in the jail on Robin Island hears the voice of Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela reciting this poem. This poem inspired Nelson Mandela during his twenty-seven years of incarceration. Although I can never hope to match Morgan Freeman’s drama and passion, it has become one of my favourite recitations.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
 

 The poet William Ernest Henley who lived in late Victorian times wrote this under extreme personal duress. He suffered from TB, had one leg amputated and major surgery on the other just before he wrote this poem. He captured dramatically the resilience of the human spirit responding to adversity, something I have witnessed many times with patients living with cancer.

OPEN THE DOOR by Rabindrinath Tagore

I had no idea what an accomplished creative genius Rabindrinath Tagore was until I did some research for this recording. Writer, playwright, songwriter, poet, philosopher and educator, he was the first non-European to win the Nobel prize for literature. The poem I am going to share is particularly appealing for someone who lives on the coast of British Columbia and learns to treasure the occasional days of blue sky that are a welcome interruption from the rain.

 Open the door,
liberate the blue sky;
let the inquisitive flower-scents
 enter my room;
the light of the early sun,
let it flood my body
 from vein to vein;
I am alive, the word of greeting
 that’s throbbing
in every twig and leaf,
 let me hear it;
this dayspring dawn,
let it swathe my heart and mind with its scarf as it does the field
green with the shoots
 of new grass.
The love I have known in my life
utters its silent language
in the sky, in the air,
 everywhere.
I am bathed in the light
 of its pure enthronement.
All that’s real I see
 as a necklace of jewels
on the breast of blue.
 

Recently this poem assumed a new significance for me. I was attending a workshop on the archetype of the liberator and was asked to create a daily practice to focus my intention on the act of liberation. This poem has become my morning ritual, at the conclusion of my meditation I begin the words, “Open the door, liberate the blue sky” It is a wonderful way to greet the day.

THERE’S A HOLE IN MY SIDEWALK Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson.

I have a client who frequently begins the session with the words, “Well I am back in the hole again.” He is referring to a lovely poem that I frequently refer to in my spiritual coaching work. It’s titled: THERE’S A HOLE IN MY SIDEWALK Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson.

1) I walk down the street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost . . . . I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes for ever to find a way out.
2) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I’m in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
3) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. . . . its a habit.
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
4) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
5) I walk down another street.
 

This is such a brilliant analogy for life. If you find yourself in the same situation again and again and it is never your fault, then you are living the first chapter of the poem. Like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day you repeat the same story over and over without realizing you are stuck. The first step to moving on is awareness. Once we are aware, we move on to the second chapter I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I’m in the same place. This is the stage of denial. Although you are aware of your pattern you aren’t yet prepared for the conscious work that will result in a shift. It often takes a lot of work breaking through resistance and old patterns before we can finally walk down another street.

The Guest House by Rumi

It is a source of deep astonishment and wonder that long before Freud, Jung and Adler, in fact over seven-hundred years ago, the poet Rumi pronounced a wisdom that would be at home in depth psychology today. His amazing poem The Guest House reminds us that hidden within the darker responses of our lives are gifts.

 “This being human is a guest house, Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all. Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of furniture. Still treat each guest honourably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whomever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
 

Rumi reminds us of the opportunity to become conscious and find meaning in our experience. Once we can begin to witness the events of our lives from this place rather than that of victim then we begin to find the gifts. The exploration can take some time and energy but each of us have a tremendous capacity for healing; we just have to remember who the patient really is.

Certainty by Tukaram

Tukaram was a a seventeenth century Indian saint and poet whose work I was introduced to in Daniel Ladinsky’s book Love Poems from God. This poem called Certainty struck me as an incredibly contemporary message reminding of the dangers of attachments to any one belief system.

Certainty undermines one’s power, and turns happiness
into a long shot.  Certainty confines. 
Dears, there is nothing in your life that will not change – especially your ideas of God. 
Look what the insanity of righteous knowledge can do: crusade and maim thousands in wanting to convert that which is already gold into gold.
Certainty can become an illness that creates hate and greed.
God once said to Tuka, “Even I am ever changing – I am ever beyond Myself, what I may have once put my seal upon, may no longer be the greatest Truth.”
 

 I suspect that all of us who have embarked on this journey of the soul may have encountered times where we felt absolutely certain we had found the path to truth. We may even feel it is our duty to persuade others. Tukaram’s wisdom clearly anticipated the tragedy of sectarian violence that we see today. He also reminds us that concepts of God are not fixed points in time. Some of my most challenging moments on my soul journey have been when my God concept has eluded me. James Hollis once wrote that “when for whatever reason the energy no longer enlivens our (God) image that structure dies for us as a source of the divine. The energy has departed leaving a dry husk.” At that time there can be a “dark night of the soul” challenging our faith. Tukaram affirms the positive possibilities when he says, “Dears there is nothing in your life that will not change especially your ideas about God.” The Soul Journey calls us to let go of old certainty and be open to the mystery. The Soul Journey is dynamic not static; James Hollis also said, “We find our God in that which enlivens the Soul, simply say hello.”

Special Plates by Rumi

This poem had a profound effect on my life. Special Plates is the first of the three Rumi poems I have learned, Rumi is a another Sufi poet whose words were captured so magically for westerners by Coleman Barks. This poem has a special significance to me because it was not only my introduction to Rumi but also the beginning of my love affair with soulful poetry. I had impulsively signed up for a two-year program called the Art of Spiritual Guidance comprised of two weeks and eight weekends that started in October 2001 led by a teacher I had never heard of called Atum O’Kane. The first week of the program took place at a beautiful resort called Hollyhock located over six hours and three ferry rides from Vancouver on remote Cortes Island. By the time the first session began, I was beginning to have serious misgivings about the sanity and wisdom of my decision. Who was this teacher with the strange name? Who were these strangers? Had I really committed almost $5000 and two-years to something I had never heard of a month ago? Then after a brief moment of silence, Atum read this beautiful poem.

Notice how each particle moves.
Notice how everyone has arrived here from a journey.
Notice how each wants a different food.
Notice how the stars vanish as the sun comes up.
and how all streams stream toward the ocean.
Look at the chefs preparing special plates
for everyone. according to what they need.
Look at this cup that can hold the ocean.
Look at those who see the face.
Look through Sham’s eyes
into the water that is
entirely pearls.
 

As I heard these words I felt an unmistakable sense of reassurance flow through my body. I knew I was in the right place at the right time. In part I sense there was a soulfulness that connected at a soul level. I believe great poetry like a dream can break through the clutter of the conscious mind. The words, “look at the chefs preparing special plates for everyone according to their needs” hung in the air between us; this would be no cookie cutter program, no one size fits all. I felt relief flood through my body; my fear of dogma and institutional doctrine dissipated; this would be a program of personal discernment. In that moment I realized that I had not only arrived here from a journey but was beginning one.

THE JOURNEY by Mary Oliver

The next poem I would like to share is very precious to me, not just because of its exquisite language but because it is generally the very first poem I use when someone comes to me for Spiritual Coaching. The decision to start Spiritual Coaching often emerges from a time of confusion and a sense that you need to shift the direction of your life but don’t know how to proceed. Mary Oliver conveys a remarkable sense of the unfolding drama of change.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations –
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little.
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheet of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.
 

To me Mary Oliver is perhaps the quintessential American poet, her depth and wisdom and soulfulness that inhabits so many of her poems creates a wonderful perspective for the concept of the Soul journey. This poem reminds us that we must make our own way, that we may feel resistance from both within and without; that at times it may be stormy but light will begin to shine.

LAUGHTER by Hafiz (rendered by Daniel Ladinsky)

This is a stanza from a longer poem that spontaneously comes to mind.

What is this precious love and laughter
Budding in our hearts?
It is the glorious sound
Of a soul waking up!
 

Hafiz is the wonderful Sufi poet so brilliantly interpreted by Daniel Ladinsky in his book I heard God Laughing.

LOVE AFTER LOVE by Derek Walcott

The second poem I would like to share is by Derek Walcott, the eminent poet from St. Lucias who Robert Graves once commented that “Walcott handles English with a closer understanding of its inner magic than most if not any of his contemporaries”. This poem is called Love After Love.

The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror,
And each will smile at the other’s welcome,
And say, sit here, Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you
All your life, whom you ignored
For another who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
The photographs, the desperate notes.
Peel your image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
 

This poem reflects so beautifully that wonderful moment that as renowned psychologist and teacher Jean Houston once said, ‘You are more than you think you are and something in you knows it”. It recognizes that moment when you come face to face with your Soul and you understand that you are a part of something much greater than you ever realized. I find Robert Grave’s use of the words “inner magic” most profound. It is as though Walcott’s words can speak to us at a deeper level than our brain can absorb. I recall reading this poem at a workshop and there was a moment when it brought one of the participants to tears. When she tried to explain her reaction in words, it just wasn’t possible. The heart had engaged with the exquisite sense of Soul that Walcott had created but the mind was unable to interpret. Such is the gift of beautiful soulful poetry in our lives.

A DIALOGUE OF SELF AND SOUL by W. B. Yeats

The first poem I learned was by W.B. Yeats, it was written when he was 83 and was a part of a much longer poem that is a reflection on his life. I first heard it on a meditation recording by John Kabot Zyn, and it had a powerful impact on me at that time. More recently I heard James Hollis refer to it in a lecture from his book “What Matters Most” as an example of finding meaning in one’s life.

I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.
 

What Yeats does so beautifully is remind us of the gift of individuation and that when we have the courage to  seek meaning in the experiences of our life, and forgive ourselves then there is a response from the soul. I have sensed that as I identify the complexes that have bound me, there is a release of the energy that binds me to the complex. This sounds akin to Yeat’s delicious words, “so great a sweetness flows into my breast.


A New Journey with Control – and finally seeing some progress

April 29, 2016

I have just completed a two and a half year project organizing a Gathering for 130 members of my Spiritual Guidance Community. It was a major endeavour located in Assisi Italy and all had gone very well. I felt a sense of great relief and joy yet there was a niggling dissatisfaction that irked me. It concerned an encounter that occurred bright and early the first morning of the event. I had arrived in the restaurant a little fatigued, somewhat jet lagged and in need of my morning cuppa. As I set it down at a table my peace was immediately disturbed by someone advising me that I was needed by the head of our community. 

Reluctantly I abandoned my breakfast and sought him out. To my surprise I was immediately bombarded with a series of questions about the venue for that evening’s presentation by him and the presenter. He said the locale was unacceptable due to a lack of light; she wanted a screen or sheet to project the presentation on; I said there was an alternative conference room with projection facilities but I would need to check if it was available.Her response was to assert that the choice of the location should be hers. I could feel the stress growing and a mounting sense of overwhelm. He wanted me to immediately show her the alternative venue and at this point my facade cracked. I put up my hands and said, “No, I have not had breakfast yet. I will fix this later.”

I walked to my tepid tea feeling embarrassed and perturbed. What had happened? This event disturbed me more than I expected. I felt badly about the way I had behaved- somewhat childish and embarrassed. The word “complex” popped into my head, a word eminent Jungian analyst James Hollis uses to describe clusters of energy that reside in our unconscious. They are formed by our history yet can be projected into the present by the current circumstances of our lives.

I shook myself and decided I did not have time right now for this inner exploration; it would have to wait. I had a conference to run and I was the lead-off man at each session. Fate however had other plans. The first session that morning was by a Zen Buddhist. Somewhat to my surprise she introduced a topic that seemed more fitting for a depth psychology seminar.

She named it the Four Tasks:

1) Recognize and acknowledge the areas in your life that cause you discomfort, discontentment, sadness, suffering.

2) Try to look deeply into it and fully and completely understand it. (Let go of the reactions and cravings that arise as a reaction to this.)

3) Experience the relief (when you hold back the reactions and cravings).

4) Now cultivate something that helps you cultivate that state/insight. (take wholesome actions).

I knew immediately that my exploration was about the events of the morning. As I embarked on the process of understanding I began to recognize certain elements and the pattern involved. I have a well developed controlling personality. I own both its gifts and its downsides. It is familiar and over the years I have explored different aspects of how it can unconsciously take over my life. So far I have written eleven blogs on my experiences. This will make number twelve! What was different this time? 

I began with the feelings: I felt attacked and cornered, I felt I was losing control. Almost immediately memories from my childhood flooded back – the moment I had been informed at the age of eleven I was being sent to boarding school. It was interesting to note how autonomous the feelings were – a legitimate response from an eleven-year old who knew he was losing control of his life but was now precipitated into my current situation.

I could understand how this autonomous response could arise; I could even sympathies with the eleven-year old at the heart of it yet I couldn’t fully accept my own reaction in the moment. It seemed over the top and unprofessional. The relief offered in task 3 seemed a little way away; I was obviously not yet able to let go of my reactions!

The next few days were full and by the time the event was successfully concluded, the whole episode had slipped into the back of my mind. I enjoyed a few days relaxing and recovering in Assisi and then visiting friends in Switzerland. It was not until I had arrived at my sister’s place in North Devon that the journey continued.

It was precipitated by a dream. I was organizing an event and someone had rearranged lunch. As a result it had arrived early and would be cold before we could eat. I felt anxious, upset and a little irritated. Sitting next to me in the dream was a friend from the community – I will call her Hayley. She took my hand and simply said, “you are so much better than me at this”.

I woke up amazed at how much this dream reminded me of the Gathering in Assisi and also reminded me that I had never completed the four tasks. I wondered about the last scene. The words “you are so much better than me at this” haunted me. I knew that Hayley must be the key to interpretation if I could discern what she represented in my unconscious? (I believe key characters in my dreams generally represent aspects of my personality.

The words that immediately came to me were Jeckyl and Hyde. She is a lovely member of our spiritual community who takes on the role of auctioneer at our Gatherings. Her persona transforms from the calm, ordered, responsible into an extreme extrovert and an outrageously, brilliant comedian. But how could that apply to this dream?

I sat and released desire and attachment and suddenly the answer appeared. She represents the two opposed responses that normally emerge when I am threatened by loss of control – fight and flight. My unconscious had extracted this symbol from the events of recent days to show me that I had not reacted with either of my traditional behaviours. 

In fact I had simply set a boundary and said I needed to have breakfast first. I cannot control the autonomous energy that emerges but I can and did respond in a different way. The feelings may have been the response of an eleven year old but the response was that of an adult. I felt a huge sense of relief at the realization that I had broken from my traditional pattern.

Now I could feel relief; it felt as though this was one test I had passed. I felt awe once again at the nature of the universe: the event, the reaction, the response, the synchronicity of being introduced to the Four Tasks, the amazing dream. I reflected that when you pay attention It really is a magical, mysterious, marvellous place.

.