Back in white pyjamas

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Read Time:3 Minute, 19 Second

IMG_2414So there I was, nervous and uncomfortable, barefoot in a Peterborough gymnasium, and clad only in a pair of white pyjamas. The floor cold and hard, adrenaline spiking in my veins. The only source of comfort and security was the belt wrapped round my waist – my name and my old club embroidered on it – that and the months of extra training I’d put in during lockdown, pacing up and down my living room as I practiced. Somewhere in that practice I had tapped into muscle memory, and what I knew slowly started to flow back. They say that what you learn never truly leaves you. They say that any art practiced for ten thousand hours makes you a master. I’m no master – maybe I’d not spent ten thousand hours in practice, but four or five hours a week in class (at least) plus everyday practice for over ten years had made me solidly proficient.

Flashback: When my eldest son was younger, we rocked up to a traditional Shotokan karate class at a nearby school having seen an advert in the local paper. Some very tough years of training followed, with one or two injuries, and struggles with co-ordination, flexibility, speed and my innate lack of timing.. but eventually both he and I made it to our coveted black belt. And a couple of years later, I graduated again as a second dan black belt. But when I set up my own business, something had to give and, sadly, at that time karate was the thing I ended up giving up. But it felt as if a part of me had gone missing.

They say that black belts are masters. They say black belts are the ultimate fighting machines. Black belts know they are not. They know they are just at the beginning of the journey – that the only thing they had achieved after years of training was simply the right to be on that journey – and I had taken time out from that path to focus on other things.. important things, for sure, but now it was time to get back into the dojo, to put the gi back on and to train hard again. This was a new club, new instructor, new syllabus, and a new beginning.

IMG_2403And in the end, I was better than I feared, and probably even better than I had hoped. I could hold my own – not particularly because I had the skills, but because I had the determination to make it happen, and because that which you’ve learned never does really leave you. I had done my preparation work – reviewing what I had learned before, practicing over and over again in my cramped training space. I’d re-read my old books, watched the videos and went through my old applications and bunkai. But in the end it came down to turning up one day, leaving my pride, my ego and my fears outside the dojo doors, and starting again.

I’m nowhere near as good as I used to be – but it’s coming back, piece by piece, as I install new memories of old favourite katas and of fearsome sparring drills. My flexibility and speed need some attention, and there are katas to refamiliarise myself with, but there is progress, simply because I had chosen to turn up and try.

And suddenly, in that moment in the dojo, there was a deep knowing, and a deep sense of calm settled on me – something felt fundamentally right – as if I was putting a shard of who I am back in its right place. So it is that every time I pull the heavyweight white cotton fast around my shoulders, every time I tie the simple ties securely at my side, and especially when I knot that precious black belt firmly round my waist, I know I have come home, and that a piece of my life – a piece of who I am – is back where it belongs.

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The Oneness Declaration

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Read Time:6 Minute, 6 Second

the world

People tell me that it’s impossible for us to live like this. And I want to know ‘why?’. They say it can’t be done. And I ask ‘why not?’ They say there are more important things to think about. And I say that these are the important things. Get these right, and the rest of Life will simply fall into place.

Here’s some thought provoking stuff from Hungarian philosopher Ervin Laszlo.

THE ONENESS DECLARATION

Sixteen Hallmarks of the New Consciousness

by Ervin Laszlo

1.    I am part of the world. The world is not outside of me, and I am not outside of the world. The world is in me, and I am in the world.

2.    I am part of nature, and nature is part of me. I am what I am in my communication and communion with all living things. I am an irreducible and coherent whole with the web of life on the planet.

3.    I am part of society, and society is part of me. I am what I am in my communication and communion with my fellow humans. I am an irreducible and coherent whole with the community of humans on the planet.

4.    I am more than a skin-and-bone material organism: my body, and its cells and organs are manifestations of what is truly me: a self-sustaining, self-evolving dynamic system arising, persisting and evolving in interaction with everything around me.

5.    I am one of the highest, most evolved manifestations of the drive toward coherence and wholeness in the universe. All systems drive toward coherence and wholeness in interaction with all other systems, and my essence is this cosmic drive. It is the same essence, the same spirit that is inherent in all the things that arise and evolve in nature, whether on this planet or elsewhere in the infinite reaches of space and time.

6.    There are no absolute boundaries and divisions in this world, only transition points where one set of relations yields prevalence to another. In me, in this self-maintaining and self-evolving coherence- and wholeness-oriented system, the relations that integrate the cells and organs of my body are prevalent.  Beyond my body other relations gain prevalence: those that drive toward coherence and wholeness in society and in nature.

7.    The separate identity I attach to other humans and other things is but a convenient convention that facilitates my interaction with them. My family and my community are just as much “me” as the organs of my body. My body and mind, my family and my community, are interacting and interpenetrating, variously prevalent elements in the network of relations that encompasses all things in nature and the human world.

8.    The whole gamut of concepts and ideas that separates my identity, or the identity of any person or community, from the identity of other persons and communities are manifestations of this convenient but arbitrary convention. There are only gradients distinguishing individuals from each other and from their environment and no real divisions and boundaries. There are no “others” in the world: we are all living systems and we are all part of each other.

9.    Attempting to maintain the system I know as “me” through ruthless competition with the system I know as “you” is a grave mistake: it could damage the integrity of the embracing whole that frames both your life and mine. I cannot preserve my own life and wholeness by damaging that whole, even if damaging a part of it seems to bring me short-term advantage. When I harm you, or anyone else around me, I harm myself.

10.    Collaboration, not competition, is the royal road to the wholeness that hallmarks healthy systems in the world. Collaboration calls for empathy and solidarity, and ultimately for love. I do not and cannot love myself if I do not love you and others around me: we are part of the same whole and so are part of each other.

11.    The idea of “self-defense” even of “national defense,” needs to be rethought. Patriotism if it aims to eliminate adversaries by force, and heroism even in the well-meaning execution of that aim, are mistaken aspirations. A patriot and a hero who brandishes a sword or a gun is an enemy also to himself. Every weapon intended to hurt or kill is a danger to all. Comprehension, conciliation and forgiveness are not signs of weakness; they are signs of courage.

12.    “The good” for me and for every person in the world is not the possession and accumulation of personal wealth. Wealth, in money or in any material resource, is but a means for maintaining myself in my environment. As exclusively mine, it commandeers part of the resources that all things need to share if they are to live and to thrive. Exclusive wealth is a threat to all people in the human community. And because I am a part of this community, in the final count it is a threat also to me, and to all who hold it.

13.    Beyond the sacred whole we recognize as the world in its totality, only life and its development have what philosophers call intrinsic value; all other things have merely instrumental value: value insofar as they add to or enhance intrinsic value. Material things in the world, and the energies and substances they harbor or generate, have value only if and insofar they contribute to life and wellbeing in the web of life on this Earth.

14.    Every healthy person has pleasure in giving: it is a higher pleasure than having. I am healthy and whole when I value giving over having. The true measure of my accomplishment and excellence is my readiness to give. Not the amount of what I give is the measure of my accomplishment and excellence, but the relation between what I give, and what my family and I need to live and to thrive.

15.    A community that values giving over having is a community of healthy people, oriented toward thriving through empathy, solidarity, and love among its members. Sharing enhances the community of life, while possessing and accumulating creates demarcation, invites competition, and fuels envy. The share-society is the norm for all the communities of life on the planet; the have-society is typical only of modern-day humanity, and it is an aberration.

16.    I acknowledge my role and responsibility in evolving a planetary consciousness in me, and by example in others around me. I have been part of the aberration of human consciousness in the modern age, and now wish to become part of the evolution that overcomes the aberration and heals the wounds inflicted by it. This is my right as well as my duty, as a conscious member of a conscious species on a precious and now critically endangered planet.

(For more from Ervin go HERE)

Perhaps we just need to think a bit more clearly about who we are….

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Crooked Trails

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Read Time:1 Minute, 18 Second

canyon bridge

A friend of mine sent me this quote many years back, and I have always loved it – and tried to live my life by it. Until recently, I had not realised it was part of a larger quote, which really sent fingers of excitement running up and down my spine when I read it. And I thought you might enjoy it too!

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.”

(Edward Abbey)

Now that’s a huge and fabulous dream….

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

PS I’m helping a friend out with some renovation work at the moment, so much as I would like to post, it’s proving a bit tricky! Normal service (whatever that is) will be resumed as soon as possible!

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Where do I find faith?

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Read Time:14 Minute, 40 Second

real truth - th

“Do all roads lead to God or must you believe in a specific faith to have your prayers answered and your dreams come true?”

A friend asked me this a while back, and I thought I would share the answer I gave her.

“I’ve found myself in this very dichotomy for a while now – partly because I came from a Christian background – it’s where my spiritual path started, many years ago, and so it ends up being my heritage. I probably relate to the Christian traditions more than to any other, even if my path is different now… but there are some key things that Christians believe that do not sit well with me. I have come to a place of peace in my personal faith, which is continually evolving and changing – but I am convinced that the only real teacher is the one inside, and the only place of truth is that which emerges from within. And so I don’t ask you to believe any of what I say – but simply to trust your own heart. Our heart is a wiser source of truth than we credit it with. And in the end, the big question – perhaps the only question – is ‘does this belief serve me?’ Does it produce the effects that I want in my life? If so, it is of value. If not, then I will choose to hold that truth more loosely and find another that does.

I have no way of verifying what I believe. All I know is that when I believe what I believe, then my life is better, of more value, and more meaningful – I am happier, more peaceful, more alive. 

And I also know that I am not being judged on whether I get these beliefs right or wrong – or even whether there is a right or wrong. There is just ‘what works’ and what doesn’t. A bit of me even suspects that ‘truth’ is a far more flexible thing than we can guess at – that seemingly different and contradictory truths may both be real.

So… where to start?

I believe that Christians are hugely correct with what they believe – and hugely wrong at the same time. For me, God is. There is nothing else. You, me, everything around us is that which we call God – or I prefer, somehow, Oneness, or Love, Infinite Intelligence, or the Universe. For me, in my head, somewhere in all of this ‘God’ has become this patriarchal entity in a robe and a beard.. and so it doesn’t help me particularly to use that word. Unless it does.

So when Christians refer to Jesus as the Son of God, I identify with that too… as a Son of God myself. I think that Jesus got further than most of us (maybe all of us) in terms of understanding the reality of that, and that’s why he could say ‘no-one comes to the Father (the source) but by me’ – by becoming as he was, by recognising the same within ourselves as he recognised within himself.. that ‘I and the Father are one’. (Now, to break my own rules (because I can) I think it’s clearer for context for me to carry on using the word ‘God’ here – but replace it if you will with anything that works better for you.) Because Jesus could see who he was, then he had the power to change reality.. but this is something that’s possible for each of us too.

Does that mean that God is strictly impersonal? No, although I think that there are principles of Life/God/Goddess that are pretty much as iron clad as gravity. So for me God is at the same time principle and personal. The more I explore this, the more I find myself stepping into a dichotomy… and I have learned to hold those dichotomies loosely, exploring what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes I envy the absolute and inherently simple faith of the atheist… and yet that doesn’t work for me. Because although atheists would say that the burden of proof lies with the believer, I think that’s just a case of perspective.. because I need something to explain what I feel in my heart – and to explain some of the strange things that seem to be true.

Now, I’ve always been frustrated by the fact that we were supposed to live lives that were as good as Jesus’ – but he had that one single advantage of being divine- of being the Son of God. No fair! But if we are all divine creatures.. if we are all One with a Universal power – then for sure, we can do more than Jesus did – as he promised we would. The clues are all there in the Bible: ‘I have said, you are Gods’…’all creation waits for the Sons of God to come into their own’… but it seems that the Church has diluted this truth, doubting what was placed in our hands, and giving it back to some super power outside ourselves. 

This may have been to exert control over the masses, and turn faith into some sort of frequent flyer programme – do enough good works, live a life that’s good, believe the right things…. and you’ll get to heaven. But it seems to me that heaven is already here, when we look…

For me, we don’t need ‘saving’ from some sort of ‘sin’. They surely can’t mean that I am cursed by the behaviour of two people who lived many many thousands of years ago? They surely can’t be implying that anyone who doesn’t believe the Christian way is cursed to a life of eternal separation from God? I cannot see this as the behaviour of an infinitely loving God. For sure, Christians will talk of how this is the only thing God can do, given mankind’s free will, but I don’t buy it. It all sounds like a control system to me… you can’t be happy now, but in a future life, if you behave yourself…? So I don’t see the need for ‘salvation’ to get me to heaven.. I do see there are ways that I have ‘missed the mark’ (the original meaning of the word ‘sin’) and failed to achieve what I set out to… but what I do see is that no matter what has happened or where we have failed, there is the opportunity to put that behind us and start again.

Your average Christian will respond to the question ‘how do you know these things are true’ with ‘because they are in the Bible’. There seems to be an awful lot of stuff in the Bible that they choose not to believe too, or that is in direct contradiction with other stuff…and so for me the only true frame of reference is what works for me. I think that’s the journey that everyone is on, by the way…

We don’t get to be ‘more spiritual’ by a relationship with Jesus. We are already spiritual. It is our nature. We are without the need to be ‘saved’ or to ‘see the light’ – we are powerful creative, spiritual creatures by our very nature, by virtue of being human. While a particular spiritual path may help in terms of a context for living, it’s not required. Each one of us has everything we need. 

So, I am not sure how I see the difference between the need for ‘a relationship with Jesus and worshipping God’ to get what you want.. or the concept of a fairy god mother. Is it that different? I think it was Cinderella’s relationship to the fairy godmother that allowed her to go to the ball (and, honestly, there’s an awful lot of spiritual truth in stories like Cinderella too).

I guess it’s easier, isn’t it, to say “God always answers prayer: he says ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘not yet'”… that’s so much more palatable than to have to try and work out why a seemingly impersonal law like the Law of Attraction isn’t working?! Sometimes this Christianity stuff seems a lot easier than working things out for ourselves.  

I guess if you contrast Christianity with The Secret, the Law of Attraction, or a whole raft of New Age beliefs… then those ‘New Age’ beliefs seem to put our power outside of ourselves, reliant on ‘The Universe’ or some impersonal ‘Law of Attraction’ to get the results we want. And I think there is some truth to those principles too… and yet by putting the power outside ourselves, we miss the point. Again. I think it’s true that what we think of tends to be drawn into our lives… although I do think that what we think we’re thinking may not be as clear cut as we think it might be. If we think about being rich, or being in a relationship, then what is at the heart of that thought is often the absence of that thing. Even when we use affirmations like ‘I am enjoying the relationship of my dreams’ there is a huge part of our being that says ‘ahem. No you’re not.’

And we put our power outside ourselves in practical terms too. We look at the statistics that say things like ‘99% of the world’s wealth is owned by 1% of the population’ (or whatever the latest statistic is). So, surely that 1% should divide their wealth more fairly? Hold on…I can’t find accurate statistics, but some research I did suggests that I am actually richer than 97% of the rest of the world. So maybe I need to work harder at making things fairer. We look at the hatred and violence in the world, but fail to recognise the same in ourselves when we get angry with those that have ‘done us wrong’. The power to change the world on those simple terms lies inside me – and the same power rests with 7 billion others.

I don’t think that God wants our worship (and I don’t see why that ‘worship’ has to be of a particular form either). I don’t actually think God wants or needs anything. There is a wonderful book by Neale Donald Walsch called ‘What God Wants’. He promises that Chapter 13 will go into detail on the subject of ‘What God Wants’ – and on reaching it, the chapter is blank.

I have a lot of time for Neale and certainly the first Conversations With God book, which blew away many of the cobwebs around our perceptions of God (as God himself says in that book ‘You got me all wrong’). As you might expect, I find some of his other thought at variance with what I feel.. but CWG book one and What God Wants are very helpful, as is Neale’s take on ‘The Secret’ called ‘Happier Than God’. And yet at the other end of the spectrum I have a huge amount of time for a pastor from Houston, Joel Osteen, who is very much a traditional bible believing ‘come to Jesus and be saved’ kind of guy – because, once I take that concept out of his language, much of what he says still makes sense, and fills me full of faith and hope.

Two men, from different ends of the spiritual spectrum – and yet both of them can speak to my heart and to the depths of my being. Both of them make sense to me (and yes, sometimes both of them contradict each other).

I see attempts to explain God in terms of quantum physics, and to show that perhaps quantum entanglement explains psychic phenomena, or the quantum observer effect explains how we affect our reality, or ‘everything is energy’ explains how we can attract what we want… and I think to myself that there’s actually more value in accepting that something much bigger than our science can perceive is actually running the show… that somehow what we perceive in terms of ‘energy’ is just the tip of an iceberg that we don’t have a frame of reference for.

I do think that one of the laws of life is the law of karma – perhaps not the Buddhist belief that we have to work off our karma over many lifetimes before we reach nirvana – but the concept that we get what we give. So yes, I do believe that if we devote our lives to giving to others, then we will find that we get more of that. Some of the happiest people I know are those who are giving to others selflessly. And that includes Christians and atheists alike. And that’s one reason why Christianity produces happy content people.. because it produces people who are giving. (It can also produce people who are hugely guilty, too, as they fail to meet what they perceive as God’s standard. And that really is one thing I hate about it – this concept of ‘the sorry sinner’)

I think what Christianity and other faiths have done is to create a framework that allows peace and happiness – to find a place where someone can ‘fit’ and explore a set of beliefs that give an opportunity for them to grow and become at peace with themselves. But if that framework doesn’t fit for you… if it doesn’t match what you hear yourself, and your own truth – then I think you are free to find something that does work. Take what serves you, let go of what doesn’t.

And in many ways I am drawn to a concept of magic… and I use that word because I can’t find a better one… that resides in each one of us because of our Divine nature, because we are each of us God incarnate. And I find that the less I have ‘wants’ then the more magical I become – it has taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that my financial problems have given me the freedom to be happier than I could have been chasing the dollar – that I have a huge freedom to do what I want, to explore some of this stuff. I am drawn to a concept of simply choosing to be at peace – not because I am meeting someone’s criteria for good behaviour, but simply because I am choosing peace. And that is magical.

I can choose to be happy once I place my criteria for happiness inside myself and not outside. As a friend of mine once said, ‘in Miami, the perfect summer’s day is when there isn’t a cloud in the sky.. when the breeze is just enough to cool the skin yet not to make you cold.. when the sun is just that perfect warmth – in London, the perfect summer’s day is when it’s not raining.’ Or, in other words, choose to have easy to meet criteria for happiness… not necessarily that I don’t have goals to be wealthy, healthy, to have adventures, to travel, whatever… but that not having those things does not affect my happiness. In this, I simply choose to be grateful for what is, knowing that everything is working out perfectly, that the path I am on is, even in its seeming imperfection, absolutely perfect..

All of those things I think is the long way of saying that I’m closer to a simpler understanding of spirituality then I am to the Christian dogmatic approach… even Christians find themselves struggling to explain a God who seems to have changed his character from Old to New Testaments – from a God of brimstone and retribution to a God of love and forgiveness. I do think we have to look below the stories to decide for ourselves what is true for us. If we’re happy with a ready made off the peg belief system, then awesome. Start living it. And some of us will be looking for something that fits our understanding better – that answers the tough questions each of us have.

Does that mean that I am picking and choosing the bits of the Bible that I believe? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. And for my precedent I cite the Church fathers at the council of Carthage who decided that the gospels of Mark, Matthew Luke and John were in, but the gospels of Thomas and Judas were out. I have tried to take my experience, my history, what I have read and heard and experienced, and create a synthesis that I can personally trust – something that has its own personal integrity – not taking the shortcut of a ready made faith handed down by someone else who has gone before – but by working hard at understanding what I personally believe to be true. 

So I live in a dichotomy – a space where I believe in a relationship with a personal God, a world of miracles and magic, of the impossible and the unexpected, and where I also believe that there are clear rules that run the Universe, principles which if we use them produce effective consistent results that are not at the behest of a capricious deity. I personally don’t feel the need to be ‘Christian’ or to comply with a set of beliefs and behaviours to be happy.. although I do know that when I make decisions and follow behaviours that seem to come from my heart and from a place of love inside myself, then I feel happier, more at peace, more fulfilled, more powerful, more magical, more alive, more ‘me’ somehow….”

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

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Ripley says… Happy New Year!

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Read Time:1 Minute, 39 Second

34415288_10160429581515147_7707758441229451264_nHello. My name is Ripley an’ I am a broken haired lurcher. I’m only two but I have learned one or two things about life an’ I wanted to share them with you. My friend Timmy runs this blog an’ he let me borrow it for a bit.

Have a great year! heart-paw


Ripley’s life lessons . . .


Photo 2019-12-16 14.08.16Live your own style.






Photo 2019-12-02 14.02.33Take time to enjoy the scenery.





Photo 2019-11-24 11.20.45  Life will sometimes bring you strange bedfellows. Embrace them.






Photo 2019-08-04 15.24.32


Enjoy seeing new places.






Photo 2019-11-24 10.47.19  Ignore your critics.





Photo 2019-11-04 13.57.50Always check your friends want to play before bouncin’ all over them.






Follow your own patPhoto 2019-10-25 13.06.27h. It confuses people.





Photo 2019-10-16 14.18.53Always live hopeful.






Photo 2019-10-16 14.16.44 Make sure you get enough chill time.





Photo 2019-10-16 13.39.16Be ready to drop everything to go on a ‘venture with a friend.






Photo 2019-10-11 14.26.34  Be polite.






Photo 2019-10-16 13.28.12Explore everything.






Photo 2019-09-20 20.08.13  Share a laugh with people you love.






Photo 2019-09-10 14.11.41 Have fun.





Photo 2019-11-30 16.59.45 Maintain your boundaries.






Get plenty of exercise . . . Photo 2018-10-22 13.53.25





Photo 2018-10-09 18.33.28 …but know when to stop.





farm 10Always have that one special friend you can be yourself with.






farm 8  Talk to animals. ‘specially dogs.





Photo 2018-09-09 16.47.50


Did I mention getting’ enough chill time?






Muddy Doggy It’s OK to get a little muddy sometimes. It’ll wash off and you may end up smellin’ of raspberries.





Photo 2019-09-20 21.23.04Don’t worry what others think about you.






tuckered Make sure you have somewhere you can feel safe, secure an’ comf’table.




Photo 2019-02-26 19.49.34Learn to listen to good advice


Photo 2019-02-14 13.19.07 If you’re not sure what to do next, have a sit down and listen to what your heart is tellin’ you.


Photo 2018-09-05 14.31.15Sometimes, you just need coffee.






67978066_499483167536949_8660797966086307840_n If it makes you feel good, do it. Even if other folks don’t understand.


Photo 2019-06-20 14.20.59Always be ready to go for a walk in the countryside.


j n r Make lots of time for relaxin’ with a friend.

44072998_10160953544210147_6055400646041927680_n


Eat good food.


Photo 2018-09-05 08.22.30  Devour good books.





Photo 2018-09-04 16.38.34Take an active int’rest in other people’s work.



Photo 2019-02-26 14.21.02 Sometimes, the only thing to do is to just tune out and let the world go by.


Photo 2018-09-06 20.58.59 Remember . . .You be you.


And remember to enjoy the journey . . .

Photo 2018-09-13 18.13.05

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Finding my Way

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Read Time:6 Minute, 23 Second

good idea - ogg

I’ve been a bit absent from sharing deeper thought over the last few months – much has happened and I have been struggling to make sense of it, and to work out where I go next. Slowly things become clearer on my journey into the future.. I realise that in many ways I have been hiding out, undecided as to what I want to do, yet conscious that there is a lot that I have wanted to say – and yet unsure as to whether any of that held real value to anyone, whether it was worth sharing. I have found myself of one mind with Rumi when he said “Everyone has been called for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put into their heart“, and yet I was afraid that I had missed something important – or that I was in some way disqualified.

It has been an uncomfortable and uncertain time for me in many many ways, some of which I have written about before – but I find myself in the same situation as Anaïs Nin: “Then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk to blossom.”

I have wanted for a while to give some focus to my blogging and writing, to share what I believe – to go deeper into my own spiritual and life journey and unlock some of the secrets of the keys to Life.. to be an agent for Peace, to tread a path of Freedom, of Love, and of Kindness, to be in some way a wayfinder. I don’t claim to have any answers, just reflections on what I feel to be true, and the reason I share them is because those messages are actually intended first for me. And if others find them helpful, then that’s great.

And so much of what I write is intended for me, as I try and make sense of what I believe. I have moved some way from the simplistic Judeo-Christian beliefs of my youth as I find myself embracing New Thought, Buddhism, Taoism and more in my own personal world view.. and so much of what I write is bringing together what I feel. I hope I share it with humility, with wisdom, and with kindness.

As I say on my new blog “I cannot tell you the shape of your faith. I can only tell you the shape of mine, and help you catch the echoes in your own soul.”

I feel very much like Jack Kerouac when he said ” I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion” – in many ways I am simply trying for myself to make sense of what I see – surrounded by my own confusions and conflicts, fears, doubts and weaknesses. This may yet be the most personal part of my journey so far, but as I was out walking today, asking where I could learn more, and where I could find someone to teach me, a still small voice inside asked “and at what point in your life are you going to start to share what you have already learned?” I hope that in some way I shall be a wayfinder – to seek to discover a path that rings true out of all that I find faces us.

For me, it’s time to write and blog again, without any expectation of what this might become, but merely as a vehicle for me to share what’s on my heart: so here’s what’s happening to my on line stuff, as far as I know: and it all starts with a question . . .

Who are you?

I’m conscious that my Facebook friends fall into several groups – those who are part of the dance world, those who have been part of my coaching and personal development journey, those I have worked with or studied with, and those I have encountered as we have shared moments of our own personal spiritual quests. And then there are friends and family and other folk that have gathered round me as the great tumbleweed spins through life. Some of my friends pop up all over the place, disappearing from one part of my life only to resurface, unexpectedly, elsewhere…

Because of the wide range of people on my pages, I’ve often found myself being limited as to what I post on my wall – in trying to be all things to all men and avoid controversy and criticism, I have found myself not expressing myself as clearly, as lucidly or as radically as I want to.

So I’m not going to be publishing everything everywhere – but I know that many of you will want to stay in touch with what I am writing.

Here’s what I am hoping will happen…

My main web page at timhodgson.org will remain as the main ‘go to’ place for my work, including my books and more. Expect to see that grow in coming months.

Remember…You are Amazing will continue to be a place for me to post little reminders of just how incredible, gifted, talented and wonderful each one of us is. I’ll probably carry on posting those on my personal Facebook page as well as on the Facebook page Just to Remind You – You’re Amazing. Because I can. Although I might not.

Importantly, I’m going to be stepping up a gear on my other blogs:

Shape of my Soul will be a very personal blog exploring my own personal take on spirituality and on faith. I am still (and always will be) on a journey to discover what I believe and understand – a draughty journey without the traditional pillars of faith and belief that continues to take me into new territory and causes me to explore new world views and assemble my own statement of faith.

In particular I plan on starting a series specifically exploring my adventures in studying the Tao Te Ching, which has come to life for me in a very real way of late.

I will try and bring that together with more stuff on my main “Tim Hodgson” blog – thoughts and observations on how the world works, and how we can explore our own personal power and step into a new freedom to truly live our lives.

I will be posting updates to my Tim Hodgson – Exploring the Power of You Facebook page so take a trip over there and ‘Like’ that page if you want to stay up to date on Facebook. Those posts are very unlikely to make it onto my personal Facebook page. And I will be wrapping it all up into one little package for newsletter subscribers at timhodgson.org.

That should help me be clearer about who I am writing for, and allow me to go deeper where it matters. These are exciting times, and I’m glad to be getting back into sharing what’s on my heart again. There’s a lot of amazing stuff starting to bubble up as the future becomes clearer and my purpose and mission starts to unfold.

So, Facebook friends.. if you’re happy just to stay friends on Facebook… that’s great. No action needed.

If you want to make sure you get some reminders and inspiration that will make you think.. then hop over to Just to Remind You – You’re Amazing and like the page there.

And if you want to engage with me on some of the other deeper stuff then take a trip to Tim Hodgson – Exploring the Power of You and like that page.

Looking forward to chatting some more . . .

 

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

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Walking with Heroes–The Whole Story

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Read Time:2 Minute, 35 Second

hearty yes - campbell

 

When I set out to reshare the Walking with Heroes programme, I had two goals in mind – the first was to get this material out to more people who will find it resonate with them, and the second being to jump start my own adventure. And perhaps it’s important to close the series with a quote from the man who made such a huge contribution to this way of seeing life – Joe Campbell himself.

I have found the insights of ‘Walking with Heroes’ to be hugely beneficial in understanding myself – where I am in life, the story of my life so far – and more importantly, allowing me to write my own story into the future. I’ve literally done that – cloaked in the imagery of a tale that might have been set in the days of Arthur and Merlin, I’ve actually written out how I see my life unfolding in a world of magic, princes & princesses, of dragons, adventures, wisdom and travels. I’m not going to share it, because it’s my story, and it’s deeply personal – as yours will be – but I am looking forward to seeing how it unfolds. You might like to try the same – perhaps you will resonate with mediaeval themes, perhaps yours will be more space opera, or 18th century romance… whatever works in your world.

I wanted to leave you with the contents page so you can take a look at any that intrigue you – you may well find that one leaps out at you even as you read this list. Feel free to dip in and out, to follow what appeals to you.

Introduction

1. Meeting the Heroes

2. Discovering the Hero’s Journey

3. The Journey Revealed

4. Stuck in the Story

PREPARATION

5. Safety and Security-The Innocent

6. Loss and Disappointment – The Orphan

7. Boundaries and Battlegrounds-The Warrior

8. Compassion and Kindness – The Caregiver

9. What moves you?

JOURNEY

10. Exploration and Discovery–The Seeker

11. Turmoil and Chaos – The Revolutionary

12. Passion and Tenderness–The Lover

13. Design and Build-The Creator

RETURN

14. Prosperity and Harmony-The Ruler

15. Creation and Transformation–The Wizard

16. Dragons and Princesses-more on magic

17. Curiosity and Wisdom–The Sage

18. Laughter and Living-The Trickster

IN CONCLUSION

19. Putting it Together

20. The Next Steps on the Journey

 

Above all, though, say ‘yes’ to your own adventure. There has never been a better time to begin starring in your own story – to rewrite the story as you want to see it. The world is full of magic, if we choose to see it. The world is full of possibilities, if we choose to look for them. And the world is full of happiness, if we choose to allow it.

Thankyou for allowing me to share this with you.

With Love

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

This series is based on the work of Carol S Pearson, Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, among others. I am grateful to each of them for their wisdom and insight.

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The next steps on the journey-Walking with Heroes Part 20

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Read Time:5 Minute, 33 Second

x-default

So here we are, you and I. A crazy race through the heroes that we encounter every day. We meet and greet one of those heroes in every single encounter that we have.. once we look past the mask of ‘ordinary’ that every one of us wears. Behind that business suit is a Caregiver, or a Seeker. That woman at the checkout is a Creator, or a Ruler of her life or her charity work. That scruffy kid at the mall? Wizard in training. We encounter them everywhere. Some of them know who they are, secure in the knowledge that they are ruling their world, or creating magic for people. Others don’t know just how much the Sage is present in their life – just how wise they really are. Still others don’t see how the fact that they laugh everything off is just the Trickster in them demonstrating their non-attachment to the world.

Each of us is on a journey, you know. For some of us, we haven’t quite begun our next journey. Perhaps we’re in safe harbour, everything seems to be going smoothly. Perhaps we’re feeling the itch of adventure, a sense that ‘anything could happen’. Perhaps there’s a rising frustration in our lives, a sense that life should be more than this, bigger than this, more exciting, more vivid. This is a great place to be – because the adventure is about to unfold for you – if you let it. Say ‘yes’ to those invitations and see what happens. Follow your curiosity. Explore those possibilities.

Others of us are in the midst of our journey. We’re experiencing the craziness of the struggle, the restlessness and rootlessness of the journey. Sometimes it’s exciting, incredible, vivid, beautiful, glorious. Some times it feels like hard work. Sometimes it’s simply painful. There are moments when we’ll experience the dark night of the soul – where we will fall to our knees and say ‘Why me?’ Moments when we feel afraid, or when the life is being sucked out of us. There are dragons to tame, there are fair maidens to be rescued, magic to be created. There are companions to be made, friendships to be forged, partnerships and alliances to be created. There are new worlds to be explored and discoveries to be revealed. There are gifts to be won, new capabilities and strengths to be revealed. There are lessons to be learned, wisdom to be revealed. New worlds to be explored. Kingdoms to be built, barriers to be torn down. There are people to be set free, battles to be fought, wounds to be mended, romances to be found.

Every single story you have encountered contains within it archetypal truth, whether it is Lord of the Rings or Cinderella, The Magic Far Away Tree or Transformers. Look below the surface of the story and see what it is really telling you. Listen to the whispers.

Learn to let go

Sometimes, the stories we create around ourselves don’t serve us well. We find ourselves stuck and unable to go on. “I’m too old” – “I’m too young” – “I’ve failed before and now I can’t get back up”… these are just stories that we tell ourselves. And like all stories they are not real. Sure, you might have lost your business five years ago. You might feel that you’ve failed. You might have had an abusive childhood or marriage. You might have been deceived, stolen from – but whatever they are, they are just stories. How do I know this? Because they are in the past. The present and what we’re experiencing right NOW is the only thing that matters. And in this moment, anything is possible. I’m not denying the impact that those events have had on your life, on your confidence, on your self worth. But are you going to carry on giving room in your head to stories that don’t serve you? Or are you going to let go of those stories and move on? Over time we convince ourselves that that’s reality. And it’s actually just a story that we’re telling ourselves. You can tell a new one – a more empowering one – any time you like. Go ahead. Write a new story. Decide how you want your life to be and step into it.

The short cut

Even as I write the words ‘short cut’ I can feel my resistance rising. ‘Life isn’t meant to be simple’ I can hear myself saying. Sometimes it isn’t. But only if we choose for it to be hard.

We’ve talked a lot about the Hero’s Journey in this series. And I do believe that all of us end up on a journey – from who we are to who we are going to be. Yet that journey doesn’t have to be hard. And it doesn’t have to take years, either. We can become the heroes we want to become without the struggle. You see, we are, actually, already incredible, amazing, wonderful, heroic human beings. And the only thing that’s stopping you being that is you. So perhaps now would be a good time to get out of your own way and begin being the hero you truly are. That might mean deciding who you are – or who you want to be – and then stepping fully into that. You have the power to decide, you know… you’ve been given all the tools you need to make this life and incredible and wonderful adventure. I hope you do.

So.. what now? Well, I’d like to keep in touch. You can connect to me in a whole load of other ways:

Take a look at the blog at www.timhodgson.org/theblog

– and take a look at the rest of the great stuff on my web site at www.timhodgson.org

Connect to me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/journeyintopower

Find the ‘You Are Amazing’ series at http://timhodgson.org/amazing/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rememberyouareamazing/

And I Twitter on at twitter.com/TimothyHodgson

I really do hope that you’ve enjoyed this exploration of the Heroes that shape our lives. I hope you’ve learned something from the programme. But more than that I hope you feel totally inspired to truly live the adventure that is your life… life isn’t meant to be safe… it’s meant to be LIVED.

Remember:

“Heaven and hell are right here on earth. Hell is living your fears, heaven is living your dreams”

– Bonanza Jellybean, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

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Putting it together–Walking With Heroes Part 19

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Read Time:5 Minute, 18 Second

planets - picard

Hi there! So, here we are. We’ve finished every one of the 12 heroic archetypes. Perhaps you have recognised yourself in there somewhere. We very rarely have one single archetype operational in our lives, by the way – we’re usually a more complex mix of several different archetypes. Often those are blended at the same stage of development – so I would expect to see someone showing characteristics of both Wizard and Sage, for example, because they are closely aligned at the same level of evolution. But if I saw (say) Ruler and Warrior together, then I might take note of that, because there’s definitely some immaturity about the way the Ruler is governing his world – based on anger and submission rather than justice, perhaps.

Anyway, in a moment I will give you a way of finding out what’s going on for you in your world. For now, though, let’s summarise the 12: as you read these, go slowly, and see which ones speak to you

The 12 heroes

The Apprenticeship – Preparation

The first part of our journey is that of preparation – we grow into who we must become, building our character and learning.

The Innocent: he seeks to remain in safety: to trust someone else to care for him. He is vulnerable and weak, yet in that vulnerability lies trust and a desire to have faith. We all begin as innocents – unable to care for ourselves, we rely on others. The gift is of trust, optimism and loyalty.

The Orphan: as the innocent steps into the world he becomes vulnerable and abandoned: the innocent must step out of safety to grow. In that abandonment comes the opportunity to learn. We step into the orphan as we begin to make a way in the world. The gift is of interdependence, empathy and realism.

The Warrior: soon the orphan learns to fight – to stand up for himself. He starts to conquer, to carve out a life that is truly his own. We become the warrior as we begin to succeed, to dominate our environment. The warrior sets boundaries, defends territory. The gift is of courage, skill and self discipline.

The Caregiver: we begin to step into the power of parenthood, the need to look after others as parents or as leaders. Here the warrior learns the power of sacrifice. The gift is of compassion and generosity.

The Quest – Journey

At this point we are ready to begin the quest of becoming real. Something calls to us and we prepare for a journey to discover what life is about

The Seeker: we begin our quest with the knowledge that there is something more – that what we have is not all there is. For some we will begin a spiritual journey, while others will seek a change in career or a new relationship. For all of us, we know that there is more beyond ourselves – mountains to be climbed, seas to be crossed. The gift is of autonomy and ambition.

The Revolutionary (Destroyer): within each of us is encoded the knowledge that to grow into what will be we must destroy that which is. We clear the ground ready to grow, ready to evolve. The gift is of humility and acceptance.

The Lover: we begin to seek unity – whether with someone or with a group or ideal. We crave connection and long to be whole. We discover passion – perhaps romance, but also passion for truth and for reality. The gift is of passion and commitment.

The Creator: out of the ashes, and out of the passion, rises the desire to build. We inherit the desire to make something new, to create where nothing has been created before. The gift is of creativity, a sense of identity and vocation.

The Return – Freedom

Eventually we become wise. All we have learnt begins to gel into a wisdom and a truth. We are still learning – and yet we know.

The Ruler: we begin to take responsibility for our lives – and for others. Not just our family, but those around us. We take decisions based on what is best for all. We have courage and compassion. The gift is of sovereignty, responsibility and competence.

The Wizard: we begin to align with the power of the universe. The seen, the tangible, the concrete ceases to have as much value as we learn that miracles and magic remain. We begin to step into our own power. We learn to heal. And we learn to name: to create our own experiences. The gift is of transformation and personal power.

The Sage: having sought truth for so long, we cease to become attached to it. We learn true detached wisdom, and can sacrifice for the greater good. The gift is of scepticism, wisdom and lack of attachment.

The Trickster: finally we return to the jester, the joker. Far from being a child, the fool embodies wisdom and embraces life fully. He has learnt to enjoy the journey for its own sake – and to hold all things lightly. The gift is of joy, freedom and liberation.

Now, maybe you have an idea of the predominant archetype that you have running in your life. Take a look at the stories that resonate for you, the characteristics that match.  If you want a clearer test, then there’s a detailed test in Carol Pearson’s book ‘Awakening the Heroes Within’. Carol’s book, by the way, is a brilliant in depth exposition of this. I would suggest you take a look at her site www.carolspearson.com/.

But don’t let yourself be boxed in by this stuff. If it doesn’t feel right (after you have given it a chance to settle) then it probably isn’t right for you. Decide what you would like it to be, and then go about making that true. That’s one thing I like about this test – it allows you to step outside the box.

You know, I think that’s enough for today. Check out Carol’s site and some of the companies and famous names that have their archetypes recorded there, and see if you agree. And I will see you next time for a bit more of a wrap up.

Speak to you then!

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

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Laughter and Living – The Trickster–Walking With Heroes Part 18

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Read Time:14 Minute, 17 Second

silly doctor fez

Aloha! I hope you’ve begun to see the energy of the Sage in your life over the last week – and begun to understand the wisdom that you, uniquely, bring to the world. Only you can bring that insight and that truth in the way you do – so don’t hang back and hide what you know and the truth you understand.

So now, we complete the cast with the final element in our series of heroes.. and we complete the royal court too, so that the Ruler stands with his advisers. And this is a surprising hero… the Fool, or the Jester – or, to use the name from ancient mythology – the Trickster.

The Trickster is needed to keep us connected to the joy of life – all this questing and heroing can be tiring work, and we need to be able to step back and laugh… to enjoy ourselves for the sake of enjoyment. We need to remember that fun is not something that only happens on our day off – but joy and exuberance need to be permanent parts of our life.

The Trickster keeps us honest as well: the Jester wasn’t just employed at court to crack jokes and make the courtiers laugh – he was there to keep the King humble, allowing him to be the butt of the joke sometimes, or provoking him to make the right choice through simplicity and direct humour.

The Trickster is the simpleton who proves, ultimately, to be wiser than the wisest.. and the magical figure who springs in, dispenses wisdom in rhyme and tomfoolery, and bounces out.

The Trickster is a huge part of ancient shamanistic theology – and reappears in the stories of Brer Rabbit, of Winnie the Pooh (Pooh is the Trickster figure here – not self assured, but completely at peace in Zen wisdom). The Trickster is of course the hero of cartoons from Roadrunner to Bugs Bunny.

In the end, when it comes down to it all, we are all the fools. We’ve been engaged on this huge cosmic adventure called ‘Life’. We’ve seen trouble and hardship, experienced highs and lows, joy and despair. And when we look back at it, we see the humour of it all – how at one and the same time it’s hugely important – and completely irrelevant in the great scheme of things. The Trickster brings perspective to our small little dramas and helps us see them for what they are.

And somehow, in that Trickster figure, everything comes together. All the world’s a stage, and we are but players on it… and so in that inoffensive and humorous exterior we find the Wizard, the Ruler, the Sage, the Lover, the Warrior, Creator, Destroyer, Seeker, Orphan, Caregiver and Innocent. And in the Innocent we find another clue – the Innocence when we set out of ‘butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth’ has been replaced by the knowing Innocence of ‘who? Me?’.

When any martial artist starts out to learn his or her craft, the belt is white. Innocent, untarnished, a clean slate on which anything can be written. As the student progresses, different coloured belts are worn, until the coveted black belt is awarded. But this is only the start of the journey. The student will then continue to develop his or her skill through various levels of black belt – and all the while, the belt will fray from continual use – revealing that, at its heart, it too is simply a white belt. In some traditions, a white belt is awarded as the highest grade. And so our final hero embraces all the others, and we return to innocence. But rather than an innocence born of naivety, we now find an innocence based on understanding and deep inner certainty.

The stage of the journey

This, in a sense, is where it all ends. The Trickster is the point where we can look back at the journey and laugh at it all. All the angst, the discomfort, the fear, the terror, the loneliness.. all of those motions that we felt on the way, all the dangers we’ve faced, the difficulties we’ve endured, the sadness, the pain – we have been through it all, and we’re still alive. We’re still OK.. and none of that can hurt us now.. because even if we experience it again, we know we can make it through. And boy, have we got a story to tell.

There is a sense of completion, here, of understanding the cosmic joke, the knowledge that, ultimately, nothing can hurt us – and yet there’s also a sense that we’re still on the journey – that nothing ever stops. And from this place of knowing innocence – we can start again. The adventure never ends. There are new worlds to conquer, new friends to make, new things to learn – but now we do it with a sense of perspective, and a knowledge not only that we can meet the challenge – but also that we’re safe, in the big great scheme of things.

Next time, when we embark on the great adventure, we take all the wisdom, all the love, all the magic that we’ve learned on the way, and use it to be the wise companion, the guardian figure, the doorkeeper – we’ve seen the journey and we know what it takes.

The nature of the Trickster

Ultimately the Trickster seeks enjoyment. Yet this is not the hedonistic, devil may care enjoyment of the prodigal son, but a deeper, wiser enjoyment. It’s the sort of enjoyment which looks out at the world, breathes deeply and sighs with huge inner contentment. The Trickster feels hugely, absolutely, completely alive in the moment. In fact, the Trickster has learnt that the present moment is the only thing that exists. The past is gone, existing as a memory. The future is yet to be created. The only moment that we can truly choose is now. And the Trickster seeks to wring every last piece of enjoyment out of it. As a friend wrote to me once:

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways – Chardonnay in one hand – chocolate in the other – body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ‘WOO-HOO, what a ride!!'”

That’s the Trickster spirit in action.

So, too the calm certainty of the moment. It is a truly wise man who can echo the words of Forest Whitaker’s titular character in ‘Ghost Dog’; “There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the moment. A man’s whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there is nothing left to do, and nothing else to pursue”

And, really, that is all there is. Now. Will we enjoy the moment, making it count? Will we fill it with as much joy, as much happiness, as much exuberance, as much passion, as much love as possible…?

The Goal

There is one true goal for the Trickster – that sensation of being truly, vibrantly, gloriously alive. Everything else is secondary to this one pursuit. Whether that is found communing with nature, or playing with children (or grandchildren), or hurling yourself off a mountain on a board/skis/luge or with a rope strapped to your ankles… this is the thing that matters most. Is that selfish? Absolutely not – because the Trickster knows that only when he or she feels totally, completely, passionately alive – only then can they have an impact on the world.

The search for enjoyment and happiness isn’t a goal in itself – it’s a moment to be savoured, allowing a demonstration that life is for living…and for living NOW.

Primal Fear

The Trickster fears death – but not pure physical death – for the Trickster it is more a fear of not being alive – of not being able to enjoy life, of not being filled to the brim with passionate excitement. The Trickster fears dullness, sameness, monotony, boredom – they have to find something – anything – to interest them. That can lead to restlessness, to running from one idea to another, never satisfied but looking for interest – whether that is in career or tasks around the house, or in relationships or in their spiritual quest. Often the one who simply can’t sit still is not the least mature, but the most mature. We accuse those who enter relationships and then step out quickly of being childish and unable to commit – but in fact they are in pursuit of something deeper – and they know that they must find it.

Response to the challenge

What’s the Trickster going to do when confronted with a dragon. Only one way to go…. play time! Either the Trickster will seek to play with the dragon, to have fun… or will seek to have fun at its expense by playing tricks on it. In the real world, the challenge is not something to be overcome, but something to be enjoyed as we live in the moment. The problem solving process becomes the goal, rather than looking for the end itself. In the Trickster’s world, everything needs to be fun… or he’s not interested.

A Heroic Task

We’ve already said that the Trickster is looking for the journey itself to have meaning. Every single second has relevance, and none of it can be spent without purpose – even if that purpose is just staring out to sea with a sense of happiness. The Trickster knows that happiness cannot be sought – it’s not something to be attained, but something to be lived. And we can choose to live that happiness in every moment. The Trickster chooses those moment of happiness and makes them happen – moment when we embark on unknown seas, when we choose to encounter strangers, when we entertain provocative thoughts, or choose risky experiences.

The Trickster is a demonstration that we can be happy in whatever situation we find ourselves in – knowing that this wild ride is all about enjoyment. In ‘Along Came Polly’, one of the characters exclaims in frustration “Why don’t you let go – move on with your life. It’s not about what happened in the past – or what might happen in the future. It’s about the ride. No point going through this crap if you’re not going to enjoy the ride. And who knows – something might come along that’s even better than you planned.”

We only have now to experience – and once it’s gone… we cannot have it back.

The Gift

We spend years of our lives creating for others. We suppress our happiness ‘for the children’ or ‘for the sake of our marriage’. We work hard to create wealth, thinking that it will bring us happiness and ultimate freedom. Even when we become more enlightened, we work hard to ‘make a difference’.

The Trickster reminds us that we need to live life for its own sake – day by day, minute by minute, moment by moment. The Trickster reminds us that we can appear too serious sometimes – we feel that we have to be sensible, do the right thing. The Trickster in each of us reminds us that it’s fun to play with Play-Do, that splashing in the fountain is hugely rewarding, that it’s OK to play the fool and look stupid.

Sometimes, the Sage can be a little too serious for his own good… tempered with the playfulness of the Trickster, the Sage is reminded that life is meant to be fun. And sometimes the restraint of the Sage is required to stop the Trickster going that little bit too far.

The Trickster also gives validity to our feelings. Without the Trickster, we are guided by logic. What’s the sensible decision? What makes the most money? What is the safest option? The Trickster reminds us that it’s OK to follow our feelings – that it’s all right to listen to our heart and decide to do what feels good.

And with the Trickster, nothing is predictable. While we might expect a Sage or Seer to behave a certain way, Trickster energy is unpredictable, untameable, rogue. I see these echoes in Jesus Christ, in the Dalai Lama, in Nelson Mandela. C.S. Lewis alluded to it in his frequent comment on the God-figure, Aslan, in the Chronicles of Narnia ‘Aslan is not a tame lion’. Divinity is unpredictable, risky, unknowable. When we become truly powerful we cease to be ‘safe’ – there is a sense that, as they used to say in the animation series ‘Stingray’ – “anything can happen in the next half hour”.

The shadow Trickster

When we live a life based on pleasure, the possibilities for a shadow are enormous – and so it is for all the figures at this level of the journey. The shadow Ruler destroys and enslaves his subjects. The shadow Wizard wields his power to destroy and enslave. The shadow Sage creates falsehood and leads people astray. The shadow Trickster is irresponsible, leading people away in a quest for enjoyment – and potentially into laziness, overeating and addiction.

The Trickster can also become the game player – quite literally – in relationships he is ‘the player’ continually seeking novelty. He can be fun, charming, intriguing… but may well run at the earliest sign of permanence.

Levels of the Trickster

The Trickster’s call is from boredom, from a sense that life must be something more, that there is a party going on somewhere but he or she is not part of it. This dullness becomes a nagging and gnawing sensation until something must be done. Incredibly, it seems that doing anything will work – we just need to shift the energy a little. Yet we get lost in ‘what job should I do’, ‘where should I live’, ‘what church should I join’. The simple answer – do something. Anything. Anything to make a change – because in that change, and in the experience of throwing yourself into it – life will find you.

Initially, the Trickster starts out as the fool – playing the game of life for enjoyment and living only for personal pleasure. As he or she grows, the energy is used to play tricks on life – to cheat, to escape trouble, to find the easy way out of things. “It wasn’t me, guv.” Yet there is a higher calling for the Trickster, when he steps over into being the Wise Fool, the jester. Like Alice’s Cheshire Cat, the answer may come in riddles, forcing the student to unlock them for themselves. They may come in the for of koans, those unsolveable Zen riddles. The Trickster knows that the journey of learning is more important than the knowledge itself.

The Trickster’s story

The Trickster will find himself living only for pleasure – he may be the village idiot, or the who is always found looking out of the window, dreaming. He may be the local drunk, the layabout. Yet all of these are redeemable. Without any sense of belonging, the renegade is able to leave his community – or even step out of his old nature – and share the experience with new companions. Although initially untrustworthy, he shows his true inner resources: it is the irresponsible Trickster figure that fights his or her way through the battle to retrieve his lost friend. It is the devil-may-care Han Solo who materialises when most needed to destroy the Death Star.

Exercises and dreaming

So… what makes you laugh? What do you enjoy the most? Where do you find yourself having fun? Go do it – today, this week at the latest. Play with a child. Watch cartoons or comedy. Play a practical joke on someone. Splash in the fountain. Change your clothes. Change your hair. Buy a water-pistol. Let the Joker out.

Where are you becoming too serious in life? Are you looking to the future – or to the past? Are you trying to be respectable? What one irresponsible thing could you do in the next seven days that would shift you out of this? It might be something huge or something simple.

Find ways to make life fun. Choose, today, to be happy. (It is a choice, you know). And bring a little laughter into someone else’s life too. Make them smile.

Next time

So, there we have it. Our cast is complete. We have met all our heroes. I hope one of them has resonated in a particular way with you. Pay attention to that – it might be a sense of ‘that’s who I am’ or ‘that’s who I want to be’. Either is great. I have a sense in which there are some parts where I am stuck in a story I know isn’t mine – while aspiring to be in a different character. It’s our story – we can change the rules – and the cast – any time we like.

So – next time I’m going to start to wrap it all up into one single piece – to show you some more how these characters fit together.

Until then.. have fun, and enjoy the adventure!

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

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