Oct 26

Follow the madness

love unfurl ladinsky

Over and over again I find myself coming back to this quote from poet Daniel Ladinsky. There is a beauty to it, but also a rawness to it, and a sense of unstoppable magical power.

Sometimes, we need to rediscover madness to step forward. A sense of craziness, a personal insanity that draws us past what makes sense, what seems logical. Sometimes we have to step beyond what we can see, or what we can think of. Sometimes, all our pondering and planning needs to take a back seat and we need to let our hearts do the deciding. Because our heads just aren’t equipped to understand what our hearts can naturally intuit. And so we need to let go of what our thoughts tell us – that manic maelstrom of pros and cons, for and against, extrapolations of the future – and simply let our hearts say ‘yes’.

Love doesn’t make promises of safety (although you always are). Love doesn’t guarantee success (although you might be surprised to find what ‘success’ really looks like). Love doesn’t always lead us down paths that make sense (although looking back, they will). But what love does promise is that this is what you were made for. This is the adventure of your life. And always – always – love is leading you forward into your greatest ever life.

One day, 13 ‘interesting’ years ago, I faced a choice as to whether to remain safe and secure in my hard won and well remunerated technical career, or to step out into a new world, a new adventure, full of uncertainty and danger, yet something I knew my heart was calling me to. I faced the choice – stay safe in harbour or run before the winds of the universe. I would like to tell you that it has been easy. Those close to me know that it has been anything but. It has been a wild ride. A perilous ride. But it is the adventure my heart longed for, and I know that, as Hemingway put it, I have become strong in the broken places. And, looking back, it was the adventure I needed to become who I needed to become.

Martha Beck says, in ‘Steering by Starlight’:

“Maybe your inner sight is clouded by the opinions of others, or the horror stories of your inner lizard. Maybe you’re sundazzled by a perfect looking surface, projecting the trappings of an enviable success and hiding the sense that you’re lost, directionless, hollow. Maybe life has given you a chance to walk into the darkness, and you’ve been staring terrified at the ground in front of your feet, trying to see your way by following your way to some well-beaten path. And maybe – quite likely in these days of dizzying change and unprecedented possibilities – no beaten path exists.

No matter how clouded, sunblind or terrified of the dark you may be, your Stargazer self is always gazing calmly at your destiny. Follow it forward expecting to break things – rules, conventions, your own vulnerable heart – but knowing that you’ll heal strong. The strength itself, the joy of finding it, using it, testing it and feeling it grow, is the purpose of the whole adventure.”

If you’re reading this and wondering whether to throw yourself into the adventure your heart is drawing you into. then by all means check whether this is the insanity of infatuation or the stirrings or crazy passion. And then look deep into your heart and let it draw you onward. As Joe Campbell observed: “If you go into the forest where there is already a trail – you’re not on your own path.” Find yours. Find the path only you can walk.

It takes a certain madness to leap. It takes a certain craziness to leave the well trodden safe path in search of true meaning. But when that madness is driven by a profound sense in the depths of your being that this is where love is taking you.. then jump. And you will be born on great winds across the sky.

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Mar 10

Remember Love . . .

love unfurl ladinsky

I find myself often drawn back to this wonderful quote by poet Daniel Ladinsky. In fact, I have often felt that the only reason I enrolled in the Interfaith Seminary was simply to hear this one simple truth.

Love provides the energy and the impetus for all that we do – love is what makes us open up to the true immensity of our brilliance and beauty, and in turn bring some of that love to a world that sorely needs it.

Listen always to the voice of love, even if it sounds a little crazy – because love is always the answer to the question you are asking.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Apr 29

Why on earth not?

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 and his assistant Gyorgyi Szabo.

THE ONENESS DECLARATION

Sixteen Hallmarks of the New Consciousness

by Ervin Laszlo with Gyorgyi Szabo

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.

Gyorgyi: With the consciousness that arose in me, my life has taken on new meaning. I will never be lonely again, never feel alone. Because I am not alone and disconnected, I am an essential part of everybody and everything around me. I am one with the world, and have always been, even if with my earlier, and now discarded duality-consciousness I did not know it.

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.

Gyorgyi: I evolve and I am master of my evolution. But this is not a separate, me-only evolution: it is a co-evolution with everyone and everything around me.  How I evolve is part of how they evolve, and how they evolve is part of my evolution.  I co-evolve with people and with all life on the planet. I co-evolve with the universe, and the universe co-evolves with me. In this wholeness I am a small but not insignificant part-I am a master of the co-evolution of the whole planet.

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.

Gyorgyi: With my wholeness-consciousness I realize that not only am I not separate from the world around me, I know that nobody is. The entire concept of separation is a false, illusory concept. When we act with that concept in mind we divide the unity of the world, segment its wholeness into bits and pieces. Our ego divides us, but our body does not follow suit – it acts in coherence with the whole Earth. I am part of the Earth, part of the larger whole that is the world in its totality-an almost invisible but real and inseparable part of it.

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.

Gyorgyi: I am part of a community called humanity, and my country is the Earth. My immediate and real family is everybody in my community and in my country. Everything I do reflects not just on me, but on everybody in this community, whether they live next to me or far away. I reflect consciously on how I live and what I do, because everything I think and do affects all the others. Hurting anybody no matter for what reason hurts me, and healing and making anybody whole heals me and makes me whole.

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.

Gyorgyi: My life, and the life of everyone in my community and my country, is the highest value, far higher than any other kind of wealth counted in money and material possessions. My possessions do not bring me pleasure or benefit if they harm others, make them unhappy, or diminish their chance for wholeness and fulfillment. The value of all things depends on what they do to my life, and since my life is part of everybody else’s life, on what they do to all other people’s lives.

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.

Gyorgyi: A life dedicated to hoarding and collecting what others or nature can give me is not a life worth living. The pleasure it gives is short-lived and paltry, compared to the satisfaction I feel when I can give to others something that comes genuinely from me. Only when I give do I feel myself happy and fulfilled, part of the wholeness I form in my community and my country.

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.

Gyorgyi: I now realize that I am an integral part of the world, a member of the human and the Earth community. I live my life, but the life I live is not only my life: it is the life of the entire human and Earth community. I live it the best way I can. This is not a choice for me; it is a duty. Even more than a duty, it is simply the way I am, a human being endowed with a consciousness of oneness and belonging.

(For more from Ervin go HERE)

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

Apr 25

It’s your choice . . .

Sydney Harris, the US news correspondent, told of visiting a friend for a weekend. Each evening he would walk to the corner with his friend to buy the evening newspaper. Although the friend was cheerful and pleasant, the newspaper seller would always reply with a grunt. Harris commented one night “he’s a mighty unpleasant fellow, isn’t he?” His friend replied “Oh, he’s always that way.” “But why are you so nice to him?” Harris challenged him. His friend replied, with some puzzlement: “But why should I let him determine how I am going to act?”

Here was a man who knew that his chief responsibility in life was to act the part of his divinity. Why should any man cause him to lower his consciousness and thus reduce his whole experience of life? 

You may not be able to change or control the people around you – but you can determine the level of consciousness on which you meet them and react to them.

There is that in you that can never be hurt, that is always poised and peaceful, that knows that nothing can take your good from you. In this divine state of consciousness, the hurt is healed, the influence of the other person on you is nullified, and you become a healing influence on the world.

– adapted from Eric Butterworth’s marvellous book “Discover the Power Within You”

Worth thinking about, huh?

With love

Apr 11

Are you sure you know what that story REALLY meant?

strength on the mountain

A few days ago I retold the story of the Lost Son (or the Prodigal Son) – if you missed it, you can read it HERE – and, honestly, I’d suggest you do before you carry on. Really.

That story has been used by the Christian Church for generations to explain what happens when you go off on your own, when you step out from how things should be. It’s a story of wilfulness, of wasting life on trivia and wanton behaviour – and of a Father’s love, once the son turns round and admits he got it wrong, is welcomed back into the safety of the family again (and puts the older brother’s nose out of joint).

But is it? Is it about ‘going your own way’ and the dangers of immorality? Did the younger son really screw up and make the wrong decision? I’m not so sure. Over the last few months, this story has become very precious to me, for all sorts of reasons. And, honestly, I’m rooting for the younger son. Cause I think he got it right.

Imagine the plight of the younger son, always in his elder brother’s shadow. He knows that the family business will eventually fall to his brother. He knows that his brother will get the larger share of the inheritance – that’s just the way things were in Israel at that time. He knows that the larger blessing of his father will go to his brother. So what can he do?

He decides to go out and make a name for himself on his own. He gets his resources together, going to his father to ask for his portion of the family fortune early (and that in itself was a ballsy move) and sets out for a distant country to make a name for himself. I suspect he planned going back to his family as a wealthy and successful businessman in his own right.

And I’m with him all the way.

Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t work out the way he intended. I don’t know what happened. Perhaps he fell in with the wrong crowd. Perhaps his struggles to make his business succeed caused him to stretch his resources to breaking point. Perhaps he got distracted from his goal. I don’t know – and it doesn’t matter. Because that’s not the point. This isn’t a story about how you can go wrong and move away from your blessing. It’s a story that shows that all the resources that you need are right at hand. And in that sense, it’s not really a story about a lost son at all.

Our hero finally found himself starving, out on the streets and unable to find a way out. And you’d be surprised how many of my mentors have been in exactly the same place. On the streets. Bankrupt. Out of work. Stuck in failure. Because only when they get to the bottom of their own resources do they realise that there’s another way. Only then are we going to recognise what’s really real.

Our hero eventually (in the bible story, at least) found himself feeding the pigs. That’s about as low as it can get for a good Hebrew boy – feeding the animals that the Hebrews themselves won’t touch. But he’s missed something – something that he only finds when he decides to return to his father.

You see, he thinks that he’s had his chance. He thinks he’s had his shot, and he failed. All he can do is to crawl back as a failure and ask for a servant’s job. But that’s not the way his father sees it at all.

You see, the resources of the father still belong to the son. At any moment he could reach out and take hold of them. At any moment he could step back into a position of power. Guilt, shame, and embarrassment stopped him. But everything he needed was available for asking. This isn’t about the father’s forgiveness – I’m a father, and I will tell you right now it has nothing to do with forgiveness. If one of my sons screws up, forgiveness and restitution isn’t ever a question. It’s guaranteed. Not forgiving, not welcoming him back would simply not be an option for me.. simply because I’d have to stop being a father at that point. In truth, the only lesson he needs to learn is how much I love him.

We’re in the same position, you and I. No matter how badly we’ve screwed up, no matter how badly we might think we’ve got it wrong – no matter how stupid we think we may have been,  and how many bad choices we think we might have made.. all the resources we need are still available to us. We didn’t make ourselves ineligible. Because that’s impossible. We are still unlimited, powerful, incredible beings. We still have infinite creative power. We still have the resources of the universe behind us.

We still, always, have a choice whether to wallow in failure and self pity, to look continually at the disaster that has befallen us..

. or to raise our eyes to the sky, to stand up tall, to recognise our inheritance and the truth of who we are, and return to our rightful place as gifted individuals with a story to tell and a purpose to fulfill.

I’ll choose that every time.

Mar 12

Who would you be if you knew who you really are?

hugo

Sometimes it’s really hard to recognise ourselves as magical and powerful beings. It’s tough to recognise the wizard in you in and among the detritus of daily life. It’s difficult to see the adventurer in you when you’re buried under the worries and troubles of holding things together. It’s hard to know you’re a hero when you’re struggling to make ends meet. But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not true. Sometimes it just needs one person to recognise the magic in you. It only takes one person to see past the mundane and into the reality of the hero inside you. It only takes a moment to recognise the magic.

Look for the magic and wonder in everyone you meet. because it might just change their life. And it might just change yours.

Feb 20

Putting the world together . . .

skyline

 

Who? Me? Put the world back together?

Yup. You and me. One random act of kindness at a time. A thousand moments of sharing a little bit of love. It doesn’t have to be neat. It doesn’t have to be tidy. It doesn’t have to be obvious. It can be messy as hell, and it can even go completely wrong and backfire. But just a little piece of extra love, bringing a fragment of extra peace into your life, into the life of another.. it doesn’t take much… but you have the power to make the world just a little better. It all counts. And an awful lot of ‘a little better’? You don’t need me to explain the mathematics to you, do you?

Hugs and love…

Feb 20

Messy Love. Crazy Love.

labyrinth heart show up

“Dear Human:

You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling.

Demonstrated through the beauty of… messing up. Often. You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love, in truth, doesn’t need any other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as you. It’s enough. It’s plenty.” (Courtney A Walsh)

 

We are perfect. We may not always behave that way – but at a deep spiritual level, that’s exactly what you are. And so is everyone. Every single one of us.

And love? So pure, so perfect, pristine, neat? Nope. Love is messy, risky, clumsy, stupid, painful, out of balance, raggedy. And fabulous. And beautiful. Perfect in its imperfection. Because love doesn’t need to be done right. It doesn’t need to be honed and polished. It doesn’t need putting in a beautiful frame, or be photographed in soft focus. It doesn’t need to be photoshopped, cropped and edited. It doesn’t need rearranging, tidying, dusting.

Love just needs to happen. Love can stumble forward, incoherent, fumbling, tentative, clumsy – and it will still be perfect. Love can’t be any other way.

So love someone. You can’t ‘get it wrong’. You can only get it right.

Feb 10

Choose Only Love

consider loveOn Friday, Valentine’s Day will be upon us (just in case you hadn’t remembered – I’m just acting as a public service, particularly for the male members of the species who, if they wish to survive until 15th February, had better darn well remember).

Although movies and media have done their part to mythologise love, and we find ourselves under a deluge of hearts, roses and boxes of chocolates, battered by Hallmark card sentiment and the false dreams of a thousand romantic comedies, there is something about love that remains pure, untarnished, a space of radiant light when all around is darkness.

No matter how much we might choose to play it down, to put it into its own little box of ‘romance’, love is bigger than that. Because love is what is at the heart of creation. Love isn’t something we bring into a situation – love is already there. Hidden, discoloured by smoke and fire, tarnished by anger and hatred, by retribution and by unforgiveness, but it will always find a way.

Remember, stories are true not because the events necessarily actually happened, but because the core of the story reveals something about our humanity. And as any student of fairy tale will remember, “True love’s kiss will break any curse.” Metaphysically, we’re being reminded here that love, shorn of falsehood and untruth, stripped of sentiment, will break through any stuck situation, will destroy any hatred, any bias. Not because love is ‘nice’, but because love is the toughest, most powerful, most irresistible force on the planet. Darkness isn’t real. Darkness is simply an absence of light.

I see the effects of a lack of love all around me – in the media stories of war and of famine as well as in the individual lives of my friends hurt by thoughtlessness, malice and (sometimes) sheer stupidity. Yet I have faith that, no matter what, love will find a way to prevail. Because no matter what horrors we see, no matter the cruelty, no matter the thoughtlessness, the lack of sensitivity.. this thing called love is more powerful than we can possibly imagine.

Perhaps today it’s time to take love out of the box in which it’s been hidden and see it for what it is – the energy and vibration at the heart of the universe, the power that lies at the core of your being and my being, at the heart of our closest friends – and those we perceive as our enemies. We are all one – perhaps more deeply than we can ever know. Not because if we work hard at it we can become united and at peace with one another – but because when we let all that is not love drop away from our lives – we find that we already are.

 

TimSigWeb