Thursday, 30 April 2009

Yes, but how?!

Being new to the blogging business I have only just realised that the most recent posts are displayed first, so the title of this post might be somewhat mystifying unless you read the preceding one. Maybe I should stop trying to be consecutive!

The question is how do I live the Now Show? How do I live in the present moment? How do I deal with the mental chatter which obscures the present moment by focussing my attention on either the past or the future? How do I deal with the mental commentaries and videos, that I constantly run on everything that I encounter and do? How do I just accept what is in each present moment? The answer, I discovered in 2005, is simple; not easy but simple. I become the observer of all that is going on mentally. I realise that Descartes was wrong. It's not,'I think therefore I am'. It's just 'I am. Therefore I am.' There is in me, as in all human beings, a depth, a presence, a spacious, silent,stillness which is the real me and from which I can observe all the mental goings on which, for so long, I thought was all there was to me.

In a recent book on Dostoevsky the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams asks whether we could imagine, "living in the consciousness of a solidity or depth in each other which no amount of failure, suffering, or desolation could eradicate." It's not just that we can imagine it. We can do it! What's more people have been doing it in most cultures and most religions for most of recorded human history. What seems to be significant about the contemporary situation in cultures which have been based largely on Christianity, is that a profound transformation of consciousness is taking place. We can no longer believe in an interventionist God 'out there' who drops in from time to time. Instead we discover that 'God' (whatever we might mean by that) does not know how to be absent. Now, that is good news!

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Oxford Street blues

Springtime, 1945 - I am standing on a footbridge over the river Ouse at Bedford. I am nearly 14 years old and I am having a Wordsworthian experience. Beneath me willows trail their fresh green leaves in the river’s dark placid waters. A slender church spire emerges from distant trees. It is still and quiet. (No traffic). I too am utterly still; one with all that fresh growth and promise. Having just discovered Wordsworth, the opening lines of the Ode Intimations of Immortality are floating through my mind.

“There was a time when meadow, grove and stream,
The earth and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,”

Being a teenager the mild regret of the poem moves me too as I realise that the intense ‘nowness’ of my experience soon passes.

London 60 years later. I am walking along Oxford Street. People hurry by. Or they dawdle when I want to walk faster. Faces are strained or vacant or both. I have to avoid the younger ones talking on their mobiles, oblivious to the social niceties. I notice my 74 year old’s increasing irritability and querulousness about thoughtless public behaviour. I feel isolated and tense. Not a willow tree in sight. No placid waters here.

Then, fortunately, as I said in my first post, I stumbled upon Eckhart Tolle's books and they transformed the way I live. I am excited and delighted that I have been granted such experience 'at my time of life' (as they say). My Oxford Street blues are largely dispelled. Now I can make worldly sense of what used to be called 'the practice of the presence of God' - except that I am extremely reluctant to use the word 'God' any more. 'He' causes so much trouble! The question is not, how can I find a gracious God? but how can I find a gracious neighbour? Answer - "Your life is with your neighbour" says Rowan Williams in 'Silence and Honey Cakes'. Yes but how?

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Why 'The Now Show'?

After 35 years as an Anglican priest, followed by nine years of retirement during which I 'let God go', I stumbled upon Eckhart Tolle's 'A New Earth' and his 'The Power of Now' and had a profound Aha! experience. So that's what I had been looking for all those years! (since about 1957 actually). I was so excited that I called my new way of living The Now Show, after a BBC Radio comedy programme, to keep my feet on the ground and not take myself too seriously. That was nearly four years ago and here I am now beginning to explore this (to me) strange world of blogging to see whether my sense of being part of everything that is can find expression in this medium.

The Now Show is about living in the present moment so maybe a blog is imediate enough and I will try to say what is happening for me now. However, one of the puzzles for me is, why didn't I get it sooner? Why did I keep on coming so close but never quite getting it? I have been exploring why being a priest both helped and hindered and I want to talk about that in later posts.