Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Simple but not easy

An e-mail exchange with Oliver Burkeman of the Guardian newspaper:
Your column this week this week is a remarkably succinct account of a truth known
for centuries in Christian, Buddhist, Islamic and ancient Greek
cultures. However the reason many Buddhists (Christians etc. etc) seem
so "tightly wound", and why Seneca (and lots of monks) spent so much
time in seclusion is that the truth is simple but not easy. That's why
Jesus talked about the narrow gate which few find and why he told the
parable of the sower. How different the world would be if there was a
short cut!!
Richard Craig.
Dear Richard Craig,
Thank you very much for this email, and for your kind words, and my apologies for the delay in replying. Simple vs. easy: yes, this sounds like a very profound point. Maybe even one I'll try to explore in a future column head-on, since I suspect a case could be made that much of self-help culture catastrophically confuses the two.
All best wishes and thanks again

Sunday, 12 July 2009


In those last few minutes before bed time, when I feel too tired to do much, I try ‘intercession’. A contributor to Bishop Spong’s newsletter (qna@newsletters.johnshelbyspong.com) had written:
“When I pray any kind of prayer, there is an energy created within me that I believe in some way adds to a sacred energy in the world. I'm not sure how far it gets, or whether it does any good other than add to the positive energy in the universe. If I'm made of "stardust" then maybe there is an energy connection with others, perhaps through our "ground of being." I know that praying, saying formal prayers, taking the various liturgical prayers, prayerful reading of scripture, meditation and the like, are energizing for me and I hope the energy goes somewhere. I'm happy with the energy.”

I know what he’s talking about, I think. There’s a hint of Brian Swimme in the reference to ‘stardust’ and also the process looks something like Jon Kabat-Zinn’s ‘lovingkindness meditation’.
So I centre down and begin to call to mind people I wish to ‘pray for’. I find I can visualise them quite easily and in doing so I see them just as they are, without judgement and without wishing anything for them except the love and acceptance in which we are all one. Does it make any difference? I don’t know about the people I have in mind but it makes a difference to me.