Looking for answers that pop through the boundaries of thought

A few thought-provoking ideas, reflections and entertainments from the deep south of Cape Town...

Some serious, some frivolous, some perhaps just ranting - see what you think!

Friday, August 9, 2013

True friendship

We are passing beyond the age of three-dimensional relationships into a multi-dimensional, interdependent relationship space. In this space the most important form of relationship will be a new and deeper form of friendship.

Friendships in the past have often been based around the concept of “making everything alright”. Friends, when they were being friends, supported the viewpoints of their friends, made their friends feel OK about stuff, and generally were there to help their friends feel they were right, whether they were growing in consciousness or not.

In fact, in today’s world, there’s no time for this kind of friendship any more. We are yearning to wake up, and to have friends who support us in doing so. When we are coming from a place of inner strength, we know that we already have the perfect parents, siblings, lovers, teachers inside our own hearts. We connect with these aspects of ourselves and know that – we are enough. There is enough love to go round. And we also have the perfect children and students inside us; we have a playful inner child worthy of love, and keen to learn, and we are able to give ourselves that love and take worthy lessons from all that life throws at us.

But long generations of the bully/victim disempowering story has also led us to often deny our inner child, like our real child was denied and wounded in this society. We came into a world where we experienced emotional wounding and our primal brains decided it was real, physically life-threatening wounding. Our primal brains found various means to avoid feeling these feelings, acting from a stressed out nervous system. To feel feelings like abandonment, rejection, anger, shame, guilt, grief, worthlessness, betrayal, powerlessness, was felt to be dangerous. Parts of us still feel it is dangerous and go into adrenalin-based fear when such feelings approach.

Yet it is not, 99.9% of the time. It is just a feeling. Sure, our psyche wants to attach a whole long story to the feeling, to blame someone else for the feeling, to really disturb our physical and emotional functioning through feeling the feeling. Some of the feelings are really intense and are best supported through dancing them through, or other physical forms of release. But in the end the feeling passes and we are still here, unless our story has taken on such unhealthy proportions that we’ve really injured ourselves – but then that’s us injuring ourselves, not the feeling.

Multi-dimensional friends can support without being triggered themselves into their emotions. They can support even if they are told (by their friend’s story) that their actions were the trigger for the friend’s difficult feeling. They support by accepting and holding space for the feeling. By breathing, feeling the body, trusting the connection to source. They also support by tuning into their hearts, and being unafraid to challenge their friends if they feel they are being inauthentic. There are times when we need to let out our ‘charge’, but it’s important to recognise these times as just that – not to get hooked into them, or to use these times to try and manipulate or justify or defend. Multi-dimensional friends don’t get hooked in – they have the resources to encourage each other to feel the feelings and then to step back into the light.

But this is not all. If multi-dimensional friends are not in a space themselves to be the accepting support – if they need their own space, or are feeling too easily triggered – they are honest enough to say so, knowing that their friends will either find someone else to hold space, or will get that this is one of those times they must fall back on their own centre, their own innate ability to hold space for themselves with the support of spiritual allies. (Multi-dimensional friends have spiritual allies, because they know the extraordinary power of the Imagination, and the intuition that it brings).

And in this spirit of authentic communication, with integrity, multi-dimensional friends find a way to say if they would like this kind of support themselves – to reach out, not from a place of desperation, but from a place of knowing how wonderful it can be for one human being to feel supported by another, to feel seen by another. How healing this can be for that wounded lonely child, how it can help that child to rediscover his or her playfulness and lightness again. And to really know that this is not a burden for the one giving support, if they truly and authentically choose it: scientists have shown that the same level of endorphins are released in giving as in receiving. It is all love.

We have taken physical form, and so we ask each other for a little more than we did in the spiritual world, where the oneness of us all was obvious. We have come to play in physical bodies, we have come to be acknowledged by each other, in our grief and in our joy, in our anger and in our love, as we move towards the real bliss in life – which is the bliss that underpins all emotions; the bliss of connection that is felt even as the grief is released, the bliss of power that is felt even as the anger is screamed out, the bliss that flows in ever-deeper and more exquisite forms of pleasure that open to us – but which is increasingly still obvious even in the crazier times.

Yes, we have the perfect parents, children, lovers, brothers, sisters, teachers, students… inside our hearts. And having checked in with our own hearts, and our own circle of support and strength - we have the ability to play all these roles, at different times, with and for our friends, and to step into a multi-dimensional awareness together. For the first time in human history, we are all stepping forward together. Let us play!

With grateful thanks to all my teachers in the outer world who have informed this piece.  

Swearing from the head

As we all know, a lot of Anglo-Saxon words for sexuality and bodily functions have become the first thing many children like to furtively look up in dictionaries. More to the point, they’ve become twisted into general emotive words that express all sorts of feelings from disgust to a kind of naughty exaggerated joy. Whatever we may feel about saying “fuck” now and then, the bottom line is its origin as a swear word is because making love was once seen by the church as a horrible sin to be avoided at all costs and certainly never talked about – one of those regrettable animal acts that reminded people of their fall from grace, along with leaving behind human droppings and so forth in "restrooms" (please let's call a kakhuis a kakhuis, mense!). We may feel we’re beyond such attitudes, but if so why do we still use these words for swearing? And why is the "worst word in the world" (cunt, which if I’m not mistaken makes this instantly an 18-certificate rant) an old and once much-loved word for the most creative thing we know of – the source of every human’s lives, the place we emerged from after an extraordinarily complex process of in utero development?

What if, for a week, we simply turned this, quite literally, on its head? Just to feel it out. Here’s some words we could try out instead – for activities the head gets up to.

“Think you!” “Think off!”, “That was thinking appalling!”, or “thinking awesome!”

“What a total brain!” “You’re such a talker!” “Go analyse yourself!” “She’s been calculating again!”

“Complete earhole!”  “Stop heading around!” “Oh, philosophize!!” “Meditate this!”

“You head-dick!”

Now interestingly, when I started playing with this, my goody-two-shoes side started chastising me for this, saying “How could I make these things into swear-words? These activities are sacred, these parts of myself are to be honoured and respected!”

Which kind of proved the point of the exercise very nicely. Go let rip, child-dreamers.

Monday, May 27, 2013

March Against Monsanto Poem 25 May 2013

by Simric Yarrow

Nature is not a straight line from perfect pesticide to plastic plate
DNA is not a rancid relic awaiting reconstruction
Soil is more than dusty stuff needing to be cleansed
And our Big Mama Planet is no junkie lying back anticipating a
monstrous Monsanto fumble-fiddle fix
We are not separate from the ground our feet touch today
And so we have tuned our inner ears, and we hear that
beyond the dull-dry treble techno-beat of flashy fast-food farming with its exotic toxicity
Nature is actually a vast vibrant feat of complex holy engineering
Erupting in a constant fractal-feedback of volcano-juice and greenwood gifts
Guiding those who husband her with spiral-flows and season-signs
Trees that love hugs and songbirds that love bugs
Bugs that dance for balance in the fields between the cycles of life and death
knowing autumn’s fungus will lead to the buds of spring
knowing, when we support her with care, we will witness abundant harvests
arising before our eyes, even as we sing
our most perfect appreciation of natural inspiration and organic opulence
We are listening, we are choosing to lay down our agri-weapons for the sake of
our bodies and the body of the earth and
We call on the CEOs with grandchildren on the way to join us

Monday, May 13, 2013

Dancing for Change

Dance is change. Dancing involves the whole body in movement. Free dance allows the body to move as it would like to, not as our head might tell it to – it’s not a boot camp or a ballet class. Allowing the body to initiate the movement and the head to witness and be guided by that. Free dance is all about real freedom. Not just doing what the government and the priests tell you to do.

No wonder dancing was banned by various churches, and our collective psyches learned that dancing round a fire was the ultimate Halloween nightmare. And then what about music with a beat – like those wicked drum things? We are, collectively, slowly but surely waking up from this particular anti-dancing sleep. 

And guess what. In free dance, the body also heals itself. Older people who dance regularly are the only bunch of people whose chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease are dramatically lower than the controls. Better than anyone doing any sports or eating healthily or whatever else. Free dancing is – to quote my two favourite dance facilitators – Movement Medicine. And after attending Ya’Acov and Susannah Darling Khan’s latest 4-day Cape Town workshop, Dancing with the Heart of the World, I can add that dancing is the most incredible way I know of to create community. Beyond words, we all express ourselves in our uniqueness and yet are accepted on the free dance floor. And that’s not where community ends. In the dance we can imaginatively embody and connect with all the elements of life that we are made of – embodiment is the word for our time and yet dance, which is its most obvious and immediately available version, is still not taken as seriously as it should be. Perhaps because it’s too much fun. Because it shows off too much of our true natures.

In fact some people view it as downright frivolous. When Eve Ensler suggested we all dance against women abuse for One Billion Rising in February, many journalists (of both sexes) criticised the event, asking what good in the long term a dance would be against an entrenched culture of rape and domestic violence. Surely a dance is just a brief moment, and then the serious business must start again. The serious business, of course, in the eyes of the average journalist spending their day at a laptop in one fixed body position, is to do with writing and complaining and making statements and practical linguistic suggestions. Preferably over the third coffee of the day.

Well, my message to the opinion-makers and the politicians is come dance with me, come dance your soul out of your worried skins, then we’ll really talk seriously from the heart. Once you’ve seen that we’re just the same and different, once you’ve seen that I am full of hopes and fears and shame and joy and power and vulnerability and holiness and passion and madness and love and fury and magnificence and grief and bitterness and tenderness and pain and deep, deep humanity. Once you can acknowledge that we are mirrors. Once you have a real willingness to embrace the wonderful and crazy notion that the dance itself may actually be changing the whole quantum field around you in profoundly positive ways that no headline will capture. Then clever words and empty statements won’t be able to get in the way of our connection. There will be nowhere to run to. Are you brave enough? I truly trust that you are.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Keeping the Horn in Place

South Africa’s rhinos are in big trouble. Our local attention focuses, naturally enough, on catching and hopefully re-educating the local poachers who are abandoning any remnants of traditional respect for our big game (if there’s any left after centuries of being dislocated from their lands).

But the bigger problem, obviously, is the entirely modern creation of a market for rhino horn. One idea currently being punted is to create a legal mechanism for this market to exist, which ignores the fact that the existence of this market is a deeply sad phenomenon in the first place. Although there’s no evidence of its general prescription as an aphrodisiac (that’s a western media myth), perhaps there’s still something about its prestigious uprightness that has fuelled the idea of its (entirely spurious) medicinal properties. It kind of goes parallel with the fervour for shark fin soup in the same region, which is decimating shark numbers worldwide. Shark fin soup is no ancient delicacy: it’s a modern phenomenon, costing ridiculous 5-figure sums for a bowl, with no nutritional benefits whatsoever, but with the prestige knowledge that you’re eating a hard pointy thing that’s been cut in manly fashion from a dangerous predator, or so the story no doubt goes somewhere in the psyche. It’s worth noting that before this latest craze, the biggest market for rhino horn was the Yemen, where men found them a virile material for making dagger handles.

There is something horribly materialistic about this quest for exotic medicine, stuff that isn’t available to just anybody, stuff that shows you’re really making it in life. It’s obvious and tragic with rhino horns, because there’s a “superfood” that research shows really isn’t one. Luckily, the reverse tends to be true in the West – plants like chia seeds have been rescued from extinction by their new-found superfood status, helped by some much-punted scientific research that supports their food value. But both the spurious superfood rhino horns and the genuine superfoods like maca roots (which really are supposed to improve male libido) are the subject of crazes to find a new health fix.

One exasperated doctor friend told me that he wishes his lovely conscious New Age friends would consider some of the more obvious and better-researched pills out there rather than trying out the latest fad. Why is this? Are we just too burnt and bruised by the pharmaceutical industry’s punting of pills with lots of side-effects, covering up the more holistic causes of problems, so that we don’t trust them to sell us anything any more? Are we fed up with doctors who claim to have all the knowledge, and we want our health back in our hands (like we want to control everything else we can about our own lives)? Are we just too autonomous these days? And so, when we’re given a chance at fixing ourselves that doesn’t involve relying on the official experts, will the inner rebel in all of us take it before double-checking?

I think not. We’ll never be truly autonomous. Rhino horn, spurious medicine as it may appear to those who’ve been lucky enough to read the right documents, is still doled out by Experts. Traditional medicine doctors, trusted by their people, added to which come today’s marketing experts (illegal though they may be in the horn trade) and the push for a sale from the business people (black market or legit) behind them. Plus it no doubt works for some, since 30% of all cures are attributable to the placebo effect, i.e. pure belief in some external cure, coupled with the body’s innate healing ability.

Rhino horn use is perhaps just one example of people desperately wanting to find some stability in our chaotic personal lives without having to really feel into the consequences of their actions on the natural world we claim to be custodians of. It’s just one step away from the billions of us who eat battery-farmed chickens or feedlot cattle or, as we have recently “unexpectedly discovered”, donkeys. And at the root is, I would argue, a spiritual hunger which many misguidedly assume can be materially satisfied with such tonics. A hunger for connection that can only truly be satisfied if we recognise the connections that are there already, face up to the consequences of our individual actions on the world around us – and recognise our power to get informed and choose positive or negative connections with our world.

I don’t have a solution to the rhino tragedy, except for a strong feeling that legitimizing the trade is not it. But I do know that spreading the word, helping Asian consumers to avoid buying it, and educating Africans about how desperate the situation is, is part of the waking up we can take on around the rhino – and that this applies to many other areas of consumer choice, from Indonesian vegetable/palm oil to West African child labour chocolate. There is no longer any time to turn a blind eye to our supermarket trolley contents.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Down and Out! Out! Out! - Farewell Mrs T

Maggie Maggie Maggie… you know the rest, if you’re of a certain age and a Pom. “Consensus politics” was replaced by her own destructive brand of ideological convictions, which, in my youth, spread despair and hatred around Britain. For once, the hard right didn’t pose much of a threat to democracy: the government itself was right-wing enough to soak up that kind of thing. It was a different era; and my own white-haired forthright grandmother was deeply impressed by the Iron Lady that I and my friends hated. Here in South Africa, the wickedness of the government could continue to be bankrolled by British industry, just as it was by “liberal” English-speaking businessmen inside the country, led by large state-sponsored corporates like Anglo-American (what an interesting name for the leading South African minerals firm).

Do I want to dance on her grave, as so many young popsters of the 1980s did? Do I regret missing the impromptu party held for her death in Brixton, south London, my old stamping ground in my early 20s? No. Time brings with it a new understanding, a new respect for aspects of who she tried to be, in spite of her being, for me, in her day, the epitome of evil. She was the woman that was more patriarchal than the men and thus became the Supreme Leader. And she fought tooth and nail against feminism or any other open-minded doctrines. She is gone to dust. She played her part. That is all.

She represented a particular kind of hypocrisy too, which I saw portrayed on TV in South Africa when the Tories finally lost an election in 1997. The “Chairman of the British Conservatives in South Africa” sat at a terrace table, sipping a cocktail in the South African sunshine, and bemoaning the awful prospect of a “socialist” government in Britain. He wore, if memory serves correctly, a garish tie and sported a sunbed tan. You get the picture. Thatcher’s era was one that served up the spoilt, uneducated but newly monied classes of her Britain, the “businessmen” rather than the cautious and thoughtful, and spewed them out with their cash to many sunnier climes around the world. One such place was South Africa, which, back in the UK, we saw on our news screens on a daily basis as Casper armoured vehicles carried white policemen into the townships to instil order through violence and fear. A large number of Thatcher’s supporters ignored these pictures, took on her view that Mandela and the ANC were “terrorists,” and headed off to the promised land, one where, as Rian Malan pointed out many years ago, was one of the few where a simple handyman and plumber could afford to install a pool on his sizeable property (as long as he had the right colour skin). A strange kind of “equality for the ruthless,” Thatcher and the free market created.

I still long for a day when we do not focus at all on “major politicians”, as if they are somehow the single cause of our salvation or our destruction – a day when careful consensus is possible, we are all politicians in our own spheres, and the leading administrators of our countries are competent decision-makers but do not need to have the power to change millions of lives with one wrong move. And in a sense, perhaps that’s what’s happening. Obama has been on many levels desperately disappointing as a liberal President of the US, if you were expecting the man in that office to somehow “show up” for the world. What he actually represents is something else – that the presidency is becoming, symbolically, open to just about anyone; that the new Pope hails from Latin America is a similar example, whether he achieves anything or not in his moribund religion. They are figureheads who represent something incredible that is changing under the surface, whether they do anything amazing themselves or not. As Thatcher fades from memory, she will still be remembered as Britain’s first female Prime Minister, whatever the terrible compromises her soul underwent to achieve that position.

And for this reason I still look forward to the first elected black woman President of South Africa, or even further ahead to the first elected openly gay black President in Africa. While we still view these symbols of leadership as important in our collective consciousness, to see them reflecting the opening up of society to a broader, tolerant molarity is heart-warming, however half-witted those individuals themselves might be in office.

My grandmother Pat was an admirable woman, active and determined to the end of her life, socialist in her origins but attracted by the magnetism of having a “powerful woman” like Maggie in charge. Thatcher was certainly more inspiring for Pat than life with Paul, her freemason businessman second husband, but, though she ended up divorcing him, I know there was a quality Pat had never got from the collectivists and their libraries, that she found in Paul: a wish for everyone to have the chance at risking something, at putting themselves out there. It is that quality that I can now acknowledge as a positive aspect of our modern world that Thatcher also wanted to see, even if her quest for the “end of society” was deeply lacking in compassion. This modern quality, whereby we all have to risk, to recreate who we are, to find on an almost-daily basis a reason for why we’re here at the moment is still couched for too many people in deeply materialistic terms, as we are called on to market and sell ourselves to survive and thrive. But it is ultimately about something deeper – about the ability of each of us to be at the head of our own nation and religion, and the marriage of that to our economic potential. It could be exciting, if we choose to be brave enough to sell who we really are, warts and all, and in that recognise the deep value of our personal gifts to the world around us.