Journal 3 June 2013

The day is winding down, the sun setting soon. It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.

Dreamt I took out anger by knocking down the outer bricks of a strong wall, blow after blow after blow with the sides of my fists. It didn’t hurt. Not sure anything was different afterwards but it felt good, satisfying. In dreamland.

Got up at 0530 and sat. The mind unsettled, darting here and there. Fizzy. Like it’s over stimulated from yesterday’s event. Very soon, right wrist shaking, then intense shaking of head and the torso twisting left and right, faster faster to some kind of climax, then slowed right down. By the end of 45 mins, the mind was much quieter. Some fatigue by the end of it and I laid down a while, feeling the tired areas where the refreshment of sleep hadn’t touched.

Listened to a bit of music while getting ready for work, including the postman in the sand song, here turned into a surf video:

At work, the reorganisation of the vault continued, with the help of an ex student who was volunteering in the foundation this morning.

Lunch in the sun with a staff member who is leaving this summer, another yogi.

Then a walk. Bluebells fading out, their leaves flopped to the earth, superseded by the ancient and mighty ferns. Then when the view opened out, the yellow on yellow of rape in full flower, behind liquorice beech trees.

Why is ‘liquorice’ liquor and ice?

Surprise visit from C who popped in after dropping a birthday gift off for a friend. Some hugs and smiles before post lunch post walk napping.

Talking of smiles, a friend finished her video project. People of 37 countries, young and old, smiling. That’s it. As she puts it:

Everyone can be a small stepping stone towards a place of compassion and kindness

I’m at 4:21, in a bobble hat, palms together. Many friends are in it, including Doug looking outstandingly hippyish at 1:21. With a goat on his lap why not. I smiled throughout. It’s contagious.

Carrying On A Smile from Carrying On A Smile on Vimeo.

My laptop screen says ‘Godammit’ under the big ‘SMILE’ but don’t tell anyone.

In the evening: Iyangar Yoga class with Sandy Bell in Compton. It’s a really good class with about 10 of us, who have been stretching together for some years for the most part. Lots of arm, shoulder, wrist releases today, along with the usual forward bend emphasis, which is my tightest direction but I appreciate it. I touch places deep inside during Iyengar yoga. I call it yoga with no cheating. With alignment everything stretches in the way it should, safely yet extensively, and maybe you don’t get so far in the pose but it’s done right.

The drive on the way back from yoga is always special, totally there with the car, the road, the music. Today with the sun through the trees as I climbed from the Itchen up onto the open downs, taking the racing line through the bends.

There it is, the sun now set and I’m soon into bed.

Some practical things I’m going to start or continue in 2013

Sit quietly twice a day.

Walk thirty minutes each day.

No internet or TV after 2100 or before 0800.

Stand barefoot.

More audio, less visual media. Rest eyes.

Juice.

Books rather than internet.

Stretch daily.

Limit violent sources of entertainment and news.

Take a break every hour at work.

Chew thoroughly. Eat well.

Call my grandparents.

Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 7: Living In Freedom

Here is my last selection of quotes and extracts from Light on Life. In this final chapter, he’s writing about ethics, conceptions of God, truth, together with the full meaning of yoga.

The yogi is utterly disinterested but paradoxically full of being engagement of compassion. He is in the world but not of it.

Spiritual maturity exists when there is no difference between thought itself and the action that accompanies it. If there is a discrepancy between the two, then one is practising self-deception and projecting a false image of oneself.

Yogic knowledge is a centripetal force, for ever discarding the irrelevant in order to invest in search for the core of being where enduring truth resides.

Savasana is about relaxation, but what prevents relaxation? Tension. Tension results from clutching tightly to life–and in turn being held by the myriad invisible threads that ties us to the known world, the known ‘I’, and the known environment in which it operates.

To relax is to cut tension. To cut tension is to cut the threads that bind us to identity. To lose identity is to find out who we are not. Intelligence is the scalpel that cuts away the unreal to leave only the truth. As you are lying on the earth in savasana, do you not when the posture is harmonious and balanced, feel both present and formless? When you feel present yet formless, do you not feel an absence of specific identity? You are there, but who’s there? No one. Only present awareness without movement and time is there. Present awareness is the disappearance of time in human consciousness.

If you try to imagine time without using spatial concepts you will find it extremely difficult.

As a length of time, the present simply does not exist. How then can we live in the present? It is a paradoxical impossibility.

Dharma is about the search for enduring ethical principles, about the cultivation of right behaviour in physical, moral, mental, psychological, and spiritual dimensions.

The earliest Latin root of the word ‘religion’ means to be aware, and absolute awareness will never perceive difference or conflict.

The yogi cannot be afraid to die, because he has brought life to every cell of his body. We are afraid to die because we are afraid we have not lived.

One’s spiritual growth is only ever demonstrated by one’s actions in the world.

Ethics is the glue that binds earth to heaven. One cannot serve two masters. The only way human beings can reconcile the paradox of the demands of earth and soul is through the observation of ethical principles.

Cheats always lose. They are unmasked because they are transparently dishonest, deceive themselves, and fail in their human duty.

Action mirrors man’s personality better than his words.

It is better not to believe in God and act as though he existed, than to believe in God and act as if he did not exist.

Normally when we question anyone about whether he believes in God or not, we reduce God to a material thing. We reduce him to the level of matter, to something that can be believed in. Therefore it becomes a matter of belief. As the universe, which is beyond the reach of our consciousness, is unknown to us, so the entity that is God, which is beyond the reach of our consciousness, is unknown to us.

As has one increasingly feels the existence and pull of the divine, one’s actions more easily align with the ethical impulse of the absolute.

Spirituality is not playacting at being holy but the inner passion and urge for self realisation and the need to find the ultimate purpose of our existence.

Truth is an absolute of staggering power.

As yoga practice develops and the afflictions and obstacles to yoga interfere with us less, we begin to have some inkling of the glory of truth.

We should not use truth as a club with which to beat other people. Morality is not about looking at other people and finding them inferior to ourselves. Truth has got to be tempered with social grace.

Love is an investment, lust is a waste.

Ego is on an elastic and will always pull you back. Only the practice of meditation will eventually erode the attraction between ego and self-identity.

Surrender to God is not surrender to what you think God wants. It is not surrender to your conception of the will of God. It is not God giving you instructions. As long as ego persists, your interpretation of God’s wishes will be fragmented by the distorting prism of ego.

The ultimate reach of yoga is the total transformation of consciousness that pervades our whole being with awareness and that knows no frontiers.

My body and mind are the servers and followers of the soul. The unity of these three gives me the right to call myself a yogi.

The complexity of the life of the mind comes to an end at death, with all its sadness and happiness. If one is already free from that complexity, death comes naturally and smoothly.

Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 6: Bliss – The Divine Body – Part 2

This full-on section relates to samadhi. Here are some extracts I selected from this second half of the sixth chapter:

From cosmic intelligence sprouts cosmic energy and consciousness, and from these devolves ego or the sense of self.  From the one root comes duality (which is the ability to separate), from duality comes vibration (which is the pulse of life beginning), from vibration comes invisible manifestation, and from the invisible comes the visible in all its glorious and horrendous diversity and multiplicity. This end product is what we take the world to be–our playground, our paradise, or our hell and our prison. If we misapprehend nature, take it at face value, through ignorance, then it is our prison.

Yoga examines in order to know, like science, but it wants to know in order to penetrate, to integrate, and to reconstruct through practice and detachment the perfection of nature’s original intention. In other words, it wants to reach the root and cut out the intervening turbulence. It does not want to be hoodwinked by nature’s appearance, but to adhere to its original motivation.

So many people approach spiritual growth as if it were a lottery. They hope that some new book or new method, some new insight or teacher will be the lottery ticket that allows them to experience enlightenment. Yoga says no, the knowledge and the effort are all within you. It is as simple and as difficult as learning to discipline our own minds and hearts, our bodies and breath.

When we are in the suspension of breath in the deepest meditation – a spontaneous, as it were, God-willed retention – we enter the black hole, the vortex of nothingness, the void. Yet somehow we survive. The curtain of time, time that inexorably brings death, is parted. This is a state of nonbeing, but a living nonbeing. It is a present devoid of past or future. There is no self, no meditator, no longer even any breather. What comes out of that black hole, that nothingness? Information. What is the information? The truth. What is the truth? Samadhi.

For the beginner, samadhi is an alluring subject. But there are reasons not to get fixated on it. The beginner can only conceive of samadhi as a glorification of the self he knows.

It is said that the meaning of life becomes apparent only in the face of death. At this point in practice the ego dissolves, or rather it gives up its impersonation of the true self.

In meditation, consciousness faces the soul itself. Samadhi is seeing soul face to face. It is not a passive state. It is a dynamic one in which the consciousness remains in a state of equilibria in all circumstances. The disturbances of the mind and emotions fade away, and we are able to see true reality.

After significant effort, a yoga practitioner reaches a state where some are some asana poses are effortless. What we achieve here externally is achieved through samadhi internally. It is an effortless state, where one experiences the grace of the self. This is a state of great bliss and fulfilment.

If anybody says, “I am teaching meditation,” then as a student of yoga I say, “It is rubbish,” because meditation cannot be taught it can only be experienced.

Sabija means ‘with seed’. What this means is that although the experience of bliss is felt, the seeds of desire remain in the ego as future potential. Even after the experience of samadhi, these seeds can sprout again and cause a relapse. The ego has not been entirely purified by the fire of the experience. This particular point on the yogic journey, although so elevated, is one of danger as it can become a wasteland in which the practitioner gets stuck. This state is called manolaya, which means an alert, passive state of mind. But in this context, it implies a complacency with what has been achieved and a tendency to slacken efforts to complete the final step of the journey. The yogi cannot rest on his laurels but must press on to the higher states of samadhi in which even the seeds of desire are burnt out from the ego forever and can never sprout or trouble him again. This is known as nirbija samadhi (seedless) in which the feeling of bliss is not dependent at all, even on a vestigial eager. This is the bliss of the absolute void, of nonbeing transformed into the light of being.

I can assure you that everyone seeks samadhi, and most of us seek shortcuts to get there.

People seek somebody through drugs, alcohol, the danger of extreme sports, the romanticism of music, the beauty of nature, and the passion of sexuality. There are 1000 ways and they all involve the transcendence of the suffering ego in a blissful fusion with an entity much greater than ourselves.

Change leads to disappointment if it is not sustained. Transformation is sustained change, and it is achieved through practice.

Dreams of the divine union, however high their aspirations, contain an element of fantasy. They may not be sustainable. We must have spiritual aspiration not spiritual pretension.

Yoga is solid. It is the path I know, the path I trod, the path I teach. Everyone desires relief from both the restrictions of personality and its impermanence. Everyone desires samadhi. From the dawn of his history, man has sought dangerous, shoddy shortcuts as well as noble ones. Called the hard, sustained progress of yoga a long cut if you will, but if it is a long cut, then so is the flight of an arrow.

 

 

Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 6: Bliss – The Divine Body – Part 1

Selected extracts from the first half of the sixth chapter:

Let us therefore sift through everything, says yoga, every component of a human being that we can find and identify–our bodies, breath, energy, sickness and health, brain and anger, and pride in our power and possessions. Above all, yoga says, let us examine this mysterious “I”, ever present and conscious of itself, but invisible in the mirror or on any photograph.

What yoga means by ignorance can perhaps be best translated as nescience, which simply means not knowing. So to Hindus, the archenemy is a state of not knowing. What don’t we know when we are ignorant?  The answer is this: you don’t know what is real and what is not real. You don’t know what is enduring and what is perishable. You don’t know who you are and who you are not. Your  whole world is upside down because you take the artefacts in your living room to be more real than the unity that connects us all, more real than the relations and obligations that unite us all.  Perceiving the links and associations that bind the cosmos in a seamless whole is the object of yoga’s journey of discovery.

We are not required simply to adjust our vision, but to turn it inside out as well as outside in, a complete reversal. It means that ultimate truth is inconceivable in normal consciousness.

Only a life built on spiritual values (dharma) is based firmly in truth and will stand up to the shocks of life.

It is this the egoic “me” that does not want to die. This impersonation of soul by ego is at the base of all human woes, and this is the root of avidya (ignorance).

No lovers, servants, riches, cars, houses, or public acclaim can salve the wound of a dysfunctional relationship with our origin. Know your father, said Lord Jesus. By this statement he was directly addressing the problem of not knowing (avidya).

We all know the phrase concerning death: you can’t take it with you. This is true. I cannot take my ego beyond the grave, and I certainly can’t take my car, my land, or my bank account.

There is nothing wrong with shedding tears for ones we love, but we must know for whom they are shared–for the loss of those who remain and not for those who have departed.

We conclude that we must perpetuate ego at all costs, through dynasties, fame, great buildings, and all immortality projects aimed at cheating the grim reaper. What rubbish, says yoga.

Look for the light. Ego is not the source of light. Consciousness transmits the divine light of origin, of the soul. But it is like the moon; it reflects the light of the sun. It has no light of its own. Find the sun, says yoga, discover the soul. That is what Hatha Yoga means.

Discover what does not die, and the illusion of death is unmasked. That is the conquest of death.

We have to keep on questioning ourselves, or else transformation will not take place. Advance with faith, yes, but always call yourself into question. Where there is pride there is always ignorance.

Inside the microcosm of the individual exists the macrocosm of the universe.

The eyes are the window of the brain, the years are the window of the soul. This is contrary to popular wisdom, but when the senses are withdrawn (pratyahara) this is the true experience.

When we can play with the elements within our own bodies, with their own renewal and disproportion and rebalancing, then we are aware of nature at a level that is not apprehend double in the normal way it is supranatural, as normal consciousness is blind to it.

Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 5: Wisdom – The Intellectual Body – Part 2

Selected extracts from the second half of the fifth chapter:

This is not yoga by the body for the body, but yoga by the body for the mind, for the intelligence.

The intelligence we are now developing depends upon emotional and moral maturity, the ability to value truth and respect ethical conduct, the capacity to feel love in its more universal sense as compassion.

The role of awareness is to fill the gaps that inevitably exist between the physical and organic sheaths of our bodies when we practice yoga.

The power we generate through yoga practice must become a coherent and indissoluble whole.

Energy and awareness act as friends. Where one goes, the other follows. It is by the will of awareness to penetrate that intelligence, is able to move into and occupy the darkest inner recesses of our being.

We say intelligence has insight. We should complement that by saying that soul has ‘outsight’;  it is a beacon shining out.

Considerable achievements also bring in their wake considerable dangers. An obvious one is pride–not satisfaction in a job well done, but a sense of superiority and difference, of distinction and eminence.

Yoga is an interior penetration leading to integration of being, senses, breath, mind, intelligence, consciousness, and Self. It is definitely an inward journey, evolution through involution, towards the Soul, which in turn desires to emerge and embrace you in its glory.

The pursuit of pleasure through appearances, which I connect here to superficiality of intent, is quite simply the wrong way to go about things. To pursue pleasure is to pursue pain in equal measure. When appearance is more important to us than content we can be sure we have taken the wrong turning.

High intelligence brings the gift of power, and we all know that power corrupts. When intelligence is corrupted it brings woe upon ourselves and upon the world.

If we live outwardly virtuous lives, it is easy to convince ourselves that there is nothing else wrong with us. Often this is the besetting sin of the puritan or religious fanatic. We often both suppress the truth and suggest the false. Ego aids and abets all flaws of intelligence.

Conscience hurts, it causes us pain. We say we are pricked by conscience. … That is because it lies of the paradox of what it means to be a spiritual being living in a physical body in a material world.

Paying attention in yogic terms is not concentration. True concentration is an unbroken thread of awareness.

In a perfect asana, performed meditatively and with a sustained current of concentration, the self assumes its perfect form, its integrity being beyond reproach. This is asana performed at the sattvic level, where luminosity infuses the whole pose.

I am practising asana but at a level where the quality is meditative. The totality of being, from core to skin, is experienced. Mind is unruffled, intelligence is awake in heart rather than in head, self is quiescent, and conscious life is in every cell of the body. That is what I mean when I say asana opens up the whole spectrum of yoga’s possibilities.

I have often said that yoga is meditation,  and meditation is yoga. Meditation is the stilling of the movements of consciousness. It is bringing the turbulent sea to a state of flat calm. This calm is not torpid or inert. It is a deep tranquillity, pregnant with all the potential of creation.

The yogi is journeying from the world of things and events, which are so joyful, painful, baffling, and unending, back to the point of stillness before the waves were ruffled.

Do not confuse aloneness with loneliness. Loneliness is separation from the cosmos. Aloneness is to become the common denominator of the cosmic all.

Is this the end? Are we there yet? No. There remains the ego, the self, the known self, the impersonator of the soul. He is the last actor to leave the stage. He lingers even for the very final handclap of applause. What forces him off the stage? Silence and retention of the breath.

Just as the cessation of the movement of thought brings purity to intelligence, so a motiveless retention effaces ego. What the practitioner eventually experiences is not that at some point he suspends the breath. He is no longer the subject, the agent. The breath breathes him. What this means is that at the highest level of meditation the cosmos breathes you.

The unpremeditated retention of breath after exhalation opens the gap in the curtain of time. No past, no future, no sense of passing present. Only presence.

The end of duality that comes from meditation is the end of separation and the end of all conflict. The yogi stands one and alone.

Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 5: Wisdom – The Intellectual Body – Part 1

Selected extracts from the first half of the fifth chapter:

Our individual intelligence, though an essential rudder to guide us, is merely a puny offshoot of cosmic intelligence, which is the organising system of the universe. This intelligence is everywhere and like air we constantly bathe in it and imbibe it.

Intelligence is the operating system of cosmic awareness.

You can force a piano up three flights of stairs but you cannot force the febrile human mind to be still. All you can do is train it to be vigilant toward all that disturbs its equilibrium.

Memory for past, imagination for future. Squashed between the two,  we lose the ability to use direct perception on what really is–i.e. now, the present.

‘If it feels good, do it’  is not a maxim to be trusted in the long run. All philosophies recognise that a pleasure seeker will end up as a pain finder. The ancient Greeks said that moderation was the greatest virtue.

When awareness is linked to intelligence we are able to see with absolute honesty. When brain and body are moving in harmony there is integrity.

A cleansed memory is one that does not contain undigested emotions from the unconscious but that deals with feelings in the present as they arise.

If one feels heavy and dull after sleep then that sleep has been tamasic. Disturbed, agitated sleep is rajasic.  Sleep that brings lightness, brightness, and freshness is sattvic.

Peaceful deep sleep, experienced while alert and awake, is samadhi. When the mind is controlled and still, what remains is the soul.  The absence of ego in the state of sleep is akin to samadhi,  but it is dull and without awareness. Samadhi  is the  egolessness of sleep combined with the vibrancy of intelligence.

If we feed our minds on violent images, thoughts, and words, our unconscious will regurgitate them in disturbed dreams. Just as right imagination opens the creative mind, right sleep exhilarates the mind and brings alertness.

Often as students do savasana  or attempt meditation they drift into an agreeable torpor, as if they were swaddled in cotton wool. This is not the prelude to samadhi but to sleep.

Good sleep makes consciousness brilliant. Poor sleep leaves it tarnished.

We say,  “If only I’d known then what I know now.” But what we know now does not seem to stop this from making more mistakes. The yogic blueprint says that right knowledge and erroneous knowledge are two modifications, or states, of consciousness. By the practice of yoga we can lessen and eradicate misperception and wrong knowledge and again accurate perception and right knowledge.

An opinion is yesterday’s right or wrong knowledge warmed up and re-served  for today’s situation. So opinions are rooted in the past and our examination of memory has shown us that the past can be a minefield.

When what is wrong is discarded what is left must be correct. As intelligence expands in consciousness then ego and mind contract to their proper proportions. They no longer rule the roost but serve intelligence.

We are seeking to cultivate wisdom, to transform mental dexterity or cleverness, which all people possess in some degree, into the penetrating clear light of wisdom.

Every hour you work over 40 hours a week is making you less effective and productive over both the short and the long haul

If the boss asks you to work 50 hours, you work 55. If she asks for 60, you give up weeknights and Saturdays, and work 65. Odds are that you’ve been doing this for months, if not years, probably at the expense of your family life, your exercise routine, your diet, your stress levels and your sanity. You’re burned out, tired, achy and utterly forgotten by your spouse, kids and dog. But you push on anyway, because everybody knows that working crazy hours is what it takes to prove that you’re “passionate” and “productive” and “a team player” — the kind of person who might just have a chance to survive the next round of layoffs.

This is what work looks like now. It’s been this way for so long that most American workers don’t realize that for most of the 20th century, the broad consensus among American business leaders was that working people more than 40 hours a week was stupid, wasteful, dangerous and expensive — and the most telling sign of dangerously incompetent management to boot.

It’s a heresy now (good luck convincing your boss of what I’m about to say), but every hour you work over 40 hours a week is making you less effective and productive over both the short and the long haul. And it may sound weird, but it’s true: the single easiest, fastest thing your company can do to boost its output and profits — starting right now, today — is to get everybody off the 55-hour-a-week treadmill, and back onto a 40-hour footing.

Yes, this flies in the face of everything modern management thinks it knows about work. So we need to understand more. How did we get to the 40-hour week in the first place? How did we lose it? And are there compelling bottom-line business reasons that we should bring it back?

The most essential thing to know about the 40-hour work-week is that, while it was the unions that pushed it, business leaders ultimately went along with it because their own data convinced them this was a solid, hard-nosed business decision.

By the eighth hour of the day, people’s best work is usually already behind them (typically turned in between hours 2 and 6). In Hour 9, as fatigue sets in, they’re only going to deliver a fraction of their usual capacity. And with every extra hour beyond that, the workers’ productivity level continues to drop, until at around 10 or 12 hours they hit full exhaustion.

Without adequate rest, recreation, nutrition and time off to just be, people get dull and stupid. They can’t focus. They spend more time answering e-mail and goofing off than they do working. They make mistakes that they’d never make if they were rested; and fixing those mistakes takes longer because they’re fried. Robinson writes that he’s seen overworked software teams descend into a negative-progress mode, where they are actually losing ground week over week because they’re so mentally exhausted that they’re making more errors than they can fix.

The Business Roundtable study found that after just eight 60-hour weeks, the fall-off in productivity is so marked that the average team would have actually gotten just as much done and been better off if they’d just stuck to a 40-hour week all along. And at 70- or 80-hour weeks, the fall-off happens even faster: at 80 hours, the break-even point is reached in just three weeks.

So, to summarize: Adding more hours to the workday does not correlate one-to-one with higher productivity. Working overtime is unsustainable in anything but the very short term. And working a lot of overtime creates a level of burnout that sets in far sooner, is far more acute, and requires much more to fix than most bosses or workers think it does. The research proves that anything more than a very few weeks of this does more harm than good.

Knowledge workers actually have fewer good hours in a day than manual laborers do — on average, about six hours, as opposed to eight. It sounds strange, but if you’re a knowledge worker, the truth of this may become clear if you think about your own typical work day. Odds are good that you probably turn out five or six good, productive hours of hard mental work; and then spend the other two or three hours on the job in meetings, answering e-mail, making phone calls and so on. You can stay longer if your boss asks; but after six hours, all he’s really got left is a butt in a chair. Your brain has already clocked out and gone home.

The other thing about knowledge workers is that they’re exquisitely sensitive to even minor sleep loss. Research by the US military has shown that losing just one hour of sleep per night for a week will cause a level of cognitive degradation equivalent to a .10 blood alcohol level. Worse: most people who’ve fallen into this state typically have no idea of just how impaired they are. It’s only when you look at the dramatically lower quality of their output that it shows up. Robinson writes: “If they came to work that drunk, we’d fire them — we’d rightly see them as a manifest risk to our enterprise, our data, our capital equipment, us and themselves. But we don’t think twice about making an equivalent level of sleep deprivation a condition of continued employment.”

For employees, the fundamental realization is that an employer who asks for more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week is stealing something vital and precious from you. Every extra hour at work is going to cost you, big time, in some other critical area of your life. How will you make up the lost time? Will you ditch dinner and grab some fast food? Skip the workout? Miss the kids’ game this week? Sleep less? (Sex? What’s that?) And how many consecutive days can you keep making that trade-off before you are weakened in some permanent and substantial way? (Probably not as many as you think.) Changing this situation starts with the knowledge that an hour of overtime is a very real, material taking from our long-term well-being — and salaried workers aren’t even compensated for it.

There are now whole industries and entire branches of medicine devoted to handling workplace stress, but the bottom line is that people who have enough time to eat, sleep, play a little, exercise and maintain their relationships don’t have much need of their help. The original short-work movement in 19th-century Britain demanded “eight for work, eight for sleep and eight for what we will.” It’s still a formula that works.

Working long days and weeks has been incontrovertibly proven to be the stupidest, most expensive way there is to get work done. Our bosses are depleting resources from of the human capital pool without replenishing them. They are taking time, energy and resources that rightfully belong to us, and are part of our national common wealth.

If we’re going to talk about creating a more sustainable world, let’s start by talking about how to live low-stress, balanced work lives that leave us refreshed, strong and able to carry on as economic contributors for a full four or five decades, instead of burned out and broken by a too-early middle age. A full, productive 40-year career starts with full, productive 40-hour weeks. And nobody should be able to take that away from us, not even for the sake of a paycheck.

Source

Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 4: Clarity – The Mental Body (Manas)

Quotations I’ve selected from the forth chapter of Iyengar’s Light on Life.

You cannot hope to experience inner peace or freedom without understanding the workings of your mind and of human consciousness in general.

With right perception and understanding of our minds the door opens to our liberation, as we go through the veil of illusion into the bright day of clarity and wisdom. The study of mind and consciousness therefore lies at the heart of yoga.

Yoga points out how we generally react to the outside world by forming entrenched patterns of behaviour that doom us to relive the same events endlessly in a superficial variety of forms and combinations.

The historical change from killing with stone clubs, to swords, to guns, to nuclear weapons is clearly no change at all, and it’s certainly not evolution.

What we call consumer choice is not choice at all but selection. It offers only an illusion of freedom.

Lao Tzu: “Know yourself. Know what is good. Know when to stop.”

A bowl of rice is good. A full belly is desirable. But should it be full all day? Do we really want “more is better” to be the epitaph of the human race?

Every time we say the word “I” we feel something hard and monolithic inside us, like a great stone idol. … Whatever the shape of our “I”, however defenceless and permeable we allow ourselves to become, a separation between self and other continues in normal consciousness.

Overweening pride is the symptom of the diseased self.

Ego has been compared to the filament in a bulb, which, because it glows with light, proclaims itself to be the light’s source.

The soul is a separate entity and should not be confused with with any form of “I” consciousness.

The soul is democratic; if in us then equally in others. It is not personal; if anything it is we who belong to it.

From our ignorant identification with our ego and its morality arises man’s creativity and his destructiveness, the glory of culture, the horror of his history.

Consumerism is an ineffective and temporary balm against mortality.

The egoic self is an exhausting companion, forever demanding that his caprices be pandered to, that his whims be obeyed (though he is never satisfied), and his fears be calmed (though they never can be).

Intelligence does not chat. It is the quiet, determined, clear-eyed revolutionary of our consciousness.

The ego is comfortable rearranging the same old furniture in the same old room and standing back and saying, “Doesn’t it look different?” Does it? Yes. Is it? No.

Freedom is the innermost desire of all our hearts.

Yoga has the ability to take us further, to an unconditioned freedom, because yoga sees even good habits as a form of conditioning or limitation.

Direct action stems from direct perception, the ability to see reality in the present, as it is, without prejudice, and act accordingly.

The yogic action is an action that is absolutely unfettered by past habit and without desire for personal reward in the future. It is the right thing in this present moment just because it it right and is colourless or taint-free.

The yogi knows that pleasure leads to pain and pain to pleasure in and endless cycle.

Our consciousness increasingly becomes what we feed it.

When breath is calmed and attention focused on its inward movement then consciousness is no longer jerked by outer stimuli.

Time heals. It does but only if we allow it to.

While mind reacts to memory, intelligence interrogates memory. … Memory consulted by intelligence gives completely different answers to memory consulted by mind.

When intelligence is awakened in the cells then instinct is transformed into intuition and the past loses its deterministic grip on us, as our inner intelligence tells us what the future requires.

Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 3: Vitality – The Energy Body (Part 2)

Selected extracts and quotations I’ve chosen from the third chapter (Part 2):

 

The destructive nature of hatred is everywhere evidenced in intolerance, violence and war. But it also exists in our own lives when we wish others ill or envy what they have.

The fewer our demands on life, the greater our ability to see its bounty.

Knowledge of yoga is no substitute for practice.

Jealousy, envy and resentment impoverish the person who feels them, not just morally but energetically. They literally shrink you.

It is exhausting to spend one’s time disapproving of others. It causes the ego to form a hard shell of false pride and certainly has no reforming effect.

It is a modern illusion to imagine that positive emotions, sympathy, pity, kindness, and a general but diffused goodwill are the equivalent of virtues. These ‘soft’ emotions can serve as a form of narcissistic self-indulgence.

All illness fragments and so whatever integrates also heals.

Age may diminish our capacity for vicious action but not for vicious thought or intention. Wars may be fought by young men but they are started by old ones.

The practice of asana clears the inner channels for prana to move freely and uninterruptedly. If the nerves are corroded and blocked with stress, how can prana circulate? Asana and pranayama removes the partition that segregates body and mind.

If there is anxiety in the body the brain contracts. When the brain relaxes and empties itself it lets go of its fears and desires. It dwells neither on the past nor the future but inhabits the present.

Why worry about it? Death is certain. Let it comes when it comes.

Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 3: Vitality – The Energy Body

Selected extracts from the third chapter (Part 1)

Prana is the energy permeating the universe at all levels. It is physical, mental, intellectual, sexual, spiritual, and cosmic energy.

Prana is special because it carries awareness. It is the vehicle of consciousness.

There is a conduit available directly to cosmic consciousness and intelligence.

By lifting and separating the thirty-three articulations of the vertebral column, and opening the ribs from the spine like tiger’s claws, we deepen and lengthen the breath.

By learning to appreciate breath we learn to appreciate life itself. The gift of breath is the gift of life.

Pranayama is the beginning of withdrawal from the external engagement of the mind and senses. That is why it brings peacefulness.

Introversion in its positive sense, not shying away from the world out of feelings of inadequacy but a desire to explore your inner world. The breath, working in the sheath of the physical body, serves as a bridge between body and mind.

Breath builds up the tremendous power needed to face the infinite light when grace dawns.

Because of this fast life we are neglecting the body and the mind. The body and mind are beginning to pull each other in opposite directions, dissipating our energy.

Life is of itself stressful. People go to the cinema to relax. But even watching the picture is stressful. In sleep there is also stress.

Our aim is to be able to deal with stress as and when it arises, and not to imprint and accumulate it in the body’s systems, including both conscious and unconscious memory.

The main causes of negative stress are anger, fear, speed, greed, unhealthy ambition, and competition, which produce a deleterious effect on the body.

The practice of asana and pranayama not only de-stress you but energise and invigorate the nerves and the mind in order to handle the stress that comes from the caprices of life.

While yoga may begin with the cult of the body, it leads towards the cultivation of our consciousness.

Stress must be dealt with before one can truly meditate.

When you are emotionally disturbed, insecurity and anxiety from the conscious mind is converted into the unconscious mind.

We seek freedom but cling to bondage.

The pranayama kosa, the energetic sheath, is not only where we work with breath but also where we work with our emotions.

Most Westerners try to solve their emotional problems through intellectual understanding.

We carry around within the recollection of mind our rancour, resentments, hates, greed, and lust, even when the motivating stimulus is absent.

Look at your dog. When you leave him he is sad; his heart is on the ground. When you come home, is there resentment? No, he is overjoyed to see you. Are you closer to reality  or is your dog?

The ‘di’ root in Sanskrit is the same as ‘division’ and ‘devil’ in English.

The ego seeks power because it seeks self-perpetuation; it seeks at all costs to avoid its own inevitable demise. To achieve that impossible end, it devises a thousand ruses. … Lust is self-validation through consumption.

Russell Brand and Daniel Pinchbeck have a chat under a neon fish in front a pagan altar

In this video, Russell and Daniel talk about consciousness, media, conditioning, drugs, physics, capitalism. Some quotes:

RB: “People have been – beyond trained – coded to not anticipate change, to think that change is implausible, like we’ve had revolution bred out of us.”

RB: “How do we alter the consciousness, the fundamental unifying field? How do we influence change on that level to alter the world?”

DP: “A lot of people who were addicts are people with a strong, innate need to experience non-linear states of consciousness.”

RB: “Consciousness does affect matter. Meditation can affect crime rates.”

“Q: What comes after time?

RB: … We don’t need to know. … We need to align our consciousness with the fundamental frequency from which all life comes and to generate love and unity between us.

Q: But I want to understand.

RB: Then feed and clothe the poor”

DP: “Most people are trapped in only one form of consciousness.”

DP: Capitalism requires more and more things to being turned into money and profit but this has now reached an absurd limit, so the capital system is breaking down. Capitalism is an immature system.”

RB: “The entertainment industry keeps us spellbound, as passive consumers, to negate and castrate our civic duties, to keep us as citizens who don’t participate in our culture but are just independent cells of consumption glutting on life like larve, until we pop.”

RB: “Advertising could be used, instead of telling you if you drink Coke you will feel sexy, telling people that if you meditate you will feel connected to your ultimate destiny as a spiritual being that is only distinguished from the earth by subjectivity incessantly imposed.”

The video includes a very funny segment of Russell crossing Tower Bridge on acid: “There Be Dragons!” Good to see such a mainstream figure involved in these subjects and questions. I hope with the divorce and his further disillusion with ‘fame for the sake of it’ and focussing on comedy roles, he is able to explore and communicate further along these lines.

I couldn’t embed the video on WordPress but here is the link

Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 2: Stability – Part 2

Chapter 2: Stability – The Physical Body (Asana) – Part 2:

Here are some more extracts and quotes I found valuable in the second part of this chapter:

The mind does not balance when you force.

After reaching the final pose, one has to learn to let go of the effort and tautness of the muscles and shift the load onto the ligaments and joints so that they hold the asana steadily without even the breath causing the body to waver.

Focus on relaxing as you hold the stretch, not clenching, but relaxing and opening. This relaxes the brain as well as the body.

Notice your eyes as well, as you hold the stretch. Tenseness of the eyes also affects the brain. If the eyes are still and silent, the brain is still and passive. The brain can learn only when it begins to relax.

If the asana is done with continual reference to the back of the brain there is a reaction to each action and there is sensitivity. Then life is not only dynamic but is also electrified with life force.

One who knows the art of relaxation also knows also knows the art of meditation.

When an asana is done correctly the body movements are smooth and there is lightness in the body and freedom in the mind. When an asana is felt as heavy it is wrong.

Think of yourself as graceful and expanding however unlikely it may seem at the time.

When we lose this lightness our bodies shrink. The moment the body shrinks the brain becomes heavy and dull, and you see nothing. The doors of perception are closed.

We are seeking the balance of polarity not the antagonism of duality.

When performing asanas no part of the body should be idle, no part should be neglected.

Illustration: Tadasana (Mountain Pose) from Yoga Wisdom and Practice by BKS Iyengar

When the intellect is stable, there is no past, no future, only present.  Do not live in the future; only the present is real.

In asana, we find balance and integration in the three dimensions of space, but we also find balance and integration in the fourth dimension of time.

Many people focus on the past or the future to avoid experiencing the present, often because the present is painful or difficult to endure. In a yoga class, many students think they must simply grit their teeth and bear it until the teacher tells them they can come out of the asana. This is seeing yoga as calisthenics and is the wrong attitude.

It is not that yoga is causing all of this pain; the pain is already there. It is hidden. We just live with it or have learned not to be aware of it.

The goal is to do the asana with as much possible intensity of intelligence and love. To do this, one must learn the difference between “right” pain and “wrong” pain. Right pain is not only constructive but also exhilarating and involves challenge, while wrong pain is destructive and causes excruciating suffering.

If the practice of today damages the practice of tomorrow it is not correct practice.

When we extend and expand our body consciousness beyond its present limitations we are working on the frontier of the known toward the unknown by an intelligent expansion of our awareness.

When everything else is stripped away the essential is revealed.

The test of a philosophy is whether it is applicable now in how you live your life.

An asana is not a posture that can ever be assumed mechanically.

Practitioners of the asanas alone often forget that yoga is for cultivating the head and the heart.

You must purge yourself before finding faults in others. When you see a mistake in someone else try to find if you are making the same mistake.

In asana and pranayama practice we should have the impression we are working on the outer to get closer to the inner reality of our existence.

There is no such thing as a doorway that you can only go through one way. Yes, we are trying to penetrate in, but what is trying to come out to meet us?

The body is the bow, asana the arrow, and soul is the target.

How can you do asana with your soul? We can only do it with the organ of the body that is closest to the soul – the heart.

Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 2: Stability – Part 1

Extracts from Chapter 2: Stability – The Physical Body (Asana)

It’s a long chapter, so this is Part 1:

Yoga is as old and traditional as civilization, yet it persists in modern society as a means to achieving essential vitality. But yoga demands that we develop not only strength in body but attention and awareness in mind.

Yoga offers us techniques to become aware, to expand and penetrate, and to change and evolve.

As you explore your own body you are in fact exploring the earth element of nature itself.

[One] must do asana not merely as a physical exercise but as a means to understand and then integrate our body with breath, with our mind, with our intelligence, with our consciousness, with our conscience, and with our core.

Yoga has a threefold impact on health. It keeps healthy people healthy, it inhibits the development of diseases, and it aids recovery from ill health.

You have to create within yourself the experience of beauty, liberation, and infinity. This is health.

As long as the body is not in perfect health, you are caught in body consciousness alone. This distracts you from healing and culturing the mind. We need sound bodies so we can develop sound minds.

Sensitivity is not weakness or vulnerability. It is clarity of perception and allows judicious, precise action.

The effects of impurity are highly undesirable. They cause us to develop a hard shell around us. If we construct a stiff shell between ourselves and the world outside our skin, we rob ourselves of most of life’s possibilities. We are cut off from the free flow of cosmic energy. It becomes difficult in every sense to let nourishment in or to let toxic waste out. We live in a capsule, what a poet called a “vain citadel.”

Central heating, air conditioning, cars that we take out to drive three hundred yards, towns that stay lit up all night, and food imported from around the world out of season are all examples of how we try to circumvent our duty to adapt to nature and instead force nature to adapt to us. In the process, we become both weak and brittle. Even many of my Indian students who all now sit on chairs in their homes are becoming too stiff to sit in lotus position easily.

Does not the American Declaration of Independence talk of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? If a yogi had written that, he would have said Life, Happiness, and the Pursuit of Liberty.

If you say you are your body, you are wrong. If you say you are not your body, you are also wrong.

How does one find such profound transformation in what from the outside may look simply like stretching or twisting the body into unusual positions? It begins with awareness.

The sensitive awareness of the body and the intelligence of the brain and heart should be in harmony. The brain may instruct the body to do a posture, but the heart has to feel it, too. The head is the seat of intelligence; the heart is the seat of emotion. Both have to work in cooperation with the body.

The duty of the brain is to receive knowledge from the body and then guide the body to further refine the action. Pause and reflect between each movement. This is progression in attention. Then in the stillness you can be filled with awareness.

When we ask ourselves, “What am I doing?” and “Why am I doing it?” our minds open. This is self-awareness. However, it is necessary to point out that students should be self-aware, not self-conscious. Self-consciousness is when the mind constantly worries and wonders about itself, doubting constantly and being self-absorbed.

If you do not know the silence of the body, you cannot understand the silence of the mind.

When action and silence combine like the two plates of an automobile’s clutch, it means that intelligence is in gear.

The moment you bring attention, you are creating something, and creation has life and energy.

Extension is attention, and expansion is awareness.

Overstretching occurs when one looses contact with one’s center, with the divine core. Instead, the ego wants simply to stretch further, to reach the floor, regardless of its ability, rather than extending gradually from the center.

Always try to extend and expand the body. Extension and expansion bring space, and space brings freedom.

When there is strain, the practice of yoga is purely physical and leads towards imbalances and misjudgement.

Your energy extends through the tips of your skin and beyond. This is the secret that martial artists use to generate extraordinary force. They do not punch a brick, they punch through it. Extend the energy of the asana out through your extremities. Let the river flow through you.

Picture from B.K.S. Iyengar – Yoga Wisdom and Practice

Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 1: The Inward Journey

Extracts from Chapter 1: The Inward Journey:

Most of us think of our “body” as simply our physical form—our skin, bones, muscles, and internal organs. For yoga, however, this is only the outermost layer of our body or annamaya kosa. It is this anatomical body that encompasses the other four subtle bodies, or kosas.

The demarcation of the different sheaths is essentially hypothetical. We are unique and integral. Nevertheless, in order to achieve the integrity and wholeness we desire, there must be communication from the inner to the outer and the outer to the inner as each sheath blends with the next. Only then are we bound together as one functional human being. If not, we experience dissolution and fragmentation, which make life uncomfortable and confusing.

[If] you too live and practice yoga in the right way and with the right attitude, far greater benefits and more radical changes will take place than mere physical flexibility.

We too are part of Nature, therefore constantly changing, so we are always looking at Nature from a different viewpoint. We are a little piece of continual change looking at an infinite quantity of continual change. Small wonder that it gets quite exciting. The most important thing we can learn about Nature is the inherent and innate laws by which it functions.

It is through the alignment of my body that I discovered the alignment of my mind, self, and intelligence.

I have purposely avoided until now using the usual translation for the non-physical reality as its mention usually stops people thinking for themselves. In Sanskrit, the word is Purusa. In English we can call it Cosmic or Universal Soul. The word Soul usually has such strong religious connotations that people either accept or dismiss it without reflection. They forget that it is simply our word for an abiding reality. It is logical but remains conceptual to our minds until we experience its realization within ourselves.

Everything that exists in the macrocosm is to be found existing in the microcosm or individual.

[The] demonstration of one’s spiritual realization lies in none other than how one walks among and interacts with one’s fellow human beings.

[We] discover ever more self-control, sensitivity, and awareness that permit us to live the life we aspire to, one of decency; clean, honest human relations; goodwill and fellowship; trust; self-reliance; joy in the fortune of others; and equanimity in the face of our own misfortune.

Self-cultivation through asana is the broad gateway leading to the inner enclosures we need to explore. In other words, we are going to try to use asana to sculpt the mind.

Breath is the vehicle of consciousness and so, by its slow, measured observation and distribution, we learn to tug our attention away from external desires (vasana) toward a judicious, intelligent awareness (prajna).

We may say that we want to reach the domain of the soul, but there remains a great tug-of-war. We neither go in nor out, and that saps the energy.

This process of relaxing the brain is achieved through asana. We generally think of mind as being in our head. In asana our consciousness spreads throughout the body, eventually diffusing in every cell, creating a complete awareness.

How to keep the brain cells in a relaxed, receptive, and concentrated state is the art that yoga teaches.

[We] all have access to a space, an inner space, where there is an end to duality, an end to conflict. This is what meditation teaches us, the cessation of the impersonating ego and the dawn of the true, unified Self, beyond which there is no other.

[A] word or action done to another is ultimately done equally to oneself.

Spirituality, as I have tried to make clear, is not ethereal and outside nature but accessible and palpable in our very own bodies. Indeed the very idea of a spiritual path is a misnomer. After all, how can you move toward something that, like Divinity, is already by definition everywhere?

Light on Life by BKS Iyengar

I am reading Light on Life by Iyengar, slowly and somewhat surely, as is my way. I thought I’d share some extracts and quotes as I read and practice. Whereas Light on Yoga looks in detail at the practice of asana, this book shows how yoga and life are one.

Introduction

When you and I meet together, we forget ourselves – our cultures and classes. There are no divisions, and we talk mind to mind, soul to soul. We are no different in our deepest needs. We are all human

Yoga is the rule book for playing the game of life, but in this game no one needs to loose.

When I say that yoga saved my life, I am not exaggerating. It was yoga that gave me a new birth with health from illness and firmness from infirmity.

Yogasana brought tremendous brought tremendous physical benefits and helped me to grow from a sickly child into a reasonably fit and agile young man. My own body was the laboratory, in which I saw the health benefits of yoga, but I could already see that yoga would have as many benefits for my head and heart as it did for my body.

You do not need to seek freedom in some distant land, for it exists within your own body, heart, mind, and soul.

Meanwhile, in 1997… Torn Between This and The Other

All around is apparent evidence that normality is actuality.
People seem OK, mostly, muddling on, the shops open and close, the days go by.
Unless you explore and delve and experience you may not know anything different, living in blissful(?) ignorance the best you can, not exploring your fear, no sense of wonder.
Or the sense of wonder is easily satiated with some words by those in the know.
Much more fun to find out for yourself, opening up so many questions that the mind boggles.
And once you have opened the door how can you go back?
It doesn’t work that way.
A peak into the other, invalidating the ordinary life of satisfaction and decay.
The sense of nagging, the sense that I should be doing something else, a yearn, a drive.
I am torn between worlds and do not know how to reconcile the split.
The separation between the other and the normal hurts me so much.
Advice is out of the question because who really knows how to live?
Will it be like this forever?
I need some commitment.
But – oh! – the pain of criticism and the uncertainty of it all!
It tears at me and the pain is constant.
Loneliness? Where are my people?
I have no idea who or where they are. I make no attempt to find them, except those who fall into my circles of friendship.
I live in fear and console myself with the, possibly true, assertion that I need no one.
Perhaps it is not loneliness but a more general fear.
Can fear exist on its own?
I don’t think so.
The feeling that I am not doing the right thing, in relation to – what? – my conditioning and ideals I have set, dreams and aspirations.
And thought running through it all.
And sometimes another way of being, of bliss, before thought comes back.
This is what I want to be.
Otherwise life consists of chucking stuff into my senses, criticising, enjoying, rationalising and… going round and round.
There is a big difference between understanding and ideas.
Understanding is final, done.
Ideas are a fucking pain because you can never become an idea. They go on forever, subtly changing.
People’s ideas of me are different than my own and the actuality is different from them both.
Body, energy, waves, vibes seem much truer to me than thought, ideas, faith and trust.
Don’t use spirituality as an escape. It it there, yes, but it is not an escape.
Go through the pain, learn.
It is not a crime to be you.

Stephen Fry on the fate of the Cambridge graduate

I have just finished the revealing and enjoyable ‘The Fry Chronicles’. An extract:

Revising finalists under chestnut trees, books and notes spread out on the grass as they smoke, drink, chatter, flirt, kiss and read. Garden parties on every lawn in every college for the first two weeks in June that are perversely designated May Week. Dining clubs and societies, dons, clubs and rich individuals serving punch and Pimm’s, beer and sangria, cocktails and champagne. Blazers and flannels, self-conscious little snobberies and affectations, flushed youth, pampered youth, privileged youth, happy youth. Don’t be too hard on them. Suppress the thought that they are all ghastly tosspots who don’t know they’re born, insufferable posers in need of a kick and a slap. Have some pity and understanding. They will get that kick and that slap soon enough. After all, look at them now. They are all in their fifties. Some of them are on their third, fourth or fifth marriage. Their children despise them. They are alcoholics or recovering alcoholics. Drug addicts or recovering drug addicts. Their wrinkled, grey, bald, furrowed and fallen faces look back every morning from the mirror, those folds of dying flesh bearing not a trace of the high, joyful and elastic smiles that once lit them. Their lives have been a ruin and a waste. All that bright promise never quite matured into anything that can be looked back on with pride or pleasure. They took that job in the City, that job with the merchant bank, stockbroker, law firm, accountancy firm, chemical company, drama company, publishing company, any company. The light and energy, the passion, fun and faith were soon snuffed out one by one. In the grind of the demanding world their foolish hopeful dreams evaporated like mist in the cruel glare of the morning sun. Sometimes the dreams return to them at night and they are so ashamed, angry and disappointed that they want to kill themselves. Once they laughed and seduced or laughed and were seduced, on ancient lawns, under ancient stones and now they hate the young and their music, they snort with contempt at everything strange and new and they have to catch their breath at the top of the stairs. … Not everyone’s life ends in misery, loneliness and failure. Of course, I know that. You’re right. But many do. The entropy and decay of age is dreadfully apparent when set next to the lyrical dream of a Cambridge May Week.

Look after yourself, Cambridge graduate or not.

In a new way

A seashore
Keyboards slowly, pipes
A resonant rumble
The sound of the sea with triangle jingles
The sea is replaced by deep bass, in and out, pulsing

Desolate shores, life forming
Crawling from the waters, adventuring upwards
Towards the sun and the light and the warmth
Away from the murky horrors of the sea
Onwards
It is bound to

The earth is giving birth to the animals, the human people
Energy patterns, beautiful energy patterns
Tingles, jingles and shingle on the shore of the primeval soup
The thick soup is gurgling at me
Ready to spew forth all the misery and beauty it contains
A beat kicks in

Squelchy electric pulses, gentle synths up and down
A beat on a cymbal and perhaps a hand clap
A soundscape that is removed from the soup
It is man’s time, perhaps Eden
No trouble, but a sense of adventure building
The electro squelches are back

The human is wailing gently with the torture of it all
He is living the torture
It hasn’t got him
A voice: consciousness, intelligence, technology spreading in the biology
A xylophone reminds me of China
The singing expressing the soul

Music fading to frogs, water, birds
Matter is energy
Energy + intelligence = matter that allows consciousness
Which allows technology
Which is all the same thing, from the same source

This music is more dramatic
The drum kicks harder
The percussion more regular
Echoing in and out
A distorted drum building up to something
Electronic clashes rush round my mind
Up up up
Drum fills from nowhere

The whole background seems to fade
A woman’s voice I don’t understand
Perhaps an alien
She is beautiful
Wisdom is what you are, knowledge is what you know
And insects right through my head
On an echo of the wind

Entities made of mind
Mandalay
In a new way
In a new way!
Fucking excellent
Words in the realm of the machine
Are not things heard but things seen

Conflicts
Rain like snowflakes
Conceptuality flexes and coils
Alien voices, squelches
A piece of space-coloured gold
To drill holes through

Spinning in space
Watch what we are doing
Do what we are doing
Do it now
This is our destiny
This is what our ancestors struggled to give us

Fading now
No voices, just wind
Two sounds
One deeper
And a distorted loop
An electric helicopter

We tumble back through history
History compacted
Back to a single cell
Evolutionary crossroads
Acceleration and expanding consciousness
Where is the wisdom to control this?
We are in a unique position
Simultaneous senses on five levels

The wind and a synthesiser
We have our own feelings
Despite the world coming to an end
Rhythm
Percussion
Electro bass short and squat
Bass line winds through the drum
And now the gap is raining
THUNDER

A computer from the future
There is no matter here
No rules exist
I welcome the future
Come to me
And let me be!
It is all going to change
Create community
Not imposed from above
Restrictions are self-imposed, from restrictions inherent in the system
See and understand them

A natural drum
A bird
A choir
Afro beat shuffling
Love is the law
Go into it and take a look
You may be surprised

Fire and breeze
Crackling, snapping wood
Return to the earth
The voices chanting
I am no one’s slave
I am no one’s master
I am sorry, Earth
I know what he means
Apologising on behalf of mankind

A new perspective

110208 Alton to Selborne

Yoga when I woke up, then breakfast before driving to Selborne. From there I caught the bus to Alton so I could walk the first part of the Hangers Way back to Selborne. The path is 21 miles long and heads south and east from Alton to Queen Elizabeth Country Park south of Petersfield, so today’s walk was a third of the total. I expected the bus to be a mostly empty Tuesday morning rural bus, but no, it was full of teenagers headed to the college. That feeling of being watched as I looked for an empty seat, only one spare because the kids were sprawled over a couple of seats each. The first part of the walk was fairly boring, through the industrial part of town and over large fields. As it got hillier, it was more fun. It took about two and a half hours walking, with a couple of short breaks, sitting in the late winter sun. New growth pushing up in the woodland, the leaves of the bluebells. Keep it rural! Here’s the walk video I made:

Weekend Walk 24 – Alton to Selborne – Hangers Way from Duncan Toms on Vimeo.

This afternoon, resting, editing the video which takes an hour or so, plus export and upload time. Otherwise continuing looking at TVs and buying a Playstation 3. But this morning during yoga I saw through all this entertainment and constant occupation, to something simpler, purer, more in touch, real, whole. It’s a question of right action and what to do with my time on this earth, what to do with each day. At the end of it: ‘Oh, I saw some fine movies and played some games, rode some waves, made some good friends, loved and was loved, worked a lot.’ Well, maybe that’s what there is, but something else is touched upon when deep in a stretch or in relaxation. I can’t force it, but I can allow it to come. It’s not something more, but unrelated to all that I know.

Steps stepped: 14,706