Saturday, 10 February 2018

Tonight is Maha Shivaratri


   
      Maha Shivaratri, the spiritual night of Lord Shiva, is considered to be the most sacred night of the year. There is fasting during the day and the puja goes on all night with mantras to Shiva whilst anointing the shivalingam with water, curd, honey, and flowers.

     Mahashivaratri happens the night before the new moon and is a chance to honour Shiva and the masculine principle of consciousness and awareness. Everything is consciousness and it is on this foundation principle that the world is danced into being through the awesome creative power of Shakti.  


     There has probably never been a time in history when the principle of the Divine Masculine needs to be honoured and affirmed as it does now, for it is precisely the qualities of the Divine Masculine that can create the space and the safety for the feminine. Far too often, in many cultures across the world women are trying to hold both poles of masculine and feminine at the same time and be mother and father to their own inner child and to their "outer children". Men are physically absent for many reasons or emotionally absent from their own lack of connection to the Divine Masculine and their historic lack of good enough mothering and fathering. They then end up as wounded, disconnected and dangerous; perpetual teenagers fuelling the cycles violence that are destroying the Earth. This year, it is the day before Valentine's Day dedicated to love relationships. All relationships work through an appreciation of the dynamic poles of the relationship and appreciation of difference. Appreciate and celebrate the masculine as the force of awareness, consciousness, presence and the Truth of who we really are. 

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

#wetoo


The #metoo movement where women speak out against sexual violence and intimidation by men in power was long overdue. The statistic that 1 in 3 women have been sexually abused is an understatement. All women experience aspects of being objectified and sexually intimidated or used without their consent. The anger and the power of women speaking out is vital if we are to move towards a sane, inclusive society.

I have been very keen that men do not jump on the same bandwagon and attempt to hijack the debate with their own experiences of abuse. There is something very unsavoury about a race to claim victim-hood as a sort of prize.  Yet, men’s pain; though expressed less vocally than #metoo, and more often expressed through actions; is palpable. Suicide is the largest cause of death for men under 50 and then there are the deaths through addictions and reckless disregard for their own lives. I read somewhere the shocking but quite
unprovable statistic, that in USA more men are raped than women. With 2¼ million men in prison this is certainly possible.  On the streets most male violence is directed against other men and throughout the world many men see no alternative to joining wars and large scale violence. On the domestic front in the UK, men are three times as likely not to tell anyone about being the victim of partner violence than women are; presumably because that is so humiliating. Yet for every three victims of domestic abuse two will be female and one will be male.

Undoubtedly men cause most of the physical and sexual violence that occurs against women and against other men.  However, physical violence is not very subtle and relatively easy to detect. It literally leaves marks. I knew one woman who had worked as a barrister in divorce cases who stopped working as she was so appalled at the way men were treated. The Families need Fathers movement and now the Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) movement are the result of pain at loss and separation. All three men I have known who killed themselves had become separated from their children and felt so powerless and angry. Last year I went to one funeral and I really don’t want to go to any more. Of course, if men could cry and reach out for support and help this wouldn’t happen so much. It is easy to say that they are the victims of their own Neanderthal ideas of masculinity. However, these ideas are powerfully socially enforced by men and women. It is equally possible and unsympathetic to say that women are the victims of their own lack of speaking out.

Sexual violence and intimidation of women comes from the objectification of women. Some of the violence that occurs in intimate relations comes from men also being seen as an object. An object to provide financial and emotional security. The mechanism is essentially the same. Many men have had the experience of been viewed as sperm donors once, and then money donors for the next twenty or so years.  In my own life I have only ever been ripped off by women; financially, and in terms of my willingness to help and support in practical ways. As an Enneagram Type 2; the Helper it has been an important lesson for me to learn to be much less obliging.  The massive success of Jordan Peterson's views where he vigorously uses archetypal psychology and his clinical experience to comment on modern issues particularly to do with men (See Link to Video) is a modern phenomena.

Another aspect is the seduction of children away from their fathers. Many people, men and women, see their father through their mother’s eyes. It is a sort of mass-kidnapping which I have heard of many times in my work as a psychotherapist. The mother over-bonds with the children, perhaps as a form of self-therapy, or perhaps as she feels she has little power elsewhere. The father becomes a distant figure and ripe for projections.  He may also be working away long hours. There are some men who arrive home from work after a long commute after their young children have gone to bed and leave in the morning before their children wake up. They only see them at weekends.

There is no value in chasing victim-hood. There is a great value and a deep need for appreciation of the different roles and histories of men and women. Whilst binary notions of gender are a convenient fiction, they suffice for an initial analysis. Men have had the historic task for the last two million years of separating from instinct and Nature in order to develop self-consciousness. This has been necessary for the development of humankind. (Follow link for more on this) So where does all this lead?

There is huge value in improving communication particularly about consent. Expression of desire need to be seen as a potential gift, not a threat. All gendered stereotypes need to be dropped so that real listening can happen to the unique needs and experiences of each person. There is a huge need for appreciation of the contributions of everyone. We have all lost out and need to be consoled, appreciated and healed.  



Thursday, 1 February 2018

Sugar is a Poison!

As a teenager, I used to have two spoonful’s of sugar in my tea. As a rather physically lazy and large young man, I soon realised that I would put on weight (as a kapha body-type if using the language of Ayurveda!). So, I gradually cut down over six months to no sugar. After that, of course tea with sugar in tasted disgusting. 

Forty years later; I am now convinced that sugar is basically a poison and the most widely “pushed” drug in the world. It does more damage than tobacco, or cocaine. By sugar, I don’t just mean white sugar; I mean all types of sugars. That is all chemicals that end in “……ose”: glucose, sucrose, fructose, lactose, dextrose, maltose. Plus anything called syrup. It can seem natural, even wholesome like honey or unnatural like high fructose corn syrup. It is all more or less the same. It is all damaging. It is all highly addictive by hitting the dopamine reward centres in the brain. 

As an addictive drug, it is used to sell a staggering range of products; I can hardly call them foods. There are the obvious ones, like a can of soda containing 11 teaspoons of sugar; and there are the less obvious, like bottles of soy sauce where sugar is the second ingredient after water; or cans of baked beans and jars of peanut butter.  Many products that were, or could be, healthy like natural live yogurt are hard to find amongst the flavoured sweetened yogurts in most shops.

So depending on where you look for data the Average American now consumes up to 300 lbs of sugar a year. Four hundred years ago it was 2 lbs of sugar. The Ancient Romans and later people used sugar just to sweeten bitter herbal medicines. 

In fact; things are even worse than this. We think of fruit as natural and wholesome; but all the fruit we eat today has drastically changed through selective breeding from The Middle Ages. They have all been bred to have more sweet flesh.  Every market stall selling fruit proclaims that these are “sweet” grapes, or peaches or apples….And making fruit in to fruit juice makes it even sweeter and absorbed faster. Drinking a glass of pineapple juice gives your body a huge hit of sugar.
Medieval banana

Sorry, but it gets even worse. Our body converts starch and many carbohydrates in to sugar. This starts even in the mouth. I remember at school in science being asked to chew a piece of raw potato and in a minute or so getting the sweetness of sugar in the mouth.  As with fruit; the grains we now eat as bread and cakes are far from the ancient varieties. Some complex carbohydrates like puffed rice are converted more and faster than white sugar. 

Sugars and some carbs are fast becoming the primary source of calories in our diet. Sugar, not itself an opioid peptide, is known to increase brain levels of endongenous morphine and may produce metabolic products in the brain very similar to those produced by morphine. Fructose in isolated or concentrated form is highly toxic. Sugar is a poison. Not an acute poison like arsenic, but a chronic poison which over years promotes inflammation and diseases including cancer. It leads to obesity, heart disease and diabetes where the body can no longer cope with the sugar. It is an addictive poison. John Yudkin, a professor of nutrition published his book "Pure White and Deadly" nearly 50 years ago and was ignored.

The industrial revolution was able to happen because of the development of the steam engine which used coal as a fuel to power the machines and the development of easy sources of sugar which was the cheap fuel to power the workers in the factories. Now sugar is pumped in to everything to create addiction. This is quite deliberate and a merciless attack on the worlds population by big business. It completely dwarfs the whole of the illegal drug industry.

At the moment I am on a very low carbohydrate and no sugar diet and it is hard to go in to any small shop and in all the rows of shelves of products, to find anything I can eat at all; other that buy a bottle of water (and I am certainly not paying for something that comes out of taps!). The poorer the area the more shops are filled with products full of sugar, and carbohydrates. This is true throughout the world. Sugar and carbs are not necessary; my body is running perfectly well on fats and protein. Hiding in plain sight, in every corner shop is a blatant and successful attempt to enslave the world through addiction to sugar. 

Breast milk is sweet, so sugar gives us an artificial sense of comfort. Instead, we could seek the “sweetness of life”. If we are really adult (and consumer culture keeps us as needy children wanting the reward of sugar); then the sweetness of life comes from a deep connection to Self, to others and to Nature. This is the only real cure for addiction. 

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Tonight is the start of Navaratri; honour and celebrate Shakti!

Tonight is the start of Navaratri a ten day festival to celebrate Shakti and the forms of feminine wisdom and virtue in our lives. 

The first three nights (tonight, to Friday) are in honour of Kali, the fierce form of the goddess who destroys impurities and the things that no longer serve us. She gives us strength and motivation and empowers us towards spiritual growth.




For the second part (Saturday to Monday) of the festival the goddess is Lakshmi who is seen as the Mother and is often seen as connected to spiritual wealth.  She is often depicted on a fountain of milk holding symbols of wealth and abundance. She can give us clarity.





Tuesday to Thursday nights the goddess is Saraswati who represents wisdom and knowledge. She is generally shown playing a rudra vina a stringed instrument as she is connected to music and the arts. She creates beauty and gives us wisdom.


On the tenth day (Friday 29th) all forms of the goddess are worshipped, sometimes in the form of Durga. 



So, find a woman and the goddess inside yourself (men and women) and honour her. Start with your mother, sisters, lovers.  Shakti creates all life; everything we can see comes from Her!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Heart and Mind


It is common in "New Age" beliefs to place the heart and the mind in opposition and say something along the lines of; heart and feelings are good: mind and thinking are bad. I have heard so many versions of this formula over the years. From a tantric perspective this is wrong. The Sanskrit word "citta" which is often translated as mind, is seen as the centre for both thoughts and emotions. It would be better translated as heart-mind as both are closely connected and give a limited sense of our self as a separate being. The heart-mind perceives duality and sees everything through the filter of good or bad; useful or not;  safe or dangerous. Thoughts and feelings are equally caught up in this evaluative, dualistic dance which leads towards desires or attachments and fears. Mostly they lead to fears; as we also fear the loss of what we are attached to. The only way out of this is to come to the subtle appreciation of awareness and how it creates its experience of reality in everyday life, moment-to-moment. Awareness of awareness fundamentally shifts that experience. This is non-dual tantra. Being caught in fears prevents tantra which is why traditionally tantra was the path of  virya or the warrior.  At a very ordinary level it is the denigration of the mind and thinking which leads to some of the vast irrationality that pervades public life at the moment. Donald Trump did not appeal to people's ability to think clearly!

Friday, 30 September 2016

Tonight is the start of Navaratri; honour and celebrate Shakti!


Tonight is the start of Navaratri a ten day festival to celebrate Shakti and the forms of feminine wisdom and virtue in our lives. 

The first three nights (tonight, to Friday) are in honour of Kali, the fierce form of the goddess who destroys impurities and the things that no longer serve us. She gives us strength and motivation and empowers us towards spiritual growth.





For the second part (Saturday to Monday) of the festival the goddess is Lakshmi who is seen as the Mother and is often seen as connected to spiritual wealth.  She is often depicted on a fountain of milk holding symbols of wealth and abundance. She can give us clarity.





Tuesday to Thursday nights the goddess is Saraswati who represents wisdom and knowledge. She is generally shown playing a rudra vina a stringed instrument as she is connected to music and the arts. She creates beauty and gives us wisdom.



On the tenth day (Friday 29th) all forms of the goddess are worshipped, sometimes in the form of Durga. 



So, find a woman, and the goddess inside yourself (men and women) and honour her. Start with your mother, sisters, lovers.  Shakti creates all life; everything we can see comes from Her!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Politics of Fear or the politics of Vision



The Brexit debate has been dominated by fear.  Generally fear of immigration, economic fears or fear of rabid racists and bigots gaining power. Sadly it seems to be easier to influence people through fear than it is to influence people through vision.  This is simply because we are all affected by past trauma and restimulated fears.  Unless we can clear past trauma we will all stay stuck. 

So people like Martin Luther King or Gandhi, who proclaim a vision; inspire but in the end do not decisively lead.  My dream for this referendum was that Jeremy Corbyn,  a man of undoubted sanity, vision and ethics compared to most politicians and leaders would share a vision of this country welcoming of refugees and facing the world as an example of political, economic and environmental sanity, with; devolution of power,  and economics based on stability and fairness, not growth. A sort of Iceland and Norway combined with a touch of Costa Rica. 

The world is certainly safer with small independent countries rather than large power-blocks. Most of the world’s problems are global not regional; not even a region as big as Europe.  I am amazed how many people would rather play on fears or on personalities rather than on vision.  To say that you cannot be in favour of Brexit because many very unsavoury people are, is like me saying I can’t be a vegetarian because Hitler was.  There are ways of clearing trauma at an individual level and collectively. Such healing will be necessary after the referendum whatever the result.