God and satan exist – at least on election days. The War Within.

Whether God or/and satan exist in the biblical sense is somewhat irrelevant because they, without question, exist in you.

God is your conscience, your empathy, your compassion, your kindness, caring, altruism – universally know as Love. Many beings on Earth are trying to turn you that way.

satan (small ‘s’) is you selfishness, your self obsession, your greed but mostly your fear and all the knee-jerk thoughts and actions that fear brings. Many beings on Earth are trying to turn you that way too

Tomorrow in the UK, everyone over the age of 18 has a chance to meet one or the other or at least to know which one has your allegiance – you can for a moment ‘know thyself’.

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Yoga Biking

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As I understand things, all spiritual teachings are taught, essentially, to allow one to strive for one thing, stillness of mind.  Yoga Asanas are there, as just one limb of eight, to prepare the body for meditation so that it can sit as still and as comfortably as possible without having ones legs turn blue so to be able to calm the mind, and along with the other seven limbs, to realise that all is just thought from which arise our attachments and aversions and ultimately the universe we individually live in.

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Television and the media has managed to shepherd us all into a similar pattern of thoughts and thinking and so we all seem to kind of agree on a similar ish universe.   Spiritual teachings however can, at least temporarily, have us experiencing other new and enticing universes, be it a Buddhist one or an Islamic one or Sufi, Hindu, Jesuit, Jain, and so on, until we are ready to drop that too and to simply be.  In the meantime whilst we are travelling on our own long yellow brick road to our inner wizard, terrible wars are being fought, insanely, because different collectives of people are holding on tightly, very tightly, to the universe that they think they live in, a universe based in religion, a religion that they insist is the only true one. The truth is that the world is squabbling and killing over who has the best imaginary friend.

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Meditation, I am told, is simply a way to let go, to not hold on to anything.

The Tibetan word for meditation “Gom” means “to become familiar with one’s Self” which is different, well slightly different to self familiarity that happens around puberty. The later more grown up familiarity is encouraged for training the mind to understand states that are rewarding such as concentration, compassion, correct understanding, patience, humility, perseverance, awareness and mindfulness.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be done sat in lotus imitating Buddha or Ramakrishna.  It is accepted nowadays that posture is not really that important. Buddha could just as well have sat on a chair and got boomshanka’d but, like most yogis of the day,  he was a wandering sadhu and chairs were not lying around in fields and under enlightening trees. Sitting in lotus is another case of us human types imitating. We no longer dress up as Batman or play air guitar – well not in public at least – but if Buddha got through by sitting cross legged then we seem to think that’s the way for us all, but where does this end?

If Christ had been hung from a gallows, rather than crucified on a cross, Christians would today undoubtedly be wearing nooses around their necks, albeit small ones on a pretty chain – but I digress.  So it’s surely not really about posture,  you can do walking meditation, standing meditation, kneeling meditation –  it’s about stillness  – specifically stillness of mind and recently I discovered a forced yoga if you will, about 3 minutes after driving off on a recently required, not been on one for 28 years, motorbike.

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Materially, It’s a great bike, the result, some say, well a lot say to be honest, of a ‘mid life crisis’ though I simply fail to see where there is any crisis happening, I’m having a great time – It does just under 80 to the gallon and it will hit 110 mph (apparently) with road tax at only £37 per year. So, by comparison to cars, it’s very ecological and economical and shockingly, to me, extremely meditative. (oh yeah and a lotta lotta fun)

From moving off you are forced into
1/ letting go of any fear immediately and
2/ having an instant and perpetual lesson in both awareness and mindfulness – and you can’t do any of these if you are not totally focused and full to the brim of concentration.

The roads are clogged nowadays more than ever and the Highways Department consider two-wheel riders approximately not at all. The manhole covers are very rarely level with the road surface, any utility works undertaken are then resurfaced by what can only be the local playgroup. Farmers, bless them, do try to help by adding a layer of mud wherever possible and councils love to decorate them with rumble strips and speed humps.  This is before you encounter any other actual road users , so from the off you are ‘in the zone’ and to understand or at least second guess other drivers you must have a full tankard of both empathy, and to discourage you from giving the finger, compassion.

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one must stay alert at all times

Distraction is limited, unlike being in a cocoon vehicle because it’s very difficult and extremely messy to eat or drink on a bike and you simply cannot hear a word on the mobile phone and texting is particularly trying and turning around to see what the kids are doing would be very illegal. You are simply there. On the bike, there is, no mortgage, no debt, not even a family,  just you and the space around you most commonly referred to as ‘the moment’ though you can never know that you’re in the moment because you’re in it.  I concur with film star and Ducati rider Ryan Reynolds who recently said, “I love the fact that on a motorcycle, riding is the only thing you’re doing”.  Although I’d add saying ‘yippee’ in quite a high voice within the confines of the helmet.
I imagine  surfers have the same feeling of oneness and yippee, except the only obstacles they have to look out for are passing turds. The organisation ‘Surfers Against Sewage’ isn’t in existence for nothing dude.

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And to yoga class – it’s the only way to travel.

And all the time the wheels are moving, you are naggingly, very wide awake aware of the biggest one of all – impermanence but all the time holding an inner smile and something that might be called loveOr maybe delusion

The Human Test

The UK has on its streets, in every town and city, Big Issue sellers. The Big Issue offers people who are homeless the opportunity to earn their own money; a livelihood.  The Big Issue Foundation offers vendors the opportunity of a life. They work tirelessly alongside the vendors to help them deal with the issues that have caused their homelessness or have developed as a result of hitting the streets.

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The way we can experience the feeling of shame (if buying clothes from Primark hasn’t ignited a conscience) is to realise that those people selling that Big Issue, as mentioned in another post, could very, very easily be your mum, dad, brother, sister, son, daughter, grandchild or of course even you – and the way the world is going currently, that is a possibility. Knowing that and then walking past a seller should, if of course you are human ignite that spark of shame and prove you are not an alien. What reasons do people possibly delude themselves with to justify walking past?

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“Never look down on someone unless you are helping them up. As you go about your daily life please do stop and say hello to a vendor, buy a magazine” ~The Big Issue Foundation.  – besides, it’s a bloody good *weekly* read!

Margaret Thatcher – teacher of Compassion

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Margaret Thatcher is dead.

The resulting vitriol that has welcomed and celebrated her death is jaw dropping, and even for me, unexpected. The ‘Ding dong, the witch is dead’ song from the Wizard of Oz is at number three in the UK music charts and there are parties, and some say riots, planned for this Wednesday when the biggest funeral in UK history takes place. Even Princess Di didn’t get such state attention but Princess Di was loved by most unlike Thatcher who has been called the ‘marmite politician’ by a member of the church but like Diana she has also left behind children. Children that are having to witness the hatred directed towards their mum from what seems like half of England and most of Wales and Scotland.

I wasn’t a fan, I never voted for her but that’s the point –  the people of the UK did vote for her, in our established democracy, and three times! She wasn’t a dictator, she was elected and probably by one or two members of each family burning her effigy. So why are the people of the UK now in such a hateful frame of mind directed at a dead woman who their fellow country folk voted for on three occasions?  Apart from how she was at the forefront of policies, supported by parliament mind, I think there was lot of people who just couldn’t stand the pursed lips, the terrible hair and the fact that she reminded just about everybody of their mother-in-law.

Margaret Thatcher's death divides opinion across the UK

One of the best life lessons I’ve ever been given was, whenever possible,  to see every person, depending on their age and sex, as if they are your mum or your dad or brother, sister, son or daughter or grandkids or maybe the weird uncle or the batty aunt or your best mate. If people, when walking past a Big Issue seller spared this thought – that the person stood there in all weathers, could easily be, with a change of circumstances, one of your relatives – it could of course even be you (and it’s only conceited thinking that banishes that possibility – especially as our economies teeter) then maybe not so many would walk past that Big Issue seller.

The same goes for Thatcher. She may once have been a leader with an iron will that the rich applauded and the workers threw eggs at but for a vast amount of years she’s been an old lady, a grandma who became frail and died. It was someone’s mum. One didn’t have to like her but to dance in the streets? Even Bin Laden wasn’t given so much attention.

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Surely we need to understand, and with teeth gritted if need be, to be able at least to attempt to practice compassion and it seems to me that the British public have never been give such a national opportunity to do both.

Compassion is our friend.

The opposite of compassion is cruelty and to a lesser degree, pity. Pity being when we’re sorry for someone whereas compassion is to be sorry with someone. It’s feeling the suffering as if you are that person. Of course I’m not  referring to Thatcher herself as she’s gone but I am referring to those she left behind – her children and grandchildren.

We can, albeit at the risk of heart wrenching brevity, become the grandchild who has not only lost it’s grandma but then witnesses the folk of this country that she governed morphing into over-sized munchkins, spitting malevolence as if that’s to be applauded and respected, although possibly feared and therefore ignored.

To be able to shape shift into each mind and body of those affected in a quantum leap sort of way will likely and involuntarily ignite our compassion immediately and if it doesn’t at least you’ll be blessed with the shocking knowledge, if you say that Thatcher had no compassion herself, of what that feels like.

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