FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS…..

To be very honest, I’m not sure where this blog is taking me, but I wanted to comment on a couple of items we saw on BBC World last night.

No, I’m not going to mention the story-du-jour, the reaction in Islamic nations to a nasty little film about the Prophet Mohammed which was designed to spark outrage and which ended with the deaths of the US Ambassador to Libya and three other US workers.  I feel sorrow for the families of those killed in Libya but I also feel pity for the people who produced this film, who are so bitter, twisted and hateful that they somehow think there’s kudos to be had in creating  a film which has caused death and the fanning of more fires of hatred. They aren’t heroes, they’re simply contemptible, pathetic little people.

There is so much focus on this story, however,that  the fire in a garment factory in Pakistan which killed around 250 workers has to some extent been overshadowed. These men, women and children – yes, children – were asphyxiated for lack of oxygen, or died from smoke inhalation, or were burned to death, so badly that many are unable to be identified.

I don’t know if these workers were producing the cheap clothing which we in the West love so much, but I do know that the sorrow on an old man’s face as he waited for news of his youngest son, who almost certainly had died in the blaze, touched me deeply.  His suffering was heart-breaking and my heart ached for this old man who obviously dearly loved his son and now was facing his loss, the father’s grief palpable as he sat waiting to hear of his son’s fate.

We see stories like this because here in North Cyprus we watch BBC World News and we see news stories beyond the shores of the usual Western-dominated news. I didn’t see much about this tragedy on Australian news websites and they didn’t hit the main front pages of British newspaper websites, they were tucked away under the “Asian” headline. The only news outlet to report the fire in detail was Al-Jazeera. But I wondered what the response would be if, say, 250-odd workers were burned to death in the US, Europe, the UK, or Australia.  There would be blanket coverage and it would be front page news  But not when workers die in Pakistan, many of them young children with their lives ahead of them.

And then I saw the story of the deaths of young children in Afghanistan killed by a young suicide bomber. These are photos of those children. They were living, loving kids who had their lives cruelly cut short, even more cruel that they were killed by another teenager consumed by hate and anger.  But who knows what fuelled his decision to become a suicide bomber?  We’ll never know.  I just feel very sad that such a young person could not only see no other course but to kill himself and in the process end the lives of young people who were struggling to survive on the mean streets of Kabul.

Parwana – 12 years old
Mohamed Esa – teenager, breadwinner for his family

 

 These children were dirt poor, they survived and helped supplement their families’ income by selling various trinkets to the various people who entered and left NATO’s heavily guarded Kabul headquarters. Many of the children played in Skateistan, a centre for skateboarding, set up to provide activity for very poor children, many of whom live on the streets. The kids at the skateboarding centre and who sold on the streets had formed their own family support network among themselves and now that  little community has been broken apart and shattered.

I suppose what attracted my attention was not only the sad loss of young lives with all their future ahead of them, but also the photo of Khorshid, below,. She was by all accounts a feisty young woman who ignored the strictures on women in Pakistan and fought to live her life free of restrictions. She looks like my great-granddaughter – both lively, adventurous, one with her life still ahead of her, another now silent in the grave dug for her by her family.

I don’t have any answers.  I guess my main aim in writing this particular blog is to pay tribute to people who get blotted out of existence by the media’s focus on our own backyard, to honour those children who now will never know the joy of reaching adulthood, perhaps finding meaningful work, loving relationships and later having children of their own.

This is my little tribute to those children and to the hundreds of people who died in the Karachi fires, whose names we will never know but who have families who are now desperately grieving the loss of their loved ones. I guess my prayer is that we can one day feel that the loss of lives in Pakistan, India, Africa, Indonesia, in all developing nations, are as worthy of the attention we pay when people die in the developed world. We need to build a world community where everyone counts.  Remember that wonderful poem by John Dunne:

For Whom the Bell Tolls

by John Donne

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

NO-ONE HAS A MONOPOLY ON GOD/DIVINITY/SPIRIT

I saw in the newspapers yesterday that Mitt Romney believes that God is with him in the US Presidential elections. He also believes that God created America to lead the world. Mind you, I don’t know what he makes of America’s time before the end of World War II when it wasn’t a world power, but perhaps I’m just being logical and a member of the awkward squad. I also don’t know if other nations in the world are all that taken with the concept of an America created to lead the world, as I rather think they consider their own nations pretty okay and would like equality between nations, phew, what a concept!

Apart from the sub-text that Romney’s dog-whistling (I’m a white, rich, male, who doesn’t have a coloured skin and if I can appeal to prejudice that Barack Obama is a closet Muslim, I’ll do it because I wanna be The Big Cheese), he’s a cheeky sod to imply that God thinks he’s a bit of alright.

I mean, this is from a man who wants to launch a war with Iran, and take things back to the Cold War with threats against Russia. He is also right on with a huge military machine which drains more from America’s economy than any pathetic teacher’s salary or library’s running costs. Oh, yes, this is so spiritual!

I’ve lost count of the number of leaders who claim God has “spoken” to them as they’ve sought to become elected to a top position, not just in the US but around the world. Seems to me that God must be pretty busy running around metaphorically patting these leaders on the head, or perhaps thinking of giving them a good boot up the ass because he’s cheesed off to the max by having his name taken in vain by any vainglorious seeker of public office.

And it beats me how any leader can claim to have God’s stamp of approval if they are gung-ho about war-mongering, blowing people to bits (but they’re only ‘collateral damage’, ), torture, persecution of minorities (whether race, religion or sexual preference), worship of the super-rich, or contempt for the poor.

Just to recap, Jesus, the first social rights activist, stomped into the temple, chucked out the money-changers, and was pretty up-front about the worth of the poor, downtrodden and deprived people, including little kids, while not being too crash-hot about greedy, selfish peeps lining their pockets with gold at the expense of ordinary folk.

No one individual has any monopoly on Divinity and anyone who starts waving the name of God around to justify their scramble for top office is definitely suss, whether they’re Christian, Muslim, Hindu or pink with purple spots. It’s my view (and you’re welcome to disagree if you feel so drawn) that Divinity/God/Spirit (whatever has meaning for you) is within every single, damned person on earth, within the flora and fauna, the seas, wildlife, and of course permeating Mother Earth, and beyond into the big, wild, timeless Universe. I’ve got a word for Mitt Romney and anyone else like him who tries to hog God to given themselves credibility – you’re a piker, mate, a plonker and a pillock.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I’d apply the same terms to anyone – /Republican/Labor/Liberal/Conservative or whatever who tried to use God to justify their actions when, in reality, the only voice their listening to is their own, blustering away in their own head.

LIFE ON EARTH: THE REAL MCCOY

I saw a comment recently which I’ve read a lot over the years, to the effect that living on this beautiful world is not reality but a dream, and reality is the world of spirit.

I’ve quite often felt like writing something about this, then dithered, and finally didn’t write anything at all.  I considered myself not spiritually good enough to comment. But today I decided that I don’t agree with this phrase, I think it’s a monumental cop-out of life on earth, and so I’m putting this into print.

Not, I hasten to add, that I think I’m suddenly spiritually good enough to comment, but because I’ve stood up, thrown off the shackles of servitude to others’ spiritual beliefs, and feel I need to write my own truth, whatever that is.  It may not be the right truth for others, but hey, it’s good enough for me!

If life here is a dream, why the hell are we here?  I don’t want to comment on how others view this but to me, life as a dream suggests wafting through life watching from the sidelines, knowing that all that is taking place is not real, and all we’ve got to do is wait until we pop our clogs, shoot through on this unreal world and return to the real McCoy. It seems to me that considering life here as a dream is a nice little cop-out which is very much a New Age, spacey, feel-good idea mainly confined to us here in comfortable, developed nations.

How do you think a starving woman in one of the Somali refugee camps would feel if someone told her life is a dream, that her reality of  extreme hardship, perhaps losing her children to disease and starvation, is not reality?  How would the people experiencing civil war in Syria feel about this concept? Would the miners whose comrades were shot by police in South Africa and who live and work in appalling conditions with disgustingly low wages so that we in the West can enjoy comfortable lives really appreciate being told that life here is just a passing phrase until the return to the reality of the world of spirit?

To ask that question is to know the answer, isn’t it?

It’s taken my 65 years to work all this through and my view is that we come here because life on Earth is a reality, maybe one dimension of reality, but one that is a teaching tool for our hearts and souls.  We experience pain, grief, happiness, joy, doubt, certainty, loss, gain – an infinity of emotional tidal waves which teach us to grow and ride the roller-coaster of life. We can embrace selfishness, greed, intolerance, hatred, prejudice if we wish. The choice is ours. But the infinite wisdom of Divinity offers us also the choice of unselfishness, generosity, tolerance, love, an open heart, compassion and laughter. We have free will.

Supposing for example we viewed the explosion of the internet and world communication as a vessel for those of us in advanced nations to realise how our extreme consumption is impoverishing developed nations, and that their reality is a result of our catastrophic behaviour?  Suppose we came to realise that society is the world’s peoples, that we are all interconnected and the lesson for us in the US, Australia, the UK and Europe is that our mantra can’t be any longer “I will have what I want” but “I will have what I need” because we love our neighbours – and our neighbours aren’t just in our street, they are all the peoples of this world wherever they are and in whichever country?

Such a concept does, of course, go against the mantra of the establishment that constant economic growth is the engine of all our societal wellbeing. Given the amount of depression and anti-depressants being taken these days, and the increasing impoverishment of all but the super-rich, such a mantra is looking increasingly threadbare and seedy.

It seems to me that at the moment we are learning to live the poem by Guillaume Apollinaire:

“Come to the edge, He said.’

They said: “We are afraid.”

Come to the edge, He said.

They came. He pushed.

They flew.”

The era of allowing an external judge and setter of rules to be obeyed without question is passing away – fast.  Such a regimen is based on fear promoted by and control exerted by the head honchos in government, business and religion who want a tame, unquestioning population which obeys the rules however stupid or insane they are.

We look externally for a Father or Mother who’ll lead us to safety and security. Except that no one person can do that.  I look at people cheering wildly and being almost in hysterics over Mitt Romney or Barack Obama and know, that despite all their promises of change, jobs, less taxes, more taxes, and so on, that both of them are only human beings.  We project our hopes and fears onto them when, in reality, we need to take responsibility for our own Mother and Father archetypes.  To do so is to grow up. To remain dependent on who wins elections is to infantalise ourselves.

I apply that same world reality to religious leaders. I remember as a child learning the Catholic catechism:

“Is the Pope infallible?”.  “Yes, the Pope is infallible.”

But further down the line the Catholic Church changed its mind on the Pope’s infallibility or otherwise. And if you investigate religions carefully, you’ll find they were all written by men to reflect a society where people were supposed to be subservient, while religions became the tool of the head honchos to maintain their rule and control. Doubtless someone will refer to the Bible as the word of God, but in their dreams, in their dreams. The original writings of Jesus’ day have been adapted by subsequent emperors, kings, queens and various other ruling elites to justify their positions of power. How many know that the original Bible endorsed reincarnation which was deleted in the 6th Century because you could control people more easily if you said they didn’t get a second chance of life?. More recently, Good King Hal the Eighth set up the Protestant Church so he could divorce an inconvenient wife and marry again, and again, and so on.

The edge of the cliff is our date with reality. We don’t need to view life as a dream.  It is real and jumping off the cliff is to throw ourselves into the courage of being our own leaders, embracing our own Mother and Father, learning to let go of false leaders – whether they be religious, political or whatever – and standing up on our own two feet. Yeah, baby, it’s going to be damned hard work. That’s what makes life on earth so real – learning to respect our own inner sense of what is right in this world, to stop following other people, to bypass those who seek to control us, to learn as we land gracefully and lightly after our jump off the cliff that we are here to dance to our own,very real, very individual song in this world and the whole point is to follow the path of love, service and kindness in whatever way is appropriate for each of us.

If you think I’m living in airy-fairy land, that reality of a different, people-oriented world is taking shape before our eyes. There are so many people involved in creative work outside the straitjacket of current economic structures that it’s impossible to list them all.  Just to take a look at Facebook posts or what’s for sale on Etsy or artwork for sale on the internet, or people raising their own fruit and vegies in their gardens, building networks of communal support – it’s genius stuff and inspirational for a new society taking shape as the old, industrial era passes away.

Life on earth: live it; love it; embrace it.  It’s the greatest teacher for the development of our hearts and souls on their karmic pathway through the heavens.

HEART CHAKRA RING

After talking about the power of love in my last blog, yesterday evening I went out to an exhibition of jewellery and hats, all up for sale.

The jewellery was absolutely gorgeous, I really would have liked to buy an ornate ruby necklace but it was way beyond my means.

However, I was able to afford this ring which has stones in the colour of the heart chakra – green for the physical level and pink for the spiritual level. I also liked the fact that it was silver coloured one side and gold coloured the other: for giving love, and for receiving love.

It fitted my left little finger perfectly.  I tried it on my right finger and it felt really uncomfortable, so left hand it was.  I’m always interested in how rings feel more comfortable on one finger and on one particular hand.  If I’m interested in a ring, I’ll try it on to see which finger and hand it aligns with, and I always know straight away.  If you have similar responses, please share them with me, I’d love to hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIME-OUT/TIME-LESS

 

I have had a very peculiar a week.  At the beginning I had the leftovers of a fibromyalgia flare-up, but since the symptoms of that died down, I’ve been feeling aimless, lethargic and unmotivated.

I decided to go with the flow, although that’s a killer for me as I always like to have some plan of action in mind.  So instead of trying to push myself to make every day count and to make sure I didn’t waste a minute (as you are exhorted to do in all those self-help books and  motivational phrases that litter Facebook), I decided would take it easy, loll around and indulge myself in something decidedly unspiritual – reading adventure/suspense/romance books by a variety of authors. 

I’d like to say I went mindless but I didn’t.  Instead I became aware of a great movement of women out there, unsung, unheralded and often ridiculed, who are producing entertaining, funny and moving e-books.  You’re not really supposed to say you like light reading.  You’re supposed to read deep books, which examine the existence of being or the building blocks of the universe, yada, yada,yada. 

But my truth is that I enjoy light reading, always have done.  I find the harsh realities and cruelty of life on earth rather difficult to handle.  I’m very sensitive to the Plutonic underworld of earthly doings, due to Neptune being close to my Ascendant, Libra, and Sun, Libra.  It means reality is very hard to take, so moving into imaginary worlds where I can leave the world behind, is my way of surviving life on earth.

So I’ve had a pleasant week doing stuff all except downloading romantic thrillers onto my Kindle and I’ve become deeply admiring of the authors who produce so many books which are entertaining and creative. People disparage Kindles but I reckon they’ve never lived in isolated areas, or outside of the UK, US or other European countries, where reliable service is non-existent or postage costs for books are exorbitant.

At the same time as all this mindlessness, I’ve had a pain in my right eye and it’s been weeping continously all week.  It’s driven me nuts, absolutely nuts, sitting there  going through heaps of tissues as the tears stream out of my right eye on a never-ending basis.

And then today I read something about the power of thought to create the world and I thought: “Holey-moley, thoughts, shmoughts.”  I am absolutely fed up with the fixation on thoughts as the source of putting right what is wrong in the world.  Why?  Because the source of all power lies in our hearts, and it’s LOVE.  Yes, we need the qualities of logic and analysis because they’re an integral part of human make-up. But we need to get things in the right order – our HEART should feed our HEADS. We fixate on thoughts because we live in a logical, analytical world where the thought process is worshipped, adored and idolised. But when we tap into our hearts and release the power of LOVE, we can move mountains.

Of course, when we mention love, so many people in today’s egocentric, me-first society think we’re being sentimental, a soft touch, bleeding heart liberal, and all the other crap that people dish up, because when they’re force to deal with LOVE, it’s a challenge!

I remember reading somewhere that, to scientists’ astonishment when they monitored the heart and head responses to various scenarios, the HEART responded seconds before the head.  It’s our HEART that is the source of love, that is the engine of our well-being, that compels us towards caring, unselfishness and the courage to stand up for what we find ethical and fundamental to our integrity.

And, of course, I then realised that all this time-out and what looks like procrastination has been for my heart to pulverise my head into submission so that I can sort out the focus of the book I’ve been writing. I’ve been lurching along with this book, feeling that I haven’t quite got the handle on it, but now I have. I owe my heart a big hug and thanks for yelling at me and showing me my truth.

And as I’ve realised this – which really means I’ve unblocked the feeling, sensation, loving part of myself that was blocked because I’ve been up in my head thinking too much –  the pain in my right eye has gone, my eye has stopped weeping and I feel focused and clearer about where my writing is heading.

I guess this is perhaps a paeon of praise, not just for love and the heart, but also for the power of procrastination. Procrastination allows you to take time-out, to tap into your depths, to provide the space for the flow of love and inspiration to get unblocked, and for your truth, whatever it is, to pour out of your heart and soul to show the world your light and to enrich this world with your gifts and talents, whatever they are.

THE KNEE WHISPERER

Many years ago I had a real job pulling myself up the ladder of  a swimming pool and it created a fear in my mind of going into swimming pools from then on in case I found myself stuck again.

A further impediment to my going swimming was also the fact that my legs are fat and my knees are a bit deformed, due to accidents, with folds of fluid-filled skin below (and a bit of fat too, I have to admit. I was embarrassed to appear in public in a swimming costume. But in the end I did take a deep breath, climb into my bathers, expose my knees to sunlight (something they hadn’t seen for years), and went swimming in our communal pool. And yes, I did manage to climb out quite easily.

Jumping over the fear hurdle has been very liberating.  The other day I decided to have a go at driving our Land Rover, something I’ve avoided because with fibromyalgia, concentration can be a bit hard and driving in North Cyprus requires all your senses working overtime. Drivers here are stark, staring mad; bonkers; off their rockers. You need to be prepared for any lunatic action so alertness is a major requirement for safe driving. But I figured since I’d survived the swimming pool, I could handle driving the car and it was fine.  I remembered how much I love driving and I’ll be taking the car out more often.

But since I exposed my knees to the light of day, they’ve been twitching a bit as they are not too shapely.  So I’ve been patting them, admiring them and whispering compliments to them because, well, they’ve held me up for nearly 65 years and they deserve a bit of tender, loving care.  My mother had fantastic knees, really shapely, but I’ve inherited the plump knees that I saw on my aunt, that’s my own, personal genetic make-up.  Anyway, I’ve been so kind to my knees that they’ve finally agreed to appear in public on the internet.  Here they are, a bit bashful but they’ve taken a deep breath, as I did before I went swimming, and have braved the full glare of the internet:

By the way, have you any idea how hard it is to take a photo of your own knees?  I thought it was a cinch but getting the right angle was hard work as I had to bend over and point the camera at my knees without being able to see the photo. Try it some time, then you’ll be overcome with admiration at my own achievement!

I had a bad fall years ago when my right knee landed on the sharp edge of concrete. I was severely bruised from my knee to my hip but didn’t take much notice. Unfortunately, as the years have passed by, the damage has been making itself known with my kneecap twisted to the right and a lot of pain and swelling still, mainly fluid retention. It also affects my right hip as it pulls it out of sync.

Then to compound matters, I was very tired after conducting a Reiki II workshop, lost my balance and fell, this time landing on sharp concrete with my left knee.  That’s stayed straight (thank goodness) but again it’s been damaged and has a lot of fluid surrounding it.

The funny thing is that I’d really catastrophized about my knees and now they’ve made their presence known without any clothing for camouflage, they’re not as bad as I thought they were.  They’ve also become a lot less stiff since I started swimming, and the fluid is starting to disappear.  I have finally become re-acquainted with the bones of my lower legs, which has been an interesting experience, they’ve waved a cheery hello to me as they’ve re-emerged into the light of day too.

And why am I writing this?  Because we see so many images of perfect women these days, our own bodies seem imperfect if they’ve got lumps and bumps which don’t fit in with the airbrushed images we see around us all the time in this day and age.  I decided I’d out my knees into the full glare of day to say to others: what you look like on the outside doesn’t matter.  It’s what is inside you, in your heart, which is the important factor in anyone’s life, male or female. If you a kind, loving decent person, that’s all that matters regardless of how your body looks. I know my husband loves me, so does my daughter and her kids.  I know my friends love me for who I am, not what I look like, and I return the love of family and friends because I’m not bothered what they look like on the outside either, it’s their inner being which lights them up.

I’m sad that the diet, medical and pharmaceutical industries have waged a war against women owning their bodies in whatever shape or form they’ve ended up.  We don’t all fit into a straitjacket, thank goodness, the richness of womenfolk (and menfolk) is our variety of shapes, forms, height and colouring.  I look at our kittens, for instance, and despite the same mother, one is small and skinny and always into trouble, while the other is bigger, more furry, far more laid-back and more domesticated.  Does that make one better than the other?  Of course not. And so it should be the same for humanity. 

My knees have taken a deep breath and stepped forward to flash themselves in all their glory. And since I’ve decided to accept them as they are, instead of wishing they were slim and slender, I’ve come to realise that they are really quite fantastic knees.  They are more confident, are happy to appear in public, and now that I’ve written about them, they are humbly awaiting the public accolades of all you who read this, feel inspired  to take a good look at your own bodies and realise that you’re pretty damned neat the way you are. 

So do me a favour – don’t just whisper sweet nothings to your own knees, carry on whispering to the whole of your very dear body, it’s a gift of the universe and deserves the utmost tender loving care and heaps of accolades.