Thursday, June 30, 2016

The 2 Caesars

Malcolm Turnbull is the re-Constituted Andrew Peacock of our generation of asper-ant Aussies.  Malcolm's a hell of a lot smarter than Andrew.  He's quick-witted, illumined, and not at all unlikable.  But he shares that same insouciant smarmy Liberal-ness of Peacock, albeit in a Sydney Point Piper kind of way, compared with Andrew's Melbourne Toorak-ness.  Malcolm is also monumentally narcissistic.  His narcissism is better-contained than Andrew's because he's so much more intelligent and channels his emperor tendencies into work and occupational achievement.  Peacock was a fop by comparison who could never rise above the criticisms foisted on him by the Labor opposition and by his own party (including his biggest enemy, little johnny howard).

Turnbull the name is a somewhat imperious one.  Even his head is shaped like some post-AD Roman emperor.  His brand of narcissism is shared with Bob Hawke's, who Paul Keating compared himself to as a "shrinking violet".  The two Caesars, Turnbull and Hawke.  Powerful, smart and capable, until their narcissism eventually parades them through the streets of political triumph as mere shells, rather than as collaborative and purposeful on-the-up politicians.  Time will tell how Turnbull develops as a Prime Minister if he is to be re-elected on 2 July, but chances are he will be the shell of Narcissus until broken down, suddenly, in one brittle blow.

The Liberals are pricks.  Best thing is for them to be voted, RIGHT OUT.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Huon Pine

I walked into a guitar shop today which stocked wall-to-wall specimens of a local brand of acoustic guitar.  It was almost as hot inside as out, and was dismayed to think that these guitars would have to live in the swanky heat and wondered of any damage caused to the delicate bracings and woods.

I played a lot of the guitars and conversed with the nice sales guy who brought them down for me.  I was too scared to handle all these thousand dollar plus guitars from their wall-hangings, fearing breakage and banging that often happens when taking a guitar from a wall in the shop.  I didn't want to let on I already knew a lot about the product and was happy anyway to try a few woods to see how they sounded.

Californian Redwood on Rosewood sounded quite magnificent.  This Californian Redwood is locally grown and apparently makes this particular model quite a drawcard in the US where Redwood is a prohibited wood for harvesting.  It looked amazing too, with a spectacular leaf-like pattern of a cream-centre surrounded by that lustrous, deep red.

The real cream of the crop was the Blackwood back and sides topped with Tasmanian Huon Pine.  This Huon Pine was 10,000 years old and was harvested from an already felled tree residing within the bottom of a Tasmanian lake.  This particular set of Blackwood was highly-figured in "fiddleback" style, giving off a brilliant 3D effect; it was difficult to take one's eyes off.  Me and the sales rep were standing there for a while, he holding up the guitar, and us just staring silently for a few seconds.  The Huon Pine was clean, a gorgeous faint yellow, and it produced that unmistakable, everlasting smell of Huon Pine that seems to possess some sort of ethereal power beyond the sensory realm.

The Huon Pine guitar may not be the finest-sounding acoustic guitar - but it arguably comes fairly close.  No, instead, something else came through, something almost shocking.  This guitar throbbed with 'soul', some kind of timeless intensity.  It sang a song of its own language.  It was alive.  It felt like a masterpiece of the earth, with woods that could spin a wordless story which transcend all times and ages, and yet remains tied to the place and region from whence it sprang, and was built.

This guitar had a $5999 tag attributed to it.  It's worth the money.  You can't put a price-tag on a totemic guitar like this.   I'd only procure such a piece if it somehow came my way to purchase.  That I was able to handle it and sniff the pine and play it was enough to be impacted by something that was quite vast.  It's just so amazing that this kind of potency can be built into one acoustic guitar.

Monday, December 29, 2014


I went to my first AA meeting the other night.  It was Christmas Eve.  I personally had no need to attend an AA meeting other than I was guided along into the melee of old and young alcos speaking of their pathos and determination to stay off the bottle for just one-more-day now.  Alcohol pervades my life.  It pervades the lives of those closest to me, particularly since 2008, and it pervaded my life most directly from birth up to the age of 22, when my father passed away.

All I could think about during the meeting was my dad.  I'd be listening to the speakers and couldn't cease to reflect off my own memories and experience with good old dad, comparing my experiences with the stories I was listening to, here, now.

'Alcoholic' never passed through anyone's lips when dad was alive.  After all, he worked hard, and kept his jobs all the way into his final terminal illness.  He 'only' drank beer, and that not what alkies drink, is it?  No, he didn't do wine or spirits, so he couldn't be an alco, could he?  I bristle with a twisted smile now to think of dad hating drugs and drug dealers while all the while he was making the local drug dealer in the form of the publican(s) filthy rich through his own debilitating habit.  Mum was passive.  She didn't interfere.  It was only beer, after all.   Except that throughout my life up the age of 22, and as far back as I could remember, dad was up the pub every night.  He'd always come back stone cold like a wet sloppy dead fish.  And that drinking increased incrementally so that in the last couple of years in his life he'd be at the pub all day on the Sunday.  Ostensibly, he'd be up early to play lawn bowls.  He'd take a biscuit from the tin and go off with his bag of heavy balls.  He'd be back sometime in the afternoon so utterly and elegantly plastered I had to wonder how many beers it would take to achieve such a state.  But I didn't wonder so much.  When you're immersed in it, you live it, you get on with it, and you take it for granted.

Everyone loved Ralph, good ol' Ralph.  Sure, he was incredibly likeable and had a true social nous, so he had loads of friends.  So much so that he overfilled the large church at this funeral.  He was loved in the way others may have loved Keith Moon and Oliver Reed, y'know, meeting your best friends in pubs and all that bullshit.  Still, there must be some virtue in that.  I don't have the same social nous as my dad and tend to be way more aloof.  My dad truly had a lot going for him in many ways and therein lies the tragedy.  Magnificent build, good looking, great hair.  By the end of his life he was enfeebled, wracked by pain, emotional and otherwise.  I'm pleased to say he never lost all his strength despite the rivers of booze and the pack-a-day habit - right down to the butt.

I could attend an A-Anon meeting and speak there.  Financial insecurity, lack of love, all that fucking drinking as I remember it.  But there's an overriding part of me that's a stoic and a believer in bettering the situation.  Bettering the situation does not entail naval gazing into the events of decades passed.  It involves loving the being for who they are, were, what they did for you (for they do much amidst incredible emotional pain that is constantly balmed by the alcohol), and to give now, be of service to your late father and life within and without, for that's where the service to life lies.

I feel that alcohol and its effect on me is something I could talk about forever and ever.  Sure, I will have a glass of red here and there, or a beer, but I'm not really a drinker.  Thank God.  I can't stand hangovers, and the vile stuff has caused more than enough pain for me already in this lifetime.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


I was huddled together with two architects in a small meeting-room going over plans for a total refurbishment of the library space.  I'm no architect, but when spot-pinned for suggestions by these two architects I was apt enough to proffer some idea or other that seemed to go down well.  There were moments where I noticed my hand brushing into my hair as I gulped with the pressure of knowing that a lot of changes were underfoot that I had no control over.  It's all going to be different; less space, new colours, and if I have it my way, a new software management system.  One year's time from now - a totally new space, probably a totally new everything.

Last December I walked into the university's bookshop and went straight up to the sci-fi section.  I haven't read sci-fi since my early teens and my was, for whatever reason, longing to read some sci-fi again.  A book called 'Dust' which had a "Staff Recommended" tag at shelf's edge caught my attention.  I glanced at the blurb and thought this'll do.  Then my contact/supplier from the bookshop, Emily, walked up to say hello.  I immediately solicited her opinion about this 'Dust' book.  Emily told me that 'Wool' was the first in the trilogy, that it was a massive hit, and had something to do with a futuristic scenario where people were forced to live underground in a massive silo.  There was something about Emily's explanation that caught my interest and excitement.  Taking a risk, I bought Hugh Howey's 'Wool', and walked out of the shop into the languid early-summer haze of the pre-Christmas out-of-session campus.

I loved 'Wool'.  And I loved its prequel, 'Shift', too.  I related to Donald, a central character who was intimately and intricately swept along with a terrible movement of events beyond his control.  I want my project to go well.  I know from my own experience in this job I've been with for 18 years that big changes or movements at work are invariably reflected in full in my personal life.  I wonder what's going to happen?  I wonder if that halfway through the beginning bit of the project, when the roof is blown off before the uppers levels are constructed that some event will occur that will delay or blow off the project.  I'll be anxious.  I'll want the refurbishment to be over, to walk into a safe place and reset my digs, if that's to be.  It might not be meant to be.  What is certain, everything will be different.

I loved the Juliette character in the 'silo' series, Howey's heroine.  She was brave, clever, sharp, and she was compassionate, human.  A true leader with a discernible charisma, or as Howey described her, "...she had a fierce intelligence that could be measured from a distance."

Sometimes as I'm gliding around on soft shoes inside the facility or when I shift my gaze in different directions as I'm walking stealthily ahead I think of the place a silo of sorts.  Sometimes I feel as tactile as a Juliette, as furtive as Donald, and sometimes as much a slayer-type as Thurman, someone who knows too much and holds secrets.

And when I walk outside and look up at the clear blue sky I feel so consciously thankful for the air I'm breathing, moreso since I read 'Wool'.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Barry Long's autobiography

A decade after Barry Long's death, his posthumous autobiography has finally been published.  The manuscript had purportedly been sitting for years in unpublished limbo.  I know that the foundation had asked for donations in recent years to keep its activities alive, and the publishing project would have been one of the key initiatives.  Barry himself never sought or asked for bequests or donations so it's a case of whenever is to be, is to be.  Ultimately, it's about 'I' in this body.  I bought the autobiography when made available, and read it at right time in my life to do so.

For all of Barry's profundity of knowledge, Barry doesn't come across as a spiritual "type".  As the spirit started to enter his body around the age of thirty-something, Barry was climbing his way up the boozy, blokey, beery world of tabloid journalism.  He was talented enough, intelligent enough, and gifted enough, to become editor of a Sunday newspaper by his mid-thirties.  These same gifts would serve him (and those who came to him) so well in later years, that ability to write and to speak with amazing directness, truth, and conviction.

Despite his involvement with India during his late thirties, Barry didn't fall into living as an Eastern aesthetic.  After a major shift in consciousness, circumstances brought him over to London and he started over by picking up sub-editing work for a daily newspaper.  In a similar vein to Krishnamurti, Barry dispensed with the need to use Eastern words to convey his teaching.  The word 'Karma' was one notable exception for, as Barry once said, "we [in the west] don't have a word for it".  Barry's experience also differed to the perceived Eastern notion of enlightenment.  Barry always lived in the world, bringing the truth of his perception to his immediate living life, influencing all those who were involved with his life, and attracting the appropriate circumstances at any given time to reflect or challenge his level of truth, just as we all do, whether we know it or not.

Barry was a Leo - a double-Leo I'd been told by another teacher up near Byron Bay - and projected all the traits of a Leo.  He had strong eyes.  He was a driven communicator.  He was not superficially "nice".  He never gave up meat-eating except for brief interludes as described in his book.  He only gave up cigarettes (34) and alcohol (very surprisingly, much later in 1980) when these were "taken from him"; he lost the taste and simply stopped.  As Clive Tempest noted in his introduction to 'Wisdom and where to find it' - a transcript of early teachings of Barry dating back to 1968 - "...Barry's was a new voice, Australian, brash, and unencumbered by the politeness of the European intellectual ..."

Barry's autobiography ends in 1982 at around the time when Barry had just turned 56.  This was the year of the passing of his beloved partner Julie, and demarcates the period when his teaching passed into the public domain from beyond his smaller teaching groups.  The value of such a biography is that it allows us as readers to find mirrors in our own lives.  How every circumstance has shaped us to this moment, where we are now.  And how the process of cause & effect (karma) may or may not have manifested in our lives, that everything seems to happen for a reason...but we need to perceive these subjective manifestations within ourselves.

Barry himself hasn't used those words in his autobiography, that "everything happens for a reason".  But it becomes clear that one can see demonstrations of this through historical events - one coming to mind is the forming of the Beatles.  From the moment John met Paul through to the cover shot of Abbey Road - a twelve-year span - every event and circumstance that brought them to that incredible level of fame and prodigy was favourable, was meant to be.  And on a smaller scale, this could apply within our own lives, too.

From a spiritual or "conscious awareness" point of view, life is Now.  But I think there is value in looking back and reflecting on the past, for it's in examining the past that we discern definite patterns of circumstance, those cause and effect frameworks of periods of events, people, circumstances and so forth.   For myself, I can look to the 16-year span of 1996-2012 in its entirety now, and I can see all the patterns, the circumstances, every person who came into my life, and when, as being my life, my karma, my circumstances, I come to accept the reasons behind all within this context.

I see my noughties years as resembling a graph similar to a southern hemisphere yearly climate averages map.  Hot at the beginning and end, with a cooler middle.  I was in a very cool space around 2003-2005, but circumstances were to come to my life to blow these out of me, to grow me up, which has brought me to the place I am now.  By late-2007 my life started to speed up.  By 2009, circumstances blew up in all different directions.  I realise now I had to go through everything I went through.  The finer awareness (although awareness never ceases - it's an endless stellar universe) in me I've worked for, and have earned it through trevailling difficult circumstances.  Sometimes one needs to go through hell to advance to a higher plateau, and I've found this to be the case in my experience.

Barry's book is full of amazing coincidences and 'chance' encounters - each one moving him along bit-by-bit through his life journey.  Some of the psychic stuff he and Julie went through was actually downright freaky - the sort of happenstances which he eschewed from discussing in meetings, endeavoring to keep his listeners firmly grounded in 'truth' and not in their imaginations.  For myself, I can say I've experienced amazing coincidences (often good, some bad) and freak, chance encounters.   I can definitely see the patterns of people coming into my life as signifying something and giving me to the opportunity to learn from - they are mirrors of I.  We are taught too, either by books or most particularly in ourselves, to maintain conscious awareness as much as possible, and to allow life to happen.  One example I can give is in purchasing my apartment: I was in the market to buy but only bought where the apartment and circumstances just came to me - it was all right, and meant to be.  And funnily enough the number 3 follows me around everywhere, but that's another story..

The greatest value of Barry's teaching is that he made it his primary premise to tell those who were with him to never believe him, and to always test the truth in their own experience at all times.  Barry never had disciples, students or any of the like.  He held meetings world-wide and where large groups would come and sit with him.  But everyone in the group was an individual, in direct communication with Barry.  There were no subsets or cults or other teachers speaking for Barry - there was only ever 'I', the individual, and the teacher and mirror, Barry.

Barry had an extraordinary gift of answering any question relating to emotion and the spirit, to get to the heart of the matter with directness and clarity.  That Barry didn't reflect off his "self" - ie, the conditioned 'self' of past pains and hurts that is endemic in almost everyone and of which Barry was teaching his listeners to overcome by focussing on 'Life', or "me" in that body - was proven to me one day when a man in the audience was quite ofay with him, quite rude.  It amazed me that Barry did not react in any way, not one bit; not only was there no reaction but there was no flipside reaction either, ie, being obsequiously nice to placate the rude person.  I'd never encountered that before, and it was nice to know that the teacher was demonstrating right response that negated the need to react from a position, a "self"...all that matters in this instance anyway is "I", not Barry, for Barry is only a reflection, as he always strove to tell the audience.

Barry was a great genius.  He brought to the West a comprehensive spiritual teaching that was at once profound and deep, and yet absolutely bone-dry straight and direct, and spoken and written with an amazing freshness and candour.  His was a powerful, life-changing teaching.  He brought his meditation, his cosmic insights, his teaching on physical love-making, his imperatives to listeners to be practical and to get their external lives right, and to remind listeners to give up their right to be unhappy.

But perhaps the greatest value of Barry's teaching remains in reminding his listeners that his teaching must not be believed in.  Barry did not want believers.  He wanted all who came to him or listened to him to discover the truth in their own experience.  This of course, empowered "I" who am in every body.  As Barry said in an introduction to his book 'Meditation: a foundation course', the truth can be taught or presented to you by a spiritual teacher, but life, Life, remains our greatest teacher.  For that somewhat freeing insight I am forever grateful, and I do find that indeed, in my very own experience of my life so far, yes, 'life' is my greatest teacher.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

the One purpose: freedom from unhappiness

It seems to me the only real virtue of life or living or existence is to learn to be free from unhappiness.

This does not imply learning to be happy, or becoming happy, but rather to be free of energetic, or substantive unhappiness.

In the first instance, this 'substantive' unhappiness is the unpleasant, energetic entity that can be sensated within the body.  For me, this sensation sits around the stomach or solar plexus area.   Sometimes it's there, sometimes not.

The energy seems to want to come up into the mind and think about past notions and happenings that reflect its own sense of pain.  That's where all the trouble starts; here comes the whirlpool of yucky stomach energy and the mind-fucking that goes with it, related to past hurts or disappointments, to current resentments or jealousies.

It's all horrid and stupid, really.  Life is too short to be carrying around psycho-yuk baggage in the gut.  I realise that it's important to live my life, but to maintain ongoing awareness of the substantive ball of yuk in my gut, and accordingly, to diminish it as a life-long activity.

This is probably the most important activity of my life, regardless of whatever my happen with the climate, or energy depletion, economic dislocations or H2S pluming.

It's about learning to love more, to give and to serve, and to learn to give up more and more the selfish "self" that wants to hold in to its notions of past pain, manifesting as victim mentality, "what about me", and envying people with who inherit property.  Subtle, yes (thankfully), but stupid.

Shining the light of conscious awareness onto this inner yuk-ball is a simple, yet difficult process.  It puts up a fight.  It becomes the snarling dog and gets apparently larger as soon as you focus your inner attention - consciousness - onto it.  It wants to throw you off the cliff and pounce on top of you and will  cannibalise you by using its vicious jaws to bite through your face and the rest of you.  You scream in agony but you secretly want the dog to bite your yuk-centre off - bite it off and be rid of it forever.

Unfortunately, mind-fucking and emotion only add to the ball and won't help to heal it.

Meditation, gratitude, being present and responsive to current circumstance (rather that coming from a past emotion and being reactive), and cultivating more love and compassion with all those around you, including nature and animals atop of the human variety are all fine ways to ease or diminish this energetic ball of yuck.  And from another perspective, getting your life right and being true to yourself and the situation helps to free us from the binds of acute or obvious unhappiness.

Observation helps immensely.  By observation we can see how this energy manipulates us in overt and highly subtle or slivery ways.  And we have constant waking hour access to this, too.

The ongoing circular notion about all this is that there is really no mission or journey to it - it is all done "now".  And yet it takes time to achieve the goal of freedom from the yuk-centre - but it can only ever be done 'now'.

It's about love, and to learn to love more.  True, energetic loving that will blaze through the crap.  To turn away from that moment where you want to lash, either now in a 'challenging' circumstance or at any other time where the focus is in the yuk-centre and mind is indulging painfully on some imagined retribution or other such similar silliness.

Living life, yes, and learning to love more, and learning to give up attachment to petty unhappiness.

It can, and shall, be done.   Now to smile!

Monday, June 10, 2013

the planet has diabetes

The trouble with climate-change denial people is the underlying premise to their arguments that it's "ok" to continue to spew untold amounts of fossil fuels into the atmosphere, to continue to pillage and destroy the pristine forests of the planet like they're bowling pins, and to use the earth's magnificent oceans as some perpetual plastic-dumping tank.  Sure, climate is "always changing" and some parts of the planet are "getting colder" and the planet "hasn't significantly heated since 1998" and all the rest of it.  Ok.  Weather patterns are always in flux.  They've been noticeably out of whack over the past few years and becoming increasingly so, but no bother.  

And if even it's the ...'straight-line stuff in the sky coming out of airplanes'... that's causing the weather disruptions, and not the deluge of atmospheric carbon-dioxide or methane, is it still an excuse to continue to rape and denude the planet of its resources and pristine wilderness?  Is it "ok" to accept  climate-change to be a hoax, to give us some undeserved excuse to continue rampaging the planet with ceaseless Industrialisation and Capitalism, to continue creating environmental horrors planet-wide?  I don't care if climate-change theory is a hoax.  The reality, of what we know and what we see, is far, far worse, and remains a shameful indictment on the progressive human race all of us are immersed in.

Is it "ok" to accept that the past five-hundred or so years of rapid westernisation has spawned untold miseries on countless people the planet over?

It's all too logical to me.  The planet has diabetes.  The earth's blood sugar levels are exceeding the safety zone.   We've stuffed too much rubbish food into the confines of its delicate atmosphere and life-given oceans.  We're killing off the planet's beta-cells (the lungs of the planet are also its pancreas).  The result of this atmospheric and topographical assault has led to diabetes.  We witness incredible thirst (drought) slaked by terrifying deluges of storm and rain.   The extreme weather patterns we continue to witness and to take unwilling involvement with are the effects of diabetic neuropathy.  Pressure systems are inflating like baking bread.  How long will it be from now when the planet goes blind or loses limbs, or goes on dialysis? 

It's a cosmic shame really, but we fucking deserve it. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Crisp packets

Reading Hancock's 'Fingerprints of the Gods' reminds me of how palpably vast we are.  We as individuals and as a species are beings of inherent authority and true power, eternal beings that have been around forever and beyond.  We a modern 'civilisation' that at best skimps the surface of all that is worthy and right and true, trashing our beautiful planet and its habitats and each other in the process to nothing, to nowhere.  What the fuck is going to become of us?  If the last ice age wiped out the previous "pre-historical" civilisations to leave behind only their extraordinary monuments like the ancient cities of Peru and the great pyramids of Egypt, the next round of calamitous events will find it hard pressed to wipe out all evidence of 20th/21st century 'civilised way of life'.   Nuclear radiation, crisp packets and plastic bottles may hang around for a depressingly and embarrassingly long time.  We've really fucking screwed it.  We've squandered our true authority and power as individual human beings, an authority and power springing from cosmic awareness, love, and a pure life force that does not require needing to fuck people or animals or forests over to survive, to "gain".

The Earth has the final say, always.  That the poles are melting at record rates speaks with a silent totality.  Action is effective, words are rubbish.  The politicians are yelling into thinner and thinner coke bottles to be heard.  Their time is up.  The Earth rules, and has the final word.

I love life, but like many am dismayed for the times we live through.  For many, the pressure of living in this epoch exerts a spiritual pressure, a fundamental need to coerce the original truth within ourselves, that eternal stillness and silence, the one true power of life.  I'm certainly sensing it...what else is there?  The world out there, with its aggressive cars and robotic forward momentum, doesn't provide the answers.

This terrible toil inflicted on the planet by us, our merciless civilisation, is too upsetting to bear thinking about for too long.  And to quote Barry Long, "...we have made an awful mess, but it's nothing that won't be cleaned up."