Wednesday, 28 August 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  The manuscript had purportedly been sitting for years in unpublished limbo.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 their 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 it became available, reading it the time that was right in my life.

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 he 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 at 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 and 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, 10 July 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, 10 June 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, 26 April 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."

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Summer is ending

I spent way too much time over the late-spring and summer weighing myself down over a work-based project-management certificate course.  The thing was due on Boxing Day but all of us six participants were granted extensions to the end of February due to our pack-procrastinationary inclinations.  I took three days off in November to do it, managing only a third of the assignment in those three days.  The process wasn't helped by this awful sheet-metal grey weather that hovered over the city throughout the late spring and early summer.  It sure didn't feel like an Aussie Christmas, and even Christmas day was cold and rainy.

I deliberated over the assignment throughout those few weeks I had off during January.  I'd be at my desk indoors with the ceiling fan whirling crazily above me while the city outside cracked with its highest recorded temperature of around 46 degrees.  I finished the assignment with days to spare, and to my pleasant surprise, I passed with no further ado or resubmission request.  The shiny certificate came to me through the post.  Almost gives me the confidence to keep studying, somehow.  I hope the cohort get some kind of reward of achievement like we were promised we would, a little dinner with healthy salad and fresh wine, a pat on the back to say well done, project managers.

I am undeniably a grown man now.  I walk the campus thinking back to 1988, 18 years old, fresh out of high school, and looking a day over 12.  The campus seemed busy then, but in comparison to today, it was a country town.  The campus is teeming now.  Students, everywhere, trawling around all hours of the day at night it seems.  New buildings, refurbishments, new apartment blocks.  They've just opened up a Subway this year that stays open late.  And the students surely don't dress like they used to.  I'm not sure if there is a discernible fashion sense amongst these youth, other than what brand of laptop or mobile phone they carry.  In my day, all of 1988, there seemed to be more a class distinction.  The yuppies or idiots would go for the Country Road label and buy the 1988 Class A striped blue and white shirt to match their faded jeans.  Half the boys would go around wearing to match the 1988 Class A greased mullet look, or whatever that was. I've recently thought it would have been good to have bought one of those shirts (inconceivable at the time) and kept it in storage for 25 years, to pull out now and wear around the campus with brazen aplomb.  But for what end.  1988 is gone, over, finished, as is my youth, and as for these young pipers and pipettes, who knows what the future holds for them?  Who knows what the future holds for all of us, for humanity?  All we do know, there's no looking back, and there's not much point holding onto something that is over, finished, ended.  Best to deal with practicalities, with what we've got, and how to solve some rather ginormous issues that hover over us like a pool of rancid late summer heat that really shouldn't be here.

I took sick in late January.  I'd gone back to work feeling misplaced, a little buzzy and lethargic, weighed down by my warped perceptions of a sack-load of new year's responsibilities I dreaded facing.  By the second day I started shaking and shimmering and turning green and grey and I was off sick and to the doctor's and I'd never felt so sick in all my life.  The anti-biotics kicked in but the drugs themselves made me sick in their own way. I was a discoloured, ill-feeling human laboratory that loped around just wanting to get better.

I did get better, to the point where I became unusually clear and happy.  I suspect that particular illness manifested physically for emotional release.  I'm enjoying work, and despite life's little downs and ups, I feel clear and open.  I'm not carrying little anger rats in my stomach or mind as I did up to then, no doubt exacerbated by this silly certificate course that needed attending to.  Life is good.

And the summer is ending.  My dear partner Steph's song, on YouTube, 

Paul Hewson shooting star

i'm in the sunshine A mate of mine produces a monthly songwriter newsletter which goes out to a hundred or so mainly Sydney-based...