We ache in the mornings,
this storm of inflammation
and ageing creeping toward us
like a returning vow.
It is long broken. I take solace
from your eyelashes moving on the pillow,
and comfort from your dreaming.
Yet I cannot help but wonder if we are cursed,
this the penalty for our departure.
I watch in the midnight hours -
your frown, the way you clench
teeth and fingers, the different ways
we feel it, how two atone together.
He comes for us at night like a stalker, surreptitious but howling through dawn while I lie or kneel to pay…
Once upon a time, around 35 years ago, when I was wrestling the serpent that is alcohol in a life or death struggle, life put in my path an ageing Zen Buddhist. Pamela was 67, an aristocrat, had herself spent many years sliding down that particular snake.
An existence as the wife of a wealthy tea planter in India had been supplanted and stripped by a self-replenishing bottle that finally landed her in a one-bed council flat in Worcestershire.
She lived almost entirely in kimonos, shone with the light of Truth and was perhaps the happiest person I have ever…
‘What is Truth?” asked Pilate as he stood right at the edge of corruption.
Isn’t that where we all stand now? Having to decide how good we want to be, how courageous, how much risk we are prepared to take, how much comfort we can afford to give up? The air spins with questions, smells like fear. Then the spin itself, telling us up is down as we’re assaulted from all sides, and you see with alarm, it’s the people you never would expect.
And then you remember this isn’t about intelligence but consciousness and that light takes lifetimes to…
He was an old man even then, a man with hands like birds disrupting feathers from a nest, their violence, a ferocious urging, their floating, a breath bearing you home. And you knew he had come to tell you something you could not, should not live without. A scarecrow in a technicolour dreamcoat, Uranus distilled, shooting bolts of seismic thought, which his twin birds reached up and gathered from the heavens, returning to caress one ear then slap another. He left you stunned, felled by the koans he delivered like darts, foxed by a mind that knew what you did…
They say there’s a story in each of us — it’s not that story though — not the one with roots and bearded leaves, and lineaments up front
but the one you get to tell with a fat cigar much later, one you fell for in the dream, one you should have said no to.
These are the other ones, (there’s more than one of course) — the stories the mind conjures out of fear and longing and all the awkward corners of uncertainty to which we cleave.
It’s a betrayal you can’t undo, not now, the genocide of the Self eschewed. These are the stories that kill the solar glint in the hopeful eye, one day forcing you to your knees,
and finally you realize you chose a fate when you could have carved a hidden destiny, long since put to sleep.
Without an appreciation of the soul’s radical desires, psychotherapy can interfere with psychological and spiritual maturation and promote a non-imaginative normality that merely supports people to be better-adapted cogs in a toxic industrial culture’
There is a marvellous moment in Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships by the pioneering Buddhist psychotherapist John Welwood when a client finally hits the ground of infinite possibility. The truth is, she says, that right now I am a completely fucked up human being and cannot be otherwise. This revelation was no doubt preceded — as it is for many of us — by years…