Apr

3

Light 

I laugh when you call in the light
For you don’t know what you’re asking
You wanted warm and fuzzy
Instead you got a huntress on a horse
Chasing you down, a white-hot beam
Shining right on your most painful places
A hand grenade that is about to
Go off in your gut, and an excavation
Into all you had forgotten and never
Wanted to see again

Oh fool, did no one warn you
This light you long for would first
Dredge the darkness curled up
In an aching corner of your soul
And sear you so badly that only
The bravest of you would come 
Through its flame of fiery scrutiny
With the nobility that is your birthright?

© simon heathcote

 

Mortal – a poem

 

 

 

This portal you see in me

 

Is in fact a gateway to You

 

I wonder, when two people

 

Are caught in Neptune’s

 

Watery glare, under Aphrodite’s

 

Spell, within reach of Eros, her son’s

 

Aim, what chance they have to

 

Recall they are also mortal

 

And bound by law and code?

 

For in our flight into the heavens

 

Held captive by those gods

 

Who long for us and envy our

 

Exquisite, ecstatic possibility,

 

We so easily forget we need

 

Saturn’s earthy limitations

 

And are held in this dimension

 

For reasons profound, mysterious

 

Mundane, and mortal

 

I love taking flight yet find peace

 

And fulfilment when I can

 

Straddle both Heaven and Earth

 

While accepting the cross I chose

 

In a pastness lost to time

 

 

 

© simon heathcote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tao Days – a poem

Be done with becoming 
And rest in being
Cease betterment and
Ideas of healing
Relinquish struggle

Relegate the mind
To its own recesses
And step, joyously
From its prison on to
The Floor of all possibility

Only this one action
Does not come from you
Instead, it opens like a flower
And is both fruit and finality 
Of all other possibilities

 

For Jessica

Let me walk back to you

Down the years of your life

Erasing your hurt, carefully, tenderly

Every nuance and hint heard

Robbing you of all dismissals

Taking back my failures

So you slowly turn back toward life,

The life that you are, the girl that you were

Let me pass through the pain and pour honey

Into the recesses of your heart

If I could do it all again, I would never leave your side

I wonder if you heard my silent night-time words

In those years away from you my child,

In my lonely bed at night, calling you

Trying to hold on, to walk the tightrope

That lay, taut, over the crevasse of our life

We were cast in this play by unremembered ghosts

And the Fates who spun our lots

Yet the events that fell upon us only appear to distort

Our love, each to each

For I am your father and I live in you and love you

Soul to closest soul

 Let me walk back to you

 

 

See me, see me now

‘Each man’s soul demands that he be, and that he live, every great archetypal role in the collective unconscious: the betrayer and the betrayed, the lover and the beloved, the oppressor and the victim, the noble and the ignoble, the conqueror and the conquered, the warrior and the priest, the man of sorrows and the self reborn.’ Robert A Johnson

I like this fraudulent arc that runs through my soul with its cast of characters that appear to evolve and devolve life after life. They are projections on a screen in a brightly lit cinema that makes these days happenings of glorious wonder; the blue vein under the skin of my life.

And yet there is only light, and when I see only your shadow I know I have work to do, mining my interior for the cruelty, calamity and chaos that crawls through time, casting clouds of doubt between us.

I am reminded that when I stray into unbelief in your essential goodness to look again through the eye of my troubled heart and cleanse the lens that has obscured my view. Perhaps then I can see both you and I, once more with a timeless eye that looks beneath, beyond and behind both shadow and dust.

It seems to me now, that beauty and the beast are one, one without the other, and each needs something the other has to circle back and complete itself. Can I, will I, see the love hiding in your pain? Will you see mine?

I can only hope and have faith in your vision and keen eye, and a heart whose purity is still traceable despite the rude interruptions of your biography. Will you do the same for me? For we have spent lifetimes together and apart and something in us needs the other.

See me, see me now.

 

Feb

23

 

To become human is to become visible while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.’ David Whyte

The woman before me is 64, awash with grief, holding on to a husband she has wanted to leave for 30 years. She stayed for her son, laid herself upon the altar of his becoming and watched him disappear down the tunnel of the life she had hoped for him.

She sits revving up courage like a teenager on her first motorbike and, of course, she keeps stalling. First gear seems a canyon away, and she draws back, tears welling, down the years that disappeared, scarcely daring to look as if even in looking she will fall into the dead dark void that should have been her life.

Shame and years of persecution stop her seeing the depth of her love, her kindness, her loyalty and I realise that platitudes about loving herself, putting herself first now the boy is a man, grown and gone, would infer her sacrifice meaningless when, in this life, it was her one true offering.

Sometimes, when a person has been deeply wounded, encouraging initiatory leaps is both dishonouring and dangerous. At others, it is what a person needs the most, and occasionally, it is just hard to know. But the hidden dilemma for every person, it seems, is the same: what I both long for and fear most is the dissolution of ‘me’.

Synthesis cannot happen without conflict. What is true in a relationship or a culture is equally true for the individual. Struggle and stuckness are always the prelude to new life, even a leap to the next level of consciousness. And so when she came for a second visit and told me she had found a friend to stay with, I smiled, knowing she was on her way.

We all come at initiation differently. My own tendency has been to build up a head of steam and leap into the flames. It seems I got burned so badly so young this has just been the way I do it. For some of us, the longing for union, to be fully who we are, is a primordial force that will lay waste to all barriers:

‘I lost my world, my fame, my mind. The Sun appeared and all the shadows ran. I ran after them, but vanished as I ran. Light ran after me and hunted me down.’ Rumi

Pragmatism also plays its part. Once you know the light is hunting you, once you know your dissolution is inevitable, once you click the joy you seek has eluded you in the world precisely because it only lives in one place (and then you discover it lives in every place), then why not rush to meet it like the long-lost lover it is?

Like all of us at the outset, my American friend had no living mystical experience to call her forward. The Fool stands at the edge of his longing, naïve, not knowing the road, but willing to face what is unknown, unseen and, until this point, asleep in the soul. He has answered the call.

However we do it, the call is always to embrace the unity of selves, unify the masculine and feminine aspects of the psyche at the throne of consciousness, having raised more and more of the unconscious above ground until the wholeness of the Self reflects our God-like nature. Once joy is known within what more need is there to look without?

As I realised in the worst dark night of my life only recently, it is our very emergence from the Self in the first place that caused all the misery there is! As it says in A Course In Miracles, we chose the one tiny mad idea of separation and uncovered universes of unwanted consequences. Our fall is the spiritual equivalent of not wearing a condom!

The soul, however, has other plans, different to the ones we make, painfully pulling us back into line and purpose. My tearful friend didn’t know any of this, but she was being called out into a new life:

‘The human being has to be born twice, once from his or her mother, and then out of his or her own body and of his own existence. This body is like an egg, the essence of man must become in this egg a bird, thanks to the heat of love. And then he will escape this body, into the eternal world of the soul, beyond space.’

That was Rumi’s son, who had either undergone the experience himself or had seen his father’s utter devastation amid the birth pains that would release a poetry of incomparable fragrance into the world. Attar, another Sufi mystic, said there are only three roads on the path to Love: tears, blood, and fire.

It is little wonder that we resist, dancing back and forth over our decision to step out, envisaging nightmares of ruin: financial, relational, emotional. But when all is said and done, when all steps danced, Samsara is destined and designed to break you. But it’s the you that can never be found, the you that does not exist, the one that lives in the mind and is as changeable as a winter wind.

Once upon a time, transformative rituals were planned and purposeful. For most of us now, they are sudden and incomprehensible. There is no tribe or community to hold most of us, no understanding of the sacredness of person making, yet the soul will have its way with us, ready or not.

I understood my friend’s dilemma. I had lived it and although impelled by trauma rather than choice, I knew the value of being a fool and stepping into the unknown. The disasters of life are the genius of the unconscious. They invoke longing and longing carries us home.

If we refuse to take the journey, if we refuse to face our brokenness or allow ourselves to be broken up so the butterfly of consciousness can be freed, it is perilous to think we will get away with it for we never do.

Life always exacts a tribute and the stakes can be high, fatal even. I once had to tell a client that if we keep circling the same issue refusing to budge, on occasion the soul just gives up and leaves the body. His transformation was fairly rapid there on in!

Yet initially the tribute demanded is more mundane: inertia turning to depression, obsession turning towards addiction, lethargy, hopelessness. What we think of now as standard human fare, and we put up with it. Yes, if we are obsessed with anything, that is life exacting a tribute and telling us we need to look closely within.

Disease and illness then enters the picture. Those who are really walled off at the core, those people who are so fragile and defended they have become personality disordered, will most likely not make the required leap further into life, into their essence, as they are too busy defending against it.

Penetration of the shell around the heart is what is needed and sadly, for some, such a thing seems impossible.

What is required is a true sense of sovereignty, a knowing in the soul and by the soul that you are worth it; not only worth it but both royal and noble, knowing with certainty that a secret self lies hidden in the heart. As the great mythologist Michael Meade says, ‘The people who are destined to become royal are at first hidden or abandoned.’

The divine awakens our heart with the memory of union (our royalty). We then, must make this conscious, embody it, and take it to others struggling in the chrysalis of their lives with the story of our own battle and victory over the forces that wish to keep us small, ignoble and forever impoverished at heart.

We are all pilgrims in this life and I look forward to walking the road to Santiago de Compostella with my daughter in May, for there is always more, and some days I am not yet home.

 

 

Dec

2

We cannot avoid divine messengers. They fly in like that trickster Hermes across the landscape of the soul heralding the next chapter or cycle of life.

If we are wise, we will pay attention or at least climb aboard the lens of hindsight in our quest for a soul-centric life – one that with both eye and ear for initiation seeks to take our life not further into the world but deeper into the Self. What Rumi called ‘the root of the root of your own self’.

I didn’t know it at the time, but a divine messenger came to me on my 18th birthday. Her name was Sian, and she was sitting A-levels with me. She was quiet, slight and ephemeral; I did not know her well. We didn’t mix in the same crowd. Whereas I was wild and untamed, already a drinker and fighter of some repute, she exuded a subtle soulfulness. We had never really noticed each other, or so I thought.

She stopped me in the corridor and gave me a present, a copy of John Fowles’ book The Magus. It was a pivotal moment in my life and started me on a journey back to the no-thingness I longed for. But her greater gift was in seeing me. I mean really seeing me, the soul that resided beneath all the hurt and pain I carried.

Within a year or so she had died from a rapacious cancer, which made our meeting all the more poignant, but not before she had delivered her gifts.

After I devoured what was a mesmerising novel about the de-thawing of the anti-hero’s shutdown soul into a real humanness, I returned to the quotation from Little Gidding by TS Eliot that started it:

‘We shall never cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. ‘ We come from oneness, are born into twoness, and return to oneness at death or, if we are very blessed before, if the divine wills it.

Of course, our own dissolution both stalks and terrifies us. It is coming for us and cannot be escaped – a shadowy grim reaper opening a door filled with light. And yet we hold on to what we know, a small character trying to be big in the endless drama of the soul played out on a stage filled with what indigenous people call the ten thousand things.

Yesterday, discussing these things with a friend, it occurred to me I had started a website supporting the soul’s descent because as a natural underdog and outsider, I like to champion those at the fag end of things.

And it seems that soul currently languishes as spirit’s poor cousin at a time when those who have no roots into their unconscious, no true wholeness, want only love and light and banish the blackness that soils all of us further into the dingy recess where they have it tightly locked up.

As Carl Jung said, it is not in the shadow but in the denial of the shadow that evil finds fertile ground. It seems then that we have to embrace our twoness if we want it to morph into oneness, to love it rather than hate it, to declare it rather than to defame it.

In emptying ourself of ourself we have to face what we don’t want to look at, the taboos, the disavowed and disallowed. The hateful, violent, rageful Medusa within. That means facing some pain knowing we have divine backing.

The Sufi mystic Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee put it this way: ‘The divine awakens our heart with the memory of union and our job is to make this conscious.’ He goes on to point out the emptiness we fear, the nothingness that will consume us, loves us with an intimacy, tenderness and mercy beyond imaginings.

When the mind bows to the heart and takes its proper place as a bridge between the conscious and unconscious life, the veils that obscure our experience of oneness are lifted. For those of us who are not gifted with sudden and permanent spiritual awakenings, such an experience is, as Alcoholics Anonymous says, of the ‘educational variety’.

The story of Majnun and Layla in the Sufi tradition illustrates why: when Majnun saw his beloved Layla and caught a glimpse of her ankle he passed out. See, said God, if that makes you faint, don’t come running to me! Walk and you may just have a chance of surviving.

Don’t we need both soul and spirit, masculine and feminine, up and down? And don’t we need to slowly cook and synthesize the pairings as the animals aboard Noah’s Ark had to give birth to the world?

We can see this merger of the human and divine everywhere. Sometimes it goes wrong. The giant Nephilim, said to be the result of the lovemaking of fallen angels and humans may be a case in point. In the story of Eros and Psyche, the youthful god, son of a jealous Aphrodite, is sent to kill the mortal but – as is his wont – seeks instead to merge.

Although we relate solely to this asteroid’s erotic longings, he represents the life force that drives us all, and seeks to penetrate and impregnate us, getting past our defences so we can experience the bliss of the conjoining of our divine and human selves. He sits up in the heavens, in our astrological charts, waiting for the opportunity that so often brings devastation.

Psyche, the adored mortal, lost him by disobeying a divine directive, and had to go through many trials set by the envious Aphrodite before she could win him back. This is our own story, the story of the soul, and the story of our journey to merge with the one we love.

Those we love the most, are bound to trigger our most labyrinthine defences and so often we separate without working for the rewards of healing and togetherness.

We are also a bridge in this generation; a bridge between divine and human realms. We wrestle and struggle, oscillating between oneness and twoness and this is as it should be. In years to come, those who come after will have a different experience no doubt. But we are the transition team. It is both our burden and our blessing to be so.

Perhaps it is time to stop being ashamed of our humanness, our ‘mistakes’, our rage and pain, and realise we are brave pioneers, going where no man or woman has gone before.

As Pema Chodron, the Buddhist nun says, it is human to prefer Samsara or Nirvana, but there is something about embracing both to realise they are in fact one.

Someone else whose work I admire reminds me that liberation is not liberation without acceptance of that which appears to be non-liberation.

Amen to that.

 

 

Dec

6

‘The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!’

William Wordsworth

 

A friend recently told me of her dealings with a major publisher of self-help books. Originally with the group’s self-publishing arm, she received the exciting news they thought her book important enough to become one of their main titles.

There was the verbal carrot of a movie, a makeover, worldwide talks and the remoulding of her as a brand. It was a marketing man’s dream, and a human being’s nightmare. Not a human doing perhaps, which most of us seem to have become, but a human being.

She felt nauseous, tense, bullied and invaded by the agent at the end of the phone. Fortunately, a gifted and psychic person she saw into the future. It felt, she said, materially rich but numb. Wise and unusual, she was smart enough to see the devil’s bargain and refuse it.

Such a move is unthinkable to the modern mind, for the mind is seduced by the world and falls further into it, and rashly blinds itself to the price of success. The truth is the more we are tempted to do, the more we submit to the world’s demands to be someone, the more likely it is we will keep moving away from what we truly want.

For is it not the need to give and receive love, to live in that river of loving the great mystic poets talked of, that is the hidden and underlying motivation and desire of us all? And yet so often we take the long road home, spending lifetimes lost down worldly cul-de-sacs, drawn into the illusion again and again in our confusion.

And just like my friend’s offer it seemed sensible, desirable and plausible. It is always that way when the devil’s on your back. Her body, however, was informing her of the truth, that this was not her way; hers was the road less travelled. If her book sells, it will happen because the divine wills it, and it will feel right.

Luckily, I have always had a similar bodily response to the world’s enticements. There is just an inbuilt awareness that in this life there is another way. Recent events affirmed that for me after it was suggested in the summer I join a group and a project to help me promote my work.

I had misgivings but thought I would give it a go. It has been an interesting, beneficial experience – although not for any business gained as there is none, but for the experience of again seeing what happens to good human beings who get caught up in the world.

And, as you can see, on this page and others, I started down that road. Yet I witnessed people I care about overworked, stressed, angry, lapsing into dishonesty and justification, my own reactive anger and then acceptance and compassion. I was reminded of one of my favourite pieces on the addictive personality:

‘What is his basic trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?’

I saw this acted out in front of me and am aware enough of such self-centredness in myself also to circumvent thoughts of retaliation. It is simply not the way. What I was being shown was that my own path does not lie in the world and that any ‘success’ I may or may not have comes only through keeping my motives pure.

Yesterday, as things would have it, I received the monthly newsletter from my spiritual teachers. It came in the middle of the time I had given myself to ponder my experience of marketing and those involved, during a bout of ill health. It confirmed what I already knew:

‘The Lord of this creation wants us to believe that it’s by our blood, sweat and tears that we will make our way through this world. That’s the world. God says, ‘I’m Loving. You’re Loving. Be Loving.

‘If you are listening to the world, you will answer the world’s call of working hard, of believing that it is supposed to be hard and difficult, but if you’re listening to God, it’s enjoy, learn, experience, have fun, create, love – it’s just a very different approach.

‘So, if you have the other pushing on you, look at that and say, ‘I’m going to let go of that. I’m not going to do the way of the world anymore.’

The divine is radical. We forget that. The devil’s bargain on the other hand, despite, or perhaps because of, the temptations, leaves people tired, dull and numb. I saw it in my colleagues who are no better or worse than I and who were caught, as many are now, in straddling two worlds.

We see it everywhere on Facebook and I have been caught in the same confusion myself: spiritual beings dealing in the world, using the world’s ways to sell something nobler. But is it really possible? Perhaps it is, and yet I wonder what happens to those spiritual teachers in the deepest sense who become products.

Our suffering is so unconscious we accept it is the price we have to pay. And we remain oblivious to the devil and his bargain, not aware of how we have been duped. Even the tiredness, irritability, anger etc does not alert us to the fact something is wrong – we are just so used to it.

In these sophisticated times we tend to dismiss talk of the devil and Satan as the province of fundamentalists. That’s a dangerous misunderstanding and indeed part of the plan that seduces us.

If you watch the redoubtable Bill Hicks on YouTube talking about marketing, the point is made with a satirist’s savage humour: ‘By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing…kill yourself….There’s no rationalisation for what you do and you are Satan’s little helpers.’

Robert A Johnson, one of the great Jungians, brings Satan into his argument about the dangers of dealing with the world in his tale of a hard-working miller who is told by the devil: ‘For a fee (every satanic offer begins in this way) I will show you how to grind your grain with much less effort and much faster.’

The miller, intrigued of course as we all are, agrees to a bargain, in his eagerness not noticing the price he will later pay. But the price, it turns out, are the hands of his daughter, which the devil chops off and carries away.

What is shown here is how the feminine, the tender feeling part of ourselves, is violated by the mechanical masculine drive to success and how modern people make this deadly bargain all the time.

‘It is so deeply ingrained in our mentality,’ says Johnson, ‘that we fail to see it is a devil’s bargain in its modern form. This delusion is so common in our modern mentality that grocery shops are full of its language: two for the price of one, or a second one for only one cent, or one third more for the same price, or this is marked down from $7.99 to $4.99.’

As he says, this is not necessarily dangerous in the market place and we see it everywhere now, not least in the sort of internet marketing that I and others embarked upon. Yet, however unpalatable it is to think of ourselves in this way, Bill Hicks is right. Marketing is manipulation.

As Johnson says, the real danger comes when we trade an inner feeling, our honesty or integrity, for example, for an outer advantage. That is the devil’s bargain: we give away our true self, our values for something in the world.

It is particularly dangerous for those selling spirituality because it is more easily hidden and justified. We are all encouraged to give away free products, work on that sales funnel and so on, for the great god success. It can be hard to see the truth in such circumstances, which is why, like my friend at the beginning of this piece, I choose to listen to my feelings and how I see this mentality affecting those around me.

I recently saw this quote from The Dalai Lama:

The planet does not need more ‘successful’ people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds. It needs people to live well in their places. It needs people with moral courage willing to join the struggle to make the world habitable and humane and these qualities have little to do with ‘success’ as our culture is set.

Those of us who find ourselves wrestling with how best to get our message out there need to consider the issues carefully and be aware of the risks of losing both hands and hearts in the process.

For there is nothing particularly spiritual about that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sep

30

 

 ‘The heavens cannot contain me, or the void, or winged exalted intelligences and souls: Yet, I am contained, as a guest, in the heart of the true believer.’

When, as a boy, Rumi was forced to flee his homeland, Afghanistan, soon to be ruthlessly ransacked by Genghis Khan’s mongol hordes, he went with his father on a pilgrimage to Mecca, stopping en route at Nishapur.  It was here that he met another great Sufi poet, Attar, author of The Conference of the Birds.

The boy never forgot his meeting with the master, who predicted ‘this boy will open a gate in the heart of Love’. Continued…

Sep

4

Global Teleseminar with relationship experts hosted by Angelique Tsang

When a relationship summit has a title like ‘Let Love Come To You’ I know it is on the right track and I am delighted to have been invited as a guest speaker.

Let Love Come to You relationship telesummit

For love is not something we order, not another commodity to be bought and sold in the market place, not something we can get something out of – though many of us have tried.   Continued…

May

28

‘Those tender words we said to one another are stored in the secret heart of heaven. One day, like the rain, they will fall and spread, and their mystery will grow green over the world.’ Rumi

The mystery that lies within the hidden heart of the human being, and is also the secret heart of heaven, takes us right to the core of creation and the dark wholeness that births what indigenous cultures call the ten thousand things.

‘In the whole of the universe there are only two, the lover and the Beloved.’ And for some, for the mystics of the world, the divine is not father nor mother, but the sweetest, most ecstatic lover that seizes our heart in the most passionate affair of our life. Continued…

May

27

‘How long will we fill our pockets like children with dirt and stones. Let the world go. Holding it, we never know ourselves, never are airborne.’ Rumi

There is a wild, sweet fierceness, both tough and tender that whispers awake a burning in the heart that will one day flame out and tear away the veil that parts us from who we truly are..

We are here for one thing, one thing alone, but distracted by so many others – what the Toltecs called the mitote in the mind – that whisper is lost in what the late poet John O’Donohue called ‘neon culture’.

Rumi again: ‘There is one thing in the world that you must never forget. If you were to forget everything else and remember this, then you would have nothing at all to worry about; but if you were to remember everything else and forget this, you would have done nothing with your life.’ Continued…

Dec

5

Tina Turner, that gravel-voiced, Ike-battered, comeback kid said this: ‘I didn’t have anybody, no foundation in life…so I had to discover my mission in life.’

It’s a plain enough statement: without support she had to cut out on her own, uncover her path, focus hard to push through the neglect that birthed her talent. It speaks to the victimised child in us all, galvanising the hero to action.

Yet it also says something else, something other and reveals a truth that sprang straight from the author’s unconscious without either her awareness or her consent. If you listen to people carefully, with what I call an eye for initiation, often something quite different is going on.

If you ask the right questions more is revealed. Continued…

Jun

13

‘The human being has to be born twice, once from his or her mother, and then out of his or her own body and of his own existence. This body is like an egg, the essence of man must become in this egg a bird, thanks to the heat of love. And then he will escape this body, into the eternal world of the soul, beyond space.’
Sultan Walad

The tiny circumference of the world into which we are born is a gross assault on the grandness of the soul. Concepts, ideas and belief systems soon enclose us, blinding us to our vital essence, rendering us forgetful of our greater purpose. But the soul is bigger than you in the same way the baby is larger than the tunnel through which it is born. It is as if everything has to be squeezed into life, shrink-wrapped to take its place, a small egoic self suitable for the universe of time and space.

That works for a while, for many it works for a lifetime and beyond, but for all, finally, the soul, long forgotten and contained within the confines of family and culture, must emerge Continued…