Archive for October, 2013

coloured drop


I photograph what I notice.

Something catches my attention, draws me to it. I become aware of it, and a sense of wonder, or an appreciation of beauty rises in me.

Then, so often, when I upload the photo onto my computer later and look at it on the big screen I see something even more striking, even more amazing than I was consciously aware of at the time I pressed the camera button.

Look at this photo. What caught my attention was a sparkle. The light and the water glistened like little gems. I took a few photos. When I looked at this one later I noticed that one of the drops of water is different. It’s like a little drop of honey, or amber, rather than like a small diamond or crystal of clear glass.

When I notice this, something else happens.

My delight increases. My sense of wonder increases. (How come this one drop on this leaf is such a different colour?) And it activates those deep values in me – the values of presence, of becoming consciously aware of this present moment, the beauty of transience, knowing that this present moment is fleeting, and all the more precious because of that, and the love of diversity and uniqueness.

All in a drop, all in a moment.

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river flows


As the river flows over the rocks in the forest around the Bracklinn Falls I stand and wonder about the relationship between the rocks and the water.

I can see the rocks set the boundaries of the river and channel the direction of flow for the water, but I can also see how the water sculpts its own path leaving the rocks far from untouched as it pours down the hillside.



This got me thinking again about that continuous interplay of two essential forces in the universe – the diversity generators and conformity enforcers of Howard Bloom’s “Global Brain”.

That same idea is captured with a different set of metaphors in Thomas Berry’s fabulous “The Great Work”, where he talks of “wildness and discipline”.

I recently came across yet another set of metaphors for this process in David Wade’s “Crystal and Dragon“. In this latter book, David Wade describes the patterns of Nature (actually you could say of the Universe) and Culture which emerge from these two, apparently opposite, forces. Think of how a crystal forms, with a set of rules, which are strictly enforced in a disciplined way to produce the structure required to allow the growth of the crystal. Then think of the patterns of flow which emerge in the creation of clouds, waves and waterfalls. The former containing a certain predictability, and the latter retaining an apparently chaotic randomness. In one section of his book he compares Islamic art to Taoist art, the former known for its beautiful geometric patterns, and the latter for its freehand ink drawings of clouds, waves and water. Interesting then to think of the strict and detailed rules of Islam, and the Taoist focus on constant change, flow and uncontrollable nature of Life. In Chinese culture this force is represented by the Dragon.

So, the crystals of conformity enforcement and discipline, and the flowing Dragon of diversity generation and wildness……and what an astonishing Universe is produced in the process.


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worn stone


Jung said “The world will ask you who you are, and if you do not know, the world will tell you.”

Do we make ourselves, or does the world make us?

Actually, that’s one of those questions which poses a false duality. The truth is it’s a two way process, an interaction, a conversation, relationship, a dance.

I’m fascinated by the patterns we see everywhere. As I listen to someone’s story, I’m listening for patterns. What kinds of patterns?

Well, I suppose you could call them habits.

  • Habits of the body
  • Habits of the head
  • Habits of the heart

The habits of the body are our physical actions, the ways in which we use our bodies to move and to interact with the world. Think of your eating habits, your exercise habits, your physical preferences, how you experience the world and how you engage with it.

The habits of the head are our thoughts, our beliefs and our world view. Think especially of whether or not your thinking habit focuses on the past, the present or the future? What are you sensitive to? What do you notice? How do you interpret the world? It’s especially helpful to think of how we approach the world, and Iain McGilchrist’s brilliant understanding of the clearly different ways in which the left and right hemisphere’s of the brain approach the world is really exciting.

The habits of the heart are revealed in the patterns of our emotions, our longings, and our passions. What moves you? What touches in you in your heart? In your soul?

This is the examined life – where you become aware of your inherited and acquired patterns which create the habits of your existence. And if you want life to be different, you’re going to have to create some new habits, or change some old ones.

zen sand

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The forest becoming

If you go into the forest just now you’ll see how everything is connected.
You’ll see the trees shedding their leaves.
You’ll see fallen trees covered in moss.
And you’ll see all kinds of fungi pushing up from the forest floor.

Here’s one thought that occurred to me in the forest – where does the past go?

We often think of time as being like a river, the future rushing towards us as we stand in the present moment and watch it all flow by and into the past.
So, once it has passed, it’s gone. Right?

Except it often really doesn’t feel like that. So try this instead.

The past is always with us. The present grows from the undergrowth, from the forest floor, of the past. It’s always here. It’s what we are shaped by. (Well partly……we are also shaped by the present and even the future, but I’ll return to that another time)

We are changed because of this ever growing relationship between the present and the past. Can’t have the one without the other.

But here’s the other part which occurred to me. The past doesn’t stay the same. Just like this forest floor is changing minute by minute, so the past itself is changing, constantly being altered by the present.

So it doesn’t go somewhere. It’s always with us. And it’s always changing.


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