Archive for November, 2013

Angel moon


Yesterday morning I noticed the moon above the Christmas lights in George Square in Glasgow.

This got me thinking about rhythms – the lunar cycle, which so few city dwellers are aware of, and the cultural cycle of the Christmas season. Actually as I wrote that sentence I realised that American readers will probably use the term “Holiday season” instead of “Christmas season” and that’s something else which is interesting….about our cultures, our language, our beliefs and traditions.

The people who I meet in the consulting room day by day have such diverse beliefs – from followers of Islam, to Jehovah’s Witnesses, to Catholics, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, New Age thinkers, agnostics, atheists, materialists…….and does that matter?

Of course it does.

How can I make any sense of what someone is experiencing if I don’t gain an understanding of what kind of world they live in? If I don’t take into consideration their values, beliefs, traditions, their ways of living, how can I understand their illness experience, and more than that…..how can I even conceive of what health might look like for this person?

Rhythms and cycles are such a fundamental characteristic of Life. Which ones are important to you and contribute to your perception of the world?

Which ones are you aware of today?


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fern eclipse

David Suzuki, in ‘The Sacred Balance’, says

Many have believed in an animated, inhabited, sacred world surrounding them, the natural world that constitutes reality. These beliefs restore our sense of belonging, of being-with, which is threatened by our dividing, conquering brain;

Oh, this connects with so many other things I’ve read these last few months. That last phrase taking me back to ‘The Master and His Emissary‘ – “our dividing, conquering brain” – what a brilliant description of what our left hemisphere does! But it’s this sense of Life everywhere which really captures my imagination. Marc Halévy in ‘Ni hasard, ni nécessité’ writes about the concept of hylozoism….a term I had never encountered before. Look it up. I thought Halévy had invented it as a neologism – but he hadn’t. It’s a very, very old idea which, suddenly becomes very, very new and relevant now. It’s the idea that everything has life in it. He juxtaposes hylozoism to materialism and says

It reveals to us that all matter is alive, that all matter is an expression of life, that all matter is living. (my translation)

Without looking it up right now, I seem to recall Howard Bloom argues something similar in ‘The God Problem‘ too, where he makes the case that even neutrons demonstrate free will.

It seems that Life is everywhere, and that the Cosmos is where we belong, what we are part of, not apart from. Does it make you feel differently about our planet once you realise it isn’t a resource but a manifestation of a living universe

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Dr Peter Gøtzsche is the founder of the Nordic Cochrane Centre, a highly respected medical researcher who examines clinical trials.  The Cochrane centres are widely accepted as the most reliable sources of unbiased information about the research evidence for medical interventions. He has written a thoroughly disturbing book comparing drug companies to organised crime. His messages are clear, rational and evidence based. Here’s a quote from his new book, Deadly Medicine and Organised Crime.

‘The main reason we take so many drugs is that drug companies don’t sell drugs, they sell lies about drugs. This is what makes drugs so different from anything else in life… Virtually everything we know about drugs is what the companies have chosen to tell us and our doctors… the reason patients trust their medicine is that they extrapolate the trust they have in their doctors into the medicines they prescribe. The patients don’t realise that, although their doctors may know a lot about diseases and human physiology and psychology, they know very, very little about drugs that hasn’t been carefully concocted and dressed up by the drug industry… If you don’t think the system is out of control, then please email me and explain why drugs are the third leading cause of death… If such a hugely lethal epidemic had been caused by a new bacterium or a virus, or even one hundredth of it, we would have done everything we could to get it under control.’​


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Dark reflecting pool to high plane drifting

From the soaring, high flying jet, looking for all the world like a shooting star, to the dark depths of the glen.
Late in the afternoon this steep sided glen was plunged into darkness as the shadow of one hill covered all but the very top of the opposite one.
No surprise that nobody has built a house in this beautiful but stark valley where direct sunlight is the briefest of winter visitors.

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Marc Halévy describes three “incredible” leaps in the history of the universe –

The leap from light to matter

The leap from matter to Life

The leap from Life to thought

Reminds me of Thomas Berry and his “moments of grace” – from the forming of our solar system –

Such a moment occurred when the star out of which our solar system was born collapsed in enormous heat, scattering itself as fragments in the vast realms of space. In the center of this star the elements had been forming through a vast period of time until in the final heat of this explosion the hundred-some elements were present. Only then could the sun, our star, give shape to itself by gathering these fragments together with gravitational power and then leaving some nine spherical shapes sailing in elliptical paths around itself as planetary forms. At this moment Earth too could take shape; life could be evoked; intelligence in its human form became possible. This supernova event of a first or second generation star could be considered a cosmological moment of grace, a moment that determined the future possibilities of the solar system, Earth, and of every form of life that would ever appear on the Earth.

to the human moments –

when humans first were able to control fire; when spoken language was invented; when the first gardens were cultivated; when weaving and the shaping and firing of pottery were practiced; when writing and the alphabet were invented.

and right up to this present time –

So now, in this transition period into the 21st century, we are experiencing a moment of grace, but a moment that is different in its significance from any previous moment. For the first time the planet is being disturbed by humans in its geological structure and its biological functioning in a manner like the great cosmic forces that alter the geological and biological structures of the planet or like the glaciations. We are also altering the great classical civilizations as well as the indigenous tribal cultures that have dominated the spiritual and intellectual development of vast numbers of persons throughout these past 5,000 years. These civilizations and cultures have governed our sense of the sacred and established our basic norms of reality and value and designed the life disciplines of the peoples of Earth. We will never be able to function without these traditions. But these older traditions alone cannot fulfill the needs of the moment. Something new is happening. A new vision and a new energy are coming into being.

Does it feel like that to you? Does it feel like the old order is crumbling, and that we are about to take a new, “incredible” leap?

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A tree we might say is not so much a thing as a rhythm of exchange, or perhaps a centre of organisational forces. Transpiration induces the upward flow of water and dissolved materials, facilitating an inflow from the soil. If we were aware of this rather than the appearance of a tree-form, we might regard the tree as a centre of a force-field to which water is drawn….The object to which we attach significance is the configuration of the forces necessary to being a tree….rigid attention to boundaries can obscure the act of being itself.

Neil Evernden, in ‘The Natural Alien’

I don’t know how this particular tree came to grow this way, but when I saw it I was struck by how the form revealed the process….not only did it reveal the flowing, developing nature of the tree, but it presented a permanent memory of an event. One day something happened in this tree’s life and it took a turn to the left, a sharp turn. It looks like it was a pretty dramatic event, maybe even one of those events which could bring its life to an end, but it didn’t…..it survived, and coped, and flowed in a new direction.

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Reflected golden hillside

I’ve never seen anything like this. As I was driving through the “Sma’ Glen” the gold on the water caught my eye.
My favourite is probably the photo above, but look at this one (probably the most abstract)


and, this one (which shows you what caught my eye in the first place)

Reflected sunlit hillside

then, this one shows you more clearly just where the gold was coming from

Hilltop reflection

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Snowtop in the clouds


What’s this blog all about?


You can see that phrase in the title banner, and its that phrase which kick started my writing of this blog.

Look at this photo I took this week. I think it captures the absolute essence of “becoming not being”.

Start wherever you want. At the top you can see the blue sky, whispy clouds kissing and caressing the surface of the snow covered mountain, or is the snow blowing up into whispy clouds in the sky? You can see the shadows of the clouds darkening the surface of the land, and you know, you just know, that those shadows, those clouds, and, yes, the borders of the snow, are constantly changing.

In fact, it’s quite hard to see the boundaries up there. Where does the land end, the cloud begin? Where does the blue sky end and the cloud begin?

Then as you come down further you see the land without snow…..the blues, the greys, the browns……all, forever, becoming not being.

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Late autumn Scotland

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the people we love, the place where we live.

That’s a quote from David Suzuki’s book, “The Sacred Balance”. It comes just after this paragraph –

Although we know who we are, where we come from, what we are for, we give that knowledge no weight; our culture tends to deny or conceal that insight, and so we are left alienated and afraid, believing the truth to be ‘objective’ instead of embodied (my italics). A world that is raw material, resources, dead matter to be made into things, has nothing sacred in it. So we cut down the sacred grove, lay it waste and declare that it does not matter, because it is only matter. Just so the slavers of an earlier century declared their merchandise to be incapable of ‘proper human feeling’. Just so generations of experimental animals have been sacrificed in the name of research. Pesticides poisoning the lakes and rivers, fish disappearing from the oceans, rain forests going up in smoke – this is the world we have spoken so powerfully into existence, and we will continue to live in it unless we change our tune, tell a different story.

What a powerful piece of writing!

Aren’t there so many important points in that one paragraph? How we fail to recognise the embodied nature of reality, and instead create the delusion of ‘objects’ and ‘objectivity’. And how from that one delusion we create a whole story of separateness and objectification which colours our relationships to others, to Nature, and, ultimately, to ourselves.

We DO know very well what matters most to us – and that is the people we love, and the place where we live.

Shall we just act from that knowledge? Test our choices against that truth?

How would life look then? What story would we be telling……a love story?

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