Making it the Way it Is: Van Morrison’s Mysticism

hqdefault

Van ‘The Man’ Morrison

I don’t know about you but in my book when the music and self-help industries try to sell ‘uplifting’ music they get it all wrong.  You either get Christian rock and breathy chants or waterfalls and mellow Moog loops.  Pretty dire.

I happen to love music. I also like to be inspired to enjoy a better human existence.  And while an 8 hour track of gentle musical gurgle may be useful to get me back to sleep at 330am, when it comes to listening to music I need something with meat and gristle on its bones.

And there is no shortage of inspiration to be had all across the spectrum: rock, pop, folk, classical, even rap, for goodness sake. Music by terrific artists, singers and writers who refuse to water down the music just to get a message across.

Here is just one example from the great Irish mystic Van ‘the Man’ Morrison.

This has been one of my favorite albums since I first heard it way back nearly 40 years ago. Van has always been touched by the Celtic spirits and it would be hard to identify any of his records that is completely devoid of the spiritual touch.  But in the early 80s he released a number of albums that put the whole mystical/spiritual quest right up front. This is the first, and in my opinion, the best of them.

Common One, as the title suggests, points to the Universal Spirit that permeates everyone, everything as well as all time and space. It is the one thing we all share in common. In this respect the record is a hymnbook to that non-religious ‘godhead’.  Opening with the stunningly beautiful Haunts of Ancient Peace and closing with a dreamy When Heart is Open, Common One takes the listener on a journey of spiritual discovery and longing.   The album shimmers with the dappled light and shade of jazz and lush orchestration. The tempo is generally leisurely, much like a tramp across the highlands on a long summer’s day which is not to say it is monotonous. The music builds and collapses, slows then rushes frantically forward again throughout the album, often in the same song.   Summertime in England is a perfect example of changes in pace and intensity.

Each song is finely and specially constructed to deliver and elicit a particular emotional response. We hear Van whisper prayers of desperate loneliness  (Spirit) as well as lose himself in trances of mystical delirium (Summertime in England) chanting the names of long dead muses. But lest you think this is all pretty heavy and depressing he pops up with joy and delight too.

Such is the song Satisfied. 

Let’s go walkin’ up that mountainside
Look down in the valley down below
And we survey this wondrous scene
Wait a minute
Hold that dream.
Hold that dream.
Don’t want to change my name and write a book
Just like Catcher in the Rye
Settle down in a shady nook
Talkin’ to my baby now
I’m satisfied
With my world
Cause I made it
The way it is.
Satisfied (Satisfied.)
Inside.
Go to the mountain
Come back to the city
Where a whole lot of things
Don’t look very pretty
Spiritual hunger and spiritual thirst
But you got to change it
On the inside first
To be satisfied
To be satisfied
Sometimes I think I know where it’s at
Other times I’m completely in the dark
You know, baby, cause and effect
I got my karma from here right to New York
I’m satisfied
With my world
Cause I made it
The way it is
Satisfied (Satisfied)
Inside.
Sometimes I think I know how it is
Other times I’m completely in the dark
You know, baby, cause and effect
I’ve got my karma from here right to New York
I’m satisfied
Cause I made it
The way it is
I’m satisfied (satisfied)
Inside

 

This track is a glorious hymn of exaltation.  It opens with a syncopated organ two-step that builds steadily into a horn adorned R&B groove before reaching its ecstatic highpoint with a ripping flugelhorn solo by Mark Isham. Van himself, in addition to singing his heart out, sets Isham’s solo up with some competent sax work.

Resting in this luxurious setting is the song’s central lyric.

I’m satisfied
With my world
Cause I made it
The way it is

I’ve listened to this song hundreds of times over the years but just a few days ago the power of these lyrics hit me.  The world we inhabit, the world we experience is of our own making. Everything around us, whatever its form, is a reflection of ourselves. A reflection of ‘I’.  And our experience of that world also is completely our own making.  Whether we are satisfied or unhappy there is no one to fault but ourselves, “cause I made it/the way it is.”

Spiritual hunger and spiritual thirst
But you got to change it
On the inside first
To be satisfied
To be satisfied

He follows this up with another pearl.  Because there is nothing ‘out there’ that is not of our own making, any spiritual quest for peace, love and joy must originate from the inside.  It matters not how deep your hunger or thirst is. It matters not how many gurus or teachers we seek out. No matter what it is we want to change about ourselves, ‘you got it change it/ on the inside first’.

All in all a one-two punch of profundity and exhilarating music!

Advertisements

2016 Was a Great Year. Here’s Why

new-year-cartoon

The passing of one year to the next seems to be more fraught than usual this time around.  Am I the only one who has picked up that a lot of people seem to be angry at 2016?  Instead of just welcoming the New Year with hope and expectation, a big bunch of people seem to be kicking 2016 right out the door. And slamming it shut.

Yes, it has been a tough year on many counts.  As a lover of popular music I have been flabbergasted by the heroes that have fallen in 2016: Bowie, Haggard, Prince, Cohen, Leon Russell, Maurice White and Sharon Jones just to mention a very few.

The Brits lost their mind for a moment and left the European Union.  The Indian government eighty-sixed 86% of the country’s currency notes overnight, sending ripples of chaos and bother throughout the economy.  The war in Syria got messier and, if possible, more cruel. And then, of course, there was the horrendously awful American election result.

All good reasons to be bitter and twisted about 2016.

But was it really all THAT bad?

This morning a friend posted an article on Facebook with nearly 100 reasons to rejoice in the year just passed.  In every area of human endeavour, 2016 was full of things worthy of getting excited about, such as: global carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels did not grow at all in 2016. It’s the third year in a row emissions have flatlined!

 

And this: in July, more than 800,000 volunteers in India planted 50 million trees in one day. The country is planning on reforesting 12% of its land.

 

And this: Wild wolves started coming back to Europe, and for the first time since the American Revolution, wild salmon began spawning in the Connecticut River. 

 

The article is full of things to feel good about being alive in 2016.  And it prompted my own reflections on what has made 2016 an amazing year.

In no particular order, here are just five fabulous things that happened in my mini-Universe in the past 12 months.

  1. A dear friend found love again. After his wife and best friend of 30 years passed away in 2014 all reasons to get up in the morning seemed to disappear.  His three elderly kids (and the family dog) were a great support to him, but they were young and full of their own plans and dreams.  I tried to support him as best I could over Skype but he was truly down in the dumps About three months ago he was so low I wondered if he was going to pull through.   Just before Christmas we connected again and he was a different man. He sported a new moustache. His face glowed. And he could hardly contain his joy as he told me of how a woman was back in his life!
  2. I lost 8 kilos. Around the middle of the year I decided to start walking to get a bit of fresh air. I wanted time to think and listen and talk to myself. Within days I was hooked. The hour is filled with delightful sounds of birdcalls and gentle breezes off the Yarra River. The endless drama of tiny wild flowers that pop up for a couple of weeks before giving way to another cohort of a different shape and colour is something I look forward to each day.  I’ve made friends with all sorts of trees along the way, too.  When I get home I’m inevitably feeling high and more optimistic and hopeful than when I left.  And I’ve managed to get rid of some weight that for years seemed intractable.  Brilliant!
  3. I’ve discovered the teachings of Abraham, Robert Spira, Alan Watts, Neville Goddard and Papaji. A diverse bunch of thinkers and teachers to be sure. From Indian gurus to Caribbean kabalists, English mystics and the very voice of the Universe itself, these five teachers are responsible for blowing my mind. Though they are as different as chalk and cheese in their delivery and personal styles their teachings are essentially One.  That Consciousness is all there is. That the Invisible is the real reality. That the purpose of Life is to be joyful.  That struggle is a waste of time.
  4. The music of Burkina Faso. A sensational 3 disc box set of ‘Voltaic’ (as in Upper Volta, the name of the country before it became Burkina Faso) music for Christmas contains some of the most moving and exciting African sounds I’ve heard in years.
  5. A successful business. After 12 months of hard work, trial and error, set-backs and a steep learning curve, our home business is well and truly in the air.  We’re still climbing to cruising altitude but the view is already breathtaking.  It appears we have, in fact, transitioned out of the old ‘job’ paradigm to something far more empowering, satisfying and financially rewarding. Hurrah!

If 2017 is merely as good as 2016, it is going to be a ripper!

Raising the Vibration

hot-music-live-wallpaper-757515-1-s-307x512

As I drove my daughter to school this morning I was overcome by a powerful urge to hear a song.  It was an old favorite from that period between the wilting of Flower Power and the rise of Punks. A time when the trend was for solo artists to bear their souls in song. Confessional rock, some people called it.

No one epitomised this style more than angel-faced Jackson Browne. And it was the title song from his 1974 album Late for the Sky that I wanted to hear.

The lyrics, like the album cover, are dreamy and speak of moving between sleep and being awake. They are infused with that ambiguous simultaneity of meaning that incorporates both the lover’s world as well as the realm of the Spirit.

How long have I been sleeping?

How long have I been drifting alone through the night?

How long have I been dreaming that I could make it right?

If I closed my eyes and tried with all my might

To be the one you need?

Some may find this sort of ‘heart-on-sleeve’ songwriting slightly uncomfortable. Even embarrassing.  I kind of still dig it, but that’s not what gets me about this song.

As I listened to the familiar intro–Jackson’s deliberate piano playing; David Lindley’s hesitant but soon swirling guitar chording–I felt something move deep inside me. In a flash, I had the sense that I was in the presence of the Beyond. As the music swelled and built I felt as if I was being lifted up to that mysterious place where just a few notes can vibrate in such a way that tears come to your eyes.

It is part of my daily practice of Life to feel good.  In the jargon of the New Age, I try to raise and keep my vibration high. I consciously choose to meditate, be mindful and think about things that make me feel good.  As part of that practice I listen to a lot of podcasts and clips of spiritual teachers and wise people.  All of this activity I categorize as ‘personal development’.

Raising my vibration, until recently was a phrase I never used. The idea that I even vibrated seemed silly.  But since embarking on this path of ‘slow, perpetual rebuilding of the inner structure’, which by the way, is C.S. Lewis’ description of personal development, I’ve come to understand that not only do I vibrate, but everything around me does too.  And that a huge part of vibrating at a high level equates simply to feeling good.  The better you feel the higher your vibration. And the higher your vibration the closer you are to whatever it is we all long to be reconnected with: love, God, soul, Bliss, Consciousness.

Back to the music.

As I let the music take me, I, not for the first time, realised just how powerful music is as a form of worship. Or as a means to connect with that deep mysterious part of ourselves and the Universe.  The way Lindley plays (starting at 3:15 – 4:01) simply transports me to a higher plane. His non-verbal singing echoes Jackson’s lyrics. Searching, longing, unsure but demanding.

As the song continued and moved towards its end I understood that this was a meditation of sorts. By just allowing the music to cover me and sink into my bones and cells I was experiencing a subtle union with something bigger than myself. And as the Almighty said after creating the world, “It is good.”

Immediately my mind jumped to a whole bunch of other songs which, whenever I hear them , transport me to a similar locale.  A place that the Psalmist often refers to as ‘the presence of the Lord’.

Another all-time personal fave of mine, T.B. Burnett is a very different sort of songwriter than Jackson Browne.  A man of deep musical knowledge and personal faith he rarely pens a lyric that does not have some of the gall and righteous indignation of Jeremiah.

The River of Love is a gorgeous little song from his last great album. Listen to the lap steel playing throughout but especially the section (1:21-1;50).  Pure musical mercury designed to tingle you into submission.

Finally, (but not really finally, for there are thousands of equally deserving candidates to demonstrate the purpose of this post) just dig the guitar mastery of Mr. G. Benson on this piece.  Alternating between rhythmic slicing and groove laden picking, if you can’t find your vibration and raise it to a high level in these three minutes, then you may  need to seek professional help!

[This post originally appeared on my blog at Sensational Lives.com]

Unexpected Detour

mahmitra

The Path I had embarked on, I thought, was the one that would take me from Point A (cashed up corporate warrior) to Point B (similarly well-paid senior position) in a relatively short period of time.  Even though I had been raised in an environment which acknowledged the ‘invisible spiritual realm’, the last thing on my mind in May 2011 was an inward journey.

But one thing I’ve learned about the Universe: it’s middle name is Surprise.

By early  (southern) winter the winds of Life had stopped blowing.   I’m not a sailor but it was as  if  my boat had glided into the Equatorial doldrums.  The ocean was absolutely still. Not even a ripple caressed the surface.  I had no sense of direction.

I was raised on the Christian scriptures by a proud evangelical father.  Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. I no longer identify as a Christian, but those words of Jesus are an essential part of my spiritual reality. So, when it became clear around June that I was unlikely to slide into another senior role as easily as I imagined, I began to seek, knock and ask with more urgency. Not in panic but with a desire to understand where I might be heading.

I was met with deafening silence. Every door I knocked upon remained firmly closed. Meditation and contemplation  were  ineffective. It was sunny and bright but my boat was drifting and bobbing on the water. The air was eerily still.

The doldrums continued throughout July. In August a friend recommended I contact his astrologer, who, he claimed, had helped him land the job of his dreams a couple years earlier. She was a soft-spoken woman with a lilting voice that sent calm even through Skype.

She suggested that the coming year or so would be defined by extensive change.  Everything about my life was up for grabs. Career. Family life. Life Purpose. The future, though, was truly exciting. She said I needed to be aware of a few things like isolating myself and not taking care of my health.  There was lots of work (contracts) hovering around me, she claimed. And sure enough, within a few days I had two new assignments confirmed!

“Be sure to Meditate a lot.”

Since I was raised in a conservative Christian home, deep skepticism lurked in my heart toward these sorts of readings.  So I thought I’d get a second opinion. I was in Cairns on a consulting assignment. It was a town I had never been to and so I flicked through the local Yellow Pages. Not sure even what I was  looking for, I  saw a small ad for a Tarot Reader and Psychic.  I called and made an appointment  for that evening.

I found him on the outskirts of town. I was struck by the mundane suburban house he lived in. Where were the velvet curtains and dark grotto hanging with vines?  There was not a flickering candle in sight.  I was relieved but cheesed off at the same time. I wanted an experience, dammit.  Not an hour in Joe Ordinary’s basement.

The Reader was not as friendly as the astrologer had been. He had a slight foreign accent and  had a bit too much  bling around his tanned neck. I felt my resistance take control. Still, I let him take my palm when he asked me to sit down.

He studied my hand and then went through a deck of cards.  Change was everywhere. He saw death of all kinds, and turmoil for the next 18 months or so.  “What you are really seeking”, he said, “is true love. You’ve never experienced it.” The next phase of my life, he insisted several times, would be by far the best and most accomplished phase yet.

“Watch your health. And meditate!”

As I made my way back to Cairns I marvelled at how these two strangers had sensed the same energy around me.  I knew neither of them and they knew nothing of my circumstances.   Indeed, within 9 months my mother and elder brother would both be dead.   The months that followed turned out to be the most disruptive, challenging and difficult in my adult life. In a little more than 18 months I was working in another country and separated from my family in Melbourne.

Strangely though, the two readings gave me encouragement, as well as a frame to consider my Life within. CHANGE. TRANSITION. TRANSFORMATION.

Being a practical fellow who likes to have cash in his pocket for his hobbies I still wanted to know how this would translate into making a living.  The astrologer told me to spend time reflecting deeply on what I really wanted to do.  The psychic told me to go into the ‘Cave’ and meditate. The answer would  definitely come.

Nine months into my new life I was well on my way. The only problem was Point B was not exactly where I thought it was, or should be. Suddenly, and without much drama,  I discovered myself to be a traveller on a completely unexpected inner journey. A journey I am still on and at last understand, I have always been on.

Around the same time I received the first Word from the Spirit. 

[A note on the image at the top of the blog. I love Indian calendar art and this is an example from the 1920s. It depicts Mahavidya Kamalatmika, an aspect of Goddess Laxmi. I selected the picture purely because it pleased me aesthetically. But  I was tickled to discover that she is the goddess of inner and outer prosperity!]

http://www.sensationallives.com/

Cash and Passion

StrayaCash_5front-thumb-400x200-200738

A friend who still works in the aid sector but who like so many harbours a desire to pursue other things sent me an article this week. Why do aid workers leave this line of work? presented the findings of a survey that quizzed about 1000 aid workers. It came as no surprise that many of the ‘gripes’ about the sector I’ve hit on in this blog and in my Devex series, were confirmed. In spades.

One of the themes that always comes up in this conversation is ‘if I don’t puruse a career in aid, then where and how do I make a living?’ There are two aspects to this question: passion and cash.

Passion in the sense of, “Am I going to find the same sense of purpose I have now, as a teacher, taxi driver or banker?” (Given the high levels of negativity about the aid sector from the same respondees, this anxiety is not without irony!)

The second part of the equation is cash. “How in the world am I ever going to get paid as much as I do now, with all the benefits of frequent free travel, paid housing, pension funds and subsidised education?”

These are existential questions. They are—to a point—essential questions. But they can also be comfortable questions. The sort we love wrestling with but enjoy not coming to a conclusion about.

Eventually, some aid workers will make the leap out the sector. Hopefully, with both questions (and all the others about family, schools and aging parents) nicely answered. But if you’re like me you’ll probably have one mostly answered and the rest still frighteningly open and uncertain.

I named this blog Life After Aid because I believe there is such a thing. And not just a miserable, slow-decline-to-oblivion in the suburbs but an exciting, enriching and rewarding life. Easily as good as any mission or project or friend we ever encountered in our humanitarian work.

In a way, this is the first proper post of Life After Aid. Everything up to this point has been about life in aid. And in answer to the many people who have enquired about it, I’ll share a bit of how I make ends meet without a regular aid salary coming in.

Ultimately, I left the aid sector to write. I have a contract (just got the advance last week!) to write two books. I write a couple of columns for an online newspaper. I have a pretty strong idea of what my next novel will be about. And the one after that, too.

Even though the publisher’s advance was happily received, and I get paid for my articles, I am under no illusions that writing will support the lifestyle I’ve come to expect and aspire to. At least in the next year or two.

This may be a good time to digress a bit. My aspirations for personal wealth are quite healthy. I’ve got two young children in a fee-devouring school. I’ve got my eye on a new car and regular trips to the US to spend time with my aging father as well as vacating our two bedroom apartment in favour of a multi-bedroomed house and garden. All as soon as possible!

Getting to the point of allowing such luxurious and wealthy plans into my consciousness was a struggle in its own right. I mean, 30 years of aid work, of being nose deep and obsessed with poverty, deprivation, economic injustice and systemic exclusion from wealth, has reinforced the belief that having lots of money is somehow inherently ‘wrong’. Or, at least unseemly. ‘Rich aid worker’ is one of those oxymorons no one likes to utter in public.

I may share some thoughts on how I changed my attitude towards personal wealth later but suffice it to say that when I considered how I was going to make a living outside of the aid sector, I was not thinking about scraping by. I was looking for a way to make a steady, sustainable and sizeable income. An income that would afford me the freedom and wherewithal to write, travel and photograph.

To be honest, there aren’t too many options. Especially, once I factored in an additional parameter: no more office jobs, no more senior management jobs, no more ‘leadership roles’, in fact, no more employment in the ‘normal’ economy.

Other than Powerball, the only legal option seemed to be to become an entrepreneur.

Yvonne, my wife, and I have set up a business in the personal development industry. We work with an American company and offer a range of subscription based online courses as well as Live events. We work from home. We work from the library. We work in the car as we wait for the football training to end. We work wherever we have wifi, which is pretty much anywhere. We work about 20 hours a week.

I have to admit, I was not an immediate supporter of this particular business plan. I’ve been raised and have nurtured the idea of Me (or at least a big part of Me) being co-equal with my career, salary and position. I offered the usual resistance to the idea: home businesses are dorky (at best) and predatory (at worst). They never work. They are all pyramid schemes. Just stick with a job and wait life out till pension time.

But when I turned my attention to the reality of what that final sentence actually meant, my heart sank. I knew that staying in a job I didn’t like meant dousing the flame of my purpose. In the end, it was a no-brainer. Rather than seeing a home business as a dorky scam I looked upon it as an adventure.

The advantages of a home business are many. As aid workers we love travelling and not being tied to a desk. Flexibility and portability are a big part of why we became aid workers in the first place. Some home businesses do tie you down. You’ve got physical stock to keep and ship, or your market is so niche it’s only viable in one particular country. But for most home (or any) businesses these days the market is global and products are online or in the cloud.

So, big non-negotiable Number 1, the ability to keep travelling, is a Big Tick with an online business.

Big non-negotiable Number 2, to still retain meaning in the work I do, is also ticked.   We aid workers spend our lives all fired up (until we get burned out) about community development. We are gung ho about helping other people develop themselves into innovative, resilient, strong, healthy, economically viable and aware individuals and communities. But when it comes closer to home most of us ignore developing these very same qualities in ourselves.

Running a business where my daily job description is implementing more productive and positive ways to make my relationships, my body and my mind strong, resilient, innovative and flexible is exhilarating. Helping others who are looking to get more out of life and make a positive contribution is pretty fulfilling. It is refreshing to work with people on implementing positive change in their lives without any of the political agendas and management bulldust and donor interference that characterizes ‘aid’. It’s person to person assistance. The best kind.

Finally, an online small cottage business can be very lucrative. Since we don’t have any overheads for inventory and have no employees, our expenses are incredibly low. At the same time, our ‘parent’ company, which provides the content of the personal development courses and events, has structured itself in a way that allows us to keep between 75-100% of all our earnings. In any industry or business of any sort, that is almost unheard of.

Big, non-negotiable Number 3—earn as much if not more than I did as a senior aid worker—a Big Tick.

[If you’re curious you can check out our websites 1 and 2 ]

Here’s my advice for those who want to seriously consider this option for life after aid.

  • This option is best for people who  have other passions to pursue and who want the time and cash to pursue them. If you’re happy with the 9-9 office culture of NGOs and Aid then this is probably something you’d find too unstructured.
  • A home business is like any other serious commitment you make, be it buying a house or a car or changing careers. You need to invest money up front and be willing to not earn much or anything for a few months until you get some momentum up and learn the ropes.

But if you can handle those two, then Life After Aid can be truly inspiring and rewarding.

Of Madmen and Trains

Sikh_man,_Agra_14

On one of those fabled hot days on the plains of India I was stuck inside a 3rd Class coach between Lucknow and Pratapgarh. The train had not moved for a half hour. Neither had the breeze. The air hung like wet towels.

My father was snoozing on a berth. I stared into the bright afternoon light praying that the signal would fall. The scrubby, beaten earth did nothing but smash the sunlight back into my eyes.

A Sikh suddenly appeared in our cubicle. He sat on a bench a few feet away from me. I may have glanced at him but paid him no special attention. Still the train didn’t budge. I must have closed my eyes for a few minutes because I was woken by loud shouting.

The Sikh was agitated. The hairs on his chest glistened with beads of sweat. His beard was not the bushiest but his turban was quite big indicating a lot of hair lay underneath–baking, baking, slowly away.

He shouted loudly in the way madmen do. At everyone but no one in particular. His eyes darted about the cubicle as he repeatedly smoothed his beard with his hand. I couldn’t make out what he was saying but whatever it was it was at full volume.

He jumped up for a second, and seemed to be heading toward the door. But then he fell back on the berth unexpectedly. A few heads peeked around from other cubicles. What’s all this, then?

The Sikh shouted. “I am my Yes!”

He beat his chest as if it was a dhol.

“I am MY yes!”

I was trying not to freak out at him freaking out. He glared at me with opaque eyes. I sensed if I moved away he’d not follow me. I trotted down the aisle and jumped off the train.

Inside, the muffled affirmations of his existence carried on. The Ticket Collector eventually showed up and escorted the distressed man off the train, which jerked into motion around the same time. We left him behind, still shouting. Still confused.

I’ve often wondered what became of the Sikh. Was he truly pagal? The incident seemed to provide empirical evidence of the oft-repeated joke about Sikhs: that at midday they went barking mad because the heat built up in their turbans. I pitied him the way he was so unceremoniously abandoned by Indian Railways. How did he, indeed, did he ever, make it back home?

Though I’ve gotten a few good laughs out of that story, it came to mind today because I’ve been reflecting about those words, “I Am”.

**According to seers and gurus the words “I AM” represent the existence of God. When Moses asks the burning bush that has so bizarrely commanded him to go to Egypt and free the Israelites, “Who are you?”, the bush replies,

According to seers and gurus the words “I AM” represent the existence of God. When Moses asks the burning bush that has so bizarrely commanded him to go to Egypt and free the Israelites, “Who are you?”, the bush replies,

I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob–has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna,

I AM the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me.

There is an interesting argument put forward in a document called the I Am Discourses by a man named St. Germain that goes like this:

Life, in all its activities everywhere manifest, is God in Action. I AM is the Activity of that Life. The first expression of every individual, everywhere in the Universe, either in spoken word, silent thought or feeling is “I AM”, recognizing its own conquering Divinity.

So I’ve been mulling all this over in my mind of late.

I AM is the name of God.

Not the God of any particular religion or sect but ‘god’, the Fountainhead of all Life, the Universal Intelligence, the Tao, the Way, the Friend that all mystics and seers know about and refer to. That God. The Infinite Source of all Consciousness. The Dream in which we all dream our individual dreams.

Whatever words we use to describe this ‘Force’, IT apparently refers to Itself as I AM.

If that is the case (and it makes sense to me) then each time the word I Am comes out of my mouth, I channel the voice of whatever that grand entity is that we know is all around us but that we can’t see.

For most of my life I’ve said things like, I am an idiot. I am a nuisance. I am no good. I am pretty average. I am a hack. I am unable to do that. I am too dumb. I am weak. I can’t. And interestingly, I’ve piled up years and years of evidence that confirms these attributes: half written books; abandoned New Year’s resolutions by the score, difficult relationships, low bank balances, multiple gym membership cards and on and on.

Pretty ordinary god, eh? Instead of life, liberty and bliss I get the fizz, the failure and the disappointment. Which raises another intriguing question about this I AM character. It seems to be as weak as piss. It does whatever I say. I call IT (I AM) a loser and voila, I lose! Not exactly the sort of Mighty Strong OMNIPOTENT Force we’ve been led to believe. More like a Farce.

All the seers and prophets and gurus also say : be careful what you think about yourself. Beware of how you use those words I AM. Because what you think and say, turns into ‘reality’. Witness the evidence I described above.

So lately I’ve been making a point of following those words I AM only with positive, life-affirming descriptions. Like I AM strong. I AM smart. I AM capable. I AM worthy. I AM cool.

Simple little change really. But it’s making me feel much better. And the supporting evidence is already arriving.

Which gets me back to that hot afternoon on the train on the plains of India and that poor distressed Sikh who insisted, “I AM my Yes!”

Akira Kurosawa, the Japanese film director said,

“In a mad world, only the mad are sane.” 

Perhaps what I witnessed was not a man who had lost his senses at all, but an Unknown Prophet who was simply chanting the name of God.