Saturday, 8 July 2017

The Willful Walks of Russell C.J Duffy - Book 2 - The Whispering of Grass (Chapter 1) - REVISED

I began these walks October 2016 more as an addition to the original 'Wilful Walks' than anything else but also to echo the first book's path to my own self-enquiry. I wasn't particularly pleased with the initial results so have amended and revised them.  

*A Smattering of Spirituality* * Rustic Churches and Roman Roads* *A Seat for all Seasons* *The Non-Messiah*

I have been here before; the last time was for my daughter and son-in-law's wedding. Prior to that, I was here for the first of my Willful Walks. Saint Andrews Church, Ashingdon sits pretty upon the highest point in this flat landscape. To get here I had walked down my road, turned left and trod the slight, long, incline past the Victorian Royal Mail post box before turning left up the final, short, climb. 

To get to Saint Andrew's I had to cross the Ashingdon Road, a highway built by the Romans. The road has remained unchanged in my lifetime. It has resisted the raving madness of developers although I fear for its future but also the farmlands that accompany its journey. To think that the footsteps of Roman soldiers once marched along the road both I, my wife and for that matter, my children have trod, is mindboggling. 

Behind the church is the same old wooden seat that has been here these many years. I sit down to gaze at the idle landscape that sprawls before me. There in the distance stands Canewdon church, Saint Nicholas. The two churches stand divided by a couple of miles and several centuries.  Saint Andrew's was built a little under one thousand years ago in 1020 whilst Saint Nicholas, with its square 15th-century tower, was built three hundred years later. The glare at each other now, Master and acolyte, like two divergent theologians who share the same faith but not the same denomination. 

The church, who's grounds I sit in now, was once Roman Catholic. It survived the scourge as started by Henry VIII but conclusively finished by his daughter Elizabeth, presumably by switching allegiance and becoming a parish church aligned to The Church of England. Funny how faith all too often divides people seeking spiritual comfort rather than uniting them. 

I am not sure this bench was made for meditating. It was more than likely placed here so that those who came here seeking solace could sit contemplating, as I now do, the fields below. Nonetheless, the perspective from this seat offers the ideal place to meditate. 

Odd how churches have that effect. The way in which cold brick and mortar contain, or seem to, a communal sense of spirituality. 

Spirituality. What it is it? "Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all."  I agree with that. Originally, the meaning was different, though. Spirituality was defined as being a thing that supported a belief in a deity; a thing that believed in mysticism and magic. I too, not so much believe but have experience of there being something far greater than me. To use the monotheistic principle of God here is my thoughts on that concept - God is all around me, it's everywhere I go. I see it in the sun, I hear it in the winds that blow. Better perhaps to call it Tao even if I am not Taoist.

When God had concluded business with Abraham, the Hebrew man asked what should he tell his fellow Jews, who was it that gave these commandments? 'Tell them that I am what I am.' This is a slice of symbolism. God is not presented as being man-made nor man-like. God is 'that what I am.' The all powerful. The almighty. The supreme creator but also, and vital to our understanding, the unknowable; a force rather than an entity far greater than anything else yet part and parcel of all creation, as we all are. That is my understanding of spirituality.

The fields before me grow dark as a cloud passes over momentarily eclipsing the sun. A short distance from where I sit a rabbit hops out of the undergrowth. Furtively at first, then bolder as it senses no danger, it moves further away from cover and into the open. Sniffing at the air it doesn't see me at first but as soon as I make the slightest of movements it scuttles away. Me, the sun, the wind and the rabbit, even the grass, all made of the same building blocks of life. "Of the 92 natural elements, 25 are essential for life. Of these, there are six main elements that are the fundamental building blocks of life. They are, in order of least to most common: sulphur, phosphorous, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and hydrogen."

Bullshit gets no mention but there is a lot of it about.

How anyone can not see the obvious is beyond me. I am not preaching magic. There is nothing mystical about what is basic science. When we accept that the word god is a man-made definition and not the thing itself we begin to realise that the word is simply not the same but is far greater yet more prosaic. God, nature, and science are connected. God and nature are one and the same whilst science is the tool that explains how life works. And it really doesn't matter if there are those who perceive God as a deity as long as they are compassionate in their beliefs, loving and kind of nature, peaceful and adheres to the Golden Rule, what does it matter what they believe as long as their actions are kind?

There was a man, one of whom I am very fond and whose wisdom I tend to agree with, who didn't believe in a deific God - Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Jiddu Krishnamurti. has long been an inspiration for me. I have read his thoughts and listened to old films of his conversations. He was a remarkable man, a man born in 1895 in India., a child raised as Hindu but then found by Theosophists who believed that every two thousand years a messiah or special person was born, a Lord Buddha reincarnated, a Lord Maitreya, a Jesus Christ born again. These Theosophists claimed Jiddu Krishnamurti was that person. They took him away from the land of his birth then sent him to be educated at Cambridge.

In 1911 the Theosophical Society established the Order of the Star in the East to prepare the world for the expected appearance of the World Teacher. They claimed Jiddu Krishnamurti was that man. His myth was perpetuated by the Theosophical Society, his legend was grown out of their sense of mysticism and zealotry. They claimed he was the chosen one, that his coming was a thing to welcome. Announcements were made about Krishnamurti being a vehicle, a man of whom paranormal abilities were the norm. Krishnamurti grew increasingly discomforted by these proclamations.

In 1922 Krishnamurti had what can only be called a life changing experience. He was just seventeen. "It started on 17 August 1922 when Krishnamurti complained of a sharp pain at the nape of his neck. Over the next two days, the symptoms worsened, with increasing pain and sensitivity, loss of appetite, and occasional delirious ramblings. He seemed to lapse into unconsciousness but later recounted that he was very much aware of his surroundings and that while in that state he had a 'strange experience The following day the symptoms and the experience intensified, climaxing with a sense of "immense peace". Following - and apparently related to - these events the condition that came to be known as the process started to affect him, in September and October that year, as a regular, almost nightly occurrence. Later the process resumed intermittently, with varying degrees of pain, physical discomfort and sensitivity, occasionally a lapse into a childlike state, and sometimes an apparent fading out of consciousness, explained as either his body giving in to pain or his mind 'going off' -  (Mary Luytens/Wikipedia) 

This odd experience was not a one-off but recurred again and again throughout his entire life. Krishnamurti, as was his way, demystified what others tried to appear quasi-religious and would speak about it quite matter-of-factly to close associates.

"... woke up early with that strong feeling of otherness, of another world that is beyond all thought... there is a heightening of sensitivity. Sensitivity, not only to beauty but also to all other things. The blade of grass was astonishingly green; that one blade of grass contained the whole spectrum of colour; it was intense, dazzling and such a small thing, so easy to destroy..."

"...It is strange how during one or two interviews that strength, that power filled the room. It seemed to be in one's eyes and breath. It comes into being, suddenly and most unexpectedly, with a force and intensity that is quite overpowering and at other times it's there, quietly and serenely. But it's there, whether one wants it or not. There is no possibility of getting used to it for it has never been nor will it ever be... "

As whispers, Chinese by design spread regaling the young man with mystical abilities so his fame ignited a flame that Krishnamurti was increasingly uncomfortable with.  Whatever had happened to him it was not something he wanted to be turned into a tool for the Theosophists to use to promote his messianic divinity. That was a matter he loathed. Then a tragedy struck that would forever change Jiddu's life. His elder brother, Nitya, now 27 and a sufferer of a long-term persistent illness, died. Jiddu was devastated. The two brothers had been incredibly close. The last remaining person, the root of which he was linked to his family, all the memories associated with their shared past was suddenly obliterated. It might not have come so hard had the Theosophist's not claimed, as by way of reassurance to protect their selected Messiah, that Nitya would not be allowed to die as he was integral to his brother's success as a world teacher. 

Many said that the death of his brother broke his heart and his spirit but if it did Krishnamurti showed impeccable resilience.  Twelve days after Nitya's death Jiddu appeared, according to his biographers Mary Luytens and Pupul Jayakar,  as being "immensely quiet, radiant, and free of all sentiment and emotion"  - " there was not a shadow ... to show what he had been through."

From that point on Krishnamurti or K, as he affectionately became known as, vision and consciousness changed. In 1929 he dissolved the Order of the Star of the East and disavowed all and any organised religion, the need for gurus,  for world teachers, for any form of religious orthodoxy including priests, popes and the rest.

"I maintain that truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path. ... This is no magnificent deed, because I do not want followers, and I mean this. The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth. I am not concerned whether you pay attention to what I say or not. I want to do a certain thing in the world and I am going to do it with unwavering concentration. I am concerning myself with only one essential thing: to set man free. I desire to free him from all cages, from all fears, and not to found religions, new sects, nor to establish new theories and new philosophies."

 For the remainder of his life, from the late 1920's through the 1930's, 1940's, '50's, 60's, 70's until his death in 1986, Jiddu Krishnamurti did precisely that, he tried to set humankind free. 
This from Wikipedia ... "Krishnamurti was also concerned about his legacy, about being unwittingly turned into some personage whose teachings had been handed down to special individuals, rather than the world at large. 

"He did not want anybody to pose as an interpreter of the teaching. He warned his associates on several occasions that they were not to present themselves as spokesmen on his behalf, or as his successors after his death.
"A few days before his death, in a final statement, he declared that nobody among either his associates or the general public had understood what had happened to him (as the conduit of the teaching). He added that the "supreme intelligence" operating in his body would be gone with his death, again implying the impossibility of successors. However, he stated that people could perhaps get int touch with that somewhat "if they live the teachings". In prior discussions, he had compared himself with Thomas Edison, implying that he did the hard work, and now all that was needed by others was a flick of the switch.
"Krishnamurti died of pancreatic cancer on 17 February 1986, at the age of 90. His mind was clear until the very last moments. K died on February 17, 1986, ten minutes past midnight California time."
Whatever mysticism others now try to attach to the man's lifestyle, in spite of his declarations to the contrary, he was a very remarkable man; not a guru nor a messiah simply that, a remarkable man.

The peace and calm I find here in these church grounds are undoubtedly forged from some buried preconception based upon my childhood faith. I long ago turned away from Christianity but now find that the manner in which I read the Bible was based on a literal acceptance of the content of the religious tome and not its symbolic truth. The two are very different. Blindly believing the Bible to be either a historical work or worse, a biography of a man whose existence remains in doubt, is foolish. However, knowing that each living person has the capacity to be Christ-like, to have God, the eternal force existing within and without them is another matter entirely and is something you need not have faith in.
When reading 'The Baghavad Gita' you encounter another symbolic work of spirituality. The dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna and narrator, Sanjaya, remarkably precedes the New Testament. Much is made of Krishna being the divine light, of his being a spirit found within all humankind. This oneness with all things echoes through all faiths, all religions. When we accept that the word God is merely a way to describe, to try and define the undefinable, the substance that we are made of, then we finally arrive at the point Jiddu Krishnamurti spoke of, the pathless land. We find the ultimate God when we find the absolute truth for when truth combines with love we have an irresistible energy within us all. No, we do no need faith we only need love.
"Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not choice. It is man’s pretence that because he has choice he is free. Freedom is pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment and reward. Freedom is without motive; freedom is not at the end of the evolution of man but lies in the first step of his existence. In observation one begins to discover the lack of freedom. Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence.
Thought is time. Thought is born of experience, of knowledge, which are inseparable from time. Time is the psychological enemy of man. Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past.
When man becomes aware of the movement of his own consciousness he will see the division between the thinker and the thought, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experience. He will discover that this division is an illusion. Then only is there pure observation which is insight without any shadow of the past. This timeless insight brings about a deep radical change in the mind.
Total negation is the essence of the positive. When there is negation of all those things which are not love - desire, pleasure - then love is, with its compassion and intelligence."
J. Krishnamurti, The Core of the Teaching, October 1980

Looking again at the fields stretching toward Canewdon, to the left Fambridge and to the right Pagelsham, I determine to visit each of the churches that surround my home. As I do I shall examine not only the churches I visit, their histories, their myths but also the connectivity that links my sense of spirituality, the poetry that exists between mind, body and the rest of existence. One universe, One humankind, One love. 

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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