Eagle – Fire – Truth Sticks – Ethics and Choice

eagle panorama largeSome things are hard and difficult. Choices to be wholesome or avoid harm goes by another name Ethics. Not a comfortable topic. Often I find people dodge and weave or leave the room when it comes up.

Why is that? Maybe it is due to our childhood and current experience of how debased the work ethics and morality has become. We see and hear religious leaders talk about and don’t abide by it. They also say things like no contraception and no masturbation, we know that is crap. We hear them say ‘Act in kindness cause no harm’ and then see them do the opposite.  So we see  much hypocrisy we throw the concept away.

I suggested to a guy advertising life stage training for men that he should include work on ethics. He replied that ‘ we don’t do abstract and intellectual things’. I felt like saying ‘ Well how about an uncle holding down his nine-year old niece and raping her, is that abstract ?’ Sounds over the top, but I work as a counsellor and prison chaplain, and often hear stories like this. It is very real for me and it happens.

So we need the courage of the eagle, the truth of the fire and to stand up straight like the truth sticks. In my work with groups of men and some women around violence prevention ( domestic violence ) I realised that for many some sense of core value or ethics was missing from their life – missing from society in a way. Without an appropriate core value around not doing harm, how could anyone learn to change? So I read and researched and reflected on something useful to use in my work. I came up with the following. It’s not really new or rocket science, perhaps a new way of saying and packaging it.

Chose to be  wholesome as a foundation for living!

  1. I have a choices.
  2. I am responsible for my choices.
  3. I can choose to act in a positive and loving way.
  4. I can choose not to cause harm.
  5. I can choose to be aware of the effect of my thoughts and actions on myself and others.

So this statement became the foundation of my courses on violence prevention. I would present, explain and discuss this, invite questions, first up. A choice would then be offered.

  • If you can accept this, then you can learn something from this course.
  • If you can’t accept this, then you are wasting your time here and may as well leave.

No one ever left and there was some positive learning for us all. So I offer this to you and invite you to always ask me if I am following this in what I do. It applies to small and big things. In particular those wearing religious robes or claiming to teach ways of better living, who can’t follow this, should consider both buying new clothes and changing occupations.

The wedge tail eagles of the Morton National Park, endorse this and it is part of the local dreaming – Lyrebird Dreaming.

Lost Key and Sufi Jester Nasruddin

nasruddin lost key collage

 

I read this story some 30 years ago and its message stays with me. Nasruddin’s stories originated from the Turkic regions some 700 years ago. He was a religious jester – sowing the seeds of truth through jokes and parodies. His stories were famous and adopted in a number of countries for the passing on of spiritual truths. Spirit jesters were often pictured as sitting backwards on a donkey or horse.

Lost Key Story 

A man is walking home late one night when he sees an anxious Mulla Nasruddin down on all fours, crawling on his hands and knees on the road, searching frantically under a streetlight for something on the ground.

“Mulla, what have you lost?” the passer-by asks.

“I am searching for my key,” Nasruddin says sounding very anxious.

“I’ll help you look,” the man says and joins Mulla Nasrudin in the search. Soon both men are down on their knees under the streetlight, looking for the lost key. After some time, the man asks Nasrudin, “Tell me Mulla, do you remember where exactly did you drop the key?”

Nasrudin waves his arm back toward the darkness and says, “Over there, in my house. I lost the key inside my house…” Shocked and exasperated, the passer-by jumps up and shouts at Mulla Nasrudin, “Then why are you searching for the key out here in the street?” 

“Because there is more light here than inside my house,” Mulla Nasrudin answers in a casual manner.

These stories are seen as having many meanings. Its message for me and many others is that the key or answers are to be found with the house of ourselves. It is a dark and confusing place to look, but keep looking and exploring. It is so easy to look outside in the light and see all the things that look like the solution, religious beliefs, opinions of others, material things, attachment to others gurus etc. There is no shortage of them.

 

Poetry and the sound of one man clapping

Reconstructing Humpty  is my ebook of poems written  between 1988 – 2006. The context of the poems is explained in my spirit journey story

The sound of one man clapping is the name I have given to the story of my first sharing of some of these poems.

clapping handsI gave a few pages of freshly written poems to two  artist friends. A few days later the feedback arrived.  They told me I was just an intellectual wanker with no right to call my writing poetry. It was like putting scribbles on the wall for an art exhibition. I was devastated.

Lying on my bed at home, contemplating the criticism and pain associated with it, I had an insight that was to serve me well on my journey.

“What I had written was just my honest expression of my world, my experience my trying to make sense of it all. It was no more than that, neither good or bad just my truth. I imagined myself on a podium speaking my poems and looking up and seeing myself as the audience and clapping to the man who was just speaking his truth”

The pain gradually subsided. It was my beginning of learning to express and share who I was, learning to face the fear and do it anyway. It gets  easier the more you do it and those that appreciate the intimacy and openness make great friends. I have also found that my poetry is quite good my artists friends were doing a destruct him thing – why? dont know really maybe they felt threatened by them calling to them to examine their own depths. Lift the lid on Pandora’s box. But the result was a gift as it assisted the birth of a wonderful insight.

I found it interesting that when I circulated my Reconstructing Humpty collection, that women seemed to see the story woven through the poems. Men seemed to just say which particular poem they liked.

My favourite response was from a boy of 14 at a dinner party. He said that  he enjoyed the poems and his favourite was the one called ‘Fuck’ . When I asked why, he replied ‘It was so angry”

Honouring – A wonderful gift

Honouring an other – just telling them something that you value about them.  ross river sunsetIt costs nothing and creates such a glow. Its a seed that you can sow. stick it in your intention garden. It was an honouring by Paul that kick started this blog, that little extra grain of sand that tipped the balance. I was giving a meditation at the beginning of a meeting and my friend John was playing soft guitar. Paul came up to me afterwards and said ‘that was gold, can we do that some more’. It was for me an indication to get on with my focus on the spiritual work and to create some resources and inspiration around that. I knew it was a blog, the intention had sat there. Walking in the forest, the name bush spirit came to me and it was born. So thanks Paul. And I need to remember that an honouring is a great blessing and we never know when it is the grain that swings the scale towards the light.

Coffin Sleeping – A great practice??

mask in coffinSleep in a Coffin? i Coffin

We know iPhone and  iPad but what about iCoffin?
Steve Jobs says it, in his speech to Stanford students after his cancer surgery in 2005.

‘Remembering I will be dead soon is the most important tool I have ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.’  Where do you get an iCoffin, you make one or get Paddy to make one for you.

Walking with death enables us to get closer to walking fully with life. To take the mask off between us and life. So sleeping in a coffin is a start to casting off fears of death and bringing us closer to life.

coffin table 01Paddy builds simple pine coffins and uses them as coffin tables in his lounge room, storage boxes and off course coffins to sleep in, especially for those attending his courses around soul journey or dancing with the angel of death.

Paddy and many other men have slept for one or two nights in the coffins. He left his coffin at the local Buddhist monastery and his friend Chandra slept in it for six months.

Some of the feedback from men about the benefits of engaging with death are:

‘Confronting death – I began the sometimes difficult process of letting go; not only of my fear of death, but emotions and attachments that interfere with my living now. I felt lighter, happier and infinitely more aware of life as I drove home.’

‘ I have generally been in denial about the inevitability of my own death. I have read about it but never done any real work confronting it.  The dancing with death workshop,  confronted me with the preciousness of life and the need to make the most of every moment that I am alive.  It opened my heart, and helped me more deeply feel the grief of all those who have lost loved ones.  As others will confirm, it has also helped me to be more courageous in expressing my wants and needs, my hopes and fears.  Very unexpected benefits from coffin work. ‘

Soul Food Workshop 2013 Programme and details

Soul Food Mens spirit journey, workshop programmeboiling the billy cave

see Soul Food story post

see invitation to Soul Food workshop. 

Dates:  July  26 -28, Starts Friday evening, 7pm dinner. Finishes Sunday mid-afternoon.All welcome to stay longer from Thursday to Monday nights.

Cost: $230 per person includes all accommodation and meals and facilitation. No Alcohol and cigarettes allowed.

Location: Bundanoon NSW 2 hours south of Sydney on main Sydney Melbourne and Canberra rail line. Train station at Sydney airport

Programme

Friday:

7pm – 8pm Dinner

8am – 10am sitting in circle, welcome, meditation, check in for all. Expectations for the weekend

Saturday:

7am to 8pm Walk to cemetery. Meditation in cemetery connecting with ancestors and our own mortality to aid in dissolving boundaries to the spirit world.

8am – 9am Breakfast

9am – 9.30pm break

9.30pm to 3.30pm. Journey to local forest (Morton National Park). Carry out a range of meditation exercises in forest and caves. Aiming to dissolve barriers between self and the wider world and connect with natures and the universes energies. Discussion experiences in circle, between meditations, by a fire in a cave. Picnic lunch provided.

4pm-6pm break

6pm -7pm dinner

7pm till 10.30pm. Dancing with the angel of death time. Doing a death ritual involving a coffin, to symbolise dying and being reborn. This is a ritual developed by myself and other men over the last six years. It is quite powerful and men ask for more of it not less. Discussion in circle and finishing meditation.

Sunday:

7am – 8am optional morning walk.

8am – 9pm breakfast

9am – 10am sitting in circle, Meditation, check in,  what is arising?

10.15pm to 12. Hands on healing sessions for all who wish to receive one.

12.30pm to 1.30pm lunch

1.30pm – 2.00pm Pairing off and discussing goals and any plans to enhance spiritual journey.

2pm to 3pm. In circle check in, sharing plans, closing rituals and finish.

Men welcome to stay over one or two nights and stay on Thursday night before if that suits.

Use form below to contact me about booking or more information?

Invitation To Soul Food Workshop 2013

‘Getting off the tram to pick the daisies’daisy 01

Come and explore  nurturing the Spirit Body at a workshop on ‘Soul Food Men’s Spirit Journey’ conducted by Paddy at his place in Bundanoon. July 26 to 28.  Workshop Programme and details

Our connectedness to the universe, our sense of meaning in the world our spirit body is an important aspect of our lives, yet we don’t have a lot of opportunity to own it or explore and develop it. As men we know the power of working in circle. This is men working together on exploring and developing our sense of spirit. Soul food is the main dish here not an entrée or side order. See soul food article

The weekend creates a sacred space of men working  exploring spirit in their lives. We will spend time in the nearby forest and caves using meditation and contemplation to dissolve the barriers between  self, nature and each other. Traditional meditation techniques are  explained for use on the journey.

The aim for each of us to own and explore our sense of spirit and to more fully develop that aspect of our life. There is no particular spiritual philosophy being pushed and it is accepted that each mans journey needs to be of his own creation. Good company and good food are all part of workshop. Soul Food – Workshop Programme and details.

Use form below to request information