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" The Holy Land is everywhere "

Black Elk

Can streaking ever become a chore?

October 8th, 2007

Spiritual teachers talk about the way regular practice reaps its rewards, and that you have to persevere through periods where the meditation, or whatever the practice is, seems to be just a chore with no obvious benefit.

Julia Cameron in The Writer’s Way and Gail Sher in One Continuous Mistake suggest that a discipline of regular writing – a little every day – is the spiritual practice for writers and that the same law applies. Keep at it!

If blogging offers a similar sense of freedom combined with the risks of exhibitionism and vulnerability that naturism offers, then keeping up a blog seems a little like being told you have to do a little streak every day.

Is that all it is? Was Thoreau and company on to something with their idea of using and sharing journals for spiritual cultivation or does this just cater to our egos? The spiritual discipline with this it seems to me is the challenge to go beyond our innate human desire to display, to seduce, to persuade and to make that shift so that we are responding to what I hope are our deeper urges – to give, to share, to entertain!

I used to be snooty about the concept of entertainment until I read the Buddhist Alan Watts talking about his mission to entertain, and the week later at an OBOD Druid camp Prof. Ronald Hutton stated that he was there to entertain us. (Which he did hugely – you can hear him on the Druid podcast – episode 4 – link top right).

How different would our world have been if spiritual leaders had told us, from the dawn of time, that they had come to entertain us. If you’re laughing it’s very hard to pull a trigger.

That’s very 2005

October 7th, 2007

There’s something very salutary about having a family. Other people might flatter you about your books or your writing but your family can be guaranteed to bring you down to earth. Read more

One Continuous Mistake

October 4th, 2007

Gail Sher in her book One Continuous Mistake – Four Noble Truths for Writers presents writing as a spiritual practice. Reading her book was inspiring, and helps me to understand how I can use this blog as a spiritual practice too. Developing the ideas in yesterday’s post, I can see how it could offer a way in which to cultivate clarity of mind and power of expression. This I think is what the Transcendentalists were recommending – the use of journaling as a means of cultivating our spiritual and creative potential.

Sher talks about the way in which writing from this point of view words rise up from the still centre of her being: ‘One beats through me, pushes its way to the forefront and appears on a page. I care about this. I care about the clarity of myself as a vessel, the utensils used, the paper as receptor and the way the whole process unfolds. Silence for me is replete with possibility.’

The blog as a means for cultivating clarity. What an idea! And what a pity blog is such an ugly word with its resonances with bogs, which are sticky (and toilets at least in Britain) and logs which by definition have been cut down and are no longer living trees.

It’s like taking off your clothes…

October 3rd, 2007

When I first heard about blogs I thought they were yet another example of how self-obsessed we have all become – another example of our narcissistic culture. But I’ve changed my mind and have decided to take the plunge!

Two realizations acted as catalysts for this change of heart: I was reading Thoreau the other day and was struck by the self-revelatory, diary-like informal quality of his wonderful Walden Pond – and then I read somewhere that he was the equivalent of a blogger. Delving deeper into the work of the American Transcendentalists I discovered that journaling, and sharing that journaling, was at the heart of their spiritual practice.

I was almost convinced – particularly after one of my oldest friends the ‘recovering journalist’ Jonathan Miller showed me his stylish and provocative political blog I Told You So. He waxed lyrical about the virtues of blogging and urged me to start. But something held me back… Read more