Happiness is an internal state – a function of internal quiet and centredness. Nothing whatsoever to do with the external state of affairs. Otherwise happiness, which is purely your responsibility, would be at the mercy of circumstances always beyond your control. This is our peculiarly Taoist stoicism.
To be is to be vulnerable.

A music that gently marks the passage and flow of time without recourse to drone, clamour or beat.
"Forming grammatically correct sentences is for the normal individual the prerequisite for any submission to social laws. No one is supposed to be ignorant of grammaticality; those who are belong in special institutions. The unity of language is fundamentally political."
Words do not really describe reality – not adequately – they deny reality. Reality is where words are not; where words dare not go.
"All currency is neurotic."
Most students nowadays are not students at all. They don't study – practice – all hours of the day. They don't respect the teaching. They don't even acknowledge that there is a teaching. They will smile and nod knowingly when you tell them something that pleases them, and they will protest and regard you with pity and contempt when you tell them something that threatens their cozy world view. They sincerely believe that ego will disappear just because they decide it should. They basically behave like spoilt brats – spiritual tourists. They know nothing of reality because for them knowledge is merely information gathered along the way. What they all have in common is that they want want want and so feel it is their God given right to take take take. They are exhausting.
Love without attachment is light.

Peace lies in finding the true war. I think it was Norman O Brown that said that. The true war is the one that's raging, whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not – we always feel it – deep down beneath the sheen of bourgeois serenity: the battle for our soul.
A path lined with giant guardians, sombre sentinels, silent witnesses to divine progress.
"I believe that the very process of looking can make a thing beautiful."
Ever wake up feeling too tired, too rushed, too distracted to practise? A voice tells you that you can't possibly give it your best shot so why not wait till evening when everything's out of the way and you're more settled. Well that's Satan fighting back, filling your head with excuses to prevent any attack to his sovereignty of your being.
Silence is so accurate.

We say we're not religious, yet we worship Ego with as much dedication and devotion as zealous fundamentalists their God.
"I have to change to stay the same."
Modern comforts would better be called dire distractions.


Extend (frequency) range out of perception, out of comprehension. Down into deep time (infinite time) where span is but a blink – of no significance – and up to a high fizz (infinitesimal time) where spirit dances at seemingly infinite speed, and takes otherworldly shape. Otherwise we remain lodged in, and ruled by, the mundane rhythms of heart and breath, the tedious vulgar economies of the human mind.
"One works without thinking how to work."
"The worst thing you can think about when you’re working is yourself."
The stone in the belly – focus and weight – where a quiet disciplined mind wants to settle, should more appropriately be called the plumb in the belly. That small ball of lead better suits the essential nature of dantien – its feeling of concentrated essence – its density and mass always pulling the spine into verticality. Taoism is heavily influenced by Chinese alchemy – the art of extracting essence from substance, from things. Imagine the early chemists' amazement when they discovered that when certain rocks from the Earth were crushed and heated very hot, a trickle of dense shiny liquid appeared which cooled into metal with all its remarkable qualities, not least its ability to be fashioned into jewellery and weaponry. The very concept of essence – the idea that things have an essential nature somehow independent of external character and form – is the foundation of our concept of the Internal.
"You paint the way you have to in order to give. That's life itself, and someone will look and say it is the product of knowing, but it has nothing to do with knowing, it has to do with giving."
Quiet mind is not just quiet; neither is it inactive, nor passive. It is centred, anchored ruthlessly in dantien, so that it can intend – move energy, clearly and effectively, by stretching wherever it needs to go. This is good tension (the correct use of the word). The only reason for bad tension would be if the mind stopped being quiet and the resulting anxiety caused you to tighten up in an effort to hold things together and get things done. This is actually quite a complex and difficult procedure, and could only possibly be learnt if placed at a very young age in an environment saturated in chronic anxiety. Sound familiar?
"I used to meditate until I learned to stop thinking."

Engagement with great Art is not, ultimately, sensual nor intellectual but spiritual. The same with Nature. The same with Time. But for this we need to surrender self, and sacrifice our precious time, our internal space. We need to give.


"The enormous pitfall is devotion to oneself instead of to life."
Tension is our way of compensating for an undisciplined mind.
Heart yearns to love and be loved. Ego demands to possess.
"I paint with my back to the world."

We spend a life expecting the world to miraculously kowtow to our desires. Happy when it does, miserable when it doesn't. How childish can we get?
"Nothing will work unless you do."
We must ask ourselves why the mind is so dominant, so lordly and all-knowing. Is it because it is virtuous and strong or is it because the heart has become weak and unsure, no longer capable of standing up for itself, in which case mind is little more than a schoolyard bully. The mind, the self, needs to be taken down a peg – made to know its place – then heart can find its place, its space, to open up and flourish. Mind and heart should be clearly distinguished otherwise they trespass into each others territory and confuse each other. When distinguished they can happily do what they are designed to do – approach and obey spirit, each in its own wonderful way.
Ego would rather you die than give up control.
"Doing what you were born to do. That's the way to be happy."
"small memorable phrases he called pebbles to slay Goliath"
Dantien anchors mind as root anchors body.
Lao Tzu: Soft, like ice about to melt. Transforming by unforming. Brink, break, point and place of failure. Becoming liquid. Always, potentially, the point, place, of tears.
Physical tension indicates that you're using the body to do something that the mind could manage much better if only it were quiet, if only it could intend.
"Fear is always built on a lie. Always! You can never adequately deal with fear unless you deal with the lie behind it. Deal with the lie and the fear will die."

"Deplorable mania, when something happens, to inquire what."
Something bizarrely ironic about the Church declaring that anything but the humble way is heresy.
A few days ago, whilst in Sinai, I met someone who had just holidayed in highland Laos. "How was it?" I inquired. "O it was wonderful! Totally unspoilt by tourism." Mmmm, I thought, so now you can claim to be one of the first spoilers of Laos, as I can claim to be one of the last spoilers of the fragile Sinai reef which is tragically disappearing at a rate of knots.
Transformation, not information.


My Redeemer, redeem me, for I am yours; the one who has come forth from you.
You are my mind; bring me forth!
You are my treasure house; open for me!
You are my fullness; take me to you!
You are repose; give me the perfect thing that cannot be grasped!

"The life of a saint is not the life of a great man or woman, but of God's life in an ordinary man or woman."
Tense shoulders are a barricade protecting ego from anything that may potentially threaten it.
Instead of curling up like a dormouse into the comfort of opinion, open out into the world of energy and spirit. It's much more interesting. And you never know, you may even glimpse God – when you least expect it. Grace befalls always when you least expect it.
this humble project of transformation


"the instantaneous surprise of an Other"

"They are perhaps unwavering and fixed and my fitful perceiving the cause of their inconstancy."
Becoming energy, where energy is simply movement – a wave passing through a vast population called a body – a Mexican wave – becoming swarm/shoal. This precedes spiritual work otherwise it's all in the head.
"Human evolution is itself, I suppose, a process of becoming divine."
Never worry unduly about what other people think or say about you. If they are negative the chances are they are either not getting what they want out of you, or you are not conforming to their value system, either of which should indicate that you're getting something right.
"Divine Love is the surrender of self."

It's really very very simple. Jesus lives in your heart, Satan in your head. Whom do you love the most? If you say the heart (the centre of which is always God, whichever way you look at it) then invest a little time each day proving it, because the rest of the time you're confirming the opposite. And if you refuse this challenge then you're full of shit.
If the work doesn't bring you low then it's just another ego trip.
Be gracious, not greedy.


Always aware of the medium we breathe and move through, the forces that operate (especially gravity) and the passage of time. This is humility, or what The Cloud of Unknowing calls imperfect meekness, imperfect only because it is not the be all and end all. Perfect meekness is the spark and dance of spirit within this mindful continuum which your bountiful compassion triggers and stimulates. Humility only comes with subduing the Adamic ego – heroically tackling original sin.
stifled by the anxieties, wealth and gaieties of time


From thought to energy, from front to back, from knowing to unknowing, from head to heart.


"Self-knowledge is the only way to get and keep the virtue of humility."
Thought thwarts heart.
freedom from over-identification
Every aspect of being, informed and regulated by the softness of touch.
"Basically, humility is seeing yourself as you really are. It's that simple."

(Literally: Meekness in itself is nothing but a true knowing and feeling of a man's self as he is.)
So why God, or some such? Because without you eventually reach an ontological or existential impasse – a labyrinth – an impenetrable mist. We all need a Rule, an Ordo Virtutum, a Catechism of sorts to get us through. Only one in a million can go it alone.
Disillusioned, not with life but with self. For the dullard there is little difference since life is always experienced and mediated through the self. Our work is to distinguish life from self, a task that can only be approached through faith and therefore heart.


Softness – the real softness of a tender touch – is the quality that should resonate through all actions and whole being.
"Creation is not an event in the past, but a relationship in the present." This is the allegorical nature of scripture – not really about past events at all (who cares?) but about what's happening now in your soul and psyche.

Woke up this morning with a phrase in my head: "Irrevocably touched by the absolute reciprocity of touch." As I lay and mulled it over I remembered the first time I encountered that beautiful word 'reciprocity.' It was in a poem by Wilfred Owen which ends with the phrase – The eternal reciprocity of tears – tears being a sensitive response, the only response, to touch, to being touched.
Everything we do, of any spiritual worth, trees do so much better. They don't have freedom of choice muddying the issue.
Belief is a natural state – a natural process – and the work is not so much to believe as to suspend disbelief – to soften the cynicism of self. Otherwise we focus too much on articles of faith, dogma, creed, and miss the trusting love at/of the heart.
How to live a life such that that living constitutes a continuous and gentle process of worship, without recourse to God or self?


"He would always go off to some place where he could be alone and pray."

It's very nice to go trav'ling 
But it's oh so nice to come home. 

This is the feeling the work gives me – homecoming.
my peace is there in the receding mist
when I may cease from treading these long shifting thresholds
and live the space of a door
that opens and shuts


My teacher, like many teachers, would sometimes liken the spiritual journey to climbing a mountain. He would always quip that it wasn't climbing the mountain that's difficult but what you do when you get to the top. I don't know about that. Is all I know is that whenever I dip into Philip Gröning's Into Great Silence, which I do regularly, I never fail to realise that I haven't even reached the foothills let alone the mighty ascent.
Happiness is a deep internal state (calling from the cold mines beneath my sanity) completely unaffected by whether the world is pleasing or displeasing. And when you touch this state then you give the world the greatest gift – spiritual grace.
"You must come away to some lonely place all by yourself and rest for a while"

Spiritual work reduces you to the point of knowing with all your heart and soul that you have no choice. From then on it's plain sailing. Sort of.
Remember when we were kids, school holidays were anticipated eagerly as the term drew to a close, and then enjoyed immensely once they arrived. And, being selfish children, we instantly assumed that because we enjoyed them then our parents did so too. It's only on becoming parents ourselves that it begins to dawn on us that school holidays filled our parents with exactly the same dread that they fill us. Well the situation is pretty much the same as spending time with your teacher. You assume that because her company is so beneficial and enriching for you then your company must be the same for her, when, in actual fact, the chances are she can't bear the sight of your selfish face nor the thought, let alone the presence, of your demanding, whinging ego. The teaching she offers is then whatever she feels you need to work on to make your company bearable. What she gets from the encounter is the opportunity to humbly cast aside her distaste and practice hope.
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature."
At some point the work inevitably becomes difficult, heartbreakingly so. If it didn't then it wouldn't be work, it would just be a pastime, a hobby. Most students, at this point, either give up or, worse still, use the force of their ego to constantly drag the work back into familiar territory every time it threatens. Soon they become such experts at this that the teacher stops correcting them – effectively stops teaching – a situation that is far worse for the teacher than it is for the student who has effectively turned the tables. Those that refuse such manipulations (which are always conscious) continue the work with redoubled effort. When the going gets tough the tough get going.
"You have to grow from the inside out."

"We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power. We do not need more things that are seen, we need more things that are unseen."
Therapy aims to heal and rehabilitate a wounded ego so that the individual can effectively function within society. Spiritual work aims to purify the heart and soul so that the individual can affectively commune with God. Clearly these are not the same. Not even close. They operate on completely different dimensions. Modern therapies get rid of soul by inventing models that don't include one, and spiritual work struggles to get through and beyond ego. Therapy builds you up, spiritual work crushes you down.


from impenetrable self to impenetrable unself by way of neither
Love is the spirit of between.


Compassion does not attempt to take suffering away from the other, but to help them manage the process of change that the suffering makes unavoidable. A case of make or break.

I remember, many years ago, reading an interview with an elderly guitarist. The interviewer asked him if he still practised, to which he replied, aghast at the question, "Of course!" The interviewer then asked why, given that he was still gigging so was hardly likely to lose it, and, given his age, wasn't likely to technically improve either. The guitarist simply said, "Because I love practising."
asylum head
sole blot
Without a practice regime, established over time under the experienced guidance of a master, exposure to great teaching can do nothing but feed a probably already inflated ego. Such 'students' waft and drift around in a haze of smug self-satisfaction – spiritual and experiential materialists to a tee – until the shit hits the fan, which it inevitably will, by which time, of course, it's probably too late to sincerely change.
The work is never easy. If it appears so it is probably because it has been subsumed into ego. This is inevitable in some way and is why you must have a teacher – she will help wrench it out and put you back on the path. And this is why there is always an element of dread associated with both teacher and teaching – they are guarantees of suffering.


"Every man must choose his world."

The work must first reject, on every possible level, the will to power, otherwise it is yet another self-centered pursuit. This is another way of saying that the work must come from the heart and not the ego. A humbling work designed to grind us down to absolute obedience.


"Our part is to yield and trust."
The Adamic ego.
Dr Chi, my Taiji grandpa, is on my mind a lot lately. Largely his religious turn – his wholehearted embrace of Jesus when it became clear to him that Taiji could take him no further – but also his light intelligence and humour, which is clear to see in his Form as well as his open face. I remember my teacher telling me that the first time he stayed for any length of time with Dr Chi in Taipei it began to dawn on him that given his present state of progress it would take him about 200 years to reach his teacher's level, so he asked Dr Chi, somewhat despairingly, how one progresses, to which the master replied, quite simply, "Somehow."
"Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you."

Laziness is choosing to do something else instead of what needs to be done. The secret is to somehow align desire and need.
You know what it's like: some days you just don't want to go into work. You may be tired, hungover, grumpy, or just plain sick to death of the tedium. But you know you don't really have a choice, you need a roof over your head and food to eat so you steal yourself out of bed, shower (already feeling better), dress (that's smart), quick coffee (just what you needed) and then out of the door and on your way. And by the time you arrive the early morning blues are forgotten and you click into the job. Well it's exactly the same with coming to practice. It's always difficult and daunting, but for the sake of your soul – your real life – you steal yourself away from distraction and just get on with it. And without this daily grind – this beautiful act of faith – there is no real character development. You remain, internally, at worst asleep and at best an over-pampered child. "You are truly blessed to know you have no choice."


Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Apparently Dr Chi's class mates all acknowledged that he was the best. They used to joke that it was because he didn't have the strength to get it wrong (he was always physically very frail).


Solitude is not simply time alone. It is pure quiet time, free of all distraction, especially that of the restless mind.

It all boils down to whether you work to bolster and strengthen the self or work to weaken and reduce it. Be honest. There's a world of difference.
Inside us is an infinite abyss, which, unless filled by an infinite presence, collapses constantly into itself despite the pathetic efforts of the ego to either puff it out or cover it over.
"The shortest road is faithfulness to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit."
In order to push up with any force I must also push down – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The same principle holds with statements of authority – as soon as I propose something with any degree of force then its opposite immediately enters the picture as a necessary possibility. This is the Taoist model of reality – a dance of yin and yang rather than a declaration of yin or yang. Reality is positive and affirmative rather than conditional. But to join it – to become real – the work needs to reduce my conditionality – ego – to nothing.
The more you bleed in practice the less you'll bleed in the fight.

We practice not to accrue wonderful spiritual experiences but for the love of God. This is the sacrificial nature of the work. So it matters little whether the work is enjoyable or odious. What matters is the faithfulness that drives its quotidian regularity and continuance.
The work is not materialistic – not acquisitive – but fundamentally reductive. It's all about reducing my self to nothing – what the hesychasts call dying to the world – so that I can eventually become pure channel and vessel for the love of God.
"For the love of God." The beauty of this phrase is its ambiguity – there is no clear indication whether the love mentioned is my love for God or his love for me – and so, in its utterance, these two loves become one, or at least resonate intimately. When I love with any degree of truth and authenticity – selflessly – then it is really God loving through me.


"On average, American adults are watching five hours and four minutes of television per day." Imagine them all sacrificing 10% of that to meditate? What a change in consciousness it would bring about!
our world of inanity & automatism

If talking to oneself is the first sign of madness doesn't that make us all mad?


"Quality will come from fidelity."
Don't let the logic of love deteriorate into the logic of human calculation.


the noetic
pilgrimage image eternity
Non-attachment – detachment – is really a severing of egoistic engagement with life so that a spirited and spiritual engagement can take its place.
Poverty, chastity, obedience; detached from world, from body, from mind. What's left? Heart of course. And soul. And love. And God. Quite a lot really.


"Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again!’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead, for grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony."
Early walk through the local wood this morning, before it got too hot, with my now 9 year old daughter, she on her bicycle. We sat amongst the trees and she ate her favourite breakfast of cottage cheese, cucumbers and Doritos, washed down with cool water, whilst we chatted about important things – simple virtues. When we got up to return home she looked around and said, "Dad, these trees are better than us." I asked how come, to which she replied, "They spend the whole day with their arms up in the air telling God how much they love him. We do it hardly at all."
Faith fueled by desire.
Love has no object.

"When the spirit expresses itself through the body, it is strengthened."


To say we don’t have time to practise simply means practice is not one of our priorities.


"I find more meaning in the wing of a bird and in the branch of a tree than in five hundred icons."
The only time in our lives when we are totally of one mind and heart for any length of time is when we fall in love. Then we lose ourselves in the beloved and see them in everything and in every moment, especially when apart. They replace our own ego as centre of being. So, to bring the scattered wandering mind under some sort of control one must simply fall deeply in love. This is the rationale behind religion – one falls in love with God.
the inventiveness of love


"Humility cannot be manufactured to order, it can only come as the fruit of a painful confrontation with our inner poverty and weakness, a stripping of all human conceit and all the claims of our ego."


Sit quiet and still and allow the eyes to unfocus. Hood the eyes (almost close them). Now allow your whole being to unfocus. This is scary so you need the stone in the belly to stabilize your being. You effectively enter a cloud. Feel the still quiet centre of this cloud and abide there as long as you can. Slowly the cloud disperses and you're in a room within a mansion. This is the first stage.
"Settle yourself in solitude, and you will come upon God in yourself."
The true student is drawn to spiritual work because, during her formative years, she has suffered, mildly or severely, and that suffering has been punctuated by a handful of very intense experiences of bliss or epiphany. These experiences – true events – have always occurred because for some reason her mind became momentarily quiet, allowing her to glimpse the world of energy and spirit operating behind the material world. The student realises, with all her being, that these experiences constitute reality and everything else is a superficial mirage. So she takes up a discipline that she hopes will increase the frequency of such events. The events are, on the one hand, yearned for because they are life-giving and life-sustaining but, on the other hand, they are feared and kept at bay because they are too much – too intense. Eventually though, as the years pass by and the work accrues, the student becomes strong and humble enough for the next stage – working for continuity of the event – for which she needs to detach completely from the material world. In my own experience, and that of my teacher and his teacher, these two life changes: taking up spiritual work and then drastically shifting the emphasis of that work to effectuate continuity, occur roughly at the Saturn-returns – the ages of 25-30 and 52-60 ("You don't get much change from thirty years!" he once grumbled to me).
Take good care of your time. Watch how you spend it, for nothing is more precious. In the twinkling of an eye, heaven can be won or lost.

For whosoever exalteth him sylfe shalbe brought lowe. And he that hubleth him sylfe shalbe exalted.
I told my daughter the story of Adam & Eve.
"Wow dad! Is it really true?"
"Well it probably never happened but it's certainly true."
I heard of an old Zen exercise. Two low tables a few yards apart. On one table a large rounded stone – a big pebble – heavy but manageable. The monk approaches the stone, bends his legs and embraces it. He then lifts it up by straightening his legs and takes it to the other table where he carefully and gently deposits it by bending his legs. He then straightens up, places his hands together in an attitude of reverent prayer and utters a mantram or invocation. After a second or two he repeats. This goes on for an hour or so. The idea, as with all repetitive simple exercises, is that the mind eventually becomes quiet and the monk becomes possessed by the doing. So much so that the pebble enters his dantien – the stone in the belly – a mood of detached sober involvement, but also an energetic actuality.
What holds us back? Selfishness.


"At a certain point the mind must fall silent and admit its powerlessness."


If you want to upset the bourgeoisie (and who doesn't?) just start talking affectionately about God. It works every time.


For how long should I meditate?
For as long as it takes.
For what takes?
For the mind to settle and become peaceful.
But that would take all day!


"This world of ours is very sick, and only contact with heaven will be able to cure it."


embrace the heretical imperative


it's impossible to predict the welling up of a song


Tell a student to do something and they'll do it but they'll do it wrong because they'll do it the way they've always done everything – carelessly, superficially, habitually. The student, to progress, must really look at where it's all coming from. What is the very nature of free spirit?
Whatever comes easy is unappreciated and so misunderstood and so probably wrong.
at an hower when ye thinke not
Any work that is not repentive is by its nature materialistic.
"Do you think I have an antisocial personality?"
"Sure, who hasn't?"

Success depends upon just how honestly you're willing to look at things.


If Dutch courage allows you to enter the joys of creation then so be it.
Plato admonished us to abandon the confines of our cave and venture out into the world. He meant a move from superstition – from standing over (in fear and awe) – to understanding. Unfortunately, with the corrupting passage of time, this amounts to a move from heart to head, from body to mind, from intuition and gut-feeling to mediation through language and mental formation. So life, which Plato hoped would become more real – more enticing and exciting – actually pales and shrinks away because our understanding makes us proud.
Let's face it, most so called internal work amounts to little more than posturing.
The only difference between getting it right and getting it wrong is the presence of spirit.

From unselfconscious immediacy to selfconscious reflection to compassionate presence – being in self, thinking for self, being for other.
Spiritual work starts – and generally falters – with quietening the mind. Without some success here everything is misunderstood.
A good student is in love with the work, for its own sake.


Purity of heart is to will one thing.
The test of true quietude is a vigilant and alert spirit. Otherwise you've merely fallen into a stupor.

we will find a living well if we reach deep enough under the surface of our complaints
The struggle is the same for all of us: to become good students, but students of the Internal – of our own hearts and minds – rather than students of the external world, and to study ourselves requires not only different methods to those best suited to probing externals, but a completely different methodology – erosive & decrescent rather than creative & accretive – because the quality required to really look objectively & dispassionately at self, in all its revolting glory, is humility.
woorkes and labor that procedeth of love


Quietening the anxious mind doesn't only allow you to hear what's really there – it allows you to become what's really here.
Practise is the only way to get beyond technique – out of words and into energy.


Unhappiness is largely the result of the world not living up to expectation. External work strives to change the world – to increase one's lot, internal work to reduce expectation.
"Let every manne do accordyng as he is disposed in his hearte, not grudgyngly, or of necessitie, for God loveth a cherefull gever."
Compassion starts with a refusal to violence, and the commonest violence is the wrenching of thought from heart to head.


"Confine your mind within the words of prayer," advised John Climacus. Embark upon the Herculean task of bringing the mind to quietude. Only then will energy be diverted from head to heart, from things into Spirit.
Never too late, but certainly never too early. Time is now.

"it is of great importance that we leave the world of measurements be­hind when we speak about the life of the Spirit"
We are human beings, and perhaps the most important fact of that being is our vertical spine. The fact that, as well as scurrying upon the plane of immanence, which spreads all round – tempting and monotonous – (the Internet being the most recent allegory of such), we also abide, during our quiet moments, on a vertical transcendent axis: we aspire as well as transpire.
a gradual conversion from an anxious reaction to a loving response
Ask anyone nowadays where their thoughts are and they'll tap their head. Ask where their feelings are and they'll place hand on heart. But this is a relatively recent development. In Biblical times, and probably pre-Renaissance, the heart would have been the seat of thoughts and the belly a reservoir of feeling. So, we've climbed up a notch, if you like, which has enabled us to master our environment – the externals of life – but which has also cut us off from the internal – from meaning deeper than basic survival and mere acquisition. Humility is required to slip off our secular pedestal of pride and arrogance and regain the heart as centre of life. A radical repentance – a work of contrition that takes us to task and to root.


one sings in order to get away from explanation

"True mysticism is to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary."


a dazzling darkness
"The laying aside of thoughts and images leads not to vacuity but to a plenitude surpassing all that the human mind can conceive or express."


Loneliness is the company of those that can't abide solitude.
Play it by ear.


"God alone is noun; all created things are adjectives."
The whole idea of mindfulness is that with diligent practice it slowly becomes heartfulness: it moves from head, through the portal of the heart, and into the gut, which apparently has more nerve endings than the brain, and which, traditionally, in all cultures, is the seat of sympathetic feeling and intuition. With practice, in time, the work moves from mere attentiveness to love.
Mind is selfed; heart is peopled. Feel it. See it. Admit it.
Not so much what's done as the mind what does it.


"Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter – the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self."

Bourgeois living: where reasoned unfaithfulness and comfortable self-centredness veil despair.
Things are looking up.
If I look within myself
I cannot bear myself.

If I do not look within myself
I do not know myself.
Everyone wants transformation yet no one is willing to change.


useless thoughts spoil all


"A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"


When the mind wanders, bring it back. When it wanders again, bring it back again.


solitude is the furnace in which transformation takes place
"Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behav­iour change, modelled by your new mind."


How to approach something both beyond experience and beyond comprehension? Graciously.


advance from duplicity to simplicity


"He must increase, but I must decrease."
Demand a yardstick – measure – and you'll always be disappointed.
The declining posture of old age is simply a gradual disappearance into heart.
"It is the human vocation to manifest the spiritual in and through the material."


loved, but not thought


Salvation lies in that ever elusive moment of unconditionality which dies as soon as registered.


brought to perfect silence and unknowing


sans savoir, sans avoir, sans voir


"Lord, I believe: help my unbelief."

Believe me, having a mind above average is no advantage when it comes to heart work. In fact, it's a positive hindrance.
"What is most contrary to salvation is not sin but habit."
The path from mind to heart is a downward one; a penitent path – contrite and humbling.
"There is only one tragedy: to fail to become a saint."
Look back and ponder the innumerable mistakes and you'll see that it wasn't for lack of knowing but for lack of listening. We always know what needs to be done, in the deep deep heart – the gut, and then we ignore it and go instead with the head.


"Learning to actually mean, from ever-deepening regions of the heart, is what makes practice so challenging."
When defensiveness falls away then humility flows in.


a passion for trespassing the horizons of possibility
Meaning is in the feeling, feeling in the meaning – the heart invested in action, in movement, in the passage of time. That's what the work, ultimately, is all about: understanding Time – allowing its passage to bring it on as it draws you out.
The presence of mind to practice.


Paradise, Gan Eden, is, quite simply, peace of mind – the place, the state, yearned for, at heart, at least.


What is Reality but the subtle resonance between me and thee or, rather, I and Thou, which, when right, begins to hum, and, when really right, starts to sing. Reality is We.


It is not unfinished. It is unending.


discipline & attention
in the dark
       I sit

in the light
       I am


"There are many paths, but a single path must be chosen."
At the heart of softness is a yearning for a way of communicating that doesn't involve pitting one opinion against another.
Make a break for It.


Trying to encourage my 8 year old to start reading the Bible since she now reads Hebrew. "It's the greatest book ever written," I explained. "Wow! Even better than Enid Blyton?!"
if real, Spirit informs

"A man thinks about universals while on the job, and the sense that comes thru most is no future worth it if the present diminutive."
The Other is mirror through which, and only through which, I achieve true being – truth – rather than self. And not because they stimulate competitive edge but because they demand a heart.
Guard the heart above all else,
for it is the source of life.


Personal God is simply agent allowing possibility of impossible. In particular, for our purposes, the possibility that seemingly ingrained and recalcitrant patterns can be broken; the possibility of real change. The actual existence of such a God is unnecessary, but love for / belief in certainly is, though it can take a multitude of conceptual forms. The energy for change comes from belief rather than being.
Desire the world – increase daily
Desire the Dao – decrease daily.

There will always come a point where such decrease is difficult, painful, awful, impossible, especially when it demands jettisoning habitual support for body and mind.

Take down the body; give up the ghost.


It doesn't get any better than this.
"Sickness becomes the means through which one is cured and empowered or 'permitted' way beyond what one was before the illness."
The work internalizes strength and thereby makes power.
Spirit has a life of its own. Mind does not.

All contradiction, conflict, bad faith, gainsaying, misunderstanding – paradox even – stem from an inability to distinguish mind and spirit.
immanence implies transcendence; they are not opposed to one another


"Wisdom is the environs to which each man relates because each man reflects the other differentially relating, equally participating."
Relax, feel and engage the natural forces operating both without (gravity etc) and within (drives etc). These will then tighten up just enough to bring you to full power.


the murmuring of an intensity that does not abate
Hardness is putting self before other. Softness is putting other before self. It's as simple as that.
"Does art imitate life, or does life imitate TV?"
The big breakthrough comes when you finally accept that this work is not something you do to make normal life bearable but something that makes normal life so unbearable that you cannot possibly go back to it.
my revolt
is not to give in
What is truth? Whatever we're running from. So, to begin the revolutionary turn towards it, something absolutely fundamental in habitual nature must be reversed. I suggest switching the dominant activity of mind from idle thought (worry) to prayer, where prayer is simply the lifting of heart and mind upward – into the void beyond. No need to mention God, if you find the possibility of absolute authority – absolute otherness – disagreeably beneath (rather than agreeably above) you.


we took the path to the desert
"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular."
Whatever it is, get it off the chest. It doesn't belong there, and the longer it sits the more a heavy heart becomes habitual.
Nothing terrifies more than nothing to worry about.
destitute of reference