Thirty-six years have passed since I crossed over a cold sea, ship-bound for Liverpool. Again I was leaving, searching for a returning. A dilapidated bus bearing the company name “Magic” carried me through what was then England’s industrial midlands, travelling south towards London.
Some few miles to the west of London (Londinium) a city established by the Romans lies the old parish of Harmondsworth which derived its name from Heremod’s enclosure. Millions of people from around the world traverse this landscape, for here, where now exists a large international airport, stood the old village of Heathrow.
In January1981 I was due to board an aircraft at Heathrow bound for Sydney. As the time neared departure, I felt a magnetic current drawing me towards a posture of waiting, an “inner voice” counselled me not to go aboard the plane. This call was clear, accompanied by a vision of what the future held should my life be moulded solely by the world of outside appearances. I could see that it would not matter how many or how good personal relationships might be, how great or important the job I might have, how much money I might earn, how many material possessions I might acquire, on its own all of this would amount to nothing. There and then I realised that to go solely forward and inevitably one way down into that “outside future” was to commit myself to a terrible existence.
The aircraft left without me.
What now, I said to myself? Three days later I met a man who received me into his care and began to direct me back and up. It is said when the pupil is ready the teacher appears. To be offered the guidance of a teacher and to be open enough to receive what he or she has to offer is a grace. To accept then the conditions necessary to begin preparation, to be worked upon, so as to be moved towards submission. Submission to a higher influence often evokes in us a deep fear of the unknown. What is going to become of me if such a step is taken?
After having passed through a repetitive painful process that had allowed something in me to give up I was brought to this turning point. To have given up for a time even the desire for change and what I had searched for over the years had unknowingly placed me for a few vital moments in a mysterious stillness wherein I distinctively felt my life being weighed. As has happened to others, I experienced a compelling need to come deeper into my inner self and there repose until through a blessed reorientation I found myself in silent witness opening towards the compassionate heart at the centre of my being.
"The moment one commits oneself, then providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events; all manner of unforeseen incidents and chance meetings and material assistance come forth which no one could have dreamt would appear."
I had an intuitive feeling I was in the country that would either save or destroy the world, nothing I have experienced since that day nearly fifty years ago has altered this view. I was then nineteen years old, feeling the aloneness, standing in a parking lot in Los Angeles.
In his ‘Selected Essays and Critical Writings’ A. R. Orage wrote, “no mere record of experience, however novel,” can obtain entry into true realism. “Entry is by divination, not by description. Compare, for instance, the descriptions of battles in Homer and in the Mahabharata with the descriptions of actuality. The latter are accurate, but the former are true. There never was such a battle as Vyasa described in the Mahabharata. Let us hope there never will be. But, as we read it, we feel that Nature has dreamed it, and only not actualised it because she had other plans. By this means, actuality itself becomes transfigured; experience is given a solace; and no mere reporting can accomplish that. What is the satisfaction in knowing that such and such a thing occurred? But there is satisfaction in knowing that it occurred as a consequence of choice among many alternatives! Freedom is given back to us. At each moment we stand at a new crossroads. The road Nature takes will be, in course of time, the actual; the roads she passes will remain the potential. The more of them there are, the richer life has become for us.”
I do not know what the result will be of a Trump presidency but in my view the appointments of Stephen Bannon, Mike Flynn, Mike Pompeo, Reince Priebus, Nikki Haley, Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos to his cabinet, Myron Ebell to his transition team does not bode well for the USA or the world.
One of Americas finest investigative journalist I. F. Stone wrote - "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” Experience eventually helped me to see a truth in this, but also to remember Martin Luther realised, “Truth can only manifest through a lie.”
At the end there is a short sequence from the BBC series The Nazis a warning from History, this is very much based on the work of Prof. Sir Ian Kershaw. Kershaw although one of the more nuanced historians of the Nazi era does not really fathom the depths of the phenomenon of Adolf Hitler. The ever deepening question rather than an answer for the existence of such a being does not lie in ordinary history but in mythology.
Mythology, etymologically from Muthos, indicative of the truth cannot be approached with the ordinary mind. There exists an index of similarities between Donald Trump’s political campaign and the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, however Trump is no Hitler, the United States is not the Weimar Republic. However the combination of strong narcissistic and authoritarian bigoted tendencies within a person in high office of state can unwittingly enable more sinister interests. Whereas Jiddu Krishnamurti stated, “Evil exits but you know nothing about it’, nonetheless it is worth recalling Shakespeare’s words placed upon the characters of Banquo and Macbeth, …
That, trusted home, Might yet enkindle you unto the crown, Besides the Thane of Cawdor. But 'tis strange: And oftentimes to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths; Win us with honest trifles, to betray's In deepest consequence. —
Two truths are told, As happy prologues to the swelling act Of the imperial theme... This supernatural soliciting Cannot be ill; cannot be good: — if ill, Why hath it given me earnest of success, Commencing in a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor: If good, why do I yield to that suggestion Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair, And make my seated heart knock at my ribs, Against the use of nature? Present fears Are less than horrible imaginings: My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, Shakes so my single state of man, that function Is smother'd in surmise; and nothing is But what is not.
"A cuckoo’s nest may be just a playful name for a mad house ... but the common association of cuckoos and insanity comes from the baffling and brutal behaviour of cuckoo’s themselves. In nature cuckoo’s lay their eggs in other birds’ nests, depositing one egg per nest. It is a process by which an outcast becomes a tyrant … "
The hope, sorrow, indeed beauty of Ken Kesey’s book - at the end out of a whole population, only one will finally break through the glass to a larger world.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
The going from a world we know To one a wonder still Is like the child’s adversity Whose vista is a hill, Behind the hill is sorcery And everything unknown, But will the secret compensate For climbing it alone?
A shepherd stands at one end of the arena. Five sheep are unpenned at the other. His dog runs out In a curve to behind them, fetches them straight to the shepherd, Then drives the flock round a triangular course Through a couple of gates and back to his master: two Must be sorted there from the flock, then all five penned. Gathering, driving away, shedding and penning Are the plain words for the miraculous game.
An abstract game. What can the sheepdog make of such Simplified terrain? — no hills, dales, bogs, walls, tracks, Only a quarter-mile plain of grass, dumb crowds Like crowds on hoardings around it, and behind them Traffic or mounds of lovers and children playing. Well, the dog is no landscape-fancier: his whole concern Is with his master’s whistle, and of course With the flock — sheep are sheep anywhere for him.
The sheep are the chanciest element. Why, for instance, Go through this gate when there’s on either side of it No wall or hedge but huge and viable space? Why not eat the grass instead of being pushed around it? Like a blob of quicksilver on a tilting board The flock erratically runs, dithers, breaks up, Is reassembled: their ruling idea is the dog, And behind the dog, though they know it not yet, is a shepherd.
The shepherd knows that time is of the essence But haste calamitous. Between dog and sheep There is always an ideal distance, a perfect angle; But these are constantly varying, so the man Should anticipate each move through the dog, his medium. The shepherd is the brain behind the dog’s brain, But his control of dog, like dog’s of sheep, Is never absolute — that’s the beauty of it.
For beautiful it is. The guided missiles, The black-and-white angels follow each quirk and jink of The evasive sheep, play grandmother’s-steps behind them, Freeze to the ground, or leap to head off a straggler Almost before it knows that it wants to stray, As if radar-controlled. But they are not machines – You can feel them feeling mastery, doubt, chagrin: Machines don’t frolic when their job is done.
What’s needfully done in the solitude of sheep-runs – Those rough, real tasks become this stylised game, A demonstration of intuitive wit Kept natural by the saving grace of error. To lift, to fetch, to drive, to shed, to pen Are acts I recognise, with all they mean Of shepherding the unruly, for a kind of Controlled woolgathering is my work too.