A Guidebook to Life – Maxwell Dodd
First published 2013 – renewed 2020
A thought to start with…
You have wings. You can fly. You can be utterly peaceful,
happy and strong. Your existence can be Life Written Large.
The principles of successful living are very simple. Read on
and be blessed – enormously.
The journey of living for many of us is a time of grief and pain
and dislocation. Extraordinary difficulties seem to be our
natural state and we are pushed and pulled and pummelled
from all directions. What follows is a small work of daily
meditations to be used to find in that healing practice the
solution to our burdens and the resuscitation and comfort
which we may be seeking.
I am satisfied that our lives can be overwhelmingly happy and
complete and that they can reflect order on scales that we may
not dare imagine. I am convinced, however, that the price of
such blessing is one that may be too high for some of us. We
have been overwhelmed by the pressures of the world around
us to “conform” and we may have become afraid of the
pejorative descriptions of difference. Our due obedience to the
temporal gods of rationalism and its allies of materialism and
consumerism damages us greatly. The servants of Mammon
find it hard to appreciate that the solutions to all confusions lie
in seeking richer visions of our potential and experience.
Now that I am what is called so patronisingly a “senior citizen”
– I see only an admittedly rather late state of youth! – I find
myself compelled to offer the wisdom of the years to those less
blessed with grey (or little or no) hair or damaged skin. Those
insights will provide us with the comfort we seek. What I have
found as I enter my eighth decade is that in a very relaxed
Buddhist vision of total living can be found a simple guidance
to healing and re-construction second to none. That insight is
one which seeks our restoration within ourselves by regular
and disciplined meditation which will guide us to a gentle loss
of egotism and an ever-growing trusting acceptance of the
nearest other, whoever he or she may be. Those criteria will be
found to offer the transformation we seek – drug-free, and
sweetly fulfilling and yet of an easy timeliness.
What I am offering is the remedy offered so it seems by all who
have found deeply satisfying solutions to the riddles of our
existence. It is an easy and gentle understanding of man that is
mystical and which sees the individual as a universe of
potential awaiting its release and satisfaction. It is not a
religious answer. It rejects, indeed, belief systems as otiose and
likely to damage by stultifying and enslaving. Deep within
ourselves and accessible to the timeless journey of meditation
in solitude, silence, stillness and the emptying of the mind, is a
very sweet and simple quality of serenity and enablement and
invigoration that the Greater seems to offer as its own
definition of itself in action. That others will not understand
and may indeed perhaps criticise those making the spiritual
journey will sadden but it must not be permitted to diminish
the courage and conviction of the spiritual explorer. I am here
however to say that a life-long experience of meditation will
provide us with rewards of inestimable value. We shall be the
ones described by St. Paul as “more than conquerors.” The
world will see us for what we have done and some will even
seek our advice and support – which we must give as
unconditionally as endlessly.
I see such difficulties in so many lives. There are those for
whom the day-to-day of life is a seemingly constant challenge
of grief and dislocation. Pain and sadness, it has to be said, do
enter our lives and so often from quarters from which we least
expected such things. This small work presents solutions of
great effectiveness and yet of surprising naivety.
We are, as individuals, of the vastness and immensity of the
Greater or the Universe – and of its spaciousness of soul and
heart. We find that we are as individuals important and that
our destiny lies in all that is creative and constructive. Our
potential is infinite and our duty is to lead lives that reflect not
merely our capacity to be enhanced but the Infinite that
conferred such qualities upon us. The tragedy of men and
women of the early 21st century is that, in denying the religious
traditions that are embedded within our Western culture, we
are cutting ourselves off from our origins. We are in need of a
spiritual re-birth. Our challenge is harder with our rationalism
and our materialism and our failure to seek any inward life.
We have lost our roots in our cleverness and our failure to take
a larger view of ourselves and our suffering is substantial.
Alcohol and drugs and riotous living only make our pain
greater. Our simplest and most reliable remedies are too easily
It is necessary for us again to discover that the way home is
within us and that the essence of the Greater and Infinite and
its enormousness are to be found only by gentle and
time-consuming enquiring. We are to find in the language of
the Christian theologian that God, the Transcendent, is, also
and equally, immanent. We are to discover not something new
and different but what has lain inside us from the time of our
conception – our very origins.
We are of that Transcendent and Immanent and its very
completeness lies at our “core” or “centre.” Psychologists
would use the terms “fully functioning” or “self-actualising” to
denote the attainment of a rarely met wholeness. Quite a
challenge but utterly worthwhile.
None of this is for the faint of heart. It is the spiritual
equivalent of the experience of the athlete who has trained for
years for a possible gold medal or an international
championship or of the musical prodigy whose hours were
filled with seemingly endless and at times unproductive
practice or of the student whose doctorate came after years of
“hard slog.” The virtuoso of the soul will find few who
understand but his inner compass will be clear and
unambiguous. That solitary patient explorer will find however
such joys and satisfactions as will reward as little else can and
an experience of very rich living will follow. He (or she) will
have found the source of what is at the heart of good living.
The Western mind for which this work was conceived will
almost certainly be concerned with procedure – “How do I go
‘within’?” The answer is simple – “meditation.” It is however
a process, for all the traditional pictures of those sitting in the
so-called asana position, that is as personal and as varied as the
individuals who will seek its blessings. A better point of
practice will be solitude, silence, stillness and the emptying of
the mind. Physical relaxation and a comfortable sitting
position (probably in a chair with feet squarely placed in front
of the sitter about 15 to 18 inches – 40 to 50 cm. – apart) with a
straight back and open shoulders are imperative as will be the
slowing of the breath to reduced inhalations and exhalations
but these are only points of guidance. The fact that any
individual is making the effort to slow down will be itself a
start to the gentle, incremental process of healing and
re-construction and the practice should be followed without
any regard to time or reward. It is equally important to allow
the wild fluctuations of the mind but to realise that all that
turbulence will steadily quieten if only the sitter does not react
to it. The meditation that follows for Day 19 makes the
observation of the one sitting on the roadside undisturbed by
all that passes. This is the perfect metaphor and the steady
serenity of such a measure of non-involvement is the reward of
the months for the singular effort of quietness and detachment.
As time goes on, however, the searcher (and the responsibility
of the search is his or hers alone) will find that he or she has
come to a point where the celebration of meditation will be as
necessary a part of the day as eating or bathing. A Zen guide
has observed that “eating is Zen” or “walking is Zen” – the
experience is all-consuming and equally generous.
I have nothing to sell and in a sense nothing to offer. The
journey being recommended is of the individual in his or her
own terms – and life-long and constant. All responsibility and
all reward are thrown back on the individual. Modern
nostrums about “communities” have nothing to offer here at
all. It is of you and in your own personal terms. You will find
that whatever the problems of living may be, their dominance
and the painful consequences of their thrall will slowly lift –
even if the external disturbances continue. The Buddha was
emphatic that what he was offering by his wisdom (and it was
a totally practical guidance on peace of mind and completeness
of living) was not an easy life but a capacity to deal with
oneself that made life easier. His was an entirely pragmatic
guidance on a quality of calm and tranquillity that could cope
with the oscillations of life, however substantial they may be,
successfully – by remaining untouched by them. You can find
a peaceful centre to the storm, however strong the gales and
intense the downpours, and cope and have victories
accordingly. This is the thrust of all that is set out in this little
work. This is true “wakefulness” – some may want to call it
Wholeness, strength, imperturbability, and simple ease of
living can be yours. Read on and be deeply blessed. But
remember the journey is for you within yourself and for your
commitment to the other in acceptance of all that other is or
may be – simple compassion and benevolence.
By way of further guidance, I am presenting a borrowing for
whose inclusion in this small opus I make no apology. What
has gone before is an invitation to you to pursue the virtues of a
Buddhist meditation regime at its most gentle and at its least
formal. I am setting out below as a further introduction a
section of a biography of the Buddha which I find so clear and
comprehensive that I felt compelled to set out some pages of it
virtually untouched. My thanks go to the Oxford scholar
Karen Armstrong for her vividly free and straightforward
statement. When wisdom is expressed so well, reproducing it
is the sincerest form of praise, or, if you wish, the sincerest form
a. “A startling act of faith in the sacred potential of
Shortly before Gautama’s birth, a circle of sages in the regions
to the west of the Ganges Plain, staged a secret rebellion against
the old Vedic faith. They began to create a series of texts which
were passed secretly from master to pupil. These new
scriptures were called the Upanishads, a title which stressed the
esoteric nature of this revolutionary lore, since it derived from
the Sanskrit meaning “to sit near.” The Upanishads ostensibly
relied upon the old Vedas but reinterpreted them, and gave
them a more spiritual and “interiorised” significance: this
marked the beginnings of the tradition now known as
Hinduism, another of the great Axial religions.
The goal of the sages’ spiritual quest was the absolute reality of
Brahman, the impersonal essence of the universe and the
source of all that exists. But “Brahman” was not simply a
remote and transcendent reality: it was also an immanent
presence that pervaded all that lived and breathed. In fact, by
dint of the Upanishadic disciplines, a practitioner would find
that “Brahman” was present in the core of his own being.
Salvation was not in animal sacrifice, as the Brahmins had
taught, but in the spiritual realisation that Brahman, the
absolute, eternal reality that is higher even than the gods, was
identical with one’s own deepest self (“Atman”). To believe
that one’s own innermost Self was identical with Brahman, the
supreme Reality, was a startling act of faith in the sacred
potential of humanity.
b. “…in a spirit of total self-abandonment.”
Even though the Truths make rational sense, the texts
emphasise that they did not come to Gautama by discursive
reasoning. As he sat meditating under the bodhi tree on that
night of the second spring moon – to us in the West, possibly,
May 528 B.C. – they “rose up” within him, as from the depths of
his own being. He apprehended them within himself by the
kind of “direct knowledge” acquired by a yogin who practises
the disciplines of yoga “with discipline, ardour and
self-control.” Gautama was so absorbed in these Truths, the
object of his contemplation, that nothing interposed itself
between them and his own mind and heart. He had become
their human embodiment. When people observed the way he
behaved and responded to events, they could see what the
Dharma was like: they could see Nirvana in human form. In
order to share Gautama’s experience, we have to approach
these truths in a spirit of total abandonment. We have to be
prepared to leave our old unregenerate selves behind. The
compassionate morality and yoga devised by Gautama only
brought liberation if the aspirant was ready to lay aside all
c. The peace of selflessness.
What did the new Buddha mean when he claimed to have
reached Nirvana on that spring night? Had he himself as the
word implied been “snuffed out” – extinguished like the flame
on a candle? He had not sought annihilation with masochism
but had sought enlightenment. He had wanted to wake up to
his full potential as a human being, not to be wiped out.
Nirvana did not mean extinction: what had been snuffed out
was not his personality but the fires of greed, egoism and
hatred. As a result, he enjoyed a blessed “coolness” and peace.
By tamping out the “unhelpful” states of mind, the Buddha had
gained the peace which comes from selflessness: it is a
condition that most people cannot imagine.
d. The entirely natural state of peace at the centre.
This is the reason that the Buddha in the years following his
“enlightenment” refused to define or even to describe Nirvana:
it would, as he said, be “improper” to do so, because there are
no words that can describe such a state to an unenlightened
person. The attainment of Nirvana did not mean that the
Buddha would never again suffer pain. He would grow old,
and die, like everyone else. Its discovery gives an inner haven
which enables a man or woman to live with pain, to take
possession of it, to affirm it, and to experience a profound
peace of mind in the midst of suffering. Nirvana is therefore
within oneself, in the very heart of each person’s being. It is an
entirely natural state: it is not bestowed by grace nor achieved
for us by a supernatural saviour: it can be reached by anybody
who cultivates the path to enlightenment (T.S. Eliot’s “still
point at the centre of a turning world” from The Waste Land
(1922) comes to mind): it gives meaning to life. People who
lose touch with this quiet place and do not orient their lives
towards it can fall apart. Once a person has learnt to have
access to this nucleus of calm, he or she is no longer driven by
conflicting fears and desires, and is able to face pain, sorrow
and grief with absolute equanimity. An enlightened or
awakened human being has discovered strength within that
comes from being correctly “centred,” beyond the reach of
selfishness. That this manner of living cannot be explained or
expressed does not diminish it. The “Final Nirvana” was a
mode of existence that we cannot conceive unless we have
become “enlightened” ourselves. There are no words or
concepts for it because our language is derived from the sense
data of our unhappy mundane existence: we cannot imagine a
life in which there is no egotism of any kind.
But that does not mean that such an existence is impossible.
The Buddha would later in his life tell his followers that those
who have gone to their final rest cannot be defined by any
measure. There are no words capable of describing such a
being. “What thought might comprehend has been cancelled
out and so has every mode of speech.” Nirvana was “nothing”
not because it did not exist, but because it corresponded to
nothing we know.
e. What to teach?
But those who, by dint of the disciplines of yoga and
compassionate morality, had managed to have access to this
still centre within found they enjoyed an immeasurably richer
mode of being, because they had learned to live without the
limitations of egoism.
But what was he going to teach? The Buddha had no time for
doctrines or creeds: he had no theology or attendant rule book
to impart, no theory about the root cause of dukkha (the
“unsatisfactoriness” of life), no tales of Original Sin, and no
definition of the Ultimate Reality – still less a concern for
something so technical as a doctrine of a Trinity. He saw
absolutely no point in such speculations. Buddhism at its root
is most disconcerting to those who equate faith with belief in
certain inspired religious opinions. An individual’s theology,
even if he has one, is of total indifference to the Buddha.
To accept a doctrine on the authority of someone else was, in
his eyes, an “unskilful” state, which could never lead to
enlightenment, because it constituted an abdication of personal
responsibility. He saw no virtue in submitting to an official
creed. “Faith” meant to him trust that Nirvana existed and a
determination to prove it for himself. The Buddha always
insisted that his disciples test everything that he had taught
them against their own experience and take nothing
whatsoever on hearsay. A religious idea could all too easily
become a mental idol, one more thing to cling to, when the
purpose of his Dharma was to help people to let go.
“Letting go” is one of the keynotes of the Buddha’s teaching.
The enlightened person did not grab or hold on to even the
most authoritative instructions. Everything was transient and
nothing lasted. Until his disciples recognised this in every fibre
of their beings, they would never reach Nirvana. Even his own
teachings must be jettisoned, once their job was done. He told
the story of the man who was desperate to cross a river but
could find no means – no ferry, no bridge, no ford. He then
built himself a raft and rowed himself over. What was he to do
however with it on the other shore? Simple – discard it – its
purpose was fulfilled. As the Buddha is reported to have said,
“In just the same way, my teachings are like that raft, to be
used to cross the river but not to be held on to.” He went
further and suggested that good teachings were as disposable
as poor ones. His Dharma was wholly pragmatic. Its task was
not to issue infallible definitions or to satisfy a seeker’s
intellectual curiosity about metaphysical questions. Its sole
purpose was to enable people to cross the river of suffering,
pain and confusion and to get to the “further shore.” His job
was to relieve suffering and help his disciples to attain the
peace of Nirvana. Anything that did not serve that end was of
no importance whatsoever and to be thrown out.
f. No telling and no explanation.
Hence there were no abstruse theories about the creation of the
universe or the existence of a Supreme Being. These matters
might be interesting, nay, fascinating, to some individuals, but
they would not give the disciple his freedom from pain or
“enlightenment.” His point was that those who refused to live
with his scheme until they knew about the nature of the
Absolute would die in misery before they got an answer to
these imponderables. What difference did it make if the world
was eternal or created in time? Grief, suffering, misery,
anxiety, and all manner of sources of stress and pain and
earthly bleakness would still exist. The Buddha was concerned
simply with the cessation of pain. He himself is reported in the
Canon to have said, “I am preaching a cure for unhappy
conditions, here and now. So always remember what I have
not explained to you and the reason that I have refused to do
Everything in this little work is predicated upon Western
spiritual poverty. We have lost so much – our sense of the
numinous and, perhaps, worse, our sense of who we are and
whence we come. We are so often strangers to our own history
and culture – and without any points of reference. Tragic, but
true. Our spiritual poverty is I fear larger than ever and our
needs beyond words.
The whole thrust of all that follows is to give you the reader a
new insight into the flow of the Universe and your remarkable
role in that current. Unless man becomes again aware of his
spiritual life and of his soul, his emptiness and the pain
accompanying it will continue.
Read on and discover yourself and with that discovery, your
brother and sister.
Our potential to transform our lives into a robust and vivid
experience of joy and contentment should need no assertion.
Man is born as a seed: nearly all die as seeds with their capacity
to grow into their own fullness unexplored and unpursued.
We seek rewards barely worth the name.
It is noteworthy that people go to their religious houses by
whatever definition, out of fear and not from some richer
understanding of their soul or the importance of the other.
Older people seem to go more than the young – not because
spiritual enquiry has brought them qualities of value but for
fear of the approaching darkness of death. Protection is its
purpose, not invigoration. They are aware – all too aware, it
might be said – that all that has been important is about to be
found wanting – their material strength, their families and
contacts, their cleverness and wisdom will all desert them. The
Greater is sought as a sort of eschatological insurance policy –
Blaise Pascal and his “wager” come to mind. But the God they
are seeking is not a God born of agapeistic love or
fellow-feeling, but of fear – hardly a divinity worthy of the
We are to find that our being of the Universal (by whatever
name we may choose to know it) is a rich experience that has
precious little to do with creeds and beliefs which can stand in
the way of growth. Transformation is available – and it is the
journey of a life-time. One needs no more than a single contact.
Challenge is the basis of a life well-led. An unadventurous life
is nearer a death. We only grow with challenge and it should
be our daily fare. Our modern concern with “occupational
health and safety” and the whole “risk-averse” apparatus on
which that lack of vision stands, reflect so ill on us.
True religion has nought to do with fear and much to do with
opportunity and possible hazard. It calls us to adventures, and
a life fully and daringly pursued. We must go daily into the
unknown and the uncharted – just as the early explorers sought
new vistas and new empires.
Be the Columbus of consciousness – the man who headed out
and went on until he found something.
Such boldness is the stuff of the soul and the quality of the
victor. Your challenge is no less.
Our search for God is in all the wrong directions. I am
reminded of a verse that came to me over 50 years ago:
I sought my soul – my soul I could not see.
I sought my God – but He eluded me.
I sought my brother – I found all three.
I have no idea what was the source of those sweet lines but
their message is absolutely correct. We are additionally
reminded by St. John in his first Epistle that “God is Love.” So
true. Even the notable St. Augustine of Hippo, the great
thinker of the early Christian church, said “Love – and do what
you like.” Again, truth unalloyed and pure.
Love and compassion are the substance of the Creation. The
Eastern wisdom is of the unity of all things – in a vast
interdependent recognition of the other sentient being. Let that
wisdom be your prescription for a full life.
Love is so close and so comfortable. “God” is so serious and so
far away. All the belief systems have created a “God” only
comprehensible to a priesthood – the representatives and
power-brokers of this mysterious distant Authority.
“Love” is so easy and accessible. As the German theologian
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said – we must seek “the nearest Du (Thou)
at hand” – his use of the second person singular is sharper in
German than in English – for all the possible poor grammar.
Immediate, near and gentle. Find the other and find yourself.
The lover lives entirely within the rhythms of the Creation – the
whole being is in a vivid harmony where all the flows of
energy are balanced and free. Love revives and encourages –
and the whole world is improved.
Existence is one. All participates together. Just think of the
process of photosynthesis – we inhale oxygen and exhale
carbon dioxide and the greenery around us reverses the
process. All is linked and interdependent. Such is our
well-being. With it, we are healthy and happy – without it, we
struggle and die.
Love all unreservedly. It is one whole creation and we are
accepted as a significant part of it. What matters is not to
whom you are loving, but that you are “other-ward” and equal.
Contact with existence turns on surrender. Just as water
evaporates at 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), we
have to surrender and to empty ourselves of our sense of
egotism and separation. That emptiness introduces us to a
great silence from which we find by the usual paradox of
spiritual development the very fullness we seek.
We meet our own deepest self – and the calm and
empowerment to flow from that discovery.
Ego is our great problem. We are so protective of our
separated selves. We see ourselves with something to lose and
rarely something to gain. We shall find that the death of our
egotism is the beginning of life – the beginning indeed of a
journey of such richness that we shall wonder why we did not
start years earlier. We shall meet a depth and a peace and a
power to go with a serene frame that we shall think truly
We are precious, deeply loved and respected manifestations of
the Universal Source, which we meet in the emptying of our
egotism and the acceptance of a total surrender. We do not
have to fight to survive – we are at one with the ready flow of
the Universal Wisdom and our needs are met gently and with
astonishing accuracy and precision. We have come home and
We succeed with the flow of the whole and not in seeking to
resist it. Our freedom comes – totally paradoxically – in our
surrender and in our allowing the Greater to set us free in its
terms. Surrender the will and find that this is the key to
Keep the will and become a slave and let it go and find freedom
Be open to the flow of existence and be totally unafraid. There
is nothing to fear. We are home and totally accepted. We are
of the Greater and it is of us. Have absolutely no fear of
anything. Be bold and be brave and find the benefits of
The wisdom of a corrupt world teaches us to fight for what we
see to be ours. Our softness and our vulnerability are lost and
we become dead and rock-like. It may be survival but it is not
Be unafraid of existence. It cares deeply and we are treasured.
Remain soft, vulnerable, innocent, naked and open and find
that life opens up to us.
Life is a rich experience. We should be laughing, singing,
dancing. This is true worship – the rich celebration of all that is
alive. Give to that celebration. Be a dancer, a singer and the
possessor of a wide smile. Enjoy the carnival of life.
Wholeness is just that. We are at one with All that is. Enjoy the
festive dimension – the innocence of a baby or a puppy or a
kitten. It is an invitation to the Greater to give – and it will on
scales that will astonish.
You are more than a body and you are more than a mind.
You are something transcendental to both. The Eastern
wisdom is that you have always been here and always will be
here. It is in recognising that “something” that you will change
your whole perspective on life. What was significant will lose
its weight – the curse of the worship of power, possessions, and
prestige will be lifted – and we shall be happier.
Discoveries follow of the things that do matter – love,
compassion, meditation, gentleness and harmlessness,
godliness, innocence, simplicity. Something eternal is within you
– re-discover it and come alive.
The only real riches are of your inner being: your soul or your
“subjectivity.” Christian teaching is that the Kingdom of
Heaven is within you. That is the essential enlightened
teaching – we have nothing to find – only something to
re-discover, long dormant within us. We seek outside
ourselves and fail. We remain unfulfilled and frustrated.
Look within and then you will find that you can live in the
marketplace of the world and remain undisturbed by its
challenges and all its charms and alarms. You will find that
your “roots” are there and that, with the discovery of your
inner life, you have found your very nature.
Jesus is said to have observed: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of
God and all these other things will be added unto you.” No
more need be offered – that says it all.
My whole purpose is to inspire you to turn inwards for
yourself – I can do no more than act as a fingerpost. Only you
can meet your own highly personal Truth. It is not on the moon
and not on Everest. Simply shut your eyes and go within and
be astonished at what you encounter.
The Buddha did not speak of God: he spoke of “godliness.” He
feared that man’s view of God was anthropomorphic:
something we have made in our own image and that it would
become an idol rather than a source of Truth.
My own experience has been just that. There is no God in
heaven to be worshipped but there is godliness. The whole
existence overflows with its origins: there is no division
between God and the world. Existence is divine. It is the sea in
which we are constantly swimming.
If you start looking at life with this vision, you will realise that
there is so much more to see. Everything takes on a new light.
Then life is not a puzzle or a question, but a robust, vivid
adventure, to be lived with deep commitment 24 hours a day
and seven days a week.
The source of our invigoration is not outside us but entirely
within. Our problem is that we have forgotten who we are.
Meeting that God within is our ultimate personal responsibility
and our final challenge. But once discovered, it is our
birth-right possessed and celebrated.
There is only one way to meet that inner light. Live now and
only now. The absolute here-now is all we have and we should
seize it with both hands and a ready heart. Being the man or
woman of existence, the man or woman of the here-now, is our
Existence is our only security. All the things on which the
world would tell us to build our security are shifting sands:
money, power, prestige, possessions, friendships and social
connexions, our egos, all are transitory and uncertain and not
fit bases for living. Nothing we see to be fixed has a firm
foundation; insecurity abounds.
True security is only to be met at our inner core. That is where
we encounter the Universal that is Immanent – it is God’s
dwelling place and the heart of our hearts. To have discovered
the God within is to be gone beyond all questions of security.
All is safe and secure and our concerns disappear – anxiety,
fear and misery. A great joy arises and that great joy is the
deepest longing of our hearts.
Within our deepest innermost self is the secret of victory and it
is the only principle of living finally worth exploring. With the
wisdom now being offered, you are invited to the path of
self-discovery. Nothing that you will find is new – it has been
there since birth – awaiting your opening the door. Merely
removing the barriers of our fears and our egotism will give us
exposure to the God within. We shall be face to face with the
Universal in all its tenderness and appropriateness.
Men and women are born to be kings and queens and lead the
lives of beggars.
Only you can decide whether you are one or the other.
We eat God, we breathe God – He is our total nourishment. He
is all and we are nothing. We are of Him and He wants us to
make that discovery for ourselves.
It is the greatest of paradoxes (and spiritual enquiry is rich in
them) that we are so loved and yet we were given the freedom
to reject that Love and its Source. True love, indeed.
The Universe is flowing endlessly in you and you are blind and
deaf to it. Open your soul to the Infinite Greater and find peace
and all that will enlarge.
Meditation is the greatest gift of the ancients to the moderns.
Its sole purpose and the spiritual life to which it will guide are
to make you as an individual aware of your highest potential.
And once your awareness is triggered, the journey is not
difficult. It requires merely a little bit of a push to start with
and from that will come an early awakening. From there,
sleeping will end and the light will shine and you will become
more and more awake and aware. The second birth you were
seeking will come to you and, with it, great benediction and
Without that wakefulness, however, nothing can be realised.
Meditation is not an activity of the mind. It is a process that
takes us beyond the mind. Yogic meditation arose in India
many centuries before Christ when the ancient Vedic seers
realised that the journey inwards and the physical and mental
disciplines embedded within it offered man an unequalled
vision of himself as part of a living Creation. It meant not the
process of thought, but its complete termination. It was as
though in discovering meditation, the seeker was lifting the
corner of a curtain and becoming aware of a vast abundance
which the turbulent activity of the mind had successfully
concealed in clouds of dust.
Meditation introduces us to that larger abundance and all the
attendant blessings. “No thought” is not at all easy but the
effort of seeking to meet the supreme paradox is its own
reward and is indeed vividly rewarded.
By merely making the effort to go beyond, however
successfully we do so, we are blessed with a richer vision of the
God within and with that insight a larger understanding of
ourselves and the world around us.
We meet guidance of an unexpected precision and accuracy.
We shall find that we have, like the prodigal son of the Gospel
story, come “home” to the source of all and with that return,
we find joy and contentment.
Searchers will always find how firm and comfortable is the
experience that they meet.
The journey to godliness is the defeat of all the noise. Our
heads as the Buddha so clearly recognised are a noisy
marketplace of competing calls, where disorder and confusion
rule. We have to find a way to close down the din and embrace
the blessings of silence.
Meditation is that way. We are invited to start to be still and
silent and from the earliest stages allow our inner mental
processes simply to be busy without business and to be
observed without reaction. It is as though we are sitting on the
roadside observing all the passing parade but without reaction
or response to what we see or hear. This is the commencing
point to the experience so significant in the teaching of the
Buddha of “detachment.” Let the thinking go on but reaction
and response are absent.
This recognises that the rational function has a totally useful
purpose – man’s rationality has given us so many remarkable
technical advances and material blessings whose development
makes our lives so comfortable and interesting – but that our
minds are not the master but the servant. We must applaud
man’s inventiveness – but it is no guide to the journey of the
The mind is to be seen as a tool – to be used when needed and
to be put quietly aside when not required. The way to the
Light remains within the deepest silence and stillness pursued
with day-to-day diligence and commitment without thought of
reward or benefit.
Our rationality, useful as it can be, is a deep blight on our
freedom. We live on the edge of our greatness and fail entirely
to take the first step inwards to the discovery of our intuition or
The mind is so noisy that the still, small voice within is lost in
the pandemonium, just as another Biblical still, small voice was
not to be found in the fire or the earthquake.
Turning inwards is the greatest of all personal moves and the
most challenging. The seeker will find however a deliciously
gentle journey of ever-deepening beauty that will be more and
more nourishing and rewarding. A richer intuitive life of
unexpectedly (and immensely) accurate insight will come to us
and we shall be aware that we are finally travelling home –
safely and comfortably.
We discovered our faculties as small children by using them.
We learnt to walk and talk and see and hear in the most
The spiritual journey is similar. It is only by the journey of
silence and sitting without reaction and with a cool detachment
from events externally occurring that we discover our inner
life. With that inner life, we discover our soul and the process
is then one of timely and continuing growth.
We learn to sit as the observers of our mental processes and
emotions – watching their turbulence and uncontrolled ferocity
– but not reacting or becoming involved. This is the
detachment of which the Buddha spoke so often – and the basis
of an emotional life well led.
In this detachment lie peace and empowerment. We find that
we are released from stress (itself our reaction to events rather
than the events themselves) and the pressures of living and we
are free of pain. We can observe the world, but not become
involved with it to our cost. From this we are enabled to go out
into the world revivified and enlarged – to give the world the
benefits that have come to us.
All the guidance of this little work is to assist you in your terms
to find your soul and to celebrate the victory. But it is only by
meditation that it will come to you and the responsibility for taking
the road to that victory is entirely yours, and yours alone.
To live fully, be fearless.
Be especially daring when entering the empty space of your
soul. You are leaving all that is familiar and restricting and
constricting – and yet we are still frightened by the freedom
and the vastness of the openness around us. Risk abounds –
and we have been well and truly trained in seeing potential
hazard and never robust possibility. We fear that we may end
up lost in so much space and cling to the familiar, when seizing
the new is the only course worthy of us.
We deny the opening lines of this work – that we have wings
and that we are built to fly. Never forget that we are of the
Infinite and Greater and that we are deeply cared for
accordingly. There is a long journey ahead and it is something
of excitement and riches – and simple wonderment.
Be a Columbus or a Vasco da Gama – go into the unknown and
seek in spite of all risks and hazards – and all dangers and
insecurities. And then be rewarded with dazzling victories – as
your Creator intended.
Great joy awaits the man or woman of such courage.
But so does an experience of the Universe in all its generosity.
I am not very impressed by ritual and forms of worship and the
whole panjandrum associated with them. “Bells and smells”
leave me untouched.
Worship to me is the moment-to-moment recognition of the
immensity of all we are and of all to which we belong. Go out
into a field at night and gaze with reverence and wonderment
at the enormousness of the night sky – all those millions of
distant pin-points of light and activity so far away. Go into the
same field by day and rejoice in the warmth of the sun and in
the freshness of the breeze and in the colour of all that grows
and in the activity of all the life happening around you – plants,
trees, flowers, birds, animals, insects and even the reptiles.
They are all part of this same Universe and just as respected
We find that God is not some distant philosophical abstraction
and the object of so many impenetrable discourses of bleak
colourlessness but the very existence of which we are part and
in which we equally are at all times welcome.
Rejoice in and acknowledge your origins, and find with them, peace
and contentment and all that you seek.
Show your gratitude not by your words but by a life well and joyfully
God asks no more.