Monthly Archives: August 2011

… monologue of the self …


acknowledge the creature in you and befriend it

breathe –  so your heart will not contract

in vain duty towards the known

and drain this dream of colour

your cells pulse with desire

that all angels long for

live with intensity

inquire deeply

allow the space

be involved

know you are

step back








now become

through acceptance

forget what was learned

polish the mirror of the heart

look afresh with each new breath

all is done by the rhythm of our silence

expand love by not clinging to expectations

find dynamic peace through expressing beauty

intelligence by remaining open to the unexpected

subtle wisdom through enduring the grit of contradiction

intuition through carrying the heart in the heel of the foot

and freedom through humour and deeds of for-giving the self

*    *    *    *

I meant to write a monologue of the spiritual ego but realise I’ve residues of misgivings for some of its manifestations. On the whole, I think all struggling egos between two rocks need a little TLC. Most try hard.

But how does a serious psychopath reflect upon our humanity? I’m deeply distressed today, hearing of the atrocious acts of the megalomaniac in Libya.


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form & spirit – monologues around the ego



I am creature

the ever new-born

seeking symmetry

I surge through the trillion

cells to embody my universe

tenuously poised

and charmed in the chasm

between life and death

I require instant gratification

hold me gently

tame me with love

treat me with respect

and earn my trust and loyalty

so spirit can unfold

my radiant self

misuse me at your peril

do not rough me into squares

or angry ghosts will claim

and distort my power

to settle their old scores

I know things you forgot

bring light to make amends

do not cage my knowing

lest the unforgiving seeps

into another generation

help me build a strong foundation

for a house with open doors

where spirit can play and create

its magic theatre



I try to tame the creature

though my patience snaps

when they beat me I hit back

my house is cold and its walls

are fragile – I move on –

squat in other minds

humour them

pretend compliance

for they fear the wild

a hassle

this fight and flight

they might love us yet

if we make them laugh …


for your own good … listen

and observe the bloody rules

moaning and yelling

get you nowhere

we have a short fuse

and when provoked

will smack your mouth

understand you fool

do as you’re told

shut up – life is tough



It’s not fair, I want to be

the kid next door who has

friends galore, a swing, a bike,

a cat, a dog and much more

she can tear her jeans

without a scene and stay

out in the garden after dark

when she messes up

her father laughs and

her mother bakes a cake

I get sour looks for my exams results

B’s throughout aren’t good enough

and my A in arts means I’ll be a waster

I must hatch a plan



look what we’ve done for you

the best of education

we didn’t have the chance

in our time – life was hard

show some appreciation

stop dreaming, drop your fancy

notion of doing art for a living

don’t count on us to bail you out

let me repeat, you buckle down, or … sigh



we’re no fakes, relax

I’m the apple of his eye

dad adores everything about me

and lauds everything I do

the world’s your oyster girl,

he says, you’re a winner

far better than the rest

mother doesn’t like me

she’s jealous of my looks

but who cares …



life is what you make of it

prove it to the world

be sharp kid

don’t let the critics poison

your success, don’t let them

get at you – losers –all of them

evict them from your head …



I’m on your side, no fear

hypocrites, the lot of them

let’s act how they see us


I curve my spine with precision

drop my arms in submission

I fool them all

fool them to perfection

that they can’t control me

is my sweet satisfaction …



we keep society intact

decide on law and order

control the wild

discipline the child

chase savages to the hilt

and for the rest – hardly anyone

would guess – reason’s triumph

is our pact with shame and guilt


SELF – the creature’s mirror – another time …


The image is from a play – The Sunflower Plot – by Cartoon de Salvo

Delightful folk


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… beyond nature & nurture – the epigenome …

There are days when I can’t decide whose eyes to look through. You might ask, ‘has she got multiple personalities? Yes, in a way, I have a crowd inside. Haven’t you? My philosopher has been plaguing me all month, parenting on her mind, so I’ll let her mull over the stuff she tries to make sense of in the hope that peace returns and my poet can smile again.

Yew at Waverley Abbey

Yew at Waverley Abbey

Research in the field of epigenetics validates that experience is trans-generational.  In other words, the trauma and bliss of parents, grandparents … is marked in ways that switch gene-activity on and off, and can, given the right triggers, reactivate dispositions in future generations.  The genetic motherboard, as it were, is continuously over-written by what happens to us in our lifetime, and, based on my understanding, by how we process, interpret and assign meaning to events.

Re: the epigenome, and the power of environment over gene expression– quoted from an article by John Cloud in Times Magazine, Jan 2010

At its most basic, epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that do not involve alterations to the genetic code but still get passed down to at least one successive generation. These patterns of gene expression are governed by the cellular material — the epigenome — that sits on top of the genome, just outside it (hence the prefix epi-, which means above). It is these epigenetic “marks” that tell your genes to switch on or off, to speak loudly or whisper. It is through epigenetic marks that environmental factors like diet, stress and prenatal nutrition can make an imprint on genes that is passed from one generation to the next.
Read more:,9171,1952313,00.html#ixzz1VeKwJ9M0

Research focusses on medical benefits, but it would take a blinkered mind not look at the psychological and social factors this research also highlights, a correlation demanding a closer look at initial imprints –the environment in the womb – at birth – and in the early home, including the emotional state of mothers. Improving initial environments for the new-born would reconcile reason with intuition and gradually repair dysfunctions, though healing of any kind and at every stage in life needs re-framing – the healing attitude, glance, voice, and the aesthetics of our surroundings.

The opportunity to tell one’s story can highlight patterns in one’s family. A story lives by its interpretation, which brings its own counsel. And there are creative methods that uncover dynamics based on fears, some stemming from pre-verbal experiences. Each time a person becomes emotionally and cognitively aware of a habitual relationship pattern, a kind of ‘aha’ moment happens that shifts perception, and with it behaviour, which in turn changes future experiences. Better still, if one person in a family (or group) becomes aware of a previously unconscious habit and behaves differently, subtle changes take place that lighten the structure of the whole group. Spooky, you might think. Not so. Meaning changes, a node dissolves, a pattern is released.

Within nature’s unconscious force everything is symbiotically connected to everything else, and it leaves a record of imprints, as in layers of rock, as in the slice of a tree trunk whose rings reveal the weather of many seasons, as in our body tissue. Many people are hesitant to admit their intuitive knowing of another record, one that mirrors the physical – a psychic record – structured outside space and time, and held by meaning.

Not even quantum mechanics has changed our culture’s material attitude. It seems only direct experience will convince the rational mind that we are psychological beings who will continue to energise what has meaning for us. Stories, dreams and myths inform every human ideal, until it requires adjustment, at which point tradition is often fiercely defended.  Science, too, needs to adjust its ideal, and stop functioning as a defence against the collective shadow. We must uphold our relationship with nature and individually face its dark side, listen to how it speaks of the fear we suppress, which usually finds a violent outlet.

As children and teens we are defined by others, first parents, then groups we belong to. Many people are content to belong and thrive. But many more are on the move and live several lives in one lifetime. We grow psychologically faster than our parents. Those who develop the ego-strength to define themselves individually and commit to a purpose are challenged towards self-knowledge, which calls for differentiation, focus, self-analysis, tolerating inner conflict, empathy, humility, discipline … and lots of humour …   It is a process towards psychological integration, and, amidst all the chaos of transition today, a way towards the realization that we and the universe are one, not only one body, but one unified consciousness.

These are my ramblings, inspired by resonating minds. Maybe the funders of molecular biology will widen their perspective and read our genome in a more dynamic way.  As ever, nature is the book, though much depends on the interpretations of its text. I suspect the larger part of any living system needs to be unconscious in order to self-organise … for all of humanity to become conscious would require a collective self that was capable of standing outside of itself, integrated enough to overcome its hubris.

And it does not make one dot of difference if we believe consciousness to be a by-product of the brain, or the brain to be a by-product of consciousness, what matters is that they function together.

*    *    *    *

If you’re interested in the scientific theories that go beyond the selfish gene you might want to explore epigenetics. Here are a few links:

Evolution in Four Dimensions by Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb is a lucid book that restores subtlety to evolutionary theory, says Steven Rose

Evolutionary theories are changing …

And the article from which I quoted …,9171,1952313,00.html


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… put parents on the payroll …

Traditional family structures are falling apart for a variety of reasons. No use blaming parents for their inability to cope, or romanticising the past. When we look at the whole picture, we must also acknowledge that the sacred family unit was often a torture chamber of abuse. Affected individuals (predominantly women and children) suffered in silence. The shocking narratives that keep emerging from across all sections of society show ignorance perpetuated over generations about what a child needs to thrive.

On the positive side, there are new forms of families emerging, families of heart and mind. Housing policies seem blind to this new phenomenon. The trend is still to build little boxes rather than independent units around a communal space that would allow socialising and sharing.

On the negative side, why is the psychological knowledge that has been available for decades not disseminated to parents? Corporations offer courses on motivation and people skills to their employees, because they realise these skills improve business.

There were attempts. During the 80’s and 90s, I was involved with Parent Link, a non-profit scheme that offered a playful and empowering set of twelve experiential sessions transmitting people skills. The resulting emotional self-awareness reduced stress and frequently turned lives around. The charity, set up by I. Sokolov and J. Pearson, offered subsidised training to parents who had benefitted from what they learned, and unlearned. Consequently hundreds of parents went on to facilitate more courses, drawing in more parents. Teachers were keen to bring the programme into schools. Sadly, without government support, the brilliant scheme did not survive its popular success.

Since stay-home parents pay no tax, they are considered a drain on government resources, unless they get a job and perk up the employment statistics. The status of parents has been gradually eroded, and, to top it, they are blamed for the ills of society.

Ten years ago I hatched the following idea and was laughed at:

Offer an appropriate part-time wage (taxed) to those who choose to be vocational parents or carers and are willing to learn, since the wage would be tied to basic obligations, like involvement in the community and the attendance of courses to develop relevant skills and knowledge. A reward for the most vital of all contributions to society would shift the status of a parent or carer – lessen social segregation – defuse the destructive acrimonious fights over property and maintenance where relationships break up –  raise self-esteem and build a stronger community spirit through networking and sharing of responsibilities, while still allowing part time work outside the home.

A parent or carer who has financial security will not be perceived as a burden to the state. No more would he/she be diminished by cliché projections and judgements.

It makes also financial sense – some benefits could be scrapped and the funds re-applied to wages, skills training and creative community projects.

And here is why any idea that proposes a shift in the social structure will be regarded as naïve, and not convince politicians:

Our social system thrives on unsustainability. Problems have become a growth industry. In the social sphere it is poverty, unemployment, sickness and criminality that have turned into the most profitable enterprises.

Present social policies are irresponsible, like building a high-rise in an earthquake zone disregarding safety regulations. They are based on blame, the lowest of all public denominators. They are an insult to the intelligence of ordinary people, who, with heightened awareness, tenacity, creativity and sacrifice, struggle to stay sane.

Ashen Venema

The above illustration is by Daphne Jo Grant, and was  kindly provided for my 1993 poetry collection ‘Gapsy Truth.’


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… what do we expect? …

And what do we project?

It has become a trend to encourage positive thinking, like: we can achieve anything we want – we are what we think … yes … but … trouble is, we need to first accept were we actually stand in the physical world. Without analysing and accepting ‘what is’ the magic cannot take root.

Example: Russell Brand writes in the Guardian, 11th August, ‘Big Brother  isn’t watching you … dismissing rioters as mindless is futile rhetoric. However unacceptable the UK riots, we need to ask why they are happening.’

 I quote one sentence I can totally relate to:

 …  ‘If we don’t want our young people to tear apart our communities then don’t let people in power tear apart the values that hold our communities together …’’

In recent years the following happened in my immediate surrounding:  A spiritual community centre which offered inspiration and healing to hundreds of people and which I supported and worked from half my lifetime was sold. I witnessed schools selling their football fields, a great number of small shops folding up, three post offices dismantled within a radius of 10 miles, local people mortgaging their houses to buy their own community centre or their only village shop, funding cuts to charities, bus services, train-travel becoming unaffordable … and so on.

Places in my environment where people can meet, relate, share, collaborate, reciprocate services and practice values are disappearing faster than I can blink. So this is happening, and seen in this light, the scum (as the young rioters are called) are actually making a collective statement, a statement that is immature, unsavoury and mainly unconscious, but which the government cannot afford to ignore. Because it highlights a truth:

We are living in fantasy land.

Even gods don’t have the power humans have, to act as the bridge between the physical and the spiritual worlds. Why? Because we are psychological beings, we can potentially create the future from where we stand congruently, by accepting and engaging with what is.

Sadly, when fear of losing face clouds reason, any analysis of self and society, of what is really needed, becomes biased – and what is attracted across the bridge of the psyche is more fantasy.

Listening is vital, to self and others. What are the real needs I have, you have, young people have, our planet has – today? A variety of perspectives will allow the bridge to be swept clean of fantasy – and allow insight, inspiration and synchronicity across from the spiritual sphere.

If our projections into the future, personally and collectively, are grounded and embodied in actual situations, then real imagination can unfold.

*    *    *    *

Incidentally, the bridge features in my novel.

*    *    *    *

The image here was taken in Cambodia by Yeshen Venema. I supplied the clouds, taken in Rhonda, Spain.


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… riots – no hope – nothing to lose …

It’s easy to blame without thinking deeper, there’s a shadow-side to affluence which must be acknowledged and brought out into the open.

This is a relevant interview on radio 5 by Richard Bacon of the admirable Camila  Batmanghelidjh who founded the Charity Kids Company … ‘These kids have got no hope. They’ve got nothing to lose.’

I tried to create a link to this interview on my face book page and it was taken off instantly, so I try via wordpress, indirectly.

It’s voices like Camila’s that social engineers would do well listening to.


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… crazy life …







My birthday coming up -micro/macro scales of the expansive mind, can’t help being born into that matrix. New links abound, one brought back the magnificent … KOYAANISQATSI – CRAZY LIFE

*    patterns of movement that reflect our mind

*    the grand illusion

*    weird and wonderful

In case you haven’t seen this before, prepare yourself for an 80 minutes’ trance.


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… symbolic understanding …

The star that guides us is not meant to be reached concretely, or, as Hazrat Inayat Khan expressed it:

‘The ideal is the means – its breaking is the goal.’

Aged twenty-seven it struck me that I was not my own person, but a clone of my first gods, my parents. I realised I was not special. I was like everyone else, a slave to habits formed in my early environment, which I then unconsciously ritualised. The shocking insight put an end to my pretending I was a foundling (my joke at the time.) For better or worse I had to reconcile myself to my given mould, accept my parents’ imperfections, and my own.

Having reached an impasse re: a series of romantic relationships that bruised my heart, I was disillusioned. My ideal of love had lost its meaning and I yearned for a new horizon.

Fortunately I met a mentor who re-framed conflict for me, because in my flight towards spirituality I had come to avoid conflict like a plague. The trouble with rejecting conflicting thoughts and feelings is that we create taboo boxes in our psyche, boxes where we hide stuff we don’t want to think and feel. The accumulated rejects trip us up and actually energise conflict around us. Childish feelings may pop up to embarrass us where they don’t fit circumstances. Best welcome them, unless you want to fuel the addiction to war.

Driven by unconscious refrains our lives unfold from crisis to impasse to transcendence – like a drama with all its obligatory heroes and villains. Ignoring our inner conflicts and projecting them onto others and the world at large serves a purpose – in that it (hopefully) makes us aware that the way we go about fulfilling our needs is not particularly elegant, and has a price. The price is awareness, which can be painful, but it brings choice. Feelings that ‘have us’ don’t ‘have to’ be acted out, they can be expressed symbolically – one way is through writing things off one’s chest and releasing the outpour to the elements. Tear up and bury your unsavoury confessions, drown them in a river, or burn them. Release all association, free and purify the energy.

What is hidden from consciousness nevertheless affects us deeply.  In an archetypal sense, for example, a person who identifies with the masculine principle (animus) will be drawn to a person who identifies with the feminine principle (anima.) I don’t use the terms man and woman because physical gender does not necessarily equal psychological identification.

Generally, the hidden gender is actualised by the way the opposite principles are experienced through a parent.  Behind the attraction towards opposites is a desire for wholeness, a need to integrate our unrealised nature. This growth happens through relationships.

Plato put it like this …

… the dry desires the moist, the cold the hot, the bitter the sweet, the sharp the blunt, the void the full, the full the void, and of all other things; for the opposite is the food of the opposite, whereas like receives nothing from like …

Plato also emphasised that wholeness does not equal goodness.

As an example: too much goodness in a parent can make a child fearful of negative emotions and constellate a demand for goodness impossible to live up to. If human frailty is lacking in a father or mother, that is, if they are too perfect – or absent – then the expectations father or mother figures are invested with throughout one’s life become inflated, difficult to achieve, and no actual person can satisfy such expectation.

I’m not a practicing Christian, but I appreciate the powerful symbolic significance of the cross. The story of Jesus shows us that in the process of becoming human we are stretched between earth and heaven, matter and spirit, crucified by the dichotomy. Conflict has meaning if we allow it into consciousness. The challenge is to endure opposing forces, identify with neither good nor bad, but instead suffer the deadlock of contradiction, be crucified, because – there are conflicts we cannot resolve.

Yet by accepting what is we invite grace. We ready ourselves to be initiated into a reconciling symbolic experience of transcendence that is personally meaningful to us. The reconciling symbol cannot be grasped. It will emerge from the unconscious in its own time, through an event, or through a dream – if we can be receptive and master humility and the patience.

Symbol, a definition …. Taken from ‘The Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi’ by Henry Corbin, translated by Ralph Manheim, Bollingen Series XCI, Princeton University

The symbol announces a plane of consciousness distinct from that of rational evidence; it is a ‘cipher’ of a mystery, the only means of expressing something that cannot be apprehended in any other way; a symbol is never ‘explained’ once and for all, but must be deciphered over and over again, just as a musical score is never deciphered once and for all, but calls for ever new execution.


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