Since last month’s attack on supermarkets I’ve been inundated by an email from friend and neighbour, Clare: ‘The supermarket dilemma is a hard one. We have been conscious of what we eat since forever but I still find myself in Sainsbury’s on a regular basis – convenience and price. That is not to say we buy everything from there’.
I’ve been thinking about something I first experienced as a teenager … I’m not sure of the exact age … if I had to say, I’d guess 14 or so onwards. It’s the word ‘awareness’ and it’s a condition I felt I had and looked for in others. I mentioned it from time to time to certain friends until I came to realise that I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I meant and people didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.
As I write, I’m finding it difficult to encapsulate exactly what it was that seemingly so marked me out as different. ‘Awareness’ of what? Looking back I think ‘awareness’ was a supra-conscious perspective: it involved a profound and quiet sadness: ‘Sunt lacrimae rerum’ of Virgil and Wordsworth’s ‘hearing oftentimes the still, sad music of humanity’. I suppose it also involved reserve, sensitivity, thought, privacy, loneliness, outsiderness.
As I look back at my male and female friends between the ages 14-20, I can’t say that any echoed my ‘awareness’ or even gave me the delusion of the echo. Perhaps I was attracted to them because of its very absence. After the age of 21 or so the notion ceased to play a part in my conscious life.
I wonder if it was merely an expression of la condition humaine and that we all had it and have it anyway. Some mention it, some don’t.
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Are we human beings having a spiritual experience or spiritual beings having a human experience? This question came up during my Spiritual Healing training course.
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Leonard Bernstein was a conductor, composer, and pianist. He wrote 3 symphonies, an opera, and lots more. But why is his ‘West Side Story’ classed as a musical rather than an opera?
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The other day I was watching through a window a group of gulls performing aerobatics when two of them suddenly found themselves on a collision course at a distance of three or four metres. I actually saw the point of awareness as they froze for a millisecond. A cartoonist would have put question marks over their heads. At the very last minute one went high and the other went low. Somehow they had communicated.
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‘You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience: you are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.’ (Teilhard de Chardin 1881-1955)
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On 17th March the Sunday Times main news section carried a banner headline ‘Archbishop: my wife keeps an eye on my drinking’. All he thought he’d done was a chatty interview for the magazine. It reminds me of the true story beloved of journos about the Bishop who fancied himself as an astute handler of the media. It was his first visit to New York and, as he got off the plane, there was a crowd of reporters and one shouted ‘Hey, Bishop, are you going to be visiting any night clubs while you’re in New York?’ The Bishop smiled and replied ‘Are there any night clubs in New York?’ Next morning he saw the headline on every paper: ‘Bishop’s first question – ‘Are there any night clubs in New York?’’