The Challenge of Covid-19

Our planet has certainly had a profound ‘wake up’ call, and in this Newsletter I want to mention a few positive and a few negative consequences of this virus and then put forward a few suggestions of my own.

None of us can deny that all of us – whether rich or poor or whatever race, nationality, culture or sexual proclivity we belong to – are in the middle of a big crisis, which in Chinese is translated as ‘dangerous opportunity’.

Yes, my friend, actually I see huge opportunities lying ahead for us as a species, which I’ll talk about in a minute, but at the same time I cannot deny the fact that I also see danger lurking, for while being subject to big shocks can certainly serve to ‘wake us up’, it also follows that if we lack the capacity to process their effect, they can also be destructive for us.

Positive Consequences of the Virus:
1) This crisis can profoundly unite humanity and make us realise that ‘we are all in it together’ and thus what unites us as opposed to what divides us, can be emphasised. We can therefore come to realise that this is a time for supporting and helping each other and that taking personal responsibility for ensuring we do not spread the virus around, is also our service to the larger whole.

2) It also enables us to question the way we live and to ask ourselves what is really important in life and what is not. As millions of us will have less money, we will need both to appreciate and conserve what we have. We will also need to live simply and be kind and generous to our friends who are in trouble, and not waste our resources. I doubt that too much consuming or overindulgence will go on during this period!

3) It is also getting us to confront death, with all the positive consequences involved. (One reason so many of us human beings live so unconsciously and often miserably, is that we tend to be ardent ‘death deniers’- filling our lives with continual activities so we don’t have to confront the fact that one day we will no longer be in our physical bodies!) I say that the more we choose to face death – and now this is being forced on us from outside – the fuller our lives can be.

4) As many businesses will be forced to close, meaning that many of us will not be so ‘outwardly’ busy, it will give us time for ‘inner work’ – for more contemplation or ‘being’ and less ‘doing’. It will also give us time to practice being more mindful and intimate with those close to us whom we are being compelled to ‘hunker down’ with.

5) It will help us take the seriousness of our world situation more deeply into our hearts and see that we cannot go on ignoring the many problems going on all around us and that many radical changes in all areas of human endeavour, are being urgently called for.

6) Evidence is also starting to surface that certain institutions, which long ago reached their sell-by-date, do us little good and which are being kept alive through artificial means and need to collapse in order to be ‘reborn’ at a higher level, are now starting to crumble. This is particularly the case with our whole Capitalist system which desperately needs to evolve, as in its current form, it serves the well-being of less and less people. Perhaps this crisis will accelerate this process.

7) Perhaps people, tribes and nations will stop being at war with one another, and nationalism and protectionism may fade away as we all realise that we have a ‘common enemy’ to address and that it can only be confronted effectively through our collective efforts.

Negative Consequences:
1) Some of us may find ourselves unable to cope with the changed lifestyles forced on us and, as nations are habitually used to doing what is in their own interest, the need to act co-operatively in all the many ways they are being asked to at this time, may prove too difficult.

2) Many good and worthy people may die and the virus may mutate.

3) Many businesses – especially small ones – may go under and many people may lose their livelihoods as income no longer comes in. Also, the worst hit by crises tend always to be the poor and the vulnerable.

4) Instead of inspiring love for our fellow man and promoting a desire to help and support one another, this pandemic may encourage the opposite and a spirit of fear and ‘everyone for him or herself’ may grab hold of many of us. We’ve seen hints of this in the panic buying in supermarkets. Also, feeling scared can lead us to do stupid and dangerous things. We may see more crime and more anarchy on the streets as the spirit of ‘I have got to survive and to hell with everyone else’ predominates.

How I View this Pandemic:
I think it is important that we be both realistic and idealistic and understand that both scenarios are possible. I, however, am profoundly positive. Yes, things may be hard. Yes, many of us will go through difficulties and more people will die, but at a deeper level, I believe that in the long run, this virus has actually come to save us from ourselves!

Perhaps a sacrifice is required for a greater good. (We remind ourselves that the word comes from the Latin meaning ‘to make sacred’!)

We need to understand that the Evolutionary Forces or Divine Intelligence work in mysterious ways seldom comprehensible to us, and that what from our ego viewpoints, looks only to be negative – for example, the financial crisis that is currently keeping many CEO’s and bankers awake at night – may, at a deeper level, be symptomatic of a powerful human-collective initiation asking us all to open our eyes and our hearts more and change the way we relate to money and how we operate in the world.

Let’s admit it. The system does not work. Or not for most people. It needs to collapse for something new and better to emerge in its place that benefits more people on the planet.

And it may be that this pandemic is setting up the conditions for this gradually to take place… I predict that in a few years now, people will no longer stand for climate change deniers and populist world leaders, and that humanity-as-a whole will start ‘growing up’!

The change will be that our politicians will be forced to listen to us, meaning that if they wish to be elected, they’ll need to wake up from their casual business-as-usual and ‘let’s just protect my country’ and start initiating policies crucial to the survival of our planet.

In Other Words, Planet First, Profit Second.
Yes, my friend, it may well be that the policy shifts we collectively begin to bring about as a result of this virus will, in the long run, both SERVE our planet and SAVE our planet by forcing us to make those shifts which we know we need to make, but which we’ve held back from doing because we are too lazy/stuck in our old patterns.

Hey guys, this virus may be our saving!

Here is What I Think We Are Each Challenged To Do:
We need to obey the rules and recommendations given us by the experts and also not forget to use our common sense.

We need to work at strengthening our immune systems and practicing positive thinking. Choosing to see ourselves and others from a compassionate viewpoint does as much good as doing yoga and exercise, eating healthily and taking the appropriate supplements, which of course we also need to do.

So every day affirm your love for yourself, those close to you and for all of humanity. Pray for inner and outer strength to be given you.

Drink plenty of water and visualise yourself as being strong and that no nasty little virus can get through your defences, and don’t just focus on what is falling apart but think about what may be being built up in its stead.Serge Beddington-Behrens

Have faith and accept that the times we are currently going through are certainly challenging but may well bring out the best in us.

Please feel free to send on this newsletter to anyone whom you feel might benefit from it.

With love,
Serge

To Sri Lanka and Back

Have just returned with Martina after our having spent a delightful fortnight healing and rejuvenating ourselves at an Ayurvedic retreat centre in Sri Lanka. A long journey out and a long one back but boy oh boy was it worth it.

Ayurvedic Retreat Centre in Sri Lanka

I previously knew next to nothing about this beautiful cleansing and rejuvenating system, which in a nutshell revolves around taking certain remedies, having many different kinds of massages with healing oils, and eating a healthy diet tailored to your specific body type.

But as with all healing systems, they are only as good as those who administer them and the people who worked in our retreat centre and who cooked for us and massaged us and looked after us generally, were truly extraordinary human beings. They all operated out of a very kind and gracious open heart and despite – or perhaps more because of – having little money, they were completely unmaterialistic.

I reflected on how sad it was that most of us ‘Westerners’ lose this quality of heart with which we all initially come into the world – I thought of Wordsworth’s great line about our ‘trailing clouds of glory do we come from God who is our home’ – but which we gradually ‘lose’ as we grow up and become increasingly absorbed into our materialistic and consumerist culture where you’ve ‘gotta make it’.

“Make what?”, I asked myself!

Here, in this little sanctuary, I felt the people who worked had never ever lost heart. They weren’t interested in making anything, except being present in the moment and focusing on being of service. I felt deeply respected for who I was, and eminently aware of the healing power of love.

Taking myself on a retreat as oppoSerge in Sri Lankased to giving them (which is my natural wont) was especially important for me and I got to see clearly how, in certain aspects of my life, I didn’t always practice what I preached. While talking the talk of the need for more ‘being’ than ‘doing’, I saw how I was really a bit of an over-busy bee and that there was a need for slowing down and for more balance in my life. I saw I needed to eat less and play more, especially play my ukulele more and limit television viewing in the evening, especially that goddam CNN news and the latest antics of Herr fuhrer Trump!

But I managed a good hour and a half’s meditation most days, and a good 45 minute swim, and this played a key role in my own healing process. I also saw a baby Komodo dragon that happily didn’t try to gobble me up.

I returned home full of gratitude for the blessings of life and my heart felt full of joy. I felt closer than ever to my truly wonderful wife and ever more conscious of the many gifts which her presence gives me.

Martina and Friends in Sri Lanka

For those interested please visit their website: The Privilege Ayurveda Resort

Three Kinds of Madness

For me, there are three main kinds of madness (I won’t here elaborate on the many different, subtle strands of each). I call them ‘cuckoo madness’, ‘divine madness’ – these two sometimes link up together – and ‘normal madness’. And the most
dangerous and the most toxic of all is normal madness. Why?

Because all those millions of us who suffer from this debility operate out of the illusion that we are utterly sane and that those who see the world differently from us are insane. So let me say a few words about each.

Cuckoo Madness

Cuckoo madness is the rather silly term I use for psychosis, which is actually a very serious and debilitating state, especially if one does not possess either the wherewithal to stand back and understand it and, as it were, learn to ‘ride its storms’, or conversely, have access to the right kind of medication to control it. When under the grip of a serious psychosis, much of life becomes distorted, and we can experience great terror where, for example, we may believe certain people are out to murder us. In her fascinating new book Into the Woods and Out Again, which is about her journey into psychosis, Dina Glouberman tells us that:

We go mad when the personal unconscious floods the conscious mind. Mad states have a paranoid quality when you believe some people are okay and some are not, or that you personally have a heroic role to save the world. This period of my own madness was one of the most magnificent, intense, illuminating experiences I have ever had…, I was in hell but I was also blessed. Not only did I not die of it, but I moved through from neurosis into psychosis, that state of mind otherwise called insanity or madness, and back into a kind of health that I had not known before…

Experiencing psychotic states, therefore, far from being ‘bad’, would seem to be an integral part of our journey into becoming more fully human. I had a similar if short-lived journey into this realm in the summer of 1975, when I was living in California training in Transpersonal Psychology and exploring Shamanic states of consciousness through sacred mushrooms. By mistake, I gave myself a 20-hour intensive ‘free seminar’ on psychosis when I grossly OD’d, and went into an utterly suicidal and despairing state from which I thought I would never recover.

Luckily, I did.

Basically, what had occurred was that huge amounts of shadow material stored away in my unconscious suddenly found doors of perception in my psyche temporarily opening up, and so felt liberated to rush through them, utterly overwhelming my conscious mind in the process. And in those days, I in no way possessed the wherewithal to protect myself from this onslaught from my nether worlds. It was a terrible and painful excursion
into utter madness, but I am happy to say that I recovered, and the experience was in essence a gift, as I not only learned about how certain dimensions of our psyche can operate in certain instances, but also how to work with other people in similar states.

Divine Madness

Divine madness exists at the complete other end of the spectrum. Here, our internal doors of perception are also opened, but this time into our ‘higher unconscious’, into the more elevated domains of our psyche. It has been beautifully written about by Plato in Phaedrus:

The greatest blessings come by way of madness, indeed of madness that is heaven sent. It was when they were mad that the prophetess at Delphi and
the priestess at Dodona achieved so much for which states and individuals in Greece are thankful; when sane (that is, when they were in a ‘normal state’) they
did little or nothing…. Madness is a divine gift when due to divine dispensation.

I fully agree, and I regard divine madness as the highest form of sanity, and to be aspired to by all of us; for when we touch these dimensions inside ourselves, we link up with our deeper humanity; we start realising our sacred interconnectedness and our belongingness with the cosmos, and as such we have access to a much deeper knowing and a much deeper love, joy, wisdom and truth. Divine madness leaves us yearning for justice in the world. We want wars to end and evil to dissolve. Above all, we touch into that domain which ‘normal man’ is most terrified of and defended against – namely, ecstasy! In my own personal quest for ecstasy, I have constantly sought the
company of divinely mad people, as they inspire me and their presence lifts me. It is so wonderfully refreshing to be with people who are fully and wholly themselves, who are divinely inspired, and who are not remotely interested in pleasing you or letting you know how rich or clever or important or superior to you they are.

But beware, dear readers. Divine madness can be dangerous. If politicians were to get afflicted, they might dedicate their lives to working for peace and give up serving their own personal interests. If multi-millionaires get struck down – and I’ve observed this happen – they can feel moved to give up their yachts and share their resources with the poor. But this I say to you: Even if you’re not a politician or a multi-millionaire, take the risk and go looking for this madness, and in so doing you might discover that
it may also be stalking you!

I think this quest is the sanest thing any of us can be embarking upon in these times of such crises in the world. There are many areas inside ourselves where gateways into divine madness exist, and also many catalysts out in the external world – and I suggest you go looking for them. It’s more fun than hunting fame or fortune, and the rewards will be much greater. So if this affliction ever finds you, I ask you fully to surrender to it. If you like singing, then sing it; if you like politics, then take it into your political life; if you like dancing, then dance it. If you like loving, then share it with all those you love, as the beautiful thing about this madness is that it is highly contagious.

A small footnote. Sometimes our inner doors of perception can open to many worlds at different levels at the same time.

This was certainly Dina Gloubrrman’s experience, and it is currently the experience of an old friend of mine who, though institutionalized and kept on strong anti-psychotic drugs, tells me he is able to channel the spirit of William Blake; and as a great
aficionado of Blake’s poetry, I never doubt his genius.

Normal Madness

We now come to the truly dangerous and perilously insane realm – one that far too many of us are far too addicted to, and where we insist on seeing anyone or anything that does not abide by its beliefs and constructs, as ‘barking’! And this is the domain of
‘normal man’, whom humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow once described (rather over politely, I think) as ’living in a state of mild and chronic psychopathology and crippling immaturity’.

It is this madness, dear friends, that, if our planet is to have a hope in hell of surviving, you and me are challenged to move away from, and to let go our attachments to. I say this as normal, ‘conventional’ reality is truly a toxic reality, one that far too many of us have become far too embedded in, convincing ourselves that it is sane and that we are sane. Yet it is not only full of lies, but also lies behind every serious problem we face in the world. Our dear Donald Trump is currently its High Priest, and we need to be
grateful to him for consenting daily to embodying this madness for us in its most extreme and distorted forms. So thank you, Donald, for your unceasing displays of daily psychopathology where you continue to model for us all that is worst about us. We need you as our reflector, for unless things become extreme, we tend not to learn from them!

To the extent, then, that we only operate out of ‘normal reality’, we exist in a very closed-off world, walled off from all that is best and most fully human about us – and, at the same time, also denying and projecting outside of ourselves what is worst, and consequently only utilising the most minute part of our true potential. People thus afflicted, hover constantly on the borderline between stupidity, unconsciousness and downright evil.

One of normal man’s maddest attributes is that we always think we’re right, and that those who disagree with us are wrong. For example, to this day Tony Blair still defends his going into the Iraq war, and still abides by his terror operation ‘Shock and Awe’, despite the fact that nearly half a million Iraquis lost their lives as a result; in fact, he says he’d do the same thing again!

This is the kind of pathology that can take us over when we live with a closed heart, and only bow to the gods of reason and logic, leading us to create an economy that, in its current form, would fall apart were we overnight to stop manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. From this mad mindset, poverty, war and scarcity are seen as inevitable, and there’s no chance that inequality could ever not exist.

I promise you that if, suddenly, a legion of divinely mad people took over the governing of our countries, even if they had never received any training, we would probably have a system that, after a time, would start to work for all. And what for me is very, very exciting is that I see a whole new legion of divinely mad people beginning to emerge out of the woodwork in countries all over the world: people who love celebration and ecstasy, and who at the same time are well grounded in true common sense which has nothing remotely to do with the kind of ersatz ‘common sense’ we associate with normal reality. These divinely mad people believe, along with Krishnamurti, that ‘it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society’, and that a new and healthier society needs to be brought into expression.

So, dear friends, just for a moment, stop and ask yourselves: what would it take for you to decide to start being truly sane? And what might you accomplish for your society in the process?

Interpersonal Connections

Here is an email I sent to a very intelligent, eccentric and vulnerable client going through a difficult patch. I think it is something we all need or needed to hear at some point in our lives:

I hear you very strongly my dear friend. In a way your non resonation with the normal world is a sign of you being one of the new kind of people being born today to take our planet into new arenas. I often feel the same kind of non connectedness with conventional people, only I can bullshit by pretending to be one of them so they’ll feel comfortable with me. The difference between us is that I’m a better bullshitter than you.

But just be aware that those people who your gifts touch in some way – they see you, they appreciate you. And you must let this appreciation in. The art is not to take on – which you do do, and must learn not to do – the projections of those who cannot understand you and so project on you that there is something wrong with you. As you are very sensitive, you have internalised their negative projections so that how you see you is often through those projections. You have to stop doing this and learn to trust yourself and at the same time also be less critical of those who you feel don’t/can’t/won’t see you, as they will also take on your projections and that won’t do them any good either.

We are all unique and different and we have to do our best to be ourselves and if others don’t see/like/get us, well that’s the way the old cookie crumbles and it is not necessarily because there is anything wrong with us, or for that matter, with them. I think your difficulty is that you are different, and not everyone can see your big heart and big soulfulness, and differences for a lot of people – especially those who are more closed up – can be scary. Yes, in the world where people dance and feel joy and celebrate life, you are seen and accepted. In the world of the critical ego that cannot see anything beyond itself, you are not. Accept this and have this be OK and stop having how you feel about yourself be determined by how certain others perceive you.

This takes courage and determination.

Faith in Oneself, Faith in Others

In his book The Art of Being’, Erich Fromm said this:

Faith in life, in oneself, on others, must be built on the hard rock of realism; that is to say, on the capacity to see evil where it is, to see swindle, destructiveness and selfishness, not only when they are obvious, but in their many disguises and rationalisations.

And we’ve just seen undisguised evil in the premeditated murder of the Saudi reporter Jamal Kashoggi who in his death, has perhaps drawn more attention to everything that is wrong with the Saudi regime – especially with all power now being concentrated in the hands of one man – than ever he could have achieved in his life.

But then this is how most non democratic regimes operate nowadays. The Egyptian leader Al Sisi has had most of the Muslim Brotherhood murdered or imprisoned and Putin thinks nothing of killing off or imprisoning those who oppose him, and the good thing is that the world today is now standing up against this kind of evil . The tyrants in the world are discovering that they can no longer get away with blue murder without paying a price and this is a good thing.’

Gaia’s Wrath

Oh dear, more crazy weather. A typhoon ends in one part of the globe only to be replaced by a tsunami or an earthquake in another. And more innocent people die.

Our planet is fed up with the way we have been treating her and in the same way that if we treat another person badly, they won’t particularly like us, Gaia is fighting back. She’s pissed off with humanity. And quite damn right. Thank goodness for organisations like Avaaz who are coordinating huge campaigns in this area as not enough of our politicians take climate change seriously enough as always it is the poor people, those least responsible for having f-d up our planet, who pay the price. I wonder why we have to wait til crises get so large before we do anything. I mean why didn’t we do more in the 60’s? In a way the whole ‘counter culture’ movement that I was part of, failed.

Perhaps for several reasons; one, we didn’t try hard enough as the immune system of our planet wasn’t sufficiently compromised. Two, we thought ‘all you need is love’ was the answer and it wasn’t, and three, there was too much of a split between those aggressive-ists who said ‘down with the suits’, and the hippies who went East and sat on mountain tops saying ‘Om’!

I think today all of us have to take the health of our planet much more in our hands and do positive things and realise saying ‘Om’ only gets us so far and trying to attack the climate change deniers gets us nowhere. Telling a bad guy he’s bad will only activates his defenses.

The Three Kinds of Madness

For me, there are three main kinds of madness (I won’t elaborate on the many different, subtle strands of each). I call them Cuckoo Madness, Divine Madness – these two sometimes link up together – and Normal Madness, and the most dangerous and the most toxic of all is Normal Madness. Why? Because all those millions of us who suffer from this debilitation, operate out of the illusion that we are utterly sane and that those who see the world differently from us, are insane. So let me say a few words about each:

Cuckoo madness

Cuckoo Madness is the rather silly term I use for psychosis, which is actually a very serious and debilitating state, especially if one does not possess either the wherewithal to stand back and understand it and, as it were, learn to ‘ride its storms’, or conversely, have access to the right kind of medication to control it. When under the grip of a serious psychosis, much of life becomes distorted and we can experience great terror where, for example, we may believe certain people are out to murder us. In her fascinating new book Into the Woods and Out Again which is about her journey into psychosis, Dina Glouberman tells us that:

We go mad when the personal unconscious floods the conscious mind. Mad states have a paranoid quality when you believe some people are okay and some are not, or that you personally have a heroic role to save the world. This period of my own madness was one of the most magnificent, intense, illuminating experiences I have ever had…I was in hell but I was also blessed. Not only did I not die of it, but I moved through from neurosis into psychosis, that state of mind otherwise called insanity or madness, and back into a kind of health that I had not known before…

Experiencing psychotic states, therefore, far from being ‘bad’, would seem to be an integral part of our journey into becoming more fully human. I had a similar, if short-lived journey into this realm in the summer of 1975, when I was living in California training in Transpersonal psychology and exploring Shamanic states of consciousness through sacred mushrooms. By mistake, I gave myself a twenty hour intensive ‘free seminar’ on psychosis when I grossly overdosed and went into an utterly suicidal and despairing state that I thought I would never recover from. Luckily, I did.

Basically, what had occurred was that huge amounts of shadow material stored away in my unconscious, suddenly found doors of perception in my psyche temporarily opening up and so felt liberated to rush through them utterly overwhelming my conscious mind. And in those days, I in no way possessed the wherewithal to protect myself from this onslaught from my nether worlds. It was a terrible and painful excursion into utter madness, but I am happy to say that I recovered and the experience was in essence a gift as I not only learned about how certain dimensions of our psyche can operate in certain instances, but also how to work with other people in similar states.

Divine Madness

Divine Madness exists at the complete other end of the spectrum. Here, our internal doors of perception are also opened, but this time into our ‘higher unconscious’, into the more elevated domains of our psyche. It has been beautifully written about by Plato in Phaedrus:

The greatest blessings come by way of madness, indeed of madness that is heaven sent. It was when they were mad that the prophetess at Delphi and the priestess at Dodona achieved so much for which states and individuals in Greece are thankful; when sane (that is, when they were in a ‘normal state’) they did little or nothing… Madness is a divine gift when due to divine dispensation.

I fully agree and I regard Divine Madness as the highest form of sanity and to be aspired to by all of us, for when we touch these dimensions inside ourselves, we link up with our deeper humanity; we start realising our sacred interconnectedness and our belongingness with the cosmos and as such have access to a much deeper knowing and a much deeper love, joy, wisdom and truth. Divine Madness makes us yearn for justice in the world. We want wars to end and evil to dissolve. Above all, we touch into that domain which ‘normal man’ is most terrified of and defended against, namely ecstasy! In my own, personal quest for ecstasy, I have constantly sought the company of divinely mad people as they inspire me and their presence lifts me. It is so wonderfully refreshing to be with people who are fully and wholly themselves, who are divinely inspired and who are not remotely interested in pleasing you or letting you know how rich or clever or important or superior to you they are.

But beware, my dear friends. Divine Madness can be dangerous. If politicians were to get afflicted, they might dedicate their lives to working for peace and give up serving their own personal interests. If multi-millionaires get struck down – and I’ve observed this happen – they can feel moved to give up their yachts and share their resources with the poor. But this I say to you: even if you’re not a politician or a multi-millionaire, take the risk and go looking for this madness and in so doing you might discover that it may also be stalking you!

I think this quest is the sanest thing any of us can be embarking on in these times of such crises in the world. There are many areas inside ourselves where gateways into divine madness exist and also many catalysts out in the external world and I suggest you go looking for them. It’s more fun than hunting fame or fortune and the rewards will be much greater. So if this affliction ever finds you, I ask you fully to surrender to it. If you like singing, then sing it, if you like politics, then take it into your political life; if you like dancing, then dance it. If you like loving, then share it with all those you love as the beautiful thing about this madness is that it is highly contagious.

A small footnote. Sometimes our inner doors of perception can open to many worlds at different levels at the same time. This was certainly Dina’s experience and is currently the experience of an old friend of mine who though institutionalised and kept on strong anti-psychotic drugs, tells me he is able to channel the spirit of William Blake, and as a great aficionado of Blake’s poetry, I never doubt his genius.

Normal madness

We now come to the truly dangerous and perilously insane realm, one that far too many of us are far too addicted to and where we insist on seeing anyone or anything that does not abide by its beliefs and constructs, as ‘barking’! And this is the domain of ‘normal man’, who Abraham Maslow once described (rather over politely I think) as living in a state of mild and chronic psychopathology and crippling immaturity.

It is this madness, my dear friends, that if our planet is to have a hope in hell of surviving, that you and I are challenged to move away from, to let go our attachments to. I say this as normal, ‘conventional’ reality is truly a toxic reality, one that far too many of us have become far too embedded in, convincing ourselves that it is sane and that we are sane, yet it is not only full of lies but also lies behind every serious problem we face in the world. Our dear Donald Trump is currently its High Priest and we need to be grateful to him for consenting daily to embodying this madness for us in its most extreme and distorted forms. So thank you, Donald, for your unceasing displays of daily psychopathology where you continue to model for us all that is worst about us. We need you as our reflector for unless things become extreme, we tend not to learn from them!

To the extent, then, that we only operate out of ‘normal reality’, we exist in a very closed-off world, walled off from all that is best and most fully human about us, and at the same time, also denying and projecting outside of ourselves, what is worst, and consequently only utilising the minutest part of our true potential. People thus afflicted, hover constantly on the borderline between stupidity, unconsciousness and downright evil. One of normal man’s maddest attributes is that we always think we are right, and that those who disagree with us are wrong.

For example, to this day, Tony Blair still defends his going into the Iraq War, still abides by his terror operation ‘Shock and Awe’ despite the fact that nearly half a million Iraqis lost their lives as a result – in fact, he says he’d do the same thing again! This is the kind of pathology that can take us over when we live with a closed heart and only bow to the gods of reason and logic leading us to create an economy that in its current form, would fall apart were we overnight to stop manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. From this mad mindset, poverty, war and scarcity are seen as inevitable and there is no chance that inequality could ever not exist.

I promise you that if suddenly a legion of divinely mad people took over the governing of our countries, even if they had never received any training, we would probably have a system that after time, would start to work for all. And what for me is very, very exciting is that I see a whole new legion of divinely mad people beginning to emerge out of the woodwork in countries all over the world – people who love celebration and ecstasy and who at the same time, are well grounded in true common sense which has nothing remotely to do with the kind of ersatz ‘common sense’ we associate with normal reality. These divinely mad people believe, along with Krishnamurti, that it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society, and that a new and healthier society needs to be brought into expression.

So, my dear friends, just for a moment stop and ask yourselves: what would it take for you to decide to start being truly sane? And what might you accomplish for your society in the process?

Genius in Sport

Roger Federer achieves zen like concentration during sport

Playing sport has been important to me all my life. Playing tennis, swimming, skiing, hiking; all these activities fill my heart with joy – as sport exercises our hearts and spirits as well as our bodies. For me, sport is also food for my soul! And I try to do it everyday not because I need to but because I love to. When I’ve just won a hard-fought three setter in doubles tennis and I’ve really gone for it and got one or two good shots in, I feel very energised and sense that all parts of me have not only been exercised but also stretched. And I think we need to be stretched in life. Intellectually, spiritually, physically. And putting effort into a particular sport is a good way to achieve it.

Please note I say stretched, not strained, the difference being that strain happens when we push against obstacles, when we try to move forward with the wind blowing against us. It is an effort and it exhausts us. Stretching, on the other hand, occurs when we allow the force to be with us, when we connect to a pocket of energy bigger than ourselves and we surrender to it – like arranging the sails on our boat in such a way that the wind moving against us, is now harnessed to be ‘on our side’ and so is now propelling us forward! The difference between a machine and a human being is that the more the former is exercised, the more it breaks down and gets rusty, whereas with us, the more exercise we do, the healthier we become, and what tarnishes us, is not exercising – having no physical activities that engage us as a totality and so potentially stretch us.

Great sports people have much to teach us about our human possibilities. A Federer, for example, not only enters ‘the zone’ when he plays, but he seems to enter a higher zone than other tennis players and to remain there for longer. It is no mean feat in one’s mid-thirties, to take on seven people all in their early twenties and beat them all without dropping a set, which is what happened at Wimbledon a few weeks ago. And what a joy this match was to watch. I was totally in awe.

For me, Federer is a Zen Master or the Grand Master of tennis. He dances his play. It always looks effortless. Watching that final, I felt he was so aligned to the spirit of the game that that spirit had taken him over, or was playing him rather than him directing the play. In other words, it felt like he was connected into a higher and more intelligent energy circuit that was bigger than him and which was orchestrating the game. In this space, you can’t not choose the right shot; you don’t do unforced errors; in this space, the ball is always in by two centimetres not out by two centimetres. Whereas other great players strain themselves, which is why they always have injuries, Federer never seems to have injuries because he never strains himself. On the contrary, it feels as if the higher energy source he is aligned with, enables him to inhabit a domain of being where broken Achilles tendons, tennis elbows or groin strain are simply not part of its furniture. So just as an Einstein did his mathematical calculations out of a different time-space zone to most other Scientists, or a Tolstoy touched into a universal consciousness when writing War and Peace, so Federer also plays his sport out of a very different world, one that is also pure genius!