Latest podcast: all about level shift and the planetarisation of consciousness
Here’s my latest podcast: Level Shift.
This is a subject close to my heart, about the shift of consciousness in humanity that is necessary if we are to survive and thrive on earth.
It has preoccupied me since I was in the student revolutions of the late 1960s when, as a young man I discovered that political revolution wasn’t going to work: the change needed to be much deeper. It’s no good replacing Tsars with Stalins.
Today we’re in a parlous time and the prospects aren’t good for planet earth. It isn’t too difficult to get depressed about it. Yet we live in times of paradox and the darkest hour is just before dawn. Yes indeed.
So this podcast is a late night rap about the planeratisation of consciousness and the psychosocial mechanisms by which I believe breakthrough will come.
Though of course, we shall see. We’re in an enormous planetary experiment to see whether it’s going to work and whether we humans are really up to it. We came here for this.
I’m on an astrological transit called Neptune opposition Saturn, and one symptom of this is aloneness. This is a life-pattern of mine, both a blessing and a bane. Much of my greatest work, in terms of studies and writing, has emerged during times of isolation and adversity – as if I’ve been given a perverse gift of extended time in which the only thing I can do is the work.
Kinda serving time – but there’s a double-entendre to that term. I’m a saturnine type, and that’s what it’s about – fulfilling the agreement, the covenant, as best I can. And Saturn says to each and every one of us, each in our own way: you can do it now and there will be consequences, or you can do it later with other consequences, but you will do it – and the easier path is to take what appears to be the harder path (though it isn’t harder in the end).
Writing a book, building a website or doing research… most other options become mysteriously unavailable when it’s time to do one of these. But not forever, and the window shuts if I don’t seize the time, even when I just have potatoes to eat.
But then, that’s one of my best contributions and people benefit from it, and if I sat around chatting, socialising or treading the money-mill I wouldn’t be doing it and it wouldn’t happen. Cos it takes hours, days, months and years, and a life’s work takes a life to do (sometimes longer).
So the current fiddly operation I’m on right now is tweaks to the ancient sites maps of Cornwall that I’ve been doing for the last six years. This time I’m looking at ancient site alignments coming from Dartmoor and Exmoor in Devon into Cornwall. Bodmin Moor acts as a kind of hub for incoming alignments, though some pass through it. It’s amazing, the accuracy with which these alignments cross quite long distances of up to 100km, hitting ancient sites within just a few metres.
One remarkable thing is this. I was reluctant to get involved with Devon (too much work), but I chose a few sites, such as Berry Head and Start Point, and found some amazing alignments. More recently I decided (after procrastinating) to add key sites in Dartmoor to the map (takes about 5-10 minutes per site) – and fascinatingly, some of those sites appeared exactly on the alignments I had already found. Amazing. How they did this without satellites, I do not know (though I have a few theories).
It’s in gradual progress – but (if you wish) check out those alignments from Berry Head, Torbay, and Start Point – one goes all the way to Bartinney Castle, just on the other side of the valley and visible when I look up from my desk. As I write in my forthcoming book, if you wanted to land a mothership in West Penwith, that’d be the place.
I have to do the uploads from a non-public ‘sandbox’ map of Cornwall to the public maps late at night, since many people will (hopefully) be in bed, and their visits to the maps won’t get disrupted as the maps blink on and off, one layer at a time as each layer is replaced, tweaked and twooked. Well, that’s how it gets late at night… it takes about three hours.
The latest upload happened last night. I was buzzing on Dexamethasone at the time – a legal and free cancer drug, just like meditation, but fundamentally different and prescribed by different sources). But Dex helps me get a few things done, in the two days I’m taking it.
So you’ll find the current stage of this research here:
There’s one more thing… no one can take away your life’s work from you. If you feel they are doing that, then you have a short-term, not a longterm problem and the value of the experience is to confirm that it’s right to get on with it somehow, and to oblige you to get right behind it.
Whatever is going on in your life, your life’s work goes with you on a somewhat separate track, fed by and feeding through to things that happen to you, or books you read, or people who deliver prompts and clues. Withholding and hanging back on our life’s work is one of the great causes of the global problems we have today. It’s also a cause of future illness.
I’m not a great withholder, but cancer put the cards on the table and told me: there’s more, and it’s time. Part of me doesn’t care so much about how my ideas and initiatives are received any more – though of course I do care a lot, but not for the same reasons as before. So I’m getting down many of the threads I’ve pursued in life, for the record, because I’ve been privileged to live through a pretty exciting and edgy time, and I’ve shared this with so many good people. It’s worth leaving tracks, whether or not future generations know or care whose shoulders they’re standing on. Because human history and the passing of the generations simply eats us for breakfast and dissolves us into nothingness.
Even those of whom history thinks well are often remembered for weird and often incorrect reasons. Once upon a time, on Iona, I had an inner dialogue with the soul of St Columba, a founder of monasteries and evangelist for the faith, looked on as a shining light of former times. Not so – he was a murderer and completely screwed up in Ulster, got out, saw the light, and did all that from guilt and a sense of penance. He disliked the way he is remembered.
Similarly with Salah-ad-Din, regarded as a great and just Kurdish ruler of Syria and Egypt. He had offered a power-sharing arrangement in Palestine that would have changed future history, and the Crusaders (Richard the Lionheart) didn’t take it. (It wasn’t helped by the fact that his son and a rich European lady, who would be required to marry to guarantee the treaty, didn’t want to.) He didn’t like that. He got the Crusaders out of Jerusalem and penned them up in Acre, but then, tired of campaigning against assholes and wanting to complete the job, he made a fatal error, causing many deaths. He died, heartbroken, not long after. What he remembers of that life is not the same as what many remember today.
Nowadays I’m rather frail, yet there’s a deep resilience in me too. I’m not unused to crisis and tend to fight back and rebirth myself through it. The more you allow crisis, the more you can use it as a launchpad for revival.
I’m still alive. Crisis over. I spent last week coming back fully, also working with taking chemo. I seem to be taking it quite well, though it affects my brains and energy – my perceived age is now that of a perky 90 year old and I have to simplify my life and activities to match.
Since starting chemo a month ago I’ve gone into a pharma-induced weekly cycle where I’m ‘up’ on Dex (a steroid) on Mondays and Tuesdays and then I subside into what could be a ‘down’ time by Friday – except I relax into it and let it be, and I don’t get depressed as some people do. The challenge is to hang in there and go through the long tunnel.
The signs are good. Liz, the haematologist, reported last week that my results were ‘surprisingly good’. She forgets that I had said this was likely, but now at least she has some evidence.
When my cancer journey started in autumn 2019, I really didn’t know how well I would do: the shock of getting cancer obliged me to abandon previous ideas and beliefs and really get to grips with the facts of my situation. I was dying and the cancer was quite advanced – I was caught in the nick of time.
My treatment in the last month has worked well – again, to their surprise, and despite the crisis I had. I had encouraged them to set a student on me to observe and monitor me for their research, because I’ve been a meditating vegetarian for decades. But no, such knowledge wasn’t deemed necessary.
Though when the visiting nurse came on Monday this week to administer my drugs, she was fascinated with my story. She’s clearly quite interested in alternative pathways, but most people she talks to about this will tend to be relatively new to the game, and perhaps they won’t have changed and evolved as far.
She nodded, agreeing, when I said that five decades of a good diet and lifestyle and 45 years of meditation must have a significant effect, especially since I started this while young: I (and people like me) have evolved differently from many people, psychospiritually and physically, and decades of it makes a difference.
Nowadays I’m rather frail, yet there’s a deep resilience in me too. I’m not unused to crisis and tend to fight back and rebirth myself through it. The more you allow crisis, the more you can use it as a launchpad for revival. Part of me needs it since it activates my systems, and that’s one reason why I’ve tended to live quite an edgy life, involved with risky, frontline, limit-pushing activities.
If you’re part of a revolution when you’re young, even if it fails, there’s no going back – and many are the people around the world who have crossed this line in the last decade or two, yesterday in Belarus and Hong Kong, today in Myanmar.
Though I have contracted a blood cancer, this seems to arise from specific toxicities – electromagnetism and nuclear radiation – rather than from the patterns of my lifestyle. But I’ve had to face a raw fact: I have opened myself to energy and energy-fields. This has been a thirty-year theme in my talks and writings on astrology, cereology, ancient sites and the state of the world.
Perhaps I opened myself to these energy-fields a bit enthusiastically and unwisely earlier in life, or perhaps this openness made for a problem with mobile phones and wi-fi, making me undefended and increasing the effect of radiation exposure. Even so, although I have cancer, my overall body-mind system is in quite good nick, and this gives me good medical results, also helping me avoid some of the side-effects other people get during treatment.
There’s a deep truth here: everything in life is a gift. Everything. Including those things we do not count as gifts.
Here we come to crises. Since diagnosis I’ve had three crises and it seems that, when these happen, more gets resolved than was immediately apparent at the time. Last October I contracted shingles (a side-effect of chemo drugs). But, as a result of that crisis my arthritis reduced, my fatigue disappeared and I went through quite a lift and breakthrough afterwards. The crisis mobilised a greater healing process than just dealing with the shingles.
The advantage of a crisis is that you can resolve lots of issues at once, rather than dragging them out over time and through much complexity. It raises the stakes, accelerating change.
Last week’s crisis – a total stomach explosion lasting 4-5 days – rendered me helpless and weak. I did the necessaries and dealt with it. Put me in a crisis and I am calm and collected – well, at least, in the heat of the moment. Astrologers amongst you will understand that, for a person with Sun and Saturn in Virgo, an exploding stomach is a big issue – a symptom of the transiting Neptune that is currently opposing my Saturn.
In my meditation at the time I opened myself up to my ‘inner doctors’ more than ever before. I went a level deeper than I knew I could. Most of them seem never to have had earthly bodies, but I think they’ve taken on a couple of former humans to help them get closer in – otherwise they can work only with my energy-fields without actually knowing how my body anatomy works. This sense of being closely examined was profound particularly because, for the healing to really work, you have to let these beings into your darker corners – the bits of your life you don’t want others, or even yourself, to see, and the stuff you feel guilty and ashamed about. For here is where the causes of illness lie.
Over the next day or two I felt myself getting sorted out from top down, starting at the highest level and working down through energy-body stuff to the physical issues. It’s difficult to convey how this felt, but I felt myself being pulled up and flooded with light from the centre and working outwards, while also being pulled down and re-grounded after a rather nightmarish experience, from outwards in. The crisis was resolved as the week progressed, and I feel I’ve been realigned, rewired and recharged, and that my soul is now more in the driving seat.
Here there’s a lesson in letting go. Before you ‘let go and let God’, it’s difficult knowing what that newly-opened space will be like and the way the game-plan rules will change when you step into it – and we have this cringeing habit of entering the future facing backwards. Letting go is, in a way, more about adopting the future than releasing the past. It can be hard work, sometimes, especially when you’re digging into deep patterns. But we also make it harder than it needs to be.
This is true for individuals but also, in the 2020s, this is very much the condition of the world, and it’s manifesting as a sense of urgency for change in the young: they don’t want to face the crap they’re faced with in the world as it stands, because they want to get on with the real stuff, not with the embedded illusions and attachments of former generations. But they’re faced with presented reality and legacy situations, and this is hard. Harry and Meghan have been demonstrating this in full public view.
One blessing arising from hovering close to death has been that I’m looking not only at the patterns of this life and of my life story. I find myself looking at patterns beyond this life, noticing the abiding threads, relationships and connections I have with people, and with karmic themes that go further than this life. Such a viewpoint shifts our perspective greatly – which is one reason why most people avoid it like the plague.
My son has signed up for the Army Reserves (Royal Signals), and he’s really motivated, and I know he’ll do it well. This is challenging for a wizzened old peace-freak like me, but I support him in following his path. When you’re a parent of a child joining the armed forces, you have to get used to the idea that they might get killed. In his case, I don’t think my son will, but you never know. I’ve had plenty of death-opportunities myself and I’m still here, now on my tenth life. But my response to this risk of death is, ‘Well, he and I have a contract lasting many lives, so if he dies I’ll be there to meet him on the other side, and we’ll have more to do with each other anyway, another time – this life is a chapter in a long story’.
I feel this with my three daughters too: we arrived in each other’s lives because we all have an interlocking karmic story, and we are here to enact those threads and experiences that we give each other – both intentionally and not. It has had its painful times. Here I have some regret, but in retrospect not as much as some people have judged I ought to have. This is important because, with children, though we generally want to do the best for them, we as parents are also here to give our children problems, issues and patterns. We have to give them a pile of shite to deal with. What they do with that is ultimately their choice, and it takes time to make it good and turn things around. They are new people, not just products of their heritage, and a proportion of souls alive today are new to earthly life too – some youngsters experiencing gender dysphoria are like that.
These new souls are programmed with the memories of other souls who have had earthly lives, to make them fit to face the challenges and details of life in a body on a high-gravity, spinning planet. These are not their own memories, and they don’t have the same emotional connection to them as souls would who draw on personal experience. So many of these souls seek to achieve their goals without really knowing fully how to deal with the dilemmas and screw-ups that happen on the way, or without fully developing the necessary skills. Developing patience and perseverance is a key issue.
My son is drawing on trans-life military memory – he’s inherently experienced in it, and the same has been true for me as a humanitarian and social activist. In the 1980s-90s, when I was organising gatherings and camps, I had an inherent gift of pulling people together – calling up armies – and many of them were former souls who knew me from other lives. When you’ve been a chief, a khan, a sheikh and a general, for better or worse you can be known by many thousands of souls.
This insight has helped me understand how and why, throughout life, some people have loved and been noticeably loyal while others have hated me and even taken revenge. One of life’s big lessons has been to forgive yet not to forget. Though the funny thing is that, since a near-death experience I had at age 24, I’ve had significant memory problems and I don’t actually remember my past very well, and this has helped immensely with forgiving. Our hang-ups are rooted in memory and the emotional armouring we develop as a result of pain and hardship, and I’ve had less of this than many people, owing to memory-loss.
One of life’s big lessons, for all of us, is how to make something good out of a bad situation. The Palestinians are masters at this, and they’ve taught me a lot. Life’s a pile of shit, and why do we delude ourselves otherwise and suffer so much over that delusion? Even eating chocolate causes suffering. But it’s delightful too, and you just do not get tomato ketchup up in heaven, so enjoy it while you can. But the big issue now is that enjoying life’s ketchup can no longer be done at the expense of others, and everyone deserves their fair share of ketchup, though not at the expense of our home planet.
Another big lesson is staying true to our calling and purpose – not letting the world’s diversions get in the way too much. Sure, there are bills to pay, but this is not what we’re here for. We have to face these diversions because they’re part of life and they do lead us into places and situations we otherwise wouldn’t experience. They force us to develop life-skills. I’m a good writer but it is a developed skill, honed through mega-thousands of hours sitting at desks and computers, and it has been both a gift, a bane and at times a burden.
In my life I’ve made choices to prioritise my calling more than my security, and there has been a price to that, not only for me. I’ve made mistakes too, but I don’t fundamentally regret it. I’ve often been accused of being an unrealistic idealist, but actually I’m very much a Virgo realist, more preoccupied with working with human wrongs than with human rights, and looking further into the future than many people care to do. What in the 1960s were visionary ideals are now pragmatic policy imperatives.
One day at a time. With chemo-brain this approach is necessary. My capacity to handle complexity is much reduced. But it has its virtues. One thing in life we cannot control is the time and manner of our passing away. Paradoxically, the more we accept that lack of control, the more control we gain within that context. Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.
Thanks and blessings to all guardian angels. Thank you too for letting me share these thoughts. Salam alekum: peace in your soul. And what next? Time is what stops everything happening all at once.
Think about it: your partner is on a death sentence and, in anything from six months to ten years, he could be gone. It takes a heroine to stick around for that.
While they’re down here for the G7 conference nearby in St Ives, I was thinking of inviting Mutti Merkel, Justin Trudeau (I once met his dad) and a few of the others for kombucha and Lynne’s gluten-free flapjacks round the campfire – they’ll get an airborne dance by our swallows too. That new chap Joe can come if he wants. My son Tulki will fix a security stake-out with his army friends, and my son-in-law Perra will pick up my guests and drop them in the field in his helicopter. If that Trump guy tries to disrupt things, we’ll stuff him down an iron age fogou with one of the wrathful goddesses – good at emptying testicles in the most agonising of ways – until the summer solstice sun shines in and lets him crawl out through the creep. That’ll keep him quiet for a while. Except there’s a problem.
I’m being kept alive by a group of amazing protector-goddesses. That’s a great asset, and not the problem. Chief goddess Lynne, who minds everything from my soul to my toes, has stretched my understanding of what grace and blessing truly mean. Goddess Panacaea is embodied by Penny, who in another life probably was a first lieutenant of the highest order, and the Great Shopping Goddess is Karen, an angel who genuinely demonstrates the truth that by their works shall you know them. Sheila, Miriam, Jennifer, Faith, two Helens and my three remarkable daughters also play a part – a benign conspiracy if ever there was one.
Then comes Goddess Hygeia, my doctor Liz, whom Lynne and I had a video call with on Monday. She keeps my blood and bones going – key issues in the blood cancer I have. My readings are up: paraproteins were 3 in September, 9 in November and 13 now, and light chains have gone from 368 to 785 to 1,000. So, to intercept the returning Myeloma before it starts eating up my bones again, Liz has decided I should go back on chemo. So I can’t have contact with anyone, even if they’ve had one of the much-vaunted Covid jabs, because any infection could knock me for six. So the G7 will just have to stay in St Ives.
A year ago I decided not to have a stem cell transplant, opting for a maintenance strategy, and chemo was part of the deal. (See here.) Time’s up now, though the timing is right: I’ll go through the worst during the back end of winter and, inshallah, as I start improving, spring and summer will come. It will take five months, plus a few months’ fatigue and brain-fog, so it’s rather a long haul. I’ll tell you what it’s like when we get there. If I don’t answer messages or e-mails, please be patient and don’t take it personally. I’m starting in a few weeks from now.
I’m so fortunate. I live in a lovely place and this feeds my spirits. A saturnine workaholic till I drop, my work keeps me alight too – currently, the two main challenges are getting my book Shining Land published on paper and raising funds for the Tuareg out in the desert in Mali, to pay the three teachers at their village school (both of these tasks not as simple as you’d think). My innerwork gives me a focus too, especially during long hours stuck in bed. And yes, I’ll be hovering around the backrooms of the G7 conference twiddling etheric puppet-strings.
So I have reasons to stick around until incarnate life is no longer the best arena. It’s up to the Management, really, and though Liz (visibly worn out from overwork) is doing her best, there’s a greater medicine than this, the power of spirit and the resilience of my soul, that makes the final decision.
My tutor and companion is Lynne. While no stranger to slicing vegetables and servicing old crocks like me, and one of the most loving, caring women you ever could meet, she’s really interesting too, and she holds hands with my soul. I mean, think about it: your partner is on a death sentence and, in anything from six months to ten years, he could be gone. It takes a heroine to stick around for that. Living with an Aspie also has its challenges – when confronted with personal, emotional situations I look blank and befuddled like Commander Data, and human guile passes me by like water on fish scales. Lynne doesn’t have much of that and seems largely to handle me, but the next bit is even more trying for her…
Many people might have an image of me as a thoughtful, well-behaved, decent kinda guy, but when I’m on the steroid Dexamethasone – part of my chemo treatment – my character changes. I become argumentative, defensive, impersonal and confrontative, and my eyes take on a rather fierce, empty, heartless look. Would you like to see your old man turn on you like that? Last winter, Lynne was shocked to the core by it – and the worst bit was that I wasn’t aware I was doing it. The good bit is that, since I’m not too much of a bitter old man with a chip on his shoulder, I didn’t go as far with this as I might otherwise have done. When the treatment ended, gradually I came back, but if our relationship were less deep-rooted it would have cracked there and then. (You’ve now seen what it did to Donald Trump too – I warned you! (Here.)
There’s another thing. Cancer has prematurely aged me. Falling into the cancer abyss in November 2019, I was zooted forward to the age of 95. Recently I’ve come back to about 83 – my physical age is 70 – but in the next few months I’ll probably go back into my 90s. This is physical, affecting my movement and strength, and mental, affecting my frontal-lobe capacity to make decisions, find words and handle life’s details, and it has enormously changed my perspective. Before cancer I was ten years older than Lynne, but now, behaviourally, I’m 20-30 years older, and that must be weird for her.
Before cancer struck, I was a veteran – I’d been through deep shit and it had honed the content of my character. Well, kind of. In the 1990s and after, many long-haul veterans in the movement for change started thinking about elderhood, and I have sat in a few elders’ circles myself. But I always felt uncomfortable: I was a veteran but not an elder.
The difference clarified for me only after cancer changed everything. An elder is genuinely withdrawn, standing back – not just matured or retired but half-dead and pretty incapable. This loss of energy and engagement has a deep effect, and you start seeing things differently – a bigger agenda and perspective takes over.
Elderhood is not a status issue. One qualifies by dint of the burnishing of one’s soul, and this involves sitting with death, no longer active or competent in a worldly sense – just peeing or getting dressed becomes a big task. Your duty is to sit there, watch and see, occasionally speaking truths that lift people out of the fray, the treadmill and the madness of crowds. You have to step beyond the nowadays rather self-indulgent conservatism of old age. If you’re neither heard nor believed, you must watch quietly as the consequences unfold, in acceptance and without judgement. The only thing you can do is offer an optic to help people see more clearly. You can’t even participate in decisions – others now carry that load.
Lynne is a wise woman before her time, and unassuming with it, but she’s more involved in the fray than me, bravely juggling a lot of balls in the air, as I once did. If I last ten years, she’ll be 70 when I perform my pilgrimage to that enormous refugee camp in the sky. What then, for her? She has no shortage of assets – a brilliant astrologer, awakener and anchor to many, and a natural grandmother – but in her love and commitment to me she faces a yawning gap, and in that emptiness at such an age starting a new life isn’t easy. I’m going to leave her. This is big for her, both difficult and life-enriching.
I’m going to do my best to have a good death, and not just for my sake. No one’s going to inherit any money from me, but in this life this was not my wealth, and it gets boring being rich and powerful anyway, so this time I’m trying to engineer a different bequest. There’s something important we all must get to grips with: when we die, our body stops operating but we don’t. So whenever I pop my clogs, keep your antennae up because I’ll be sending out deviceless messages straight into your psychic inbox, but only if you keep your connection open and whitelist me on your internal spam filters.
In this sense, Lynne won’t lose me – our story doesn’t end there and our saga didn’t start here. Neither will anyone, unless you choose otherwise – we shall meet again. We still have a big task to do. We have a problem on Planet Earth, and this is not just about us and our planet. We’re holding back progress in the universe. This must end. This was fully explained in the book I wrote for the Council of Nine in the early 1990s, called The Only Planet of Choice – essential briefings from deep space.
Earth is a training ground for supertroopers – yes, you – and a hot-housing soul-hybridisation experiment for seeding the universe with possibilities that even its Creator couldn’t think up. We’ve got to get this right. It’s on us: we’re the only ones who know how to work with Planet Earth. The good news is that, if we break through on this mess we’ve created, it will be a breakthrough of cosmological proportions, never done before. If we fuck up, there will be eight billion sad, angry and lost souls for the universe to deal with, and a wasted mega-project, and the problem is that our fuckups, pain and trauma are so great and unique that others don’t really know how to sort us out – it’s beyond their experience.
I’ve worked in refugee camps and disastrous situations, but I cannot fully comprehend what it’s like being the journalist I know of in Rafah, Gaza, who returned home after writing an article to find her compound bombed and all 35 members of her family dead. Moreover, she’s chosen not to hate the Israelis for it. It’s like that. I can empathise and do what I can, but the scale of her loss and her choice is beyond my experience.
So we have to stop this war on Earth: not just the shooting, but the environmental, human and psychospiritual destruction we have built into a seemingly unstoppable institution. That’s why we must meet again, one sunny day.
There are men involved in my life too – Tulki, Anim and the Chief of Tinzibitane – even two souls in India that I’ve never met, Navin and Vishnu, who have greeted me every single day for ages, plus others like the two rather laddish fortysomethings I live next door to – but I’m now very much in womankind’s hands.
In 1968 I went to a talk by Germaine Greer and was shocked to learn of women’s oppression by men and the patriarchy – I’d never even thought of it before – and something in me clicked. It has been tricky spending fifty years as a man on the side of feminism – sometimes seemingly being blamed for all of the sins of my fellow males – but I am so happy to say that, while there’s further to go, they’re on their way, and I honour my bravely desperate sisters for that, surrounded as I am now by brilliant examples of how far things have progressed.
Lynne would not call herself a feminist but in some respects she’s well ahead of the game. She serves her family and fellow humans yet she’s no slave. Her qualifications to teach are in her bones and her smile, not on a sheet of paper. When she lights up people’s lives she’s not just glimmering. When she breaks down she’s no victim, when she’s strong she’s perceptive and empathic, and when she’s troubled she doesn’t throw a fit. She probably feels uncomfortable with my extolling her virtues in public but this isn’t starry-eyed romance – it’s really real – and if she hadn’t walked into my life I don’t think I’d be here now.
So I’ve learned a few big lessons in this last year. Healing is not just about doing medication or therapies – and I have one foot on a pharmaceutical and one on an holistic pathway. It’s about cultivation of spirit. Get real: one third of you, my readers, will get cancer – and yes, I too thought it wouldn’t happen to me. You’ll get it because you’re ready to go through that mangle and because it’s the greatest gift of your life. If you don’t get cancer you’ll have no shortage of other hurdles to jump. So do it well, live as if this day is your last, and die well too.
Apart from making a contribution to the world on the way, you came for this. So make your choice. And if you’ve already made it, what’s the next step? Because even if you’re near the end, there’s more to go. You won’t get this kind of opportunity back home on the Pleiades, or wherever you came from. They don’t have chocolate there either.
The most amazing thing about Lynne is that she knows deeply that healing and loving me doesn’t involve holding onto me: she’s chosen to walk this journey with me, whatever happens and however it needs to be. I’m so grateful for that. This matters so much to someone in the last chapter of their life. She could have taken an easier path.
So I’m in good hands.
Bless you all, and thanks for reading. Palden.
With photos by Lynne, sweater by Sheila and hat by Maya.
2020 has brought us all a lot to think about and, for many, a lot of time to think about it. ‘What am I here for?’ and ‘What’s it all about?’. Some folks have had big reveals and pointers, others have had to dig deeper than ever before, and some have made little or no progress, and some have been run off their feet and burned out by it.
I’ve always been rather purpose-driven. When I was about ten I wanted to be prime minister. By 15 I won a big public speaking competition with a notes-free speech about why Britain should join the European Community – seven years before it happened. Does Brexit, 55 years later, mean I’ve failed? By 18 I realised that politics was too dirty for me. So I followed another path and you got Maggie Thatcher and Tony Blair instead.
It took until I was about 34 to acknowledge that I was at last on track (when I started the Glastonbury Camps). It just had that feeling. Before that I felt like a footloose jack of all trades and master of none. When ‘received my instructions’ I quaked and resisted, but then I realised that, if I didn’t do it, it would not happen. And it needed to happen.
God doesn’t come down and say ‘This is your life-purpose‘. It’s not like that. It’s just that, when you’re more or less on it or you’re heading towards it, you feel it – you’re in the right place at the right time doing the right thing, even if others disapprove, discourage or block you. If you aren’t on it, you feel stuck in a blind alley, getting nowhere, with a meaningless life, as if you’ll stay like that forever. Depression and feeling an unfulfilled calling are closely related.
Purpose is programmed within us. It’s already there. Before getting born, we had a discussion with our angels about the purpose, the motivation, for going to the trouble of birthing ourselves, growing up and living a life on earth. Incarnation is hard work, even for people born in privileged circumstances. Two key things were covered in that discussion: what you were to learn and master, and what you were to contribute. Then you signed a contract in your soul, and it still holds.
Quite often you get clues when you’re about 8-12 years of age – visions of what we want to be when we grow up. Then, during your teenage years, this vision can be clouded and lost (often not helped by parents and careers advisers). These early-life visions can be literal or symbolic. I wanted to be an airline pilot. When I was 15 they ruled that short-sighted ginks like me couldn’t be pilots (that changed back later on, but too late for me). So that door closed. But later in life I realised that I had taken thousands of people on long journeys, up into heaven-worlds and landed them safely at the other end. Mission kinda accomplished.
By 18 I was aiming to become a diplomat, but by 20 I was involved in a life-changing near-revolution at the LSE that ended all that – yet in my adult life I’ve scored some pretty good informal diplomatic hits. So the vision and intention were symbolically correct, but the way things panned out was very different.
As life goes on, our purpose reveals itself through situations that present themselves. We find ourselves doing things we hadn’t foreseen but, when doing it, we feel remarkably fired up, or we make a difference, or we do something really meaningful, sometimes without even realising it. Even washing the dishes or cleaning the toilets can make a big difference in some situations – the chef at a peace conference can save thousands of lives without even knowing it, just by cooking good food for the delegates. So note this and follow it, because there’s your clue – even if it doesn’t make money, look realistic or gain approval, if it fires you up, why aren’t you getting on with it?
We must be willing, if necessary, to tread that path alone. In the Arab revolutions ten years ago, a big issue for people was ‘losing our fear’. Sometimes we must stand up and be counted – and if we hold back we can regret it for the rest of our lives. Like the near-revolution I was a part of fortyish years before, the Arab revolutions failed in the short term yet they started deep changes that will outlast the dictators who tried to stop them.
Here’s an interesting truth: it’s better to fail in something that ultimately will succeed than to succeed in something that ultimately will fail. This concerns posterity and holding out for what is right – and taking a bet that it’ll work, even when you’re not sure, and everyone and everything are against you. Even if you have cerebral palsy. Even if, or perhaps because, you’ve been damaged, disadvantaged and traumatised.
Three things block this coming out process: fear, guilt and shame. Too many people take the safe route in life, to please their family or fit in with the rules, or for fear of loss of security, or fear of being singled out and blamed, or fear of being exposed as unworthy or unable. Human society is riddled with such fears. Our planetary disaster is happening because billions of people are withholding their gifts, setting aside their callings and playing safe. We cook up good reasons to justify this but, in doing so, we are choosing complicity in a collective crime against humanity.
Out of fear, we hold back. This becomes a habit and institution. Then we forget what our instructions were, what the agreement was. Instead, we eat, drink, entertain, worry or work ourselves to death – unless or until a crisis shakes it up, strips our defences, propels us into unknown territory and slams the door shut behind us.
This withholding is dead serious. It means we’re omitting to make our contribution. It’s ours to make, and someone else isn’t going to replace you. Since so many are withholding, there’s a shortage of active server-souls. People have questioned my humanitarian work, believing it is dangerous (yes, occasionally it is) and encouraging me to stop and ‘be responsible’. But then, when I ask them to take my place because the work still needs doing, they wander off.
‘Charity begins at home‘ – sorry, for me that’s only a half-truth. Charity truly begins where the need is greatest. Need pulls the brilliance out of you.
The world is short of active altruists, and the suffering that arises from that is tremendous. It’s all about that old lady down the road who is alone and unvisited, because everyone was too busy and no one thought, no one imagined what it might be like to be that old lady. The world has a crisis of caring, and it’s all to do with withholding our gifts, callings and missions. Playing safe is a very dangerous planetary neurosis.
This brings us to a key issue. It’s not just our option to pursue our life’s calling: it is our duty. It is an imperative. If we don’t do it now, it won’t go away. This is a choiceless choice. Especially in these parlous times.
This isn’t about great and dramatic things. If you’re gifted at embroidery, do it. If you’re good at ‘just’ raising kids, or ‘only’ growing cabbages, you’re here for that. If you can bring light into the life of a hungry or lonely person, do it. Because, when you’re on your deathbed, these are the things you will remember.
And it changes. Life-purpose presents tasks but it is not a job. You can’t resign. It takes on different shapes, progressing as life goes on. One of my big life-lessons and contributions has been in ‘right leadership’ – something I did better in my fifties than in my twenties. I’ve scored a few goals, brought some benefit and made mistakes too. But I learned. It has gone from home-birth campaigns to organising biggish events to helping burned-out Palestinian social activists.
There are paradoxes. Nelson Mandela once confessed that, in his life, he had faced a deep conflict between serving his family and serving his people. He could only do one of them. After all, if you’re doing things that can endanger your family, should you stop serving your people to protect them? Or will your family also benefit if you can improve things for your people?
One of my gifts has been a capacity to struggle for, uncover and articulate insights that other people don’t quite get. I’ve been a speaker, author, editor, broadcaster and a pretty good contributor to public discourse. It didn’t make me rich or famous but I’m really glad I did it and shall continue till I drop – even possibly afterwards. Since I’ve been about 30 years ahead of the times, my work has not succeeded as much as it otherwise might, but after I’m dead it might lift off – you never know – and I’m leaving an online archive of my work just in case.
But perhaps it doesn’t matter. We can never fully see the results of our work and the part it has played in others’ lives. ‘Non-attachment to the fruits of our labours’, is how Buddhists see it. The aim is not to have an impact – it is simply to do your best. Once, when I was in Palestine I confessed to a friend that I didn’t feel I was making much of a contribution on that trip, and I might go home and come back later. She looked at me straight and said, simply: “Balden, when you are here we feel safe“. That hit me hard: sometimes, you don’t even need to do anything. I learned that what I thought was happening didn’t match what actually was happening.
Here’s another thing. Often we think this is all about giving. No, it’s all about interchange. It’s arguable that the people I’ve helped have given me so much more. If you wish to experience true generosity, go to poor people’s houses and countries.
Life purpose has its ins and outs. I’m good at thinking clearly in wider situations but I’m useless at articulating personal feelings on my own behalf – though I’ve done decades of work on myself to change this, and I’ve only made a little progress. But there are things that each of us must accept too: in my case, it’s Asperger’s Syndrome (high-function autism), and that’s what Aspies are like and what we’re good for. Greta Thunberg is a good example – and society is more open to her directness than was the case for me and my kind fifty years ago.
I’ve been nailed and hammered by so many people to be different from the way I am, yet I’ve found that trying to be what I believe others want me to be does not end up well. This has been painful – to be judged as a bad father, a failure, a fascist dictator, a goodfornothing, a criminal and even traitor. “When are you going to get a proper job?”. Something in me, rightly or wrongly, has soldiered on. I have regrets, but I don’t regret it.
There is no right or wrong: there are simply outcomes. Write that on your toilet wall. We’re called to create the best outcomes we can, and for everyone. Become an expert in making something good out of disasters. Don’t indulge in your failings, inadequacies and wrongs – they go on forever – but throttle up your gifts, assets and contribution. Don’t leave it till later, because later means never.
In my life I’ve been a philanthropist without money. My wealth has been magical, not material. Sometimes I’ve thought of myself as a healer of perceptions. People outside the rich world see me coming and they think, ‘Ah, a European – he can raise funds for us’ (Christians do this more than Muslims). No, this is not what I’m here for, and I’m not good at it. I’m here to help with magic solutions, to raise people up, and it has been a challenge to hold to that because people and projects do indeed need money, often very legitimately so.
The worst bit is that some people get so fixated on the funding bit that they accuse me of being rich, mean and selfish, and they miss what I actually can contribute. It’s better to teach someone to fish than to give them a fish – a common saying in the humanitarian world. (Another is: teach a man and you teach a man, but teach a woman and you teach a generation.) I’ve had to learn to work for a good cause not just because it’s a good cause, but because it is run by people I can work with, and because it fires me up, providing a context in which to serve and contribute best.
So, if you’re struggling with life-purpose matters, here’s a recommendation. Do whatever lifts you up, and avoid whatever weighs you down. This is radical. It’s also far more practical than you might believe. When I was 50 I had a ‘dark night of the soul’ crisis and this truth emerged from it. It doesn’t mean taking the easy option – often you must take the scariest option. A lifelong peace activist, I realised that I had to head for the heart of darkness, so I committed to working in Palestine, sensing that justice for all, not exactly peace, is the main objective there. Justice brings peace, but peace doesn’t necessarily bring justice – so more conflict will follow. If Palestine and Israel can break through, the world’s conflicts will change – and wars and violence block world progress far more than we understand. So what lifted me up was the challenge to follow a difficult path.
Twenty years later, the Palestine problem continues and assholes still prevail, but this work hasn’t been a failure. Deep historic turn-arounds take time, often longer than a lifetime. Brian Eno once said, “I have a feeling I’m part of something that should be much bigger than it is“. Yes indeed – the last fifty years have been a frustrating time for change-agents. But many of the greatest breakthroughs in history were groundlaid by forgotten people you’ve never heard of – the people who prepared the way for those that history recognises. Without these forgotten heroes, you would not have the freedoms and blessings you have today.
Getting cancer and becoming physically disabled wasn’t part of my plan. But it has given me new purpose. I might live one year or ten, and this uncertainty is an awakener: what can I lay to rest and what am I still dissatisfied with? It has reminded me that, no matter how difficult things are, everything in life is a gift. If you choose to see things that way. So even if you feel you have no purpose or you can’t find it, that’s your gift, your resource, your background, and do your best with it. That’s where it starts.
Or perhaps you’re doing it but you downplay it, or you fail to see what’s happening as a result of your being there, or you feel you’re such a rotten, godforsaken shit that you’re a no-hoper.
When I was twenty I read a book by Alan Watts, a psychedelic guru, that deeply stirred me. It was called The Wisdom of Insecurity. Yes, the wisdom of insecurity. Sorry, folks, but in 2020, normality was suspended and this is what we’re being shown. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and pitch in. Make steps. Do it. And if you don’t do it, stop beating yourself up about it. Good luck.