Please don’t go out tonight

Please don’t go out tonight. Ecosystems are collapsing, and alcohol dumbs down your capacity for action and change.

Please don’t go out tonight. Especially if you are an activist. Why don’t you just have a quiet drink at home with some activist buddies, and plan your next arrestable action? 2019 has to be a year of massive escalation if we are to pressure our governments to act in an appropriate and timely way in response to climate breakdown and worsening ecological catastrophe.

As a mystic, gratitude is central to my practice. But it’s not enough to sit in meditation and feel grateful for my flat, my clothes, my books, my relationships that all, somewhere or other back along the karmic lines (and surely not very far back along them) depend on the oppression and exploitation of indigenous peoples and biodiversity around the globe.

I’m not about to give up my affluent Western / Northern lifestyle, it is so deeply ingrained in me. However the least I can do is use this privilege in 2019 to 1) get arrested as often as is practical, as well as manageable for my well-being, for the cause of drawing attention to Extinction Rebellion, which is to say the cause of all life on Earth, and 2) rather than just ‘make a living’, work towards generating as much monetary wealth as possible, so that I can redistribute it to where it is needed (including Extinction Rebellion.)

Here is a line from one of the books in my golden bookcase. Some of you will know or be able to guess at where this came from. It’s a very popular book.

‘When action is pure and selfless                                                                                            everything settles into its own perfect place.’

genderwild mystic; diary #8 / The Golden Bookcase

I have a golden bookcase of books. Not literally. I mean the books themselves are golden, and if they were stored in an actual golden bookcase, the case would barely be noticed, for the wisdom shining from the books within it.

This golden bookcase is on my desk, in my office. It is only fifteen or so books wide at the moment, but these are precious books, favourite books, those books that I know if studied from all possible angles, in all possible combinations, would reveal all we need to know about creating heaven on Earth.

There is a surplus of wisdom in this world. There is wisdom everywhere you look, if you look correctly. Oh, the tiresomeness of ‘revelations’ that folk proclaim and write about and sell millions of copies on the back of! And here I am with my own tiresome revelation! Everything we need to know is here already, in the wealth of experience we have already had, and already read.

Two days until January -Veganuary- begins. What role do I have in this senseless celebration of the neoliberal capitalist turning of the yearly wheel? I have nothing to celebrate except my wonderful presence on this wonderful plane, and in this delight of biodiversity on Earth! Everything else is bullshit and dust…

But there is one thing. Again and again and again, I am lonely. I seek my brethren. I am a lonely bull elephant, wondering in what remains of my forest home. I don’t seek other bulls. I seek to be welcomed by the matriarchy, the herd of females. Even as I practise sexual restraint, I would like a little polyromance, a little polyintimacy -for these do not explicitly need sex to flower. A hug, a smile, a nice date out somewhere in this crumbling empire that surrounds us; some lovely and interesting female company to muse on the decline of capitalist civilisation with, and a signal that I am at least a little understood.

For now I am held together –well gathered– by my practises of restraint and renunciation -a vegan diet and sleeping on the hard floor (which is strangely comforting)- as well as the golden bookcase.

The first lines of one golden book read like this:

‘A way that can be walked is not The Way                                                                                      A name that can be named is not The Name’ 

When will the floodgates burst?

When will the floodgates burst? When will the barriers that have been built up between our godly games and our true Nature, be overcome? When will these dams of damnation be overwhelmed by the waters of a globally united ocean of human beings, a final swell of justice to meet the final swell of injustice that is man-made climate breakdown?

There is nothing to unite us like a common enemy, and that common enemy is the fear and greed at the heart of our ruling institutions and entrenched interests which allows climate breakdown to continue unabated.

As activists and knowers of the truth, we must suffer the disparagement of our peers for our long-sightedness. Worse, we must suffer abuse and ridicule by those that we are fighting to protect and save, because they know no better. Politically, most people are in pushchairs, and so us activists who are more advanced, must suffer the tantrums of the masses, even as we are trying to put out the worst fire in human history.

Imagine trying to put out a house fire, with toddlers screaming in every room, and every time you move to pick one up to remove them, they punch and kick and bite you, because somehow they cannot see the fire or feel it, even as it is burning them alive.

It is my intention and belief that the cool waters of justice will soon begin to flow, that a tipping point in the climate of understanding of the UK public will occur this autumn as a result of Extinction Rebellion. The UK public will irrevocably wake up to the reality of global climate breakdown in a way that they haven’t yet woken. Most will feel incapacitated even as they wake, but a precious few -enough- will wake up enough to take action.

What action? The only appropriate action is to hold the government to account right now on global climate breakdown. Holding to account means obtaining practical measures right now for the reduction of carbon emissions to zero by 2025. If the government doesn’t listen, the only appropriate action is civil disobedience.

Please support our campaign. Please support Extinction Rebellion.

How I got Here

There is no free will. If all our consciousness is selfless then it can only be illusion or God (or could it be both?)

Too much presence of mind, without some insight and love to go with it, can bring one to the edge of insanity. I know, because sometimes I go there. I sometimes feel close to things I don’t want to feel close to, but I have trust in myself to use that closeness to observe and learn, rather than react in an unhelpful way.

(Too much samatha, not enough vipassana, the bikkhu warned).

I can never really know how I got here. I’m just here, that’s all.

genderwild mystic; diary #7

Restrain yourself! -I escape from the gratuitous city.

Gratitude in my flat in the middle of the night -there is no noise here.

Letting go to near samadhi…it begins with a slowing of the mind. Then the speed of pure spirit enters the picture.

The more I let go the crap, the more I speed up.

Body shaking, another kind of letting go. In the middle of the room this body jerks around, taking all of the criticism of the past few days like bullets from every direction. I dance as I am hit by every one, and emerge unscathed, all of that negativity shaken out.

Sometimes I let go of the self-restraint, indulge myself (through one of various sense outlets) and find an extra burst of creativity and uniqueness abounds from within. Restraining myself for some days or weeks again, I put myself to the hard work of realising this uniqueness.

Grateful, but how much of my vision will I see manifest?

Sitting still, letting go, the shape of this body seems absurd.Why would the mind be limited to this strange mass atop my neck? Surely it isn’t? No man here, no woman, much less a human being. Something alien to my human perception, something that just is, something that can never be what humans think it to be.

Then I get up, crazy for some way to effect my insights into general fulfilment in the world. It’s not possible except on its own terms. Nothing to do with me. (There’s nothing to do with me).

So I drop back into desire and the momentum for worldly change, activist achievement, applause for my Art, a righteous redirecting of unjust flows of revenue, and why not?

This genderwild mystic pauses for some affirmation. None comes except the pause itself perhaps.  I saw the need to pause. The advanced form of letting go is speeding up, but then more advanced again is letting go of the speeding up, as necessary, and slowing down again.

It’s almost a miracle that anyone in the world will be able to read these words in just a few minutes’ time. Tell that to someone who lived one hundred years ago. My gratitude is such that if I were to die today, it’s okay, I have known magic.

Perhaps this civilisation is at it’s peak. But the internet can facilitate whatever is next.

I didn’t quite believe the bhikku, at the time, when he said that more than anything he wanted anonymity. But reflecting in the intervening years, I feel the wisdom. May all my celebrity be ironic and an instrument of justice. That’s all.

Otherwise, let me live my remaining years in a forest far from here, perhaps in the Carpathians at the mercy of wolves and bears, the She-ones…I’d rather spill blood to mix with soil and pine resin, die exposed and smell those last, more than any artificial human scent.

genderwild mystic; diary #6

I almost died again two days ago -in my favourite place to almost-die. The last time was much more serious. The last time, misjudging the light and the tide, I found myself edging up a broken cliff-face of dirt and loose rock -worse than scree- visibility rapidly decreasing to the point that, as I reached the summit I was practically advancing by touch alone. As I strode along the cliff-top directly afterwards, I felt consciously reborn.

This time, a bit further north again from Bude, sleeping in the abandoned military shelter (probably) a little south along the coast-path from Hawker’s Hut, I took a day to scramble around the cliffs and beaches below, although it had only meant to be a few hours. On the other side of the ridge from Tidna Shute I descended a scree slope, full of boulders at precarious angles, sure that I knew what I was doing. It turned out to be a little tougher than it looked as, near the bottom, throwing my bag down before me, I had to skirt round some jagged boulders and grab on to loose gravelly dirt for half a second in order to swing me safely the final few yards to the solid boulder-scape which extended into the sea. These boulder-scapes are characteristic of the north Devon and Cornwall coastline.

Okay, so I didn’t ‘almost die’ this time but I was closer to death than I care to get on the average day. It then seemed to take me forever to jog and climb the boulders around the cliff-side -as well as some dragons-teeth sections of cliff in order to get to the beach on the other side of Tidna Shute, the objective of the whole exercise. I lay on the beach, exhausted from recent days of mental anguish, thinking that I would lie there right up until the tide retreated once more. I observed and heard some comical and stunning-looking birds, which I now know to be oystercatchers, and on a faraway rock mid-water a cormorant sunned itself. It was then that a darkness descended within me. Perhaps it was for lack of drinking water but I suddenly did not want to write or to study the books that I had brought. Suddenly I did not like the feeling of being isolated and trapped on the pebbles. Observing the cormorant which perched almost still for a few hours, did not help much. This was despite that I had come here to be less human, to be more of the wild. As the tide began to retreat and I began to edge back along the coastline, I realised I would not be able to return to my shelter via the scree slope. I would have to travel further back towards Bude, hoping or assuming that with the tide retreating there would be a clear passage to the place where I knew a stream cut a cleft in the cliff-side that could be walked up.

Early on on my way back round, before reaching the scree slope I risked a brave but safe climb to negotiate some lingering waters -a little higher than they had been on my outward journey- I was shaking afterwards. Then I found a clear path up a short face next to the outcome of Tidna Shute, filling my bottle from the waterfall. This easy traverse had been hidden ‘over the edge’ on my outward journey, forcing me to double-back earlier. So I reflected now, that when running and climbing rocks, what looks easy may be very dangerous and what looks impossible may actually be simple and safe. With a little thought, this lesson can be applied to life in general: only through taking risks can we develop our intuition and experiential learning about which situations require practice and study, which situations can be traversed easily with existing skills (although bravery may be needed) and which situations should be avoided entirely.

When I was sat on the beach before heading back, I wondered at the apparent default thinking patterns of my brain when facing a difficult situation. Thoughts of self-recrimination and even self-hate quickly gathered momentum. When I was a fair way past the scree slope and back towards Bude, as an oystercatcher circled my head, squeaking like a rat warning me off, the darkness suddenly gave way to light. This was not to do with my immediate predicament. It was that a new strategy of life, for the foreseeable future presented itself. This was the remedy to the mental anguish I had felt prior to taking the bus to Bude for this much needed break.

Knowing how clever the unconscious mind is, I now realise that I had engineered my strandedness on the beach, via that dangerous descent to reflect the urgency of this point in my life, a crisis in home (where shall I live?) and career (what should I spend my time on and how?). The wilderness of the coastline and the sure rhythm of the tide then became my comrades as, escaping immediate physical danger, their bareness and profound non-human beauty, along with my mindful jumping from rock to rock, were the perfect alert and blank canvas for sheer despondency to give way to sheer hope, like an inevitable wave, and then a pivotal plan for my near future emerged -I sat in the shade of a rock to scribble, oystercatcher circling aggressively.

It was apt that I still didn’t know whether I would safely reach the point where I could access the mainland, at least not without entering the water. I think at this point the danger was minimal. Apt because I didn’t know, because I don’t know, whether my new ‘life-plan’ will take me safely onto the main path of my life, which I have envisioned from behind and below, as if from a dangerous rocky beach, for so long now.

One of my writing jobs for this little wilderness retreat was to pen the next instalment of my genderwild mystic diary. I had thought to write of gratitude, including as related to the ‘first’ mystic practice of self-restraint. I also wanted to expand my explanation and exploration of my first practice to incorporate proactivity and the fresh directing of will-power, from moment to moment, seeking out the new, or the ‘solution’ in any given moment in a way that springs released, a shute through the side of old negative habits that are now being restrained. For instance, having been sex-obsessed and vulnerable to the obsession re-surfacing at times of stress and change, as I paced my way along the coast-path from Bude towards my temporary abode one day previously, just off the bus, I proclaimed of the wilderness around me that was teeming with insect-life and punctuated by birdsong and wild blooms of colour that also sung; ‘this is sex!’ I meant that the wild unfolding of life around me, the rugged coastline and my awareness of these, were a deep-felt and vibrant sensuality as satisfying as any orgasm.

The experience of despair and then breakthrough amidst the rocky coast are an affirmation of this mystic breaking free, moving forward with new solutions and new ways in the context of a Nature which will always be dangerous. Since that experience, it is easy once again to feel that gratitude which I periodically lose in the arrogance of my desire. Desire for sex or for achievement, desire that was righteously robbed from me by rocks and the ocean as I was forced to live moment by moment by quick wits and feet, desire ironically returned to me once I had paid Nature Her dues, once I had briefly sacrificed not just my selfishness but my existential security. ‘Here, so make your little plans’ She mocked, once my safety was assured.

The second practice of this genderwild mystic is gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for. I am grateful for this fit and healthy body that at nearly forty years old can run across boulders and free-climb cliffs. I am grateful for the clarity of this mind that can process the life with which it comes into contact daily, in such a fulfilling way. I am grateful to every member of my family -all have helped bring me to this place, however dark the means at times. I am very grateful to be alive at this extraordinary moment in human history, although I have sometimes wished it otherwise. This moment of Transition between two forms of global civilisation, this moment of sped-up Evolution due to ecological crises (much publicised, much ignored). Even though I know the bloodshed is likely to increase over the coming decades, I have great faith in what lies beyond, and gratitude that I am playing my small role in the beginnings of that beyond.

I hope and pray that whenever I lose this proper perspective, this gratitude, my unconscious mind and the sexy wilderness will collude once again to bring me closer to death, even if it must be uncomfortably close to rouse me from my arrogant spell and breathe my life.

genderwild mystic; diary #5

It’s queer that I’m even here. But I’m grateful that I am.

The second key practice of this mystic is gratitude. I’m listening to The Kinks as I write this, because to me they are Queer.

Gratefulness for the threads of karma that make up this being, whether they are threads that the whole of me purports to love, or to disdain. Because truly, I have no self. I am but a bundle of threads. There are threads of patriarchal conditioning, threads which I try to be as aware of as I can. The more I practice mindfulness, then the less these dangerous influences are a blur. There are threads of individualism, of the rebel. Although the age of the Father is still strong, the age of the rebellious gender rebel ‘son’ is getting stronger alongside.

And now we have the true age of the gender rebel ‘daughter’. This is the age of environmental consciousness which is really the age of (gender)Queer. The age of Queer is now in bloom. In order to safeguard the future of human life on Earth, we need to realise our interdependency and build community more urgently than ever before. The age of the gender rebel daughter, of (gender)Queer, is the age of climate change, peak oil, and global capitalist civilisation reaching its limits. Panic at the disco!

The new global community can only be Queer because it is an unprecedented emergent form of global society. An unprecedented form of global society will require and also give rise to an unprecedented global consciousness. I call this Queer because the historical male-female identities and relations inherent in the current global civilisation-in-crisis, have led us to this point of needing something more virile, in a genderqueer way, to transcend them.

Queer is transcendent, and so must we all be, through the turbulence of the coming decades, to something evolved on the other side where all our old violent concepts of ‘male’ and ‘female’ are redundant. Nevertheless, to reach the Green Garden, in our genderwildness, for now, whether male, female, or neither or inbetween, singing to the moon we must overcome all divisions to reside in the greater She.