Whenever I hear someone’s story of their 360° round trip on these rivers of tears, I feel a mix of compassionate pain and frustration at their unnecessary journey.
My gut says, “It ain’t necessarily so!”, because it puts me in mind of those circular journeys of solitary despair I knew so well.
I am a soul filled with a joyful heart. I am blessed with this grace because my heart has beat to its own time, while I lived and breathed through suffering.
I must state my position.
Many years I spent with my heart uncomprehendingly engaged in a mood of gloom. I lived close to the edge of the world. I could only grieve for the beautiful security of how things were, because I had lost contact with that most natural of gifts that all sentient beings share – to love to live in the flow of the present moment.
This flow of the lived living moment is the dance of life we can watch on any street corner all the world over, where children play, yell, and enjoy their own company.
The will to live – that resource of legendary power – knows no past or future. If I live in the fullness of this present moment, I know nothing of any “threat” to my existence, because a threat can only exist in the context of the future-in-the-past.
Similarly, if all I am is joy-of-present, I shall have no care for the past. The reality available to innocent babies and to all young sentient living beings is reality both all-encompassing and intensely personal, exactly as the Universe is both personal and vast.
This reality is a self-awareness welded to and bonded with the will to live.
For the new-born, so for our grosser adult selves – we have an imperative to survive. Survival is the expression of our dependence on billions of iterations of our ancient genes in the moment-to-moment.
Mercifully, survival is maintained by autonomous life systems. The “test” – that all-out awful emergency – is rarely handed over to us that we shall be obliged to take full responsibility for our survival.
The continuum between life and death, the fulcrum of existence, is as a magnificence. A magnificence removed from the tick-tock of time, contained in and available to us in the Grace of Present Here-and-Now.
In my late teens, before I ‘dropped out’, I searched for and found a precious union. I cleaved to “haeceity”, to the THISNESS of things. It hardly matters here what association this had to mainstream thought, the important fact is that this understanding of the essential nature of reality remains with me still today.
This found communion with the simplicity of “What is” is my bedrock, my source of strength, healthy well-being, and healing. It is also my ever-available portal to the most sacred space in the heart containing the source of endless peace and love, present in us all and available to us all, from which we come and to which we all return.
The ability to approach and become contiguous with the uncomplicated bliss of “What is” literally saved my sanity and on occasion my life.
After this, in my lost years (20 to 25) I became troubled with abnormal mood fluctuations, and was dependent on pharmaceutical and hospital support. My withdrawal from society caused much anxiety and pain to my family and friends. My parents did all they could to help me, though at times they feared for my safe future.
Arguably there have been several early-life traumas which predisposed me to this. I have been privileged to revisit my Inner Child, and I spent invaluable hours – under direction of my Shamanic Healer here in Bournemouth where I live now – in precious, if at times painful, discovery of the selfless love of that little boy.
The small boy-child I was took it on his own advisement to loyally support me during my early years trauma. I see now I owe a sacred debt of gratitude for his compassionate and unconditional love which ultimately made possible my release from early trauma.
With the dominance of low mood during those years, I lost my former ability to connect to the flow of the present moment. It felt like a bitter-sweetness, a sorry addiction to sorrow, much like a drug. For extended periods of time, probably prolonged by tranquillisers, this was my emotional home.
Mental states at unnatural levels of modulation had determined that I ascribed meaning to both thoughts and situations which in “logical reality” hold no more significance than the superficiality of the fleeting moment.
Here is my understanding of something central to the way we can lose our firm hold on the balance of our mental health.
An enormous burden of energy is required to deal with the trivia of day-to-day living as if they are issues of crucial importance. We maintain a healthy working equilibrium most of the time without much conscious thought.
We can be well served if we can be made to see from an early age the value of living “in the moment”. With the knowledge of these practices (living mindfully) comes the ability to apply personal choice to the management of an individual’s state of mind.
If we have prior understanding about how much importance to give to our thought patterns, we may be equipped to make choices in good time, when we are still inclined to seek help.
The starting-point when a person begins to regard the trivia of day-to-day living and their accompanying thoughts as if they are issues of critical importance, could be a jumping-off point into spiral, nonlinear thinking and decision-making.
From this superposition of the minutia of trivial thoughts on the conscious mind it is not far to go to arrive in the insoluble confusion of the unknown.
Then comes Chaos – a total loss of the ability to assume responsibility for one’s thought and actions.
The problem that got to be crippling for me was that for a time I lost the objective ability to recognise superficiality for the extraordinary gift it is – the delightful sparkling flow of the fleeting moment.
This led to overwhelming feelings of banishment from the world of other people, who I observed as enjoying superficial speech and actions unperturbed by states of hyper self-consciousness.
I now believe that there is a common denominator underlying the pain and helplessness of mental health sufferers. It is a common factor also for those who have tried with all their might to reunite with their sense of belonging in the world.
Without co-ownership of self, and without some sort of recognition of the THISNESS of the existence we all share in common – from the state of being of the humble Lacewing, to the imperturbably powerful outpouring of electromagnetic radiation in the Cosmos – peace of mind, communion with one’s own heart can seem constantly unattainable.
It is a vital life-affirming truth that the only constant is transience.
We all rely on the unconditional acceptance of the flow of the fleeting moment for our conscious awareness to stabilise on a Single-point of unquestioned reference so that we can make moment-to-moment judgements and take necessary decisions at a most elementary level at the prompting of humdrum and fluctuating local circumstances.
Our innate condition is predicated on nothing more than our existence in physical form and our awareness in the Universe of objects and sentience. These are the fundamental reasons we are alive and we remain alive.
Life in us begins without our conscious volition, but we risk everything, the disturbance of our balance, even our sanity, if we continue in life as if life were external to us.
A life fully lived is lived in the passionate and impassioned understanding of life’s array of power and beauty.
Visions of beauty and power are instantly available to those who make the effort to recognise themselves as transient bearers of their portion of brilliance in the array.
Key to the recognition of their own beauty and power is the acceptance of the moment – the EveryNow – as life’s vessel and array.
I coined the word EveryNow in early 2016 to denote a cherished elevated state of being. The word has its roots in the understanding of the illusory nature of clinging to this or that, be it mood, perception, mode of thought, or time itself!
Mine is a story of 50 years of redemption and salvation. No other response than humility and continuous gratitude will do.
I devote much of my time and energy to show how immediate, powerful and freely available is the juicy goodness of the force that some call the life force, others, the will to live, and still more know by words like love, hope, peace, heart, spirit. Alas! So few take the trouble to step over the threshold of words and… love to live!
I wrote the poem ‘Journey’, just as my heart was beginning to open in 2013. The lifelong search for meaning was both beginning and ending.
I have been knocking at an open door. I have been straining to hear echoes from my voice. I have woken up to drag my feet through the unexplained, inexplicable days with my eyes closed.
When an animal like a dog or a bird spots an object of interest, it will race to it. It takes no time out for risk assessment. It consults no preflight checklist, it undertakes no critical path analysis of its intention, and it generally measures its actions against its peer group behaviour not at all.
When “I”, Peter the Pilley, lean into “I” the animal, I have no use for the old and much-thumbed ‘Wiki of What-Ifs’. I can leave it to sit on the shelf in the library of my mind.
The naked flame has no label. The naked flame hurts. That’s all there is to it from my perspective.
Picture a tree in a woodland setting. Here is the label neatly printed, affixed to the trunk. It confirms beyond all doubt this entity’s identity, because it is written: TREE.
Turn away and look elsewhere. Millions of labels are attached to millions of objects, most with subtext and supplementary information.
The naked flame needs its label. Either I acquire it by burning myself, or it is given to me by admonition.
The World of Labels is acquired from our human beginnings. It is a useful and often necessary complement to my navigation. Labels can disappear entirely under the influence of a hallucinogen. Labels will reappear later to be where I am, only to hang around one step in front of me — as persistent and ingratiating self-appointed guides — ready with their irrefutables… “this is this” and “that is that”.
Desperation, frustration and plain old misery can arise if the world of labels is accepted unquestioned. Labels can cage the heart and trap the soul. I am talking about barriers tagged “What if” and “I can’t” and again “not now, some other time”.
It is in the years since the Year of my Life, 2013, that I have seen through the heaviness of damp woollen shrouds, all richly hung with labels. Gradually, as I see mirrored everywhere the living-beingness of things, I have experienced over and over the thrill of recognition.
I stop. I see here the waving antennæ of a single lacewing at rest. What is it? What is it sensing? What does it search for, sifting the sightless drifts of air for what signal? I stop and ask Lacewing.
I stop at a stone on the footpath. It is different, maybe in shape or colour. I stop and ask Stone where did you acquire your shape? What processes and over how long originated your stoniness?
There is a curious, unmistakable recognition of excitement aroused by pausing to enquire In this simple way, where no parent, schoolteacher, employer has shown, instructed or directed before.
There is an urgency in the attraction of this feeling. It is related to, but not exclusive of, the search for an ultimate meaning.
I wanted to repeat the thrill of seeing both myself and the lacewing’s mind disappear under the cross-examination of reading the Mirror of Thisness.
Gradually, over a long period of time, I made my choice. I chose to ask, to see if I can see the unseen in everything I walk past. The more I stop to examine the macrocosm in the microcosm of my immediate surroundings, the more I began to melt away as “I” observer.
The intensity of what is mirrored to me from the life-energies which surround me everywhere, of which in truth I myself am composed, is perfectly able (if I allow it) to blow me away.
Blown away like the seeds on a dandelion. Like the mist over a morning pond. Like drunk with the most intoxicating liquor ever brewed by the ancients of days, in millenia past!
I went for a walk in Roydon’s Wood, near Brockenhurst in the New Forest, one spring not long ago. The months of build-up of house moving stresses demanded release in some forest bathing.
I started going on methodical, mostly solo, backpack rambles in 1978. Till now, I must have covered many thousands of miles, almost all in the south of England.
This woodland walk was not like the others. It felt like it was my very first. The woods and the Big Green of the scenery were not specially different. I was. The intensity of the recognition of pleasure at finding myself at last alone among so many mature trees on a windless Spring day was so surprising that my identity as a social creature had shrunk away. I had become little more than a sensitive receiver and I was filled up with awe and joy.
As I walked, very slowly indeed, “I” experienced the magic of Not Being Here in all its wonder and beauty. I knew what was happening. My self-referential identity had dwindled to unimportant. I willingly gave myself up to the awe of the moment. I had no need at all to reach out and label.
There are many who need little, even no preparation, and who “get it”, this discipline of enquiry into Thisness.
For me, it has been decades of stumbling, falling down, failing, being rescued, not recognising received love, ferociously hating, self-sabotage, asleep-waking, when all I needed was simply to stop and open the eyes of my eyes. I guess years of meticulous study and self-disciplined enquiry could have brought about the reunion of my heart within my identity, but I always rebelled against training.
As it turns out, a time came at the start of 2013, when other people allowed their hearts to share their visibility with my own.
This happened at a time when my courage to understand matched my curiosity discover. The result was an emotional earthquake, an explosive event which removed the decades old protective layers I had placed around my heart.
Since that moment, I have been working to revere and celebrate the continuing discoveries. My EveryNow blog is one way to record these.
My heart is an opening heart. It is no different to your heart. No different to the heart of a stone on the footpath!
Only connect! In an inevitable plurality of beings, I allow myself to melt into Beingness. As often as possible, I melt away the walls of the mind. Let the sighing relief of simply being alive fully take over from the exacting exigencies of imposed imperatives.
The entirety of the potential of the universe is yours and mine, and it only asks to be asked for!