Saturday, August 29, 2009

Believer in Exile: Jesus or Christ - Persona or Essence

Believer in Exile: Jesus or Christ - Persona or Essence

Friday, August 28, 2009

Spiritual Warriorship - Real Irish Sovereignty

There are times when one opens one’s heart to the magnitude of the suffering in this world and one would weep. This is appropriate to the situation. What is not appropriate to the situation is despair.

One of the greatest workers for the invitation to Love in form was St. Francis of Assisi. The longer this Irish mystic storyteller lives the more he is drawn into this man’s resonance. In my homeland of Northern Ireland he would have been referred to as “a sound man.” This means a man of integrity and a man of Oneness.

He left a prayer. This is a great prayer. Even the politician Margaret Thatcher quoted from it on the steps of 10 Downing Street following her election victory. The sound of her voice when reading it, however, had little of the humility the prayer evokes when rendered from the heart.

Many of you know me as a storyteller. I adapt stories of old for modern times and modern minds. There are storytellers who will tell you stories of old but there is no heart connection to the story. I often resist the call of my heart to some stories. This is because of my conditioned upbringing in the past. I was brought up as a Protestant in Northern Ireland during the period known as the troubles.

Because of this fact I am sometimes reluctant to allow stories connected to what are called the Fianna to enter my heart. Yet I know that what I resist persists. The story of the Fianna is a story that my heart is being drawn to share and to tell in a very different way. It is the way of unity rather than the way of division. It is the way of true sovereignty rather than the way of allegiance to tribal identity.

In this Irish mythic story the Fianna are a band of warriors who it is said will arise from their underground cave when Ireland needs them and her sovereignty is threatened from forces without. Most political parties in the land of Ireland take their name in part from this story of myth and legend. There are the two major political parties, Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael.

Ireland, at this present time of writing, is on the edge of financial bankruptcy. The people have eaten the Celtic Tiger. I suspect this is in a little way a collective response to the trauma of the famine years some centuries earlier. Added to this is the greed promoted by the fear that one needs to get as much of the cake as one can while the going is good.

For this Irish storyteller, however, the Fianna is not simply a band of soldiers willing to protect the sovereignty of a land. They are, as all mythic stories invite you into the realisation of, the spiritual warrior within you. This is the dynamic of the protector of what is sovereign and not that which is separate. This is the true role of the masculine energy in the world of form. It is allegiance of the heart to the protection of that which is the timelessness of Love. This was, and is, the invitation from all warriors of spirit such as Jesus and the Buddha.

The Fianna, for this Irish mystic storyteller, are not nationalistic. They are not one tribe aligned against another. This, however, is not how political parties that bear in part, their name and thus their invitation, promote them.

In Northern Ireland when you say that someone is a Fenian (identified with the Fainna) you are using a term that is a term of hatred. You are, in effect, calling someone a Roman Catholic. Except that it is said in a tone that depersonalises the person and makes them an object. You are making them one of a tribe separate from your tribe that tends to be Protestant. This isn’t just a Northern Ireland issue. It happens all over the world and it happens within your world and my world.

The mythical story of the Fianna is not about Irish Nationalism. It is the story about a state of mind. It is your state of mind just as it is mine. Ireland is in trouble as we are all in trouble. She is not only financially bankrupt but also spiritually bankrupt. She, in part, calls herself a ‘free state’ but her people are enslaved. They are not enslaved by the landlordism of old. It is a new kind of landlordism. It is called the consumer society. It is an insane invitation to death through consuming ourselves to death because we feel spiritually empty.

In the story of the Fianna these warriors are hidden below ground waiting a time when the people of Ireland call to them to rise and free them from tyranny. This is not just a myth. This is not a fairy story of old. This is my story. It is your story whether you are Irish or not. You and I are the Fianna in waiting. That is unless we remain enslaved to a value system of separateness from Love – the consumer society.

The real problem is that you and I in each moment drive the power of the spiritual warrior within us underground. In the mythic story of the Fianna, Ireland isn’t just a symbol for a land that exists between the UK and the USA. Ireland in this story represents the universal sense of Self. That is what is meant by sovereignty. No spiritual warrior of any state serves national boundaries. They serve the Universal. They serve the timeless values of sacred unity and Love.

Irish politicians of all persuasions are tethered to what is called the nation state. This is true of most politicians. The nation state has sovereignty. Only the sovereignty of the nation state does not take, and can never take, precedence over that of the state of the timeless and the universal. Those who align themselves to the nation tend not to be visionaries. When the leaders have no vision the people die.

The Fianna represent that state of mind that is sovereign and whole and holy. It is not aligned to any political or religious affiliation. It has no hierarchy. It is the flow of the spirit of sacred unity through the heart of the individual who has had the courage to surrender to Love. This is spiritual warriorship. Those in power aren’t practicing it. But you and I can.

This sovereignty doesn’t belong to the Irish. It isn’t Roman Catholic. It isn’t nationalistic. It isn’t separate from one who is a Protestant. It isn’t absent from a Democrat or a Republican. Except it is when any one of identifies solely with a separate sense of self and thus absents themselves from such sacred sovereignty.

If you despair about the state of the world then become a spiritual warrior. This doesn’t mean you become a fundamentalist, which is no fun at all. If you are intent on being a spiritual warrior who honours the sovereignty beyond the limits of time and space and all attachment to ideas about who you are and who you think you are, then what will be revealed is true sovereignty. You become, not a revolutionary, but a revelation.

Such sovereignty is the true state of heart and mind. It brings true peace. If this is your intention then you will be called to be one of the Fianna. You do not have to give this invitation to such a call this name. You will be called through your hearts invitation to you own myth that you are intended to live and honour and share. In the USA this could be the symbol of Lady liberty. Each country has its own myths that invite universal consiousness to be the true state.

The Fianna are not interested in rising to save such a limited idea as Irish Nationalism or any nationalism for that matter. The Fianna are the heart energies that know their connection to the universe. They will arise in you (under whatever name) when you are intent in realising the sacred unity within your heart and within your brother and sisters heart.

When you feel this connection to that state of mind and heart then you will have no need of despair. You will be called to serve that which is timeless, that which is sovereign and that which is Love. Anything less means that the spiritual power in you will remain underground in the cave of the separate sense of self.

Choose well because your Life and our life on this beautiful planet depends on it.

© Tony Cuckson 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Restless Traveller

Talk to me in a sailors tongue,
I’ll wake you up in the morning.
Truth will run under different skies.
You and me restless travellers.
You and me restless travellers.

Restless Travellers by Raymond Frogget.

From the Album Tramps and Thieves

I have in my life been a restless traveller. I have travelled in different lands seeking the diamond in my pocket. I have travelled under different skies and sometimes, although very rarely, I would awake. Sometimes such awakening would only last a moments but it always felt as if it would last forever.

I have met with sailors who would talk to me in tongues of flame. Often I would become afraid that I would be burned away to nothing – like a moth drawn to a flame. Often these people who have sailed a different kind of ocean stand there with a light in their eyes and a fire in their head.

Sailors who talk to you don’t always appear as sailors. They often appear quite ordinary in many ways. If you meet with them and you are ready then they will set you alight. If you are not ready then they tend to simply pass by on the other side of the street. Maybe they will smile and sometimes they will stand on their heads. One cannot really predict what these voyagers to that other shore might do.

These sailors have sailed, have voyaged under many different skies. You could follow them and learn much from them. However, there is one sky under which they have sailed and it is not for the faint of heart.

There is a sun in this sky. It is brighter than the brightest star in our galaxy. It is a million times brighter than our own Sun. When you sit on this Sun and not want for water once then you can wake up in the morning. When you wake up on that morning you will never quite be such a restless traveller again.

Except that you will leave this tomorrows sky. Most everyone does who has ventured to that ocean beneath the sky where only a few ever go. And then you will come back to this shore. It is the shore we call time and you will be a restless traveller in a very different way. You will want to sit again on the Sun and never want for water once. And when you return from this ocean beneath that vast sky you will be one who sets others afire with the light of one million Suns.

There will come a time when you will ask a stranger, “Talk to me in a sailors tongue.” A certain kind of storyteller has asked that question. I have asked that question of a stranger. Let me tell you this. When you ask a stranger to talk to you in a tongue of a faraway land you will hear something very different. You will not like it because it reminds you of what you have forgotten.

This language of the sailors tongue has not been spoken to you for time out of mind. Be aware of two things. Firstly it will take you out of time and secondly it will take you out of your mind. It will take you into the place that those who have set on the Sun and not wanted water once call no mind. They have no mind at all.

Storytellers talk in funny ways. They talk to you in a sailors tongue. They are and have been and continue to be voyagers under very different skies. They go to lands that are full of magic and fully of mystery. They sail on different rivers. One such river is the mystic river where they travel to a different kind of ocean.

These storytellers who know that secret tongue do not sail in boats. No no that is for those who are afraid of real adventure. The storyteller becomes a wave on the ocean. Not only that but they and the ocean become one. These storytellers walk around with the ocean inside themselves and if you are willing they will pour it into you.

If you listen very quietly then they may talk to you in a sailors tongue. Then you might wake up. This isn’t waking up from sleep. This is where you take a giant leap and you wake up from a giant sleep. It is as if you have been under a spell. It is as if you had been listening to the words of a language that keeps you feeling deeply sleepy.

Then beyond the words of the sailors tongue there is the twixt and in between place. Now you have to get really quiet. I mean so quite that you might think that you have disappeared. An in a magical way you are getting ready to do exactly that. Listen and you will hear the ocean inside. It is singing.

All the songs of this ocean are love songs. They are heart songs. If you listen closely, very closely and you get still and quiet you can hear the ocean call you by your name. This is not the name you were given at birth. Your birth name may be beautiful name but the name that you are given by the Ocean of Love is more beautiful still.

The song you will hear is your song. This is a unique song. It is the song that only you can sing in this world. This does not mean that you must be a good singer. It doesn’t mean that you have to sing at all. It does mean that you have to allow the Ocean of Love to sing this song through your heart.

So remember. There will come a time when you will be aflame with a different kind of wish. You will be wishing that the Ocean of Love would sing a song through you. You will be wishing that any song will do. People will laugh at you. They will think that you might be a little bit crazy. You will think that you are a little bit crazy. But if you trust this well wishing then you will meet with a stranger.

This is the stranger who has been to that other shore and talks in a strange tongue that your heart knows. They will if you allow them to wake you up. You will walk beneath different skies. You will become a wave disappearing into an ocean Love song.

Until that happens to you, you and me are restless travellers, you and me restless travellers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our Children have Wings

You were born with potentialYou were born with goodness and trustYou were born with ideals and dreams
You were born with greatness
You were born with wings
You were not meant for crawling so don't You have wings Learn to use them and fly


At the beginning of many of our storytelling sessions with children we begin with this poem by the mystic poet Jellaludun Rumi. When my partner Bee stands up and begins to recite the above poem sometimes there is giggling when she says the first line. That is until she begins to point to individual children.

When she points directly to a child and says, "You were born with goodness and trust" it is as if they have been suddenly woken up. In the room there is silence and the children begin to pay rapt attention. This is a short story with deep power and vision. It is an invitation and an invocation for our children to remember who they are and why they are.

We have a culture that educates our children by filling them full of information that we say is necessary for them to live full and productive lives. The emphasis, however, tends to be on the productive rather than the full. The emphasis tends to be on the more the better rather than the fullness of living. Rumi invites the children into the fullness of what is potential within them without judgement.

This is the role of a storyteller. It is remind children and others that at the heart of who they are is the ability to fly. What is needed is imagination and the building of confidence in the potential that they as children have arrived with in this world. To invite this confidence to take wing is the true role of a teacher. A teacher is not the same as an educator. A teacher unfolds. An educator often binds the wings so that the child can be safe and not go flying.

Another storyteller who invites such remembrance is the wonderful singer songwriter David Grey when he writes and sings in his song entitled Silver Lining

You were born with eyes wide open
so alive outspoken,
Tell me why, down in the darkest deep
Know there`s a light don`t sleep.

In this world where we hear stories of violence, disaster, dispair and fear it is important to remind our children what is at the core of human existance. This is not some fairy tale notion that we find in tales of old. This is the story and language of the heart that is known within all cultures and all traditions which education is supposed to "bring out" rather than to blot out with more and more information that keeps us in form and earth bound unable to take wing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Meeting on the Shore

“A child's hand in yours what
tenderness and power arouses.
You are instantly the very touchstone
of wisdom and strength.
~ Marjorie Holmes

She said, “Children are for sharing. Not everyone can have one.”

We never did. So it is a delight to share time with these creatures of being. They are still connected to their original face. They still play in the garden of eternity.

His name sounds as Finn. He has beautiful blue eyes and the blondest of blond hair. He shares his name with Fionn Mac Cumhail. This is frequently anglicised as Finn Mac Cool. Finn Mac Cool is one of the most celebrated heroes in Irish myth.

Little Finn will be tall and beautiful. Now he is small and beautiful. He is learning to talk. He is learning to put distance between his immediacy. There will be a time when he thinks about his life rather than allow it to flow. He will learn to dance rather than be the dance.

Being around children reminds me that they feel their experience moment to moment. When they look they see what is before them. They do not judge their experience. They are their experience. This is why they are so delightful even if sometimes they behave as if this world belonged to them and them alone. They know this world belongs to them until they are told differently. This is their real understanding of this world. It is we who have forgotten. They are there to help us remember.

I am standing at the edge of Lough Allen. I have come to visit Corry Strand.

This is where I meet this giant among toddlers. My partner Barbara has met this child before. His Mum had come to hear a concert or play at the Glen Centre in Manorhamilton. While Mum watched the play Barbara minded child. When he became fractious and upset she walked him down the main street. She held him close in her arms and sang Gershwin. He settled at the sound of this melody sang softly into his shell like ear.

He quickly learned my name. He quickly gave me the gift of his trusting heart. It came as a delightful surprise to find him placing his little hand in mine. He had decided he and I would take a stroll along the sand. We walked and came to sit by the remains of a campfire. He told me stories. These were one-word stories.

These were one word stories facilitated by finger pointing. He reminded me of the old Zen Master who tells his student “I am only the finger pointing at the moon.” Here is my little Zen master teaching me the simplicity of seeing.

One story is “stone.” The other story is “dog.” Each is direct and immediate. There is no sense of fear. There is only the continued pointing of the finger. He makes the stones come alive. He sees them before ever they have labels.

Too soon there will come a time when he lives in labels. Too soon he will think he knows what a “stone” is. Soon he will forget how he once saw the wonder of that “stone” and that “dog.” He will swap wonder for knowledge. He will swap what is partial for what is holy. He will become a rational person rather than the mysterious little being he is.

He reminds me of Yoda in Star Wars. The force is with him. He is a wise little being with a hand that shows art in every gesture. He shows me the gladness of the ever-present moment. He is selfish as all children are. This is their world. However, they love to share it with you. This world is their playground and they want you to play here too.

On this shore of Lough Allen he reminds me of that other shore. This is the one we seekers long to sail for. It takes us to that timeless shore where we are forever young. My work is to do what Finn does best. I spend time patiently allowing myself to enter this mystery of life. He is still held within it. I am the amateur and he is the pro-fessional of presence.

He is a fount of wisdom. He does not have the words. He only has his finger. He uses this to conduct dialogues with this mystery of life. He allows the music of life to play through his little body. I am only a part of the orchestra and too often I feel apart from the music. He plays all parts expertly and is the music.

Time will be when he will forget he is the play of God. Time will wrap around him and he will be taught to “do life.” He will be taught that life has to be earned. He will be advised that it is more important to earn a living rather than be alive to love. He will be taught his creativity does not fit with economics. He will become productive and competitive rather than celebratory and abundant. He will give up his wondrousness for acceptance.

He will forget that he is forever enough. If he is lucky he will meet with other wise men and women who will tell him to risk all for love. He will forget that love is all he needs. He will turn from love in action to love of activity. His is the fall from the grace of being to the non-grace of persona. We are all destined to fall from this grace. He will be loved but he will feel separate from all that is.

When he is older he will, I hope, take another hand. He will stand on another shore.
He will remember to look at the beauty of what is without labels. He will no longer see it the way that we lost in social consciousness see it. He will, I hope, one day see again via his heart. The way he sees now. When this happens he will be a giant among men. He will be Finn. He will be fair of face and fair of hair.

Thank you Finn for your instruction. I am blessed to have shared your wisdom. You are already a giant among men. You are a child of the Universe. Never forget little one. May the force be forever with you and may you stay forever young in that little heart that you are so ready to share.

Heading for a Strange Shore

I am engaged to tell a story at a Tibetan Buddhist Centre for their children’s weekend festival. I have been asked to connect the story to the image of a boat. This is because the children will be helping to build a boat over that weekend.
St Brendan - Edward Reginald Frampton
I tend to write stories for individual occasions rather than tell stories that other people have written and told. Each story I write has to work on various levels. The story has to entertain and invite both children and adults into a remembrance of their multi dimensional nature. This is the purpose of storytelling. It isn’t just entertainment but an invitation and an invocation to what is essential, meaning that which is of the essence.

So I take the theme of a boat and I am drawn to remember the song by the Waterboys called “Strange Boat.” I remember also the lines from a Leonard Cohen song called Suzanne that begins,

“Suzanne takes you down to her place by the river.
You can hear the boats go by you can spend the night beside her.”

I am also reminded that meditation is like sitting on the bank of a river watching the boats go by. The boats are a metaphor for our thoughts. Sometimes, in fact, more times than we care to admit, we climb into the boat and are carried down river and sometimes down the rapids. We get caught up in the drama and the trauma of our lives. In preparing to write this story these are ideas that immediately spring to mind.

Then there is the requirement of the audience to whom the story will be told. The story should include aspects that make the children choose a course of action. This is usually a course between playing safe or following the call of their heart. The call of the heart often takes them into those places of threshold that the rational mind says, “Don’t go there.” Such places are the dark wood, the enchanted forest, and the door in the back of the wardrobe.

So I take the lines from the Waterboy`s song Strange Boat which begins

We’re sailing in a strange boat,
We’re headed for a strange shore.
We’re sailing in a strange boat
We’re headed for a strange shore
Carrying the strangest cargo
Ever hauled aboard.

Here you have a beginning idea for a story. A story about a strange boat going somewhere strange and carrying a strange cargo. Children like strange. This is a metaphor for your life and for my life.

The strange boat can be considered our relationship to our body. The strange shore can be considered the shore of the timeless and our connection to Love. The strange cargo can be the beauty we radiate from within our hearts. For to many of us we have become estranged from our unique heartsong. We call our body strange because it is the wrong shape. We call ourselves strange because our sexuality doesn’t fit. We stay on the shore of time and space and we become alienated from the timeless beauty we are here to share.

A story can be a heartsong. It has to be a story that speaks to your heart and the longing of your heart. It is a kind of story that pulls you deeper than maybe your rational mind wants to go. This is the purpose of parable, riddle and mythic stories. They aren’t simply old stories they are timeless stories related to the journey of consciousness in form.

Such stories inform you but are not more information. They reach in and touch the vastness of your hearts potential to know and feel your connection with your timeless nature. This is, if you will allow it, your holy longing. It is your longing to remember the place where your heart knows its true homeplace. The purpose of the story is to remind you in the lines of the Derek Walcott poem.

You will meet again the one
Who has loved you all your life
The one who you give up for another.

Love after Love.
Derek Walcott.

Storytelling is there to invite you to come home to the one you think is stranger than strange but who has been given up for an image in the mirror that is more acceptable to the world. This is the image you call “little me” and by contrast to the vastness of who you are it really is so little. You are after all Love incarnate.