If you had asked me two years ago whether or not I liked dogs, I would have been pretty neutral. I’ve lived with cats before, but dogs were different. Anyway, to cut a long (shaggy dog) story short, Harry appeared in our house a year ago and – a year on – I would say that I do like dogs. I like Harry in particular.
Harry is a Cocker Spaniel. He is so fluffy, he is like a teddy bear. He is intelligent and has stopped being a puppy (when everything got chewed). He is energetic and playful. Most of all, he allows us to go for a good walk everyday.
On Sunday we went for a fantastic walk to a nearby reservoir – and Harry kept running backwards and forwards to ensure his pack stayed together.
Anyway, I was thinking, what does Harry think? And I came across this brilliant cartoon that probably summed it up:
It is over six months since my last post. Much has happened in my life – as I presume it has to those who are reading this. I had not intended to have such a long break. I had not intended to have a break at all. The end of the last break was, in fact, the start of the longest break in my writing this blog. However, this is the end of that particular break. I am renewed with energy after the long break.
During the break, I have been doing a lot of research on various projects. I have also gone back to studying. Studying some of the great thinkers that have created ideas and concepts that have helped shift consciousness. And so it was, I came across the concept of “The Three Principles” by Syd Banks.
Here are some thoughts from Syd Banks on Wisdom:
No one can give away wisdom.
A teacher can only lead you to it
via words, hoping you will have
the courage to look within yourself
and find it inside your own consciousness…
Beyond the word.
The wisdom humanity seeks lies within the consciousness of all
human beings, trapped and held
prisoner by their own person
Wisdom is not found in the world
of form, nor in remote corners of
the globe. Wisdom lies within our own consciousness.
Only you have the golden key to
your soul and the wisdom that
Syd was born in Edinburgh in 1931 where he grew up in a working class family in Edinburgh’s Old Town. He left school at 15 without formal qualification and in due course trained as a welder. In 1957, aged 26 he emigrated to the West coast of Canada and his association with Salt Spring Island, later to become his permanent home, began. He worked as a welder, married and had 2 children and experienced many of life’s normal challenges.
In 1973 he attended an encounter weekend with his wife. Unimpressed by the encouragement to experience and express anger he went for a walk with another delegate. Syd described to his companion the insecurity he often felt. The companion retorted, ‘You’re not insecure Syd, you just think you are.’
This throwaway remark sparked a remarkable insight in Syd, enabling him to grasp at a profound level that his emotional experience was always created by his own thinking, rather than by external circumstances. Over the next few days he experienced what has been described as an enlightenment experience which completely changed his personality.
Of course some people around him thought he had had a sort of breakdown. But his clarity and inner certainty prevailed, along with his awareness that he could help others. Some of the people he shared his insights with experienced very profound improvements in mental or physical health. Even those whose initial problems were less serious, experienced an exponential improvement in wellbeing. Just by listening to Syd talk in an apparently unstructured way they got in touch with their own innate health and wisdom.
In his thinly disguised novels that he wrote as a series called “The Enlightened Gardener”., an unlettered British groundskeeper named Andy serves as Banks’s fictional stand-in — teaching a group of amazed American psychologists about the true nature of the universe. For Banks, space, matter and time were an illusion, a dream. The only three things that are real are what he calls Mind (“the source of all intelligence”), Consciousness(“which allows us to be aware”) and Thought (“which guide us through the world as free-thinking agents”).
As word of Syd’s work spread people came to the island to experience for themselves the wellbeing he was able to point them to. In time these included psychologists and social workers who began working with their clients and achieving similar extraordinary results. Work began in communities such as Modello and Coliseum Gardens, both in the USA, where incomparable turnarounds were achieved. In the decades that followed what became know as the 3Principles, was utilised in schools, prisons, therapy, relationship counselling and business. In each arena the outcomes far exceeded any other approach.
[To read more of Syd’s life and work the books of his colleague, Elsie Spittle are recommended. Perfect Misfortune by Allan Flood is an account of how one man tapped into the power behind the principles in living with MS. Jack Pransky has written a number of books on the success of this approach with both communities and individuals. All authors can be found on Amazon.]
(Until 2 or 3 years ago there was almost nothing known of this approach in Syd’s native Scotland. Three Principles Scotland is committed to changing that and bringing the benefits of Syd’s work home to his home country.)
Initial quote from Syd reproduced in: Neill, Michael (2013-05-06). The Inside-Out Revolution: The Only Thing You Need to Know to Change Your Life Forever (p. 23). Hay House UK Ltd. Kindle Edition.
Sometimes you read something that really moves you. It reaches places in your mind that you’ve never been to before. It makes you re-think assumptions about how the world works in deeply profound ways.
So it was when I read this poem from Adyashanti’s book “Emptiness Dancing” and understood a little more about who is the hidden author of every thought!
The waves of mind
demand so much of Silence.
But She does not talk back
does not give answers nor arguments.
She is the hidden author of every thought
She speaks only one word.
And that word is this very existence.
No name you give Her
can embrace Her.
Mind throws itself at Silence
demanding to be let in.
But no mind can enter into
Her radiant darkness
Her pure and smiling
The mind hurls itself
into sacred questions.
But Silence remains
unmoved by the tantrums.
She asks only for nothing.
But you won’t give it to Her
because it is the last coin
in your pocket.
And you would rather
give Her your demands than
your sacred and empty hands.
Everything leaps out in the celebration of mystery,
I got into a discussion with a friend yesterday about religion. You know the sort. It became a discussion about basic beliefs and ideas about what had happened in the past with facts that neither of us could prove. I capitulated, not wanting to tread on ground that was sacred to them, yet still holding true to my own beliefs. In past times, I might have argued the point. But I was tired and did not see the point.
It got me thinking about this religion and holiness and that sort of stuff and reminded me of a phrase my father used to say to me: “All great religions die with their founder”. He was a spiritual man with his own religion. He is now dead. So I suppose, in his own way, he was right.
In so many things in life we seek out the differences. And religions are often a major culprit. If you believe in one version of history and someone else another, then you are different. You have different religious beliefs and are not of the same system, creeds, language etc. etc. And even within a religion, there are sub-sectors, different interpretations and different organisations supporting them. Yet what is common between religions is far more powerful than what makes them separate.
And so it is also true in the business world. We have finely-tuned sensors to work out if another company is a competitor or a potential “partner”. What are the “differentiators” that make you special? We have defined a set of rituals for ignoring or attacking other businesses. Just as in human relationships, these reactions can be commanded on a whim. Defined by tiny variations in perceived behaviour or circumstance. Individual differences are to be highlighted. Sameness is boring.
Yet there is a counter-force which is found much more commonly in nature. This is the unifying force which finds similarities and which seeks out common ground in any given situation. It requires a different way of thinking and a different way of feeling about a situation. More inclusive. More holistic. More local.
I am not an economist. Nor will I argue the pros and cons of globalisation in this short piece. Yet it seems to me that with all the rational arguments for globalisation and free-trade markets we have lost the ability to balance the world with this holistic energy – because responsibility has been taken away from what makes sense at a local level. We could blame Adam Smith and his ideas on how to increase the quantity of pins produced in pin manufacturing – so aptly celebrated on the British £20 note:
It is as if the new religion of global banking and global economics has become the new church which must be obeyed. Making money at the expense of making things whole, rounded, sensible and appropriate at a local level. With differences, of course, but much less important in this context. Much less expensive, for sure, because it does not carry the burden of national or international overheads.
And so it was that I was browsing a book, “The Nature of Order”by Christopher Alexander, one of the greatest architectural thinkers of our time. He describes wholeness as a series fifteen ideas or factors which are represented in the diagram below:
The Elements of Wholeness by Christopher Alexander
So, I wondered, with these fifteen design ideas, what would a new bank look like? What would a new economic system look like? Globalisation ideas don’t fit very well with concepts such as “Boundaries”, “Local Symmetries” and “Inner Calm”. Then again, that shouldn’t be too surprising!
If you are a wordsmith, you will notice there is a lot more in common between the words HOLINESS and WHOLENESS. The only difference is that makes the first unique is the letter “I” and the second that has the letters “WE”. Not that I am pushing one over the other, but it makes you think, anyway!
Last Sunday, I took my friend Sam to visit my bees. He has been trying to keep bees for three years – but to no avail. The last swarm that I gave him on his birthday two years died off the first winter he had them.
And so it was, I was completely charmed that, on Tuesday morning, he rang me to say that a swarm had gathered on the window of his office – exactly above the desk he works at! We set about to catch them later that day – and yesterday we installed the swarm in one of his new hives not so many miles from here. I’m sure the bees will stay with him now.
This evening, I came across a beautiful piece by Tolstoy about the ultimate purpose of the honeybee – which I thought I would share with you.
It has been a magical and charmed week and the honeybees have truly touched my friend, Sam and me with this amazing encounter. Long may the honeybees swarm into people’s lives as they did for me so many years ago.
“As the sun and each atom of ether is a sphere complete in itself, and yet at the same time only a part of a whole too immense for man to comprehend, so each individual has within himself his own aims and yet has them to serve a general purpose incomprehensible to man.
A bee settling on a flower has stung a child. And the child is afraid of bees and declares that bees exist to sting people.
A poet admires the bee sucking from the chalice of a flower and says it exists to suck the fragrance of flowers.
A beekeeper, seeing the bee collect pollen from flowers and carry it to the hive, says that it exists to gather honey.
Another beekeeper who has studied the life of the hive more closely says that the bee gathers pollen dust to feed the young bees and rear a queen, and that it exists to perpetuate its race.
A botanist notices that the bee flying with the pollen of a male flower to a pistil fertilizes the latter, and sees in this the purpose of the bee’s existence.
Another, observing the migration of plants, notices that the bee helps in this work, and may say that in this lies the purpose of the bee.
But the ultimate purpose of the bee is not exhausted by the first, the second, or any of the processes the human mind can discern.
The higher the human intellect rises in the discovery of these purposes, the more obvious it becomes, that the ultimate purpose is beyond our comprehension.
All that is accessible to man is the relation of the life of the bee to other manifestations of life. And so it is with the purpose of historic characters and nations.”
Extracted rom Leo Tolstoy’s War & Peace: Chapter IV
As we hear the conflicting messages of the US and UK stock market reaching all-time highs, but the British Pound losing its creditworthiness and predictions of the currency on a long-term slide into goodness knows where, the uncertainties about the world trigger a search for a model that can understand what is going on – and what one should do about it. More importantly, it makes us think more about what is important in life so we can make the hard choices to navigate a fruitful future for ourselves and those who are important to us.
It was therefore a coincidence that yesterday, I turned to a set of cards of wise sayings that I was given a few years ago, The cards summarise the ideas of Abraham-Hicks (more details at the bottom of this post).
The text says:
Those who are
mostly observers thrive
in good times but suffer in bad
times because what they are observing
is already vibrating, and as they observe it,
they include it in their vibrational countenance;
and as they include it, the Universe accepts that as
their point of attraction – and gives them more
of the essence of it. So for an observer
the better it gets, the better it gets;
or the worse it gets, the worse
it gets. However, one who
is a visionary thrives
in all times.
For those new to Abraham-Hicks, words like “vibrational countenance” and “point of attraction” might seem a bit strange. But for me, having read deeper into their work for a few years, I have found the Abraham-Hicks way of looking at the world to be extraordinarily powerful, interesting and helpful.
A simple message, shines through the more esoteric phrases: have a vision and hold it through good times and bad and you will find it is easier to take the ups and downs in life than if you just sit back as an observer and let life happen around you.
Food for thought. I would love to hear from any readers who have thoughts on these ideas. Please post them below!
More information on the Abraham-Hicks publications at:
The older I get, the more I believe in coincidences. And one of the strange coincidences that I have recently discovered is that there are a set of stories that are told in slightly different forms all around the world – as if they all had their roots in one story told many thousands of years ago. A fine example is the Story of the Broken Pot:
Once upon a time there lived a woman called Truhana. Not being very rich, she had to go yearly to the market to sell honey, the precious product of her hive.
Along the road she went, carrying the jar of honey upon her head, calculating as she walked the money she would get for the honey. “First”, she thought, “I will sell it, and buy eggs. The eggs I shall set under my fat brown hens, and in time there will be plenty of little chicks. These, in turn, will become chickens, and from the sale of these, lambs could be bought.”
Truhana then began to imagine how she could become richer than her neighbors, and look forward to marrying well her sons and daughters.
Trudging along, in the hot sun, she could see her fine sons and daughters-in-law, and how the people would say that it was remarkable how rich she had become, who was once so poverty-stricken.
Under the influence of these pleasurable thoughts, she began to laugh heartily, and preen herself, when, suddenly, striking the jar with her hand, it fell from her head, and smashed on the ground. The honey became a sticky mess upon the ground.
Seeing this, she was cast down as she had been excited, on seeing all her dreams lost for illusion.
Idres Shah in his book “World Tales” (which is where this story came from) notes:
“The tale is called a number of things like – “The Girl and the Pitcher of Milk”. Professor Max muller remarks how the tale has survived the rise and fall of empires and the change of languages, and the perishing of works of art. He stresses the attraction whereby “this simple children’s tale should have lived on and maintained its place of honor and its undisputed sway in every schoolroom of the East and every nursery of the West.”
“In the Eastern versions, it is always a man who is the fantasist and whose hopes come to grief: in the West it is almost always a woman. The man generally imagines that he will marry and have a son, while the woman tends to think of riches and marriage.”
And so it was, last week, I was visiting Telefonica’s incubator (which they call an Academy) in London. There are 19 startups (or eggs) being hatched – each into what will hopefully be new chickens. However, given the statistic that over 65% of companies fail in their first two years, I could not but think the question as to which ones might be successful, and which ones not. Which ones would hatch and which ones would be eaten before hatching? Talking to the head guy there, he said that it was surprising that some of the start-ups that showed no hope four months ago are now doing really well – and others that showed great potential have somehow stumbled. Each of the eggs will be moved out from the Academy at the end of March – and I wish them all the best of luck in moving from the egg stage to the chicken stage!
Oh, and just to round off this Thursday Thought, I visited my own beehives on Monday to give them some sugar cake food. All was well – each of the six hives had bees! I just hope they will all survive through February and March. No honey in the pot yet, but I still dream that their stories will make me rich and famous one day!
I am going to be exploring the power coincidence in a lot more detail in the coming months. If you are on Twitter you can read the regular tweets and observations on coincidence and business by following my new Tweet stream @coinmark.
Story from: “World Tales” collected by Idries Shah published by the Octagon Press 1991 – page 27
Picture – Copyright iStockPhoto – I bought it and if you want to use it you should buy it too!
A good friend and regular reader, Anthony, sent me the link to a great anonymous blog a few weeks ago – Farnam Street.
Yesterday, they pointed to a brilliant set of rules on how to write a short story by Kurt Vonnegut:
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things-reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
There is another video which is even more worth watching on the Shape of Stories:
It got me thinking about how we all love stories, the ups and downs of life, the drama unfolding, the game(s), the chase, the great ending!
Please share any insights or thoughts you have on this great subject below!
For those who have followed this blog for a while, you will know I presented evidence at the House of Lords’ inquiry on the present UK’s government’s policy on Next Generation Broadband. So it was at midnight on Tuesday, the Lords published their report which can be found <HERE> entitled “Broadband for all – an alternative vision”.
Lord Inglewood was interviewed in a video:
“Our communications network must be regarded as a strategic, national asset. The Government’s strategy lacks just that – strategy.
The complex issues involved were not thought through from first principle and it is far from clear that the Government’s policy will deliver the broadband infrastructure that we need – for profound social and economic reasons – for the decades to come.”
The report has had a mixed response. Supporters of a truly open-access fit-for-purpose National internet Infrastructure applauded.
Other analysts were eless complimentary:
Matthew Howett, lead analyst of Ovum’s regulatory practice, said many aspects of the inquiry’s report are “simply odd”.
“With nearly 50 recommendations and no indication of costs or how they should be met, it’s likely to be dismissed as nothing more than a pipe dream,” he said.
Odd it was for me that so many Peers took the time out to learn about the industry and the pros and cons of various options for technology and business models. It was a piece of work that involved many hours of their time to see the problem from different perspectives. It challenged the status-quo and came up with an alternative vision for what the UK’s national internet access infrastructure might look like. It was bound to be unpopular in certain quarters as it threatened the status-quo.
Sure, the government and BT’s in-house analysts might dismiss the ideas as pipe-dreams, but one wonders where the whole BDUK process is heading. It might be the Games in London – but this particular game will go one well into the Autumn after all the athletes have left London.
It is definitely time for the status-quo to be challenged. BDUK is at best a strange construction and at worst a totally bonkers policy for a government set on Localism and Community Engagement. The Lords’ report went to the heart of this matter and has suggested a framework for a truly revolutionary approach to fixing the monopoly of BT’s infrastructure – particularly in the middle-mile.
At times, I think of giving up banging this drum and doing something more conventional and toe-the-line. Yet at one minute past midnight on Tuesday, I had a new surge of enthusiasm that the ideas that we have been working on for several years now are getting some traction and that a body of revered and highly intelligent Peers actually understood what many on the fringes of the industry have been saying for a while.
If only the Government could stand back and listen to some of the concerns about the current vision and understand that they have alternatives that are better, faster and cheaper that will help the UK’s international competitiveness, we might actually come up with something that really does get the economy back on its feet in a fairer way, based on an infrastructure that no single part is too big to fail. Surely there is a lesson here from the banking system that is staring us in the face?
Come on, Jeremy. Put the bell head back on the stick, put the bell down and start listening again. Unless, of course, you get reshuffled – in which case it is round-and-round we go!