Monday, June 30, 2014

Yusuf (Cat Stevens) - The Wind - Live in Naples


" Today, my songs of the past represent a very important and dynamic period of my life and stand as a record of my innermost spiritual hopes and inspired dreams. Inspiration has always been a sublimely mysterious experience. My Song, "The Wind" makes reference to that mysterious form of inner-journey, which takes place beneath the suface of our conscious thoughts".

- Yusuf Islam

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I Am Reading Richard Llewellyns Book - How Green Was My Valley.


Reading can sometimes be like eating blackberry pie, you can taste the writing and that taste lingers for a long time. Richard Llewellyns writing is a bit like eating blackberry pie ...... but Llewellyn writes far better about taste than I do:

“I wonder is happiness only an essence of good living, that you shall taste only once or twice while you live, and then go on living with the taste in your mouth, and wishing you had the fullness of it solid between your teeth, like a good meal that you have tasted and cherished and look back in your mind to eat again.”

I have no doubt that the pointy heads will wring their hands and muse through their musing beards and state that this book is some sort of literary opium ( aka, pie in the sky bye and bye!) for the chattering classes but I have found Richard Llewellyns writing endearingly poetic, lyrical, seductive and yes, nostalgic and sentimental. To read this book is to smile continually for the duration of each reading. To read this is to experience a roller coaster of emotion as the tale weaves its way among the family dynamics of Huw Morgans family and their life in a Welsh coal mining valley. I unashamedly love this writing.

" Growing up in a mining community in rural South Wales, Huw Morgan is taught many harsh lessons - at the kitchen table, at Chapel and around the pit-head. Looking back on the hardships of his early life, where difficult days are faced with courage but the valleys swell with the beautiful sound of Welsh voices, it becomes clear that there is nowhere so green as the landscape of his own memory."

It is very difficult to choose an excerpt of Llewellyns writing as an example as every single page has wonderful lyrical passages, but as I am feeling hungry at the moment, I will share this exquisite gastronomical example, one of many wonderful examples as I read my way through this roller coaster of feelings book.

"O, blackberry tart, with berries as big as your thumb, purple and black, and thick with juice, and a crust to endear them that will go to cream in your mouth, and both passing down with such a taste that will make you close your eyes and wish you might live for ever in the wideness of that rich moment".

.... and that's just the food!  LOL 

If you would like to read other quotes from Richard Llewellyns book then click the link below;

https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2329482-how-green-was-my-valley

AT 63 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME 26/6/51




Well shipmates it was my birthday a few of days ago on the 26th of June and I turned 63. Me 63! When did that happen!!  Can you believe it? 63 years since that vintage year of 1951! A year when many very modest and unassuming people were born.

Of course reaching this age with so many T shirts to choose from throws one into a dilemma - Just what does Moi wear for goodness sake - Especially when the messages on each shirt speaks the truth so clearly! - Although the message on the yellow T shirt may be a bit dodgy, I do have two stents in a couple of my arteries, which makes my parts only 99.9999% original - And the green T shirt doesn't have the words 'Full Bodied' on it, as does the blue shirt (so it's not telling the whole truth) - And the black shirt states "The Best 1951 Vintage' implying some sort of competition when clearly if Moi were to wear it, there simply wouldn't be any competition at all - So I will have to stick with the Blue shirt - So blue it is shipmates - Good strong boys colour, matches my eye colour (and my jeans) and reminds me of important stuff like seas that need to be sailed on. 

Roll on 64?  - Well, no; not quite yet; ask me again in 12 months time. 

(Actually I think I would wear all of these T Shirts. When you are me; and 63; you tend to look pretty damn good in just about anything)   : > )   ROTFL


Saturday, June 21, 2014

For My Mum on My Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of my heart bypass operation. It is not so much that I have a lot to say about this, or have a lot to think about my operation - its more about feeling - a huge feeling of gratitude to those who operated on me and to family and friends who supported and looked after me after the operation. My thinking about all of this has been about someone else.
 
Today I thought a lot about my mother who had two of these operations. She didn't survive the second one. She died of a massive blood clot on the operating table. If she had survived and lived on she would now be 91 years old.

I have a big regret about the lead up to my mums operation. The last time I saw her, just before her operation she looked old and pale and frail. I gave her a hug before I left and wished her well for the operation, and then I hesitated and felt somehow self conscious about telling her I loved her. I wish to God I had told her I loved her. I bloody kick myself that I didn't. What an idiot I was. So today mum, if you are listening, I love you very much indeed.

The lesson here is not new and is as old as Adam - Tell the people you love, that you love them every day, because one day they may just slip away from you.

So the 21st of June is a day of heart operation remembering for me. It will always remind me of life and death and my dear old mum.

Mum, I had this poem published in the newspaper death notices for you.

“Here the whole world (stars, water, air,
And field, and forest, as they were
Reflected in a single mind)
Like cast off clothes was left behind
In ashes, yet with hopes that she,
Re-born from holy poverty,
In lenten lands, hereafter may
Resume them on her Easter Day."

C S Lewis

And Mum, this old Irish Blessing was on the back of the printed order of service at your funeral.

“May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand”

I hope you like them - Pal

And mum, I know that not many people read or comment on this Blog but I don't give a rats arse about that - this is my very own Journal, its therapeutic, its something for me - but best of all I know that you read it every day.


Friday, June 20, 2014

DESCRIBING TRUTH

Painting - Marc Chagall
.
 What is the best description of truth ?
Scientism? Literalism? Dogmatism? Monotheism?
Or are the best descriptions intuited from the Symbols, Metaphors and Paradoxes of -
Mythology
Literature
Poetry
Painting
and
Music?

 1 -- The early physical body action of homosapiens show evidential patterns of individual play
           behaviour.

2 -- When I was young I really, really enjoyed myself playing in my backyard environment.

3 --   
 " Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with dasies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light "

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
       In the sun that is young once only,
               Time let me play and be  
       Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
               And the sabbath rang slowly
       In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
       And playing, lovely and watery
               And fire green as grass.
       And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
       Flying with the ricks, and the horses
               Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
       Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
               The sky gathered again
       And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
       Out of the whinnying green stable
               On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
       In the sun born over and over,
               I ran my heedless ways,
       My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
       Before the children green and golden
               Follow him out of grace,

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
       In the moon that is always rising,
               Nor that riding to sleep
       I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
               Time held me green and dying
       Though I sang in my chains like the sea.


--- 'FERNHILL' - Dylan Thomas
 

GIFTS

I see my daughter as a woman, and not as a woman who is my daughter.
I see my sons as men, and not, as men who are my sons.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How Green Is My Valley

“Everywhere was singing, all over the house was singing, and outside the house was alive with singing, and the very air was song.”

- Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley


A Good Read?

 The book "Understanding Men" has finally arrived in book stores.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dance, Love, Sing, Work, Live



Dance, as though no one is watching, Love, as though you've never been hurt before, Sing, as though no one can hear you, Work, as though you don't need the money, Live, as though heaven is on earth. - Rumi

Yep shipmates, sounds like reasonable advice to me.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Opening of Eyes

This is a Utube video that I first saw and listened to on my old friend Kelvins Blog. I was astounded by this poem as have many others who have been at a stage in their lives where they have been receptive to its teaching.

The heart of the poem I feel is in the image of Moses fallen to his knees before the lit bush or the man removing his shoes to enter heaven only to observe that they were standing on holy ground the whole time. All of us go on pilgrimages and journeys of one sort or another and long for personal transformation. This poem tells us that we do not need to go looking for "it" but that we perhaps need to 'look' in a different way - and that we are in fact on the transformative path now.  Waking up, is all about waking up to the awareness that we have in a sense arrived already - this very day where we live, work, have our being is the context in which we are transformed continually by the act of living - becoming conscious of this fact is I feel helpful to anyone who seeks any sort of enlightenment or enlargement of consciousness. It would of course be an act of hubris to think that I am in any way 'enlightened' in any great spiritual sense, but I think the concept of 'Mindfulness' that this poem is implying has helped me along on my own shambling way.

The key is I feel, not to shut oneself up in a cave and meditate but to live fully engaged with the world in a detached ('non attachment') way - which sounds like a paradox (which it is) (there is truth in paradox). Live fully, responsibly, morally, without hubris or ego, transcending the self (putting others first) and embracing fully without 'attachment' ---- much easier said than done of course.

"The real miracle of life is that we are something rather than nothing. We can lose our identities and names and gain new ones like a pilgrim, only to find significance in all that we had taken for granted."  

I have known Kelvin for nigh on 50 years now. We recently met, had a few drinks and a meal together and talked solidly for over 4 hours.

I asked him at one point, "What do you make of our friendship? " - I said, "In many ways it is an unlikely friendship because we are in fact quite different people."  He thought about this and then replied saying that our lives, going back to our school days, especially our individual spiritual development has had many parallels, and he went on to explain what he thought some of those were - and I think he is correct in that.

He is correct, and if he wasn't then I would never have understood the poem or he would have never posted it.

C.S.Lewis in his book "The Four Loves" states that the nature of romantic love is such that two people sit face to face and look at the object of their obsession - and that the nature of friendship is such that two people sit side by side and look together at the mutually shared interest.

I think that the basis of my friendship with Kelvin is that because of what has gone before in our personal history, we both hold this poem in high regard; we both understand this poem, and it is this shared understanding and desire for personal transformation that is part of our friendship - and my own world is richer and fuller for that friendship and the insights that he brings and shares.

The poem brought forth the image of Moses removing his shoes, only to observe that he was standing on holy ground the whole time. This reveals that we long for and commence on pilgrimages and journeys throughout our lives, only to discover we were standing on that transformative path all along, and that we did not need to go looking for it. - See more at: http://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2014/05/david-whytes-solace-the-art-of-asking-the-beautiful-question#sthash.5hdzBWSV.dpuf
The poem brought forth the image of Moses removing his shoes, only to observe that he was standing on holy ground the whole time. This reveals that we long for and commence on pilgrimages and journeys throughout our lives, only to discover we were standing on that transformative path all along, and that we did not need to go looking for it. - See more at: http://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2014/05/david-whytes-solace-the-art-of-asking-the-beautiful-question#sthash.5hdzBWSV.dpuf

The New Shed

Well shipmates let me tell you a tale that happened a year or two ago just prior to my life changing heart attack. 

When I look at the state of this old shed I am amazed that we put up with this eyesore in the backyard for so long - but there you go - no accounting for human stupidity is there.  As well as being an eye sore the old shed was very much past its used by date. It had a dirt floor, was damp and dingy with a forehead whacking door entrance.
Demolishing it was all heat, dust, cuts and bruises - and several trailer loads to the city dump.
Several trailer loads of topsoil and my collection of "might come in useful one day" old bricks and rocks were required to build up the sloping base, but it still required one cubic metre of concrete.
The final touches being added to the plastic damp course and reinforcing steel by Alex - hard worker par excellence.
The old fulla takes a break for a photo. I was 103kgs in this photo - As I type I am 85kgs and losing steadily - a result of post heart attack sensibilities.  This is week one of the build  and I was completely buggered, a sign of things to come no doubt.  Shoveling builders mix and cement in Northlands summer heat is not for the faint hearted and especially not for a 103kg fatty with blocked arteries.
My son Alex. He was an absolute tower of strength. Without his help and patience I would still be mixing concrete.
Flash concrete pad troweled off. Time for a beer.
Time to read the good set of instructions that came with the kitset shed.
Our lovely tea lady showed exemplary diplomacy in keeping away from two bears building a cave. She sometimes (not very often) exhibits the persona of a woman from the days when men were men and built things and women were glad of it - but she does know how to discriminate between clever sayings that husbands tend to bandy around in their blog posts and the real lay of the land LOL.

Some visitors to the building site developed a form of snow blindness when looking at the old fullas shirt. The young fulla here just shakes his head wryly and sensibly puts on his sunglasses.

Flash shed!  Did we build this?

Yes, we did build it, my son and I, and a very, very useful shed it has proved to be. And it has raised the visual appeal of our backyard by about, say, a zillion percent!

Now shipmates this new shed malarky is one thing - but a real sailers boat builders shed in which a major restoration of say - a little yacht in need of a lot of understanding and TLC is quite another - This issue is becoming a major obsession with me - soooooo - what to do? what to do? Hmmmmm - There just has to be a way to fix this problem, but being a bear of little brain it may take some time to solve, but don't worry shipmates leave it to me - I won't find a solution overnight, but I will find one.

One last thing - take a careful look at the last three photographs above and try and work out what colour this shed is. The panels all came pre painted, we haven't painted the shed at all. Isn't it interesting how colour changes with the light? What we think we are seeing one day may well be different the next - sun shine and clouds - they always alter our visual reality and how we feel.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

New Years Resolution

Christine and I recently went to hear a talk at the Himalayan Centre in Whangarei by a Nepalese Buddhist Monk. It was an introductory talk about Buddhism. I am not sure why I wanted to go to this, I have read enough about Buddhism and meditation not to be in need of an introductory talk but I think I went because I wanted to hear something about meditation from an accomplished practitioner and make some sort of contact with a community that has meditation at its center. I was curious.

The talk was a most complicated affair. It was done via a Skype link with someone in Auckland. The monk talked to the computer screen and a disembodied Kiwi voice made the translation from Nepalese for us. Except for a brief connection with the computer screen at the very end we heard only the voice translating the easy on the ears Nepalese language. Despite all of this the talk has proved useful to me. It was the small beacon I had been looking and praying for and I have gained a sense of strength. I am now determined to pick up where I left off in my own personal meditation.

My meditation practise has been stop and go for years. About 18 months ago I started to take it a little more seriously but this was stopped short by a heart attack and By Pass heart surgery.

After the heart operation I found it quite difficult to meditate. In fact I found a large number of things difficult to do. The heart operation was such a physical assault on my body that I found myself somewhat disorientated for a long time. Some things once easy, now became hard, both physically and emotionally.

I had expected meditation to be some sort of solace in all of this but it proved not to be so. I found that I simply could not concentrate at all for any length of time on many things including meditation practise. I know a seasoned practitioner would obtain great solace from their meditation practise.

So my new years resolution is to attempt to meditate at least once a day and come to grips with all this meditation malarkey - and the local Buddhist community run meditation classes.

In 9 days time it will be the 21st of June which is the first anniversary of my heart operation. New Years day is the next day - the 22nd of June - Om mani padme hum.





Monday, June 9, 2014

CLOSING THE CIRCLE


 Photograph Ben Bongers Kerk-Avezaath The Netherlands
If you have been reading my last few blog posts you will understand that my friend Ben from The Netherlands read a book when he was twelve years old called 'South Seas Vagabonds' that  has provided him with one of several associations with New Zealand. When the intrepid Ben came on a recent visit to New Zealand with his equally intrepid wife Renee he actually tracked down the yacht 'Ngataki' that features in Johnny Wrays book and went and took a look at it. This is his photograph of the Ngataki (above).
If my memory serves me well, Ben told me that the current owner is like himself of Dutch nationality and that their common first language helped oil their conversation. I must email Ben and get him to remind me of his meeting with the owner so I can get more full details of what must have been for Ben a closing of the circle of sorts for him.

What pleases me greatly about this photograph is the fact that Ngataki looks in absolutely original condition. From the outside at least there doesn't appear to be any additions that seriously compromise the way she looked when she was built and sailed all those years ago.

As mentioned in a previous blog post the Ngataki is being relaunched after restoration in conjunction with a republication of Johnny Wray's classic New Zealand book 'South Sea Vagabonds'.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

..... Being A Post That Informs And Explains Aspects Of The Last Post ....


 Ngataki Hauraki Gulf Auckland New Zealand Circa 1930
Wreck of the 'Rewa' near Kawau Island Warkworth - Circa 1935 / 36

Well Shipmates these old photographs tell a lot of stories and have a lot of associations in the annals of New Zealand nautical folklore. The old square rigger is the 'Rewa'. The gaff sloop is the Ngataki which I will refer to later. In the second photograph the year is late 1935 early 1936. I know this because the vessel to the right of the picture is the American Dwight Long's ketch 'Idle Hour' in which he did a great circumnavigation during the 1930's. The launch alongside the Rewa looks to be a long lean Logan design of which there were many during that period and of which many remain. Being a romantic I would like it to be Harold Pickmere's 'Winsome' of Pickmere's Atlas fame - (Pickmeres Atlas being a book of wonderful easy to use charts, still relevant and usable today (I have a copy on my yacht) which show lots of neat little anchorages that small yachts and launches can anchor safely in) - So if the launch lying beside the Rewa is Pickmere's Winsome, that would really complete the picture.

The archetype of nautical number eight wire though is none of the aforementioned skippers, this mantle in my mind rests on one Johnny Wray who built the gaff sloop 'Ngataki' in Auckland and to which the 'Rewa' had an important contribution.
You can read about this adventurer and free spirit in his book "South Sea Vagabonds". It is the story of a man who during the great depression of the 30's and after losing his job, (mainly for day dreaming about sailing the south seas) proceeds to build a yacht on a shoe string and the smell of an oily rag.

Those far off days were entirely different to today's quagmire of rules and regulations and compliances and red tape. It was a generally more rugged age, no life raft, SSB radio, EPIRB, GPS or an Orion search if you went missing. There was a strong imperative to make sure the blade of your wits and skills was keen.

During the late 1920's and 1930's kauri trees were still being logged and floated to the mills in big log booms. Often logs were lost in the process and they were found washed up all over the Hauraki Gulf . Johnny Wray and his friends found seven of these and towed them to Auckland and had them milled so he could build himself a boat.

In New Zealand the term "number eight fencing wire" is used to describe a "of course we can do it and we will do it through hard work, ingenuity, thinking outside the square and using available materials in new and novel ways" type of mentality. It is a legacy from times of colonial hardships.
Well Johnny Wray with very little in the way of money and other resources used this kind of thinking, in fact he actually used fencing wire in the construction of the Ngataki. Quoting from his book:

"My next problem was the question of fastening the timbers together and this I accomplished in a manner of which I am rather proud as it has since proved to be absolutely satisfactory. No bolts were used. The timbers were joined with large staple-shaped pieces of heavy fencing wire, which were driven through the wood and the ends hammered over"

And the Rewa? I hear you ask. Well shipmates, the Rewa had been bought by a man called Charlie Hanson, lock stock and barrel. Charlie lived ashore in a sort of nautical Nirvana. Listen to this:

"To anyone nautically minded his little home was a perfect delight. It was built largely from gear salvaged from the ship "in his front garden," as he called it. Lifebelts, binnacles, wheels; flags, shrouds, ropes, rails; in fact everything dear to the heart of a sailor was built into that little home. There was a library there that must have contained every nautical book ever published, a library that would have be the heart's desire of any true sea - lover. A perfect home for an old sailor."
It was from Charlie and the Rewa that Johnny got the mast, boom, rigging, assorted fittings and enough canvas to make the sails for the Ngataki. The price? - "a bag of flour, a bag of potatoes and a few other things" The serendipity of the Rewa and Charlie in the building of the Ngataki were most fortunate, for as Johnny Wray said, "You can't cut a sail out of a log."
The rest of the story of the Ngataki are well featured in Johnny's book. The South Sea Island cruises, the trans Tasman yacht racing, the capsize in a hurricane, searching for lost treasure on Savarov Island etc.
I think it is fitting to leave the last word to Johnny Wray from the preface to his book.
".... it is written for the man who works in a city office and dreams about sparkling blue waters and coconut palms and white sails bellying to the warm trade - winds. It will, perhaps, show him how it is possible to break away from the ties of civilisation, build himself a boat and sail in her whereever he wills. I was a dreamer once, but now my dreams have come true, and I am satisfied and happy"
An archetypal No 8 wire man, a man living intensely and creatively in the moment, day to day, hmmmm, I wonder....

SYNCHRONICITY (Again)

'Dark Matter' is the unknown reality (It is there but we can't see it or find it) that when accounted for in mathematical models of the universe allow the mathematicians sums to add up. They don't know what Dark Matter is but acknowledging its existence is very useful in astronomical theoretical terms. Of course at any time someone may have a Galileo moment and a fundamental law of physics may well be stood upon its head which basically means we will have to think again - by 'we' I mean the pointy headed ones.

I sometimes think that synchronicity is the 'dark matter' that binds the human interrelatedness aspect of the cosmos together. Let me explain.

Here are two good friends of mine, Ben and Renee from Kerk - Avezaath in The Netherlands. A couple of years ago they came to New Zealand and completed a camper van journey around the North and South Islands. They visited Christine and myself here in Whangarei and I took them for a sail on the good ship Mariner on Whangarei harbour. Ben was very keen to go for a sail, so we took the opportunity and seized the day.
There was a gentle breeze, Ben proved to be a good helmsman, Renee looked relaxed and very much in holiday mode and I know they both enjoyed themselves. I hope they journey again to this part of the world, they are two lovely people.

Bens interest in New Zealand began at the age of 12 years when he read a Dutch edition of Johnny Wrays classic book 'South Sea Vagabonds'.

Bens first contact with me was in response to a blog posting I made about Johnny Wray and his good ship Ngataki.

Recently Ben has been in contact with Greg Ansley who had been approached to write the Foreword to a new edition of Johnny Wrays book. Greg kindly posted to Ben scanned photographs of old newspaper clippings regarding the Ngataki and her adventures.

The synchronicity bit comes in here. Gregs younger brother is Euan.

Euan Ansley was my best friend at Central New Brighton Primary School. We were as thick as thieves together and as troublesome and naughty as any young fellas who thought it was their duty to make their after school activities an extension of Blackbeard's piratical Spanish main. I swear there wasn't a fruit tree within a mile radius of Euans house in Lonsdale Street that hadn't felt the sticky fingers of us two naughty thieving little buggers.

So...... out of the blue I get an email from Euan (whom I have been in contact with) who relates to me that his big brother Greg has had an email from someone regarding Johnny Wray and that the good man in question had mentioned my name in passing and that the emailer is none other than my good, good friend Ben from Kerk - Avezaath in The Netherlands.

Coincidence? - Full blown, unadulterated, one hundred per cent good old Jungian Synchronicity I say, and long may it grow and fill the cosmos with nice surprises. You don't have to understand 'Dark Matter' to enjoy its existence.

Friday, June 6, 2014

PART 2 - "And always Mantis would have a dream", they told me in the desert. "And the dream would show him what to do."

 This is not my own personal review but I endorse this review which perhaps speaks more clearly than my own often convoluted writing.

"The key word in this remarkable book is awe. Laurens van der Post is not afflicted by that `certain cowardice' he writes of `in the face of the inexpressible.' Hence he follows a chain of coincidences of a nature far beyond the haphazard arithmetic of chance. Clue after clue assails him; A Mantis Carol resembles a kind of metaphysical-physiological whodunnit
        After he had written The Lost World of the Kalahari, his classic account of the Bushmen of southern Africa, Laurens van der Post received a strange letter from an unknown woman in New York. She wanted his advice about, of all things, a recurring dream, the central feature of which was a praying mantis. The woman was a psychoanalyst and knew that we ignore our dreams, particularly our recurring ones, at our peril. . . . The mantis, she felt, was haunting her for a reason.
        The analyst was called Martha Jaeger. It struck van der Post as strange that she should have a name which meant `hunter' in German. He was currently writing -- with great difficulty -- a book called The Heart of the Hunter. It too was concerned with the Bushmen -- and the mantis, which for them was god.
        Thus begins this account of an episode in van der Post's life which took him to New York and involved his meeting, at one remove, with one of his own Bushmen. Hans Taaibosch, as he was called, had arrived in America via Jamaica, where the little man . . . far from his native Kalahari . . . had become a star circus attraction.
        Van der Post's theory is that the almost exterminated Bushmen constitute a crucial link with our own remotest past: `his conscious mind corresponds in some sort to our dreaming selves' and thus is a mirror for some of the imponderables which arise from the modern unconscious, between which Taaibosch himself, a man of the Stone Age working the circus circuit in modern America without loss of dignity, makes a physical connection.
        As well as an account of a memorable episode A Mantis Carol is an affirmation of primitive love and meaning, hard to explain except in Jungian terms, but both inspiring and stimulating to read. Van der Post has written a perfect Christmas fable, full of mystery but oddly satisfying."

Thursday, June 5, 2014

PART 1 - Stream of Consciousness

It is a function of our mind that one image or thought leads to an association with another and so on (which is the bane of mediators, but that is another story) in what is often referred to as a "Stream of Consciousness" which of course is the name of this Blog. So this is a little story from the stream.

 If you look at the fella on the right it is obvious that he is not what you would call a handsome or good looking specimen by any manner or means, BUT, he is probably more attractive in the ordinary sense to other homosapiens than the large praying mantis on the brim of the hat of my good shipmate on the left.

When looking at this photograph I was reminded of a book by the South African writer Laurens van der Post. The book is called 'A Mantis Carol' which is the true story about the adventures of a South African Kalahari Bushman. The praying mantis is special to the bushmen because the most important southern Bushmen spiritual being is Kaggen, the trickster-deity who in bushman theology created many things, and appears in numerous myths where he can be foolish or wise, tiresome or helpful. The Deity would appear in the myths in many forms, often as a Praying Mantis.

Hans Taaibosch the Bushman in 'A Mantis Carol' finds his way to the United States where he works in various circuses. He is a most appealing personality whose openness, honestly and what we call 'groundedness' is beyond compare. He is open to the world in a special way. He is a man without guile with a wonderful laugh that stops people in their tracks. It is a laugh that sings of a deep connectedness with his own nature and being - he knows himself beyond compare.

"Van der post's theory is that the almost exterminated Bushmen constitute a crucial link with our own remotest past in that his conscious mind corresponds in some way to our dreaming selves and thus is a mirror for some of the imponderables which arise from the modern unconscious, between which Taaibosch himself, a man of the Stone Age working the circus circuit in modern America without loss of dignity, makes a physical connection."

 To fully understand this connection and the special place of the praying mantis that informs Taaibosch's world you need to read the book.

Laurens van der Post is one who writes wonderfully of Africa. I have read all his books and it is from these writings that any understanding I have of Africa springs.

Van der Post was a friend of the great Carl Jung. Jung who was a contemporary of Sigmund Freud (but whose theories and conclusions about the psyche are quite different) is considered one of the fathers of modern psychology.

There is a story in Van der Post's book 'Jung and The Story of Our Time' where my stream of consciousness in this Blog post continues.
Although born and raised in Africa, Van der Post lived in England. When traveling too and from Africa he would always travel via Switzerland where he would visit his friend Carl Jung. Van der Post tells a story of Jung which has echoes of Hans Taaibosch. Often, Van der Post writes, when taking lunch with Jung in his garden people walking past would backtrack and peer through the gate in the hedge seeking the source of the sound of the wonderful uninhibited laughter they had heard that peppered the conversational gezelligheid of Carl Jung. In echoes of Hans Taaibosh the laughter spoke of wholeness and connectedness of being.

My stream of consciousness then lead me to this idea - that this wholeness of being, this connectedness sounded something not unlike the parable promise of the mustard seed in the New Testament, which states that:

"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."

When I view this in my own metaphorical way the parable tells me that wholeness, connectedness and  completion (the kingdom) resides within us as a potentiality that can be developed over our lifetime (the image of the growing tree) not with reference to dogma, doctrines, hollow rituals or the following of some guru but by taking seriously the idea that we live in the 'Kingdom' NOW, the Kingdom is truely upon us now, if we use our eyes to see and our ears to listen. Jung was quite firm on the point that 'wholeness' or the 'individuated self' is something we are born with, it is there with us from the beginning - life is the process of unfolding it, letting it bloom, like the opening of a flower. So, in my way of thinking the word "God" becomes a placeholder for the continuous revelation of meaning that streams forth from a life fully lived. "God"  is not 'out there', transcendent, separate, nor is "God" an end to be attained -  rather "God" is the truth we discover as we live the journey, NOW; in all its fullness; and if we live this fullness in a deep and meaningful way we become whole, complete and connected. We become a place of relatedness with and to others (including all living things) on this planet (the image of the birds of the air nesting in our branches) - and this all begins from the time of conception when we were as small as a mustard seed. 

How should we live this journey? - probably in the same spirit that the Dalai Lama lives his, who said, "My religion is compassion and loving kindness" - I personally can't argue with that.

All of what I have written is an echo of what I quoted long ago on the right hand sidebar of this Blog under  the heading 'Wisdom From Karen Armstrong'. She gives some strong statements about how we should live our lives; and in living fully, practise always trumps belief.

Just a thought. (Or Stream of Consciousness)

Monday, June 2, 2014

OK

I took this photo at the Auckland Boat Show a few weeks ago. I used to sail one of these. It is an OK Dinghy. It was the pinnacle of my young sailing days. These boats are not just beautiful to look at (They make an International Laser class yacht look like a floating fridge door) but beautiful to sail - they move to windward like a huge soaring eagle and they run down wind like smoke.

This Ok is constructed of exotic materials - mainly fiberglass and kevlar. Mine was constructed of plywood. It was painted spinnaker red and had a glorious varnished deck as expansive as a Steinway piano. Now - without wanting to influence the future (yes, yes, yes, I secretly really, really, really want to)..... it would be rather nice IF ... and its an IF predicated on Moi finding himself with a new, large and expansive workshop (watch this space) ..... then after the restoration of my little Starling dinghy (God bless her little wooden heart).... fortune may wash up on my shores an Ok dinghy in much need of TLC and a thorough restoration. Sigh, so many boats, so little time.

Always My Friends The Stars

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
By Walt Witman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Invictus (Unconquered)

Invictus

By William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.  

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the Skipper of my soul.

Into The Boundary


Dear Reader, if you double click on the above photo then it will be enlarged for your visual edification. To the right you will see 'The Hen' the main island in the 'Hen and Chickens' Islands. In the distance to the left you can see 'The Chicks' the other part of the 'Hen and Chickens' group of islands.

This photo shows a very recent trip to Bream Head (the headland to the left of my kayak). What a great, great  adventure it was, kayaking close along the headland amongst the rocks and caves, with the ever present bush clad land dropping almost sheer from the Bream Head walkway high above.

I love the boundary between the sea / lake / river / estuary and the land. I love too the open ocean with its pure wave and wind blown majesty, but the boundary area contains an interaction that more than complements the deep sea - and in a sea kayak or small centreboard yacht it is hard to resist - rocks, surf, waves, reefs, kelp, marine life, caves, beaches and in New Zealand the ever present sight and sound of native bush.

Today I bought a small belt sander from our local 'Bunnings' hardware mega store that will facilitate the next stage in the restoration of my Starling sailing dinghy .....

...... I know where I shall be headed with a tent and a weeks provisions 'Swallows and Amazons' style when she is sailing......... Into the boundary.