Uncomfortable Quotes #2: CTR on Spiritual Cowardice

“If you succeed in encasing yourself completely, you may feel secure but you will also feel terribly lonely. This is not the loneliness of the warrior but the loneliness of the coward-the loneliness of being trapped in the cocoon, cut off from basic human affection. You don’t know how to take off your suit of […]

Read More

Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now : On reading writers you might not like

Steven Pinker, a bone fide factual juggernaut On a random walk through London last year, I stopped at a lovely bookshop and splurged on a handful of random titles that piqued my interest. One was a little book. A transcript of a Canadian debate between Steven Pinker and Matt Ridley on one side and Alain […]

Read More

Dancing directly with the holy terror of death

Ever since teaching a course on the Buddhist four reminders in February this year, I’ve been dancing with the holy terror around death. I chant the Four Reminders every morning as part of my practice and those earthy Tibetan phrases push my nose into the terrific aspects of being alive. (Terrific being the adjective from terror […]

Read More

FROM RETREAT #6: Light Over Tidemills

Tidemills is a former 19th C. workers village on the shingle beach between Seaford and Newhaven where I live. It was built to harness the movement of the tide up and down a salt-water creek and was a thriving community in the mid 1800s. When the mill was closed it became a slum and people […]

Read More

FROM RETREAT #5: Sitting with the Jellyfish Within

It’s amazing over the course of a retreat day how many different Alistairs show up on the cushion. I was practising around 8 hours a day within 4 session and each time I padded across the garden to the Shrine room and sat down on my zafu, I was astonished how completely varied the constellation […]

Read More

FROM RETREAT #4: Daylight and the Fourth Time

About half way through the retreat – after the fireworks of NYE were a distant memories and I’d got used to the regular routine of my day – something happened to time. I would get up at 5 o’clock each morning and meditate till 7 and have a nice, nourishing breakfast, sitting on the little […]

Read More

FROM RETREAT #3: Field becomes Figure, Background becomes Foreground

Bimbling around the wintery garden in my ‘chores’ window each afternoon, I was very aware of that inner soundtrack of my thoughts – often irritated or obsessive – cycling round just as, days before, strains of “Jesus Christ Superstar” had cycled round. Sometimes as I yanked at resistant clumps of grass or grappled dandelion roots […]

Read More

FROM RETREAT #2: Cushion in the Filth

Shortly after I shook off ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, the next layer of neurosis came out of the haze. I have often notice that my default mode when I’m pootling about the house and garden is one of rather anxious or irritable unsettledness. There’s a running burble of unsettling agitation. Usually it’s swamped by the other […]

Read More

FROM RETREAT #1: Jesus Christ Superstar

Daniel was away in the Rockies on Dathun (the silent sitting retreat that Dharma Ocean runs) this New Year, so to start 2018, I stayed in Newhaven and did a 2 week solitary ‘home retreat’ in my house. I’ve never done that before. Retreated in the place where I live. But I can highly recommend […]

Read More

THE THREE GREAT AGENDAS: #3 Ignorance or Melting the Iceberg of Dissociation

The last and final and most powerful agenda of all is not-seeing. The much-overlooked but ground-breaking American psychologist Harry Stacks Sullivan spoke of the “selective inattention that covers the world like a tent” and this accurately describes the third great strategy of the ego: our dizzying ability to semi-deliberately ignore things. Hence the rather confusing […]

Read More