Monday, July 28, 2014

Something to share . . .

Quite a while ago we pondered on the power of the 'koan' . . . do you remember?

The 'koan', the unanswerable question . . . best illustrated, perhaps, by the well-known Zen question, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"

Wouldn't you agree that this picture is, in effect, a visual koan?

Directly I saw it I knew that I wanted to share it with you.

It offers no theories, no ideas, no arguments or messages  . . . just a feast for the eyes and a resting-point for the questing mind . . . it certainly needs no additional words from me.

Now . . .  if you've enjoyed that, and have an hour to spare, may I share something else?

It's a film shown recently on BBC4.

It can best be described as a visual feast . . . superbly constructed . . . cogently argued . . . in all, a memorable experience.
May I recommend that you have it on full-screen, it warrants as much space as it can get.

Do you know what I enjoy most about writing these letters?
It's the pleasure of sharing with you the things I value . . . the ideas, discoveries and stories that mean a lot to me.

Here, to move you to awe, and also to give you pause for thought, is the perfect example . . .

'Our Planet From The Air'

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Tipping Point?

I wonder if you've come across an interesting study that was published earlier this month?

By and large, the media ignored the findings, although they were picked up and debated in major scientific journals.

Nonetheless, it had something very important to say to all of us.
May I give you a layman's analysis and reaction?

The research was carried out by the European Space Agency, whose three-satellite mission, known as SWARM, tracks the activity of the magnetic north pole.

I was intrigued to learn that this magnetic pole is subject to a complete reversal every 200,000 to 300,000 years.  However, as it is 780,000 years since the last pole reversal took place, a switch is long overdue.

This latest report indicates that the magnetic pole is currently on the move.  After centuries of relative stability, not only has there been a recent acceleration of its journey from Canada towards Siberia, but there have also been dramatic fluctuations in the power of its magnetic field.  This field, it seems, is weakening at a rate of five per cent every decade, the rate previously experienced every century.

Scientists are not alarmists, so when do SWARM predict that the total shift will take place?

Within the next hundred years is the figure they quote, studiously avoiding mention of the fact that, as the final flip is rapid, it could just as easily happen in the next ten months, ten days . . . or even tomorrow.

And what would be the short-term outcome of such a shift?  Apparently all life on earth, deprived of magnetic stimulus, would become comatose and larval . . . in addition, there would be complete disruption to the world's communications networks and power grid.

This state of inertia would persist, so it is thought, for around three days.

And after that . . . ?
According to scientific and archeological research, on each occasion in the past when life has re-established itself it has done so at a higher level.

Do you find, as I do, that mention of such things causes distant memories to stir?  Deep in our collective subconscious we dimly recall a lost Atlantis . . . a long-forgotten Golden Age.

Which brings me to something not mentioned in the scientific report, the fact that this tipping-point tallies with the beliefs of major world religions.

As recorded in the New Testament, all early Christians believed in an imminent end to the world.  Were they, I wonder, interpreting the magnetic shift as a divine means of spiritual evolution . . .  and could they have been right?

For Hindus, this belief remains dominant.  According to Hindu tradition each age is divided into four eras, eras that are known as Yugas.   We are now in the fourth era, the Kali-yuga . . . a time that is said to precede the End Time and foreshadow the Golden Age.
Read this description of the Kali-Yuga and I think you'll agree that it all sounds strangely familiar!

As I said, I'm no scientist and my analysis of SWARM's recent report only touches the surface.

But might this shift concern you . . . ?  Might it concern me . . .?
Are we, in effect, standing at this moment on the heaving decks of 'The Titanic'?

We don't know.
All we do know is that, on the question of time, there appear to be two certainties:  the over-riding importance of the present moment, and the fact that the magnetic shift will fundamentally change all life on this planet . . . some time in the next hundred years.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dormouse at large!

Hello, it's Chloe here . . . thank you so much for being there to share my story.  In fact, just between you and me, I really could do with your help.

Tell me, do you think you could speak to my Mum?  I know you'd do it tactfully, but she really is proving very difficult at the moment.
Let me explain.

First of all, have you met a dormouse?
If you haven't, I'll describe them to you.  They're grey and furry, with big eyes, twitching noses, and they're very, very wriggly.  They're also very small, not much bigger than my front paw.

How do I know?  Well, I don't want to boast, but I'm becoming quite an expert on the subject.

A few months ago I made a very exciting discovery, a dormouse and his family had come to live by the bonfire at the bottom of the garden.  It wasn't easy to see them under all those sticks and leaves, but, if I stuck my claws into the ivy, I just about managed.

Then, joy of joys, do you know what happened?  One day, after our gardener had had a particularly fierce bonfire, the dormice decided that life was getting a bit too warm for comfort . . . it was time to move house.

And guess where they went?
They moved to the big herbaceous border by the lawn . . . the perfect place for me to sit on the garden seat and watch!

My Mum tells me that dormice aren't just any old field mice, but a very special kind of mouse.
She says this with a very serious expression on her face, and tells me that I have to be very, very careful as they're an endangered species.

Very, very careful my whiskers!
What does she think I intend to do?

'Live and let live' is my motto . . . well, most of the time . . .

In fact, when I first learned about the dormice being endangered, I thought that what they'd appreciate would be a little, friendly nose-to-nose contact . . . just to demonstrate that another species shared the garden and was interested in their welfare.  A nice-to-meet-you-mice sort of occasion.

But this is where my Mum isn't as helpful and co-operative as you'd expect her to be.  True, she means well, but she can be very obtuse.  Somehow, despite my best efforts at persuasion, she can't see that my intentions are wholly honourable.

I'll show you what I mean . . . . whenever we visit the garden I balance on the seat and listen for the slightest rustle . . . this tells me where the dormice are, scuttling about under the plants or climbing up the stems.

My Mum gets all excited when we spot one, but the moment I lean forward to get a better view . . . well, see for yourself, there she is hauling me back with the lead in a most restrictive and demeaning fashion.

It's enough to get any self-respecting cat's tail twitching,  and I do hope those dormice haven't noticed . . . I'm sure they'd far rather rub noses with me than they would with her.

So, would you be so kind as to explain to my Mum that an endangered dormouse would really appreciate whisker-to-whisker contact with a very well-intentioned Bengal cat?

I'm sure she'd believe you . . .

Midsummer Day's Dream

Slow, Summer days that slip away into
The drowsy twilight's welcoming embrace.
Soft sun-bleached skies whose parasol of blue
Reflects the tranquil bloom on Summer's face.
Still, still the air that cradles on its wing
The orchestrated chant of sun-drunk bees;
And butterflies, so gaily fluttering,
Like polka dots held captive by the breeze.
Time holds its breath on reaching Summer's peak;
I hear the grasses whispering that this
Full moment holds the clue to all I seek,
A wordless, timeless, golden happiness.
Contained in earth, by sun and water blessed,
The  Summer and my spirit come to rest.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

All Aboard!

I'm sure you've heard of the vast aircraft carrier that was launched by the Queen the other week.

As was stressed in the media, this massive ship is taller than the Niagara Falls, covers an area larger than that occupied by the Houses of Parliament, and, together with her sister ship which is still under construction, will cost over six billion pounds.  The implication being that any ships that tall, that wide and that costly must be well worth having.

I find it hard to grow enthusiastic about something that can only realise its full potential at times of war, but it seems almost unpatriotic to question its usefulness.  Plenty of facts are offered to silence any doubts, not least that over ten thousand inhabitants of Rosyth are employed in the continuing construction process.  And where are the aircraft that these ships are designed to carry?  Apparently they're still on the drawing-board . . . but we won't go into that.

'Defence' has always struck me as an ambiguous word.  In fact, 'defence industry' would seem a contradiction in terms.  After all, any industry needs to be in constant production if it's to thrive and make a profit.  The concept of defence implies a wish for peace, yet, dare I say it, to remain economically viable the defence industry needs the stimulus of constant, active warfare.

I thought of the defence industry this week when a news item was released from the world of medicine . .  antibiotics, it seems, will soon have lost their efficacy.  Bacteria, a resilient species, are growing increasingly resistant.  Why are the pharmaceutical companies not researching new and more effective drugs?  Because it is not economically viable.  To put it crudely, to make a profit the pharmaceutical companies need sick people, if we were all completely fit and healthy they would be out of business.

Currently, in our western world, economics would appear to be the prime consideration . . . be it the economics of the arms manufacturers or the economics of the drug companies.  What matter if, in the future, we're all embroiled in warfare and epidemics, economically we'll be thriving!

In being so economically driven I wonder if we're becoming blinkered to reality.  After all, environmental events are impervious to economics.  No amount of money will hold back the thawing of the ice in the Arctic, nor negate the agricultural problems caused by climate change.

Mightn't we be wiser to focus our attention on what really matters . . . such as trusting, caring and nurturing?
A move from fear to fellowship?

But, if we do shift our priorities away from economic profit, who needs an obsolete aircraft carrier?
What purpose then for 'HMS Queen Elizabeth'?

I can think of a perfect purpose!

Why not convert it into a spacious, contemporary Ark?
The vast structure could be permanently anchored in the Arctic and would provide an important sanctuary for ice-deprived seals and polar bears . . . warfare converted to welfare, surely that would be a move in the right direction?