Chaos and Learning: What Bruce Has Been Up Too, Part 1 (June 5, 2011)

Many of you have asked me how Bruce’s trip is going.  My descriptions of his journey do not do him justice, so here’s some insight on the first part of his trip. straight from the horses mouth:

So much has happened in the last few weeks, each deserving its own extensive post.  But since that isn’t going to happen, I’m going to just hit the high points of the high points.

England is great.  I love the feel of the place, and the extra layer of meaning that having lived in New Zealand for 5 years brought to my visit.  Seeing the English countryside, the model for what was laid on top of the New Zealand landscape was fascinating.  And London rocks.

Travelling to England from the other side of the world does not rock though.  Despite proper preparations, melatonin etc. I am nauseous the first day, can’t sleep the second, and then sick for a week all through the workshop.

Jill Purce workshop:  Superlative.  A master teacher totally on top of her game.  Heaps of chanting, immersive tibetan buddhism, ancestor work, lovely people, beautiful setting.  It’s kind of hard to explain what I got out of this, but it is huge.  I have tried to explain the process to a few people and it doesn’t really communicate very well.  Ask me in person and I will try, if you are keen.  Anyway I went to bed every night buzzing with the energy from the day and I think it has altered the course of my life, if I do the practices I learned.

How to talk to famous people: Jill Purce is married to Rupert Sheldrake, world famous unorthodox biologist.  Rupert came to spend a couple of nights after the workshop was over, and I leaped at the chance to talk to one of my heroes.  So how not to talk to famous people, at least in this case, is to talk about their work.  I was very interested in a topic in his work that had only received a few pages in his books, and I wanted to know if there was more.  I was disappointed not to hear anything new.  So I tried to get over my frustration over a botched opportunity, chilled out and just relaxed about it all and the next day we ended up having a wide ranging conversation over dinner about other stuff, which was lovely.

One thing that came up in this chat was that while in New Zealand there are lots of capital intensive projects going on to convert land suited to grain growing into dairy farming, in England there are similarly capital intensive projects going on to convert land best suited to dairy into growing grain.  So what’s clear is that the international monetary system is not functioning as it ideally should, which is to efficiently allocate resources.  One obvious hypothesis is that capital intensive projects benefit people with undue influence over the process, like bankers, captains of industry and politicians, and it doesn’t matter so much what is being done as that something is being done, and the bigger the better.

The meaning of christianity: OK, there is probably lots of meaning but here is what hit me.  After the workshop a few of us went to Church of England services in the 600 year old church up the street.  It was just after Easter and so it focused on the chaos of the crucifixion and post crucifixion discovery that JC had ascended.  What struck me suddenly was that the JC story could be read as an allegory about all spiritual teachers.  Here is a guy from a normal background who isn’t famous most of his life.  They are a real person with real world problems.  There are a few people who get it, who realize what a great teacher he is, the living embodiment of the teaching in fact.  But even they are a surly recalcitrant inconsistent unappreciative lot.  And of course when the teacher gets some real world attention he needs to be eliminated because he’s destabilizing the status quo.  So fresh on the heels of my experience with Jill Purce and after my time with Bernie Langan this is all making a lot of sense to me.  So the lesson is, I guess, try to be a bit more appreciative of the great teachers around you.    Check out James Hopkins,  another guy I just saw who is a cutting edge master who does no marketing whatsoever.  Highly recommended if you are in the LA area and can afford $250 for a 2 hour session.

And yet right on the heels of that message later in the day Jill is trying to convince me to go to her next week long workshop in June, and I am resisting.  Then someone calls from outside that there is a rainbow.  We go out and look and there is this amazing big fat rainbow with a really wide violet band and a double flicking on and off; from our point of view the end of the rainbow is the hall where we have been doing the workshop all week.  So I gave up my resistance.  “OK OK I get it.  I’ll come in June.”  I feel lucky to have been given a positive motivator rather than a negative one, as so often happens.

A couple of days later I meet my meditation teacher in London.  We’ve just had audio skype up to that point.  He’s great company and we spend the next seven hours going from spot to spot and having a freewheeling conversation on any number of topics.  Great stuff.

The next day as the time zone flys I am in LA.  Fantastic spending time with my brother and his soon to be ex wife.  See later for more…

Right… so the second big change of plans after deciding to do the second workshop happened something like this.  I arrive in Reno to find a warehouse full of absolutely beautiful people with giant hearts working their guts out on an amazing construction.  And I experiencing this huge amount of anxiety in the place where my heart for this project shoud be.  I am lacking the necessary passion.  And I see that my expectations about my personal working/living conditions were unrealistic, and I am going to be much farther out of my comfort zone than I thought.  So for both the benefit of the temple project and myself, it made sense to abort.  And also to bail on Burning Man, which had never been a big motivator for me.  It was always the build that was what was really interesting to me.

My brother and sister in law were superstars facilitating my return and sudden much longer stay in Los Angeles.  And now that I am near the end of it, I am happy to report that it has been great.  The high pressure visit squeezed into a few nights was good, but as an extended stay houseguest there was time and space to just ease into my brother’s regular life.  He comes home from work, we talk a bit, and on many nights just chill out and don’t interact so much.  This relaxation into it and just being allows the nights when we have amazing conversations sharing and appreciating our different world views without stress to pop out when they are ready. Stuart and I lived together when we were both away from home as young adults, and this is in a way a return to that state of comfort and closeness.  Really great.

OK if you are still with me then I’m going to let fly with what has to be a relatively context free bit of information about what I’m up to in my pursuit of enlightenment.  The Jill Purce workshop operated on many levels; one was a sort of immersion course in Tibetan Buddhism.  So now I have some chants and dream yoga techniques that are already resulting in lucid dreaming.  On another level it was related to working with the ancestors.  And the whole thing can be read as an oracle— a system like tarot cards or astrology or the oracle of delphi (above whose entry it was carved, “know theyself”) used as a tool of introspection and or to amplify weak signals using random elements (this is a valid concept in scientific signal theory and frequently used in nature) in order to strengthen the signal.  So the experience of communication I had was that my mother, who was adopted and is an avowed atheist, had broken the line of spiritually, um, oriented? sensitive? empowered? descent that came from her birth mother.  And that this was now passing to me from my birth grandmother, and I had better so something about it.  Which is another reason to go back to England for the next workshop, which is about connecting with and healing ancestral disharmonies.

th-th-th-th-that’s all folks!

(Read more about Bruce’s ramblings here)