Category Archives: Teachings

Meaning in the Moment?

It is not only through our actions that we can give life meaning — insofar as we can answer life’s specific questions responsibly — we can fulfil the demands of existence not only as active agents but also as loving human beings: in our loving dedication to the beautiful, the great, the good.

Should I perhaps try to explain for you with some hackneyed phrase how and why experiencing beauty can make life meaningful? I prefer to confine myself to the following thought experiment: imagine that you are sitting in a concert hall and listening to your favourite symphony, and your favourite bars of the symphony resound in your ears, and you are so moved by the music that it sends shivers down your spine, and now imagine that it would be possible (something that is psychologically so impossible) for someone to ask you in this moment whether your life has meaning. I believe you would agree with me if I declared that in this case, you would only be able to give one answer, and it would go something like: “It would have been worth it to have lived for this moment alone!”

Viktor Frankl on How Music, Nature, and Our Love for Each Other Succor Our Survival and Give Meaning to Our Lives, Brain Pickings

The quote above is taken from Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything, comprising lecture transcripts given by Viktor Frankl just before completing his classic, Man’s Search For Meaning.

I’m tempted to write more however I think this quote says it, or at least points towards what I’d like to ponder on for awhile. A long while probably.

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When Creativity Really Matters

I Feel Out of Control by Sara

George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. A police officer knelt on his neck until he died. George Floyd was black. The police officer is white. People are marching to demand that it does not happen again. They are marching against police cruelty, and against racism. I feel out of control: I’m so angry and sad. When I feel like this I like to draw pictures. I find that it helps me to feel better. But today- today was different.

read more, see links below.

Hear the full text read by David Tennant
or read the text 500 Words, Black Lives Matter.

This was written by a nine-year-old girl living in the North East of England. Sara is, I think although it’s not clear, a finalist for the writing competition, 500 Words, Black Lives Matter.

Well done Sara and congratulations for getting this far. You should be rightfully proud to have voiced your experience so eloquently. Keep on writing, no matter what. Mugo

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The Divided Brain-Reason/Intuition

How about this quote attributed to Albert Einstein?

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.

My ‘bible’ for many years, since the early 1980s when I was first introduced to it, was Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. I hung onto it, bought new editions, bought yet more paper and pencils and then practised the exercises within it. I’d produce passable likenesses although that wasn’t the point, to produce likenesses, it was to ‘access’ the right side of the brain which was/is good at spatial awareness, the so-called non-rational side of the brain. I believed I could ‘feel’ or perceive the switch from left to right or more accurately I felt my attention had shifted to a more global one. A more balanced, whole-brain ‘use’.

I love these fast-moving cartoon-style animated teaching videos. This one titled The Divided Brain has me left in the dust it is indeed fast-moving. If I watch it a few more times I may catch up and appreciate it more fully.

In the meantime and probably for the rest of my life I’ll be picking up a pencil and yet again start to work through the exercises in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. But with a renewed appreciation of the act of seeing, and then drawing, it helps to balance reason and intuition/’seeing’. The exercising of a more global appreciation.

Many thanks to Julius for sending me the link to this short video. Yep, it’s about balance alright.

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The Best Days

Coming to the monastery can be a very special time and can leave a deep and lasting impression. This was written by a young woman in about 1992 following her first-weekend stay. Then later she wrote a song titled The Best Days..

These are the best days by far,
Sleeping bags in a row,
The moon is shining on me all night,
And I just don’t want to go.

Tracey Curtis, Singer/Songwriter

Tracy is an all-around gem, glad and proud to know you good woman. I could sing your praises, but I’ll refrain! You are another one who came and never really left!

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Giving Expression?

Do we believe art, in all its myriad forms, is only and exclusively the domain of ‘artists’? What makes art, ‘art’? Is it the recognition of what’s produced as having an aesthetic ‘value’, accompanied by a rising price tag as more works are produced? And the artists themselves, what of them? They become ‘names’, public property along with their ‘works’. An acquaintance of mine paints and draws and sticks it on their wall, sometimes framed, often not. Who’s to say these pieces will, one day, become valued as have the doodles of some of our greats? Not forgetting among the artists; dramatists, actors, dancers, photographers, performers of all kinds. And then there are the great and wonderous writers and poets giving their expression; pouring out their lifeblood as others do, to express that which is revealed unbidden and inexplicably.

Yesterday afternoon I heard myself say, ‘I’ve just done an honest half-days work.’! Given we are closed to guests at the moment we have made a start on painting rooms in the Hall of Pure Offerings. Putting on work clothes doing physical work, getting dirty, getting tired and hungry causes me to feel I’ve actually ‘done something’. Right there. There is something to show for it. No sooner had I spoken, ironically by the way, of my ‘honest half-days work’ than somebody quipped ‘all forms of work are honest’! Quite so too. No glory or acclaim, no applause for giving simple creative expression to – tending plants for example. It is, of course, the ‘how’ more than the ‘what’ that is significant. We would say it’s about ‘attitude of mind’ which is private and personal and known only within our being. Quite often this knowledge is hidden even to ourselves. Only when the flower arrangement, for example, brings a welling of joy is an expression made manifest to the ‘artist’. And their public!

One of the many memories that have surfaced since Rev. Myfanwy’s death on the 2nd of July is a conversation we had while she was staying in Cornwall, 2001. ‘Gosh’! I exclaimed a bit frustrated, ‘I’ve done nothing all-day’. The Reverend replied, ‘you have been talking on the phone non-stop, that’s not nothing. That’s tiring too’. Clearly, there was nothing to show, nothing produced, nothing to put one’s hand on. Nothing to see or stand back and admire or for anybody else to appreciate either. But she saw through that. I’ve always remembered that exchange. Giving expression comes in many forms, including listening to the words and expressions of others.

Out and beyond.
what impels us
to give expression?

Why pick up a pen
or brush or
rise from a chair!

Could it be
the veil lifts

Each of us
driven to
give expression.

Through living

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