A hair’s breadth

Who do you think you are, today?
You are Wrong
You are Right
And not a hair’s breadth in-between


Vivid the dream

We are a dream
Dreamt up by a brain
So vivid is the dream
The brain’s forgotten it’s dreaming!

Dissecting a Cloud

No words, saved up thoughts
Can answer true –
Only tiptoe around
The most obvious truth
Yet never set foot on that ground –
Dissecting a cloud
And finding nothing in his hands
The scholar despairs
Yet it is self-evident I stood the sternest test
Without the need for thoughts, or words
Or rather they took their places as servants
To greater cause
Before the event they fell over each other
To show me the way
And so I erred and stumbled
Or worried about stumbling and so fell
Until the moment came for the test
And eyes fixed ahead, thoughts had no choice
But to follow the narrow avenue offered them
And under sweat and toil a thoughtless place was born
A simple switch of focus and hysteria became calm
Instinct took over and honesty –
Without compromise for bending truths
Or looking one’s best
Showed them all what I could do, and cannot
And being the best that I could be
Who would not be happy with that?
When the road unplanned offers up such un-guessed at wonders
Such gifts not wrought by my hands
And you few who understand these words
Can share the joke
That I have no other way to tell this story
But with words!
So off with you, no more philosophies
And see this place for yourself


All learning comes down to this:
putting your attention in the right place.

Paths in the dark

What if: consciousness is software,
and the unconscious is the brain’s hardware?
Then the legacy of all our repeated thoughts
Would be laid down like pathways in the dark
Condemning us to follow
The structure of selfish, self centered ego, long ago assumed to be true.
What then of the path less travelled
Out there waiting
ever undiscovered?


There is no power to be gained from spiritual enlightenment.
For enlightenment is the giving up of all power,
or rather the recognition we never had any in the first place.


Consciousness does not contain a complete copy of the whole human organism. At most consciousness reflects only a muddy outline of the whole, or a tiny piece in detail. How then could consciousness ever be in control?

Conscious Understanding

Conscious understanding:
Concepts on the threshold of understanding,
Dancing beyond the grasp of he who reaches –
Boats on a river, cars between the white lines;
A small, compact man, completely competent,
Until he steps beyond his doorstep,
And finds he has forgotten his boots.

Emotion and Growth

The main barrier to learning is emotional turbulence. This is like the storm that forces our ship off course and back to safe harbour. In harbour the ship; or ego (our idea of self) is safe from shipwreck – the loss of face that comes from failure.

We should not belittle the ego too much; it is an important structure that we cannot live without. Its complete breakdown should be avoided! But equally it is not a structure in which we should build a life. Our idea of who we are should be a part of life, a structure we are constantly expanding in the light of deeper understanding. This is where the magic is – in the growth of the ego. Here we are exploring new territory and making the mysterious safe. But in our mastery we also lose our wonder – so we must constantly seek it out by expanding our interests, or by digging deeper.

Of course with self-growth there exists the danger of inflation – believing we are more and better than we are. But it is my belief that constant learning grows humility as well as competence. It is a humbling thing to realise how much we have to learn, and all there is we shall never know.

So we return to the opening statement – the main barrier to learning is emotional turbulence. To even begin learning we must be willing to allow the ego to be compromised – a little. If we cannot acknowledge that there is anything to be learned then the ego will be without breach, but will fast become stale like water that does not circulate.  Then we will become bad company, even to ourselves.

The secret is that our learning must be without end – there is no end point to growing up, there is no retirement. To stop is to stagnate. But growth is a painful process and before we can even start (or re-start) we must be willing to look slightly silly. The ego must relax its mastery; it must take off its crown and become the fool, in a land where it is not yet King. In such rebirth dwells a deeper emotion, and one that can sustain a lifetime of self-growth.

I leave you the Four Stages of Competence (which is a western version of a Taoist principle) – an excellent  model for growth. Whenever we start a new endeavour, or wish to expand beyond the horizons of our present limitations, we must be honest about which phase of learning we are at.  Only by this awareness can we plunge straight through the embarrassment and self-protecting emotions of the ego, and into the most difficult, but most rewarding,  second phase.

Unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, unconscious competence.


In the very beginning
I had no knowledge,
I did not even know
That I did not know,
Now all I can claim
Is that I know I do not know,
So let us begin.

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