Archive for the ‘Spirit’ Category

“We turn clay to make a vessel, but it is on the space, where there is nothing, that the usefulness of the vessel depends.” – Lao Tzu   

“Nothing is more real than nothing.” – Samuel Beckett      











“So the call of all Nondual traditions is: Abide as Emptiness, embrace all Form. The liberation is in the Emptiness, never in the Form, but Emptiness embraces all forms as a mirror all its objects…You and the universe are One Taste.”

(Ken Wilber: A Brief History of Everything, 2007, p. 361).

 Ken Wilber

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PHILOSOPHIA PERENNIS The metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man’s final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being. – Aldous Huxley

Perennial philosophy (Latin: philosophia perennis “eternal philosophy”, also Philosophia perennis et universalis) is the notion of the universal recurrence of ….. insight independent of epoch or culture, including universal truths on the nature of reality, humanity or consciousness (anthropological universals).

Concerning Universalism I make the following distinction.

To subscribe to Perennial Philosophy you almost certainly will hold a ‘pan-religious’ and inter-faith position including some theological ideas such as pan-en-theism – which holds both immanence and transcendence to be true at one and the same time true. My favourite quotation that celebrates this idea is;

“God is a circle whose centre is everywhere, whose circumference is nowhere.”

Anonymous, ‘The Book of the Twenty-four Philosophers‘ (12thC)

On the other hand a universalist in my view however can have an open and respectful mind and an open and generous heart whilst staying with her/his cultural roots.

Barack Obama (I hope) is one such example. More striking is the specificity of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s traditional Hasidic faith as compared to the Universalism of his heart and astoundingly deep insights into core mystical and eternal reality, and especially the nature of being human in the world – with others.

Either way the world has no more desperate need than an increase in the ability of people to see the oneness in, and beyond, specific belief systems – whether they do it from a truly Perennial Philosophy position or as a Universalist.

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A slide version of the SunWALK holistic education model – on what it is to be fully and positively human

A slide version of the SunWALK holistic education model – on  what it is to be fully and positively human:





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If the Platonic idea of a  ‘spiritual’ world corresponding to the physical world (and vice versa) is a reality then photography can play deliciously between the two, as in this  I like this photographer’s work, four sets of which s/he refers to as ‘Picturing the Intangible‘;

Seeing and not seeing……

Real and not real…..

Reality and illusion…..

Shadow and substance ……….

To see the work by R Phillips Abbott go HERE

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All spiritual teachings are about one thing - what it is to be fully and positively human - the rest is a matter of cultural clothing. RP

Students of Perennial Philosophy, the core mystical teachings that are the same in all religions and forgotten by many or most adherents, might agree that two verses from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita constitute a simple, beautiful and perfect summary of the Perennial Philosophy teachings;

Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the

individual self and the immortal Self are perched on the branches of the

selfsame tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the

tree; the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observes.

The individual self, deluded by forgetfulness of his identity with the

divine Self, bewildered by his ego, grieves and is sad. But when he

recognizes the worshipful Lord as his own true Self, and beholds his

glory, he grieves no more.”2


Compare these verses with the contemporary re-presentation of the Perennial Philosophy in The New Earth or Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle – different language and cultural clothing but the same message!

Inevitably the ethical implication of Perennial Philosophy is ‘ The Golden Rule –


“Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not.” Baha’u’llah.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion – Dalai Lama

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
Luke 10:25-28

In his Last Sermon, the Prophet Muhammad cautioned believers: “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.”

“Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien.

see HERE for more examples.

Enjoy these – and dive deep!

Bhagavad Gita Chanted in English HERE
Text of the Bhagavad Gita in English HERE
NB Try listening to the chanting whilst reading the text – wonderful! – transporting!
Commentary ‘The Battlefield of the Mind‘ on the Bhagavad Gita, by  Swami Nirmalananda Giri, HERE
NB Please use the SEARCH on this site to find more about Perennial Philosophy and all of the other subjects mentioned.

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Antony Gormley with his 'Asian Field' made over five days in collaboration with 300 villagers in Xianxian in China
Antony Gormley with his ‘Asian Field made over five days in collaboration with 300 villagers in Xianxian in China

Art as quintessentially spiritual experience

I want to present a range of artists who mean a lot to me – in the context of a working definition of art, and the view that both the making of art and aesthetic experience are essentially one and the same as mystical experience.

Art is culturally, and personally, significant meaning, skilfully encodedin an affecting, sensuous medium.
(RP’s working definition  – after a definition by Richard Anderson quoted in Freeland (2001 p. 77))

All art is about movement of the human spirit.  Human spirit as heart-mind – ‘xin’ in Chinese.

The idea of ‘heart-mind’ for the singleness of the interiority of inner experience, as opposed to heart and mind as two mythical inner organs, which is the bifurcation of the human spirit that the Age of Reason has left us with, removes any need to argue for or against ‘conceptual art’.  Hoorayyyyy!

I can now love both art that is labelled ‘conceptual’ and that which isn’t, and with luck I get some sensuality, cultural references, significant personal meaning-making and skilfull encoding!

There are a range of reasons for suggesting that both the making of art and aesthetic experience are essentially one and the same as mystical experience. Here are three;

1) Art that really works for you takes you out of yourself – it creates a unitive experience.

2) The making of art mostly involves engagement that is beyond language and the conceptual.

3) The conceptual is stimulated by the experience but can never adequately render or re-present the creative or aesthetic experience.


One artist that gives me ‘the full set’ – sensuality, cultural references, significant personal meaning-making and skilfull encoding and the qualities of the spiritual or mystical etc. –  is Antony Gormley.

The Asian Field (photo above) is, quite appropriately, much larger than the ‘Field’ I saw in the Tullie gallery in Carlisle.  The impact of setting eyes on all of the figures staring up at me was a force-field of heart-mind.  Reflection afterwards is endless.

His genius has developed art that is;



Community generated and community-generating.


Source and article on Asian Field HERE

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Recently I had the pleasure of seeing an exhibition of work by Roni Horn at the Centre of Contemporary Art in Malaga.

I was thrilled – she goes straight in to my top ten fine art photograpers (yes I know I catch up late, she has been around for some time etc.)

Why? Its simply that she pushed out for me the boundaries of human sensibility. Her work talked more than almost any other – Bill Viola is one other – of the sheer quiddity (The real nature of a thing; the essence) of being human – the sense, the thrill, the spirit that moves as we engage with some thing or another.

I will write more fully at a later time. If you get the chance to see her work don´t miss it!

For more information here are a few more sources,





All postings to this site relate to the central SunWALK model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

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