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Cygnets
Chisholme Blog | Friday, 24th May, 2024

Newly hatched cygnets on the lake.


Thank you to Jethro Flowers who has looked out for and fed the swans when they return each year.

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Framing the Intention, 2024
Chisholme Blog | Sunday, 7th April, 2024

Preparations for this year


Our focus this year is on preparing for the Six-month Course of Intensive Esoteric Education beginning in October.

We are inviting you to participate in this intention, and in the preparation in whatever way might be appropriate for you.

Preparations for the course will be on several different levels, from readying the place physically, to publicising it and engaging with prospective students.

We hope to explore these levels of preparation throughout the year until October 1st, in conversation and in hands-on engagement in the life and work of the place. We hope that you will be able to come and participate for a week, a month or more...

Weekend and one-week Introductory Courses have been scheduled for spring and summer, as well as FNI courses (Foundations of Natural Intelligence) to enable students to have a taste of being at Chisholme under the order of education.

The Forestry Fortnight in March attracted many volunteers, as no doubt will the Garden Weeks each month, planting particularly with the winter course in mind.

Please find dates and details of these here:
https://www.chisholme.org/whats-on/upcoming-courses.html

And of course your support and goodwill is of value in whatever way you might express it. Longer-term volunteers are particularly welcome at this time. But even if you have just a week or two free this summer and feel drawn to, please consider coming.

Read more about longer-term volunteering here

Enquiries to: secretary@chisholme.org

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RUMI 750 – Gathering
Chisholme Blog | Friday, 8th December, 2023

A visual taste and some music from the September 2023 Gathering at Chisholme




Here is a short 5-minute video by the filmmaker Glenda Rome which gives a little taste of the Gathering at Chisholme, 2–4 September 2023.



PLUS below the music performance by Miwa Nagato-Apthorp on the Sunday afternoon.



And now the musical contribution by Sylvain Ayité on the Saturday evening

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Long-term volunteering
Chisholme Blog | Sunday, 11th June, 2023

Volunteer for the year ahead


Since the pandemic there have been very few people in residence at Chisholme. These few have been spread thinly over the various areas of responsibility. At some point it will be time for one or two to move on. Numbers notwithstanding, courses and conversations have taken place already this year [2023], garden weeks and a forestry fortnight in which 6000 trees were planted on the Fathill clear-felled area. To the few at Chisholme and to those who come to help as the need arises we are extremely grateful. The garden, the House and estate have been tended with deep care, and the strength of presence is palpable everywhere.

The manner of visiting Chisholme and participating in courses is more immersive as a result, as the distinction between staff and visitors becomes less pronounced. We are all guests in His House, and equally host to the Guest who comes to the door.

'As the lark says in her song:
Often, often, often goes the Christ
In the stranger’s guise.'
(ancient Celtic rune)

We are currently [2024] asking for longer-term volunteers who may also be willing to take on particular areas of responsibility, for example – kitchen, garden, estate, housekeeping, office.

Caring for the garden includes the walled garden, the flowers, the polytunnels, growing vegetables for the people at Chisholme with some to share at the local Hawick Market.
This garden has been cared for so many years by so many different people, some with no previous gardening experience. So don't hesitate to get in touch if you are interested in giving your time to the garden short or long term.

To apply for this, or any other area you are interested in, please email
secretary@chisholme.org
Tel +44 (0)1450 880 215

All positions at Chisholme are available within the spirit of Equal Opportunities and in fulfilment of the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act. Read more here

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Donate a tree
John Hill | Thursday, 19th January, 2023

Sponsor a tree at Chisholme for just £3


COMPLETING THE CIRCLE - REPLANTING THE SHELTER BELT

Donate a Tree
The whole replanting of the shelter belt has only been possible, over the years, through the generous donation of people’s time and energy. If you are unable to join the planting project in person, you can still help by ‘sponsoring a tree’ at a cost of £3.00 per tree which just covers the cost of the tree seedling, stake and shelter.

Donate below by PayPal or with a credit/debit card



The task in 2023
This was the planting of 6000 broadleaved trees and the first of three parcels of woodland to be replanted over the next few years.

History
John Hill our garden and estate adviser writes:

The calm and gentle setting of Chisholme House, its lawns and gardens is only possible because of the encircling ring of sheltering woodland that surrounds the whole estate.

When Chisholme was acquired in 1975, most of this surrounding shelter belt of mainly mature hardwoods was still intact, but was owned by a local Forestry Company and not part of the Chisholme Estate. In the 1980’s this company started to clear-fell the trees, but in 1986 agreed to sell us the land after the mature trees had been felled or where there was younger standing woodland.

Graham Falvey, who was looking after the Estate and Garden at the time, invited friends of Chisholme to contribute to buying these areas of land, and so we acquired this invaluable setting for the jewel of Chisholme, though much of it by then sadly denuded of its original tree cover.

Graham, with some help, valiantly started to replant the clear-felled areas, starting with the Front Clearfell, which stands below the front gate and entrance drive. But there were a lot of trees to plant, and a big boost came in the late 90’s, when grant-aid from the Millennium Forest for Scotland allowed a major replanting over two seasons- 1998 and 1999. During this period, 17,000 trees were planted by over 100 friends and volunteers, covering the exposed, north-facing slopes of Woodcock North, Brae and Fathill West, set above the Borthwick Water, as well as the more placid environments of Whitrig and Churnton at the eastern end of the Chisholme Estate. These two Spring planting events, which I’m sure many people will remember with a warm (?) nostalgia, initiated the annual Forestry Fortnight programme which has continued each Spring at Chisholme for many years.

Since then, several areas which were acquired in 1986 as standing commercial conifer plantations have matured and been replanted - particularly the replanting of Meadburn in 2012 under Ben Young’s guidance.

This year, with the help of Storm Arwen and friends, Fathill East, a Sitka spruce plantation, has been clear felled and left ready for replanting. This is the last piece of the jigsaw and will complete the replanting of the whole shelter belt ring around the heartland of Chisholme.

Fathill East, an area of 3.7ha is immediately next to areas planted in the first Forestry Fortnight in 1998, a wonderful spot, with views overlooking the whole of the Borthwick valley.

Email secretary@chisholme.org to donate and for more information

Image credit: Merijn Schepens

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RUMI 750 – Preparing the ground
Chisholme News | Sunday, 8th January, 2023

2023 is the 750th anniversary of Rumi's Nuptial Night, the completion of his long yearned-for return to the Beloved.


This year is the 750th anniversary of Rumi's Nuptial Night, the completion of his long yearned-for return to the Beloved. The timeless meaning of his life’s journey in love, from love and to love, intimately connects with our own lives and informs of our times. This year is also the 50th anniversary of Diane Cilento and Bulent Rauf’s film ‘Turning’, which explores the evolution in Turkey of the image of the divine feminine, culminating in the iconic person of Rumi himself.

Since Beshara is intimately connected to these realities, both essentially and in their unfolding in time from the unknown, it is proposed that this year at Chisholme should be devoted in part to enquiring into these connections and their deeper meanings.

The proposal thus far is that at Chisholme, five days at the end of each of the months of January, February and March be set aside for conversation and enquiry. The questions under consideration will follow from the understanding that ‘we love what Rumi loves, and what Rumi loves, loves Rumi’. So, we ask that our contemplation be imbued in the very divine love through which the world and humankind comes into existence and through which we return.

Such contemplation cannot be held in isolation from the critical situation that humankind, and the world of nature, is currently facing. Chisholme’s very purpose is the provision of an education ‘that all life is interdependent, as seen in the ecological, economic, cultural and spiritual spheres’ (Memorandum and Articles of the Chisholme Institute). This knowledge is like a light in darkness.

To explore these interdependencies, and to see the present situation clearly, entails working together. Hence this invitation is extended to you now, to come and join in the work of enquiry.

It is envisaged that this enquiry be initial spadework, preparing the ground for an event at Chisholme, around 2-4 September.

CALENDAR EVENTS 2023

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News and an invitation: March 2022
Chisholme News | Monday, 7th March, 2022

You are warmly invited to join an ongoing enquiry through conversation, study and practical work, throughout the coming spring and summer months. We trust that through sitting together and asking, in humility and selfless receptivity, whatever now needs to be known will be made known. Come and participate whenever you can, for a few days, a week or perhaps for longer. Read more...


Dear friends

Thank God, Chisholme has so far remained free from covid throughout the pandemic and has already been receiving visitors for some months. Now that it is becoming possible to travel in comparative safety, and the legal restrictions are lifting, we hope that you too will be able to come to Chisholme sometime in the spring or summer any time from now.

Despite the difficult conditions over the two years, the work of Chisholme has continued throughout. During this time there have been two residential 40-day courses, a 99-day course, a Retreat in the Woods (FNI) week, and a Discovering Unity course, as well as many online Discovering Unity courses for those unable to travel.

Over the past two years there has been a small body of people in residence, in continual service to the place. There is much work to be done, inside and out, in preparation for the future. Chisholme is in service to the future and so consequently are we who serve here. All present are committed students of the school. We have looked on this time as an opportunity to work and study together, to meditate and practice. We have also been engaging in a deep enquiry into our present global circumstances, in the firm ground of One and only one Being in existence. Individuals have come and gone, but the core has remained, committed to facing the Real in constant awareness.

This month, everyone at Chisholme and a few others besides, twenty in all, spent a week reading The 29 Pages together. For some this was the first time, while others had perhaps not read it for many years. It was an extraordinary week, and perhaps unique in that there were no staff to serve it. All the work of the garden and kitchen, house and estate took place seamlessly in between the three sessions daily of reading together in the Mead Hall.

We are confident that the ongoing enquiry through conversation, underpinned by study and work, is an opportunity to see how things are unfolding, both at Chisholme and throughout the world. We trust that through sitting together and asking, in humility and selfless receptivity, whatever needs to be known will be made known.

It is proposed that this conversation will continue throughout the spring and summer, and that this be the main calendar event for the next six months. You are invited to come and participate whenever you can, for a few days, a week or perhaps for longer, depending on your circumstances.

Please contact the Secretary by email via secretary@chisholme.org if you wish to come and join the enquiry and the work.

With love, from all at Chisholme

Photograph by Jay Robinson: Snowdrops on Chisholme Estate

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Ecosystems as Love Processes
Frances Ryan | Tuesday, 22nd October, 2019

The Beshara Lecture
From biological war ideology to understanding reality as alive
Speaker: Andreas Weber
Saturday 16th November 2019, London


Does nature practise love?
Why is our economy still destroying the natural environment?
Is it built on a wrong image of life, where the strongest wins and fitness grants success?

Biological life is never about one winning, but rather an endless celebration of reciprocity.

Ecosystems are ways to organise giving that allow the whole to flourish and the individuals to take what they need. If we understand this desire for mutuality as inbuilt in the living world will we be able to imagine a culture that does not destroy life, but that mimics ecology, enacting what may be seen as a practice of love?

The Beshara Lecture is a lecture held annually, for the furtherance of the knowledge of the unity of existence and its ramifications in areas of human endeavour. Sponsored by the Beshara Trust

The Beshara Lecture: Speaker Andreas Weber, Saturday, 16th November, 2019 from 2pm
Venue: Royal Asiatic Society, Stephensons Way, Kings Cross, London NW1 2HD

See here for an article on this subject by the Andreas Weber, published in the Beshara Magazine

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Seeing something for the very first time...
Jane Clark | Thursday, 29th August, 2019

On Christmas Eve 1968 the first picture ever of our whole planet from ‘outside’ was taken. It has become one of the most powerful symbols of our age.


Jane Clark contemplates the view of Earth from the moon, first captured in the famous photograph ‘Earthrise’ in the following article, published this summer in the Beshara Magazine

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A message for our time
Message from the Hopi Elders | Saturday, 22nd June, 2019

At this time in history we are to take nothing personally. Least of all ourselves.


Message from the Hopi Elders

To my fellow swimmers:
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hang on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The Elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the stream, keep our eyes open and our heads above the water.

And I say,
See who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history we are to take nothing personally.
Least of all ourselves.
For the moment that we do our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Gather yourselves.
Banish the word ‘struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.

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In Memoriam: Graham Ghaffar Falvey
John Hill | Monday, 17th September, 2018

‘If you want something done with excellence, ask Ghaffar, he doesn’t know otherwise.’ Bulent Rauf


Obituary for Graham Ghaffar Falvey

d.12 June 2018, Hanoi, Vietnam

‘If you want something done with excellence, ask Ghaffar, he doesn’t know otherwise.’ Bulent Rauf

Graham was a great man, a real friend, of not so many words but of strong purposeful action.

He was a devoted friend of Chisholme, running the Estate and Garden for ten years (1985-1995). He kept the garden immaculately, while looking after the woodlands during the winter. He set the standard for growing vegetables and flowers at Chisholme, with a keen understanding of the seasons and their needs. He took great pleasure in the process.

Soon after he arrived, the ring of shelter-belt woodland around Chisholme was acquired, largely with Graham’s help and involvement. He set to with a will in the replanting of these big areas of ground. This began with the wind-blasted Front Clearfell, which he planted nearly single-handedly. He successfully navigated the grant application process with the Forestry Commission, which set the scene for the larger forestry plantings with the Millenium Forest for Scotland some years later.

Under Bulent’s guidance he established the beginnings of a wildfowl and domestic fowl collection on the lake, which became a great passion for him.

He worked very, very hard. He enjoyed it. Great gratitude to him.

But Graham’s life was not just work. At Chisholme he met, fell in love and married Wendy, and they spent several happy years together.

During the end of his time at Chisholme, following a visit to Chisholme by Alan Ereira, and the showing of Alan’s film ‘From the Heart of the World’, Graham became passionately interested in the Kogi peoples of Colombia, and their message to humanity. This led him to work as administrator for the Tairona Trust, a small charity to help the Kogi. He made two trips to meet the Kogi in their villages high in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. He clearly felt immensely privileged to make these extraordinary journeys. In Graham’s words: ‘I spent that evening swinging in a hammock in the ‘nuhue’ or ‘world house’ listening to the ‘mamas’ give us messages of greetings and being given our news in return. It was a meeting with a truly dignified and courageous people and I cherish that meeting and another meeting in 1994.’

These journeys and more travels through America and Australia, where he spent time immersed in indigenous cultures, led him, after much soul-searching to plunge Into three years of academia. He read Anthropology and Religious Studies at the University of Wales in Lampeter, taking a first class degree in 1999. He was invited to continue in this academic world, but though he felt he had learnt much and valued his tutors and lectures many of whom became good friends, he felt the academic approach constrictive and took to the road again.

He travelled more in Australia, but returning to the UK, again took up horticulture, spending three summers looking after the gloriously remote gardens of Oransay Priory. This is the only garden on the island of Oronsay. In fact it belongs to the only inhabited house on the island that can only be reached by walking at low tide across a mile of sand from neighbouring Colonsay. A typically remote spot for Graham, but populated with a wealth of wildlife which he loved, and an ancient spiritual history reaching back to Saint Columba, which he much revered.

Graham was always moving into new territory, and during these winter months which he spent in the Borders, he developed an interest in IT which had started with his Tairona Trust work. He became skilled in website design and developed a number of sites for friends and colleagues.

In typical fashion he moved seemlessly on. In 2003, he trained in teaching English as a foreign language, gaining a TESOL certificate, giving him an additional passport to travel where his heart led.

The next thing we knew, he was living and teaching in Hanoi, a situation that seemed to suit him down to the ground. There he finally put down roots and made a career that suited his roving spirit, which he loved, and in which he was much loved in return. He met and very happily married Hop and set up home in Hanoi. Since then we have been treated to the occasional visit to the UK. He twice brought Hop to visit Chisholme and local friends. Though living in the Far East, he hasn’t seemed so far away. The wonderful article that he recently wrote ‘A Thing of Beauty...’ published on line in the Beshara Magazine, shows his depth of vision, and somehow kept him close as a friend.

Graham was a man of great humility and integrity. He came from an RAF background and grew up on the move. Moving was his way of finding a still point. He travelled lightly, while maintaining a consistent and un-erodible commitment to a real spiritual life. He was a faithful friend and a great, great wit.

I met him first in the summer of 1975. He was living in a tiny tent in a cherry orchard in Kent, where he was one of very few who would dare to pick off the gigantic 60ft ladders that reached high into the highest trees. He took that in his singular stride, humbly but with strength. He was always like that. He will be remembered in many sweet ways, and sorely missed. But we can be confident that he will walk this last journey as properly as he did every journey on which he embarked during his life.

John Hill
Sherborne Glos. 2018

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To stand in life is not to take sides, but to take heart
Chisholme Blog | Saturday, 20th January, 2018

Christopher Ryan considers our responses to ‘Terrorism’ and ‘The War on Terror’ following the bombs that killed 200 people, and wounded over 1500 in Madrid back in March 2004 – sentiments that still ring very true today.


Christopher Ryan considers our responses to ‘Terrorism’ and ‘The War on Terror’ following the bombs that killed 200 people, and wounded over 1500 in Madrid back in March 2004 – sentiments that still ring very true today.

“This threat is given the name terrorism. The basis of terror, the raison d’etre which is its fuel, and without which its combustive destruction could not take hold, is fear. Fear for one’s existence, fear for one’s life, or fear for ‘our way of life’ which we must ‘fight to defend’. But fear is due to ignorance, a lack of knowing the true situation. In this case, the ignorance is of the reality of our life, of our existence. So, could there be something missing in ‘our way of life’?

This threat, which manifests on the outside as a destructive force, is not allied to any body of people according to race or religion, social status, creed or system of political belief. It attaches itself to wherever there appears the vacuum of ignorance. It is simply the embodiment of qualities of lack, negativity and non-existence, and it places its weapon, fear, into our own hands. So who are we going to fight? Are we going to move into a dark age of fear, where we suspect everyone, our neighbour, the person sitting next to us on the bus, the ‘Islamic-looking’ person, the person with the funny accent, an age where we all become spies on each other as happened in East Germany during the period of division. This downward spiral is the real result of terrorism, and it brings about the destruction of the soul, the soul which loves its life, thus destroying the creative movement of beauty in Man.

Whichever way we look at it, we need to change the terms on which this war is being fought, if we are to progress as human beings. This means complete and deep questioning of this sacred cow which has been termed, ‘our way of life’. We need to be prepared for changes, not simply to the exterior forms of our life (although in respect of the properly exterior threat of climate change due to global warming, this may also be necessary), but the basis on which we claim our right to call ourselves human. We have to question first, what is this life, which we claim to possess a way with? Where does it come from? Why do we suffer when this life is taken from those human forms? And as we hold it so dear, what is it that gives it its real value? What is it that dies? Where does life go?

And we must ask this question, what does it mean to be human? Not just in our lacks and imperfections, dwelling exclusively on which only separates us further from each other and from ourselves until we risk drowning in a mire of negativity. Better we must examine those things which bring us together beyond our differences, the things that complete us and our hopes, those things which give us strength, the strength which overcomes the fears. Such things as love, and the certainty love brings to the human heart.

Love, and all that its wide cloak encompasses, is the first and last of our needs. Just as a child finds complete security in the love its parent brings, we must seek the breadth and depth of a love that is all-inclusive, a love which fills the lacks and perfects the imperfections. A love that informs the ignorances with knowledge from a deep well of knowledge which is the heart itself. For this our sense of heart needs expanding, if we are to find its true boundlessness. So, we need to pay attention to the heart and come under its sway, the true core of our existence, attention which some perhaps would have us give to ‘our way of life’. Perhaps what is the problem here is this ‘our way of life’. Perhaps we are in danger of defending a castle made of sand.

Politicians, because they believe vehemently that their particular system is in the best interests of their voters, are not necessarily correct in their beliefs, however much they may seem corroborated in the wishes of the voters. ‘Your old road is rapidly ageing’, sang the bard from Minnesota, and ‘the wheel’s still in spin’. It would be foolish to try and combat the forces that are now in play, because the world is truly changing. The so-called war on terror will undoubtedly continue, but terror will not be defeated from the outside.

But there is real recourse in changing our way of life from the inside, so that it be in conformity with life itself. To stand in life is not to take sides, but to take heart. It seems that what we have been given to effect this change is love itself, with all its ramifications. So, if life, the universe and everything means anything at all to us, rather than fight to defend, perhaps we should start by surrendering to the force of love, giving our life to that, letting its power act in us, not as some glorified latter day crusader in an emotion-driven battle of good versus evil, but simply, with complete humility, as if already dead to the ways of this world, come alive by life itself.

Transposing Christ’s words, the poet Wilfred Owen wrote:

‘The scribes on all the people shove
And bawl allegiance to the state,
But they who love the greater love
Lay down their life; they do not hate.’

In the same spirit of surrender, perhaps we can also live a greater life."

Christopher Ryan
Hawick, 2004

A shorter version of this piece was first published by The Southern Reporter in March 2004.

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Humans as purely materialist individuals?
Chisholme Blog | Saturday, 1st July, 2017

"Perhaps it’s time to (re)read Jung." writes Gwendolen Dupré for The European Strategist, an internet publication and research circle.


"Perhaps it's time to (re)read Jung", writes Gwendolen Dupré.

We’ve just had the second very successful Poetics of Science (PoS) weekend.

Gwendolen Dupre was the opening speaker and she set the tone for the whole weekend. She spoke on the metaphysics underlying different religions.

Gwendolen also spoke at the first PoS in April. Her talk then has now been published in the European Strategist an internet publication and research circle that seeks answers for European society in postmodern times.

In it she contrasts two fundamental theories of the mind: that of Freud and that of his younger contemporary, Jung. Freud’s is a materialist approach whereas Jung believed in the real significance of images and symbols. As she says, while ”Freud offers a cynical account of human life... Jung’s ideas... present a more positive image of human potentiality.”

Gwendolen’s article is very well worth reading – it’s a short and easy introduction to the importance of Jung. It offers real food for thought. We look forward to more reflections from Gwendolen and others on Jungian philosophy.

Read the article here

The next Poetics of Science seminar is September 15–17.
Read more and book here

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Distance does not exist in what we aim...
Frances Ryan | Thursday, 9th March, 2017

Notes from a conversation in January


The series of conversation weeks for this winter, under the heading 'Single Vision', has now concluded.

From the Notes of the January conversation; Chisholme House, 7-14 January 2017
A week of open conversation and enquiry

The questions for the week were:
“What on earth is happening in the world today?
And how are we with it?
How does the education at Chisholme connect with the unfolding of this unsettling yet hope-filled era?”

We sat in the presence of these questions, feeling urgency, with Chisholme as an extra-ordinary clear, profound and infinitely merciful mirror and needless to say – in this place dedicated to ‘His vision of Himself’ there was response and education.

What is happening in the world today?
...and the 'happening' came right into the room: the pain, the destitution, self-interest gone mad, corporate greed, false truth, environmental destruction, racial abuse, and much more. Not by people saying: "I've heard this, I've read an article and isn't it terrible, etc." No, these things arrived in the room as lived experience:
‘I've been racially abused’,
‘I am suffering’,
‘I’ve been homeless’,
‘I have witnessed the destruction of my beautiful environment’,
‘I feel alienated’, and so on and so on.
With the stories came the anger, frustration, sorrow, constriction, anguish, and more anger... This did not make for comfortable sitting and listening. One could not transcend this, talk it away or smooth it over.

So how are we with it?
There was no choice but to sit and to listen, or sit and speak from our own experience. When someone looks you in the eye and says they are in pain, when you feel your own anger or frustration rise up - you cannot turn away. Some of us in the room listened better than others, some found what seemed like honest words to express, or respond to, and that was good to witness. But essentially we all knew we were in the same boat: We don't know. We don't know the why or how of it, or what to do about it. The 'not knowing', and knowing that I don’t know, and seeing that from myself alone I have nothing to give, was made very, very real.

It was recognised early in the week that the problems found in the world are exterior effects of something happening in the interior, the Unseen. If ‘every day He is in a new configuration’, then change is inevitable – and change in the interior results in shifts in the exterior. If there is resistance to change, the exterior effects become more drastic. Yet there is such resistance.
In most cases, it appears to be caused by fear and self-interest, and it is this resistance that perpetuates suffering. Self-interest, however, relates to things of the exterior, and takes the form of greed for resources that are inherently limited. In the exterior this leads to misery and global degradation and probably will lead to our own destruction.
It seems that there is a view that more is better.
It isn't true.
Outside, in the world, the right amount is best.
In our interior there are things which are infinite.
Compassion, vision, love are given without limit.
There, more is better.
We are asked to be increased in knowledge. ‘Give me more real wealth!’
It's good to be greedy in the interior, in that sense.

A very simple choice; what is required is a switch in consciousness.
A shift from self-interest to interest in the self
And one of the roles of this place, Chisholme, is to investigate this switch, joining the worlds of the exterior and the interior.
Something is going to happen, and we need to be in a real place to meet it.
Our real place is 'sitting on the carpet of ‘Adab’ – ‘tact, good form', listening in humility for the Truth.

How does the education in Chisholme connect with the unfolding of this unsettling yet hope-filled era?
Given that what we are seeing are external effects, it was quickly recognised that the natural knee-jerk reaction of ‘But what can we do about it?’ is not an adequate tool for understanding and still less for attempting to remedy the situations we see. Trying to remedy an effect at the level of effects is likely merely to cause more accidents of a similar kind. If the world situation is the exterior effect of an interior happening, one must turn to the interior to gain a sense of the cause. Only from such an interior perspective can vision be received, from which the most appropriate action can follow. The proper response of persons or groups who wish to understand and respond to the situation is therefore primarily contemplative in nature.
What came up in the conversation on this is that a distinction can be made between the ‘way of the world’ and the ‘way of the heart’ as two different approaches to life and to understanding, in which the former is response to effects at the level of effects and tends to be based on counting and rules, while the way of the heart comes from the heart, relies on receptivity and rests in sentiment and meanings.

The education at Chisholme is to do with the interface between what is happening in the world and the knowledge, which is accessible here. What is this interface?
We are the interface.
Our heart is the interface.
It is simple.
But the heart has to be ready to receive.

This conversation (and all the weeks of conversation this winter) is a request to be given to see clearly, to see from a place of single-ness.
There is a place in oneself where help can arrive and flow through. Unless we stay with it, it will be just another week where we 'talked about things' - and nothing will have happened.
Real receptivity is needed, before any necessary action can be known. Such receptivity cannot be established by our own efforts alone; it is conferred from the interior itself. It requires the sincere request to ‘Show me things as they are, clearly’, and the constant effort to remain empty, letting go of what we think we know, including what we think we have learned here at Chisholme.

It has often been said that the saint or gnostic is ‘…in the world but not of it’. This must surely be the condition inhabited by Man (the completed human being). He or she lives fully in the world, – but his/her nature is not of the world. In aspiring to the human potential, we might strive to practice knowing what it is to be in the world but not of it – (living fully in the world but not identifying with its apparent effects). This is the task of a spiritual warrior – and not, we laughed, of a ‘spiritual worrier’!

One might further describe this condition as ‘resting in awareness’. The word ‘resting’ is not accidental: it is key to the notion of non-doing, as spoken of by Lao Tzu in the Tao te Ching: …the sage does nothing – and yet all things are done. This is wholly in contrast to any sense of action or achieving by oneself. When the sage, the one in constant awareness, knows from vision that action is required, action flows from them but it is not their own. In the face of the state of the world and the grim news stories we hear constantly, our service can be simply to receive these situations without judgement or reaction, without rushing to remedy them, and simply accept what is indicated by them. We considered the necessity to ‘agree to’ what happens, whether or not we ‘agree with’ it. This is already the mark of one who is in the world but not of it. We need to consider what to do with our opinions. While it is deemed a weakness to ‘have no opinion’ according to the way of the world, those who seek to understand from the Real are advised to step back from their opinions so that the situation or thing can speak from itself. However well-intentioned or well-founded, opinions are incomplete knowledges and they blind us to the whole truth of the matter; further, acting on opinions is to assert lordship where none belongs.

Could action ever be taken before clarity and understanding is granted, rather as a cook learns to cook by undertaking to cook? Such a question, asked in the abstract, remains speculative until one is really in submission and has given up one’s own capacities in favour of the reality of all capacity. Only then can one be the sage who does nothing and yet everything is done. So meanwhile we (and the sage) refrain out of tact from actions that are not indicated to us clearly.
The mind can’t grasp this.
It does not mean sitting idly in a corner until some grand revelation happens, but rather continuing and enquiring into our lives with presence, engaging with what is in front of us, with constant questioning, vigilance and readiness to be informed.
This work is so deep and radical in our interior that we cannot do it on our own; we can only request to be ‘given up’ - and long for this - it has the taste of non-existence. This longing becomes an embodied sense and something we can ask for, moment by moment.

‘This gathering has a huge potential, but it has its conditions.’
‘You can't be a knower to go through that door.’
‘It is a real matter, and the realness of it is so attractive!’
‘Have I taken this on?’
‘How can I be here without trying to control things, control this place, even in some really subtle way?’
‘It's very difficult to ‘not know’ what I know.’
‘We've talked about listening, really listening to people. There is a tremendous challenge in practicing receptivity. It requires an altogether different manner!’

Towards the end of the week mention was made of the 18th-century Ottoman sheikh Osman Fazli. The following extract from his writings was read and had an immediacy with regard to what has come up this week – the quality of the encounter was astonishing for many of us. Here is part of the extract:

Man does not possess anything else but his sensibilities as his real organ of intelligence and without Divine action man cannot even use his memory, which is his sacred treasury of experience acquired long ago.
The initiate, the saint … is he who possesses the faculty of being able to recognise the true non-existence of his faculties of thought and his own impotence in putting them in motion.
It is he who leaves all the space to God and who passes all his life in controlling his intimate faithfulness, in actions, thought, or in the acts that materialise them.
It is he who prays constantly to God, even if it be only by a breath or by a movement of the heart, when he perceives the natural and constant phenomena of thought.

The name Fazli means 'plenty', or better: 'super-abundance of grace'

It was said many times that the way of this school is the way of non-existence. What does it really mean? It seems true that we need to take a step, and it's a step out of the belief that holds us in what we think we are. Something very different might be asked of us now. The only thing to hold on to is the ever-present beneficence.

The miracle is that even when we’re ‘right in the thick of it’ we can be open to receiving that help, aware of the origin of the source, sometimes apparently from ‘another’ …and sometimes it is apparently from me, or you, or her, or him.

The conversation week was rounded off with thanks and with the following extract from a letter written by Bulent:

“So, God be with you in all you are doing. Distance does not exist in what we aim. Sweet company remains not through distance only, but also through aeons of time. May the Himma (spiritual will, help) arrive upon us from whichever channel it may take, but definitely from the source of all Himma, the Memed al Himmam” (the source of all help)

Thanks to all the people present for the week. And thanks to Robin Thomson and Frances Ryan for taking notes, and Rachel Gordin for her help with editing these.

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...leaving all the space to God
Frances Ryan | Friday, 13th January, 2017

What is the intimate inner work of a person aspiring to live life in complete awareness?


Osman Fazli, one of the great Ottoman saints of the 17th century, lived in interesting times. His response to the needs of his particular era, informed as it was by his education in the Unity of Existence, may illuminate our own, no less interesting, times. He brought himself to mind and heart during the current ‘Single Vision’ conversation week at Chisholme.

Man does not possess anything else but his sensibilities
as his real organ of intelligence
and without Divine action man cannot even use his memory
which is his sacred treasury of experience acquired long ago. The initiate, the saint, the insani kamil, is he who possesses
the faculty of being able to recognise the true non-existence of his faculties of thought
and his own impotence in putting them in motion. It is he who leaves all the 'space' to God
and who passes all his life in controlling his intimate faithfulness,
in actions, 'thought' or in the acts that materialise them. It is he who prays constantly to God,
even if it be only by a breath or by a movement of the heart,
when he perceives the natural and constant phenomena of thought. Osman Fazlı

To read an account of Osman Fazli's life and times, see here...

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Chisholme Kedgeree
John Brix | Tuesday, 6th December, 2016

John Brix's recipe captures the Indian-Scottish origins of this much loved dish


Kedgeree is thought to have originated with an Indian rice-and-bean or rice-and-lentil dish Khichri, traced back to 1340 or earlier. It is widely believed that the dish was brought to the United Kingdom by returning British colonials who had enjoyed it in India and introduced it to the UK as a breakfast dish in Victorian times, part of the then fashionable Anglo-Indian cuisine. However the dish was listed as early as 1790 in the recipe book of Stephana Malcolm of Burnfoot, Dumfriesshire. The National Trust for Scotland's book The Scottish Kitchen by Christopher Trotter notes the Malcolm recipe and other old examples, expressing the belief that the dish was devised by Scottish regiments hankering for the tastes of India.

Kedgeree

Serves four

Main Ingredients: guide-line weights
8 ozs salmon
8 ozs cod or haddock
5–10 ozs smoked haddock or smoked white fish
8–10 ozs peas cooked
4 eggs hard boiled and quartered
8–10 ozs basmati or good long grain rice
1 pt strong fish or chicken stock

Curry sauce
2 onions, chopped
5–10 gms fresh ginger
10–15 gms tomato paste
10–15 gms madras curry paste
1 pint strong fish or chicken stock

Sweat chopped onions in butter till light golden, add tomato and curry paste, cook 5 mins add stock and cook for half an hour or until it reduces to the consistency of thin cream

Rice
8–10 ozs basmati or good long grain rice

Fry 5 gms tumeric in butter with some lemon zest and salt, add the rice, and lightly fry together. Add twice as much boiling water as rice, which should just cover the rice, then cook covered on a low heat 15–20 mins.

Fish
Cook fish in oven 180C for 10–15 mins, till just cooked.

Mix together the fish, peas, and boiled eggs.
Place in a cooking dish and keep warm 150c for ten mins.
Serve with chopped parsley on top and the curry sauce on the side.

Enjoy!

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Early days
Chisholme Blog | Sunday, 30th October, 2016

A Single Vision: returning to the spirit of the starting place. Week one: the conversation in the Mead Hall


A Single Vision: returning to the spirit of the starting place

Week one: the conversation in the Mead Hall

To quote from the September newsletter:
'Forty years on and the world has changed. Are we being asked to serve in new ways? How do we do so while remaining ever true to the unchanging starting vision?'

Can we look at these questions together over the coming months?

Read the report here

Photograph by Chris Ryan

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September Newsletter
Chisholme Blog | Friday, 23rd September, 2016

We prepare for winter and look back on the highlights of the summer


Winter is coming

If the sun did not always shine on Chisholme this summer, there was never any shortage of warmth and light here. We have been able to put on a great variety of courses and all the feedback from those on them has been as good as could be wished. Along with satisfied students, there has been a steady stream of visitors and youthful volunteers, and their appreciation of this place has been very real. But now summer is nearly over and the winter period approaches.

Regrettably this winter will not feature the 40-day retreat and the other elements which together replaced the traditional six-month course (i.e., no Turkey trip, no 99-day retreat). Though a number of people showed very real interest there were too few to allow the courses to run. Instead a programme of weekend and week events is being put together.

The first of these will be a conversation week starting on 23 October. With the fee kept very low,we hope many of you will be able to come. More details of this week and other events will be posted on the website shortly.

The 40-day retreat itself will be offered again next winter and also in the early summer – probably starting around mid-May. But before thinking about summer 2017 there are still a couple of events to round off this very memorable one.

Richard Gault
principal@chisholme.org

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Looking ahead

The major event this month comes right at its end - the conversation with Colin Tudge about the future of food and farming. For humanity there is no future without food and there’ll be no food without farming. Right now there are real doubts about the way we farm and feed ourselves. Exploring ways of bringing about change is vital. Chisholme can serve this future in three ways. Firstly, we do indeed offer an ideal venue for conversation. In fact ‘ideal’ is too much of a cliché to do Chisholme justice. This is a very special place. We offer a space for conversation that cannot be found anywhere else. Here those who normally might never easily and freely talk with another, such as organic farmers and representatives of major food processing companies, can do so and find support in doing so. Secondly Colin argues that right food and farming practices can only emerge out of proper understanding of humanity’s relationship with reality. This school enables the search for this understanding. Thirdly, on a more practical level, Chisholme can offer examples of good practice. Ambitious aims perhaps but this is a time to be ambitious.

The Future of food and farming: deepening the conversation
30 September–2 October

Colin Tudge joins a weekend conversation that examines how the future of food and farming can be shaped to lead to a happier future for everyone on the planet. We are delighted that Chris and Denise Walton from Peelham Farm will be joining us, and they have kindly invited participants to visit their organic farm on the Monday.

Winter Wood Week, 8-15 October
Winter is coming – and we need to prepare for it. Would you like to help as a volunteer? The Winter Wood week will be a week spent gathering winter fuel. There’ll be sessions in the wood yard splitting logs for the boiler or chopping hard wood for the wood-fired stoves, such as the one in the Mead Hall. You will also go out on the estate helping gather wind-blown wood. In addition to healthy, outdoor activity there will be opportunities for study, informal conversation and, of course, you will enjoy fine meals. We will also be happy to accept help in the kitchen and house during the week. The usual financial contribution is requested: £10 per day or £6 student concession.

Single vision: the spirit of the starting place, 23–30 October
This will be the first of a series of conversation weeks to be held over the winter. Forty years on and the world has changed. But what are the truly significant changes? What do these changes mean for us? Are we being asked to serve in new ways? How do we do so while remaining ever true to the unchanging starting vision? More details on the website soon. To enable as many people to come as possible, the fee has been set at just £150 (£100 non-residential). Course fees are always charged at less than their actual cost and are subsidised thanks to the generosity of covenanters and donors. If you can afford more than the £150 fee please think of adding a little more if you can. This can help others come to Chisholme in the future.

Devotional Practice Retreat, Saturday 4–Sunday 19 February 2017
A two-week Retreat Course, led by Peter Young
This intensive retreat is for those with some prior experience of reading Ibn 'Arabi and who have an ongoing spiritual practice. Applications are invited both from those who have done this form of retreat (Wazifa retreat) in the past and from those who are new to it. Week 1: Intensive week of study of selections from Ibn ‘Arabi’s Tarjuman al-Ashwaq and the Lawa’ih of Jami, together with daily practice and group conversation. Week 2: A week of private seclusion engaging full-time in devotional practices, as prescribed by Ibn ‘Arabi for his students. These practices are undertaken for the completion of the various levels of the self through the realisation of their unity with the One Absolute Self. The retreat will be limited to ten participants. If you would like to take part please apply to secretary@chisholme.org Cost: £700 fully residential with single room.

And further ahead...

Summer 2017
Missing from this summer’s programme were any specifically family-friendly events. Children should be welcome here. We hope to offer something special for families next year beginning perhaps over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

And looking back: recent courses and events

Discovering Unity Seven-day Retreat: Service and Freedom, 13–20 August
A new course which will probably be offered again. It also suggests similarly structured thematic courses. “Fantastic! At times overwhelming, at times reassuring.” (L)

Discovering Unity, Introductory weekend 19-21 August
“I have had a weekend of true communication.” (O)

Ibn ‘Arabi Study Retreat week 27 August–3 September
Peter Coates led study of the 29 Pages and the chapter on Jonah from Ibn ‘Arabi’s Fusus al Hikam. Students from Australia, Egypt, the USA as well as the UK greatly enjoyed this course which benefited from the experience of Peter Coates. ”An enlightening experience, an affirmation of the value that study provides.” (E)

Retreat in the Woods: Foundations of Natural Intelligence, 27 August–3 September
Chisholme staff were privileged to be invited to coffee in the yurt camp kitchen at the end of this FNI week. On arriving it was immediately clear that the participants had shared a really special experience. This is an extraordinary course. “It was so much more than I could ever imagine or explain.” (V)

Rememoration, Sunday 4 and Monday 5 September
The annual Rememoration for Bulent Rauf took place early this month. Zikr on the Sunday evening was followed by conversation the next morning and a delicious celebratory lunch of roast lamb. Conversation flowed. A question was posed which all were invited to reflect upon: “What is your passion? Theophanic prayer and the revelation of God to man was also mentioned. Importantly, we have been reminded again recently that Bulent never veered from the premise that union with God was the sole purpose for the existence of man and this certainty coloured all that was accomplished through him. Read more>>

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Youth weekend meet-up, Friday 9th to Sunday 11th September
Over the weekend a good number of young people came together for conversation. Along with talking there was walking, wood-oven baked pizzas in (of course) the woods and more. A fuller report next month.

Come to stay or to work

Working at Chisholme
Hannes, our development officer, left a few days ago and our secretary will go at the end of October. Can you fill their shoes? Learn more about working at Chisholme: here http://www.chisholme.org/jobs.html or email info@chisholme.org to find out more.

Weekly programme
Visitors and guests are welcome to join our morning meditation at 7am daily and come for zikr on Thursday evenings at 9.30pm. There is a Fusus reading most Saturday evenings after supper (8.30pm) and another study session on Thursday mornings at 8.30 am. A walk is usually organised after lunch on Sundays.
Please email info@chisholme.org or phone 01450 880 215 to confirm.

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We look forward to welcoming you and to hearing from you

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Bulent Rauf: a personal account
Chisholme Blog | Sunday, 4th September, 2016

In a very personal account written in 2012, John Brass pays tribute to this remarkable man.


A man of wisdom, scholar, guide and dear friend to so many, without whose vision and foresight the school at Chisholme would never have come about.

In a very personal account written in 2012, John Brass pays tribute to this remarkable man.

Read the full article here

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Summer Harvest Bonanza
Chisholme Blog | Monday, 15th August, 2016

Our August volunteers reap many rewards


Posted by Eleanor Wray, Chisholme Gardener

This week, six volunteers joined us for the August volunteer week. Every day was jam-packed with the volunteers splitting their time between the kitchen and the garden. John Hill, our garden advisor, came up for the beginning of the week and imparted wise words to the new volunteers. The weather was really good to us at the start of the week, and we were able to spend the first day out in the sunshine harvesting all the berries from the garden that were made into preserves. One night, the blackcurrants we harvested were turned into a coulis that was served with ice-cream and went down a treat!

We helped the outdoor runner beans secure their growth by adding horizontal canes to their supports. Once the runner beans reach these canes, they should hopefully begin to grow along them, creating a canopy of runner beans that I’m sure will look incredible. I can’t wait to be able to delve into the thick mass of sticky leaves, dotted with bright red flowers and the long hanging beans, collecting enough to feed us this winter.

Friday and Saturday were huge days for us, as we all banded together to harvest as much as possible for our first day at the Hawick Saturday Market. We spent the whole morning collecting lettuce, celery, rhubarb, purple gooseberries, runner beans and loads of other tasty things. With help from Aziza our cook, the volunteers tied up and packaged the lettuce and herbs into beautiful bunches, laid out in baskets, ready for the people of Hawick.

We also harvested an entire patch of new potatoes, and a huge number of them had grown so big that one night we had thick, crispy potato wedges with coleslaw made from some of the beautiful kohlrabi that thrived thanks to the warm weather. We also collected the first harvest of peas that became the renowned pea puree served with Saturday’s fish and chips, along with a giant harvest of broad beans.

It’s so incredible to see the tiny seeds we planted in April growing into massive courgette plants that have been feeding us for the past month. Or the broad beans, no bigger than the tip of our thumbs, sprouting into 7-foot-tall plants, each producing a hundred more beans for us to eat. I feel so lucky to have been here to watch them grow, to take care of them for the volunteers and students who helped plant them, and to watch others enjoy them as they are prepared in the kitchen and finally served to the table.

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A simple soup
Chisholme Blog | Saturday, 13th August, 2016

Leek and potato: a soup to please all preferences


From Ann Marie Burbidge

Today it was a pleasure for me to cook in the kitchen at Chisholme. I had at my disposal several very good, but simple, ingredients from the garden, which included new leeks and potatoes as well as the first two onions harvested. We cooked a leek and potato soup for lunch, which was very tasty and very welcome since we did not have a particularly warm day here in Scotland. Every drop of the soup was eaten and was served with börek made the previous evening along with the fresh bread that we make every day.

At our table we have a variety of people from a variety of different cultures. We also have several fellow students and volunteers with special dietary needs and we consider it very important to address these needs. Mindful of this we made a soup which was dairy free, meat free and gluten free. As one may imagine this is not always an easy task, but in asking for help, this invariably comes in the form of inspiration, generosity and love.

I have often contemplated whilst in the kitchen that it is not a simple matter of producing and edible meal for the table on time each day. I have reflected on the obligation to bring out the very best in the food provided for us, both from the garden and many other sources and the further obligation to waste as little as possible in the process. This bounty is given to nourish us in every possible way and therefore must be honoured as the miracle that it actually is. Bulent Rauf's ‘Notice to Cooks’ displayed in the kitchen states that ‘there is nothing in the divine order devoid of beauty’. Therefore the fresh produce we have is beautiful! And in my experience, the processes involved in the cooking of a meal are also really quite beautiful. Let me share with you the recipe for this soup. Obviously I have cooked a large quantity for the table here at Chisholme but I will give you a recipe that should feed four.

Leek and Potato Soup
Gluten and dairy free

2 medium onions diced
4 medium leeks washed and thinly sliced
4 large potatoes washed, peeled and cubed, about 1cm squares
2 medium sticks of celery washed and thinly sliced
2 pints of vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chopped parsley to serve

Sauté the onions in olive oil until translucent. Add the sliced leeks and continue to sauté until the leeks are soft and tender. Add the celery and continue to sauté the combined vegetable until all are soft and tender. Add the cubed potatoes and cook for a few minutes then add the vegetable stock. If you do not have any home made vegetable stock you can use a good organic gluten-free bouillon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow the soup to come to a boil and then simmer for approx. 30 mins. Some of the potatoes will break up and provide a natural thickener for the soup. Serve the soup with fresh chopped parsley sprinkled on top.

You may decide to blend the soup once it is cooked but it is very enjoyable served chunky with nice crusty bread. I hope you enjoy making this quick but very nutritious soup.

Ann Marie, Aziza Burbidge
Cook and kitchen manager

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Hello weeds!
Chisholme Blog | Wednesday, 3rd August, 2016

Our gardener Eleanor Wray reports on a satisfying few days in the organic garden


Posted by Eleanor Wray, Chisholme Gardener

Hi folks,

It’s been another busy few days in the garden. Two new volunteers joined us and we started by building a little woodland for the peas, collecting large twiggy branches from around the estate and setting them into the ground to give support to the peas planted during the April Volunteer Fortnight. Chaffinches and blackbirds are now using them to rest as they explore the garden, catching midges and other tasty bugs, and they can be seen perching on the branches during the day. We also planted in more peas in the empty spaces, and hopefully we’ll see some more coming up by the end of the month.

On Monday, we got to work weeding out the huge onion patch beside the garden hedge, the three of us ploughing through the lines with our hands, pulling out the weeds to give the onions a chance to catch the rain and bask in the sun. After lunch, we were joined by Nissa and Andy, and as Nissa worked away at clearing the weeds around the leeks, Andy proved to be the cog that kept the weeding wheel turning as he ferried our brimming buckets of weeds off to the rubbish pile. As we were weeding, we found that a lot of the onions had been using the dense weeds for support, and they flopped over when the area around them was cleared. With some good weather (and maybe a helping hand from us), they’ll pick themselves up again and there will be some lovely red and white onions for the kitchen come Autumn.

By Tuesday, we were back out on the estate, collecting a huge pile comfrey from behind the Steading. After coffee, we took our secateurs to the rhubarb patch and harvested four plants-worth of rhubarb (and if you’ve seen the rhubarb down in the kitchen garden, you’ll know just how large a harvest that is) We won’t be wanting for rhubarb this winter! Once we had harvested the rhubarb, we clambered into the open greenhouse. The almost-drought a month or so ago (up 24 degrees of relentless sun for 16 days!) triggered the old grape vine that creeps along the back wall to start sprouting. We picked the vine leaves, which will be soaked in brine by the kitchen to be used for dolmas. We also harvested the young yellow and rainbow Swiss chard from the salad bed. After lunch, we covered the chard area with a tarp, and once the weeds have died, the space will be ready for a new crop.

We then laid the comfrey in between the lines of broad beans. Comfrey is extremely fertile, as it has long roots that feed deep into to the soil and draw up nutrients that other plants cannot. This makes it brilliant mulch, and with its wide leaves, it can cover a lot of ground, stopping the weeds coming back up. It can also be piled up in a compost bin or barrel and left to decompose, where it will turn into a liquid fertilizer that is perfect for young plants. The comfrey mulch also helped define the broad bean lines, and supports were placed along the lines in the form of bamboo canes and thick, straight branches, strung up with twine. After tea we weeded out the rest of the greenhouse, and then we all set to work weeding out the last few lines of onions by the stone path.

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Huge thanks to our volunteers and helpers for a very satisfying few days.

If you would like to join us in the garden next month and learn new skills in a fabulous setting, please get in touch.

info@chisholme.org
+44 (0)1450 880 215
Or see our Volunteer page

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From the Heart
Chisholme Blog | Tuesday, 26th July, 2016

Prof. Alan Williams reviews Shane Jagger's poetry.


My Heart is Too Big for my Pacemaker
by Shane Jagger
White Stone Publishing, 2016
Rrp £10

Reviewed by Alan Williams, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Religion at the University of Manchester and the translator of Spiritual Verses: Jalaloddin Rumi, (Penguin Classics, 2006)


I cannot think of another book of poetry that has made me well up just as I came to the end of it, but Shane Jagger’s slim volume did, and quite unexpectedly with his last poem, ‘Three Words’. By this point, after having read 25 of his other poems, I thought I had become familiar with his voice. But the sincerity of this short poem grabbed me by the collar, and still makes my hair bristle to recall it.

Shane was asked to write these poems by Richard Gault, the Principal of the Chisholme Institute. They seem to be collected from a long and much-lived lifetime: some are almost diary entries, one – the enigmatic and beguiling ‘Visiting’– with an actual date. In so many ways these poems reflect Shane’s love of Chisholme, the people and what he has learnt there. The title of the collection tells it as it is – it’s an unlimited heart he has. He locates it as a spiritual organ in the first poem ‘The Heart’, in six double beats. Many that follow are little jewels of reflections, like ‘Love’, ‘The Moment’, ‘Stars’, and ‘Winter’ – the last of which uses such a singularly poignant and esoteric word, ‘mercified’, which takes it to a new level beyond the personal. In fact many of the poems are like this. Some are quite imperative, and tell us, from what he has come to know, just how it is, even with a line or two in italics from which the poem flows. In the short poem ‘Compassion’ there are six commands! No, Shane’s poetry is not as simple as it might first appear, and it demands our attention. In ‘Moments Between’, for example, there is a wonderful balance between personal reflection, and a more commanding observation of our state. To take another example, I think ‘Onion’ is delightful in formal terms, and must be quoted to allow any comment:

Today I’m like an onion
Sad with separation
Grief makes me cry
Chop and cook me gently
Add a little saffron
for joining together and laughter
Serve me to those whom I love

With breath-taking speed he gives us the image, and moves from vegetable to kitchen chopper, cook, to the table and the guests who will consume it – all with a simple plea for tenderness. Here is optimism that is a lifetime of pain away from naïveté, sensitised by his vulnerability and the caring he has received, and which is acknowledged on every page of this wonderful book. It is a lesson about love – thank you, Shane.

Alan Williams, July 2016

Order the book here
£10 inc p&p worldwide

Read the review by Christopher Ryan

Read more about Shane Jagger on beshara.org

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Sound bath
Chisholme Blog | Thursday, 30th June, 2016

Our volunteers in June were plunged into a sound bath


Posted by Hannes Rohtsalu

During the June Volunteer Week a special treat was provided for everyone at Chisholme: a 'sound bath' session was offered by Marco Florio, one of our volunteers from Italy.
Javier Rodriguez reports:

Marco works with the medium of sound frequencies and it’s healing properties. A sequence of quartz crystal and Tibetan singing bowls are played, each one keyed to the energy centres of the body, where sound nourishes the nervous system. Crystal singing bowls are composed of quartz crystals, which have the ability to transform, store, and amplify energy.

Everything in the Universe has a vibration or frequency, including our physical body. A system in each living organism: flower, plant, cell, organ, has its own vibration. Thoughts, emotions, colour and sound also have their own specific pulsation. We experience them and perceive them through our different senses and at different levels

The experience was indeed powerful, and made me wonder why I had never come across it before. I was most struck by the Turkish gong (very familiar from mealtimes at Chisholme) which acquired a deep and rich sound with Marco’s beater.

Many thanks to Marco and Javier for organising this memorable afternoon.

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Recipe of the Week
Chisholme Blog | Tuesday, 31st May, 2016

This week's recipe is John Brix's 'Fillet of Cod with Braised Fennel'.


Fillet of Cod with Braised Fennel

Serves four
Recipe by John Brix

Ingredients:

Please ensure you buy sustainably fished cod. Or use pollack which is an excellent alternative!

  • 4 Cod fillets, 6oz (180g) each (without skin)
  • 2 or 3 Fennel bulbs
  • 1 onion or a couple of shallots
  • Chicken or fish stock 1pint (1/2 litre) medium strength
  • 120g clarified butter
  • Cayenne pepper, salt, sugar

Slice fennel bulbs and onion into 1/4" slices (trim off the fennel stems and use in stock making or reserve for roasting with meats)

Sauté onion and fennel in clarified butter till golden, place in roasting tray or casserole dish.

Add some stock (along with a tsp. sugar) and braise for 3/4 hour at 180C, adding more stock as required. When cooked, the fennel should be very tender, so that a cocktail stick goes into it with ease. The stock should have reduced by about half, and the juices should have the consistency of thin cream. Take into account the fish will release some of its juices.

Roll the fillets into three, skin-side in, brush with clarified butter, season with cayenne pepper and salt.

Place the fish on top of the braising fennel and cook for about 20 minutes or until the fish is firm to the touch.

Adjust seasoning to the juices, and serve with sauté or boiled new potatoes and a seasonal green vegetable.

You can also use cod loin or cod steaks for this dish. If they still have skin on them, sauté the skin side first. No need to roll them, just continue as above.

{CGSmartImage src='uploads/images/page-images/FennelFish.jpg' class='img-responsive'}

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