Conversation Notes for February 5-13th
February is devoted to a time of ‘stopping’, in which residents and guests are invited to enter into a spirit of shared enquiry and deep questioning of what is to be next for the place and our place in it.
Notes on the daily conversation, in the form of short reports are made by Robin Thomson, and updated here most days.
To start at the beginning of the notes please click here...
Monday 5 February
How does Reality educate and how does Reality announce Itself?
How is the education at the School to be presented today?
Do we hold on to old forms because of the orders they once represented, or can we discriminate between order and form, so that the orders (which are realities and do not change) can be pointed to by new forms (that are ephemeral and subject to the era)?
Can we allow ourselves to be informed of this from a clear and empty place and refrain from conjecturing or hurrying to fill the space?
Tuesday 6 February How does the Real invite to Itself?
What is it in the invitation letter that draws people to participate in this month at Chisholme?
Perhaps that the concerns set out in the invitation are close to the concerns in our hearts? So, can the school offer a real invitation that will reach the concerns of people in the present time and likewise elicit in us a desire to respond?
If there is only the Real, the invitation is from the Real to the Real. The response will match the aptitude of each individual perfectly. This is the principle of the situation. It requires receptivity on the part of the one invited. We strive to hold the conditions in which this can take place, with presence and by ‘keeping everything clean’.
The mode of expression of the present era is fast-changing and new forms of communication may be required. Yet the vision itself, and its meanings, are unchanging, and are as essential to new generations as they were to all humans throughout history.
Wednesday 7 February Evidence of our presence in vision is the quality of our hospitality. The hospitality of Abraham towards the three strangers exemplifies the hospitality of vision (or of aspiration to vision), in which we see (or accept ‘as if we saw’) that every person is a face of the Real, a divine Name, and thus an aspect of the real collectivity and a revelation to inform our studentship.
Thursday 8 February
We were given the image of a person standing before a curtain, and wanting to draw it back, but unable to reach out to move it. This came with a sense of facing an unknown and a profound sense of incapacity and inability.
Friday 9 February
Out of our incapacity to know the Unknown comes the invitation to be taken ‘beyond the curtain’ by that which can carry us there. The self-revelation of the Unknown to Itself is the divine Love Affair. The world is ever in becoming, and our place as the lover is to enter the intimacy of the Beloved.
In this a merciful action takes place. The ‘tension’ of not knowing and wanting to know is released by the realisation that there is only the Real, and that the Real includes the time and manner of release. Then comes the possibility of vision, and the desire for this is from the Real even more than it is from the student. One can relax, trusting that what needs to happen will be given when the time is right.
Saturday 10 February
Back to incapacity as our starting point and place of refuge. We are invited to invite the Real to be our ‘Trustee’ – the one who takes care of our affairs. In this action of appointing arises the possibility of prayer.
So, if our way is not a religion, what is prayer?
We come to a situation in which we request of the Real because this is the Real’s request of us. Request, gratitude and praise form three strands of a rope that binds to Truth. Equally, prayer is an act of praise in which the praiser, praised and praise are one. The mystery of servanthood is in the participating in this situation. And the realised servant requests that the distinction between servant and lord be maintained so that this situation of requesting can continue.
Sunday 11 February
Since the beginning of the month, Janice McAllister has been working in the attic of the main house. She came from the US specifically with this purpose in her heart, to clear it and clean it and paint it, so that light can enter every corner of it. In the last two weeks, the attic has seen a remarkable transformation – see image at the top of the page.
We spoke of the value of this work being done. Not only is there a symbolic and energetic significance particularly to beginning at the top; the scale and rigour of this clearing out is such that all of us are under its effect.
So what is ablution?
Mere ‘cleaning’ is more than meets the eye. The one who cleans feels benefit, regardless of their level of awareness – it has an obvious, tangible effect and goes far beyond the physical.
It is an ongoing practice, like prayer, and like prayer, it becomes a condition in which we can abide. Like prayer, it is an approach to awareness and the constancy of awareness. So perhaps all the practices and actions envisaged in the School’s courses point to this same objective of maintaining awareness of the Real at all times.
Does all real action in this world directs us to that objective…?
Monday 12 February
T.S. Eliot spoke of the possibility of being ‘at the still point of the turning world… Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is… Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance…. In the dance, at the still point, is pure being, and being is joy.’
By being present to ourselves we become more present to each other, so that, together, we are present to the One Who is present to us.
‘The greatest beshara is that God is the Ipseity (selfness) of all things.’
(Fusus al Hikam ch. of Hud)
Tuesday 13 February
Movement loomed large today, arising from an offer of chi gong sessions. Movement can be understood in various ways. Meanwhile the body needs integration with the mind, and chi gong does this effectively. The body is the receptacle of real experience; in mindfulness practice the body is often a primary focus; the chapter on Moses speaks of the body as the ark in which knowledge resides.
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The Red Sail
Katharine Tiernan writes about St Cuthbert's years
in retreat, for Beshara Magazine
The Twenty-Nine Pages
An Introduction to Ibn 'Arabi's Metaphysics of Unity
is available from Beshara Publications