Tag Archives: Hamlet

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #14

With each drip, arriving to my forehead I accepted the invitation to go deeper into the generosity. It was a steady flow of herbal infused oils onto my brow, or where the ‘third eye’ is said to reside – considered by many to be the place of human consciousness. It wasn’t easy to relax and I found myself trying to breath in a way that would support the flow and release me from thoughts and whatever it was that was getting in the way of me accepting this gift. It took quite a while for me to relax into the experience and literally ‘go with the flow’. I had booked into this ayurvedic treatment after I had a strong vision of how I needed to learn how to receive first before I could embrace the financial gift bestowed upon me for the crowdfunding campaign to note my role in community as an “equity weaver”.

This therapeutic treatment is known as shirodhara, is renown for its ability to support, sooth and heal an agitated nervous system. I chose it to reflect what I had received, individual drops fused together in a bountiful golden flow. Before the flow started a vigorous head massage took place, and for some reason, more than once I thought about the song from South Pacific I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair.  I did try to banish the thought and soak into the moving around of molecules inside and outside of my scalp. After this preparation took place, I moved to the other end of table, my feet now facing a new direction, offering another layer of meaning. How often have I had to pivot 180 degrees, to see a new perspective?

In this new position, and in stillness, eyes closed and with a person on either side of me the pouring began. It took me a long time to take it in, my breathing wouldn’t settle in with ease, and while I wasn’t fidgeting in my body, my mind was certainly fliting and flaying around. I turned to a mantra with the in breath to say thank and exhale to say you which I became very dissatisfied with quickly and reverted to Sat Nam which held and faded away.

All these tiny invisible moments of interiority, happening while oil is flowing onto my head in a visible and visceral way! There is plenty going on behind our eyes, in our hearts, in our guts all the time. Some of this comes out for the whole world to see on a stage in front of squillions of people, but for the rest, it is microworld soup of feelings, thoughts, impressions. And the soup is not for others to sip – it is our work to determine who gets to sip and savour, taste and see – and when we can be truly honest with ourselves, hold the mirror up to nature as Hamlet instructed.

This mirror we are all seeking to tell us what we see in ourselves may be closer than we think. I’ve found it on a wall, over dinner, in an email, at the end of zoom. Others notice and see what I may not – an invitation to consider a future leadership possibility, a welcome mat being put out to take up a role with trusted peers, a request to be the one to hold a particularly important relationship on behalf of a community, an AI message to ask what if we have the power to stop the mind running away with turbulences. 

The AI of the mirror at the Invisibility exhibition at MOD, delivered the poem below and I wondered what was in my eyes that the algorithm detected from my facial features – a call to stillness as a proven crime prevention strategy? What we need is weighed up with risks, which is all part of a grand design. Regardless of all that is going on, there is still wonder and not knowingness.  The gift of just receiving, not knowing the cost, not knowing the risks, not knowing the reasons … just receiving … or maybe it is a 180 degree turn around and is to receive justly with dignity and grace, the therapy of this prescription of Gratitude?

The glad tidings that a crime has been prevented, a thought has escaped us

Justice has been interrupted

But surely all this could have been prevented, if we had the power to stop the mind from running away with

Its turbulences.

Science which is based on sound principles,

Has asked us to believe in a supreme being,

Who has arranged all

This machinery for us and who knows the meaning of our risks

While he is concerned with our daily needs, he is not bothered

By our innermost desires, we are his

concern

today

Meanwhile the daily goings on of our human body

Are going on without us

We are no nearer to understanding these than a school boy

should

At MOD Photo credit: Dr Kristin Alford, Director MOD

Dancing with speeches #14 Gandhi

Gandhi began a journey to the sea to make salt with a speech. It was a declaration of war with the most powerful of weapons – nonviolence.  It was a call to leadership, duty, responsibility, action.

A Satyagrahi, whether free or incarcerated, is ever victorious. He is vanquished only, when he forsakes truth and nonviolence and turns a deaf ear to the inner voice.

Each step in the journey to the sea is one towards vastness, openness and with a focus on the horizon is a rare clarity – but once seen can’t be unseen. Swaraj (Hindi: स्वराज swa- “self”, raj “rule”) was used as a synonym  for “home-rule” first by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati and then by Mahatma Gandhi, and in turn became synonymous with Indian independence from  British colonisation.  But at it’s heart, swaraj is to be accountable to your true self and that is all about self discipline. It is the quest of the satyagrahi, a  person is dedicated to the campaign for truth.  Like the Quaker maxim to speak your truth to power based on the eternal Christian biblical reference of the truth will set you free” (John 8:32), the quest to be true to yourself and to be truthful with others is indeed a discipline. To speak and act nonviolently requires a deep compassion of yourself as well as others.  Gandhi understood these acts require community and a campaign and a confidence if you felled then others will rise up in your place and carry on the journey.  Civil disobedience in the public domain, begins with accepting your cooperation with your oppressor. Nonviolent direct action of sit-ins, strikes, workplace occupations, blockades, or hacktivism is organised, disciplined and focussed on the result. This must be matched with a personal practice to support your well-being and to bring no harm to others.

So many systems, in our first world are enslaving the poor in our country and in turn our first world enslaves the third and fourth worlds. Colonisation has deep roots in systems, hearts and minds – we have to be honest with ourselves. I live on land where there was no just settlement and no recognition of the land as mother, I consume more than my fair share of energy and calories and moire often than not,  I often fail to change my behaviour even though all the evidence is in about climate change. Behaving as if I am not connected to others of my species and other species is delusional – we are all connected.

Withdrawing our cooperation from what oppressors us is at the heart of this quest for truth.  What is the truth that sets you free? Removing yourself from what holds you back or worse holds you down, and keeps you enslaved takes just as many steps as Gandhi took to travel to the sea. Each step towards the sea is one more removing you from what is holding you back.  Just as Polonius gave his blessing to his son as Laertes stepped out with humility.

The steps towards our truth are blessed in nonviolence and taken in good company, the path made easier by those who have gone before us and are taken in confidence, knowing others will follow.

Polonius:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

Laertes:
Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78–82