Categories
Musings

indeed, why ask why?

“People say that we’re searching for the meaning of life.  I don’t think that’s it at all.  I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences in the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.â€?  – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Nike had a brilliant ad campaign to inspire people to action.  The commercials asked the question:  why ask why. Just do it.

Why do we search for meaning in our being here?  Why do we question what our lives are for?  Why can’t we be happy just to be?  The ancients tried to make sense of the world by finding out how things worked rationally.

So in the beginning man worshiped the sun and the moon and mother earth and all these things were gods to them.  They used the gods to explain why things happened the way they did.

And then something happened.

People decided to test the system.  What would happen if I didn’t sacrifice my goat to appease the thunder god?  When nothing happened man said ah.  So what makes thunder happen then?

We began our search for how our world really worked.

In the 17th century, the age of reason, we went in search how things worked using reason to understand how our world worked.  In the 18th century, the age of exploration, we went in search of where we were on the planet.  We went in search of the physical space in our geography.  In the 19th century, the industrial revolution, we went into what to do what with the knowledge we had gained and built big factories and machines to harness what we had learned.  The 20th century became the age of me.  People went in search of a better lifestyle through brokering information and gaining personal power through material wealth.  In the 21st century, we find ourselves searching for meaning again.  Why am I here?  There is sense of lack of spirituality.  The 21st century has become the age of self-help.

The search for meaning is gnawing at our minds.  It is the splinter in our mind’s eye that is sending us in search of the question.  It’s the question that drives us as Trinity reminded Neo.  A lot of the people I coach seem to be searching for something – something more out of life.  They look around at where they are now and in terms of material well being they have the things they need to survive and for the most part to live comfortably.

But being comfortable is no longer a comfort.  They want more.  They are tired of being comfortably numb.

In the Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac describes a scene where all the middle-class people are sitting at home plugged into the same television shows, being pumped full of nothing, while characters like Jaffry prowl the wilderness, embracing life.

We don’t want to be comfortably numb anymore.  We want to live on purpose.  What is the point of life?  We marvel at what we have and what we have created yet we cannot understand why we are here.

A growing discontent is out there.  We have books springing up like the Celestine Prophecy that gnaw at the edges of the societal angst that consumes us.  It’s about a lack of spirituality – a lack of understanding of who we are, and why we are here.  We long to find our place and purpose in the universe.

Our comfort zones have become prisons that hold us in place and keep us from reaching our full potential.  I can image the faces pressed against the plastic bubble of our comfort zones as we look out beyond the edge and wonder what our my lives could be like on the other side of this wall?

Echoing Morpheus’ words, we are slave; guarded by walls that we cannot see, or touch, or taste – a prison for our minds

Categories
Blog

janine

Janine, my dream, I drink you up
like a Kasteel Cru on a lonely night

Like the night we first met
I was passing through without a lot to do.
You were behind the desk on the headset
While Benny Goodman played Roll ’em on the clarinet
I was dreaming of nothing until I walked into you

Janine, my dream, I drink you up
like a Kasteel Cru on a lonely night

I couldn’t escape your soft brown eyes
They held me in place transfixed, mesmerized
Like a cool mountain lake on a hot summer day
I wanted to dive right into you
Lost forever in your eyes

Janine, my dream, I drink you up
like a Kasteel Cru on a lonely night

I want to wrap myself up in your smile
I’d tell you that I love you, but how could I reconcile
The distance between the mile I’d have to crawl
To cross the divide between the real and imagined
How could I ever tell you how I feel?

Janine, my dream, I drink you up
like a Kasteel Cru on a lonely night

Categories
Musings

dingy cafes

And so I find myself sitting in a dingy café that lured me in with the offer of free Internet access.  Only the access is not really free.  You have to buy their coffee, of course.  But also the only ‘free’ Internet access is their website!  I could have just as well stayed in my hotel room had I known such was the case.  And to top it all off, it’s been 20 minutes and I still don’t have my cup of coffee yet.

It’s a Monday evening.  I’ve been up since 4 am.  I flew up to Scotland on the red eye and went straight into work with my client until 17.30.  Egats man! I’m tired, but I feel obligated to get some words on the page and post on the blog.

This whole writer’s journey thing has been a crazy up and down ride.  Every time I think I have it sussed, I get side tracked by something else.  And then I get back on the Path after a sabbatical of how ever long.  Only to notice that more time has passed.

But I recon, I am reaching the perfect age to start reflecting on and sharing my experiences over the last 39 years.

My areas of passion are philosophy, psychology, spirituality, and religion and being a fallible human being.  More specifically, how these disciplines and fallibility help us to understand ourselves in order that we can fully realise our potential.

I am an everyday man.  A scholar I am not.  So I don’t see myself approaching these topics from an academic perspective.  I see myself approaching them as a naked philosopher and poet trying to make sense of the world I live in.

I don’t know where this is going to lead me.  But at this point, I think it is irrelevant.  What matters is I want to pursue an idea – a dream – I have long harboured for many years.

Categories
general stuff

writer’s journey

During my Saturday morning surfing, I came upon these three sites:

http://oneredpaperclip.blogspot.com/

http://www.nikinielsen.com/bio.html

http://www.areyoumywife.blogspot.com/

These sites have really got me thinking about my dreams.  I have tended to do one thing to the next without much connection between any two points. I have an idle dream of being a writer, but have struggled with finding my writer self over the many long years.

What these websites reminded of is that you have to PURSUE your dreams, not sit idle and WISH your dreams to come true.

Categories
general stuff

happy thanksgiving

No turkey for me today. Being an expat, I haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving in 6 years and it was only reading a post from Raw Dawg that reminded that today is Thanksgiving.

I am about as far away from the Thanksgiving tradition as I can get. I’m away from home, alone, in Scotland having a Chinese buffet for dinner.

I don’t often take the time to reflect on just how far remove from America I am. I no longer have a feel for what is going on in America at the street level and the only news I get is through the British press, which of course has a European slant. I guess I could read the local news on the Internet, but I’m too busy reading all the great blogs out in blogshere to bother.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is what I am thankful for:

– I am thankful for my family and friends
– I am thankful for my health and the health of those close to me
– I am thankful for having a life not full of strife and contention
– I am thankful that I have material comfort
– I am thankful for my spiritual well-being
– I am thankful for being on The Path
– I am thankful for all the cool people I have met through this blog

I am sure there a thousand other things I could give thanks for, but at the risk of boring everyone to death, I’ll stop there.

God Bless and have a great Thanksgiving holiday,

Clay Lowe

Categories
Musings

new reading list

“Writers are always watching people. In order to have output, we need to have input.”

I am a tired puppy tonight. And once again, I ate the foulest tasting hamburger in the world. But there you go; at least I had something to eat.

I need to go on a reading sabbatical. I started Ken Wilber’s One Taste and within the first few pages I had a long list of philosophers, thinkers, scientists, poets, psychoanalysts, and writers whose work I feel compelled to find and explore. The list includes:

Kant
Hegel
Spinoza
Marx
Fichte
Freud
Nietzsche
Einstein
Schopenhauer
Leibniz
Aldous Huxley
Thomas Mann
Christopher Isherwood
Gerald Heard
Krishnamuriti

I better get started then…

Categories
general stuff

NLP Taster Evening

A quick commercial for a really cool event we’re running in December. If you’re in the area, please do come along. I promise it will be fun, informative, and full of magical moments.


How can an evening’s learning be so much fun and still be life changing? How can you learn some tools and techniques in just 3 hours that will enable you to achieve your goals, manage how you feel and respond to situations and improve the quality of your personal and professional relationships?

How would you like to learn the techniques used by people like Paul McKenna & Derren Brown?

Well, the simple answer is to come along to Trinity College in Leamington Spa on December 7th and find out.

We’re launching a brand new course through Trinity College in NLP – Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It’s an approach to developing personal performance, based on understanding and changing our mental processes and view of the world.

Just imagine – if you could develop better relationships, communicate even more effectively and realise your wildest dreams, what would that mean to you, and to the people close to you?

To give you a unique opportunity to find out more we’re running a taster evening. There’s no cost, and it’s the perfect time to see NLP in action, discover how it works for you, take away some powerful tools that you can use right away and meet the training team. You can ask questions, make friends, chat, relax, be entertained and of course learn skills that have the potential to change the course of your life.

The course itself comprises 12 evenings, and if you want to take it further, a 4 day certification module.

All you have to do now is use the form above or call Sarah Bartlett at Trinity College on 01926 428416 to secure your place.

Categories
Musings

labels

Labels. Labels. Labels.

We have this innate need to label things. I realise labelling is a part of our survival mechanism. Back in the day running around in the jungle, we needed to label things, good, bad, dangerous, poisonous, friend or foe.

And the labels were signals to the brain to act accordingly in relationship to the label.

So if I stumbled upon another human in the jungle, I might label the person friend and go up and hug the person and exchange juicy gossip about what so and so was caught doing in the village.

If I labeled the person foe then my brain would either give me the signal to fight or flee. This same functionality is still with us today.

Soren Kierkegaard turned us on to the problem with labels: once you label me, you negate me. This equally applies to how we label ourselves. I often struggle with how to label myself for other people. Am I a writer, coach, trainer, philosopher, or consultant?

We tend to answer the question ‘what do you do?’ by saying what we are. The dialogue goes like this:

“So what do you do?�

“I am a writer…�

When in fact I should answer the question by saying “I write.�

Now if the person asks me ‘who are you?’ I answer with my name. ‘I am Clay.’ And ‘what do you do Clay?’

I am a:

a writer

a coach

a trainer

I run my own business

In fact labels can be changed and interchanged depending on what you need to use the label to do.

Writer is a label that is useful for me.

Philosopher is a label that is useful for me.

Thinker is a label that is useful for me.

Coach is a label that is useful for me.

Training Consultant is a label that is useful for me.

In a world that wasn’t obsessed with labels, I would be happy to just say “I AM.”

Categories
Blog

wicked

wicked thoughts between Chardonnay and pizza blond delivers wife waits.

Note: This poem is written in the poetic form made famous by Allen Ginsberg known as American Sentences. It’s basically a derivative of the Japanese Haiku. Instead of three lines totaling 17 syllables, American Sentences are written as a single poetic sentence totaling 17 syllables. The above is my first attempt at this form.

Categories
Musings

happiness is

Instant happiness is

FORGET the past; FUCK the future, BE here now!

(early morning insight while lying in my hotel bed)

Categories
Musings

work life balance

Work life balance is a myth. To be balanced is to be mediocre. Even Jesus eluded to this in the Book of Revelations: ‘…you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other. So, because you are lukewarm I am about to spit you out of my mouth.’ What I have noticed is in my attempt to lead a balanced life, I have become Joe Average. When my life was unbalanced and chaotic, I constantly pushed the limits of how far I could go. I spent a lot of time on the edge in danger of falling off. The edge is intoxicating because you learn things about yourself you might never have had the opportunity to learn in ordinary circumstances.

My life is less chaotic now, more stable and balanced. But balance, as I have seen it, has brought boredom, frustration and a little irritation. I feel like the caged bird. Only I don’t feel much like singing. I feel like ripping the fucking cage up and beginning again.

Life coaches would have you balance the Wheel of Life. Knowing what I know now, I would say scrap that, choose what most appeals to you and then pour all of your energy into the pursuit if that one area.

Categories
Musings

do we need a map?

The map is not the territory. If you have the territory, why would you need a map? A map presupposes a destination, an endpoint to obtain, a goal. If I sent you an email that read, “Meet me in Wales next Thursday at 10:02am as a matter of urgency. By the way, after I send this message, you won’t be able to contact me further.”

If you know where Wales is, you could make a start but the chances are you wouldn’t find me next Thursday. In fact, it would probably take you a lifetime to find me there without more specific information.

If I said meet me at the very top of Snowdon at 10:02 next Thursday, you would be able to find me if 1) you have an accurate map of Snowdon in your mind, i.e. you have been there many times before and have an accurate memory of the territory, or 2) you have the necessary physical maps you would need to get you to the top of Snowdon from where ever you are right now, or 3) you know someone who knows how to get to Snowdon or could ask someone who knows.

The ‘map’ is a guide to the territory. If you don’t have any particular place to get to within the territory, do you need a map? Any direction you choose is as good as any other. As the Cheshire Cat famously illustrated when Alice asked the question: “Would you tell me please which way I ought to go form here?”

“That depends a great deal on where you want to get to,” replied the Cheshire Cat.

“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

I have been looking for maps to help guide me through my life. Which presupposes I have somewhere to get to. If that’s the case, where do I want to go? Isn’t BEING here enough?

Categories
Blog

death part II

Death, he gets his gratification
By serving man his termination
And when all men meet their expiration
Death gives no explanation.

Categories
reflection

CBT 1992

I was visiting one of my West Point Classmate’s website and found this little gem tuck away on her site.  It’s a video of Cadet Basic Training better known as Beast Barracks.  Brings back some fond memories!

Categories
general stuff

mystical flow


The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the source of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand in rapt awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exits, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms, this knowledge, this feeling, is the centre of true experience.

Some of you may recognize these words as those of the preeminent physicist, Albert Einstein. I came across the words while studying some universal laws to which I had know of intellectually but had not put into practice very much. But as I reflect back on the periods in my life when I have had the privilege to tap directly into this source, this magical mystical flow, I realized that these were times when I was at my absolute best. I was firing on all cylinders: mind, body and spirit in tune, in flow and in harmony with everything around me.

Over the past week, I have been drawing a mandala daily as a part of a research project I am doing. The mandala is like a mind mirror in which you can find valuable clues from your subconscious mind. I have an article on mandalas which I’ll make available on the blog later. I also use the mandala as a projective coaching tool on Ascent and recently, I have been running mandala workshops. The workshops have inspired me to start collecting empirical data to be used as the basis of a book on mandalas to support my workshops. If you are interested in participating as a subject, post a comment or send me an email.

Categories
Blog

death part I

Death hides behind every corner, every bend.
To some he is an enemy, to some he is a friend.
Death favours those who live in sin.
But he claims all in the end.

Categories
On the Road

homebase

Ah the joys of coming home and the anticipation of sleeping in my own rack.  I had a late flight in from Scotland.  I used BMI Baby instead of Fly “May” BE.  The BMI Baby crew actually seem to have pride in their company and treat their customers with a little dignity and respect and on top of that, the plane got us to Birmingham 20 minutes early!  Well it’s late and I’m up early tomorrow for pretty much an all day meeting followed by another engagement in the evening.  Time for some much needed shut eye.

Categories
questions

question no. 53

Question number 53 is courtesy of those funky business boys.  The Nobel Prize winning Mr. Henry Kissinger is reputed to have started a press conference with the question: ‘Does anyone have any questions for my answers?’  Which reminds me of the poster of a monkey scratching his head underneath a caption that said, “just when I thought I had all of life’s answers, they changed the questions.”

Categories
On the Road

stirling nights

The barista in training told me there were several good places to eat in Stirling. I told him I would be here for several weeks which would give me plenty of time to try them all. I told him tonight though, I want a burger.

“Where can I go to get a good burger?” I implored.

“Ah that’ll be The Filling Station just down the way. They make an awesome burger.” I finished my coffee and dashed back to my hotel to pick up my copy of funky business forever. I thought Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell Nordstrom might make good dinner companions.

The Flagship Golden Lion Hotel is my home for the next three days. From the moment I walked into the lobby, I didn’t like the place. My dislike grew when I walked into the closet they were calling my room and I absolutely went through the roof when I found out they didn’t have WiFi. According to the welcome pack, “Unfortunately we don’t have Internet access in our hotel but the central library in the city centre is the perfect place to go. They have free Internet access Monday to Saturday from 9.30 am until 6.00 pm.” That would be fine I suppose If I were here as a tourist, but not so good if you’re on business. Not to worries though, this would be my big chance to try out the Vodafone mobile WiFi unit I bought a few weeks ago. I knew it would come in handy sooner or later.

I wander into The Filling Station and ask the lone waitress for a table for one. The place is decked out in old filling station paraphernalia – old Shell and Esson petrol cans, rusty bumpers and old street signs. I immediately spot the spicy hot wings and the Bison burger with bacon and mozzarella cheese.

While I’m waiting for my bison burger, Ridderstrale and Nordstrom tell me that “markets are simply big conversations where sellers and buyers exchange information to determine the price of something.” Radical thinking? Or how about, “America’s success lies in its ability to mop up the greatest talent. The brightest minds from China, India, Russia and Brazil and elsewhere flock to the US. Why? Because the US is an idea not a country.”

The spicy hot wings were sweat on the brow, nose dripping, mouth burning hot! And I would have to say they are the best hot wings I have had in the UK. They are a close second to the world famous Jay’s Elbow Room hot wings. The Bison burger, on the other hand, is a disappointment. I had dreams of it being as good as the bison burger I ever had down on South St in Philadelphia. The bun let the bison burger down. The bun is just as important as the burger. They are a team. In this case, the bun failed to enhance the overall experience of the burger and I left wishing I had just order two or three servings of the hot wings.

Categories
On the Road

oxford

I pretty much had a quiet day.  I read An Enchanted Life until mid-afternoon, cooked myself a late spaghetti lunch and then watched the two episodes of Heroes that have been waiting for me to watch them.  The rest of the eveing I spent on packing for my trip to Scotland tomorrow, plus a few odds and ends.

Here are some of the photos I took in Oxford yesterday.  Oh, the reason I was in Oxford was to meet a friend whom I’d not seen for a few months.  He lives in London.  We chose Oxford as a sort of midpoint between us.  I decided to take the train so I could spend some time reading Don Juan:  A Yaqui Way of Knowledge.  This is my second reading, but it’s appropriate for the project I’m working on at the moment.

I have an oh-dark-thirty morning tomorrow so I’ll post these photos and call it a night: