Friday, 9 June 2017

Aspects of the Divine

"Rest in Natural Great Peace, this exhausted mind." - Prayer by Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
Siva the destroyer and friend of the poor, Ganesh the remover of obstacles, Loki the trickster and the madman who is not mad, the horror who has no name whom I call nightmare, Sophia who is wisdom, Venus who is unbridled passion, Dionysius who is abandoned revelry and is also called Bacchus, Delia who is beauty and is also called Artemis, Diana in whom is the moon who may also be Artemis, Anubis who shows the path to the dead, Isis the mother who is all women, the Father from whom all springs, and Michael who is war.

And Jesus who is love, who is all in all. The Godhead incarnate who was dead and yet lives and who makes all things new.

These are the metaphors, the archetypes, the aspects of the divine that I know.

Oh, and you. I know you. If you will permit to be known.

Codicil: lest it remain unsaid, beauty has married war and their love is glorious and terrible. Look not.


"Dark chocolate, like black coffee, is a wonderful metaphor for life. The interesting flavours are hidden in the bitter edge, but all are unbearable without a little sweetness."

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Do What Thou WIlt

In times of terror we see those who love evil, because it gives them a reason to hate.
We often think about the struggle between doing what is right and what is wrong, but far more often the problem is not doing the right thing but knowing what the right thing is. In my experience, more often than not I want to do the right thing but it isn't clear what that is. There are often several options, none of which seems exactly right and all of which could be wrong.

Wouldn't it be good if you could trust your desires, if you could know that you are good and that what you want to do is therefore likely to be the right thing. Then you could usually just do what you want, except  where it is clearly wrong, and most of the time you would be doing the right thing or at least have the right intentions.

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law". Aleister Crowley wrote this in the early 1900s. Contemporary society misunderstood him as saying "do what you want", and for this they called him the great beast. Actually he meant find your true will, and do what you really will. For your true will is to do good. Mr Crowley has a dark reputation, mostly undeserved but not entirely, but for good or for ill (and who knows) his words have had an influence on my life. He also said "Love is the law, love under will". We choose to love, and this it seems to me is a beautiful truth.

So how do you get there, how do you know what your true will is? This is pretty much the same question that most people ask for much of their lives; who really am I and what do I really want?

We spend much of our lives struggling to do what is right, and feeling that we are not very good and therefore we must fight against what we want. So we don't trust our own desires and we remain cut off from ourselves and struggle to know our own heart and mind.

So I'm afraid that the path to discovering who you are, to discovering what you really want and what your "true will" (whatever that may be) is, does largely involve doing what you want - and being prepared to take the consequences of your actions.

If you're willing to trust that you are basically good, with many flaws, and that you want to do the right thing. And if you're also prepared to accept that you can only do what you can do, that even if there is some hypothetical "right thing" if it is beyond your capability then you must simply do what you can and that's all that can be asked. If you're willing to trust that trying to love people is a process that will change you, trust that in having a genuine heart you will be changed, then do what you want. And gradually, if you really are genuine, what you want will more and more be good. As you do what you want, as you're willing to listen to what you want, then what you *really* want and who you really are becomes clearer.

Obviously apply common sense. Deny the clearly wrong impulses, but be willing to make mistakes. If you get things wrong then just deal with the consequences. You only do what you are able to do, no need to feel guilty just get on with facing what is before you right now. The past has gone and the future is not yet written. Let's have some fun and be good.

Love God and do what you want -- Augustine.


"It has been said that for many people their faith involves attempting to clamber from the evil branches to the good branches in the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Instead the call is to climb down from that tree and climb into the tree of life."

Monday, 5 June 2017

Why Should I Fear


Didn't there used to be magic 
When you were five the world was magic. And then gradually, the magic fades. But it hasn't gone, it's still there. When you were five.
When I was young I was haunted by a wild and ferocious desperation and I was so afraid. It cut me and drove everyone away. It hurt so much.

The thing is that emotions, these parts of yourself, don't really go away. Instead if you learn not to fear them you can turn them to good. My desperation is still there, a wild longing to love and to burn and to blaze. An unquenchable thirst for the river that never runs dry.

As for the pain, that remains too. And when I see it in others, because everybody hurts, I can sometimes bleed. As we bleed together we heal. Let your inner pain be the engine of your empathy.

Finally that lost lonely death that had me. That I can turn on the fear. Fear must die. Why should I fear, I've been dead.

"The best defence is a perfect mirror. The fiercer and uglier your opponent the less they can stand to see themselves. Mind as a still lake."

Objective and Subjective Realities


Beauty is to be found in a naked paradox.

Objective reality is the composite of all subjective realities. And right at the heart is love.

Fundamental reality is chaos and uncertainty, and I love her with all my heart.

Wherever you go walk the worlds. Let people into your world and enter theirs. Eventually they merge, as you evolve a common language.

Our common subjective reality is our objective reality. Let's share reality, all of it in every way. As we do our reality gets stronger.

Fear is what keeps you out of chunks of reality. Parts of reality are very frightening. So let's conquer fear and help other people conquer fear. My strong suspicion is that as we defeat fear we discover that actually it was really only the fear we were afraid of all along. The rest we can handle and sort out between us.
1 John 4:18 Perfect love drives out all fear.
The Litany Against Fear, from Dune:
"I must not fear.Fear is the mind-killer.Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.I will face my fear.I will permit it to pass over me and through me.And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
Codicil: so if objective reality is the composite of all subjective realities, what is it that actually exists beyond? Of that, no-one can ever know. We can expand our reality, but there is always a beyond. The great unknowable unknown. But maybe, just maybe it echoes. Ripples through space and time, that only the utterly still may hear.


"I know a spell of unbinding. It is worse than the spell of binding. It is the cost of a broken promise."

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Fragments of a Once Broken Mind


Awaken to dream and be the lucid dreamer.

In a Different Place

In a different place, in a different life, I did community service in Cambridge. Three memories remain.

Clearing a lake a young gypsy lad asked me if I'd ever stabbed anyone. He meant me no harm and I replied that I didn't like the sight of other people's blood.

Then, in a workshop on Newmarket road, we built bikes painted green from abandoned wrecks or unclaimed stolen property. This was to be Cambridge's community bike scheme, free to use. Within a week of starting all the bikes were gone. Most probably drowned in the Cam. A common tragedy perhaps. Building bikes they bullied me and threatened me and I didn't go back.

After the court summons they sent me to a little charity distributing furniture, run by a queer man in his forties and a capable dyke. He told stories of sex with the Queen's horse guardsmen, all as queer as him it seems. They were kind and they were good, and although I was so bound up and couldn't speak much they saw me and they held me for a little while before I fell.

Love Poems

How nice it is to be held, by a promise or a kiss. Isn't it lovely. I promise to love you my darling, and see how its held me. Our love holds.


I should so like to burn for eternity with you. What do you say my love, shall we try it, and if it be possible maybe we shall find it. And if it be not, we're none the sadder for our dreams.

I should so like to burn with eternity for you.


IAO I adore thee, magickal thou art. Evoe. IAO, the black and red sigil of my desire that is also my love. Evoe, the green and white and silver soft response sighs from every evergreen bowed gentle with snow.


Horror

I have come to an uneasy peace with my nightmare. An agreement between me and the nameless, shapeless horror that swallowed my years and dragged me desolate and alone to a place no-one should go. For though it mauled and wounded me, it also shaped and formed me. In its way it birthed me, for it taught me and I am forever marked.

Never will I walk that road again, never would I have chosen it. That path I took marred everything I cared about, and I alone am to blame. But still, I wouldn't swap with anyone. There are lessons that only the nightmare can teach (and sure we must all learn to dance with our own nightmare as I have danced with mine). So in a manner I love that horror, for what I could have learned no other way. And in our mutual understanding we have become friends. And thus its power is mine.

But perhaps after all, the horror is just me.


Beauty

Beauty cries in the corner, alone. She weeps for no-one looks, out of fear we pretend not to care. And our secret love burns and hurts, but who will be the first to turn and look? Few it seems, and instead we dull the hurt and choose to be blind. After all, it's what everyone does and we can't all be wrong surely?

Now beauty is angry. What could be more beautiful, or angrier. Where did you get that idea my love? Well it just stands to reason. She stands. Beauty stands for reason, and she's angry.

Beauty is such a con. The only way to find her, as you seek and ache and burn, is to become beautiful. And then, the trickstress, you can't help but see her everywhere. She was never hidden!

Beauty goes by many names. My favourite of her names is kindness. Before her I am unmade.

At the heart of beauty is a poison, a molecular unbinding. And if you won't be unmade, perhaps you die.


"Remain rational in the face of irrationality. But for that to work the irrationality part is mandatory. Required by law. Possibly enforced. Who knows, not me that's for sure!"

Amethyst Treasure

I is a selfish perspective, and I is sorry.

This is one of my amethyst treasures. Amethyst is my favourite stone, for no particular reason. This ring is a medieval brass ring, dated from the Norman era around 11th-12th century. It's a metal detector find from Britain.

Up until the 18th century amethyst was one of the most valuable, gemstones (along with diamond, sapphire, ruby, and emerald). No longer true as there are huge amounts of it in Brazil and Uruguay. But "back in the day" this would have been an extremely precious ring.

The ring is large on me, larger than a UK size "X". In general rings from that era are smaller than modern rings, as people were also generally smaller. This means that this ring was probably once owned by a very rich and very fat man.

As another interesting factoid, medieval European soldiers wore amethyst amulets as protection in battle in the belief that amethysts heal people and keep them cool-headed.

In Greek legend the titan Rhea, daughter of the earth goddess Gaia and the sky god Uranus, presents Dionysus with an amethyst stone to preserve the wine-drinker's sanity. Also, Amethyste/Amethystos was a beautiful mortal maiden who resisted the amorous advances of Bacchus, the god of intoxication. Diana, one of my favourite godesses, answered her prayer to preserve her chastity and turned her into a white stone. Bacchus poured wine over the stone, staining it purple. (Although confusingly Diana is a Roman goddess, her Greek equivalent being Artemis, notable in my mind because Delia is an epithet of the name Artemis.)

Tibetans consider amethyst sacred to the Buddha and make prayer beads from it.

"Wherever you go walk the worlds. Let people into your world and enter theirs. Eventually they merge, as you evolve a common language."

Best Practises for Software Development and Testing

30 best practices for software development and testing
30 best practices for software development and testing
I wrote an article and someone put it on their website: Software Engineering and Testing

This is the accumulated wisdom of my software engineering experience, boiled down into 30 points on the practise of building software systems. As always, the only theory worth a damn is the theory of the practise. The website, opensource.com, is run by my employer Red Hat. 

In the first week after publication this article got around ten thousand page views and was the second most viewed article on the website that week. It prompted a good discussion on reddit (over 300 points and 50 comments at current count) and was shared a stack of times on Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. Yes I'm boasting a bit, but it made me happy. The article only took a few hours to write, and more than ten years to prepare.

"What is reality is a dumb question. It is, and that's the end of it. And the beginning as it turns out."