Who Is It That Suffers?

I have mentioned in previous posts that I have chosen not to comment on the current situation regarding the pandemic, which has affected so many people around the world. I’ve always felt that there are enough armchair experts out there, without me chipping in as well.

But, with the amount of suffering that is going on, I feel inspired to write this post, not necessarily just about the current world-wide situation, but about suffering in general.

Like many, I have learned that going through difficult experiences has a habit of forcing us to look within ourselves for strength and inspiration, as opposed to looking to the external world; which quite often is the source of our troubles. It is also true to say that as a species, we evolve via our experiences, and being as our true nature is consciousness, this is only natural as consciousness is in a constant state of flux and evolution. I personally, feel very positive about what is happening in the world; I feel that the end product will be something quite amazing. Let us not forget that we have this wonderful thing called relativity and that the world moves in cycles. After every fall there is a rise and every painful experience ultimately leads to a pleasurable one, and vice versa.

Once again, I’m going to refer to the teachings of Ramana Maharshi to demonstrate the whole point of this article, as I feel his simple philosophy holds the key to whether we as humans live a life of peace or pain. The Maharshi would always address questions from devotees and visitors to his ashram in accordance with their ability to understand, so from this respect, it would be impossible to say that the following is the exact answer that would have been given to everyone who asked the question. But quite often, if anyone asked him why they suffer so much or why there is so much suffering in the world, he would say, “who is it that suffers?”

He would tell them to ask the question, “who am I?” The only answer being, “the One eternal Self.” He would remind them of this; their true nature, and say something like, “if you are and always have been the Self, which exists as it is with no knowledge of suffering, who then is it that suffers?” The answer to that question is that it is only the ego that suffers because of our habit of falsely identifying with the body as the reality.

No one is saying that it’s an easy ride; far from it. But having the understanding that we are ultimately just “the witness” to what is happening and not a participant helps a great deal. Finally, I refer you to my previous blog post “Be Still.” I find that simply being still is a very effective way of getting through each day. There is most definitely something happening, but we need to look within ourselves to find out what that is. I find that it is only during moments of stillness that the Self reveals its secrets.


A university lecturer arranged to visit a master, in order that he could get an insight into Zen.  He arrived at the master’s house and was graciously invited to enter the modest abode.  He immediately started to talk about Zen; barely pausing for breath.  The master remained silent, but gestured for the man to take tea with him.  They sat down and the master started to pour tea into the lecturer’s cup.  He poured and he poured some more until the cup was overflowing.  “Stop, stop; the cup is overflowing”, exclaimed the flustered lecturer.  “Yes it is”, replied the master, “as are you; overflowing with words.  You came here to ask me about Zen, but you haven’t stopped talking since you arrived.  How do you expect me to tell you about Zen if you do not stop talking?”

This is quite a thing for many people; too many words, too much lecturing, too much philosophising and not enough listening.  A Zen master will not teach you anything; in fact, he/she will probably tell you that there is nothing to be taught.  The job of the master is not to teach, but to give you the key to the door of your own unlearning.  The unlearning of all the bad habits brought about by years of conditioning and listening to YOUR truth as told to you by others.  The master will tell you that the only voice to be listened to is your own inner voice, and that the only master you have is you; your very soul.

A philosopher is someone who wants to be a master, but cannot see that it is his constant penchant for philosophising that prevents his mastery.  The mind is constantly overflowing (just like the cup) with chatter (philosophy) that has to be expounded.  Hence, an overflowing mind cannot be a master-mind.

A Wonderful Paradox

One of the great things about the universe is that it has been created as a paradox.  Everywhere we look there are examples of this and I’m going to share with you such an example here; a truly wonderful example.

The philosophy of Stoicism has come in for a lot of criticism over the centuries because it is viewed (wrongly) as the philosophy of doom and gloom merchants; people who are constantly agonising over pain and death etc.  But if you look at Stoicism it is exactly the opposite.  It was apparent to me very quickly that the principles of Stoicism are the exact same principles that form the basis of all the worlds major religions.  That there is an individual in-dwelling spirit within the human physical body which is a part of the One Universal Spirit, that all of nature is interconnected with that self-same Universal Spirit and that each of us as individuals are responsible for our own lives; and that it’s not our circumstances that determine whether we are happy or not, it’s the way we deal with them.

One of the early Stoicist philosophers was the Greek Epictetus who was born into slavery.  He was moved to Rome by his master but later moved back to Greece after being granted his freedom.  Marcus Aurelius, one of only five Roman Emperors ever to have been considered “good”, also became a great philosopher who based his work on the teachings of Epictetus.  What a truly wonderful paradox, that Marcus Aurelius, a rich and powerful Roman Emperor who became a world-renowned and revered philosopher, was influenced by, and based his philosophy on, the work of Epictetus; a man who was born into slavery.  You really couldn’t make it up, and this inspiring and heart warming story truly and aptly illustrates the wonder of paradox.

We Shouldn’t Let Our Love Become A Burden

In the last few days certain events have prompted me to muse on an experience I had when I had not long found my spiritual pathway.  Since the 1980’s when spirituality first peered over the horizon I’d been stumbling around in blind alleys and dark corridors getting absolutely no where.  Finally in 2001 I found my right pathway with a surge of awakening.  However, my enthusiasm far outstripped my knowledge and discipline and I stumbled a few times along the way.  One incident from this period sticks in my mind because it remains very relevant in today’s life.

I suppose I should rewind just a touch in order to paint a clearer picture.  Without going into too many details I had a reading with a medium in 1987 that completely blew me away.  The reasons for this I suppose were several, but the fact that it was my first venture into ”the paranormal” had a lot to do with the effect it had on me.  I went to see an elderly man called Tom Dowding in Wood Green, North London and the first thing he did was give me a picture he’d drawn of a spirit guide; simultaneously greeting me with ”I’ve been waiting for you”.  The introduction alone was enough to blow me away.  Anyway, the picture was of a Native American who Tom said was my guide.  I was so amazed that I went to see him again a few weeks later when he told me about another guide I had; an Egyptian.  At that time I did not understand that spirit (even the individualised soul),  in truth, is without name and form, and I, like many others after me, believed that the spirit world was full of souls running around dressed as Red Indians, Egyptians, Monks and Nuns etc etc etc.  I didn’t realise that the guides only take on these forms to satisfy human logic; i.e. we have a habit of wanting everything in its own box with its own label; everything has to have a name and every ”i” has to be dotted and every ”t” has to be crossed.  Such is the way of human logic.

As the years went by I knew the guides were there but I didn’t have any communication with them, apart from the occasional signs and signals they gave me to let me know they were around.  It was only when I started to open up to my own spirituality that I began to experience them more closely.  I could see them on the inner plains and they would communicate with me telepathically when I was in meditation.  I awoke so quickly that for a few months it was like being on a roller coaster, and I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was quite indisciplined.  When I actually started to sit in a spiritual development group in 2001 my clairvoyance exploded like a Roman Candle, and I was absolutely over the moon to be able to see and hear my guides, especially ”The Chief”.  It was such a novelty that we would have banter, which I thought was very clever indeed.

I was quite disappointed one evening when my mentor informed me that it was time for my Native American guide to step back and allow a beautiful celestial being of greater awareness to take me under his wing.  Of course I welcomed my new friend with open arms, but me and The Chief had developed such a bond of love that I couldn’t let him go.  Within a few weeks my mentor informed me in a way that was very clear and concise that if I did not wish to move on along my pathway, then that was fine; God would not love me any more or any less and I had the freedom of choice.  But if I was serious about my spiritual development then I needed to let The Chief go and give my new friend ”sole rights” to my development.  I accepted this and allowed my Native American friend to step back in the knowledge that he would always be somewhere around but it was no longer in line with my soul purpose for us to have such a close relationship.

My new friend was amazing; so much so that I carried straight on with him where I left off with The Chief.  There was some banter and we became very, very close very quickly.  But one day in meditation my friend decided that I needed to be shown a way that was more in line with my soul purpose.  All of a sudden one of my arms, I think it was my right arm, became quite painful.  It was such a strange sensation that there are no words to describe it aptly.  It was like I was holding a weight that was far too heavy to be held, but at the same time I was not able to put it down.  When it started it was almost like having pins and needles in my forearm.  I thought my friend was just having a bit of fun with me but the sensation got more and more intense and seemed to go on for ages.  It became quite painful and I wondered what was happening.  When the pain eased off my friend spoke to me saying ”we shouldn’t let our love become a burden”.

I realised then that he had given me this experience in order to simulate being weighed down; and I knew exactly what he meant.  From that day on there was no more undisciplined banter and my deep, deep love for this amazing soul, and his for me, was expressed and felt in the silence of the heart.  I realised too that just because a soul works as a spirit guide it doesn’t mean they are highly evolved.  In the case of The Chief, he was a soul who was pretty much at the same level of evolution as me; it’s just that he was discarnate, and therefore had a clearer view of the bigger picture than me.  My growth was his growth; so what he did to help me also helped him along his pathway and the image of a wise Native American was simply to give me, in my ignorance, something on which to focus.  I still love The Chief dearly, and I know that he loves me, only these days we don’t allow our love to be a burden and hold us back.  Now to the whole purpose of this post.

When we are encased in flesh it is difficult for us to identify with anything other than the body and the senses and mind that go hand in hand with it.  We forget our true nature and allow our emotions to make our decisions for us.  We become emotionally attached to the extent that our vision becomes clouded and we cannot see the wood for the trees.  Sai Baba always used to say that we are all just passing clounds on this dreamland stage and should not base relationships on the physical form because it is only temporary.

Because of emotional attachment we become oblivious to the fact that the love we have for the special people in our lives goes much, much deeper than the physical.  We wrongly believe that we are apart when miles are put between us and we also wrongly believe that we get separated by so-called death.  The whole human race is interconnected by love, but also there are those special souls whom we have known and loved forever who will remain embedded within the very depths of our being for eternity.  To you I say this ”we shouldn’t let our love become a burden”.

Sailing To Infinity

Looking at this photo reminded me of something.  If you stand looking out to sea it could be that at some stage you will see a ship sailing off into the distance.  “There she goes”.   As the ship continues its journey it appears to get smaller and smaller until it eventually disappears over the horizon.  Now imagine that on a far distant shore there stands someone just like yourself, looking out to sea.  All of a sudden a ship appears on the horizon, ”here she comes”,  and seems to be getting bigger and bigger as it nears the shore.

The ship getting smaller and then bigger again is, of course, an illusion.  At no time during the course of the journey did the size of the ship change.  It may be worth me mentioning to you that what I have just described to you is the cycle of birth and death.  We use our vehilcle, or ship (physical body) to sail from one shore to the other across the ocean of life.  As we leave one dimension with our loved ones seeing us off, ”there he goes”, seemingly diminishing in size, we enter and grow into another, with loved ones welcoming us, ”here he comes”.

At no time during the course of the journey did ”who we really are” grow or diminish in size ; we were always Divine Spirit in all its infinite glory.

The photograph above was very kindly provided by Author and Photographer Janet Beasley of JLB Creatives.  Please follow the link below to access Janet’s blog.  Janet is a featured author at loveahappyending.com


That Sinking Feeling

A yogi once challenged Sri Sathya Sai Baba to a contest of powers; of course, as you would expect, Baba did not even entertain the yogi and treated the request with the contempt it deserved.  The yogi had organised an event, during which he was going to walk on water, and his thinking was that if he could get Swami to attend, his name would attract huge crowds, thus giving the yogi a chance to make some good money.  The day of the event came, and in front of the gathered crowd, the yogi stepped out onto a large vat of water and promptly sank!  Speaking about this some time later Baba said that the yogi’s downfall was that he allowed his judgement to be swayed by his ego.  Once the ego entered into the equation the yogi was always going to be a loser.  This story prompts me to muse on the powers that yogis have and whether having such powers makes someone a spiritually enlightened person.

I remember reading Autobiography Of A Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda.  Yogananda wrote about how he went in search of his guru.  Before he met Sri Yukteshwa Giri, who would evetually become his guru and master, Yogananda encountered several others who seemingly had amazing powers and would have made ideal teachers.  There was the levitating saint and the swami who wrestled with tigers and always won.  But the astute young Yogananda saw all these things for what they really were, which was nothing more than novelty.  he was not interested in showmanship; he was searching for enlightenment.  To us mere mortals a levitating yogi or a tiger wrestling yogi would surely be the ultimate guru.  But in truth, although it takes a great and prolonged period of spiritual discipline before an individual could levitate or walk on water, the yogis who develop these powers are actually quite selfish.

You don’t develop such powers by devoting your life to others, you develop them by devoting your life, by and large, to yourself.  As Baba always said, in this age of vast change the simplest and most effective way to reach God (enlightenment) is to engage in the selfless service of others; for to serve others is to serve God; God being present in all human beings.  This action of selfless service is called Karma Yoga; yoga meaning union with God.  It is said that those who use their precious time here on the Earth to develop amazing yogic powers without giving of their time in service to humanity do not become truly enlightened.  To devote so much time in developing powers of showmanship would imply that there is always going to be an attachment to the ego-self.  A truly enlightened being, Buddha for example, would have been in a permanent state of bliss because he transcended the ego.  Whereas the yogis in question would merely have flitted in and out of a blissful state.

What we feel as individuals on this subject of course depends on our own perception of what is ”fantastic” and what isn’t.  Swami himself used to say that his miracles of manifestation etc. were only for the purpose of grabbing people’s attention, and did not in any way represent his true mission here on Earth.  For examples of Swami’s true miracles we need look no further than his fresh drinking water projects, his Super Speciality Hospitals, his hospitals, schools and universities; and of course the way his very name united millions and millions of people from all over the globe and from all walks of life.


Ahh sunset; that beautiful crossover point between day and night.  Two polarities in perfect paradox to each other; that cannot exist simultaneously but at the same time cannot exist without each other.  Indeed they only exist BECAUSE of each other.  For if there were no day it would be impossible for night to follow.  Indeed, how do we know when it is night time?  Because we have EXPERIENCED day time, and when the sun sets on the horizon we know that the day we have just experienced will be replaced by the night.  But wait!  There is a further paradox here.  Because we also have sunrise which exists in juxtaposition to sunset, and everything just stated about sunset also applies to sunrise.  Just one example of how the whole of creation exists as a perfect paradox.

Have you ever considered this….. How lucky we are that we are able to experience pain?  You see, pleasure and pain go hand in hand and you cannot have one without the other.  Consider further, that if we were to live our lives in a permanent state of bliss, it would be so boring.  Why?  I hear you ask.  Because if there were no pain and we lived our lives in a permanent state of bliss, we would never know we were happy because there would be nothing to compare our bliss with.  It’s like prefering to taste the sweet juice of an orange as opposed to the bitter because we have tried sour fruits and concluded that we do not like them.

Think about all the trials and tribulatioons that you have faced in this life and it will be difficult for you not to feel that you have gained great strength from them.  It’s also true to say that we learn so much about ourselves by experiencing life’s ups and downs.  Think about who you are today and it will again be difficult not to acknowledge that you are who you are BECAUSE of your experiences and NOT in spite of them.  Externally you may perceive yourself to be weak when faced with adversity, but you always manage to delve into that infinite ocean of inner strength and pull out something extra when the need arises.  This is because you actually ARE a being of infinite bliss, and it is the ”inner” that is your truth and not the ”outer”.  The external world of paradox is simply an arena where we play the game of life; a stage, where as actors we take part in each scene of the play in accordance with our choices.

Choices?  That is also a difficult one, because none of us would consciously choose pain over pleasure.  But what we can choose is how we deal with the experiences that come our way.  That is the beauty of relativity; one man’s success is another man’s failure.  What makes me laugh may make you cry.

Once descended into flesh our sun rises through infancy, adolesence, adulthood and old age until it eventually sets on the dreamland stage of this earthly life, only to rise once more in glorious, glorious light; a perfect paradox…. a truly perfect paradox.

All is perfect, so perfectly perfect

Whatever being lives, moves and breathes on Earth

At every level from atom to galaxy

Is absolutely perfect in its place.

The Isa Upanishad



The Religion Of Love

My heart has opened to every form. It is a pasture for gazelles, a cloister for Christians, a temple for idols, the Ka’ba of the pilgrims, the tablet of the Torah and the book of the Koran. I practice the religion of Love; in whichever directions its caravans advance, the religion of Love will be my religion and my faith.

Ibn El Arabi – 12th century Sufi mystic

Marcus Aurelius

In December 2006 I approached my friend, and wonderful psychic artist, Patrick Andrews to do a spirit guide portrait for me.  Patrick only needs a piece of handwriting, which he tunes into, in order to produce such a picture.  As we live in different towns this was very convenient for me.  I sent a piece of my handwriting through the post and waited for him to tell me it was ready for collection.
In early January 2007 I got the call from Patrick and duly arranged to go and collect it.  I had no idea who the guide was; and all Patrick could tell me was that he’d had the name “Aurelius” flash through his mind whilst drawing.  I took the portrait home, got myself a nice big frame a few days later, stuck it up on the wall and kind of forgot about it.  In the ensuing weeks I got a vague picture of Aurelius a few times during meditation, but it really was very vague, so I simply forgot about it some more.
At some stage during the summer of 2010 this character started to draw close to me during my meditations and also started to work with me very closely when I was engaged in my spiritual work, to the extent that we became very close.  I was most glad to be associated with this extremely strong presence.
In February 2011 I was reading the book “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, and in the particular chapter I was reading the author quoted the most wonderful piece of philosophy from a character by the name of Marcus Aurelius, who apparently lived about 2000 years ago.
“Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs”.
I thought this a coincidence, but in my typically apathetic way, I didn’t think too much about it.
Over the next few weeks I started to think that this was too much of a coincidence.  Then on the evening of 17 March 2011 I finally decided to Google the name “Marcus Aurelius”.  To my amazement there was a whole universe of information about this truly great being.
Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180) was a Roman emperor.  He was one of only five Roman emperors to have been considered “good”.  He was also revered as a great philosopher.  The most incredible thing was that the busts of him displayed on Wikipedia did bear a remarkable resemblance to the portrait that hangs on my wall.
I know that in truth names are meaningless and that you now enjoy life in the timeless realms of the nameless and formless, but I shall still refer to you as Marcus for the sake of human logic.  So, I am truly honoured Marcus that you have made yourself known to me and that we now enjoy a close bond of brotherhood.  God bless you brother!

The Alchemy Of Love

You come to us
from another world
From beyond the stars
…and void of space.
Transcendent, Pure,
Of unimaginable beauty,
Bringing with you
the essence of loveYou transform all
who are touched by you.
Mundane concerns,
troubles, and sorrows
dissolve in your presence,
Bringing joy
to ruler and ruled
To peasant and king

You bewilder us
with your grace.
All evils
transform into

You are the master alchemist.

You light the fire of love
in earth and sky
in heart and soul
of every being.

Through your love
existence and nonexistence merge.
All opposites unite.
All that is profane
becomes sacred again