Kate Tempest’s Ted Hughes poetry prize recognition is richly deserved

Public Enemy are rightly preparing to be inducted into the rock’n’roll hall of fame as artists who changed music and whose commitment to lyrical truth and the philosophy of the personal as political inspired millions, while Kate Tempest has been awarded the Ted Hughes poetry prize. What links them, is that Kate Tempest showed such self-confidence in her talent at an early age, that she once framed a question to her hero Chuck D at a festival in the form of rhyme, that earned his respect and praise, the skill and bravado that has made her such an important artist in evidence as she delivered her poetic statement.

The award is official recognition for what many of us have known for some time to be one of the UK’s outstanding artistic talents. I first saw Kate at a Peace Not War benefit gig nearly 10 years ago, when as an 18 year-old, she ripped up the stage with rhymes filled with rhythmic mastery and linguistic complexity. She was beyond her years even then and seasoned performers knew it and remarked on it.

What sets her apart from the many talented artists of the time who opposed the Iraq war is her ability to combine wisdom gained from her experiences growing up in south London, with a mastery of rhyme and imagery that weaves together the sacred and the profane; but there is also a deep compassion in her words towards those who have fallen on the wrong side of the tracks, to those who life has treated harshly. She demonstrates an empathy with the everyday experiences of the “common people” and a defiant energy in response to all that nullifies us, alienates us, makes us feel unworthy to occupy our own space.

The award is for her playwriting, specifically for her spoken word performance Brand New Ancients, positively reviewed by the Guardian’s Lynn Gardner, that brings a spiritual element to the everyday tale of two families in conflict. She finds divinity where others would not think to look and she exposes the hypocrisy and the rank sterility of the mass media spectacle and those who have raised themselves up as idols, false prophets such as Simon Cowell and the many vacuous celebrities who pose as entertainers.

In this modern age of social media and Youtube, there are many clips of her poetry online and, for those who are able to relate to her streetwise wisdom, there are many opportunities to marvel at how she manages to weave words with such mesmeric dexterity, to tell stories with such a deep sense of what it is to be human, a recognition of the pain and numbness of urban life in London and the joy and love of existence.

But while there is a knowing self-confidence that has continually spurred her on to perform at any given opportunity, what marks her out is the vulnerability she displays that seems to come from a conscious and courageous act of will. I saw her perform with Saul Williams on a memorable night last year at the Queen Elizabeth hall and felt those in attendance, including me, hang on her every word. I watched her step off the stage and go into the audience in mid-performance, like she really wanted everyone present to know they are just as important as she is, that her words would not matter as much if there was no one to hear them. Such confidence and vulnerability on display at the same time is a potent mixture for an artist.

Kate Tempest’s words have the power to change people, to inspire them to believe in themselves, to love literature as she demonstrates, for example, with her knowledge and love of the words of William Shakespeare, and to believe in the power of words to heal, to bring communities together, a reminder that raw energy and talent can inspire us to overcome the sense of oppression and heartlessness that seems to pervade our society at this time, not just to elevate us transcendentally, but to celebrate our humanity and to see beauty in the everyday and the mundane.

With the recognition of Kate Tempest, it feels to me that the spirit of 2003 and the peace movement is alive and well and ready to shake up the world and I hope she now reaches the wider audience her undoubted talent and integrity deserves.

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Trauma is at the root of the violence in Israel-Palestine

How do you even begin to unravel the political, social, humanitarian mess that is the travesty in Israel-Palestine? The roots go back to before there was an Israel or a Palestine, they go back even before Britain redrew the map of the Middle East, a region that it had conquered and colonised. The roots go back to the origins of the three Abrahamic religions and their traditional enmities, they go back to a history of vicious and inhuman antisemitism, of the persecution of the Jewish people, particularly in Europe, which led most brutally and inhumanely to the Nazi death camps and the genocide that terrorised and traumatised a people.

The roots of Israel go back to a political idea, itself rooted in left liberal thought, to create a homeland for a persecuted people, the Zionist project, which eventually and seemingly poetically found its home in the land surrounding Jerusalem, the biblical home of the Jewish religion and its followers, a home which came at a cost to those already living in that land, creating disputes over land and rights that continue to this day. Such disputes are difficult to pin down in terms of rights, ethnicity, culture and religion and there are seemingly intractable arguments on both sides. It is difficult, maybe even impossible to get absolute answers to these questions that all can agree on.

But what is undeniable is that Palestinians were displaced in great numbers after the second world war and the right of return denied to many of them. What is indisputable is that Egypt, Jordan and Syria went to war with Israel and that Israel dominated this deadly exchange with a military assault that ended the war in six days, that ever since, Israel has been flouting UN resolution 242 on the illegal acquisition of land through war. The motivations and reasons for the conflict are disputed, but what most reasonable people on all sides would agree on is that peace is preferable to war. So how has this region come to be so fixated on war as a way of life?

Many reasons are given for the intensity of the conflict in the wider Middle East. In the most pragmatic analysis, it is said that the industrial world’s hunger for oil keeps the area in a state of perpetual conflict to allow the world’s dominant countries to extract fossil fuels at a cheaper price. But how cheap is the price when it is paid in blood? Oil does not seem a strong enough motivating factor.

Others say it is, as I have mentioned, the traditional enmity of the Abrahamic religions; three cousins, who share a common God, arguing viciously and murderously for the right to claim He favours them. This is more plausible and, in the light of the advances in scientific knowledge and philosophical thought to this human process of self-awareness since the European Enlightenment (itself rooted in Middle Eastern thought and subsequently evolved and enriched by multicultural knowledge from all parts of the globe), it seems that such musings on imaginary, and distinctly different representations of divinity should have been consigned to history.

In truth, though the worship of deities and the differing dogma of religious books, particularly patriarchal religious books, with their pronouncements on women and sexual behaviour, is deeply problematic, revealing systemic faults that cannot be justified in the civil and ethical framework that most would acknowledge forms part of our evolution as a world society, their existence is not enough to convince me of a motivating factor that would produce the horrors we are seeing on all sides in this region.

For, while the American-backed military might of Israel and its determination to continue to allow flagrant breaches of United Nations resolutions in invading the fragmented remnants of Palestinian land is abominable, and is rightly condemned, what such brutality has created in Gaza and surrounding pockets is a traumatised, nihilistic group of people whose seething hatred of Israel has intensified into becoming an even greater threat to the Israeli people than it was before the first intifada.

And it is here where we have the root of the problem, fixed very much in the present. That root is psychological trauma. This is trauma rooted in childhood abuse, the abuse that is a direct result of war and psychological brutalisation. The abuse that so many Jewish children faced after the second world war. A psychological trauma that has not been acknowledged or dealt with by those who went on to found the state of Israel and who now execute its domestic and foreign policy. It is an abuse that is now affecting millions of children throughout the war-torn regions of the Middle East. This trauma is what causes violence to be perpetuated and expressed as the only manifestation of that pain that is superficially acceptable.

To look into the roots of that trauma in each individual is a much harder course of action, but one that society is beginning to acknowledge is the only route to healing. As such, there is cause for optimism, we are aware that there is a way to resolve that trauma and drastically reduce the manifestations of hatred and violence. We have scientific and medical solutions to heal that trauma. Underneath the trauma, underneath the violence, the hatred and the anger, is pain, and underneath that pain is grief, an unexpressed grief, a grief that has been submerged under layers of more socially acceptable expressions, such as hatred, anger and violence.

But, for every violent expression of that grief, there are also those who express that grief through depression and other forms of psychological self-harm. The crisis in Gaza, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Congo, in Sudan and so many other violently afflicted regions has produced unimaginable human suffering, not just physical suffering, or the existential suffering of losing homes and struggling to find food and shelter, but the emotional suffering of familial loss, of losing loved ones, the emotional suffering of being dehumanised, humiliated and unacknowledged.

It makes no difference to the child if the dehumanising has a political motive, as was the case with Nazism, or whether it is the result of an already dehumanised and traumatised people being placed in a hostile region that was traditionally seen as their religious home (hostile, it must be underlined, as a result of an inhuman displacement of people, the Palestinians, who themselves had lives and hopes and dreams brutally taken away from them). The resultant trauma, the effect on the emotional body is the same, the same confusion, the same grief, the same attempt to accommodate such pain.

The anger and hatred that often grows out of that pain is the same no matter how that trauma was caused. And violence affects all in the same way, we all cut, we all bleed. How can we as a human society that has developed such knowledge of our physiology and psychology, the evidence of pathology, not be capable of finding a way out of this cycle of trauma and violence?

The knowledge is there and it is time now that we deal with the here and now, that we begin to see, not Palestinian, or Israeli, or Iraqi, or Afghani, or Congolese children, not to distinguish these from American or British or French children, but to see only children, children who need the help of those who are able and willing to heal, to show compassion, to show love and understanding. As much as the active qualities of protection, action and construction are needed more than ever, we need to allow a re-emergence of the qualities of nurturing and being.

It is a strange coincidence that doctors and scientists in Israel are part of the growing wave of psychedelic therapy that is beginning to emerge after years of prohibition and negative propaganda. The scientific research with MDMA in a therapeutic setting with those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder gives great cause for hope. But before such controversial healing modalities are even considered, the blame game of who started what and when, of who is the good guy and who is the bad guy must be transcended and the priority of healing all trauma must be prioritised.

We must arrive at a stage where we recognise that, while there are those on all sides who see violence as a method to achieve power and a sense of justice, often that is itself a sign of trauma. Of course, such violent and dominant people will be the last to acknowledge that their methods are pathological. But it does seem that the world, the human nation, that is becoming self aware as an organism, is beginning to recognise this. At some point – soon I hope – that recognition will lead to the kind of pressure that will produce a change in emphasis, from a search for rightness, to a determination to heal and live interdependent lives that manifest human potential in harmonious ways. A person who has their pathologies – no matter how slight or intense – processed and resolved, is a human being that naturally harmonises with their surroundings.

The challenge is to enter into the intensity of a conflict region that has such media attention and to find a resolution. Creating a healing paradigm to deal with the psychological trauma (particularly in children) will not instantly solve the conflict between the Israeli and Palestinian people, but it will go some way to lowering the tension and the violence and allowing true dialogue and true empathic and compassionate communication to take place and to sow seeds of health and self-esteem and laughter and love that will benefit all in the long term.

In doing so, a psychological and humanitarian template may be created that can be used, not just in the many conflict regions of the world, but which can also be brought into the many multinational corporations currently dominated by pathological executives, who are expressing their trauma in another form of violence, the ecological destruction of habitat for profit. The connections are there, we just need to find a way for society to apply its own learning to its own body, each human individual that makes up the whole organism of the human race. I believe this can be done. There has never been a more urgent need or a more likely chance to achieve this aim.

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Four more years…

I’ve just listened to President Obama’s victory speech and of course I am aware that the way he presents himself, his general understanding of what the United States of America is supposed to represent and his resolve to work towards those ideals is never less than impressive. He is a sophisticated, charismatic leader, a diplomat in every sense of the word and there is no doubt that had the other guy got in (can’t even bear to name him), we would have been looking backwards on very basic rights that have been hard fought for in the modern western world, women’s rights, gay rights, civil and welfare rights, basic agreements about how a nation should function as a community of people who help each other, not to mention the thought of the other guy presiding as the commander in chief over a very unstable military and foreign policy at a time when we need to lower, not raise, the tension in the world.

Having said that, no one should be under any illusion that the reason Barack Obama won is for anything else than because he best represents the interests of the banks and large corporations who control the economy of the United States of America as well as the military-industrial complex President Dwight D Einsenhower warned the American people about way back in 1961.

As the great New York comedian/visionary George Carlin used to say, elections are about giving people the illusion of choice every four years, though, it must be said, people always have it within their power to change their political destiny if they desire it and are willing to work together to make that change. But they have to see the bigger picture and the bigger picture here is the power of Wall Street and the national security state to control the parameters of political debate of both the Republicans and Democrats. As well as the limits of political discourse, the continual mention in this speech (in fact all the speeches that leading presidential candidates make) of a divinely-inspired patriotism that shines only on the United States of America continues to alienate the rest of the world. How can we move on from that delusion of a patriarchal God that favours flags and one nation to the true democracy of an interconnected world of human beings?

So, congratulations to Barack Obama; I’m glad it wasn’t the other guy. Now he has his second term, unencumbered by worries of re-election, will Obama close Guantanamo Bay, free Bradley Manning, end the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and focus on resolving the tension between Israel, Palestine and Iran, will Obama restore the civil rights that have been eroded over the past 10 years and bring universal health care to his country? All the evidence suggests he will do no such thing. On the contrary, the evidence suggests that he is presiding over one of the most repressive regimes in America’s short history. His smooth and charismatic persona has actually served the military-industrial complex far better in the past four years than Bush’s cowboy persona managed in his two terms. The sophistication and the understandable popularity of an American president of African heritage with traditional supporters of civil rights has served as a giant fig leaf over human rights abuses that are intensifying, at home and in the many countries the United States is currently occupying.

Yes, Obama is up against powerful interests working against any notion of restoring democracy and justice to the United States and the world, he is up against a cynical media backed by corporate interests with sinister political aims. If by any chance President Obama really is who many hopeful people believe him to be, he only has another four years to prove them right and restore some sense of justice in a world ravaged by the post-9/11 response of the Bush-Rumsfeld-Cheney era.

But if he continues to suppress legitimate civil rights demonstrations and peaceful direct actions, if he fails to address the environmentally damaging actions of corporations in the fossil fuel and mining industries as well as the illegal practices of biotech corporations, then this term will finally and categorically expose him as a false prophet and the judgment from the people will be harsh. He has the ability to challenge the power structures he works within. If one were to be extremely optimistic, one could suggest that in the past four years he has earned the trust of the military and the banks by pragmatic diplomacy. If there is even the slightest chance that that optimism is justified, he must now use his skill and intelligence to steer these greatly tarnished and ever more brutally and inhumanely administered institutions to safer ground and not to armageddon or planetary calamity as they seem hellbent on driving us towards.

A voice within wants me to remain an optimist for the moment, to look at Barack Obama as an intelligent, skilled politician and family man, working under tremendous pressure, struggling to do the right thing in the face of almost insurmountable odds. But it would be so easy to see this whole election as a sham. Politics and human relations are never simple and straightforward. No one who is not up close to the political players can really say how hard Barack Obama’s job is or how hard he is trying to make his stated aims real. Yet the evidence, when accumulated, is pretty conclusive that the president who intensified drone attacks that have killed and injured so many civilians, the man who ordered the execution of the prime suspect in the 9/11 attacks, the man who has kept Guantanamo Bay open despite an election promise to close it, is a man who represents more of the same insanity that is driving his country and the planet to a more dangerous state of affairs.

Until the people are strong enough to organise and create “the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible“, we are just going to have to look to accentuate every positive action Obama undertakes (such as his healthcare reforms). We must, as a world public, appeal to his better instincts, to try and find some sliver of decency and humanity that he must possess and help to nurture it. We must hope that this decency will flourish and aid President Obama in helping to avert the violent revolution and inevitable state attacks on civilians that will surely follow if he does not listen to the will of the people. He must hear the voices of those vulnerable people his policies are damaging rather than continue to ignore them in favour of the voices of his financial and military backers.

At least when he speaks it is easier to listen to him and the world is thankful that it does not have to contemplate the horrifying prospect of what it would have been like to listen to “the other guy” speaking as president. But smooth words can be even more painful when they hide a murderous design to reduce the people to “absolute despotism“. If that becomes evermore apparent, the people of the United States and the people of the world will come to know their enemy and their focus will become clearer than ever. The world’s population cannot accept for much longer these continuing more wars for greed and cannot accept more lies backed by propaganda. Barack Obama must finally decide whether he is on the side of humanity or on the side of the machine. I hope he chooses well.

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The artistic sensibility: artists open house in Brighton

Penelope Oakley’s artwork entitled Libertas

I’ve been spending some time visiting Brighton recently and, aside from the deep connection I feel at being so close to the sea, I am also struck by the general atmosphere of bohemian life that parts of the city (such as the popular North Laine area) still evoke, despite the continuing urbanisation and gentrification of the city.

I was reminded of this when I was invited to one of the Brighton festival’s artists open house events, where artists temporarily turn their houses into galleries, to exhibit their work and those of fellow artists. This takes art out of the galleries and has the effect, both of separating art from the sterile atmosphere of many of today’s corporate-sponsored exhibition spaces and giving artists a chance to bring their work closer to the people without the financial overheads associated with larger urban events.

The curator (home owner) of this particular exhibition was Penelope Oakley, who exhibited her own paintings alongside paintings, photographs, handmade clothes and clothing accessories, jewellery and assorted creations from a variety of artists.

In Onnaz

Penelope Oakley’s work entitled, In Onnaz

There were a couple of works of art that caught my eye, and rather than attempt to give some art-critic account of what the works are supposed to represent in some overall art historical narrative (which I wouldn’t be able to do anyway), I’d rather focus on the overall impression I got in meeting and talking with the artists, because it reminds me of the kind of heart-centred communication that flows at the smaller music festivals I enjoy being part of. This artistic sensibility found great expression and a sense of a community in the often unacknowledged otherworld of the so-called counterculture, which somehow manages to co-exist even to this day despite its distortion and outright rejection by the architects of the consumer culture we are all part of, yet one which many recognise we must render obsolete in order to survive and co-exist on this planet.

As much as I love the effect non-verbal communication such as art and music has on me, words in their own way have as much mystery in their double-edged ability to confuse and inspire. I was struck immediately as I entered the house at a couple of the works of art created by Florence Losa, that had inspiring words written on them, the words forming part of the artwork, reminding me of William Blake in the ability to weave all aspects of the human experience and treating the very letters and combinations of words as alchemical symbols (which of course is what they are) and as inseparably part of the direct sensory experience, rather than seen merely as representational symbols.

Florence Losa

Florence Losa’s weaving of the Taoist symbol of Yin Yang with inspiring words written within the circle.

The reason I had been drawn to this particular event was to see in person the work of Stephanie Hymas, particularly what she calls her “free flow energy-infused digi art“. The choice of colours, particularly the red and black, the depth of perspective and the resonance of the image, had echoes for me of the eastern philosophical system of chakras and the ancient knowledge of sacred geometry. I have that sense of the commonly described, deep buzzing sound of a DMT experience just looking at this art, a kind of synesthesia, where the visual becomes audible and one feels a sense of direct communication with the divine.

Stephanie Hymas: Passionate Resonance

Stephanie Hymas’s digital creation entitled Passionate Resonance

The overall impression of the day, in the free flow of communication at Penelope’s house, was of the importance to me of the artistic sensibility. When I say artistic sensibility, I am speaking in general terms about what I can only describe as an inherent spiritual connection that an individual has and a knowingness of our essential interconnectivity, not just as human beings, but of our relationship to the planet on which we depend.

Involved, as I am, in the world of journalism, where so much of what is considered important relates to the rational mind, exact communication, where the wrong word can lead to a libel writ, such concerns can be framed as trivial, even dangerous. In a world where you are asked to provide evidence of every statement you make, the idea of the importance of ambiguity, an often essential part of the artistic sensibility, can seem confusing, even threatening.

Art can often, in its ambiguity, get to the heart of the paradox of existence. Paradoxically, that ambiguity can be the most authentic representation of what it means to be human and that direct experience can itself lead to a realisation of our essential nature. On a personal level, I find the commitment that many artists possess to treading their path, being prepared to overcome all obstacles in order to express that inner vision, the anarchic nature of that commitment, coupled with the heightened sensitivity to one’s own emotions and one’s connection to the environment, to be most invigorating!

A final mention must go to the work of Yvonne McGillivray, whose spiritual art seems to me a perfect blending of the psychedelic ayahuasca vision with the gentle healing qualities of new age mysticism, and the work of Clive Hedger, who’s bold and thorn-like flowing lines and muted woodland hues were instantly striking. Coupled with themes of nature and the resilient and essential mythology of the Green Man, echoes of the forest and the pagan roots of this ancient land, it left a deep impression and called to mind in me the cover art for the Wild Heart Gathering, another of the smaller festivals where those who gather have, for me, that essential quality of the artistic sensibility.

Whether those who possess this ambiguous quality choose to convert that into painting or whether they express it in any other number of ways, it is a sensibility which I believe is almost synonymous with the intuitive consciousness and a quality that is more needed than ever as we become overwhelmed by the seeming obsession in our technological world with treating the rational mind as infallible master rather than as a “faithful servant“, through which our essential nature can find form.

I hope to find out more about these artists at a future date, and wish them all great success for the future and thank Penelope for opening her house to the public and allowing a space to be created where the spirit of art could be made manifest.

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Psychedelics: Bridging science and spirituality

In order to bring about a scientific methodology of the mystical experience, we must first end the prohibitive and destructive war on drugs.

Those of us who have researched the many aspects of spiritual, esoteric and occult knowledge and recognise its value and veracity, wonder at the reasons why such knowledge seems so far away from mainstream acceptance. It must be acknowledged that some of the experiential truths that have emerged from these studies are difficult to convey to those who have not had the experience. But often, even explaining basic truths becomes difficult when faced with seemingly intractable positions on either side of the manufactured divide between science and spirituality. To heal the rift that has widened over 400 years between rational science and metaphysical exploration is a major task and one that will need a monumental effort, but the signs are there that a change is coming.

For the past 12 years I have worked for mainstream media, mainly as a production editor of online content. Most recently, I have spent the past five years working at the Guardian newspaper, which is regarded by many as a left-leaning media organisation. In many respects this is true, but, working daily in the office of such a company, I have come to realise how difficult it is to explain the mystical experience in ways that do not shock those used to both the standard scientific reasoning which lends itself to a scientific materialist position which is more or less atheist, and to a world view which regards any experiences via psychedelics, for example, as, at the very least, temporary insanity.

In discussing the direct mystical experience, an acceptance of the validity of the psychedelic experience must be commonly agreed upon as well as the benefits gained from spiritual pursuits such as tai chi, chi gung, yoga and meditation. This is why, before we even begin to discuss bridging the gap between science and spirituality, we must present a valid political discourse that makes a solid case for the necessity of the mystical experience.

Science has progressed rapidly in the past 400 years and the scientific method has been astounding in its ability to manipulate and control the material world. In turns, it has been of enormous benefit and has shown a terrifying destructive capability. This technology has the potential to wipe out life on this planet. But, properly harnessed and with the right creative intent, this technology and the knowledge we have derived from it has enormous potential to synergise people and planet and to create the ideal world of each according to his needs, through transferable systems such as open source and peer-to-peer sharing.

Yet the full implication of such systems and their applicability to real world situations, to banking, agriculture, medicine, relationships and cross-cultural networks have not even begun to be fully understood, stuck as we are in old paradigms of copyright and sense of ownership of ideas and innovation.

The problem is not the technology, it is the sense of trust and community that is absent and this is a spiritual or an existential problem. We have not yet arrived at a spiritual methodology that we can agree upon and this is why I believe that creating a solid interface between the scientific method and the mystical experience is of prime importance.

At present, there are structures in place that derive great power and wealth from keeping humanity stuck in the old paradigm of separation. The few who exist at the top of this structure control not only vast armies and weapons both private and governmental, but also fund in direct and indirect ways a mainstream media that is utterly dependent on corporate advertising and marketing revenue. These companies in turn rely on funding from the banks who loan them money by creating more debt, which pushes more actual wealth to an ever-lessening pool of highly powerful and influential people.

These powerful individuals and companies at the top of the tree use well-researched psychological techniques of manipulation, often termed propaganda, but euphemistically rebranded as public relations or advertising to control narratives. These narratives become what the public commonly agree upon as the truth on various current affairs topics. At the root of these techniques is an ideology of separation, of dualism, of competition, which on one level of reality is certainly in existence, but which limits us to competing for ever dwindling resources and seeing “the other” as the enemy.

On a deeper, mystical level, our true reality is that we are all one energy field experiencing ourselves as separate and that we manifest our greatest potential when we co-operate according to common goals. To understand this is profound esoteric knowledge and it is knowledge that scares many who think themselves to be separate and either superior or inferior. But, truthfully, it is the only path to survival as we create ever-greater scarcity by mining ever deeper for raw materials to build that which we do not need to sustain an inferior system.

In the meantime, any individual, idea or collective that threatens this system is distorted to seem a threat to the majority. So we see that drug prohibition (probably the single most important issue of our time, in the sense that a change in policy would be the single most effective way of breaking this hierarchical and destructive structure) rather than serving the needs of the many, actually services the needs of the few who control the major pharmaceutical industries, brewery and tobacco companies, to say nothing of how this prohibitive system feeds into criminal enterprises such as arms, extortion and murder brought on by competition for scarce resources taken to extremes.

But a case can be put to the majority that would cut through the propaganda that says drugs are a blight on humanity. For example, cannabis is easy to grow and has medically and scientifically proven ways of treating a variety of physical and psychological ailments. This is also true for mushrooms containing psilocybin. The pharmaceutically produced compounds LSD and MDMA also have enormous potential health benefits and are patent free. All could drastically reduce the health budget and lead to healthier individuals, and this does not even begin to address the knowledge of its uses as spiritual tools and the legal case to be made on behalf of individuals to cognitive liberty enshrined in human rights law but ignored by powerful lawyers with vested interests in maintaining the status quo.

Yet, while we have a culture linked so tightly with debt-creation, wage slaves who are deeply traumatised by the vacuousness of their work and unhappy at their inability to escape the mundanity, we have the potential for great abuse of these medicines. Add to that the greater abuse brought on by the contamination of these substances because of their illegality and inability of users to check these substances for quality and we have the ability of those in power to distort the message further by claiming that these drugs are harmful when in reality it is prohibition that is causing the greatest harm. We need a medical network that is not driven by profit but by necessity and we need to make a stronger case in the mainstream media of the medical benefits, the social benefits and the legal right for individuals to exercise their cognitive liberty.

But, before we can have and end to drug prohibition, we must find a platform for the mystical experience, to establish an experiential methodology that can be commonly agreed upon because it can be commonly experienced. Meditation, yoga and martial arts all provide humanity with the tools for self-realisation. But we need to separate the cultural artefacts within these systems, the symbology contained within these disciplines, from the pure functioning of the techniques.

As I work within mainstream media, I find it difficult to discuss such matters, as there is a resistance to spirituality, occult knowledge and radical politics, yet there is a common liberalism, a general belief that drug prohibition should end and that our capitalist system needs radical reform so there is common ground. We must focus on this common ground and seek to establish roots.

The radical reform must come by campaigning in many different ways to end drug prohibition, and the work of Transform, MAPS and the Beckley Foundation is of great importance here. We must also make the case for a radical restructuring of the banking system, by bringing to light the many academics, scientists and legal campaigners currently doing this, and by showing how weaving computer technology, systems theory, permaculture, metaphysics, psychology and cognitive liberty into an established framework will grow from an end to the crippling effect of drug prohibition. Once attained, we can begin to bridge the gap between science and spirituality and create a harmonious environment where technology serves us rather than enslaves us.

I would be interested to hear any similar views on whether we can find a way to pool our resources to make this happen as soon as possible because there seems to be a sense, probably brought on by interest in the 2012 phenomenon, that this is the year we either reach the point of no return in which all our best efforts turn to dust, or save ourselves and bring in the world that we know in our hearts is possible. We have a choice and it seems to me now is the time to act

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Bernard Carr: Cosmos, Creation and the Culmination of Consciousness

A fascinating talk by professor of mathematics and astronomy at Queen Mary University, London, Bernard Carr on how our scientific discovery of the furthest reaches of the universe is also, in a very real sense, and expansion of consciousness. This talk is filmed and hosted on the website Life Arts Media, by Gennaro Ambrosino.

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And still I rise


Maya Angelou is one of the most inspiring writers and speakers, evoking a deep spiritual and existential energy and a wisdom that reaches into the heart of humanity. Great poem.

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