The Devil’s Arse

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo


Queen Victoria may not have been amused by the local name for the cavern, but it seems a perfect description of the place in many ways. The vast cave mouth is the largest of its kind in Britain and is the entrance to a subterranean labyrinth of caves and passageways that snake deep beneath the limestone cliffs.  Local folklore says that the name refers to the flatulent sounds made by water receding through the tunnels cut by the underground streams. Whatever the truth of the matter, the name has been around for a very long time. In 1536, William Camden recorded in his Britannia:

…there is a cave or hole within the ground called, saving your reverence, The Devils Arse, that gapeth with a wide mouth and hath in it many turnings and retyring roomes, wherein, for sooth, Gervase of Tilbury, whether for want of knowing the truth, or…

View original post 700 more words

The Holes in the Boat -#Silenti


I remember my first journey into the world of being conscious of identification.

I had been particularly struck by its description in the book In Search of the Miraculous by P D Ouspensky – considered to be one of the key works in the exposition of Gurdjieff’s ‘4th Way’; a path of psychological and spiritual self-exploration that caused great interest in the first half of the last century.

The essence of the 4th Way’s teachings is that we have forgotten ourselves. At first, this sounds absurd; how can anyone say that when we, visibly, live with constant awareness of what we are doing, and need to be doing, at any point in our busy lives?

Our anxious state of busyness is the first clue to a door-opening discovery about our lives – if we can find some attentive time to examine it – because what we take for our ‘self’ in this relationship of self to world is in fact just the world… Or, more factually, our picture of it…

As our lives develop from infancy to self-conscious young person to adult, we coalesce our energies around those things that give us a return on our investment or which provide a natural pleasure. The former might be working for a promotion; the latter, good food from well-badged restaurants, nice cars or sex-as-achievement.

It’s an interesting exercise to sit down in quietness and write down what we have ‘achieved’ so far in our lives. Next to each of these note the objects: a good watch or jewellery, a better house than we started out with, regular holidays in the sun, etc.

Later, we find that more subtle things, like the way we look at groups of people with a certainty that they are bad, or not up to standard, or even really good, despite what others say, are parts of our perception of life that take up a large amount of our precious personal energy.

As we do this, we might dare to imagine each one of these things we identify with being ‘taken away’ and see if there’s anything left of ‘us’. There might come a feeling of being starved of oxygen if we are honest enough. So why should anyone go anywhere near this painful self-inquiry which clearly runs counter to the general view of success?

There are at least two parts to the answer. The first is that each one of these things has a potentially terrible hold over us, defining who we are by this process of identification. The second is that none of these things make for lasting inner happiness.

Happiness, in itself, appears ‘suspect’ to those who have spent some time considering what matters in their lives. Its fickle appearance and disappearance in our lives may not conform to any repeatable laws that we can control. No-one is suggesting that we should counter this by trying to be unhappy, but there is an ‘in-between’ space that we can wisely step into if we can self-observe at such times. This place of deeper awareness contains the certainty that the pendulum of happiness is a trap – a dependency built up over time, whose main secret agent is the process of identification.

These objects of identification are knitted together to form a ‘ship’ in which we sail ‘on’ our lives. Seeing their power is only half the problem. When we think that we might remove them or, more likely, lessen their importance, we are immediately confronted with a terror that we could sink, could cease to exist, unable to breathe.

This is a profound moment, for it reveals, in all its brutal power, that we live in a picture of self rather than our real self. We have all built a life conditioned by identification and it has robbed us of our real vitality.

That sense of panic, of not being able to breathe, is key to discovering what has this power over us. Humour is vitally important, too, in such a self-quest. We might decide that, somewhere deep within what we have made ourselves, there is a secret Organisation for the Numbing of the Conscious Mind. Let’s play with the letters and call it SONCOM.

For now, let’s just speculate that the opposition to our self-inquiry is so powerful that viewing it as an organised opposition is quite justified – if humourously so.

Any true unravelling of the power of identification requires companionship and a gentle approach. That’s the basis of the gentle, but nurturing methods we use in the Silent Eye.

Let’s park that and get back to our little boat. What happens if we are courageous enough to kick a few holes in our own hull? The water will come in, of course. But then we might just discover that we were really water creatures, after all…

More on SONCOM next week in #Silenti.

©Copyright Stephen Tanham 2017

Keys to the House of Don…

Stuart France


…”I do have my reputation as an I.M.O.M to consider.”

“An I.M.O.M?”

“An International Man of Mystery. And there, if you only knew it, is the first key.”

“Which is?”

Don reaches ‘blind’ behind his head and extracts from the mahogany bookcase a slim, yellow covered, paperback. He opens the book and starts to read…

‘The key to understanding these tales is to ask yourself questions. If you are alone do not be afraid to address thin air. If you ask your self enough questions your soul eventually answers and before long you will no longer be talking to air you will be walking on it…’

– The Initiate

“I take it no one answered the question?”

“You can take it that no one even realised they were expected to.”

“The magic halter?”

“Cosmologically, the magic halter is the…”

“One step at a time!”

“Cows don’t wear halters. This…

View original post 262 more words

Unremarked, now…


Unremarked, now, I was the way

Beneath which water flowed

Too deep for market’s harvest

Too deep for children’s naked feet

Too deep to be the path

Unremarked, now, the truth

That ancient numbers wrought

In circle-cousins’ arc

Would span the deep

And bring the bridging way

And did, reflecting here

That only dense and sheer resistance

Of those dark materials

Harvests now my mossy sleep

Beneath these wind-blown truths.

Unremarked, now, enduring

My invisible point of being

Waits beneath the stone…

©Copyright Stephen Tanham 2017

The Big-Bold-Blue of Beyond…

Stuart France


… When Brother-Warrior entered the chamber of the princess, because of his Cloak-of-Darkness, she thought she was enjoying converse and congress with a spirit.

So too, did all her hand-maids but before departing he took off his cloak and left them with the fleeting vision of a ‘Fairy Warrior’.


After Brother-Wizard and Brother-Warrior had left for the wooded isle, Brother-Smith wasted no time in fomenting the populace who were missing the usual round of the wondrous cow.

He walked to each home-stead in turn crying “no milk today, the King of Castle-Hill has stolen your cow.”

In this way they were left in no doubt as to who was to blame for their loss of sustenance and the King of Castle-Hill spent the next nine months touring his lands putting down local revolt after local revolt without the use of his baleful eye.

The king had no opportunity…

View original post 210 more words

Grand designs

The Silent Eye


No matter how I tried, the damaged camera would not focus on the tiny pyramid… which was a shame, because its structure was incredible. It is nothing unusual, just a crystal of sea-salt, but the precision with which it was formed for some reason struck me as mind-blowing.

It is a thing of beauty. Each line and angle ordered after some complex design we can only observe, not decipher. Billions of trillions of these amazing structures are formed  and consumed… and we barely notice them.

The cat, incurably curious, came to see what I was doing and I marvelled at her design… absolutely lithe and flexible, able to move in ways we would find impossible. I played with her, watching how she uses that litheness to become a dead weight. Cats are not heavy… yet she can chase and fight a piece of string whilst laying on the floor, utterly…

View original post 411 more words

In memory

The Silent Eye

There are some people who just light up a room, very quietly and without seeming to do more than simply be there. When you have met them, they do not slip from memory but leave behind a trace of beauty  that adds its grace to your own life, changing it for the better, in some indefinable way .

I met such a woman some years ago, at a magical gathering. She already seemed to know me somehow and drew me in to the circle of warmth that she radiated. That, I think, was part of her gift for life. She was interested in people. She wanted to know their stories, not through some vague curiosity but from an openness to life and those with whom she explored its pathways.

Over the years, she became a friend. She opened her heart and home to the monthly meetings of the Silent Eye, enlivening…

View original post 57 more words