Ben’s Bit, part two – The Little Red Book

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I’ve done it again – drifted off, fully conscious; somewhere else. I do not know how long I’ve been staring at the Bakewell Gazette (see part one), absorbing their celebratory levity at my incarceration. ‘Local Businessman’? Well, stretching a point, but I know what they mean – certainly born among Northern hills very much like the beauty around Bakewell. ‘Businessman’? Definitely, until the recent, long-awaited stepping away from the IT world, after a working life at the helm of a software company; so that I could do the mystical stuff I’d always wanted to devote myself to. 

A crime of ‘Absolute precision’? Well, thank you; but emphasised here to show how the fates were on their side in the apprehension of the ‘prime perpetrator’ of this foul deed. And the precision was not mine, of course . . . though that needs to remain unsaid.

Most of what she does carries the stamp of precision with it – Wen that is; with the added calmness of Don’s gentle but deep oversight and his ability to pour oil on troubled waters, a gift that has kept the corporate wheels on many times. In a momentary lapse of generosity, I mentally repeat the word ‘corporate’.

Wheels . . . my lovely BMW, a retirement present to myself after twenty-odd years at the helm, lies pining somewhere under a dust cover in a justice system storage facility, no doubt.

I can see why they hate me, I really do understand. I am truly friendless in this dark place . . . but, a ‘M’lud’ I am most certainly not. I want to take them back to 1950s Bolton; to the sloping terrace of working-class houses, lined up the hill in uniform rows; one at each side of the river of cobbles – the place where, in a downstairs and makeshift bedroom, I came into the world . . . You take it from there, I want to shout, see what you make of it . . .

But this is getting maudlin, and I have to beware the edge of that deadly chasm. The recurring presence of Yellow Eyes is good for that – constantly reminding me never to show a weakness when he’s around; since he spends his time minutely studying my reactions, looking for the gaps into the soft underbelly . . . which he knows is there.

And I do, too – so the contest will be interesting, even if the dice are dreadfully loaded in his favour. There comes the single shutter movement again in the inset rectangle of the door’s spy panel, and, briefly, his glaring eyes are visible through the slits. Then his face disappears, leaving me to my introspection.

Time . . . that’s the killer. He can always come back and try again tomorrow. They have arranged the evidence to show conspiracy, even though the other perpetrators are yet to be caught; and I’m sure my period of remand will culminate in an utterly disproportionate custodial sentence from a local judge based on an overwhelming body of circumstantial evidence . . . so Yellow Eyes has all the time in the world to watch and hate.

And hate he does – deeply lidded, yellow hate . . . hate that you can taste and smell.

I don’t want to look at the red book on my little table yet. It promises to be the highlight of the day, and I want to savour it. So, once more, I pace my cell. One step, two, half of three – stopping in the panic spot and forcing myself to breathe.  Then, four, five . . . Looking down at the faded redness on the table top, just visible beneath the Gazette. It’s an old book; the spine is worn, as though it ended its working life as a well-thumbed library volume.

The silence is dreadful as I pick it up, pulling it from beneath the local rag. The fact that it has come from my mother gives it a warmth that is hard to express.

The Ballad of Reading Gaol was Oscar Wilde’s last book. Until now, I have never owned a copy, but I know it is said to be his greatest work. Beneath those red covers the man’s dancing and gay wit is replaced by a sober poetic ballad; a narrative of the hard and merciless truth of life behind those savage bars, including the execution by hanging of a fellow prisoner. This much I know. There will be more in the introduction, but for now, my eyes linger on the inside cover, where, in her lovely curly handwriting, my mother, one of the other occupants of that far-away and far-awhen Bolton terrace, has written out three lines:

“There would be no point coming into Being if nothing happened.”

Inside this new love, die. Your way begins on the other side. Become the sky, Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape. Walk out like someone suddenly born into colour. Do it now.”

The third line is a row of three kisses. This is from my mother; the other two are not . . .

I can feel my heart hammering as I realise that my dear friends and co-conspirators in the perceived ‘attack’ on the mysterious and ancient stone have found a way to communicate with me, albeit cryptically and probably for just this time. I know, now, that their flight to safety took them via Bolton, if only for this purpose. The first line bears the hallmark of Don’s humour; the second I recognise as a quote from the Sufi mystic Rumi and would be from Wen.

My eyes fill at the third line of kisses. I turn the page, anxious not to give anything away to they who may watch. Before me is the first verse of the Ballad of Reading Gaol:

“He did not wear his scarlet coat,

For blood and wine are red,

And blood and wine were on his hands

When they found him with the dead,

The poor dead woman whom he loved,

And murdered in her bed.”

I did not know that coughs could sound happy; but the one from the still open inspection grill does so. It’s a kind of chortled grunt; followed immediately by the turning of the key in the lock. The door swings wide and his grinning face enters ahead of the huge body, carrying the requested notebook and pencil, which he places, without the usual ceremony of me having to move back, on my small table.

Smiling at the wet streaks on my cheeks, he nods to me. “It can be hard at first, but you’ll get used to it,” He beams with a sympathy that is false and calculated.

“After all, you’ll likely be here for some time . . .”

———————————————————–< to be continued-

Ben’s Bit is a continuing first-person narrative of the character created by Stuart France and Sue Vincent, which may bear some relation to the author of this blog, Steve Tanham, their fellow director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness.  In the latest of their books, Scions of Albion, Ben is arrested for his overly enthusiastic part in a mad escapade, and the other two are nowhere to be seen . . .  For more, enjoy their Doomsday series of books, and the new series (Lands of Exile) beginning soon. Click here for details.


Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee (22) – Flight and Fight

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We ran through the steepening streets of the town. I pulled at Alexandra’s wrist and, every few strides, looked around, anxiously, in search of our pursuers.

“What are we running from?” she laughed, behind me, now well used to my craziness. I had noticed that she had recently taken to wearing more casual clothing for our teaching encounters, and suspected that her larger bag, now safely in the car, contained a change of clothes or two – including a choice of outdoor footwear . . .

“I can’t tell you, exactly, the image is fading, but I know it frightened me – and it’s big!”

“Big?,” she gasped, her voice was getting hoarse with the effort. “Big, as in an animal?”

I pulled her on, ducking and diving into the warren of alleyways that make up the Fellside district of Kendal. Fellside is a steep part of town, true to its name, that rises from the town centre and climbs south-westward up the nearby ridge. The old and narrow stone streets were perfectly suited to my purposes, and we could have been on a film set.

“It could be an animal!” I shouted, turning another tight corner and shouting in response to her previous question. “In fact, I can imagine many describing it that way; but I think it’s bigger than that!” My breath was rasping in my throat, too. The gradients of Fellside were a killer.

Alexandra ground to a halt and shook free of my hauling hand, slumping forward with hands on knees. “Idiot!,” she laughed. “You’re killing me!”

“But, it might catch us!” I managed, weakly, between gasps, fighting hard to suppress a grin.

“It can eat me if it likes,” she said, recovering her breath. “I’m not running another step . . . and I’ll need a second bloody shower, now, you nuisance–” she gasped some more. ” . . . and that will have to wait until London!”

“Aww . . .” I said. “Would a coffee help make it up to you?”

She pulled herself vertical and managed a smile. “It might . . . if it’s a good one.”

Five minutes later, and with the cool summer breeze bringing us back to normality, I walked her – downhill, at last – to the outdoor cafe in the middle tier of the three layer mound that forms the bedrock of the Brewery Arts Centre, itself set into the lower slopes of the Fellside district. I sat us on the second of the terraces in the sunshine, facing down the slope. We ordered a bottle of water each, and two large lattés. By the time they had arrived, she was speaking to me, again.

“Is this near the station?” she asked. “I have to be going, soon.”

“No, but it’s very near the Head.”

“The Head?”

“The Sleeping Head – what we’ve been running from . . .”

“I don’t know the–”

“Yes, you do, but it’s better seen in a way that makes an impact.”

For the next few minutes I said nothing else. We drank our coffees in pleasant silence, as the inner tension mounted. Eventually, I took her hand again, pulling her to her feet. “Will you close your eyes for me?”

We had come a long way in the months we had been working together. It was marked by the trust and the ease with which she accepted the request. She nodded, and I guided her, blind, up the stone staircase that had been behind us all along. When she was safely on the upper level, I turned her to face our destination and asked her to open her eyes.

She made a slight gasp.

“This is what we all run from, when we are being the Six,” I said, as her hazel eyes opened wider and she took in the carved head before us.

“Sleeping?” she whispered.

“Sleeping to our spiritual nature, which is actually the characteristic of the Nine, the core of the enneagram. Our life is not our reality, and so we live in a dream. This is what the Six embodies – someone whose fleeing life is the result of being turned away from its reality; from its inner trust, which it had and lost at station Nine . . . and so now lives in the land of fear; believing it is supported by nothing . . .”


Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.

All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.

Steve Tanham is a founding director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness; a place of companionship, sharing and the search for the real in life, using the loving techniques and insights of esoteric psychology. He retired from a life as an IT entrepreneur to establish the School in 2012, and, having persuaded Sue Vincent to . . .

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Ben’s Bit, part 1 – Humbling Beginnings

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There is a wall and, across the dark room, another wall.

I walk between them. Getting there – to the other wall – is the goal.  What is in the middle is mere mathematics: five strides sees me across the old stone floor, and I practice so that my toe touches the far wall exactly on the fifth . . . the edges of the room are safer; I have no idea why . . .

Words come back. ‘It is as though I were dead.’  That came from a book, I think; one I had read recently. But, when I try to focus on the source, it seems to pull away, as though there were another reality that teased with its existence, but would not be grasped.

How long, now?  How long have I been locked in here? One hour, maybe two? One pace, two paces, three . . . I stop at three, drowning in the exact middle of the dark space of the cell in Bakewell Jail. They can’t leave me here!  Look, this is just a mistake, you don’t understand, we were only . . .

There is sound like the breech of an old rifle being loaded. The shutter mechanism in the ancient, heavy door slides back, revealing nine vertical slits of the face of the man I have christened Yellow Eyes. He looks in at me, then barks through the grill, “Back from the door – far wall.”

I was shown the drill when I entered; wearing the plain, grey prison pyjamas. They understand vulnerability in here; specialists I would say – very at home in an ancient backwater in deepest Derbyshire, where inspections are few and far between. I move back to stand facing the far wall and the key turns in the lock. Yellow Eyes enters.

“Present for you, m’lud.”

I hear him slap something down on the table. I’ve only been in here for a matter of hours, but already he’s used the term ‘M’lud’ several times. There’s a bitterness there, a bullying bitterness as though the stone we moved was his personal possession; and now he seeks his carefully crafted revenge in this, his kingdom, where I am imprisoned, on remand for our crime. I shudder at the thought of being under this man’s control, as his words fill my cell with his fetid breath and the image of a cruel smile that glistens around irregular teeth.

I turn to look at my ‘present’. I had asked for notebook and pen, to create a journal that would help me in this solitude.  It isn’t there, but the small table, my only non-plumbing furniture apart from the bed, has several objects on it.

I need him to understand that I shouldn’t be here. “I really shouldn’t” . . . but he cuts me off.

“The Guv’nor checked it over,” he says, ignoring me and pointing at the torn parcel of brown paper on the small, metal table. “Seems your mother has sent you a parcel . . .” he sniggers. “Yes, we’ve checked, in case it was your accomplices, but no, it’s not – but don’t worry, we know you had help and we’ll catch them eventually; and anyway, we got to jail the ringleader!”

But no, they didn’t. Their six dark assassins of my freedom converged on the man stupid enough to go back for Wen’s air- rifle, with which she had expertly shot out the street lights around Bakewell’s All Saints Church. There’s your ringleader, I want to shout out . . . but I don’t. I don’t because something huge flies across the back of my consciousness, something that silences and invites deeper thought; something more real than anything in here . . .

Time seems not to have passed while I considered the implications of this. I stare down at the package. Its plain, white string has been cut in several places. There is something else beneath the parcel, something large and pale.

“And we thought you might like a copy of the local newspaper, M’lud,” he says. Happy reading . . .” The sound is a chortle.

He says nothing more. Just turns and marches out, military like, slamming shut the heavy, steel door and turning the huge key in the old, but well-oiled lock.

Wanting to save the best for last, I first pick up the local newspaper, the Bakewell Gazette. There is something chilling about seeing your fate spread across the headlines in this way, something that speaks of a gateway entered into, a one-way turnstile to a spectator sport . . . and I’m the sport, it would appear . . .

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Ben’s Bit is a continuing first-person narrative of the character created by Stuart France and Sue Vincent, which may bear some relation to the author of this blog, Steve Tanham, their fellow director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness.  In the latest of their books, Scions of Albion, Ben is arrested for his overly enthusiastic part in a mad escapade, and the other two are nowhere to be seen . . .  For more, enjoy their Doomsday series of books, and the new series (Lands of Exile) beginning soon. Click here for details.

Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee (21) – The Anxious Heart


We were sitting by the river, though earlier than usual. The padded plastic-bottomed picnic blanket I had brought serving us well as a coffee base on the cold limestone, which was constantly made wet by the spray from the rapids in the adjacent river Kent. Neither of us seemed to mind the gentle mist. The thermos flask had been half emptied and we were enjoying our coffee.  We talked, gently. To anyone passing over the nearby bridge, we would have looked a strange pair – Alexandra in her legal suit, albeit it with walking boots; and me in jeans and summer teeshirt.

The mood was gentle. Fear, the central characteristic of station six on the enneagram of personality, was not a topic to which we needed to add much drama: it had enough of its own.

“We are all afraid,” I said. “It’s just a matter of degree and what frightens us, most. But fear has a very special spiritual role to play for us, as well.”

She sipped some coffee, resting herself on one elbow. “And choice?” she asked. “You indicated last week that we choose a lot of our own fear . . .”

“Yes,” I considered my next words carefully. “We are really like a native American totem pole, one where the different figures are layered on top of each other.” I thought about that concept, and wondered whether that had been the original meaning of such sculptures. I dimly remembered other people having written about the idea. The lower figures would be nearer to the world of instinctive reaction – that which keeps us alive, certainly; but that which restricts the processes of higher thought and emotions until we have enough experience, and, later, trust, to build something greater on that hilltop.”

I pointed to a coiled length of old rope, lying half in the shallows of a quiet pool, well back from the torrent.

“Take that harmless snake over there,” I said. The rope was discoloured from its long journey downstream, and covered in enough green algae to look like a convincing, and quite large, grass-snake.  I knew it wasn’t of course; but only because I’d been here with Tess, our collie, many times.

I could feel Alexandra tensing, even though I had said it was a harmless snake. “It’s not, is it – a snake, I mean?”

“We could go over and see?”

“We could, but I’d rather you tell me that it wasn’t!”

“But then you’d be relying on my reality, my experience; and not investigating your own.”

“Which is how most fear starts,” she whispered into the mist, standing up on legs that weren’t completely steady. I watched with growing admiration as she took two steps nearer to the possible green reptile. “I’ll go,” she said, half-turning back to look at me. “But will you hold my hand just in case I freeze?”

“Gladly,” I said. “I just won’t do anything to interfere with the vividness of your experience.” I stood and took her proffered hand. Together, we walked across the wet limestone. I could tell to the second the point at which her snake became an old rope. Her muscles unsnapped, fluidity returned to her body, and she began her customary laughter; but, this time, without the retributions.

“Did you know?”

“Yes.  Didn’t think I’d expose you to a real snake, did you?”

“I didn’t know for sure . . .”

“Precisely – and in that authentic unknowing you became totally present to the moment, and explored it with power.”

She nodded. Pleased to have done this so well.

“Given that it wasn’t a snake,” I continued. “What were you frightened of?”

“What, who . . .” she mouthed, driven on by my relentless questions. She snapped her head up, straightened her back, and looked down on the rope. “Well, there were only three players – you, me  and the old green rope.” She was still laughing – something we all do after an attack of fear. “And I’m not known for being frightened of old bits of rope; so It must have been me!” she said.

“Exactly,” I replied, “And there is a name for being frightened of ourselves, and that is anxiety. I paused to let it sink in. “Real fear – fear in response to a danger that is present, often has its own resolution built in to the problem. The brave bit is to see the problem fully, and therefore to be fully conscious to it; if possible, with no reaction at all – which I admit is easier said than done; but that shouldn’t stop us trying . . .”

“And the spiritual side of all this?” she asked

“All the inner traditions speak of a final act of coming face to face with fear, itself – not fear of an object – as the last act before a significant degree of illumination is given . . .” I paused before adding, “And remember that fear belongs only to the world of the ego, the personality – it has no place in the world of Being.

“And the importance of point six in all of this?”

“The dweller at point six, which we view in the Silent Eye as The Fugitive, is one whose life is lived on a volcano of fear, yet who is amazingly loyal and brave in action.”

“Sounds almost sacrificial?”

“Well, yes, in many ways, that’s how I view it, too, though the many excellent text books on the subject don’t dwell on that. Within the Silent Eye, we like to keep alive the ancient and magical ideas on such subjects, so I would say that sacrifice is a good concept to use, here . . .”

To be continued . . .


Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.

All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.

Steve Tanham is a founding director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness; a place of companionship, sharing and the search for the real in life, using the loving techniques and insights of esoteric psychology. He retired from a life as an IT entrepreneur to establish the School in 2102, and, having persuaded Sue Vincent to

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Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee (20) – A Torrent of Fear


I met Alexandra at the local station. She had agreed to spend an hour longer with me before getting the London train from Oxenholme, which serves the Lake District and has a direct link to the capital.  She changed into her summer boots at the back of her car, and we walked the short distance to the local bakery, which had a tiny cafe, with excellent coffee.  Grasping two tall take-away cups, we sat down on the metal chairs at the open front of the busy shop.

“Six,” she said. “I feel like we’ve been headed for type six for a long time?”

“Yes,” I replied, wondering how this would open itself out. “Six is the second most fundamental unfolding of the whole enneagram – from a personality or ego perspective, anyway.”

“And it has to do with fear?” She had been reading. That was no surprise, of course, but I knew that few books on the enneagram approached the topic from a truly spiritual perspective.

I sipped my hot coffee and burned my lip. “Ouch! – that will have to wait, possibly till we’re down by the gorge.”

“Gorge! I’m dressed for chambers, not mountaineering . . .”

“Don’t worry, there’s a road runs right by it.” I said. “A short scamper down through the forest and we’ll be on the flat limestone.”

I could see she was less than convinced. She had begun to fold the paper napkin that came with the coffee into a simple plane. I suspected the action was unconscious.

“Can you make boats, too?”

She looked at me, strangely, then down at her hands. “Yes,” she said.

“Will you make us one each?” I handed her my napkin and watched as her skilled fingers made light work of two small boats.  They wouldn’t last long, but that suited my purposes.

Fifteen minutes later we were standing by the river Kent, having just crossed it on the old footbridge that swayed as you walked its suspended length. She was still smiling from the rather scary experience; the Kent was quite wide at this point, and the water flowed slowly, gathering its forces for what was to come.

“This isn’t a gorge,” she said, looking around at the flat meadow with cows in it.

“That’s part of the fun.” I nodded. “You will be astonished how quickly the landscape changes.”

“A bit like life and the unexpected?” She was fishing; and cleverly.

“Exactly like that. Got the boats? – it’s time to release them into time . . .”

She took both of them out of the small rucksack she had taken to bringing when we met up for our ‘Monday madness’ as she termed it. “You’re wearing the wellingtons, I assume you’re going to launch them?”

I took the two small, paper boats and waded out as far as I could into the stream. Soon, the two boats bobbed away on the slow current.

“What now?” she asked, beginning to giggle.

“We run like fury!” I replied.

Seconds later, we raced across the old bridge like idiots, driving it to a frenzy of vibration. I could hear her hooting laughter as we charged up the small country lane before diving down under the fence and coming to a a halt at the edge of the limestone gorge.

“Wow!” she was breathless and still laughing, but astonished at the change of scenery.

“Wouldn’t think they were so near each other would you; the meadow and the gorge?”

Just then, I began to point upstream, to where two tiny white boats, half submerged, were about to enter the churning water of the torrent that fed into the gorge below.  For a second we stared at them, before they were spun and sunk by the violent water, slipping past us a pale shadow of their former shape.  Soon, they were gone.  I took the coffees out of my shoulder bag. I had packed a cup holder and they were still relatively intact, if a little cooler.

We stood and sipped the coffee. “Shouldn’t we be sad?” she asked.

“What, choose to be sad?” I asked, smiling at her.  “We’re having a perfectly lovely summer morning watching tiny boats swirl to their doom in the white water; why would we choose to be sad?” I paused a while, then said, “It would be like choosing to be fearful . . .”

Alexandra was looking perplexed. “But, isn’t that the point, that, in real life, the tragedy would be much more serious?”

“Of course,” I smiled. “But even then, the perspective we need is the one of the two people on the bank of life, watching the inevitable and drinking coffee and being happy – because to do anything else is just choosing sadness . . .”

“Little people on the boats would have been terrified?” she queried.

“But only when the water became a torrent – until then, they would have been enjoying a pleasant sail on a summer’s day.”

She finished her coffee. “I’m going to have to think about that,” she said, handing me the empty cup. “Can we carry this on next week – and come back here?”

“Of course,” I replied, taking her arm and escorting her up the muddy slope and to the car.

To be continued . . .


Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.

All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.

Steve Tanham is a founding director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness; a place of companionship, sharing and the search for the real in life, using the loving techniques and insights of esoteric psychology. He retired from a life as an IT entrepreneur to establish the School in 2102, and, having persuaded Sue Vincent to

Read more (500 words)

Tracking the Silent Eye . . .

For those interested in the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, we have recently (July 2015) re-written our eleven-page overview about our Work. The images and text below are extracted from the downloadable PDF document, which is also indexed to provide fast links directly from your browser. You can download the full version of this by clicking below:

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The Call of the Soul (Cover Page) – An introduction to the work of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness

“Have you wanted to wake up to a world in which you feel you really belong? A world where your experience of life makes perfect sense and you greet each day with both fulfilment and purpose? A world that recognises your unique beauty…. and offers you its own?”

A Modern Mystery School (Page 2)

‘A Modern Mystery School’ – It’s a simple statement, but it carries a powerful intent and a history of delivery with it . . .

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”  Rumi

In 2013 three people, Steve Tanham, Sue Vincent and Stuart France came together after decades of service to other mystical and magical organisations to create the Silent Eye School of Consciousness – choosing to establish it as a not-for-profit organisation . . . They believed it was time to create a new path – a synthesis of modern and traditional spiritual development that would speak . . .

Life seen as a river of consciousness (Page 3)

When we stop to think about ourselves, we can compare our lives to a river, flowing through time and events, from which we collect, and come to identify with, the memories of good and bad things.  This collection of mental and emotional self-portraits becomes . . .

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Three journeys around the enneagram (Page 4)

The real and transformative journey does not take place within a symbol – no matter how potent; it takes place within that invisible collection of thoughts and feelings that we call our Self. But the right symbol can . . .

The desert of self-honesty (Page 5)

Schools of the Mysteries will often begin their introductions with what they need from their students.  These attributes might include diligence and hard work.  These are, of course, important to any such endeavour, but, for us, the most important characteristic is something else . . .

The three-year journey of the Soul (Page 6)

The primary offering of the Silent Eye School is the three-year ‘Call of the Soul’ correspondence course . . .

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The Land of the Exiles (Page 7)

The Land of the Exiles comprises the first twelve lessons of the Silent Eye’s three year programme – the First Degree. We can only begin a journey from where we are, now . . . This sounds trite, but is an essential consideration if . . .

The Exiles . . . and you? (Page 8)

A constellation of players, all arranged to bring you face to face with the outer aspects of your psyche.  They will reveal to you the emotional, physical and intellectual parts of your being – and let you explore what should be happening inside your life . . .

Years Two and Three? (Page 9)

We can only say a little about the second and third years of the Silent Eye’s correspondence course. The further journeys follow the same learning process, moving deeper into the . . .

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From Learning to Being (Page 10)

The intent of the Silent Eye is to provide learning through experience. Four times a year, as close to the Solstice and Equinox points as we can practically make them, we host a cycle of gatherings . . .

Reaching out – across geographies (Page 11 – final page)

We know the spiritual journey can be isolating.  Only a few people share the dedication that the path requires.  The School has students from across the world, some of whom live far away from the support and friendship of like-minded people.  This is why we took a decision to use social media to create a feeling of community where fellow Companions can meet . . .

Download the full, internet tagged document by clicking the link below.

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Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee (18) – The Jealous Eye

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Alexandra joined me at exactly half past eight, smiling. She took a thin and exotic-looking notes folder, bound in black leather, from her large travel bag. From the folder, which she opened and laid out on our coffee table, she took a shiny, black and gold Mont Blanc pen.

“Nice . . .” I said.

“Morning” she responded.

“Still nice . . .”

“It’s kind of expected in the echelons of the legal profession,” she said, leaning forward to emphasise the point. “to operate with a good-looking set of tools.”

“That’s it?” I asked.


“That’s all you have to say about having the best pen I can think of, and an exotic leather folder to match?”

She sat back, stretching her arm out to take her coffee from beyond the black leather object in question, never taking her eyes from my grim face.

“Did we have a bad weekend?” she asked, quite reasonably.

“I can’t speak for ‘we’ but my wife and I had a lovely weekend.” I responded, flatly. “Did ‘we’ have a good weekend?”

She refused to rise to the bait. “Derek and I had a great time, largely prompted by my being in a wonderful mood that continued all week from the last time we did this!” She folded her crossed legs, sideways, and retreated. “Well, not quite this . . .”

“Derek?” I said. “Did I know about Derek? Some young and clever sod from another law firm, I take it?”

There was anger, now. “Well, now you come to mention it – double first from Oxford, rich parents, but despite all that . . . a lovely man.”

“You forgot young . . .” I said.

Ice. “And young . . . about half your age, if you must know.”

I let the silence build to an intolerable level, watching as she pretended to lose herself in drinking coffee, writing the time, date and what was probably the word ‘bastard’ in shorthand on the top of the blank page.

“I never could master shorthand.” I said.

“Would you like me to return some of the time you’re spending on me with some lessons?” she said, looking for a way back. “I could teach you one of the simpler forms of speedwriting if you’d like something simpler.”

“I’d just mess it up,” I said. “But it’s lovely to watch you doing it so well.” I held her eyes as I said it, letting the slightest flicker of a smile play around the edges of my mouth. “Would you write something else for me so that I can see the grace of the movements, again?”

She was wary. “If you like; what?”

“Write: ‘this is how’,” I watched the words emerge from the fluidity of her actions. “The Type Four moves from admiration, to the melancholic consideration of what he knows he will never be able to achieve, despite it being the ideal for him . . . to the generation of hatred at the object of his jealousy in a contest that he knows is lost from the start’.”  Half way through, she got it, and began to swear, sub-vocally; but, disciplined soul that she was, she carried on, until every word lay on the page, written in time, space and consciousness.

At the end, we both said nothing. There was a tear in her left eye.

“Didn’t think you’d be able to do that, again,” she said.

“What?” I had an idea what she meant, but wanted her to say it.

“Catch me off-guard like that – generate so much bloody emotion on a coffee table!”

“I didn’t, not really.”

“Then how–?”

“I don’t plan these. I just turn up and open us to what is present . . .”

“To the–” she looked around, at the pen, the folder, the expensive pad . . . and the coffee cup, now nearly empty. “– to these things?”

“No,” I said, gently. “To the arranger . . .”

“The arranger?

“Yes,” I said. “The arranger of these things in our experience and in a way that lets something flow though them.”

She shook her head, letting the last of her anger dissipate. “Type Fours?” she said.

“Need a lot of help, especially from Type Threes, who can understand them really well – and Type Ones, on whom they dote.”

She took the cue, “The Type Two, Three and Four all sharing the same corner of the enneagram?”

Right on the nose.

“Yes,” I said. Each of them concerned with the image of themselves in the world.  The Four being full of pride and ego-inflation; the Three being the master of the get-it-done self-centric; and the Four being the ‘green with envy ‘I’ll never be good enough’ creature of doom.”

I drained the last of my coffee and stood to go. “Coming?” I said, looking at my watch.

“When I’ve written this up,” she said, curtly. Repaying me, handsomely. “You go . . .”

I turned to leave. She caught me with the words, just before I reached the door, “Buy you one for your birthday?”

“A Mont Blanc?” I asked, turning back and grinning at her.

“Yes,” she softened. “If you really want one – if you promise you’ll use it?”

“Two,” I said, catching a final surge of the moment, almost a sigh on the wind, like the slow motion image of a tennis ball hitting the sweet spot on a racket for that winning point.

“You don’t need two,” she said. “That’s greedy.”

“Not for me – the second one.”

“Then who?” she asked, puzzled.

“For Derek, of course . . . from you, but with my apologies for abusing his persona.”

She was laughing, the tension sliding from her with the relaxed movements of her shoulders. “It’s his birthday next week – you couldn’t possibly have known that.”

“I didn’t . . . that wasn’t the important thing.”

As the glass door swung shut, I could still see her at the table, chuckling; fingers clutching black and gold; and flashing with speed as she wrote. At the limit of my vision, they waved.


Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.

All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.

Steve Tanham is a founding director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness; a place of companionship, sharing and the search for the real in life, using the loving techniques and insight of esoteric psychology. He retired from a life as an IT entrepreneur to establish the School in 2102, and, having persuaded Sue Vincent to

Read more (500 words)

The End of Time

The End of Time

Whenever I think of Sandy

I think, first, of his lined red face, his brightening smile

And scrub and dust and boots, and thin cheroots

And an old guitar that sings a while


No cares survived to scar his life

Few needs, and too few friends preserved, pristine, his time

But distant heartbeats feed, between the bottle and the weed

Within the space of memory that is mine


He is not real, of course, this Sandy

A screen on which the movie-mind shows light

Projected from a dream, this wilderness from far is seen

As necessary to complete the man who might


His Harley gathers dust and grime

Behind old timber slats, that smell of creosote and sun

But the key that swings, on its old chrome rings,

Will only with my fingers turn and run


Whenever I think of Sandy

The distance is his scrub and dust that blinds; not mine

No gravestone mars the plot, where he laid down his lot

His passing simply marks the end of time


©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2015