Wednesday, 27 August 2008

'Song for an Entryphone', the second EP from 'Here', will be released on 15 September.

The EP features three tracks:

* Song for an Entryphone
* Waiting for Dolma (Extended mix)
* Little Boxes

The EP is a digital-only release. You can buy it here.

A video featuring an acoustic version of 'Entryphone' is available on Youtube:

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Secret to ‘The Secret’ Part 1

Recently, I played at the Buddhafield festival. It was great. Apart from the general peace-and-love vibe (which re-charged my batteries and left me determined to keep going in this quest to live authentically and completely), it was great because I got to hook up with a lot of old friends.

At about 3am one night/morning, I was sitting in a dimly lit cafĂ© with one such friend, listening to some lovely chilled musicians playing some lovely chilled music. We had been talking about life, the universe and everything for a couple of hours, as you do, when we got onto the subject of ‘The Secret’.

Now my friend lives in the middle of nowhere with only occasional access to the internet. From time to time it trickles into the back of his computer through a very narrow straw attached to his mobile phone. Needless to say, much of ‘what’s going on in the world’ passes him by. Last time I saw him, I was explaining to him what Myspace was.

Anyway, he had been given a copy of The Secret from somewhere. I was quite excited about this as I thought The Secret was excellent and has had a positive effect on my life. I think every Englishman benefits from a little bit of California in the diet. Good for the constitution. Like roughage. My friend, however, with his anarcho-Zen leanings, found it quite offensive.

He found it offensive (as far as I remember - it was quite late) because of its shallow middle class agenda (e.g the main focus seems to be on asking the universe for lots of money, a new car, a girlfriend, a big house, a good body, nice clothes and all the other things by which this class measures its success). He also felt a wee bit peeved at its suggestion that the universe is abundant and we have no reason to feel guilty about having whatever we want. The implication here is that this middle class, materialistic agenda has no consequences for the environment and has no impact on the world’s poor. Not the ideal message for us Westerners to be hearing at this juncture perhaps.

Also, being a ‘self-power’ kind of guy (as opposed to an ‘other-power’ kind of guy), he found the idea that you can just think up a new Mercedes and watch it arrive (‘The-universe-as-catalogue-that-you-order-stuff-from-and-wait-for-delivery’) laughable.

I thought his points were all fair (apart from not believing that you can dream a Mercedes into existence, because the world is, as far as I can tell, made of magic), and it made me want to write something on my understanding of The Secret. But I think in order to do it justice, I shall probably do this over a couple of posts.

In this post I will content myself with replying briefly to my friend’s excellent points.

My reply
Yes, fair enough. The makers of this programme were certainly aiming it at a particular market (ie the people that have the money to shell out on a DVD). And I think what is actually said in the movie is really quite shoddy, and, taken at face value, a bit trite and overly-focused on trivialities. And such trivialities have massive consequences for the planet.

But it is my hope that, when people start to generate feelings of gratitude and abundance, they will naturally begin to let go of the desire for trinkets and baubles and become interested in pursuing loftier goals.

But in the meantime, I don’t think there’s any benefit in feeling guilty about wanting a new ipod. I mean if you want one, you want one. That’s who you are in this moment. Neither angel nor demon, just someone who wants an ipod (or are they old fashioned now? Feel free to replace ‘ipod’ with whatever ipods have been replaced with by the time you read this).

The key point I think, is learning how to generate feelings of gratitude for the abundance that is already present in one’s life. From this emotional space it becomes possible to see what we really do want, rather than grasping after whatever the advertisers are convincing us that we need this week. For example, we may think we want money, but what money represents for us might be freedom. So what we really want is to feel free. (Not that I’m dissing money here – money is energy and can be used in amazing ways).

There is a Buddhist meditation practice called the metta bhavana (cultivation of universal loving-kindness). This practice begins with cultivating positive feelings towards oneself. From there we begin to generate those feelings for a good friend, for a stranger, and for someone we find difficult. Finally, we expand this feeling out to all beings. But this practice is founded on feeling good about yourself. An abundance of love and wellbeing, which then spills out over others.

I see a similarity between this and The Secret. You can’t really live a happy, ethical life out of a sense of lack, difficulty and scarcity. An ethical life (at least from a Buddhist perspective) comes out of a sense of wellbeing, contentment and peace. Denying yourself an ipod (if that’s what you really want) may well just keep you locked in an emotional conflict that makes it hard for you to be effective at giving to others. It can take a bit of experimenting before we realise that ‘wealth’ and ‘stuff’ aren’t necessarily the same thing.

When you’ve bought the ipod, (and the next generation, and then the one that comes as part of a mobile phone and makes you a cappuccino before your alarm goes off in the morning), and you still don’t have the feeling you were promised in the advert, then maybe you start to loosen your emotional grip on such things. It all looks so cool and shiny on the outside, doesn’t it? [And now the Indian and Chinese middle classes want ipods too, and people like me are saying ‘No, wait, that really isn’t the right way to go. Trust me, I’ve been there’. But how am I going to sell my values to people who want to own ipods that make them cappuccinos in the morning? Especially when the advertisers are spending millions of pounds convincing them that the shiny life really is as fun as it looks, and people like me are just misguided killjoys. And probably communists too.]

I think maybe you have to find your own way though materialism. Kind of like being a teenager. And I think this is where The Secret can be of benefit. I hope and pray, like I guess most parents do, that humanity will survive its adolescence.

But aside from answering the criticisms, I also want to talk about how to use the law of attraction, because The Secret gives you one piece of lego and says ‘There you go, build a castle’. So in the coming blogs I may well offer up my own combination of sticky tape, lollypop sticks and elastic bands and, hey presto, ok we may not end up with a castle, but whatever we end up with, it’ll probably have propellers on it. And they’re pretty cool, right?