As well as this page containing a wash-list of texts cited in essays on the website, the references themselves are offered as original pearl wisdoms or thought fragments in their own right. In this way you have the opportunity to return to each source document for further elaboration of relevant concepts without the mediating influence of my own texts. Each work thus represents a conversation partner whose thinking has contributed to my own understanding. As unlikely as some of these bedfellows may appear, such a wide research spectrum has been fundamental to my approach – to make sense of direct experience as well as attempt the translation of same via the nestedfishes site. It is a community of practice I am honoured to share further with the hope that it may bring illumination to your own practice.

Ag Assarid, M 2006, Y a pas d’embouteillage dans le desert: Chroniques d’un Touareg en France, Presses Renaiss, Paris.

Arendt, H 2007, ‘Introduction’, in W Benjamin, Illuminations, Schocken Books, New York, pp.1-55.

Armstrong, K 1999, A History of God, Vintage Books, London.

Armstrong, K 2005, A Short History of Myth, Canongate, Edinburgh.

Attar, F U-D 1984, The Conference of the Birds, Penguin Classics, London.

Atwood, M 2002, Negotiating with the Dead, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Bakhtin, M 1981, The Dialogic Imagination, University of Texas Press, Austin, TX.

Bamford, C ‘Introduction: Esotericism Today: The Example of Henri Corbin’ in Corbin, H 1998b, The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, pp.xiv-ix.

Barks, C (ed.) 2003, Rumi: The Book of Love, Harper One, New York. 

Bateson, G 1979, Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity, EP Dutton, New York.

Bateson, G & Bateson MC 1987, Angels Fear: Toward an Epistemology of the Sacred, Macmillan, New York.

Bateson, G 2000, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

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Benjamin, W 2007b, ‘Theses on the philosophy of history’, in W Benjamin, Illuminations, Schocken Books, New York, pp.253-264.

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Berry, T 2006, Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.

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Conquergood, D 2006, ‘Rethinking ethnography: towards a critical cultural politics’, in DS Madison & J Hamera (eds), The Sage Handbook of Performance Studies, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp.351-365.

Corbin, H 1998a, Alone with the Alone, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Corbin, H 1998b, The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA.

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Forster, EM 2005, Aspects of the Novel, Penguin Classics, London.

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Huskinson, L (ed.) 2008, Dreaming the Myth Onwards: New Directions in Jungian Therapy and Thought, Routledge, London.

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Huxley, A 2009a, ‘Beliefs’, an essay, in A Huxley 2009, The Perennial Philosophy, HarperCollins, New York, pp.6-22.

Inayat Khan, H 1972, The Mysticism of Sound, Health Research Books, Pomeroy, WA.

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Irwin, L 1996, Visionary Worlds: The Making and Unmaking of Reality, State University of New York Press, Albany.

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Jung, CG 1995, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Fontana Press, London.

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Kerouac, J 2008, Wake Up: A Life of the Buddha, Viking, New York.

Kingsnorth, P 2013, ‘Dark Ecology’, in Orion Magazine, Great Barrington, MA, pp.1-13.

Koenig, WD & Knops, JMH 2005, ‘The Mystery of Masting in Trees’, in American Scientist, Vol.93, Sigma Xi, Research Triangle Park, NC, pp.340-347.

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Lao Tzu 2006, Tao Teh Ching (transl. JCH Wu), Shambhala, Boston.

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Active Imagination (AI): A Jungian method to consciously approach the unconscious, involving an ‘imaginal dialogue, a conversation between … the part of ourselves that we consciously recognise as I and … an element … experienced as not me’ (Cwik 1995, p.138). This psychic ‘oscillation’ is comparable to ‘two poles of a battery, … a current … with the potential to generate something new’ (Cwik 1995, p.151). The expression ‘active’ or ‘creative’ imagination was also used, centuries earlier, by the medieval Sufi philosopher Ibn Arabi to describe a state of ‘reverie in which the consciousness was still active’ (Hirsch 2002, p.105). This took place in the mundus imaginalis or Malakut, an intermediate dimension ‘where the body is spiritualised and the spiritual is embodied’ (Corbin 1998b, p.125), my intertidal zone and the location of Jung’s ‘I let myself drop’ (Jung 1995, p.203). I have no idea if Jung was aware of Corbin’s Islamic scholarship when he coined this phrase to describe his method or not. Perhaps it is simply an example of synchronicity, the rhizome in the act of becoming.

Alone with the Alone: A reference to Henri Corbin’s seminal text on the 13th century Sufi mystic Ibn Arabi and his direct apprehension of the Unity of Being. According to Bloom’s preface to this volume, such Gnostic revelation is ‘to be acquainted with what is best and oldest in yourself, is to know yourself as you were, before the world was made, before you emerged into time’ (Bloom 1998, p.x).

Angel of History: The sad rendering given to Paul Klee’s painting Angelus Novus (1920, 32) by the tragic hand of Walter Benjamin in another time and place, and the recipient of Laleima’s last speech in The Taste of Translation.

Awakening to Home: This text, published by Lorian Press, documents a journey in the company of Sidhe (Elven-folk in ‘Tolkien-ese’), and the tasks arising in its wake. By way of background, over years I have had intermittent contact with Faerie-energy, most latterly manifesting in a swirling hub (or node) linked to the region of the Alps I am blessed to call home. I describe this contact in the essays – Amici della Montagna and Amici della Luce. As Lorian’s resource bank was instrumental in crystallising, focusing and deepening the connection with these ‘People of Peace’, I have gifted the text into their stable; it offers a building block to their approach, the results of ‘ethnographic fieldwork’ if you like, one way amongst the many that humanity may engage with subtle energies toward a shared vision of Gaian holism. With perennial blessings for readers’ own journeys into the realms of Faerie from myself as well as my dear ‘companions of the way’, it is available for purchase here.

Axial Age: The term used by historians to denote the period 800-200BCE, a time of transition during which the major world religions emerged in the civilised world. ‘Each region developed a distinctive ideology … Taoism and Confuciansim in China, Hinduism and Buddhism in India and philosophical rationalism in Europe. The Middle East did not produce a uniform solution but in Iran and Israel, Zoroaster and the Hebrew prophets respectively evolved different versions of monotheism’ (Armstrong 1999, pp.37-8). ‘In the new ideologies … there was a general agreement that human life contained a transcendent element that was … crucial to the development of men and women as full human beings’ (Armstrong 1999, p.51) – the overriding duty of compassion therefore became ‘the hallmark of all the major religions formed in the Axial Age’ (Armstrong 1999, p.57).

Becoming landscape: As I navigate inner territories of the Malakut, I find that landscapes ‘become’ or constellate depending on the insights and stories being shared by Otherworld guides. Using the metaphor of the rhizome, I wander like a nomad into ‘mobile arrangements of space where thought can settle for a time’ (St Pierre 1997, p.410), the ‘spiritual topography’ (Corbin 1998a, p.33) thus emerging as it is explored.

Being-with: An expression coined by Irigaray in respect of reciprocal recognition which speaks to my task to unveil and cultivate a space of co-belonging, of ‘being-with’ (p.48), in order to create a ‘context in which love can begin to flourish’ (hooks, p.13). Equally, it references a comment of Mr1300BC’s – long years past at a time when I was so eager to learn more, discover more, ask questions et al, I would self-sabotage my meditations. At which point he would sigh and say: Just be with me. That is all. Brilliant (of course); a technique to settle the grains of sand in the pool, to awaken self to the clarity of Suzuki’s ‘beginner’s mind’. To just be ...

Bergkristall: Literally ‘mountain-crystal’; in English: rock quartz – transparent, translucent, stunning in its purity. Look at them!” he says excitedly. “The scientist al-Biruni was enthralled by this material – crystal fast-frozen within its clay bed. Imagine – water frozen, never to unfreeze!” And indeed, the perfection lies within this unity – the fineness of air fused with the clarity of water. Words I put into the mouth of Ibn Khaldun in The Taste of Translation (p.62).

Big mind: ‘Before we were born we had no feeling; we were one with the universe. This is called ‘mind-only’, or ‘essence of mind’ or ‘big mind’. After we separated by birth from this oneness, as the water falling from the waterfall is separated by the wind and rocks, then we have feeling. … (But) whether it is separated into drops or not, water is water. Our life and death are the same thing’ (Suzuki 2011, p.83). And again: ‘The big mind … which is always on your side is not just your mind, it is universal mind, always the same, not different from another’s mind. It is Zen mind. It is big, big mind. This mind is whatever you see. Your true mind is always with whatever you see. Although you do not know your own mind, it is there – at the very moment you see something, it is there. This is very interesting. Your mind is always with the things you observe. So you see, this mind is at the same time everything’ (Suzuki 2011, p.128).

Body-Active-Imagination (BAI): An extension of Jung’s Active Imagination technique, it places one’s own corporeal reality as the seat of ‘profound empathy’ (Gallbach 2006, p.195), implying both ‘embodied imagination as well as an active and conscious body’ (Gallbach 2006, p.35).

Book of Voyage: A specific text encountered in the Malakut when in the company of a longer-than subtle friend, whose story sets the scene for the relevance of the Book. At one point he had been a guide, but when we met on this particular occasion, it was as if he had lost his way, had become seriously sad at the state of the world. A writer, he was too sad to write, to ‘make’. His right hand was covered in a beautiful mystical tattoo, a compass; he demonstrated that to find his way ‘home’ he needed to head West, shown directionally between thumb and forefinger, so-saying: I am following the path of van Diemen. It was a potent totem, a hidden ‘mark’ that he uncovered in my presence. In this context, my task was to guide him to a huge leather-bound tome, van Diemen’s own Book of Voyage, which acted as a kind of placeholder for all ‘seekers’ to set their compass toward ‘home’. In coaxing him to engage the text, in an effort to help overcome his malaise, I said: Let’s both write down the deepest thing in our hearts at the same time. Spontaneously each of us wrote: I promise to write every day. In spirit, I knew it to mean that whatever we wrote each day (for our own self) would be a gift to the other, whereby it (so too we) merged with the other and his/her writing. Like nested fishes, writing acted as the spot of colour to enable our communion. And in charting this together-course, we would not lose direction, our compass staying firmly fixed. A wonderful reminder for my own practice of ‘making’ – whenever sad or parched, ‘tis time to troll the depths to bring healing energies to both self and Malakut companions with textual offerings from my own Book of Voyage ...

Buddha-nature: ‘Buddha was not interested in some metaphysical existence, but in his own body and mind, here and now. And when he found himself, he found that everything that exists has Buddha-nature. That was his enlightenment’ (Suzuki 2011, p.11). ‘When you become one with Buddha, one with everything that exists, you find the true meaning of being. When you forget all your dualistic ideas, everything becomes your teacher’ (Suzuki 2011, p.28).

Character immersion: A range of embodied practices I engaged in to enflesh the lives of the characters I brought into textual existence. It included desk- and site-research as well as the assembly of a raft of symbolic mediators in order to embed myself in the relevant historical, cultural, literary, religious and geo-political context before entering the becoming landscape of the narrative as accessed through the intertidal zone.

Chi: The invisible force within all of life and nature, cosmic in origin, sustaining everything in our known world. As essential to us as the air we breathe, the ancients called it by the same name: Air or Chi. There are many layers to Chi, one of which is the unique signal of our own life energy: ‘Each one of us is endowed with a piece of the one original energy, the Tao. This energy, through a series of transformations, becomes our Chi. Our body is made of dust (material) … it is our Chi that holds us together, animates us, and makes us who we really are. … Without it, nothing lives’ (Liao 2009, p.3-4).

Chronotope: ‘We will give the name chronotope (literally, “time space”) to the intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships that are artistically expressed in literature … Time, as it were, thickens, takes on flesh, becomes artistically visible; likewise, space becomes charged and responsive to the movements of time, plot and history’ (Bakhtin 1981, p.84).

Circle-of-one/circle-of-self: Interchangeable expressions used to describe the different roles I perform to bring inner knowing out onto an external plane – for example, dialogue with inner guides in the intertidal zone, translation of wisdoms shared therein, etc. Only once texts have been agreed within the circle am I prepared to share publicly, beyond the plane of intimate exteriority. This essay documents my process. 

Cold Mountain: With each in-breath, each out-breath, Han-shan conceived of inner and outer spaces as one. Translated as Cold Mountain, the (perhaps) 6th, 8th or 9th century Chinese poet-hermit took the name of his ten-foot-square hut as his own. In each of his poems we find an osmotic existence described in full expressive flow, and wonder: Is it himself or his dwelling which is the subject here (from Gary Snyder’s translation, p.44)?

Men ask the way to Cold Mountain
Cold Mountain: there’s no through trail.
In summer, ice doesn’t melt
The rising sun blurs in swirling fog.
How did I make it?
My heart’s not the same as yours.
If your heart was like mine
You’d get it and be right here.

All one-and-the-same, in the end, living the one-life-of-the-one-world …

Collective unconscious: Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious was based on the premise that ‘the collective unconscious is common to all; it is the foundation of what the ancients called “the sympathy of all things”’ (Jung 1995, p.160).

Compassion: From the Latin to suffer with, a bald dictionary definition of compassion – ‘feeling of sorrow or pity for the sufferings or misfortunes of another’ (Macquarie 3rd edition 2001) – little describes its place as the highest of virtues, ‘the hallmark of all the major religions formed in the Axial Age’ (Armstrong 1999, p.57), and an expression of divine love (see Corbin 1998a). Loving another as oneself, without condition – indeed, to take on another’s suffering as one’s own speaks to this unconditional care – was known in pre-modern English as ‘charity’ (Armstrong 1999, p.460, Huxley 2009, p.82) and the heart considered the organ of love. Also described as mother-love, the rendering of a specific type of mother-of-God icon, Kardiotissa (of the heart), intends to convey the depth of such compassion (see Cormack 2000).

Consciousness: The way I use the word ‘consciousness’ is synonymous with the way Zen masters use the word ‘mindfulness’: ‘From now on I’ll use the term “mindfulness” to refer to keeping one’s consciousness alive to the present reality’ (Nhat Hanh 2008, p.11). It is the principle reflected in the story of ‘washing the dishes to wash the dishes’.

Conversation partners: This is an expression I use to describe the interdisciplinary interlocutors – across fields as disparate as continental philosophy, eastern philosophy, psychology, translation theory, action research, interpretative ethnography, performance studies and other aesthetic paradigms, theology and the mystical traditions – whose thinking has contributed to my understanding of and approach to the Otherworld. As unlikely as a particular reference may appear at first glance, a wide spectrum of research has helped me make sense of my experiences as well as assisted the descriptions of such phenomena – with the specific aim that my incoherent ramblings are thus rendered more understandable to a third party. Whether still a part of this material world or already on their next journey, our connection – across time and space via the wonderful resource of the written word – has given me a community of practice I am honoured to share further with this bibliography.

Co-performance: I borrow this expression from the discipline of performance ethnography, whereby fieldwork is considered a sacred performance. Co-performance is specifically defined as ‘being and doing with others in intersubjective and interpersonal engagement (Madison 2006, p.349). This is my experience of the intertidal zone, a performance ‘made of our flesh, made of our heart, and not only of words’ (Irigaray 2002, p.154).

Creative Prayer: An expression used by Ibn Arabi to describe the direct mystical apprehension of the God within: ‘He who knows himself knows his Lord. Knowing one’s self, to know one’s God; knowing one’s Lord, to know one’s self. … (This Lord) is the he who knows himself through myself, that is, in the knowledge that I have of him, because it is the knowledge that he has of me; it is alone with him alone, in this syzygic unity, that it is possible to say thou. And such is the reciprocity in which flowers the creative Prayer which Ibn Arabi teaches us to experience simultaneously as the Prayer of God and the Prayer of man’ (Corbin, p.95). As such, the union of Self (lord – rabb) and self (servant – ‘abd) ‘compose the totality of a divine Name’; it is the means by which ‘this Name becomes visible’ (his emphasis, ibid., p.120). My own experience of same is contemplated at length in this essay yet is far more eloquently expressed by Corbin as follows: ‘It opens up a new dimension in (us), the dimension of (our) invisible selves; perhaps, indeed, it is the only means by which we may know, or gain an intimation of, this invisible self, just as a fragment of an arch arouses a mental image of the missing part of the arch’ (ibid., p.107).

Demian: (From The Taste of Translation, p.403): ‘I’ll re-read the books though, she offers. Nothing bad ever comes from reading Hesse, and she reaches for the brandy bottle, lights a cigarette, and begins with Demian … Sinclair sits, sketches, sits, sketches, communes with the face he has sketched – a god-image arisen from half-serious scrawls: “This face had some message for me … it was making some demand … appeared to know me as a mother, as if its eyes had been fixed on me my whole life …” The candle on her cardboard altar sputters, wavers, suddenly flares. She looks up into the eyes of the Lady. No longer a sketch but the icon itself floods her memory. Baba’s hand made those eyes. Baba’s hand knew the light which cuts through winter-dark …’.

Desire: I define desire as a productive and enabling energy, a creative force to bring potentialities into being. With its rhizomatic roots in ‘energetic, constructivist, productive … desire’ (Deleuze & Boundas 1993, p.12), a central plane of Deleuzian philosophy is ‘the articulation of a theory of transformation and change, … a theory of pure becoming’ (Deleuze & Boundas 1993, p.4): ‘Every assemblage expresses and creates a desire by constructing the plane which makes it possible and, by making it possible, brings it about (Deleuze & Boundas 1993, p.137). What Deleuze calls desire, therefore, expresses the same intent behind the creative force I experience to transform not-knowing into knowing, or to manifest any latency in time and space.

Die-to-self: A common expression across faith traditions to convey the notion of dissolution or annihilation in the face of divine wisdom. See Armstrong 1999, Corbin 1998a&b, Spearing 2001, among others. I contemplate the experience of self-naughting (a complementary expression) in this essay.

Dreamwork: A Jungian technique of heeding images and symbols arising from the collective unconscious: ‘In order to gain access to this level of communication, a combination of artistic, emotional and intuitive attunement and rational logic is necessary. … Often it seems as if the dream uses whatever images are meaningful to the dreamer’ (Whitmont & Perera 1989, p.27).

Duende: ‘I have heard an old maestro of the guitar say, “The duende is not in the throat; the duende climbs up inside you from the soles of the feet”’ – from Federico Garcia Lorca’s 1933 lecture, Play and Theory of the Duende (Lorca 1998, p.49). In writing ‘from the body’, Lorca’s duende is embodied knowing by another name: ‘One must awaken the duende in the remotest mansions of the blood’ (Lorca 1998, p.51).

Ecology of mind: In his book Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Bateson defines ‘mind’ as ‘the mental world … the world of information processing’ (Bateson 2000, p.460). An individual unit of ‘mind’ is therefore a system, ‘the relevant total information-processing, trial-and-error completing unit … be it DNA-in-the-cell, or cell-in-the-body, or body-in-the-environment’ (Bateson 2000, p.466). Logically this extends to ‘Mind in the widest sense (as) … a hierarchy of subsystems, any one of which we can call an individual mind’ (ibid.). ‘This larger Mind is comparable to God … but it is still immanent in the total interconnected social system and planetary ecology’ (Bateson 2000, p.467).

Ekphrasis: Literally, ‘a speech that “leads one round”’ (Webb 1999, p.65). As a ‘vivid and detailed narration of events … to make the audience “see”’ (Webb 1999, p.64), Byzantine ekphrasis incorporated temporal flow to show events unfolding in time.

El Crucio: The chief protagonist in Panel Two of my fictional work, The Taste of Translation, his story is told in four songs, cantigas, by those who witness his pilgrimage to the heart of being; and my process of engaging his spirit is described in this essay.

Embodied knowing: An expression coined by the performance ethnographer, Dwight Conquergood, to differentiate the ‘view from the body’ from the abstract ‘view from above’ (Conquergood 2002, p.146). It requires an ‘ethnography of the ears and heart that re-imagines participant-observation as co-performative witnessing’, leading to ‘deeply felt insights and revelatory power’ (Conquergood 2002, p.149).

Event: ‘To the extent that events are actualized in us, they wait for us and invite us in’ (Deleuze & Boundas 1993, p.78). The French poet Bousquet understood his First World War experience thus: ‘My wound existed before me, I was born to embody it’ (ibid.).  One of my most significant ‘events’ was the vision of the girl covered in blood in the halls of the Alhambra as described in this essay.

Feeling-tree: Gary Snyder’s feeling-wren story (where I have taken the liberty to transpose ‘tree’ for ‘wren’) refers: ‘To see a tree, call it “tree”, and go on walking is to have (self-importantly) seen nothing. To see a tree and stop, watch, feel, forget yourself for a moment, be in the bushy shadows, maybe then feel “tree” – that is to have joined in a larger moment with the world’ (p.179).

Felt-sense: An expression that evolved from my experience of intuition being infused with all other sensory stimuli, so that my holistic understanding of some insight is felt as the complete embodiment of such knowing in myself. The heart is its source (even if the feeling manifests elsewhere in the body, analogous to the phenomenon of ‘referred pain’). The idea that the heart operates as a trans-sensory organ of perception and knowledge, acting as both border and mediator between sensual and spiritual knowing, is common across mystic traditions (Underhill 1995, p.71).

Firefly spark: A reference to Laleima’s speech in The Taste of Translation, imploring the 'Angel of History' to face the stream of time as she did, in full faith of love’s truth, her tiny firefly spark still one more than none – an inspiration to all that anyone of us can make a difference. An essay dedicated to her insight, and courage, can be found here.

Five-in-the-afternoon: Before Laleima’s Story commences The Taste of Translation, the reader encounters the Report of the First Witness. Essentially a summary of the event, the witness notes, in looking back at a photo of herself from that day: ‘Each time she looks, she remembers the face of her watch, the jolt in observing its fact of time stilled. For she had been where she had been, seen what she had seen, at five in the afternoon’ (p.11). The synchronicity of the vision occurring at the same hour as in Lorca’s Lament, as in Lorca’s own execution, could not be ignored. The duende had woken.

Ganz andere: A German expression (which I have appropriated from Mircea Eliade’s seminal text); it means ‘the wholly other’.

Gap: The empty space that exists to ‘hold the circle of knowing open’ and generate ‘a current that prevents steering a straight line … or arriving at a predetermined destination” (Salverson 1996, p.184). It is through such gaps in the rhizome of the Otherworld that a becoming landscape emerges, yet where direct engagement with non-physical presences opened only following the ritual of reciprocal recognition.

Genius loci: The guardian spirit of a place in classical Roman religion, the expression has entered the common lexicon to convey a location’s distinctive atmosphere as well as our ability to aesthetically engage with said spirit of place as we move through a landscape. However, my usage of the term returns us to its roots – the earth – and the non-physical intelligences in service to Gaia which overlight different locales with their numinous, healing and protective presence.

Ground of Being: Essentially one of many names for that which is beyond names. Others, depending on the spiritual tradition, include: God-without-form, the modeless Godhead, the Void, the Sacred or Ultimate Reality, the Great Mystery: ‘The divine Ground of all existence is a spiritual Absolute, ineffable in terms of discursive thought, but (in certain circumstances) susceptible of being directly experienced and realised by the human being’ (Huxley 2009, p.21). My profound introduction to same is documented in this essay.

Hadith: Sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad to aid understanding of the Word of Allah as recited in the Qur’an.

Haiku: The ‘seventeen-syllables-across-three-lines-inclusive-of-a-seasonal-word’ Japanese poetic form – much beloved by popular culture during cherry blossom season and year-round by Zen Buddhists – is my preferred way of seeing-life-in-the-space-of-a-breath. By retaining “the wakeful, open mind of a beginner” (Strand 1997, p.20), writing haiku has become a means of recording my experiences of spirit as much as the aesthetic provides an opening onto spirit. The discipline of the form bespeaks a dynamic that mirrors spiritual practice as the 17th century Zen master Basho made clear to his students thus: “Even if you have three or four extra syllables, or even five or seven, you needn’t worry as long as it sounds right. But if even one syllable is stale in your mouth, give it all of your attention” (Hamill 1999, p.xxvii).

Halls of memory: The halls of memory I visualise as an ancient library filled with old oak cabinets, catalogue drawers housing millions of typed cards, each a ‘keeper’ of a particular memory, a container for a narrative ‘memory text’ which once existed. But in the remembering, its retrieval by some sense reaction a la Proust perhaps, it exists new, fresh, re-entering time once more. A Bergsonian idea interwoven with D&G’s rhizome – such are the halls of memory enacted on a plane of consistency in the library of the heart. And whilst I creatively explore their function on a personal level in Kisha’s Story, Panel Three of The Taste of Translation, at the collective level, where we find the ancients’ ‘sympathy of all things’ (Jung 1995, p.160), it is clearly the repository of the All and the One, simmering with potentiality in the fecund swamp of the original Ground of Being – all that was, is or will be, in the process of being apprehended now

Halls of the Alhambra: This refers to my vision of the girl covered in blood in the halls of the Alhambra and the words formed which accompanied it: Muslim princess, Christian servant, miscarriage or abortion gone wrong. Described in this essay, it was a catalytic event in the spirit of Emerson’s observation that the soul already contains in itself the event that befalls it, ‘for the event is only the actualizing of its thoughts’ (Emerson 2003, p.21).

Harmony of the Spheres: The musica universalis, which holds that each member of the solar system produces its own unique hum, or orbital resonance, as it spins through time and space, was first proposed by Pythagoras (in our Western tradition): ‘The most sublime but least known of all the Pythagorean speculations was that of sidereal harmonics … Pythagoras conceived the universe to be an immense monochord, with its single string connected at its upper end to absolute spirit and at its lower end to absolute matter – in other words, a chord stretched between heaven and earth … The names given by the Pythagoreans to the various notes of the diatonic scale were, according to Macrobius, derived from an estimation of the velocity and magnitude of the planetary bodies. Each of these gigantic spheres as it rushed endlessly through space was believed to sound a certain tone caused by its continuous displacement of the aethereal diffusion … The Pythagoreans believed that everything which existed had a voice and that all creatures were eternally singing the praise of the Creator. Man fails to hear these divine melodies because his soul is enmeshed in the illusion of material existence … Harmony recognises harmony, and when the human soul regains its true estate it will not only hear the celestial choir but also join with it in an everlasting anthem of praise’ (Hall 1928, p.81). See heliotrope below, also this essay.

Head-knowing/heart-knowing: My shorthand expressions to refer to intellectual or scientifically-based knowledge, which uses rationality and logic to sense-make the world, vis-à-vis intuition and other inner sources of knowledge as a means of discernment. For my mode of being and sense-making processes, I have found both are needed – like the nested fishes of yin and yang – in the creation of new knowledge. When the intuitive wellspring of heart-knowing cross-fertilises with the reflective reservoir of the mind, then the sum of the parts brings something greater than the whole into being.

Heliotrope: The 5th century Neoplatonist Proclus contemplated how a heliotrope’s flowers exhibit diurnal motion by following the sun’s passage across the sky – a natural process he likened to prayer. In so doing, he postulated that the consciousness with which each being approaches the ritual of thanksgiving may vary, but that does not lessen the intent underlying its act of love: ‘Each thing prays according to the rank it occupies in nature, and sings the praise of the leader of the divine series to which it belongs, a spiritual or rational or physical or sensuous praise; for the heliotrope moves to the extent that it is free to move, and in its rotation, if we could hear the sound of the air buffeted by its movement, we should be aware that it is a hymn to its king, such as it is within the power of a plant to sing’ (Corbin 1998a, p.105-6). Thus is true nature followed.

Hello the House!: The reader should not take ‘House’ too literally. In indigenous and nomadic traditions, the land itself is home – something Western thought must rediscover if we are to make any significant inroads into transcending the destructive relationship our culture has with dear Mother Earth. To be frank, ‘Hello the House’ takes on a fuller, more powerful meaning if one calls it aloud from a mountaintop to all other mountaintops around; it becomes a greeting infused with the spirit of ‘I see you’ in all its myriad forms. This essay shares more.

Henri Bergson: A major French philosopher and Nobel Laureate of the first half of the 20th century whose work focused on the immediate apprehension of reality through intuition and direct experience. ‘Duration’ was the name of his theory of time and consciousness: ‘The truth is that memory does not consist in a regression from the present to the past, but in a progression from the past to the present. It is in the past that we place ourselves at a stroke. We start from a virtual state which we lead onwards, step-by-step, through a series of different planes of consciousness, up to the goal where it is materialised in an actual perception' (Bergson 1991, p.239) and ‘expands into a present image, thus emerging from obscurity into the light of day’ (Bergson 1991, p.135). Thematic perspectives explored in Kisha’s Story, Panel Three of The Taste of Translation, were drenched in Bergson’s ideas, described as: ‘The internal progress of the life of the psyche, or the lived moment wherein, on a level deeper than that of consciousness, our psychic states are fused in a potential multiplicity which is one nevertheless. … We endure while we change in a way which is really unfragmented, and yet which enriches us qualitatively and triumphs over the inertia of matter. Here indeed is an experience of the concrete reality of duration, of existence continuing itself, of our deep psychic life in which is enfolded, implicitly present, the irreducible metaphysical value of the act of being' (Maritain 2007, p.307). See also Deleuze 1988b for a thorough critique of Bergson's philosophy.

I Ching: Containing several layers of text and given numerous levels of interpretation, the Chinese Book of Change is considered the oldest of the Chinese classics, having captured continuous attention for well over two thousand years. The specific commentary I consult was written in 1796 by the Taoist, Liu I-ming, who was well-versed in both Buddhism and Confucianism as well. An adept of the Complete Reality school, his commentary reads as a guide to comprehensive self-realisation while living an ordinary life in the world. It is referenced here in the translation by Thomas Cleary.

Im Einklang mit dem Universum: The literal translation of this expression – ‘in harmony with the universe’ – does not seem to go far or deep enough to describe a felt-sense of seamless harmonic resonance with the All, but then again neither does the expression ‘Oneness’ (for which the German is: Einsein). As ever, language has difficulty conveying the sense of something outwith language.

Interbirth: Gary Snyder writes: ‘We are actually mutually creating each other and all things while living … it may well be that (this) is the objective fact of existence which we (i.e. a western mindset) have not yet brought into conscious knowledge and practice’ (p.124).

Intertidal zone: When I visit inner territories, the visualization of my particular point of entry takes the form of an intertidal zone between sea and land, a horizontal plane where I meet my interlocutors as equal partners with shared intention. This essay explains more.

I saw: ‘I saw’ is a signature phrase in the writings of religious mystics attempting to describe their lived experiences (Watson & Jenkins 2006, p.7). This in no way suggests that I place myself in such auspicious company, only that it is the most accurate way to express the uprising of images in language.

I see you: The notion of reciprocal recognition, founding a relationship on truly ‘seeing the other in oneself’ is something I explore in depth in this essay. It is an embodied knowing rooted in the understanding that we are all sprung from the primal Ground. In popular culture, the James Cameron film Avatar takes this literally with the Na’vi greeting ‘I see you’. In this form, cognition can be spoken all the way along the spectrum from ‘I see you’, through ‘I see into you’, to ‘I understand you’, and finally ‘I love you’. The fact that the film demonstrates how we ignorant Earthlings need to be taught the importance of reciprocal recognition, and that it can be expressed by simply saying these three words with real feeling, seems aptly ironic. 

John Donne: The 16th century English cleric whose metaphysical meditations and sonnets form the backbone of much philosophic thought down the centuries. This quote is taken from his Meditations XVII which is fully referenced here:

Kisha: The chief protagonist in Panel Three of my fictional work, The Taste of Translation, she is a secular exile from the Bosnian War who learns to open to her past in order to embrace the future. Her role as facilitator to my own growing self-knowledge is documented in this essay.

Laleima: My first spirit guide, the girl covered in blood in the halls of the Alhambra. Our relationship is described in this essay, and the contents of her life shared in my fictional work, The Taste of Translation.

Lorca’s Lament: A reference to Federico Garcia Lorca’s poem, Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias: 'At five in the afternoon. It was exactly five in the afternoon. … The rest was death, and death alone At five in the afternoon' (Lorca 1998, p.67).

Love: There are as many different interpretations of the word ‘love’ as there are people on the planet. Divine love, of course, overlights all, but the specific definition which resonates and reflects my understanding of what it is to love is: ‘The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth’ (Peck 1978, p.69). ‘Love is as love does … namely both an intention and an action. … We do not have to love. We choose to love’ (Peck 1978, p.71). Love therefore stands as an intention and an action in relation to our interaction with all other beings in creation. The only discriminating factor is the choice we make – to love or not love, to care or not care – about the ‘other’.

Making: ‘Making has seldom been considered as a work carried out inside subjectivity itself, starting from and upon what the subject already is and with a becoming in mind … Such a work of interiority remains almost unknown to us. Perhaps because the relation with the other has not been sufficiently recognised as a decisive part of subjectivity’ (Irigaray, p.115). This quote describes my practice of ‘becoming product’, whereby the act of writing bridges inner and outer spaces to realise an aesthetic product (physical artefact) linking and honouring the needs of both dimensions (i.e. Malakut source and material reader). It means welcoming the speech of the ganz andere (as a decisive part of subjectivity) and accepting their questioning of my translation. A process model of multi-step feedback loops is the result, amply demonstrated in the production of The Taste of Translation (amongst others), and constantly reminding me of Beckett’s lament in Worstward Ho: “Ever Tried. Ever Failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better” (p.101).

Malakut: The intermediate world of the soul in Islamic mysticism, the place ‘where the body is spiritualised and the spiritual is embodied’ (Corbin 1998b, p.125). It is ‘a dimension where meanings are embodied as images’ (Helminski 2000, p.26) and accessed ‘through an awakened and purified heart’ (Helminski 2000, p.29).

Meister Eckhart: The 13th century German mystic and theologian whose direct experience of the ‘God-within’ mirrors other mystics’ experiences across faith traditions, including Islam: ‘Attar’s symbol of Simorgh represents what Meister Eckhart expressed as “The eye with which I see God is the eye with which God sees me”’ (Corbin 1998b, p.154). Here a repository of all his thought in English:

Mirroring joy: A reference to the following ‘words formed’: “God is smiling on you today; God is wanting you to enjoy the beauty of this world, not drown such joy in sadness at others’ plight – here, now, mirror His joy!” which alerted me to our ability to sequester love, peace and joy in the subtle bones of the land by consciously mirroring divine grace, a teaching placed in context by this essay.

Mode of being: An expression coined by Huxley to convey the notion that all knowledge is a function of being where ‘the thing known is in the knower according to the mode of the knower’ (Huxley 2009, p.146). As such, what we ‘know’ is a distinctly personal phenomenon according to our unique 'mode of being'.

Moments of being: In her essay A Sketch of the Past, Virginia Woolf describes moments of being as sudden shocks ‘embedded in many more moments of non-being … a kind of nondescript cotton wool (Woolf 1985, p.70). Such a moment is always followed, she finds, ‘by the desire to explain it … it is or will become a revelation of some order; it is a token of some real thing behind appearances; and I make it real by putting it into words. It is only by putting it into words that I make it whole’ (Woolf 1985, p.72). Suffice it to say that writing The Taste of Translation into existence has made the particular moment of my vision, a Deleuzian event of the first order, cathartically whole.

Mr1300BC: My principal Otherworld guide. Why do I call him thus? Simply because the first time we officially ‘met’, I commented on his arduous journey through the 20th century. To which he responded: Oh, that wasn’t so difficult. I’ve been wandering since 1300BC! This essay drills deeper into our relationship.

Nested fishes: The perennial Taoist symbol of the yin and yang fishes, nested together to unite the opposites – of heaven and earth, spirit and matter, male and female, and so on – represents my belief that love is the foundation for peace. By hosting a spot of the other’s colour within each fish, their respective energies connect and commune, ‘speak’ to each other, and transform duality into solitary fusion. Thus is oneness realised.

Nothing special: ‘When you no longer want something, or when you do not try to do anything special, then you do something … it is the expression of your true nature … it is just you yourself, nothing special … It is a kind of mystery that for people who have no experience of enlightenment, enlightenment is something wonderful. But if they attain it, it is nothing. But yet it is not nothing. Do you understand? For a mother with children, having children is nothing special. That is zazen. … You may call it by many names, but for the person who has it, it is nothing, and it is something’ (Suzuki 2011, p.32-3).

November fog: A compound noun that has entered my (antipodean) lexicon to describe a particular (Swiss) climatic phenomenon no matter what time of the year it descends to drench the landscape in grey; a thick pea soup its consistency, a bone-chilling damp its welcome. A mist that clings and in so-doing, invites one in – to seek what lies on the other side, to make the crossing to the Malakut, something I contemplate in depth in this essay.

One-life-of-the-one-world: Material and Malakut, life and death, self and other, on and on, married in a seamless whole as nestedfishes within the Ground of Being, Love – a vision of cosmic holism, all family, all One. ‘Tis my expression to connote the felt-sense of the Unity of Being. The essays, One Life – a contemplation and Amici della Luce, relate further direct experiences and expressions.

Oneness: An expression to connote the fact that all life is interconnected, drawn from the one source – a divine Ground of Being – whose creative energy is born of love, manifests as love, and is expressed as life.

Onsernone Long Poem: A very personal form of epic, this work is a verse narrative, woven around the seasons, directions and elements, documenting my enduring love affair with our planetary home. You can find it in nestedfishes’ Poetry Corner here.

Otherworld: My expression for the invisible, inner realms or dimensions, where landscapes and beings are immaterial or non-physical yet no less energetically alive. Amongst many other names, it has been called the collective unconscious or Malakut in different disciplines or traditions. My expression is simply a description of how I experience these dimensions as ‘other’ compared to the material or known world.

Outwith: A principally Scottish word, used as a preposition for ‘beyond’ or ‘outside’, but whose use extends in my lexicon to be an adjective describing the felt-sense of my experiences of oneness.

Peace: By peace, I mean not only peace at the level of humanity – amongst individuals, communities, nations; amongst races, genders, cultures and religions – but also peace at its most fundamental – with Mother Earth and her myriad inhabitants. Put simply, if we cannot approach the future with a better, more honouring relationship with the environment which nurtures and sustains all life than the one which has desecrated her atmosphere, seas and land thus far, then there shall be no future for any of us. Here.

Personal myth: Following Huxley, that all knowledge is a function of being where ‘the thing known is in the knower according to the mode of the knower’ (Huxley 2009, p.146), what we ‘know’ is a distinctly personal phenomenon. Couple this observation with Jung’s reflection on his own work – ‘Whether or not the stories are ‘true’ is not the problem. The only question is whether what I tell is my fable, my truth’ (Jung 1995, p.17) – as well as the contention that to make sense of our lives, ‘we are myth-making creatures’ (Armstrong 2005, p.142), and you may understand how I perceive my work as a personal myth being returned to collective consciousness via the nestedfishes web presence.

Plane of consistency: An expression coined by the French philosophers Deleuze & Guattari to describe how a rhizome extends in any/all directions without negating its primal, non-hierarchical nature: ‘All multiplicities are flat, in the sense that they fill or occupy all of their dimensions: we will therefore speak of a “plane of consistency” of multiplicities, even though the dimensions of this “plane” increase with the number of connections that are made on it’ (D&G 2004, p.9). Such a single never-ending plane assumes a cartography of ‘becoming’, of a landscape which becomes as it is explored, much as the universe ‘becomes’ as our telescopes improve to detect further back and further out into space-time. Interestingly, the vernacular Deleuze & Guattari use for their rhizomatic model of becoming is analogous to how physicists talk about their discoveries – as ‘waves (or) vibrations’ (D&G 2004, p.275).

Plane of intimate exteriority: The expression I use for my practice of journaling drawn from the work of French philosopher, Francois Zourabichvili. To document and reflect on my encounters in the Otherworld, a detailed journal is a worthy companion. Its function is to house data-gathering to the nth degree as well as provide a reflective and contemplative space, a plane of ‘intimate exteriority’, for my continued engagement with this raw material: ‘The (inner) landscape does not return me to myself: it involves me in a becoming where the subject is no longer coextensive with itself, where the subjective form is inadequate when faced with the unformedness of becoming’ (Zourabichvili 1996, p.196). The plane is intimate, because its contents are too raw and unformed to be understood by any other than myself, implying further work beyond this plane to shape ‘what is inchoate into a communicable form’ (Heron & Reason 2008, p.370) for public sharing.

Proustian memory: An expression to denote the involuntary way in which most memories arise. In Proust’s mammoth In Search of Lost Time, he explores this idea from various platforms, the most famous of which is the episode of the madeleine, where – dunking the cake in a cup of tea – his middle-aged self is suddenly transported to his childhood. In this context, Samuel Beckett wryly described Proust’s approach as a ‘constant process of decantation (from) the fluid of future time … to the fluid of past time” (Olney 1999, p.4).

Psychoid unity: In describing the concept of synchronicity – ‘the meaningful coincidence or equivalence of a psychic and a physical state or event which have no causal relationship to one another’ (Jung 1995, p.419) – the great man goes on to describe such occurrences as examples of ‘psychic parallelisms, acausally related and connected via the contingency of events’ (ibid.) Their purpose, he holds is to offer a glimpse of a pre-existent and unknowable psychoid unity, split between an outer physical phenomenon and inner psychic image – ‘opposites that can now be recognised (… in) parallel events’ (Jaffé, p.152).

Quickening: I use this expression to connote any practice which enlivens our connection to divinity, something I perceive with felt-sense. By way of background, Jean Shinoda Bolen provides a useful analogy: ‘When new life stirs within the womb, and a mother has the sensation of her baby moving within her for the first time, it’s called “quickening”. The same word is associated with pilgrims, who go to sacred places to “quicken” the divinity within themselves, to experience spiritual awakening or receiving a blessing or become healed … Pilgrimage to a sacred place is an in-the-body spiritual experience – as were my pregnancies … the divine spirit is incarnate at sacred places … places where the divinity penetrates matter, impregnating or quickening the divine in the pilgrim’ (Bolen 2004, p.28-9).

Reciprocal recognition: ‘The relation with the other cannot exist without (a) prior gesture of reciprocal recognition. A gesture that cannot be simply formal but will relate to a real content corresponding to the Being of the other, and moreover of oneself’ (Irigaray 2002, p.88). It is such recognition that underpins and facilitates my encounters with non-physical presences from the Otherworld, a notion I explore in depth in this essay.

Resonant hum: My expression for the deep and generative hum beyond, yet within; the ‘foundation-breath’ beneath all sound, shared by all universal sentience, and onto which their own extant ‘self-note’ is grafted; thus do I feel the permeability or porosity of my self with all other selves living the one-life-of-the-one-world. This essay contemplates this blessed connection I have to the fundamental sruti note of creation, as described by Sri Ramana Maharshi, among others.

Rhizome: ‘… unlike trees or their roots, the rhizome connects any point to any other point, and its traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature … It is composed not of units but of dimensions, or rather directions in motion. It has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle (milieu) from which it grows and which it overspills. … the rhizome pertains to a map that must be produced, constructed, a map that is always detachable, connectable, reversible, modifiable, and has multiple entry ways and exits and its own lines of flight’ (D&G 2004, p.24).

Rhizomatic: Pertaining to the rhizome, a way of approaching the philosophy of knowledge production (according to Deleuze & Guattari) which is not arboreal. Environmental systems-thinking, based on the Gaia hypothesis of the early 1970s, has similar foundations (Lovelock 2000), as do network theories in fields as diverse as organisational culture and communications technology. Meanwhile, Carl Jung took the metaphor of the rhizome into the realm of the collective unconscious.

Samir’s ring: An example of a symbolic mediator in my engagement with the Otherworld, forged on reciprocal recognition and described in this essay.

Satori: Literally ‘attaining to insight’ in Japanese: ‘The direct experience of ultimate reality that Buddhists seek is an enlightenment, a realisation, a satori, that can come while one is strolling through the park or watching a cherry blossom fall or taking to heart the suffering of a sick friend. It need not flow from years of intense meditational practice, but most masters assume and expect that such practice is the best, even the normative, way to prepare for it’ (Carmody 1996, p.70).

Siege of Sarajevo: ‘… one image that dogs me mercilessly: the circus. Behind the dazzle of the circus ring, a small zoo. You pay admission to see the animals that perform in the program. The elephant. A magnificent colossus. His left foreleg and his right hind leg bound with short chains attached to thick iron pegs stuck in the ground. He can’t go anywhere. But he moves. Uniformly, in an improbably slow rhythm, … left, right, left … I stood and watched and choked on my tears of grief and helplessness … That elephant – is Sarajevo’ (Softic 1995).

Singing up country: An Aboriginal expression for the walking of ancestral dreaming ‘songlines’ across the land as described in Bruce Chatwin’s seminal text.

Spark of love: Like nested fishes, each hosting a spot of the other’s colour to enable their communion, we interconnect with all of creation via the spark of love at the core of each of our souls. Love’s creative energy animates all life. As the Buddha said: There is love at the centre of all things and all things are the same thing. Yet it is possible to bury this ‘seed’ of yang, of connectivity to the divine Ground, so deeply in yin (material) ego-conditioning, that we forget what it means to be spiritual beings incarnated as humankind. We are each a sacred candle whose inner flame is capable of burning away the veils of ignorance and forgetfulness which separate us from the One, from each other, from ourselves. The Zen master Dogen explained it this way: ‘When the candle is lit there is a flame. As the candle burns there is still the same flame. So there’s no difference between the beginning time and the later time of the candle burning. The candle burns straight down and it never burns backwards. The flame is neither new nor old. It is neither the possession of the candle nor does it exist apart from the candle’ (Tanahashi 1999, p.27). In this essay, I reflect on how the spark becomes manifest and reveals itself in various ways.

Speck of dust: An expression used across faith traditions to connote our minuteness in relation to the majesty and infinitude of the Ground of Being. Yet there is nothing wrong with being a speck of dust. It is a cause of celebration even in its (our) minute existence which I contemplate in this essay.

Spirit of place: My expression for the spirit ‘conjured’ via journeys through landscape which fuse corporeal and spiritual knowing – pilgrimages such as those written into existence by Wordsworth and Thoreau, Basho and Ryokan, Hesse and Frisch, Sebald and Kerouac. Land artists’ performances in space likewise function as both art and myth-making to bring such knowing up from the rhizome (Long, Drury, Beuys, Christo & Jean Claude, among others). The practice of walking itself has deep roots. There are the songlines of Australian Aboriginal culture which map their dreaming stories (Chatwin 1988). There are the maps of medieval Europe which mark out itineraries, ‘performative indications chiefly concerning pilgrimage’ (de Certeau 1988, p.120). I know that for my part I can move through a landscape and ‘read’ its particular spirit – written as it is in the earth, or through the knowing ‘spoken’ by its inhabitants, or via the energy contained in human-made artefacts encountered along the way. Spirit of place is nothing more and nothing less than the sentience held in, by and on behalf of a particular locale.

Synchronicity: ‘The meaningful coincidence or equivalence of a psychic and a physical state or event which have no causal relationship to one another’ (Jung 1995, p.419). He goes on to describe such occurrences as examples of ‘psychic parallelisms’, acausally related and connected via the contingency of events’ (ibid.) Their purpose is to offer a glimpse of a pre-existent and unknowable psychoid unity, split between an outer physical phenomenon and inner psychic image – ‘opposites that can now be recognised (… in) parallel events’ (Jaffé 1983, p.152). 

Ten-foot-square hut: See essay of the same name for a rhizomatic universal journey conducted in a very small physical space.

Thematic plateaus: A reference to those doyens of French philosophical thought of the 1970s, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, whose rambunctious non-adherence to anything remotely mainstream at the time was a godsend to this lass composing an academic dissertation about forging relations with Malakut presences (not an easy task, I assure you!). Even though they would probably be gobsmacked to learn their theory of knowledge production based on rhizomatic interdimensionality was appropriated in this way, it proved eminently fit to purpose: ‘… unlike trees or their roots, the rhizome connects any point to any other point, and its traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature … It is composed not of units but of dimensions, or rather directions in motion. It has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle (milieu) from which it grows and which it overspills. … the rhizome pertains to a map that must be produced, constructed, a map that is always detachable, connectable, reversible, modifiable, and has multiple entry ways and exits and its own lines of flight’ (D&G, p.24). Roll on ant armies, I say!

The Red Book: Described by its editor as ‘an extended process of self-experimentation which resulted … in a work of psychology in a literary form’ (Shamdasani 2009, p.194), The Red Book documents Jung’s journeys into the collective unconscious between the years 1913 and 1930 using a method he called Active Imagination (AI). His spirit guides during these journeys included one he named Philemon. Jung described that his ‘crucial insight’, out of which he developed his theories of archetypes, the collective unconscious and individuation, was that ‘there are things in the psyche that I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life’ (Jung 1995, p.207).

The Taste of Translation: My three-panelled work of prose fiction through whose conception and execution I began my journey toward understanding the Unity of Being. Across a shifting landscape spanning Europe and North Africa, and bridging more than six centuries, this triptych tells a single story – of what it means to love. It is available for free download as pdf or ebook here.

Translation: My experience of communing with Otherworld guides is that they share in a language that is foreign – symbolic, at times allegorical, persistently metaphorical, a type of no-language that requires decoding and decryption. As well as being informed by the elaboration of Jung’s experiences (The Red Book), I am mentored in this process by Walter Benjamin’s seminal text, The Task of the Translator, in which he urges us to undertake such work ‘lovingly and in detail’ (Benjamin 2007a, p.78) in order to reach the irreducible or ‘pure’ language at the text’s core. This essay describes more.

Triptych: A three-panel work of art which conveys a sense of holistic knowing by unfolding or opening up all three panels to the light. Originally a Byzantine description for a hinged three-panel icon or altarpiece, meditation on the one icon via its three perspectives draws the viewer into an embodied circle of spiritual knowing (Webb 1999). From a contemporary perspective, the triptychal works of Mark Rothko convey a similar intent. We may aesthetically engage with each panel and its distinct idea, yet the work’s meaning remains incomplete and potentially misleading unless embraced as a whole (Wick 2001).

True nature: ‘Something which comes out of nothingness is naturalness, like a seed or plant coming out of the ground. The seed has no idea of being some particular plant, but it has its own form and is in perfect harmony with the ground, with its surroundings. As it grows, in the course of time it expresses its nature. … For a plant or stone to be natural is no problem. But for us there is some problem. … To be natural is something which we must work on’ (Suzuki 2011, p.97).

Tug of the unseen hand: An expression I use to connote the felt-sense to act in some way when mind and rational decision-making have exerted no influence. Rather, action is informed by heart-knowing and literally felt as a tug on the ‘heartstrings’. It is a phenomenon I explore in Panel Two of The Taste of Translation – here, in the voice of the Brother’s witness (p.195): I knew not what pulled him onward, forced his passage from the known to unknown. Our path held no meaning or logic and I wondered if he were guided, drawn, to this place or another by a voice, perhaps, a soft buzz in the ear. As dust rose in our wake over all the long years, I pondered the strange journey his inner guide led. And yes, at times thought to see the tug of an unseen hand at his breast, at times thought to witness with my waking eye the line it held, and his wince each time the hand tugged, pulled taut on a string hooked into his heart, which ripped and tore at his flesh. It was his fate – to hear the unheard voice, to heed the unseen hand, to follow the line uncoiling before his dirty-heavy boots. His fate, and mine. I had said I would stand by him and so it would be. Till the line self-cut, till his place of rest found, till his bloody wound licked clean and healed.

Twinkling of an eye: An expression in medieval mysticism to connote the smallest unit of time – an instant, athomus, from the Greek word meaning ‘indivisible’. It was used by the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing in the following context: ‘This work does not demand a long time to be fully completed … for it is the briefest of all imaginable actions … exactly equivalent, neither longer nor shorter, to a single stirring within the principal active faculty of your soul’ (Spearing 2001, pp.22-23).

Unity of Being: Although he never used the specific expression himself, the medieval Sufi philosopher Ibn Arabi is noted as the prime exponent in his faith tradition of the doctrine of wahdat al-wujud (‘unity of being’), which argues that we are all unique expressions of a single divine life, infinite displays of the absolute and unitive truth.

Virgil: A constant refrain for me in approaching my engagement with the Otherworld is beautifully expressed by Virgil in the Aeneid: You gods who rule the kingdom of souls! You soundless shades! … Grant me to tell what I have heard! With your assent may I reveal!

Void: ‘“Nothing exists but atoms and the void” – so wrote Democritus. And it is “void” that underlies the Eastern teachings – not emptiness or absence, but the Uncreated that preceded all creation, the beginningless potential of all things’ (Matthiessen 1998, p.77).

Washing the dishes: ‘If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realising the miracle of life while standing at the sink if we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future – and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life’ (Nhat Hanh 2008, p.4-5).

Way of love: An expression coined by French philosopher Luce Irigaray to describe the intent one must bring to an encounter with the ‘other’ to be ever-respectful of inherent difference. In the French original, Irigaray’s way of love encompasses both la voie de l’amour and la voix de l’amour. This essay begins my journey with the concept, while this essay drills deeper into the relations forged on my commitment to the way of love.

Welcome to country: The expression used for the ritual Aboriginal greeting whereby one clanship group welcomes another to its stretch of country; ‘reciprocal recognition’ by another name.

Words formed in my understanding: This was the expression used by the 14th century mystic, Julian of Norwich, for a mode of revelation which her editors consider to be ‘evidently not heard physically but in some sense’ (Watson & Jenkins 2006, p.78). In this context, they cite St Gregory’s 6th century assertion that ‘the heart (is) informed … the speech … rather made or performed than heard’ (ibid.). My ‘words formed’, as well as offerings by inner voices not my own, always appear in italics in my writing in acknowledgement of the completely contrary nature of such arisings from normal thought processes. This essay explains more.

Writing-into-existence: My expression to describe the process by which I shape ‘what is inchoate into a communicable form’ (Heron & Reason 2008, p.370). I find the physicality of pen to paper is the only thing slow enough to bring the depths of my inner experience out, on a plane of intimate exteriority, as manifest ‘existence’. I draw inspiration from ethnographic researchers who suggest that ‘writing is not only inscription but discovery. It is a kind of nomadic inquiry in which I am able to deterritorialise spaces in which to travel in the thinking that writing produces’ (St Pierre 1997, p.407). Such an approach confirms the writer’s place as ‘neither historian nor prophet: (s)he is an explorer of existence’ (Kundera 1988, p.44). And, like TS Eliot, I hold that: ‘We shall not cease from exploration, And the end of all our exploring, Will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time’ (Eliot 1944, p.43).

Wu wei: Literally non-ado. Wei wu wei is thus doing through non-doing, action through no action. It is a basic principle in Taoist philosophy that anything we do is against the natural harmony of the universe. The metaphor of water and its yielding nature is often cited – water is without will, yet creates great landscapes. ‘Tao never makes any ado, And yet it does everything … All things will grow of themselves … When the desires of men are curbed, there will be peace, And the world will settle down of its own accord’ (Lao Tzu 2006, p.83).

YMM: A specific self-practice developed to facilitate the streaming of light, involving yoga, tai chi, meditation and more. This essay describes my self-apprenticeship in working with light.


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