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Seven real Strategies to combat terror on our streets.

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Terrorism-word-cloudBy the time those three young men, in a state of violent delirium, leapt out of a van and proceeded

to destroy countless lives,  we had already failed.  We had missed the boat and lost an opportunity to save the innocent victims.  As it was in Manchester and Westminster, as it will be the next time.  These men were pawns, fodder, for the great chess game being played out by powerful and hidden forces. The ideology, the people, the States and the organisations that drive and fuel these attacks is where our focus must turn. The suggestions I offer here, may not stop an attack next month or next year, but if we fail to destroy their motives, their propaganda, their icons,  and fail to update the way we protect ourselves, then Saturday night’s attack will become as normal here, as in Beirut, Baghdad, Kabul or Islamabad.

These 6 suggestions may help to prevent that future.

1. Follow the money!

Saudi Arabia and Isis are the same thing.  If isis were to achieve their aims, the whole Middle East would be run under the same laws, the same scripture, the same ideology as Saudi. They provide a constant supply of weaponry, technology, money, (wages) and hard drugs, directly and indirectly to Isis and isis led groups.  Our government is in bed with the enemy. We have to let this truth in. We need a complete re-set of our relationship, that is congruent with our values and that demonstrates our rejection of their barbaric way of life. Osama Bin Laden was a Saudi, 911 was committed by Saudi’s, They are committing genocide in Yemen and we have to watch our prime minister bending and bowing and trading with these state criminals. A barbaric and insane regime that lets its kids watch public beheadings in the street, right here under the duvet!  It’s almost sickening.  Two things we can do immediately – first, we must suspend all arms trading with the Saudi Kingdom until further notice. Second, we must destroy the network of supply chains to isis. They are stuck out in the desert. Who is providing the food, medical supplies, water, ammunition, weaponry and cash to keep this war going? Someone is. We need to attack those lines of supply, both diplomatically and yes, militarily as well. Supplying weapons and training to Saudi is making the UK part of the problem instead of the solution.  If the Saudis then choose to ‘divest’ in our economy, then so be it. There is no price or ethical economic gain that is worth the loss of our integrity and decency.

 

2. End the reward of infamy!

Immediately end the media exposure of attackers.  Their identities and images should not be released. Their religion should not be revealed. Their motives and back stories should be ignored. They should be remembered only as anonymous killers. Their actions should remain unconnected to any struggle, to any cause.  To do otherwise is to validate their martyrdom, is to elevate their prestige in the eyes of the misled, is to inspire others to follow in their footsteps, driven to be a dead ‘somebody’ instead of a living ‘nobody’. There can be no reason for the media or government to publish these facts other than to support a political agenda or to sell papers.  It would also assist the police to carry out their work without the pressure to give away this information.  Yes, report the facts, release the names of victims, report the gory details if we must, but never again show the faces or release the names or motives of these murderers. It achieves nothing, promotes racial hatred and energises copycat wannabes.

 

3. A 21st Century Police force.

Fund our security services up to and beyond what they need.  From local policing to international collaboration. Arm all our police with sidearms. This is a way that we can immediately reduce the loss of life and injury without any loss of freedoms to the general public. All police should be trained in weapons use and should carry a semi automatic pistol side arm at all times.  This has been commonplace for decades across Europe and the world.  The most liberal minded countries including The Netherlands, France, Italy and Spain,
all arm their police force and no one is concerned.  I would feel much safer seeing all police carrying side arms. It’s time to get real and dump the romantic notion of the bobby on the beat with his little truncheon and cuffs. It’s 2017, the world is much more volatile and uncertain. Give our Police the means and training, so that the first responder can take decisive action to end an attack and save lives.

 

4. End the politically correct notion that we cannot criticise religious belief. 

The right to physical safety on our streets must supersede the right to express religious lore and doctrine. We need to push back against violent extremist propaganda, at least as hard as it is pushing against the values and laws of our society.  Many senior Imams have publicly stated in the last couple of days, their intention to cleanse UK mosques of extremist and jihadist influence. A noble and long overdue commitment but this process needs to be formalised, overseen and properly actioned. We must appoint an Imam that is devoted to peaceful worship in every mosque who would be accountable to a government ministry for action against hostile influences.  If the Muslim community were to express concern about victimisation, then we would reassure them that as soon as people start blowing  up teenagers and stabbing innocent revellers in the name of Jesus or Yaweh or Buddha, then those rules would certainly apply to all churches, temples and synagogues. This leads on to the next suggestion.

 

5. Rats in the Kitchen!

Re-set and redesign the ‘PREVENT’ programme so as to frame it in a new way that enrolls and enables Muslim communities to protect themselves and fellow citizens through community coherence and a shared vision. The Muslim community should have the opportunity to see Prevent as not an attack on their communities but more like a support and shared sense of purpose. It must be recognised that there is a problem within their faith, within their mosques, within their homes.  Islam has been infected by extremism. It is suffering from an infestation of unholy, un-islamic and irreligious influence. They don’t want it, no one wants it. Lets approach this like you could say, a pest exterminator being called in because there are rats in the kitchen. together we can smoke them out and deal with them.

 

6. Prison. A Hotbed of Radicalisation.

Set up a muslim led and controlled committee of oversight to investigate and deal with radicalisation in prisons.  Separation of extremists and muslim youth in prisons. It is so easy to turn a young man against the system, against the government and against the society, while he is suffering punishment at their hand. We need peace-promoting Imams in every prison, working to help young muslim men to feel hope, respect and dignity. When someone values their own life, they will not take it from another. When we feel recognised, valued and well treated, we are far less likely to be drawn into dark and violent groups with propaganda designed to attract the hopeless and un-seen.

 

7. No More Wars for Oil, for gas Pipelines and American dominance!

End the policy of intervention and destruction of states in the Middle East and Africa. Assist all territories including Syria to combat terror organisations as described in suggestion 1. This will both dampen the fire of extremist power in the region and also reduce the dreadful suffering and humanitarian crises and mass refugee movement. No more following The US into wars for gas, oil territory and currency control. We have lost our way and are on the wrong side of history. Stability, democracy and the rule of law is what we must support and facilitate in the region. It will not be easy, there is more hate and distrust of the west than we are ready to accept. It will take time to undo the nightmare we have unleashed on the millions of people living in that region.

 

These are suggestions that came from thoughtful consideration once the anger and dust settled. We need a fair, just but un-inhibited approach to end the terror on our streets. Yes indeed, enough is enough, but we need to be tough and smart if we are to succeed. Failure is not really an option.

 

 

 

The Inner Child – Healing and Healer

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Marc aged seven

When I connect with my inner child, seeking to heal and grow, I sometimes wonder, who is really doing the healing? Am I saving my inner child or is he saving me?  Have the skills, resilience and experience that I have gained as an adult, come at the cost of childhood’s long lost qualities?

Qualities like Spontaneity, courage, wonder, trust and curiosity. The thirst to learn and experience new things. A purity of spirit, sensing life as an enchanted and magical experience. These all still existwithin the deepest part of my being, my uninhibited and unrepressed self. In connecting to my inner child, I am looking not just to reassure and reconnect with what may be a lot of fear and repressed emotions but also, to reconnect with the wonderful simplicity of being a child and bringing that essence into my adult life.

I was never a ‘difficult’ child. I was not a troublemaker, but I was a rebel.  I questioned authority and power, even when, with great resistance, I would comply with demands and instructions.

I would do as I was told, eventually, but often my inner disagreement remained. In school, I was excellent at subjects I enjoyed, but crap at those that I found too demanding or simply boring. I would confront teachers and staff without hesitation if I felt that I was being called out for irrelevant or pedantic issues like school uniform or losing interest in their mind-numbingly boring classes.

Perhaps, being raised by very alternative thinking parents, instilled in me a sense that the whole education thing was about conditioning me to become a pawn in society’s game and was something to be wary of, something to push back against, to preserve my natural dignity as a perfect being. I don’t know.

What I do know is that it did not win me many friends. In fact, I suffered chronic bullying all through my school career, due to my being an unusual type of person, with a different take on life, living in a fairly provincial, small minded environment.

I have always loved my rebellious nature. It feels intrinsic to me, something that I brought with me into the world. I did not learn it or cultivate it. It is a part of what I am. Honestly, I have always had this feeling that I am somehow meant for greatness. Destined for something meaningful and important. For better or worse it has had me on occasion, act with an entitlement and audacity that can leave those around me a bit shocked. I’m not saying that I am special, but somehow I act as if I am. I admit it, I fancy myself big time and yes, I have come down crashing on many occasions. I have to really work at accepting criticism and often fail, especially if I feel judged as well. But at the source of that is a strong energy. A force of wisdom and understanding within me, my inner child is not going to take any nonsense and I love him so much for that because, often he did have to take it and just put up with being abused, accused and targeted.

Born of this innate quality, there has arisen in me a realisation; an understanding that has changed my inner state, more than any practice, epiphany or insight ever has. It takes the form of an intention. A statement. I have decided that I am through with feeling scared about life. Yes, I learned to feel fear as a child but I also learned to find courage in the challenges of youth.

As a ten year old, I remember the first time I jumped from the highest diving board at my local swimming pool.  I recall having to mentally force one foot in front of the other as I slowly approached the edgeof the board, looking down at the water and just freezing with fear. It was so much higher from up there. My heart thumping, feeling totally petrified. One half of me frantically trying to find a way to back out without looking a coward in front of my friends, the other half knowing that this challenge was actually doable and that I would survive.

I had to do it. But how could I gather the courage?  In the end it came down to a moment – a single moment of commitment. I had to push myself to go beyond the point of no return and just trust.  With my toes touching the edge and looking down at the distant water, I knew that all I needed was to feel strong enough and brave enough for just one second in time. One instant to change everything!

Forcing myself forward, fighting against my survival reflex, I jumped.  Dropping… gasping in as I pinched my nose shut.

I slammed in to the water, a chaotic bomb of bubbles and noise. I sank all the way to the bottom, pushed off and headed back up. The moment I surfaced, fear was replaced with an elation and empowerment that only comes with a major victory against a perceived limitation. Almost like a birth – a new part of me.  A released capacity, a new self-appreciation. The realisation that I can do this thing and from now on, I will always be able to do this thing!

That memory and many others from my childhood and teenage years have helped me to understand more about how fear moves in my life today. How it affects the choices I make and the consequences of those decisions. It has become such an essential tool for breaking out of my comfort zone.

Marc and his son Jerome aged seven

So I cultivate and encourage this two-way relationship within me. As much as I seek to heal that young boy, I also seek his council, his courage and together we push through our barriers. It is not a denial of fear or a delusion that I have no fear but more of a joyful rebellion. It’s a bit like calling the bluff on the automatic fear response. When it comes, I immediately connect with the boy. I reassure him that all is well. I talk to him with tenderness and love, never criticising, never judging, just loving and accepting. Then my inner child gets his face on. He steps up and says, “Is that all you’ve got?  Bring it on!”

His courage and audacity empowers me to take the next jump.

Now, in the work I do in The Trinity Process, using the extraordinary tools that Osho created, I find the greatest joy and fulfilment in helping others to build this special relationship, to both heal and be healed by the child within.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From Seriousness To Sincerity!

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Do we have to be angry to have strong feelings?

Do we have to be upset to show that we care about the madness of the world?

And do we have to inhibit our humour and joy, to show that something is really important to us?

This tension, this apparent contradiction in our lives, when we feel the pain of those suffering, both around us and in distant lands, and yet we know, that to dive into that space, makes us feel dark and contracted, heavy and negative. We feel guilt and shame and frustration.  So we look away, we scroll down or we switch off and get on with our lives. But inside, we still care, we still ache.

It is only human to feel empathy, to go into an experience of another’s pain, in order to know it and be there for them. It is a loving act but, it also feels like it spreads the pain out. It expands the very suffering that we anguish over.

This vicious cycle can be so overwhelming, that many of us choose to avoid or ignore the reality of life as it is for us as a global village, as a species, sharing our beautiful little blue ball hanging in infinite space. Its just too much to let it all in. The corruption, the cruelty and torture, the suffering and the despair of our fellow humans and creatures of this paradise.

We struggle to even work out how we got to this point, let alone where we go from here.

What we do know is that we are in a serious situation.

But are we served by making that state of affairs our state of being?  Is our seriousness actually empowering us?  Or does it send us into a state of collapse, of defeat, of resignation?

How can we not cry tears of sorrow?  How can we not hang our heads in despair?

When we face our greatest fears, the loss of our life or the lives of our loved ones, the loss of our liberty or maybe even worse, the loss of our very hope, then what are our choices? Where is our power?

What happens if in that moment, we decide to let go of seriousness and yet, remain deeply sincere in our truth?  What if we can stare fear in the face….and begin to laugh, really laugh, to know that at our deepest core we see the truth and choose to remain free?

Laughter is so often seen as a lack of capacity to understand the gravity of a situation.

Its frivolous, its selfish, its a sign that you’re not getting it!

But when we really try to understand laughter, when we get real about what laughter and a sense of humour actually is, then we begin to see that it is, in its purest form, the greatest expression of understanding that we have. Laughter is our bodies reaction to a moment of ultimate clarity, it is how we express the recognition of truth itself. It is what makes satire both deeply funny and deeply moving all at once.

This is because laughter is Intelligence! It is the ultimate expression of rebellion!

A rebellion against guilt, against shame and self doubt. A rebellion against fear itself.

A rebellious person is a dangerous person. Dangerous to the system, to the status quo. They will not be easily controlled and they will not be easily silenced.

Un-hindered by the fear of condemnation and judgement, the rebel is not playing by the book.  Not keeping to the script.  A rebel will laugh in the face of their own fear, even their own demise. But an intelligent and awakened rebellious and joyful person is always, always sincere!  They are led and guided by a bigger picture, a bigger perspective. and that creates an immense freedom. The laughing rebel lives a liberated life. They live an authentic life and a life of courage and truth. Laughter relaxes us, it unites us, it connects us and it heals us.

That is why we must move from seriousness to sincerity. From emotional enslavement to personal power, where  we can care, more than ever before!

We can desire and fight for justice, equanimity, and dignity for us all and we can stand strong against the headwind of corruption, against the mass insanity and indoctrination, that would have us on our knees in a state of futility, worn out by the sheer size of the challenge.

The dark forces of this world want us to take it all very seriously.

When we are serious, we are open to their message of hate and division. Open to the script of tribalism, nationalism, religious separation and isolation. When we are serious, we are open to dis-ease and disinformation. We can be controlled, because seriousness is fear. It is blind faith and blind action.  The serious and scared are easy to control. They are easy to manipulate and indoctrinate.

So if we want to be a part of creating a new world, a new way of living, then we have to renounce seriousness and embrace the power of humour and laughter as a force of vision, of perspective and as an expression of our true authentic being.

Laughter is the expression of this powerful state. It is the manifestation of our deepest truth. That is what the sages and great mystics of history have always taught. Laugh in the face of fear, celebrate, dance and sing in gratitude, because that generates power and conviction in ourselves, it engenders individual thought and values and right now, more than sorrow, more than sympathetic sadness, this world needs sincere, laughing, courageous rebels!

Ha ha! Ha ha haaaaaa!!!

 

 

Interviews with Marc Itzler

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The Secret Superpower of Meditation.

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yogi-hulk-diffuse-angerMeditation….What is it really all about?

Most would claim that Meditation, (commonly imagined as sitting silently, becoming aware of the present moment or of ones breath), brings about a greater sense of calmness, clarity, serenity, and contentment. A break from the incessant chatter of the unstoppable inner voice clanging around in our heads. This of course is absolutely true. And then, there are all the benefits to our health, like reduced blood pressure, stress release, increased oxygen levels… it’s a long list, and all of it good stuff.

But what happens when we leave the cushion?  When we roll up our mat? When the commentary in our heads starts running again?  We are back in our thoughts, anxieties, and judgments. How quickly we lose our serenity and sense of ‘one-ness’. How easily we return to business as usual. Here is where we could be missing the greatest benefit that Meditation actually has to offer.

Let’s use the analogy of going to the gym or doing yoga, martial arts, or whatever physical pursuit scratches our itch. We do our workout, our practice or exercise. During and just afterwards, we often feel a nice warm rush in our bodies. Our bloodstream is flooded with yummy dopamine and we’re glowing and maybe even a bit high. Great feeling, but we know that it is not this immediate ‘hit’ that motivates us to keep going.  What really gets us to commit to our practice is an understanding that over time, we are building and training our muscles to feel stronger, our heart and lungs to be more effective, increasing our physical ability and developing our body to work at its optimum.  Making it as capable as possible of handling what modern life throws at it. We know we will be more able to deal with unexpected physical stress and strains, we’ll have less aches and pains.

We can dance all night, and do…other things.. all night. We feel less fatigue, more awake, sharper and fitter.  In short, we become healthier and have a better quality of life.

Applying this understanding to Meditation is what will give us the secret superpower that is almost always overlooked.

When we meditate on a daily or very regular basis, we are in fact strengthening our ‘presence muscle’. That is to say, we are building our capacity to become present and aware when we really need it most – not on the mat or cushion, but when our sore points, our vulnerable places, are triggered in our ‘normal’ day to day activities.

When all is smooth and wonderful in life, we are mostly content, happy and connected. But when the shit hits the fan, when we are triggered, by our parents, our partners, our children, friends or work colleagues, it is in these moments of ‘reaction’ that we ‘lose consciousness’.

This moment is where we snap.  It’s where we defend, rationalise, attack, manipulate and either act ‘out’ in aggression, or act ‘in’ through passive anger, punishment or just total shut down. This is when we actually feel the sting of abandonment, resentment, envy and fear in real-time and space. This is where we damage ourselves and others.

Meditation’s greatest gift, is that it can train us to expand that moment. It allows us to stretch that nano-second of time, just as we are triggered, offering to us an extra split second of hard-won presence and awareness.  A capacity built over time, as we cultivate our ability to witness our thoughts and emotions from a higher perspective.

This little gap, this fleeting blink of an eye, is where the practice of Meditation manifests its most profound benefit.

In that extra interval lies the greatest power available to us.  The capacity to choose how we will deal with the rush of pain, fear or anger welling up inside. It gives us the capacity to slow down time, take a breath and allow the emotional charge to subside, so that we can make a conscious decision about how we want to respond. This shift enables us to move from automatic conflict, towards resolution. From judgement to compassion. From anger to forgiveness. From fear to love.

It should though be understood, that this fundamental ability, this knack, is by no means easy, nor is it always welcomed by those around us. When we develop this capacity, we become uniquely empowered, as we step out of ‘character’ and no longer follow the scripts that have been playing out in the theatre of our lives. Others who are used to being able to trigger and control us, are suddenly left having to deal with their own thoughts and feelings, because we are no longer playing along and feeding the fire. We have learned to take each moment, each criticism, each comment that once had us lashing out in desperation and rage, and see it for what it really is…someone else’s inner world, their reality, not ours. We no longer take it personally.

This does not mean that we are no longer capable of hearing a valid criticism or are unable to receive feedback about where we can change, learn and grow.

We can in fact, remain more receptive, more discerning and better placed to make a healthy judgement as to whether we take on, or dismiss what comes our way from others.

With less fire and smoke comes clearer vision and understanding.

In the coolness of presence, we respond from our deepest, true nature.

This is real inner power.

This is ‘spiritual fitness’.

This is the secret superpower of Meditation!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You want a seven point plan to destroy ISIS? Here it is.

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Ive been just a little frustrated by the somewhat passive approach of the anti-bombing Syria movement at the moment.

It’s as though we are all responding to David Cameron’s seven-point plan with either acceptance or rejection, without much detail of what we should be doing instead.

There are a few vague references to the Vienna negotiations around Syria’s future and some doubt about ground forces that will confront Isis.

I do not understand why the main opposition has not formulated and laid out a very clear alternative to air strikes both in Syria and Iraq for that matter.

What I am interested in is a new plan, a new narrative, clearly laid out by the those that seek an alternative to fighting fire with fire.

Cameron’s plan is at best incoherent and at worst, a blatant admission that he is not a leader but instead, is bound by those who put him in power to ensure that their interests are met at the expense of any common sense. The industrial military complex on both sides of the Atlantic are setting the agenda, closely followed by big oil and finance. This is why and how wars are generated, financed and exploited. We know this. The last 20 years has seen the opposite of everything our leaders have told us would come from aggression in foreign lands. They claimed we were in danger when we were not and that we would be in less danger if we intervened, which also we are not. Instead, we have destabilised, radicalised and exploited these regions to such an extent, that we are now in more danger than we were before 9/11. Why does David Cameron think that the British people don’t get this? The truth is, he knows bombing in Syria or Iraq or anywhere will do nothing to make us safe and tragically, that is what this government actually wants. Our insecurity is exactly what they are seeking. I insert here a quote that illustrates this political strategy.

“Naturally, the common people don’t want war, neither in Russia nor England nor in America nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”

-Hermann Göering- (during the Nuremberg Trials) 

Through this paradigm it becomes patently obvious that this government, like Russia and the US are set on using the middle east as a landscape for real life war games and the local population as the guinea pigs for their weapons. With such huge military industry at work, how can these massive super powers keep the economic wheels turning if they are not despatching these weapons somewhere?  Without war, what will fund the endless building of more weapons, jets, missiles and drones? As the metal band Megadeth’s 80’s album cover so clearly puts it, ‘Peace sells but who’s buying?’.  We know that no matter how accurate a bomb or missile can be, ordinary, vulnerable people get slaughtered. Fathers and mothers lose children. Children lose their parents, brothers lose sisters.  Real lives, real people- destroyed.  To keep us ‘safe’?  The claim that our missiles are so accurate that they can get through a window may be true but what if its the wrong bloody window? To say that our added weaponry will ‘save lives’ is so appalling and dishonest – it is simply outrageous!

So, as it seems that most of our MPs have been dragged like mindless sheep to another slaughter, I put forward here, (based on my best but limited understanding of the current and historical situation), MY seven point plan to make our streets and the Middle East a safer and more peaceful place.

Point One: All western nations including the US, the UK, and France should immediately accept the legitimacy of the Assad Government.

Reason a: Although Assad is a butcher and total sociopath, he is the current leader of a sovereign nation and is secular in his beliefs. No country has the legal right to remove him from power regardless of his crimes. This would also bring a ceasefire closer as Western governments end their support of disparate groups fighting the Syrian army.

Reason b: If the argument of brutal regime change is to have any credibility, then we would also have to remove the Saudi Royal family, along with the leaders of Kuwait, and several other Gulf states, and then of course, North Korea, Brunei, Egypt, Israel, Iran etc etc. This argument against Assad is utterly hypocritical.

Reason c: Once Assad sees that he would be recognised by the international community, he would be far more likely to respond to calls for more democracy and more benign governance. This is what is happening in Burma and Iran and it can happen in Syria too. Humiliating sociopaths only serves to make them even more sociopathic. Lose/lose.

Point Two: Immediately establish the Turkish and Saudi governments’ role in aiding and abetting ISIS through weapons/drugs supply, loose borders and the purchase of oil from ISIS-held territory. 

Reason a: If found guilty of these acts, then Turkey’s application for EU membership should be cancelled and a full review of NATO membership undertaken.

Reason b: Saudi Arabia, if found to be supporting and promoting ISIS ideology, should have all economic and diplomatic ties cut by all western nations, regardless of their financial interests in the EU and the US, which should all be frozen.

Reason c: If they are found to be complicit in helping ISIS then the blood of all their victims in the region and Europe is on Saudi hands. They are the enemy.

Reason d: If they do support ISIS (and much evidence suggests they do), then by selling arms to them we are turning those weapons on our own pilots and civilians.

Point Three: End bombing of any civilian areas and focus air attacks solely on oil convoys, refineries and supply-routes to and from ISIS-held territory.

Reason a: This action would truly minimise civilian casualties as these targets are isolated, out in the open and slow-moving. Warnings can be given prior to destroying vehicles, armoured columns, installations and supply convoys, allowing conscripted drivers, workers and soldiers to escape safely. This is the only way that bombing is useful and anything close to ethical.

Reason b: Armies march on their stomachs and in the case of ‘salaried Jihadis’, their payments and supplies of free cocaine. Cut off these supplies and soon loyalties will dissolve. Even extremists get hungry and will break ranks if supplies dry up.

Point Four: Instigate a massive UN-coordinated plan of humanitarian aid and support for all displaced civilians in the region.

Reason a: Our priority must be to address the human suffering of innocent civilians that is occurring on a biblical scale across the region. Saudi and the Gulf states are doing absolutely nothing to mitigate the situation and have cynically offered to ‘build mosques’ for the immigrants pouring in to Europe. Really? Thats it?

Reason b: This action would enrage and exasperate ISIS, as the very last thing they want, is for muslims to start believing that Western nations are there to help and care for them. That would cripple their local recruiting strategy at its root.

Point Five: Stop all weapons sales to the entire region. Especially to Saudi, the Gulf states and Israel.

Reason a: Weapons are traded to these despotic regimes under the pretext of ‘defence’ but they are being used as offensive weapons on civilians in local conflicts like Yemen and the occupied territories. It is nothing short of scandalous that we and the US are supplying arms and ammunition to these warring, oppressive leaders.

Reason b: De-militarising the region can only reduce suffering and loss of life.

Point Six: End all financial and military support for Israel until it’s government complies with all UN resolutions and requirements, including a sincere attempt to negotiate a two state solution for Palestine.

Reason a: The end of unconditional support for Israel would be a huge body blow to ISIS and all extremist groups in the region who use the Israeli / Palestinian conflict as an example of the unfair plight of Arab Muslims.

Reason b: This action would dilute attempts to radicalise young muslims across Europe and the Western world and render useless, one of the great levers of indoctrination by hate preachers in mosques around the world.

Point Seven: Instigate a massive regeneration programme of islamic communities to recognise, enrich and upgrade the lives of muslims in cities across the European Union and elsewhere, including the promotion of multi faith co-operation and unity to dilute racism and islamophobia. 

Reason a: This move would again infuriate ISIS and severely undermine its ability to radicalise and groom muslim youth to carry out acts of barbarity against their fellow countrymen.

Reason b: A united and just approach to the muslim populations would give the young people in those communities hope and a sense of being valued. The absence of this hope is the foundation of the ISIS recruitment campaign.

And finally one last addition. Following any further atrocities carried out around the world in the name of martyrdom or Jihad, there should be a total media blackout on names and histories of the perpetrators. Absolutely no analysis or background reports. Yes, report on the details of the events but at no point should their pictures or names or nationalities/religion be made public. The current media frenzy to publish these personal details is a huge motivator toward martyrdom for would be gunmen or suicide attackers, knowing that they will be given the attention and ‘respect’ of notoriety they so desperately crave.  But to die with no one ever knowing who you were, or what you represented, is somewhat less romantic than imagining yourself across the front pages of the world’s press, hailed by fellow Jihadis. No brainer right? But governments haven’t thought of that one or have they? Perhaps putting faces to the crimes is all part of building our fear, driving a wedge between us and gaining more control.

So, the basic approach is to starve the fire of ISIS and all other extremist groups by cutting off the oxygen. Cut the supply, the funding, the communication, the motives for those to join and the weapons with which to fight.

ISIS can sell oil but cannot grow its own
food or build its own weapons. Because of this, they are dependent on the super powers to keep throwing arms and ammunition into the arena and for supplies to be trucked in. Once that is clearly ended then ISIS would simply dissolve as a force. They will never be defeated as a mass army but they don’t have to be. The fighters would simply melt away into the population or return to their lives and countries. ISIS would no longer be able to be the provider of basic social needs and would lose power.

This to me, is a far more effective way of protecting our own populations and reducing the whole threat of terror around the world.

This seven point plan was not difficult to work out. What is very puzzling is this government’s inability to see this very obvious reality. I fear that they actually do but worryingly, have another agenda that requires this mad dash to join in a global conflict and increase the chaos, the suffering and the danger to us all.

A bond beyond time. Osho and me.

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India 1979
India 1979

Last year was the 40th anniversary of my becoming a disciple of  the Indian mystic Osho. I was a sprightly and happy ten-year old, living in London, going to school every day, playing football, riding my bike, eating sweets, winding up my big sister. What most kids my age did back in 1974. Our house was the definitive hippy sanctuary. Big kilims and rugs hanging on the walls, and covering the floors. Mattresses covered in Indian fabrics, with huge cushions to match and of course the odd bean bag. It was a cosy, clean and happy house.

It had been already a year or so that the photographs of a bald, bearded, smiling Indian had come into this home. My mother was now going by the name of Leela instead of Lydia, since deciding to become a devotee of this chap with cute cheeks and a twinkling eye. I remember sitting and looking carefully at his small photo on the chest of drawers in her bedroom. Who was this Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh – this man, with his cutting, powerful, uncompromising eyes? I had seen the change in Leela, watching my mum become less stressed, less intense, more humorous, more relaxed, more…her.

One afternoon, sitting at home in our kitchen, I asked, “Mum, can children become sannyasins, could I become one?” She paused for a moment and replied, “I’ll find out”? I asked her to see if it was possible, saying I would quite like to have a new name. I thought it would be fun and different. She enquired and told me that we needed to write to the Ashram in India and send a photo. So we did just that. I found a photo and wrote a scribbly letter giving a little bit of info about myself. A few weeks later, I got a reply. I opened the envelope and read the short paragraph explaining my new name and what it meant to become a sannyasin. Hand written in the bottom right hand corner above a tangled flowing signature were three words – Swami Prem Divakar – ‘Sun of Love’.

I was something of a clandestine sannyasin for the first few years. I was still attending school in a uniform and occasionally wore my Mala of beads under my clothes. I was not ready to wear orange clothes (as was required of a sannyasin), around my school friends, it didn’t seem like a great idea.

In 1978, we left London for a Georgian mansion in the Suffolk countryside converted in to a commune. This was a time of mixed emotions for me but the summers were exciting, as huge crowds would arrive to do therapy groups and I loved helping in the kitchens and being part of the crew. I felt happiest when there was plenty of action and connection.

It was here one autumn evening that my sister and I were summoned to a ‘meeting’ with Leela and our Dad (who was now called Swami Neeraj). “We have an idea that we want to put to you” Leela began. “We want to go to India, to Poona to be with Bhagwan, and we know that this will mean taking you out of school”. “We want to try it for a year and then if you want to, we can return and you can pick up your studies again”. My sister (Who was now Anubhasha), and I were asked to go away and think it through. We left the room and went and sat in the big communal dining room alone. I was not a big fan of school but there were many elements of it that I enjoyed and being 14 years old was just about to start working towards exams. Bhasha on the other hand found school unbearable and hated having to go. She almost immediately said, “I want to go. I don’t care about school”. I felt a huge sense of excitement but also nervousness rising in me. “Ok, so we want to go then” I said.” “Yes, let’s tell mum and dad.” We marched straight back to Leela and Neeraj and told them how we felt.

The following February of ’79 we were on the Ashram in Poona and I was sitting in front of Bhagwan. He looked at me and asked how I was. “I’m happy to be here,” I said. He chuckled, “So do you want to work in the Ashram?” “I wondered if I could do some groups first” I asked. “Mm-hmm, no need for groups, you begin working and that will be your group”.

And so I spent the next two and a half years In India, working in the Ashram, doing everything from woodcraft and construction to bookbinding and even security. And every now and then I disappeared into the underbelly of ‘rebellious’ and somewhat debauched enclaves of Sannyasins, those who, while loving being around the master and the commune, also liked to party quite hard and led a more ’hedonistic’ lifestyle that being in India allowed. Eventually I headed for the freak parties of Goa and Kerala for extended periods (both astounding and growth-full adventures in themselves).

This period in India was one of the most surreal and intense phases of my entire life. It was at this time, as I came of age, that my experience of being around an enlightened master became a personal journey. This was when the magic started. I was exploring everything, inner and outer. Both Meditation, working in the Ashram among thousands of amazing joyous and inspired souls, but also, I began experimenting with mind-altering substances. I smoked hash-packed Chillums at sunset with Sadhus, in tiny temples on the banks of the Mula Mutha River, and then began exploring with LSD and magic mushrooms.

Although I was only 15 years old, my consciousness was expanding at an explosive pace. I grew into adulthood in an uninhibited and permissive environment. My sexuality blossomed as I ‘played’ with many beautiful bodies and energies.

This freedom, this level of deep connection and understanding between my peers and me was truly enchanted. I could feel myself maturing well beyond my years, as it was for all the other young people I was spending time with. It felt so alive, so real and so energising.

Here I was, totally removed from the routine of my conventional childhood. Here, where every day was Saturday and every night was a new opportunity for wild and ecstatic connection, I fell in love, I fell in to joy, and I fell into myself. All under the guidance and energy of the master and his Buddhafield. Some deep but already ‘known’ part of me awoke during this time. Some dormant inner capacity was activated. One that has stayed with me all my life. It is impossible to articulate such a multidimensional experience. It is a desire to celebrate, to feel blissful, a movement towards gratitude, appreciation, intimacy and awareness. I was given the gift of a direct line to the present moment. To be meditative and alert to my being, no matter what circumstances arose in my life. I learned to spend time in the space in which my thoughts existed. To witness, to dis-identify.

My family departed India in the summer of 1981, soon after Bhagwan left to start the new Commune in America. At first it was not easy adjusting to life back in western civilization but the understanding and wisdom that I had learned allowed me to adapt, to integrate and to continue to grow and develop. As I moved into my twenties I travelled a lot and met and enjoyed being in communes with Sannyasins all over the world. A global network of fellow travellers that all had about them that knowing, that aroma of understanding.  It was like having a huge tribe that I could ‘plug into’ at any time or place.

Around 1985, when all kinds of challenges around the commune were coming out, I lost my trust of the movement and also of the commune. In an ironic way, I had to drop sannyas to really ‘take it’. I needed to let go of my past conditioning and beliefs, of which there were many. I needed to begin creating my own life separate from Sannyas.

Bhagwan had now become ‘Osho’ and had returned to Pune, with a ‘rebooted’ commune. Having purged itself of a difficult period, it began again to flourish. But for me, Poona in the late 70’s would, and could not, ever be re-created. It was a new time and there had been too much trauma and disillusionment. I now felt and experienced the commune in a much more objective way. My relationship with Osho had grown up to become more of a grounded and dis-attached story. I never joined the commune again but visited the Ashram in 1989 for some weeks. One evening while lying on the marble wall of Krishna Gardens pond, listening to Osho speaking slowly, deeply, I heard the phrase, “right now, you are the most important people on the Earth”. My body sprung up to a sitting position like a spring uncoiled. “What”? I thought, “What does that mean”? I knew that he had said it in a context of us all being very present and being more conscious, but it had aroused an energy in me that took me to another level of reality about what it is to be a Sannyasin.

This idea of being ‘special’ or somehow ‘elite’ had been a big part of my early beliefs and conditioning. I knew then, that however much wisdom and teaching I could receive from this man, paradoxically, I would have to disagree with him before I could ever move toward my own Buddhahood. It even felt like that moment, that phrase was designed for that very purpose.

It was a moment of deep liberation for me and I felt myself welcoming the responsibility of being a light unto myself, of being my own master. But I also knew that without having spent all those decades in that atmosphere, in that fertile soil, I would never have developed to that moment of realisation.

As I moved through my late 20s and 30s, I began a period of some disconnection from Osho. Not in a defensive or resentful way, but life moved me toward a marriage that was to last for over 20 years, and to my greatest achievement in life, raising a family and being a father. This was always going to be a challenge. Marriage and parenthood is a mountainous forest of mixed emotion and experience for anyone – heaven and hell together. And so it was for me too.

But my early years and the continuing presence of Osho on the periphery of my life, worked like a magic box of tools, a set of spiritual spanners that I had learned to use to make the path so much more joyous and profound than could have ever been possible had I not developed those skills.

The most fundamental of those skills showed up whenever I looked in the mirror. I truly loved who I saw there looking back at me and that alone, gave me the capacity to love and accept others in all their imperfection. I was no saint and lost it many a time, but always, I knew I had a better alternative and mostly chose it. I didn’t have to take it personally. As long as I had the strength to own and own up to my shit, then I could expect and receive no less from those with whom I shared my life. A true inner power. Not a noisy, weak power of a screaming ego, but the warm, calm power of self-love and inner contentment. So now, in my 51st year, my middle age, I once more have Osho in my life. I meditate daily with my Mala of beads over my heart. At night I regularly drift off to sleep to his soporific tones, just as I did as a 10 year old in the darkened meditation rooms of North London.

As Osho said so many times, that when he was gone, he would grow into all of us. And I feel his consciousness in me. I feel the master in me – the awakening continues and my gratitude to him and the beautiful people that I have met through him will never die. Not even when this chapter ends and I move on to a new beginning. He, I, us, it, will always remain.

Jai Bhagwan.