As I was preparing ‘the last supper’ before leaving Arran tomorrow on our way south to complete the sale of the project’s classic Swan 55, I stopped for a moment to reflect on what I had learned in the last 6 weeks camped in our little tent in Lamlash Bay, Isle of Arran, opposite holy isle´, the Tibetan buddhist centre where I volunteered in 2007.
The first was most certainly a ‘down to earth lesson’ and it had nothing to do with higher purposes, callings, or vocations!
It was simply this. Camping full time with a dog on an island in scotland in autumn can be a challenging experience, and with the frquent downpours, downright miserable at times! Especially when you are trying to cook your vegan sausages and the frying pan is getting flooded!
But as with all things, one learns to adapt, one of humanities greatest attributes.
Most people can’t cope with camping for more than a week, if at all, and definitely not in the rain, citing uncomfortable sleeping mats, damp clothes, lack of en suite facilities, and cold sleeping bags, but the funny thing is, it only takes about a month for a change to be accepted by the brain as its new reality, and hey presto, all those complaints go away! Well, almost.
Then you havve to really dig deep and develop resilience, as there has been many a time when sleeping next to a wet dog in a little tent, with a self inflating mattress, that keeps self deflating, woukd notmally have me running for the nearest hotel!
But I’ve stuck with it, and feel happy that now the idea of living without a permanent home made of bricks and mortar is just a distant memory – and whilst i like a 5 star spa as much as anyone, i am equally at home in a wet tent.
So what about this higher purpose?
Well, as I was doing some research for the latest installment of the Casper Amos novels today at the lovely Arran Heritage Museum, staffed by volunteers, who kindly assisted me, I stated reading about Saint Molaise, an Irish monk who lived on Holy Isle for a period as a hermit in a cave during the 6th Century.
I then looked up the definition of hermit, intrigued as to what being a hermit meant.
A hermit is a person who lives alone, away from people and society.especially for religious reasons
I then looked up the origins of the word.
from Old French hermite, from Late Latin erēmīta, from Greek erēmitēs living in the desert, from erēmia desert, from erēmos lonely
I was then more intrigued. I knew I wasn´t a hermit, as although I liked spending time alone during deep contemplation, I was equally at home chatting and laughing with people in a pub.
But something resonated with me. Although I didn’t live in a cave or in the forest alone, I spent the majority of my time alone in thought, even in company! I was a mind hermit I decided!
I was fascinated by the origins of the word hermit, orinially from the greek erēmitēs, ´ĺiving in the desert.´
I have never lived in the desert as I grew up in a small town called Marlow on Thames, half an hour from London, but I did walk through Jordan and Israel on my way back to Canterbury Cathedral in 2013/2014 as part of my long distance ‘pilgrimage,’ which I assured everyone was not religious in any way, and was only for research for the adventure books I was writing
I then unfortunately clicked on a section in wikipedia on ‘desert spirituality.’ I’d never heard of that, not belonging to any religious school of thought, and actively writing that people should not follow dogma, or groups, and instead stand alone…
then the more I read about God instructing his people wander the desert for 40 years, then reading ‘the cloud of unknowing’ which states
The book counsels the young student to seek God, not through knowledge and intellect (faculty of the human mind), but through intense contemplation, motivated by love, and stripped of all thought.
and also states…
the way to know God is to abandon consideration of God’s particular activities and attributes, and be courageous enough to surrender one’s mind and ego to the realm of “unknowing”, at which point one may begin to glimpse the nature of God.
I started to worry …
was this what I was doing?! Was I, a nobody, from marlow, writing what had been written centuries ago?
I had never read any religious texts, nor followed any traditions, but somehow was coming up with the same stuff people did centuries ago!
you see, my next adventure, within the confines of the ariana project , is the great british walkabout , where I plan to take people who are homeless, dissatisfied, who question the society they live in, amd the life path that has been set up for them, on a long walk through the United Kingdom and inspire them to find a higher purpose, to give up seeking a life of comfort and riches and instead find a higher purpose, and develop compassion for all others …
this troubled me that I was thinking along these lines, where central to my belief system, was the need to know one’s self, examine why one thought the way one did, feed everyone for free and provide shelter (Teresa’s sanctuaries)!!
was i becoming religious ??? Was I always religious ? Why did I go on these pilgrimages? Why did I want to help everybody? When actually it would be easier to just conform and have a nice house and go on holiday twice a year!
My friend on Holy Isle, brother John as he was known, an ex publican from Leeds who was volunteering on the island once said to me when I told him I was about to undertake a barefoot walk over a thousand miles from John o’groats to Lands end …
who do you think you are fooking Jesus?!brother john
No, I said! I am doing it to help educate people to tread more lightly across the earth they so casually trample across!
LESSONS LEARNT ON THE ISLE OF ARRAN
I asked myself over the last 6 weeks why I was staying within visual distance of Holy Isle when I wasn’t interested in Buddhism, aesticsm, monks, or religion in general, and it wasn’t because the owner of the campsite Elaine, didn’t charge me for my stay…which I found to be very strange, but nonetheless amazingly kind and compassionate, but because knowing there were and had always been people who lived on the island whose sole intention was to understand their own mind, live a simple life, and develop compassion for all…
maybe it is the intentional energy that drew me back to a place I found to be hypocritical, and filled with people with problems they thought sitting meditating all day would solve.
but that was 2007 and now it is 2023, and maybe just maybe I have evolved past that judgemental, angry person I was, and have maybe just maybe, found my higher purpose.
Today is the birth of the Ariana Project in its entirety, and I am filled with happiness that it is here, on Arran, next to Holy Isle, a place with such history and devotion that I can begin my work.
Or maybe I’ve just gone a bit mad! I’m going for a pint of beer and prepare myself and Hari for the long train journey south tomorrow…
until the next time