LivingNow asked Jerry Speiser and Stephen Wollaston how they became interested in such seemingly disparate philosophies from playing in a rock band. It appears that they both had an underlying interest in these things.
Awakening to creative life.
Santoshan (Stephen Wollaston)
Rabbi Michael Lerner reminds us that, “We are the heirs of the long evolution of Spirit. Each of us is the latest unfolding of the event of Creation. Our bodies are composed of the material that was shaped in the Big Bang. And, so, too, our spirit. The loving goodness of the universe breathes us and breathes through us, giving us life and consciousness, and the capacity to recognize and love others.”
Spirituality beckons us to embrace the capacity to love others in inclusive and creative ways. This involves recognising the profound unity we share with all people and Nature. This is more than just a mere knowing, but a spirituality that is authentically lived.
When we consider how the Earth is holistic and forever in the process of evolving, we realise that we are all incredible products of its awe inspiring creativity and how this is an important part of who we are. When we take part in the creativity that exists so abundantly around us, we find enrichment in every moment. Thich Nhat Hanh points this out: “Everyday we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
Yet spirituality comes with responsibilities about non-harmfulness. Just as any responsible parent would not intentionally wish to harm their children, but would cherish and help them with their growth and appreciate their beauty and abilities, similarly we need to cultivate the creativity of other people and life. Through being at one with this spiritual core of our being we participate more wholesomely in life. And through this comes the realisation that all things touch our lives and are intrinsic parts of who we are. Wayne Teasdale points out how,
“Native Americans know that all beings are part of the web of life, and we have responsibilities to this great web of interconnection. Native cultures are keenly aware that nature, the earth, the Great Spirit, and the spirit guides have taught them everything they know. It is all a gift from the divine realm through the mediation of these more familiar spirit guides who inhabit all worlds.”
This ongoing search for growth helps us to discover our creative potential and become architects of a harmonious Earth. Ultimate gifts are those which reshape our lives and lead to spiritual maturity, to the birthing of the fruits of wisdom and compassion and treading lightly upon the Earth. Here the creative impulse takes on deeper meaning when it becomes an expression of spiritual living and connects us with the wholeness of all life’s growth. This supreme art emerges as a result of our relationship with the Earth and leads us to an awareness of every moment being sacred. Because of this interrelation, we have an individual and collective responsibility, not only for humanity, but for all life, as we are all one family, created in God with infinite positive potential to achieve spiritual greatness. We all possess the power to touch other lives and manifest essential gifts, such as kindness, friendship and helping in the creative process of human and non-human life, even in the smallest of activities.
Through awakening to deeper dimensions we touch realms that have been realised by many mystics. Although no two humans or blades of grass are identical, all connect with an underlying unity. All life possesses a unique spark of the divine and its potential to create – to bring about harmony, balance and beauty into the world. Ways of expressing this are many. Traditional routes involve dancing, singing, painting, sculpting, writing, drumming and story telling. Whether we are artists, students, nurses, teachers, labourers, activists or healers, there are numerous profound ways of making our daily actions a dedication to skilful and compassionate living. “A person’s true wealth is the good he does in this world” the prophet Muhammad wisely reminded us. Matthew Fox points out that,
“We are creators at our very core. Only creating can make us happy, for in creating we tap into the deepest power of self and universe and the Divine Self. We become co-creators, that is, we create with the other forces of society, universe, and the God-self when we commit to creativity.”
Yet we need to be on guard against any powers or people seeking to dampen our enthusiasm, imagination and energy. For here lies a death of our abilities. It requires environments that are open enough to encourage new perspectives and have the courage to reach beyond restrictive boundaries. For everyday contact with creativity supplies us with a sense of authentic belonging, which we experience in essentials such as music, art and places of great beauty, and has the power to heal divisions and wounds when opened to in compassionate ways.
Artists involved in the construction of the world’s great religious buildings created them out of love of their craft, which they did as a way of contributing to their communities. Creative forms of spirituality seek to be open to new ways of relating healthily to life. If wholesomely embraced, creativity awakens us to ways of existing in harmony with the diversity of species that have just as much right to live on Earth as we do. Great transformations spring from creative and visionary thinking and when people are motivated enough to adopt and follow through on positive ideas.
If we wish to continue living on such an awe inspiring and wondrous Earth, we need to learn how to read Nature’s signs and understand her ways and use our creativity to support the multiplicity of life Nature has sought to celebrate. Ellen Bernstein points out that, “Just as we have the power to spoil the creation, we also have the power to make it whole. We have the power to mend the earth and to mend ourselves, to sew the pieces back together again.”
Stephen’s band, The Wasps, were one of London’s first punk rock bands and helped to pioneer punk rock at a time when it was unpopular.
Stephen told us that the change from being a punk rocker to being a known spiritual writer was gradual. At The Wasps’ last gig an innocent member of the audience was set upon by over-zealous bouncers who they thought was responsible for letting off fireworks at the venue and consequently died from the injuries inflicted upon him. At Shrewsbury the local hospital was packed to capacity with casualties from the violence that broke out at a Wasps concert and led to the group being banned from playing there again. Such violence obviously concerned both Stephen and the band’s members and they subsequently took time off the road and concentrated on writing new material that had less of an anarchic message, as, contradictorily, “None of us would have condoned senseless violence at that time … What we hadn’t foreseen was that some audience members, though by no means all, as the majority of our gigs were peaceful, would take things too literally.”
During this time Stephen was already a vegetarian because of growing spiritual beliefs and had, through contact with an older musician in a previous group, Elysium, which was fronted by Lady June (whose title was real), been introduced to a basic meditation and mantra practice that lead to a profound life-changing meditational experience at a crucial and near suicidal point in his life. He was only 19 at the time, but found the influence of this episode led him over the years to lok deeply into Eastern wisdom and practices and doing an in-depth religious studies degree and post-graduate religious education certificate at King’s College London.
Stephen says, “Writing books on spirituality may sound a bit ‘un-punky’, but I would still advocate not accepting much of the conditioning of contemporary society.
These days: Stephen is a graphic designer, GreenSpirit member and former punk rock musician (The Wasps), He was given the name Santoshan (contentment) by the yoga master Swami Dharmanana and co-authored ‘The House of Wisdom’ with her (O Books 2007). His latest book is ‘Spirituality Unveiled’ (O Books 2011) which has received glowing reviews and been hailed as “a masterful synthesis” by the writer and East-West psychologist Marian Van Eyk McCain.
My goal wants me
by Jerry Speiser
GRAVITY is defined in physics as a force that pulls all matter together. It’s the invisible string that holds all the planets in orbit around the sun. Gravity also holds the moon in orbit around Earth and it makes our planet habitable by trapping gases and liquids in an atmosphere.
Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) bridged physics and philosophy, or the physical and the metaphysical. He recognised that the laws of nature explained human behaviour as well as the behaviour of matter.
In a metaphysical context, gravity explains why we go to work, why we choose the people we spend time with, and why you are reading this article. It’s about who and what you are attracted to, and who and what is attracted to you. This is why Fuller referred to the Law of Gravity as Newton’s Law of Interattractiveness.
Most of the things we do in our adult lives, we do because we want to. There are ‘attractions’ that are strong enough to get us into action. If we want to pursue a particular career, we work at becoming qualified so we can seek out the jobs we want. If we are hungry, we go to the kitchen, or go out to get food. And if our attraction generated action has a regular nature to it, in the same way as the moon orbits the earth, then we are in orbit. If we regularly go to the same supermarket, we are in orbit. We are kept in orbit around that particular supermarket, rather than any other, for one or more compelling reasons.
Gravity and distance
How does distance affect gravity? From your experience of playing with magnets, you know that when a magnet and a metal paper clip are far apart, there is not much attraction. As the magnet is moved closer, the clip is more attracted and eventually it will suddenly appear to jump and attach itself to the magnet. Gravity is a much weaker force than magnetism, but it works in the same way. As the distance between two bodies decreases, the gravity increases. As the distance increases, the gravity decreases.
Small changes in distance translate into larger changes in gravity. So, for example, we are much more likely to orbit a supermarket that is around the corner than one that is kilometres away.
How to overcome gravity
For a rocket to leave the earth’s gravitational pull, it must attain a certain speed known as ‘escape velocity’. If the power is shut off before it has escaped Earth’s gravity, the rocket will be pulled back in; the force of gravity will continuously pull on it, slow it down until it changes direction, then increase its speed as it moves closer to earth.
This principle applies to all relationships, not just those with people. You may want to ‘escape’ from a job you dislike, or a bad habit of over-eating, or drinking too much alcohol, or smoking. Whatever it is you want to get away from, you need to reach escape velocity, and not shut off the power until you are clear, otherwise you will fall back in.
Using gravity to guarantee success
According to the Law of Gravity, if I double the distance between me and a mass I want to get away from, the gravity reduces four times. Because the gravity is now less, to move further away is easier. As I move away, the gravity further decreases and moving away becomes easier and easier. It is obvious then that the hardest step to take is the first step; and then it gets easier and easier as long as I stay in motion.
Conversely, if I halve the distance between me and a mass I want to get closer to, the gravity increases four times. Because the gravity is now greater, to move closer is easier. As I move closer, the gravity further increases and getting closer becomes easier and easier.
If moving away from something you don’t want gets easier and moving closer to something you want gets easier, how can you fail? The universe has provided us with a guaranteed formula for success. All we have to do is take the first step and keep moving.
When you set a goal, you create a metaphysical mass. And to achieve your goal you will have to overcome the gravity (of not doing anything) and attain enough energy to reach escape velocity to take the first step. After that it gets easier.
Sometimes just setting a goal could be the first step if it involves making a ‘decision’. In his book “Awaken The Giant Within”, Anthony Robbins explains that the Latin roots of the word decision are de, which means ‘from’, and caedere, which means ‘to cut’, and that “making a true decision means committing to achieving a result, and then cutting yourself off from any other possibility”. This means that if you truly ‘decide’ on a goal, then it can’t not happen. The law of gravity shows that once you take the first step it gets easier. If your goal is something that excites you or something you love, as soon as you make steps towards your goal and feel closer to it, you will feel the gravity as it feeds your spirit. It can lift your self-worth and bring you to an emotional and mental state I call normal. I highly recommend it.
The most interesting aspect for me in this exercise is that gravity makes no distinction between the two masses involved. What we assign the objects to represent is arbitrary. They can represent whatever we choose, and both masses contribute to the resultant gravity. So if I choose one mass to represent me, and the other mass to represent my goal, I can say:
Your goal wants you as much as you want your goal. After taking the first step, all you have to do is stay in motion and you will achieve your goal.
Jerry was the drummer of ‘Men At Work’, the only Australian group to have a simultaneous #1 album and #1 single in both the US and the UK
He grew up in Melbourne, and during his school days his main interests were science, sport and music. His dream was to play in a touring rock and roll band, but his parents insisted that he at least get a qualification and then do what he wanted. When he finished his physics degree he studied music – and practised and practised. He met musicians along the way and formed the band, Men At Work.
He’d always had an interest in philosophy and the holistic side of life and had done a couple of reiki courses and then an alchemy course about the time that Men At Work was starting. Later he did a rejuvenation retreat in Bali during which he had many rebirthing (breathwork) sessions. In 1990 he attended a course called Money & You where he was introduced to the work of Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983). He had an immediate affinity with Fuller’s work which came from his interest in physics and philosophy. In his endeavour to learn more about ‘Bucky’, he began a Study Group which attracted so much interest it launched him into a new career, which has taken him to New Zealand, America and Singapore.
These days: Jerry presents Your Future by Design workshops exploring the work of Buckminster Fuller. See the world from a new perspective, and learn how to apply the principles to all aspects of your life.
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