Monday, October 16, 2006


A few months ago, when I was quite ill with complex symptoms, I experienced something like enlightenment for the fourth time in my life. The first time, I was just about to drown on a foreign beach, the second and third times were drug-enduced meditations on nature in the middle of the night in remote fields (perhaps they do not count). This fourth time, after hours of uncontrollable shivering and two sleepless nights, something clicked and I transcended my body-in-pain. I felt full of love and a subtle kind of energy. It no longer mattered what happened to me, for I was something else apart from this sick body: a kind of luminous transcendence, and a kernel of laughter.

Its difficult to describe the experience. I woke Bibi up to tell her I was in buddhahood (or at least bodhisatvahood), but she was dog-tired (I'd kept her awake). Soon I fell asleep. In the morning, all I could feel was the afterglow of the feeling, like a lava-lamp just turned off.

Perhaps it is simply a physio-chemical reaction to extreme experience - bouts of serious illness or near-death situations. In a sense of course it is just this - the brain quickly releasing serotonins and endorphins to minimise the shock of impact, or the turbulent passage towards death and non-being.

But I believe it is not only this. It is also a state of mind that can be cultivated and attained at any time. I have felt the glow returning in the past few days, thanks to reading about various therapeutic techniques which aim to unleash creativity by reprogramming the mind away from hidden barriers (NLP, cognitive therapy, the forum etc) and a desire to be more gentle with myself and others. I want to move away from being so knee-jerk about the world (the comparison with Geldof in one of the comments stung!) I want to avoid the perception of being arrogant by cultivating a more listening relationship to the umwelt.

And so, when I hear today that an IT company with a poor delivery reputation has won yet another Government contract, on the one hand, I am filled with dismay and sadness: that the same patterns and the politics continue. But on another level, I find myself letting go. The current administration has laid some foundations for transformation, but it will take quite a while (years and years) for the benefits of positive change to filter down. Maybe the next administration will be capable of taking IT-driven transformation seriously, rather than just an alternative form of egunje. Its quite easy to get pissed off with everything in Nigeria, beginning with forms of consciousness and ethicality. But this only burns up the self; it doesn't actually help any.

I've always resisted going on a deep spiritual journey with myself, because I have a gut-reaction to the prospective narcissism built into the voyage (why I couldnt live in California). But now I'm starting to think that only by going on a spiritual journey can genuine change in the world take place. I learnt this lesson a long time ago when hanging with so-called 'engaged buddhists' - including an inspirational being by the name of Gukiyapati. But lessons learnt are quickly unlearnt in the miasma of experience and the hiatuses of relocation (physical and metaphysical). Now its time to walk the path again..


Anonymous,  10:17 pm  

You sound like such a nice person, so interesting and knowledgeable and full of passion for what you think is right. I think you are right to let things be and keep a bit more relaxed. Good luck

Shango,  10:19 pm  

Hmm... this post has given me pause: how do I begin?

First, kudos on not wanting to live in California. If that's the only thing you come away with, you're a rich man, my son.

As you have found out in your prior dalliance with Buddhism, deep introspection especially spiritual, usually is counter-productive to ... oh, well, how about life, for starters? I'm a recovering proto-Buddhist myself; it's unworkable anywhere but in a monastry, or someplace the earth stands still every few hours to allow everyone to catch up.

Piece(s) of advice: don't stop your knee-jerk reactions to the bloviating, self-righteous Stings of the world. As my High School Maths teacher always said, your first instinct is usually right. Even though he was talking about passing multiple-choice exams, I've found his admonition can be suitably employed in other facets of life. Do keep an open mind (as I think you will, and cannot help), but I would instantly stop reading your blog if I don't continue to receive your unique take on life in Nigeria, which rightly includes the kind of unrelenting, scathing criticism of Geldoofus. Don't tone yourself down, I'd rather be wrong than timid. Speak your mind, but be prepared to be proved wrong and take that like a man. But don't ever tone down. Too many people lead lives of quiet desperation.

Your poor wife, having to wake up to a beaming, delirious invalid talking about Bodhisatva! Nigeria does that to oyibos.

Anonymous,  12:45 pm  

"the comparison with Geldof in one of the comments stung!"
Oh Jez baby! I only pointed out that you and Geldof are fellow Brits.... Hell! you don't even want to be his 'fellow Brit'.

"It no longer mattered what happened to me..."
"...a kind of luminous transcendence, and a kernel of laughter..."

That also happens when one is 'on heat' so the next time you wake Bibi up like that, just get some!
Afterall 'that' is also spiritual.

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