An Interview With John On Being 'An Outsider'

 John Siddique at Bronte 200 - 'Clearsighted heart awareness.'

John Siddique at Bronte 200 - 'Clearsighted heart awareness.'

This interview was originally conducted for the celebrations of Emily Bronte's 200th Birthday. The theme of the year's celebrations was 'The Outsider' and I was asked to speak at the main literary event at the Bronte House, as apparently that title fits this being. I proceeded to give a spiritual talk about some things observed on the nature of society and outsiderness.

I hope you enjoy this interview:

What 3 words would you say best describe you? (max 3 words please)
Clearsighted heart awareness.

Tell us how you got into doing what you do.
I have no idea how to answer this, or how to encapsulate it, but here’s a short attempt - on the writing side I read until I became a library of stories, poems, facts, truths, lies, fictions, debate, and multitudes myself, then I wrote until I could write about anything or anyone while maintaining transparency. When I’d gone as far as I felt I wanted to with writing I ‘retired’ and began teaching some aspects from my main work of meditation and spiritual self-realisation, writing has always been secondary to this work, and my practice had reached a point where the next step was only to be found in sharing with and teaching other people. I’ve been practising for 40 years this year.

How do you relate to the theme of otherness?
There is no other, only the delusion of self and other created to serve our egoic ideas, and unconscious fear-based drives, that somehow we can become complete in ourselves by pushing towards greater and greater separation. Any quick glance at the news with a bit of consciousness will show you the truth of this.

What creative masterpiece do you wish you could have written?
None, I’m very happy with the journey that literature took me on, and I’m even happier beyond that vehicle. There are some truly wonderful writings that have been part of my life, but I’ve never for one minute wished I could have written them, or be anyone other than this being.

5 writings that I love:

Illusions - Richard Bach

Big Two Hearted River - Ernest Hemingway

Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu

Wild Geese - Mary Oliver

Toba Tek Singh - Manto

What's an important piece of insider knowledge you have as a creator, writer and thinker?
Most people don’t do the work, they want to be seen to be as ‘something.’ Try not to emulate them no matter how shiny they look. My secret has always been simply doing the work until it sings with an integrity and life of its own. The public side of all real work and getting to the good stuff is entirely secondary.

Tell us about an upcoming project that excites you, and how we can find out more about it.
My next day retreat is in September of this year and we’ll be looking at going beyond and healing the ‘critical and judgemental mind,’ as this causes so much illness and division in our lives. Retreats excited me as we get to really bring presence to the matter at hand and work at a deep level with our basic human goodness. Next Easter I’m hopefully making an exploratory trip to the US to see what connections can be made for my work and hopefully share some teachings and practice. There may also be a retreat in India at the end of 2019.

Indian Partition

  ‘Woman & Husband Reunited After 10 Months at a Women’s Camp - Lahore’  Photo by Henri Cartier Bresson

‘Woman & Husband Reunited After 10 Months at a Women’s Camp - Lahore’
Photo by Henri Cartier Bresson

Dear all 

As today is the anniversary of the Indian Partition, I’ve gathered together some creative responses that I have written and been involved in on the subject. I am only a meditation teacher, no expert on any subject, or a politician wanting to have power. My own interest stems from the loss of much of my father’s family to that holocaust, and my own practice of wanting to understand, explore, and share any insights and truth I may find in the barriers we put between ourselves and our humanity. How we might move beyond them into our wholeness. My father always refused to believe in the false blue line of the border, seeing it as a madness of division, my mother from Northern Ireland - another divided county, was very similar in her outlook. I am very pleased the fruit has fallen close to the tree, and all of my written and sacred work is centred in removing the delusion of separation from the whole that holds us back so badly as a species.

I hope these are some use to you:

Last year I was asked to write an essay for BBC Radio 3 which opened their 70 years of Partition season ‘The Culture of Partition’

A few years previously I was commissioned by the brilliant Ellah Alfrey who was then at GRANTA Magazine to write ‘Six Snapshots of Partition’

The opening of which inspired film-maker Mara Ahmed to make the documentary ‘A Thin Wall’ which is now on Amazon Streaming

LOVE THE EARTH AND SUN AND THE ANIMALS

John reads from the preface to Whitman's 'Leaves of Grass'

'Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…' 

Walt Whitman, preface to Leaves of Grass, 1855

If Only I Could Show You The Path That Leads From Suffering Into Wholeness

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I am very blessed that I get to work with people every day who are moving more consciously into their lives, who are becoming more authentic, and most importantly bringing light and love to what is unconscious in them. To see people grow and become whole as they begin to move away from being controlled by these fears, drives and tendencies is such a privilege. Yet I sometimes forget that there was a time when I did not know there was even a path that can help us move away from suffering and more into the heart of life. Over the first three decades of my practice I tried mainstream paths, Catholicism, Buddhism, Vedanta, Yoga - and all sorts of non-mainstream spiritualities too: Psychedelics, new age thought, and so on. The truth is though is that I tried to wear these things as an identity, to make myself into something/someone good, mostly so that I would receive the love that I thought was outside of me, and inside other people. I also wanted to escape my own life, to be somebody else, somebody, anybody other than this being with this history and shame.

But then I was most fortunate, in that life gave me absolutely no choice, and I had to meet my own life. I was brought to such a point through a dark night of the soul, that I had to finally admit that I just did not know how to live, I had no idea how to be free of suffering, or how to hold everything together, and then everything actually collapsed. The facade finally came down, and I had to meet myself with real love or die trying. This led to what we might call my awakening or a shift in consciousness. The idea of waking up, of being in reality, in the now, can look like it is something outside of us that we have to achieve and strive for, but with my hand on my heart, I want to tell you that this is not the way things are at all. As I write this on my 54th birthday, my 40th year of practice, I want to tell you something if you can hear me - There is a path that can lead you home, there is a path that will end your suffering, isolation, feeling of separateness from life. 

The whole universe is just one beingness, but we live as if we are separate from it all. We fight against our own body of humanity and love. And the path that can heal you, fill you, love you, is your own life. Not the story of your life, but the actual life that is expressing you right now, and always has been expressing you. Of course, there are things which block us from knowing our life, and the one life - our unconscious patterns, our identification with our conditioning, identification with things as ends in themselves, our rigid belief systems which only tries to prove that our conditioning and story is real. The most terrifying of these are the ones that create an 'I,' or even worse a 'we,' you know the 'we' who are different, and more right than 'them.' Then there is the unconscious pain and reactive fear that we might call the pain-body which silently lurks controlling everything we say and do in its desire to fulfil itself. 

The path home, and to our own life, begins again when you can honestly ask the question 'Who Am I?' and in that reflection look beyond the usual identities into the heart of your own life. If you can do this as honestly as you can and not expect an answer, but instead asking the question and leaving a space for you to hear an answer in your being rather than your head or reactivity you will begin to see. There is a path to wholeness, its name is your name, it's voice is your voice, and its heart is your true heart. Happy Birthday To You.

With love
John

 

The Connected Heart - Free Meditation

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'To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvellous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses — that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things.' - Pablo Neruda

THE CONNECTED HEART

Free Meditation For Peace, Truth, &  Connection guided by sacred teacher and writer John Siddique

EVERYONE WELCOME - 13th July, 6-7pm. Hebden Bridge Town Hall.

This event will also be live-streamed on the Authentic Living Facebook page for those around the world who wish to join us.

The 13th of July looks set to be a day of strong emotions, political debate, reaction, ideals, ideas, as well as apathy, denial, opinion, sensationalism and just more of the same old stuff that separates us from each other. Like every other day, it is also a chance and a choice to be a day of awareness, compassion, love, and change for the better. Genuine change can only come about when we meet what is with real presence and awareness. 

Reactivity, while it might feel powerful and entitled, leads us away from the ability to see and respond from consciousness and heart, and so if we desire lasting peace and progress we must learn to be in the here and the now with clear sight and wholeness - then we become powerful in the truest sense.

We are giving and sharing this guided meditation event for all who wish to sit in the spirit of truth, peace and openness. All people are welcome. When we gather together in the spirit of truth like this (the old word for it is sangha) we are at our most whole, supported and alive, and we genuinely help by bringing healing, wholeness, transformation and compassion to ourselves and the world.