“To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.” Oscar Wilde
The people I work with often come with expectations about what learning about the three principles will offer them. I try my very best to convey a sense of the potential without promising something I cannot guarantee or quantify. I know for sure that when people learn about the principles they will have insight that is specific and helpful to them and their lives but I have no idea what the content of that insight will be or how it will unfold for them.
A great example of this is Julian Mann.
When I first met Julian in around 1990 at a martial arts club my husband and I belonged to Julian was a striking young man with a fearsome kikomi (karate kick) and a long ponytail of hair. He had the energy and beauty of youth like others his age but there was also something unfathomable about him that marked him out from his peers.
Quitting martial arts myself due to injury, I lost touch with Julian although not completely as he and my husband remained in contact. Roll forward 25 years or so and I reconnected with Julian when he asked us to review the first draft of an autobiographical book he was writing on addiction. It was the first time I had really got a glimpse of the depth and destructiveness of his addiction and the incredible personal transformation he had gone through to end the addiction. By this time Julian was married to his long term partner and they had a young baby. Trained in horticulture, Julian was working as a horticultural therapist for the NHS helping mental health patients at our local hospital. He was also doing some garden maintenance to look after his family. When I asked Julian for a recommendation of someone who could help me with my own garden, he jumped at the chance to earn extra cash on his afternoons off from his day job.
We had some lovely conversations on those Tuesday afternoons and I got to know Julian again. He vaguely knew what my work was and loved talking about all things spiritual. It became clear that he had an extensive and sophisticated spiritual practice and used many practices on a daily basis including EFT, positive affirmation and meditations. He was so convinced that what I did was a variation of his own practices that he didn’t really listen even when he asked me questions.
And then he did.
By grace alone, he thought to ask me about the Three Principles but this time he was genuinely listening to understand not to respond. I intuitively felt the shift and offered to spend a day with him sharing my understanding of the principles.
The impact of what Julian realised for himself that day is still playing out in his life. Here is just one thing he wrote afterwards:
“I feel so peaceful and unbothered by outside circumstances – not in an apathetic way but just in the peace that comes with real trust. The biggest one is being free of the past and able to live in the now.”
Julian no longer had a need for the hours of spiritual practice he was doing just to feel well. He left his job not long after and started his own landscaping business – something he had dreamed of but put off for a long time.
But the most extraordinary and unexpected outcome was that Julian discovered that he was able to write poetry.
He discovered that he could drop into a quiet mind and that beautiful words would flow onto the page (or his phone!). He had previously never written a poem. Eighteen months later he has just published his second volume of poems. Some are free flowing verse, some sonnets and even haiku. The poems he writes are mostly about his spiritual understanding of life. He has written poems that have been read out in churches and spiritual gatherings on the other side of the world. He has written poems for people grieving the loss of loved ones and touched them deeply. His words grace playgrounds he has created for children in schools.
Julian now uses his poetry far and wide to share his own insights and ever deepening understanding. His two books, “The Unexplainable Truth” and “Already Home: Poetry from the Silence Within” are available on Amazon. He is also an active member of a lovely Facebook poetry group founded by poet Roger Blakiston called Forest of Song. You can read some of his work there https://www.facebook.com/groups/173768219651138/
Not even Sydney Banks could have predicted where learning about the Principles would take Julian in such a short time but I think he might have smiled kindly on the work of this “Slightly Enlightened Gardener” as he has affectionately become known as he brings love and lightness into the world through his words.
It has been a great privilege to witness his journey unfold and I look forward to expecting more of the unexpected. I will leave you with a sonnet and a haiku from “Already Home” which have been reproduced here with Julian’s permission.
To the ocean of unlimited knowing,
Where the currents lead homeward
When I give into its flowing
I come across an underwater cliff face
That plummets downwards into beautiful light.
I pause in anticipation on the edge of this vast space,
Mustering the courage to continue my flight.
Into the unknown I give myself,
A moment of total surrender,
To trust and sink down past this great ocean shelf,
My journey continues into ever-deepening wonder!
There will always be another layer of surrender,
Give into trust and you will remember.
Bind us into illusion,
There is only love.