Archive for July, 2013

Transformational Breathing – Part 2

Over the past few years I’ve survived some stressful times, and the stress led me to suffer a troubling fungal infection in my belly, which in turn disrupted my breathing .

I decided to start using Judith Kravitz’ CD on Transformational Breathing again, in order to restore my breath. I noticed that on following her breathing pattern on the CD, I was unable to keep in time with her. What I felt myself doing was pausing at either the outbreath or inbreath when the aim is to be continuously breathing. Judith says when we hold back or pause the Transformational Breath that the reason is fear.   By fear she doesn’t mean being afraid of the technique but old fears that are embedded in the body and which are holding back the natural flow or rhythm of the breath.

In his book, The Miracle of the Breath, Andy Caponigro writes about how ‘breathing blocks can create a host of physical and mental problems,  ranging from asthma to gastro-intestinal disorders to depression  and psychotic breaks.” He says, like Judith, that “fear is the link that connects our breathing blocks  with all forms of illness.” Caponigro also teaches techniques to reduce or eliminate these building blocks, and he calls his techniques Tarzan and Gentle Rapid Breathing (Based on yogic Bastrika breathing).

Another writer on the breath (can’t remember who)  used the word ‘catch’ to describe these blocks that stop our breathing from flowing freely. This is what I felt, a slight ‘catch’ in my respiratory system, perhaps at the level of the diaphragm. These catches, blocks and pauses are the result of fears that we harbour in our body, and have probably kept them in place for many years.

What are the fears that I have been holding? One must be of poverty, another of loss of status, a third the fear of not fulfilling myself, and a fourth that of letting others down. Many people are afraid of loneliness, illness and death.

Fears that you experienced years ago are still with you, embedded in the tissues of your body. The emotional trauma at the time caused chemical and muscular changes to your body. Those changes often stay, especially if the trauma was strong enough or repeated enough times.  Once lodged in your body, they become blockages to the flow of breath and chi, and can lead to pain and illness. To root them out is very difficult, and breathing, because it is so primal, is one way to disturb these blocks, shake them up and rid your body of them.

I believe that Transformational Breathing, if followed diligently, can have a real impact on these blocks and catches and lead to freer and more open breathing, with all the health benefits that entails. And no, I am not sponsored by Transformational Breathing.

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July 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm Leave a comment

Transformational Breathing – Part 1

In 2009 I started doing some Transformational Breathing, This is a technique originated by Judith Kravitz of the USA, who has been leading workshops in this technique for the past 30 years.

I started with a CD made by Judith called “100 Breaths to Joy” that I followed by practising at home, and then I read Judith’s book, “Breathe Deep, Laugh Loudly”. I did have some success doing this on my own, but I was able to make more progress after attending two workshops in London run by facilitator Alan Dolan.

Why was I doing this form of breathing? I have a long term project to do a kit (book, cd, dvd, workbook) on health, well-being and longevity. For the kit, I wanted to include a series of yoga positions that people could do in order to discover (if they didn’t already know) where they were in pain, or stiff, or had some kind of physical blockage. I asked my ex, a yoga therapist, if she could devise this set of asanas (postures) but she thought that this was a secondary phase, and that more primary for the kit’s readers should be a self analysis of their breath, and learning how to breathe better.

I thought this sounded right and I realised that I had not really done much breath work on my own. So I decided to start looking at my own breath and this led me to pick up Judith Kravitz’s CD and begin. In the past, I had a feeling (confirmed by a shiatsu practitioner) that my diaphragm was holding in some places along my rib cage and spine, and this holding was obstructing my full breathing capacity. I worked on this area for years with shiatsu and self-massage, and felt that I had loosened the areas of holding, but never completely.

I also knew that my solar plexus was the place where I had held some old emotional traumas from the past. Whenever I had a shock of any kind, like the death of my father, or being let down or betrayed by someone or any other strong emotional shock, it always seemed to hit me in the ‘pit’ of the stomach, and I think that I had an accumulation of emotional hits in that area. The solar plexus and diaphragm must be closely connected since they inhabit the same area of the front of the body.

Transformational Breathing, unlike yogic pranayama or Taoist belly breathing and reverse breathing, is a technique for breathing through the mouth rather than the nose, and keeping the in-breaths and out-breaths in continuous flow. I won’t try to describe the technique since it is best explained by a teacher. Suffice to say that when I tried the technique via the CD I did have a strong response at my solar plexus which allowed me to release some very old emotional baggage that I had been holding there. This related to some issues of loss, betrayal and self-doubt that I had been carrying from childhood on, and the deep belly breathing managed to shake up the solar plexus where these emotions had become lodged. I was able to deal with the old emotions and thoughts and this helped to release some of them from my body.

A few weeks later I had a chance to do a couple of group workshops with Alan Dolan, an experienced Transformational Breathing facilitator, and he taught me how best to use the technique. After the two sessions with him I felt my solar plexus vibrating, and I felt sure that more clearing was taking place. I also felt that my diaphragm had now finally ‘let go’ and there was no longer a holding at the rib cage. I felt that my breathing was now very deep and very easy.

I am now continuing to use the technique and I have started to do some further research into other breathing methods and techniques so that I can use this knowledge to inform the section on Breathing that I intend to have in the longevity kit.

Alan Dolan can be contacted at info@breath-works.com
http://www.breath-works.com

July 29, 2013 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

The Secret Of The Wise Kings

There is a famous story in the Book of Chuang Tzu of Confucius’ advice to his disciple Yen Hui. Yen Hui planned to go to the Prince of Wei to try to reform this ruler’s wild and wicked ways by using Confucius’ teaching. After Confucius shoots down all of Yen Hui’s proposals, and tells him that the Prince will probably kill him for his intervention, he offers him some advice,

You must fast. I’ll tell you why. Is it easy to work from pre-conceived ideas? Heaven frowns on those who think it is easy.”

Yen replies that his family is poor and he hasn’t eaten meat in ages, but Confucius explains that the fasting he is talking about is not fasting of the body but fasting of the mind. Yen asks him to explain what fasting of the mind is,

“Your will must be one. Do not listen with your ears but with your mind. Do not listen with your mind but with your chi. Ears can only hear, mind can only think, but chi is energy, receptive to all things. Tao abides in emptiness. Emptiness is the fasting of the mind.”

He goes on to say,

“It is in emptiness that light is born. There is happiness in stillness. Lack of stillness is called sitting while wandering. If you are open to everything you see and hear, and allow this to act through you, even gods and spirits will come to you, not to speak of men. This is the transformation of ten thousand things, the secret of the wise kings. “

Yen Hui was going to Wei to apply the ‘pre-conceived ideas’ that he had learned from Confucius. But Confucius wanted to teach him how he could find new and spontaneous ideas, applicable in the moment,  to use with the Prince. We see in this dichotomy between pre-conceived ideas and spontaneous ones, the difference between reaction and response. In reacting to events we use our conditioned mind, the pre-conceived ideas that experience and learning have taught us. But this isn’t fresh enough. We need to respond not only from experience, but also to be alive to emptiness, to the spirit of the event unfolding in front of us. This is why Confucius tells Yen that he must use his chi to listen to what is happening, and not just his eyes and ears.

This story is similar to the well known story of the Professor who comes to visit a Master to discuss Zen. The monk offers tea and when he starts to pour he continues until the cup overflows. The Professor asks him what he is doing, and the monk replies that the cup is just like the Professor’s mind, overflowing with pre-conceived ideas and knowledge. The fasting of the mind is to empty it of old and stale ideas so that it can respond with fresh insights to what is happening in the moment.

We assume that the Confucius story is about sitting meditation, since Confucius says that ‘lack of stillness is called sitting while wandering.’ When we enter into a deep meditative state we enter stillness, but if our mind fails to settle then although we are formally sitting in meditation our mind is actually wandering all over the place and it’s not really meditation, it’s agitation.

The Fasting of the Mind is a Taoist meditation practise called Zuowang- sitting and forgetting. We sit and forget, but what is it that we are forgetting? Shi Jing, in an article from Issue Number 1 of the 2006 Dragon’s Mouth, says about Zuowang,

A meditation retreat is not about acquiring and filling, but is a process of releasing and emptying. What we forget is the thing we hold most dearly: self, with all its opinions, beliefs and ideals. We can be so caught up in the concept of self that we only see the world as a place to fulfill personal ambition and desire.

To forget the self means to forget the mind and body, since our ideas of self come from our awareness of having a body and of being conscious. So when we sit in meditation we forget our self, our body and our mind  – we empty out, but what is it that we are trying to empty? And what is this emptiness for?

In the West, the influence of Descartes has led us for 300 years to separate the body from the mind. The body was seen as low, crude and inert and the mind as the higher repository of thoughts and emotions. This dualistic view was never part of Eastern thought, so the Chinese view has always been to see the human organism as a unity, with body and mind working together. This is reflected in the old Chinese medical texts where the heart – hsin- was the seat of both thoughts and feelings, emotions and sensations, so that it was really the ‘heart-mind’, an inseparable compound of the body and the mind. The heart is the link between the body and the mind, and is the only organ with two meridians relating to it- the heart meridian and the heart protector.

In their books, Claude Larre and Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallee write about this view of the heart/mind. They say that Chinese classical literature sees the heart as the mind, the intelligence and the spirit. There are two aspects to the heart. It has a double meridian and a double presentation. It is both a void or place of quietness which allows the spirits to dwell within, as well as the activity which allows the spirits to circulate everywhere throughout the body via the blood and chi. It is the latter aspect which reflects the heart as the governor or master of the body. So the spirits reside in the heart and it is the heart’s function to send the spirits flowing and spreading out to the other organs of the body.

I recently attended a few Transformational Breathing (TM) workshops. Transformational Breathing uses a technique of sustained circular breathing through the mouth to attempt to open up your respiratory tract to the largest possible extent. In doing this it has to break through any blockages or obstructions that are stopping you from having a full open breath. These blockages are both physical and emotional. When I was going through this process, the facilitator asked me to try to open my heart.

After the session, I thought about the process of opening the heart, and how to go about it. Obviously it’s possible through breathing control to direct chi into the heart area, as well as to force breath into it to try to expand the heart and loosen or free it. But that’s purely on a physical level. What is it on a mental or emotional level?

I decided to ask the I Ching, ‘Will I be able to open my heart?’. Throwing the stalks I got the answer hexagram 35: Advance, but with no moving lines. The commentary of the 5th    and 6th lines, in the Taoist I Ching reads,

Regret comes from the heart/mind not being open. If one knows how to empty  and open the heart, one can thus seek from others, and so be able to fill the belly. Once one has filled the belly, fortune, misfortune and stopping at sufficiency are all in the palm of one’s hand. One can thereby be free from worry about loss or gain, and go straight  ahead without doubt, going ahead in advancing the fire and working, with good results beneficial in every way. This is the illumination  of becoming empty to bring fulfillment.

The sixth yang line says,

The work of overcoming oneself is to conquer the heart/mind. If one does not empty the heart/mind but relies on adament strength alone, strength must overcome strength – there is bound to be danger before getting good results and becoming blameless.

The Taoist I Ching is quoting the Tao Te Ching (Ch 3),

Thus the rule of the sage
empties the mind
but fills the belly

So to empty the heart/mind is to lose regret, make oneself open to others, cease having anxiety about loss and gain, as well as losing rational discrimination and  intellectual knowledge. Instead we fill the belly with breath, lose self doubt, gain will power and strength, which enables us to live out our destiny.

I thought about the line,

Regret comes from the heart/mind not being open

Where does regret come from? To me regret is made up of frustrated desires, the things you wanted to accomplish but could not, or the things or people that you desired but could not hold on to. It is in a sense the past tense of desire. We know that desire is always a problem. Eastern religions ask us to reduce our desires in order to find contentment and tranquillity. But desire is always present, firstly because we have a primary desire to live, and this means that the desire for food and drink are basic desires necessary for survival. But even if we reduce or sublimate our desires we remain in the grip of desire. Any spiritual desire – to be one with the Tao, or to be enlightened, is still a desire.

We always think of desires as in the present tense, of the desires that we either have or are trying to control and reduce. When we think of desires it is usually the obvious ones, which the Taoists call the Three Poisons: greed, anger, and stupidity; And you can add to that list a couple of others: hatred and  lust. But to see the reduction of desire as something negative, as a renunciation of the self, misses the mark. The Tao te Ching says (Ch 1),

Empty of desire, perceive mystery.
Filled with desire, perceive manifestations.

Lao Tzu says that if we can reduce desire we are able to perceive the subtle, whereas if we stay obsessed with desires we can only see the surface of things. We remain in the world of form and cannot break through to the world of emptiness and of essence. A life made up of endless desires is too shallow and can never get deep.

If my heart is not open enough, then it must be full of desires both old and new, and to open my heart means that I have to empty it. When you desire something or someone, you either feel fulfilled or unfulfilled. Either you accomplish that desire or fail to achieve it. The failure to achieve a desire leads to feelings of loss, lack, bitterness and regret. Even if we manage to accomplish our desires and have a feeling of joy these feelings do not last, do not remain for all time. Life is transient and impermanent. We lose even the things we have gained, so that loss is also part of success. All desires, whether fulfilled or unfulfilled, lead to feelings of attachment and dependency, to a sense that we can only feel whole when we can bring outside or external things into our being, our heart.

So the heart is full of the corpses of desire. We harbour past feelings of hurt and betrayal, as well as the seeds of new desires that we want to pursue. In such a state our heart overflows like the cup the Zen monk poured. If we can empty the heart of these old feelings and reduce our present desires, then we make room in the heart. Through this fasting of the heart we create an emptiness that will allow other and better feelings, like compassion and love, to take up residence.

We need to transform our hsin, our heart-mind, and the way to do this is through Zuowang, sitting and forgetting. What we need to forget are old slights, pains, hurts and betrayals, so that the heart empties out of old attachments and can become a storehouse for new feelings. Unless we houseclean our heart, we are being dragged down by our past, and are not able to move forward in a unified way. We are victims of self-doubt and self-esteem, and can’t utilise our energy in a powerful way. This is what Confucius means when he says,

“Your will must be one.”

Mencius said (2a2),

When will is unified, it moves the breath.
When the breath is unified, it moves the will.

And Chuang Tzu tells us,

There is no weapon deadlier than the will.

So my aim in emptying my heart is to unify my will and breath, so that breath and mind act as one, and my spirit can become liberated. This is the job of overcoming myself by overcoming the heart/mind.

In The Heart Claude Larre and Elizabeth Rochat de la Vallée talk about the role of the spirits,

We exist in a way that develops. We have a future. As long as we are living, we are living for something, we are living for tomorrow, and for the years to come. However long, life is not without prospect. Is there any power to take care of this ‘becoming’ (our future, our development). Yes, there are leaders within us, and we call them spirits.

The role or function of the spirits is not to give us some spiritual high or a wonderful transcendant experience but to utterly infuse our waking and sleeping being, so they are able to give us specific guidance for every moment and activity in daily life. This is what Confucius was advising Yen Hui, not to rely on his learning and knowledge but to rely on his spirits. And the reason we sit in meditation, the reason we sit and forget, is that we want to empty the heart of all the old and outworn ideas and emotions that we have stored there, in what WB Yeats called  “the foul rag and bone shop of the heart”. Once we have emptied it out we have created a home for the spirits to take up residence. This is the same idea as in ancient Greek religion. They created a beautiful temple, made an altar, devised rituals and sacrifices in the hope that the God would come down and make it his worldly home, to protect and guide their life. For the Chinese the hsin, the heart-mind, is a kind of fleshy temple. Keep it empty of desires, void of regrets and the spirits will have a suitable resting place.

So the advice Confucius gave to Yen Hui was: sit in meditation until you find stillness, and remain in stillness until you find happiness or joy; continue sitting until you find emptiness, and at some point light will emerge from emptiness, the light of awareness. At this point you will have transformed yourself, and you will be a sage, able to advise the Prince of Wei without having your head chopped off.

This is ‘The Secret of the Wise Kings’.

Copyright 2010 Mark Forstater

July 23, 2013 at 8:50 pm 1 comment

A Spiritual Almanack- August = Abundance

120px-Iching-hexagram-55_svg

Hexagram 55 FENG

Thunder
Over
Fire

Fullness

Harmony and peace naturally lead to fulfilment.
Those who find harmony and peace in life will surely reap prosperity.

Do not worry
Be like the sun at noon

The image: Flourishing.

“The flowers of the pear tree have gathered and turned to fruit.”
Chen Yi

Nature has performed her miracle and transformed the flowers into fruit. The light and warmth that makes the fruit ripen ripens all of life, filling our bodies and minds with light and warmth, opening us to the truth and goodness of the universe.

Commentary:

When the sun reaches its height
Declining begins.
When the moon attains its fullness,
Waning starts.
The waxing and waning of heaven and earth
Accord with the course of time.

Our bodies, if we allow them to, will naturally stay in tune with nature and its cycles. We are also nature – human nature – and the energy cycles of the universe manifest in us. When there is a full moon we react like the tides with a rush of energy, and the new moon’s darkness contracts the tides and draws us to seek rest.

After a time of fullness and abundance, there is a natural waning and emptying, since things cannot stay full for ever, but they rise and fall just as yin gives way to yang and yang gives way to yin. This is the nature of the universe, a law of life. Yang is the same as the constant expanding force of the universe, while yin is shown in the force of gravity that contracts and holds things in.

After the fulfilment of yang there is always the contraction of yin. The days grow shorter and as night draws in the air grows cooler. But it is important to treasure and enjoy the time of fullness, and not worry about the decline. If we are humble and share our abundant and prosperous times with others, and not try to selfishly hoard them out of fear, then we spread our enjoyment widely, and increase communal harmony. This can create prosperity and abundance in the future. Real abundance means peace and joy, good health, love, the sky and sun, the sea, mountains, all the natural world and its beauties.

Yang and yin, expansion and gravity, are the same dynamics found in the solar system and in our bodies. We experience expansion when we take an inbreath and we feel contraction on the outbreath. In our bodies the rise and fall of the breath reflects the rise and fall of the sun, the moon and all natural dynamic processes.

There is a normal human desire to want the pleasureable and the abundant to continue, and this leads us to try to stop or deny loss and pain. But we need to accept and welcome decline in the same way that we want to have abundance, because profit and loss are two sides of the same yin and yang coin. To be fully human, we need to embrace loss as well as gain, since one cannot exist without the other.

Rabbi Joseph Gelberman tells how his father dealt correctly with loss,

When I was a young boy in Hungary, my father taught me an important lesson. He owned a big department store, and one day while we were at the synagogue, his store was broken into, looted, and set on fire. And to make it worse, he found out it was our neighbours who did it! But it was the Sabbath and on the Sabbath you don’t talk business. So we continued with our prayers.

That night we finally talked about it. He wasn’t the least bit angry.” We have to build the store again. This is our home. What else can we do? If I lose my store and allow my blood pressure to rise, that is paying double. I don’t believe in paying twice.”

The book of Genesis tells this famous story of abundance and decline,

And it came to pass that Pharaoh dreamed; and behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good. And behold, seven ears thin and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them. And the thin ears swallowed up the seven rank and full ears.

Pharaoh’s spirit was troubled, and when no one could tell him the meaning of the dream he called Joseph out of the dungeon to interpret it, and Joseph said,

The seven good ears are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind are also seven years, and they shall be seven years of famine. Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land.

Joseph interpreted the dream correctly, and he advised Pharaoh to set aside a fifth of the corn from the seven good years so that there would be food available for the people during the seven lean years. We need to do the same. It is something I failed to do when I was in my full earning years.

The Tao Te Ching tell us ‘Don’t try to be full’, and explains how to maintain a sufficient level of fullness, one that does not become over full and therefore topple over into its opposite- emptiness. Chapter 9 says,

Instead of pouring in more
Better stop while you can
Making it sharper
Won’t help it last longer.
Houses full of treasure can never be safe.
The vanity of success
Invites its own failure.
When your work is done, retire
That is the way of heaven

To know when to stop, to know when you have enough, is the key. When it says retire it means do not become possessed and possessive about your work and accomplishments. In other words, practice non-attachment, avoid pride and overdoing things.

If we can purify our heart and mind, and be at one with the divine, then the swings and roundabouts of fullness and emptiness, gain and loss, success and failure, abundance and scarcity will not affect us. If we only desire what we truly need, and are generous in giving away the surplus, then we are always in a state of fulfilment, a state of love naturally filled with compassion, joy, peace and light. Knowing that enough really is enough is true harmony and contentment.

July 21, 2013 at 8:12 am Leave a comment

Standing on Others’ Shoulders – Part 2

Having written six books that have had as their starting point someone else’s writings, I feel it is time I write a book that is entirely mine (if you can ever say a book is entirely your own). In a way, this blog is that book, and I wonder if I will really write another book?

A publisher friend suggested I write about my experiences with the Pythons- my involvement with the Holy Grail, the dispute over Spamalot, and the subsequent court case. I’m not certain I have the energy to do this now, but if I were to do it, it would be quite an undertaking. Two parts of the book would be difficult to write. One would be the need to examine my own personal feelings and relationships around the making of the film and our breakup. That was a painful time for me. Secondly, I would want to explain the case in a lot of detail, as a kind of litigation manual.  That would take a lot of time to put together, and perhaps the events are too recent for me to take this on.

Instead I may decide to do more guided meditations. I created one called The Age Of Anxiety for people suffering financial stress, and I liked how that came out. I’d like to do one for people who think too much. That would be a useful tool .   

There is one Taoist philosopher called Lieh Tzu that I have wanted to write about. I suppose if I do that I would be again standing on his shoulders. But since he had a reputation as a man who could ride the wind that might be quite an exciting trip.   

He wrote,

My mind concentrated and my body relaxed, bones and flesh fused completely, I did not notice what my body leaned against and my feet trod. I drifted with the wind East or West, like a leaf from a tree or a dry husk, and never knew whether it was the wind that rode me or I that rode the wind.

Standing on those shoulders would really give me an incredible view of the world! Maybe I’d better do that one, after all.

July 20, 2013 at 1:39 pm Leave a comment

A Life Well Lived

I went to the cinema to see Joss Whedon’s film of Much Ado About Nothing. One of the ads that preceded the film was for San Miguel beer, and the ad’s slogan was- Una Vida Bien Vivida- A Life Well Lived.

It got me thinking – what is a life well lived? Socrates said ‘The unexamined life is not worth living”, so for him a life well lived is one in which you cease living through habit and conditioning, and instead clarify what it is you are doing with your life, where your actions and behaviour come from, and what thoughts have made these events come about. This makes your life full of spontaneous yet well-thought out responses to life, rather than reflex conditioned ones.

That may not be everyone’s idea of a life well lived. In the past my conception probably included a certain level of materialism, the idea that a surplus of cash helps to make a well-lived life. But recently I’ve changed my mind. I am not against having money, but since the past couple of years have brought a forced reduction in my income, I’ve had to revise my ideas.

A well-lived life must mean one in which, as an individual (and there is no way we can experience life other than as individuals) we feel that we have done something good with the life that we are given. I know that good is a very broad word, and I use it deliberately, because the kind of good we can do ranges from raising children, to making art, cooking food, making wine, working for our families, loving others and yes- even drinking San Miguel beer. Good spreads itself throughout the landscape of our lives, overwhelming the evil that we also do.

A few years ago I looked back over my life in a very long sweep of personal history. This presented a jagged series of ups and down, times of plenty and joy alternating with times of woe, easy times and rougher times. But looking back from that present point I realised that the waves of good and bad formed a pattern in which the final result was good. I was reassured by that, that the overall pattern of my life constituted a ‘life well lived’ although I didn’t characterise it like that at the time. I didn’t have the ‘San Miguel philosophy’ to help me out. How pleasing to find philosophy alive and well in the cinema.

July 18, 2013 at 8:52 pm Leave a comment

Healing Python Wounds

I was interviewed today by Frances Hardy,a reporter from The Daily Mail. They want to print an in depth story about my Python case on Saturday.

I told Frances the history of my involvement with the Holy Grail film, and also the circumstances in which the Pythons and I parted company. I didn’t realise I would feel so sad after this interview, but it was clear that dredging up old and painful memories left its mark on me.

I had blamed myself for this break-up for many years, and of course regretted it, since the team went on to make two more films, and Terry Gilliam, who I was closest to, had become a feted director. I regretted not having been involved in those films, but the train had moved on.

When I realised that my dispute with the Python management over my royalties was not going to be resolved by negotiation or mediation, but that I would have to take my claim to court, it became clear to me that the preparation for the court case would force to me to open these old wounds and to examine them again.

During this period I met Terry Gilliam at a dinner and asked him what happened between the Pythons and me in 1975, when we went our separate ways. Terry said, “We were naïve.” What I took this to mean was that this was their first real film (as it was mine) and that they didn’t understand that if a producer delivers the goods – ie a successful film – that the arguments and dissensions that take place during production can often be creative, or at least may spur everyone on to do their utmost. They aren’t good reasons for ditching a producer who has helped make as successful a film as the Holy Grail. This was the naïve act of people who were not film business savvy.

Looking at the documentation disclosed for the trial, and hearing Terry’s opinion, I realised that there was no need to blame myself. It was my first big film, and I undoubtedly made a number of mistakes out of inexperience and innocence. I didn’t handle the problems that arose as well as I did later or would do now. But in their eyes – as artists and performers- this was enough to force a break.

Winning the case has been a great relief, but perhaps the most important outcome of the trial is that I now view the past in a different way. I don’t blame myself, and I’m pleased that the trial gave me the chance to clean out those old wounds and allow them to finally heal.

July 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

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