Archive for January, 2016

Beyond Fearlessness

When I was suffering from the negative aspects of my law suit against the Pythons- mainly fear and insecurity – I was helped greatly by a book by the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa. Trungpa was an amazing character who filled his short life with some impressive accomplishments, including establishing the first modern Buddhist University -Naropa- in Colorado. The book that I used was called Shambhala- The Sacred Path of the Warrior, and its teaching helped me to stay centred during my darkest days and nights.

This teaching says that confidence and bravery are primordial, and that fear and doubt are a later imposition upon them. The events that we encounter in life and how we respond to them create fear and doubt which stop us from acting in our best interests. Fear makes us cowards, even though we were not born cowards. By doubting ourselves we create anxiety. The combination of fear and anxiety gives us stress and if this becomes long lasting, we are in danger of serious illness. By understanding that before fear and doubt there was confidence, and in learning techniques (mainly meditation) to  regain that confidence, we are able to go beyond fear into a kind of ‘fearless zone’. In this zone we can feel protected and can bring out our earliest and strongest positive qualities to fight the negative influences that are assailing us. In using our primordial confidence we are able to become warriors, not aggressive war-like soldiers, but warriors who can create, build and grow things. By re-igniting our inherent confidence, we are able to bring our positivity and inherent goodness to bear against the negativity.

There is a strong wisdom in this kind of warriorship, which merely asks us to become who we are, since if we really know who we are we will pursue our aims with bravery and confidence, and not hinder ourselves through fear of the future or doubt about our ability. This is what Heraclitus said about the Warrior:

“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.” 

Bravery is not being afraid of who you are. The Shambhala teachings say that there is a basis of sanity and goodness in our lives which we can tap into at any time. Unfortunately we are not taught how to do this at school, but it’s good there are teachers in the world like Trungpa who can help us to get on the path to this wisdom.

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January 25, 2016 at 2:46 pm Leave a comment

Unique Book Launch for The 7th Python

I don’t know if anyone has ever created an animated cover for a book before, but we may be doing something original and unique in our launch for the hardback version of my book The 7th Python.

We – editor David Cohen, publicist Nigel Passingham , webmaster Richard Cobelli , social media maven Patrice Stephens, and writer/publisher yours truly  – have been preparing a campaign to launch The 7th Python on an unsuspecting world. The centrepieces of the campaign are two animated videos of the book’s (cartoon) cover, which we plan to send to influencers and web sites in the English-speaking world with the aim of making our cover (via the animations) go viral.

The cover itself (soon to be revealed) was created by cartoonist Owen Williams. We asked Patrice Stephens how best to saturate the web with our attractive, colourful and funny cover, and she suggested putting it on all the social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so on. She thought that the striking image would attract attention. Nigel Passingham then suggested that if the image caught peoples’ attention for a couple of seconds, wouldn’t an animated version keep them viewing for longer. Patrice agreed and said that we would need two versions- a 15 second version for twitter and Instagram, and a longer version for other media.

We were lucky to find a young and talented animator in Ruth Barrett, who created the two animations for us – one 15 seconds and the other 54.  Composer Helene Muddiman (Ice Age 4) arranged Sousa’s Liberty Bell March (Monty Python’s theme tune) into a jokey music score (inspired by comic Les Dawson’s piano routines), and we were ready to roll.

The challenge – not quite the 12 travails of Hercules – is to see how many people the video can reach who would then blog, busk and bitch about the book.

Oh and buying it, too.

There’s no denying it
We want you buying it.

So we hope to entice as many as poss to our Facebook page – The 7th Python – and to our website http://www.the7thpython.com.

There you’ll find info on the book and be initiated into the mysteries of buying it.

P.S. Fans of Cleese may be distressed he’s now repeating his brilliant ‘thrash the car with a branch’ routine from Fawlty Towers as an ad for Specsavers!

January 18, 2016 at 9:19 am Leave a comment

The Book I’d Like To Write – Part 2

In 2003/4 the British Library put on an exhibition called Chinese Printmaking Today. It featured a dazzling array of printmaking skills, but to me the most impressive piece was a collection of four traditionally-bound Chinese books, printed on rice paper with indigo covers, string binding, and packed into beautiful walnut boxes. They looked like beautifully preserved examples of 15th  and 16th century volumes. The work was called Tianshu (The Book From The Sky) and what was remarkable was that it was all an elaborate cultural joke. All of the 12,000 elaborately carved Chinese characters that made up the content of the book were all invented by the artist, Xu Bing, and they had no meaning at all. The books looked like the real thing, but were just elaborate nonsense.

It got me thinking what a real book that fell from the sky might reveal to us. The sky (tian) is Heaven for the ancient Chinese, and it’s where the ancestors, with all their accumulated wisdom and knowledge, go when they have died. What would our ancestors, looking down on our puny efforts, have to tell us about how we are living our lives. They must have made similar mistakes to us, but now they are unaffected by them, whereas we still have to live out the karma of our days contending with the results that we have caused. Perhaps such a book, told from this elevated POV, could give us guidance about how to conduct ourselves, how to avoid or at least deal with pain, troubles, and problems. This would be a great book to own. I decided (this is a joke) to ‘translate’ this book, since it is the only Chinese book I am capable of translating. I actually wrote to the artist asking him for the right to translate the book. He never wrote back. He must have thought I was mad. Maybe I am.

That’s how I got the idea of The Book That Fell From The Sky, a users guide for earthlings, full of advice from the past and the present, from the dead and the living, about how to look after your body, mind and spirit in this lifetime. This would be a great book to write, amazingly useful to people now. Of course I never got around to writing this book (yet), so I decided to re-title it The Blog That Fell From The Sky and since 2009 I have been posting messages about some of my concerns and ideas and projects.

January 12, 2016 at 12:22 pm Leave a comment

The Book I’d Like to Write

Reading Somerset Maugham’s book on his life and craft, The Summing Up, I was intrigued by a story he quoted:

A Young King of the east, anxious to rule his country justly, sent for his sages and ordered them to gather the wisdom of the world so that he might learn how best to conduct himself.

After 30 years they returned with a string of camels laden with 5000 books. Here, they told him, is collected everything that wise men have learnt of the history and destiny of humanity. But the king was too busy with affairs of state to read 5000 books, so he ordered them to condense the knowledge.

Fifteen years later they returned with 500 books which they told the King contained all the wisdom of the world. But still there were too many to read and again he sent them away.

Ten more years passed and they returned with just 50 books. By now the king was old and tired and he said that even this amount was too much to consider. Go and condense this knowledge into one volume which would give me the epitome of human knowledge so that at long last I can learn what is most important for me to know.

Five years later they returned. By now these were old men who laid the result of their labours into the King’s hands. But now the King was also old and dying, and he did not have the strength to even read this one book.

How I would love to have this book, but I have never been able to find it. So I thought this would be a great book to write. Of course, I probably never will, I don’t think I have the ability. But I did conceive of a book like this once, and it was called The Book That Fell From The Sky. I never wrote it, and eventually decided to use the title for this blog – The Blog that Fell From The Sky.

Maybe one day I’ll try it again.

January 10, 2016 at 2:14 pm 2 comments


The Blog That Fell From The Sky

Reflections on an age of anxiety.

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