Extreme Pilgrim (3)

Christian encounters Christianity – in one of its most ancient forms amongst the Copts of Egypt. In this third episode (televised yesterday) Peter spends three weeks in a cave in the desert, following the example of the Desert Fathers. They were the first ever monks: living in isolated communities they gained a reputation of closeness to God and great practical wisdom.

Whereas his guides in the previous two episodes had seemed to be encouraging him towards (personal) enlightenment, I felt that here he was introduced to a greater cosmic purpose: that his solitude and prayer might not only affect him but the wider world. Effectiveness in prayer in this sense is about persevering by fighting the demons that become apparent (at the least in the mind).

Having struggled with the silence and solitude, by the middle of his third week he was starting to enjoy it, and – with a face that had started to show joy – he looked forward to “another beautiful day; another difficult day.” Life is difficult, if we engage with it.

At the end of his stay he reflected that the battle is about making good choices. (In my mind this connects with the importance of Discernment.) He said that not to join this battle (of concern about truth and what is right) is to be numb. He admitted that when he arrived he had been numb, but that he was now waking up. This felt painful, he said, like being born.

This is a challenge to us all to develop our “inner life,” and to seek appropriate help to do so, and to deal with what we find there.

Before he went up the mountain he spent time in the monastery, commenting that the Orthodox form of worship had many differences as well as similarities to that which he was familiar with. In an aside he noted that the practice of prostration when praying was an ancient Christian practice before the Muslims took it on.

Mobile Phone Tips


There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival. Check out the things that you can do with it:

FIRST Emergency

The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile; network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialled even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.

SECOND Have you locked your keys in the car?

Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone: If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their mobile phone from your cell phone.

Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other 'remote' for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the boot). Editor's Note: It works fine! We tried it out and it unlocked our car over a mobile phone!'

THIRD Hidden Battery Power

Imagine your mobile battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370# Your mobile will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your mobile next time.

FOURTH How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?

To check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your phone: * # 0 6 #

A 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. When your phone get stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won't get your phone back,but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in peoplestealing mobile phones.

The information above is as received in an e-mail – I have not checked it.

Extreme Pilgrim (2)

On Friday Peter Owen-Jones' fascinating adventures on television continued as he attended the only-every-six-years Hindu Mela (gathering) on the banks of the River Ganges in India, met a guru, and experienced the initiation of lots of Saddhu (holy men).

His last Kung Fu exploit looked pretty hard work, but in this he seemed to look bewildered and out of his depth most of the time. This may have been helped by the hash smoking which seemed to be a necessary part of being a Saddhu, or the very in-your-face experience of lots of naked men covered in ash excitedly converging on the river at dawn to immerse themselves as an initiation. Peter opted out of this part “so as not to offend.” On a brighter note, he may not have needed the initiation because as a Church of England Priest the Guru and his followers seemed keen to accept him as a Saddhu.

More insightful was his trip into the Himalayas, dressed in the saffron robes of a Saddhu, to experience solitude in a particular small cave (regularly used for the purpose) in a remote village. He enjoyed the companionship on the way. Unfortunately, after being accepted and fed by the villagers for some weeks, he had to abandon his trek further into the Himalayas because of dysentery.

I found it fascinating that although he didn't really know what being a Saddhu was all about, the villagers accepted him in the role. This may have been helped by some long-awaited rain that fell as he arrived. His cave was empty when he arrived, but gradually the villagers brought him everything he needed from cow dung to bedding to food and water: humbling hospitality.

In reflecting on his own religion, and life as a parish priest in England, he felt that the life of the guru, with casual visits by many people, was perhaps more like the life of Jesus than he had experienced, and how the pattern of being a holy man is perhaps how his predecessors would have experienced their own ministry a few years ago. (This is in contrast to the more managerial way in which many church leaders feel it is right to focus their energies.)

He noted the way in which the Saddhu is “sustained by the faith of the community.” In the U.K I note that the church authorities sometimes wonder about how to make the church more relevant, or can blame themselves for lack of impact. This reciprocity in the life of a Saddhu means that one also has to ask whether British society collectively wants holy men (or women) or a church.

I can't wait for the final episode next Friday. Here's the link to the BBC site, you can watch the ones you missed!

Starting to make contact

This week I have started to get to grips with contact details of people on my p.c. (first of all I had to restore my PDA which crashed before Christmas because I allowed the batteries to run down) and started to e-mail people to meet abut Finding True North. I'm glad I've made myself get started on this rather than just doing admin!

Last night I was a guest at the final session of the Wilsher Group's coach training course (CLACC) and found myself unexpectedly on the receiving end of some free coaching from someone who was completing the course. This was really helpful as I used it to think through my USP (Unique Selling Point). I find this fairly straightforward to do for clients, but difficult to do on myself. An amusing and helpful question from my coach was, “What exactly is the Richard Hovey experience?”