I have just watched 5 Gateways, the latest remastered version. I have an affinity for these people because they are British. Watching the movie was like seeing all the tribulation I went through in London in my early years (70s) – then finding succour in the English countryside before fleeing the British governments and the way the British just accepted their shit. I also visited Glastonbury a few times although never made contact.
The other big thing for me was that Chris Bourne actually commented on my post – the one I wrote after watching the first movie. Just recently I came across a Buddhadasa quote on the subject of sila:-
That is just for info, it is not an issue to raise again.
Again I liked the movie, it didn’t grab me as much this time round. Partly because of my increased work on Buddhism. I have concerns about rapture. Rapture is described by the Buddha on the jhanas (SN 45.8). I have experienced rapture but felt much better overall when I meditated regularly, the rapture doesn’t leave you. My concern about 5 Gateways lies with a friend in Africa I knew. He belonged to an Ascension community when young, he never found the rapture, rejected it and eventually became a drunk; was that because of his searching for rapture or just his weakness? The Path doesn’t have to always have bright lights and rapture – often it does, it is often a reward for being on the Path. Following the Path has its own strength and vitality, and can be just pleasant all the time. The danger is clinging to rapture, something my friend from Africa could not get over – he could not get over clinging to wanting to have rapture.
But when I looked at this movie, I felt like I have made a mistake with my life choice. I have felt like this most of my retired life. Looking back there was never a time when I chose or did not choose to be a teacher. Once I found my Path – first awakening it was always education – always teaching. But on that Path of teaching all I have experienced is conflict, yeah I had the Path for comfort – very often needed, but there was so much conflict because the system I was in was not education.
I would now look to find a commune, some form of teaching in a commune – or just living in a commune BUT a commune not in the system. There was one time when this might have arisen. After the first gateway opened – to use the vernacular of the movie, I did connect with an Arts Centre and people there connected with communes. But it wasn’t me then, it was not my Path in life. My Path was to struggle in education but if anyone reads this and has a choice …. No I am not going to answer that.
I was strong, educated and committed, and all I did in education was to be squeezed into working for the 1%. Anything of quality in curriculum content or proper learning was squashed. The only strategy to help the kids I worked with was to help them with their exams, I was a crammer teacher with “deprived” kids – the kids themselves were not deprived, the system deprived their communities, and this led to a lot of suffering for many of the kids. To escape that suffering they wanted exams, I gave them that. But I don’t look back with any satisfaction, and I look at the world now and see only communes as a Path …. for me. Having said this working for the 1% has given me money to retire early and live in Thailand comfortably – to live properly.
There were times watching this movie where the Buddhist in me had issues. These issues are worth mentioning but in so doing I want to say that what is being done at Openhand is terrific and is well needed in the austere hellhole that is the country of my birth. From a distance my heart goes out as things seem so much worse, the world has so much more to offer than the UK. There is in the UK a feeling of needing to stay there, I left when I was 42. There is so much more freedom elsewhere. Take the freedom the gateway offers and follow the Path elsewhere. This choice I did make after nearly 20 years.
Don’t let any little points deflect you from Openhand, they can just be there to move to if it matters. Anatta is not self, the seer is the Dhamma, the khandas it is not personal, and of course that questions reincarnation.
I hope Chris continues to offer help to people in such a prison as the UK.