A Plate of Eggs
is dedicated to the mateship of soul, and the soul mates I have known by work or
deed, or in person who have given their all to the quest for new being and
through their example, inspired others to do the same.
their assistance with the final manuscript, I wish to thank Lynne Macalpine for
unfaltering editorial diligence and Alexsandra Randjelovic and Emma Wertheim
for their honest and intuitive observations.
addition, I wish to acknowledge Sandi Campbell and Sarah McKechnie for their
suggestions in relation to the earliest drafts of this book, which have carried
through to its completion; Nathan Burrage too, at the finish for some astute
Special thanks also to Emma for the flash of inspiration that revealed how to
put all these eggs on one plate.
Finally for their humour, love and support throughout my life, I thank my parents, Ron and Pam, sister Jan and brother Geoff. Especially, I remember Geoff who much before his time, sadly passed away in August 2010. We miss him very much.
In learning to meditate, one of the first things I attempted was to imagine a broomstick balanced on top of my head. In turn, on top of this broomstick was to be positioned a plate of eggs. The secret of this little exercise was balance. The correct meditation posture would follow, so I understood from my teacher, from practising this visualisation. Without attentiveness the eggs would fall and break
This discipline I was told, was the beginning. From here, everything that over time I needed to see and understand would come.
For me, that beginning was more than twenty-eight years ago. I embarked upon a journey, which was deeply personal, while at the same time shared with others. It has been hands-on in nature working, building, moving, dancing, singing, expressing, listening, meeting, exposing, exploring, breathing but most of all, an experience of a common striving for something more.
For everyone involved, the commitment of time and energy to the realisation of an ideal has been immense and the work undertaken on all levels has represented an expression of faith, belief and determination. Alongside opposition and disappointment, there have also been triumphs and breakthroughs.
Much has been achieved, individually and as a group, and there is much to see and absorb as evidence of these efforts. However, making manifest something in writing to share with the world about this individual and collective journey, has been a slow, often daunting, at times overwhelming task. A living, breathing body of ideas may not lend itself easily to the printed page; particularly where those ideas are eclectic, drawing from many older and well-established sources teachings, religions, and philosophies. For a modern synthesis of such knowledge, there may be no actual handbook, though historically there is an abundance of relevant texts and published material available in public libraries.
Of course there will always be individuals who embody the living, breathing example of any particular inspirational practice but the well-known of these traditions also commonly cite authoritative or sacred writings. For Christians the New Testament, Muslims the Koran, Jews the Torah. In fact, it would be easy to conclude that everything that might be said about spirituality and the pursuit of higher meaning has already been said well, and often.
Nonetheless, there is a growing sense among those kindred spirits who have shared this particular path for the greater part of their lives, that a written publication of some kind is needed just as various books in circulation many years ago played a key role in many of these seekers finding each other and these ideas, embracing a common quest for change and venturing together in search of another way; something that felt quite new and unknown.
While the connection with Gurdjieff is important, it should also be noted that his teaching, despite its own diverse origins, became mainly a European movement. It occurred at a time in history when society and the kind of spirituality that was appropriate for people of that time, should be seen as quite different to Australian culture in the latter half of last century.
The historical context for this book will be important for some readers, less so for others, but this should not distract from what is, in truth, a challenging task for a writer the attempt to capture the essence of something unique yet elusive. The rich stream of endeavour of a group of people sharing a spiritual journey its illuminations, struggles, victories, failures and spirited persistence is too vast, too inseparable from countless, never-to-be-repeated moments over many years, to be easily labelled or adequately captured on paper. Even by the greatest of wordsmiths.
One day perhaps a memoir or some piece of writing will emerge that manages somehow to scratch the surface of what I believe to be a vividly human story of courage and determination, suffering and transformation. And yet the attempt to convey the essence of the ideas that have inspired this Sydney-based group from its early meetings in the mid 1970s and continue to inspire it today, presents in 2011 as not only timely but carrying with it a sense of urgency.
To return to where we started, the egg is an ancient symbol of new life, rebirth, and resurrection. It has also represented throughout the ages mystery, magic, fertility. Realising this, the mental act of balancing a plate of these nuggets of wisdom takes on even more meaning than the exercise that began my own journey all those years ago a meaning that hopefully this book sheds a little light upon.
A Plate of Eggs simply invites its readers to stop and look around, and as a result of certain observations, to ask themselves some interesting questions. In turn, these questions may encourage an inner exploration or perhaps even an outward search of some kind.
Even in the second part, which attempts to convey more directly the flavour of the ideas of transformation this group has worked with for many years, this book does not pretend to provide answers. Rather these later chapters offer glimmers of experiences shared over many years by people working together and opening themselves to where this quest for new being might take them.
But this also leads us to grasp something of key significance. In this country, mateship is important whether you are talking about sport, or business or spirituality. The family we are born into provides our first and sometimes only experience of unconditional love. However, outside the ties of blood, the mateship of soul too is capable of great depth, love and creativity.
I believe the sacrifices and creative surrender demanded by a genuine spiritual path cannot be sustained without the love and support of others.
So in that very Australian way, I believe the mateship of soul brought to the sharing of a spiritual journey and the quest for new being, offers a rare and rewarding opportunity for transformation.
About the author
Elected as class poet in primary school when he was nine, he wrote poetry in his late teens while being inspired by the works of Danish philosopher Sψren Kierkegaard. In 1980 he read In Search of the Miraculous by the Russian thinker P D Ouspensky, which introduced to many the influential ideas of Armenian mystic, George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff who was active in the first half of the 20th century.
Since 1982 Stephen has participated in a Sydney-based group dedicated to the quest for new being. Formed in the mid 1970s, this group emerged out of the Gurdjieff/Ouspensky movement and embraces the truth of many great spiritual teachings.
In his working life, Stephen has written ministerial correspondence and
speeches for senior NSW government ministers that were read or heard in the
community while in his spare time, as a co-scriptwriter, he pitched situation
comedies that no one will ever see to TV stations and networks. He believes his
ABC radio spots were heard at least by friends and family, and suspects his
advertisements for toilets and lounges for a major Australian retailer were seen
and read by nearly every person in
He has worked as a structural draughtsman, writer of ministerial correspondence, media releases and speeches, advertising copywriter, graphic designer, migration agent and communications specialist.
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