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Welcome

A warm welcome to my website.

Whether you are here because you have read The Naked Mystic (UK and US) or because something else has caught your eye, I hope you will find the site useful and informative.

Click on the tabs at the top of the page if you would like to know more About Me or if you are interested in my Writing, Speaking or Counselling.

The Blogging happens here. You’ll find it if you scroll down.

That is where I think, write and try out ideas.

Many will never come to anything much but I hope a couple will make it into maturity and even into old age.

I’d love to read your comments if you have any, or reach out for a chat at jrqclark@gmail.com.

Ramakrishna’s Well

A beautiful little parable by the great Hindu sage, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836-1866).

It’s a great illustration of the purpose of story-telling.

Ramakrishna used to tell this story: `Three men went walking in a field. In the middle of the field there was a place surrounded by a high wall. From within this wall came the sounds of music; instruments were playing and voices sang. The men were charmed by it and wanted to see what was happening. But there was no door anywhere in the wall. What were they to do?

One of the men found a ladder somewhere and climbed to the top of the wall, while the other two waited below. When the man who was on top of the wall saw what was happening inside, he was beside himself with joy. He even forgot to tell the two below what he saw; he uttered a loud laugh and jumped down inside.

The other two exclaimed: “A fine friend he is! He didn’t tell us what he saw. We’ll have to look for ourselves.” So the second man climbed the ladder. And, like the first man, he looked over the wall and burst out laughing with joy, and jumped.

So what was the third man to do? He too climbed the ladder and looked over the wall and saw what was on the other side. It was like a market of happiness, given free to all comers. His first thought was to jump down and join in the rejoicing. But then he
said to himself: “If I do that, no one outside will ever know that this place of joy exists. Am I to be the only one to find it?”

So he forced his mind away from the sight, and he came down the ladder and began telling everyone he met: “In there is the market of happiness. Come with me – let’s enjoy it together.” So he took everybody with him, and they all took part in the rejoicing.’

Ramakrishna and his Disciples by Christopher Isherwood (Ch 6)

The Tree of Knowledge

What earthly good does knowing do? 

When I think I am good 
at knowing, and there are
times I do, it turns me into 
nothing but a talking book. 

Of what use has knowing been to me?

I am nothing but cacophony,
written and re-written in 
the echoes and re-echoes 
of those who talked before.

Knowing has not served me well at all.

(PS Been doing a lot of reading recently – I need a detox)

Fritz on Nothing

It’s an oldie but a goodie.

It seems ridiculous but it’s more than common in spiritual circles. Even humility (especially humility?) can become a farcical, competitive game.

I remember it well!

Mea culpa.

There is an old story about this: A rabbi is standing in front of his congregation and says, “I was such a good rabbi; now I am nothing. I’m really nothing. God, I was such a good rabbi and I am nothing.”

And so the cantor, the singer, picks it up. He says, “God, I was such a good cantor and I am nothing. I’m really nothing.”

A little tailor in the congregation picks it up. “God, I was such a good tailor and I am nothing, really nothing.”

And the rabbi says to the singer, “Who does he think he is to think he’s nothing?”

Fritz Perls in Gestalt Therapy Verbatim (P. 230)

Not comfort ‘spirituality’ reading.

5.0 out of 5 stars – Verified Purchase
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 July 2021

Another encouraging review of The Naked Mystic (available here in the UK and here in the US)


A profoundly moving account in which the reader accompanies the author on an internal journey of catharsis. The process moves through a number of stages in which the narrator is gradually stripped of what he comes to see as false religious identities.

Told in a deceptively readable and simple way, we are taken to unexpected depths and the need to face difficult questions. This is not a ‘comfort’ book for spiritual reading; nor, by the same token, does it offer any facile ‘return to the fold’ rhetoric to those whose relationship with their faith, or their church, is outside the comfort zone. It will, however, give them a hand to hold. They are not out there alone.

DM (see here for review)

Quaerens

An old friend’s beautiful depiction of the eternal quest.

Quaerens by Brother Daniel Morphy OSB (2020)

Quaerens (Latin) means something like: seeking; looking for; asking; questioning; inquiring; striving for; endeavouring; missing; lacking; desiring.

St Anselm of Canterbury’s (1033-1109) ancient description of Theology is fides quaerens intellectum – faith seeking understanding.

Steve (Brother Daniel), the artist, is an old friend and a Benedictine monk at Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland, where he has been for over 20 years.

We go way back.

Once upon a time, in a land not-so-far-away, we were both charismatic evangelicals in a fellowship in South London.

For all the criticism I have levelled at that type of church in my book, The Naked Mystic, it did provide me with a few life-long friends.

Steve (Brother Daniel) Read The Naked Mystic and loved it – and I felt like his helpless rabbit in a shell floating on a cosmic sea while I was writing it (!).

I’ll be posting more of his work from time to time but in case you are curious click here.

Treat Yourself

While you’re here why not treat yourself to my book, the Naked Mystic (also available on Amazon UK)

Here are some sample quotes from a few reviews…

“This book did what I had hoped ‘The Alchemist’ would have and more. A story of a man stripped down and finding his true Self…. If you found this book, it might help in not feeling so alone.” (LM – US Reader)

“It is exquisitely written and I was struck by the beauty of the language, the descriptive detailing and the quality of the story telling.” (DC – UK Reader)

“I was gripped and finished the book in two days, despite the continued moments of reflection it forces the reader to think about.” (GB – UK Reader)

MLVF on the Self

My reading has taken a Jungian turn in the last week or so.

His book, Man and His Symbols is a great way to start. Jung can be complex and difficult to follow – much of it is beyond me – but this book lays out his fundamental ideas beautifully.

The following excerpt is from an article in the book by one of his most prominent early collaborators, Marie-Louise Von Franz.

It’s worth a read:

     The dark side of the Self is the most dangerous thing of all, precisely because the Self is the greatest power in the psyche. It can cause people to "spin " megalomaniac or other delusory fantasies that catch them up and "possess " them. A person in this state thinks with mounting excitement that he has grasped and solved the great cosmic riddles; he therefore loses all touch with human reality. A reliable symptom of this condition is the loss of one's sense of humour and of human contacts.
     Thus, the emerging of the Self may bring great danger to a man's conscious ego. The double aspect of the Self is beautifully illustrated by this old Iranian fairy tale, called "The Secret of the Bath Badgerd”:

     The great and noble Prince Hatim Tai receives orders from his king to investigate the mysterious Bath Badgerd [castle of nonexistence]. When he approaches it, having gone through many dangerous adventures, he hears that nobody ever returned from it, but he insists on going on. He is received at a round building by a barber with a mirror who leads him into the bath, but as soon as the prince enters the water, a thunderous noise breaks out, it gets completely dark, the barber disappears, and slowly the water begins to rise.
     Hatim swims desperately round until the water finally reaches the top of the round cupola, which forms the roof of the bath. Now he fears he is lost, but he says a prayer and grabs the centre-stone of the cupola. Again, a thunderous noise, everything changes, and Hatim stands alone in a desert.
     After long and painful wandering, he comes to a beautiful garden in the middle of which is a circle of stone statues. In the centre of the statues, he sees a parrot in its cage, and a voice from above says to him: "Oh, hero, you probably will not escape alive from this bath. Once Gayomart [the First Man] found an enormous diamond that shone more brightly than sun and moon. He decided to hide it where no one can find it, and therefore he built this magical bath in order to protect it. The parrot that you see here forms part of the magic. At its feet lie a golden bow and arrow on a golden chain, and with them you may try three times to shoot the parrot. If you hit him the curse will be lifted; if not, you will be petrified, as were all these other people."
     Hatim tries once, and fails. His legs turn to stone. He fails once more and is petrified up to his chest. The third time he just shuts his eyes, exclaiming "God is great," shoots blindly, and this time hits the parrot. An outbreak of thunder, clouds of dust. When all this has subsided, in place of the parrot is an enormous, beautiful diamond, and all the statues have come to life again. The people thank him for their redemption.

     The reader will recognize the symbols of the Self in this story - the First Man Gayomart, the round mandala-shaped building, the centre-stone, and the diamond. But this diamond is surrounded by danger. The demonic parrot signifies the evil spirit of imitation that makes one miss the target and petrify psychologically.
     As I pointed out earlier, the process of individuation excludes any parrot-like imitation of others. Time and again in all countries people have tried to copy in "outer " or ritualistic behaviour the original religious experience of their great religious teachers - Christ or Buddha or some other master - and have therefore become "petrified. " To follow in the steps of a great spiritual leader does not mean that one should copy and act out the pattern of the individuation process made by his life. It means that we should try with a sincerity and devotion equal to his to live our own lives.
     The barber with the mirror, who vanishes, symbolizes the gift of reflection that Hatim loses when he wants it most; the rising waters represent the risk that one may drown in the unconscious and get lost in one's own emotions. In order to understand the symbolic indications of the unconscious, one must be careful not to get outside oneself or "beside oneself," but to stay emotionally within oneself. Indeed, it is vitally important that the ego should continue to function in normal ways. Only if I remain an ordinary human being, conscious of my incompleteness, can I become receptive to the significant contents and processes of the unconscious. But how can a human being stand the tension of feeling himself at one with the whole universe, while at the same time he is only a miserable earthly human creature? If, on the one hand, I despise myself as merely a statistical cipher, my life has no meaning and is not worth living. But if, on the other hand, I feel myself to be part of something much greater, how am I to keep my feet on the ground? It is very difficult indeed to keep these inner opposites united within oneself without toppling over into one or the other extreme.

Clarkson on Rumi

Been reading Petruska Clarkson’s The Transpersonal Relationship
in Psychotherapy (The Hidden Curriculum of Spirituality) and came across this little gem:

     Friend, we’re travelling together.
     Throw off your tiredness. 
     Let me show you one tiny spot 
     of the beauty that cannot be spoken.
     I’m like an ant that’s gotten into the granary,
     ludicrously happy, and trying to lug out
     a grain that’s way too big. 

(From Rumi, first dictated 
1207–1273 in Koyna, Turkey