Staying open

By Paul

Paul as a Green Spirit featured in The Economist

I found myself at the October Rebellion emerging fresh out of a profound  experience at Buddhafield Festival.

At the festival in July I had engaged in Joanna Macy’s “Work that Reconnects”, and having set an intention to  “tussle” with Mara in the Going Forth part of the Spiral a penny the size of the London Eye dropped and I realised that the Mindfulness work I had been doing with International Corporations over the last 20 years  was simply not working in a world on the brink of Ecological melt down.

I discovered that my attempts  to influence business leaders to really embrace sustainability was not going to do the urgent  job needed, and the organisations I truly thought could be part of the solution had become a big part of the problem.

It was time to let go of this work, and more importantly in order to do the work I was being called to do, to  abandon the income that came with it.

That set  me free to embrace XR and its Vision and values.

After a few days at the Ocotber Rebellion, despite  enjoying being part of the  crowds of beautiful people , marvelling at  the silence of the  London  streets, and indulging in  the joy of the Samba bands , I started to feel a little bit like a tourist.

It was time to commit.

So I contacted my affinity group and announced myself “arrestable.”

This was a huge commitment for me and the feeling that came with it is difficult to describe, but it had  a distinct flavour of letting go of self and of fear, and of purpose and  joy.

Then unfolded a saga of waiting….. and waiting…. and waiting.

In that time I felt truly held by the Bodhisattvas around me. They were caring for me, looking out for me, and protecting me.

In the end, despite receiving the requisite 5 warnings, the police changed strategy at the last minute and I (and a few others ) were left, a  little confused and slightly bereft.

I imagine it might be like working up  to a blind date where the actual date didn’t show up  in the end.

By the time the massive Samba band arrived on the scene and surrounded we arrestables, it was obvious that arrest was not going to happen.

But the story didn’t end there.

I was due to attend  a family event in Liverpool on the Friday night, and so on my last day the one thing I wanted to avoid was being arrested. I headed for Trafalgar Square with an intention I often use which is “stay open to possibility.”

 My call was answered within minutes. Ping went my phone, it was Chrissie a very good friend, and part of an XR group in South Devon.

“Hi Paul Are you around?” She asked.

“Hi Chrissie, I am actually, what are you up to?”

“ I’m at the Church in Waterloo, can you get round here, straight away, we need a hand “?

“ Ok, I’m on my way”

I arrived and found Chrissie with a few Green Spirits and lots of Red Rebels.

Without really having lots of time too think it through within the hour I was fully dressed and in procession with the Reds and Greens. Over the next 5 hours I experienced one of the most profound meditation experiences that I have ever had in my 26 years of practice. Providence had moved in big time, and Goethe’s words have never been truer.

Next week in London, at the 2020 Rebellion I will endeavour to  be mindful and to “stay open to possibility at every opportunity”!

With love and solidarity,


Paul is a Trustee at Jamyang Buddhist Centre, he has studied with many teachers, and most recently with Stephen Bachelor, on his Secular Buddhism programme at Bodhi College. He regularly offers Mindfulness based courses for both activists and the wider communities. He no longer offers work to Corporations. All is work is given freely.

Posts and articles are the views of their authors and not necessarily of the XR Buddhists group.

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