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In The Dark and Still Moving

By Anne Geraghty

A Review by Swami Deva Sarathi

An old friend comes to see you. You haven’t seen them for a few years. You sit down and start to talk. You think “who is this person, do I really know them, have we anything in common, we haven’t seen each other in years.” Slowly you relax, you reconnect, you find there is a natural rapport. Finally you realise “oh, yes, I do recognise this person. We are from the same Tribe.” But more importantly they are the ones who went through some of the most intense, new, exciting and formative experiences of youth. Like old war comrades.

Then they proceed to take you on a rollercoaster ride through the events and experiences they have lived through. You sit spellbound until the end. Blown away you suggest a walk in the fresh air. As you emerge from the house you see the sun rise and hear the morning chorus. Reading Anne’s book has this quality of shared intimacy with a natural story teller and old comrade.

I read this book at breakneck speed when I first got it because, of course, I have been a member of the same tribe as Anne and I wanted to find out all the juicy gossip about other people in the tribe, ‘inside’ information about the commune and the ‘dirt’ on Sheela and her ‘gang’ and the terrible debacle of the collapse of the ranch. What did Anne go through and what did she make of it all?

I was not disappointed but not because the book is a feast of gossip, though of course there is a little, but because this is a fascinating invitation to share one woman’s journey. Anne writes with the skill of the novelist, the sensitivity of the poet and mystic and the power of a great story teller. All of us who were post war baby boomers will be able to appreciate her descriptions of the irrelevance of our parents’ beliefs, values and ways of living. And our passionate desire to make a ‘brave new world’.

Because I was going to write this review I read the book again and was able to appreciate it at a much greater depth than just the narrative drive that carried me through the first time. It has been written with a loving attention to periods, places, people and experiences that repays a slower and more attentive reading. I started making notes of great quotes to put in this review but had to give up after the second chapter. There were going to be too many.

This book is not just a “Remembrance of Times Past”, though it certainly does that with the immediacy and imaginative power of a movie on the big screen. It works on many levels simultaneously. It is, to choose just a few levels at random, a fascinating biography, a ‘living’ history of the sixties, an intimate record of one persons experience of Bhagwan/(Osho)/sannyas, a poetic evocation of mystical and transformational experiences, and a deep meditation and enquiry into some of the most profound themes of human experience. Its appeal will not just be for ‘sannyasins’ but for all who are interested in reflecting on the deeper meaning of life and the ways of discovering it.

There are many moving moments in the book as well as the big themes. To select a few: Anne tells us of ‘melting into the earth’ in a bluebell wood as a young girl; of a wordless communion with the legendary therapist D. W. Winnicott; of gazing into the deep stillness in the eyes of a wild giraffe in a safari park in Africa; of the grief of breaking up with her first real boyfriend; of first hearing the music of Jimi Hendicks; of the first meeting with Martin, her husband; of her deep lostness and aloneness after leaving VillaVolpi; and of the profound healing/awakening she experiences after taking a natural remedy based on snake venom.

There are at least six large searches/enquiries or attempts to solve the problems/paradoxes of life that emerge through the story, though of course they are not lived or described separately. The first is the desire to heal the wounds of the psyche. The second is the creation of/search for a true community of free individuals. The third is the making of a true marriage with another. The fourth is the experience of surrender to the master. The fifth is the journey to the heart and soul of the self. The sixth is the desire to heal the deep wounds her son experienced because his mother was trying to make a better world. Finally there is a deep insight into the ultimate nature of good and evil that is Anne’s gift to all of us, the fruit of her long explorations.

If this gives the impression of a heavy, philosophical and serious ‘tome’ nothing could be further from the truth. Anne writes with a deft touch, there is plenty of natural and healthy humour, wit, satire, farce and irony. She also writes of music, drugs, love, sex and the celebration of life through the ‘minor’ details of fashion, interior design and the joys of travel and good wine!

“Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived.” Yes, but isn’t the inquiry into and solving of problems one of the great joys of being human, of being alive. “He who knows does not speak.” The thousands of words spoken by most of the teachers of the ‘way of silence’ is surely testimony to the compelling nature of mans need to find answers to the great and small mysteries of life.

Deeply connected with the inquiry is the power of ideas to penetrate, to understand and to create new ‘models’, ‘myths’, ‘paradigms’ of reality. Their potency is witnessed by our reverence for Buddha, Copernicus, Marx, Darwin and Freud, to name a few, who have changed our ‘world’ forever with their insights into the ‘mystery’.

Anne’s searching is characterised by the collision of many of these powerful new ideas with her already deeply questioning and doubting nature. This is balanced by a pioneering spirit that is not content to think great thoughts and dream dreams but has the courage to leap and turn ideas into actions. But in the real world all actions have unforeseen, unintended and unpredictable outcomes. This book is a deep sharing of the ideas, dreams and visions that became heavens and hells. Of the pain and suffering, corruption and abuse of power, disillusionment and loss of innocence, aloneness, heartbreak and isolation, that were experienced in trying/daring to create the ‘good’ community, the new man.

She demonstrates the power of ‘the light’ to deceive us terribly. A lesson mankind is apparently reluctant to learn as each age brings us new groups sure they have the truth. A ‘sureness’ which is already the cause of so many deaths and which threatens us all even now. She goes through many gateless gates and along many pathless paths to make the journey of ‘ten thousand mistakes’. We are led to ask the question ‘what is true teaching’; ‘who is the real teacher’. The deep enquiry that Anne is drawn into through these experiences leads her to look into the very nature of our perception of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and this is what gives the book an extra dimension and a universal appeal.

In the Dark and still Moving is published by (and available from) "The Tenth Bull, 31 James Street, Whitehaven, Cumbria, CA28 7HZ, United Kingdom. Website click to Tenth Bull