What is the purpose of this site?
This website is a trial, a first version set up in order to refine ideas and iron any bugs. As such it is not going to be perfect or 100% finalised, but its main purpose is to stimulate thought and discussion, and help bring clarity to the ideas contained in it. So, I am hoping that everyone who sees this site can make a contribution, comment or provide and insight into what is presented here. I hope that it can be a process of sharing ideas as 'picking you brain' doesn't sound so good.
I have often felt that I have probably made my life harder than it needs to be. I suspect that many other people feel the same way (about their lives, of course, not mine). We are all in this together, so let's connect, share some ideas and gain a bit more clarity about where we are, what's going on and how we can head in the right direction (right meaning in the direction of easier and more comfortable, not harder and more difficult). Over the years I have come across many good ideas from many of what I consider to be great minds and it is my intention to try and share those ideas (and a few that I have had myself) with as many people as I can who want to benefit from those ideas and, hopefully, put them into practise in their own lives.
I originally set up this website as a platform to teach English as a second language, but for various reasons that didn't go as well as I had hoped, so now I am re-purposing this website in order to refine and clarify the ways and means for people (especially myself) to improve their lives and the lives of those around them through more mystical and metaphysical approaches and philosophies.
So, it is my request and invitation to you that we co-create something that can go out into the world in ripples and waves of beneficial thought that will uplift and enlighten those it touches.
As this is a 'trial' website it will be undergoing constant revisions and updates over the next few months so please visit again and again and contribute wherever and whenever you feel like it.
What was Benefolk?
When I was younger I, in 1984, I had a chance to see different cultures first hand and how people get along together. It was then that I came up with the name "Benefolk", which I created by combining the Latin 'bene' meaning good with the English 'folk' to denote people. So the basic idea is to get good people doing things that are good for people. In 1998 I tried to put the idea of Benefolk into practise by renting a shop in Campbelltown and seeing if it would attract attention. Unfortunately, my attitude and approach were a little naïve and reality trumped hope. I vacated the shop after a couple of months of paying rent and getting very little reward. I suppose because my nature was, at the time, more solitary than outgoing and the 'folk' aspect was missing from Benefolk.
After this first attempt I put metaphysical matters on the back burner. It is always important to allow yourself enough time and space to "tend your own garden," so I follow more prosaic endeavours, such as working regular jobs as a language teacher.
The flame still flickered
I still read about metaphysical things but they didn't really fire my interest. The ideas, however, continued to percolate away in my mind
I taught English in rural Japan for some years and during that time I occasionally went to a small Buddhist temple not far from where I was staying and did some brief meditation sessions with the priest there and then sat down and had some time and chatted. I suppose that some people would like me to say that it was transcendental, but really it was fairly ordinary. And yet it was also extraordinary. Of course it is easy to move into more mystical frames of mind when coming out of a meditation session in a 600 year-old wooden temple to the view of wispy clouds clinging to the trees across the valley and the sound of rain pattering on the roof.
In a sense I have been privileged to have the opportunity to experience the things that have come into my life. I am thankful that I have seen the ups and downs, good and bad, and exceptional and mundane.
There is an interconnectedness of all things. Not one part of it is more or less worthy than another. Of course some things are preferable, but resisting any part of life means resisting the whole of it.
This is an underlying theme of everything in this book; we are all one and what you do for another you do for yourself. The more you can incorporate this idea into your life the faster your metaphysical evolution will be. This book aims to give the philosophical basis for changing your outlook on life, to let go of the false sense of separateness and to realise the Interconnectedness of all things.
What is next?
Although I have not revisited the idea of Benefolk for many years now I still adhere to the principles I first came up with all those years ago, that is creating a supportive and beneficial environment in which people can thrive. Environment being defined in the broadest sense of the word to include the physical, social, psychological and spiritual environments. In what I call a "beneficial circle", (sometimes called a 'virtuous circle', the opposite of a 'vicious circle'), people improving their environment leads to better people who, in turn, are more empowered and enabled by being in that environment and so can create an even better environment which leads to better people, and so on. The idea of a beneficial circle is central to Benefolk activities as I believe that in our modern society we have reversed much of our own innate wisdom and so many of our efforts to remedy the problems we face actually make those problems worse. However, by seeing our own difficulties as our greatest teachers we allow ourselves the clarity and strength necessary to be able to initiate positive change in our lives and to increase our own awareness and understanding through considered observation of the way things are, or simply, 'what is'.
Once we can truly see 'what is' we can begin to recognise 'what works', that is effective strategies for making lasting and positive changes to ourselves and our world. This can only happen when we uncritically examine our experiences. The basic principles contained in this book are various insights I have gather from different sources and have found to be positive and effective through personal reflection and application to my own life.
My aim is to provide some basic philosophical and conceptual issues that will begin to provide the theoretical background and framework for developing the metaphysical solutions that are central to make life uplifting and enjoyable.