Taking a Giant Leap of Faith
News has reached us that the Findhorn Foundation spiritual education centre in the north of Scotland – which inspired the creation of Odyssey Magazine – is proposing to close his doors. Former resident Geoff Dalglish and Odyssey’s-pilgrim-at-large shares the current picture.
Words Geoff Dalglish
What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly.
Recent days, weeks and months seem to have been characterised by chaos, confusion and crisis and yet I feel expectation, excitement, faith and soaring hope swelling within me.
Somehow a more beautiful world and the life I’ve been dreaming into seems a giant step – a huge leap – closer.
I’m living my dream of spending the summer on the sacred Hebridean Isle of Iona, serving as the custodian of Traigh Bhan, the Findhorn Foundation’s beautiful retreat house just a pebble’s throw from the beach.
For months now it has been my privilege to host week-long spiritual retreats, gently holding small groups of seekers in a way that supports their inner journeys into the untamed wilderness of the soul.
It was while tending the garden here recently that my friends Dell Horler of Cape Town, now living in Findhorn, veteran Dutch skipper Frank van Beuningen and Scots sailor Jonathan Caddy, son of legendary Findhorn co-founders Eileen and Peter Caddy, arrived aboard the vintage racing yacht Hestia. They were greeted and welcomed by a pod of exuberant dolphins, with Frank capturing the amazing high-flying leap depicted here.
The adventurous trio of visitors had been exploring nearby Scottish islands and encountering all manner of magnificent creatures, including the curious and clown-like puffins that are a major tourist attraction on nearby islands in the area.
That leaping photograph touched a deep chord within me, filling me with the same feelings of awe and hope I’ve experienced while watching the annual upstream migration of sleek salmon to their spawning grounds on the Findhorn River.
Yes, everything is possible.
Many friends and colleagues are understandably in shock, reeling from the news that the Findhorn Foundation is undertaking a tough transition to secure a sustainable future. The organisation is no longer financially viable and is proposing to terminate existing educational operations and engage in a consultation process that will see most staff becoming redundant. Some, including Americans, Japanese and other foreign nationals, might lose their right to UK residency along with their jobs and homes. It is an incredible tragedy.
But is there a gift in it?
The good news is that the community and ecovillage will continue as before. While for many years the Foundation and Findhorn community were one and the same, the reality at the dawn of 2024 is that the Foundation is now but one of dozens of organisations that have grown up around the famous Original Garden that had its humble beginnings in 1962.
Cluny Hill, the former Victorian hotel that has housed some staff and many guest programmes, will close its doors and decisions must still be made about its future. But meanwhile, some 8km away, the Park Ecovillage is thriving and the community is hoping to buy or acquire many of the Foundation’s assets in the park.
Decades ago, visionary co-founder Eileen Caddy received the guidance that ‘the role of Findhorn was to help humanity turn within and be part of the solution to the chaos and confusion within the world.’
That role seems more important than ever to many of us and the founding impulses and core values of deep inner listening, co-creation with the intelligence of nature and seeing work as love in action, remain equally relevant. More hands and fresh ideas are needed to power another clarion call to action.
While the Foundation is contracting, at least for the moment, the wider community is being invited to step up and attune to a new world order that is kinder, more loving, more imaginative and more inclusive.
What’s my part in it, if any?
I’m attuning to what life is asking of me and praying for inner guidance and clarity.
As always, the message of Gandhi makes sense. If we want to change the world, we need to start with ourselves. Be the change we wish to see in the world.
We need to remind ourselves of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all life, appreciating that our thoughts, words and deeds ripple out and have an impact.
It all starts with us. If we want more peace in the world, we need to be more peaceful.
A good beginning point is to go within. To go into the stillness, whether this is in meditation, while dancing, listening to music, or during a silent, solo walk in nature.
In that space it is easier to remember: My essence is love. I am loved. I am lovable. I am one with all of creation.
On her 96th birthday I asked Dorothy Maclean, one of the Findhorn spiritual community’s founders, if she had any further ambitions in life. Her pioneering work as a loving bridge between the human and nature kingdom had touched thousands, perhaps millions of people.
“Yes,” she said. “To be more loving.” So simple. To be more loving. And I believe that love needs not only to radiate outwards, but inwards. We need to love ourselves.
Recently spiritual teacher and author Robert Holden created a best-seller called Higher Purpose. He writes: “If by the end of this book, you are still not sure how to find your higher purpose, I’ll make it very simple for you.
“Your purpose is to love the world. You are here to be a presence of love. Your work is to be the most loving person you can be.”
Be love, Beloveds.
For a New Beginning
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety,
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear,
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning,
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
~ John O’Donohue
Odyssey's 'Pilgrim at Large'
Geoff Dalglish is a writer and spiritual and ecological activist dedicated to raising consciousness. He has walked more than 30 000km with climate change messages about treading more lightly and lovingly upon the Earth. He is an ambassador for the Findhorn spiritual community and ecovillage and is Odyssey’s ‘Pilgrim at Large’.