THIS is to explain why the word ‘rhwng’ has become important to me. I use the phrase ‘rhwng: the point between’ (‘rhwng’ is Welsh for ‘between’) as a reminder; for me, it is an integrating phrase and opens as a space. I use it to question ‘either/or’ language and I seek ‘and/and’ options. For me, it also stands for what all human and non-human beings share between them: being here, as mysterious life-processes.
As Alice Walker says in her preface to The Color Purple, ‘No-one is exempt from the possibility of a conscious connection to All That Is. Not the poor. Not the suffering. Not the writer sitting in the open field’.
However, being conscious of connections deep and wide has implications: as a Quaker, I value and am inspired/challenged daily by our testimonies to equality, peace, simplicity, truth & integrity and the more recent testimony to sustainability and the environment, which has close links to the peace and simplicity testimonies.
Equally, I have close affinities with Buddhism and understand its term ‘dependent co-origination’ to be a useful reminder that nothing happens in a vacuum. Things that happen to us, people and animals that we meet with, live with, love, lose; our historical inheritances; our familial, cultural and social conditioning; places we grow up in, live in, visit – all of these condition us. Everything is a shaping force. Experience matters. As Satish Kumar writes, in his book You are, therefore I am: ‘there can be no individual person without the context of community, environment, tradition and culture. Individuality and universality are complementary’. Kumar overturns Descartes’ reductionist dictum ‘I think, therefore I am’, where body and context are positioned as disposable ‘other’. According to Kumar, it is this kind of mindset that is ‘at the root of the ecological, social and spiritual crisis of our time’. For him, it is an example of ‘Separational Philosophy’. Instead what we need are ‘Relational Philosophies’, where we recognise that we exist as an interdependent community of relationships.
We are all part of the human story and are entitled to take part in the on-going conversation we are born into about what it means to be human/humane, about our relationships with other human and non-human beings, about what matters to us most and about what we find to be helpful, sane and enlivening.
This then is just some of what serves as a ground out of which my own writing, music and teaching work springs and, in this light, I run ‘Rhwng: the Point Between’ events at Canolfan Ucheldre Centre, Holyhead, Anglesey, joining with others to creatively explore related themes.
Please find out more by clicking through my various pages and feel free to get in touch using the contact form below.