TIME IN FINDHORN Mike Scott writes
The picture behind this text shows
Findhorn Bay, in north-east Scotland. I lived there on and off for
several years at the Findhorn Foundation, a spiritual community begun
in 1962. I still have strong connections with the Foundation and love
playing in their fabulous theatre Universal Hall with The Waterboys
or by myself. The Findhorn community is many things - a sacred place,
a community of people working to find new ways of living together
on the earth, a spiritual educational centre, an ecological village,
a centre of the arts, an adventure, a passion play, a challenge, an
incredible family, a creative hothouse, and much more besides. The
community's life is based on the experience that God is inside, and
that there is a perennial and ageless wisdom behind all the world's
major religions. I was drawn there after seeing a video featuring
Eileen Caddy, one of the community's founders. She was talking about
the power of gratitude and unconditional love and everything she said
rang a loud and profound bell inside me. I knew I had to go and check
out this "Findhorn" place.
I turned up on a cold dark October night in 1992 and checked into
a B & B owned by people connected to The Foundation. They were
polite but not particularly friendly. One of my hosts took me across
the road to the Foundation that evening and showed me Universal Hall,
their theatre. Next day I explored the place more fully - saw its
ecological houses, its gardens, and drank deep of its peaceful, purposeful
atmosphere. But it was a lonely experience. Everyone in the community
seemed involved with their own day and work. I'd naively expected
smiling faced sunbeam pilgrims at every turn welcoming me and sacred
monk-ish music drifting out of windows. In fact the music playing
when I passed the Community Centre kitchens was The Rolling Stones
! I went into the various community Sanctuaries (meditation rooms),
walked into neighbouring Findhorn village, roamed the beach, ate a
lonesome meal in my B & B at night. I wasn't disillusioned - I
could tell this was a special and powerful place, and that it worked,
but I didn't feel part of it.
The next day, before I left to catch my plane I went to lunchtime
"Sanctuary". I'd noticed the community meditation times
on the main Sanctuary noticeboard. I went in and there were thirty
or forty people sitting in the Sanctuary chairs, many with eyes already
closed. Nobody paid any notice to me. I sat down in an empty seat
and closed my eyes too. A woman began to speak, to lead the meditation.
She asked us to see the community as a centre of healing Light (I
did). Then she asked us to visualise this Light radiating out into
the local area (I did). Then to visualise it spreading to the sacred
centres of Iona and Glastonbury, and beyond to all Scotland and Britain
(I did ! ). Then to see the Light radiate to Europe and finally across
the whole world and out across the Universe. And as everyone in the
room did this I felt the power of the meditation. Wave upon wave of
electrifying inspiration passed through me. I felt awed and humbled
and truly that I had been looking for this moment and this Place all
my life. At the meditation's end, twenty minutes later, I walked out
of the Sanctuary dazed and thrilled. Everyone else looked completely
normal, like they did this kind of thing every day. And so they did
! I knew then I would be back and that I would come and live in this
Two months later, like thousands of people before me I returned to
Findhorn to take part in an "Experience Week" (an introduction
program to the Foundation's work and life). I stayed at the Foundation's
magical Cluny Hill College; a former hotel in the neighbouring town
of Forres where many of the guest programs take place. And during
the week, inter-acting with the community and moved by the power of
the place and the deeply honest quality of the life lived there, I
had a heart-opening experience. I found what that well-worn phrase
really means. I could feel my heart "coming on" inside me
like a great fire and for all seven days and several after was enveloped
in a powerful magnificent and urgent emotion, like every love affair
I've ever had rolled into one. I've tried to write about this experience
in several songs ("Nectar", "Big Lover", half
of the "Still Burning" album). It changed the way I look
at life and other people forever. I realised everyone really is the
same deep underneath, with the same longing to love and be loved.
Behind all our appearances, as one writer says "There is only
one of us here". And at my best moments now I can feel and know
it inside, not just think it intellectually with my mind.
I went back to Findhorn over the next year for several other guest
programs and eventually stayed there for 3 months as a long-term guest,
working in the community kitchens, cooking for upwards of a hundred
people. When that finished I moved into the local area where I stayed
for another year or so, keeping up my many connections with the community.
When word had leaked out that I was some kind of professional musician
cum rock star, I got asked to play with many of the community's musicians.
People come to Findhorn from all over the world and I found myself
doing some unexpected things. I've been a member of the community's
wedding band, ceilidh band and jazz band. (One of the most surreal
experiences of my life was playing the "Monty Python" theme
with the Findhorn Ceilidh band at a Burns Supper in the Community
Centre while people from five continents danced the Gay Gordons).
I also played back-up to several singers of different nationalities,
tried out my new songs at Friday night Community concerts and eventually
did several of my own one man shows at Universal Hall. These were
the beginnings of the one-man show I did all round the world at the
time of my "Bring 'Em All In" album.
This album was recorded in a beautiful little studio built in the
1970's underneath Universal Hall. The recording sessions took place
in September 1994. My friend the recording engineer Niko Bolas came
from New York to produce the album with me. It was my dream to record
the album in the same special Findhorn atmosphere that had inspired
so many of the songs.
Every day Niko and I would cycle along the shores of Findhorn Bay
to the Foundation for our recording session. Some mornings (if we
got up early) we sat with the community at the morning meditation
in the Sanctuary. Then when the community members headed off to their
work shifts we'd head off to ours too - in the studio. When I was
having problems getting a definitive performance of the song "Bring
'Em All In" we booked some time in the Sanctuary and snuck in
there one morning with our microphones and DAT recorder. I sang the
song there and then in the charged Sanctuary atmosphere. Then we overdubbed
the other instruments back at the studio.
I left Findhorn in 1995 and moved back to London, but I still return
regularly, most recently in January 2002 to play two shows at Universal
Hall with The Waterboys. I've come to regard the place as home, and
over the years I've got to know beautiful Findhorn village and the
great no-nonsense nearby town of Forres into the bargain.
People often ask me about my life at the Findhorn Community and I
can say it's given me some of the best times and experiences of my
life. I've learned and grown there, met and leapt through my challenges,
had my heart opened, met some of my best friends, belonged,
laughed, discovered the truth of who and what I am, and been able
to take what I've received back out into the world with me. I love
the place and its people, and I'm honoured to be associated with it.
Photographs by Mike Scott. "Leap" by Jeff Mitchell. "Cluny"
by Findhorn Fdn.