Pure beauty (A poem by Ben Ralston)

Beauty is not something you buy in the aisles of drug stores,
Or (cosmetic) surgeries,
Or anywhere,
In fact.

Beauty is a feeling, deep within;
An overflowing, slow-flowing surge
that lifts and burns and Devours
With subtlety.

Pure beauty is the essence of life itself:
Show me a living being, and I’ll show you Beautiful.

Because when you feel that surge within
All of without is moved by it.

Beauty is the light that guides your eyes,
The waves that open your ears,
The nerves that soften your skin.

That which feels.

We all want beauty.
But it’s in our desire to own it
That we lose sight
Of the only place it can really be found...


3 steps to profound healing (broken heart, bones, spirit)

I bleed. 
My heart bleeds out into the lonely night, and only the yearning for daylight; only the memory of a better day gives me hope...

Do you know what I mean? I know you do.
At least on some level, you do.
I’m a healer. I work as a therapist, I counsel people, and I heal their wounds (mostly emotional, but also physical). I didn’t ever desire to do this. I wanted to do many things, but never this…

When it came on me though, I knew it was my calling.

Healing is the simplest, most natural thing in the world. There are just 3 simple steps that you have to take to heal almost anything.

Of course, not everything can be healed. But even most things that are thought incurable can be.

And these are the 3 steps:


Why I left Bangkok… part 3: "Tread softly, and with joy."

After my unwitting incursion into the world of child prostitution - part 1 - and my adventures with amphetamine crazed truck drivers and Thai gangsters  - part 2 - I was feeling pretty lost.

I’d been traveling alone for about a month and I was lonely.

One day I was driving through town on my motorbike and I started to feel ill again. The fever wasn’t quite gone yet. I pulled over to the side of the road and found myself sitting at a table outside a small bar. I ordered a drink and before it arrived I realized I was outside some kind of brothel.

There were about 5 or 6 girls in the bar, lounging around and leaning over a couple of Dutch sailors.

The sailors were about 50 years old, heavily tattooed. I really wish I could remember my conversation with them because it was both hilarious and very interesting.

The expression on their faces (and the faces of all the men I saw in that bar) stay with me though. They were like young men ‘on the pull’ – that strange kind of desperate intensity in their eyes (sexual desire) and a kind of assumed (false) arrogance. They were trying to look confident and self-assured. In short: they wanted to be found attractive. I recall finding this very amusing: they were in a brothel. They knew they only had to pay for what they wanted, and yet they still went through the suffering of the ‘chase’.

The girls were an interesting bunch...


3 impossible true stories (and 1 way to feel more like God).

Thinks he's an otter...

There have been times when I’ve felt so bad I’ve wanted the Earth to swallow me up. Times when, if I’d had one wish, I would not have wished for more money or time or power; I’d have wished to disappear in a puff of smoke.
And there was a time when I very, very nearly killed myself.

We’re all human, which is to say, we all have the capacity to experience tremendous pain. I’m talking about emotional pain here, but the same goes for physical…

I think it was Primo Levi who said something like:
A human is an animal that can adapt to any circumstances”.

I once watched a documentary called “The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off”. It was about a boy with a rare disease – his skin fell off his body every few days. His skin kept falling off all the time. His parents had to bandage him up, and he lived with that pain day in, day out, his whole life. In the end, he died of skin cancer.

I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much, or been so moved, as I did and was by that movie. That boy’s courage and dignity will remain with me, always. You can watch it here. You will be moved and shaken and inspired.

I wrote recently about feeling like an Ant. And about feeling like God.

To me, the difference between the two is just all about where we place our attention (and where we place our attention is the greatest sign of our intelligence)...

So I want to share with you a great way to shift your attention from the mundane, painful, ant-like aspects of life, towards God:


When you find an animal dying slowly and painfully, what do you do?

I killed a puppy with my bare hands.
The single toughest thing I've ever done - physically and emotionally. I don't think that I regret it, but at the same time, I'm not sure I did the right thing (is there ever a right thing to do?). Nor am I sure quite what I learnt from the experience.

I think the truth is: I'm still learning from it...

When I was 9 or 10 years old we went on holiday. I don’t remember how old I was exactly, but I can’t have been more than 10, because my brother wasn’t born yet.

While we were out walking one day our dog, Rocky, caught a rabbit. He held it in his jaws, shook it from side to side, and then dropped it. It fell like a rag doll, and Rocky went on his way again: job done.

My parents also started off again, but I couldn’t leave the rabbit like that: its neck was broken, but it was alive. It was still breathing (very fast) and was clearly conscious.

So I took a large rock, and killed it, as fast as I could. 

I remember my parents being very impressed. But the truth is, I just couldn’t leave it like that. I didn’t feel I had a choice.

Fastforward almost 20 years.


Why I left Bangkok... Part 2 – Blue Sapphires and Red Bull.

Princess Di and a Blue Sapphire. She didn't buy it in Thailand...

I’m sure Bangkok is a beautiful city. I’m sure there are lovely people there, and great things to do and see. I just didn’t do or see or meet any of them. (Click here for part one).

Instead I got on a train and headed North.
I stopped off in a town called Sukhothai. There’s a vast, ancient temple there.

I made friends with a young guy called Thum who worked in the place where I was staying. He was like a stallion. A lot of young Western girls passed through Sukhothai, and he felt obliged to sleep with all of them. He apparently had a strong sense of duty.

I hired a motorbike while I was there, and I’d drive around exploring temples and feeling free (I was 21 years old).

I noticed that all the trucks and lorries seemed to be in a hell of a hurry.
They would hurtle past me on my bike, missing my handlebars by – I swear – millimeters, the back of the truck shaking from side to side and huge clouds of dust kicking up in my face. I nearly died like this several times. Had I veered slightly to the right a moment before they passed I would have been finished...

When I mentioned this to Thum, he disappeared for a while and came back with a little brown medicinal-looking bottle. So I tasted ‘Red Bull’ for the first time (the taste was the same, but as for the ingredients, I don’t know…) back in 1994. Thum told me that it had amphetamines in it, and that the truck drivers all drank it to be able to drive longer and so make more money. I believed him. It gave an incredible energy kick.

(Year later, when I was a youth worker, I had a kid called Aaron in one of my programs. One night he had to be hospitalized after drinking 6 Red Bulls. He'd had a heart attack. He was 16 years old.)

There were two workmen hammering away on the roof of a small hut. I noticed that they’d hammer slowly and rhythmically for about 10 minutes, and then they’d climb down (slowly and rhythmically) and disappear inside for about 10 more minutes (before reappearing and staring their slow rhythm all over again). I mentioned my observation to Thum. He grinned his great big beautiful Thai smile, and led me into the hut they were working on. There was a man-size bong the in the middle of the room, and Thum sparked it up for me. He told me to take a hit. I took one hit, and then I went to my room and lay down.

I began to hear the most beautiful symphonic dance music. It was the coolest tune I’d ever heard, incredibly complex and uplifting. It was drum’n bass, several years before drum ‘n bass had even been invented. I wondered where the music was coming from, and got up a few times to try and find it. But every time I stood up, the music stopped. So I lay down and finally accepted that it was in my head. At first I was a little concerned. Then I relaxed and allowed the music to take me. Before falling asleep I wondered whether this new ability would last… it didn’t. I’ve not spontaneously composed symphonic drum ‘n bass since, and it’s probably a Good Thing.

There was a cool girl from Canada called Tina staying there (longer than she’d planned, until she met Thum), and she introduced me to PJ Harvey. Tina and I also went on a motorbike ride to a nature reserve. We hired a bike and I drove all the way there with her hanging on to my back. It was incredibly hot and dusty, and by the time we got there we didn’t have much time to swim in the waterfall. I swam and she watched (as I remember), and after I came out she took a photo of me and said it would be good for my portfolio (I was an aspiring actor).

On the way back it was getting dark, and the air was full of insects. Every few seconds I’d get shot in the face by a flying beetle, and it seriously hurt. Tina hid behind my shoulders and was more or less ok. It felt like an epic journey. I was the hero; no one but Tina could ever understand...


Why we are all nothing more than ants (and no less than Gods)

I don’t know how old I was exactly (somewhere between 8 and 11) when my Father took me for a walk one evening. The magic of being up late in the balmy summer twilight, and that oh-so-precious time with my Dad meant that something special had to happen.

And it did.

As we walked along the street we chatted, and it was just another day. Just another moment sliding by.

Then we stopped and my Father looked up at the sky, my hand in his. I looked up too and he began to tell me, with a ‘time is not sliding by now’ tone of voice, just how big the universe is.

He explained how many planets there are in our Solar system, and how many Galaxies there are, and the distance from here to the moon, and so on. I don’t remember the details, but I do remember that as he outlined the vastness of the universe, I began to realize just how tiny and insignificant I am. By the time he finished, I felt like an ant.

But I also felt like God...

Time had stopped sliding. In fact, it had just stopped. It had expanded in every direction, and stopped. It was infinite. The Universe (space) and that moment (time) had become one. Time and space stretched away from me in every direction, and I just stood there, feeling like God.

I can’t describe that moment any better. It was a revelation. That’s all. It might have been the best thing my Father ever did for me.


20 years later I was an addict. Yeah, some of you don’t know this, but I spent 2 years of my life in a room in Swiss Cottage, London, eating nothing but baked beans and take-away Balti.   
Those 2 years almost killed me...
I’m not kidding. I’m not exaggerating. I nearly destroyed myself there. I did lose friends, money, time, and health. But I’m still here. I didn’t lose my life.

You’re probably wondering what I was addicted to...