My name is Mike Scott. I’m a musician and singer and have led my band The Waterboys since the early 1980s. You may know our songs like The Whole Of The Moon and Fisherman’s Blues. My musical travels have dovetailed with my personal spiritual experiences, and I write about both in my new book Adventures Of A Waterboy. In one chapter, for example, I find myself hanging out with Bob Dylan in a recording studio, and in another I’m playing in the Findhorn Community’s ceilidh band. It’s been a long, strange, golden road, and I invite you to come and taste the journey with me.
That night I rested well in my little room, the wind in the trees lulling me to deep sleep, and next day I explored Findhorn. The community turned out to be a rambling settlement of old caravans, fantastical trees and pristine Scandinavian-style wooden houses, several of them round, like something out of a nursery rhyme or a Dr Seuss book. There was a Royal Air Force base immediately south of the site, with shockingly loud jets taking off and landing, while to the north stood a forest of pine trees. The place confounded all my ideas about what a spiritual community should be: there was no monkish music drifting out of buildings, nobody wore robes. The people I saw were absorbed in their own business and no one paid any attention to me. Nor did anyone recognize me as Mike Scott of The Waterboys, or if they did they weren’t letting on.
Blessing and Loving
I hung around all that day and some of the next, but though I liked the place I didn’t experience anything like the spiritual charge I’d felt watching the Eileen Caddy film that had brought me here. Then shortly before I left for the airport on my third day I went to a lunchtime meditation at one of the community’s sanctuaries, a plain wooden building unassumingly placed between some sheds and a garden. I walked in and twenty or thirty people, most with eyes closed, were sitting on a circle of chairs centred round a candle. I sat down in an empty seat, closed my eyes too and waited for whatever was to happen.
A woman began to speak in a clear English voice and asked us to imagine a golden light, like a pillar of energy, in the centre of the sanctuary. I did this, enjoying the novelty of knowing that everyone else in the room was doing it too. Then she asked us to visualize this light filling the whole sanctuary. I did this too, finding it easy enough, with an extra little thrill at the knowledge that all our mental images had just expanded together. Next she instructed us to see the light radiating out into the local area, blessing and loving all it came into contact with. And as I did this there came a change. I felt my emotions engage, and as I pictured the light ‘blessing and loving’ whatever it touched, a jet of compassion begin to flow in me. Then her voice continued, asking us to imagine the light spreading to Scotland’s holy isle of Iona and to England’s sacred centre, Glastonbury, then expanding to cover all of the British Isles. After each place name she allowed a short space of silence, and in one of these something powerful happened. My sense of this ‘light’ shifted from being something imagined to something experienced. By some alchemy, by the working of some process or law beyond my ken, the light became real. I could feel it buzzing like a pressure, flowing through me as if I was some kind of battery. It was like taking a potent drug, except with a feeling of immense natural wellbeing. The woman’s voice broke in on my awareness again as she directed us to imagine the light spreading beyond Britain, across Europe, then America and Africa and finally round the whole world. And as I consciously directed the light to do this (for it was a question of directing now, rather than imagining) I felt waves of inspiration flow through me as if I was part of a mighty system. I was awed in the presence of something far bigger than myself. And as I sat in silence for the last ten minutes of the meditation, the power radiating around and through me, I felt I’d come home after wandering all the days of my life.
When a small gong sounded to signal the meditation’s end and everyone silently stood up, I walked out of the sanctuary, stunned, into the cold northern Scottish air, ready to proclaim to the skies that love was alive and everything was going to be all right forever. Though I could tell that wasn’t the done thing here; I didn’t know what the other meditators had experienced but when I looked at them emerging from the building they were quiet and relaxed, already strolling off to their afternoon duties. They inhabited a culture where this kind of work was simply part of daily life.
I went back to my B&B to collect my bags and bumped into Reg. ‘Come into the office with me, Mike, would you?’ he asked. Figuring it must be obvious to an old hand like Reg that I’d just had a serious spiritual experience I followed him, ready for something meaningful to happen in the office. Perhaps Reg was going to welcome me to the inner group of super meditators or impart to me some final key of wisdom. He lifted a slip of paper and silently handed it to me. I looked. My bill for two nights’ bed and breakfast!
This was a good reminder to keep my feet on the ground after spiritual experiences. Nevertheless, what had happened was immense. As I flew back to New York I felt I was returning from another civilization. I wanted to explore this culture, absorb it, become it, and receive whatever lessons and experiences it had to offer. And something else: what would happen if I could connect the machinery of my songs, lyrics and band to the flow of inspiration I’d felt in the Findhorn sanctuary?