What Findhorn Could Never Give Me

Findhorn ecovillage universal hall

Findhorn Community’s Universal Hall. Photo courtesy of exoskull Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Once long ago, I lived at the New Age community of Findhorn in northern Scotland.

What to say of this Findhorn community?

Well, according to a Vatican document on the New Age, Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life:

‘The two centres which were the initial power-houses of the New Age, and to a certain extent still are, were the Garden community at Findhorn in North-East Scotland, and the Centre for the development of human potential at Esalen in Big Sur, California, in the United States of America.’

And from twenty five years ago, a memory comes back to me.

It is an autumn evening of 1986 or maybe ’87. I am there in the so-called Universal Hall at Findhorn, in a packed-out lecture by Peter Russell, author of The Global Brain.

The talk finishes and I leap to my feet in standing ovation at what Russell has said.

What he has said, speaks to me then. It excites me as someone who knows nothing, nothing at all about the Church.

Yes, how I resonate with Peter Russell’s words, regarding the dawning of new consciousness, which, for him, is signified by the Beatles singing All you Need is Love in 1967, the so-called Summer of Love …

It is a fairly typical New Age meme: All You Need is Love. I am not alone in that standing ovation at Findhorn. Everyone else in the ‘Universal Hall’ is also leaping to their feet …

And what would I say today, twenty five years later, having left Findhorn behind and entered the Church?

What would I say, when we read in the first epistle of John:

‘Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God (I John 4.7).’

Would I simply agree with The Beatles and Peter Russell and all those New Agers from Findhorn, who like I did, resonated with the message of John Lennon’s All You Need is Love?

And what of the same John Lennon, who in later years encouraged all the world to ‘imagine no religion’?

What would I say? I would begin by saying that unfortunately, to love – to really love another human soul – is tough work.

The more I stare into my heart, the more darkness there is to see.

My own heart is filled with irritation, greed, lust, pride, laziness, apathetic complacency, whirling in orbit around a centre: me. me, me.

And this is just the obvious, easy stuff to see.

Beyond the obvious, there are further layers of darkness, largely hidden from my consciousness. For I suspect that my Guardian Angel stands at the threshold and protects me in his loving embrace.

Because in this world, I could not bear to witness the full darkness of my heart. The full vision of the darkness of our hearts is reserved for purgatory.

And if I were to see the full extent of darkness now, I could not cope with all I have to do from day to day to day …

Yes Angels protect us. Though at Findhorn, we never thought of Angels protecting us from the vision of our own sin and complacency.

At Findhorn, we focussed largely on ‘the Light’. Although we might have ‘owned’ psychological ‘issues’ that we were in process of ‘resolving and integrating’.

Still at Findhorn, we never spoke of the sin and apathy in the darkness of our hearts.

Indeed optimism, supreme optimism reigned at Findhorn. There was talk like: ‘I’ve worked through that one now’ or ‘I think my negative pattern is 80 per cent on the way to being transformed’.

As a young 23 year old, I did not stop to think: how can anyone ever judge that they have ‘worked something through’ – or that some ‘pattern they have’ is 80 per cent transformed?!

But now, by His Grace, I begin to see a little more clearly.

I see how tough it is to truly love another human being. I see how much tougher it is than anything that young Findhorn member thought back in 1986.

I see I cannot do it by myself. I need more than myself.

And so in my need, I turn to the Catholic Church.

I turn to the Catholic Sacraments of Communion and Confession.

And the Catholic Sacramental Journey takes me deeper into my heart of darkness.

These daily Sacraments foster intensity of insight.

And in that intensity, I say Deo Gratias!

Because through an ORDAINED hierarchy, the Catholic Sacraments are given to me.

The Holy Father and the Body of Christ. Courtesy of Fabio Pozzebom/ABr [CC-BY-3.0-br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en) via Wikimedia Commons”

And there I find what lectures by Peter Russell or songs by John Lennon, what Findhorn and the New Age could never give me:

Qui pridie quam pateretur, accepit panem in sanctas, ac venerabiles manus suas: et elevatis oculis in caelum ad te Deum Patrem suum omnipotentem, tibi gratias agens, benedixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accepite, et manducate ex hoc omnes.

(Who the day before He suffered, took the bread into His holy and venerable hands: and having raised His eyes to heaven, unto Thee, O God, His Father almighty, giving thanks to Thee, blessed, broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying: Take ye all and eat of this: FOR THIS IS MY BODY.)

UPDATE 2017: Since the above was posted, I have started a YouTube channel with videos where, among other things, I address these these themes. Here is one, talking about my life at Findhorn and my conversion to the Catholic Faith. I have also published two books which both address the New Age. There are ads below for both of these which will take you directly to your nearest Amazon worldwide.


Books by Roger Buck. Click to buy from Amazon


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  1. Edwin Shendelman
    Posted 19 April 2012 at 01:05 | Permalink

    Indeed, the New Age offers a lot of sentiment and idealism but not the grounding a living Tradition gives, it cannot give us Incarnate Love.

    • Posted 19 April 2012 at 10:06 | Permalink

      Yes indeed Edwin – a lot of often beautiful sentiment and often beautiful idealism, which can be so enticing. Findhorn enticed me for nearly twenty years of my life. And blinded me to what I was really missing, rather than offering me what I really needed …

  2. Posted 28 April 2012 at 04:37 | Permalink


    I appreciate this glimpse into your life. It fills in a small bit of the huge unimaginable (from my perspective) journey that took you from a humble neighborhood in Salem, Oregon in the early 70s to where you are today.

    Again, I’m so very glad to have become reacquainted.

    Take care, old friend.

    • Posted 28 April 2012 at 19:45 | Permalink

      Warm thanks to you, friend. I appreciate the re-acquaintance too. Although we obviously disagree on profound matters, your writings invoke many precious and vital things – about just being human in a de-humanising world.

      They self-evidently issue from a broad expanse of heart that genuinely moves my own heart …

  3. Elena
    Posted 6 July 2014 at 17:01 | Permalink

    Dear Roger,

    Thank for writing this piece so openly and honestly, and for sharing it. You have answered a pending question that has been niggling at me for a while. Between your share, and a friends post on a Rumi quote about ‘Discipline’, I have managed to find some peace in my heart, at least for this time.

    Reality is never static, it is forever changing, bringing challenges and quests to overcome. Inner reality is no different. I remember many years ago, when I was just embracing my 20’s, naively pleading with God to show me; show me everything, I want to know, I want to see, I want to understand, I want wisdom, and Love and all the heavenly glories. Did God answer my prayers? Was the answer what I expected? I don’t know …? But I have seen … not only (some of) the sin in my own heart, but the effects of an undisciplined mind on the world. I chose to pursue work in psychiatry and came face to face with the dragon of abuse, and all its guises. I saw things in others that I had yet to encounter in myself and I saw things that I knew all too well, but had somehow found the strength to control (at least most of the time.) (Judge ye not …)

    I don’t know why, but my earliest experience with cruelty began in early childhood, at the hands of my own parents. Whether this was written in my mythical tale by the Gods, or whether it was simply the effect of two World Wars, immigration, and emotional immaturity makes no difference. I have had to make sense of an ambivalent world (just like the rest of us…).

    I thought getting older would lessen the blow, however, I was wrong. Getting older has just made me more aware of the two extremes, joy and pain; love and hate; good and evil; life and death. It’s funny that you say, you have one day to X years left. I have been saying exactly the same. I have one day to maximum 45 years left on this planet. What would I like to do with these few years. What would I like to do with this day, if it were my last?

    I am tempted to be optimistic and say ‘I would like to pour appreciation out and into my heart. I would like to experience the magic that captures the moment. I would like to be in a state of Love, agapi love, giving thanks for my first and last breath, and all the experiences I have shared.’ However, this is quite unrealistic, as I am not capable.

    Using death as my adviser; realising my own immortality, and fallibility has brought with it a sadness and a sense of relief. I no longer feel that there is anything the world can do to me, not really. It’s more about what I can do to the world. Has my heart closed? Or has it opened to God? I think a bit of both.

    As I weep at my own transgressions, greed, selfishness, self-deception, self-importance, low self-esteem, I am cleansed and humbled. Memories of past traumas resurface and torment me, only to leave me as I pray to the Lord to deliver me. The Cross has a greater significance for me today than ever. It is the only place where I can go to offload with no judgement. If only I could sin no more. But life is too sweet, and I am not here forever. I will sin until the day I die, of this I am certain. I am not destined for saintly status. I am destined for purgatory, and forgiveness. I was born this way, and have had to learn to discipline my impulses, impulses, which as you rightly point out, are painful, too painful to bear at times.

    Thus is the drama of life. And thus is the Love of God that He offers us a sanctuary.

    We are heading towards a state of completion, I do believe. Before we get there however, there is still a lot of work to be done. Both within and without. We can only process life and its dual magnificence for ourselves. And if possible, we can pass the baton to help others as they explore and discover for the first time. There is no conclusion, that enables us to close the chapter. We have to live it, experience it, and give thanks. This is the gift of repentance and Gods mercy. Otherwise, misery, fear, regret and grief will consume us. And there are days when I am consumed by grief. Not only for myself, but for what life is really about. As you say, even though love is all we need, not one of us is capable of loving another.

    Self-development gurus are popping up everyone, selling love to the lowly and they buy. Healing has become a justifiable commodity, because we live in a production/consumption model where we are encouraged to commodify our gifts. How else can we afford to survive? Pay our bills?

    I do not look to any man or woman for my salvation, and neither do I believe that love and Love are the same. Humans are only capable of love, and only get a glimpse of Love in prayer, mediation, repentance.

    When Love arrives every knee shall bow.

    In the meantime, we have to make sense of this chaos, and hope to find peace in the arms of the Holy Spirit.

    Much Love

    • Edwin Shendelman
      Posted 21 July 2014 at 20:30 | Permalink

      These are deep heartfelt words and feel the need to acknowledge them. We need to be comfortable shedding tears at all the pain. Whether it is our own, anothers’ or in empathy with God. Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav acknowledged this: We need at least an hour a day to be honest before God. In the Catholic way in Desolation we need Consolation, in Consolation we prepare for Desolation. Like you say we are moving towards Completion and I see this…The Resurrection and the Life. Rumi is a good teacher: From sorrow, a thousand ecstasies are born.

  4. Posted 24 July 2014 at 09:20 | Permalink

    Elena, I am sorry it has taken me this long to acknowledge your searing, honest words. As Edwin has also testified, they are very deeply moving.

    There is so very much in what you say. Let me begin with this:

    I saw things in others that I had yet to encounter in myself and I saw things that I knew all too well, but had somehow found the strength to control (at least most of the time.) (Judge ye not …)”

    Here, I think, is the key to real non-judgment. Not the pretence that everyone is just fine exactly the way they are (which only leads to colossal inflation) – but rather acknowledging we are all fallen and broken.

    And so the things we are tempted to judge in others certainly exist in our own hearts, whether by grace we may have partially overcome them or whether, as you say, we have yet still to encounter them …

    There is real pain in seeing this but also the source of real compassion and real liberation. Knowing we are all in this same broken boat together and as you indicate very few of us are saints and in great need of purgation, purification.

    However, Christ is in this broken boat with us, ministering, healing …

    Your comment also carries acute witness to the state of the modern world:

    “Self-development gurus are popping up everyone, selling love to the lowly and they buy. Healing has become a justifiable commodity, because we live in a production/consumption model where we are encouraged to commodify our gifts. How else can we afford to survive? Pay our bills?”

    Indeed and again I come back to Christ. And I come back to the Sacraments.

    Whether it was in the Orthodox East – in Athens or Moscow say – or the Catholic West, in Paris and Madrid say, our culture once RELIED on these Sacraments – not ‘self-development gurus’ …

    I have had a lifetime’s fill of these gurus. Nothing, nothing helps me more than these Sacraments …

    I am broken. I need them.

    Thank you again for gracing my blog with your honesty and courage.

  5. Elena
    Posted 24 July 2014 at 11:35 | Permalink

    Thank you… To you both.

    An hour a day…! I never thought of it this way but it makes sense. It brings you closer to God and it’s cleansing.

    I need to learn about the Sacraments. So far, I have just been weeping and confessing, and feeling the comfort that this brings. Even though I don’t feel I deserve it some days. God is good.


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