“See God, Kai”

I’ve got the whole summer booked filming a couple of property shows all along the South Coast of the UK.

So spent the last two weeks in Poole, Hastings, Rye and Eastbourne in Dorset and East Sussex. Despite dodging the torrential rainstorms that seem to be plaguing us this summer, I have been treating the whole thing as a long stint of Homelessness. (Which in Buddhist terms is a good thing!) Instead of stressing about being away from home, away from London and away from Julian, I’ve recognised that you have to think what you want things to be – and then they’ll follow suit. So if I think filming is going to be torture, it will be. If I think it will be spiritually fruity jaunt across the chalky downs of the South – it will be that too.

I’m borrowing all this positive thinking mularkey from The Secret which in turn borrow it from the first verse of the Dhammapada. But despite its ultra consumerist gloss, the Secret has some wonderful truths in it. Or is a fresh new lens on old ones.

I guess everyone can learn something powerful here – I know at least 2 people whose lives have been changed by it – but for me, it re-confirmed in my growing conviction that desire is good and holy. You might stumble over the wrong desire now and again – but the juice, the energy and vim to create and recreate is not unspiritual. It’s the motor of the good in life.

I’ve been diveboming the yoga tradition since I came back from Holy Island. The Bhagavad Gita (great manual for those stuck in their careers…), the Upanishads and Pantanjali. I was reading this morning about how – according to the Rig Veda – the initial impulse for the creation of the Universe out of Void was tapas, the desire for transcendence, the push to the light. And unless you embrace that desire you’ll get stuck in the bywaters of the universe, spinning around in a puddle, instead of surfing off into the glories of the Ocean.

Talking of surfing, I am also completely buoyed up by America TV. The glorious HBO. After feasting giddy on series 1 of Firefly (light fun) I then moved onto the extraordinary stuff of John from Cincinnati. Tipped off by some well-meaning comment that I was like the idiot-simplicissimus of the title, I watched the first few episodes in various seaside hotels along the south coast. It’s genius – sort of David Lynch genius.

At first it seems like pretty sub-OC surfer drama and then the weird quirks start seeping in. Not just the paranormal levitation and spooky resuscitation of parrots and surferdudes but hints at Biblical corridors and glimpes of the apocalypse. The episode when the simple chap leans forwards an whispers: ‘see God, Kai’ to the dudette from the board shop and tips her into a visionary coma made my hairs stand on end.

Don’t anyone dare tell me what happens next. I’m expecting at least a cosmic reveal like Chapter 11 of the Baghavad G.


  1. Autumn

    July 24, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    Hi Alistair –

    I too have read the secret. Within a persons mind set, there is action! Indeed it is the very essence of lifes work before us. We create the picture within ourselves, and the masterpiece is brought to work.
    I have been reading your blog for over a year now. I do appreciate the gifts you have offered us.
    Living in California gives me a great opportunity to watch the surfers in action. Phenominal photos. Are they ones you took?
    If and when you do return for a visit to California, please visit The Hsi Lai Temple. It is in Hacienda Heights in Southern California. It is where I learned of the Dharma teachings!
    Peace and love be with you –

  2. Valerie W.

    July 26, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    I think that the way you perceive things is either (in
    simple terms) Pessimistic or Opptomistic. I try to approach
    life and its tasks not thinking about the negative impact,
    but what positive flow can come from the experience (not
    for my benefit, but just generally). I haven’t read The
    Secret, but have heard some things that sound familiar to
    the way I get along.
    Thanks for the great surfing pictures. They showed up in
    the nick of time, being exhausted working and putting a
    show up this week. They cooled me down for tonights show.
    I’m ready.

  3. Asaf

    August 1, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    Thank you Alistair,
    “Hearing the word “renunciation” we may find our hearts quivering with fear and resistance. Images of ourselves as homeless and bereft, deprived of comfort and drowning in loneliness, pass though our minds. Renunciation may be equated with vulnerability life of passivity and meaninglessness. We are faced with one of our deepest anxieties, of not knowing how we should define ourselves or find meaning without our array of passions, opinions, beliefs, roles and achievements. Culturally we are encored to believe that passion, attainment, and achievements are the pathway to happiness. In the quest for simplicity we are invited to entertain another paradigm: that this is the very craving, holding, and possessiveness which brings complexity, confusion, and sorrow, and that renunciation is the mother of joy, simplicity, and freedom.”
    From “The Buddhist Path to Simplicity”

    Tapas, which is important to get us going, like the starter of a car’s engine, can also get us stuck, like a stuck starter; spinning endless, looking for more, wanting more.
    Use Tapas, and then let it go, be too passionate about Tapas, and you will get stuck in the “verttis” or the fluctuations of the mind.

  4. Duane Albertson

    August 8, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    Desire AND pleasure – you provide that motor to the good life – with assuredness and acceptance. Each blog visit I am swept away on a visual and visceral escape that more often than not proves to be an insightful journey of pleasure and appreciation, insight and learning, entertainment and reflection – a rejuvenating spa treatment for the soul. It’s promising that you exude such, yet remain grounded and real and open to share.

  5. Duane

    August 10, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    “De-si-i-i-i-i-errr!…De-si-i-i-i-i-errr! Today I must be awash in the bywaters of the universe, somewhere between “See Spot run” and “See God, Kai.” It’s hot and humid and I need a pool.

    You’re posts are fun and interesting – you offer something to the viewer-reader each time. It always reads personal.

    I enjoyed riding your wild surf – the awesome and powerful, yet cool, calming, and refreshing photos. How cleaverly you absorb them into your posting/essay, ebbing from the etheral to TV!

    Interesting note: the surfers in these shots are all men. The author of Gidget was on the Today show this morning. Matt Laurer commented on the strong presence of women surfers today and how the book helped paved the way for women several decades back by placing a female in a traditionallly male dominated sport.

    You’re on it. I’m deeply stuck in my career, spinning. Thinking what you want things to be has merit. Today, though I’m settling for your ‘idiot-simplicissimus’, bobbing around in that puddle. Keep that motor to the good life running, though – I’ll resurface, anxious to surf the glories of that Ocean.

  6. Ben

    August 14, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Have you seen Carnivàle? Like Firefly it’s another piece of televisual brilliance that was axed long before its time. It’s set in the 1930s pre-war depression and follows a travelling freak show, with the same epic and Biblical undertones of good vs. evil and apocalypses rising (insert Joss Whedon joke here about not knowing the plural for apocalypse). It also has Nick Stahl, who’s pretty. Which helps.

    I didn’t realise the BG was so beneficial to those stuck in careers they hate. It’s been sitting on my shelf, unread, for five years. Time to finally pick it up perhaps…

  7. cherr

    October 9, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    How weird that I should pop over here to see what Alistair is up to and low, if he doesn’t mention the secret..I have stumbled, tangentially, upon the secret whilst searching for something to help me through the most harrowing and painful period of my life and…behold, the secret. Whether or not it works for me (I have a specific desire) remains to be seen but it can definitely help to make you feel in control. Can’t be bad. Alistair you are a little star; keep radiating intelligence and warmth through the pages of this most enjoyable and helpful blog.. (I’ve been watching you on the escape to the country – you’re looking good as per).

  8. Amanda

    October 16, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    I just love the word ‘vim’. I’m still thinking about my word for the year for 2008, and that’s going on my list of possibles. Thanks.

  9. Daniel Murray

    October 28, 2007 at 10:52 pm


    I haven’t stopped in to read your blog for a little while. So…I had a very nice moment here reading all of what’s what for a while here on this “blessedly” cool day in Los Angeles. (After a week of fires…there’s a huge sense of gratitude that the cooler weather has returned.)

    Now, new TV shows to watch! LISA WILLIAMS. Have you seen her? Have you seen her show? She is incredible. Amazing. Adorable to no end. (If you get a chance to catch her show, do so.)

    Oh…and…well…not really a show, but an amazing blog: http://www.rosie.com (Rosie O’Donnell’s blog, with thoughts and art and…. She has a section called “Ask Ro” — on the right-hand column you can scroll down and find it — which is such fun to read: I’ve been doing so weekly for a while.

    Thank you for brightening my day — yet…once again!

    A big smile and a wave from,

  10. Alex Bennett

    November 21, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Recently I was sitting at my p.c. and a thought came into my mind that I hadn’t seen Alistair Appleton on the box recently. A Google moment later and I was browsing and reading this wonderful website of yours.
    I owe you a huge debt of gratitude by the way. I had been ignorant of the existence of ‘John from Cincinnati’, and my partner and I, being huge David Lynch fans, (and lovers of Firefly as well!), decided to check it out. We both loved it.
    I can also heartily endorse Ben’s recommendation of ‘Carnivale’, as well.
    Anyway, a really wonderful site which I have been visiting often lately.
    All the best,

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