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Reflections on a Spiritual Journey : Excerpts from a Personal Journal

One small step for ‘little’ Peter
Several years ago I attended a session by
Sr Ishpriya, which had, as one of its themes,
the idea of a ‘Quantum Leap’. This is
something that philosophers, cosmologists,
spiritual masters and many other experts
are urgently reflecting on. Ishpriya’s1 talk
concerned the possibility that a next stage
in human evolution could
Be a ‘quantum leap in consciousnesses.

Now, this is a huge, complex and, possibly,

controversial area. It is certainly and area where the ‘jury is out’. But this is not the main
thrust of my reflections. Rather, during her talk she posed a series of challenging
questions and one of these was the following. ‘What is your own experience of self-
reflective consciousness? ‘She suggested that we might want to take this question
and to remember, and reflect upon, our earliest experience of a ‘leap’ in spiritual
consciousness. This is the question that intrigued me and the one I wish to address in
this short reflection

On reflecting, whilst walking in the woods around Die Quelle, the ISA Sadhana Ashram,
a favourite place for me, one of my earliest memories and experiences came back to
me. Now this was a well remembered incident in my very early life. In fact it was just
before I was 4 years old. However, the stillness and solitude of the woods in Austria
combined with the space and time for reflection brought with it a new understanding and
a deeper meaning. It returned with as a greater clarity and left me with a feeling of
gratitude for this gift.

Just before my 4th birthday, my mother told me that I was going to the little Convent
School, near our flat in Pembroke Street, Dublin. The School was run by a Religious
Order of Sisters. It was a free infant school for the poorer children of the then, very poor
Dublin. Next to the Infant School was the fee-paying school for ‘young ladies’ and
between them both was a high wall. Most of the Sisters taught in the fee-paying school
and only two were assigned to the Infant School.

Well, I was beside myself with joy and excitement and I really felt I was a ‘big boy’ I was
going to follow my two older brothers to school. My eldest brother had just left the Infant
School to go to the Irish Christian Brothers (IRB) School, at Westland Row. Incidentally,
the only truth about the IRB was that they were definitely Irish!. Although, in a spirit of
fairness and charity, it is important to record that some of them were Christian and
brotherly and tried their best to be fair and helpful.

Anyway, my mother told me that it would be great at school and that the ‘nuns were
lovely, kind and holy’ and that I would enjoy it. Now, for an additional important piece
of the story. The two Sisters in the Infant School were its Head, Mother Clemence and
another Sister called Consolata. The rest of the teachers were lay people, paid for by the
Irish State.

© Peter Creagh ( 2010) Heartsease Training & Counselling , Shifnal, Shropshire, UK

Reflections on a Spiritual Journey : Excerpts from a Personal Journal

So, the Monday morning dawned. Eager and excited I rushed out of the flat,
almost falling down the steps in my excitement. I raced off up the road towards
Leeson Lane, where the school was. I was proud, feeling independent and so
excited I hardly knew what to do. I was going with some friends from our
street, Christy White, Alec Duggan ,Phil Kearney and Sean Kelly ( who
was a year older and therefore ‘ a very big boy’ ! )

Now during the summer all the classrooms had been re-painted. So on entering the
School I rushed in to, with my friends. In my haste to beat Alec Duggan to a chair, I
knocked it over and it skidded into the new paintwork, making a small mark. Bang ! I felt
a horrible blow to my ear. I went reeling across the room into the newly painted wall,
causing more damage! . I looked up, and standing over me, with a scowling face, was Sr
Consolata. I was soon to learn that there was little consolation in Sr Consolata.

‘Peter Creagh’ she yelled, she knew my name because of my brothers – we Creagh
boys were well known. ‘You are a wicked boy and you will never get to heaven’ At
that moment, getting to heaven was not my priority. Quick as a flash I shouted back
‘Well, if you’re going there, I don’t want to go’ You could have heard a pin drop. She
flushed horribly, almost in convulsions, hit me again and shouted; ‘Go to Mother
Clemence and tell her what a wicked boy you are! ‘

I left the room in some confusion and somehow found my way to Mother
Clemence. I was soon to learn that Mother Clemence showed great
clemency – so sometimes names do fit people! ‘What do you want’
she asked me. So stumblingly I told her the whole story and what I had
said to Sr Consolata. To this day, I can close my eyes and see her, I’m
sure she smiled. Then she lifted my hand, and tapping it ever so gently
with her fingers, she said Now, Peter, that must have hurt Sr
Consolata, so will you please go and say sorry to her’ . I looked at
her and said ‘ Yes Mother’ and left to return to my classroom.

On entering Sr Consolata barked, Well, what did Mother Clemence say ? I replied, ‘
She told me to say sorry to you Sister, so Sorry’. That ended that particular incident,
but my first year at school with Consolata proved to have little consolation and to be
difficult. It grounded in me a resistance to formal education and teachers which I have
since struggled with.

Now, on reflecting on this ‘incident’ I now realise that it was an early sign of a ‘shift’ , a
‘leap;’ in self-reflection. Although I was not even 4 years old, I somehow ‘knew’ what
Sister Consolata was saying and doing was wrong. It did not fit with my childlike intuited
view of reality. Also it was the same with Mother Clemence’s response. Somehow I
understood this as empathy. Now, I neither knew the word nor could I even spell it!. I did
not even know the word sympathy.

© Peter Creagh ( 2010) Heartsease Training & Counselling , Shifnal, Shropshire, UK

Reflections on a Spiritual Journey : Excerpts from a Personal Journal

Somehow, basic values and reality are pre-language. I now realise that this is true. After
all, it is estimated that human beings only developed language a mere 100,000 years
ago – still a relatively minor part of our existence and less than a drop in the ocean of
the history of the Cosmos . So we, as a species, have spent more time communicating
without language and modern research proves this. At best, about 15 % of the real
messages we convey are mere words. But ‘little Peter’ knew none of this.

So ‘little Peter’ learned a lot that day, far more than I realised until a recent .walk in the
woods around Die Quelle.

He ‘knew’ right from wrong , despite his upbringing and cultural messages about ‘holy
nuns’. He ‘knew’ that heaven was not a place for those who lacked empathy. He ‘knew
that Mother Clemence was empathic and kind. Most importantly, all this knowing came
from somewhere deep inside him – a place I have been experiencing and exploring all
these years. This knowing was counter-culture. Because, in the Ireland of those days,
priests and nuns were like ‘saints’ placed high on pedestals and therefore they could do
no wrong. When Jesus said ‘unless you become like a child, you cannot enter the
kingdom’, that was so true. It’s wonderful what children can intuit, they seem to be more
in touch with reality than adults. But then our culture, religion and adult society soon train
this out of them.

So the lessons of that 1st day at school remain with me. But it was only during my walk in
the woods near Die Quelle in Austria, over 60 years later, that I finally realised their deep
significance. But what does that matter. I have walked this earth all the years since, with
the lessons locked inside. I am reminded of a remark Ishpriya made in another
Pravachan, concerning God’s revelation and our experiences with God – ‘Nothing to
date has been lost. No genuine encounter of the Mystery is lost’

This is certainly true, because that experience all those years ago in the Infant School
has remained locked inside the essential Peter. This was my earliest remembered leap
in consciousness concerning the Source of all that is in the Cosmos. It was my first
conscious contact with Ultimate Reality, what we Celts refer to as ‘The Indwelling
Presence’. For me this was and is the most important thing to remember about my life
and the lesson I learned at a deeper level from my time at Die Quelle. Like all insights
and ‘shifts or quantum leaps’ in awareness, these are moments to savour, to celebrate
and to be thankful for.
Peter Creagh

© Peter Creagh ( 2010) Heartsease Training & Counselling , Shifnal, Shropshire, UK