And I was also reading a philosopher called Gurdjieff at the time who was a very naughty, mischievous man in the 1800s. He was a charlatan and a rag-trader and an embezzler and he actually created a religious organisation that had all these followers, and still does, in New York and Paris. He had one amazing story that stayed with me where he went to a village on a horse and visited one of his colleagues who had the most rotten fish in the backyard. And this colleague apologised, he said: “I’m sorry, you can’t stay in this house, the fish is so rotten, no one will take them.” And Gurdjieff said, “Let me see them.” And he saw that the fish hadn’t been taken care of and were pickled in oil. He said, “I’ll take them. I’ll have them all.” His colleague couldn’t believe it. “Why would you take them all?” And Gurdjieff said, “I don’t know, but I feel charm in them, I feel connected to your stinky fish.” So he put them on the trailer, on his horse and cart. He crossed the mountain back into the middle of Eastern Europe, and he went through a new village and people came running out, running out. And they were Jews and they said, “Pickled herring! Pickled herring! How much for your pickled herring?” So for me, I felt I got a chance to have this exhibition, it was the pickled herring one, where the sorrow I felt about not making a movie in the desert was transformed into my first exhibition of paintings.
So you hadn’t painted before then?
No, I mean I was a child that lived in drawing. But I was so insecure, “I can’t do this.” I had never imagined that I would be able to make imagery as a form of currency.
Wow. I love this idea of the pickled herring, that we can find beauty in the neglected and give it new life.
If we think about data, and we go back to the example of the iPhone, the web, we do a search and we have data. We have data flying around us, beside us. Even this conversation at the moment, just data, it’s just information. It is then our wish to turn the data into knowledge. So what is the process that does this? Very few of us ask that question. I think if we learn that process, we become better at doing it. And one of the ways it occurs is that data turns into knowledge by consciousness activating the data. By action. Now if we don’t use our consciousness, the knowledge turns back into data. Then the next level is okay, what is wisdom? From knowledge to wisdom, what is it? It’s when higher consciousness says to the knowledge, “I wish to expediate my evolution. I wish to go faster to evolve. I wish to be stronger to evolve.” And if you activate the knowledge it becomes wisdom. So, I’m not going to lunch with you because last time I had lunch with you, you ripped into me about how I’m being idle and lazy. And I’ve had enough lunches with you to realise, from the data of your chitter chatter, that I can’t do anything in your eyes anymore. And yet, I wish to evolve further, so my wisdom says I should no longer invest my time with you, because I wished to be better, and your story of me is limiting me.
Yes, right. It’s really big thinking, this!
Well, I can give you a package now of thoughts that are just rudimentary—or we can go firing into higher thought. And people can say, you know, Yeldham is too lofty or too spiritual, but this is just me turning up in a Porsche.
[Laughs]. I also want to talk about surrender, this strong message that comes through your book. It’s the title of your book. It’s a great word. I think it’s a word that holds great capacity for us to heal and grow as human beings. But I wonder why you chose that message first of all, for your daughter.
Okay, so we know the word “surrender” as it is used during warfare, it’s always seen as bailing out. And so it had a negative connotation. We were raised never to “surrender.” My father would always say, “Give it your best shot. Do your best. Focus.” Surrender is coming from the organic world, the natural world. There’s a beautiful awareness in nature, and is best seen in the way trees communicate through a root system to each other. It’s been scientifically confirmed now that trees communicate through a fungus called “mycorrhizae.” It’s a fungus that’s on all trees, it grows around the roots of trees, and then acts like a massive net. It’s essentially the original internet of nature. It’s just a massive broadband connection where this fungus connects root system to root system. And a fungus is a conduit for communication, of nitrogen from one tree to another. And it allows trees to become aware that another tree is in need of nitrogen. The trees send nitrogen to each other, especially ones that are in need. Right? Mother trees, they’re the trees when you go to a forest you go, “Oh my God look at that tree, that is just bigger than everything.” The whole network of roots around it will be sapling smaller trees. And this plays an important role in pumping food to them so that they grow. Now in a way that’s surrender. In a way the mother tree is surrendering its own nitrogen, its own power source and giving it to the young to flourish.
When I was thinking about surrender, I was thinking about surrendering to life. We drop the expectations we have of life and let it take hold. Well, I think maybe what you’re saying is a metaphor for that, the trees letting their community life force sustain them.
You give your charm and your talent and your love to others freely and beautifully, because in the end you only have your village or your forest.
So it’s really a message of service to others.
I think so. Absolutely. Well that really is the highest high.