Blog John, Mental Health

Signs, The KLF and Karmapa’s Flag (John)


I picked out a gravestone and decided whatever was written on it would be “The Sign!” You won’t believe what was written on it. Beside the owners name and date of life to end there were two words, “Keep Smiling”. How good is that? That’s not a bad sign at all.

In previous blogs Elle and I have spoken a fair amount about how terrifying aspects of psychosis can be. What I haven’t covered so much is the positive aspects that certain delusions can have on you. Before we get into this blog I’d like to point out that I don’t see myself as affiliated to any particular religion. But having been raised in a religious background I don’t see people who are religious in negative ways. If I was to be put on the spot I’d describe myself as being a bit spiritual and feel there may be things going on in the grander scheme of stuff that are beyond our comprehension. Which is the western way of saying, yes I am religious, I just can’t be arsed going to church lol.

Psychosis can make you see signs in everything. From road signs to the ingredientes on the back of a crisp packet. (For more on this follow the link above) However there is the odd and rare occasion in my life when a ‘sign’ will pop up in everyday life, when I’m not in the grip of psychosis or feeling unwell. I don’t see these signs as a literal message from a divine source, I don’t even really believe they are a sign. What they are, are pleasant coincidences in which I may find comfort the next time I’m feeling unwell. They can be used as a tool against the negative aspects of psychosis, they can be useful. One happened yesterday. But first let me tell you about one from my past.

Around about the turn of the millennium I was sharing a flat with a beloved friend Keith. Keith was prone to depression and anxiety and my Bipolar was untreated at this point. We were quite the pair, but alone nobody could make us laugh like we could each other. That’s still the case today. One night I was feeling particularly rubbish and Keith decided to tell me a modern fable to cheer me up. I was a big fan of dance band and self proclaimed ‘art terrorists’ The KLF. Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty were always coming up with fantastic schemes to promote their work. Keith told me (and this is a true story) that they once planned to fly an effigy of Elvis to the top of the North Pole and drop it there so it could radiate love around the world. Their logic was that images of Elvis were now more commonly found in our everyday life than ones of Jesus. So Elvis had won. So with that Keith told me I should look for an image of Elvis on the way to work the next day, and then I would feel its love and be cheered up. It sounded like a good game to me. Next day I was on the bus to work and had forgotten what Keith had said when the memory suddenly sprung to mind. I remember quietly saying outloud to myself, “Oh I forgot to look for Elvis.” At EXACTLY the moment I said this somebody who was getting off the bus hit me quite heavily in the shoulder with their bag, knocking me forward in my seat. As I looked up right in my face was a fair sized orange day glo crucifix, which was hanging from said bag. As I say I’m no Christian, but I remember quietly smiling to myself and thinking, “Well it looks like Jesus might still be hanging onto the title”

I’m no Buddhist either. I have read about it a bit but I don’t practice it. However, I’ve had a couple of friends in my life who do and they’re among my favourite of people. Kenny and Ross have a compassion and quiet sincerity about them that is very attractive. Yesterday I posted a link to Mind Palaver on Facebook. Kenny came on the thread and posted two words…’Karmapa’s Flag’. Curious I Googled this and discovered what he was relating too. I was quietly gobsmacked. Here’s what I found.


The 16th Karmapa saw this flag in a dream. He called it Namkhyen Gyaldar — “Victorious Flag of the Buddha’s Wisdom” — and announced “Wherever this banner is flown, the Dharma will flourish.” Historically, the Karmapas’ predictions have been correct.

The Meanings of the Dream Flag

The Ocean of Wisdom
Tibetan: gyalwa or Mongolian: dalai
as in Gyalwa Karmapa or Dalai Lama

At the level of relative truth, the blue is the sky (heaven), symbolizing spiritual insight and vision, and the yellow is the earth, the actual world of our everyday experience. The symmetry of the wave pattern shows how we come to understand their interdependence when we practice the dharma.

As a reminder of absolute truth, the blue symbolizes the wisdom, or emptiness aspect of awakened being, while the yellow stands for the compassion aspect. The wavy intermingling of the two colors represents their inseparability.

The interdependence shown in the flag can also be seen as the wisdom of Mahamudra, the ultimate realization of ones true nature..

You see, the thing is, the design of the flag does reflect heavily the logo of this site. I picked the logo for this site completely at random. The one thought I had was it was a bit reflective of the idea of the Chinese Yin and Yang. Light and dark. I told Kenny this was a delightful observation. And it is. Here’s some KLF. Enjoy.


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