I suppose I must have an inbuilt career saboteur, because at key times I follow a hunch – something that I HAVE to do – which throws a hand grenade into my CV. Imagine this: I start a research group that labours mightily over thirteen years to develop an excellent reputation as a reliable publisher of factual reports on security issues. I complete a serious doctorate on nuclear weapons decision-making. I am trusted to host meetings where nuclear policy makers meet with critics with whom they totally disagree.
And then what do I do? I write a highly personal book entitled Power and Sex – a book about women, which contains quite a lot not only about serpents, but also about sexuality and inner power. To the launch party I invited two enormous live boa constrictors. They rather divided the party into those who have a fascination with serpents, and those who do not.
The book describes how, to be effective in the world, we need to develop inner power. And inner power comes through inner work – getting to know who we are, what we’re like, warts and all, and what we’re here for. And one of the ways to do that is through inner reflection or meditation. It can produce awesome results in terms of outer effectiveness.
I had got an inkling of this when I was in East Mostar in the midst of the Bosnian war in 1994. More than 100 women from all over the world had come in a convoy of buses to try to bring relief and support to the people of Sarajevo. In order to get there we had to get permits to go through the armies surrounding the city. To get the permits 3 of us had to cross a wire rope across the Neretva river to get into East Mostar, and make our way through the bombed-out city to the War Presidency. This building was guarded by soldiers with automatics, who refused entry. Because I couldn’t understand what was being said by my 2 courageous Bosnian friends, I simply stood there.
Then I thought, why not meditate?
What immediately came into my mind’s eye was a red rose.
“Naff” I thought.
But there it was again.
So I mentally put the rose in the heart of the hefty soldier guarding the door. At that point his face broke into a smile and he let us in. To this day I do not know how much that had to do with the rose, and how much it had to do with what my Bosnian friends were saying to him. But while they went in to see the military commander, his secretary disappeared and came back with 3 red roses. Where she got them in that devastated city, I shall never know. Then my friends came out, joyfully clutching the permits.