Friday, December 30, 2011

Spiritual Warfare, by Jed McKenna

A few quotes from this mostly impressive book.

“I have an intended audience… it’s people who know they’re stuck and want to get unstuck, not people who don’t know they’re stuck and just want to pass the time and pass judgment. . . The former would receive criticism with gratitude, and the latter as a personal attack. Awakening is a process of breakthroughs, and breakthroughs don’t come from incense and candlelight and inner peace. You look at spiritual aspirants as those most likely to achieve awakening, but Maya has them so bamboozled that those who seem the most advanced are simply the ones who are burrowing downward the fastest.”

“How can it be that we’re essentially the same now as we were at the most distant reaches of recorded history? Why does our outer environment change while our inner landscape stays the same? Because that’s the first rule of this club:

Always Outward. Never Inward.

So it follows as a matter of certainty that anyone who espouses any teaching or doctrine or philosophy is necessarily a member of the club. Any spiritual teacher who allows students to ask questions and gives them answers is a member of the Outward Only club; an unwitting—and thereby all the more insidious—agent of ignorance. The world is full of respected and beloved spiritual and religious teachers. People ask them questions and they provide answers; question and answer, question and answer, on and on, talk and more talk, more like spiritual therapy than spiritual warfare, but all questions, no matter how sincere or heartfelt, are really the same question, Outward?, and all answers, no matter how profound or wise, are really the same answer, Yes. The subtext of every question is, Am I making progress by asking questions and trying to understand the answers? And the subtext of every answer is, Yes, you are going somewhere while sitting here talking or reading. This is progress. Be at peace. You are progressing and well-progressed. That’s the obvious lie we want to hear and those who tell it most convincingly are the most respected and sought after."

“Our eyes are wide open and we see reality with perfect clarity. This is so obvious that it’s beyond any possible doubt. It’s also untrue. Our vision is so obscured by the mental and emotional flotsam and jetsam of selfhood that what we call stark reality is really just a soft glow seen through tightly shut eyelids; just enough light getting through to illuminate the internal dreamscape. It is owing entirely to our belief that our eyes are open that the spiritual quest is doomed from the start, and that so many who think they’re well along or finished have never really begun. No matter how unwavering we are in our commitment or how steadfast in our determination, no matter how much knowledge we amass or wisdom we attain, no matter what hardships we endure or what sacrifices we make, no matter what scriptures we adhere to or what deities we appease, it’s all just a desperate ploy to keep ourselves from doing the one thing that could make any difference: taking personal responsibility, thinking for ourselves. At the point where we begin our search, we have already overshot the objective, and every step takes us further away.”

“Parents tell their children that there is no such thing as the boogeyman, but that’s because they themselves have never thrown off the covers and turned on the lights. There is such thing as the boogeyman. He is out to get you, and he will. The boogeyman is real. He is the most real thing in the dreamstate, and real Zen, if there is such a thing, is about turning toward him, not away.”

“There are two emotions that inform and animate the human animal: fear, and a gratitude-love-awe mix that might be best called agape. As fear goes out, agape comes in. More accurately, a pure white light of consciousness hits the prism of self and splits outward to become the universe as we experience it. If the prism of self is gray and murky with ignorance, choked with fear, contaminated with ego, then so becomes the universe that radiates out from it. It’s that simple. As the prism becomes free of such flaws, then the whole universe changes with it. It resolves into clarity, becomes brighter, more playful and magical. Because we are the lens through which it is projected, we are participants in its shape and motion; co-creators of our own universe.

That’s Human Adulthood. Spiritual Enlightenment is just the same, except you take the final step in purifying the prism of self: You remove it.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ramsey Dukes' Response to "Serious Play"

I am coming to this thread very late, because of work pressure and other distractions. A lot of ground has been covered in the comments, more than I can respond to, so I'll mainly address the original posting even though it means risking repeating things that have already been said in the comments.

I will just add, in response to the comments about liver, there was an old joke: “is life worth living?". Answer: “it all depends upon the liver." I was also very interested in the discussion about Uranus, Pluto and Chiron, but had better stick to the main topic now.

Firstly, I'd like to correct any wrong impression about my views on magic and art. Kephas writes: “magic he said, is trying to bring about desired results or change, while art is simply creative release of energies, followed by getting to see how those energies bring about change, independent of our will." I have a problem with the word “simply", because I actually see art as something that goes beyond magic. The relationship between magic and art is reflected in the words “craft", a word often used for magic. Magic is indeed a craft, putting together a number of elements and skills in order to invoke a specific effect. So if you are designing a tarot card or magical image, it means deliberately placing appropriate symbols into the picture, or if you are writing a film script and deliberately inserting commercial elements such as car chases, gunfights, and love interest in order to make it a commercial success, then strictly speaking it is an act of magic or craftsmanship–you're making a talisman for commercial success. Art begins when the craftsman moves beyond such conscious deliberation and finds himself adding elements or shaping the whole according to a deeper impulse we might call "inspiration".

In that sense I totally agree with Kephas' summing up: "This is a key difference. It is the difference between letting a zeitgeist (spirit) move through one (without needing to understand it) and trying to move things oneself towards a desired end. For example, I might be writing this piece in order to persuade others of my point of view. On the other hand, I might simply be using words as a means to see what’s moving around inside, and coming through me, without any specific result in mind. In reality, it is a bit of both" Indeed there is usually plenty of overlap in practice.

The relevance of our conversation to the Anonymous movement is that, whereas most protesters are consciously doing things that they believe will work toward a specific effect, the actions of Anonymous seem less predictable, more open ended, more like casting a stone into the waters to create a splash, and therefore more akin to art than sheer craft.

I also agree with the warning that, by becoming an activist, one risks adding energy to the very thing you oppose; while at the same time the personal value of expressing oneself in protest cannot be denied.

On the other hand, I think the discussion focused too much on cause and effect, in the sense that the purpose of a protest action is to cause a specific change. I previously talked about magic being used to “invoke" a specific effect, rather than saying to “cause" it. Although we loosely talk about doing magic to make something happen, it's actually more about encouraging something to happen.

In the early 70s there was a call for ecologically aware people to separate out bottles and tins from their waste and bagged them separately so that they could be recycled. Critics of this pointed out that it was a waste of time, because most councils at that time had no separate recycling facility, so they simply chucked the whole lot into the same heap. But I argued that separating waste still had value as a magical ritual. Instead of feeling that nothing could be done, one was satisfying one's own need to pay tribute to the Earth by conscious attention. One was being mindful, and that in itself has value. One could also argue that, if enough people did this, it would eventually pressure the councils to offer a recycling service—but that is slipping back into a cause-and-effect argument.

So, in that sense, I do believe that taking part in a public protest does have significance as a shared ritual, a directed expression of one's feelings that does have intrinsic value. If the protesters could remember that as they take part, it might help them to avoid the sort of inflated expectations, and resulting sense of disappointment that K warns against. It also helps to get one out of it too simplistic cause-and-effect expectation. Invoking a group mind, Demon or whatever is a bit like voting for a politician: you make an informed choice of what you are invoking, but then to some extent surrender yourself to trusting it to do the right thing. Your protest is no more than a satisfying push in the right direction.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Serious Play: The Occupy Movement and the Twin Horns of Oppression & Revolution

For this post, collected together from recent comments I have made at Reality Sandwich, Facebook, and in dialogue with a protesting pal, I'd like to address what I see as the delusional aspect of the Occupy Movement, and how all social activism only strengthens the structures that are being challenged. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, except insofar as people set about with specific purpose and results in mind, and so become frustrated and disillusioned. It's the delusional aspect which I perceive as the negative, and not the activism per se, which is as valid a way to pass the time as any other (for some people at least). There's a growing belief, however, that the “global revolution” is evidence of a collective shift in consciousness and—taking it to the next “logical” deduction—that it is actually the means to it. In my opinion nothing could be further from the truth, for reasons which I will outline as best as I can.

Anonymous is interesting to me in this regard, because Anonymous exists in a shadow realm between the paradigms, without obviously belonging to either of them. Actually, I would suggest that there are three paradigms relevant to this present discussion: 1) the ruling paradigm of money, power, etc. 2) the opposing paradigm of rebellion, resistance, community values and individual expression. 3) the paradigm which I will attempt to describe in this post, a paradigm which perceives the first two paradigms as merely mirror images of one another, and therefore as equally obsolete. In my estimation, Anonymous, which exists somewhere between the second and third paradigms, is not causing change, social or otherwise, but merely a surface manifestation of a change that is already happening. Like their inspirational character Guy Fawkes/V, Anonymous works with fireworks, creating a dazzling play of light and shadows that is of no actual consequence, finally. To my mind it is that very inconsequentiality that makes it all the more pure.

While speaking recently to Ramsey Dukes about the subject, Ramsey commented on the difference between art and magik: magik, he said, is trying to bring about desired results/change, while art is simply creative release of energies, followed by a getting to see how those energies bring about change, independent of our will. (In Ramsey’s fourfold model of Magik-Art-Religion-Science, magik evolves into art.) The Occupy Movement (at best magik) overlaps with Anonymous (at best art), because some protesters wear masks, and Anonymous encourages and even plans protests. And like Anonymous, the Occupy Movement is a manifestation of change, rather than a catalyst for it. The primary difference is that, unlike Anonymous, my impression is that many or most of the OM participants believe that they are bringing about change, or at least aspiring to do so.

This is a key difference. It is the difference between letting a zeitgeist (spirit) move through one (without needing to understand it) and trying to move things oneself towards a desired end. For example, I might be writing this piece in order to persuade others of my point of view. On the other hand, I might simply be using words as a means to see what’s moving around inside, and coming through me, without any specific result in mind. In reality, it is a bit of both—how effective this piece is will be the only real determinant of how much my ego is preventing real “play” (and hence communication) from occurring.

Another difference is that between recognizing tyranny, oppression, etc., for what they, without making a value judgment about them, and having a personal issue with them. Ditto writing this piece: if I recognize the delusional aspect of the Occupy Movement, can I do so without feeling superior to it or seeing it as a “problem” that needs to be fixed? For Anonymous and all those who wish to approach life (including tyranny and oppression) in a similar spirit of play, the global control system is not a problem to be fixed but a worthy opponent in a great game of cosmic ping pong. The difference between the two opponents is that one side knows it's all a game, while the other side views it with deadly seriousness. When activists take their “revolution” seriously, I would argue that they are unwittingly joining the side they are opposing, because they are sharing in the same “spirit” with it.

Revolution and tyranny are twin horns of the same demon, and the proof is that, just as physical law demands, resistance makes stronger. Based on the indications of “history” (i.e., prior experience), opposing power structures only reinforces and strengthens those same structures in the long run. As exhibit A for this argument, I present “9/11” and the resulting “war on terror,” the Patriot Act, and the myriad ways in which the US (and global) government used an act of resistance to consolidate its political power, and extend the apparatus of tyranny, the same tyranny which the attack on the twin towers was (allegedly) intended to undermine.

As I see it (and admittedly having no direct experience of the protests or encampments), the Occupy Movement has two purposes. Firstly it is an opportunity for people to get together and connect in a “fun” way that beats getting fucked up on drugs and alcohol. Secondly, it is serving to widen the gulf between the socio-political power structures (and the supposed “elite” behind them, the 1%) and “the people” (the 99%) who are both subject to those structures and, paradoxically, who support them by relying upon them. As evidenced by the recent police backlash, the Occupy Movement acts to further energize the old “us and them” polarity, in both the collective and individual psyche. This is all “positive” enough in terms of enacting the Christian psychodrama of Armageddon. But is that what's really desired here?

It seems to me that the Occupiers actually want to improve their lot, and the lot of the alleged “oppressed,” and here, perhaps, is the problem. I would argue that all of us are equally oppressed regardless of our social conditions, and that to try and improve those conditions by resisting governmental corruption is like rearranging the furniture in a house that is on fire. In which case, my guess is that the children of the revolution are going to be sorely disappointed when they see that the Occupation Movement— by energizing the “enemy”— leads to the exact opposite result to that expected, i.e., to the concretization of tyranny.

I would also guess that many of the more conscious participants—on both sides—know this, though I may be wrong about that, since nothing blinds people to the truth so much as ideals. It does strike me as interesting that, despite how well-versed in esoteric concepts many of the OM-ers are, they appear to be operating under a relatively naïve, or shallow, interpretation of social change, just as if it were ordinary political structures and corrupt human beings that were running the show, rather than millennia-long collective, ancestral patterns (a.k.a. “demons”) of denial. To resort to a whopping great cliché—no change can occur externally unless it come about as a ripple-down effect of an internal shift. Occupying cities is a great diversion from the oppression of our lives, but that perhaps makes it more likely to postpone such an internal psychic shift, or “revolution,” than to bring it about.

To be clear: I am not opposed to the Occupy Movement, or to defying the “system.” It is a collective ego trip, in my opinion, but that isn't meant as a value judgment, because a collective ego trip may be just what we need right now, as a species. The only thing I am opposed to is delusion, and since I have my hands full getting past my own delusions, the reader may well ask why I am wasting my time challenging other people’s delusions. I would have no good answer to that, except to say that I enjoy challenging other people’s delusions. My comments about the Occupy Movement and all the rest are no more meaningful or important than the movement itself. They are also, to a degree, exhortations of my ego, with something deeper and more real moving around underneath them. I will say this: those who believe the Occupy Movement is part of a collective shift do not need to defend it from my “heretical” ideas, because, if they are right, nothing I say will make any difference.

But from my point of view, the whole movement is about improving conditions for individuals (and groups of them), which implies that it’s sourced in separative, ego consciousness, and that those involved are trying to enact a shift externally. As a kind of cathartic theater, it might be (somewhat) effective, but that would depend on recognizing it as theater, geared not towards reforming outer structures but towards an internal change in the participants themselves. The Occupy Movement is all part of a larger process, for sure, but so is the tyranny, and so is everything else. I'm mostly concerned that a lot of people are going to have their hopes dashed (as previously with Obama) when they realize that the nature of tyranny is that it does not give into pressure . Or at least, it never has before.

At the same time, I think it points at a much larger delusion. The idea of “human rights” is assumed by the liberal mind-set to be a progressive one. It is a given. But the idea leads inevitably onto criminal rights, animal rights, insect rights, and so on. So where does the concept of rights end? Virus rights? Bacteria rights? Disease rights? Isn’t the idea of rights a human/ego-centric concept, one with social and political significance but no wider meaning, because no equivalent in the natural order of existence? Isn’t it just another imposition of the human ego on what already is? I would argue that none of us have rights because none of us need rights.

The idea of rights being ego-centric doesn't mean it can be dismissed, however, any more than a symptom of a disease should be dismissed. My point, if any, is that the idea of human rights is part of the problem and not the solution. It stems from a very deeply-embedded idea we have in the West, the idea of entitlement, the idea that we deserve better. The only way to argue that we deserve better, however, is to argue that God/the Universe has made a balls up of things because we aren’t getting what we want. Most of us feel that way (I know I do); but to turn it into a philosophy and a rationale for social activism is to take it from mere childish pouting into the realm of hubris. There's an argument for hubris, too, of course, so once again, no value judgment is implied.... But again, if people are protesting because they believe they deserve better, that's a sense of entitlement. According to what logic do we deserve better? The answer is, according to human (egocentric) logic, a logic based on the illusion of being separate from the system, both the little system of government, commerce, and social oppression, and the greater system of life as a whole. To oppose the little system is also to oppose the greater system, to defy the gods, as it were. If we were to free our minds first, mightn’t we find that the system of oppression we exist under is exactly the way it is supposed to be, along with everything else?

Unless our idea of God is the rather antiquated notion of an outside intelligence lording it over things, then the buck must always stop with divine—the greater intelligence of the whole system—and not at any point before that. To try and blame a system or group or individual for the way things are is tantamount to saying that they/it are separate from the divine, and so they can, and even must, be eliminated for the good of all! To fight for one’s personal sovereignty or impose one’s idea of what constitutes a good or proper life on to another person or group of people = egotism. To fight for other peoples’ right to personal sovereignty = egotism + arrogance. It is true that people seem to be suffering everywhere, and that it seems like an unnecessary result of a few psychopathic scumbags abusing their power. But a seeming isn’t necessarily a reality. If we see someone dying in a gutter, rather than rushing over to help them, isn’t it wisest to ask them first if they want to be helped? They might be doing a Diogenes and consider our “help” an intrusion.

The Occupy Movement is based on value judgments about what constitutes a good society, a positive direction for humans to move in, and at least partially on the assumption that “one utopia fits all.” At the same time, the idea of what we need seems to stem largely from a reaction-response to the way things are, i.e., from resistance to an existing way of life deemed to be “unjust” and undesirable. All these occupiers may get along fabulously as long as they have a common foe to oppose and can agree, more or less, on the way things ought to be. But what would happen if that enemy (those old outworn structures) were suddenly gone? If there is a shared need to identify and oppose “the other” (corporate oppression, government corruption, etc.) which is bringing these people together, then if victory did occur, wouldn’t they need to find someone or something else to oppose? And wouldn’t they be forced to find it within their own ranks?

Once again, I am open to the idea that getting involved in protests may have a liberating effect on the participants (or at least some of them), just as playing a good game of soccer or participating in a theatrical or musical performance can be liberating (and empowering).The obvious question then is, would that still be the case if the participants accepted that the Occupy Movement was futile, in terms of bringing about social change—or even that it was eventually going to have the opposite effect to the one desired? Would the participants still be willing to engage just for the hell of it—for “lulz”? It is that spirit of play—serious play—that is the spirit of real change.

As mentioned earlier, some people believe that the Occupy Movement and its other manifestations is an expression of a “collective shift” pertaining to the coming Age of Aquarius, the sign that rules the collective. However, the shadow of Aquarius is (its opposite sign) Leo, which signifies individual sovereignty and self-expression. This would support my description of the Occupy Movement as a collective ego trip, as an expression of Leo disguised as an Aquarian movement. The shadow (delusion) heralds the coming of an objective reality, however, so it is only right if things unfold in this way. What would be a mistake would be to take the shadow for the substance, the hope/illusion for reality.

My sense is strong that, if and when a collective shift comes, we won’t have anything to do with it, and most of us probably won’t even know what hits us. It might be suggested that the Occupy Movement is laying the foundation for the shift, but I would argue that there is no foundation either possible or needed for such a shift. What there is, perhaps, is a clearing the ground, a razing, not for some utopian edifice to be constructed but for an unknown new life to burst forth, over time, from that charred land.

In the meantime, a lot of people are getting their hopes up around the movement, just as they did recently with ObaMa (OM baa). I would wager it is many of the same people, too. It's well and good for people to get out and engage with each other, and again, it makes a nice change from watching TV or bowling. It’s also perhaps a natural expression of “the masses” to revolt, so by all means let them incur the wrath of the powers-that-be so that more people can see the iron fist in action and better understand the nature of the Beast. The trouble starts when people begin to take their activism too seriously and invest, both emotionally and psychologically, in some imagined, desired (and desirable) end result. Then they are setting themselves up, not only for disappointment, but for levels of bitterness and rage which they may not be able to deal with (or express constructively, much less creatively). Ironically it is probably such bitterness and (out)rage that got many people out there in the first place; but in the end, I predict it’s that same energy which will lead many people to unwittingly join the demon-forces which they are so passionately set against. They will then be swallowed up by the beast, even as it devours itself.

While Rome burns, people may as well fiddle. All change is good. But what is oppressing us, in my opinion, is not any external structures but rather our own self-importance, our sense of entitlement in the face of a shitty world and a bleak future. It is up to us, as individuals, to let go of that pride so as not to choke on it first. I am fairly sure that, if people managed to let go of their self-importance, they wouldn’t need to protest or to do anything else besides take care of themselves and those closest to them. And if everyone did that, there’d be no need for mass movements. We might then start to see that our conditions are only and exactly what we need, collectively, that the shift, if it is to come, will happen via such conditions and not despite them, and that all any of us needs to do to change our lives is simply to let go.

No matter what sort of conditions we are living under
, that’s really all that any of us can do, in any case —let go and remember how to play.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

“You say you want a revolution – you better free your mind instead!”

Curious to note: oppressive regimes, etc, are the result of collective & individual blocked psychic energies, and therefore they are helpful to us as the means to identify an internal blockage/tyranny/oppression (mind over body, for example, or sensuality over spirituality). And so, when individuals band together to try and overcome external regimes of oppression, is that a way to symbolically enact a clearing of the channels within, or is it the means to avoid really looking at what’s going on inside and kid ourselves that we can fix ourselves by fixing our social circumstances?

Personally, I lean towards the latter POV, and YET… I am such a skeptic, or cynic, or as I like to think, a rigorous thinker, that I can’t help but wonder even if attempts to sort ourselves internally are missing the point too? The ego (constructed ID) is the only petty tyrant we need to “worry” about, and the ego runs the program of the self – so all our attempts to dethrone it are infiltrated from the start – like a King who creates his own rebellion in order to weed out the free-thinkers and destroy them.

Put more simply: if the root of our trouble, as individuals and as a society, is the illusion of being a separate entity apart from the greater intelligence system of the Universe, then the solution to that is to realize and accept that there is nothing that we can – or even need to -”do” about it, because we don’t exist as a separate volitional entity ANYWAY.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Destiny Delusion

From a post I made at RS, seems worth repeating here for those who aren't following the frantics over there.

... something I was talking about yesterday with a friend which I called The Destiny Delusion (future article?) - the way in which we, our constructed ID selves, manage to get hold of (what we assume to be) elements of truth, reality, and the divine, and shape them, according to the patterns of our lower/wounded natures, into a grand destiny-design that FEELS as real, more real even, than anything we have experienced. Entheogens, for me, were a major component in creating and expanding that Destiny Delusion, whereby I became convinced of certain things about myself and my role in the universe, personal and beyond. People we meet (especially ones we fall in love with, in my experience) hook into our delusional narratives (all of which, let's face it, are founded in and filtered through an erroneous belief that we are "discreet," separate entities) and so we get married, join groups, follow gurus, start movements, write books, sing songs, and all the rest, happily building (adding our energy and attention to) a "second matrix" kind of set-up (bardo realm for the living) that keeps us from realizing the truth about ourselves and reality, preciselybecause it appears to be "ultimate truth/reality." In simple (paranoid) jargon, it's the old shtick of demons disguised as angels, luring us into hellfire by playing on our vanity. Hence the inorganics that CC describes, hooking into our patterns, fears, hopes, desires, and telling us exactly what we want to hear.

I am 44 years old and I have to face up to the very real possibility (and I think it's more than just a possibility) that my whole adult life has been a kind of wrong turn. That said, recognizing the wrongness of it may just make it the right path after all, in a strange and mysterious way, though that remains to be seen. REALLY recognizing how wrong we are goes much deeper than an intellectual concession, all the way to the marrow of our bones. It is, I imagine, a psyche-splitting axe blow from which we never recover our former sense of selves.

Obviously the idea of demons (aka patterns) tricking us into a false sense of destiny is ‘paranoid’ in the extreme, and if it were true, recognizing the truth of it would make it very difficult NOT to become paranoid, even clinically speaking. But ironically, it’s only the constructed ID (which is responsible for co-creating this diabolic delusory realm) that insists on seeing things in such black and white terms at all. It insists on imagining angels and demons as also being discreet entities, like us, and so the danger is in reinforcing the second matrix program through fear and resistance to it (the flyers feed on fear of the flyers – so ignorance to them may be the best defense the average man has, puny as it is).

Angels and demons aren’t separate beings, however, but opposite poles of a single energy-consciousness system much like day and night; and human beings are capable somehow of containing the full spectrum of awareness that spans that polarity (hence the angel and devil on each shoulder cliché). The real danger is not in becoming prey to demons, but in mistaking cold for hot, day for night, demon for angel, and responding inappropriately (insanely) to the cues. There’s nothing “bad" per se about being taken over/eaten by inorganic beings. The badness/wrongness is in the error of thinking that something else is happening than what is in fact happening. That’s delusion, and the real trouble with delusion is that it’s self-sustaining and self-propagating: when we are deluded, our mistaken assumptions cause us to act in ways that lead us ever deeper into delusion.

The first, most difficult but also essential step, is recognizing our capacity for delusion as being very nearly total, and to do that without giving in to paranoia and despair. Not-knowing (knowing that we don't know WTF is going on) is the only real ground in which gnosis can grow in, and I presume it's for that reason that gnosis always happens of its own accord, never as the result of anything we do.

Real freedom begins with not needing to understand anything before we accept it, accepting things as they are, and letting understanding come post-acceptance.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Serpent's Promise: The Shocking Truth About Psychedelics

Stirring up the natives over at Reality Sandwich with this piece; invite you all to join the fray, if you dare.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Guatemaya Rabbit Hole

Rainy season ends in Guatemaya this month, and Mitch Fraas and I are offering shaman tours of Guatemaya for cost-only (buy your ticket and pay for your expenses, and we'll put you up and show you the Mayan rabbit hole). Mitch is based in Santiago (where he will be building a house over the coming months), and I am based in Panajachel, where visitors will stay (see below)

The guest bungalow.

Mitch's working partner is the shamanic tour guide Dolores Ratzan, who was previously married to Martin Pretchell, the well-known author (his book Secrets of the Talking Jaguar is about his time as a shaman in Santiago Atitlan).


Like Pretchell, Mitch belongs to the Copre Dia, the shaman brotherhood based in Santiago whose deity is Maximon.

For more information on what a shaman tour with Mitch and I entails, go to Mitch and I can be heard in conversation here. If interested, contact me via my profile.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Culture of Blame & the Dark Side of Marriage

Why do so many once-loving couples wind up hating the sight of each other? Why does sexual love turn into sexual hate? The reason is that when we fall in love we project all of our hopes and fantasies onto the other person, and that process has a dark side. Face it: there’s nothing more hateful than seeing all of our dreams fall apart.

What that means is that the more clearly we see the other person, the more those fantasy-projections fall apart, and the less we like it. So our experience is likely to be that, the more clearly we see the other person, the less we like them. It’s not because they are so unlikeable; it’s simply because they are their own person. They exist independently of our projections and fantasies of them. How dare they? I mean really—how dare they? So what we end up most hating about the beloved other is that they are independent and autonomous beings. That makes them a threat to us, the ultimate threat, in fact. And the more deeply we “love” them, the greater a threat they will become.

It’s all about having someone to blame. Everybody needs someone to blame. That’s the dark side of marriage. If we are unlucky enough to find someone who appears to be everything we want in life, then eventually they will become the perfect scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in our lives. They come to represent all the ways that we can’t get what we want. They become the denial of our wants.

It is a hideous conundrum, and it is one that can and does lead to murder. When it gets really bad, murder actually does seem, honestly and truly, to be the best answer. It becomes the most appropriate action for the personal self once we are faced with that hideous conundrum. If the personal self was all that there was to existence, in the end we may as well just kill the other, since all they are going to do is torment us with their autonomy and independence. Leaving doesn’t seem like a sufficiently final solution; if there is a true or “alchemical bond,” we are going to suffer even more that way. But if we kill them, destroy them completely, maybe we can be free!

Fortunately or unfortunately, there is more to us than the personal self, in fact the personal realm is really just the surface, and what torments us goes much deeper than we even know. So if that bond—and the torment it creates—continues on “the other side,” killing them would actually be the worst thing we could do. That’s the fearful symmetry of it, that what can end up seeming like the best and only solution is actually the most terrible trap we can fall into.

The other option is suicide. Ah yes: let’s send them a message they will never forget by destroying ourselves! Let’s punish the other and get free of them in one fell swoop. But this is the same non-solution solution. Picture this: Tormented by a love gone wrong, a person is trying to bring about resolution in their psyche and reach a state of peace. Who can blame them for that? The trouble is that nothing they do works. So then, if they persist in trying, in finding new things to do, things that might just work, in the end murder and suicide are, obviously, the last resorts. “I’ve tried everything, now let’s try that!” Some people, many people even, when finding themselves in that situation, might believe it’s a real solution. Not me. I know it’s not going to work, so I can’t kid myself. I can’t believe something I know the opposite of. I can believe what I don’t know, but I can’t believe the opposite of what I do know. Thankfully I am not that far gone. But it doesn’t have to be actual murder or suicide. In the less literal realms, one can murder and suicide in one's mind. In terms of sustaining the sort of energy and thoughts that fuel murder or suicide, I have been guilty.

So who’s goddamn fault is it? Is it my momma’s or dadda’s? Or is it their mommas’ and daddas’? Is it the whole human race’s responsibility? In the end, it’s everyone’s and no one’s -- except my own. I am the only one who can choose to act or not act on these feelings. Choosing not to blame is the fundamental step towards healing the wounds that are the real source of our torment. Taking responsibility means not blaming anyone, including oneself. Blame and responsibility don’t co-exist. It is irresponsible to blame people. Why? It has to do with the fact that everyone is already accountable for their actions. Because of that, the universe doesn’t need for us to bring others to account. That adds noise to the signal.

It is between oneself and what one’s knows the truth of. Facing the truth of one's self and one’s actions, that is the only account that we have to make, and it is to ourselves. We are the only ones who can see what we have done to ourselves.

Nobody does anything to anyone, really, because we are always doing it to ourselves. Whenever we hurt someone, they are just a surrogate for ourselves. So although we might be effective in making the other person feel our pain, we are still not actually doing anything to them, because we are isolate. If we were really connected, in a true sense, we wouldn’t be able to hurt each other. Living organisms can’t attack themselves; it takes a foreign element to enter in there and screw up the whole system.

So what is the foreign element? Blame. So where did it come from? It seems as though there is some element in our existence that isn’t meant to be there, that doesn’t belong, that is hostile towards our nature. It’s a paradox and a conundrum: if it was truly unlike us, how could it have access to us? How would it be able to infiltrate our system if we didn’t somehow resonate with it?

It’s nobody’s fault that blame entered the system. It just did. Forgive yourself for ever having blamed, and start all over again from there.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cosmic Psyche

Physics only interests me, like pretty much everything else, in the larger context of psychology. And if psychology is understood as the study of the soul, then its reach potentially encompasses all human experience, including determining what we mean by "soul" or psyche.

Psychology only interests me, like pretty much everything else, in the larger context of physics . And if physics is understood as the study of the body, then its reach potentially encompasses all human experience, including determining what we mean by "body" or physicality.

It’s only by going down into subatomic particles to see how they behave that physics has begun to get to the heart of the matter: as below is *not* as above, because our idea of the laws of physics/nature is out of accord with the reality.

In the application of (Jungian) psychology, it’s only by looking outside of us – not by looking inward – that we can begin to grasp the laws of the psyche, because - surprise, surprise - as without, so within.

Physical reality is not separate from the reality of the psyche, but it has been split off from it, the result being that we now perceive ourselves as living surrounded by dead matter, and as isolate within our own self-reflected, solipsistic, inner reality of “I.”

Yet the patterns of our thoughts and feelings that weave together into identity are physical phenomena, and the patterns of events, stars, planets, and subatomic particles moving outside of us are, in kind, psychological phenomena. They are the movement of a cosmic psyche, of which we are currently but dream-fragments, thought-forms – yet nonetheless made of the same substance as the totality, hence one with it.