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Monday, January 25, 2021

educated

It sure doesn’t seem like a long time and to have made a commitment of this length would have been a non-starter to begin with. I’m talking about my awakening. It started just shy of my 40th birthday in late 2007. The reason I know this is Google search history! I started poking around the internet in 2007 for answers. I decided to take my superior logic and reasoning atheistic brain that was supremely confident in its ability to eventually figure out any problem presented to it and apply my gifts towards a perplexing human phenomenon which was: Why do we believe in these non-rational god beings and ultimately, what is the origin of beliefs? It’s been quite the trip. I started with something close to me, which is Christianity, and progressed through world religions before delving into what we know about ancient belief systems. I became fascinated with ancient Egypt and saw it as one of the bedrocks of what has passed on into our modern-day religions. I was soon obsessed and learned all I could before serendipitously being gifted with an opportunity to spend ten days exploring Egypt in 2009. I took the opportunity and further increased my obsession to the point where I could formulate my own coherent reason why people and societies had the beliefs they do which had to do with observation of nature, natural phenomenon, the stars, and the mystery of death. However, something still bugged me. Why would you waste valuable resources and human capital on constructing soaring and unfathomable pyramids and majestic temples? Well, maybe a few of these structures, however they are everywhere! And they are confounding to a modern such as myself. There has to be more to this equation. They had to know and therefore I had to know. Eventually, I figured out they were altering their consciousness through drugs, ecstatic dance, and ritual. Off I went in search of a modality that would allow me to do the same. I discovered shamanism and I found where it is still practised today in the Amazon basin. After close to five years searching for the origin of beliefs, I drank a cup of Ayahuasca and within twenty minutes I had the answer directly in front of me.

And so began the second phase of my education.
 
I know exactly why I made the original decision to go down into the Amazon jungle and drink plant medicines. I was chasing the Goddess I came across in my obsession with ancient Egypt and I was quite confident that by altering my consciousness I could get into contact with her. It turns out I was correct in my intuitive assumptions which is important because along this path you will face many twists and turns and you have to sort out fact from fiction. The need to do this discernment stems from the mind’s ability to spin a narrative. It is important at times to take a step back and try to piece it all together which means eliminating spin. This means separating what you hope and want to believe from what has repeatedly happened and the direction it is leading you. When I first went down into the jungle, I also had a secondary intention which was to confront the darkness that lay within my being. As I traverse this long and winding road, I can always return to these original two intentions and find the answers to why this journey has transpired in the way it has gone down.
 
Recently, I have been asking myself what possessed me to continue on with this journey, especially after the original beatdown I endured from my shadow the second time I drank Ayahuasca. Within the first two plant medicine ceremonies, the game was on. First, I met the mysterious and captivating Goddess and subsequently I was pummelled by the darkness that lay within. It was so severe and unnerving it made me panic and endure much paranoia, including hearing a voice afterwards for days. I returned home shell-shocked, wondering what happened? I fully admit to a defeat in that battle and I could have given up on the quest. It took me a while but I eventually did get up off the mat and made a return for round two. I took the blows and persevered, eventually to the point where I did get the upper hand and it opened up so many avenues of exploration on this most magnificent journey. Still, I have been trying to understand just exactly why I did choose to continue after my shadow made it clear to stand down and go away, lest I face the consequences and a gruesome outcome.
 
One of the reasons I continued was that to be in the presence of the Goddess was the most intoxicating moment of my life. It was enough of an otherworldly encounter I’d risk everything to get back into her company. Taking that chance allowed me to once again face up to my demons and I remember clearly the night I stood my ground and got through the blows coming at me in all directions. It was a fantastic feeling of exhilaration and relief when I survived the night and something definitely shifted within me which eventually led to acquiring an unbelievable amount of courage. Looking back, I was never one to accept defeat, as temporary failure would just make me double my efforts to figure out the game. It is clear that’s what I did however naive that may well be.
 
Armed with this strength and courage I set off to explore, all the while transforming within ceremony into a jaguar and being lovingly wrapped in the embrace of a giant green boa constrictor. I have been preparing for the third phase for a few years now. I have a feeling it isn’t going to be easy but I’m as ready as I will ever be. I’m going into the darkness without a flashlight or a rope to get out. It calls out to me and I will answer the call. Just like I intuitively knew I could get into contact with the Goddess in this lifetime, I know I can stand before my shadow, tall and proud. A student eternally grateful for the transformation in this incarnation through a process that would break most. I know he’s my teacher and all this he has done to make me a warrior. Others are not so lucky. Culture has conspired to make this journey and meeting pretty much near impossible. Nobody dares do this or approach the darkness. In 21st century earth life, it is now summarily hidden and forbidden. Onward ho! I kind of know I’m going back to Peru as soon as I can. Just recently the owl appeared to me three times to signal it is time for the next step. Yesterday kind of sealed it; this pandemic notwithstanding. So, I was returning from a walk in the nighttime woods with my dog and the owl was waiting for me. Always an omen, this one was perched atop a pine tree and multiple loud hoots came at me. It sees the energy emanating from me and said, “I see you.” I thought about it; I know the owl is connected to death. My focus is liberation and the advice I got from my peculiar shadowy friend last time down was he told me to kill myself in order to live. I think that will be my motto for the next adventure. The omen of the owl lets me know I can see into this darkness with clarity and that I’m ready to undertake this journey.
 
I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. This John Lennon lyric from the Beatles’ song ‘I am the Walrus’ describes my current understanding of my shadow. We really are one but currently live split due to the situation where I, conscious me, took the part of me not sanctioned by the cultural super ego and buried it in the shadows henceforth I call him my shadow. He’s my unconscious me. By rejecting this part of me, I tossed away a lot of power and instead I am a puppet controlled by culture and others, who basically want to use me for their personal gain. Thus, the shadow teaches liberation because if you break free of the hold culture and of other’s expectations of you then you can reclaim that power.
 
I’ve invited the shadow back into my life. I can do that because I went on a path of discovery and I know exactly who he is and therefore can directly address him with the knowledge that yes I know who you are and in addition I’m not scared. I won’t run or lock you away again. He’s taught me a couple huge lessons in the last couple of months. First of all, I don’t need to seek power because I am power. I just need to reclaim it. Secondly, my goal of shedding desire I can never achieve and transcend because power is desire and you are desire. You can't transcend what fundamentally you are. I went through the process of the reductionism of self until I was left with a biological form that upon severing of the umbilical cord tasted a freedom for a very short period of time until I was named and subsequently brought up within my culture. So, I wonder who was that little guy? I found out he was once again the coming forth of desire after the mother and father got together to complete a sex act that was driven by desire. Cupid shot his arrow and then appeared in human form shortly thereafter. Most of Eros I bury and he becomes the shadow. What I don’t toss into the darkness is sanctioned by culture and become my drives as in a drive to succeed in this perverse game of life we all play. What does the winner get? All the toys? A mouth full of escargot and expensive liquor? How about you figure out it’s not how you play the game instead you know it’s a game and even go further and know that you created the game. Then you hold in your hand all the power and win the championship. Or, you just leave it at that and watch the game unfold while re-entering back into the game. There will be a definite reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression.
 
I have always been a contrarian and have been able to see beyond limiting cultural beliefs and how they direct your thinking into silos. It’s because of this default mode that I was able to see my shadow friend for whom he really is. We are conditioned throughout life to avoid the darkness and dare not explore it. The figure of a great and scary devil is presented to us so we stay away. Did we do this our self or is our shadow complicit in this conspiracy? Based on my journey, I’d hazard a guess the darkness contributes to this situation. It becomes a path travelled only by a few and then further whittling down this group it becomes a select gathering. The seduction of power will make the group go its separate ways. I can taste the power; sometimes I feel it in my hands. I did not seek it out therefore I’m still standing. I know it’s mine. For coming this far you could say it’s a reward. However, I’ve learned my lessons well and I know with power comes the temptation to control and my intentions revolve around liberation. In order to be free, you let it be.

Monday, January 18, 2021

higher shadow

By definition, the darkness is mysterious. The lack of light allows for the ability to stay hidden and makes the process of discovery difficult. Most of us like a challenge and after getting past fear, I picked up my sword and went into the depths. Remember when you were a kid and your parents sent you down into the dark basement to get something? You couldn’t get back up out of that hell fast enough. Weird isn’t it?

If I could rig the game so I win all the time it would be satisfying for a while but eventually I’d tire of the game because the outcome is baked into the cards. I’ve been doing the human thing long enough to realize that major leaps of growth in my life have occurred when I have been stressed and had to figure out a way to beat the game. Ram Dass tells a story of his guru Maharaji-ji exclaiming, “All suffering is grace.” The challenge instigated by the suffering spurs us on towards growth. Personally, I had to accept failure as a major part of the curriculum. When I found plant medicines it was a tough road to travel in that the darkness would constantly challenge me all the while I wanted to just hang out in the clouds and live in temporary bliss. Of course, I found a way to vanquish the darkness when it came at me. That part of the game was the catalyst for developing some skills to deliver the outcomes I wanted.

The outcomes I started to ensure eventually led to stasis. That’s my modus operandi; I take the sharp edge off everything and make all events come out even-steven. This in turns allows me to sail through life, avoiding the drama. I’m smart enough to eventually realize my folly and if I wished to continue on this path I’d have to surrender and not try to control outcomes. I always knew that; the maestro would mention surrender and I included it in my mantra when I participated in plant medicine ceremonies however I didn’t always practice what I preached. Once I reached the crossroads where I sat in an Ayahuasca ceremony, blasted with energy, and experienced my ability to control the situation, I realized I had to give it up if I was to continue on the path. So, I had to ask myself: Do I want to continue?

The answer was yes. I had to return to the beginnings of my exploration where I encountered this darkness and engaged in a battle for supremacy. Originally, I never won the battle but I did learn courage and persistence along with strength of character. Looking back on what transpired, it was the challenge of my lifetime and I realized I misread my opponent. I started investigating this shadowy figure and made some astounding discoveries. This is what I’m intent upon exploring.

We don’t see it. By we, I mean spiritual explorers. We tend to divide up the psychological aspect of our human experience. There’s the conscious self we generally call the ego though it seems that we also have a ’true’ self. In addition, there is the goal of becoming or merging with our ‘higher self’ who is the goody-goody in the white robe we aspire to become. Along the path of exploration there is to be done shadow work where we come to terms with what we have buried as well as our deviant nature and checkered past. Apparently, we can transcend that part of us and become a fully enlightened being.

So, what don’t we see? Your shadow is your higher self. We are just confused. I was reading a quote of Ram Dass’ concerning taking up the spiritual path to discover the higher self. The suggestion was to quiet the turnings of the mind and access that intuitive wisdom. It’s perfect advice and should be the outcome of a good meditative practice. Quiet the mind but don’t become a stone Buddha. Start listening to that voice within. Okay, so far so good. Ram Dass’ advice then goes on to implore us to plumb the depths of our beings to find this part of our self. Do you see it now? To find your higher self means plumbing the lower depths. Was Ram Dass confused or was he contributing to the mystery and issuing a challenge to the perceptive spiritual seekers among us? I think I know his intentions.

Here’s the advice from Ram Dass:

Take My Advice

Don’t sell yourself short by thinking you are only your body or your personality, no matter how intriguing and dramatic they may be. For behind them, there lies a more profound part of your true self. Call it ‘spiritual’ or call it ‘higher consciousness’… call it what you will, but… Call it!

One of the doorways to that higher self is through the cultivation of your intuitive wisdom. As you learn to listen to and trust your intuition, you will find a quiet place in the heart of your being that is wise and can guide your actions. One of the things it will remind you of is your interconnectedness to all things. And out of that appreciation will spontaneously arise compassion for those who suffer; for the earth, and for all living things.

When that happens, don’t be overwhelmed by the suffering you see, by the darkness that exists in the human condition. True, there is much of it. But so, too, is there much caring and compassion in the world. Mahatma Gandhi said, “What you do may seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” It is important for yourself, as well as for the balances in the world. As you let your compassion guide you into action to help heal the earth and those who suffer, your very acts will feed your own compassionate heart and in so doing, open the inner gates to knowing your own highest self.

I promise you that plumbing the depths of your being is an unparalleled adventure. I wish you well on the journey.

In Love,
Ram Dass

Everything bad or evil that happens in the world as a result of the presence of human beings we ascribe to the recesses of self that we have failed to integrate into society. We blame the shadow because we never take responsibility for our own actions. Even when we kind of admit it is our fault, in turn we point a finger at the darkness. He’s evil and he made me do it. It’s a convenient scapegoat that allows us to look in the mirror and not recoil in horror at what we have done and our repeated failings. You chase desires. You cause the suffering. You are selfish. It was your choice all along.

The biblical Israelites practiced this form of blame, shame, and scapegoating. Here are some Torah verses from Leviticus chapter 16 (KJV translation) that ritually transfer the guilt of the Israelites onto a horned he-goat.

10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.
21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
22 And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

In the Sinai wilderness the Israelites transferred all of their wicked deeds onto a goat via the high priest Aaron. The goat, called Azazel, was then cast out from the encampment into the wilderness. The act of transferring or denying our inclination towards malice becomes a bedrock for western man’s religions and attempts to reconcile with his nature. We choose to hate, cause other to suffer, and are forgiven. We transferred the responsibility for this behaviour unto a goat-like figure we developed into a being called Satan who we could then summarily blame. Ultimately, Christianity’s saviour of mankind took upon himself all of our sins and was the scapegoat sacrificed so we could obtain atonement for our wicked ways.

Makes you think; maybe think too much. Cultural indoctrination is indeed a bitch. If I told you where to find the answer to the greatest mystery of all you wouldn’t believe me and perhaps never want to talk to me again. So, like Ram Dass I’ll have to give you subtle and underhanded clues.

Monday, January 11, 2021

rear-view mirror crossroads

Do desires follow your energetic pattern through to the next adventure? Is that your karmic predicament? Is that what we have the chance to do in life: Attain self-mastery and control over the demons? The demons who are teachers.

There is a need to take an honest look at yourself. To see if you are in balance and are integrating what you have learned. This evaluation has to have no mercy. Do you have the requisite discipline? Why have you foregone the need to play? Why so serious? Ultimately, what is your intention? There’s no need to wait for ceremony to set an intention. Set an intention in consensus reality. 

I have tried to blame my shadow for all of my life's failings. These failings are my lack of self-mastery and getting caught up in and addicted to desires. Desires that take away my freedom and further bury me into cultural servitude. I know they can be bad for me so normally I can practice restraint while I have temporary mastery over myself. When I lose that control, I zone out into another consciousness that is focused upon a single-minded fulfilment of desire. I blame this other consciousness on my shadow but come to think of it he is just observing my actions. As Ram Dass would say, the observer is just peacefully sitting in non-judgment saying, "Eating pizza again." It’s the weakness of Apollo that is being witnessed and the subsequent all too human projection of blame on something external or a convenient scapegoat. The human race has never been good at accepting responsibility for its actions. The following reflection upon my actions leads to self-doubt and judgment of the self when I'm honest with the reality of the situation.

Desire lights me up, makes me feel good and high, and then comes the low. The teacher within tells me you cannot transcend desire. Desire comes, you choose whether to fulfill it or not, and you move on. It will come again in due time or you will invite it back. The invitation is the addiction, especially if you know it's not good for you.

Ultimately, are we felled by our own desires as a check upon what we create? Is it a failsafe activated when our construct starts to oppress? The way out of life is to chase desires which will destroy all.

You are always being tested. Little ones here and there you flunk and learn from. We all have that big one, undoubtedly related to one of the seven deadly sins. It’s that mind spell that keeps fucking us up and you need something to help snap out of it. Psychedelics can help. Ultimately, it’s not the drug but what it reveals within. Psychedelics are not the only route but to quantify what can help you get out of the trap is impossible. It’s random happenstance and in the end, you can just pray for help and hope it comes. Christians call it grace.

Are you ready? Look within and make the commitment if you are. No more weakness or vacillating between forging steel and chasing desires. If it’s time then grab the ring and let’s get to it. If you aren’t ready and self-discipline is still a problem, continue flopping like a fish out of water. I have the keys to self-mastery and I know what it takes. Everything becomes a choice as opposed to an addiction. I was at the crossroads. The path was open and I either took it or it would fall by the wayside, hoping maybe someday it will present another opportunity for me to take that road. Yeah, I know, time’s running out. In other words, I have to do it now because it’s now or never. I don't want to lead a desperate life of non-fulfillment. I stayed on this difficult path when I could have run because I didn’t want to wake up an old man full of regrets. I feel the same way now. I have to do this and it has to happen now. I took up the challenge.

I do know my shadow is never going to give up on me even if he has to kill me. That’s the rub; I want to do it in this lifetime. I’ve come this far and I don’t want to have to take on another incarnation and once again struggle to reach this point. What are the odds? Onward ho!

Monday, January 4, 2021

man of steel

On Tuesday December 29th, 2020 I finally made an agreement with my shadow to start in earnest the process of forging steel. It will be the coming together of my conscious awareness with his power, strength, and magical abilities of transformation. My spiritual path has been going on for over twelve years so the process really isn’t starting but let’s just say it will be next level. On the path I travel, I hear a lot about levelling up and self-improvement. In the movie Fight Club, Tyler Durden’s shadow calls self-improvement masturbation. He’s right you know because the trick in my case is to destroy the sense of self fostered throughout my life and embark upon a new construction project. Self-improvement will just perpetuate the shaky foundation upon which identity rests. In other words, on this journey you are trying to destroy the concept of cultural identity that manifests in our notion of ego. To improve that facade is counterproductive on the quest towards knowledge of self.

So, why and how am I finally going to stick to this agreement? Good question because of my backsliding history. I’m internally famous for making resolutions and fantastically sticking to them for various periods of time. I got my shadow’s attention and proved my worth when I kept an impossible intention of being a renunciate for two years and eight months. No one saw that coming! I know my shadow was aghast and astounded by my force of will and had to change his opinion of me. Up until then, he just saw an intelligent dude who was weak sauce. My shadow recognized my inner strength and crowned me because of it. He has subsequently let me figure out my path of transformation and how I wished to proceed. It’s been four years or so since then. I’ve figured it out. I know of my shadow’s presence and his intentions and I’m clear in my intentions. I’ve repeatedly tried to get my act together and can do well for a few months at a time but I always crash like an addict who can’t help himself. My shadow has seen it before and it is probably quite funny except for the fact I’m not getting any younger. In other words, it’s time to get this project moving because I’m past being able to say I’m just north of 50. In essence, he’s told me that in order to forge steel none of the constituent alloys that go into its making can be weak. He says this while directly addressing me. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and the inference is I’m the questionable link.

Part of the process is giving up identity to which I have written about ad nauseam lately in this blog space. I’ve experimented with it as I make my life a bit of a mystery to those around me plus I changed my online name a few years back and raised some eyebrows. It’s a process, with the idea being to start giving it up little by little and stop identifying with your past, your successes and failures, how you make a living, your style, well pretty much everything you hang your hat on. I know to be in the world requires an identity. To access my money and security I need that identity, so dropping an A-bomb on this part of me is not currently in the cards.

As I’m writing this I just remembered something I haven’t thought about in a long time. When I first encountered my shadow in a plant medicine ceremony almost eight years ago, I experienced the symbolic loss of identity. I became paranoid in ceremony that my passport and credit cards were being stolen and I’d be stuck in the jungle without any money and any means of identifying myself! Holy shit, he started on me right away though I didn’t know what was up. I remember at the time being freaked out by this scenario and the prospect of losing my identity. Later that dreadful evening, this scenario played out all based on my identity where if people discovered what a true low-life I was then all the respect and trust I had earned from them would be gone in a flash. I was being shown how attached I was to identity though I didn’t know it at the time. I just thought yes, I’ll be a good boy and maintain my facade. Re-reading my account of that original encounter is fascinating. My shadow took my life that was bound to identity and flipped it around as metaphor in a story where it was the jungle that was to enslave me. I’d be trapped in service to who knows who eating tasteless food and doing menial work, never to escape because they control everything. I was so paralyzed with fear I couldn’t see it as metaphor though obviously the visions and thoughts were slyly referencing the world at large and not some rickety jungle camp! It is funny how we initially interpret visions and then with context we see them completely different. Now, I realize the answer being provided to me was let go of identity and be free. Don’t be reliant upon others to shape who you are and force you to remain a prisoner of their making. I did chalk this horrifying experience up to ego death via psychedelic substance ingestion, which was what happened. It was the worst night of my life and scarred me for quite some time. Curiously, the mental beatdown and upheaval is the major reason for my transformation as it stands today and why I’m writing this as a pretty content human being about to enter in a new phase of his peculiar transformation into who knows what but I assure you it will be glorious!

I have experienced a similar loss of identity with subsequent use of plant medicines, though not as catastrophic as the first one. With Huachuma, I sat in the Mesa just prior to inhaling the sacred Vilca and experienced a dissociation with whom I was. I had a dream like vision in which I entered into a closet full of suits, which I knew were various identities I could wear. I was shown I always pick the same suit even though the choices were multiple. Vilca in turn has revealed to me my fundamental nature of being composed of light energy that can radiate love. If that’s the template to follow, and I think it is, then I’m down with it. The steel being forged will produce a radiant light, pulsing through the energetic spectrum, welcoming those who seek out this transformation. Sounds pretty cool. In this biological lifetime? I don’t know. I guess the question is: Are my psychedelic experiences trivial or do they reveal questions and answers of past, present, and future? Look, I’m a pretty intelligent and rational guy. If I thought it was nonsense I’d stop. This blog space isn’t advertised or monetized. I’m not trying to enchant you into taking plant medicines but instead this is just a sounding board for my experiences. The continuing path I am travelling is a commitment; not only financially but it is hard work at times to progress on the path. Like any student, you don’t have to do the reading or studying. You can just party the whole time, get wowed by trivial kaleidoscopic visions, and let it all fall by the wayside when you tire of it. I get it; I want to chase desires as well and get that hit of pleasure and transient fulfilment it brings before dealing with the low. However, I do sense something amazing along this path and I’ve seen it; I’ve interacted with it; I’ve been instructed and guided by it. I’m ultimately curious and will do what I can to proceed.

I wrote this mind dump this morning because of the dream I had last night. Some dreams resonate with me so deeply that I have little trouble remembering them in the morning after I wake up. As you no doubt know, most are transient and slip through conscious grasping much like thoughts do as I get older. I record into my phone, or write down a great deal of my original thoughts now, in order to expand on them later because if I don’t I will forget them. Anyway, to get back to the dream it was simply this: I dreamt I got laid off from my job. It was quite unnerving losing a big part of my identity and source of financial stability. I know why I dreamt it. It all goes back to the agreement I made with my shadow and he’s forcing me to come to terms with shedding identity. Eight years later the class in identity resumes in earnest! Little by little I lose myself until I can cut the cord.