Wednesday, November 15, 2017
THE INTERRUPTED CONVERSATION
One beautiful afternoon I took a microdose of San Pedro while relaxing by the river. Before long, I got into a continuing conversation with my wife, some of which was contentious. In a good way. The way that works through opposing sides of an argument to discover a new synthesis.
The discussion continued with a topic we tossed around back at home over coffee. It regarded people who say they've received a message from beyond and need to share it. Oftentimes portrayed most dramatically, the claim is made that their directive or calling is to share this message with the world. Also included in this group are people who say they're simply relating their experiences from beyond with no other agenda but in doing so, manage to pull towards them a growing group of followers. Not wanting to disappoint, be misunderstood, leave anything out, or project the wrong public persona (one detrimental to attracting future followers), the experienced-one feeds the eager followers more and more finely crafted versions of the same message. Simple sharing begins to walk and talk like a prophetic calling, one replete with sanctified prescriptions and embellishments galore to please an audience egged-on to keep returning wide-eyed and expectant.
It's an old but relevant question -- what are the motivations of these people with messages for the world? Do they make a cottage industry out of their calling primarily to support their lifestyle, oftentimes a lifestyle of success they hadn't enjoyed before? Do their efforts, even for the best-intentioned ones, eventually morph to be as much about ego and profit as about fulfilling their original calling? And when is such a calling ever fulfilled? Should we expect as long as there exists one person in the world who hasn't heard, understood, and accepted this message from beyond, the process by necessity must continue? How does one in such a position keep their head in the mystical, prosperous clouds while maintaining an earthly existence based in honest intentions?
If someone comes back from a near-death or entheogenic experience with a strong, other-worldly impulse to share the profundity they've received, their impulse is most probably valid. So they write a book to share their message. But then they write a second and third book. They sell tickets to conferences for people to hear them relate more details about the message. Over time, given the need for more material to speak or write about, maybe their original message evolves into an increasingly elaborate methodology for living. Out of this emerging, systematic philosophy comes cult-like nomenclatures and reinforcing practices for devotees to study and habituate. How much of this "mystical branding" is done because it is required by the original message and how much is manufactured and packaged to distinguish this particular good news from the rest of the available messages from beyond also clamoring for attention?
Since, as they say, there's nothing new under the sun, a case can be made to suspect that much of these new methods and their related jargon are in whole or part borrowed from other, more ancient traditions and repackaged to appear new. This is explained away by the excuse (or valid point) that such ancient wisdom must be "updated" for current cultural consumption. Maybe a modern translation of ancient, esoteric concepts is good for reconnecting new generations with universal truths. Yes. Or perhaps it's intellectual plagiarism when the original format of the concepts is clear enough and approachable but the ancient material is in the public domain and thus there's no profit in it.
So many so-called universal truths are quite simple and straight-forward. Does anyone really need a weekend conference and practice workbooks to get the concept of loving others as yourself or do no harm? But if people need to change the world by reaching the billions of needy people with these important messages, is there anything wrong with making a living by it at the same time? People have to live and if they flourish as they grow a way to spread the good news to more and more people, how can that not be a good thing?
My wife recently read a book by Anita Moorjani called "What if This is Heaven?" This is a more recent, follow-up book to Moorjani's earlier, very successful near-death memoir, "Dying to Be Me." Both books, it can be argued, have powerful messages that inspire people and in so doing improve their lives. In the discussion between my wife and me before we took the river walk, I raised the general issue of people with a mystical message turning the process into an ongoing business. Greatly liking the books, my wife questioned my implicit questioning of Moorjani's motives in producing her latest literary effort and the paid talks she describes in same book. And to be clear, Moorjani herself describes her challenges and processes in staying true to her message, in spite of encountering influences that could pull her back with a worldly invitation to be a guru, needing approval, expanding influence, and more.
Rightfully so, when we got to the river, my wife drew parallels between Moorjani and others, such as Terrence McKenna and his numerous books and speaking engagements. Perhaps his notoriety, even if launched innocently, ultimately became motivated by ego and/or making money. Who's to say? What's the difference between what he did and what Moojani is doing now? If fame results from spreading such a powerful message, how does one ever manage to keep fame and lifestyle issues in check so the message doesn't get lost or deformed into something the Great Beyond never intended?
All of this holds valid points. The answer to it may or may not be as simple and clear as those mystical messages from beyond. It seems one can never tell. It all comes down to intention, motivation, what exists in a person's heart and mind. If something improves peoples' lives, helps them get through problems, inspires them to be their best selves and treat other people better, then more power to the process that brought it about. Isn't that reasonable?
The main caveat I see is contending with the convoluted dross that's often embellished inevitably over simple, pure messages in an effort to keep the gravy trains running on schedule. There's a danger that people will be so flooded with the hokum of follow-on methods and practices and jargon and workshop exercises ad nauseum that the symbols will be mistaken for the meaning. When that happens, it's all too easy for the intent of the original message to get lost or distorted beyond recognition. To pull an example from another mystical camp, it's like people genuflecting and crossing themselves out of prescriptive habit without knowing its significance other than some vague impression that somehow such things make them holier.
Sitting by the riverbank, steeped in this very interesting conversation, I quickly became aware of a building energy coalescing within and around me in a rush. San Pedro was showing up in a big way.
In a fractured instant, my will to speak was shut off. At the same time, I saw an aura of energy in a sphere that extended out from me nearly nine feet in all directions. As soon as I saw this energy, it imploded into my chest with concussive force. Simultaneously, another form of energy blasted forth from the same place, and in doing so lit up my surroundings, the river, the trees, the clouds, even the sky more intensely.
A strong connection to that shimmering glow overpowered me with an immediacy both gentle and nonnegotiable. In that split moment, an instant of paradoxical implosion/explosion, a mantra started and softly repeated from everywhere. Its repetition was heard in whispers for awhile. It was my mystical message from beyond. Ultimately, as the meditation deepened, I felt a call to focus, to center on what was real and important, to not be scattered or distracted.
Over and over I heard -- "...stay grounded in core energies / core energies are ascendant."
It was a paradox made sensible, a union of earth and sky, a surge of true-self energy that allowed a resplendent grounding but a firm grounding, one that counter-intuitively enabled transcendence. But this was an incomparability that didn't dissolve the here and now. This transcendence looked a lot like being more fully in the present moment. Except those moments expanded in the core of significance and potential. Far from dissolving the here and now, both became more substantial, more approachable.
Grounding in a fully-dimensioned reality eliminated the drift towards so much distraction, so much banter, so much wonder over the outliers of presumed cleverness, eliminated so much wise doubt chasing the code-hacks of ultimate meaning, so much anxious consciousness finding the nuanced voids within ourselves. I laid back and took it in. I laid back and let it out. I laid back and found a grounding in the ascendant. Far from journeying away, I sank into a state of being more there. In many ways it was a there constrained by a now in order to have form. In other ways, it was a there to be experienced in its totality, a completeness that extended outside of now.
As the mantra faded away, an infused sense of potential energy swelled within. The possible wanted release as an expression of here an now. I contained the zero-point probability that joined potential at the nexus of what I did, what I created. It was made clear - awakening to a grounding in the ascendant empowers expressions of being, it drives fully kinetic the all-encompassing essence of us.
For those few moments I was more in my skin, more truly inhabiting the space I occupied. It was a glimpse at a state of balanced opposites rarely if ever realized. If such a thing had ever happened to me before, it had only existed as an ephemeral flash, gone without even a fading deja vu to remember it by. Like most people most of the time, if not always, I exist in varying degrees shifted from such a profoundly resonant equilibrium. But simply feeling it's possible while we breathe on this planet was astonishing.
And so I rejoined the original conversation in a new way -- for I had gotten my own mystic message from beyond. One could say I now faced the dilemma of what to do with it.
As with most of my plant medicine experiences, I'll write it down so the vagaries of fading or rearranged memory don't rob me of knowing critical details of what happened last year or last decade. Granted, I could write this in a private document and keep it to myself. Or I could make it available for others to read. The same old questions about ego and profit motive (not all profit is financial) could be spun around my efforts here, the same as with Anita Moorjani or Terrence McKenna.
For now, I'll leave it at this -- if someone reads any of their work, or the work of so many others who say they have a message from beyond, or even if they read this blog post, and any of it has a positive effect, then I defer to the continuing conversation and its unanswered question: what's the harm?
Thursday, November 2, 2017
Kawsaypacha Beyond the Puzzle
Re-remembering is illuminating. Only recently have I re-remembered a moment from a Huachuma ceremony a year ago. It was mid-ceremony. Grandfather interrupted me, short-circuiting my streaming mindforms, logical constructs, and imagined pithy questions. He interjected a simple revelation that is stunning only in retrospect. It was a statement of future-fact that appeared as a non-sequitur at the time. He whispered matter-of-factly, confidently, "There will come a time when you'll arrive at a place beyond lessons and messages."
As his words melted into shimmering nature so alive around me, a swirl of emotional energies swept me deeper into thoughtless meditation. Looking back, that swirl into only energy and emotion was as much prophetic as prescriptive. I feel now this comes to mind as the only thing that makes emotional sense to explain my reflections after two recent ceremonies in Peru -- one ceremony at the Temple of the Moon and another in Valle Sagrado, the Incan Sacred Valley. It goes a long way to explain the world of living energy I was connected to, both past and present -- the living energy from where all things arise -- the living energy the Incas called Kawsaypacha.
Temple of the Moon Ceremony
Words fail. Images give impressions. Feelings stretch their limits. Expectations collide with the coincidence of belief. I arrived in Cuzco on the afternoon of gigantic clouds, penetrating sun, and living cobblestones. Three days later I awoke early for the climb through narrow passageways squeezed between walls whose foundation stones were laid in place by hands put to rest five centuries ago. To the meeting place, a gathering of ceremony participants. From there a taxi ride found a place in the mountains high above the scenic overlooks. The weather would be anything as changes overhead loomed. At an altitude topping 12k-feet the door of the malocca opened to welcome all. It was mid-morning.
There were greetings, brief explanations, prayers by a Q'ero Paq'o (shaman) and Wisdomkeeper, the pouring of the medicine, then silent intentions all around. We were free to stay in the malocca or find a place in either of two gardens. I laid down on a rock slab in the garden farthest from the malocca. Underneath the rocks was a tunnel the Incas had used for passage into the Temple of the Moon nearby. A hummingbird, patches of flowers, and scruffs of grass impinged on an awareness that expanded beyond the visible. With the glide into medicine space came a sense of purpose lingering as my original intention. Before I could collect my thoughts, Grandfather scattered them.
"You can have one question. But that's all today. There will be no other words..."
I had no thought of discussing this proclamation. I knew the certainty of it in a telepathic way that left all boundaries of logic ebbing somewhere behind in a timeless silence. I had spoken to Grandfather enough before to know I didn't know until I let go of that kind of presumed knowing. I got right to the point and asked my question. It was something that had been pestering me for quite some time. I never could gauge if the question was minor or major, but I felt it went to the heart of ceremony space itself.
"Is the medicine only for healing oneself and correcting problems within -- or is it also for expanded learning and exploration?"
The sky rearranged in the expectant silence that followed. The air electrified with an energy I had never felt before. The rock underneath me felt more and more like an extension of myself. And then Grandfather's answer came. As he said, it would be the last words spoken that day. To deliver them, he drew close, very close, so close that his passionate whisper reverberated through me --
"...WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?"
With that, he proceeded to unwrap the day like opening his Misaq'epe, the ceremonial bundle containing the shaman's sacred objects. First revealed was a condensed perspective of my question, answered. To need more learning and seek more exploration in medicine space implied something needed to be healed, or a problem or negative energy needed to be cleared. Conversely, to seek healing and freedom from a problem implied more learning and exploration was required. To be free of one meant liberation from the need for the other. If I was coming to the medicine because I thought I needed to learn and explore more, then there was more to heal. It could be no other way. Extending what he had said a year before, "There will come a time when you'll arrive at a place beyond lessons and messages, beyond healing, beyond studied exploration."
Next out of the Misaq'epe was his day-long revelation. Without words he immersed me in an experience of a kind only possible beyond learning and exploration. It was simply being, if being were so simple. But true being is never a static thing. It's exactly the opposite. There would always be something more, but that more is not contained in the something else we usually concerned ourselves with.
It's the more you didn't have to go exploring after or learn about. It's the more of being All, the All that was always you. It's a connection to unity, to ancestors, to a heartfelt energy of certainty, an infinite vibration of joyful expression. It's the unending, creative unfolding of Kawsaypacha itself. In essence, it's home.
Anything else is a temporary puzzle of mind and matter and ego mischief that shifts what one only believes is being learned or explored back upon phantom problems and conditioned impulses for healing and deliverance made falsely urgent by pervasive delusions of supposed purpose, forced explanation, and willful intent, even identity. It's nothing you need to redefine. It's an experience you can't define. The notion of experience itself is too limiting, too time-bound, too sequential, too localized, too constrained by concepts of something being added by process. There is no process. You can't make it happen. It IS happening.
On one hand, life is the puzzle we try to step back from to see the big picture. All the while, we earnestly attempt to actualize the genuine, single puzzle piece we believe we are. If the puzzle were put together as our simple logic and anticipation expected -- and we actually were that single cut-out piece -- the answers we seek might appear clear. Yet, pursued that way, satisfying answers never emerge. To placate ourselves, we fill our senses and sensibilities with convoluted "-ism's" in a vain attempt to explain the dilemma away. But the puzzle's picture doesn't emerge after being put together the way we expect. And beyond our imagined problems and their often agonized healing, beyond trans-versing insatiable need for more learning or exploring, there is a More, the All that remains elusive due to our methods to perceive it. The colors and shapes we strain to make sense out of don't have to show the picture we expect. The worldly canvass we believe our single puzzle piece must fit into doesn't have to be three-dimensional. The experience of not being in the puzzle, but the puzzle being in us, brought this out so clearly. That clarity settled in the heart - and only in the heart is it understood.
Bathed in this experience, this unfolding, I felt the steady rise of vibration around and through me, extending into and from the rock I was lying on. Then I heard words, but not from Grandfather. It was the ceremony's facilitator stopping to offer a second glass of Huachuma. "Do you want to go deeper?" I nodded to him, found my legs, then rose up to receive a second glass of the medicine. It was thick, almost gelatin as it glopped from the bottom of a tall green bottle. It went down easy, without taste, and I laid back down, once again joined with the Earth.
I stayed on that flat slate rock until the feel of something more organic attracted me. Under a small tree I found more connection until rain fell too vigorously to ignore. Nearby was an outdoor, covered sitting area with seats grouped around a fireplace. Somehow I moved to it then sat there feeling the fire's warmth for a few moments before I noticed I wasn't alone. Nearby, silent in a seat across the way, the same Q'ero Wisdomkeeper who had opened the ceremony with prayers spoken in the Quechua language now silently meditated. As I looked over to him, he had one hand working delicately in the Ch’uspa on his lap. A Ch’uspa is a small, rectangular, tightly woven bag used to carry coca leaves.
When he looked up it was right at me, with a slight smile, as if he already knew I was looking at him. His eyes smiled back then his head bowed in meditation. We sat there together for quite a while, just the two of us. Once or twice he got up briefly to add more wood to the fire. Otherwise, he was in meditation with his fingers working his hidden coca leaves as if using them in prayer. Sounds of fire crackling, the rain's patter, the soft wind of the brief storm blowing through with occasional thunder was the soundtrack to the puzzle dissolving away.
There was no need to measure time, even if it existed. The two of us shared a silent meditation for quite a while with growing energy of communion between us. As more medicine opened and deepened within me, I felt a energetic link, a telepathic conduit with him. I wanted to connect with him, to understand him beyond the superficial evidence of the five senses. I expected to contact and see something with the joining, but what I saw was like looking through a window. He was a window. I could look through him to see more but not see him other than a window. It was most bizarre and yet clearly so right in the moment. That window was so clear.
He got up and set to work on the ground before me, placing a golden metal vessel and chunks of Palo Santo wood in it. He bent low and set it afire, tending the small flame until great plumes of aromatic smoke arose over us both. Then he stood and motioned me forward, towards him. At first I thought he meant for me to get down next to the Palo Santo container but no. He hastened me to stand up facing him. What followed was a prayer and smudging ritual. Shaking condor feathers near me, he quickly recited in Quechua while intermittently adding the Phukuyr'tti, the ritual blowing used for healing and cleansing. As he blew quick bursts of air through the feathers in between prayer, he moved over and around me, all the while coaxing more Palo Santo smoke to envelop us both.
I discovered later what he was actually doing during his cleansing. In essence, he was cleaning the hucha (heavy energy) from me and introducing sami (light energy) into the aura. The hucha is moved down to the base of the spine and out through the root chakra and into Pachamama to be recycled. Through the crown shakra sami is then introduced to complete the cleansing. Afterwards, he smiled with a quick bow of his head and lightly stepped away. Somehow he anticipated the rain would stop just then and I'd be called to recline on the slab of rock again.
Hours melted, enveloped in a strengthening energy of the place and the people who had lived there so long before. A sense of vibration from ancestors added to the mix of connections to spirit beyond the puzzle. I floated deeper into a tranquility of being joy even as a raw edge and intensity of stories to be told gathered around me. There was something to be told, to be carried forward, not to be forgotten, to make come to pass, to behold and take to heart in a future we were birthing. It was the effect of the cause, the there of the now, the here of the then, the way to be set among gathering balances long overdue. Amidst the ecstasy of being were stacked, polished stones of events past in a continuum where everything was equally present. Among the humming energies of voices long ago silenced were promises of fulfillment in becoming the prophesy to come. No words were communicated. It was all feeling and intention and compassionate journeying with the essence of who they were - and are.
Out of the sky above me I finally heard a voice inserting itself in the glide and pulsation of the soulful resonance between past, present, and future. It was the ceremony facilitator again, this time gently suggesting I should get up and drink some water. I didn't know it but the rain clouds had long since past by and for awhile now an intense sun at high altitude was baking me into the rock. I had no idea just how hot it was until I returned to my body and felt it. I thanked him for the reminder and did what he said. In the other garden was water and shade. I took in some of both before returning to the second garden and a new spot on the grass under a tree.
There my vibration lowered and I rejoined with Pachamama and the world of the puma. The sights and smells and sounds of nature engulfed my restored senses. The bright sun set all colors aflame with life. A hummingbird's wings quivered nearby like notes from a ceremonial flute. The swaying of branches and leaves over me danced in cadence with ceremonial passion. Nature itself was in the medicine circle, providing a sixth-sense icaro I heard so well. Tears came to my eyes at the thought of nature singing and dancing its own icaro. More tears came on the renewed realization sent through me -- there was no difference - the icaro was my own for I was nature.
Soon, a bowl of cut-up fruit was given to me at the place under the tree. I found I had to eat so slowly. Each bite approached the limits of ecstasy I could absorb. Afterwards, I closed my eyes and floated back to realms above the garden. I stayed there until the facilitator came by after a timeless lapse of the afternoon to notify me that those who wanted to and were able could soon go to the Temple of the Moon. I thanked him and let him know I would be joining those who went.
In a short while, a small group of us took a hike into the high wilderness beyond the property. Along the way we were told the history and meaning of several sections of the temple area. There was condor rock, where one could sit on either the right (feminine) or left (masculine) wing to balance those energies within us. There was a large, "magnetic" rock, with a huge polished cut-out into which one stood to feel a magnetic, flowing connection to Earth. There was the cool pool of a cleansing stream where ceremonies with the water washed away anything that didn't serve temple participants.
And then there was the temple itself, a gigantic split in the highest point of the mountain complex, where the Incas believed entry into Pachamama herself was possible. This was done for offerings of thanks and wishes for what was wanted in life. I took a photo of part of the temple but only realized when I got home that I had captured someone on top; it appears in the middle of their own ceremony. I did not see this person up there when I was at the temple, but I assume this can be explained away by the fact that I was so deep into the medicine at the time. Finding this in the photo was spooky to say the least.
Each of us were given three coca leaves as our offering to Pachamama, then one by one we climbed the large stones guarding what was symbolically assumed to be the opening of Pachamama's legs.
Each of us had our own private time within the temple to give thanks and make our wishes known only to the temple, only to Pachamama. The Wisdomkeeper sat respectfully silent by the opening.
There seemed to be more than one altar within the temple. The first one was immediately on the left (this photo was taken on the way out, so it's looking back towards the opening with side reference reversed):
The light from outside quickly fell off as I stepped back into the temple. The height and width of the temple itself also diminished gradually until I had to stoop down and crouch to go any farther. There is no abrupt end, no way of knowing when you've arrived at where you need to be. I felt impelled to keep going, to bend and crouch lower into a squat to continue on. Just when I thought maybe I should not attempt to venture any deeper into what had become a small tunnel, a light came into view. It was quite stark and intensely focused on a spot even further on. It was clear very quickly that the light source was from above, but how was this possible? I had tunneled deep into the dark in the side of a mountain face. To see such an intense spot of light descending from above meant there must be a narrow opening in the mountain that extended all the way down to this exact point.
Strategically enough, this spot of light focused on where it was too narrow and small to go. It was as if I had passed through the legs and arrived at the very cervix of Pachamama herself. Nothing less than the portal to creation lay before me. And before it, I saw in the light, small groups of coca leaves set out on a low layer of polished dark stone. I crawled forward, made my thanks, then placed my coca leaves there too. There I made my wish known and remained in silence to take in the energy coming back at me. Appropriately enough, the offering space was in the light. And interestingly enough, one could physically approach it only on bended knee.
After I exited the temple, all of us sat near its opening and let the feeling of the place and what we had done seep within. It was late afternoon, over eight hours since our first taste of the medicine. For those who had heeded the call to "go deeper" and had a second glassful halfway through, we would be in the medicine space for some time yet. On the hike back to the malocca, we passed by a local woman tending her sheep. The sheep casually grazed and kept moving over rocks it was obvious had been shaped and polished by ancient hands to be part of temple rituals. And life still flowed over them, just as the Incas would have wanted.
I had not planned on staying in the mountains overnight. Likewise, I had not expected a second full glass of medicine. When it came time to be taken into town, the sun was disappearing fast but the effects of medicine space were not. Walking the streets of Cuzco back to my hotel ramped the energetic connections to a different level. Modern Cuzco seemed to be in varying degrees an elaborate but transitory CGI overlay of another energetic reality quite different and more permanent - one that had been there far longer than the buildings now rising above ancient foundation stones. I walked in two worlds, two times. The earlier time overwhelmed me with its strength and creativity, but also its horror and heartache. Ultimately, it held out to me its promise and unity with cosmic forces that knew that balance would once again be established -- one way or another.
There was no end to my Temple of the Moon ceremony until much later in the evening. Looking back on it, I'm glad I had the opportunity to see Cuzco this way. At the time it was jarring, energetically disruptive, and sometimes confusing. Lingering impulses and stories from those no longer present passed through me. Overlapping timeframes inhabited the spaces between the spaces. It was obvious the medicine wanted to do more with me - but it wouldn't all occur that evening. I'd have to find a way to continue the connection to this place, this energy and the ancestors on another day.
Valle Sagrado Ceremony
Images fail. Words give impressions. Expectations stretch their limits. Feelings collide with the coincidence of lingering experience.
I arrived in the Sacred Valley in the afternoon, a few days after my journey at the Temple of the Moon. I had just climbed through the elevated ruins at Pisac then driven on towards Ollantaytambo.
The collective effect of all of this, added to the Temple of the Moon ceremony, was to widen the opening to energies and essences of those once in flesh yet remained in spirit in these places. Never before had time felt so malleable, space so dimensional beyond the perception of regular senses.
It was nearly 10pm by the time the return train ride got me back to the hotel in the Sacred Valley. As before, lingering impulses and stories from those no longer present passed through me from those inhabiting the spaces between the spaces. It was obvious the medicine wanted to do more with me but it couldn't occur that evening. I'd have to find a way to continue the connection to this place, this energy and the ancestors on another day.
A strong impulse was there to take the next day and carry on what the Temple of the Moon ceremony had started. I needed to dedicate a day to a ceremony of my own making. With medicine I had with me, I would find a place out in nature to extend the journey into wherever Grandfather was suggesting. As it turned out, the following day had beautiful weather and a site down by the Urubamba River was perfect.
I took the medicine, had a swim in the pool, then found a place to ease into the onset of medicine space. What followed was a day-long passage into the energy and connection I had felt before. Only this time there was no process getting through and beyond the puzzle of it all. There were no big lessons, no great messages from beyond, no roller-coaster ride through past-life reviews, no convoluted constructs of any kind. Only Kawsaypacha. I simply melted into a simplicity that contained all, a loving embrace that was an infinite creative unfolding, a sense of unity with the spirits of those who had gone before, whose truth couldn't die with the stroke of a conqueror's sword for it's a truth intrinsic to our being. And in the great cycle of things, it was a truth that would find transformative power in the new world of Pachacuti.
The day was certainly a fulfillment of what Grandfather had whispered to me over a year before -- "There will come a time when you'll arrive at a place beyond lessons and messages."
Only after visiting these sites and returning home did I research the connection between the Inca civilization and the Q'ero people. I soon discovered --
"The Q'ero are the last of the Incas -- a tribe of 600 who sought refuge at altitudes above 14,000 feet in order to escape the conquering conquistadors. For 500 years the Q'ero elders have preserved a sacred prophecy of a great change, or "pachacuti," in which the world would be turned right-side-up, harmony and order would be restored, and chaos and disorder ended. The Q'ero had lived in their villages high in the Andes in virtual solitude from the world until their "discovery" in 1949. In that year, Oscar Nunez del Prado, an anthropologist, was at a festival in Paucartambo, in southern Peru, when he met two Indians speaking fluent Quecha, the language of the Incas. The first Western expedition to the Q'ero villages then occurred in 1955."
This led me to the prophecies of the Q'ero Incan Shamans --
"The prophecies are optimistic. They refer to the end of time as we know it - the death of a way of thinking and a way of being, the end of a way of relating to nature and to the earth. In the coming years, the Incas expect us to emerge into a golden age, a golden millennium of peace. The prophecies also speak of tumultuous changes happening in the earth, and in our psyche, redefining our relationships and spirituality. The next pachacuti, or great change, has already begun, and it promises the emergence of a new human after this period of turmoil. The chaos and upheaval characteristic of this period will last another four years, according to the Q'ero.
The paradigm of European civilization will continue to collapse, and the way of the Earth people will return. Even more importantly, the shamanic elders speak about a tear in the fabric of time itself. This presents an opportunity for us to describe ourselves not as who we have been in the past but as who we are becoming.
Pachacuti also refers to a great Incan leader who lived in the late 1300s. He is said to have built Machu Picchu and was the architect of an empire the size of the US. For the Incas, Pachacuti is a spiritual prototype - a Master, a luminous one who stepped outside of time. He was a messiah, but not in the Christian sense of the only son of God, beyond the reach of humanity. Rather he is viewed as a symbol and promise of who we all might become. He embodies the essence of the prophecies of the pachacuti, as Pacha means "earth" or "time," and cuti means "to set things right." His name also means "transformer of the earth."
The prophecies of the pachacuti are known throughout the Andes. There are those who believe the prophecies refer to the return of the leader Pachacuti to defeat those who took the Incas' land. But according to Dr. Villoldo, the return of Pachacuti is taking place on the collective level. "It's not the return of a single individual who embodies what we're becoming, but a process of emergence available to all peoples." The Q'ero have served as the caretakers of the rites and prophecies of their Inca ancestors.
The prophecies are of no use unless one has the keys, the rites of passage. The Star Rites, or "Mosoq Karpay" (The Rites of the Time to Come), are crucial to the practical growth described in the prophecies. Following the "despachos" (ritualistic offerings of mesa, or medicine bundles) at the ceremony in New York City, the shamans administered the Mosoq Karpay to the individuals present, transmitting the energies originating with the ancestors of their lineage. The transmission of the Mosoq Karpay is the ceremony representing the end of one's relationship to time. It is a process of the heart.
This process of Becoming is considered more important than the prophecies themselves. The Karpay (rites) plant the seed of knowledge, the seed of Pachacuti, in the luminous body of the recipient. It is up to each person to water and tend the seed so that it can grow and blossom. The rites are a transmission of potential; one must then make oneself available to destiny. The Karpays connect the person to an ancient lineage of knowledge and power that cannot be accessed by the individual. It can only be summoned by a tribe.
Ultimately, this power can provide the impetus for one to leap into the body of an Inca, a Luminous One. That person is connected directly to the stars, the Incan Sun of cosmology. The Q'ero believe that the doorways between the worlds are opening again. Holes in time that we can step through and beyond, where we can explore our human capabilities. Regaining our luminous nature is a possibility today for all who dare to take the leap."
Prophecies of the Q'ero Incan Shamans
Q'ero Life in the Andes: A Partnership from Heart Walk Foundation in Peru on Vimeo.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
OUT OF THE FOG
The explosive experience can be profound. But so can the subtle. The difference lies not in the overt manifestation of the event, rather upon one's approach and ultimate expectations bearing witness to what is offered. Both may offer the same level of intensity and meaning to be found. It can be argued, in many ways, what one takes away from experience is what one brings to it. This is especially true with sacred plant medicines. This may be one of the reasons why experiencing them is so personal. Two people at the same ceremony, taking equal amounts of the same plant medicine, nonetheless come away with far different tales to tell. Often times, radically so. One participant may hardly feel anything while someone else is transported and transformed. Both people share the same place, same time, same ceremony, with the same medicine inside of them.
This is especially true of Rapé, the shamanic snuff with pre-Colombian roots, shared in ritual as a prayer and connection with nature and oneself (the distinction being purely cultural as the plants teach so well). For starters, Rapé is no one thing. Although it may contain similar tobacco and ash bases, the exact formula of plants and their number comprising a selection of Rapés varies greatly, not only between but among Amazonian tribes. Rapés are created for different purposes. And different Rapés not only contain wide varieties of formulaic blends, but methods by which they're prepared also differ. For example, some shamanic snuffs can only be prepared by women, while other blends must be fashioned under strict ritualistic practices, both external and energetic, that are equally prescriptive or restrictive.
As a result, there is a tendency among Rapé enthusiasts to begin rating one blend against another. Which in many ways is understandable. Why rely on a placebo effect for an experience or invest in sub-standard medicine that produces minimal results. But there is a danger in the way these informal rating systems progress. In an ongoing race to find the singular Rapé that gives the "biggest bang for the buck," perhaps a whole type of profundity is being glossed over, a whole range of subtle but significant lessons are being missed. In a typical Western-mentality competitive drive to always acquire the next explosive thing, perhaps an entire spectrum of the subtle-profound in these varied medicines gets lost. Metamorphic pinnacles are just as likely to occur from whispers as from overly dramatic shouts.
Case in point. I had the opportunity to try a Rapé blend I had heard was not powerful and produced minimal effects. Others were curious if I would rate it the same. My experience with it turned out quite different than other snuffs I had tried to be sure, but I found in its subtleness a doorway into a uniquely profound space unlike any other. Far from saying this snuff was not profound, I had to conclude it offered its magic with an introductory whisper. If that whisper was missed or ignored, it would not yield the sought-after treasures that awaited. Like a firefly in the night so easily overlooked but coaxing one to follow, I approached with no expectations and caught enough of its light to follow.
So, was I pre-loaded with a need to find profound magic as a reverse-psychology response to hearing the snuff was a dud? Did I need to prove the naysayers wrong? Perhaps. One can always second-guess what happens in every situation and judge it from constrained angles and relativistic cleverness. I can only comment on the experience itself and the way I approached the process. Pre-loaded or not, I did have the experience I had. And while the effects progressed, I got a strong sense that what I was going through was not only an experience but an example to follow.
Right after receiving the Rapé, I felt an energetic tingle - but nothing profound. I concentrated on my deep breathing and the meditation of clearing my thoughts. The idea was to get myself out of the way, to release expectation, forego anticipation. Instead of projecting expectations, I listened. I released into the feeling of listening not only with my ears but with my being. In the listening there soon came the impulse to lie down and cover my eyes with my hands - make it as dark as was possible. I did this and as much as the darkness deepened, tiny vortexes of energy throughout my body increased. I was coaxed to follow that tiny, metaphorical firefly into a state often called "the zone." Many have tried to describe being in "the zone" and often it comes down to existing in an effortless flow where one is there and not there and what happens just works in an elevated confluence of past, present, future such that cause and effect have been mediated by a more complete expression of being.
Without knowing how I did it (which I suspect is the key!), I found consciousness sliding into a flow I can now only describe as "the zone." As this happened, another view faded into view as if a fog was dissipating. It was a view of a star-field. The blackness of space surrounded pinpoints of starlight. The stars were unblinking as if I was in the same blackness of space that contained them. But this view only lasted a few seconds, then faded away as thoughts of what I was doing intervened and interrupted "the flow." I returned to listening with my being. I crowded out thoughts and expectations by listening. Soon, the "zone" returned, as did the star-field. It was like being far out in space and the stars and their distance from each other had a 3-D perspective about them. Yet, once again, as soon as I started noticing my reaction to this, the star-field faded again, as did that sense of "the zone." This pattern repeated several times. Each time I was able to find "the flow" the energy in my body would vortex and, as the fog of black dissipated, the star-field would return.
This indeed was an example to follow, an experience of being which contained a lesson if one was open to seeing it that way. Like some bio-feedback mechanism, the experience took me into a state where I was shown how it's possible to match something you can't force or try with something you can achieve, even without knowing how. I would rate that very highly, even though this Rapé was presented to me as not powerful and producing minimal effects. I guess it all depends on what effects one expects and values. That's why all of these rating systems are so subjective - and why Rapé can't be looked at monolithically. It may be one type of medicine but it comes in many varieties, each of which contains a unique opportunity to discover, or simply come out of the fog.
Monday, September 18, 2017
"There was a young man who said, 'Though
it seems that I know that I know,
What I would like to see
Is the 'I' that knows 'me'
When I know that I know that I know."
I've seen a quote that says "mindfulness isn't difficult, we just need to remember to do it."
I sense this thought ends too soon, for the real questions then become:
- Why would we ever forget such a thing in the first place?
- Why would it take conscious attention and volition to bring us back into this desired state?
- If this desired state lapses incoherent with our conscious, present mind - then how and why did it ever get separate from us?
- Was this desired mindful state ever one with us in our present in an effortless way? If so, when was that? If not, why not?
- What is it about where or how we live that possibly disjoints us from our mindfulness? Is this incoherence more due from causes within us or without? What's the distinction?
The practice of remembering to be mindfully aware -- this itself can lead to an endless progression. At first we ask "what the heck is this no-thing that is aware" and that begs the question, "what the heck is this no-thing that asks what the heck is this no-thing," which prompts, "what the heck is this no-thing that asks what the heck is this no-thing that asks what the heck is this no-thing..." - and so on ad infinitum. Awareness at another meta-level implies another iteration. If we're honest and thorough with this process, it'll never end. And yet, facing this may ultimately be the point -- it forces us into a state where trying to find the final and optimal mindful state is akin to how Alan Watts described trying to define oneself -- which is like trying to bite one's own teeth.
Reading a friend's blog got me thinking about all of this again. His posts are always intriguing, enlightening, challenging. As he so eloquently stated: "Mindfulness has become the darling of pop psychology. But a teacher in the older traditions once said something, almost as an aside, that is not usually reflected in the contemporary self-improvement approaches. He said it’s not enough to sit and be aware of our thoughts and feelings, we must also be aware that we are doing this."
Read my friend's entire blog entry here: Small-Detail-Great-Importance
I remember listening to lectures on the radio late at night as a kid. A rock FM station in Los Angeles dished up all sorts of funky eclectic content in the after-midnight hours. Headphones in place, I was treated to all sorts of things. One of those were the weekly talks by Alan Watts. Going back over some of what Watts said back then, I found resonance with this mindfulness topic. I thought I'd post a sample of that to add to the discussion. So put on your virtual headphones, turn off all the lights except for the blacklight shining up on your blacklight poster of the Andromeda galaxy, and let's go back to those nights in the early 1970's and tune-in to KMET 94.7 FM (it's not the same station now)... Alan Watts chuckles and begins...
"...most Westerners locate the ego in the head, from which center the rest of us dangles. The ego is somewhere behind the eyes and between the ears. It is as if there sat beneath the dome of the skull a controlling officer who wears earphones wired to the ears, and watches a television screen wired to the eyes. Before him stands a great panel of dials and switches connected with all other parts of the body that yield conscious information or respond to the officer's will. This controlling officer 'sees' sights, 'hears' sounds, 'feels' feelings, and 'has' experiences...All of this can get marvelously complicated when we begin to wonder whether our officer has another officer inside his head, and so ad infinitum!
"If you think you have a lower self or an ego to get rid of then you fight against it so it strengthens the illusion and causes tremendous schizophrenia in human beings from thinking that they are righter in course, so in command of body or will and command of passions, wrestling with them. All that time of split thinking only aggravates the problem and we get more and more split and so we have all sorts of people engaged in material conflict in which they will never resolve because the true self you either know it or you don't. If you do know it, then you know it is the only one, and the other, so called lower self, ceases to be a problem. It becomes something like a mirage and you don't go around hitting mirages with a stick or try to put names on them, you see through them.
"...the Dramatic Myth. The idea that life as we experience it is a big act, and that behind this big act is the player, and the player, or the self, as it's called in Hindu philosophy, the atman, is you. Only you are playing hide and seek, since that is the essential game that is going on. The game of games. The basis of all games, hide and seek. And since you're playing hide & seek, you are deliberately, although you can't admit this--or won't admit it--you are deliberately forgetting who you really are, or what you really are. And the knowledge that your essential self is the foundation of the universe, the 'ground of being' as Tillich calls it, is something you have that the Germans call a hintengedanka. A hintengedanka is a thought way, way, way in the back of your mind. Something that you know deep down but can't admit.
So, in a way, then, in order to bring this to the front, in order to know that is the case, you have to be kidded out of your game...
"You see, the problem is this. We identify in our experience a differentiation between what we do and what happens to us. We have a certain number of actions that we define as voluntary, and we feel in control of those. And then over against that, there is all those things that are involuntary. But the dividing line between these two is very inarbitrary. Because for example, when you move your hand, you feel that you decide whether to open it or to close it. But then ask yourself how do you decide? When you decide to open your hand, do you first decide to decide? You don't, do you? You just decide, and how do you do that? And if you don't know how to do it, is it voluntary or involuntary? Let's consider breathing. You can feel that you breathe deliberately; you don't control your breath. But when you don't think about it, it goes on. Is it voluntary or involuntary? So, we come to have a very arbitrary definition of self.
"Omnipotence is not knowing how everything is done; it's just doing it. You don't have to translate it into language. Supposing that when you got up in the morning, you had to switch your brain on. And you had to think and do as a deliberate process waking up all the circuits that you need for active life during the day. Why, you'd never get done! Because you have to do all those things at once. That's why the Buddhists and Hindus represent their gods as many-armed. How could you use so many arms at once? How could a centipede control a hundred legs at once? Because it doesn't think about it. In the same way, you are unconsciously performing all the various activities of your organism. Only unconsciously isn't a good word, because it sounds sort of dead. Superconsciously would be better. Give it a plus rather than a minus.
"When you put a chicken's beak on a chalk line, it gets stuck; it's hypnotized. So in the same way, when you learn to pay attention, and as children you know how all the teachers were in class: 'Pay attention!!' And all the kids stare at the teacher. And we've got to pay attention. That's putting your nose on the chalk line. And you got stuck with the idea of attention, and you thought attention was Me, the ego, attention. So if you start attending to attention, you realize what the hoax is. That's why in Aldous Huxley's book 'Island,' the Roger had trained the myna birds on the island to say 'Attention! Here and now, boys!' See? Realize who you are. Come to, wake up! Well, here's the problem: if this is the state of affairs which is so, and if the conscious state you're in this moment is the same thing as what we might call the Divine State. If you do anything to make it different, it shows that you don't understand that it's so. So the moment you start practicing yoga, or praying or meditating, or indulging in some sort of spiritual cultivation, you are getting in your own way.
"Now this is the Buddhist trick: the buddha said 'We suffer because we desire. If you can give up desire, you won't suffer.' But he didn't say that as the last word; he said that as the opening step of a dialogue. Because if you say that to someone, they're going to come back after a while and say 'Yes, but now I'm desiring not to desire.' And so the buddha will answer, 'Well at last you're beginning to understand the point.' Because you can't give up desire. Why would you try to do that? It's already desire. So in the same way you say 'You ought to be unselfish' or to give up you ego. Let go, relax. Why do you want to do that? Just because it's another way of beating the game, isn't it? The moment you hypothesize that you are different from the universe, you want to get one up on it. But if you try to get one up on the universe, and you're in competition with it, that means you don't understand you ARE it. You think there's a real difference between 'self' and 'other.' But 'self,' what you call yourself, and what you call 'other' are mutually necessary to each other like back and front. They're really one. But just as a magnet polarizes itself at north and south, but it's all one magnet, so experience polarizes itself as self and other, but it's all one. If you try to make the south pole defeat the north pole, or get the mastery of it, you show you don't know what's going on.
"There's no road to here, because you're already there. If you ask me 'How am I going to get here?' It will be like the famous story of the American tourist in England. The tourist asked some yokel the way to Upper Tuttenham, a little village. And the yokel scratched his head and he said 'Well, sir, I don't know where it is, but if I were you, I wouldn't start from here.'
"Most people think when they open their eyes and look around, that what they're seeing is outside. It seems, doesn't it, that you are behind your eyes, and that behind the eyes there is a blank you can't see at all. You turn around and there's something else in front of you. But behind the eyes there seems to be something that has no color. It isn't dark, is isn't light. It is there from a tactile standpoint; you can feel it with your fingers, but you can't get inside it. But what is that behind your eyes? Well actually, when you look out there and see all these people and things sitting around, that's how it feels inside your head. The color of this room is back here in the nervous system, where the optical nerves are at the back of the head. It's in there. It's what you're experiencing. What you see out here is a neurological experience. Now if that hits you, and you feel sensuously that that's so, you may feel therefore that the external world is all inside my skull. You've got to correct that, with the thought that your skull is also in the external world. So you suddenly begin to feel 'Wow, what kind of situation is this? It's inside me, and I'm inside it, and it's inside me, and I'm inside it.' But that's the way it is.
"What I think an awakening really involves is a re-examination of our common sense. We've got all sorts of ideas built into us which seem unquestioned, obvious. And our speech reflects them; its commonest phrases. 'Face the facts.' As if they were outside you. As if life were something they simply encountered as a foreigner. 'Face the facts.' Our common sense has been rigged, you see? So that we feel strangers and aliens in this world, and this is terribly plausible, simply because this is what we are used to. That's the only reason. But when you really start questioning this, say 'Is that the way I have to assume life is? I know everybody does, but does that make it true?' It doesn't necessarily. It ain't necessarily so. So then as you question this basic assumption that underlies our culture, you find you get a new kind of common sense. It becomes absolutely obvious to you that you are continuous with the universe.
"If you awaken from this illusion, and you understand that black implies white, self implies other, life implies death — or shall I say, death implies life — you can conceive yourself. Not conceive, but feel yourself, not as a stranger in the world, not as someone here on sufferance, on probation, not as something that has arrived here by fluke, but you can begin to feel your own existence as absolutely fundamental. What you are basically, deep, deep down, far, far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself. So, say in Hindu mythology, they say that the world is the drama of God. God is not something in Hindu mythology with a white beard that sits on a throne, that has royal perogatives. God in Indian mythology is the self, Satcitananda. Which means sat, that which is, chit, that which is consciousness; that which is ananda is bliss. In other words, what exists, reality itself is gorgeous, it is the fullness of total joy.
"Listen intently to a voice singing without words. It may charm you into crying, force you to dance, fill you with rage, or make you jump for joy. You can't tell where the music ends and the emotions begin, for the whole thing is a kind of music—the voice playing on your nerves as the breath plays on a flute. All experience is just that, except that its music has many more dimensions than sound. It vibrates in the dimensions of sight, touch, taste, and smell, and in the intellectual dimension of symbols and words—all evoking and playing upon each other.
"The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.
"We accepted a definition of ourselves which confined the self to the source and to the limitations of conscious attention. This definition is miserably insufficient, for in fact we know how to grow brains and eyes, ears and fingers, hearts and bones, in just the same way that we know how to walk and breathe, talk and think—only we can't put it into words. Words are too slow and too clumsy for describing such things, and conscious attention is too narrow for keeping track of all their details.
"A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So he loses touch with reality, and lives in a world of illusion.
"The transformation of human consciousness through meditation is frustrated, as long as we think of it in terms as something that I, my self can bring about. Because it leads to endless games of spiritual one-up-manship, and Guru competitions.
"Most philosophical problems are to be solved by getting rid of them, by coming to the point where you see that such questions as “Why this universe?” are a kind of intellectual neurosis, a misuse of words in that the question sounds sensible but is actually as meaningless as asking “Where is this universe?” when the only things that are anywhere must be somewhere inside the universe. The task of philosophy is to cure people of such nonsense. . . . Nevertheless, wonder is not a disease. Wonder, and its expression in poetry and the arts, are among the most important things which seem to distinguish men from other animals, and intelligent and sensitive people from morons.
"We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms. Most of us have the sensation that “I myself” is a separate center of feeling and action, living inside and bounded by the physical body — a center which “confronts” an “external” world of people and things, making contact through the senses with a universe both alien and strange. Everyday figures of speech reflect this illusion. “I came into this world.” “You must face reality.” “The conquest of nature.”
"Our normal sensation of self is a hoax, or, at best, a temporary role that we are playing, or have been conned into playing — with our own tacit consent, just as every hypnotized person is basically willing to be hypnotized. The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.
"All your five senses are differing forms of one basic sense—something like touch. Seeing is highly sensitive touching. The eyes touch, or feel, light waves and so enable us to touch things out of reach of our hands. Similarly, the ears touch sound waves in the air, and the nose tiny particles of dust and gas. But the complex patterns and chains of neurons which constitute these senses are composed of neuron units which are capable of changing between just two states: on or off. To the central brain the individual neuron signals either yes or no — that’s all. But, as we know from computers which employ binary arithmetic in which the only figures are 0 and 1, these simple elements can be formed into the most complex and marvelous patterns. In this respect our nervous system and 0/1 computers are much like everything else, for the physical world is basically vibration. Whether we think of this vibration in terms of waves or of particles, or perhaps wavicles, we never find the crest of a wave without a trough or a particle without an interval, or space, between itself and others. In other words, there is no such thing as a half wave, or a particle all by itself without any space around it. There is no on without off, no up without down. While eyes and ears actually register and respond to both the up-beat and the down-beat of these vibrations, the mind, that is to say our conscious attention, notices only the up-beat. The dark, silent, or “off” interval is ignored. It is almost a general principle that consciousness ignores intervals, and yet cannot notice any pulse of energy without them. If you put your hand on an attractive girl’s knee and just leave it there, she may cease to notice it. But if you keep patting her knee, she will know you are very much there and interested. But she notices and, you hope, values the on more than the off. Nevertheless, the very things that we believe to exist are always on/offs. Ons alone and offs alone do not exist.
"The person, from the Latin persona, was originally the megaphone-mouthed mask used by actors in the open-air theaters of ancient Greece and Rome, the mask through (per) which the sound (sonus) came.
"The self-conscious feedback mechanism of the cortex allows us the hallucination that we are two souls in one body — a rational soul and an animal soul, a rider and a horse, a good guy with better instincts and finer feelings and a rascal with rapacious lusts and unruly passions. Hence the marvelously involved hypocrisies of guilt and penitence, and the frightful cruelties of punishment, warfare, and even self-torment in the name of taking the side of the good soul against the evil. The more it sides with itself, the more the good soul reveals its inseparable shadow, and the more it disowns its shadow, the more it becomes it. Thus for thousands of years human history has been a magnificently futile conflict, a wonderfully staged panorama of triumphs and tragedies based on the resolute taboo against admitting that black goes with white.
"The hallucination of separateness prevents one from seeing that to cherish the ego is to cherish misery. We do not realize that our so-called love and concern for the individual is simply the other face of our own fear of death or rejection. In his exaggerated valuation of separate identity, the personal ego is sawing off the branch on which he is sitting, and then getting more and more anxious about the coming crash!
"An experience of this kind cannot be forced or made to happen by any act of your fictitious “will,” except insofar as repeated efforts to be one-up on the universe may eventually reveal their futility. Don’t try to get rid of the ego-sensation. Take it, so long as it lasts, as a feature or play of the total process — like a cloud or wave, or like feeling warm or cold, or anything else that happens of itself. Getting rid of one’s ego is the last resort of invincible egoism! It simply confirms and strengthens the reality of the feeling. But when this feeling of separateness is approached and accepted like any other sensation, it evaporates like the mirage that it is.
"This is why I am not overly enthusiastic about the various “spiritual exercises” in meditation or yoga which some consider essential for release from the ego. For when practiced in order to “get” some kind of spiritual illumination or awakening, they strengthen the fallacy that the ego can toss itself away by a tug at its own bootstraps.
"There is no fate unless there is someone or something to be fated. There is no trap without someone to be caught. There is, indeed, no compulsion unless there is also freedom of choice, for the sensation of behaving involuntarily is known only by contrast with that of behaving voluntarily. Thus when the line between myself and what happens to me is dissolved and there is no stronghold left for an ego even as a passive witness, I find myself not in a world but as a world which is neither compulsive nor capricious. What happens is neither automatic nor arbitrary: it just happens, and all happenings are mutually interdependent in a way that seems unbelievably harmonious. Every this goes with every that. Without others there is no self, and without somewhere else there is no here, so that — in this sense — self is other and here is there.
"Once you have seen this you can return to the world of practical affairs with a new spirit. You have seen that the universe is at root a magical illusion and a fabulous game, and that there is no separate “you” to get something out of it, as if life were a bank to be robbed. The only real “you” is the one that comes and goes, manifests and withdraws itself eternally in and as every conscious being. For “you” is the universe looking at itself from billions of points of view, points that come and go so that the vision is forever new."
-- Alan Watts
"This is It
and I am It
and You are It
and so is That
and He is It
and She is It
and It is It
and That is That"
-- James Broughton