Monday, December 5, 2016

War On Consciousness

Consciousness is one of the great mysteries of science – perhaps the greatest mystery. We all know we have it, when we think, when we dream, when we savor tastes and aromas, when we hear a great symphony, when we fall in love, and it is surely the most intimate, the most personal part of ourselves. Yet, no one can really claim to have understood and explained it completely. There’s no doubt it’s associated with the brain in some way, but the nature of that association is far from clear. In particular, how do these three pounds of fatty stuff inside our skulls allow us to have experiences?


It’s at this point that the whole academic issue becomes intensely political and current, because modern technological society idealizes, and is monopolistically focused on, only one state of consciousness – the alert, problem-solving state of consciousness that makes us efficient producers and consumers of material goods and services. At the same time our society seeks to police and control a wide range of other ‘altered’ states of consciousness, on the basis of the unproven proposition that consciousness is generated by the brain.

That brings the so-called ‘war on drugs’ to the fore, which is really better understood as a war on consciousness and which maintains, supposedly in the interests of society, that we as adults do not have the right or maturity to make sovereign decisions about our own consciousness; and about the states of consciousness we wish to explore through entheogens (visionary plants). This extraordinary imposition on adult cognitive liberty is justified by the idea that, entheogens will adversely impact our behaviour towards others. Yet anyone who pauses to think seriously, for even a moment, must realize that we already have adequate laws that govern adverse behaviour towards others; and that the real purpose of the ‘war on drugs’ must therefore be to bear down on consciousness itself.

In the name of this ‘war on drugs’, governments continue to pour public money – our money – into large, armed, drug-enforcement bureaucracies which are entitled to break down our doors in the dead of night, invade our homes, ruin our reputations and put us behind bars. All of this, we have been persuaded, is in our own interests. Yet, if we as adults are not free to make sovereign decisions – right or wrong – about our own consciousness; that most intimate, that most personal part of ourselves, then in what useful sense can we be said to be free at all? And how are we to begin to take real and meaningful responsibility for all the other aspects of our lives when our governments seek to disenfranchise us from this most fundamental of all human rights?

It is interesting to note that governments have no objection to altering consciousness per se. On the contrary many consciousness-altering drugs, such as Prozac, Ritalin and alcohol, are either massively over-prescribed or freely available today; and make huge fortunes for their manufacturers, but remain entirely legal despite causing obvious harms. Could this be because such legal drugs do not alter consciousness in ways that threaten the monopolistic dominance of the alert problem-solving state of consciousness, while a good number of entheogens do?

There is a revolution in the making here, and what is at stake transcends the case for cognitive liberty as an essential and inalienable adult human right. This possibility is regarded as plain fact by shamans in hunter-gatherer societies, who for thousands of years have made use of visionary plants to enter and interact with what they construe as the ‘spirit world’. But, indigenous peoples today are still the most marginal and exploited members of society in all of the states in which they live.

States resist including indigenous peoples in decision-making processes that impact their lives, and almost never let indigenous values or practices govern those processes. The South African government's proposed Traditional and Khoi San Leadership Bill, for example, provides only recognition of leadership structures and communities; without any promise of cultural preservation or land rights. Nor does the Bill provide that Bushmen communities will be supported in attempts to practice their way of life. A way of life is built around communing with nature and passing on ancient wisdom traditions, based in the exploration of consciousness.

The Manila Declaration of the International Conference on Conflict Resolution, Peace Building, Sustainable Development and Indigenous Peoples concludes: “The dream and vision of indigenous peoples for a just and lasting peace, and for sustainable development to reign in their territories, can be realized. What is needed is for others to share this dream and work in partnership with indigenous peoples to make it a reality.” When the custodians of ancient wisdom traditions go, including the entheogens so integral to these traditions... then so goes a large part of our sovereignty over our own consciousness.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Silence

Practicing silence means making a commitment to take a certain amount of time to simply be. Experiencing silence means periodically withdrawing from the activity of speech. It also means periodically withdrawing from surfing the internet, following social media, watching television, listening to music, making small talk or even reading a book. 


If we never give ourselves the opportunity to experience silence, this creates turbulence in our internal dialogue. We should set aside a little time every once in a while to experience silence. Or, simply make a commitment to maintain silence for a certain period each day. 

We could do it for two hours, or if that seems a lot, do it for a one-hour period. And every once in a while experience silence for an extended period of time; such as a full day, or two days, or even a whole week on a silent retreat. 

What happens when we go into this experience of silence? Initially our internal dialogue becomes even more turbulent. We feel an intense need to say things. One reaction is go absolutely frantic, the first day or two, when we commit ourselves to an extended period of silence. A sense of urgency and anxiety can suddenly come over us. 

But, as we stay with the experience, our internal dialogue begins to quieten. And soon the silence becomes profound. This is because after a while the mind gives up; it realizes there is no point in going around and around if we the self, the spirit, the choicemakers are not going to speak... period. 

Then, as the internal dialogue quietens, we begin to experience the stillness of the field of pure potentiality. In that field of pure silence is the field of infinite correlation, the field of infinite organizing power, the ultimate ground of creation where everything is inseparably connected with everything else.

We can introduce a faint impulse of intention in this field, and the creation of our desires will come about spontaneously. But first, we have to experience stillness. Stillness is the first requirement for manifesting our desires, in stillness lies our connection to the field of pure potentiality that can orchestrate an infinity of detail for us.

Imagine throwing a little stone into a still pond and watching it ripple. Then, after a while, when the ripples settle down, perhaps we throw another little stone. That’s exactly what we do when we go into the field of pure silence and introduce our intention. 

In this silence, even the faintest intention will ripple across the underlying ground of universal consciousness, which connects everything with everything else. But, if we do not experience stillness in consciousness, if our minds are like a turbulent ocean, we could throw a mountain of rocks into it, and we wouldn’t notice a thing. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Suffering

The most common reason that people turn to spirituality is to deal with suffering. Pain is not the same as suffering. Suffering is pain that we hold on to. It comes from the mind’s mysterious instinct to believe that pain is good, or that it cannot be escaped, or that we deserve it. 


It takes force of mind to create suffering, a blend of belief and perception that we think we have no control over. But, as inescapable as suffering may appear to be, what brings escape is not attacking the suffering itself; its getting at the unreality that makes us cling to pain. 

Mostly, this unreality is about overlooking actual facts; as we know, but so often forget. Adopting negative perceptions, reinforcing those perceptions by obsessive thinking, getting lost in the pain without looking for a way out, comparing ourselves to others and cementing the suffering through toxic relationships that don’t serve us.

Once we stop knowing what is real, these misperceptions fall into place automatically. This means that for most people only the end of the line - fear of death - is a conscious experience; therefore, we must begin there and go back up the ladder. Being afraid of death is a source of anxiety that reaches into many areas. 

The way our society worships youth and shuns the elderly, our desperate need for distraction, the promotion of cosmetics and beauty treatments, flourishing gyms with full-length mirrors on all sides, and the craze for celebrity are all symptoms of wanting to deny death. 

We fear death not for itself but for a deeper reason, which is the need to defend an imaginary self. Identifying with an imaginary self is something we all do. Even on a superficial level, we erect an image based on income and status. Self-image is closely connected to self-esteem, and we know the high price we pay when self-esteem is lost. 

Life never stops demanding more and more. The demands on our time, patience, ability and emotions can become so overwhelming that admitting our inadequacy seems like the honest thing to do. Yet, in our false self-image is buried the ugly history of everything that has gone wrong. “I won’t,” “I can’t,” and “I give up” all became self-fulfilling prophecies. 

Even with a healthy self-image we recoil from things that threaten our egos. These threats exist everywhere. I am afraid of being poor, of losing my partner, of breaking the law. I am afraid to shame myself before anyone whose respect I want to keep. The need to protect myself from what I fear is part of who I am. 

Holding on to something is a way of showing that we are afraid it will be taken from us. People feel violated when they come home to find that their home has been broken into. This violation doesn’t matter because of what has been taken; but rather the loss of their sense of personal safety, stripped of the illusion of being untouchable. 

There are many twists and turns to suffering. The trail leads from fear of death to a false sense of self and the need to cling. In the end, however, unreality alone is the cause of all suffering. The problem is never pain; quite the opposite. Pain exists so that illusion won’t keep persisting. If unreality didn’t hurt, it would seem real forever. 

These misperceptions can be solved all at once by embracing one reality. The difference between “I am my hurt” and “I am” is small, but crucial. A huge amount of suffering has resulted from this single misperception. For example, thinking that I was born, I cannot avoid the threat of death. 

All of these are perceptions that were created, not facts. Once created, a perception lives a life of its own until we go back and change it. In reality nothing exists outside the self. As soon as we begin to accept this one bit of knowledge, the whole purpose of life changes. 

The only goal worth attaining is complete freedom to be ourselves, without illusions and false beliefs. To no longer bring problems to anyone who wants to leave us alone. To no longer reject genuine offers of assistance out of pride, insecurity or doubt. To no longer absorb the toxic effects of others, by keeping a distance. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Time Of The Black Jaguar

How many times in the previous centuries has the end of the world arrived for hundreds of nations? How many times have our ancestors had to rebirth from the ashes of their destroyed worlds? Those were difficult moments when we learned to pray and to ask for help so that our people might continue living. In such painful situations, we rediscovered the power of our ceremonies.


It is time to change, and if we do not change something stronger than us is going to do it for us. We know this from experience. We know this because for thousands of years we have been observing the life-cycles of our civilisation. Times like the one we are in now are especially difficult. We are at the end of a long cycle, where social and planetary change is born from a cosmic command, that we humans have no other choice but to obey. 

Sages of many nations say that we are now at the end of a very long cycle: the complete cycle of our present humanity. The Elders also say that the lack of preparation for the change that is coming is alarming. There are small cycles, like the 500 year cycles; there are bigger cycles that last around 2,000 years; and there are even longer cycles, always containing smaller cycles within them. 

These longer cycles are the time of a complete humanity that lasts almost 26,000 years. According to the memory kept by some nations, there were three other humanities before ours, so we are part of the fourth humanity. Now we are not only at the end of one long cycle of around 26,000 years, but we are also at the end of four of these cycles that amounts to 104,000 years of human experience. After this, the fifth humanity will begin.

The complete cycle of a humanity goes through three movements or times. First comes the time of creation, next comes the time of conservation; and last is the time of renewal. The time of creation is where the creative capacity of the humans, supported by strong cosmic forces, does not know the impossible. The time of conservation always ends when the essence of the beginning has been forgotten. Now the third movement arrives: the time of renewal. 

This is the shortest and most intense of the three, the time when purification is needed so life may continue. At this confusing time, old group and ethnic identities become debilitated; and millions of humans lack clarity about their future and their true place in the world. The belief systems of the conservative past are broken, and the new ones are not built yet.

In times of renewal, it is the Black Jaguar who rules. At this time, it is common for many people to experience major losses in their lives; some are brutally taken out of their comfort zone. Many see their old life not working anymore or feel afraid when seeing destruction happen in the rest of the world. It all means just one thing: it is time to change. The Black Jaguar comes and destroys the prisons, where we feel safe and comfortable, so we can wake up.

To be waiting for for an attack of the Black Jaguar to come and kill you and all your bad habits; leaves you like a leaf at the mercy of the wind. It makes your life swing from bliss to pain, over and over again. But the swings are less frequent if you develop your own will. Instead of being at the mercy of the forces that come to wake you up, you prefer to choose to wake up and do your own work. Doing so will not stop the forces that bless or shake you; but develops a partnership and collaboration with them.