Thursday, December 29, 2016

On Rest

Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is the essence of giving and receiving; an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually but also physiologically and physically. To rest is to give up on the already exhausted will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we are there to put it right; to rest is to fall back literally or figuratively from outer targets and shift the goal not to an inner static bull’s eye, an imagined state of perfect stillness, but to an inner state of natural exchange.


This template of natural exchange is the breath, the autonomic giving and receiving that forms the basis and the measure of life itself. We are rested when we are a living exchange between what lies inside and what lies outside, when we are an intriguing conversation between the potential that lies in our imagination and the possibilities for making that internal image real in the world; we are rested when we let things alone and let ourselves alone, to do what we do best, breathe as the body intended us to breathe, to walk as we were meant to walk, to live with the rhythm of a house and a home, giving and taking through cooking and cleaning. 

When we give and take in an easy foundational way we are closest to the authentic self, and closest to that self when we are most rested. To rest is not self indulgent, to rest is to prepare to give the best of ourselves, and to perhaps, most importantly, arrive at a place where we are able to understand what we have already been given.

In the first state of rest is the sense of stopping, of giving up on what we have been doing or how we have been being. In the second, is the sense of slowly coming home, the physical journey into the body’s un-coerced and un-bullied self, as if trying to remember the way or even the destination itself. In the third state is a sense of healing and self-forgiveness and of arrival. In the fourth state, deep in the primal exchange of the breath, is the give and the take, the blessing and the being blessed and the ability to delight in both. The fifth stage is a sense of absolute readiness and presence, a delight in and an anticipation of the world and all its forms; a sense of being the meeting itself between inner and outer, and that receiving and responding occur in one spontaneous movement.

A deep experience of rest is the template of perfection in the human imagination, a perspective from which we are able to perceive the outer specific forms of our work and our relationships whilst being nourished by the shared foundational gift of the breath itself. From this perspective we can be rested while putting together an elaborate meal for an arriving crowd, whilst climbing the highest mountain or sitting at home surrounded by the chaos of a loving family.

Rested, we are ready for the world but not held hostage by it, rested we care again for the right things and the right people in the right way. In rest we reestablish the goals that make us more generous, more courageous, more of an invitation, someone we want to remember, and someone others would want to remember too.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

On Love & Hate

As another calendar year draws to a close, normality as we know it is coming unhinged. For the last few years it has been possible for most people (at least the relatively privileged) to believe that society is sound; that the system, though creaky, basically works and that the progressive deterioration of everything from ecology to economy is a temporary deviation from the evolutionary imperative of progress.


We are entering a time of great uncertainty. Institutions so enduring as to seem identical to reality itself may lose their legitimacy and dissolve. The social and environmental horrors likely to be committed could incite massive civil disobedience and possibly disorder. It may seem that the world is falling apart. At such moments, it is a normal response to find someone to blame, as if identifying fault could restore the lost normality, and to lash out in anger. Hate and blame are convenient ways of making meaning out of a bewildering situation. 

Anyone who disputes the blame narrative may receive more hostility than the opponents themselves, as in wartime when pacifists are more reviled than the enemy. Racism and misogyny are devastatingly real in our world, but to blame bigotry and sexism for the repudiation of the establishment is to deny the validity of our deep sense of betrayal and alienation. It does violence to the truth. Such is the cost of preserving a dying story. That is one reason why paroxysms of violence so often accompany a culture-defining story’s demise.

The dissolution of the old order that is now officially in progress, is going to intensify. That presents a tremendous opportunity and danger, because when normality falls apart the ensuing vacuum draws in formerly unthinkable ideas from the margins. Anything becomes possible with the collapse of dominant institutions. When the animating force behind these new ideas is hate or fear, all manner of nightmares can ensue, whether enacted by existing powers or those that rise against them.

That is why, as we enter a period of intensifying disorder, it is important to introduce a different kind of force to animate the structures that might appear after the old ones crumble. We call it love. So, let’s start with empathy. Empathy is akin to solidarity, born of the understanding that we are all in this together. In what together? For starters, we are in the uncertainty together. We are exiting an old story that explained to us the way of the world and our place in it. Some may cling to it all the more desperately as it dissolves, but what’s done is done.

We as a society are entering a space between stories; in which everything that had seemed so real, true, right and permanent comes into doubt. For a while, segments of society have remained insulated from this breakdown (whether by fortune, talent, or privilege), living in a bubble as the containing economic and ecological systems deteriorate. But, not for much longer. Not even the elites are immune to this doubt. They grasp at straws of past glories and obsolete strategies; they create perfunctory and unconvincing shibboleths, and they have no idea what to do next. When even the custodians of the story no longer believe the story, we know its days are numbered. 

We are entering a space between stories. After various retrograde versions of a new story rise and fall and we enter a period of true unknowing, an authentic next story will emerge. A story that will ask: “What would it take to embody love, compassion and inter-being?” We see its lineaments in those marginal structures and practices that we call holistic, alternative, regenerative and restorative. All of them source from empathy, the result of the compassionate inquiry: “What is it like to be you?”

It is time now to bring this question, and the empathy it arouses, into our social discourse as a new animating force. If you are appalled at the current situation, and feel the call of hate, perhaps try asking yourself: “What is it like to be a hated person?” Ask it not with a patronizing condescension, but for real, looking underneath the stereotype to find the real person. Even if the person you face appears hateful, ask: “Is this who they are, really?” We hate what we fear, and we fear what we do not know. Let’s not make our opponents invisible behind a caricature of evil.

What is beneath the hate in our world? Why do we dehumanize each other? Hate is just a bodyguard for grief. When we lose the hate, we are forced to deal with the pain beneath. This pain is fundamentally the same pain that animates moral superiority. We need to stop acting as if we are better than others, no matter how broken they appear to be. We are all victims of the same world-dominating system, suffering different mutations of the same wound of separation. We live in a civilization that has robbed nearly all of us of deep community, intimate connection with nature, unconditional love, freedom to explore the kingdom of childhood and so much more. 

The acute trauma endured by the incarcerated, the abused, the raped, the trafficked, the starved, the murdered and the dispossessed does not exempt the perpetrators. We feel it in a mirror image, adding damage to our souls atop the damage that compels violence. Thus, it is that suicide is the leading cause of death in the military. Thus, it is that addiction is rampant among the police. Thus, it is that depression is epidemic in the upper middle class. Something hurts in there. Yet, we are all in this together. One earth, one tribe, one people.

We have entertained teachings like these long enough in our spiritual retreats, meditations and prayers. Can we now take them into the world and create an eye of compassion inside the hate vortex? It is time to do it, time to up our game. It is time to stop feeding hate. Next time we speak, can we check our words to see if they smuggle in some form of hate: dehumanization, belittling, derision... some invitation to take an ‘us versus them’ approach. Notice how it feels good to do that. And, notice what hurt still lies underneath.

This does not mean to withdraw from the social conversation, but to rewrite its vocabulary. It is to speak hard truths with love. It is to offer acute analysis that doesn’t carry the implicit message of: “Aren’t those people horrible?” Such analysis is rare. Sometimes, our evangelizing compassions veer into passivity. We need to confront an unjust, ecocidal system. Each time we do, we can stare hate in the face and never waver. We will access inexhaustible tools of creative engagement; and hold a compelling invitation to the haters to fulfill their beauty.

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.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

What You Seek, You Already Are

Seeking is a word often applied to the spiritual path, and many people are proud to call themselves seekers. Often, they are the same people who once chased too hard after money, sex, drugs, alcohol or work. With the same addictive intensity they now hope to find God, the soul, the higher self. The problem is that seeking begins with a false assumption.


It doesn’t mean the assumption that materialism is corrupt and spirituality is pure. Yes, materialism can become all-consuming, but that’s not the really important point. Seeking is doomed because it is a chase that takes you outside yourself. Whether the object is God, money or whatever; makes no real difference. Productive seeking requires that you throw out all assumptions that there is a prize to be won.

This means acting without hope of rising to some ideal self, hope being a wish that you’ll get somewhere better than the place you started from. You are starting from yourself, and it’s the self that contains all the answers. So you have to give up on the idea that you must go from A to B. There is no linear path when the goal isn’t somewhere else.

You must also discard fixed judgments about high and low, good and evil, holy and profane. The one reality includes everything in its tangle of experiences, and what we are trying to find is the experiencer who is present no matter what experience you are having.

People who race around trying to be models of goodness are trapped in 'spiritual materialism'; the transfer of values that work in the material world over to the spiritual world. The pitfalls of the seeker are:  knowing where you’re going, struggling to get there, using someone else’s map, working to improve yourself, setting a timetable, waiting for a miracle. There’s no better way to be a genuine seeker than to avoid these pitfalls.

Spiritual growth is spontaneous. A single word can open your heart; a single glance can tell you who you really are. You should glean teachings from all directions, keeping true to those that bring progress yet remaining open to changes in yourself. People get stuck in bad places that they can learn to get out of. Rather than a timetable, give yourself support for spiritual growth.

If you strip away all the distractions of life, something yet remains that is you. When people say that they are seeking, it’s this level of themselves that is calling to them in its silent, untroubled way. Seeking is really just a way of winning yourself back. The 'I am' consists of nothing but a silent witness.

Look at a rose and break it down from the level of a physical object; to the level of energy vibrating in empty space. So, when you are seeing a rose, is nothing looking at nothing? So it would seem, but the real phenomenon is more amazing: You are looking at yourself. One part of your awareness, which you call yourself, is gazing upon itself in the form of a rose. There is no solid core to either the object or the observer.

There is no person inside your head, only a swirl of water, salt, sugar and a handful of other chemicals like potassium and sodium. This whirlpool of a brain is always flowing, and thus every experience is swept along in currents and eddies as swiftly as a mountain stream. So, where is the silent observer located if not in my brain?

This is a cause for incredible excitement because, if the real you isn’t inside your head, you have been set free, like awareness itself. This freedom is limitless. You can create anything because you are in every atom of creation. Wherever your awareness wants to go, matter must follow. You do come first after all; and the universe second.

We imagine a fixed 'I' who is in control, at least as much as possible. But there is another, far more stable point of stability: the witness. No one can predict your next step of unfoldment, including yourself. But if you are willing to follow the flow, the path will certainly lead you closer to the silent witness, who resides at the source of all your desires.

On the other hand, when you feel distracted, lost, confused, fearful, scattered, or trapped inside ego boundaries - you are not in flow. Pick a strongly negative experience, put yourself back in the situation and feel what you felt then. You might want to close your eyes and visualize. Do what it takes to make the situation vivid in your mind.

When you feel that stab of anger, hurt, mistrust, suspicion or betrayal, say to yourself: “That’s how my ego feels. Now let the feeling run. Get as worked up as your ego wants; envision fantasies of revenge or self-pity, or whatever your ego thinks is appropriate. Imagine your feeling spreading like the shock wave from a slow-motion explosion.

Follow this wave as far as it wants to go, watching it grow fainter and fainter as it spreads to infinity, filling the whole universe if it wants to. Now, just as you see the wave disappearing into infinity, look at yourself and see if any of the following feelings are present: a giggle, the desire to laugh, a shrug, peace, exhaustion, release or letting go.

These are the telltale feelings that arise in us when we are crossing the invisible boundary between ego and the real self. If you follow any emotion far enough, it will end in silence. But it’s asking a lot to get that far every time. Your aim is to get to the frontier at least, the line where the ego’s needs begin to lose their grip.

When you laugh, you are losing the need to take yourself so seriously. When you shrug, you lose the need to blow things out of proportion. When you feel calm, you lose the need to feel agitated or to have drama. When you can look at yourself as if you are another person, you lose the need to be the only one who counts.

When you feel relief or fatigue coming out, you lose the need to hold on to stress. When you have the feeling of letting go, you lose the need to be vindicated - the possibility of forgiveness is in sight. When you suddenly realize that the other person may be right, you lose the need to judge.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Ego

On ego and perception... How did the belief in one reality fall apart? Well, we put each person at the center of his or her own world. This is the choice we call ego, although it has been called by other names; such as the pursuit of pleasure, the bondage of karma and the banishment from paradise. So thoroughly does it permeate our culture, following your ego doesn’t feel like a choice anymore. We’ve all been carefully trained since childhood in the ways of I, me and mine. The ego, we are told, blinds us with its constant demands, its greed, selfishness and insecurity. That is a common theme, but a mistaken one.


Some have examined the ego and found it so repugnant that they want to be without ego. But, in the end, attacking the ego is just a subtle disguise for attacking yourself. Destroying the ego would serve no purpose even if it could be achieved. It is vital to keep our entire creative machinery intact. When you strip away its ugly, insecure, violent dreams; the ego is no longer ugly, insecure and violent. It takes its natural place as part of the mystery. If there is one reality, it must be all-inclusive. The ego can’t be thrown out any more than desire can be thrown out.

To embrace one reality again, we must accept that the world is in us. This is a spiritual secret based on the nature of the brain, which spends every second manufacturing the world. When someone calls you on the phone their voice occurs as a sensation in your brain. By showing up on your doorstep, their voice hasn’t gotten any closer. When you look at a distant star, it too seems far away, yet it exists as a sensation in another part of your brain. So the star is in you, just like the voice. The same is true when you taste an orange or touch a velvet rope or listen to Mozart - every possible experience is being manufactured inside yourself.

Getting serious about transformation means giving up a personal stake in the world, once and for all. That alone will pluck ignorance out by the roots. This may sound like a shocking conclusion. One’s immediate reaction is to say: “But I am my personal stake in the world.” Fortunately, that's not the case. The world is in you, not the other way around. The creator owns everything by virtue of having created everything. If you and I are creating every perception that we take for reality, then we are allowed to own our creation as well.

Perception is the world; and the world is perception. In that key idea, the drama of us-versus-them collapses. We are all included in the only project that makes any difference: Reality-making. To defend any existential thing - money, property, possessions or status - makes sense only if those things are essential. But, the material world is an aftereffect. Nothing in it is essential.

The only personal stake worth having is the ability to create freely, with full awareness of how reality-making works. The one reality has already revealed a deep secret: Being a creator is more important than the whole world. It’s worth pausing for a moment to take that in. In fact, it is the world. Of all the liberating ideas that could change a person’s life, this one is perhaps the most freeing. Yet to truly live it, to be a true creator, a great deal of conditioning needs to be broken down.

No one remembers being told to believe in the material world. Yet, somehow, we’ve learned to accept ourselves as limited beings. We come to believe that the outside world must be far more powerful. It dictates the storyline, not us. The world comes first; we come a distant second. But, the outside world will never produce any spiritual answers until we take on a new role as the manufacturers of reality. Therefore, we don’t have to try and escape. There is nowhere to escape to, and as long as I see myself as the creator of my reality, I wouldn’t want to escape even if I could. I can affect change by transforming the only thing that I ever had control of in the first place... myself.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

On Fear & Entities

In doing medicine work, its not unusual to become aware of entities within the ceremonial space. Shamans describe entities as ‘empty clothes’ looking for an owner that will put them on. These subconscious phenomena are made visible by the medicine; and participants have the choice to engage with these entities, or not.


Entities feed off the fear created by trapped emotions. FEAR is a handy acronym i.e. false evidence appearing real. This false evidence is nothing but our ‘shadow’; or trapped emotions that we don’t acknowledge. In shadow work resisting an emotion prevents you from exploring it. The first step is to experience the emotion fully. 

Actually, entities feed off emotions of all sorts. What are your emotional triggers? Do you experience any of these emotions or states? Blame; anger; victimization; paranoia; guilt; shame; worry; self-pity; self-importance; loneliness; narcissism; sarcasm; hate; jealousy; co-dependency; distorted or repressed sexual energy; depression; fear etc.

If you recognise any of these emotions or states as a recurring theme in your life, its likely that you have an entity feeding into them and milking your emotions for food. The next step is to know that entities are normal; most people have them in their field without realizing it. The world, and its societies, is a large cauldron of emotion after all.

The most important thing that you can do is work on your stuff. It really is that simple. Once you remove the food source - charged emotional distortions - entities have nothing to grasp onto and fall away. It’s also important that we don’t deny the emotion though; because denial and suppression of self also creates the ‘grey’ areas where they hide. 

Shamans can remove entities, which sounds like an ideal solution. It can work temporarily. However, unless you deal with the energy that invited the entity in the first place, you will simply draw another entity to you again and again; until you release the attachment to that emotion from within yourself that draws it in. There really isn’t a quick fix solution. 

Most people have to release the trapped emotion; and to do this multiple times for different issues, over a period of time and through various levels of consciousness, leaving no place for an entity to attach. The following questions can help anyone to become more familiar with their shadow side, in order to pinpoint potential attachments:

Which people keep triggering or irritating me?
What do I least want others to know about me?
Which emotions do I judge to be bad or wrong?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mariri

The Kaxinawa describe mariri as the life-giving force of the forest, which is very sacred to their people. Throughout the Amazon, the word mariri means different things for different peoples. Mariri can be the healing spirit of certain medicinal plants that are considered to be powerful, intelligent teachers. Mariri also refers to the magical songs sung by shamans during healing ceremonies; and the curative force carried by those songs. 


In the Amazon basin, for the many tribes who regard nature as sacred and omnipotent, mariri is a manifestation of the rainforest's infinite capacity to heal and sustain life. Dieta - self-denial of indulgence, food and sex - is a necessary precondition for creating a relationship with the plants; and, thus, with mariri. 

Mariri, within the shaman, is a cured and rarified phlegm which is raised from the chest into the throat; often with the accompaniment of loud burps and belches, becoming like air. It is this mariri that extracts the sickness and other evils in the patient’s body; while at the same time protecting the shamans from the sickness they extract.

This mariri is received from the master shaman and nourished, like planting a seed in the chest. Nurturing the mariri is like raising a plant until it is the proper size, and then maintaining it. Fearlessness is a constant theme in relation to mariri. When you have this protection, you need not have fear of anyone; the medicine of mariri grants a heart of steel. 

What the plants give in return, for this dedication, is their willingness to help; their icaro, their song. The rarefication, or curing, of mariri relates it to these shamanic songs. Abstraction from vocal meaning is a key feature of such music. The most powerful icaros, such as the protective arcanas, are refined into breathy and almost inaudible whistles. 

When learning icaros, its best to first hum the melody and only then to learn the words. Shamans teach apprentices not to be overly concerned with trying to memorize the words; singing the icaros from the heart with the correct resonance and vibration is more important. The more abstract the icaro; the more powerful it is. Both mariri and icaro ultimately converge in pure sound, which is the the immaterial and wordless language of the plants. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Kene Kuin

Kene Kuin, the true design, is an important motif of Kaxinawa identity. The shunu kene (tree of life) below, has eight paths defined by both positive and negative space; and like all kene represents ancestral knowledge. For the Kaxinawa, these designs are a crucial element to the beauty of people and things. 


Kaxinawa motifs are applied in the form of body art, jewellery, clothing and crafts of all kinds. These designs are inspired by the forces of nature and a particular cosmology, which are received by the shamans in ceremonies through the plant medicines. Each sign has associated rituals, songs, myths, cosmologies etc.

As such, these designs are inspired by the forces of nature. The motif is transmitted by the 'spirit entity' and its representation embodies the spiritual strength of that being. In the case of an animal, the motif can be considered a 'pattern' arising from the 'genetic code' of the animal and emitting a 'frequency of force' or spiritual function to which it is attached.

Kene are painted on Kaxinawa bodies and faces with genipap (vegetable paint) during festivals, when visitors arrive or for the simple pleasure of dressing up. Small children are not painted with designs, but are blackened from head to foot with genipap. Boys and girls have just part of their face covered with designs, while adults paint their entire face. 

Painting with genipap is an exclusively female activity. On days without any festival, women walk around unpainted; but when one of the men brings genipap from the forest, there is always someone eager to mix the paint and invite the others to paint themselves. Young women are the most likely to be seen painted with designs; men less frequently, unless they are acting as hosts.

The kene kuin style contains a variety of named motifs. When a motif has two or more names, this is generally because of the ambiguity between the figure and grounded reality typical to the Kaxinawá aesthetic. The same motifs (or basic designs) used in face painting are found in body painting, pottery and weaving, basketry and stool decorations.

Just as not all bodies are painted, or not some bodies all of the time, not all keneya (kene objects) have designs. Cooking vessels are not painted, though the plates for serving food may be. Painting is associated with a new phase in the life of the object or person, a phase in which it is desirable to emphasize the smooth and perfect surface of the body in question. 

The design calls attention to new visual experiences, which announce crucial life events. The design vanishes with use and is only reapplied during festivals. Hence, things with design occupy a special place in Kaxinawa culture.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sananga

Sananga is a powerful medicine taken as eye drops. Made from the mashed roots of the Apocynaceae shrub; a cousin of the Iboga tree, which produces the active compound ibogaine. Traditionally Sananga has been used by the Kaxinawa for hunting; to help sharpen their vision, awareness and extra sensory perception. These sacred drops heal panema; the psychic illnesses that manifest as lack of drive, motivation or focus, laziness, depression, sadness, bad luck and negative energetic influences that attract difficulties and disease. 


On an energetic level Sananga works to open up the vision of the third eye, by helping to decalcify and activate the pineal gland. This clears negative thought patterns and mental confusion. By cleansing the physical, emotional and energetic fields, Sananga dilutes the thought forms and negative, disharmonious energies that envelop the energetic body of the eye. By clearing the energetic channels, one’s inner, outer and higher vision is restored; aligning us emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Kaxinawa shamans believe that, panema is a conglomerate of lower energies that stay present in the energetic bodies of people - accumulated through a sedentary, negative life full of bad habits and thoughts that are harmful for the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health of a person - that weigh heavily in the energetic body of the individual, making them sad, depressed, stressed physically and mentally, while making it impossible to find success in relationships, work and life goals. Through Sananga this energetic charge is automatically eliminated, as if the person went through an energetic shock; later on making the person feel capable, happy, invigorated after the application.

Sananga eye drops cause an intense burning sensation, this experience persists for a number of minutes, during which the participant is directed to breathe deeply and into the pain. Sananga is said to also burn the inner anger residing in the individual, leading to an intense state of relaxation following the period of pain. The pain caused by Sananga causes the release of endorphins, produced by the body to ease the pain. These endorphins stay in the body after the pain subsides, leading to a feeling of utmost relaxation.

Why do spiritual practitioners seek pain though? Considering the phenomenon of Sananga, its a substance which is used to induce pain or physical discomfort. As often noted, alternative techniques for the achievement of altered, visionary states of consciousness traditionally included various types of pain and discomfort such as sleep deprivation and prolonged fasting. Yet the question remains… why? Why do spiritual seekers seem so keen on experiences involving intense pain or discomfort?

Before we try and answer this question, it should be noted that the experience of pain and discomfort can be seen as an inherent part of the psychedelic experience in general, and not just in Sananga. As with ayahuasca, its expression reaches its peak in spiritual death/rebirth experiences; in which the individual must 'die' in order to be 'reborn' again i.e. death as the ultimate form of illness leading to rebirth as the ultimate form of healing.

It’s also almost as if psychedelic use supports a kind of spiritual protestant work ethic in some participants; who believe one has to suffer in order to rise and soar. This is particularly ironic and interesting since the protestant work ethic was one of the major reasons why people in the West came to distrust psychedelics in the first place. Participants in the psychedelic debate argue about whether relishing the view from the top of the mountain is the same, whether you got there using a ski-lift or after a long and arduous hike; the top of the mountain being, of course, the mystical experience, arrived at through sustained spiritual work, or through the use of mind altering substances. 

Does a chemically triggered spiritual experience have the same value as one arrived us through hard, laborious work, and is it even legitimate? Jerking our bodies out of their comfortable state of rest and equilibrium is often necessary for transcending our limits and achieving a greater degree of wholeness and wellbeing. However, the choice, in most cases, is not between getting to the top on the ski-lift or getting there hiking. Rather, it is getting there and observing the view after riding the psychedelic ski-lift; or never getting there at all. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Spiritism Versus Shamanism

Spiritism leads to damaging and malicious states like panic, terror and madness. The low-level practice of spiritism attracts negativity and sorrow. The way to identify these lower order levels in ceremonies, is when spirits try to offer you attractive things - do not accept. Attractive, and therefore desirous, objects become attachments; which trap you in these lower realms.


Conversely, celestial beings bless with their calm presence; and allow us to merge with only the highest universal spirits. Spirituality leads us to just and pure things. It invites us with the highest spiritual origin; with justice, rectitude and service. Justice, rectitude and service bring peace; and peace allows for the higher realms to manifest.

The problem is that, novice drinkers of medicine and uninitiated facilitators don’t recognize the point at which they become trapped by evil; not realizing that spiritism requires far less skill and personal discipline than shamanism. The master drinkers of medicine and their students clearly distinguish between the dualism of good and evil.

Thus, choosing to always follow the path of goodness, selfless service and virtue is at the root of the authentic and original form of shamanism. However, some practitioners and facilitators - often lacking appropriate training and a good ceremonial guide, and possibly having experienced many negative incidents in their lives due to hardship and despair - have deviated from the spiritual path and operate with a nebulous distinction between good and bad.

Lower order facilitators and practitioners only know the lower levels of the cosmos; they “only know the sky up to the house of the sun.” They have never seen the celestial immortals; instead they make contact with inferior beings, including the earth spirits. For their part, true healers don’t linger at low levels of knowledge, but drink medicine continuously. Not for the pleasure of it, as it’s a great sacrifice, but because they desire greater knowledge.

This is the fundamental challenge for modern urbanized people in following the medicine path. We are removed, either physically or spiritually, from the source of the medicine. We don’t live among the plants in the forest. The further away we are from the forest, the closer we are to a material and egocentric existence. Some practitioners and facilitators can avoid becoming trapped by this world, others can’t.

To give the benefit of a doubt to some of these wayward practitioners and facilitators, perhaps they consider helping someone to be an act of goodness; even though what they are colluding with may be evil. Some may simply be trying to make a living, clearly unable to see the harm they are causing. Others may be trying to satisfy egoic needs, such as inferiority complexes or narcissistic disorders.

It is up to the adored children of heaven to use their acute discrimination and discernment, to distinguish between the lower and higher realms; as well as the practitioners and facilitators that occupy each respectively. More importantly, to recognize that all human beings are such children; even though some have chosen apparently easier paths, which have actually turned out to be far more dangerous and difficult.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sacred Convergence

Much has been written about the juncture where psychology and shamanism converge. Both are instances of the same primordial image or instinctual pattern known the world over. Both shamanism and psychology acknowledge the importance of the sacred in healing processes. Both recognize how the sacred is manifest in wild nature and areas where modern humans have fallen out of consistent connection with wholeness. Both observe how loss of contact with the sacred results in loss of soul, and understand that recovery requires initiation and successful integration of direct experience.


Shamanism defines health as being in balance with the sacred, and lack of health as violation of the will of the sacred. Psychology characterizes the sacred as an experience of something that evokes rapture, awe, exaltation or ecstasy; something that is even dreadful in its intensity and power. As opposed to the profane or ordinary, the sacred is often perceived in modern culture as something alien or other; while indigenous and earth-based cultures make no distinction between the sacred and the profane. In urban life, at least, the sacred is not something we experience in our busy everyday routines; unless we somehow slow ourselves to witness a sunset or feel into a sudden sense of longing or love.

Only then, in the spaciousness of attention, are we aware we have generally tuned out the sense of something powerful and unknown. Something sacred often invokes a feeling of mystery beyond the power of words to describe. The term numinous is a connotation for the sacred, describing it as something which provides an experience or alteration of consciousness independent of human will; arousing, affecting, bedazzling or blinding one to other realities. Both sacred and numinous are words connected to the idea of soul; the creative, sacred life force that imbues all things with energy and meaning.

The soul is not just an element, region or dimension; but rather a perspective of deepening, noticing, penetrating and insight. The soul can extended beyond humanity to the world at large, to forms and objects around us, whether natural or man-made. Each thing has a spark of soul at its core. Psychology is deeply tied to soul; so much that we can refer to psychologists as doctors of the soul. Similarly, the province of the shaman [as technician of the sacred] is disorders of the soul. We can call shamans masters of ecstasy, they are great specialists in the human soul; they see it, know its form and its destiny.

Modern culture has repressed the contents of the unconscious and summarily forgotten it entirely; disregarding the magic and mystery there. Conversely, shamans rely on the power that issues from the sacred to conduct their healing activities. Yet, the enormity of the split between urban lifestyles and the vast depth of the psyche looms over modern humans. Modern humans do not understand yet that, the discovery of the unconscious means an enormous spiritual task; which must be accomplished if they wish to preserve their civilization. The only way to address the deep loss of connection to soul, they experience as a species, is to reestablish their connection to the sacred.

In the physical or material world, the sacred manifests through wild nature as an infinite source of life and creativity; waxing and waning in eternal cycles of death and rebirth. Shamans read nature, regarding and interpreting the elements and events that communicate through soul at all times and places. Modern humans’ increasing analytic thinking and desire for progress through the manipulation of the natural world is devastating to their well-being. Their lives are dominated by reason, who is their greatest and most tragic illusion. By the aid of reason, they assure themselves, they have conquered nature.

As humans, of all cultures, our connection to nature is ancient and undeniable. At the most profound levels of the unconscious, everything becomes less and less differentiated until our ego no longer exists as a separate entity. The deeper layers of the psyche lose their individual uniqueness as they retreat farther and farther into the darkness. Here they become increasingly collective until they are universalized, merging with the body’s instinctual and biological functions; and eventually with nature itself. Hence, at bottom the psyche is simply world.

Since psyche and matter are contained in one and the same world, and moreover are in continuous contact with one another and ultimately rest on unnameable transcendental factors, psyche and matter are two different aspects of one and the same thing. Whatever the external landscape, the internal psychic landscape mirrors it; inhabits it, gives birth to it but also dies into it. The degree to which we are able to perceive the sacredness of what is manifesting around us in nature is the degree to which we are able to believe in the divine aspect of what we commonly know as our own human nature.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Medicine Future

It is a sad truth that despite the medicine’s great potential to steer humanity and the benefits it has granted many people in the past (not to mention its straight-up and barely-believable magic), this art and science is fading fast in its traditional context. Simultaneously we see that it is passing to the West, in a new form of syncretic medicine use that is developing among interested people the world over.


It seems as though as one door starts to close, another opens, and one could reckon that the medicine is moving to where it needs to go, striving to offer people the ultimately satisfying challenge of awakening and becoming a conscious human being.

Despite all this, while the traditional modes of transmission crumble, hope for the future of the medicine tradition comes, ironically, from outside the rainforest; from elements within the very cultures that seem bent on destroying it all. Globally, as more and more people seek reconnection with original nature and their true identity, they are participating in medicine healing ceremonies and/or seeking health through the use of various botanicals from the Amazon rainforest.

The ability of indigenous science and traditional Amazonian medicines to assist people in attaining insight, balance and wellness has been proven on countless occasions. Due to the effectiveness of this medicine, it is inevitable that we will see it gain in popularity, and this will - in ways beyond imagining, as medicine assists people in their personal journeys - help salvage both the medicine traditions and the rainforest environment itself.

In a world governed by corporations and driven by profit margins, even the knowledge of top scientists is not respected, let alone that of feathered masters. Nevertheless there will come a time when indigenous science and modern scientific methods will merge their strengths to help steer humanity back on course. The spirits, deities and immortals revealed through the drinking of medicine want this more than anything else.

Meanwhile this knowledge will continue to help people and communities as it expands beyond the jungle, and I want to believe that nothing can stop it. It is evolution at work, the constructive cycle of the universal energetic flow manifesting itself, gaining momentum and daily getting stronger. More and more sincere Westerners are studying with maestros or joining a type of church that honors this medicine, and more and more books are being written on it.

So despite the loss of much of the original body of knowledge, peripheral forms are being passed along. From these seeds, there can exist a future when the vines again flower, and these arts and ways are respected and able to flourish anew in the rainforest and the world over.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Sun Canoe

The Sun Canoe cruises far from planet Earth; on its deck ride celestial immortals of a peculiar and unique nature. This cosmic boat is said never to come between the Earth and the sun; it always stays far from the Earth on the opposite side of the sun. In the old days this boat could be seen in visions when the people underwent deep-level ceremonies, after months of Dieta in the wilderness. The apprentice was brought to the Sun Canoe by the master shaman in order to be cleansed thoroughly of all traces of contamination that, could potentially lead to the abuse of power.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Icaro Rainbows

In the presence of plant medicine, icaros - the devotional songs of the Amazon - are very powerful vibrations; great rainbow arcs of energy, which are inserted deep into one’s being. The goal is to open one’s eyes to the magic of this world; to know gratefulness and find kinship.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Anyone Who Dreams Partakes In Shamanism

Dreamers tend to interpret their dreams in accord with their own pre-existing beliefs or personal mythology. When meaning is attributed to dreams, an interpretation is made through the lens of one’s religious beliefs, secular desires and world views. A dream about falling from the sky can be interpreted as succumbing to sexual desire, failing in a business venture; or, more obviously, as a warning not to book an airplane ticket.


There is evidence that dreams may make a greater impact on behavior than waking thoughts because of their dramatic nature and their openness to a motivated interpretation. Over the years, we may notice how our own dreams often reflect doctrinal compliance, an eagerness to dream in imagery that conforms to our personal myths.

The dream world is an essential element of traditional life, because dreams allow First Nation Peoples to maintain contact with their ancestors. When Amazonian elders dream about the immortals, they share the dream with the entire village; which begins preparing a reenactment of the dream with the elders playing the roles of the ancestors. These dream ceremonies help to align the present with the past, providing cultural continuity. On other occasions, tribal members will sing and dance each other’s dreams thus developing a sense of trust among tribal members.

Upper-Amazonian tribes believe that they can travel to the heavens in their dreams, as well as to the underground world; with cosmos enclosed in the abdomen of a giant anaconda. The tribes in the southeast part of Brazil also have a venerable dream tradition. The tribal legends hold that in primordial times native people divided themselves into three groups, the People of the Sun, the People of the Moon and the People of Dreams.

Some communities hold dream circles, or morning dream-sharing sessions. Often, a dream is shared that begins to give direction to the daily life of the village and it is not necessarily the dream of a Pajé or shaman. Indeed, even a child can have a dream that indicates a new direction for a community.

Dreams are important because they are moments when humans are stripped of rational thought. Dreamers are in a spiritual state where the integral being can emerge, connecting them with a deeper reality. For example, some people can direct their dreams to someone who is several hundred miles distant; others can foretell both positive and negative events that will affect their community.

Dreams from the unconscious reflect memories of life experiences, especially those making the most profound impressions. Elements from past experiences can become symbols. Sometimes only the emotions associated with the event are recalled: happiness, embarrassment, wishes, aspiration, deception, pain. During this type of dream, pieces of memories may occur in random order, without logic. The dream entwines them all, turning them into a story.

Precognitive dreams have been reported for millennia. Just as telepathy and clairvoyance supposedly demonstrate the permeable nature of space, precognition is said to demonstrate the arbitrary nature of time. In some dreams, the dreamer claims to step through a door into the future. It is not uncommon for people to report precognitive dreams that issue warnings, describing a place they should not travel or a person they should avoid. Other dreams are said to predict positive events.

It is apparent that the Amazonian dream legacy is a complete model of dreaming and dreamworking, even when described in Western terms. However, unlike Westerners, the Amazonian tribes integrate their dreams into every major facet of their waking life. For them, there is no rigid division between dream life and waking life. The Pajé, or shaman, is the focal dreamworker; but it is acknowledged that everyone who dreams has a bit of shaman within them.

The shaman represents the attentiveness, and the introspection, needed to reconcile alienated men and women with what they have lost through family and social prohibitions. The inner shaman, that we all have, shows us that by relating receptively to our wounds, they will begin to heal. There is a sense of relief to our psychological defenses that accompanies the penetration of the wound. This is especially evident when we try to disown our shadow, or our wounded self. Our dreams will often prod us into embarking on a more rewarding relationship that we need to have with ourselves.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Messengers of Truth

The history of Western culture in the last two thousand years could be seen as the 'Empire of the Mind' conquering the exterior world and extinguishing the interior one, with the result that we have atrophied our spiritual connection. – Rak Razam


The world is deeply out of balance in these pre-apocalyptic times, and a serious correction, long overdue, is underway. The benevolent forces of the earth are reaching out into our culture and touching the consciousness of many people, invoking within them the necessity and the courage to transform and evolve beyond the self-destructive narratives that govern human life today. 

The problems we face run deep, yet the consciousness of human kind seems firmly centered at base level. For many there seems to be little promise that a significant enough transformation can occur in time to avoid ecocide, which is suicide, because along with the industrial revolution we’ve reconfigured our knowledge base to exclude sustainable co-existence with the natural world.

So, then, what is available to us, as creatures of this earth, to remedy these crises? What catalysts, if any, are strong enough to cause the needed infectious tidal wave of personal and communal transformation? One strong enough to cause people to re-think their patterned lives and to restructure them? What in our world can help us to break through the fear of letting go of what we have now, in order to risk discovering what else may be possible?

Enter ancient wisdom. Ayahuasca and Iboga... kindred medicine spirits that are pushing themselves into the collective consciousness of the modern world. Their ancient secrets have been guarded for thousands of years by the indigenous tribes that have since time immemorial structured their cultures and cosmologies around the wisdom gleaned from communing with these plant teachers. Yet for some important reason there is widespread and growing interest in these sacraments as a means to alleviate the cultural malaises that so many in the ‘advanced’ world suffer from.

Used in shamanic and bona fide religious practices, Ayahuasca, native to South America, is a hallucinogenic brew concocted of the ‘vine of the souls,’ banisteriopsis caapi, and other DMT containing plants such as chacruna, or psychotria viridis. Iboga, native to the rainforest of Gabon, Africa, is an entheogenic root bark of the tree, tabernanthe iboga and an ancient sacrament of the Bwiti, a spiritual discipline whose African members number in the millions.

Both of these plant medicines are taken ceremonially as medicinal rites to facilitate physical and psychological healing, to teach virtuous living, to develop spirituality, to strengthen family and communal ties, and to deepen one’s connection to the natural world. They are the center pieces of shamanic traditions that have for ages been full-spectrum healing arts that address the total human needs of individuals and communities alike, while addressing imbalances between humans and nature. They bring a human-being into direct contact with the unseen spirit realms of the earth and the cosmos, allowing one to de-intellectualize the mystical nature of life and consciousness.

Unsurprisingly, both of these shamanic medicines are swiftly working their way into the consciousness of the modern, ‘civilized’ world. Transformation is the key to navigating these insane times, and these medicines strike at the root of global transformation, the individual. It takes tremendous courage to ‘step into the fire’ with these medicines, but for those who do, it feels distinctly like a calling or destiny, and very little like a desire or ambition.

Initiates are called to muster absolute courage and humility, and are returned renewed and cleansed with heightened energy and abundant inspiration. Often gaining clear signals about choosing and navigating life’s paths, initiates receive visionary insight into the value of life and the connection to the natural world. The message is similar for many: Wake up, let go of the past, balance the ego, refine yourself, refine your personal energy; and move your life in the direction of service, with gratitude for each breath that you take.

Fear is understood and overcome, and the infinite nature of human consciousness is revealed. Emotional healing happens instantly, and self-judgements and criticisms are re-apportioned into task lists for personal development. Impulsivity and addiction are understood as destructive forces that require domestication, and the impetus to do so is received abundantly. One reassess their connection to nature and sees, senses and directly feels the sentience in all things, thereby tempering their sense of seniority in the cosmic web of life. A new life path unfolds, deep, enduring questions are answered, and forgiveness is granted. A life purpose lost is re-discovered and the seeker becomes new, refreshed, and reborn into a new perspective that lasts a lifetime.

These plant teachers are one of nature’s greatest tools for communicating with human beings. Iboga is the tree of knowledge. Ayahuasca is the vine of souls. Together they comprise an entirely complete, organic language and are reaching out into the world seeking warriors of truth to translate and seed the message of the Earth, who is unmistakably our Mother. They are calling us, speaking directly to us in spiritual form, asking for our involvement in this life or death struggle to return to equity, respect and balance to our relationship with the natural world.

They are messengers of truth from the earth...are you listening?